Friday, September 30, 2011
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
This is one of the few bars left in San Francisco that has a jukebox that still takes change and still plays vinyl, and that's why I love this hole-in-the-wall.
Did I say "hole in the wall?" Yeah, there’s that too, from where Jay slammed an unruly drunk into the corner, just right past the last booth. That was last week, and he just duct-taped a plastic sheet over it this morning and called it "fixed."
What I don’t like here is Annie Lennox in the blue dress.
She’s not Ms. Lennox herself, but close enough that David Stewart would want to start a reunion tour with her. She has played “Sweet Dreams” ten times in a row, which is about four times too many even for a Eurythmics fan, which I am not. She has on a $400 electric blue dress, yet the nail polish on her fingers and toes is chipped. She never strays far from her raggedy purse, but that’s to give her .40 caliber Glock a reassuring (and what she believes to be discreet) pat.
She is from the Pamela Anderson School of Acting, with her ersatz twitches and faux withdrawal symptoms. She might use many things, but I doubt she uses meth, coke or heroin. Everything about her, including her high-end salon dye job, clashes with these surroundings, and who she is supposed to be. Jay will see through this right away, and he will bypass slamming her into the wall for cutting her up in the basement.
“It’s gonna be awhile. Jay went to the bank to get change…so you might want to go somewhere else,” I mention.
"Do you know when he's going to be back?" she asks firmly. She's trying to seem braver than she feels, and I used to be scared like her, too, but that was more than a lifetime ago.
I swirl and sip my shot glass of rotgut like it’s fine cognac as I say to her, "He's not holding today."
"That's not why I'm here," she blurts.
"So you're here to meet a date?"
“No,” she says with the all the warmth of Finland in February.
“Then you’ll probably want to go where you’ll find one.”
“Are you the owner?” she demands.
“I’m just watching the joint for him,” I mumble, and shake my head. She sizes me up for the first time and sees an old barfly in a denim outfit that’s older than she is. She looks away and instantly writes me off…big mistake.
“Then pour yourself a glass of ‘Shut The Fuck Up.’”
I pour myself another shot and I say, “Noroc!”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means ‘to your health’ in Romanian.”
“My dear, I’ve been the same that I’ve always been…it’s the times that have gotten stranger. If you live long enough, though I don’t see this happening, you will come to realize this too.”
I close the distance between us and her eyes widen as I get closer, then they go blank. Her mind is…malleable, though not enough to get her to leave this place. I sniff around her and I was right; other than her beauty, she lacks that certain something. Jay enters the bar and the sunlight from the door snaps her out of it.
“I’ll see you sooner than both of us would like,” I whisper, but her attention is already completely focused on Jay. He has that effect, and we both want Jay…for the wrong reasons. This time he’s not alone; he has some psycho named “Daily” with him. I don’t know how that sociopath got his name, but I’ve seen him stab people over $5 bets. The Lennox clone, a.k.a. Officer Newcomb, has arrested him before, yet she unfortunately doesn’t recognize him.
I leave this bar and maybe I leave my conscience there, too.
I have lived a long time, a lot longer than my apparent age and longer than you can imagine. Still, I have just thimbleful of wisdom to show for all that time. So I have to work hard at most things, just like anyone else…sometimes, more so. It would be easy for me to leave Officer Newcomb to her death in the basement, because all I want out of the equation is Jay and saving her would jeopardize that.
As I slip in behind them, she trembles with her own gun being jabbed into her head by Daily. Being a coward, he has blindfolded her. All the better to do what needs to be done, which should lessen the need for no unnecessary explanations later on. Daily is easy to subdue, Jay…much less so, though I knew that going in. I leave Officer Newcomb still trembling down in the basement; she’ll come around, though I don’t know if she will ever recover.
