mostly blood and bones and pain

diary of a professional antagonist

Tag Archives: Death

My First Wife

I met her on Alcatraz. Her name was Nancy. To date, our marriage remains the most expensive hour of my life.

At the time, I was still what I now consider young and had just experienced the second major loss of my life, my old man, ‘Burt’. He owned a construction company that had seen its fair share of troubles over the decades. Our relationship was testy at times. I was considered soft because as a teenager I took a few acting classes and preferred a pen to a chisel, but in truth, mano y mano, Burt wasn’t up to much, and so I became useful whenever an angry client came by the house to settle up. I’d step in, turn on the water works in frantic despair, and wail pitifully until sympathy trumped vengeance.

In the year leading up to Burt’s death my mother passed away and an apartment complex he erected collapsed, killing one person. He received a suicide note from some poor bastard who lost everything as a result of the same incident. All these things add up, I guess.

Even though I hated construction, Burt left the company to me when he hammered his last nail. He was well known, and his picture was in all the papers when he passed, so, given that I knew nothing about the business – which projects were active, who worked there, how to get an outside line on the office phone – I hopped on the first flight out of town, drank most of the way and arrived in San Francisco out of my mind.

My limited knowledge of San Francisco told me that it was full of hills, hippies and homos. I could have shacked up anywhere given the inheritance, but ended up taking a room in some dive in the Tenderloin area. Even back then it was a shit-hole area. A lobotomized geriatric checked me in to my room and told me that breakfast was a noun before staring at me for a solid minute after I made the mistake of laughing.

A sourdough bowl of chowder later, my stomach begged me for something normal, so I knocked back a fifth of Night Train, grabbed a second bottle, then hopped on the boat to Alcatraz; figuring the water was the best place to be if I was going to hurl. Walking ‘The Rock’ is still a blur. All I really remember is hearing something about Capone getting syphilis before I was shaken back to consciousness on a cot in one of the cells. Nancy was standing over me.

The journey back to the mainland was excruciating. Nancy talked about her folks all the way. How her Mother always joked that she just needed a good man to complete her. How her Father said she was one in a million. How Maw and Paw told her that family occasions were never dull when she showed up. I listened for two reasons. One, I needed something to focus on so I could stay conscious until I reached the hotel. Two, she had a big pair of tits, and an ass as thick and round as a bus wheel that made up for her average at best looks.

Nancy was still there when I woke up. My clothes were clean and pressed, and there was a big, fat, bloody steak and a cold one on the bedside table. This woman had me down. I asked why she did it. She said she saw something in me, something she needed then leaned in and kissed my cheek. My shoulder brushed against her breast and I got a half lob on. Later she told me that she was leaving for Vegas. I’d slammed six beers by then and thought, “fuck it, I’ve got money, time and a semi with ambitions.”

Nancy listened to my sop story on the flight. She managed to bring booze onto the flight in a Coke bottle, so, as I got more and more wasted, I blabbed on and on. When I stopped talking she didn’t offer any advice, didn’t sympathize or ask how I felt, didn’t tell me everything would be okay – I may have been drunk, but the simple fact that she didn’t do any of these things made me think I loved her.

Nancy had to meet a business associate when we arrived, so we arranged to meet later at my hotel. I’d gotten rid of my emotional baggage and was feeling good, so I hit the strip hard. Somewhere in the middle of it all she returned. She laughed at how drunk I was, but not in a “you’re a disgrace” kind of way, more like a woman who liked to see her man enjoy himself, and could get into the spirit of it, and, man but she could put away the booze. I’d hit the jackpot. Four cocktails later, and after she told me she’d done a pole dancing class, I proposed to her.

In the middle of the night we got married in a fun little shit-hole where Elvis now worked. I took Nancy back to my hotel room and got down to business. Basic instincts operate in all men even when hammered drunk, so I figured I’d have emptied my nuts into her in about three minutes before crashing. However, despite my best efforts, something went wrong.

It started when her dress fell away from her body. I wasn’t confronted by heaving flesh, instead there was another layer of fabric tightly bound to her. I said, “what’s this?” Nancy said, “my spanks”. “Spanks?” “Yeah.” She turned away from me and started to remove it. The only way I can describe it is that it was a like fat suit, except a thin suit, so when she took it off everything that had been so shapely and tight suddenly sagged and fell loose. “Fuck”, I said.

