NVDT Random – SepScene Wrimo Last One – Redneck Hemingway

Wind’s Come Up Some

“Harper.” Dupree jumped down from the mud-caked high-rise pickup. “Figured I’d find you somewhere up in here.”

“Dupe. Pull up some bumper.”

“Truck’s awful clean.” Dupree put his palm on the hood. “Ain’t been here long, either.”

“Nope.”

“Square?” Dupree offered a crushed pack of Winstons.

“Gave ‘em up. Lent an all.”

“Lent’s some done, idn’t it?”

“Seems like.”

“Gettin’ a run up on the next one?”

“Never hurts to have a little banked. Just in case. Y’all didn’t go on an get bait, didja?”

“Got a feelin’. Stopped just shy a goin’ in.”

“Good. Hate it if you’d hadda dump a bucket a shiners on my account.”

“Wouldna been nothin’. Where was it you were at, again?

“Hadn’t said.”

“Then you’d best.”

“Microtel.”

“Damn, Harp. One by Love’s an the Mac-Donald’s? Out there on the by-pass?”

“Yep.”

“Straight?”

“Man… Damn. I tell ya what.”

“I heard that.” Dupree held out his Winston, let the breeze ash it. “Wind’s come up some.”

“Some. Could use us a little rain.”

“Not in this ‘un.”

“Prob’ly right.”

“You were sayin?”

“Said ‘I tell ya what’.”

“I hearrrrd that. Ol’ ‘What’ got a name?”

“Sure she has.”

“Secret a some kind?”

“Didn’t say I knew it.”

“Sheee-it, son. Your momma know how you come up?”

“Not less you done told her.”

“Not me. Somebody oughta.” Dupree stretched himself off the bumper. “Fine afternoon for it. Microtel an all. Some kinda ‘what’, huh?”

“Damn… I tell ya what…”

“I heard ya.” Dupree flicked the Winston butt at the lake, opened his pickup door. “We fishin’ t’morrow?”

“Reckon so.”

“Didn’t get ol’ ‘Damn… Tell ya what’s’ name or number, didja?”

“Nope.”

“Liar.”

Harper shook his head. “Man… Damn.”

“I heard that.” Dupree’s truck belched black diesel. He leaned out the window, smacked the door. “Harper. Nextime we’re not fishin’ an you’re holed up there down to the Microtel with a fresh shave, a clean truck an a girl ain’t got a name busy makin’ you stupid, call somebody?”

“Yep.” Harper unwound from his bumper, took a long look at the lake while Dupree spun his tires reversing up the gravelly shoal. “I tell ya what…”

 

Sketch from Harper, Jackie and the Microtel

NVDT Random – Mo Mo Mo SepSceneWrimo

Jackson had sweated his way through his dollar-fifty black and gray thrift shop bowling shirt, thought he might be living out his last day. He swore if he got home in one piece he would never be so stupid again.

He’d walked out of his apartment three days ago to see a couple of white guys, some cholos, a skinny black guy, and a girl who looked too young, all jacking parts off his primer gray ’64 Impala. They were loading his battery, trunk mounted spare tire cover, big Holley carburetor, and the two wheels facing the street into a shit brown Dodge van. And laughing. He’d yelled “Hey! What the fuck?” and started towards them. One of the white guys pulled a knife that looked like a machete.

Once they’d gone, like a real pussy, he’d whined to his neighbors in the funky little house next door who’d come out to watch. He could hear everybody from the pajama tux summer. Don’t be a whiner. Don’t be that guy.

Well, he’d been that guy and now he was sitting in a Karpet King van in the parking lot of a new condo complex almost on the ocean in Carlsbad, San Diego County. Everything was new. The monstrous nickel-plated forty-four magnum resting on the window sill of the van fit right in with all the fresh paint, shiny doorknobs and mail drops. Jackson mentally added never tell a neighbor you don’t know very well you need to make some quick cash to his list of rules to live by.

The sharp-dressed man with the gun had folded the van’s mirrors in, told Jackson to turn the rearview mirror to the dash, keep his hands on the wheel and look straight ahead. And don’t be stupid.

“Like bein’ here in the first place?”

“Comedian, yeah? I like it.” Magnum man, casual. Like everyone made small talk with a forty-four magnum in their hand. “You owe the dudes give you this van money or something?”

“No, man,” Jackson said from the back of his throat. “I’m getting paid.”

“Good for you. Clean is the only way, man. You kinda look like a dude could be from Karpet King, you know? So you get stopped, you’re not high, you been layin’ carpet all day, don’t know who put that shit in your truck.” He glanced at the rear of the van for a split second. “Me, I don’t mess with coke no more, ‘cept as business. The only time I ever wanted some was right after I did some, you know? So if I don’t do it, I don’t want it.”

“I knew a girl once who said that about sex. I tried to study on it a couple of times. Didn’t help much. Couldn’t pay attention.”

“Sex or blow?” They both laughed a small, tight, quiet laugh. Magnum man shot the shit with him about how girls shouldn’t put so much stiff crap in their hair like they did, and how short bangs were shit on kids and grown women should forget it. How Art Monk was the only keeper in the first round of the draft. How the nine-and-seven Rams even made it to the Super Bowl just to get their asses kicked was all politics. They both heard the back doors of the van close. The big gun came off the sill of the van, back but still straight on him. Magnum man reached in his sport coat pocket, handed Jackson a postcard from a Santa Barbara motel and a Mapsco page.

“Drive back to El Lay, smart and easy, like the working man you are. Drop the van at the address in the ‘to’ box. The map’s marked up for you, same as how you got here. Park the van, forget where you left it, take a walk. Like a mile or so. Call a friend or a cab.”

