American Pinner

The rain fell in intermittent mists from opaque skies while Mick and Reece sat on their skateboards behind their primary school  For Mick, it was a momentous day, but Reece was at ease with his experience. The single-speaker boombox sat in front of them, spraying Cheap Trick songs from the new Heaven Tonight album.

Each of them had their favorites from the album, and they took turns being lead singer while the other played air guitar or waved their arms in an imaginary drum riff.

“Are you scared?” Reece asked.

“No,” said Mick.  “Not scared.”

“It’s gonna be fine,” continued Reece.  “Don’t worry. I was ten when I first tried it.”

“I know.  Well, I’m only twelve, so it’s not that much later”

“But you're the last person in our class to do it, so you can’t back out now.”

“I didn’t say I was backing out. I just don’t know if I should do it right now.”

Reece sighed.  “Well my sister’s gonna be here any minute.”

Mick stayed quiet, singing the lyrics to ‘Surrender’ under his breath. “Mommy’s alright. Daddy’s alright.  They just seem a little weird. I think this song is about my parents,” he told Reece.

“No, my parents,” said Reece.  

Mick chuckled, “Luce and Kent?  They’re not weird."

“Maybe not weird, just assholes,” replied Reece.  They both laughed.

“At least they keep the liquor cabinet full for us.”

“True. After this we’ll go back to my house and have some Smirnoff. My mom just bought a new bottle.”

“Radical!” said Mick.  

The wind was pushing the rain under the eaves that protected them, so they sought cover in the hallway in front of their homeroom.  Peering through the glass, they could see the cubby holes where they kept their books and lunch.

“Look at Jenny Haden’s box,” said Mick.  “It’s so neat. Look! She has a Scott Baio pencil case. What a loser.”

“Totally,” replied Reece .  “Remember when you put the caterpillar in her hair?”

“Yes. It got stuck in her brush!”  

The two laughed and high-fived, but Mick felt uneasy with the notion of Reece’s sister arriving and not knowing exactly what would happen or how it would make him feel.  His parents have drilled into his brain that it was not okay to do it and that any kid who did, ended up as bad adults. But Mick didn’t care. He had to adhere to the status quo of his seventh grade peers or face ridicule and shame.

“What’s taking her so long?” he asked Reece, who looked at his new LED watch.

“It’s only 3:45.  She said she’d be here around four.  She’ll come, don’t worry. Let’s go check behind the library to see if Shelly stashed any more bottles.”

The two knew of a bush behind the portable library under which a boy up the street would hide bottles of liquor he’d steal from his parents.  Having been shown this spot by Shelly, the duo regularly checked it, taking liberties with the libations whenever possible. Often there was Creme de Menthe or Creme de Cacao, always the sweet and nasty ones, never the bourbon or gin that the boys took from Reece’s parents, but they’d make due with what they could get.

On this day they found a very tall and slender bottle of Galliano.  Mick recognised the bottle as the liqueur his mother used in a cake she’d often make.  Yellow in colour with a vanilla taste, it would suit the boys just fine on this occasion.  

“Tastes like the frosting,” said Reece.  

“I know,” Mick answered after wiping his mouth.  “But the cake’s better.”

“Yeah,” said Reece.“Do you think it’ll get us drunk?  It’s only 40 proof.”

“The cake never does.”

“But this is straight.”

“Let’s just keep drinking it and see,” suggested Mick.

When four o’ clock hit, the boys had drunk a third of the bottle with no effect.  

“This stuff sucks,” said Reece. “Let’s go back.”

Mick felt his stomach tingle as he answered in a wavering voice, “Okay.”

Grabbing the boom box, they skated back to the pre-arranged meeting spot, and within minutes, Reece’s sister strutted up in her tight, red, Ditto Jeans and puffy, down jacket. She was 13 years old and the most popular eighth grader in the school with watermelon lip gloss and brown, shoulder-length hair perfectly parted in the middle.

“See,” said Reece, “I told you she’d be here.”

With a nervous trepidation, Mick replied,”Yeah,”

“Heey,” said Rebecca with a winning smile.  “I’m heeeeere.”

“Hey,” replied Reece.

Mick gave a shy wave.

Planting herself on the ground, she said, “You two are so bad. I can’t believe I’m doing this for you.”   With that, she reached into the space between her boobs and pulled it out. Mick smelled a pungent, earthy odour as Kelly passed the pinner joint under his nose to her little brother.  It was wrapped in American Flag paper, like no other cigarette Mick had ever seen his parents smoke. He knew its contents were also very different, and from what Reece said, in a good way.

Reece, with his vast experience smoking pot on two occasions, inspected the joint, passing it under his nostrils several times like a wine critic.  “Smells like good stuff,” he proffered.

Rebecca sniggered, “It’s leaf,” she said.  “But it’s enough to get you guys stoned.”

Mick smiled as Cheap Trick’s, ‘On Top of the World’ reverberated from the boombox.

“You gonna be okay, little Mickey?”  Rebecca asked. “Here, I’ll light it for you.”  She took the joint between her moist lips and sucked the end of it, bringing it to a conical conclusion before raising the blue and yellow flame to its tip.  

Mick watched her boobs push out while she sucked the burning stick, eyes squinting from the smoke rising off the tiny cherry and then the plume of grey smoke she forced out through her candied orifice.

She handed it to Mick, looking him straight in the eye with a casual smile and kind eyes.  “Your turn, Mickey.”