There was a bra and panties embedded in rolls of fat, held together by skin that was anything but healthy looking. She removed the bra. Two things fell on to the floor from the bra. “What the fuck are they?” “My chicken fillets.” “Chicken fillets? What the fuck?” My dick sagged when she tugged at her hair and removed a whole mess of extensions. Thin, greasy hair that fell just beneath her earlobes remained. When she turned around, I did my best to smile but then I looked down and saw a bulge in her panties.

When she next spoke, she was a he. “You’ve got two options here, Chuck. One, you sign a few papers, we annul this and never see each other or speak about this again. Two, we consummate this relationship, and if you don’t think you can get hard, don’t worry, I can.” I thought about it and took option one. She, he, (s)he, she… fuck it, Nancy opened the door and in walked an amenable looking solicitor, her business associate, who had a bunch of legal documents ready. As he laid them out on the bed I muttered that I should have known better than to pick up a chick in San Francisco. Nancy uttered a knowing laugh.

We hadn’t met by chance. She tracked me to San Francisco after reading about my father’s death in the paper. This was a revenge mission. Her mother died in the apartment complex my father built that collapsed. Her father later committed suicide, lost without his wife, and too proud to go live with ‘Nancy’, his estranged, cross-dressing son.

I signed the papers without further question, but I’ll admit, even though I never wanted my Dad’s company, it fucking hurt when I put down the pen and realized that I’d given away everything my old man ever worked for, the place where I knew him best, where our relationship was least strained and where I felt close to him.

Nancy didn’t have that with her old man. Chemistry, hormones and whatever else separated them, and I guess in the end if this was the only way she would ever do right by her folks, then this was how it was going to be.

The next morning I woke up single again to the hangover from hell, with no prospects and no money. Nancy left me a one way ticket back home. I was already late for the flight. On the way to the airport my brain started to work again – it had been a while – and as the taxi pulled in at the set-down area I realized that the only reason I signed the papers is because I was afraid people I didn’t give a shit about would find out that I married a dude in Vegas. I hadn’t even stuck my dick in him, and who said he was really going to stick his in me? God damn it, I had no real reason to be ashamed.

In that moment I felt stupid. I took comfort in a cheap bottle. Nothing’s changed since then. The decline continues.

You’ll Never Work in This Town Again

I started life as an actor, a jobbing, useless motherfucker desperate for attention and cursed to serve my more supple skin days in the car parks outside parties I wished to be invited to. I did it all, park cars, take tickets, find keys, keep wives at bay while their director husbands had their cocks sucked on by my coat-check girl colleagues – all of whom found careers in the spotlight, even if they still bow down before they get the green light. Me, I took the hard road into the light and had to pave that same road in blood before I got my shot… and then blew it.

It was a cold, crisp December night. The Ritz looked prettier than a supernova and I felt like shit. 2:30am and only one set of keys was left. I told the others to go, hoping on a big tip but really waiting on the owner for something else, an introduction. Then he staggered out, the director of what would turn out to be one of the greatest movies of all time. The 70’s were already flying but this was going to change things. I helped him to his car, he fell in before vomiting all over my shoes, then apologized. I played it cool, said I was waiting for an excuse to get a new pair of brogans anyway. I told him I was an actor and would love to work for him.

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah.”

“Drive me home, kid, I’m late.”

The wait was worth it, I had a foot in the door and one of the icons of the 70’s now owed me. Then we got to the house he was staying at in the hills and things changed. A black sedan was parked outside. I helped him to the door, it was already open. Something was off, the air was dead and I didn’t like the way the floorboards creaked inside. Deliberate. Expectant. He pushed the door open to reveal an abyss of darkness beyond.

“Come back tomorra’, kid. We’ll work something out.”

“Thanks, Mister –”

Suddenly, an electrical cable whipped through the air behind him, wrapped around his throat and dragged him inside. I ran – into an elbow. When I woke I had a view of the stars I hadn’t asked for and a gun pointed at my head. The director was on his knees, begging for his life, saying I was his nephew and that we would do anything to live. These weren’t the kind of guys you fucked with. These weren’t actors, these weren’t Hollywood. This was a different ball game that jumped the fence and invited itself to the party. Nobody was going to tell these guys ‘no’, not the cops, not their wives and, as piss leaked into my shitty brogans, I realized I wasn’t going to say it either.

