mostly blood and bones and pain

diary of a professional antagonist

Sunset of My Youth

So, at the moment, I’m going through what people keep telling me is a mid-life crisis. Apparently trying to have a good time when you’re a man of a certain age means you’re totally fucked in the head – I wasn’t aware of this. Admittedly my behavior has been a tad off. I’ve been hanging in bars I used to frequent during my college days, I found an ex-favorite pair of jeans and an old-school beanie I had forgotten and I’ve been grooming my stubble into a neat little design – add my Oxford cut coat to the mix and I think I look pretty damn good. So did the little honey I took out last week, well, that is until the generation gap made itself known.

I met her in a downtown cafe after the lunch bunch had rushed back to their nine-to-fives. The only two people in the place. Me, sporting the aforementioned, sipping on a type of coffee I never heard of before, reading Don Quixote. She, tank top, jeans so tight they must have been sold with a body laminator, and high heels, damn. I was desperately willing my gearstick to stay in neutral as I stole the occasional glance but my tongue was paralyzed, until she spoke…

“Hey, there. What’cha readin’?”

“Oh, hi. Don Quixote. ‘Read it?”

“No. ‘On my wishlist.”

“Here. Have mine. I’m re-reading – ‘my favorite book.”

“Oh, I couldn’t.”

“You can. You must. I insist.”

“Thanks! So, what kind of a guy gets to sit in coffee shops reading his favorite books mid-afternoon on a Monday?”

“A writer. ‘Name’s Chukkas.”

Carla, with a K. Chukkas? I like that. What do you write, Chukkas?”

“Screenplays, mostly.”

“Oh, cool. Anything I’d know?”

“Not unless you tune into the high numbers.”

“Still, that’s awesome. I’m a philosophy major.”

“Deep thinker, eh? A lady worth getting to know.”

“Pff, I don’t know about that.”

“I can tell, I sit here a lot, character profiling, and you’re the first person in a long while I didn’t feel the need to invent a life for. You look like you’ve got things to say, like making a wider contribution is a fundamental right, a purpose, and not just something you hope for in your life.”

“Jeez! Thanks, man.’Glad I talked to you today.”

“Anyway, my book has a new keeper, my Chi-whatever-the-fuck-it-is is cold and I’ve a deadline to meet.”

“Aw, really? Just like that you’re leaving?”

“Gotta, but we should catch a movie or something sometime.”

“Yeah, that’d be cool.”

“OK, then, here’s my card.”

“Uhm, one sec, let me just scribble down my number.”

“Cool. Thanks. I’ll call you.”

“Sure. See you, Chukkas.”

I couldn’t fucking believe how well it’d gone, corny line aside I didn’t want to bury myself in a hole in perpetual descent to the center of the earth. She was smoking hot and I bailed before I had to, but also before a stream of bullshit exposing me as a sperm loaded dirty-bomb counted down and unloaded in her ears. I figured that there were at least fifteen years between us, that was me being most generous to myself, the reality was probably closer to eighteen but fuck it, this warranted the first purchase of boxers since two years ago and my dick was more excited than a T-Rex on sighting a nice, big, fat, blind, three legged buffalo on an open range.

This night last week was one week later. I had to hold off long enough to pretend that I actually had a deadline to meet and that once that was done with, a date with her was top priority and the best reward I could ask for after all my hard work. In truth I’d spent the week trying to build up some stamina, practicing on porn, congratulating myself to the point of mania then icing my balls close to the point of frostbite. She looked so screamingly hot, wedges, skin groping skirt and top, body tighter than a sniper rifle – I was sweating so much I was afraid she’d look down and think I’d pissed myself. I chose some boring looking, art house, Eurotrash shit in hope that it’d impress her and score me a few intellectual points and basically allow her to see me as a good guy – a good guy whose penis was worth getting to know.

Aside from an old, scowling couple who HAD to sit in the same row a few seats away we had the cinema to ourselves. About half way through the movie I couldn’t take the sight of those crossed legs and the rhythmic movement of her upper body any longer and did something to a twenty-something I hadn’t done for a long time – I made a move. The fact that she responded favorably made me wonder if I was really so deeply embedded in fantasy that in reality I was a drooling, slobbering cretin thrown in the corner of some hospital for the deranged and daft-as-fuck. Well, I thought, until I come to I’m going to see where this goes – please don’t be a dream, please don’t let me wake up when I’m this close to second base.