Comforted and trusting, Mick accepted her offering. Tasting her lip gloss on the joint made the experience one he would never forget.  As he sucked the crackling joint, he felt the smoke spread through his lungs before coughing it all out. Rebecca leaned over and kissed him on the mouth.  

“You’re in,” she said. As she trotted off, Mick took another hit, this time controlling the urge to cough.  Passing the joint to Reece, Mick leaned back and watched Rebecca’s ass sway back and forth down the corridor.

Verbal Assault

Past, Present and Future walked into the bank at 9:01a.m.  It was tense.

Past was shitting himself and Present senses it.

“Calm your ass down, Past,” he murmurs.  “You were fine yesterday.”

“Yesterday I wasn’t standing in a federal reserve about to take the joint down,” he whined.

Future is about to crack it. “You’re gonna do this, Past, or I’m gonna take your hammer thumb and stick it so far up your ass you’ll taste it! Now, I’ll walk over to the bank manager’s desk and wait for your signal.”

Past wasn’t buying the reverse psychology Future was dishing.  He saw too many movies where bank robberies ended up in a bloody shootout in the streets.  Trying to force those images out of his mind, he walked over to the teller with acute trepidation.

Present stands in wait at the doors.  He’s wearing aviator sunglasses and a red wig parted on the side.  Mentally he practices his moves. 

I’m spinning on my heels, grabbing the sawed-off shotgun from my coat.  I’m stuffing the jagged barrels up the nostrils of the security guard.  He’s nearly having a heart attack.  I’m yelling in his face at the top of my lungs, “No one fucking moves or this cunt gets it!” 

Past reached the teller’s desk about five seconds after Present’s mental précis.  Past bent down, untied his boot and pulled out a can of mace.  He glanced at Future who is about to engage.  Past stood up, and in one swift movement he sprayed a long stream of pepper spray across the faces of four tellers who grabbed their eyes in agony, screaming confusedly.

Present has the shotty up the guard’s nose and takes the wanna-be-pig’s .38 from his holster.

Future yells, “I’m going to ask all of you to stay calm and just do what we say!”  He won’t take shit from the smarmy bank manager trying to rationalise with him.  “I KNOW you’re not going to try and talk me down from this…Jerry!  I will have too much money and too much time after this job to let someone with a name like that tell me this shit is wrong!  Now, you’re gonna walk me over to the vault and do what I say or Present shoots every last one of your sweet tellers.”

Past fucked up.  While jumping over the counter his thumb caught the edge, and he sprayed himself with the mace then smashed his face on the corner of a desk on his way down.  He lay on the ground with the writhing others, out cold.

          “Past!” yells Present.  “Where’d you go?  Past!”   Present is freaking out.  “Future!” he yells. “Future, I think Past is out.”

“Fuck Past!  Look at me.  We’re going to do this with or without him.”  Future is about to clock the bank manager over the head when the vault door finally clicks open.  “I will ask you to step the fuck away now.”

Present is looking around like a pigeon in the park.  He sees some of the tellers starting to recover from the mace, half-standing behind the counter.

“Sit your asses back down!” he yells.  “Future!  How we doing?”

“We’ll be rolling in thirty seconds!”

“What about Past?” asks Present.

“We’re going to have to leave him.”

“What?  I can’t do that, Future.  I’ve got—“

“Do you wanna end up like him?  If you wait around that’s what’ll happen.  Now in exactly 30 seconds we will walk out those doors with six million dollars cash and fuck me if I’m gonna let Past play on my conscience.  You in?”

Present is panting, his eyes still darting, his shotgun still holding up the guard.  He’s staring at Future, thinking of how easy life will be with all that dosh, sitting on his own Caribbean island sucking back Piña Coladas with a harem of island girls catering to his every need.   Present is lost in thought when the bony elbow smashes through the bridge of his nose which immediately gushes thick, grainy blood down the front of his shirt.   The security guard maintains his assault by spinning out of Present’s grip and yanking the shotgun from his hand.  He figures he’ll backlash Present with the butt of the shotty then run with a flurry of buck shots at Future in the hope that the spray of shrapnel will catch Future full on in the face.

The guard’s first strong step, meant to propel his body forward at full speed, slips on the thick puddle of blood, forcing his leg high up behind the back of his head and forcing his head face-first into the pool o’sangre.  Upon impact, the butt of the shotgun hits the ground, firing a blast that leaves a wide circle of splintered pre-fab in the teller desk,

If future runs now he’ll make the door with the six million slung over his shoulder before the guard can stand up and get off another shot.  He’ll head-butt the manager, reducing him to a crumpled mass, then run straight at the rent-a-cop while unloading shells from his semi-automatic in quick succession.

          Outside the doors people are piling up against the glass trying to glimpse the on-goings inside.  They’ve heard the gunshot but instead of running off in terror, they’re all tying to peep out a Bruce Willis or Tom Cruise, thinking the latest action blockbuster is being filmed right under their noses.

Across the street sits Participle in the getaway car, and the sun is out.  He’s been dangling for the past five minutes wondering how the fuck this is all gonna go down.  Jobs with Past have always gone sour, but since Future was in on this one, he’d put some faith into a successful take—the biggest yet.  But, hearing the gunshot and seeing the crowd gathering frazzled his nerves.

