diary of a professional antagonist
Tag Archives: Death
Standing over his coffin wasn’t the hardest thing. Putting him there was. Despite my success, something felt wrong, didn’t add up and as my presence as a mourner began to cause a disturbance, the pieces began to click together.
A week prior I was on my way home from another failed script pitch I’d made to a barely C-list production company, to a bottle of cheap label whisky with the power to pile drive my consciousness into a dark abyss for at least three days, when a young lady approached me. There wasn’t anything remarkable about her, a bit dumpy, a bit needy looking and it seemed like she had tried to make an effort to spruce up, though the lipstick on her teeth and the mascara in her eyebrows said she didn’t know too much about how. She slapped me in the face then screamed that a man like me had fucked her life up completely as she attempted to claw my face. I was in no mood to take the blame for some other fucker’s mess and even if I could turn the situation around into a quick lay against an alley skip I figured that considering the day, there was only a case of something itchy at the bottom of it. I cut my loses and gave it to her straight and hard.
“Fuck off back to the Crayola box you fell out of.”
As I walked away, the reality of just how bad the studio rejection was had begun to fester. Feeling like a hooker who offered a free one to a convict on death row and got a “maybe next time” response, I continued on home, slammed the bottle back and fell into another, warmer world, though that was likely down to having periodically pissed myself while out for the count. I woke up smelling worse than a chemical attack and while this wasn’t unfamiliar, the slender, if slightly stubbly pair of crossed legs a few feet away, were.
As the deep set crust on my eyes dropped off and blur gave way to focus, I followed those unkempt pins upward and it soon became clear that they belonged to the young lady from before. She hadn’t figured out how to paint her face during my downtime but with half a skull-load of old brain cells continuing to slide out my nostrils onto the solidified remains of their already departed cousins, my sharpness was back and I figured I knew her face from somewhere. Then it hit me, she was a pretty damn close fit for my wife, Selina. This was not necessarily a good thing but, considering the neurological gene pool, it made the lack of make-up expertise and the incompetence with a razor make a lot more sense.
Last I’d heard Selina was trying to fight her imprisonment seeing as she’d been locked away on testimony taken from one of the motel employees who was under heavy sedation at the time of trial, and as her lawyer argued, was therefore susceptible to being coerced into telling the truth the jury needed to hear. It was bullshit but she had nothing to lose and a new date had been set for the plea three months down the line. Judging by the facial ticks and the inability to retain gas, or at least pass it silently, the unshaven ‘babe’ before me was her sister. Somewhere inside me I felt responsible for her, which says a lot about my own mental function. In an effort to bond, and at least have something to defend myself against Selina with, and buy time should we ever cross paths again, I struck up conversation.
“What’s your name, honey?”
“No, just Barb, y’know, like, Barbrilla.”
Fish in a barrel. She admitted the kinship with my ball and chain and told me that Selina had said that if she was ever in trouble to come find me. The heat of the moment had gotten to her three days earlier and just finding me had given her hope that her nightmare was about to end. Some guy she’d been banging had slapped her around and tossed her out on her ear, and he’d taken the last bit of cash she had – fifty bucks. I couldn’t understand why the idiot would put any amount of time into a tray of nuts like Barb and was about to throw her out myself but then she mentioned that ‘Ol Garth didn’t need her cash and it began to make sense.
He was relatively new in town, had moved from a more tropical climate, and was loaded. A payout from an accident at work had left him crippled and somewhat deformed. She didn’t get into details, I didn’t care enough to ask. All she said was that once his bosses cut the check he severed his ties and decided to move back to his old stomping ground. But ‘Ol Garth had been reduced to Barb after he was ripped off by a couple of hookers who got wise to his fortune and were tag team bleeding him dry until he shot one of them then claimed it was self-defense after having been broken in to by two prostitutes. Naturally the cops found enough at the second hooker’s pad to lock her away and ‘ol Garth went looking for a more long term, reliable female. Enter Barb, fifty bucks in her purse and kinda dumb – jackpot. Turns out she was the penance he had to pay for his previous wrongdoings and after a month he’d had enough and pitched her out of his house with two black eyes and an option to visit the dentist. It’s a shame his crippled ass didn’t think to look up the family tree online.