They told the director to fuck off back to New York and never look back unless he wanted me, his ‘nephew’, to experience the digestive system of a fish. Naturally he agreed and after he crashed his car twice trying to get out the front gate they took me as collateral into the dregs of the city’s slum in the back of a car, despite my pleas of mistaken identity. A couple of seconds later I knew life was about to change in a very real way when a .38 revolver was placed in my hands. The fingers that pressed it into my grip were colder than the devil’s and harder than the bit of a jackhammer.

“Get a feel for it, kid.”

They raised it, forced me to point it at the back of the driver’s head.

“Go ahead. Pull the trigger.”

The driver flashed a look at me in the rear-view, his black eyes filled with dead fury and burning intensity. He winked at me then said –

“What’cha waitin’ for?”

I looked at the man in the shadows next to me. The brim of his hat bobbed ever so slightly and I caught a brief reflection of silver light in the black coals where his eyes once used to be. I couldn’t tell which of them said it, but someone whispered –

“Snap back the hammer, then squeeze. It’s that easy.”

I admit, I thought twice about putting it in my own mouth and doing just that, then a hard *snap* jolted me to my senses as a blade jabbed me in the ribs and cut the skin. I pulled back the hammer and held my breath. Time stood still. Snow flakes seemed like they were floating for an eternity toward the front windshield.

*CLICK*

The gun was empty. A booming laugh filled the car, my arm was still locked forward. Something like post-traumatic stress was setting in but then I noticed what they noticed –

“Look at that.”

“Rock steady.”

My arm, unflinching, holding that weapon like it had been born with it. The man in the shadows started to clap, he stopped when I pulled the trigger a second time, then a third and my eyes locked on those black coals of his.

“I’m hoping for your sake four, five and six are just as hollow.”

He didn’t move, but the driver did. I had his attention, he was worried. He knew how to count and knew the score.

Four.

Five.

*BAM*

The tires screeched, we hit an embankment then slammed through a wall. The accelerator was still down when I came to, blood dripped from my face, none of it my own. The man in the shadows stood outside looking in and I could feel cold steel against the skin on my neck.

“That was a first, kid. You’ve some nerve, but you’ve got balls, too.”

“I don’t know what I was –”

“You’re workin’ for me now.”

He pointed at the driver.

“I’m a man short and the work’s backed up.”

“What kind of work.”

“Cleanin’.”

It wasn’t long before another car pulled in beside us. He got in but before he left threw the .38 to one of his goons and pointed at me. I was left with an edgy, semi-psychotic looking waif.

“When you’re ready, kid. Let’s do this.”

He took me to a warehouse where this fat bastard was tied to a chair with a bag over his head. This was to be my training. Over the course of the next eight hours he showed me the how’s and where’s of the trade then made me finish the job. Details aren’t important, suffice it to say my stomach was long since gone and the shred of sanity that remained was going to leave me on the breadline or in bottom dollar jobs for the rest of my life. Somehow I made it through and they set me up in an office on the strip with nothing more than a phone and a poster of the ocean – one a reminder of where they wanted me at all times, the other a reminder of where I’d end up if I tried to run.

So, for four years I sat there, took the odd call and rid the world of one more scumbag. I started to decorate the place, decided if I was going to have an office on the strip I might as well act the part, so I had a guy engrave my name on the door and put ‘productions’ after it. I never made it as an actor, fuck that game, I was going to be top dog, hot as shit producer, no credits to his name but a shit load of firepower backing me up. They dropped in once or twice, thought the idea was funny then realized there was an angle and put some money behind me. I was legit, I was making porn, but I was legit. They ran drugs, guns, everything through that little office, made connections they couldn’t have before and introduced me to all the wrong people. It wasn’t to last and the fun was about to come to a dead stop.

Word had spread about an indie producer who kept a low profile, they were billing me as a Howard Hughes type and some buzz started to build. The guys didn’t like it and I got the feeling they were about to send me to the ocean for a long swim. A knock on the door saved my life. A hero of mine, a real life, big shot producer walked in the room, introduced himself and said –

“What’s your story, kid? You’re starting to steal my thunder.”