Why’d they fire a shot ?  Thought Participle. Should I get a move on?  Or should I stick about? 

 

pop* pOp! POP*

 

“AWWWrrhhhh!” Horror.  Blood-curdling suffering. 

Participle grabs the wheel and fires the engine. The bank door slams open, sending half a dozen gawkers into the brick wall behind it. 

Out runs Future. His look is hard.  He’s going for gold—no cunt will stop him.  He espies Participle and makes for the car.  Participle swings open the door.  Future will rush the car with the duffle bag over his back. He’ll be half-laughing, half shitting himself.  Ten feet and he’ll be in the back seat making love to that duffle bag.  All his life he waited for a score like this.  Past and Present mean nothing to Future now.  He’ll give Participle his cut and keep the rest. 

HA!  He thinks.  Dumb Mother Fu-- 

*POP!

One single shot.  Future lies face-first on the tarmac, gripping the back of his thigh.  Participle doesn’t even look back as he hits the gas pedal and there’s a stench in the air.  In the middle of the road lies Future with the bag of money by his side. 

With one had covering his bloodied face and the other holding the security guard’s .38, Past walked up to Future.

“Fuck Past?  Is that what I heard?  Don’t you know you can’t forget me?  Without me, you’d be nothing.  Who brought you in, anyway?  Me, you piece of shit. And here you are, thinking you’ll make off with MY score?  My fucking score!  I put this job together-- Me and Present.  We brought you in ‘cause we heard you knew what was coming, could read the moves, predict the new technology, get us in and out in less than three minutes.  And here you lie like some fucking convenience store hood.  You aint goin’ nowhere no more, Future.  I’m here to make sure of that.”

Past firmed his grip on the pistol and cocked the hammer.

“See you in your nightmares, Future.”

The bus travelling at 45 mph struck Past so swiftly that once it was able to finally stop at the end of a three-hundred foot pattern of seared rubber, there was no sign that there even stood a man in front of Future.  No blood, no guts--nothing.  The bus picked him up, stuck him to the front of the fuselage and barrelled on until it was able to stop with a long hiss, allowing the flattened body of Past to slide down the wide grill.

Future will blink no more than twice.  One blink would nearly bring the end of his existence.  The next, he’ll be looking at a way out.  He won’t bother looking at the bus and the carnage it took with it.  Instead, he’ll raise himself and the bag of money off the street, limp past the crowd of gawkers who can’t believe how real it all looks.  He’ll carjack the next stupid asshole who stops at the light, and he’ll drive into unchartered territory as a multi-millionaire fugitive.  It's going to be a bright day.  Future can tell.

Pucker Factor Ten

 

          So, I’m sitting in the back of a huge flatbed truck all stuffed in, rolling down the road, and we’re all there, I mean all my best buddies:  Me, Manny, Charlie, Mo—the lot.  There’s dozens of us and it’s fucking’ packed, I mean beak to ass packed, and none of us really know exactly where it is that this crazed driver is taking us, but we’ve heard rumours and it’s not sounding good.  The fuckin’ truck is hot and I can barely lift a wing to get any air flowing through my feathers, but there’s no roof on this thing, so that’s just enough to send some breeze through what little space there is.

            What we’ve heard is that they’re taking us to a place where some limb-chopping of some sort goes on, but we really can’t be sure.  Some say they lop the head right off, but I’m betting they’ll go for something like a wing or breast, ‘cause why would they want my knobby, little head when my best features are my plumage and heaving chest?  ‘Course they couldn’t rightly lop off my chest, could they?  I mean, what the fuck?  We’re all more than a little curious and frightened at the same time, but you know, we’re all together—all the old guys—and we’re goin’ down together ‘til the end.

            ‘Hey, Sid,’ yells Manny.  ‘I love ya’ you old fuckin’ chicken you.  I’m glad to be goin’ down with ya’, man.’

            So I say back, ‘Damn straight you ole hen banger,’ and we crack our beaks together and grab a view of Trudy, the hen on the other end of the truck just sitting there all scared and wanting to hide under some warm, firm feathers, but thing is, no one ever really liked her much, she being some clucky, uppity bitch all the time—well, not bitch like some dog, ‘cause she is, ya know, a chicken and all—but always shunning the good cocks like ourselves, and now there she sits waiting on some impending doom with no one to lean on.  Sad, really.  And I’d go up to her and bob my head a little and strut my tail feathers if I could, but as I said, I can just hardly move.  Besides, I’m here with my best fuckin’ mates on the planet.  I got somebody to hang with during my final hours.  I’m talkin’ good, clean-livin’ chickens.  True fellas.

            So, we’re rollin’ down the road, not a care in the world, ‘cause see, we’ve given up on any chances of surviving this coop on wheels and have surrendered ourselves to fate.  But then fuck me if the sweaty cunt of a driver doesn’t pull this madman stunt trying to beat the red light by barrelling around a car that’s already stopped before turning a hard right, and just as I’m about to tell Mo what a fuckin’ great parma he’s gonna’ make I’m flying out the top of the goddam truck—well, not flying, I mean my wings have been clipped for ages, see—and I’m twisting and falling and catch a glimpse of all the guys below looking at me with their beady eyes and beaks agape as if to say, ‘Sid, you crazy bastard, where the fuck you goin’, man?  I though we were all goin’ down together!’  But I’ve got no control and can only manage to let loose a small cluck—aside from some loose bowels—that sticks halfway down my throat.