As for Jay, my rare AB+ treasure, I have to figure out how to get him out of the building without being seen. I wish I could explain everything to Officer Newcomb. How we don’t run around in tuxedoes with our hair slicked back, and we sure as hell don’t fucking glitter. But I have no faith in her intelligence, because she came into a place like this without wearing a wire or having any backup. So I doubt that she would ever understand the ways of the Nosferatu.
Monday, September 12, 2011
“Don’t look at my breasts, my face is up here,” Amy almost says out loud to the teen ogling her from three bus seats away. Then she thinks it over and decides she actually wants the junior pervert to obsess over her breasts, because maybe then he won’t recognize her. Amy is certain there is a reward out on her, but she doesn’t know that it started at $5,000 when she made her escape some two hours ago, and it’s climbing a thousand every hour. The young deviant has finally shifted his preoccupation to the big picture that is Amy Li Yahuan, and nothing is adding up.
It’s almost Christmas, yet she’s dressed up for Oktoberfest with an authentic Bavarian dirndl, a crown of plastic flowers, and her hair fixed up in braids. Amy looks like the Chinese-American version of the 80’s mascot for a certain cocoa. Amy goes through the purse that she stole from the makeup girl right before she escaped; she has to bribe the little creep before the other passengers recognize…too late.
How can she help it? Probably half of the people here wake up to her looking back at them during breakfast, and the other half have seen her on billboards and TV. Amy bites her lip in anger, because she worked so hard to get out of Bruno’s clutches and she is so close to getting her fix she can almost taste it. Maybe she can get her fill before her former captor finds out that she went south instead of home to Sacramento. As the 54 crosses the Golden Gate Bridge and slows because of the traffic, Amy wonders if she should just get off here and end it all with a leap from the span. Would death be preferable to being trapped on The Farm again?
After getting off the bus at
Stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage. Yet one of the worst aspects of The Farm for Amy was not the gangsters or former gangsters watching over her every move except for when she went to the bathroom. Nor was it her never being allowed to go outside the two main buildings of that establishment. She got used to the guns brandished at her and the hyper-sensitive alarms going off all the time, but she couldn’t abide the miserable forced diet. She wasn’t allowed any meat or junk food…not even a French fry.
Here in this Jack In The Box near 11th Avenue, she fights the Pavlovian response to salivate and the urge to give the cashier an earful, when she has to explain to him that yes, she wants an Ultimate Cheeseburger, but no, she doesn't want the cheese. He finally gets it when she says, "no dairy" in Spanish. Amy vows that she will eat no more dairy ever, even if it means her bones turn to powder before she’s forty.
As she sits down with her tray, nothing can ruin this moment...not even the bus that goes past the window with her picture and the other seven women that have been held captive just as long as she has. Amy pulls back the paper and savors the aroma. No, nothing can ruin this moment...though the sight of a hardened Latino male outside, covered in gang tattoos does not help.
Actually, this moment is ruined in the worst way, as she recognizes that most of his ink is the same as Bruno's. How did they find her so fast? There's no time to even take a bite, as she decides to strike before they can locate her. There is nothing in the stolen purse to defend herself with, not even a nail file. Just as the gangster reaches for the door, Amy sprints from behind an exiting customer, and pushes both the patron and the door into the tough.
She won't go back to The Farm no matter what, even if that means being run over by
“Can I help…” are the last words the lamp salesman gets in before everything goes off like an errant spark at a fireworks factory. Amy greets the first gangster through the door with a torchiere that she has braced into the carpet like medieval lance man would with a spear. His eyes don’t make the adjustment from bright sunshine to the darker store and his momentum gives him a chest full of glass and iron. The man crumbles like a crash test dummy and he flops to the entrance floor.
His partner enters, leaps around his fallen friend and surprises Amy. She scampers around the corner and he trips over a few lamps before he can grab her. The tough stumbles to his feet with rage, as he seems to have lost track of her. He covers two-thirds of the store, before he is blinded by two track lights pointed at his face. A heart-shaped resin lamp hits the side of his knee and he falls down on all fours.