I didn’t, and as my balls swelled and begged for release I suggested we move back a few rows and make good use of the bright of the projector light and allow our actions all but vanish in the darkness below. She gave it a thought then agreed, on one condition – I had to wear a rubber. Fuck. Back in my day people just went for it, but with all the god-damn shit you can catch just by looking at someone’s crotch these days she was insistent on it. Here’s where my sad, middle aged life began to reveal itself. I’d never used a rubber before and as I wandered out of the auditorium toward the restroom where she assured me I could find one, panic began to set in. The success or failure of this event would determine my confidence to engage with the youth of the nation for the rest of my life. All I could think was, if this doesn’t work out I’ll be stuck with loose-skinned clap traps, just like the one slouched next to that mean looking old fucker sitting two seats away from Karla for the rest of my life.

I have to admit, in the restroom I was actually embarrassed as my dollars disappeared into the vending machine. There was something humiliating about it, buying rubbers in a cinema toilet seemed like something a kid would do because they couldn’t muster the nerve to buy over the counter. It didn’t help when two fifteen year olds disturbed me and laughed at catching me in the act. In the dying light as I re-entered the auditorium I thought the expiry date looked past. I soon forgot when I noticed that the old couple were necking, now alone, and Karla was in the back row, barely visible beneath the glare of the projector light. I hopped in next to her and the party was officially kicking off.

It was getting hot. Crazy hot. I was dehydrating faster than any human ever had, steam was rising from me as I tried to put my stamina work into effect and savor the event, then came the time to embrace the modern world. The bastard rubber couldn’t have been drier and the forced removal of hair from my nether regions didn’t help my confidence. Karla was getting frustrated at the delay. In a flurry I finally managed it. Comfort wasn’t on the agenda and I felt that part of me was being strangled to the point of asphyxiation. Bad enough as I felt, disaster then presented itself.

I straightened up a little to make my approach and bridge that generation gap in the most spectacular way, then suddenly saw a flash of white light, stars, and heard a smack that echoed through the room followed by the sound of my own vocal chords emitting a scream that hadn’t been heard in my family since neanderthal times. The rubber had exploded and was now flayed and hanging from my cock, looking like a back fired acme gun that Wile E Coyote had attempted to shoot. As it split it gave my balls the ultimate lashing and long after Karla had abandoned the auditorium I hobbled down the aisle and knew that it was time to hang up the beanie and buy a pair of New Balance.

I’m happy to report that I’m slowly getting back to myself now. I tried calling Karla but the number has been disconnected. I wandered down to the coffee shop earlier, ordered a good old-fashioned, all American coffee and read the sports pages in hope that she might wander in – alas, no. Once the swelling goes down I figure I’ll hit up some of the bars that cater to men of my age and while I’m emptying the frustration of another humiliation into some aging body, which’ll probably be older and hopefully more desperate than me, I’ll think of Karla and imagine myself her Don Quixote, riding off into the sad sunset of my youth.

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Shite Night in a Ghost House

Research is something I don’t take too seriously, especially when writing a horror script which involves a bunch of sadist ghosts out for revenge from the cruel spirits that crushed and stole their young lives. I’ll admit now that this was a low point in my writing career, a necessary evil in order to get in good with a director on the rise who in all honesty was a hack that somehow managed to get financed without problem on every daft idea his colon conjured up. So, I took the offer of knocking out a quick draft which came with the clause of spending a ‘night in a seriously creepy old house in the country’… this was supposed to help me get in the right frame of mind and draw on the energies betwixt the four walls, instead of making me feel like I was in an episode of Scooby-fucking-Doo as I drove the rental out there.

On arrival my gut tightened. Someone was having a laugh at the expense of my pride. There were no windows or doors in the bastard, and it was huge, and sitting up on top of a hill, and it just so happened to be windy and wet as fuck. The surrounding area wasn’t much better, crappy old storage shed the other side of the hill next to a big old marsh, some looming forestry on the nearby mountains, old stone walls and the one neighborly light that was visible at least a mile away extinguished almost immediately. I took the sleeping bag, a pen and notepad (pointless), two bottles of whisky from the trunk, the jumbo bag of chips and the now damp ‘steak and cheese’ footlong I bought a few hours earlier and made my way inside. The whole place was gutted, nobody had lived in it for decades and the stench of rat piss, decaying wooden beams and mould only made me thank God even more that I had the good sense to bring two bottles and not one.