            Before I know it, I’ve landed on the hard fuckin’ tarmac right in the middle of the lane with my legs and feet piled up under me like broken match sticks.  I’m just sittin’ there stunned by the headlights of the cars waiting at the light, and I try to get up or crawl or do anything to get my sorry ass to the side of the road and just then a stupid fuckin’ childhood riddle passes through my tiny mind.  The truck with all my pals is well on down the road and off to face their maiming without me, and all I can think of is that now I’m no different from that lonely hen, Trudy.  I’m all alone about to face a one-ton vehicle in the face.

            But, fuck me if the woman in the car didn’t see me and is in obvious terror of my situation.  I can see her pointing at me with her other hand over her mouth.  She’s a hot little number too with short, dark hair and big eyes and she’s with some skin-job guy, head shaved, and he doesn’t seem to give a flyin’ fuck about me, the pathetic bastard.

            So the light turns green, and here we go.  What’s this chick gonna’ do?  I’ve already named her Trudy, and she’s gonna’ save me and we’ll both end our loneliness, and I’ll never say another bad thing about her again.  The car approaches—a Commodore from the looks of the grill.  Got me a real bogan that will either step on the gas for kicks or get out and snap my neck thinking of saving me a slow, agonizing death.  Thing is, I’m not anywhere near dying.  I’m gonna’ win.  I’m gonna’ show that rat-bastard truck driver he did me a favour by tossing me. Still, I miss my friends and wish I could’ve had a proper goodbye. But you never know, another changing yellow light and gutsy manoeuvrer could send Manny or Mo flying and then we could join up and be free-range chickens on our own terms.

            The Commodore is now five meters from my quivering wattle and completely stopped in the middle of the intersection with this saucy human chick still pointing and wondering what to do about my ass.  She’s holding up traffic, buying me time, but I can’t move a muscle, see, I’m fucked.  But I can see she’s wigged out and trying to make a call on her mobile, not wanting to get out of the car into the street.  I don’t blame her, I mean, I’ve never been the sharpest chicken in the coop, what with a ball sack hanging from my chin and my thin legs, and now I’m must look like absolute hell, feathers all ruffled and limbs awry.  Fuck, what bad timing.  So she finally decides to drive away, and I respect her for it, but what I don’t respect is that her skin-job boyfriend can’t get out and help me.  She deserves better than some weak cunt who can’t help out a fucked up fowl.  Had she and I met under different circumstances—well, no use goin’ there.

            So off they drive, and right behind them is this big, fucking red-neck rig that’s chugging straight for me, and now is when by blood curdles and the notion of death becomes a reality.  All I can do is close my eyes and hope for a quick annihilation.  The rumbling gets louder, and now I can hear the ABBA tune, Take a Chance On Me blasting out this fuck-wit’s window and see his big, dumb-ass grin and greasy baseball cap.

            Farewell brothers, I think, and drop my knobby head to the ground.  It’s been a bloody good life, chums.  The grumbling and vibration increases while my thoughts spin as fast as that fucker’s wheels.

            Then, what the fuck, it’s over me and I’m not budging, and it’s passing me and I’m not hit, and I’m being tossed and tumbled like I’m in a some washing machine or desert. I open my eyes to see what the bloody fuck has happened and catch the city lights spinning and the river like the sky and glistening, and then my head hits the curb and my wing catches a tree and my ass lands hard on the grass.  I’m trying to gain back my equilibrium ‘cause I’m dizzy as all fuck, but I’m safe off the side of the road and I’m fuckin’ alive, man!  I let out a victorious ‘BICAW!’ as if to tell that backward-assed country fuck he lost and I’m sitting here alive—fucked up all to hell with broken legs and bloody feathers—but alive and wanting him to know that in his unskilled attempt to crush me, he actually saved my life.  And to both Trudys I hail blessings.  We’ll always be together—except for the chicken Trudy ‘cause she’s off to be slain—but never really know what it was that we shared or how to deal with each other’s unknown fates.

            ‘Yeah, to all you bastards who tried to bring ole’ Sid down,’ I yelled.  ‘Not a one of ya’ could kill this tough chicken!’

Primary Functions

The instant his foot touched the playground Francis felt a sharp kick up the crack of his ass with the toe of the assailant’s shoe driving hard under his cleft and into his left testicle.  The blinding light forced his eyeballs out of his head like a Loony Toons cat, and his hands instinctively cupped his balls so quickly and with such force that he re-traumatised the rapidly swelling dove egg and fell to the ground. 

Once on the pavement he felt the incremental thud of a basketball bouncing off his pill. With each thud, his neck jerked forward in an unnatural and painful cadence. However, this was not the worst he had ever received from the boys on the playground, and on this occasion Francis felt a little deserving of the punishment.  He felt deep dread because, aside from the fact that he was a 120-pound ten year old who looked like an inflatable raft with string pulled in at key points to affect limbs and digits, Francis couldn’t swim, jump, cup his hands to make that whistling sound, play basketball, do a cartwheel, catch a ball, ride a bike, and worst of all--Francis couldn’t make his babysitter come. 

         Sure, he was 10-years old, but what his mother had taught him by then was more than enough to satisfy most of the eighth-grade girls.  We’re talking 14-year olds with more than enough muff and hormones running marathons through their nubile bodies.  Francis had it down to an art—feign getting tripped in the cafeteria/land at the feet of a girl sitting on her own (Very crucial. Girls in gaggles never bit) /try to get up, but knock head on underside of table and while trying to regain balance, grab thigh/crotch of girl and apologise profusely. 

