Revolution Meat (First Part)

Marsella Blume woke up on the wrong side of a lifetime of wishful thinking.

The house in the manicured suburb where she lived was quiet. She gathered some fresh clothes and took a long hot shower full of steam and soap. She had to be clean for him. She had to smell good.

Once dressed and properly perfumed, she went downstairs to the kitchen. An orange cat rubbed against her legs and purred. The cat’s name was Alex, and he was hungry so she undid a fresh can of food and plopped it into a bowl. The cat smacked at it mercilessly while Marsella brewed herself a cup of light roast coffee. She drank it down quickly and rushed out to her car that sat beneath a carport. She looked at herself in the rear-view mirror and dabbed at her face with a fingertip to smooth the makeup one last time before pulling away.

As she drove toward the Lucky U Motorlodge to meet the man she was cheating on her husband with, she went through a grocery list in her head for when she would do the shopping following her affair appointment. Gravy. Fat-free milk. Scouring pads. Cat litter. Onions… Meat.

She bit at her frosted lip, worried, hoping she would remember everything. She scolded herself for not writing things down like any sane person would, but she usually relied on her own overloaded mind instead, readily at the cost of her own personal derailments. And the boxcars were piling up.

When she finally pulled into the gravely lot at the Lucky U, she shut the car down in a space in front of room No. 9. He appeared in the window without a shirt on and smiled at her through the glass. Part of her wanted to throw it in reverse and tear out of there and drive to the other side of the world. Another part of her wanted to break the rules of decency.

The next thing she knew she was lying on her back in the uncomfortable bed, and she mindlessly studied the ceiling while he thrust himself inside her. The landscape moved annoyingly — a visual jolt every time he went deep that was beginning to make her head swim. She closed her eyes and thought of Niagara Falls in the spring. She could hear the thunderous flow of the water as it went over the edge and fell with a power like no other. Who was this seemingly random person above her this time? He wasn’t nearly as strong as the falls. She had her hands on his upper arms that weren’t even very muscular. She looked up at his unappealing face, now twisted with his own hard work and pleasure. He was breathing like a marathon banshee and dripping sweat onto her face as he slapped against her skin.

“Please don’t cum inside me,” she warned him.  “Not today. I don’t want to feel it today.”

His dead eyes went wide as he looked at her face. “I may not be able to help it,” he grunted. “You’re a dream come true.”

She suddenly turned away and tried to get out from under him by twisting her body. He popped out of her like a cork from a bottle.

“What the hell! What are you doing?” he wanted to know.

“I’m suddenly not in the mood,” she said as she straightened herself on the edge of the bed. “And I’m not anyone’s dream so don’t say that ever again.”

He scoffed in frustration and went to sit on the opposite edge of the bed. He was trying to catch his breath as he moved his hair out of his eyes. He reached for his pack of cigarettes on the nightstand and lit one. He just sat there naked and smoked quietly.

Why had she even chosen him, she thought, as the room filled with the haze of his smoke. Glenn. What an inconsequential name, she thought to herself. They worked together in the real estate office. He was an assistant to the more experienced brokers like herself. How did it even happen? She tried to recall. Then the memory suddenly bobbed to the surface of her jumbled mind like a dumpling in boiling water. One day they were driving in his car together, just the two of them, and they were on their way to the home of a prospective client out in the country who had a very large house they wanted to sell. They had been listening to the radio and laughing about something. He purposely reached over and touched her leg. She instructed him to pull off in a secluded spot and then she found herself leaning in and kissing him. He kissed her back ferociously like he’d never known love. She recalls seeing the glint of her wedding ring as she held his rough face. Soon after, her top was undone, and his hands were on her. She knew she had to stop, but she couldn’t. Then her head had fallen into his lap and this essential stranger was in her mouth, and then she began to cry because it wasn’t love. It was never love, but still, she kept at it. And now she was trapped in a cheap motel room once again, and she didn’t want him at all anymore.

She got up and walked past him without a word and into the bathroom to take a shower. But there was no erasing him from the hard drive of her body — only time and keen personal deception could do that, maybe. He was long gone when she came back out. The key to the room sat on her pillow atop a one-dollar bill.


Marsella Blume always ended up with the shopping cart that didn’t go straight or had a wonky wheel that rattled and drew unwanted attention. It was just her lot in life, she achingly figured.

She steered her trolley down the shiny, well landscaped aisles of boxes and cans and bottles and bags and tins and sacks and pouches until she reached the meat department at the very back of the store. The chilled and brightly lit cases gently hummed. She drew closer and peered down at the animal flesh neatly cut and presented atop the white foam trays wrapped in plastic. She studied all the various hunks of animal flesh. Some were bright red like blood. Others the color of well-tanned human beings. Others still were pale as a sun-bleached shell on a sandy beach or like a distant breakthrough muddied star in space.

She picked up a package of flank steak. She wondered to herself. Flank? She didn’t know what that even meant. The only thing she knew was that she was staring at a piece of animal flesh. It was the flesh of an animal that once walked around and ate grass or something like that, she thought. It breathed. It looked at the sun or stood on a hill in the rain. It had eyes and a brain. And now she was holding a piece of it in her hand. How incredibly odd, she thought. How when you really think about it, the truth of the matter is human beings savagely kill other living things, cut them up into pieces, wrap them up neat and tight and sell them for profit. Then we burn them, chew them up and swallow them down into our collective guts in a celebratory sort of way.

A man in a white lab coat streaked with red and with a hair net atop his head that made him look extremely peculiar smiled at her as he stocked more packages of animal flesh beside her. His eyes were alien blue and twirled like old time camera flashcubes when he smiled. “Can I help you find a particular cut?” he asked her politely.

Marsella looked at him. “Is that blood on your company uniform?”

He looked down at himself. “Yes, it is.”

She was alarmed. “Where did it come from?”

He looked at her strangely, but then again, he was used to odd birds swooping in from the ridiculous world. “I work in the meat department. I’m a butcher.”

“So, you cut up animals back there?” Marsella asked with a nod of her head toward an unknown space beyond them.

The butcher chuckled at her. “Not really. They come to us already cut up. We just cut them up more.”

“So that they fit neatly in all these little packages or in trays in your fancy little case over there?”

“That’s right. We take it right down to the point of purchase and consumption… Are you sure there’s nothing I can help you find?”

“Can you show me where you work?”

He made a puzzled face. “I’m sorry, mam. We can’t allow customers into our production area.”

“Then can you tell me what a flank steak is?”

The butcher cleared his throat and thought about it as he looked at her. “Listen. You seem nice enough. I’ll let you come back and look at my beef chart and I can show you exactly where the flank comes from.”

Marsella suddenly brightened. “Really?”

“Sure… But you can’t say anything to anyone. Okay?”