He is flattened by a tasteful walnut table lamp that is on sale for $79.95 until January 2nd, and Amy takes his wallet and his gun. She gives the astonished lamp salesman $200 from the billfold and she slips out the back of the store before he realizes that the money won’t even begin to cover the damage.
Harold knows this isn’t some kind of dream, because they never last three whole days long. Of course he keeps waiting for someone to wake him up, as beautiful women like her simply don’t fall from the sky. Actually, Harold really doesn’t know the first thing about her, other than she showed up at his brother’s restaurant in a dirndl, and that she loves hamburgers. As a matter of fact, the only thing she loves more than burgers is the man that brings her those patties and some fries.
“Emme” is what she asked him to call her and he didn’t ask any questions…because Harold has spent his whole life catering to pretty women. Emme is different though, because unlike the girls before her, she doesn’t make Harold jump through hoops, and she doesn’t make financial demands. All that she wants is burgers, fries, and making love with the shades pulled down. Come to think of it, Emme doesn’t want to go out…at all. Harold even offered to take her to the House of Prime Rib, figuring that if she likes beef…yet, she turned that down.
There’s something so familiar about Emme, as if he has known her somehow for the last couple of years. A light bulb goes off over Harold’s head and then it smacks him hard. She must be an escaped convict, it’s the only way this all makes sense. There’s the doorbell and that’s odd, Lloyd with the order of burgers from his brother’s restaurant isn’t due for another hour. As Harold opens the door, he wonders how lightning got into the hallway.
The first thing he notices is the funny taste, and the second thing he notices is that he can’t move his arms. The third, and most important thing he notices, is the angry gang bangers standing in his kitchen.
“I said, ‘where’s Amy?’”
The one in the middle punches Harold in the face and he says, “I’m not playing, homes.”
Harold realizes that funny taste is his own blood, and he also figures that “Amy” is “Emme.” Harold gets a rabbit punch to the left ear that leaves him wondering how much longer he can keep up this ruse of chivalry.
“We’re done, kill him, Gordo” the middle one says the fat banger on the left.
“Naw, listen Bruno, she’s here, man!” avers Gordo. “The bum that we found wearing her dress, he says he got out of the trash can from this house!”
The walk-in cupboard opens up, as it turns out Amy was hiding behind two Costco packs of paper towels. Unlike the gang bangers, she has her gun already out.
“Amy, thank God! Where were you?” Bruno whines almost like a jilted freshman.
“I’m not going back to The Farm, Bruno!” Amy seethes. “Chloe can attach the couplings from all the machinery and go milk herself!”
Bruno reaches behind his back and Amy cocks her gun’s hammer. Bruno holds his hands up and says, “Hold on, I don’t have a gun. I just want to show you something.”
He reaches back again and this time he brings out a rolled-up paper. Bruno unfurls a poster of Amy and seven other women. They are all dressed as Bavarian milk maids, and they are Caucasian, Black, Filipino and Japanese.“See?” mewls Bruno, “I had them Photoshop you into the center.”
Amy lowers her gun as she looks at the poster, then she raises it again and says, “I am not going back until Chloe leaves!”
The gangsters are aghast that Harold talked, much less to Bruno.
“Because a fortune teller told Bruno’s wife, Chloe, that eight is the Chinese lucky number that leads to prosperity. That and that stupid ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ song”.
“Yeah, well, she was right about that being a lucky number, there have to be eight of you. Come back to The Farm, Amy, and I’ll double your pay.”
“I’m tired of home shopping networks. What’s the difference if I never get to go out and spend the money?”
Bruno poorly tries to sound firm when he mumbles, “You have to come back, baby. All of your cows miss you and they’re not producing. Hell, even when they do, the milk is sour.”
“Please, Bruno. She doesn’t want to be cooped up in the boonies. Please…find another woman, and just let her go.”
