and here i am again
at the intersection
of pedestrian language
& old wives tales
like 7 year memories
opening umbrellas inside
cause i can't seem get away
from all of this rain
i masturbate with my left hand
cause i was told
back in highschool that
"it feels like someone else is doing it"
it gets me wondering
about the difference between
losing you and finding out
that some one else found you
or my sleep
or lack thereof
its starting to tear me apart
i keep having this dream
where you are in
an unfamiliar body of water
trying to wash my poetry
off of your hands
or the one where
something happens in my chest
every time you sit
on someone else's bed
i'm tired of feeling like something you've misplaced
but don't have the heart
to look for anymore
tired of you saying my name
like you're trying to bury it
i'm tired of wondering
if you can tell the difference
between the absence
of my voice & silence
the other day
i almost started sobbing
at work when a woman
asked me about
i was explaining how
things come apart
and almost mentioned your name
it made me think
of how you used to say
things like "what would you do
if i showed up on your doorstep
one day?" now, i haunt
the windows in my house
i don't leave for weeks at a time
i sit on the porch like the dog
you didn't shoot behind the shed
the one that refuses to die
until you come home again
i told somebody once, that
you didn't even know
what my voicemail sounded like
i wonder if they thought
it was because you
are so important that i never
let it ring that many times
before picking up
or if you dont know
what it sounds like
because you've never called
you can't be the murder weapon
and the search party
i'm tired of all the seats
to the ferris wheel in my chest
tired of your voice
being the one i look for
in abandoned places
that one sound i beg
to bounce back
down vacant hallways
i just seem to stand there
in all of that quiet
like someone looking for a mistake
on an eviction notice
so i guess the hardest part
isn't letting go
you ever had a grip
in the first place
and since you've been gone
i wonder if when
you pushed yourself away from me
you used your left hand
so it felt like someone else did it
Inconspicuous, his presence noted only by the obscurity and the ever growing number of spent cigarette stubs that littered the ground. It had been a long day and the rain, relentless in its tenacity had little intention of stopping, baleful clouds still hung heavy, dominating the lateness of the afternoon sky, a rain laden skyline broken only by smoke filled chimney pots and the tangled snarl of corroded television aerials.
The once busy street was fast emptying now, the lure of shop windows no longer enticed the casual browser as local traders closed their premises to the oncoming night, solitary lampposts curved hazily into the distance, casting little more than insipid pools mirrored in the gutter below, only the occasional stranger scurrying home on a bleak, rain swept afternoon, the hurried slap of wet leather soles on the pavement, the sightless umbrellas, the infrequent rumble of a half filled bus, hell-bent on its way to oblivion.
In the near distance as the working day ended, a sudden emergence of factory workers told Beamish it was 5-o'clock, most would be hurrying home to a hot meal, while others, for a quick drink perhaps before making the same old sorry excuse... for Jack, the greasy spoon would be closing about now, denying him the comfort of a badly needed cuppa' and stale cheese sandwich. A subtle legacy of lunchtime fish and chips still lingered in the air, Jack's stomach rumbled, there was little chance of a fish supper for Beamish tonight, it protested again... louder.
From beneath the eaves of the building opposite several pigeons broke cover, startled by the rattle as a shopkeeper struggled to close the canvas awning above his shop window. Narrowly missing Beamish they flew anxiously over the rooftops, memories of the blitz sprang to mind as Jack stepped smartly to one side, he stamped his feet... it dashed a little of the weather from his raincoat, just as the rain dashed a little of the pigeons' anxiety from the pavement... the day couldn't get much worse if it tried. Shielding his face, Jack struck the Ronson one more time and cupped the freshly lit cigarette between his hands, it was the only source of heat to be had that day... and still it rained.
'By Appointment to Certain Personages...' the letter heading rang out loudly... 'Jack Beamish ~ Private Investigator...' a throat choking mouthful by any stretch of the imagination, thought Jack and shot every vestige of credulity plummeting straight through the office window and amidst a fanfare of trumpet voluntary, nominate itself for a prodigious award in the New Year Honours list. Having formally served in a professional capacity for a well known purveyor of pickled condiments, who incidentally, brandished the same patronage emblazoned upon their extensive range of relish as the one Jack had more recently purloined from them... a paid commission no less, which by Jack's certain understanding had made him, albeit fleeting in nature, a professional consultant of said company... and consequently, if they could flaunt the auspicious emblem, then according to Jack's infallible logic, so could Jack.
The recently appropriated letterhead possessed certain distinction... in much the same way, Jack reasoned, that a blank piece of paper did not... and whereas correspondence bearing the heading 'By Appointment' may not exactly strike terror into the hearts of man... unlike a really strong pickled onion, it nevertheless made people think twice before playing him for the fool, which sadly, Jack had to concede, they still invariably did... and he would often catch them wagging an accusing finger or two in his direction with such platitudes as... "watch where you put your foot", they'd whisper, "that Jack's a right Shamus...", and when you'd misplaced your footing as many times as Jack had, then he reasoned, that by default the celebrated Shamus must have landed himself in more piles of indiscretion than he would readily care to admit, but that wouldn't be quite accurate either, in Jack's line of work it was the malefactor that actually dropped him in them more often than not.
A cold shiver suddenly ran down his spine, another quickly followed as a spurt of icy water from a broken rain spout spattered across the back of his neck, he grimaced... Jack's expression spoke volumes as he took one final pull from his half soaked cigarette and flicked it, amid an eruption of sparks against the adjacent brick wall. Sinking further into the shadow he tipped his fedora against the oncoming rain, then, digging both hands deep within his pockets, he huddled behind the upturned collar of his gabardine... watching.
It was times such as these when Jack's mind would slip back, in much the same way you might slip back on a discarded banana peel, when a matter of some consequence, or in particular this case the pavement, would suddenly leap up from behind and give the back of Jack's head a resoundingly good slapping and tell him to "stop loafing around in office hours... or else", then drag him, albeit kicking and screaming back into the 20th century. This intellectual assault and battery re-focused Jack's mind wonderfully as he whiled away the long weary hours until his next cigarette; cup of tea, or the last bus home, his capacity to endure such mind boggling tedium called for nothing less than sheer bloody-mindedness and very little else... Beamish had long suspected that he possessed all the necessary qualifications.
Jack had come a long way since the early days, it had been a long haul but he'd finally arrived there in the end... and managed to pick up quite a few dirty looks along the way. Whilst he was with the Police Constabulary... and it was only fair to stress the word 'with', as opposed to the word 'in'... although the more Jack considered, he had been 'with' the arresting officer, held 'in' the local Bridewell... detained at Her Majesties pleasure while assisting the boys in blue with their enquiries over a minor infringement of some local by-law that currently had quite slipped his mind at that moment. Throughout this enforced leisure period he'd managed to read the entire abridged editions of Kilroy and other expansive works of graffiti exhibited in what passed locally as the next best thing to the Tate Gallery, whereupon it hadn't taken Jack very long to realise that it was always a good place to start if you wanted free breakfast, in fact the weeks bill of fare was tastefully displayed in vivid, polychromatic colour on the wall opposite... you just had to be au-fait with braille.
No matter how industrious Beamish laboured to rake the dirt there always appeared to be a dire shortage of gullible clients for Jack to squeeze, what would roughly translate as an honest crust out of, and although his financial retainer was highly competitive he understood that potential clients found it bewildering when grappling with the unplumbed depths of his monthly expense account, which would tend to fluctuate with the same unpredictability as the British weather, the rest of Jack's agenda revolved around a little shady moonlighting... in fact he'd happily consider anything to offset the remotest possibility of financial delinquency... short of extortion... which by the strangest twist was the very word prospective clients would cry while Jack beavered around the office with dust-pan and brush sweeping any concerns they may have had frantically under the carpet regarding all culpability of his extra-curricular monthly stipend... and they should remain assured at all times... as they dug deep and fished for their cheque books, and simply look upon it as kneading dough, which eerily enough was exactly the thick wedge of buttered granary that Jack had every intention of carving.
Were there ever the slightest possibility that a day could be so utterly wretched, then today was that day, Jack felt a certain empathy as he merged with his surroundings... at one with nature as it were. The rain, a timpani on the metal dustbin lids, by the side of which Beamish had taken up vigil, also taking up vigil and in search of a morsel was the stray mongrel, this was the third time now that he'd returned, the same apprehensive wag, yet still the same hopeful look of expectation in his eyes, a brief but friendly companion who paid more attention to Jack's left trouser leg than anything that could be had from nosing around the dustbins that day... some days you're the dog, scowled Beamish as he shook his trouser leg... and some days the lamppost, Jack's foot swung out playfully, keeping his new friend's incontinence at a safe distance, feigning indignance the scruffy mongrel shook himself defiantly from nose to tail, a distinct odour of wet dog filled the air as an abundance of spent rainwater flew in all directions. Pricking one ear he looked accusingly at Jack before turning and snuffled off, his nose resolutely to the pavement and diligently, picking out the few diluted scents still remaining, the poor little stalwart renewed its search for scraps, or making his way perhaps to some dry seclusion known only to itself.
Two hours later and... SPLOSH, a puddle poured itself through the front door of the nearest Public House... SPLOSH, the puddle squelched over to the payphone... SPLOSH, then, fumbling for small change dialled and pressed button 'A'..., then button 'B'... then started all over again amid a flurry of precipitation... SPLASH. The puddle floundered to the bar and ordered itself a drink, then ebbed back to the payphone again... the local taxi company doggedly refused to answer... finally, wallowing over to the window the puddle drifted up against a warm radiator amidst a cloud of humidity and came to rest... flotsam, cast upon the shore of contentment, the puddle sighed contentedly... the Landlady watched this anomaly... suspiciously.
The puddle's finely tuned perception soon got to grips with the unhurried banter and muffled gossip drifting along the bar, having little else to loose, other than what could still be wrung from his clothing... Beamish, working on the principle that a little eavesdropping was his stock-in-trade engaged instinct into overdrive and casually rippled in their general direction... They were clearly regulars by the way one of them belched in a well rehearsed, taken-a-back sort of way as Jack took stock of the situation and was now at some pains to ingratiate himself into their exclusive midst and attempt several friendly, yet relevant questions pertinent to his enquiries... all of which were skillfully deflected with more than friendly, yet totally irrelevant answers pertinent to theirs'... and would Jack care for a game of dominoes', they enquired... if so, would he be good enough to pay the refundable deposit, as by common consent it just so happened to be his turn... Jack graciously declined this generous offer, as the obliging Landlady, just as graciously, cancelled the one shilling returnable deposit from the cash register, such was the flow of light conversation that evening... they didn't call him Lucky Jack for nothing... discouraged, Beamish turned back to the bar and reached for his glass... to which one of his recent companions, and yet again just as graciously, had taken the trouble to drink for him... the Landlady gave Jack a knowing look, Beamish returned the heartfelt sentiment and ordered one more pint.
From the licenced premises opposite, a myriad of jostling customers plied through the door, business was picking up... the sudden influx of punters rapidly persuaded Beamish to retire from the bar and find a vacant table. Sitting, he removed several discarded crisp packets from the centre of the table only to discover a freshly vacated ashtray below... by sleight of hand Jack's Ronson appeared... as he lit the cigarette the fragile smoke curled blue as it rose... influenced by subtle caprice, it joined others and formed a horizontal curtain dividing the room, a delicate, undulating layer held between two conflicting forces.
The possibility of a free drink soon attracted the attention of a local bar fly, who, hovering in the near vicinity promptly landed in Jack's beer, Beamish declined this generous offer as being far too nutritious and with the corner of yesterdays beer mat, flipped the offending organism from the top of his glass, carefully inspecting his drink for debris as he did so.
A sudden draught and clip of stiletto heels as the side door opened caused Beamish to turn as a double shadow slipped discreetly into the friendly Snug... a little adulterous intimacy on an otherwise cheerless evening. The faceless man, concealed beneath a fedora and the upturned collar of his overcoat, the surreptitious lady friend, decked out in damp cony, cheap perfume and a surfeit of bling proclaimed a not too infrequent assignation, he'd seen it all before... the over attentive manner and the band of white, Sun-starved skin recently hidden behind a now absent wedding token, ordinarily it was the sort of assignment Jack didn't much care for... the discreet tail, the candid snapshot through half drawn curtains... and the all too familiar steak tartare... for the all too familiar black eye.
To the untrained eye, the prospect of Jack's long anticipated supper was rapidly dwindling, when it suddenly focused with renewed vigour upon the contents of a pickled egg jar he'd observed earlier that evening, lurking on the back counter, his enthusiasm swiftly diminished however as the belching customer procured the final two specimens from the jar and proceeded to demolish them. Who, Jack reflected, after being stood out in the rain all day, had egg all over his face now... and who, he reflected deeper, still had an empty stomach. Disillusioned, Jack tipped back his glass and considered a further sortie with the taxicab company.
"FIVE-BOB"!!! Jack screamed... you could have shredded the air with a cheese grater... hurtling into the kerb like a fairground attraction came flying past the chequered flag at a record breaking 99 in Jack's top 100 most not wanted list of things to do that day... and that the cabby should think himself fortunate they weren't both stretched flat on a marble slab, "exploding tyres" Jack spluttered, dribbling down his chin, were enough to give anyone a coronary... further broadsides of neurotic ambiance filled the cab as the driver, miffed at the prospect of missing snooker night out with the lads, considered charging extra for the additional space Jack's profanity was taking...
And what part of 'Drive-Carefully', fumed Beamish, did the cabby simply not understand, that pavements were there to be bypassed, 'Nay Circumvented', preferably on the left... and not veered into, wildly on the front axle... an eerie premonition of 'jemais-vu' perched and ready to strike like a disembodied Jiminy Cricket on Jack's left shoulder, looking to stick its own two-penny worth in at the 'Standing-Room-Only' arrangements in the overcrowded cab... and at what further point, Jack shrieked, eyes leaping from his head as he lurched forward, shaking his fist through the sliding glass partition, had the cabbie failed to grasp the importance of the word 'Steering-Wheel...' someone wanted horse whipping, and as far as Beamish was concerned the sole contender was the cab driver...
In having a somewhat sedate and unruffled disposition it had fallen to Beamish... as befalls all great leaders in times of adversity, to single handedly take the bull by the horns, so to speak and at great personal cost, alert the unwary passing motorist... Waving his arms about like a man possessed whilst performing acrobatic evolutions in the centre of the road as the cabby changed the wheel came whizzing around the corner at a back breaking 98 on Jack's ever growing list... and why, Jack puzzled, why had they all lowered their side windows and gestured back at him in semaphore..? Rallying to its aid, Jack's head and shoulders now joined his shaking fist through the sliding glass partition and into the cabby's face, "Who" Beamish screeched with renewed vigour ,"Who Was The Man", Jack wanted to know... "and Who-o..." by this time the cabby considered his passenger was asking far too many questions for his own good but said little as he left the meter clocking up the additional fare... "Who-o risked his neck for brother man...", before eventually flagging down a breakdown patrol motorcyclist... only to discover that the cab company wasn't a member, "Who's Fault Was That", screamed Beamish... and that he had choice words to say if ever he crossed that mobile mechanic again, that definitely was not the regulation salute he was required to give, anyway Jack had no intention of paying the cab fare and said as much... and as for a gratuity, No-ooo... that didn't bare thinking about, he'd sooner have his leg chewed off by a rabid Aardvark, no... it was the taxicab company who should be doling out danger money... and plenty of it...