“Okay. But what about my shopping cart?”

“Just leave it. We’ll only be a minute or two.”

She followed him to an area behind the custom meat counter and through a set of swinging metal doors with two little square windows on each one. He led her to a white plastic table that was stained pink from repetitive butchering. Above the table was a big poster with a drawing of a cow except the cow was divided up into all sorts of different parts and the parts were labeled and color-coded. He pointed to the one marked flank. It was blue.

“See there. The flank is at the bottom of the cow, just forward of the rear quarter.”

Marsella’s eyes slow danced across the chart, and it almost made her feel like she was back in her high school biology class. It nearly smelled the same — like death and bleach. “I never imagined such a thing,” she said.

“Well, where did you think meat came from?” the butcher asked with a tone of sarcasm that made her feel stupid.

“I guess I never really thought about it,” she said. “I suppose like most people don’t.”

“Well,” the butcher smiled. “There’s a bloody reality behind every shiny facade.”

“I suppose that’s true,” she said, returning the smile.


The flank steak Marsella had purchased sizzled and smoked as it hit the hot cast-iron skillet. She turned to look at her husband who was sitting at the table behind her flipping through a day-old newspaper.

He sensed her looking at him. “What’s the occasion?” he asked.

“Huh?”

“Steak. You never cook steak.”

“Oh,” Marsella fumbled in her thoughts. “I decided I would try something different. The butcher recommended it.”

He moved the newspaper away from his face and beamed at her from across the gap between them. “The butcher? What butcher?”

“The one who works at the grocery store. He was very helpful. Did you know they have a huge poster of a cow back there and it shows all the different ways they cut up that poor animal?”

“He showed you a poster?”

“Yes.”

Her husband sneered with suspicion. “Did he show you anything else?”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” she wanted to know.

Her husband mumbled something undecipherable and rattled the newspaper in frustration. “Don’t burn it,” he said louder.

Marsella jabbed a large fork into the cooking flank steak and it bled out, the juices smoking and sizzling loudly in the pan. “I won’t,” she meekly answered.

She set two plates down. Her husband looked up at her from across the table and smiled after she took her seat. “This looks amazing,” he said as he unfurled his napkin. “I’m hungry as a dinosaur.”

Marsella looked down at her meal as he worked his knife and fork into the slab of animal flesh before him. His utensils scraped and clinked against the oval plate, and that combined with the sounds of his prehistoric chewing made her skin crawl and her teeth hurt.

She crinkled her nose at the hunk of flank steak before her. She thrust her fork in followed by her knife. She sawed, pierced the piece she had dislodged from the bigger piece and brought it to her mouth. She pushed it in and started chewing. The taste of salt and blood and iron played out strongly on her tongue. She forced herself to swallow and then she gagged a bit.

Her husband quickly glanced up at her. “Are you okay?”

She ran her tongue across her lips and fake smiled. “Do you see what we are doing?” she said, and she took a sip of water.

He looked confused. “I thought we were having dinner,” he answered.

“Yes. But no. Think about what we’re doing. I mean really think about it.”

He looked at his plate and then back up at her. “I’m having a steak, some potatoes, green beans…”

“No!” she blurted it out. “I want you to think about it at a much deeper level. Why can’t you ever do that!?”

He slammed his knife and fork down and they rattled angrily against his plate. “What the hell do you want me to say!? And I’m sorry if I’m not as intelligent as you supposedly wish me to be.”

“Do you not see it!?”

“See what, Marsella!?”

“We’re eating animal flesh! Look at your plate. That used to be a living breathing being with a heart and a brain and eyes to look upon the world with.”

He rolled his own eyes at her and wiped at his mouth with a napkin. “Oh Jesus. Here we go.”

“What!?”

“Is this your way of telling me you’ve decided to become a vegetarian now?”

“I may consider it.”

“Because of your great enlightenment following your visit with the butcher? I bet you won’t swear off all meat,” he scoffed.

She avoided his comment for the moment but filed it on the horizon of her memory. “Don’t you see how heinous it all is?”

“Heinous?”

“We stand over all these poor animals like gods and treat them horribly while we fatten them up just so we can cut them to pieces and then cut them to more pieces until the pieces are just the right size of convenience for the bloodthirsty bah, bah, bah consumers. Look at what you had in your mouth! Look at it!”

He watched her carefully in case she physically attacked him, and then he looked down at his plate.

“That’s right,” she continued. “We cut them up into little bits and package them up nice and friendly like and stack them in a refrigerated fluorescent case for the humans to prey upon with their watering eyes and nimble fingers. Oh, but to all of them it’s just a good piece of meat. It’s just something we breed and harvest to feed ourselves. We’ve turned other living creatures into a commodity to buy and sell by the pound! And then you put it in your mouth and shit it out later! Does that not bother you in the slightest?”

“It’s simply the cycle of life, Marsella. The cycle of life,” he answered sternly.

“It’s barbaric. If a man did that to another man, they’d send him to the electric chair and then some… And how many people out there do you think would even buy a steak after watching it gutted and plucked straight from a cow right in front of them? Hmm. Would you?”

He stood up. He was perturbed and he yelled at her. “I don’t know what you want me to do about it! It’s just the way it is, Marsella, and I’m sorry, but there are a lot of things in this crooked world far darker than you realize or wish them to be. But man is at the top of the food chain. That’s reality. It’s where God put us. It’s called survival of the fittest. Cows weren’t meant to plow fields or operate machines or be doctors. If you don’t like it, then go ahead and stop eating meat, but I for one will continue to eat meat because humans are carnivores… And I happen to like it.”  

“Omnivores,” she said dejectedly.

“What?”

“Human beings are omnivores. Maybe if you educated yourself, read a few more books, you’d know that.”

“Why is this suddenly turning into an attack against me. Jesus Christ, Marsella! All I wanted to do was enjoy my dinner and you launch into this psychobabble about meat and insult my level of intelligence. I won’t stand for it anymore.”

He snatched up his plate and started to walk away.

“Where are you going?”

“I’m going to finish my dinner in the den. There’s a game on I want to watch. And I would appreciate it if you just left me alone with my subpar thoughts.”

TO BE CONTINUED


Refrigerated Dreams (Act 5)

empty hallway
Photo by Aaron Mello on Pexels.com

Veronica Genesis sat nervously in class trying to focus on the puzzling geometry book spread out before her. She lifted her head and painfully watched Mrs. Anderson’s back as she scratched something into the green blackboard with a thick piece of white chalk. She was wearing a yellow blouse and black pants that were too tight for her and Veronica thought she looked like a bumblebee painfully stuffed into a sausage casing.