Brass tacks, the guy had close to a quarter mill at his fingertips and kept a lot of it in his attic. We cased the house over a couple of days, she showed me the ins and outs, his favored places to watch T.V., and most importantly the routine of the meals-on-wheels he had going. In all fairness, she had the vengeance thing down and even had a nine millimeter of ‘Ol Garth’s with a full clip, with which he was to be killed. It was damn near poetic. I was still debating whether to get involved but Barb’s instincts proved similar to those of her sister’s and she blew me stupid me for the guts of two hours before draining me dry through the night. Sperm nor scruple was left when she put the nine milli in my hand and told me that I had a five minute window to get in and hide while the meal man was on site. I hobbled across the road, a big stupid fucking smile on my face, as if the twenty four hour bout of coitus was somehow going to make everything run smooth.
Once inside I settled on upstairs as the best place to find a hiding place, seeing as the meal man wouldn’t be going there and ‘Ol Garth wasn’t about to jog up any time soon. It was, of course, a mistake. I settled in a wardrobe on some rolled up linen and before I knew it I woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of my car horn blaring outside like a fucked alarm clock. All over the place, I staggered out into the bedroom where Garth was sitting, buck naked, using one of those elderly person can openers to twist the last bit of jizz out of the remains of his fucked up looking johnson.
“What the fuck?”
“Who the fuck are you? What the fuck are you doing in my fucking house?”
He’d heard enough and smashed me in the face with the can opener. Garth was spry, there was no getting away from that, and he quickly sent the nine milli flying out of my grip before cracking two of my ribs and loosening a few teeth for me. I had mobility on my side though and in my panicked state, shoved him out the door to buy time. What followed was the sound of springs, something rolling then crashing down the stairs. Garth was lying at the foot of the steps, a wheelchair wrapped around him, the can opener in his hair and a pool of blood growing larger by the second. I found the attic, the shoebox with the cash, it was going to work out. I opened the box, there wasn’t a quarter mill, more like five grand. Why was I even surprised? Then the doorbell rang and instead of biding my time and making a clean escape, I jumped through the bedroom window into a hedge and compounded the damage to my ribs. Back at the car, no sign of Barb – then she came running, from the house.
“Where the fuck were you?”
“I rang the doorbell to create a distraction.”
“Fucking idiot, get in.”
“I don’t know how to drive.”
“Is that the cops?”
“Gimmie the fucking keys, you clown-faced cretin!”
Somehow we made it out of there. Two hours later after I stopped shouting at her for exaggerating the truth about the amount of money in the house I felt very ill, remembering that I’d neglected to collect the nine milli before leaving. The cops would have it, I was a goner. Reluctantly, I turned on the news. There wasn’t too much coverage then the story of a local man found dead after an accident in own home started up. No foul play was suspected, the victim seemingly died during a sex act. Turns out the quarter mill wasn’t an exaggeration but ‘Ol Garth had blown the majority of it on hookers and porn. I figured I was off the hook and wanted to let it go but knew a gun with my fingerprints was still in the house of a deadman and it wouldn’t be long before his kin started to pack up his things.
The funeral was scheduled a couple of days later. An open house for mourners to pay their sympathies. I had Barb iron my suit. She made a complete fucking mess of it, but all I needed it for was a half hour so let it slide. Barb said she was going to stay home and count her share of the loot – fifty bucks, that’s all she wanted. Honest. I didn’t argue seeing as I was secretly hoping she’d be gone when I’d get back so I wouldn’t have to actually use the gun. That said, I wouldn’t get the chance if I didn’t find it. Into the lion’s den I walked.
I furled my lips together, nodded sympathetically, raised my eyebrows, all the cliché body language as I made my way through the mourners toward the coffin. I closed in, noticed a few odd looks, some whispers but paid no mind. Of course I was the stranger in the crowd and would draw some attention, but all I had to do was fit in then slip upstairs. I looked down at ‘Ol Garth and couldn’t help thinking that the mortician had done a pretty decent job to get all the cum out of his hair. The murmurs got louder then I thought I heard my name. I looked around, saw a picture of ‘Ol Garth from his heyday and something sank deep inside me.