With an air of indignation Jack dislodged himself from the glass partition... stormed out of the cab and up the garden path... then stormed back down again, leaving the bemused cabby in no uncertain doubt that he'd by no means finished before storming back, only this time up his own garden path, leaving the red faced driver spluttering in sheer bewilderment.
Fumbling for his keys Jack let himself in through the front door and promptly stumbled over several weeks mail and the undisputed title-holder of the 'Spiteful Cat Championship Cup' who, having taken a shine to basking on the summit several days earlier was incensed by this sudden intrusion and flew lickety-split full across the hallway, then, recoiling off the hat-stand, hurtled straight back, a malicious ball of thrashing barbs and razor wire. In attempting to fend off, with only minor mutilation his second contender of the evening Jack noticed his slipper... the other he recalled was still on the kitchen floor where he'd abandoned it earlier that morning, it being worn at the time by a bluebottle, the troublesome insect had been bouncing against the window pane so frenziedly, presumably wishing to let itself out and take the morning air, that it cracked ... oddly enough, so did the fly, at the precise instant Jack's size 9 ceased hurtling through the kitchen void. Cheerfully, Jack retrieved his slipper and scraped the deceased blowfly into the peddle-bin, 'Game, Set and Match'.
He'd had a restless night, insomnia didn't help, neither did the persistent monotony of the bedside alarm clock... now any suggestion that it grow wings and take flight would have appealed to Jack at that precise moment as he pictured it touching down on its first solo flight against a distant wall... or should evolving wings be too millennial at such short notice, then Beamish would be only too happy to lend a helping hand and accommodate its transition in achieving the dizzying heights of being at oneness with the bedroom decor... opposite.
Laying there Jack took stock of the previous day, he recalled the rain sodden fedora weighing heavily upon his mind, he remembered it giving him headache, he recalled the friendly mongrel, he remembered his left trouser leg. Jack had been down on his luck more times than he could care to remember of late... yesterday had been no exception... sure, he'd had differences of opinion with cabbies before now, disparaging ones, but last night had really taken the biscuit... and that Jack would be giving the cab company a tasty mouthful of it later that morning... As the rain finally took a well earned breather, so the incessant chatter of the dawn chorus began, Jack screamed... so did the alarm clock... a new day began.
It would be a little unfair to say the day had started out on the wrong foot... it was nowhere near that lucky... but rather stepped on an upturned thumb tack instead, and witnessed a very exasperated Beamish hopping mad and wrangling on the telephone, being harangued as it happened by a taxicab manager... not 'the' taxicab manager you may have anticipated, whose company logo he'd completely forgotten to take note of, but the 'wrong' taxicab manager, the local business who directory enquires utterly failed to locate for the most obvious of reasons, Jack didn't have its name... The long suffering switchboard operator patiently enquired as to whether Jack was inviting her to participate in some new game of deduction she had previously been in deficit of, or did Beamish believe her to have the gift of second sight... in which case, should she manage to locate her crystal ball then she would be only too delighted to return Jack's call with the ethereal telephone number, or perhaps he would prefer telepathy instead and that the choice was his... Beamish thanked her for her professional sarcasm and suggested she might consider a change of career upon more distant shores, Jack then spent the following hour trawling through the subscriber listings before drawing up a short-list, and as painstakingly methodical as ever, he ducked.
"Yes... yes... no, well maybe not, no ... n-no, well don't let it happen again then ... Good-Day". Beamish replaced the handset, badly trapping his fingers in the process... wrong number. Gingerly, dusting off the palms of his hands Jack studied the list once again, then took one last stab at pinning the tail firmly back on the donkey... who promptly lashed back and kicked him full in the face. In the distance, a rumble of thunder foretold the day bode anything but well.
That afternoon discovered Beamish back in the same dining establishment he hadn't quite managed to be in the day before... Never to be mistaken for a 'More~Tea~Vicar' tearoom, with gingham tablecloths, pretty maids in severe black skirt and matching top uniforms... with white pinafore, bob-caps and Irish lace accessories, but rather a 'sugar yer own tea with a spoon on a chain, screwed permanently to the counter with a 6 inch nail...' Pit-Stop... with complimentary cigarette ash bobbing cheekily on top. Beamish felt thoroughly at home, it added a certain flamboyance, he determined, to the locale...
A distinct lack of ashtrays, the absence of which invited the casual smoker to exploit the threadbare linoleum to its utmost possible advantage and lent a certain minimalist feel to the joint, cosy, yet austere... exhibiting great artistic indifference and real back breaking restraint in the petty cash department. The various mostly empty condiments and communal sugar bowl, stuck firmly to the counter with generous remains of yesterdays 'All-Day-Breakfast' further added to its dash of individuality, it crossed Jack's mind that the outdoor washing facilities were just as individual, giving off the robust and invigorating odour of carbolic San-Izal and a non too subtle hint that having finished whatever it was that you were doing there in the first place, the customer shouldn't loiter.
The unshaven proprietor glanced briefly up at the clock, a nondescript grunt emerged from some uncharted region whose geography Jack surmised... as a further contribution of cigarette ash took the plunge and joined its siblings skinny-dipping in the murky depths of the recently unwashed frying pan below, was best left to those with a good working knowledge of Cartography. Of indeterminate age, he was a man of relatively ample and oily circumference, the few hairs still remaining appeared hastily groomed with some questionable residue you might possibly unearth in the greasier, more remote recesses of the kitchen peddle-bin. Still in bedroom slippers, his outgoing distinctiveness was further marked by a deficiency of soap powder and the jaunty demeanour of his string vest, it was his lower extremities however, festooned in snappy, a-la-mode dog-tooth check that finally brought the stunning ensemble to a breath taking conclusion.
While Jack queued in line to be ignored at, and then have his order casually brushed aside with a... "if it ain't up on the board chum, then we ain't gorrit..." then have a tired sandwich, not necessarily of his own choosing, thrown at him by way of compromise, he considered the previous mornings bluebottle would really have hit the big time here, what you might call 'Cabaret au' Slipper' and with all the ambiance of a smoke filled jazz cellar, the venue would've caused eruptions within the Industrial North's show-biz circles. As the jukebox thumped out loudly in the background... "Papa's got a brand new bag..." "Awww", Jack was rather of the opinion that the now otherworldly fly was striking some new and exclusive rites-of-passage with 'The Almighty' and could be launching its latest debut appearance in the Performing Arts as early as a week next Tuesday, or as long as gestation, or reincarnation would allow, Jack speculated as to whether it would need a road manager or not, one who was worldly in ways of the 'slipper...'
The day, pretty much as any other trudged wearily on from one sodden rain cloud to the next... Rained off and sat in the same Public House as the previous evening, Jack ordered a pie and a pint while he carefully peeled the racing pages apart from the newspaper he'd purchased earlier for that weeks events at the local racetrack. The previous evenings taxicab number, once prominently displayed by the payphone was now, strangely enough only to be noted by its absence... whereabouts unknown... and despite all Jack's efforts to the contrary, had little intention of reappearing anytime soon. The business cards mysterious departure deeply troubled Jack's finely honed powers of deduction as it bore many similarities to his own long overdue expenses, which apparently had little intention of appearing anytime soon either, presumably choosing to 'bunk-off' and go steeplechasing instead.
Whilst other far flung people cruised in the cabriolet of a much sunnier clime, unhurried England having nowhere in particular to go, bumbled along in the slow lane, beneath what could only be described as a whirlpool of depression you would normally associate with the BBC shipping forecast for coastal areas... Viking, Rockall and Cromarty, today was one such maelstrom which to its credit was taking squarely on the chin every weather-beaten punch the sky could possibly throw at it... from a refreshing, 'quick morning spar in the bathroom washbasin', to a more exhilarating ,'brisk and vigorous workout under a mid-afternoon shower', then at the final bell, an out for the count 'three coins in the fountain' bath night.
The three day racing event had witnessed the worst turnout since records began, the outside camera crews, refusing to leave the warm... yet more importantly, dry interior of the mobile studio and put in an appearance, threatened work-to-rule, with menaces and not too dissimilar to the weather... lightening strikes... opting to play Five's and Three's instead over toasted crumpets and a steaming mug of Bovril. The going had been soft-to-poor the previous day, then rallying its forces throughout the night to become what could very easily be mistaken for quagmire-to-quicksand... now this should have spurred the promoters to throw in the towel at their earliest convenience and abandon the race meeting outright, but the event, not wishing to be eclipsed by the latest weather front was fast developing into an out-take of the Oxford boat race and had every intention of storming to victory, crossing the finishing line by nothing less than three lengths.
The final event of the day was coming under starters orders, having made one breathtaking loss after the other, Jack, casting all caution to the wind... in much the same way it seemed as his latest client, was now going all out for broke... 'Aweeeee-screeech'... wailed the commentary box loudspeakers "Aand-they're-off..." "its-Captain-Clueless-coming-up-on-the-inside and..." "Oh... "aand-he's-fallen-at-the-first-fence..." "what-a-spectacular humiliation..." and so it continued... It had been a fun packed day, Jack fumed, as he clenched a handful of betting slips in his fist and brandished them skywards... simply one great whopping success story after the other, Jack felt certain the same heartfelt sentiments would be leaping through the jockey's mind as the stretcher bearers carted him off towards the St. John's Ambulance first aid tent. Captain Clueless meanwhile, playing to the crowd and his newly acquired fan base gambolled off in a frolicsome, catch-me-if-you-can sort of way and in the general direction of a brisk rub down and well earned nosebag... his handlers sliding in hot pursuit. Jack tore up his betting slips... Jack tore them up some more and littered the visitors paddock, as the confetti floated downstream you could almost catch them gurgling a cheerful little tune to themselves... someone, Jack thought, had to keep the ground stewards employed...
No... barter was definitely out and as far as bad debts went, accepting a clients moped in lieu of payment was no exception, and yet it had seemed quite pointless to offer a continued service when Jack's unerring instinct once again informed him that to unearth the cause of his clients mysterious insolvency would be to discover something to Jack's distinct financial disadvantage. Having finally worked free from the hysterics and the desperation with which the impoverished client had clutched at Jack's shirt collar, Beamish wished him bonne-chance and for him to remain assured throughout these troubled times, that should Jack be of further assistance in shouldering any further burden his former client may encounter, then he should be sure to seize the moment with both hands... not too dissimilar to Jack's crumpled shirt collar... and accept his personal card as an insignificant token of their continued association... they parted company. Although Jack found his former sponsors death-rattle touching, he considered the fervour in which he displayed it a little excessive, when a simple handshake would have served the same purpose in relieving him of his wristwatch... business, after all, was business.
A positive outlook in all things, Jack reassured himself for the third time that day since his latest cash-cow had abruptly dried up... and in looking upon every fat pocketbook that fell by the wayside as a potential source of unearned income, a good Samaritan, Jack reasoned, would be offering no disservice in taking upon his own shoulders the straw that was breaking the poor, unfortunate creature's back... and give the poor defenceless animal a helping shove, so to speak, head first through the eye of the proverbial needle... and straight into Jack's superannuated pension scheme... "hallelujah".
Whereas a pessimist would behold a glass half empty set before them... an optimist, one that was brimming half full, then Beamish would feast his eyes upon a foaming tankard, one filled to capacity with every fermented delight that Jack's indulgent taste-buds could ever be prevailed upon to imbibe. Of all the plum pies that Jack had his thumbs stuck into... up to the elbows in fact... was one five-star hors-d'oeuvre that would ordinarily send your average County Court Judgement diving for cover in last week's wastepaper basket, then, while the bailiff's were running around like headless chickens, pointing accusing fingers at anyone but themselves as to who'd forgotten to get the legality notarised, then Jack would simply roll his sleaves up and get stuck in, sending all future incriminating disbursements scurrying in the opposite direction, straight into Jack's Cayman-islands tax haven account...
Were it not for Jack's keen sense of business acumen and a very strong sense of British fair play then Beamish could almost feel sorry for his clients, so sorry in fact that for a mere bagatelle, currently running at five per-cent above inflation... plus commission, Beamish would bring full weight to bear, and for a further modest monthly consideration, make the problem disappear permanently... for a further modest month. Jack didn't particularly see this as skimming cream from the top of the churn, but rather as breaking into the dairy farming industry and in direct competition with the Milk Marketing Board.
"Hit the road Jack, Hit the road Jack and don't you come back..." Shut-Up! Shut-Up!! Shut-Up!!! Shut-Up!!!! screamed Beamish, that jingle was just begging for trouble as the lyrics chirruped on... "no more, no more, no more, no more..." it harmoniously re-joined, limbering up for the next prophetic verse. Now barking his ankle on the kick-start had been comparatively simple, if not painful compared to the mind numbing complexity of vaulting on or off without tripping the ejector seat, which was also mind numbingly painful and "Hit the road Jack and..."after ripping the seat out of his second pair of trousers that morning, "...don't you come back no mo-o-o-ore" it wailed, seemingly without a care in Creation... and badly needed screwing down, "what you say..?", the song further enquired... badly needed screwing down. One hour, and an entirely different song later, having explored the extensive array of oil leaks which had apparently resolved any rust problems the moped may have had were also at odds with Jack's willingness to remit blood money to the Petro-Chemical Industry's prodigious profit margins.
She'd been popping in and out of Jack's mind for sometime now, in much the same way that a friendly neighbour might pop around to borrow a bowl of sugar... well, she could have kept the sugar bowl... and the china tea service that accompanied it just so long as Jack got an invitation to coffee mornings... when, out of the corner of one eye she stood, as though in a golden haze waiting to cross the road, arms folded, a look of pure contempt waxed lyrical, her dainty foot tapping out a military tattoo... quick time when SMACK... also with utter contempt, only on this occasion for the Highway Code, a speeding wasp slammed straight into the corner of Jack's other eye.
Having had just about all the excitement they could take for one day the now unfettered handlebars finally took matters into their own hands as the moped lurched wildly from one side to the other... and with it lent a whole new sequence of choreography to the expression 'do the Bossa-Nova...' just where were the emergency services when you needed them, Jack's panic stricken senses demanded... he would definitely be pressing charges, then it occured that no, he definitely would not, he didn't hold a motorcycle licence for one thing... which came limping around the corner with a Doctor's sick note third from last in Jack's top 100 most wanted as the jitterbugging moped, frantically looking for someone to mark its dance card struggled to Trip the Light Fantastic solo... nor was he Road Taxed, now that he came to think about it, or Insured for that matter... but it was most certainly a Hit and Run.
As a matter of some interest, and so as not to get too bogged down over the finer points of where to lay the blame, Jack had absolutely no control whatsoever over the teeth rattling chain of events that were currently raining down about his ears that afternoon, nor did he feel anything other than sheer, abject terror as the moped continued pitching wildly from side to side before plunging into the nearest pothole, thereby performing the nasal vasectomy that brought far more than tears to Jack's bloodshot eyes as it propelled him... "Aaaargh..." over the front mudguard... nor indeed the prodigious feats of derring-do as he selflessly placed the welfare of his underwear above life and limb... but it was Jack's unrehearsed double axel as he cartwheeled unrehearsed through the air in a majestic spiral of arms and legs that finally swept her, the object of Jack's undying infatuation, albeit head on, completely off her feet, after all... how could a girl possibly refuse.