Jackson followed the directions to the letter. He didn’t have cab money but his neighbor Star had a POS Pinto that ran okay since he’d worked on it for her, and a soft spot for him since he’d been keeping an eye on her daughter after school and helping her with homework. He called Star, waited for her in an industrial cleaning company parking lot just off the Gardena Freeway in Rancho Dominguez. A perfect place to disappear. Every set of headlights that went by he wondered if that hadn’t been the plan all along.

***

When he climbed out of Star’s Pinto at their apartment building a young kid in a beanie appeared, handed him an envelope, disappeared back into the night. Inside the envelope was the rubber-banded six hundred dollars in twenties he’d been promised. He’d heard it was worth more, but he hadn’t crossed a border. And he was alive. He peeled three twenties off the top and handed them to Star.

“Enough? More?”

“If you have a couple of pizzas in that envelope that can be here before Sky’s bedtime we’re three times better than good for a short run up Long Beach Boulevard.” Star rarely smiled, but she one arm hugged him before going around to her door. “I have a couple of cold beers. Medium pepperoni with extra cheese for Sky and she’ll really think you’re a god. Get you and me something with more than one vegetable, along with this?” She held up the sixty bucks. “I might agree with her.”

***

The third time the neighbors informed him that he was driving again they told him, as usual, “Tomorrow at seven. Pick up the van out front, deliver the postcard”.

The next morning there was no sign of his neighbors. No cars, no lights, the house quiet. He kept his fingers crossed all day, but at six-fifty-five a white Chevy van from Valorian Commercial Janitorial Services rolled up. A female, her face obscured with a scarf and hooded sweatshirt left the keys and postcard in the seat, walked away.

The address was an apartment complex in Yukaipa, San Bernardino County. A long drive. When he arrived the gun was back.

“This time you’re the dude drops those stinky blue biscuits in the pissers? Fuckin’ truck stinks, my man.”

Jackson stared at some early Halloween decorations children had taped to an apartment window. “It does. And this was a drive.”

“Not much different than the last two, this is just more out of the way. Ex-urban, they call it. Like Uptown. You know, where the fuck is Uptown? Between the ‘burbs and Downtown? And like which way? North? Is south of the 10 Under town? What’s way the fuck past East town?”

“Arizona?”

“That’s why I’ll miss you, compadre. This is your last run.” He could feel Jackson tighten up from outside the van. “No, dude, you won’t be dead unless you get lost. There’s a toker’s party pack under the passenger the seat for you, no blow because it’s bad for you. Going away present. That girl in your wallet, she special?”

“Used to be. How do you —”

“Been all through your shit. You ever do this again, nothing in your wallet but your license and some cash. Girl that pretty, somebody might get ideas. You’re a good guy, Jackson. You follow directions and don’t talk.” He lit a black and gold cigarette with his non-gun hand. “I gotta let the LB cool for a time. Those badasses hassled my guys livin’ in that house next door to you? They weren’t beginners. Didn’t steal nothing, just scared my guys into shitting themselves, put their minds in diapers. So bad I have to get a new crew.” He popped a couple of smoke rings, studied his smoke.

“Didn’t see those dudes coming, Jackson. I pay, you know, so I see the locals, the government. This was some private fuckin’ army out of nowhere fucked up my crew. Bad motherfuckers, not head cases. Professional, quiet. Kind of guys make shit vanish. Like dictators or coke dealers or anybody pisses them off. So badass they scared me and all I saw was what they left behind. I thought you might be connected, so I went deeper on you. I know, you haven’t ripped me off, lightened your load or made any contact. But maybe you have some friends. Had to check. Business is business.”

“I don’t know —”

“That’s why you get a going-away present. If you did know we’d have to stop being friends. Then you’d be dead. And even if you don’t know nothing about some crew of invisible badasses I’m thinking, you know, maybe I’d be dead right behind you. Two good looking dudes like us? That would break a lot of hearts.” Magnum man held the gun down at his side, patted the door of the van. “Here’s your postcard.” He waved his hand casually as he stepped back. “Whose idea was the piss biscuit truck?”

“I thought you picked them. Like these guys owed you money, you borrowed the trucks.”

“Too much work, too many people. My man Lonnie usually steals them but he took up with a stripper, her boyfriend didn’t think much of him. So I used that red-headed guy this time. He must not like you.”

“Yesterday, when they told me to make this run? He said I looked like a guy who drove a Chevelle SS and stole his girlfriend.”

“He thinks everybody looks like that guy. Wasn’t you, was it?”

“No. Know how he feels. Mine got stolen by an old college in England.”

“You gotta feel better about that, though, than if it had been some skinny dude from Modesto with a SS and perfect hair. That shit could really turn you. Especially the hair. Hard to argue with the SS, but a bitch could let you know you need to up your style before she walks, you know?”

NVDT Random – Even Mo SepSceneWrimo ad nauseum

Yesterday was Philip Stanhope’s birthday. Three cheers to a man who knew what to do with a boring book!

“Sheeapollous, Cina. What the hell?”

Cina flung the mess from her hands, ran them under a small waterfall that appeared spontaneously. “Thanks, Teth. You’re a real Goddess. You’ve heard of crappy books?”