I wish I had been on acid and that it was all a fucking insane flashback, but I was clean and this was a legit memory kicking in. ‘Ol Garth was a face from the past, a past I’d tried to distance myself from but one which Barb had clearly been trying to force back into my life. Selina was the accident that left ‘Ol Garth deformed and crippled, he was the motel employee whose testimony sent her down. This wasn’t about fifty bucks, or a quarter mill, this was about me in the house of a dead man whose violent past I and my wife were very much a memorable part of. I’d been set up. As if figuring it out wasn’t bad enough, or the fact that everyone in the room had simultaneously tuned into the same frequency, the cops had also just walked in and I knew then that Barb had made the call, and had done the same on the night when they showed up just as we were leaving, far too soon for anyone to have known.
They found the gun in the linen. Chance had landed it there. Barb was nowhere to be found, the money was gone with her and I knew that in three months Selina would likely be free or in a facility with much lower security and far more options when considering an escape. As for me, I stooped to a new low in a desperate attempt to maintain my freedom. When asked what I was doing there I said I was hired by ‘Ol Garth to strip for him. I mentioned my lack of success as a screenwriter and having been reduced to giving hand and blow-jobs out the back of a 7/11, which is where he picked me up, I agreed to go back to give him a private show.
The gun I had was his and ‘Ol Garth wanted to whack off while I threatened him with it. I also felt it necessary to tell them that he wanted me to pretend I was the hooker he shot when he caught her stealing from him. Naturally this didn’t go down too well with his surviving family members but the gun checked out and every studio in town wholeheartedly backed up my inability to get a writing job. They had no choice but to let me go on condition that ‘Ol Garth’s story die with him and the family be allowed to move on. Dignity, reputation and self-worth all flushed down the fucking toilet, I agreed.
I decided to ‘celebrate’ by buying a bottle of pile driver and driving home at speeds which would normally result in a fatal collision with a wall, or into an embankment, but no. Of course Barb was there, waiting for me when I walked in. A thin trickle of piss leaked down my leg as she kissed me, then whispered in my ear:
“Selina said to tell you that she’ll pay you back when she gets out.”
She left me with the bottle, my sorrows and a bad case of the blues. Penance, it would seem, was only just beginning.
There’s something comforting about a dead body. A few years back I took a job in a morgue out of necessity. They needed security and didn’t care much if I had any sort of ability when it came to handling myself. They also liked that I didn’t care that they were scrimping on the electric bill by shutting down the fridge overnight. Why would I? It was Christmas, and if the dead weren’t cold enough already they weren’t likely to complain.
The job paid enough to cover the bare essentials, and after arriving early one night only to catch the boss fingering a cadaver I was free to bring my own booze, was given a small black and white TV and enough coupons to keep me in vending machine snacks for the night. Ideal and all as that sounds, the morgue can also be a pretty lonely fucking place, and the first couple of months were only made bearable by an unhealthy nightly cocktail of bourbon, vodka and whatever lukewarm tab cola shit was in the machine. And so, morning after morning as I fell onto the mattress on the floor of the 12×15 ‘studio’ apartment I was renting, I wondered if when I woke up I’d finally have been checked into the funny farm. Luckily enough, after a major pile up on the freeway, I arrived for the night shift, semi-suicidal, at the end of my tether, only to find a familiar face lined up to work with me in that empty, damp, dead-zone.
Kristy, an old-flame, had fallen on hard times and was drafted in by the owner to push through some general admin that came with the freeway crowd. Boy it had been a while since we’d bumped uglies. My six pack had been replaced by a keg, some of my hair had committed suicide and a bite mark scar adorned my dick; a jack russell the perp, don’t ask. Kristy hadn’t faired so poorly and though her hair was stuck to her head and her tits were sagging a bit all I really missed was the glint in her eyes that drew me in all those years before, but I guess life will do that. She acknowledged me with a jaded look as I held up a Styrofoam cup then her head bobbed. Some people you just pick up where you left off and get on with it.