What happened next was textbook Frances pick-up technique. 

‘Oh my God!  Are you alright?’  She’d yelp, trying to wipe the excitement of someone’s hand on a region only her and her cat had experienced.  ‘Let me take you to the nurse.’

Franciswould ask just that she get him out of there—away from the bullies and brutes that make his coming to school pure hell.  If only he had someone to talk to, he’d say, but mother just drinks and sleeps all day and father beats me over the head with a metal rake.  See the scars? 

‘Let’s go, then.’  Phase one complete.  ‘I’m going to take you to my house.  My parents are at work.  I’ll get you cleaned up.’

Phase two—I’ll just take off my food-stained shirt, Missy, and maybe you can take care of these soiled pants for me.  Any booze in the place?  I’d have brought my own, but it’s all in Mom’s gut.  Hey, got any Marvin Gay?  Let’s get it on.

‘Oh, God.  You feel good, Francis.  How’d you know I had that there?  I’ve never been able to find it myself.  Checked all the Physiology books and just couldn’t seem to—‘

‘OHHH, gawd!’

Phase three—slap of the ass and out.  Thanks for cleaning me up, Chica.  Hope you got what you came for.

Now on to that damn babysitter.  Best get Mom a gift certificate to the casino and get her ass outta bed—make way for Rhonda.  Next one’ll be the go!

Wu Tong & The e-acid Donkey Haul

Fucked up frenzy—into the wild blue.  Kegs of schlock ready for squelching.  No weak cunts out here, just pure and nasty rough riders, leather chaps and all.  Came off the donkey haul, dry mouths and a belly full of balls,

‘Some trip ay?’ says Tong, ‘Oh yeah!’ says Wu. 

Paid for the cowboy trip of a lifetime, Westworld style--robotic cowboys with faces hiding wired-up computer plates, memories and all.  These guys get a kick outta’ shootin’ up a place, but the goddamn robots are taking their women with the tiny titties, ant-tight holes.  Robots stay hard long time. 

‘Oh, shit Wu, we been duped!  Let’s make for the horizon on our headless horses! Grab the reigns and crack that whip, leave those ho’s behind!.  The rear-quarters aint worth the money.’

‘How we gettin’ back to reality?’ asks Tong.  Wu says, ‘Just follow the sun, and we’ll be eatin’ grits by noon.’  Tong clenches his cheeks on the smooth saddle and riDes, riDEs rIDES into the desert--dust swirling in rounds behind the metallic anus of his ass. 

‘Fuck.  Something went wrong with this fantasy,’ says Tong.  Wu just smiles, enjoying the computerised placard of fantasy acid clamped to the inside of his armpit and rolls his eyes, yelling, ‘Yippee ki-yay mutha’ fucka’!’

tHe roCk

The bass from the sound system jostled her internal organs, and her pancreas now sat amongst her bowels.  Yet she still felt like she could dance for days.  In fact, she had.  It was Monday morning, and while the comfortably suited rushed off to catch their MUNI death rides, Margarite was working up a gristly sweat at Dubious, a recovery club dug out of sulphur walls that held stench like hands on a throat.  The crowd comprised freaks from all corners of San Francisco, and the music hadn’t stopped since Saturday morning.  There was so much speed coursing through the miles of collective veins of the spinners, every indication showed that this frenzy would go on for another week.  Goddamned if the cops were gonna find out about this one.  The fuckin’ place was buried so far under the prison floors of Alcatraz that it would take a supersonic ear and an oil rig to even question the 90 decibel bass and 244 bpm that forged the path to freedom for the privileged punters. 

Margarite needed another hit.  She yanked Trashbury’s arm, directing him with a darting eyeball to one of the solitary confinement cells barracked off from the main block 50 metres above.   Entering, they heard filthy grunts from the recesses of the dusty block but continued their freebasing ritual unhindered.  Trashbury lit the contraband and inhaled.  Feeling a clammy hand on his thigh, he filled it with the pipe for Margie to feed on.  Her eyes crackled and pooped gooey eye snot that built up while capillaries lit in negative, a snapshot in a darkroom; not diffused lighting, just pure firecracker blasts that tore at Margie’s retina like a surgeons’ scalpel.  God, she needed that hit.  Her hands started to shake uncontrollably.  She stood up and started to dance to the muted beats from the main room, shuffling her feet along the dusty floor, sliding to all ends of the pitch black block until she fell into the fleshy pile of sodemites piled in the concrete corner.  Her hand landed in smeared shit and glass, and she quickly wiped it on the hairy back of one of the naked bears.  Shuffling back to Trashbury and out the door, the two of them were geared up for another day or two.

A splintered ladder led Trashbury and Margarite through the darkest recesses of this one-time hellhole where tortured screams blew through the walls like icy Bay breezes through the Bridge.   Up top, there they were again, peering across the scene, unable to stand still, freaking through jilted eyeballs, numb limbs, thirsty ears and sweaty tongues, Margarite slid into her dutiful movement.  A hand grabbed at her ankle.  She let it.  No reason to dismiss any tactile sensation that could enhance her high.  The grime of the fingers caressing her calf represented the revolution.  The coming of the end, and no one on the rock was going stop.

