this originally appeared at my other wordpress site on january 1 of this year. it’s here now just to see what happens. jmh
his eyes ached and itched. he had been at it since 10pm. it was now well after 4am. the only things he had accomplished were to adjust the drapes several times along with the candles. which were the only illumination in the otherwise dark room. paper and pen. typewriter and paper. and computer had gone untouched other than the occasional tap of his fingers on one or more of them. he sighed and slid further down in his chair. a few moments later he was asleep.
the sun was out as were the blue jays. who were well into their morning foraging with their unmistakeable squawks coming in somewhere just beneath his sleeping conscience. the candles were out in a pool of their own wax. a breeze rustled the drapes. as the phone on his desk rang he stirred in his sleep only slightly aware of it’s ringing. the phone. the ringing. now almost awake he cursed under his breath.
finding the phone he cursed again. why had he agreed to have one of them was something he never fully understood.
‘who else maury.’
‘ok. i never know who’s going to answer when i call you. you know your aversion to the phone and all.’
‘hmmm. yeah, i suppose. though i tossed everyone out rather early last night. you know work and all.’
‘yes, exactly why i’m calling. how’s it going? any progress?’
‘progress? ah…yeah…i tossed everyone out last night. early. then i spent the night here at my desk.
‘mmm. not really writing. thinking about writing mostly. i did have everything i needed close at hand though.’
at that point in the conversation a blue jay began creating a racket on a the window ledge.
‘look maury i need to deal with henry. i’ll call you back.’
‘henry, the bird?’
‘yeah. i’ll get back to you.’
he hung up and went to the window.
‘good morning, henry. sorry about the drapes. let me move them out of your way.’
the man moved the drapes and a squawking blue jay flew into the room and landed on his desk. the jay stood on a piece of paper and stared at the man.
‘ah, good. the paper. perhaps you’re housebroken after all. excellent.’
he went to his desk and sat in his chair while opening a drawer. the blue jay moved closer and he made a deposit on the desk.
‘well so much for housebroken. where’s lady?’
the jay squawked a reply.
‘i see. out doing other things this morning. fine. here you go my little friend.’
he scattered some unsalted peanuts in the shell on the desk top. henry the jay made a bee line to the closest nuts. he poked at one until he got it open then he ate it. he did the same to several others. the man tapped the desk with his index finger. looking up at him the bird walked over and put its head down.
‘yes yes, my little friend.’
he began to gently ruffle the jays feathers on it’s head. the bird closed his eyes and settled in to the attention. it had taken weeks for bill to get the blue jay to come inside the house after days of feeding the bird peanuts out in the yard. actually the pair of birds. husband and wife as it were. both would come inside now for the nuts and a bit of petting. which had taken even more time and patience to accomplish. the petting went on for a few minutes before bill spoke again.
‘ok. henry. i’m in no mood for our next adventure today. we’ll work on our trick again tomorrow. i have things to do today. you grab a few nuts while i visit the loo.’
after one last pet, bill got up and left the room. henry shook out his feathers and grabbed a nut in his beak. then proceeded to fly out the window with it. he returned a minute or so later and grabbed another. henry repeated this a few times until he was satisfied. at least for the time being. bill returned to the room with a damp piece of toilet paper and cleaned up the desk. the analogy wasn’t wasted on the man. after he swept the peanuts back into the drawer he closed the window and opened the other drapes.
sighing bill went back to his desk and dialed maury’s number.
‘good morning. maurice wienstein and associates. how may i help you?’
‘morning, anne. how’s it going? is the man still there?’
‘morning, bill. all is well. yep, i’ll put him on for you.’
‘good. how about drinks later in the week?’
‘ah, ok. i’ll let you know. i’ll put maury on now.’
‘thanks. talk to you later.’
‘bill? the birdman of sherman oaks. i’m honored.’
‘jesus. cut me some slack, maury. i’ve put a lot of time into those birds and well…’
‘you know, bill, a little more time hammering something out would be nice as well. time is tight. the season starts again in three months. it would be especially nice if i could hand the producers a completed script. soon. i might add it would be a win win for both of us. along with money in the bank for unsalted peanuts.’
‘you’re just jealous.’
‘and how many times have i asked you not to date my help?’
‘jealous once again. i’ve lost count. and drinks aren’t dates. we agreed to that long ago. remember?’
‘one of the dumber things i’ve agreed to in my life. did we get it in writing? ah, crap. never mind. so, do you even have an inkling of an idea? perhaps even a germ that’s sprouted something or another? anything at all since we last spoke? what last thursday? you’ve had all weekend.’
‘sprouting idea germs? good one, maury. i may eventually use that one.’