“Oh Big Z, yes.” Teth sidestepped the muck that puddled around her friend. “They’re everywhere. Every asshole with ‘cus’ or ‘otle’ or ‘es’ in his name thinks they need to share their wit and wisdom. What is all this, um…”

“Shit? Crappy. Books. In our day I’d have the odd scroll turn up, more as commentary on the author from a peer. Most of the time they’d biodegrade on their own and I wouldn’t have to lift a finger. But now? They’ve really kicked it up.” She toed a mass of pulp. “That’s Homer. Was Homer. And…” she turned left, right, “yes… that’s Zeno. Or Zeno reconstituted by some idolator. They can’t think for themselves these days, it’s all rewrites and posturing. The sheer amount of Rowling fan fic alone would clog Okeanos if I took a day off.”

“That explains Big Z rounding up some help for you from the lute layabouts. What are they doing down there that’s caused this strain on the systems?”

“You won’t believe me, Teth. And really, a Goddess of your demeanor, you don’t want to know.”

“Don’t bullshit a bullshitter, Cina. Goddess to Goddess, what’s the deal?”

“Well, I blame Philip. Back in what, 1747? It wasn’t his idea, really, but he did spread it around. And now with this Covid-19 thing and toilet paper being in short supply, it’s escalated to the point where…Well, look at me! Covered in shit from one end of the rainbow to the other and nowhere near caught up. It’s…I don’t know, Teth. Just too much.”

“If there was an answer in there, Cina dear, I missed it. What, no look at me, what, exactly, are they doing that’s got your sewers in such a state?”

Cina looked Teth in the eyes, fought back the tears. “They’re ripping pages out of shitty books and making them shittier.”

“How can a shitty book possibly become –”

“By wiping their asses with them!”

There was a long, pregnant silence. Teth erupted in un Goddess-like laughter.

“Oh Big Z! Cina, how horrible. It’s bad enough they were crappy in the first place, but now? Dear Big Z…” Her laughter diminished to giggles and she raised the small fountain over Cina’s head and let it run till Cina was sparkling clean. “Now there’s a presentable Goddess.  Let’s go see how Z’s doing with rather-be-luting-than-working crowd. They need to get off their asses anyway and get to musing. There’s as much shitty music going around as there are shitty books.”

“Don’t I know it. Good for me their media is incompatible with the function and won’t fit in their current disposal system or I’d really be in deep shit.”

“That’s the best part about being a Goddess. Never having to deal with, you know, poop and all that.”

Cina shot her a look.

“Sorry, C. I mean unless poop is like your job.”

***

Excerpt of a letter from Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, to his illegitimate son Philip. 12/17/1747

-I knew a gentleman, who was so good a manager of his time, that he would not even lose that small portion of it, which the calls of nature obliged him to pass in the necessary-house; but gradually went through all the Latin poets, in those moments. He bought, for example, a common edition of Horace, of which he tore off gradually a couple of pages, carried them with him to that necessary place, read them first, and then sent them down as a sacrifice to Cloacina: this was so much time fairly gained; and I recommend you to follow his example. It is better than only doing what you cannot help doing at those moments; and it will made any book, which you shall read in that manner, very present in your mind. Books of science, and of a grave sort, must be read with continuity; but there are very many, and even very useful ones, which may be read with advantage by snatches, and unconnectedly; such are all the good Latin poets, except Virgil in his “AEneid”: and such are most of the modern poets, in which you will find many pieces worth reading, that will not take up above seven or eight minutes. Bayle’s, Moreri’s, and other dictionaries, are proper books to take and shut up for the little intervals of (otherwise) idle time, that everybody has in the course of the day, between either their studies or their pleasures.

 

Cloacina – Greek Goddess of Sewers

Tethys – Greek Titan Goddess of fresh waters

 

 

NVDT Random – Happy Birthday Sam

For all you research-aholics and etymology nuts, today is Dr. Samuel Johnson’s birthday.

You teach your daughters the diameters of the planets and wonder when you are done that they do not delight in your company.

Who?

“The only end of writing is to enable the readers better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.”

The Godfather of the English language Dictionary.

What? You thought Oxford did that? Nope. They did print theirs in such a small font it comes with its own magnifying glass. Which is okay or it would take up a room of my house were it legible to the naked eye.

Read over your compositions, and when you meet a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.

It’s not that Johnson invented the dictionary, but until his came out English was left wanting for one. To publish a dictionary was trending in 1755 and Johnson wasn’t without criticism from fellow bibliophiles, one of whom called the work an “ingenious performance”, but the style of the work “flatulent”.  Johnson got there first and took the heat and pressure like a gentleman, admitting he was frightened of the books very existence. He hoped it might “make it easier for some other adventurer to proceed further…”

The advice that is wanted is commonly not welcome and that which is not wanted, evidently an effrontery.

Thanks, Sammy! Now about higgledy-piggledy being a corruption of higgle and higglers? You should know that it is still used today by professional football coaches, T-Ball coaches, English teachers, parents, befuddled sales managers, police spokespersons and school principles when they need a synonym for “that’s all kindsa fucked up” and can’t say “that’s all kindsa fucked up” without offending the perpetrators of higgledy-piggledy.

Grandparents were excluded from that list because I know one who might say “Grant, buddy? That’s all kindsa fucked up.”

All the quotes are Johnson’s

NVDT Random – Even Mo SepSceneWrimo Redux – Talkin’ Politics

Munro scrunched up through the scrub oak, held his hands out to the fire. He lifted his club foot in the direction of the cast iron skillet resting on a piece of shopping cart frame over the fire.

“Where’d you get the skillet, Stefan?”

“Farmer woman. Up the road some.”

“You stopped for a chat?”

“Some. She was hangin’ out her woman wear on the line there in back. Said she’d be glad to hep me out.”

“An you stole her goddam skillet? Last time you stole somethin –”

“She give it to me. An we come out good on them tools we pawned outta that El Camino.”

“You kept that piece a shit El Camino, damn near got us throwed in jail.”