Her blonde hair was pulled back tight into a ponytail, and it bounced as she frantically worked to complete whatever equation she was trying to complete. It was all a foreign language to Veronica. She hated math. She hated equations and formulas and calculations that to her seemed so meaningless in the scope of real life. She wanted to be in art class drawing pictures of hopeful summer days with colored pencils and inky markers that somehow only smelled good to her; every other girl in the class crinkled their nose and said, “Eww,” when she would push them toward a face. Maybe she was destined to become some sort of non-traditional and pushy drug addict. The boys never smelled their inky markers for some reason, and she never forced it upon them. She didn’t know why.

Veronica looked across to the side of the room near the windows and there sat an empty, cold desk. No one had seen or heard from Andy Bliss recently, and at that very same moment as the girl thought about it and how she was practically involved, his parents were a few blocks away at the sheriff’s office on the square and they were sitting at the desk of a detective and reporting their son as missing. His mother was crying. His father was pained with worry. A younger brother somewhere else didn’t care.

And then all that dissipated in Veronica’s mind as the door to the classroom opened and Adam Longo stumbled in.

Heads shot up and turned in unison toward the front corner of the classroom. Geometrical-minded Mrs. Anderson stopped what she was doing and lifted her chalk away from the board. She was puzzled, angry, and emphatic all at the same time. “Adam?” she said. “Is everything okay?”

He looked at her and then he turned to look at the sea of faces lined up neatly in rows and he felt their mocking stares and he heard the whispers and he caught onto the teasing, muffled laughs. But he ignored all that and his focus bore into Veronica like a huge drilling machine on a mission to the center of the Earth. “Everything is fine,” Adam said to Mrs. Anderson without really seeing her.

The teacher looked him up and down. His clothes were dirty and torn in places. His shoes were muddy. His black as night hair was uncombed and flat from not being shampooed. His face displayed a draculian pallor of death. And then she noticed his hands. There were streaks of what looked like dried blood on them, as if he had tangled with a rose bush. “Adam,” she repeated. “Will you wait for me in the hallway?”

He broke the mental connection he had with Veronica and sleepily gazed at his teacher. “The hallway?”

Giggles rippled through the classroom. “Yes. Please,” Mrs. Anderson answered. “Right now.”

“But I’ve come to do my math lessons. I need to learn how to do my problems.”

“He’s got some problems all right,” someone in the crowd murmured, and there was more laughing.

Then Adam patted at himself and looked around in a sudden state of confusion when he realized he didn’t have his schoolbooks with him. “They must be in my locker,” he said aloud.

Mrs. Anderson pointed with a stern finger and repeated herself. “In the hallway, Mr. Longo.”

Again, snickers rose among his classmates, and he looked into them deeply and recorded and filed the memory of who they were before turning and stepping out of the room.


“Do you get a kick out of disturbing my classroom, Mr. Longo?”

Mrs. Anderson had him backed against a wall on the opposite side of the hallway. She was so close to his face that he could smell the abundant makeup that nearly dripped from her own face. Her mouth was thick. Her eyes looked like watered space jewels, and they contained all the colors of an English garden somehow. Her skin was seemingly flawless beneath the masking powder. He almost loved her.

“I’m sorry I was late,” he said. “And that I didn’t have my math book.”

“And what is all this?” she wanted to know, taking a step back and gesturing with her hands. “You look like you crawled out of a garbage dump. Don’t you have more self-respect than that?”

He just stared at her oddly and didn’t know how to answer. But instead of telling her that he had an inkling that she was right, it was all still too foggy to him and he instead said nothing.

She clamped her lips tight and shook her head with frustration. “You certainly are an odd young man,” she said. “I want you to go to the restroom and clean yourself up. And then I want you to report to the school nurse. You don’t look well. Don’t come back until you do. Understand?”

“I understand,” Adam Longo answered.

She shot a wondering sigh in his direction, turned, and went back into her classroom.


It was just a short time later when she turned from the blackboard to address the class about some sort of puzzling triangle, when something out the window caught Mrs. Anderson’s attention. It was Adam Longo, and he was power walking across one of the playing fields behind the school. He was recklessly waving his arms around and it appeared as if he was arguing with the oxygen. She excused herself and quickly went out and cautiously ran down a corridor, the bottoms of her shoes making an echoing tapping sound against the glossy school tiles as she went. When she reached the end at the exit, she pushed on the metal bar of the door that led to the back side of the school. Sunlight and air burst in as she stepped out.

“Adam!” she called out to him. “You can’t just leave! Adam! Get back here! You’re my responsibility!”

He paid her no attention and he just kept on going. When he reached the low chain-link fence at the boundary between the playing field and the wild lands of a fresh yet downtrodden suburbia, he leapt over it like an animal and disappeared down into a mound of brush and trees and into a ravine the depth of a tall man and it bore through the landscape brown and crooked like a jungle river with the light of day looking down upon it through the canopy thoughtlessly rearranged by man. He moved through it like a piece of electricity.

MORE TO FOLLOW

You can read the previous part of this story HERE.


The Sunday Visitor

The misunderstood devil knocked on the back door around noon on a Sunday. Mae looked up from the stove where she had just set her drained pot of boiled potatoes to cool. She dried her cooking hands on a towel hung on a drawer handle and turned down the kitchen radio that was playing war time classics.

“Who is it?” she called out.

The knocking came harder, and she went closer to the door and stood against it.

“Who’s there?” she said again, her heart beginning to race.

Then there came a man’s voice from the other side. “I’m very sorry to bother you on the Lord’s Day, but I was wondering if I could use your telephone.”

Mae paused for a moment and then told the stranger something untrue.

“I’m sorry, but I don’t open the door to strangers. However, my husband will be home momentarily if you’d care to wait.”

She held her breath for an answer.

“It’s quite cold out, mam. I’m not a murderer. I swear it.”

“What do you need the telephone for?” she asked. “Perhaps I could dial the number for you.”

She could hear the crunch of snow beneath the man’s boots as he shifted. She imagined he was looking around, searching for another way into the house.

“All right then,” the man’s voice came again. “I’ll be frightfully honest with you. I have no money and I’m hungry. I was hoping you might have a bit of food to spare.”

Mae bit at her brightly colored bottom lip and thought about it. “What does the good book say about such a situation?” the voice inside herself asked. She quickly decided and opened the door.

A small man wearing a hat and jacket wet with snow stood there and attempted a smile. “Mam,” he said. “The name’s Ed Jallow. I sure do appreciate it.”

“Come in, Ed,” Mae said. “Please, have a seat at the table and I’ll get you a cup of coffee to help warm you up.”

“Thank you,” Ed said, and he pulled a chair out from a small table by a set of large windows that looked out upon a modest yard now caked in various layers of snow. He sat down. He pulled the hat from his head and stuffed it into a pocket of his coat. He sniffled and then coughed.

