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Hernando was going to miss Estelle. From his trapeze platform, he looked down at the kaleidoscope of people watching her on the other stand posing for them in her white sequined tights. The calliope music barely reached the top of the circus tent, a tinny plinking on unseen keys. He looked at his hands covered in skin gripping rosin, flexed them, and waved to Estelle that he was ready. Today they would do the triple twist without a net. As he swung out he was crying because he had found her with another man. Hernando was going to miss her.
The demon lay behind the van with black blood burbling through the thirty caliber bullet hole in its forehead. The blood changed to steam as the man in the camouflage ghillie suit materialized at the tree line. He spoke into the headset as he opened the rear of the van and retrieved two cases, one full of money, one empty. Disassembling the heavy rifle, he placed it in the empty case. "How many does this one make?"the question came through the earpiece. He lit a cigarette and checked his notebook and said, "Ninety-Three." "What if he sends more?" "Ninety-four.-
Harold P. Hamel of Hamel and Rowe Hardware opened the store exactly at 7:30, just like he had done for the last 47 years. He felt a comfort in the floorboards that squeaked. They had started squeaking right after Mr. Rowe had died. Harold often thought of selling the business; he had done everything and seen everything in the hardware trade. The bell tinkled the first customer. Harold could only see two long antennas over the top of the counter, but never batted an eye when he said, "We're fresh out of Admalantium crystals."Yep, thought Harold, time to sell.
She wears these pajamas that make me insane. White, something like linen, stuff that has the big wrinkles, but shows every sway and bounce through the fabric. She only buttons one, the middle, sits to read with one leg tucked under her. Drawstring pants ease over her hips. She lays back, eyes closed, and the shirt falls away from a tiny belly button that I want to drop a maraschino cherry in, the kind with the stem still on, and get all over her like the Washtenaw County Cream Pie Eating Champ and she is made out of lemon meringue.
Listen up, all you wannabe parents; this is Name Your Kid 101. To tell if you are about to give your child a stupid name do this. Say the name to someone twelve times fast. If you get tired of hearing it or the person looks like they sucked a lemon, drop that name. Go to a schoolyard of ten-year olds, tell them the name you picked and ask them to make it sound stupid. For God's sake, check the acronym the initials make before you name your child something like Andrew Sebastian Sansoucie. Don't make your kid hate you.
Only she could come out of the shower and feel dressed with just a washcloth in her hand. I watched her over the top of an ice-cold no name beer. She turns the bedroom into a New Orleans bungalow with Mardis Gras parading under the balcony. I can hear jazz music through the open wood slat shutters. She reaches out and wraps the rag around my bottle and squeezes until it gets as cold as the beer. Rubbing it down her body, she turns her flushed face up to the churning fan. "Get me one,"then, "no, a Strega, please.-
My sweetie is a witch. She says it's the "white"variety, but when she gets to playin' with the daggers it makes me think she has been standing on tippytoe and peeking over the fence. When we're making love (she calls it sex magic), she rides me like a rodeo champ. And, boys, when she starts speaking Egyptian, sinks those inch long nails into my pectorals, slams her mouth on mine, and bites me to blood with our faces encased in her long, dark hair, I know, if she doesn't ask for a major body part, I'm staying with her.
I never heard my grandmother cuss until yesterday. Of course, I never saw her smoke marijuana before then either. She was baking her entry for the Washtenaw County Fair, Lucille's Made with Love Apple Pie. I had the munchies and slid in a pan of garlic toast. She smells the garlic and goes nuts, "It'll stink up the pie!"I say "Whoa, whoa, Granny, here take a hit."So we smoke until we laugh at the whole thing. Then she says, "Wait,"waves her hands in the air, "I'll call the fucker Lucia's Old Sicilian Apple Pie."Got Honorable Mention.
She couldn't tell if he said "warm ice-, which made no sense, or "war mice"which made even less sense to her question, "Is this the bus that goes to school?"She didn't want to ask again, he was leaning over holding his face in his hands. She looked at her new lunch box. It had a dent in the lid where her mother had closed it with the Smirnoff bottle. Aunt Maudie said her mother used that bottle like an amputee used a hook. She sat back and watched the street go by. Through his hands, "Where AM I?-
Got to talking with an old Navy buddy, "Nasty"John Nevils about the worst meals we ate while in the service. I voted for the infamous "Stuffed Porkchop-, a gray hockey puck of meat, drywall hard, topped with a transparent slice of orange and a scoop of congealed mashed potatoes. I'll have the peanut butter and jelly, thanks. John said, "Remember the Roast Haunch of Beast?"Called "Steamship Round-, a whole leg of beef burnt on the outside and bloody on the inside. I always thought that with a little CPR and a tourniquet, I could have brought it back.