‘yes, please use it. just use something anything and get it on paper or in the computer and give it to me. getting you to write something is not the easiest thing in the world to do.’
‘tell me about it.’
‘i’m your agent not your mother. if it weren’t for the fact you have one of the best track records going i’d have moved on to other writers long ago, bill.’
‘yes. yes. yes. maury, the same old song and dance man. i’m only as good as my last…’
‘look. bill. the sand in the glass has about run out. they need something soon. very soon. or they’ll be looking elsewhere. sure it won’t be up to your standards but what is? the point being, they will have a play to produce and perform. capisco?’
‘yeah. i know. ah, shit. alright. i may have something. an idea. want to hear it?’
‘yes. please. continue.’
‘alright. there’s this guy. a politician. a minor one. a hack not really going anywhere. not real bright but interesting in a hail fellow well met kinda way. babes like him and men too.’
‘ok. maybe. what else?’
‘ah, his old lady. she’s the balls and brains of the outfit. a real harridan. she prods him into doing stuff so they can move up the political ladder. ah, sorta engineers him into doing whatever it takes. mostly murder, i guess. not sure just yet.’
‘i like it. yes. not last years romantic comedy either. yes. ok. when will we have it, bill?’
‘soon. it…it…it’s coming together. i’ll get it done. no screwing around until it’s finished. count on it.’
‘fine. let me know when it’s done.’
‘sure, maury. talk to you soon.’
bill hung up the phone then noticed henry and lady out on the window ledge.
‘sorry, kids. not now. work to be done.’
bill sat at his desk and typed on the computer. he had the title. macbeth by william shakespeare. the seed had germinated. the rest would come easy.
john zen, pi
the hot anvil sun had finally dipped into the pacific as john zen pulled up to his office, a second floor walk up in downtown l.a. not really l.a. anymore but more like downtown tj, zen thought, as he slipped the key into the lock. tired, gritty, and thinking only of velda, his busty secretary, he didn’t notice the the door was already open. yeah, velda, he thought, some cheap scotch and a bubble bath with velda. wash away the grime of crime from this world weary soul and partake in her lusty charms. in your dreams, zen, he thought, as he pushed the door open revealing a scantily clad mexican babe of indeterminate age.
that’s me, honey.
oh, senor zen, you must help me. my brother, he has been kidnapped by columbian drug lords.
i see, so why don’t you just call the cops?
i can not, senor zen, i…we…are not in your country legally…and the drug lords will kill my brother if i do.
crap, just what i need, zen thought, as he pulled a flask from a desk drawer and drank heavily from it. lighting a fresh pall mall he spoke again.
look, sister, i’m tired, ok? this isn’t a job for me. it’s for the cops or somebody else, dig? i’m just a private dick. a one man army against a tidal wave of crime. plus, and it’s a big plus, they will not only kill your brother they will kill me too. now scram. i have bills to pay.
oh, senor zen, you must help me…puhhhleeseeezeee…
the micro mini she was wearing dropped to the floor. her ample yet firm breasts teased him from across the desk top.
all of this is yours. whenever you want it, she cooed.
hmmmmm, yes, perhaps i’ve been a bit rash after all, my dear. come, kneel here under my desk while i go over these bills and you go to work on my tool. ah, yeah, that’s nice…ahhh…yes.
in his blow job bliss, zen, missed the dark hispanic male sneaking into his office. the narco terrorist killed them both with a single shot.
i was a priest for a time. the head vicker at a young girls, well, not that young of a girls school. it sat on the border of southern france and northern italy. the school was equally divided between the two countries. a strange thing indeed but just a simple hold over from the middle ages. some of the parents didn’t appreciate some of the things i thought necessary to teach the young ladies. i used to tell them, better me than some lout from the streets, with no prospects teaching them, things. sadly, they weren’t amused. of course, the police of both backward countries had to became involved. i made a hasty departure. fond memories for me none the less.
at some point or another i became a doctor. just how, is still clouded in mystery. with the help of a good plastic surgeon and some minor facial reconstruction i was able to make my way back into italy. where i secured the position of, dean of tarts, at the university of bologna. the position suited me well. as a tart is a tart, in any man’s language. and believe me they were tarts, with much to learn. after a time, as things generally go with men, i became bored with the dean of tarts gig. don’t get me wrong, the young italian ladies were spectacular. but like i said, i was bored. so i just up and left when i noticed the police were spending time on the campus.
i wandered about here and there living by my wits and good looks for what may have been many months. it was so long ago and furtive i can hardly re-call that time with much clarity today. then one day i found myself in shanghai, china, drinking german beer with a portly, good natured chinese gentleman. he suggested that i should come to work for him at his all girls school there in shanghai. teaching of course, english, to those lovely pearls of the orient. had he known just what else i would be teaching them he may have had second thoughts. things went swimmingly for some time, as the girls had a rabid desire to learn from a great master.