“How’d I know the damn thing had a geo-locater an that shiny shirt jackalope hadda stole it an them tools before we stole ‘em from him, huh?”

“You coulda asked ‘fore you stuck him.”

“Coulda. But there weren’t the time. Fella’d been a sport I wouldna had a kill him.”

“Coulda made time. Lucky the cameras were out at that Walmart an the po-leece didn’t see who parked it.” Munro sat on an upended cinder block close to the fire. “Not thinkin’ an reactin’ is how you fuck up, Stefan. Now you done killed that woman for what? A skillet?”

“I told you she give it to me. ‘Sides. Thought it might come in handy.”

“Maybe so. What’s that you’re cookin’.”

“Fryin’ biscuits. She give some Bisquick, too.”

“Fryin’ in what?”

“Bacon grease.”

“An where’d you get that?”

“Bacon, where else?”

“She give you some of that, too?”

“Bacon, Bisquick, eggs,” he pulled a block of Tillamook sharp cheddar from his jacket pocket, “this here cheese. Told her I didn’t have no way to keep yogurt or none of the green stuff. Did get half a cooked roast beef in the bag there, and some sweet corn.

“And she gave you all that. This’s got nothin’ to do with them cop cars running red an hot up 61 a while ago?”

“Coulda. Didn’t hit her all that hard. She’d a stopped carryin’ on after offrin’ to hep a man out I’d a left peaceful like.”

“At least you didn’t steal her car.”

“Mebbe that’s true and mebbe it ain’t. See, I been thinkin’. You an that foot slow us down, so mebbe the trains an hoofin’ it all over ain’t my idea a no hobo picnic.”

“You’re the one fucked up my foot, so don’t start complainin’. An look here, I’m getting’ up a letter to my congressman ‘bout how the whole world needs to get right with any kinda disability, don’t matter if it’s somethin’ wrong with one person in two hunnert million, by God we need to bend over backwards if need be to accommodate ‘em. An America needs to lead the way.”

“You sayin’ we need a block an tackle in front a every Seben Elebin to drag some handicapped lard-ass outta their subsidized, customized dump truck and inside the store there we need talkin’ Diet Coke cans an Cheeto bags so some dyslixical retard can buy shit they don’t need?”

“What I’m sayin’.”

“An who’s gonna pay for that, Munro?”

“Everbody out there that ain’t got a lick wrong with ‘em, and Seven-Eleven. An Coke and Cheetos. They all got money.” He reached for the skillet. “Them biscuits look done to me.”

Stefan wrapped his coat sleeve around his hand, grabbed the skillet’s handle, threw the biscuits and grease in Munro’s face. Munro screamed, Stefan slammed the skillet into the back of Munro’s head, sent him face-first into the fire where he stayed. Stefan kicked the dead man’s club foot, tossed the skillet on top of him.

“Told ya it’d come in handy.”

Ever wonder about unsolved homicides? Talk politics.

 

NVDT Random – Mo SepSceneWrimo Redux – With a Writerly Concern

-Vermillion’s dead, he said, taking a worn wooden stool at the sidebar, pushed aside a fake fishing net and starfish that had come un-thumbtacked from the wall.

-Vermillion? He’s the one could fart a hurricane?

-That’s him. You drinkin’?

– Sure.  He held up two fingers to the bartender. -I remember he ate burnt toast.

-He ever give a reason?

-Digestion. What he claimed, anyway. He took a long pull from the fresh mug that landed in front of him, wiped his white and black beard.

-There’s digestive crackers for that. Baking soda. And Charcoal, Beeno. Simethicone. That’s what they gave me after that woman rebuilt my asshole, simethicone. Said it was to keep me from blowing out their handiwork. Gave me a damn prescription for it. I took it in, handed it off and the Indian woman behind the counter, she got all pissy, took me out to where the Rolaids and Tums were at, folded her arms all ‘got it, dumbass?’

-Did it help?

-Some. You have to take that stuff in anticipation that you’re gonna fart to knock it back. You got a jalapeno sausage bloat workin’ you’re already gonna fart, it’s just gonna help you keep it moving and not cramp up.

-Vermillion would say, bein’ tighter’n a squirrel on a nut, everyone who spent money on antacids and all that ought to burn some toast. Fresh charcoal, best as there was for a fartin’ man.

-He would know.

-Yep. Burnt toast. He liked his eggs runny, too. Hell to eat breakfast with.

– To burnt toast and runny eggs. He lifted his mug. -Vermillion!

-Vermillion!

-That is like so totally mega gross. She’d silently appeared at the bar, taller than both of them, even if they’d been standing. White leotard, black velvet vest, white tights, a stiff tulle spinner skirt. -Runny eggs? Massive Ewwww factor. Did your mom ever make you eat poached eggs? The ones on a stand like an overgrown golf tee and you have to hit the baby chicken on the head with a spoon to open it and it’s all runny and completely I’m-calling-technicolor-yawn gross? Mine tried. No way, Jose.

-Well, Vermillion…

-I heard. Burnt toast and runny eggs. Did he eat them off the golf tee? Mom said maybe dad should try them for golf, the little runny egg stands? Cause he sure cussed like a sailor, oh, sorr-eee, but he did. I know ‘cause I went with him sometimes until, well, they wouldn’t rent him one of those little cars if I was there. Talk about borrrrrr-ing. Ohmahgawd. I wanted to go with mom, but he said she and her friends played liquid golf and I’d be in the way. So…after too many beers, I like forget how many, no way dad could have hit that ball even like off the big yukky egg tee. I mean, he was like totally digging holes with that club thing and cussing me and the ball and God and… Would either of you, um, gentlemen, be pirates?