"Why,"you ask, "deny yourself something which does nobody any harm and does you good? Yes, why, provided it does not conflict with the path you have chosen. Your subsequent reaction to your behavior when you have forgotten this proviso, as one reacts to a lie or a humiliating weakness, is sufficient answer to your question."This insight comes from Dag Hammarskjold. I wish I could say things that people read a century down the road when they are at a turning point and this dog-eared book found in a free box is the flashing neon sign saying it's okay.
Pain without pity or horizon. I had that in my notes. What kind of pain is that? Is it that pain that cancer brings when it invades the spinal column and shrugs off morphine drip? I'll tell you what kind of pain it is, it is the pain I bring. The pain you will know when I have you strapped in a wooden chair and sticking that little dangling bald prince of yours in a lamp socket. You will talk, and you will tell me the fucking truth! I am the Barber and I'm not going anywhere until you scream.
Another Elvis feed. He comes to visit me in the basement this morning. I forget he is a cat and start petting him like I do my dogs. You know, the old belly scratching that cats absolutely hate. So he gives me a little tooth and claw action. Then he looks up at me with my thumb in his teeth and gives me that "oops"look like my thumb just fell into his mouth. So I squeeze his head to remind him I can tear it off and make a birdhouse out of it. He yawns like it never happened.
"What do you want?"Ignoring his pleading, the killer finished tying up Frank Jackson's wife to the kitchen chair. Frank twisted against the electrical cord, but it just bit deeper into his wrists. Leaving them, the man walked down the hall. Frank looked at his wife and saw her eyes grow wide in fear when the convict returned holding little Sarah. Frank said, "Show Mommy your new trick."In her Pooh pajamas with a sleepy frown, Sarah made a tiny, pink pistol with her finger and fired an ectoplasmic bullet into the man's brain. They always knew Sarah was special.
I watched his jaw muscles work as he chewed through a second forkful of blueberry waffles. A spot of errant shaving cream bobbed up and down under his earlobe with the rhythm of the mastication. Bacon followed waffles. My stomach was growling at this culinary burlesque. The sensual drip of maple syrup. I imagined the smell, the taste. He rolled a fresh strawberry in sugar and the crosshairs followed it. With a slow squeeze, I put a bullet through that spot of shaving cream and he dropped face first into his grits. I'll be lucky to get some damn cornflakes.
How many of you are reading this on the company dime? Fucking off? I do it all the time. Pecking away on this keyboard and everyone thinks I'm burning the letters off this thing for the corporate mission. I have a few colorful terms for it. You ready? Dicking the dog, cocking the collie, porking the pooch, hosing the hound, laying it to Lassie, and Fucking Fido. At least I produce a hundred words. The fat fuck in the office next to me pretends he is on the phone with a client laughing at his own shit for brains jokes.
Now here's some food for thought. I fully understand that we are a country of freedoms. This is why the evolutionists can have school textbooks forced to represent their side of the argument. I accept that. But what makes me shake my head is when a pod of pilot whales beach themselves in North Carolina and all of these godless advocates of evolutionism run down there and push them back in the water. I mean, according to you guys, this is evolution in action. Hey, Darwinites, aren't these fish supposed to grow legs, grow wings, run for political office, something?
Little Gil took his shoes and socks off and climbed in to the steamy shower stall still smelling of Herbal Essence shampoo. Crouching down, he surveyed the floor. He used the end of his toothbrush to drag the wet hairs in to a pattern. The long hairs were his favorite; they swirled in the thin film of water. The short curly ones he moved to the side, to use for fillers in the intricate design. "Mom-, his sister screeched like fingernailing a chalkboard, "Gil's in the shower perving with my hair again!"Gill pulled the dark strands to spell "Bitch.-
She knew she would hate the new school from the moment she got there. And now she was walking home from her first date. The oldest trick in the book, stuck in the snow. His leering grin as he fondled her, "If you don't want to walk home..."She waited until he actually slipped his hand into her bra before she knocked out two of his teeth on the steering wheel and threw him into the cold. Lover boy dribbling blood through freezing fingers. She locked the car, tossed the keys, and started walking. Never threaten an Eskimo with snow.
You ever have a curse put on you? Not like a voodoo chicken sacrifice zombie curse, but a fuck with your head curse. I locked my supervisor in a jail cell one night. He didn't get upset; he just cursed me with warts on my rectum. I have to admit that made me take a step back. That was in 1981 and no warts yet. As I wasn't carrying a lucky rabbit foot I figure it must have missed me. I use the old Missouri pumpkin patch curse that makes your girlfriend's legs grow together. Now that's just being mean.