Mae turned from the kitchen to look at him. “Are you sick?”

“No. I don’t think. It’s just I’ve been breathing all that cold air.”

Mae carefully carried over a steaming cup of coffee atop a small plate. She set it down in front of him and studied for a moment the now revealed top of his balding head. “Here you are. It’s a good thing for you I keep a pot going most of the time. I’m an absolute fiend about it.”

He smiled at her and picked up the cup, blew across the top of it and then carefully took a sip. “Hmm. That’s a good cup of Joe,” he said.

“So,” Mae wanted to know. “Where are you from?”

Ed Jallow cleared his throat. “Detroit,” he said.

“Detroit? What brings you all the way up here?”

A cuckoo clock suddenly released its half-hour call from up above them on the wall. Ed became startled. His hands trembled slightly. “I’m a fugitive from love, I guess you could say.”

Mae was intrigued. “A fugitive from love?”

“Marriage trouble,” Ed confessed. “I’m afraid I didn’t plan well enough. Ran out of gas. And so here I came around to your abode, penniless and hungry.” He feigned a laugh, but she could sense the stress devouring him.

“You were in the neighborhood?”

“I suppose I got lost,” Ed said.

“Would a sandwich be, okay?” Mae asked, quickly changing the subject. “Ham on rye?”

“Great,” Ed answered. “And do you have any potato chips? I’ve got a thing about potato chips.”

“I’m sure I could dig some up,” she said, and she went into the kitchen to fix up his plate.

Ed craned his neck to get a good look at her tightly packed rear-end as she moved it around while she worked. “You said your husband would be home soon?” he said, wanting to clarify the situation.

Mae quickly looked in his direction. “That’s right.”

“Does he work on Sunday?”

“No. He’s down at the corner bar watching the big fight with the fellas.” She strutted back to the table carrying a plate with a sandwich and a small mound of potato chips on it. “I could call down there and have him come home. Wouldn’t take him but about five minutes or so to get here.”

Ed Jallow eyed the plate as she set it down in front of him. He quickly snatched the sandwich up and bit into it. Then he shoved a few of the chips into his mouth. The noises he made while eating bothered her and she walked toward the phone and picked it up.

“What are you doing?” Ed asked.

“I was going to call down to the bar and ask my husband to come home.”

Ed waved his hand against the air. “You don’t need to do that. Let the guy enjoy the fight.”

Mae hesitated for a moment and then hung the phone back up. “I suppose you’re right. No man likes to be nagged.”

“That’s for damn sure.”

Mae smiled. “As soon as you’re done eating, we can go to the garage. I’m sure my husband has a gas can out there somewhere.”

Ed looked at her with a puzzled expression. “A gas can?”

“Right. You said you ran out of gas.”

“Oh yeah. Of course. Gas. I could sure use some gas.”

Mae chuckled.

“What’s so funny?” Ed wondered.

“All this talk of gas.”

Ed pushed the plate away and wiped at his mouth with his hand. “How about we go check on that gas now?” he said with seriousness.

“Follow me, Mr.… Jallow, right?”

“That’s right. Like shallow but with a J.”


Once inside the garage, Ed followed her movements with his eyes as she searched for the gas can.

“Surely there’s some gas in here somewhere. I can smell it. Can’t you smell it?”

Ed got closer to her and looked at her face in the dim light. “All I can smell is you, and you’re in heat. Why are you in heat? For me?”

She looked at him as if offended. “Mr. Jallow?”

“What do you really want from life? You want me?”

“Mr. Jallow… I’m a married woman.”

He suddenly grabbed her left hand and held it up. “You’re not wearing any sort of wedding ring… And I didn’t see a single picture inside of you with some fella. What gives, lady? Why are you lying to me?”

Mae yanked her hand away from him. “Why are you lying to me? You’re not some poor fella from Detroit run off by his wife… You’re nowhere near out of gas and down on your luck, are you?”

He got close to her face. He squinted his eyes in defiance. “Looks like you got me pegged, lady.”

“What do you want from me?” Mae quivered.

He was breathing heavily. “I want you to take me to your bedroom and spread your legs for me. Is that bold enough for you?”

With her movements void of any hesitation, she led him back into the house, through the kitchen, and past the table where he sat to drink coffee and eat his sandwich and potato chips. He followed her down a dark hallway, past a bathroom with the door slightly ajar, and finally into her bedroom in the corner of the house. Ed gently closed the door behind them, shed his coat and threw it on a chair in the corner. He loosened the collar of the shirt he was wearing, unbuttoned his cuffs and rolled up the sleeves like he was about to fight someone.

“Get out of your dress,” he ordered her.

Mae slipped out of the dress like he asked.

“Now everything else,” Ed instructed.

She did as he said until she stood fully naked before him.

“Get on the bed.”

“How do you want me?” she asked.

“Like if you were sleeping, but relaxed, open, untethered,” he told her.

Mae got onto the bed and laid down on her back. She felt his eyes on her as she looked up at the white ceiling that resembled swirled cream.

“Now what do you want me to do?”

“Nothing,” Ed Jallow said. “You don’t have to do anything. I just want to look at you.”

Mae propped herself up on her elbows and looked at him, confused. “You’re not going to have your way with me?”

He avoided her stare for just a moment. “No. I can’t. I’m not able to. I got an injury in the war. They told me I’m only half a man now.”

“Then why are you doing this?”

Ed walked to a window, parted a tender curtain with his hand and looked out. “I’ve been driving the last day and a half, and I just wanted to see something beautiful for a change. I’m plain sick of the way the world looks and acts out there. Plain sick of it. I never meant to scare you. You’ve been very kind. I should just go now,” he said, and he moved away from the window, reached for his coat and made his way toward the door.

“Wait,” Mae said to stop him.

He turned to look at her lying there naked on the bed.

“What’s up, lady?”

“Do you like fire?”

“What kind of fire?”

“Crackling, orange fire that gently licks at the brickwork,” she explained. “Would you like to sit in front of the fireplace with me in the other room? It’s supposed to snow more. And where else would you go?”

Ed Jallow scratched at his balding head. “And you won’t mind if I just get lost in the flames for a little while?”

She bowed her head for a moment to think, and then she looked back up at him. “Isn’t that what life’s all about?” she said, her tone thorough and full of conviction.

END


Refrigerated Dreams (Act 4)

The boy from the refrigerator was perched upon a steel beam like a vulture high above them in the old shoe factory. His slick black hair was more slick than usual. The dead eyes of alien blue that punctuated his pale face swirled like a spiral arm galaxy as he looked down at them. He cocked his head in an odd manner as he listened to them talk beneath him. Adam Longo recognized the boy as one of them that was there when they locked him in the old refrigerator that day. He was one of them that held him roughly by the arms as they led him down into the pit of the dump. The girl was someone he recognized from that school he knew as his living hell. She was the one he stared at when she wasn’t looking. She was the one he thought about at the closing of the day when he would lie atop his bed in his quiet room at home. She was his only good memory.