Bruno raises his hand to Harold, but Amy rebuffs that with a wave of her pistol.
“I don’t think you understand, ese, I’m one of the biggest producers of organic milk in all of
Gordo and his friend look down at Harold, like they are the IRS and he owes them money.
“If you divorce Chloe, I’ll leave with you right now,” Amy says faintly.
“I can’t afford to give her half,” replies Bruno with a half-pout.
Amy puts her gun on the table and cuts the rope off Harold’s right hand. She walks up to Bruno, deftly caresses him and responds, “You’ll work a way around that, I’m sure.”
Bruno puts his arm around Amy and they leave. Gordo and his sidekick follow, but not without glaring at Harold for the last time. As he unties himself, Harold is unsure if he has dodged a bullet, among other things and weapons. The only thing that he sure about is that when Tennyson said, “’Tis better to have loved and lost, than never loved at all,” was that the poet certainly never had a woman like Amy.
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Saturday, August 6, 2011
Saturday, July 30, 2011
Saturday, July 23, 2011
He interviewed Duane Swierczynski and survived!
At least I think he did. Come to think of it, someone else could be posting as Keith, and Brother Raw might have met his demise a couple of months...naw, that all sounds too Ludlum.
Anyway, meet the man who brings the pain in every sense of the word. We're talking the author whose writing is so hard-boiled, that he makes Spillane and Hemingway look like a pair of weak sisters, Duane Swierczynski.
Sunday, July 3, 2011
Monday, May 30, 2011
I've written a couple of things for your perusal that I hope that you enjoy. First up is a revision of an old story of mine for Dark Valentine Magazine, called "Passion In Venice."
Next, comes a restaurant review of a cuisine that even the most traveled gourmet has never tried, at John and Jin's new blog, The Clumsy Eater. Have you had Burmese food? What is it like? Take a gander at my family's adventures at The Burma Tea Leaf, a.k.a. Pagan.
Friday, May 6, 2011
"Some day a real rain will come and wash the scum off of the streets."
Getting back to Travis, this just goes to show how crazy Travis really is. The rain won't kill the rats because you know they can swim out of anything, nor would it affect the rest of us that God and everyone else has been trying to drown since the day we were born. And to think that I've been waiting four years to see that movie...actually, three years and ten months with good behavior. Fuck "Star Wars," this was all I heard about in the joint, and this? This was just a let-down.
I just had to walk out on a showing of “Raging Bull” right now, because the last thing I want to do is spend my second day out of the joint with some asshole exactly like the ones I was in lock-up with. The certifiables crazies that have no "off-switch," you know. You let that animal mentality stay with you for too long and you can't adjust back into society, and getting back into society is just what I want to do this time around.
I’m happy to walk in the rain again, and the touch of a woman will happen as soon as I can get twenty-five bucks together. I want to be able to sleep in, to eat when I want to eat, and to take a bath instead of a shower. The pisser of it all is that I know that it's not a question of if I'm going back to prison, but when. I’ve spent more time in state-run institutions than I have as a free individual, so I know my die is cast. Go straight to jail, do not pass Go and do not collect $200.
I can’t hold a normal conversation with anyone, but I know how to use the fewest words necessary to put the fear of God in them for the rest of their lives. I don’t know which fork or spoon to use at a dinner, but if it came down to it, I could take someone out but permanently, with either utensil in seconds. I wouldn’t know the path of the straight and narrow if it ran right over me, yet I know opportunity way before it even gets up to the porch and puts its knuckles to the door.
Take that brand-new 1981 Buick Regal across the street. It has a broken-out window just behind the driver’s side and it’s been idling there for about two minutes. Even though the windows are pretty fogged-over, I can tell the driver is fidgety. If there is anything I’ve learned from my short stint in the Boy Scouts, it’s how to cuss, how to smoke, and to “Be Prepared.”