The green glow said 6:88. That's why Tony Tatterlino thought he was dreaming. He blinked and rolled his tongue in a cotton dry mouth. The glow changed to 6:39. The world shook and he banged his head on the lid of the coffin. He knew then he was in deep shit. He dialed Frank on the cell phone he was holding, "Frank, the guinea fuckers are burying me alive."Frank just laughed. Tony remembered his Warthog 45 auto and started blasting the assassins through the lid. "Nobody dopes Tony Tatters like a date rape prom queen and laughs about it!-
Lenny pushed the door open with his foot and closed it the same way. Setting the grocery bag on the kitchen table, he yelled, "Natalie, you still here?"A mumbled reply from the next room. "I got the freezer bags; do you think twenty gallon size is enough?"No reply. The phone ringing startled him. "Hello?"Nodding, "Okay"He stepped through the door and told Natalie "It's for you."Natalie stared wide eyed from behind the duct tape. "Sorry, she can't come to the phone right now." Lenny started labeling the bags, Liver Heart Tongue... Natalie's eyes screamed at "Tits.-
I remember the day that me and hard liquor parted company. I was playing pinball against these Maoris for a drink a game. Aborigines may be shit hot with a boomerang, but they can't play pinball worth a damn. I was drinking Jack Daniels and Coke and had ten shots lined up on the machine. Down they go, one after another. Well, old Jack Daniels advises me to fight this huge Australian. I gave him my best shot. I was still smiling when he blacked both my eyes with one punch. Yeah, Jack will get you in to a fight.
He took little Sarah to the ATM for some cash. While he made like he was entering a PIN number, he nodded at her to touch the machine. She tapped it three times with her index finger and hurriedly stuck it back in her mouth. The ATM screen displayed "Thank you"and dropped that many twenty-dollar bills. He wanted more, but he was too afraid it would "use up"Sarah's gift. But Sarah was already changing. Her eyes danced bluer than blue and the whispering got louder. She swallowed a little because people were starting to smell like pork chops.
Jimmy moved the spotlights to center the dancer. He knew her routine by heart, shadowing her movements. The music grew and his hands came up his thighs and across his chest, slowing for a second to touch the new tattoo. "Lorraine"in a black and red heart. He snapped his angular hips with hers, his thin body making a harsh, sharp cornered parody to her sinuous liquid glass essence. He danced with all his might, being careful to stay out of the light. He would never be an artist like her, just a mimic hiding and desiring in the dark.
Sergeant Stein motioned all officers to stay down, every firearm pointed at the fourth floor window. His radio crackled, "Sarge, the hostage negotiator is on scene."A trench-coated man was escorted to crouch with him behind the fender. "The perp caught his wife with the company boss."The negotiator nodded, slipping on the headset. A deep breath, he dialed the office. In a syrup friendly voice, "Fred, can I talk to your wife?"A thud on the cruiser, her head bounced next to them. A fish flapping followed to the windshield, "You will need this."Her tongue plastered the glass.
Three weeks ago, the smell of the cell had gagged him. Now, with his swollen nostrils pressed against the urine-soaked concrete, it was like a soft feather pillow. His mind had ceased to recognize reality; all he wanted was for them to let him sleep. But they wanted something from him. He heard the jackboots tromping to his cell door, felt them drag him by his ankles back to the interrogation room. The voltage clamps scratching his genitals like crazed metallic rats. The needle, tasting onions. The monocle asked again, kindly, gently, "Professor Talbert, where is the skull of Goliath?-
Thrown in a cell, the smell of human waste wrinkled his nostrils. Nine days later, as he lay in his own filth, he smelled something new. It was fear; pure, undiluted fear of another man. The wardens came down the hall every morning. He couldn't fight anymore as they dragged him, his knees leaving a bloody trail down the hall. Metal chair covered in his leakings. Burning bright lights, merciless blows to his swollen face, screaming pain from jolts of electricity through his body. And then the question, the same insane question. Kindly, fatherly, "Who are the Droplets of God?-
First day at school and she was waiting in the Principal's Office. They didn't say she was in trouble, but they weren't smiling. Not that any of the grownups smiled much here at the "magnet"school. They tsked and shook their heads every time they read "homeschooled"in her record. The kids on the playground called her a dumbshit homeschooler. That's why she was sitting on the hard plastic chair swinging her legs and the boy that pushed her was getting stitches. That's what her daddy did when he didn't like the words that came outs momma's big fat mouth.
The room had a dirty yellow tinge to it. I rolled onto my back just in time for an errant raindrop to hit my left eye. I blinked because the canvas straitjacket denied me the reflex to rub it. The tint in the room came from the skylight, same as the raindrop. I scooted away from the growing puddle. The lock clanked and an orderly peered through the armored glass window before opening the door. A naked, baby-faced fat man was shoved inside and the door slammed behind him. Grinning, "When I get done with you, I get a popsicle.-
Sorry about writing the same scenes over and over. I get after this "picture"and hope to leave the reader with a particular "feeling"or saying, "Damn, I didn't see that coming."Same scene, different twist, like changing Natalie to Lenny and testicles to tits, just to see how that felt. You tell me. I'll compare it to Da Vinci sketching picture after picture of hands and noses. He, like me, was just trying to get it right. If Michelangelo were as studious, the statue of David would have had clothes, or maybe a bigger wang. Now there's a story.
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