I had the cover story down but my mistake was underestimating this guy, a guy who had heard every bullshit pitch from A to Z and knew a phoney when he saw one. Somehow, all that blood and firepower made me forget that I was stupid. He had heard things, names of people seen up here and knew I was knee deep in shit so rancid I’d leave a stink on the strip that would outlast the next four generations of my seed. Then he dropped a bomb on me, he was talking to the feds and guaranteed that if I gave up what I knew there would be a way out. The weight of the last four years buckled my knees and I finally gave up.

They moved hard and fast. It was a blitz, and before I could breathe the first breath of the next morning all my employers were behind bars or full of lead. With nowhere else to go I went back to the office and found my hero waiting with a big, fat cigar in his mouth, directing the removal men as they cleared out all of my shit.

“You did a good job, kid, but I promise you this – you’ll never work in this town again.”

He patted me on the back on his way out. A fed took me out of town then dumped me in Salt Lake City to lie low. I stayed there for a few years, living out a shitty, boring existence and to fill in the time started to write. Lucky for me my hero’s promise didn’t have the legs to outrun cancer. He sank into the dirt a few years back and the door to the strip opened once more. Sure, I’m a hack, a bum, a screenwriter, the lowest of the low, surviving on that one shred of sanity, but that’s all they ask in Hollywood, and if you last long enough someone will make a movie about you, too.

Murder Blues

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?”

“Barb”.

“Barbara?”.

“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?”

“Uh…”

“Who the fuck are you? What the fuck are you doing in my fucking house?”

“I, uh…”

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.”

“Get out.”

“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.

Night Shift at the Morgue

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.

Bullet Hole Santa and the Soup Kitchen Elves

Last week I checked in with my parole officer to find out where I was expected to carry out whatever was left of my community service. Broke as fuck and praying he had something that’d cover a value-saver burger on Christmas Day, I sauntered into his office without knocking and inadvertently interrupted him trying to fuck a spent toilet roll. I tried to overcome the awkwardness by suggesting a different grip so he would get a better action going but that didn’t seem to help.

He wasn’t expecting me, that much was clear, and started to make excuses about having a skin condition, that he didn’t have a loofah handy and that cardboard was known to have tremendous exfoliating properties. I didn’t see why he felt he had to lie to me of all people. Like most guys I’ve fucked a toilet roll out of boredom, sometimes out of frustration, but my attempts to empathize only served to anger him further and, after berating my presence some more, he checked his diary and took a moment, during which his lips creased into a dirty smirk, then sent me to a soup kitchen off Wash in the neo-nazi quarter – my favorite part of town – carrying a box of ‘Jesus was a Jew, too’ pamphlets.

Two hours in and I was in surprisingly good condition. 50% of those to whom I offered the word of pamphlet were illiterate and concerned only with joining their better halves, who seemed to be orbiting planets somewhere in the galaxies of LSD and Quaalude. After a while I hadn’t managed to shake the ache in my gut and shoved my way through the stooped and staggering in search of whatever lukewarm piss was being served. There were two queues inside. To the left, boasting five patrons, soup. To the right, boasting the remainder of those still standing, Santa Claus.

Like anyone else, the sight of Santa brings about memories of past Christmas disappointments and forced gratitude in the face of whichever relative was having a bad year and had just given cigarette butts and a sticky porno mag wrapped in used rubbers. Like anyone else, this made the temptation to queue up and try to do one better impossible to resist. He sounded third generation Italian American, his beard resembled the grimy cluster of cobwebs usually seen on a witches snatch, and he looked like he had never learned how to smile.

Despite all these plus points this guy worked fast and all the winos, panhandlers, bums, tramps and wastes of space really seemed to like him. Within seconds it was my turn and I instinctively sat in his lap. He didn’t like that and broke my nose to get the point across. After shaking me like a rag doll and throwing a small missile at my head I was tossed to the floor. However, within seconds a vagrant started to help me up. Surely this was the spirit of Christmas. It was, until he started to molest me while begging for my candy cane. I hadn’t a clue what was going on until the missile I’d been hit with fell from the lapel of my jacket into my hand.

It was the shittiest candy cane I’d ever seen. First off it was straight, second it was all white and third it was made of plastic. Actually, it was a tampon applicator. Pissed, I tried to throw it at Santa but the vagrant, displaying the reflexes of a puma, intercepted then scurried over to an up-ended oil barrel and began to take it apart. A cigarette skin floated out, onto which he emptied a little more than a bump of powder, then, after lining up, he snorted it through the applicator. A few seconds later he glazed over, drooled, then slumped into a sort of comfortable looking position at the foot of the wall and soiled himself. Santa spread the word that the same product would be on sale the next day, same time, for ten bucks a hit. I got a bowl of soup and waited until Santa had climbed back into his red with white rims Escalade and fucked off back to the north pole, then started collecting tampon applicators. On the way home I stole a bunch of sweetener sachets from my local diner.