The Panel awarded best overall score to the moped, receiving an impressive 5-5, 5-6, 5-6 for Freestyle Jive and amid a standing ovation at first curtain call performed double back somersaults down the road as encore... the aerobic wasp, looking to catapult itself onto prime time television and certain stardom took a well deserved Second for creative interpretation and its extravagant use of the pirouette... while Beamish, for whom the Judges' 'to-a-man' were of one accord over Jack's imaginative application of the English language and with unanimous nods of resentment promptly disqualified him... If nothing else, Jack surmised, it would certainly be a talking point, something to while away the long Winter evenings together, time would simply fly by...
With her foot tapping the same military two-step as earlier, the object of Jack's undying affection glared down at him and began opening her mouth, then thought better of it and simply sneered instead... "Dello", a nasally challenged Beamish sniffled as he peeled himself from the asphalt, "wodda lubly subrize... vancy meedin ooo agaid do dood", Jack squeezed a gelatinous blob of hemoglobin from his neck-tie by way of an impromptu chat up line before dabbing his nose once more with the congealing strip of fabric... thinking it far more judicious to use the softly-softly approach rather than slap her on the back and invite her out for a pint... that would come later, "do ooo um ere ovden" he rambled on unabashed, fumbling with the sodden item of neckwear as in a last ditch attempt to impress, Jack was going all out to kick the scattered remains of his former mode of embarrassment discreetly under the tarmac.
YES!!! he'd finally struck gold... it wasn't quite the cosy 'Mills and Boon' coffee morning Jack might have wished for... true, nor even a romantic 'Allison and Busby' bag of chips to go... shared between two no hopers on a balmy Summer's evening, but nonetheless it was a date, of sorts... 9.30 for 10 a.m. sharp, so the Summons read, at the Magistrate's Sessions in the County Court Assizes. Jack arrived quite early that morning, clean shaven and sporting a fresh elastoplast in anticipation of an amicable tete'-a-tete' with the Plaintiff, before an equally amicable head-to-head with the Magistrate. Opting to conduct his own defence, the Court Usher finally summoned Jack, who was led under caution to the dock and... thirty minutes later... "Harrumph" the Justice cleared his throat for the final onslaught...
And what part of 'Drive-Carefully' the Magistrate spluttered, did Beamish not understand... that potholes were there to be bypassed, 'Nay Circumvented' preferably either side... and not pitched into, wildly on the nose... the disembodied shadow of deja-vu sat unconcernedly with its feet crossed upon Jack's left shoulder, munching away at a cheese and pickle on rye whilst it warmed to the idea of sticking the boot in this time, rather than use piddling small change... meanwhile, sitting at a neighbouring table the bewildered Stenographer broke into her second mid-life crisis that morning, giving rise to further withering glares from the Clerk-to-the-Court as to where the precipitous mountain of bread crumbs, inexplicably cascading over the Courtroom Proceedings were coming from... And at what further point, the Magistrate shrieked, his eyes leaping from his head as he lurched forward brandishing the gavel over the Bench and straight into Jack's face, had Beamish failed to grasp the importance of the word 'Highway Code...', someone was about to get the book thrown at them and as far as the Magistrate was concerned, the sole malcontent was Beamish.
Subsequent to the Magistrates final ruling Beamish was awarded a £15 endorsable fine, suspended until such time as Jack actually possessed a motorcycle licence of his own... and no, a television licence would not do, plus a further £15 for contempt of court... and the penalties mounted... £15 for failure to display valid road tax... £15 for non compliance of mandatory motor vehicle indemnity... and that the Defendant should think himself lucky that the Petitioner did not wish to pursue the matter further... and it didn't stop there, he wasn't the registered keeper and he should have been, £15... driving without due care, £15... and for lack of attention... yet an additional £15, Jack wished the Magistrate would stop stuttering and call an early recess for lunch as the gavel struck the block one last time... "SOLD", shouted Jack, to the gentleman with the rosy nos... "and another £15" screamed the red faced Beak as he tipped backwards in his chair...
The barometer continued to plummet at breakneck speed and had been doing so single-handedly since well before dawn, which Jack, after an arduous day took to be a leisurely 11 a.m. going on noon and Beamish was doing what Beamish apparently did best... he was stood in the rain... Jack then called upon the local theatrical costumier before visiting a well known High Street retailer masquerading as the Gas meter reader and with an HB pencil stuck behind his ear, how could Jack's infallible plan possibly fail...
Clawing his way back through the vast, cobweb infested labyrinth of cellars and musty passageways, only to re-emerge into the cheerless light of day under the pretence of having just read the gas meter, a heavily begrimed Beamish who, still incognito, could now be found queuing in the staff canteen for his complimentary cup of tea, when... "oh" she said, "it's you again... I didn't know you worked for the Gas Board, I thought you were an assassin..." and ",why are you covered in cobwebs... is it camouflage?" and that was it, the ice had been broken... her name it transpired was Jenny Bartleby, so the insignia on her pinafore explained and that she'd obviously been playing Jack at his own game for some time, now they could presumably go at it hammer and tongs from that moment on... and would she care for lunch... Jack's off-the-cuff invitation was hardly the offer of a lifetime, yet sprang straight into action nonetheless... and it had to be better than a Smokey Joe's stale cheese sandwich of former acquaintance... whilst Jack was offering a freshly grated cheese and pickle sandwich with fries, the fact that she'd be making it herself, Jack concluded, was neither here nor there... If, she persisted, if he really wanted to show a girl a good time then that was just fine by her... but he was going about it entirely the wrong way if... if he insisted on being such a cheapskate... then turning her attention to the back counter she started grating cheese.
"There's a vacant table in the corner" she said, "over by the window" gesturing vaguely with her tray "we can sit there if you like", but there again if he didn't like, then that was equally fine by her... he could simply leave and no doubt bump into her at some future date, should he still fancy his chances involving her in a second near fatal incident... in which case her uncle, Magistrate and eminent top criminal advocate of 'Bartleby, Belladonna & Bromide', Barristers-at-Law, to whom Beamish, she was pleased to recall, had been formally introduced during their previous skirmish would be at no uncertain pains to ensure that he made every aspect of Jack's life from that moment on a pure living nightmare as he systematically set about stripping Beamish of every last brass farthing he possessed... Jack's undisclosed Cayman-islands bank account being no exception. Her uncle's predisposition for judicial larceny, she firmly assured him, knew no bounds within the precedents of legal jurisprudence... and that she was currently employed, if he really must know, choking back a giggle as she cleared her throat, by the local Municipal Constabulary... she dunked into a dollop of ketchup and nibbled thoughtfully on a fried chip, "working undercover" she explained... having the time of her life... "in the staff canteen as a freelance Sous-Chef operative," and that it was all very hush-hush stuff and would probably breach the Official Secrets Act were she to say more... and that if Beamish continued to break her cover as he had been doing of late... and dipped his nose any further into matters that didn't concern him, then Jack's already traumatised nasal membrane would shortly be submitting weekly time-sheets... which as luck would have it came tearing across the finishing line and took a triumphant, champagne popping first in Jack's personal top 100 most wanted... and that yes, leaning over and giving Jack a quick peck on the cheek, she would accept a drink after work... if Jack was paying.
... ... ... ©
It seems as though
I always want to talk to you
But our conversation comes at a cost
Because every word spoken
Puts me one word closer
To the last words I'll ever say to you.
With hope I could forever speak
With reason and love aimed at your heart
Taking your ears and making them listen
To what I need you to hear
Before you cannot hear anymore.
Carefully I select the sounds I speak
As not to choose the wrong ones
Picking silently in my head
The memories I would like to leave behind
In every moment I spend with you.
I know the last words I will say to you.
They are in my head now
Dancing on my lips
Teasing your ears
But I will not say them.
I will say them when it is time
For them to be true.
I do hope, however, that when that time comes
You will have already said them
written and directed
the films of
There is method
To his madness
1. EXT. Run down project apartment complex - 3:00 am
A dark, tall figure with long black hair and a trenchcoat opens the already cracked red door.
I'm looking for love in all the wrong places.
INT. Apartment 3
A typical roach infested apartment with a kitchen built into the living room. 3 GIRLS are on the kitchen floor. GIRL # 1 one has black hair with big lips and a curvy frame and she is wearing a pair of Tripp pants and a black bra barely covering her ample bosom. She has a flesh colored rubber hose tied to her left arm. GIRL # 2 has dyed rainbow colored hair, a nice smile, and a skinny frame. She is wearing a pair of tore blue jeans with smiley faces and cute in jokes written on them, also not wearing a shirt with a lacy blue bra on. She has a spoon with water and black tar heroin inside it which she is heating up with a silver Zippo with the word "Skittles" engraved into it. GIRL # 3 Has long naturally red hair, glasses and an extremely voluptuous figure. She is wearing tight black pants and a black shirt with thin sleeves. She is inspecting a covered syringe with an unsure look in her eyes.
GIRL # 2:
So, do you wanna do it or not Jane?
Snatches the syringe out of JANE's hand.
I'm not sure. How long have you been doing this shit?
Girl #2 takes the orange cap off the syringe revealing a small needle.
Since after I graduated. About 3 years. Liz you ready?
As ready as I am for dat sweet tang!
Girl #2 giggles. She sticks the needle into Liz's arm, blood mixes with the brown fluid inside, and she pushes the plunger down. Liz leans back into Girl #2's arms and Girl #2 gives her a kiss.
I love you, Julia.
Well, I love you too.
You guys are so gay!
Save that shit for the fucking customers!
Other side of room. A greasy looking MAN with short faded black hair and a scar going from the corner of his mouth to the right ear is sitting in a beat up recliner cleaning his Uberti 1873 Cattleman revolver while smoking a fat blunt and watching some kind of high budget porn with Sasha Grey in it.
Sorry, Mike. It didn't stop you from leaving me and Liz unsatisfied and bored, did it?
LIZ and JULIA laugh. JANE has a nervous look in her eyes.
Very fucking funny you wore out trick! Am I gonna have to smack the sass out yo mouth?
MIKE gets up, puts out his blunt and walks over to the GIRLS gun in hand.
Or am I gonna have to give your little friend a scar like mine.
MIKE SLAPS JULIA with the side of his UNLOADED revolver and grabs JANE by her hair.
Who the fuck are you, anyways bitch?
I was walking down the street earlier today and I ran into Julia and Liz. They went to school with my sister I think. Let me go!
So you're a young'n. Well you have some nice big titties!
MIKE RIPS off her shirt exposing her breasts. He begins to squeeze the right one. JANE SLAPS MIKE HARD!
MIKE lets go of her hair. Jane runs to the other room grabbing her shirt. LIZ stumbles towards him and PUNCHES him in the nose.
That's it! You little cum dumpsters are dead!
MIKE picks up the REVOLVER, runs to the chair where the bullets are and tries to reload. JULIA wakes from her daze. We see him load 3 rounds. All of a sudden the DOOR gets broken down and the dark clad FIGURE from the scene before pulls out a BERETTA M9 with a silencer attachment. MIKE FIRES 2 shots at him haphazardly missing both. The MAN LAUGHS and FIRES one shot that MIKE's crotch catches.
2. INT. Next door in Apartment 2.
A MAN and WOMAN in their early 40's are smoking a joint and seem disturbed by the gunfire.
What the hell was that?
Sounded like gunshots. Do you think we should call the cops?
Fuck no! There is a pound of chronic in the bedroom closet! Just pray whoever it is doesn't come over here!
Okay. Are you gonna pass that?
3. INT. Apartment 3.
The smoke has cleared. MIKE is begging for death and BLEEDING out everywhere, JULIA is in a daze, dumbfounded by what she just witnessed, LIZ is cowering in fear, crying, and JANE just came out of the bedroom with her TORN SHIRT on and a terrified "Oh my God" expression. The unknown assailant has a devilish grin upon his face.
Godfuck! Kill me you sunuvabitch! Godda--
The MAN obliges. He fires a single shot into his RIGHT EYE.
Well, looks like I got here in the nick of time!
W-Who the fuck are you?
That is of little importance right now. Who are you foxy ladies?
M-My name's Julia. That girl over there (points to Liz) is Liz, and the ginger is Jane.
What pretty names! Well, I have a question. Will you three lovely young ladies gather round that despicable looking chair and listen to what I have to say, or are you going to run? Keep in mind I have rope in my trenchcoat and the fact I mean you no harm. I am just a lonely man with a story to tell, and the way I see it, what with that bruise on your sweet face, you kinda owe me.
I think we can stay. I just wanna know your name.
Ahh, but I am a man of many names. My christian name is Derek. You don't need the last for now.
DEREK walks to the chair and sits down. He waves the GIRLS over.
C'mon I just want to tell my tale. Look, I will put the gun under the chair as a sign of good faith that neither you girls or I will start shooting the place up again. Are we square ladies?
What do ya say guys?
They gather in the kitchen.
This guy has a screw loose.
Yes, but he saved us from our pimp. We should humor him.
I think he is hot!
LIZ and JULIA just stare at JANE.
Sorry, but he is.
So it's agreed. We will listen to his story, silently pray he doesn't rape us and leave afterwards.
The GIRLS walk to the chair. DEREK has lit the blunt.
Ahh, so you have decided to join me. Good. Do you guys wanna hit this?
LIZ and JULIA shake their heads no.
Great. Now, where do I begin. I suppose everybody's roots stem from childhood, so lets go back, oh say, 20 years ago.
FADE TO BLACK
Against black, TITLE CARD
October 15th 1995.
4. EXT. Suburbia circa 1995.
There are three boys between the ages of 6 and 9 playing in front of a grey HOUSE with a white MINIVAN in the driveway. Little DEREK is a scrawny 6 year old boy with short brown hair and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figure in his hands. The 2 other BOYS ages 7 and 9 are picking on him and trying to take away DONATELLO.
Leave me alone or I will whoop your butt.
Whatever! You are scrawny and lame. Give us your Ninja Turtle now or we will beat you up!
BOY #2 picks up a STICK and starts hitting DEREK with it.
What are you going to do? Get your daddy? Oh, wait...that's right, you don't have one!
The 2 BULLIES start laughing. A look of hatred fills young DEREK's eyes. He catches the STICK and slaps BOY #2 in the face with it. He then tackles him and starts beating him mercilessly. BOY #1 runs towards the PORCH and knocks on the DOOR. DEREK'S MOM answers. She is in her mid 30's with brown hair and casual clothing on, smoking a cigarette and drinking a cup of "coffee."
Derek's beating up Josh again!
Well, good for him! Bet that little pecker snot deserved it too. Now, Brad...why don't you take you and your friend on home before I tell your dad you play with Barbies.
LATE 20'S DEREK:
My mother was a sweet ol' broad!
Okay, Ms. Walters, but you do know you are going to have to pull him offa Josh right?
(sighs like Brad)
DEREK'S MOM and BRAD walk to the front yard and GASP when they notice that DEREK has knocked out 2 of JOSH'S baby teeth, both in the front and broke his nose, which is bleeding profusely.
Derek Charles Walters! Get the fuck up offa him!
He hit me with a stick!