i blossomed in china, even starting a side job teaching english and other arts to the girl’s mothers. in the process, i nearly wore myself out, causing great consternation far and wide. culminating in another hasty departure during the wee hours of the morning. something, of course, i’m an expert in doing.
set adrift again in life’s waters i roamed far and wide. teaching what i could in what little time it always seemed i had. whenever i tried setting down some roots. the roots never took as the time between moves grew shorter and shorter. it seemed i always left a bit of myself behind with each furtive escape into night’s darkness. just like some depraved 20th century johnny appleseed.
so there you have it. a somewhat condensed version of my of pathetic life. i trust you will keep it under your hat as there are still husbands and fathers out there searching for me. though in my new life, as an internet douche bag, i doubt they will ever find me. sadly, if they do. i’ll have to pack my kit and sneak off on yet another lonely moonless night. to perhaps wend my way through life’s byways and highways to…your town.
this mornings music provided by, miles davis, ‘sketches of spain’.
after hanging up the phone he went to the stove and stuck his index finger in the seed and stem tea. it was cold to the touch and probably consisted more of stems and seeds along with assorted other gunk than liquid. he turned on the burner under the pot then rummaged through a drawer until he found a small strainer. jerry placed the strainer over the mug he’d already used while he waited for the stuff to boil again.
deciding it was going to take a bit he wandered off into the living room and his stereo system. the zappa LP was still on the turntable. he picked it up and put it back into it’s sleeve then returned it to sit with the other albums. jerry began looking through them again. new riders of the purple sage seemed like a good idea. he was placing it on the turntable when the phone rang again. he went back into the kitchen. turned off the stove and picked up the phone.
it was his mother.
hey, ma, what’s up?
not much. your father is outside doing yard work and i just finished an apple pie for your uncle. they’re coming over for dinner tonight. so, how’s work and school? are you dating anyone?
jerry sighed. it was his mother’s usual phone gambit.
just fine, ma. just fine. the pie sounds good. trying to change the subject he said. what’s for dinner?
your dad is bbqing chicken with the usual sides.
ok. wish i was there.
you know thanksgiving isn’t that far away. are you going to come down?
i hadn’t thought about it but yeah, sure. why not? he was thinking it would probably be a better place to score a cheap brick of weed. he still knew people down there.
good. i’ll make your favorites.
great. unless you hear different i’ll see you the wednesday before the big day. in the afternoon.
ok. love you, son.
love you too, ma. say hi to pops. joe and josie too. i’ll see everyone thanksgiving.
alright. take care of yourself. he could hear the smile in his mother’s voice.
ok, ma. bye.
jerry replaced the phone and picked up the pot of tea and poured the remaining liquid into the mug. the strainer removed most of the crap and all of the seeds and stems. he was surprised when he found the cup to be almost full. taking a sip he grimaced a bit then went and started the new riders LP. jerry wasted the rest of the day listening to music and staying very high.
it was almost dark before he was aware of time again. maybe it was the hunger he felt. he got off the couch. stretched. tuned on a floor lamp. found another LP and put it on the machine. the allman brothers live. the first notes hit with a jolt. too bad there wasn’t a lady around.
once back in the kitchen he found the squash in the fridge and an old onion. there was rice and tomato sauce in the cupboard. no meat anywhere. it didn’t matter there was plenty of rice. he made a sauce with the onion and canned tomatoes tossing in some dried herbs and garlic powder. after chopping up the zucchini he added them to the sauce. it simmered as the rice cooked.
duane allman was ripping it. another rocker dead before his time. jerry decided to have one of the tall cans of colt .45 with dinner. he popped the tab and took a long pull. it was good. cold and tasty. dinner was ok. filling and somewhat tasty.
after dinner he drank the rest of the malt liquor he’d bought earlier in the day and smoked his last remaining joint. comfortably numb and pretty well toasted he spent the night on the couch.
the next few weeks went by quickly. work was work and fairly non-taxing with plenty of spare change to be found on the floor of denny’s. school was another matter. he just stopped going though he still got a check from the VA for the past month. he wasn’t sure why he’d quit but it was as if he wasn’t really there anyway. it was hard to fit in again after the nam. the nam. he kept that to himself as best he could. no point in making it well known. all things considered it seemed like a good idea.
the wednesday before thanksgiving he got up early and headed south. it was an 8 hour car trip that went fairly well. jerry was looking forward to seeing the relatives and eating all that good food. piles of it to be sure. the trip south was uneventful. he arrived at his old home around 2 in the afternoon.