Like when I cut through a high school track meet the other day, and helped myself to a spare starter’s pistol when everyone’s eyes were fixated on a heated race. And I always wear a hooded sweatshirt because carrying around a ski mask when you have a record, is just begging for the cops to frame you for the one thing you didn’t do. Now, the fact that no one has left that bank for the last two minutes, coupled with the Buick, tells me that opportunity is about to kick in the door like a cop with two alimonies and a warrant, and I’m going to be the one to capitalize right here on someone else’s hard work and planning.
It’s a damn shame though; they ran a trailer for “Raging Bull” just before “Taxi Driver” and it seems like that’s going to be my kind of movie. It’s a pity because I doubt I can stay out of the joint until December.
Monday, February 28, 2011
Babette, she’s so knowledgeable…I knew that there was something special about her. Maybe we will have to get to know each other, and hopefully sooner than later. Yes, it’s a coyllar like the one that was used by Charles VIIth.
When you throw a party, you should make sure that your guests are well fed, entertained and that they will want to come back for the next soiree that you throw. Not to mention, you should give them something that they will talk about long after the event.
Me? No “Wh*te Party” like Sean, I won’t tell invitees what they can and cannot wear. I won’t do “black-tie only” like the Carquinezes, no one wants to look like a penguin on purpose. Fireworks have been done to death, and animals are trite and too Vegas.
I said to myself that I’m going to do something different, something that nobody else has done. It starts with what amounts to the world’s biggest duck blind. That keeps guests wondering and it also keeps my neighbors from tipping off the authorities. It also means that I won’t be needing permits.
“Yes everyone, it is a coyllar, also known to us as a ‘trebuchet.’”
Oh, if they could see the looks on their own faces, like children on Christmas morning in front of hundreds of presents.
“And that, is a Grand Piano. Shall we countdown together?”
“Ten, nine, eight,” ah, now they wake up and join in. “Seven, six, five, four, three, two, one!”
I don’t know which is more impressive, the rush of air as the trebuchet releases that sizable object, or when it recoils back toward us. It is certainly astounding when something that takes four men to move on the ground, soars through the wind like an eagle. You can certainly imagine that despite being made of wood, that it would cut through a castle wall…or two.
And here comes the splash…no, it is not meant to be. I thought that sandbar was dredged out, this is anticlimactic in a way, though the cheers of my guests suggest otherwise. As long as they are happy, it was all worthwhile. Unfortunately, there won’t be any encores, lest my neighbors or the Coast Guard figures out where that monstrosity came from.
It was a Steinway Model M, Grand Piano, and it was a little less than five-hundred and eighty pounds. Give or take. A floating arm trebuchet would’ve been more efficient, but nothing is more fun than old school mischief. My, I do believe that is Babette’s come hither grin.
This story was part of Informal Exercise #1 for the blog Icarus Flight To Perfection. A big thanks to Sue H. and Nicole for participating.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
“You were exceptional today, Marisa.”
Jodi is a phenomenal physical therapist and she means well, but Marisa knows a half-truth when she hears it. She’s told more than her share, and it’s the greater part of her job to say things that have just enough veracity in them, that they could actually be plausible. Jodi builds up people one way, and Marisa? Well-
“Oh, my God, look at all the flowers!” Jodi exclaims with excitement, and she forgets that Marisa cannot maintain her balance without her. She catches Marisa before she falls, which is the first time anyone has ever done that in her life.
“Hey, Babe, I’m glad to see that you are up and about,” comes a smooth voice from behind them. Jodi turns and Marisa almost plummets again. “You like?” asks Roger with a tone so mellifluous that it would go well with either tea or bread. His looks surpass his voice, though despite her absence of makeup and her infirmity, Marisa is his equal in attractiveness.
Almost the entire room is covered in roses, and Roger holds out his arms and says, “Nothing is too special for my special lady.”