Well, now I'm about to!
She picks up the STICK and beats his ass with it several times.
Fuck you bitch!
DEREK'S MOM, infuriated throws the stick down and SLAPS him across the face. DEREK runs away.
He runs to a wooded area in the back yard as far as his legs can take him.
LATE 20'S DEREK:
Do not weep, for on that day, I met God and Satan incarnate and it turns out they existed singularly in my head.
Like a conscience?
Much more. These guys are in the room right now and only I can see him. Satan led me to you guys tonight! Who knows what kind of CRAZY hijinks are in store!
That's it I'm outta here! C'mon gu--
DEREK fires of his M9 1 time.
Now, listen to me you dykey, junkie whore. I have 3 more rounds in this motherfucker and one
of them is reserved for you if you don't sit your tight ass back down.
JULIA sits back down scared to death. DEREK regains his composure and is "all smiles" again.
Phew! I don't want to hurt anybody. I just want someone pretty to listen to my fucking story. Fuck, if you want, I will ask you guys about yourself later on, but for now I'm going to introduce you to my best friends.
Who are they again?
Ah, you were trying to pay attention. I will remember that. They go by many names. One can be called "God", "Heroic Harry", "The White Knight", whatever you envision as good, this mofo is it. He is the reason you guys are still alive.
And the other?
Ahh, him. He can go by "Satan", "The Rapist", "The Angel of Death." He's the reason ol' crusty here no longer bothers you.
So you're basically ape shit, right?
Pretty much! Now where was I? Ah...yes
6. INT. Small wooded area behind the house --- Early evening.
DEREK has made himself a nice little HANGOUT in the woods! there is a trunk with tons of comics in it, an arsenal of sharpened sticks and rocks, Batman action figures, and a Game Boy Color. He is drawing a picture at the moment.
LATE 20'S DEREK:
There I was in my element. Pissed at my mother, then all of a sudden, a deep, angelic voice rang out.
You don't have to hate her, you know. She loves you.
LATE 20'S DEREK:
And then another, this voice sounding more playful and mischievous then the other.
But, for how long? Do you think she meant to have you?
Where are you guys?
LATE 20'S DEREK:
And then they appeared.
A 13 YEAR OLD BOY with BROWN hair and a FLANNEL overshirt over a Nirvana T-SHIRT with baggy torn blue JEANS with stains on them appears.
Don't hate your mom.
But, watch her close.
DEREK turns his head. We see another BOY roughly the same age with slightly long BLACK hair and a TRENCHCOAT over a Nine Inch Nails T-SHIRT with tight black CHICK PANTS with a CHAIN leading from his pocket to his BELT. He has a lip piercing and he is smoking a cigarette.
Who are you guys?
Just think of us as older brothers your mom can't see.
Wow! I should introduce you guys to my friends!
You are the only person that can see us. Don't go telling anyone and don't talk to us in front of anyone. People will think you are nuts!
Think of us as two ghosts that give you advice. Don't listen to him though, he'll get you in trouble.
Shut up! Or I will kick your ass again.
Not in front of him. He doesn't need to see that shit. Not now
What are your names?
That's up to you.
I'll call you Joe, and him Jerry.
Works for me, for now. Call us whatever you feel like calling us whenever you like. If you wanna call me butthole and him poophead, go right ahead.
Okay, but for now you guys are Joe and Jerry.
We are going to leave now. We will show up when we think the time is right. Sometimes you will see us others you won't, but we are always with you.
Even when you poop.
7. INT. Apartment 3.
LATE 20'S DEREK:
And then I went back home and they disappeared. I reconciled with my mom and for the next few weeks I didn't see them. Brad started hanging out with me again and school was good. The years go by and still no sight of them. 4 years pass by. It's 1999 and my tastes changed. Instead of Ninja Turtles and Batman it was KISS and Freddy Krueger. By this point me and Josh had made up and Brad was in middle school. And so we go to where me and the voices meet again.
8. INT. Taft Elementary
A class of roughly 25 children in your average 5th grade home room with a stout middle aged gentleman teaching. JOSH and DEREK are in the back row sitting side by side.
...And that's how the metric system works.
Dude, did you check out RAW last night? The Undertaker crucified Stone Cold!
Fuck I missed it. I was doing homework.
What did you say Mr. Jarvis?
Sorry Mr. Cannib. I forgot to do my homework.
Josh, Derek, outside!
LATE 20'S DEREK:
The old man had taken kids out of the classroom before and they always came back with tears in their eyes. As we walked outside I heard a familiar voice.
If he touches either of you, kick him in the nuts!
I told you boys too many times! None of this shit in my classroom! Josh get over here you little prick!
OL' TEACH GRABS JOSH by the NECK.
Hey motherfucker keep your hands to yourself!
CANNIB begins to throttle JOSH. DEREK pushes him off of JOSH and KICKS the TEACHER in the nuts with FURY about 3 times and jumps on top of him while JOSH watches holding his neck.
(OS) While we see Derek's mouth moving
Look here, mother fucker. You think you can be called a teacher for drinking on a farm, fucking cattle and beating children so you can have Summer vacation every year? Fuck you, you spiteful sad man.
DEREK SPITS in the BASTARD'S face and begins to PUNCH him when JOSH pulls him off.
Dude, the door outta here is right there. Lets go to our lockers, get our shit and get outta here.
Did I just do that? What the fuck? Let's get out of here...now!
9. EXT. Taft Elementary
A bunch of playground equipment next to an alley with a fenced in field. JOSH and DEREK are walking down the alley. It is sunny outside but about to rain.
That wasn't me that did that.
If it wasn't you who was it?
It really doesn't matter who it was. You got us out of school forever man.
You think so?
We are getting paid, yo.
10. INT. Chillipaqua City Courthouse
The JUDGE bangs his gavel. JOSH and DEREK are seen smiling and pointing at CANNIB while he is on the stand while LATE 20'S DEREK narrates.
LATE 20'S DEREK:
And so we did. That incident pulled the liberal media's heartstrings. My mother may have been a bitch, but she was a crafty bitch. We settled in court on a 100,000 dollar payment to both mine and Josh's families.And the fucker of this whole situation was fired and arrested the next week for bestiality and had quite the collection of kiddie porn in his closet!
11.EXT. A small farm on the edge of town.
MR. CANNIB is pantsless with a goat. We see the cherries and berries come blazing by. Cut to him crying as he is being handcuffed.
12.INT. Apt 3.
So you guys aren't goat fuckers are you? After all you seem pretty wild.
One time I was wearing a skirt and it was a very hot day, and my dog Rufflestiltskin licked my snatch.
JANE, JULIA AND DEREK look on in disgust.
What? I told him to stop.
That's just nasty. Another question and then on to the story again. How old are you girls? This Jane girl looks awfully young.
Me and Julia are 21. I think Jane is 18.
Ahh. Well that's good. The feeling I'm having in my pants looking at you 3 is "okay" then I guess.
You make me moist.
LIZ and JULIA look on in TERROR. JANE puts her hand on DEREK'S crotch. DEREK slaps it away.
Hey now! Not right yet you little fucking minx. I have a story to continue.
And so the years pass and our young hero, (ha, me) had grown older and the voices just wouldn't stop after his little incident with his pal the goat fucker. As he grew the voices grew with him. Derek started to become depressed and jaded with the world. He had gotten taller, a bit chubbier, and more handsome. And he had fallen in love. Problem is she was John's girlfriend...and so we find young bespectacled Derek: awkward teenager.
13. INT. Derek's room.
The room is a bit messy. There is an XBOX underneath a small SONY TV. A Micheal Myers poster hangs above his bed. There are blue curtains covering his window. His closet is open and there is a projector and several 35 mm films in there. There is a boom box with a Weezer CD case lying next to it. The Blue album. Derek is on his PC while Only in Dreams is playing in the background. On his computer there are pictures of vile death and pornography. And all of a sudden there is a knock on his door.
Boy, you better not be a whacking it!
Goddammit, mom! I will whack it if I feel like it!
Well you better put that thing away if you are because there is a girl here to see you! Some girl named Cherise...isn't that Josh's girlfriend?
Oh, fuck! Um...send her in!
CHERISE walks in. She is around 2 years younger than DEREK, very tall as far as girls go, with long blonde hair, skinny yet she has a donk on her. She wears glasses and has braces. Kinda nerdy looking. DEREK has a nervous expression on his face.
Um, hi. What are you doing here.
Well, 2 reasons. First one is, could I borrow your Bleach CD? That's the only Nirvana album I haven't heard. If I were 20 years older I would have married Kurt instead of that Courtney Love bitch!
I totally understand. Um, yeah it's in my closet underneath my reel of Eraserhead. Let me get it for you.
DEREK walks to his closet and starts rummaging through his shit.
Second reason is...well, um I'm trying to break up with Josh...
DEREK drops his projector on his foot.
and I don't know how to go about it. Do you have any ideas?
DEREK seems flustered.
Why...I mean you guys make a great couple.
But, he is always angry at me if I don't see things his way.
I don't know why he would ever get mad at you. You are so great.
Well, I did cheat on him with Eric.
That fat fuck?!
DEREK looks disgusted.
It's like he knows how to respect a woman. Like you...but I could never be with you. You are...too...good.
Good? Like how?
Like...I don't want to be the one to...ya know...take IT. You need a sweet girl to do that.
But, you are the sweetest girl I know!
Tears well up in DEREK'S eyes. JERRY appears.
Tell her to leave.
I think you should leave.
CHERISE looks pissed.
Fine then you fat loser!
CHERISE leaves. DEREK runs out the door.
Keep fucking drug addicts and losers, ya fucking cunt! Who was the last one? The creepy 30 year old? Keep spreading your legs and you will end up with a little fucker and a man in prison! You're 14 act like it!
DEREK sits down at the desk with anger in his eyes. He reaches in one of the drawers. We see in the drawer there is lotion, paper towels and loosely rolled joints. He pulls out the lotion. DEREK gets on www.stileproject.com and clicks on the most recent link, the Pamela Anderson sex tape which despite being made public nearly a decade ago has finally been linked to Stile Project. DEREK pulls down his pants and starts jerking his wang.
You fucking cunt! You will be mine one day!
We cut to behind DEREK and JERRY is controlling DEREK'S arm.
You see what Tommy Lee is doing with his dick? You will be doing that to Cherise soon enough. Wait...you will convince her. She wants that dick. She just doesn't know it yet.
DEREK cums and takes his shirt and wraps it over his dick to wipe up. What he doesn't get with his shirt he LICKS off of his hand. JERRY looks upon the sad sight that is DEREK licking up his semen.
We will bring her to you. Me and Joe.
14. Maple Orchard.
DEREK walks down the street to JOSH'S house. JOSH'S house is basically a carbon copy of DEREK'S. There is a green LINCOLN parked in the driveway. DEREK knocks on the window.
Dude, what the fuck? Why the fuck are you waking me up?
It's 4:00 pm, mothafucka! Wake your fat, white ass up and smoke a blunt! I got money lets run out of town to the White Castle!
Fuck, man...give me a few to wake up. My mom will let you in. My Jew dad is at work right now so you're cool.
DEREK walks in.
JOSH'S mom opens the door.
Ahh, Derek. Your little middle school friends not aloud to hang out?
Just let me in Melanie.
15. INT. Josh's house.
DEREK sits down in the house which has an enormous living room and a really big T.V. in it in front of a neatly kept couch.
Hurry the fuck up in there Josh! It doesn't take that long to shit and get changed. I'm starving! Mom hasn't had food in the fridge for a week!
Why can't your mom afford food for you? You guys have thousands of dollars! How come you can't have food?
Melanie, dear...mother of my best of friends. My mom is a dirty cunt!
I knew there was a reason I didn't like her.
JOSH comes out of the bathroom.
Fuck, lets go man. I have the new Outkast CD in the stereo. Andre 3000 is a fucking madman!
16. INT. Josh's Lincoln.
Leather seats, faux wood paneling, a Pioneer CD player, and a little rubber fetus hanging from the rear view mirror. The car cigarette lighter is being used to light a blunt and "Roses" is playing in the background.
Did you watch Chappelle's Show last night?
No man, I'm glued to my computer. Maybe one day when I can watch Comedy Central on my computer I will watch it.
(In a high pitched voice)
A re re visited my work today!
(Laughing maniacally while coughing.)
(In normal voice)
And not just ANY retard...the king retard!
You are fucking with me. Was...Corky at Olive Garden?
(In high pitched voice again)
You are fucking with me.
DEREK drops the blunt.
JOSH slaps DEREK in the back of his head until he picks it up.
Pick it up, brown eye!
Now fuck off, with that shit! I got it.
Give it to me, then.
Let it slide. Enjoy the marijuana and keep your eyes on the road.
DEREK hits the blunt super hard until he starts coughing up spit on himself. JOSH yanks it out of his hand.
You also need to quit making this thing run with your strong ass lungs.
What about Corky?
Oh, so you want to hear about mirth and merriment Corky gave me? Well allow me to elaborate.
JOSH hits the blunt 3 times and passes it.
(Exhales followed by a tiny cough.)
Well ol' Corky was sitting at a table that I had to serve. My buddy Jeff was serving a table behind him filled with Hasidic Jews. Like you know how there is Eugene Levy and just slightly higher than that there is my Jewy dad? Well these guys were probably 10 times higher on the Jewometer. Like rabbi's or something. Real Jews, my nig. Well I come up to the table where our favorite retard, Corky is sitting and Corky says to his "handlers" (in full blown tard voice) "Gee, those guys have curly hair...and cool frisbee's on their heads"
DEREK fucking loses it!
You gonna pass that?
DEREK passes the blunt laughing like the deranged bastard he is.
Well, the poor tard said it really loud. So his "handlers" do their best job of telling him a brief history of Judaism while I am taking the orders. As I walk away I hear them mutter something about Haunakah. I go and place the order, by the time I get back with their food, they have finally gotten to the holocaust. Now, I think all he heard, like myself was the beginning and end of the whole conversation. So Corky sees me coming back with his fettucine alfredo gets really happy and breaks into song. Do you want to hear it.
More than I want those jalapeno sliders.
(In the best tard voice ever)
HAUNAKAH HOLOCAUST 8 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS THAT'S RELLY COOL DER'S THE JEW GUYS WIT DER JEW CURLS BUT WATCH OUT FOR DA HITLER HES A BAD BAD MAN HES GONNA GETCHYA WITH HIS EVIL SWASTIKA! HAUNAKAH HOLOCAUST
And he just kept on repeating it over and over. The Jews got pissed and didn't tip Jeff. I distinctly heard one of them saying something about a wood shed and someone beating him way too hard.
DEREK is laughing himself to tears and out of breath.
This couldn't have happened.
That's because it didn't! Ha ha ha!
JOSH pulls up to WHITE CASTLE.
So do we agree on a sack o six each?
Yeah, and a Hawaiian Punch...biggest cup they have.
Yeah that sounds good.
JOSH pulls up to the speaker.
2 jalapeno sacks o 6 and 2 extremely large Hawaiian Punch's.
JOSH punches DEREK in the arm.
Don't mind him. He's a virgin.
DEREK has rage in his eyes. He PUNCHES JOSH in his nads.
Wait until we get out of the car, motherfucker.
JOSH pulls up to the window. They see a raven haired goddess with black horn rimmed glasses taking orders.