We didn’t talk much, we’d said it all before. Truth be told, back then we just got drunk, shouted at each other then fucked until we were sober and didn’t know what started it. Neither of us had any interest in working then or in our current positions, this was a strictly ‘collect the check, vomit once outside then fall asleep in a sticky mess with a bottle of malt liquor’ type deal. Thing was, having Kristy around that night probably kept me from unloading a bullet on my brain. The little I said to her was uncharacteristic, my God-damn memory was bringing up shit I’d long forgotten but her presence had now sparked back into life and I guess I wanted to say sorry. For once she listened and I felt a weight lift off of me. She didn’t refuse when I followed up by asking if we could do the bad thing to seal the make up deal like old times.
It was just what the doctor ordered and I knew I’d turned a corner, even though she was tired and didn’t really get into it that much. I figured she’d matured in the years in between and taking pole was no longer the glory ride it once was. Fuck it, at ninety, if my gland is willing and able, I’m betting I’ll still be grinning. This time, though, I was exhausted and the smile soon slid off my sweaty, panting face. I knocked over the last of my scotch trying to light up a cigarette while trying to keep my head on Kristy’s mammaries and before I knew it I was out for the count. Time passed, however much I hadn’t a clue, but I was brought back to consciousness by a piercing siren.
Horror invaded my senses in the moments following my waking. A red light was pulsing through a thick plume of smoke, water was falling all around me and a harsh white light was darting through it all, ultimately settling on my face. The morgue was on fire. The fucking scotch and cigarette was enough to set it off. A firefighter suddenly accompanied the white light and grabbed my arm, then he quickly let go, looked down, then looked back up at me. A couple of more firefighters joined him and stopped dead in their tracks. I looked down. Kristy was lying under me, butt-ass naked, she was unconscious. Scratch that, she was dead, and by the looks of it had been for a while. The firefighters roughly took a hold of me and dragged my naked bod out of there into the street and planked me down in front of the onlookers. I admit I was somewhat confused and may have made a move on a fifteen year old Puerto Rican girl before being battered around the temple by a crotchety old cop. I woke up in hell.
Hell is communal cell B in the fifteenth precinct when you’re brutally hungover, have no clothes and are desperately trying to convince yourself that you fell hard on your ass when that cop knocked you out as you John Wayne it toward the wall with a cacophony of whistles and laughter your only soundtrack. The arresting officer informed me that I was being charged with drunk and disorderly, arson, indecent exposure, necrophilia, – the list went on a bit, and in short I was looking at a ten year stretch minimum. My instinct told me to plead ignorance, so I worked that angle hard enough until they put me through a few psych tests and determined that I was mentally unbalanced.
After consulting with the lawyer assigned to me, a total ball-busting prick looking to reclaim his professional name by embarrassing the cops – his practice crashed and burned after he was caught getting blown by a hooker and the arresting cop refused to play ball – I followed up by playing the good old reliable coward card and blamed it on the morgue owner, that I’d not been given any orientation and that I was driven to drink given the smell in the place when the fridge was turned off at night. Once I knew they thought I was nuts I went whole hog and claimed I was following the bosses lead by fucking a corpse, seeing as I’d witnessed him doing similar.
When they learned that I had a legitimate history with Kristy it tied a neat emotional bow on the whole package. Kristy had unfortunately perished in the freeway pile up and they assumed I’d been so traumatized on sight of her that I temporarily lost sense and reason. My lawyer made it look like they’d tried to pin the charges on an incompetent, semi-retarded innocent rather than pursue due process. He claimed that the press would need only one look at me and it’d be over. I was out in no time.
The great thing about happy endings is that the moment you acknowledge them karma usually steps in. In typical fashion I developed complications in a sensitive area as a direct result of my behavior at the morgue. I pissed puss and razors for weeks, and it nearly fell off a couple of times after turning colors I’d never seen before, either in the rainbow or the Dulux catalogue. Years later, though, I can laugh about it. Time is a great healer and I’ve adapted to the challenges posed, eventually finding my own natural motion once again. Let me tell you, these days, I don’t even think twice about it. Pissing sideways is a breeze.