-Um…no. Miss, we’re –

-Alcoholics?

-No. No, I don’t think –

Dammit. She drummed her fingers on the bar. -Ohmawgawd, sorr-eeee. Next door, we’re like rehearsing in that warehouse? And, well, like the director and the choreographer are like going at it you know like divorce court on crack only they’re not married or anything, and, well because we were like standing around for-ever while they argued I said to everybody like screw this. We’re by the ocean, so somebody should know, right? So, they said like fine, Logan. Go next door to that ratty assed sailor bar, um, sorreee, but like it is, kinda, and find a goddam pirate and like ask him. But then they said all I’d find was alcoholics, but maybe that would be okay, too, just like come back with an answer. But…well, foo… She looked around the mostly empty bar. -I can’t like find a pirate or an alcoholic. I mean there’s the mega cheesy pirates at Disneyland. I know. I worked there for like, um…

-P’rhaps me auld matey mis spoke, lass. Aw doanae wan it oot among ‘em as wud ‘av me in gool, but if it’s a pirate yer seekin’ Awl be ‘im as yer lookin’ fer.

-Really? Ohmahgawd. You even like sound like a pirate!

-At yer service, lass. An whut wud ya ‘ave us give answer tae oon awl?

-Okay. Like, the dance, well the music… well, um, all of it, it’s like totally not what I’m used to. It’s like a pirate song. I think. With sound effects and a ship on the stage that rocks, you know, back and forth like when your gramma has taken her night-night pills and is still in the rocking chair? They’re like whipping each other, the ship dancer people, and I’m dancing a solo and there’s this like totally ginormous whoooooosh and that… And like I, well I’m a classical dancer and these people are like modern, which is okay, you know, I’m not like, um, prejudiced or anything, but in ballet we, well, my teachers always said like Logan, dear, you have to know what the fuck you’re doing next or someone will get hurt. So, um, like I have always been, you know, curious about next. And these people… Well, my friend that’s like doing the effects? He says it gets to that part and they don’t know whether to shit or wind their watch and, like, he’s totally right! So…

-Thur wasnae question in awl that oonless Aw missed ‘er.

Well, that’s the argument, see? The whips and the whoosh…What does blow the man down mean? I mean not in like a naughty way, like guys would think, but like for real.

-Aye. Thur’s tha one as thinks it’s sails oon ships oon another ‘as a mind tae whips?

-Wow… that is like so totally psychic! Yes! Like the big whoosh and the song is saying blow the man down and then there’s like all these dancer people on the ship only like in silhouette? With whips? And other dancer people are falling down…and, well like the whoosh… She bent her left knee, right leg out, toe down. -I’m in Battemont Fondu, right? She held it before bending at the waist, arms sweeping wide. -Then there’s like the whoosh. She bent backward, head almost touching the floor, her arms waved fluidly from wrist to wrist. She popped back up, elbow on the bar. -Someone is supposed to catch me there, being all like blown over and everything? But he was like too busy being whipped, you know, and the choreographer is like picking me up yelling at the director fuck the whips, Daphne, where’s fucking Bruce? And like my butt’s bruised and —

-Bloo the man doon?

-Yes!

-As daft wee pups we ‘erd oot as a whippin’ men took as thee wen tae sea. Didnae noo till later it was hoo a ship rigged oop wit awl ‘er sails oopen took a fookin’ goost a wind whut blowed ‘er o’er. Man-o-war blowed o’er, lass, as ‘at’s yer whoosh.

-Man-o-war?

-Aye. Warship, lass. Cannons she’d ‘ave ‘ad a plenny. O’er on ‘er side oon she wouldnae float noo moor. Bloo tha man doon they’d say uv it.

Like Captain Blood!?

-A wiser lass, I couldnae dream uh. Captain Blood. Aye. Didnae noo no bitter pirate as eever sailed. An oon again tae yer oon troubles, lass. It’s as both’em, yur answer. A wind blown foul –

And the whips? Both? Oh. Mah. Gawwwwwwd! That is like so mega fantastically awesome. Everyone is happy! Like, um the beard, no way, and well… She blew the pirate a kiss… -Thank you!!!

They watched the tutu retreat.

-A pirate, huh?

-Aye, the other’s face wrinkled with silent laughter.

-And that happened when?

-I read an Irvine Welsh book once. All the pirate I’ll ever need.

-Are you sure Scotts is acceptable for pirate?

-Yoda want you, it is? Inside backwards out and? Think you not willing am I such to stoop.

-So, your pirates are always Scotts?

-Unless they’re not. Errol Flynn didn’t have an accent in Captain Blood.

-Proving what?

-Accents are one of those quacks-like-a-duck things. Her imagination didn’t have to work in the movie. Without visuals, it needed a little help. And that’s all we need to give them. A gentle shove in the right direction.

 

NVDT Totally Random – Blogger Award Recommendation

Hetty Eliot at Who The Hell Knows nominated me for a blogging award. The digital equivalent of a chain letter. Further, I have no idea who the award giver is (Vincent Ehindiro) and upon perusing Hetty’s list of nominees I find myself in some rather suspect company. However, one should acknowledge a kindness and/or invitation with a courteous response. To that end, I thank her for the recognition and offer these answers to her questions.