Then Adam Longo recalled how the other one, the red-haired one, their leader, had laughed without remorse, how he had gotten right in his face and said something like, “Are your balls all shriveled up… Is that why you don’t ever talk?” His breath was overpowering. Rusty was his name. He hated Rusty. And now here was one of his rooks and that girl thinking they were all alone in this immense place lost in time. He thought about leaping out into the air and floating down and he would come upon them in a fury of revenge. He could do that now. Something drastically changed after he went into that refrigerator unwillingly. Sheer human cruelty had given him a power he never expected.


Veronica took a step back from him. “You were part of that?” she wanted to know.

Andy paused for a moment. “I was against it.”

“But you still allowed it to happen.”

Andy looked up and sighed with frustration.

“What!?” the girl snapped. “You’re angry because I’m upset you let a boy get locked in a refrigerator? He could have died.”

Andy bent down and picked up a metal rod and tossed it into the void. It tumbled and clanked loudly. “Why are you getting bent out of shape? Let’s just get high.”

“I think I want to go home,” Veronica said.

Andy’s demeanor suddenly changed, and he grabbed her by the shoulders. “What’s your problem?”

“Let go of me!”

He pushed her away and turned. “Fine. Do what you want,” he said, and he started to walk away.

She called after him. “Where are you going?”

“Just go home,” he called back, and then, like the sudden snap of a bone, something fell from above and was on top of him. It attacked him with the ferocity and conviction of an angel bred by animals, and the boy struggled and shrieked as he was mercilessly beaten and clawed.

In the epilogue of the boy’s torn moans, a panting Adam Longo turned to look at her through the dim light. He was mystically aglow, and his gaze froze her in place, and like in a dream she struggled to run but her legs refused to receive and follow the command. Veronica had no control over her own self now and could only watch in wonder as the figure stood. He was just a boy, but nothing like a real boy. He looked down at Andy twitching on the dirt-strewn floor of the factory. Then he looked up, toward the place from where he came, and he suddenly ascended in a completely inhuman way.

Her legs became free from their dream burden and Veronica ran toward the lighted frame of the doorway they had entered. She burst into the outside world and leapt down the iron stairway, past the loading bays and toward the hole in the chain-link fence. She scrambled through, a piece of metal bit into the top of her shoulder and she winced as she dove into the sea of weeds and tall grasses on the other side. She went for her bike, lifted it up and got on. She pedaled toward town with an urgency and fear she never knew she could possess.

Once she was long gone, her scent and heartbeat now carried away to the place where the terrible people were, Adam Longo curled into himself for comfort and warmth as he perched on the wide beam. He watched the day turn to night through the broken factory windows. Living had been lonely enough he thought as his eyes set on the few stars he could see, but now, now this, whatever it was, whatever he now had become. It was lonelier than death itself — lonelier than the dirt piled upon the lost ones.

MORE TO FOLLOW

Read the previous part of this story HERE.


Refrigerated Dreams (Act 3)

They meandered along the less known paths on the edge of Grainer Falls, beyond the industry, beyond the neighborhoods scrunched up against the low hills. She trailed behind him and stared at his back.

“Where are we going?” Veronica Genesis wanted to know, somewhat excited, somewhat apprehensive.

“The old shoe factory,” Andy answered, his voice going up and trailing behind him like smoke from an Old West locomotive.

She pedaled her bike a bit harder to get side-by-side with him. “The old shoe factory?”

“Yeah. It’s cool. I like to hang out there. No one ever goes there. We’ll be alone.”

“I didn’t know there was an old shoe factory. I haven’t lived here my entire life like a lot of people have.”

“That’s because it’s real old. Now all our shoes are made somewhere else, by penniless kids in other countries. That really pissed off my grandfather… When he was alive. He was in the war and always wondered what the hell he had fought for.”

“He used to work in there?”

“Yep. Now it’s just a bunch of ghosts and the lingering scent of leather and rubber.” He turned to look at her. “Are you afraid of ghosts?”

“No,” she quickly answered. “I’m not afraid of no ghosts.” But inside her guts, she really was.


The old factory soon came into view in the distance, and it was a foreboding stack of rust-colored bricks and crumbling mortar stuck to rebar and snake-like pipes and a couple of industrial spires and tall rectangular windows made of glass you couldn’t see through, many of the individual panels now busted out, the broken pieces gathered in heaps at the bottom like jagged snow.

They went down a hill and to the perimeter of the old factory where there was a molested chain-link fence that bowed and bent all along its crooked setting. NO TRESSPASSING signs were haphazardly attached to it every 25 feet or so. The two dropped their bikes in the overgrown weeds there and she followed him to a place where the fencing was peeled back, like a can lid that hadn’t been completely undone by an opener and someone had to push it back with a thumb or the backside of a sturdy metal spoon to get to the contents inside.

Veronica hesitated as Andy ducked down to make his way through the opening. He looked back at her. “Are you coming?” he wondered.

She bit at her bottom lip and looked up at the old facility and the blue sky littered with white fluffy clouds that slowly churned like an acid trip above it. “You sure it’s, okay?”

“Of course, it is. I do it all the time,” Andy said. “I told you; no one ever comes out here anymore. It’s fine. Besides, we’re young and strong and can take on anything the world throws our way.”

He went through the hole, and she looked at him from the other side and smiled. He was smart, witty, and brave, and she suddenly didn’t care about anything but being beside him and so she quickly crawled through. He reached out a hand to help her up and she grasped it. His skin was warm, soft, yet strong. She blew some wisps of raw almond-colored hair out of her face after she stood. “Thanks,” she said, and she tried to catch his scent as he tried to catch hers. He didn’t release her hand.

“Come on,” he said, and he pulled her along as they walked toward the back end of the factory and the place where the old loading doors and docks sat dormant and quiet like long forgotten time portals and landing pads.

They climbed a set of old iron stairs, now rusting away, and the sounds of their footfalls floated up and scraped against the large loneliness of the towering building. He led her to the top and a metal door where another NO TRESSPASSING sign was attached. Someone had written “Fuck Off” in red spray paint below it. Andy tugged on the crooked old door until it opened with a scrape and a creak. Veronica followed him inside and they stopped, and she looked around at the factory’s guts — dark, gloomy, and ancient like a still photograph, remnants of life and work delicately, nearly invisibly, floating in the air like cemetery ash.

Andy cupped his hands around his mouth and cried out, “Hello!… Anyone here!?”