Part confession at this point, I’ve this really bad habit every time I enter someone else’s home, it’s more a compulsion that comes from who knows where, probably some primal ancestor – the long and short of it is, I piss somewhere in the house, I suppose marking terrain or just planting a familiar scent of myself that enables me to relax. In a normal house it’s usually just a squirt in a potted plant or on the towels in the bathroom. In this glorified cave I decided to go all out and with a full bladder let loose everywhere, making sure I hit every room. Once I’d shaken out the last drop I found the least breezy corner, climbed into the sleeping bag and hit the bottle hard.

It was around midnight and I had to piss again so I staggered about until I made it outside. As relief was washing over me I checked my cell. Text message from the director. I’d been getting hourly updates since noon, random facts about the house, who lived in it, what they did, why nobody lived in it and how they died. Turns out I was staying in the ultimate cliché movie house (this guy had no imagination) – the Dad was a loner type butcher, heard voices, chopped up his doting wife and kid, buried their body parts in the floor boards, then turned a shotgun on himself and blew his head up into the chimney as he set fire to his clothes. Laughable. Returning inside, I stubbed my toe on a board as I crossed the threshold and sight of the blood dripping from my toe onto those filthy, tetanus infested floorboards was the final straw that riled me so bad my bowels loosened. Revenge was in order.

I found the fireplace, unloaded an unmerciful spray then fashioned a makeshift fire from twigs, leaves and set the whole lot off after siphoning some gas from the rental – I wasn’t going to waste whisky. I was nicely into the second bottle by three AM and decided more gas and a voodoo dance was in order. The spirits must have taken hold of me because I ended up spiraling around the old shit-hole letting the remaining fixtures, grout and window frames have it with my trusty baseball bat. I fucked that place up good but ended up knocking over the vat of gas and fire spread from room to room. Five minutes later and the whole place was ablaze but it didn’t matter, there was nothing inside aching to catch the flames, run rampant and help it go epic and so, disappointingly, within an hour it was dead, just like my second bottle. At least I’d got some warmth out of it while it lasted but was in need of more so I threw caution to the wind and wandered back inside.

Nothing was going on outside other than that one light on the hillside blinking on for a few minutes then vanishing again, just like my self esteem. My buzz was begin to die and bring a death all its own to my head so I tried to distract myself and started to break the floorboards just to rid myself of the cretinous text plot that was supposed to bring entertainment to the night. After wrecking a few rooms and finding nothing resembling bone I checked the charred chimney stack. Fine, there were some scars in the cement that may have been caused by buckshot but I was aware of a concept called ‘wear and tear’ so ruled it out. I’d hit the wall, boredom, hangover, cold, miserable, resenting my desperation for bringing me to this point and the darkest hour of the night was reaching pitch black. Then a text blinked in from the director which unsettled me.

The land had once been an Indian burial ground, I sighed. The family who took over the land had left no will so ownership went back to the natives. The area was declared sacred and no removals were allowed unless authorized by some descendant chief in their council. The absent bodies had been moved, to the storage shed at the back of the house. The chief had written an account of the tragedy, self published it, sold the rights to my director for pittance and approved my stay for one night. I didn’t sigh… I said ‘fuck’ instead. The director told me to be sure and check out the storage shed before I left. I was already drawn to it, hypnotized in my hammered state, having pissed and shit and desecrated and shed blood on sacred ground – I had to see what was in there.

It took me a full twenty minutes to baby-step my way to the door, despite it being a thirty second walk, tops. The door was already cracked open. I reached out and gave it a gentle push. My eyes squinted against the darkness inside, searching for shapes and then, something presented itself. It looked like a mound of soil. A drop of urine ran down my leg as I stepped closer. Then I heard a noise behind me and spun around. On top of the hill were three silhouettes. A man. A woman. A child. The man was holding a shotgun. In the dark I’m sure I was glowing white. And then he started to make his way down toward me. I ran like a fucking rabbit. That’s right, hopping on all fours, waiting on the blast and hoping my death rattle would at least be somewhat acrobatic and impressive.