the garage door was closed which meant no one was probably home. no matter, there was a key in the garage. his father liked the door open as it was easier to move around and work in the garage that way. if someone was home the door stayed open until around sunset. he parked his car in the street. grabbed his bag and went around the north side of the house. the back gate was closed and the dog on duty sign was still there. his dog. the dog had died while jerry was in nam. the gate was unlocked as always and the back garage door was open. also as always. he went inside the garage. as he’d figured, the car wasn’t there. his dad had built a row of large cabinets when they’d moved in years ago. jerry opened the one closest to the door.
he reached inside and up into the second shelf. he found the nail and the key hanging from it. taking the key he unlocked the back door and then replaced the key it on it’s nail. as always. it was SOP. his dad had drilled that into him long long ago.
the house smelled good. his mother must have been busy getting ready for the big day tomorrow. turkey day. he took his bag and went through the house to his old room. it was like he’d never left. it was just like it had been for years. the double bed. a small desk and chair by the mail slot. the desk was covered with a sheet of glass which in turn was covered with surfboard company decals.
he paused and looked at the decals then ran his hand over them. memories. deciding he was hungry he went back into the kitchen to see what he could scrounge. it was then he noticed the note on the kitchen table. it was for his aunt. apparently she was bringing something over for turkey day. of course, she knew about the key. the note said his parents were at bellevue cemetery putting flowers on a grave. it also said his mother would call her sister later. jerry figured they were at his grandparents grave site.
forgetting he was hungry jerry decided to surprise his parents by going to the cemetery. besides he hadn’t been to visit his grandparents grave in a number of years. plus, there was a gas station across the street from bellevue and he needed gas for his ride anyway. so, jerry locked up and headed south to the cemetery.
on the way down he didn’t see his parents heading home. he figured he was on the route his dad would use. they must still be at the cemetery. he’d get gas later. turning into bellevue’s drive he noticed his father’s car over in the newer area of the cemetery. his grandparents grave site was in the older section behind the mausoleum. what was up? finding it interesting he followed the road toward his parent’s car.
jerry parked behind is dad’s ford. got out and walked towards his parents. their back was to him and his dad appeared to be holding his mom up. her shoulders were shaking. was she crying? what in the world was going on? as he got closer he called out to them. nothing. maybe they couldn’t hear him.
he was almost upon them when they turned towards him. his mother had been crying. jerry smiled and said.
mom. dad. what’s going on?
they looked right through him. his mother still crying. they didn’t say anything or otherwise acknowledged his presence. for good or bad. in fact, they silently walked right by him as they returned to their car. jerry stood there for a moment and watched them.
it was all he could think to say. baffled he turned towards the grave where they had been standing. there were fresh flowers and a small american flag on a stick stuck in the ground next to the flowers. it was then he saw it. the gravestone. on it was his birthday and a day in june from the year before. along with that was jerry’s name and army rank.
they found jerry’s bag beside his bed when one of the young second cousins had gone into his old room to take a nap after dinner on thanksgiving day. it freaked everyone out to be sure. however, there never was an acceptable explanation as to why or how the bag got there in the first place.
jerry stood at the kitchen sink. a bit off to the side of it in front of the bay window. the sky was cloudy grey and he could see the tall dormant sycamores in the dim early morning light. their long leafless limbs reaching upward. he was eating a hot dog.it was nestled in a single piece of wheat bread. his early morning dog consisted of swiss cheese, mustard, mayo, along with bread and butter pickle slices and a handful of potato chips on the side. it usually served as his go to breakfast. though there was something to be said about grits mixed with creme fresh, parmesan, and topped with a fried egg covered with a generous dollop of his homemade asian chili sauce. finishing the sandwich he chased it with a glass of milk. the glass emptied the carton.
he rinsed off the dish and glass then set them in the sink to be washed later. probably after dinner. probably being the operative word. it was time for work. not work in it’s usual sense. jerry hadn’t worked in several months. though he had a job. a semi full time job working for a janitorial service. one afternoon he decided to not go into work. that one afternoon had stretched into a month or more. he hadn’t bothered to call the office. and they hadn’t bothered to call him. the company keys still sat in a drawer by the back door. he’d been living on his GI bill college benefit. a meager sum to be sure. he would probably have to go back to work soon because he’d given up on going to school as well. once the VA realized he was no longer in school that check would stop. that would probably happen soon enough.
it really didn’t matter to jerry. not much did. what mattered was having enough money to live on with enough left over for a few quarts of colt .45 and some decent smoke everyday. cigarettes too. the real ones. not the crap in the can or bag which left you to roll your own. he’d been doing that for the past couple of weeks. if there was one thing that would get him back to work it would be his need for ready made cigarettes and decent smoke. one could always scrape up enough cash for some malt liquor. regardless.