Yeah, “special.” Marisa notes that most of the blooms are old, spotted or have black leaves. Also, none of the colors match, so she figures that Roger must have raided every supermarket in the surrounding area…and possibly even some cemeteries. Roger gently tilts her chin, caresses Marisa and looks her over.
“That plastic surgeon did a pretty spectacular job. The scars are really only visible in direct sunlight.”
“I really don’t mind the scars,” Marisa mumbles.
“Well, hopefully another surgery can bring out all the beauty that was there before. Please…listen to your therapist, and work hard to get better. I miss you, and all the girls miss you, too.”
Roger kisses her, but Marisa turns away. He caresses her one last time and leaves.
Despite her envy, Jodi smiles. “Wow, you are really lucky to have a man like that. Have you two been together a long time?”
“Don’t worry about it,” she grunts as she sits on the bed with great difficulty. “Roger and I are not exclusive.”
“Yeah, he’s my pimp.”
No, Marisa doesn’t mind the scars at all. Despite her disheveled state, she still manages to turn heads in this hospital. These wounds are her reminder to work harder in her rehabilitation. They are a maimed mnemonic that someone did this to her, and that would-be killer is someone powerful. He’s possibly too powerful and untouchable for a simple prostitute like Marisa to get revenge.
She has always been able to spot the psychos, and that intuition never let her down. If anything, Roger let her down by offering her up on a platter to that “political advisor,” Clifton Maynard. Marisa is also fairly certain that Roger slipped her something that day, but it’s hard to remember just what happened.
She does remember the face of her attacker, and she has been reminded of it, as Clifton Maynard has been on TV twice since she has been admitted here. He was standing right behind the mayor with that deceivingly boyish grin. Marisa also remembers her disbelief at all that blood. She remembers thinking that it couldn’t possibly be all hers, but it was. Marisa wants to suppress her fear, her screams, and channel that pain into getting better.
“Welcome home, Baby!”
There are no flowers this time, and none of the girls are here to greet her. Roger believes that they are angry at Marisa because they had to work harder to cover the loss of the stable’s top earner, but Marisa knows otherwise. It took two more surgeries and six months of physical therapy to come to this full, twisted circle.
“You can take the next couple of days off, and get comfortable.”
Marisa already has, as it came to her in an anesthetic-fueled dream.
A pimp must know all the weaknesses of a woman, or he’ll go broke. Women can be mercurial, so Roger has always made it a point to stay one step ahead of the girls in his stable. Of course, that goes both ways in that Marisa knows Roger’s deficiencies almost as well as he knows hers.
For instance, he likes to videotape everything.
It’s his Kryptonite. Marisa went without during her hospital stay, just so that her pimp could do with. Roger will OD tonight and it will look like a homicide, of that she is certain. Then, when Roger’s cousin reads about this, she will panic and send the media some copies of that tape of Clifton Maynard nearly killing Marisa.
Clifton will take the fall for Roger’s murder, of that she is almost certain. Either way, when all is said and done, she will kill two birds.
This story was for Patti Abbott's latest flash fiction challenge, and you know that she always comes up with the best ones. She said-
"On Saturday night, we passed a young woman on the street who was talking to her male companion and said, "I really don't mind the scars." A good startup line for a little challenge perhaps. I looked for a picture to go with it but 1) they scarred (make that scared) me too much to post and 2) I felt like the pictures steered the story.
So how about a 800 or so word story that contains that line in it. How about an end date of February 28th? What do you think?
If you don't have a blog to post it on, I'll post it here with mine. Just give me a few days' notice."
Sunday, February 13, 2011
It was originally published in Issue #5 of Astonishing Adventures Magazine and after March, only a few of the story's paragraphs will be here. It's a tale about a man who loves a woman more than life itself. His...or the existence of anyone else.
Sunday, February 6, 2011
One would think, with so many people wondering about the roots of “moolah,” that someone would have come up with at least one entertaining “urban legend” about the word, but no such luck.