  1. Were you a dork growing up? We were all dorks growing up. That’s part of the process. To answer, in some ways, yes, in others no. I got to call my own plays (successfully) as a quarterback from junior league at 9 through highschool. I was a serious social dork in junior high. By my freshman year in high school contextually (ie being cool but also a know-it-all-high-schooler) my dork vanished. More on (moron?) that is here – https://philh52.wordpress.com/2017/01/18/catharsis-or-15-ways-to-know-you-werent-a-dork/
  2. Which literary villain most resonates with you? Purple Pie Man. “I’m sorry, we don’t have a rrrreservation for a Strawberry Shortcake.” There are thousands of anti-heroes out there. Backstabbers, manipulators. I think the enemy you can’t see is the vilest, evilest, and most resonant. From disorders (vanity, hate, greed, jealousy et al) to social institutions (The Country Club, slavery, prison, gangs and cartels, governments, funny farms, schools).
  3. What is your perspective on existence?  “We be, therefoe we is.”
  4. What is your favorite video game? I don’t. Unless you consider zapping musical clams in a MIDI data stream a sort of game. Like searching for Klingons.
  5. Who is the worst boss you’ve ever had? I got fired after half a day as a picture framer once time. Not their fault. Most of my bosses, if it didn’t work out it was me and my middle finger that got in the way. That doesn’t make them bad bosses, it makes me intolerant of the brain dead “company man” mindset, particularly when wrapped in incompetence with a side order of bible belt or dimestore motivational bullshit. My best, and most demanding bosses, were women. Going way back to the 80s. https://philh52.wordpress.com/2016/02/15/way-more-than-midi/
  6. Do you have a “tic” when you think of something embarrassing you’ve done? (eg, I shake my head really hard) I flush. Body flush. I might even sweat a little. But only over the really stupid stuff. The rest were (mostly) honest mistakes.

 

 

NVDT Random – Even Mo SepSceneWrimo

“You aren’t much of a pirate…”

“You aren’t much of a cop…”

“DEA. I’m a DEA.”

“Not much a one a those, either.”

They stood, awash in the low noises of the lakeside, stared off the end of the dock at an RC Cigarette Boat and a Coast Guard cutter fifteen yards away. Both dead in the placid water of the cove.

“I thought we plugged these in last night.”

“We did.” He lowered his controller box with a whole-body shrug. “Shit.”

“So whatta we do now?”

“Dunno.”

“Well, it can’t be too deep. Maybe we could wade it. Or swim.” She started to step off, he caught her arm.

“Dad says after all the rain it’s gotta be full of snakes. Dad’s an asshole sometimes, but still.”

“Jesus doesn’t like that word, Austin.”

“Mom?” He whirled around. “But he is, you know?”

“He can be. But when it comes to nature your father is simply scared of his own shadow. Good morning, Britny.”

“Morning Miz Carburger…” She eyed Austin’s mom dressed in a frumpy sweatshirt and baggy shorts. The laundry basket she carried loaded with melamine dishes and two cast iron skillets didn’t add to the picture. “What’s with the, um…”

“Somebody has to rinse the dishes, Britny. I thought I’d make it easy by wading out with this basket and dunk the whole darn thing at once. If I can get to your boats, I’ll bring them back.”

“Mom? Dad, and the snakes and –”

“Yeah, ‘Mom’. Dad and the snakes.” Britny’s mother, already decked out in not much of a bikini and a sheer cover-up, lit a cigarette. “You wouldn’t want to get bitten.” She stood, the elbow of her cigarette hand on the wrist of the arm across her midriff.

Austin wondered how Britny’s mom always looked so good, even in the skimpy nightgown and curlers she wore to collect the paper from her porch every morning. How his dad had said, after the morning snake admonishment, the only snake Britny’s mom needed to look out for was the one-eyed trouser kind.

“I should think, Louella,” his mom huffed, “that I’m far more aware of the natural world than the man I married. With all the rain, it’s been too cool for snakes.”

“You go, nature girl,” Britny’s mom motioned to the smooth-as-a-granite-countertop water. “Bring ‘em back clean.”

His mom didn’t say “Uhhh”, but she might as well have. Like bad words, his mom didn’t think Jesus thought much of Britny’s mom, either. Ten feet out and about mid-thigh deep, his mom dunked the basket, screamed. She screamed again, the water roiling around her. She sunk to her knees screaming and fell to the side. Her screams turned to gurgles and stopped.

“Margot? MARGOT!!” Britny’s dad flew past his wife and the kids, arced off the dock into the water like an Olympic swimmer. He almost made it to Margot before he started to spin. He gasped and gurgled on every rotation before he stopped, face down. The churning water around him subsided.

“Can’t say I didn’t warn them.” Austin’s dad appeared next to Britny’s mom. “Well… We can’t go in after them, so we’d better go call lake patrol.”

“Yes…” she flicked her cigarette into the lake, turned, and followed him back toward the camper. She hooked her arm in his, slipped her hand in the pocket of his baggy cargos, pulled out a wall-wart charger with the cable cut.

“Sneaky bastard. We’re still stuck with the kids.”

“That’s what I get for teaching him to listen.”

NVDT Random – Mo SepSceneWrimo

Twelve minutes east of the last lights of Nacogdoches the two-lane thinned out to no shoulder and a faded center stripe. It was the end of dusk, Harper had no idea where he was going, and the lights from the dually pickup behind him were too close. He reached up, tilted the mirror toward the dash.

“I’m thinking you and today weren’t the best decisions I’ve made lately.” Jackie looked over her shoulder, squinted at the lights. “This was supposed to be about Willie, right?” She caught the grin coupled to a slight shake of his head even with his eyes glued to the Reverend D’s taillights.

“Willie Nelson, Jackie. I knew you hadn’t grown up.”

“And now we’re going to die in the middle of nowhere because an old preacher can’t get the Debbel out of his church?”

“I said I’d show you a mostly G rated good time. This is the prelude.”