Veronica panicked as his voice echoed and bounced through the quiet yet menacing spaces all around them. She playfully slapped at him. “Don’t do that,” she teased. “It freaks me out. What if someone answers? I’d probably pee myself.”

She was suddenly embarrassed, but Andy just smiled because he thought she was being cute. He was still holding her hand and now he squeezed it and then without any warning he moved in and kissed her. She was somewhat shocked at the same time she melted. Veronica never wanted him to pull away, but when he did his taste lingered on her mouth and she wanted to hold it there forever, to brace it from any wind that might wipe it from her lips and send it off into oblivion.

“Was that, okay?” Andy asked her. “I’ve been wanting to do that… Like, forever.”

“You have?”

“Yes… But I know you’re with Rusty.”

Veronica shook her head. “It’s never been anything serious. I’ve decided to end it with him.”

“You have?” Andy hoped.

“I think so. He just doesn’t know it yet. Or maybe he does.”

“Oh,” Andy said softly, and she could tell he was the sensitive type when he looked away toward the loneliness in those industrial catacombs monstrously arranged all around them.

“But I’ll be sure to let him know… That boy has really been getting under my skin lately. Do you know what him and a few of his friends did?”

Andy swallowed and looked at her. “Are you talking about Adam Longo?”

“Yeah. How did you know?”

“I was there when they did it.”

MORE TO FOLLOW

Read the previous part of this story HERE.


A Crab Crawl Crucifixion (Ending)

They trailed after me and I readied my rifle as I walked. It was the only light on in the entire town and it cast an odd yellow glow against all the ruin. It was a narrow building made of brick like the others and there were two large windows in the very front. We took cover across the street and tried to study the place. The light inside was very bright and I thought I saw someone sitting in a chair and reading a newspaper. “My god,” I said. “It looks like a barbershop.” And that’s when we noticed the barber pole at the side churning red, white and blue in the yellow light like cake batter. “I can’t believe it.”

Rob started walking out into the street toward the shop without any care. “Wait!” I snapped. “What are you doing?”

“I’m going to get a haircut,” he said.

“You’re crazy. You’re good as dead if you do that,” Daisy warned him.

“You’re both wrong. This is an answer to my wish. You remember, Ed, I said I wanted a haircut and here it is, a place in the middle of deathly nowhere, a barbershop. Someone’s listening to me. It must be apocalyptic God or something.”

“You’re delusional,” I told him. “Delusional and downright stupid if you go over there.”

He smiled at us oddly and he turned and just kept on walking, right up to the shop. We saw that he was looking in and then he pushed the door open, and the light swallowed him up.

“We have to go after him,” Daisy demanded.

I pressed a finger against her fish lips. “Shhh. Let’s be really quiet and check it out.” We crept out into the glow and up to the building, one to each side, and we peered in through the glass. Rob Muggins was sitting in a barber chair of chrome and burgundy vinyl and a man was wrapping a cape around the front of him. I looked over at Daisy and even though I knew she saw the exact same thing as I did, I couldn’t really believe it. I pointed to the door, and we went in with our guns drawn.

A little bell rang, and the barber looked up at us and smiled. “There will be no need for weapons in here,” he politely said to us. “I don’t cause any trouble. I just cut hair.”

He stood on a booster stool and held a pair of scissors and comb over Rob’s head and started to snip away very carefully. He was a very odd-looking man of small stature with a dead-serious emotion in his cleanly shaven olive-toned skin. His hair was jet black and combed back very slick and neat against his scalp. He looked up at us again. “Were you here for a haircut sir?” he asked. Then he looked at Daisy and smiled with apology. “I’m sorry miss. I don’t cut women’s hair. Far too much emotion involved in that endeavor,” he explained.

There were three chairs against the wall and Daisy sat down. “It’s okay. I’ll just watch.” The barber smiled and went back to work. There was a small radio on the counter behind him and it played old time music very softly. The barber began to whistle along as he cut Rob’s hair.

“What are you doing here?” I finally asked him.

He stopped cutting and looked at me. “What do you mean? This is my barbershop. I cut hair.”

“But there’s no hair to cut,” I pointed out. “This place is dead.”

The barber seemed confused. “I don’t understand. I’m cutting this gentleman’s hair right now. What’s the problem?”

“Don’t you know what’s out there?” I moved to one of the windows and gestured. “This place is deserted. Why are you here?”

The barber clicked on an electric clipper and moved it carefully against one side of Rob’s head. “I don’t know what you want me to say. I’m here every day. I cut people’s hair. This is my life, my livelihood. I have an apartment right upstairs if you want me to prove it to you… I’m sorry, who are you again?”

“My name’s Ed. Ed Dick. This here is Daisy and the man you’re snipping on is Rob Muggins.”

The barber chuckled some. “Odd names,” he said. “But good to know you all just the same. I like my customers to consider me as a friend and not just a barber. It’s the personal touch that matters most,” and he looked over at Daisy and flirtatiously worked his brow up and down for a moment.

I looked over at Daisy and she looked at me. I could tell she was feeling unsettled.

“Do you have any food and water?” I asked the man.

He chuckled. “Of course, I do. I’m not a savage. If you don’t mind waiting until I’m done with this gentleman’s haircut, it would be wonderful to have you all upstairs. I haven’t had many guests lately.” He clicked off the clippers, leaned back and studied his work. “That looks pretty fine,” he said, and he hopped down off his stool and spun the chair around like a carnival wheel so Rob could see himself in the mirror.

“Wow,” Rob said, admiring himself. “That’s a damn fine haircut. What do you guys think?”

Daisy got up, walked over, and looked at him. “You clean up pretty well Mr. Wall Street,” she said.

I felt a twang of jealousy in my guts. “But he needs a shave,” I suggested. The barber studied Rob’s face. “Hmm… I really like his beard, but I suppose I can do that,” he said.

We all felt a bit nervous as he reached for the straight razor and some fluffy cream. He lathered Rob’s face and then very carefully scraped the blade across it, clearing away the stubble every so often as he went. When he was done, he wiped Rob’s face clean with a warm wet towel. “After shave?” he asked as he held up a glass bottle containing a blue liquid. Rob nodded. The barber smiled as he patted his face. “It might sting a bit,” he cautioned.

The barber undid the cape and Rob got up out of the chair and ran his hand over his head and across his face. “This feels great,” he said.

The barber shook out a towel and smiled. “Okay… That will be 23 dollars.”

Rob instinctively reached for his pockets, but they were empty. “I’m sorry. I don’t have any money.”

The barber was confused. “No money? Then why did you come in here for a haircut? Give me a break. I’m trying to run a business here!”

Daisy sensed his oncoming tirade and tried to calm him. “We’ve been traveling for a very long time. Don’t you know what’s happened to the world? There is no more money.”