It never came. I toppled into a patch of briars and landed face first in the marsh and the man pulled me out before I sank and drowned. He didn’t look anything like I expected. First off he was alive. He was also a native Indian, so was his wife and kid. They looked pissed. After I’d cleared the muck from my ears I realized he was the aforementioned chief who had been alerted by the neighbors on the other side of the hill after they saw the house take to flames. I protested innocence but all that got me was the butt of his shotgun in the mouth. He dragged me to my rental and unloaded on the windshield and the rearview, telling me I’d be hearing from his lawyer and that I’d be personally liable for the restoration. I told him he “was out of his fucking mind” and got another jab of the shotgun in the forehead before haphazardly toppling into the rental and swerving like a lunatic as I made my escape.

An hour down the road I decided ignoring the persistent calls from the director was a good idea. I realized that this low point would sink me so deep I would never getting a writing assignment in the western world ever again, so I did the only thing I felt was sensible. First I threw the cell into a lake, then once the rental prematurely ran out of gas I shoved it off the side of a cliff, moved city and had my name changed by deed poll. There was a momentary grumble of the incident in local news but nobody really gave a shit. The director took the blame, had to fork out for the rental (cheapskate hadn’t opted for insurance) then got his dumb ass blacklisted by trying to make that daft horror story without official permission from the shotgun wielding chief – he had changed the idea but seemingly not enough to convince the judge. Last I heard he was working toilets in a casino as part of his community service.

Unscathed, the road was clear for me to re-enter the business. I decided to do it right, return home, play by the rules and lick the right arseholes until that first big sale dropped. Two years later here I am – still desperate, still drunk, still pissing in rooms.

Drunken Leprechaun or: How I Failed My Irish Ancestors and Barfed Fucking Everywhere

I was once a proud person. My life had more or less been filled with the same experiences the average Joe Boxer-shorts checks off the life list by the time he’s reached the age of twenty three, so I had no reason not to be. Of course things could have gone better at times but you’ve got to take the rough with the tumble and chalk it down to the building of character and the formation of a well-rounded human being. However, at twenty-three I took my first trip abroad, and embarked on a life-changing holiday in Ireland, which gave my pride a solid kick in the sack and finished with me clambering aboard the plane home wishing “beam me up” wasn’t just a phrase from TV but a very real and private mode of transportation which would spare me the shame, and spare my fellow passengers those six hours of smelling the stale piss sloshing about in my loafers and the acidic stench of bile and puke wafting from my mouth and hair.

My Irish roots are supposedly on my mother’s side and I figured I’d spend a week in the old country, live where some of my people had lived, soak up all there was on offer culturally and hope to be charmed by a lady leprechaun before finding a job back home and beginning to build a career. O’Neill was her mother’s surname and they hailed from a place called Ballyjamesduff in County Cavan which I found close to the middle of nowhere, somewhere north of the midlands (the actual middle of nowhere). Having landed in Dublin Airport, with not one building worth calling a skyscraper in sight, I began to wonder that if this was the capital city then where in the Christ was I headed?

Despite being initially impressed by the scenery, my enthusiasm waned as the bus took roads the width of sidewalks and ventured into towns which wouldn’t pass as villages at home, where we were usually greeted by a man waiting at a red pole signaling desperately to be collected and taken back to civilization. The fact that every fifty yards saw a new curve in the road and our driver insisted on meeting or exceeding the speed limit at all times encouraged my stomach to repeat its efforts in ridding itself of the slops it was thrown on the plane ad nauseam. Then the bus stopped and I was there, but, where the fuck was there? The man who signaled desperately to the bus had remained on board. This clearly was not his stop…

After battling the hotelier’s accent for a solid fifteen minutes I eventually understood that I was the only occupant and that rain had been forecast for the next seven days. I ditched my bags in the room and decided the only way to go forth would be with a sense of adventure, camaraderie for my fellow Irish men and dive right in, so I changed into something more comfortable and made tracks for one of the local pubs. I spied an O’Neill’s and figured that’d be a good start. Order a glass of Guinness, fit in, feel comfortable and then dig for stories of my ancestors.

My first step inside was met with silence, then laughter. I shrugged it off, probably a coincidence and bad timing, so I hit the bar – “a glass of your finest Guinness, please”. More laughter. It was definitely me they were laughing at. Men were repeating what I’d said to the older gentlemen at the bar, the ones with hair growing out of their ears, who in turn also laughed. As I took my first sip I smiled, content that this would ingratiate me, however, as I looked around I soon realized my error. I was holding a glass, thin and slender, while the other men were holding thick, bulky glasses with twice as much Guinness in them. The fact that I blushed at the moment of realization only made me look like more of a woman. Then I noticed their clothes and how their choice of dark threads and fabric served almost as camouflage  against the walls of the drinking hole. I looked at myself – brand new white sneakers, khakis, blue sweater and polo-neck – all I was missing was a big fucking pink sign around my neck with ‘on vacation’ printed on it.