BANGIN' WHITE CASTLE EMPLOYEE:
That will be 10.99.
DEREK is stunned.
Oh, no...you are fucked when we get out of this car.
They get their sacks o 6 and start eating them on the way home.
17. INT. Josh's Lincoln/Ext. Josh's driveway.
Lets get out of the car.
DEREK pulls out a peach WHITE OWL and half a sack that roughly took 20 dollars and persuasion to obtain.
We need to talk.
JOSH eases his way back into the car.
Goddammit, what now Derek? Is it still the ol' I saw her first routine? Or do you still think she's in love with you?
DEREK looks hurt, but shrugs it off.
No...sit down and roll this blunt.
DEREK hands JOSH the weed and SHELL.
Now, Josh. Listen to me...Cherise is a fickle bitch. She is also a slut...A 13 year old slut. You are going to be a senior next year...I am going to let you roll the blunt and light it before I tell you. So in the meantime...
DEREK reaches for a CD in the visor sleeve. He pulls out WEEZER'S "Green Album" and plays "Hash Pipe."
(to the tune of the song)
Get that blunt rolled, get that blunt rolled, get that blunt rolled. I can understand why you look so pissed. You know somethings wrong, that somethings amiss. I know that you don't care, but I want you to know, that your girl Cherise is kind of a ho! Oh...come on and roll that...oh...come on and roll that. Oh...this bitch is a problem, she rubs it at night. Oh...you roll that blunt so...we need no hash pipe. DUNDUNDUNDUNDUNDUNDUN
Shut the fuck up, here!
JOSH lights it and passes it to DEREK. DEREK hits it.
So, ol braceface was talking to me. She told me she was thinking about dumping you...something about he doesn't treat me right...he gets angry when things don't go his way.
JOSH looks angry.
And I'm supposed to believe you?
You're a big boy, you can decide for yourself. She's gonna leave you man.
JOSH PUNCHES DEREK in the FACE!
I don't fucking believe you, you son of a bitch!
DEREK gets out of the car.
C'mon old friend, don't let some stank ass pussy get between us. Now why don't you come on out of the car and give me a hug?
JOSH LEAPS out of the car. He tackles the shit out of DEREK.
Now that's more like it!
DEREK knees JOSH in the BALLS HARD!
I will kill you!
Maybe you should give her a call. I'm going home.
DEREK turns around and starts walking. JOSH RUNS at him and hits him in the back of the head.
Now, goddammit man that hurt! Chill the fuck out, man. Bros 'fore hoes!
DEREK has a devious smile on his face.
You should think really fucking hard about what you said about killing me today. I have a screw loose motherfucker! Now, if you want to fight, there are better places. We need to go somewhere else with this. An unbiased environment. I tell you what, we can have a fight at the ballpark in Yolentangee park tomorrow if you are still butthurt.
JOSH calms a bit.
Then it's settled. We will fight tomorrow in the ballpark.
Fine then. I am going home now. Maybe you can chill te fuck out tomorrow so you won't be so easy to whoop.
DEREK turns around and goes home. JOSH is yelling obscenities while crying at the same time.
18. INT Derek's room.
DEREK is at the computer having freshly gotten his nut watching BANGBROS for 2 hours. We see him pulling up his pants. He looks in the drawer at his desk and pulls out a knife. 2 figures appear. One is dressed head to toe in black with a lip piercing and long black hair. The other has shaggy brown hair and a beard with khakis on and a tie dye t shirt. We recognize them as JOE and JERRY.
Put it away.
You need that knife. Do you think he won't put up a fight?
Put it away!!
DEREK slices his wrist. Blood comes shimmering down his fore arm. He runs into his mothers bedroom and blacks out. This is all shown from DEREK'S P.O.V.
19. Hospital room.
As his eyes open he is in a hospital bed. There are nurses asking him questions he doesn't understand. He sees the needle in his arm and rips it out. He lunges at one of the nurses.
Wanna taste!!!???? I wanna taste of you! Lemme see dat ass!
I had decided to ignore these thoughts, but the thought of having these thoughts didn't have me thinking clearly!
20. INT. Apt. 3
JULIA and LIZ are frightened. JANE has her cell phone out. DEREK leans over JANE.
What are you doing?
Why, telling everyone on facebook how ----
DEREK grabs her cell phone and THROWS it through the WINDOW.
Now listen here, bitch. No one needs to know of me or the predicament you three are in. If I see any of you texting or using your phones then you will be shot. Consider this your only warning.
JANE actually looks terrified for once and hangs her head in disappointment like she is sad she disappointed DEREK.
Now where was I? Ah, yes. My stay in the looney bin as a spry, yet unwilling teen.
Wait...what happened with Josh?
All in due time, my stoned and buxom friend.
21. INT. The Looney Bin.
There are pastel colored walls and a room full of stumbling wrecks. Teenage boys and girls on Ritalin and Valium. There is a tv in the middle of the room and magazines and colored pencils strewn about. One boy catches the cameras eye.
I met this fellow named Trevor in there, he was a half white, half dark boy with a bushy fro. Couldn't have been much younger than I. I struck up a friendship with him. He is very quiet and says crazy shit when he does speak.
16 year old DEREK:
If you give me your meds I will give you mine.
22. GROUP TIME AT THE LOONEY BIN!
All the schizoid wrecks of human beings converse about how hard their lives have been, all the while Trevor has a strange look in his eyes.
So what makes you happy, Trevor?
Rape and violence.
What was that?
Peace and silence.
You must have misread me.
COUNSELFUCK writes on his notepad.
23. Same Looney Bin Place Different Looney Bin Time.
INT. DEREK and TREVOR'S room
DEREK is sleeping.
TREVOR is trying to pick the lock of the window with a paperclip and a plastic knife.
I've been up for 3 days, and I (yelling) FINALLY GOT THE FUCK TO SLEEP! what THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?
I'm trying to get the fuck out of here!
Dude! Why? It's fucking awesome here! There is a sterile living environment, hot milfy nurses, television, 3 squares and a snack, plus you fucking know you aren't the craziest mofo in here! Everyone in here is either whoring or shooting smack! There is no such thing as a "troubled teen" anymore. That shit died in the 90's when they realized it was all the trip drugs their mothers did when they were pregnant. This is a new generation sir! It's 2005! You have at least 5 years to go before life is shitty for you, don't speed it up.
They know I'm not taking my meds.
Well fuck, lets just switch back our meds! I don't need to speed like this, the voices won't fucking stop!
Okay, maybe we will get out of here sooner and I will stop acting like a sociopath.
That's the ticket, m'boy!
24. On the outside.
You got a cigarette?
No. I don't smoke.
Well, fuck! What good are you then?
DEREK pulls out a HEATER cigarette. They heat your throat with a 100% tobacco aroma. He lights it.
You know what? I could use a guy like you in my corner when the voices start acting up again.
What do you mean?
(Takes a long drag off his Heater)
You could tell me what not to do. Keep me cool. Jerry is a swift bastard, he is!
Who the fuck is Jerry?
In due time you will find out. Jerry likes you though. Joe likes you too. They never agree on anything, which means you are cool. Just keep your head when things go awry.
What the fuck are you on?
(flicks his cigarette)
Life and everything in it!
DEREK's car pulls up. It's JOSH in his Lincoln.
Dammit fuck brain, you were right!
I fucking told you!
DEREK acknowledges TREVOR.
This is my childhood pal Josh.
What kind of crazy are you?
Not his kind, I assure you.
DEREK gets in the car.
I will see you around, man. I got work to do!
JOSH speeds out of the parking lot.
25. INT. APT. 3
So that's it? That's how you guys made up?
Well, I did make a phone call to him the previous day.
26, Nuthouse the day before
DEREK picks up the phone.
Hey, man. You still mad?
(On the phone)
Nope. You were right. Dumb cunt left me for a 20 year old.
Kids these days, eh? I have a situation. I am inside the institute for the criminally insane and I need you to give me a ride out of here.
Why are you in there for?
My arms. Threatening nurses. Depression.
Goddammit you big fucking emo! I will be there soon.
27. INT. Apt. 3
Ah, makes sense.
So, you had a rough time in your teenage years, didn't ya?
The rough times didn't even begin yet...eh...
DEREK looks over at LIZ who looks to be passed out.
Julia...is she dead?
JULIA shakes her. LIZ throws up
Well, wake her ass up!
I can't she is uber stoned.
I can wake her up.
DEREK takes off his trenchcoat and unzips his pants. He pulls down her pants revealing a plump, perfect ass. He turns her over and starts fucking her hard. JANE looks extremely jealous.
Wake up. bitch!
LIZ starts to wake up, but doesn't tell him to stop. She moans uncontrollably.
By this point both JANE and JULIA are masturbating and they start eating each other out. DEREK is going so hard LIZ' tit pops out. He pulls out and sticks his dick in LIZ' beautiful mouth, choking her on his cock.
(choking and slurping)
Taste that cock! You're next Julia!
JULIA stops eating JANE. Her eyes widen and her jaw drops. DEREK pulls out of LIZ' mouth and cums all over her face. DEREK slaps her and spits on her face.
im tired of supporting this economy with my wealth and greed
i've barely had a chance to consume this world
i've barely had a chance to breathe
yet im stuck under this rock
somehow i've become so sedated
numb to real life
numb to the very touch
raging with fire spewing out of every hole in my body
i pick up with slack for everyone
get nothing, get nothing
get not a god damned thing in return
my thoughts are mice; quiet, nimble, and unwanted
i take care of this store like a child, wellfed and nurtured
but its a ton to cary when no one aknoledges what they do
take care of the front, take care of the back
take care of the front, take care of the back
i dont want to be here and of course im picking up the slack
i dont want to be here and of course im picking up the slack, no questions asked
too young in mind
too old in spirit
im living off of pure fumes of instinct now
"DEAR BLANK CHALLENGE" PLEASE PLEASE READ THIS AND REPOST TRY TO KEEP IT GOING: HELLOPOETRY "DEAR BLANK" CHALLENGE SECRET SANTA POEMS EXCEPT NOT SECRET AND NOT SANTA RANDOM ACT/POEM OF KINDNESS STRANGER POETRY APPRECIATION
I thought it might be nice to do like a secret santa thingy on hellopoetry only not secret and not santa… what I mean is, find a random stranger you literally have never met and do NOT know at all whose poetry you like and spend actual time genuinely reading their work, picking out your favorite lines and responding to them, pondering them, etc. Write something positive to them and post it as a poem with their name in the title. The “DEAR BLANK” challenge only you put their name instead of “blank”. I think we could all use a little recognition that we exist and are worth something since everyone seems a little depressed on here (including myself) which is fine, it’s a great outlet but it would be nice for people to just spontaneously find that a random stranger spent time in their life just to recognize you and care about your poetry. To write a kind poem/letter to them responding to lines in their poetry. If you need an example I just posted DEAR IMALRIGHT which was exactly what I meant. Check out imalright's poetry btw it is amazing.
I plan on doing for more than one person and I'd love for you to do the same. Spread a little kindness, we could all use a little.
Also message me if you are going to do the challenge and message the stranger you do the DEAR BLANK challenge for so they know to look for and read your poem.
I just thought that Imalright who was a perfect stranger to me seemed like a wonderful poet and a wonderful person based on her poetry so I chose her.
You do that too if you accept the DEAR BLANK challenge.
INCLUDE DEARBLANKCHALLENGE AS A HASHTAG IF YOU DO THE CHALLENGE SO EVERYONE CAN FIND THEM
please repost this over and over so we can get as many people involved as possible and try and make a difference in a couple people's lives because I just want to make everyone feel loved but I'm just one girl, I can't do it alone. Please help me with this and join me in the DEAR BLANK challenge. Take time out of your day to properly appreciate someone's poetry who you do not know.
PLEASE REPOST LET'S GET EVERYONE INVOLVED!!! ;D
In the Fall, when the temperature of the Bay would drop and the wind blew ice, frost would gather on the lawn near Henry Oldez's room. It was not a heavy frost that spread across the paralyzed lawn, but one that just covered each blade of grass with a fine, white, almost dusty coat. Most mornings, he would stumble out of the garage where he slept and tip toe past the ice speckled patch of brown and green spotted grass, so to make his way inside to relieve himself. If he was in no hurry, he would stand on the four stepped stoop and look back at the dried, dead leaves hanging from the wiry branches of three trees lined up against the neighbors fence. The picture reminded him of what the old gallows must have looked like. Henry Oldez had been living in this routine for twenty some years.
He had moved to California with his mother, father, and three brothers 35 years ago. Henry's father, born and raised in Tijuana, Mexico, had traveled across the Meixcan border on a bent, full jalopy with his wife, Betria Gonzalez and their three kids. They were all mostly babies then and none of the brothers claimed to remember anything of the ride, except one, Leo, recalled there was "A lotta dust in the car." Santiago Oldez, San for short, had fought in World War II and died of cancer ten years later. San drank most nights and smoked two packs of Marlboro Reds a day. Henry had never heard his father talk about the fighting or the war. If he was lucky to hear anything, it would have been when San was dead drunk, talking to himself mostly, not paying very much attention to anyone except his memories and his music.
"San loved two things in this world," Henry would say, "Booze, Betria, and Johnny Cash."
Betria Gonzalez grew up in Tijuana, Mexico as well. She was a stout, short woman, wide but with pretty eyes and a mess of orange golden hair. Betria could talk to anyone about anything. Her nick names were the conversationalist or the old crow because she never found a reason to stop talking. Santiago had met her through a friend of a friend. After a couple of dates, they were married. There is some talk of a dispute among the two families, that they didn't agree to the marriage and that they were too young, which they probably were. Santiago being Santiago, didn't listen to anybody, only to his heart. They were married in a small church outside of town overlooking the Pacific. Betria told the kids that the waves thundered and crashed against the rocks that day and the sea looked endless. There were no pictures taken and only three people were at the ceremony: Betria, San, and the priest.
Of course, the four boys went to elementary and high school, and, of course, none of them went to college. One brother moved down to LA and eventually started working for a law firm doing their books. Another got married at 18 years old and was in and out of the house until getting under the wing of the union, doing construction and electrical work for the city. The third brother followed suit. Henry Oldez, after high school, stayed put. Nothing in school interested him. Henry only liked what he could get into after school. The people of the streets were his muse, leaving him with the tramps, the dealers, the struggling restaurateurs, the laundry mat hookers, the crooked cops and the addicts, the gang bangers, the bible humpers, the window washers, the jesus freaks, the EMT's, the old ladies pushing salvation by every bus stop, the guy on the corner and the guy in the alley, and the DOA's. Henry didn't have much time for anyone else after all of them.
Henry looked at himself in the mirror. The light was off and the room was dim. Sunlight streaked in through the dusty blinds from outside, reflecting into the mirror and onto Henry's face. He was short, 5' 2'' or 5' 3'' at most with stubby, skinny legs, and a wide, barrel shaped chest. He examined his face, which was a ravine of wrinkles and deep crows feet. His eyes were sunken and small in his head. Somehow, his pants were always one or two inches below his waistline, so the crack of his ass would constantly be peeking out. Henry's deep, chocolate colored hair was that of an ancient Native American, long and nearly touched the tip of his belt if he stood up straight. No one knew how long he had been growing it out for. No one knew him any other way. He would comb his hair incessantly: before and after a shower, walking around the house, watching television with Betria on the couch, talking to friends when they came by, and when he drove to work, when he had it.