his job that morning was to go through some stems and seeds one last time in order to cull enough weed to get him through the day. he thought there was a slim chance at finding enough for at least one large joint. jerry pulled the baggie of seeds and stems from the cupboard along with some rolling papers and a shoe box lid. he sat at the kitchen table and slowly went went through what was left in the baggie. it had started out as a couple of ounces of some very nice jamaican weed. heady stuff. he’d scored it along with several grams of peruvian flake back when he had what could almost be said plenty of cash. sort of. jerry had paid for the smoke but the coke had been a credit deal. a credit deal which would soon become payable.
the only sound in the house was the seeds dropping onto the shoe box lid. he’d lift one end up where the seeds lay and slowly lift a few up with an old playing card. a jack of diamonds. the process wasn’t unlike panning for gold. that analogy wasn’t lost on jerry. the seeds ended up at the bottom and the dope, which was lighter, stayed up on the top. he kept it up for a half hour or so until all the seeds from the baggie had been carefully gone through. then he carefully picked over the stems once again. when he was finished he figured he had enough for a nice after dinner smoke.
the problem being there wouldn’t be anything to get him through the day. as he was still sitting at the table rolling up his last lonely joint the phone rang. jerry glanced at the phone as he licked the glue on the rolling paper and gave the smoke a last flick of the fingers. he dropped the blunt on top of the seeds and got up to answer the phone.
jerry? it’s sid.
the coke on credit had just come due. he bolstered up what he thought was some bravado but doubted sid was buying any of it.
hey, sid, what’s up?
not much. look, the reason i’m calling is i haven’t heard from you and my end is looking for their final payment. i need my money.
ah, shit. yeah, man i um been meaning to get down there. you know work school and all…
yeah, i get it. when can i expect you?
tomorrow evening at the latest.
ok. i’ll be seeing you soon then.
you got it. later, man.
jerry hung up the phone. said, shit, and realized he wasn’t going to be heading down to sid’s place anytime soon. or anytime at all ever again for that matter. sadly, it meant no more flake for sure. ah, well. at least smoke was easier to find. you just needed some cash. thankfully, sid had no idea where he lived. no idea other than the city. sighing he went back to the table. as he was about to toss the stems and seeds out a thought hit him. tea. he’d never done it but he could brew up some tea with the stems and seeds.
he filled pot up with water and sat it on the stove. he turned on the burner and went to the fridge. he found an old lemon with some life left in it and sliced it up. by the time the water was boiling he was looking forward to his home brew. he turned off the gas and dropped the lemon slices into the hot water. then he carefully put the stems into the pot. he used a spoon to get them submerged. he followed with the seeds. putting a lid on the concoction he left it to steep. he needed some music.
he thumbed through his LP collection searching for something that fit the mood and the day. he settled upon frank zappa’s semi jazzy, ‘waka jawaka’. long instrumentals that made him think of rain and snow. very soothing. the music filled the house. jerry sat on the couch almost drifting off to sleep. the sound of the turntable turning itself off roused him. he flipped the LP over then he started side two. he figured the tea had sat long enough and went back into the kitchen.
the kitchen smelled of something. almost unpleasant. he lifted the lid on the pot and the smell grew stronger. it was tinged with lemon. the water had turned a dark color and was still warm. jerry thought of english breakfast tea. he found a mug and carefully poured some of the liquid into it. smelled it. held his breath and drank. he nailed the cup all at once. cringed a bit then thought it wasn’t all that bad. just different. he filled the mug again and drank. ok, he thought, now i wait.
while waiting he finished dressing and decided he should hit the grocery store while he still had some cash. filling the car’s gas tank was also in order. deciding he wasn’t feeling anything from his tea he thought it had been a waste of time and energy as he turned off the music and headed out the door to his ride and the store.
the drive to the store was uneventful. though as he was parking he began to feel THC jolts up his spine. by the time he got inside the store it was obvious his shopping trip was probably a big mistake. he was getting blown away. not a bad thing but he wasn’t so sure about getting home now. he was also sure a shopping trip alone and high wasn’t a good idea as well. as he turned to leave the floor rose to meet him and began grow wavy. great. just fucking great were his thoughts. things were going to get weird.
as he got to the exit he realized not scoring some malt liquor for that night would be stupid. hopefully there was something at home for dinner. he turned around and made his purchase. the checker turned out to be a pretty young thing around his age that he hadn’t seen or noticed before. hopefully, he’d remember her.