What theories do exist about its origins are both terse and far-fetched. One holds that “moolah” derives from the French “le moulin,” meaning “the mill,” referring to factory mills as a source of wealth. Color me extremely unconvinced. But while we’re stretching plausibility to the breaking point, I must mention the recent announcement, by the Times of India newspaper, that “moolah” is the Fijian (as in Fiji, in the South Pacific) word for “money.”
Unfortunately, I lent my Fijian dictionary to my accountant last week, so I’ll have to wait until he gets back to check this assertion. But unless someone can explain how a Fijian word ended up on the lips of US gamblers and hipsters in the 1930s, I plan to ignore that theory. Yet another theory traces “moolah” to the Romany (Gypsy) word “mol,” meaning “to be worth,” which is not impossible but is considered unlikely by linguists.
Naw, those sound as hokey as the one that says it is old Spanish slang for "donkey," as apparently donkeys were fairly expensive beasts of burden. The other one that the Word Detective added made more sense-
Another theory, proposed by Daniel Cassidy in his recent book “The Secret Language of the Crossroads: How the Irish Invented Slang,” traces “moolah” to the Irish phrase “moll oir,” meaning “pile of gold.” My inclination is to consider this quite plausible, but Mr. Cassidy apparently paints with a very broad brush, also tracing “buckaroo” to the Irish “bocai rua” (wild boys). It has long been generally accepted, on solid evidence, that “buckaroo” is actually derived from the Mexican Spanish “vaquero,” meaning “cowboy.”
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Yet, even with our extensive history of crime (Dashiell Hammett didn't just pull all those stories out of his hat, you know), the Mafia never really did get a solid hold on the City of Saint Francis.
Retired policeman Kevin J. Mullen said, "Al Capone sent emissaries out to San Francisco in 1931 to case the joint, but decided it was "too tough" a town to crack." That may just be a proud cop talking, but Mullen says it's an easier town to police, given its size and geography, and the transcontinental railroad terminated in Oakland, after all.
Saturday, January 22, 2011
Was it Robert Frost that said, “Good fences make for good neighbors?” Yasmine’s nearest neighbor is some four-hundred yards down this private, restricted road. And for good measure, the walls and fences around the house are eleven feet high, except for the front and back gates.
I should be at home, falling asleep to Johnny’s monologue. Instead, I’m stuck with a double Gordian Knot that cannot be solved or cut, and there is no kingdom to be had or any right answer to be found.
In this moonlight, the blood looks quite black.
There’s so much of it.
This is a small town in Northern California, and I can’t even tell you where, though as to why will all make sense in a few moments. It’s a nasty little place, full of pollution and polluted minds. There has been a little relative prosperity in the last decade or so, but don’t be misled, none of us that grew up here have had it easy. Especially Yasmine.
We’ve known each other since kindergarten, and she used to have the biggest heart of anyone that I have ever known. Her warm demeanor faded somewhat when both of her parents were killed in a car accident when she was seven. After that, bad things just went to worse, as her drunk aunt became her guardian and drank up the estate of Yasmine’s parents.
Her aunt drank them out of house and home in four years. Yasmine became a ward of the court and days later her aunt’s liver gave out. We didn’t see Yasmine for three years after that, as she bounced from foster home to foster home until she wound up back here. She was different by then, and in some ways, she was hardened like someone who had spent decades in prison.
It took until our senior year in high school to mend a friendship that shouldn’t have been broken. There were many things she wouldn’t talk about that affected her during those years, and she still won’t discuss them to this very day. After we graduated, we hung out every once in awhile, but we pretty much drifted apart again. Such is life; you might grow in a different direction than your friends, and then before you know it, you are an entire world apart from each other.