The next day I tore apart an old green curtain and wore it as a vest/kilt combo. I dunno, I guess I had some sort of a Scotch/Irish elf thing going and figured the crowd at the soup kitchen wouldn’t know the difference and buy into the idea of me being Santa’s little helper, there to serve their needs at only five bucks a pop. All I had to do was sell like crazy for five minutes tops and I’d have cleaned up pretty well. First off I did a walk through to drum up publicity. An improved recipe of yesterdays freebie, called the Candy Cane Killer, would be for sale in an hour at a crazy stupid, one time only price. Five bucks and no bullshit got a second hit totally free. By the time I finished every sad sack degenerate in the place was frothing at the mouth and hit the streets in search of cash. I had four hundred tampon applicators ready to go and was looking at a thousand bucks for five minutes work. Then I realized my plan had a kink in it.

Handling the Candy Cane Killer, the cash and keeping an eye on the supply was going to leave me open to getting robbed, mobbed and molested again. I needed an assistant so I found a mean looking war vet and promised him fifty bucks and a value saver meal at Rancho Burgero. He haggled but once a flask of JD was in the mix he jumped into action and set up a pretty damn efficient queueing system then opened the flood gates. Frenzied piranha would have been more manageable but desperation and starvation helped me keep my head above water and with supplies running down I could see Christmas materializing in the form of a crumpled pile of dollars in the palm of my hand. Then Santa showed up and shit got real.

On seeing him load a clip into a gold plated nine millimeter I abandoned my criminal enterprise and ran. Two blocks later, approaching a corner at pace, endorphins popping like crazy, thinking I was almost home free, an arm swung out and knocked me into a violent backflip. I skidded to a halt, on my face, and when I found up it clicked why Santa is Santa and where I had failed. Santa gets paid because he has a team of cretinous elves that he keeps in coin. I was a savvy lacking pretend elf who forgot to sort out his combat trained war vet. He vanished with the takings from the scam and just after I had gotten back to my feet Santa’s sleigh skidded to a halt beside me. Santa didn’t get out, he just dropped the window and said something along the lines of ‘peace and goodwill to all men, shit-bird’ then the doors opened and a bunch of angry vagrants fell out, all looking for a refund.

I was taking the kind of beating any man would be proud of and was somehow still standing. Santa didn’t like the idea of me standing up to my supposed punished and got out holding a baseball bat with ‘Rudolph’ etched into the wood and the tip dipped in what looked like blood. He parted the sea of scum with a wave then took up a swing position that said ‘bottom of the ninth, all or nothing, home run’. I closed my eyes and waited for the feeling of skull fragments piercing my eyeballs as they leapt for the pavement. Instead, all I heard was a sharp crack. Warm liquid spattered my face but I felt no additional pain. I opened my eyes and hallelujah sweet Jesus Christ my savior but Santa was doubled over, stomach pissing blood. The war vet was standing behind him holding a smoking .45.

Sirens on approach rang out and the vagrants scattered. I was overjoyed and even more so when I looked into the Escalade and saw a fat stack of cash on the dash. But before I could grab it the war vet twisted my arm into a death-lock behind my back and shoved me against the wall. I tried to reason with him but got the feeling this was about to end badly. I was right, he was an undercover narc and had been staking out the soup kitchen in an attempt to bust Santino Claude, a rising player in the drug world and have him spill on his bosses, thereby bringing down the whole house of cards. I’d blown their entire operation.

Luckily my parole officer was blamed for the bulk of it. Turns out my community service had finished the week before and he sent me to the soup kitchen to get some sort of pathetic revenge for walking in on his wank experiment. He’s currently under investigation and his license to practice has been revoked. I’m working at the soup kitchen for the foreseeable, new community service, and figure that seeing as everyone down there hates me I might as well cash in on my unpopularity. The plan is, find a new lackey to take bets, line up a fight once a night and clean up on me being KO’d early in the second round. With Santa in hospital someone has to give these bums something for Christmas.

How Not To Fight for Your Life

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.

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