carefully driving home he tried to remember when he had been this stoned before. the nam probably or before that a trip into l.a. to see the kinks live after taking some mescaline. he’d thought he was surfing and shooting the pier while going under the 405 and 10 underpass. his passengers hadn’t been very happy to hear that.
making it home in one piece was a relief. he put the colt .45 in the refrigerator and noticed some zucchini. dinner he thought as the phone rang. with any luck it wasn’t sid again. had he given the checker his number? he had no idea. he picked up the receiver.
it sounded like his work partner, larry mitchell.
yep. man, where you been? pete’s been fucking wondering and worrying.
ah, yeah, i bet.
you know the keys and all.
safe in a drawer in the kitchen.
ok. you planning on coming back to work? it’s been a while to say the least.
at least it finally dawned on pete to find out just what the fuck was going on. good ole pete. more concerned about the swinger parties he attended than anything else.
fighting the high he said, tuesday. he thought today was saturday. though he wasn’t sure. at any rate, tuesday was their day they did the floors at a local denny’s. lots of change on the floor under the tables and in the creases of the booths. gas and malt liquor money.
yeah, see you at 2. the usual.
fine. i’ll tell pete. later, man.
as he hung up the phone he realized there was more tea left in the pot on the stove. it was going to be a good rest of the day of whatever day of the week it was. yeah, a good day.
the spring had turned very warm. he was out in the back tearing down what was left of an old shed that mother nature and gravity had started tearing down several years ago. emma had been after him to finish the job for about that long as well. today was the day. with the hot spring sun beating down he’d taken his shirt off and he was beating away at the last remaining standing wall. wall was a stretch but you get the picture. he’d taken a mighty swing with the small sledge and whacked the corner he was working on. a board flew off, it did a cartwheel, then hit him on his left shoulder. a nail bit at his skin. he knew he’d been cut.
emma washed the wound while tsk tsking and semi sort of apologizing for getting him into the predicament. it wasn’t a bad cut but it bled some and was what one could almost call a deep wound. they thought about going to get a few stitches for it when emma gasped.
‘what the hell?’
‘great. now what?’
‘ah…um…just a sec.’
he flinched when she began to fish around in the wound with a pair of tweezers.
‘why i’ll be…’
‘what for christ’s sake?’
going to get the cut stitched up was soon forgotten. emma quickly finished washing the wound. put some antiseptic on it. then bandaged it. they sat at the kitchen table. a tiny micro chip about the size of a dime sat between them. neither of them said anything. he nodded towards the back door and got up. emma followed suit. when they were outside emma tried to say something but he put a finger to his lips and nodded once again at what was left of the shed.
‘what’s with all the secrecy? and more importantly what’s up with the chip in your shoulder?’
‘i think they’re connected.’
he then spun the strange tale he’d been living or at least thought he he’d been living for what seemed like months or years. all of it. from keith richards to the nurse/angel/agent and the magic light. emma didn’t say a word. she just stood there semi awe struck and listened.
‘so, here we are today. i cut myself and i guess you find the missing piece to the puzzle. that chip.’
‘ah…some how or another that chip is playing a big part in all of this. i’ll tell you what emma. i don’t want to play anymore.’
they talked quietly for a half hour then he left to go into town. emma went back into the house and started dinner. she left the chip alone and on the table where it had been sitting.
when she heard the pick up returning she went outside. he got out of the pickup and motioned towards the old shed again. they talked quietly for another 10 minutes or so. after which they went back into the house and acted as if nothing had happened while they ate a quick supper. about an hour before sunset he got back in the truck and headed west towards the setting sun. he drove about 4 miles until he found the spot he was looking for. a small turnout on the other side of the road with two old california oaks on either side of a barbed wire fence. he slipped the truck out of gear and made a coasting u-turn into the turn out where he stopped under the trees. the early evening air was beginning to get cooler as he slipped the burner phone out of his pocket. it was the reason he’d gone into town before dinner. he’d already made a couple of calls on it.
‘hey, mike. the old truck is giving me trouble. i made a run out to the dump and on the way back it sorta conked out on me. can you give me a hand?’
‘sure, my brother. you’re on stoney point road right?’
‘yep. under the twin oaks.’
‘i know the spot. i’ll be right out.’
‘i ain’t going anywhere soon.’
he closed the phone and sat in the truck listening to the ticking of the cooling engine and some early evening crickets. soon he saw headlights in the distance. it was mike. he got out of the truck and waited for his friend. they exchanged greetings as he climbed into mike’s car.
‘let’s just sit a spell. i have a story to spin. ok?’
‘sure, bro. i got all night. whatever you say.’
he grinned and said, ‘i hope it won’t take that long.’
then he began his tale once again. the same story he told to emma. plus, a few more things.