Normal work, nine to five work, did not work for Henry. "I need to be my own boss," he'd say. With that fact stubbornly put in place, Henry turned to being a handy man, a roofer, and a pioneer of construction. No one knew where he would get the jobs that he would get, he would just have them one day. And whenever he 'd finish a job, he'd complain about how much they'd shorted him, soon to move on to the next one. Henry never had to listen to anyone and, most of the time, he got free lunches out of it. It was a very strange routine, but it worked for him and Betria had no complaints as long as he was bringing some money in and keeping busy. After Santiago died, she became the head of the house, but really let her boys do whatever they wanted.
Henry took a quick shower and blow dried his hair, something he never did unless he was in a hurry. He had a job in the east bay at a sorority house near the Berkley campus. At the table, still in his pajamas, he ate three leftover chicken thighs, toast, and two over easy eggs. Betria was still in bed, awake and reading. Henry heard her two dogs barking and scratching on her bedroom door. He got up as he combed his damp hair, tugging and straining to get each individual knot out. When he opened the door, the smaller, thinner dog, Boy Boy, shot under his legs and to the front door where his toy was. The fat, beige, pig-like one waddled out beside Henry and went straight for its food bowl.
"Good morning," said Henry to Betria.
Betria looked at Henry over her glasses, "You eat already?"
"Yep," he announced, "Got to go to work." He tugged on a knot.
"That's good. Dondé?" Betria looked back down at her spanish TV guide booklet.
"Berkley somewhere," Henry said, bringing the comb smoothly down through his hair.
"That's good, that's good."
"OK!" Henry sighed loudly, shutting the door behind him. He walked back to the dinner table and finished his meal. Then, Betria shouted something from her room that Henry couldn't hear.
"What?" yelled Henry, so she could hear him over the television. She shouted again, but Henry still couldn't hear her. Henry got up and went back to her room, dirty dish in hand. He opened her door and looked at her without saying anything.
"Take the dogs out to pee," Betria told him, "Out the back, not the front."
"Yeah," Henry said and shut the door.
"Come on you dogs," Henry mumbled, dropping his dish in the sink. Betria always did everyones dishes. She called it "her exercise."
Henry let the two dogs out on the lawn. The sun was curling up into the sky and its heat had melted all of the frost on the lawn. Now, the grass was bright green and Henry barely noticed the dark brown dead spots. He watched as the fat beige one squatted to pee. It was too fat to lifts its own leg up. The thing was built like a tank or a sea turtle. Henry laughed to himself as it looked up at him, both of its eyes going in opposite directions, its tongue jutted out one corner of his mouth. Boy boy was on the far end of the lawn, searching for something in the bushes. After a minute, he pulled out another one of his toys and brought it to Henry. Henry picked up the neon green chew toy shaped like a bone and threw it back to where Boy boy had dug it out from. Boy boy shot after it and the fat one just watched, waddling a few feet away from it had peed and laid down. Henry threw the toy a couple more times for Boy boy, but soon he realized it was time to go.
"Alright!" said Henry, "Get inside. Gotta' go to work." He picked up the fat one and threw it inside the laundry room hallway that led to the kitchen and the rest of the house. Boy boy bounded up the stairs into the kitchen. He didn't need anyone lifting him up anywhere. Henry shut the door behind them and went to back to his room to get into his work clothes.
Henry's girlfriend was still asleep and he made sure to be quiet while he got dressed. Tia, Henry's girlfriend, didn't work, but occasionally would put up garage sales of various junk she found around town. She was strangely obsessed with beanie babies, those tiny plush toys usually made up in different costumes. Henry's favorite was the hunter. It was dressed up in camouflage and wore an eye patch. You could take off its brown, polyester hat too, if you wanted. Henry made no complaint about Tia not having a job because she usually brought some money home somehow, along with groceries and cleaning the house and their room. Betria, again, made no complain and only wanted to know if she was going to eat there or not for the day.
A boat sized bright blue GMC sat in the street. This was Henry's car. The stick shift was so mangled and bent that only Henry and his older brother could drive it. He had traded a new car stereo for it, or something like that. He believed it got ten miles to the gallon, but it really only got six or seven. The stereo was the cleanest piece of equipment inside the thing. It played CD's, had a shoddy cassette player, and a decent radio that picked up all the local stations. Henry reached under the seat and attached the radio to the front panel. He never left the radio just sitting there in plain sight. Someone walking by could just as soon as put their elbow into the window, pluck the thing out, and make a clean 200 bucks or so. Henry wasn't that stupid. He'd been living there his whole life and sure enough, done the same thing to other cars when he was low on money. He knew the tricks of every trade when it came to how to make money on the street.
On the road, Henry passed La Rosa, the Mexican food mart around the corner from the house. Two short, tanned men stood in front of a stand of CD's, talking. He usually bought pirated music or movies there. One of the guys names was Bertie, but he didn't know the other guy. He figured either a customer or a friend. There were a lot of friends in this neighborhood. Everyone knew each other somehow. From the bars, from the grocery, from the laundromat, from the taco stands or from just walking around the streets at night when you were too bored to stay inside and watch TV. It wasn't usually safe for non-locals to walk the streets at night, but if you were from around there and could prove it to someone that was going to jump you, one could usually get away from losing a wallet or an eyeball if you had the proof. Henry, to people on the street, also went as Monk. Whenever he would drive through the neighborhood, the window open with his arm hanging out the side, he would usually hear a distant yell of "Hey Monk!" or "What's up Monk!". Henry would always wave back, unsure who's voice it was or in what direction to wave, but knowing it was a friend from somewhere.
There was heavy traffic on the way to Berkley and as he waited in line, cursing his luck, he looked over at the wet swamp, sitting there beside highway like a dead frog. A few scattered egrets waded through the brown water, their long legs keeping their clean white bodies safe from the muddy water. Beyond the swamp laid the pacific and the Golden Gate bridge. San Francisco sat there too: still, majestic, and silver. Next to the city, was the Bay Bridge stretched out over the water like long gray yard stick. Henry compared the Golden Gate's beauty with the Bay Bridge. Both were beautiful in there own way, but the Bay Bridge's color was that of a gravestone, while the Golden Gate's color was a heavy red, that made it seem alive. Why they had never decided to pain the Bay Bridge, Henry had no idea. He thought it would look very nice with a nice coat of burgundy to match the Golden gate, but knew they would never spend the money. They never do.
After reeling through the downtown streets of Berkley, dodging college kids crossing the street on their cell phones and bicyclists, he finally reached the large, A-frame house. The house was lifted, four or five feet off the ground and you had to walk up five or seven stairs to get to the front door. Surrounded by tall, dark green bushes, Henry knew these kids had money coming from somewhere. In the windows hung spinning colored glass and in front of the house was an old-timey dinner bell in the shape of triangle. Potted plants lined the red brick walkway that led to the stairs. Young tomatoes and small peas hung from the tender arms of the stems leaf stalks. The lawn was manicured and clean. "Must be studying agriculture or something," Henry thought, "Or they got a really good gardener."
He parked right in front of the house and looked the building up and down, estimating how long it would take to get the old shingles off and the new one's on. Someone was up on the deck of the house, rocking back and forth in an old wooden chair. He listened to the creaking wood of the chair and the deck, judging it would take him two days for the job. Henry knew there was no scheduled rain, but with the Bay weather, one could never be sure. He had worked in rain before - even hail - and it never really bothered him. The thing was, he never strapped himself in and when it would rain and he was working roofs, he was afraid to slip and fall. He turned his truck off, got out, and locked both of the doors. He stepped heavily up the walkway and up the stairs. The someone who was rocking back and forth was a skinny beauty with loose jean shorts on and a thick looking, black and red plaid shirt. She had long, chunky dread locks and was smoking a joint, blowing the smoke out over the tips of the bushes and onto the street. Henry was no stranger to the smell. He smoked himself. This was California.
"Who're you?" the dreaded girl asked.
"I'm the roofer," Henry told her.
The girl looked puzzled and disinterested. Henry leaned back on his heels and wondered if the whole thing was lemon. She looked beyond him, down on the street, awkwardly annoying Henry's gaze. The tools in Henry's hands began to grow heavy, so he put them down on the deck with a thud. The noise seemed to startle the girl out of whatever haze her brain was in and she looked back at Henry. Her eyes were dark brown and her skin was smooth and clear like lake water. She couldn't have been more then 20 or 21 years old. Henry realized that he was staring and looked away at the various potted plants near the rocking chair. He liked them all.
"Do you know who called you?" She took a drag from her joint.
"Brett, " Henry told her, "But they didn't leave a last name."
For a moment, the girl looked like she had been struck across the chin with a brick, but then her face relaxed and she smiled.
"Oh shit," she laughed, "That's me. I called you. I'm Brett."
Henry smiled uneasily and picked up his tools, "Ok."
"Nice to meet you," she said, putting out her hand.
Henry awkwardly put out his left hand, "Nice to meet you too."
She took another drag and exhaled, the smoke rolling over her lips, "Want to see the roof?"
The two of them stood underneath a five foot by five foot hole. Henry was a little uneasy by the fact they had cleaned up none of the shattered wood and the birds pecking at the bird seed sitting in a bowl on the coffee table facing the TV. The arms of the couch were covered in bird shit and someone had draped a large, zebra printed blanket across the middle of it. Henry figured the blanket wasn't for decoration, but to hide the rest of the bird droppings. Next to the couch sat a large, antique lamp with its lamp shade missing. Underneath the dim light, was a nice portrait of the entire house. Henry looked away from the hole, leaving Brett with her head cocked back, the joint still pinched between her lips, to get a closer look. There looked to be four in total: Brett, a very large man, a woman with longer, thick dread locks than Brett, and a extremely short man with a very large, brown beard. Henry went back to looking at the hole, wondering if the extremely short man was a midget or just really short.
"What's the damage?" Brett asked, rocking her head back onto her shoulders.
Henry laughed nervously, pressing on his thin mustache," How did this even happen?"
Brett squinted at him suspiciously, unsure why he would ask such a thing, "Do you need to know?"
"I guess I don't," Henry shrugged, "It would just give me something to think about while I work."
"If you really want to know, I can tell you, but it'll have to wait till my roommate gets home?"
Henry already knew how many people Brett lived with, but he asked anyways.
"Four," she answered, "Including me."
"Four people in this house," Henry said, "Must get pretty crowded."
"Not as bad as you would think." She went to the couch and sat down on the zebra couch. Henry moved back to the center of the hole so the light from outside covered him. He looked up and squinted his eyes, trying to imagine what could have made the hole. The edges of the broken wood wasn't burnt, so it couldn't have been a meteor. There didn't seem to be dried blood anywhere on the floor or near the hole either. The hole wasn't perfectly round, like a beach or cannon ball, but it was damn well near it. Henry stood back out of the light and looked at Brett on the couch.
"What's the best way to get up on the roof?" Henry asked, "I'd like to how many shingles I'd need and what kind I'll have to get."
"Shingles? What are those?"
"They are square sheets of tar and rock that keep the rain and other shit out."
"Are they expensive?" Brett's face had suddenly grown very worried.
"They can be," Henry said, looking at a few broken one's on the floor, "But by the look of this stuff here, it shouldn't be too bad. Between the four of you it wouldn't be too much."
"Good point," Brett muttered, punching the joint out in an ashtray on the coffee table.
"When do you think your roommates will be home?" Henry asked.
"I'd like to know what caused that almost perfect hole. I've never seen anything like it."
"I'll just tell you," Brett laughed as she got up, picking up the group picture, "See that guy there? The little one with the beard? I know he's kind of hard to see..."
"Yep," Henry said, putting his finger on the man's face.
"That is Jerry and he is a midget. Whoops," she smiled, correcting herself, "A little person. Wait. It might be dwarf. Shit, I really have no idea."
"Same thing to me," Henry laughed.
"Good. Well," Brett started again, "Jerry is a midget and he was up on the roof getting a frisbee or something. He might have been smoking and staring at the stars, which he's been known to do from time to time. It's fine. I do it all the time. It's fun. You'd probably like it."
Henry nodded, thinking he would probably do that when he got home.
"Jerry's up there and the rest of us, myself, Bobby, and Louise, are all on the couch watching a movie. I forget which one. So we're sitting there, watching a movie or a show or something, when suddenly a loud CRASH and a slight WHISTLING sound and then an even bigger BOOM happens right near us. We have no idea what just happened or what came through the roof, but we knew it was something because there was ash and dust and wood and that...what was that stuff called?"
"Shingles," Henry said.
"Shingle stuff fucking everywhere and we're frozen stiff from fear. We. Don't. Move. Of course, we've been smoking and we're all a little paranoid and freaked out. I remember reaching for the remote and muting whatever was on and asked, "Hello?", where no one or nothing answered me back. That's when we all got a little worried and I looked over at Louise and Louise looked over at Bobby who's face was frozen and I guess so was mine."
Henry had taken the picture from Brett's erratic, gesturing hands and pointed to Jerry, the midget and said, "So...I'm guessing what came through the roof was Jerry?"
"Yes. Jerry came through the roof like a fucking comet. Landed straight on his back. After that pause I was telling you about, there was a moan and then a pitiful like squeaky "help..." which could only have been Jerry's. He has such a precious, little voice."
"Was he alright?" Henry asked. He handed Brett back the framed picture and she put it back under the lamp.
"Oh yeah," she grunted, "He was complaining about splinters and that the gravel from that...," she paused.
"Shingles stuff," she kept on, "But, after Louise helped Jerry up and dusted him off and Bobby got him a beer, he was back to normal. I think he had a bruise or something the next day on his lower back, maybe a little bit of a limp, but he was fine. He doesn't weigh that much."
"That's good to hear."
"Yep," she shook her head up and down.
"I'd love to get up there to see what I should buy for tomorrow."
"Oh," she said, startled, "I completely forgot. Let me show you to the back."
"I hope you don't fall in!" Brett laughed when she showed Henry the ladder.
Driving back, Henry figured he would only need 10 pounds of shingles, a small tin of tar, and a few four by four pieces of plywood to secure the hole. The job wasn't very big. The job wasn't very difficult. The only thing the job was was interesting. Henry hadn't been on one of those interesting jobs in a long time. The last job had been through his Chinese friend Chan. He usually had him put up walls in dilapidated, run down buildings in Oakland. These places were bought up by Chan from someone that had nothing and needed something to survive. Henry thought he was a dirty business man and always underpaid him, but whenever Chan and his wife would come over to where he was working with those large plastic bags in both hands, he couldn't resist. They were filled with kung pao chicken, steaming white rice, tough mongolian beef, silk watercress, a variety of piping hot soups, crisp pot stickers, and whatever else they wanted to take from their restaurant. Henry couldn't help himself. He silently forgave them and went on working for less.