My mother asked me to drop something off at the little cottage Yasmine and her jerk boyfriend Clyde were renting from his grandparents. I can’t remember what it was my mother gave me, but I remember all too clearly what happened after I knocked on the door. When she opened the door, her right eye was a plum, purple and swollen. Yasmine jumping on my back was the only thing that saved Clyde’s life that day, and one of my knuckles never healed properly after that (it was still worth it).
She broke up with Clyde soon after that, and she stopped speaking to me for years, so I guess we were both punished for it in a way. Some months later I saw her in town, and she did a poor job of hiding another shiner behind some considerably large sunglasses. Yasmine ran away from me, yet I wasn’t even paying attention to her at that point, and I drove as fast as I could to Clyde’s.
He was both scared and surprised to see me, as Yasmine and he had not been an item for some time. She moved out of town not too long after that and I never did find her other abusive boyfriend, though I gladly would have risked my left hand improperly healing for a chance at revenge. I became a patrol officer just after she left, and eventually I became the town deputy. It really wasn’t an issue of me wanting justice, though I tried to do good whenever was possible, but I chose the job because it paid more than anything else around here.
I joined the force in 1977 and Yasmine came back to town in 1985, with more money than she ever had before. She had made her money with Apple Computer, and she was all set to buy the Miller property on the edge of town. She was friendly enough at first, but she became reserved when I asked what she would do all by herself with such a big place. After swearing me to secrecy, Yasmine confided in me that she wanted to run a shelter for abused women.
I told her that big house would be perfect for it, and nobody from in town or from the outside goes near the private road leading up to it. I helped her fix the place up, along with Eduardo, whose usual job is to fix everything both inside and outside for The County. It took a couple of weeks to bring it up to par, and the garden was the hardest part. It was also Yasmine’s pride and joy, where she spent countless hours toiling in it, despite her lack of a green thumb.
Gardening can be quite therapeutic, and whenever I brought groceries there from the next town over to avoid attention, Yasmine would have the newest woman at the house helping her out. Besides pitching in on house maintenance and food, I would make sure to drive by and to patrol the grounds. You never know just how far a man will go, if he won’t even hesitate to hit a woman. Often, Yasmine would be walking the grounds as well, though many times I didn’t see her until the last second.
Every once in awhile, I’d catch a non-local driving off the main town roads. I would call in their plates as I rode right on their bumper, just to let them know that whatever their intentions were, that they weren’t wanted in these parts. None of them ever came back, save a dark green ’71 Camaro from two towns over. I stopped him twice, and though he seemed nice enough, there was something about that large bastard that didn’t seem right.
If I told you I was surprised to see that same Camaro tonight, hidden some seventy feet off the road from Yasmine’s house, I’d be lying. It would also be a lie if I tried to convince you that this situation would never turn into something ugly. I was completely shocked, though, when I saw all that blood covering the jasmine flowers that Yasmine was named after. And I wanted to simply turn away in denial when I saw what was left of that big fake-polite asshole lying in the middle of the garden. Even in the dark, I could tell he had been cut and stabbed too many times to count.
The spatter and the trail of blood said that he was killed after climbing over and that his body was dragged. This week Yasmine has only three women staying at the shelter, and they are all outside with her. They are all covered in blood, just like her, and all four of them have knives. They put the knives right next to body, and they walk back to the patio.
I don’t know what to do, and as I walk towards them, I hear a twig snap. It’s Eduardo, and he’s trampling all over my crime scene with his size thirteens. I know that Yasmine has called him before me, and he stands next to the women in solidarity. I can’t let a murder go unpunished, yet if anyone is arrested, the shelter will be as good as closed. The Gordian Knots that are my brain and my heart tighten as if pulled by elephants startled by guns.
This story is for the Fourth Installment of Icarus' Flight To Perfection. It combines the starter sentence of Katherine Tomlinson, "In the moonlight the blood looked quite black." And the four words of Nicole Hirschi; Fence, Mend, Court, and Misled.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Sunday, January 9, 2011
Without further adieu, here is "The Original Rainmaker."