“No more money? Ah blah, that’s a bunch of rubbish. I’ve got a till full of it.”

I stepped forward to get a closer look at him. I wanted to see if he was real. His eyes looked weird. “Who are all these people who come for haircuts?” I asked him. “Don’t you understand? There’s no one here.”

The barber grabbed a broom and pan and started to sweep up Rob’s fallen locks. “You keep saying that, and I still don’t understand. I get plenty of business from the hill people and the ranchers and the water barons. They come all the time.”

Daisy stepped in front of me. Her arm fell back a little and her hand accidentally swept over my crotch. “We’d love to see your apartment. And maybe we could work something out to pay you for the haircut.”

The barber looked at her porcelain face the color of flour and noticed the ring in her nose. “That’s a funny thing,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that on a woman before. Okay, let me just lock up and we can head upstairs. But I don’t want any funny business.”


The stairs were old, and they creaked as we went up. The hall smelled of cooked meat and dust. He looked at us and smiled as he fumbled with the key in the lock of a red worn door. “My apologies, but the place isn’t as tidy as I like,” he said. “I’ve been busy with other things.” He got it unlocked and pushed it open. It looked old and charming. I couldn’t understand why he was worried about what the place looked like. Everything was in order.

“Please, come in and sit down,” he offered. “Would anyone care for a grape soda?” We all heartily accepted. “Good,” he smiled. “I’ll make us some cheese sandwiches as well.” He fiddled with an old phonograph before disappearing through a swinging door that must have led to the kitchen. Scratchy weird music began to fill the room.

I went to a window, pulled the cranberry-colored curtains aside and peered out. The moon was higher now and the landscape littered with desolation. I turned to see Daisy sitting close to Rob on the couch. She seemed attracted to him now. She put a hand on his thigh as they whispered to each other about the place.

A few minutes later, the barber came back out carrying a tray with grape soda and cheese sandwiches. He set it down on an old coffee table and invited us to eat and drink. I squeezed in between Daisy and Rob on the couch and stuffed a sandwich in my mouth. The barber took a chair across from us and watched.

 “Is the food all right?” he asked. Our mouths were full, and we were very pleased. I sucked down my grape soda and belched loudly. Daisy elbowed me.

“Excuse me,” I said. “I haven’t eaten in a while. It’s so good. But, where do you get your food?”

“Little elves bring it to me,” the barber joked, and then he crossed his hands in his lap and smiled. “I’m glad you appreciate good soda and cheese.”

“Thank you so much,” Daisy creamed. “This is all so wonderful.”

Rob clomped on a sandwich between sips of the soda. “Yeah. It’s great of you to help us out like this.”

“Well, I try to live a godly life. You know, do unto others …”

I looked around the room and noticed there were no photographs of other people. “Do you have a family?” I asked him.

“No,” he answered somewhat sternly. “They all died in a terrible house fire many years ago. I grew up an orphan.”

“I’m so sorry,” Daisy said to him.

“I’ve learned to carry on.”

“Do you know about the monsters?” I blurted out.

He turned to look at me, it was a cold stare. “I don’t know what you are talking about. There aren’t any monsters here.”

Daisy leaned forward and looked at him. “Don’t you know about the end of the world, and all that has followed?” she asked.

He blinked at her in confusion. “I heard a rumor about a terrible war, but that’s all. I enjoy my life here as a simple barber. I don’t want to know about such things.”

I adjusted my hat and rubbed at my rough face. “The monsters are a product of social disease. There’s no cure. They have no heart or soul.”

He looked at me with the same puzzled emptiness. “Sometimes they wander in and out, but I just turn off all the lights and pretend to be dead.”

“So, you have seen them?” I asked pointedly.

“I’ve seen others, yes, if that’s what you’re getting at, like you were talking about, but they are not my customers. Those people are real. You speak of phantoms.” He suddenly got up and changed the record. He seemed uncomfortable.

“Where are you from? Originally,” I asked. He turned to look at me over his shoulder after plopping down fresh vinyl on the phonograph. It spun slow and rough. “Chicago,” he finally answered. “I was born in Chicago.”

I thought he was lying. “What part?”

“Arlington Heights. My father came here from Appietto on Corsica many years ago and opened his own barbershop. That’s why I do what I do. Then he burned to death.”

I could tell he was getting uneasy about the subject. “I was hoping we could rest here if that would be all right. We’ll leave you in the morning.”

He studied us one by one. “You want to stay the night?”

“You’ve been more than generous,” Daisy began, “But we understand if you don’t want strangers sleeping on your floor.”

“It’s okay,” he said. “Just one night?”

“We’ll head out in the morning,” I said, answering for her.

“Okay, you can stay,” the barber said as he lifted the arm up off the record and carefully set it in its resting place. “But I’m getting tired now. I think I’ll go to my room and rest, but please, make yourself comfortable. We can settle things in the morning. I hope you sleep like angels in the hay heap of a warm barn.”

I was hoping Daisy would lie down next to me but instead she rolled herself out on the floor right next to reincarnated Rob Muggins. I thought I heard them kiss, but I might have been mistaken. Whether it was real or not it still hurt my guts and heart. The place was too quiet, and I struggled to sleep. I wanted to be on top of Daisy and thrusting against her, but I felt her interest was rapidly waning. Maybe I was too old for her. Maybe I was too rough around the edges. What kind of life would we have together anyways? The world was a ruined place. I focused my eyes on a slit in the drapes as they grew heavy. I started to see some stars twinkling above the dead land. I was starting to feel sad and hopeless but tried to find peace in the thought of the coming morning. I finally fell asleep and dreamed of nothing.

The barber tip-toed to a table in his bedroom where sat an old phone and he picked up the receiver. He worked the dial with the tip of a crooked finger. It rang on the other end — four times before someone picked up and breathed.

The barber whispered in the grim darkness. “Yes, they’re here now. I think it would be a perfect opportunity to come get them. I’m sure you’re very hungry.”

END


The King of Genitalia Street (THREE)

Frost Bennington’s silver-blue BMW was warm, polished, and plush. It hummed with perfection as we went along. I watched with interest as his hand, clad in a fine leather glove, effortlessly shifted the gears as he drove.

“This is a nice car,” I said to him.

“Of course, it is,” he snobbishly replied.

“Do you think you could let me drive it?”

“No way.”

I reached for the stereo controls on the dash.

“Don’t touch that!” he snapped. “Don’t touch anything. Just sit still.”

I quickly pulled my hand away and looked out the window.

“The snow is really starting to spit,” I said.

“Yes. I just hope some country idiot doesn’t slide into me. This car was expensive.” He took his eyes away from the road for a moment to look over at me in hopes of enticing some kind of awe. “You know how much I paid for this car?”

“How much?”