As Henry pulled into the driveway of his home, he noticed a large, white, shabby looking dog peak his head over the neighbor's fence. He had never seen this dog before and since he knew all of the dogs of the neighborhood, he wondered where this one had come from. After parking and grabbing his tools from the bed of the truck and a few samples of the roof, he walked nearer to the neighbors fence. It was late. Almost ten o'clock at night. It was cold too. Henry had his sweatshirt on under his thick, worker's jacket and he was still shivering, so he couldn't imagine how the dog was feeling. Henry peered over the gate and couldn't see the white dog anywhere. Where had he gone? There was nowhere to hide in the barren yard. The only thing in the lawn was a large, obnoxious lemon tree that cast a black shadow over the dead grass. Henry looked closer, hoping to see the dog in the shadows near the back of the fence.
"Come out boy," Henry called to the dog, "I'm not gonna' hurt you."
The dog's head shot up right in front of Henry. It had been hiding at the base of the fence. Henry backed away quickly, unsure whether the dog was going to bite him or not. He paused, watching the dog as he put both of his paws up on top of the wooden fence. The dogs eyes were soft and helpless, darting back and forth in his head. The dog was acting like he had never seen another person before in his life. It looked so excited Henry wondered if it had rabies. Henry moved closer, reaching out his hand so the dog could sniff it. The dog jammed his nose into his palm and slobbering all over it. Henry pulled his hand back and the dog whined and yelped.
"It's ok, boy," said Henry, trying to comfort him, "I just don't want your slobber all over my hands." He wiped his hand on his jeans and put his hand out again for the dog could sniff it. The dog bent his head and urged Henry to scratch behind its ears. He did. The dog whined and Henry could hear him kicking his hind leg in the dirt. "Why are you outside?" he asked the dog, "Why don't they bring him in? It's freezing." The dog, of course, did not answer and only looked up at Henry plaintively, wishing he would take him inside his room. Henry could see he wanted to go with him, but knew if he picked this dog up and brought him in the back room, Tia would curse and scream at him and the neighbors in the morning would wonder where the hell their new dog went.
Henry patted the dog on the head and backed away," Tomorrow, buddy. I'll talk to whoever owns you tomorrow and see why your outside in this cold."
Henry walked inside. As he made himself a bowl of cereal, he winced listening to the echoing whine and yelps of the dog behind the wooden fence. He put out his hand and felt the glass. It was freezing. It was very cold outside. Henry wondered if the dog had any water or food or even a place to sleep in. He finished his cereal and put the dirty bowl in the sink for Betria in the morning.
"Before I go back to work on that roof tomorrow," Henry told himself, "I'll talk to the neighbors about the dog." It was a promise or an oath of sorts. He smiled and soon fell asleep.
In the morning, Henry fried an egg and toasted two pieces of bread. He brewed his coffee strong and made a cup for Betria. She complained that the coffee was too bitter and that it tasted like pencil lead, dirt, and water boiled by the fires of Hell. Henry added heavy cream and a table spoon of sugar to quiet her down. She was always complaining about the small things after one of her sons took her driver's license away for being to short to see over the steering wheel. He ate quickly and sat alone. Betria usually had her coffee and breakfast in bed, reading through the TV guide or the bible, marking anything that seemed of interest to her with a dark blue pen. As he ate, Henry stared out the living room window toward the white picket fence where he had met the white dog last night. He whistled and the dog popped up, his two dirty paws hanging over the fence.
"It's like magic," thought Henry.
Henry was half finished with his egg and toast when he decided to go outside and give the the rest to the dog. The day was bright and hot, with a light breeze passing through the leaves of the lemon tree. The neighbor across the street - an old black man confined to a wheelchair and a respirator - yelled over at Henry, seeing what the hell he was doing.
"Hey Monk!" screamed the old man, "What you doing over there with that plate?"
Henry was never startled by the old man's screams. Actually, he was used to it. "Just gonna' feed this new dog some of my half-eaten food. Don't think its eaten all morning."
"What you feeding him?" the old man asked. His voice sounded ragged and dusty.
"Leftover eggs and a piece of toast!"
"Better than I eat in the morning," he screamed, laughing.
Henry laughed, nodding. He walked toward the fence. The dog was still leaning there, his dark brown eyes fixed on Henry. The sight of food triggered a frenzy in the dog. Henry put out his hand and the dog yelped and yipped, shaking and licking his fingers covered in egg yolk and toast crumbs. Henry looked into the yard and didn't see a food or water bowl. What had this dog been eating since it'd gotten here? He forked over the egg and toast and the dog immediately pounced on it like it was going to run off. Henry grinned and watched the dog devour the food. Satisfaction tingled in his fingers and in his toes. He felt a welling of tears in the corners of his eyes and he wondered when was the last time that had happened? "There is something very beautiful and simple in feeding another living thing that cannot do it for itself," Henry thought. A car roared by with a thumping bass and a thunder-like engine, shaking Henry out of his stillness.
"How's he like it?" the old man hollered from across the street.
"Loves it!" Henry yelled back.
"If you got anything else," the old man chuckled, "Lemme' know. I'm always hungry!"
"I will," said Henry, going back into the house, "I will."
Henry walked up the stoop and pushed open the front door to go inside, but a voice from the sidewalk stopped him. Henry swiveled around and saw his neighbor, the one who apparently owned the white dog and the lemon tree. His name was Pablo and stood about the same size as Henry. His hair was cut short due to balding and a beer gut the size of a beach ball hung over his baggy, oil streaked jeans. Where his chin sagged was a month old moss of stubble and light scratching with signs of blood like a dog with fleas would have. Henry thought he looked like a rejected animal of the jungle, just making his life possible as a human. He had only come across Pablo once or twice, and they were always, unfortunately, memorable.
"What you doing with my dog?" Pablo's voice was gravely, faint, and stupid.
"Thought I'd feed the thing since I saw it last night without a food or water bowl," said Henry. Henry stayed up on the stoop with the door open. Pablo had been known to fight at random.
"Why you looking into my yard?"
"I ain't that short. I can see over the fence without trying."
"There ain't nothing to see there. Why you care what's in my yard?"
"I don't," said Henry, "I got home from work yesterday around 9 o'clock and saw the dog up against the fence. He was looking at me and it was shivering. It's cold out around then."
"It's a dog," stated Pablo innocent and ignorant, "It's got fur. It's not cold."
"Looked cold to me."
"Looked cold to you?" Pablo asked.
"Yeah," said Henry, "It did."
"Why you feed it whatever you feed it?" Pablo walked to the fence and looked over it. "What you feed my dog?"
"Egg and a piece of toast. It won't hurt it."
"Well," Pablo hissed, "If it does, you're fucking paying for it."
"Fine by me," Henry said, starting to go inside, "But you need to be feeding that thing or it's going to die on you. Shit, you don't even have a dog house for it! It just lays in the grass!"
"What's wrong with that?" Pablo stepped forward when Henry started to raise his voice.
"Gonna' freeze to death, man!" Henry was trying to keep himself from getting upset, but that feeling of satisfaction he had got when helping the dog was fleeting and he didn't want to lose it because of Pablo. "Just take care of the the dog or I'll report you."
Pablo suddenly looked confused, unsure what Henry meant. "Report me to who?" Pablo asked.
"Animal control or the police, tú cabrón!" screamed Henry. He knew he had slipped, but he didn't give a damn anymore. Being late for work was worth it. Brett would understand. But Pablo said nothing. He only looked him up and down, his eyes still, frozen, and unblinking. It looked like the mention of animal control and the police had struck a chord with him. Pablo spit into the yard and stared at the white dog who had retreated underneath the lemon tree.
"Hell you give a shit about my dog for?" Pablo asked, quiet and simple.
Henry paused, looked at Pablo, and said, "I like dogs."
"Yeah?" Pablo smiled, his cracked, yellow teeth showing, "Where's your dog then, cabrón?"
"Died a long time ago," said Henry, " And if you need some food and a couple bowls, let me know. If it's not out tonight, I'll put it out for you. I got to go to work."
"You go to work," said Pablo, looking into the yard, "Come here dog." Pablo snapped his fingers, but the white dog stayed underneath the lemon tree.
Henry stopped, turned towards Pablo, amused by something, "What's the dog's name?" he asked.
"No name yet," Pablo shrugged.
"Figures," Henry scoffed, turned, and went inside.
Henry went to the kitchen table and picked up his empty coffee cup. Pablo saw Henry through the window and screamed, "You want to name him, cabrón?"
"Yeah," Henry screamed back, "I'll think of something!"
He left his dishes in the sink for Betria and went in the back to get dressed and ready for work.
Betria asked Henry what all the screaming was about before he left, but he had ignored her. There wasn't enough time. He hated being late for any kind of job and sometimes it wasn't worth telling her about all of his troubles; they would only cause more. But, as he drove to Brett's house, a terrible feeling of regret washed over him, clouding his eyes, making him grip the wheel tighter and surer as he drove. He regretted how he treated her somedays - most days, if he was being honest with himself - but then he noticed the sun was out and the sky was a light blue halo around him, so he soon forgot what he had done and only thought about the road in front of him.
Brett wasn't home. Her three roommates weren't there either. Henry tried the front door to get in to use the bathroom, but it was locked. Henry went around to the back of the house, peering over into the windows of the neighbors houses to make sure they weren't calling the cops on him. It had happened to him before. Trying the backdoor, he found that it was locked too. He cursed and looked around the quaint, tiny yard. He texted Brett that he was going to use her back lawn to pee. Putting his tools down near the ladder up to the roof, he dashed to the far corner of the yard, behind a small, dead-looking apple tree. As Henry peed, he stared through the dilapidated, brown fence, seeing it was rich with life: there was a bubbling birds fountain; a small pond with what Henry thought could be koi fish inside; bright green bushes popping along the edges of the house; the house which stood as a large A-frame, its wood stained a dark brown chocolate color; multi-colored flowers of pink, orange, burgundy, and sapphire lined the railing of the deck in their beige, pots; a lush, healthy lawn looking as if it had just been pruned. Henry inhaled, taken aback to see something so beautiful behind a house so obvious its opposite. He strained to see if anyone was in the house or outside on the lawn, but no one was there. Henry sighed, zipped up his pants, and walked over to the ladder to start his work.
He pulled the half-broken shingles off the roof and threw them down onto the yard. They were useless now and there was no need to put new ones on top of the old. There would be cracks and with cracks come leaks and with leaks come complaints. Henry never liked to get calls after the job was done. It meant he had more work to do and for free, so he made sure to do everything the way he had taught himself or how he had been taught over the years. Who had taught him, he barely knew anymore, he just knew he had been taught the right way. How he knew that way was the right way was because it worked. San had always said in his hard tone, "If it's broken, fix it and do the fixing well. If it doesn't need fixing, then...it doesn't need fixing!" Henry agreed with this wholeheartedly, so in turn Henry's methods were tedious, his ways were demanding, and his order looked like chaos to the average person's eye, but in the end, he got the job done and with little or no complaint.
After an hour of working, Henry climbed down from the roof and went inside to get a glass of water. He was covered with streaks of black tar and his clothes were hot from the sun. Another couple hours of work and he would have to be done. Henry didn't think he could take anymore of the heat. The last thing he wanted was to pass out and roll off the roof to his death. This reminded him of a time he was climbing down a ladder, much like the one he was using now, but the ladder was not tied down to anything. Henry had leaned back, causing the ladder to tip, and fell ten or so feet straight onto his back. Knocked out cold like an icicle to concrete. He was out for a couple hours until the client came home and woke him up with a cup of water to the face. That injury had taken him out for a month and he'd never been so close to bankrupt. Another time a chandelier had fallen on his head. There was the time he'd electrocuted himself trying to jump start his car battery haphazardly because he was late for a job. He described the feeling as "being slapped by the backhand of God." But, to Henry's luck, he had never broken anything, not even a bone. He had been very lucky in that regard.
"Hello?" a voice asked behind Henry.
Henry swiveled around, startled. He looked where he thought the voice had come from, but saw no one. "Hello?" Henry asked, his eyes wide.
"Who are you?" The voice was quieter now and hidden. It sounded like a child's voice, but one that had been smoking since birth. The room was tense and a strange smell had leaked in. The smell reminded Henry of the white dog behind the fence and hot asphalt. Maybe the asphalt was him, but the white dog smell was definitely not. "Who are you?" the voice repeated, louder.
"I'm Henry, the..." Henry tried to explain, but the voice cut him off.
"Henry who!" the voice shouted.
Henry stepped forward, sure the voice was coming from behind the couch. "Brett knows me. I'm the roofer," he tried to explain calmly, "There's a hole up in your roof."
A small hand reached up and over the back of the couch. Then, a small patch of hair on top of a fairly large head. Another hand reached up, pulling up farther the head and then a pair of eyes. Two ears followed, a nose, and finally purse, pink pair of lips. It was the small person, the midget, no, the dwarf that had made the hole in the roof. Henry and the dwarf stood there, sizing each other up. The dwarf's head was barely making it over the back of the couch and Henry could tell he was up on his tip toes to see him better. Henry took a few steps back, seeing in the dwarfs eyes that he wasn't trusted yet. His eyes were the color of lily pads and his thick beard was so tangled and messy that Henry could barely see the skin of the dwarfs cheeks. Henry put down the glass of water he had been drinking in the sink and put up both of his hands to show he meant no harm.
"I know Brett," Henry explained, "She hired me to fix the roof. I was here yesterday with her, but no one else was home. You are one of the roommates, right?"
The dwarf stepped out from behind the couch. He was starting to trust the situation, "Yeah, I am."
"What was your name again? Brett showed me that photo and told me yesterday." Henry pointed to the house portrait sitting on the side table.
"Oh God!" the dwarf screamed, "She showed you that one?" The dwarf bounded over to the picture and ripped it from where it sat. "I've told her a thousand times to throw this picture away of me. It makes me look SO small compared to everyone else. I've told her A THOUSAND TIMES."
The dwarf had grown from being overly cautious and feline like, to acting like a pit bull in heat. He grappled with the wooden frame that held the picture inside, nearly cracking the glass. After he had maneuvered that, he ran outside with the picture. Henry, stunned at the sudden shift of energy in the room, followed the dwarf outside. From somewhere the dwarf had acquired a small can of gasoline and was preceding to drench the photo with it. He dropped the photo on the grass after it had been throughly doused and took out red Bic lighter.
"Now I can get rid of this thing once and for all!" the dwarf screamed. He shot a glance at Henry, who was standing in the doorway, "If the flames get out of control, get a bucket of water and take care of it. I'm not good with fire." The dwarf put the flame to the photo. Instantly, the picture was engulfed into orange and yellow flame. Henry clenched his hands and wondered what any of this had to do with fixing the roof. The dwarf stood over the picture, growling faintly and sidestepping around the burning circle as if he thought it were going to try to escape or run off. After the gasoline had all been burnt off and the picture was now just a black, dank spot on the grass, the dwarf turned around and introduced himself.
"That was exciting," said the dwarf, "And I'm Jerry by the way." He put out his hand.
Henry, uneasy to come down any closer, took a few steps down from the porch and reached out his hand to take Jerry's. Henry was surprised to see Jerry's hands were slightly larger than his.
"Nice firm grip you have there...what did you say your name was again?"
"Henry," said Henry meekly. He was afraid Jerry might snap again and light him on fire.
"Don't worry," Jerry smiled, "I don't bite...hard." He laughed at this and Henry leaked out a wiry, nervous smile. "How about a beer?"
They walked back inside. Jerry made his way to the refrigerator and motioned for Henry to sit down on the couch. Henry sat down and looked up toward the large hole in the roof. He would need a couple more days, he thought.