I’d lost the respect of the local men and could feel myself slipping deeper into infamy by the second, slowly becoming part of the ‘go to for quick laughs’ section of every local barfly’s tall tales encyclopedia. I tried to shrug it off and asked the barkeep if he knew of any O’Neill’s in the area – more laughter – I think someone said “you’re standing in his fucking pub, y’daft, yank, cunt”, but I can’t be certain. Hearing, or convincing myself that I’d heard that word uttered aloud, and to jovial acceptance and laughter, prompted my balls to seek shelter north of their normal resting spot. Not five minutes into the visit, I was standing on the most hostile ground I’d ever stood and contemplating walking away. Nobody took the next natural step to prompt a fight and so I persisted and asked again, making direct reference to my grandmother’s people. Then they really started laughing.

“God-damn it! What in the heck is so funny?” Silence. I’d said that. Shouted that. Even I couldn’t believe it. Something changed in the air, a few of the men looked to each other, nodded, then one got up and made his way over. I downed what was left in my glass and prepared to die but then this fellow reached out to shake my hand. I accepted. “How’a’ya? Name’s Thomas Comiskey.” I introduced myself, folded my arms and said – “well, care to explain the source of merriment?”. Someone scoffed in the corner. Thomas looked at me earnestly, like one would at a relative when doling out some heartbreaking information. “Sorry to tell ya, lad, but if y’say who y’said is yer granny then I’m sorry t’have ta tell ya that yer granny was a hewer. Didn’t mean t’laugh, just thought y’knew the local legend and was tryin’ to have a laugh with us. No offence meant. Welcome t’Ireland.” He gave me a pat on the back then made for the toilet.

It was the fastest unravelling of a man’s family tree since Cain and Abel hit their teens, looked over at Adam and Eve and said “huh?”. Of course all I had was this man’s word to go by but the fact that most of those present wouldn’t look me in the eye for the next ten minutes spoke volumes. Someone broke the ice and told me that I should have a pint, not a glass. I guess I laughed but honestly can’t remember. I was supposed to be the exotic foreigner, full of mystery, bringing awe and wonder to a small island full of old fashioned brogue and tradition. Instead I’d been transformed into the most common, ignorant, son-of-the-daughter-of-a-whore within an hour of hitting the family turf.

Whatever it is about returning to the places your roots sprouted, I noticed a change in myself that evening which evolved into a compulsion which then spawned a hunger. I started to drink pretty darn hard. After three days I had frequented every bar in the town at least twice and had been thrown out of half at least once. Turns out I had a “real taste for a drop” as the locals put it. I didn’t eat much, the Guinness usually lined the stomach well but the consequence of this inaction was a lack of very many memories. I get the occasional flashback – urinating into the gas tank of a tractor, chasing sheep, running downhill blind and getting tangled up in barbed wire, having my face punched in by some farmer and being berated by the local law, a stocky, short cop with a penchant for twisting my balls while making idle threats – he didn’t have a gun so his countless warning fell on deaf ears. By the fifth day I was unrecognizable, a black and blue, wild, roving mess, stinking of body odor and alcohol. Logic and reason were gone but I somehow ended up back at my hotel, starving.

I’d paid up-front for the week which included bed and breakfast. A moment of clarity reminded me that the hotel hadn’t fed me once to date and so I protested and demanded all of the breakfasts I’d missed in the last five days immediately. The owner’s wife brought me a monstrous plate heaped with what I estimate at ten sausages, five chunky bacon strips, five eggs, five fried tomatoes, ten pieces of pudding – five white, five black (good shit) – a can of beans, maybe fifteen chopped mushrooms, a toasted loaf of bread and two pots of tea. I dug in. Not only was it the tastiest meal I ever ate, but about an hour after finishing I dropped the greatest shit of my life and returned to the bar a new man, with a new hunger – the hunger for some Irish lovin’.