I recently participated in a fight-to-the-death styled competition. With the rent looming and an ever increasing debt the only two things to my name that anyone really cared about, I figured I had nothing to lose. Besides, when that’s all you’ve got you’re in pretty decent shape to knock ten colors of shit out of anyone. Thing is I’ve never been much of a fighter. Sure, I’d been in a few scrapes and predatorily attacked some homeless men for kicks, but as I committed my John Hancock to the flimsy looking contract I realized that in a fight-to-the-death competition the opposition are likely well equipped for battle, and also have just as much to lose. Fuck it, I thought, you only live once and it’s good to try new things.
This post has been two weeks or so in the writing, simply because my hands are fucked beyond belief and half of the time the damage done to my brain sends signals to the wrong nerves, and so, for example, the desire to press the ‘A’ button can very easily result in my doctor getting a kick in the balls as he checks my chart. I’ve managed to land more shots and do more injury to the hospital staff since I was admitted than I did in the entire tournament, which had a particular bent to it that I wasn’t entirely aware of at the time of signing up.
I was brought to a house in the hills, blindfolded and led down a corridor with a selection of doors. I was then told that an opponent was behind each one and I would have to ‘do battle’ against three to be awarded the title ‘he who shall continue living his shitty life’ and get the $200 prize money. $200? Something was off. The poster outside the 7-11 had clearly stated a $50 entry fee and a winner takes all $1,000 grand prize. I queried this and was told that overheads, admin costs, charitable donations and the cleaning bill had to be factored in. The logic was sound on their part and I started to do the math on how far two hundred bucks was going to carry me.
Opponent one revealed the particular twist that this tournament boasted. I entered the room only to be faced with a chair made out of teak wood. The red L.E.D. of an old fashioned CCTV camera was blinking high up in one corner of the room and a voice blaring through a cacophony of feedback on the busted, old intercom said that in no more than two strikes was I to render the object before me useless or I would be beaten with it until a member of their staff called ‘the score settler’ had achieved the same result. I asked how that qualified this as a fight-to-the-death tournament. All the cunt on the intercom said back to me was that the printer had made a mistake and the wrong posters were put up – it was in actuality a fight-to-stay-alive tournament, which to me still sounded like the potential for death was there, except the odds were now totally loaded against me. Bad enough the prize money was down, it suddenly had become clear that I wasn’t even going to get a chance to beat the piss out of some stranger – I was the stranger.
The teak chair didn’t give at all, not even a creak out of it. I might as well have been trying to break water; not like a pregnant woman fit to burst, I mean literally ‘break’ water. Then some big, masked fucker trudged in, who I pegged as the score settler, and, panting, out of breath from my feeble effort, I watched as he picked up the chair and hit me so hard that I was momentarily transported to a tunnel of white light where all of my ancestors and dead relatives were standing looking at me, shaking their heads and chanting, “seriously, you stupid fuck?” Someone then turned out the white light and I was back scrambling about in my own blood and knew I was probably in trouble.
As you’ve correctly guessed by now, the other two rooms were no different and it seemed my desperation to cause harm to someone else, just so I could feel good about myself, had backfired and brought me considerable pain. Words cannot describe the pain and violence which followed, so I’ll spare you, and my struggling fingers, the attempt. All I’ll say is I don’t believe in karma or that ‘do unto others’ lark, but for some reason that’s all that was bouncing between the two neurons that were still operational as I came to. Through the blood in my ears I could hear what sounded like a bunch of frat boys watching repeat footage of my endurance test, at which point the penny dropped and the legitimacy of said tournament became clear. I probably should have seen it coming.
After feeling made its unwelcome return in the form of agonizing pain I was forced to look on the bright side and told myself, so what if those bastards laughed and chugged beers and so what if they go on to upload that shit to the internet and make a bunch of money off it? That doesn’t count for shit long term because I know that I showed those fuckers what a real man was made of, and I know that I was the only man who could hold his head up high as he dragged himself out of there with $200 of their hard earned cash in his back pocket. Remember, having paid fifty bucks to enter I left there having quadrupled my money! I guess there are some men you just can’t keep down, and now I’m one of them, even if I’m pissing blood and look like a fucking microwaved jellyfish. Renewed and replenished with this new confidence, and a justified sense of manliness, I’m hell bent on returning for revenge some day, but for now I’ve a colostomy bag that needs emptying.