‘wow. that’s some story. you sure about all this? i mean i remember that header you took into the ditch by the store back when…’
‘mike. the fucking chip is sitting on the kitchen table.’
‘yeah. yeah. ok.’
‘you remember stanley the japanese commo guy from nam, right?’
‘sure do. he was righteous. didn’t know you still talked to him.’
‘i hadn’t for years. though i still had his number. i spoke to him tonight. he’s working for this rich armenian guy down in l.a. these days. long story short the armenian is tight with this jewish dude who can get stuff done. the two bonded over the genocide thing. stanley with both of the guys helping is working on this. neither of whom is very fond of any sort of government stuff.’
‘didn’t take you long to get your own witness protection plan going did it?’
‘not really, man. like i said when i saw that chip i knew i was done and that i had to get out. asap.’
the man’s phone chirped. he picked it up and for the most part just listened with an occasional a huh or got it thrown in now and then. mike was lost in his own thoughts along with the strangeness of the whole situation. it was full on dark when the man said goodbye and closed the phone. mike looked at him.
‘stanley still gets shit done, my friend. he sends his greetings and says you two ought to get together soon and bullshit about the nam.’
yeah. sure…i mean…what’s up?’
‘ok. a few details still need ironing out but the two heavies are fronting emma and me some cash. a nice chunk. anything to get over on good old uncle sam as it were. stanley has an off shore bank account opened with the cash. emma and i disappear. the chip stays in the house. whomever, with any luck, won’t know we’ve high tailed it until it’s too late. we hit this used car place in frisco stanley knows. we dump the truck there and buy another ride under a front stanley will have worked out by the time we get there. which should be before they close tonight. this truck will just sit in the lot’s garage for a few months then disappear.’
‘what about the house?’
‘stanley says eventually the bank will put it on the market. the armenian has always wanted to become a cattle rancher and gentleman cowboy. he’ll swoop in and buy it with his connections. then he’ll start his gentleman cowboy cattle biz and send me 50% of his profits. simple as that. or so it seems.’
‘boy howdy is about all i can come up with, man. where you gonna go?’
‘maybe vegas for awhile. hide in plain sight in sin city for a time. the jewish guy says it would be the best place until the heat cools down. easy access to off shore stuff there as well.’
the two old friends chatted for a bit more then made their goodbyes.
‘they may come and talk to you eventually, mike.’
‘fuck it. don’t mean nothing. right?’
‘yeah, sure. hasta la vista, mi hermano.’
‘yeah, mi hermano. hasta la vista.’
the man went to his truck fired it up and drove home. emma had a few things packed. she knew they were leaving. when he came in the back door he just nodded and they each picked up a bag and headed out to the truck. he went back inside and grabbed a couple of CD’s. stopping by the kitchen table he gently picked up the micro chip and then slipped it under the carpet in a corner of the living room. it would have to do.
he went back out to the truck got inside, smiled, and held emma’s hand. he handed her the CD’s and she picked one in the dark and put it in the player. he backed out of the drive and headed towards highway 101 and the south on ramp. the flying burrito brothers softly filled the truck. he smiled again at emma. she smiled back. a tear rolled down her cheek. she found a tissue and wiped it away. turning her head towards the window she quietly coughed. a small black glob tinged in red was caught in the tissue. another tear rolled down her cheek. gram was singing, ‘cody cody’.
I hear you say.
I hear your voice
calling me away.
I’m not afraid
to think of what I might find.
I will be yours
will you be mine?
We’ve all been young,
we’ve all been old.
We’ve all been sheltered
from the cold.
Come to my side
and say what I think I already know.
I’m going away,
don’t you want to go?
I remember the face
that Harvey drew.
It was of a man
that my eyes saw through.
Come by my side
before the evening is gone.
And see where else
this body’s flown.
“Cody Cody”, words and music by gram parsons, chris hillman, and bernie leadon.
the basura brothers became even more insane once in puberty’s death grip. primarily the young boys doing things most other youngsters in puberty would probably never think of. probably. things like the boys parents finding clear dried stuff in odd places. when questioned about it the boys would say it was mucous or something. when in reality it was something entirely different. they’d take a swat for the mucous thing but if they told the truth. well, lets just say that wasn’t an option in their home.
johnny and jimmy cut a wide swath through the young girls in junior high school. the girls knew the brothers were up for just about anything. they had known that since the fifth grade. johnny and jimmy were up front about what they wanted. they would just ask. after awhile they didn’t even have to ask. the girls came to them. some of them. the basura brothers spent so much time having sex they began to neglect school even more than they normally did.