"You said you were the roofer?" Jerry asked.
"How long you been roofing? Is that the correct word?" Jerry placed an opened bottle of Budweiser in front of Henry and sat down. Henry stared at the un-opened bottle, unsure whether to open it now or later. Jerry's was sitting on his right knee, not yet opened.
"Sorry?" Henry hadn't heard him. He was distracted by the hole in the ceiling. He really wished he could stop all this and go to work. He hadn't even started.
"How long you been roofing?"
"Off and on for thiry years or so, I'd say." Henry nodded, realizing that was a very long time.
"Wow!" Jerry sighed, "That is-a-while. So, you're like a professional?"
"You could see that," Henry grinned, uneasily, shifting his weight in the chair, "It's what I've always done and I really don't ever see myself doing anything else different."
Jerry nodded, "That's very endearing...very strong...but also very sad and heartbreaking."
Henry didn't know what to say.
"I don't know why I said that," Jerry laughed, looking down into his un-opened beer, "Let's open these bad boys, huh?" He quickly twisted the cap of the Budweiser and flung it to the floor. Henry did the same, but placed his bottle cap on the side-table where the photograph had been. He missed the photograph. He had liked it. Jerry put out his bottle and Henry put out his, clinking the glass together. Above, the sun had moved from behind a cloud and a shot of sunlight rocketed down through the roof.
"Look at that!" Jerry laughed, "It's like God is having a beer with us."
Henry laughed, genuinely this time, and took a sip of beer. It was warm, but he didn't mind.
"You believe in God, Henry?" Jerry looked at him straight faced, his eyes focused.
"Uhh...Umm, sure, I..." Henry stammered.
Jerry paused. An awkward stillness now floated in the air. Jerry said nothing for another moment, then slammed his beer on the table and began to cackle and wheeze, "I got you good Henry! You should have seen the look on your face!"
"What?" Henry asked, confused.
"The whole GOD question," Jerry explained, "I ask handymen, cable guys, even garbage fellas' that come over from time to time and they always get all nervous and discombobulated whenever I ask them that."
Henry chuckled lightly, taking another sip of beer. He looked at his free hand and saw that it was shaking slightly.
"Don't worry, Henry," Jerry said, "I'm no bible humper. Just playing a little prank. Let's finish these guys up and I'll hold the ladder for you so you can get back to work."
"That would be great." Henry put his beer down and stood up.
"Look at you in a hurry. Finish that and then we'll get you up there. Don't you worry."
Henry sat back down and finished his beer.
As Henry pulled into the driveway, he regretted not finishing the job. He would have to go back tomorrow. There were only a few finishing touches to do, like sand the edges of any overlaying wood and put another layer of tar down and maybe reposition the shingles so they were perfectly straight, but who would see them except for the birds and God? "That was very strange that Jerry asked me about God," Henry thought, "I don't think anyone's ever asked me that question for Betria. She assumes I do. I haven't asked myself that question in a long time. No time. Not very much time lately. Only troubles."
"Hey boy!" Henry called out to the dog behind the fence, "You there?"
The white cotton ball that was the dogs head peaked out from its dog house. At first, the dog was unsure who was even there. He hadn't been spoken to anyone all day. But, when he saw that it was Henry's face and not his owners, he shot out from his dog house and leaped up against the fence. He licked Henry's hands and tried to jump up over the fence and into his arms. Henry laughed and looked down into the lonesome dogs eyes and saw in them that he was genuinely happy to see him. He couldn't remember the last time something had looked at him like that.
"Calm down, boy, calm down," Henry said, patting him lightly on the head, "What you been doing today?" The dog responded in yelps and whines, teething Henry's hand with his soft, rounded teeth. "You want to come in with me, boy? It's cold out here and I know that dog house isn't warm enough for you. What do you think?"
Henry gripped the dogs thick, tangled fur easily in his rough, tar covered hands and hoisted him over the fence. The dog looked big, but was very light, only ten or twelve pounds. At this, he barked loudly in Henry's face, startling him. Henry hugged the dog and patted him on the back, hushing into his ear. After a moment, the barks stopped and Henry stood very still, listening to the echo bounce down the empty streets and waiting to see if the neighbors would come on. No light appeared and Henry let out a long sigh. He listened to his breathing mix with the panting of the dogs and thought of what a good name for it would be. Names had always eluded Henry. There was something very ignorant and pompous about titles he had never grown comfortable with or accepted, but he knew he must do it. "Not Jerry," Henry told himself, "That guy is too crazy. I don't want to see you everyday and think of that crazy guy. You're young, so you should have a young dog's name. And you're so damned white all over, like a sheep. Like a cloud. Like snow. That's good. Snow."
"Snow," Henry said to the dog, whose eyes reflected the star light above the two of them, "That's a good name for you, isn't it?" Snow licked Henry's face and Henry laughed as he carried him around the back of the house, over the dew bespeckled lawn, and into his room. He dropped snow down and slipped his jacket off. Henry placed it across a small table that sit in the middle of the room and watched as Snow ran around his room, smelling everything, and eventually making his way to Henry's bed, where he nestled himself under the covers.
"Ok yah mutt," Henry grinned, "Make some room for me."
In the morning, Henry woke early and brought Snow up out of bed and out of his room. He walked over the dew spilt grass in his bare feet and felt the wet in between his toes. Snow looked up at Henry, whining lightly as if pleading not to take him back to the yard. There was nothing Henry could do. Eventually Pablo would see the dog in his yard and call the police or some other authoritative figure and that was just too much nonsense for him. Betria was in her bedroom and heard Henry opening the back gate, which was very loud. She squinted through the screen to see better and called out.
"Who's out there?" Betria hissed.
"It's me, ma, Henry," he said, "Can't you see through the screen?"
"No," she said flatly, "What you doing up so early?"
"I brought Snow into my room last night because it was so cold."
"Snow!?" she gasped, "There's no snow out there. Why would you bring it into your room. You crazy?"
Henry put Snow down at his feet and opened the large wooden gate. Betria saw Snow and then realized what her son was talking about. She coughed, turned around, and flicked on the television.
"I don't know what you're doing with Pablo's dog," she yelled through the screen, "But he's gonna' be mad if he sees you with it."
"I know," Henry grumbled, going through the gate and pushing it back. Snow was waiting for him, sitting back on his haunches. Who cared what Pablo thought or felt? He was a monster and didn't give a damn about Snow. Henry found it difficult to have any kind of feeling but hatred and disgust with someone like Pablo. He picked Snow back up and gently placed him over the fence and dropped him. Snow landed on his feet, but immediately turned around and tried to climb up the fence. Henry ran his fingers through Snow's thick coat, trying to calm him down.
"I know, boy. I don't want to take you back either. It's just something that has to be done right now." Henry leaned over the gate and patted Snow's side, which was shaking already from the cold. He wished he could take him back in his room and leave him there in the warmth, but Pablo would be come out some time and if the dog was missing, he would be the first one to blame.
"You name my dog yet, cabrón?" Henry stood up straight as Snow backed away from the fence. Henry knew it was Pablo from just how Snow had reacted. Snow was truly afraid of him. "Did yah'," he asked again.
"None of your business," Henry told him. He turned from Pablo and started for his room.
"None of my business?" Pablo laughed, "It's my damn dog. It's my damn property."
"Oh shut up you two!" Betria screamed from her bedroom, "I'm trying to watch my novellas!"
"Aye, sorry Betria," Pablo stammered.
Henry opened the gate and looked back at Pablo, "It's Snow," he said.
"Snow?" Pablo asked, "Why'd you name it that?" Pablo looked down at Snow as Snow looked away, toward Henry.
"Why do you even have that dog?" Henry asked.
"Shit," Pablo grinned, "I don't have to explain myself to you. Why the hell you care?"
"Do you even want it?"
Henry exhaled, not believing this man was this thick, "The dog. Snow. The dog you keep in your yard all day without anything."
"Yeah, I want it. What do you think?"
Henry stepped away from the fence and had taken a few steps toward Pablo. He wasn't going to fight him, he just wanted an honest answer. Pablo's face was cracked and creased like worn leather. A white film had gathered in the corners of his mouth and as he stared at Henry and he at him, Henry realized Pablo was a very unintelligent man. There was small whisper of pity that began to stir in Henry's stomach, but he immediately swept it away when he looked over at Snow, who was cowering in his dog house under the dank shadow of the lemon tree.
"Why?" Henry asked.
"Why do you even want the dog?"
"Cause' it's mine," Pablo scoffed, "I already told you."
"Do you always want to keep something you have?"
Pablo stared at him, unsure what to make of what Henry said, confirming Henry's assumption that Pablo was indeed very stupid. Stupid people are usually very easy to trick and swindle. Henry wondered what someone like Pablo would want in this world. He didn't have much to give in terms of material possessions, a TV here and a bike with a broken chain there. Then, it dawned on him, that after the roofing job is done, he would be getting a cool grand. Pablo rocked back and forth on his heels, looking slightly bored from the whole exchange. His mind wandered when there weren't insults or threats being tossed around.
"How much do you want for the dog?"
"He's not for sale," said Pablo, looking over the fence, "Come over here you. Let me get a look at you." He put his hand over the fence and snapped his fingers to try and get Snow's attention, but Snow stayed put.
"I'll give you a hundred dollars by tonight," Henry stated. There was something this man wanted, but Henry was at a lost at what it was.
"One-hundred dollars for that white puff ball?" Pablo laughed, "It'll have to be a more then that, especially with all the arguing we've been doing. What about my time?"
"Now your times worth something?"
"Sure," said Pablo, "Now it is. Sure."
Henry paused and knew Pablo would only go higher and higher in price. All he would have left is a couple hundred bucks and what Brett would be giving him for the roofing job. Money was never abundant in Henry's life and yet, now, he truly needed it. There was no use going to his brothers. They would laugh in his face if he told them why he needed to borrow money this time. He was always borrowing money and tried to be good for it as best he could. Some months were harder than others for Henry. He looked over the fence and looked at Snow. He was so deep inside his dog house Henry could only see a single paw stretching out past the door.
"You make an offer then," said Henry, fed up with him.
"Oh!" Pablo laughed, "Look at you. A deal man. A businessman!"
"Just tell me, Pablo. I need to go to work. Do you work?"
"What's it to you?" Pablo asked, swaying back and forth.
"Nothing. Anything you say is nothing to me. The only thing that matters is how much you want for Snow."
"Five-hundred," Pablo said.
"You're lowballing me, Henry. Three-fifty."
"I can do two-fifty and that's it Pablo." It was true. After rent, food, insurance, car maintenance, and a few new tools, that's all he would have left till the next job and who knew when that was.
"You're gonna' halve me on my first offer, huh?" Pablo was squinting at him, trying to hold an intimidating stare in his eye, but to no effect. "That's cold, but something I would suspect. You got a reputation around here for shorting people on a lot of things."
Henry didn't know what he meant, so he kept silent. He could tell Pablo was thinking about the offer. Most likely Pablo had picked up the dog on the street or in a park and all this back and forth wasting time talk would be straight profit for him. Henry had never known him to work, so he was sure he could use the money. There were a few kids somewhere inside of the house that needed feeding. God knows he wasn't using any money on Snow. Pablo looked down at his hand and opened his palm. He studied the lines on them, letting the sun hit in between the lines, studying every crack, trying to think about anything else but the dog and the deal. Pablo didn't need the dog. He just liked having him there. Something for his kids and him to look at, but never bring into the house.
Pablo exhaled and walked toward Henry, "Alright, you got a deal. Two-fifty."
Henry put out his hand to meet Pablo's, "Two-fifty," he repeated, making sure they both heard each other clearly.
"You can take him when I get my money. When is that, by the way?" Pablo's direction was nowhere near the dog. He could care less. He wanted the money.
"I'm going to my last day on the job right now," Henry told Pablo, "I'm getting a check and I'll have the money by tonight if you're home."
"Yeah," said Pablo, "I'll be home."
Henry got ready for work and drove to Brett's house. There wasn't much else to do. He sanded the tops of the two by fours so the shingles and tar would set perfectly. In the living room, he made sure to sweep and scrub any tar that leaked from above. If the tar got into the couch, the stains would be there forever. No one was home as he worked, but a check was sitting on the side table next to the burnt photograph of Jerry. Henry was sure Jerry had stomped the thing into oblivion, but there was Jerry, smiling and hugging Brett's upper thigh. Henry laughed out loud so it echoed around the house, imagining Jerry's rage when he got home and saw the picture. For such a small man, he sure packed a lot of energy.
Henry took the check to the bank and cashed it. Nine hundreds and two fifties in his wallet. It made him very nervous as he drove back to the house. The money would be gone soon enough. Then he wouldn't have to carry the burden anymore. All that money. He never understood why people strived for it, betrayed for it, killed for it. Thin slices of comically bright green paper in between two folds of worn, cheap leather. Three pieces for a friend and the rest of it for everything else. Three pieces for a friend who before had none.
Something happened this morning
when I awoke to you lightly breathing.
It was sublime.
My chin rested on your shoulder
the skin so soft on my cheek.
I couldn’t help but kiss the sweetness.
On nights when I sleep alone
it does not matter how many blankets
wrap my restless body.
I wake cold.
Nothing is as warm as your arms.
Like that of a Texas breeze
on an August night.
I can only think to kiss
your unshaven face.
The kisses are planted gently,
first your cheek,
then your temple,
and your forehead,
when I come to the tip of your nose
you stir slightly,
but I cannot stop.
I want it more then
the ocean waves need
the shoreline to crash upon.
Looking at your face
I smile at the odd way we met.
With a breath of rum and an intoxicated
grin we spoke.
“I don’t like you”
“Yea? Well I don’t like you first!”
Like children picking
on their first crush.
Tying to fight back the giggles.
Our childish ways still
In your absence I sit
and watch the ticking minutes
laugh at my uneasiness.
Hours with others
are mere minutes with you.
The clocks envy
our cherished time
and tick-tock more rapidly
when we are alone.
All our time
would never be
When we get lost in each other,
the way the lonely roadrunner
looses himself as he runs
up and down
the oak covered hills,
it is love at its best.
when the soft breathes
you took woke me
and my chin rested upon
As the kisses fell
and your eyes continued to sleep;
I realized that this
is where I belong.
into love with you.
The white man, can't say the word "nigga". They say because its offensive, it's rude, but I know the real reason why. I know, because that's what I am; a nigger. Born as a nigger, lived as nigger, I know why the white man can't say the word nigger. They say that it makes no sense for the blacks to use this insulting, disgusting term for themselves, but only because they don't know the true meaning. We bear the name as a scar, as a reminder of what we fought, of what we were. We bear the name as a reminder of our ancestors, and their long hot days in the cotton fields, picking until their finger tips were raw with blood, whipped until their skin was indistinguishable from the raw fleshy pulp that was their aggravated flesh laced with the crimson nectar of their veins. We bear the name, to remind ourselves, that even amidst all this we lived. We fought our way through the darkness of the tunnel. We bear our scar, to remind us, to remind you, that we survived, that we are survivors. I bear the name, I bear the scar of a nigger. That is why we call ourselves the name nigger. It is our word of honor, our mark of surviving. The white man is not worthy enough to call me a nigger.