State of the Union

     I’m on Geary Street now, and there are women everywhere.  I’m not sure why.  I think it’s a feminist rally.  Read:  hairy bush galore.  But some of these chics are lookin’ good.  I take a seat on a bench and take in the sights, scanning the perimeter like a soldier preparing an assault.  Sector 5 holds enemy threat with a butch dyke and a pocket rocket. 

            Pull Out!

I secure the area and continue my campaign for potential friendly fire. 

            Prepare the mortar!  Fire in the hole!

            As I’m no shake ‘n baker, I bunker in with a keen eye.  Every movement of brass and breast is noted. 

Brown nipples at Oh-three hundred! Call the alpha boat!  We may be taking a hostage up the blue line for some boom boom.

 The search and clear continues. 

Hairy bush sighted out of cut-off shorts!  It’s getting’ real hot down here.  I think we’re gonna’ hump the grease gun up the ridge and call it a day.  

            Suddenly all the women gather into a big, entangled mons pubis and march up Stockton Street toward the tunnel.  I’m in the shit if I don’t do something fast.  I see one straggler collecting her sign.  Amongst all the hard-core feminist signs, this chic has gone for the old-school, ‘Don’t Call Me Girl’ slogan, which makes me think she’s not beyond a pick me up with Captain Morgan for a bit of deck swabbin’. 

Must play it carefully.                        

            I approach her in a round-about manner to avoid startling her and getting a swing kick to the side of the head. “You gals are doing a great job out here.”  I say     Gals?

            “Did you call us girls?”  She asks defensively, as she wedges her sign between belt and corduroy waistband.

            “No, no,” I quickly reply.  “I said gals.  Sounds like girls, but no, you’re clearly not girls.”

            I’ve got her attention.  Her pierced belly button is staring at me along with her green eyes.

            “So how long has the march been going?” 

            Keep it going, she’s listening.

            “We started in the Castro,” she says.  “This’ll be the final leg.  Why, you want to join in?”

            Shit, the Castro?  Is she a carpet-muncher too?  She’s not the least bit butch and she seems straight.  I really shouldn’t.

            “Definitely,” I say.  “Where to next?”

            “We’re going up to the Marina for a big bar-b-que.  The magazine I work for is sponsoring a ‘Save the Planet’ benefit up there.” 

 She’s trickling information to me, baiting me to ask questions, distracting me so that she can lure me through the city with her serpentine mob of dykes and lesbians to the sacrificial bonfire in the Marina where I’ll be lynched and burned at the stake while they gnaw on my seared penis and I die desperately trying to get her phone number for just one night together in hopes of deep conversation and deeper sex, maybe a long-term relationship; the kind where she’ll stay out with me all night/every night drinking and all day sleeping.  The kind where she doesn’t care if I disappear for days without calling and our orgasms don’t happen simultaneously but mine first, and she’ll finish herself up later while I crash before ordering a meat-lovers pizza with extra veal, because she’s not a veggie or vegan or animal rights advocate.  But as I gasp for air through the smoke and flames all I can see and hear are scores of shaven pussies slapping against one another like applause for the death of a man and his dick.  How did I let her trick me like that?  It was just some friendly banter and a protest.  It wasn’t supposed to end this way

Are you keen?  Are you keen? What is this?  Leave me alone!

“Hey, man. “  She says, prodding me with a red-hot fire poker.  “Are you Green?”

I’m swatting at her finger when I snap out of it and realise I’m still alive, intact and not a charred mummy.

 “Oh, shit.”  I say, exhaling through puffed cheeks.   She’s staring at me like I’m a fucking pot roast when she says, “What’s up with you? “  I shake my brain around to get it sitting nicely back in its allocated cavity and pull out a smoke.  I offer her one, and she accepts.  I light mine first, thinking it would be sexist of me to light hers.  When mine is lit she plucks it from my parched lips and sucks deeply from it, then hands me the unlit one.  She smiles at me with her eyes and a tilted head.

She’s thrown in her ante.  She’s no lizzie after all.

I figure if she’s playing the game, I’ll buy into her fishing expedition.  “So, what’s this magazine you work for?”  We’re walking through the Stockton tunnel now, holding up the one-way traffic from the other end. The chants are getting so loud that I can hardly hear myself speak.  Since I know she can hardly hear me either, I try some subliminal bravado. 

“You have great tits,” I say, trying hard not to enunciate too much.  “I want to sleep with you.”  Just as I finish the last word, the chanting stops and is replaced by the chirping of cop car sirens.  Not the full-fledged high-speed-pursuit sirens, just the little blips they do to warn you there are some bad-boy mother fuckers keepin’ their eyes on you and ready to smash your face on the hood of their car if you look at them wrong or make fun of their bushy moustaches.

“Oh, fuck!”  says green-eyes, swinging her backpack around.  She hastily unzips it and starts excavating can after can of spray paint, handing them to me one after the other.  “Hide these!”  She orders.  The two cops have already begun walking through the crowd of fuzz-bumpers trying to disperse the unauthorised procession. 