“Like the fifty cents worth of nonsense you front-load your stories with?”

“Maybe…” The near black pine trees and scrubby woods canopy was as creepy as a swamp. Harper’s headlights popped roadside ghosts out of shadows at the edge of their beams.

“There was a reason he offered you the shotgun, Harp.”

“No, there was the possibility of a reason. Dana is a Jesus man himself, but not a raging snake handler or some of the other shit people get up to out here in the name of religion… Whoa.” Harper followed the old Volvo wagon’s left turn signal down a one lane road that turned from asphalt to rarely maintained gravel.

“Okay, Harper, this just got shitty. I’m serious.” She leaned around into the back seat and picked up the shotgun, clamped the butt between her thighs.

“I hit a bump and that goes off we get a redneck sunroof. You think it was cold getting here, you’ll love the drive home.”

“Jesus Harper, are you too crazy to be scared?”

“I was scared before we got out of the parking lot. Here we are.” Harper pulled up next to the Volvo in a gravel clearing about thirty yards across, right in front of an old clapboard church with a fresh coat of white paint and antique stained-glass windows. Except for a sheet of painted plywood where one of those antique windows no longer resided. “You can put the gun down.”

“You’re getting out?”

“This is East Texas knocking on Louisiana. Maybe Deliverance, not Jurassic Park. I doubt if the reverends are interested in making either of us squeal like a pig.” He opened his door, stepped out. “Can’t whip the Debbel’s ass sittin’ in the car, can we?”

“Goddammit Harper, I swear. Never. Again.”

***

The church was quiet. Tomb-like quiet. It smelled of old wood and Pine-sol and somewhere in the background something musty.

Reverend D switched on the lights, walked to the front of the church, stepped up on the Chancel littered with a Hammond M-100 organ as old as Harper, a three-piece mismatched drum set, and an ancient Peavey bass amp with a faded “Twitty” stenciled on the side. He waded through the band gear, unlocked a small closet, and started handing bags of canned goods to a surprised Harper and Jackie who set them around wherever they found space.

“No proper food pantry ‘round, an all God’s chidrin needs to eat.” That was all the explanation they got. Reverend D handed off the last of the bags, turned to give the cabinet his full attention. “Here, now Mister Harper, you listen. Da Debbel be a waitin’.” He flipped a switch inside the closet that turned on the sound system. Nothing but background hiss. “Doan be fooled. Dere he is!”

The sound of disembodied voices crackled inside the church. Parts of words, bits of sentences broken by screechy static, all ethereal, buried in the Reverend’s love for reverb in his sound system. It could easily have been the Devil and lost souls screaming in a deep, hellish cave.

Harper had to scoot the mesmerized Rev out of the way to get in the closet. Jackie, on tip toe, looked over his shoulder. He found a wire, thumped it with his finger. The thump made it in behind the voices of hell. He looked at the old mixer. “Howdy do, Debbel.”

“It gets all de worse wit de wahrless.” The Rev opened a drawer, pulled out an ancient Radio Shack wireless lavalier mic and flicked it on. The hell voices rejoiced and doubled in volume, plus feedback.

Harper snatched it away from him, switched it off. “Sorry, but the Devil doesn’t seem to need much to do his work in here. Let’s keep that off, cut down his options.” Harper went down on his knees, traced the inbound wire from the wireless receiver, thumped it and got the sound back behind the voices again. He yanked that wire and the first one he’d thumped, and the Devil lost his voice.

“Harper?” Jackie bent down. “Hey. What’re you doing down there?”  He pulled her all the way down to her knees with him. “What the –”

“Shhh…” He whispered. “I’m praying.”

She dropped her voice to match his. “Bullshit. You’re cutting that –”

Shhh!” He raised his voice. “Pray with me.” He took her right hand with his left, breathed out “count to forty.”

The church went back to tomb like silence save for the whispering hiss of the sound system.

“Law-dy Lawd. Glow-ree be.” The Reverend D hit his knees, took Jackie’s other hand, raised it. “Gracious Lawd, you have heard de call of your servants in de wilderness! You have found us worthy and banished de Debbel from your house with these bless-ed kind strangers. God be praised.”

Jackie squeezed Harper’s hand so hard he thought she was trying to crush it.

The big preacher who’d ridden Harper’s ass all the way to this nowhere in his dually pickup just to be sure Harper wasn’t a bullshit artist with his hand out had stayed in the back of the church, as if being in one other than his own might corrupt him somehow, stepped up and joined Reverend D in his praises. The torque on Harper’s hand got tighter. The praise went on.

***

Harper showed the cables he’d cut and the ancient wireless to Reverend D. “I’m taking all this, so you don’t have to deal with the Devil sneaking back in. I’ll leave it all with Dana, he’ll rip the Devil out of it, burn it, get you what you need. With proper Devil filtering and all.”

“Ain’t dat gonna come some costly?”

“My guess is you can pass the hat on Sunday, tell the congregation they need to come up with a buck-and-a-quarter to help you keep the Devil out of here for good and all.”

The Reverend’s brows furrowed in confusion.

The big preacher rocked on the heels of his boots. “That’s a hundred and twenty-five dollars, Reverend D.”

“Dat’s all? Dem boys down Lufkin way tole me a thousan’, mebbe even two. A hunnert an twenny fi’ I can find. But how much for you, youngster? You done come out on a cold night an run out de Debblel single-handed.”

“No charge.” Harper shook out his left hand, tried to get some feeling back in it.

Jackie smiled, shook Reverend D’s hand, winked. “Devil busting is what he does.”

***

Harper reached across the Jeep, pulled a roll of masking tape out of the glovebox. “You have a pen, knuckle buster?”