Somewhere in the region of my ninth pint of the night I struck up conversation with a young filly and after another three pints, and having lost the sense of sight, instinct suddenly kicked in and I came to with her pinned up against the wall of the bar and my tongue dripping translucent saliva from the corner of my mouth. She was embarrassed but led me out by the hand. My face made the acquaintances of the coat rack, the door jamb and then the outer wall of the pub as I tried to figure out how these rubber legs I’d inherited worked. As it turned out I’d chosen the easiest mark in town, probably a relative knowing my luck, and was soon lying next to her in a stack of hay. I couldn’t understand a word she said with that thick fuckin’ accent but started into the motions hoping that’d shut her up.

I imagined that at some point my own relatives had probably been laid in this very same barn. It was a suicidal thought which led to my mother’s face, then my grandmother’s face in the throes of pleasure. Blood rushed from my nether regions, up into my suddenly disturbed stomach then hit full speed and raced for my head and sent me into a dizzy spin. My filly playfully punched me in the gut to get my attention. Bad move. The vault was unlocked and I spewed left, right and center. I covered my date and myself in equal measure with the undigested remnants of that epic breakfast marinated in Guinness and whisky. Her screaming alerted what turned out to be her parents, both adept at inflicting pain with shovels and spades. As it turned out, Daddy was the local cop who I’d managed to incense countless times over the past few days.

Balls in a twist I was dragged and thrown into the back of his cop car, taken to the airport, handed my passport, my plane ticket and a bottle of holy water, which I was told was the only thing that’d prevent the plane I was on being struck from the sky by a bolt of lightning. I was covered in vomit and, trying to remember my name as I approached the check-in desk, soiled my slacks – it was only when they asked for my passport that it clicked that my effort had been a costly and unfortunate waste of brain function.

Six hours later, back on home soil, I was placed in a decontamination chamber as part of US quarantine protocol and berated by a guy I went to high school with who was now working with homeland security and had received notification of US deportation from Ireland. When he finally stopped reminding me how disgraceful my representation of citizens of the US of A had been he asked what had happened to me over there. All I had was, “Leprechauns. Fuckin’ leprechauns.” In the sorriest state of my life I failed to hail a cab and began the long, sobering walk home, revisiting the few memory entries that had returned of my week of debauchery and carefree insanity. By the time I reached home a smile had found it’s way back onto my face and I could think only one thing – Ireland fucking rules, man.

Tried to hose me for both desserts

I’m pretty good with women. I’m tolerant of any old babble, make good eye-contact and when it comes to manners I make old Jeeves look like a gawping yokel with a crust of shit in the corner of his mouth. It took a while to get this comfortable, to relax and just enjoy the evening. As a kid I got worked up every time, made a big deal out of it and if I was lucky got to go home with blue balls and a memory log on continuous replay of all the dumb-shit things I said that put her off the notion of me being a worthy adversary twixt the sheets… or on the back seat of the car, as it was.

My change in fortune didn’t come as a result of a conscious shift in my frame of mind. I was just shy of thirty, a string of shaven legs and lying asses had been and gone. The ‘for’ ratio wasn’t so great but y’know, for an unremarkable looking guy it wasn’t a travesty either. My buddy calls me, “got this stuck up chic givin’ me shit ’cause she brought a friend and now she’s alone and upset and it’s Friday night and” and – blah. Fuckin’ game was on. Last thing I wanted to do was play sidekick and see some sobbing mess home, accusing me of not liking her because she knows I’m only there because my friend asked for a favor so he could get close to her friend. Quarterback fumble, phone call, fifty bucks down the toilet on the fucked field goal and I figured if I was going to waste my money I might as well hang out with someone in more miserable a state than me. Needless to say I didn’t dress up. The night that was in it I was on a roll, I even pegged this girl all wrong in the mental build up to setting sight on her. Not only was she happy to see me but didn’t seem to care how shabby a state I was in. Good looking girl, good stats, a few funny things to say too. Long story short, we hooked up and had a good thing for six months. From then on I figured the less effort I put in the less needy and desperate I appeared. Overall it paid off on a fifty-fifty basis, and one hundred percent of the time I was at least comfortable in my clothes at the bar. Then I hit a snag.