“The fuck am I supposed to do with these?”  I ask her.  “There’s nowhere to hide them.  Just leave ‘em in there!”  I try to grab the pack to stuff the cans back in, but she pulls it away from me, zips it up and puts it back on.  I’m dropping cans all over the place, and before I can gather them up, she’s walking away into the bulk of the crowd.  I can see the blue caps of the cops bobbing in the crowd as they get closer to me.  They’re heading for a large gap in the crowd.  It’s the butch dyke.  They see her as the leader and stop to question her--my perfect opportunity.  With three cans already fallen, I’m still holding four more which I silently place on the ground.  One of them starts to roll, so I grab it and shove it down my pants. 

            I’ve got to get the fuck outta’ here

The cops are still questioning the butcher and she’s getting angry.

            Perfect.  Roust those fucking pigs.  Give ‘em hell, Butch.

            I turn on my heels and stroll back out the tunnel toward Union Square.  I’m just toodlin’ outta’ there like Huckleberry Finn on his way to the lake for some fishin’; only difference is that he had a rod and some bait and I’ve got some speed and paint. 

            Fuckin’ Mark Twainhad no imagination.    

            I make it to the end of the tunnel without looking back and turn right until I’m out of view—then I dart.  I run past the dilapidated massage parlours until I hit Sutter Street and juke off my left foot—Walter Payton style—and continue until I reach Powell Street where I’m able to blend in with the tourists waiting for the Cable Cars.  I slow down and finally take a glance over my shoulder—all clear.  The can of paint is crushing my cock from the run.  With my balls crammed into the concave base of the can, I have to stop and readjust or get rid of it.  I walk into a Mega Bookstore with a limp (dick?) and my hand on my crotch and ride the elevator up to the top floor café where I use the bathroom to dump the can.  At the sink, I rinse my face and laugh at my reflection.

            Ole’ green eyes sold me out!  I can’t believe it.  And here I thought I was doing so well with her.

            I’m still analysing my face when my crotch starts vibrating.  It’s my pager.  Case’s number appears with 415 after it which means he wants the low-down on my location.   Read: If you don’t come help me drink this bottle and go to the bar with me, I’ll end up dead or in jail tonight.  He’s gotta have my moral support and buy-in on the bottle if he’s going tobag this chic tonight and I’m not one to let down my ace deuce, so I go downstairs to the pay phone a give him a buzz.  I tell him I’m on my way and that I just met this chic who dogged me. 

“Dude, what are you doing chasing tail when we got this bottle to finish?”  He asks.  “I’m a quarter of the way through it already, man.  The pool comp starts at six-thirty and it’s a quarter to five now.  Get your ass up here.”

The thing with Case is that he can never leave a bottle unfinished.  To him it’s bad luck to leave anything in the bottle.  He also believes it has some affect on the chemical make-up to keep opening and closing the cap.  He says the oxygen weakens the intensity and flavour of the drink.  He’s convinced me on countless occasions to finish bottles at five in the morning after drinking all night.  Who am I to call him a liar?  I don’t’ need anymore bad luck in my life.  That’s for sure.  I can’t even keep a woman for more than thirteen days—that’s my record.  Case’s is three years, but she fucked off to New York with his heart and his credit cards and had herself a grand old time with her new beau.  Can’t say that outcome makes me want to pack in for the long haul, but there’s got to be an in-between. 

“I’m on my way, chief.”  I say.  “Don’t trip.  I’m just on Powell, so I’ll hop the express and be there in thirteen minutes.”  This makes him feel better.  Case loves numbers, they sooth him somehow, and exact times calm him even more.

With the can out of my crotch and a schedule, I feel back on track.  As I stand on the corner adhering my headphones back to my dome, I peer down Post Street for any activity, and I see her.  Ole’ green eyes is standing on the corner with her hand shading her eyes.  She’s scanning the Square for something or someone, but I aint playin’, so Ithrow my hood over my head and ease on down the road. 

 

Still Life

“Who’s he supposed to be?”

“No idea.  Russell Crowe?”

“You think?”

“There’s a sign below his feet.  Go read it.”

The schoolgirl breaks through the semi-circle of onlookers with cherry-stained Slurpee lips, approaching the living statue with trepidation.   She’s at once giggling and trembling at the possibility of what this pseudo stone figure may do once confronted.

Standing in profile, its bearded face, knotted neck scarf and wide brimmed hat are encrusted in powdered white paint that, unbeknownst to its curious observers, took hours to apply. 

Russell Crowe? Neville thinks in disgust.  You dumb little girl.  Don’t they teach you anything in school?  His arms are crossed in strong defiance, mimicking his chiseled jaw and stoic facade. With his gaze fixed on a looming Telstra sign, the melodies of a South American pan flute massage his inner ear.  He feels the girl’s presence as she creeps near his shins, gnawing on a cud of chewy.  Her incessant giggle is interrupted by a barking cough. 

          Bloody hell.  Smoking at her age? What kind of parents are allowing that?

          “Says John Batman,” the girl yells over the crowd. 

          “John who?”

          “Batman!”

          “Where’s Robin?” the second girl yells, seeking approval from the boy next to her.

          Neville grinds his teeth, but not enough to make the muscle in his jaw flex.  He’s been out here for six seasons, and he’s sure as shit not going to break character for another Batman and Robin quip.  The girl at his feet stares up at his face, fascinated with his features and how the whiskers of his beard spindle down the side of his cheeks in alabaster curls.  She loses herself in thoughts of being held in his strong arms and kissed in the bush when she’s tugged away. 

          “C’mon, slut.  We’re going to Macca’s,” says the friend, clumsily clopping in over-sized school shoes.