“Somewhere, prayer man.” Jackie stuck a hand in her purse, dug around, produced a capped BIC stick. She offered it, hung on. “What’s it for?”

“Notes. I need to tag this shit before I forget.”

“Okay,” she let go of the pen. “But you have to tell me what happened in there, you praying and all that.”

“You can’t open a closet and see something like that and say, ‘What fucking moron did this shit?’ when the man is convinced it’s the Devil that’s disrupting his message, not his gear. And because the moron might be related. And they really don’t want you to say ‘Oh, it’s this and that tech bullshit and your great nephew should stick to car stereo installations’ and explain all about how it’s not the Devil, makin’ them out to be stupid. Sayin’ those kinds of things is how you come to need the shotgun. So, I pulled the Devil’s pathway, and we prayed.”

“That shit went on way past forty.” He could see her reflection in the window, her face a light mask of bewilderment. “What about de Debbel?”

“De Debbel was trucker CB hash from 59. And there’s a Pilgrim’s Pride chicken processing plant out here somewhere.”

“I heard ‘chicken’ in that mess in there. Didn’t know what de Debbel was talking about.” She pointed out past the windshield at the dually pickup. “At least he’s in front of us this time.”

“I don’t know how good I feel about that. Last one is always the one gets snagged. Velociraptors, vampires, aliens. Even the cheetahs on the Discovery Channel work that trick.”

“It’s always something with you.” She looked over her shoulder into the black forest folding in behind them. “I’m not sure I needed the one about cheetahs…”

“‘Chee-ick-ick-ick-en?’” mimicking the distorted radio Debbel.

“Shut up.” She pulled a bag of Cheetos out of the road munchie bag and immediately returned them, came up with a Snickers that she unwrapped in a very tidy, ladylike manner, took a small bite. “Tell me there’s real food somewhere at the end of this?”

“Besides us?”

“Harper? Swear to God,” she leaned over her seat into the back. “Where’s that damn shotgun?”

NVDT Random – SepSceneWrimo 1

What the heck, I’ll play. With all-new material.

A hand reached out from the pressing throng in the Marriott lobby, caught Harper’s jacket. He isolated the hand to a familiar face.

“Andy?”

“You gotta help me, man.”

“Man, I’m…”

“Goddam, Harper. Please?” The hand pulled Harper to where Andy was standing in front of a black leather bench up against a window where, behind Andy, rain reminiscent of a drive-through car wash sheeted down. “I can’t get rid of ‘em.”

“Rid of who?”

Andy barely tilted his head back. Harper rose on the balls of his feet, saw two females seated on the bench. They sat, turned facing each other. A tricolor blonde and a brunette, hair tied with a black and white bandana. Both tan, yammering, chewing gum while brunette dug in her purse, tri-color, all animated hands, skywriting with cigarette smoke.

“Where’d you find them?”

“They found me. I was doing a quick line on the third-floor window sill. By the elevators? Nobody was around–”

“You thought.”

“You gonna help me or not?”

“Man, I’d love to, but I need to find J a keyboard and take it to a ballroom downstairs. He’s down there lookin’ to jam with a few of the other rained-out tent-show cancels.”

“Perfect.”

“Perfect?”

“Give them something to do, walk around, get star fucker eyes, maybe shut the fuck up and leave me alone.”

“Glue effect’s on you, man. Talk and hang is what those chicks do, you give ‘em a bump.”

“It wasn’t like I had a choice. Besides, it’s smooth. J and I are in the same band, remember?”

“Yeah, but he’s gone all vitamin health-nut sober, and you’re trollin’ with two coke groupies and a pocket full of blow.”

“Not on me. That’s one of the problems. Follow me up to the room, keep them outside.”

“I gotta go find J a–”

“Covered. The Oberkurz-thing dude, lit like fucking Christmas. He stopped by, left one in the room. You care it’s not one of yours?”

“Fuck no. I’m procurement for a jam from hell and my boss thinks I shit miracles on demand.”

“That’s what you do, man, and here you are. Come on.” He turned, got the chicks’ attention, led them off through the crowd to the fire stairs. “Third floor, no biggie.” He thumbed toward the jammed elevator vestibule, almost put the short chick’s eye out. “Fuck that.”

“Hey, nobody said nothing about fucking nothing. Right now, anyway.” The taller, tricolor blonde giggled, poked Harper on the shoulder. “Who’re you, cutie? You the one with the blow?”

“Harper’s gonna watch you two while I take care of some business.” The fire stair door swung open, a pair of spandex-clad hair farmers with two clones of the girls stuck to Andy on their arms stumbled out, laughing, the girls making eye contact with Andy’s two saying “Ohmagawd, stairs… These guys… Seriously?”

“Yeah,” from the tricolor blonde Harper finally noticed had on a black skirt that hit where her butt cheek met her thigh. “Seriously?”

Seriously. Ladies?” Harper shouldered Andy into the girls, kept at it until the door slammed behind them.

The short brunette in micro cutoffs, tights and three different oversize but cropped and shredded off-the-shoulder t-shirts said over a bare shoulder, “Your friend may be cute, but he’s not very friendly.”

“He’s working, so we need to hurry. I do what I do upstairs, that’ll ma ke us all happy. Then he’s gonna get so friendly he’s takin’ y’all to a private concert with J and Ron. And Smitty… Smitty is down there?”

“He sure as hell ain’t out there playin’ in the rain.” Harper reached around Andy, grabbed a handful of parked cutoffs back pocket, pushed. “Go.” Lower, into Andy’s ear, “This better be fuckin’ worth it.”