Every time the waiter would drop a cushioned and minted paper tally on the table I found myself looking after it. The skirt always walked away clean, and some nights despite my wallet being rifled of all but the stitching I had to finish off the night by myself. Cradling a limp, somewhat sad looking little guy in one hand, wiping his tears off my hand. So this one night I go out, best intentions in mind, admittedly I’d hit a bit of a dry spell but this lady wasn’t the greatest looker in town and she practically burst my eardrum in response to the invitation to the two course early bird at Cafe del Mar. We agreed on starters and main course, dessert to follow back at mine. Fine. Conversation was bubbling, though, and when she suggested dessert I hinted that I hadn’t factored it in but could probably squeeze it – mine, that is. Besides, the food had left her sweaty, excited, a couple of buttons had come loose and I figured a chocolate sundae should lift that heaving warm flesh high enough to spill sight of her best lingerie, and once that was on show and the lady’s pleasure buttons pushed and primed it was game on. The check landed and before I’d had time adjust my gland and retrieve the wallet she had her cash on the table. This was good. Well, at least until I realized she put down enough for the early bird only. “Fuck this shit” flashed in my mind as my eyes narrowed and I released a short disappointed breath. “I’m getting stiffed again”. Eyelid bat. “Everything OK, honey.” She knew. It was all over her face. What was worse was that she wasn’t playing the seductress. It had turned into a business discussion between two adults without a word being spoken but fuck it, if this broad wasn’t puttin’ out then I wasn’t paying for her fucking extra calories.

I presented my early bird and own dessert. She countered with a look. I excused myself, retreating to the restroom and feeling like my manhood was about to abandon me out of sheer disgust at the stand I was taking. It was awkward when I returned, only because the waiter was standing there and she was telling him I’d shell out the rest. His face pushed me over the edge. That smug fucking twitch of the cheek and half raised eye-brow combo triggered a mental “fuck it, I’m getting nothing now anyway” so I went for broke and played my weakest card. “Excuse me, boss” I said to the penguin in the most lackluster tone I could summon. “Honey, I’m an equal rights guy, I didn’t want to offend you by assuming your half of the tab. You practically licked the bowl. I figured if anyone was gonna show their appreciation it’d be you.” Her face flushed. The waiter noted the gleaming bowl. “Pay the man and let’s hit the road.” I attempted to light a cigarette. He told me it was a non-smoking establishment. She fumbled some cash onto the tray as I tried to cooly accept being reprimanded by a man who in neanderthal times would have stood at the end of a field holding a dead boar head while the hunters practiced their spear throwing skills. Once outside I lit up. She looked humbled. I gave her a sideways glance. Next thing I knew she was all over me.

Daddy issues bolstered my social life, gave my wallet a welcome breather and I shaped myself into the perfect gentleman just so the routine ran a bit easier. But a man must keep up with his environment and the times that are in it have brought out a sensitive, struggling artist side. These days, it’s a bad night when I’ve to leave the tip.

Then he told me to get a life and go fuck myself

Well I didn’t know what to think. Thirteen years in the business and this roach, this slack-jawed, jack-assed looking, pelican-faced fuck decides he’s gonna let me have it. How in the Christ was I supposed to see that coming? If I was packing a colostomy I’d have filled and burst it off his face with a swift kick. To hell with the excrement running down my ankle into my good shoe, it’d have been worth it for the look. Instead I took a step back and handed over my valet tag and played the waiting game. The first scratch of three, the one that ends in a slight ‘dunge’ over the left rear I heard from a distance; I figure it for an out-of-control fishtail by the park fence. The one on the hood, just over the shattered indicator I suppose I’m somewhat responsible for; I did after all slip out of the way before it rammed into the faux Roman-pillar-decor instead of my leg. “Not used to driving a stick” was his excuse as he climbed over the door. I lit up a smoke stick and asked “are all the doors automatic where you’re from, too?” He didn’t get it at first but I was already in the car by the time sparks fizzed and that single neuron caught sight of the activity. I could tell he didn’t like my idea of a joke because a blood vessel had popped in his right eyeball, although that could have been from the strain of the cranial workout. I decided it best not to find out. Situation diffusion was already in play and a flicker of folded green from between my most elegant two fingers served as distraction enough. He swiped it and grunted some sweet nothing as he fumbled to open the parcel and seek either satisfaction, which would spark motor function and a walk away, or outrage, again sparking motor function resulting in his knuckles either wrapped around my throat, or knocking my teeth down it. Fortunately, thirteen years in the game had served me well. Every scenario I dreamt up for those silly stories I write, every fantasy of revenge and tale of comeuppance designed to please the masses finally paid off. Scratch three is on the driver’s door, accompanied by a significant ‘dunge’. What can I say – I never had that great an imagination.

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