          Neville watches them cross the tram tracks incautiously.  Making sure not to move his eyeballs, he lets them traverse his view, a trick he learnt from his grandfather who once graced the steps of Flinders Station as the distinguished navigator of the same name.  Neville’s choice of pose and persona is no accident.  It’s from a famous portrait of Melbourne’s discoverer and allows him to lean back on one leg comfortably for hours.  The way in which his arms are crossed is not only relaxing but also allows him to surreptitiously scratch his armpits with his thumbs when no one is staring too hard

          How’s the serenity? thinks Neville, chuckling internally.  What time is it? 

Let’s see.  Shadows are covering the round part of the ‘R’ on the Telstra sign, so it must be two fifteen.  It’s been a good take today.  Sounds like about $26 in coins, and I saw a fiver drop out of those tourists’ hands.  That’s better than last week combined.  Must be the weather. 

          Around the corner come two afternoon boozers bearing black cans and sloppy grins.

Oh, Jesus.  Look at these guys.  God, they can’t even walk straight.  Was that me before I met Stacy? Oh, Stace.  Why’d you leave, love? We had so much in common.  Shit, they’ve spotted me.  In their Bundy and coke haze, they’ve seen me.  Oh, here they come.  Just great.  Fuck off!  I’m trying to make a living here.

             Ow, my toe!  What they hell was that?  Stay still.  OW! The hell?  That can’t be from stubbing it on the fridge this morning.  Oh, lord.  Please don’t’ let it be cancer.  Don’t be ridiculous, Nev.  You don’t have cancer.  I still need to follow up that mole scan.  What if it’s already spread?  Nah.  OW!  God, that hurts.

“Huh.  It aint real,” slurs one of the Bundy brothers. 

            “Aint it?”

            “Nah, mate.  Yuz can see his eyeballs.  Pretty fuckin’ good, but.  Fiver says you can’t make him laugh.”

          “I’ll take that bet, kent.  Ever seen a dancin’ bear?” 

          The punter pours the remainder of his can down his throat, placing a dirty gym bag filled with the rest of his afternoon on the ground. He tucks his T-shirt into acid-wash jeans and tightens his belt before rising on his tip-toes and bending his knees with curled hands in front of his chest.

“Ever seen a dancin’ bear?” he repeats, speaking directly to Neville.  “Bat dat dada dada dat dat,” he yells in a syncopated attempt at a circus entry song.  His mate is coughing up his can from hearty laughter and a strong cigarette while his comrade dances in front of fifty people and a fake statue.

“He aint budgin’, mate!  That’ll cost you a fiver.”

“Bah!” says the drunken bear with a dismissive gesture.  “He aint seen me penguin yet.”  He wobbles his way around Neville’s pedestal, playing to the laughing crowd. 

Neville smells the blend of sweat and cheap body spray while gauging the man’s movements in the eyes of the crowd.  No longer are they fascinated by Neville and his rock-solid ability to stand inert for hours but instead have debased themselves with the drunken antics of a penguin impressionist.  When Pingu comes full circle, he’s wobbling over Neville’s donation bucket.

 “Fiver, then?” he yells to his mate.

Don’t do anything you might regret, thinks Neville

“Plus some gold coins for rollie papers,” his mate replies.

          Neville sees some of the crowd pare off with lost interest.  Others are amused at the curious sot, wondering what, if anything will come of the challenge his mate has given him. 

“Ya’ gonna’ smile for me, then?” he asks the statue.

I’ll make your Mother smile by straightening you up with a kick to the chin`.

Cues from a pointing couple suggest that this Bundy brother, imitator of animals big and small, is about to dip into the statue’s bank.  A muscle twitches wildly in Nev’s calf.  His breaths, which he normally draws at six per minute, have quickened, causing unprecedented abdominal flux and great torment in Neville. Panting with the anxiety of losing his temper again, he tastes a gritty stream of sweaty plaster worm its way into the corner of his mouth.  Below his line of sight comes the sound of rustling coins.  The crowd is now split between laughing at the potential thief and scrutinising Nev’s potential movement. 

          Oh, please just walk away.  Please let me keep my sanity and my dignity, and don’t make me do it.  God DAMN IT!  Just go!

          “Here’s your fiver,” yells the penguin to his mate.  “Goin’ deep sea diving now for your rollie money, mate.”  

          Ok, that’s it you scum-sucking bastard. No, Nev.  Stop!  Step one:  Push away the anger. 

          “Bloody gold mine!”  comes the voice from below.

          Neville controls the violent shaking of his hands under his armpits by tightening his chest and biceps.  All he sees is red.

          I can’t hold back anymore.  I have to do it.  It’s my money, not yours.  You can’t’ just take it.  Get ready to feel the pain, arsehole.

           “Get your filthy paws out of there!”

          Who’s that?

          The voice gets louder.  “I said get your bloody hands out of that bucket!”

          Stace?

          There’s a buzz in the crowd as the woman approaches.  “Drop that note and take your act somewhere else.  Beat it!” she yells. 

          Neville wants to look down, see his Stace and take her in his arms; he wants to dress her up and take her out and treat her with respect, never embarrass her again.  But he maintains his pose.  He releases the clutch on his armpits, lets the muscles around his eyes and mouth relax.  He summons the canvas of his vision, the finite corner of Bourke and Swanston streets and rests on his back leg smiling from within as Stace enters his view and just as quickly, disappears.