“Sixty-nine thousand. Cash.”

“Wow. That’s a lot of money.”

“Well, Everett, that’s because I have a lot of money and in turn I only go for the finer things in this life.”

I studied him for a moment. “You have a lot of gray hair, too. Did you know that? I mean, it seems like a lot to me and with you being such a young guy. It’s kind of weird. Did you go through some kind of trauma?”

Frost chuckled because he thought I was being dumb. “Actually Everett, I have my hair professionally colored this way. I want it to look gray.”

“Why?”

“I do it for sophistication purposes. It’s all the rage at school and in the city.”

“Gray hair on young guys?”

Frost chuckled again and shook his head a little. “Man, you are so out of the loop. You see, it used to be that men with gray hair would rush to dye it out and make it all black or brown or whatever color it was before. Men used to believe that having gray hair made them look old and unattractive. Now it’s the exact opposite. Gray hair is considered to make a man look sophisticated, like I said. Intelligent. Successful. Handsome. Rich. And that Everett, is pretty much me all wrapped up in one tight little perfect package. So, yeah. Gray is here to stay.” And then he made a clicking sound with his mouth and pointed a gun finger out the windshield and went “Kapoww.”

“I had no idea,” I said to him. “Do you think I should have my hair turned gray?”

“No. Absolutely not.”

“Why?”

“Because you don’t fit the part, Everett. You’re not good enough to be gray. You would look ridiculous. You’d look like a fucked-up Doctor Who.”

That made me kind of mad, and I said to him, straight up, “Why do you always have to make me out to be some lesser of a person? I don’t like how you always put me down.”

“Because Everett, you are lesser of a person. You don’t even appreciate the foundation your family has laid down for you. You’re completely blind to it. You were born with the golden ticket to wealth and success in your stupid little hand and what have you done about it…”

“I’ve done a lot.”

“Like what?” Frost snapped back, his frustration with me growing.

“I went to college.”

“You dropped out.”

“It wasn’t for me.”

“Now you work at a… What is it? A toy store?”

“What’s wrong with working at a toy store?”

“Let’s just say you’ll never be driving one of these,” he said, and he petted the dash with one of his gloved hands. “Or banging hot foxes like your sister. No sir. Not if you’re working at a toy store.”

“And what do you do? You hang out with your dad all day.”

“I’m an intern at my father’s architectural firm. His very successful architectural firm. And when I finish architecture school, I’ll be made a full partner and eventually take over when he retires. See, I have a crystal-clear career path to endless success. And on top of that, I’ll get to come home to your sister every night and do whatever I want to her, and in every which way. And then she’ll beg for more.”

And for some reason, my thoughts suddenly went awry, and I blurted out something I probably shouldn’t have. But at that point, and I guess at every point in my life, I was trailing behind Frost Bennington in every possible way. So, what the hell, I thought, and I asked him, “What’s she like in bed?”

“What!?”

“Emily. What’s she like in bed? Is she wild? Is she loud?”

“Are you serious right now, Everett?”

“Yes. I want to know.”

“Jesus, man. She’s your sister!”

“So. I’m just curious.”

“Yeah. So I’ve heard.”

“She told you all about it then, huh?”

“Yes. All the disgusting details included. It’s taking everything in me right now not to punch you to death.”

“What’s wrong with me and my sister kissing?”

“Jesus Everett, you stuck your tongue in her mouth! That’s not how you kiss your sister. What the hell is wrong with you!?”

“How do you kiss your sister?”

“I don’t have a sister, you… Fucking lunatic. But if I did, I surely wouldn’t try to give her French lessons.”

“Oh, but… Did Emily happen to tell you all about how it was her that jumped on me and not the other way around like she’s saying?”

“What the hell are you talking about, Everett?”

“Oh, so I guess our sweet Emily left that part out, huh?”

“You’re sick. Don’t talk about her that way again or I swear to God, I will stop this car and knock your teeth down your damn throat and happily watch you choke to death. And I’ll do it from the comfort of an expensive leather recliner and with a bowl of gourmet popcorn in my lap and a glass of iced ginger ale at my side, and I’ll be laughing all the way, just like Santa Claus.”

I just chuckled a little and looked out the window to watch the winter wonderland world go by. “That’s a good one, old man, but you know, Frost. Maybe Emily’s not into the gray hair thing as much as you think she might be. It probably grosses her out to be honest with you.”

“Don’t test me or you’ll regret it, buddy.”

“I’m not your buddy. Buddy.”

“No, you’re just full of shit, Everett, and you’ll always be full of shit. It’s no secret that I don’t like you, Everett, and no matter how hard I try, I know I’ll never like you. I just pretend for the sake of your family because you’re so pathetic. At least I give them someone to admire rather than be ashamed of.”

“Thanks. I appreciate that.”

“And what the hell is with the baby? How in the hell did you end up with a baby?”

“He belongs to some girl I met in the city. I thought she was cool at first, but it turns out she had gone to some wild orgy and ended up pregnant and obviously didn’t want the kid, and…”

“Found a schmuck like you to dump him off on,” Frost said, and then he burst out laughing, and I mean like long-winded crazy ass laughing. “You’re an idiot, Everett. God your dumb!” he wailed.

“You don’t need to make me feel so fucking bad about it!”

“Why not? It’s comedy gold, man. Went to an orgy. Jesus H. Christ. You know how to spot the winners, Everett. That’s for damn sure.”

“I was just trying to be a decent person — something you know nothing about. I was trying to help her out. She was down on her luck.”

“And then she slipped out… In the middle of the night and left you with her bundle of bastard.” And Frost just kept on laughing. “But I suppose the million-dollar question is, Everett. Did you get any? Or was she too worn out from the orgy?”

“Fuck you, Frost!”

“I’ll take that as a no… Which is probably a good thing for you.”

“Hey, it’s coming up here on the right so quit fucking around and slow down.”

“Oh, how quaint,” Frost said, still giggling yet grumbling as he pulled into the parking lot. “The town market. Looks like a playground for community college dropouts. Hmm, yeah. That might be giving them far too much credit.”

“Quit being a jackoff. They’re decent people. And they don’t try to be something they’re not.”

“Well, from what I’m seeing, doesn’t look like they do a lot of trying period.”

I scoffed at the jerk. “You coming in?”

“No way. I don’t want my genes tainted. I’ll just wait for you. But don’t take forever. I don’t want to get raped out here while you’re buying that bastard kid of yours a box of Pampers.”

“You sure about that?” I said to him, and I got out and slammed the car door and Frost winced.

“Hey! Be careful,” he yelled through the glass. I gave him the middle finger salute and walked toward the doors of the store, and I was glad to be away from him, even for just a while.

TO BE CONTINUED

Read the previous part of this story HERE.