then one day their semi idyllic lives as sex fiends fell apart. the two brothers had been seeing two sisters. twins to be exact. they’d also been seeing numerous other girls but they got the twins pregnant. worse yet, the twins were only in the sixth grade. not a good thing to be sure even for junior high school boys. parents on both sides were livid to say the least. the girls parents demanded jail time or worse. though the trouble was everyone involved was under 14. not much the cops or the courts could do. as it turned out the girls parents sued the basuras and won. the basuras would have to pay for both girls medical bills and any other related costs. abortion wasn’t an option. not even on the table for discussion.
after the horse was already out of the barn maury began to keep closer tabs on the two brothers. beatings became more frequent. to say the least, johnny and jimmy were not happy about their current state of affairs. and lack of them as well. their mother began a relentless almost non stop verbal assault on the brothers. between mom and dad the boys were taking plenty of flak. so much so they were almost at a breaking points.
one evening after dinner the two brothers were washing dishes while their mother was giving them a particularly vicious tongue lashing. johnny had had enough. this was it. no more he thought. enough. he had been drying a large butcher knife when his synapses snapped. he swung the knife at his mother and caught her full on in the throat. she hit the floor spewing blood. her almost decapitated head lay at an odd angle. jimmy stopped washing dishes and watched as his mother began to bleed out on the floor. he didn’t say a word. neither did johnny.
maury was in the living room watching TV. he got up to go see what the strange noises were coming from the kitchen. he got as far as the door when he bellowed.
what the hell’s going on in here? i’m trying to watch the TV for christ’s sake!
johnny and jimmy looked at each and without a word jimmy grabbed another kitchen knife. then both young boys descended on their father who was so taken aback by the unfolding spectacle he was speechless and froze. soon he was just as dead as his wife. the cheap linoleum floor was awash in their parent’s blood.
still saying nothing the brothers dropped their knives then went looking for their father’s car keys. they ran from the house out to the car and drove away from the hideous death scene. they didn’t say anything about what they had just done. well, only if you don’t call laughter saying anything. they were laughing hysterically which made it hard to drive the car. as a matter of fact, johnny and jimmy never did say anything about the killings. when asked it they would only laugh.
it took several days for the death smell to reach the neighbors. then there were the clouds of flies as well. something was up for sure. finally one of the neighbors called the cops. the boys? somehow or another they’d made it across the border unnoticed and down into mexico. they ended up south of rosarito beach where they stole another car from some american surfers along with their boards and money. then, of course, johnny and jimmy killed the hapless surfers.
it took the federales several weeks to find the dead surfers. and then only after many calls to the mexican consulate in los angeles made by the worried parents of the surfers. they were days late in coming home from their surf trip. what was going on? what was going on indeed.
with a new car and money the boys bought some food, new clothing, and a few large bottles of mescal. then they found a deserted beach 20 miles or so further south of rosarito. where they camped out and learned how to surf on their own. getting wasted every night on the mexican booze.
it took several more weeks for the federales to figure what was going and then find the brothers. when they were found the brothers went peacefully as they were both drunk. the mexicans were dumbfounded by the fact the young boys were the murderers they were looking for. they put johnny and jimmy in jail outside of rosarito beach. they were still trying to figure out what to do with the brothers when word came down that the brothers basura were also wanted for the murder of their parents up in the states.
this changed things for the mexicans. they weren’t likely to send the boys back north to face murder charges that even at their young age might include the death penalty given the circumstances. odds were that wasn’t going to happen but no one could convince the mexicans other wise. the boys would stay in baja and face mexican murder charges for the death of the american surfers. it was indeed an odd set of circumstances but given the mexican governments total aversion to the death penalty there was noting anyone could do.
johnny and jimmy spent 25 years together in that baja jail. all things considered they were treated fairly well by their captors because they were so young and insane. the mexican government let the brothers go after the 25 years. they did it quietly. not wanting the american government to find out right away. the brothers stayed in mexico and wandered about the west coast of baja for several more years. they of course committed many crimes in order to live during that time.
at one point they began to feel some heat from the local federales who were finally beginning to put things together again. johnny and jimmy moved up the coast and into tijuana’s ‘zona roja’. they spent several months there rolling marines and naval personnel from san diego making a good amount of coin while doing so.
during one drunken whore filled night the brothers decided to rob a pawn shop the sailors and marines used when their money ran out and it was time to get back to base. of course, no cash made that a problem for the military personnel. johnny and jimmy had been inside the store on numerous occasions. they knew there was a large amount of jewelry and cash inside the pawn shop. getting to it wasn’t much of a problem. getting across the border and back into california wasn’t much of a problem after the robbery as well. a stolen gunny sergeant’s car made things even easier. killing the marine proved to be the hardest part of their evening and early morning. the drive back into their former childhood home of ontario, california was uneventful.