Three Jack Night

The scratching woke him up again. Jack cracked open one eye and shifted his pillow so he could see the alarm clock. Eleven forty-five. Shit. It took him two rolls to get to the edge of his king size bed. He threw the blankets off in a dramatic gesture and sat up.

The little fucker was by the door, waiting, its brown and black body shaking uncontrollably. He was a Jack Russell Terrier and he shook when he was excited. He did a lot of things when he was excited, like piss all over the place.

Jack hated the dog. It wasn’t even his dog. It was his ex-wife’s dog, just like he was sleeping in his ex-wife’s bed. She had left them with Jack because they didn’t fit into her new lifestyle. They were relics of her old life; the life where she played house with Big Jack and Little Jackie and they all slept together in the big bed.

It was always a game to her, a phase, something she was bound to get bored with or grow out of. Jack had known it all along; he knew she was going to move on to something new and exciting after a while. She was too fickle, too distracted by shiny new things to stay doing one thing for too long. He had always thought that when she moved on to something new, he was going to come along with her. Instead she left him right along with the dog and the bed.

Now it was just Big Jack, Little Jackie and a big ass bottle of Jack Daniels.

He stumbled to the back door. The little dog pranced excitedly and shook some more. Jack threw the deadbolt on the door. It opened with an obnoxious squeak; the house was old, the whole place squeaked and groaned and popped. When Jack walked down the hall it sometimes sounded like someone was following him as the boards snapped back into place. It made the house really spooky sometimes, but he had gotten used to it.

The little dog looked up at him and then at the opening. Jack had opened the door just far enough to let the damn dog out. It was winter and it was cold and he was in his skivvies. He didn’t want to open the door any farther than he had to. “Well what the fuck do you want?” He asked the little pain in the ass.

The little dog looked at the cracked open door and whined.

“I’m not going to slam it on you.” Jack said; then added “Again.”

He wasn’t proud about trying to kill the dog. But he had been drunk and the fucking thing reminded him of her. He groaned and opened the door all the way. A cold gust of wind hit him and instantly hardened his nipples and shrank his cock.

“God damn it.” He shivered.

The little dog looked up at him, looked outside and shook some more.

“Now what are you waiting for?”

The dog just shook and whimpered. Jack put the side of his foot against the little dog’s ass and shoved him out the wide open door. The dog went skittering out into the dark, its little nails failing to get purchase as it slid across the redwood deck.

Jack slammed the door and threw the deadbolt. He looked down at the lock, chuckled to himself and unlocked it. The little fucker was going to want back in soon enough.

Jack walked into his bathroom and relieved himself. He was up, after all. He flushed and opened up the medicine cabinet. Grabbing the Xanax bottle he dumped two into his hand. The Jack Daniels was on his nightstand; he put the pills in his mouth and walked back to his bed.

The bottle of Jack was one of the giant Costco bottles. He had finished half of it this weekend. He spun the lid off with his thumb and took a shot to wash down the pills.

He looked at the door. Usually the dog was quick about his business. A couple of minutes then he was scratching to come back in. Jack wondered what was taking so long. He was loath to get back into bed. He knew the damn dog would want back in as soon as he got comfortable. He went to the door and opened it a little. “Jackie.” He called. Nothing. He peered out into the darkness. The night was overcast, there was no moon or stars. He couldn’t see ten feet into the yard. “Jackie.” He gave a little whistle. He didn’t know why, the stupid dog never came when called anyway.

He shut the door and flopped down on top of the covers to wait for the dog to return.

The cold awoke him. He was shivering. He raised his head, the door was open. Cold wind blew into the house. “Jackie?” He called for the dog. He must have left the door cracked a little and the fucker pushed it open.

Pushing himself off the bed, he noticed that he had been drooling. His comforter had a huge wet spot where his head had been. He licked his lips and wiped his slimy cheek. Slamming the door shut he called for the dog again. He listened for the chime of his tags jingling on his collar, nothing.

“Jackie you little shit.” He mumbled. His head was full of cottonballs from the Xanax. He peeled back his blankets and laid down. “Jackie.” He yelled to no avail. The dog must have gone back outside. Well he could fucking freeze, he didn’t care.

Jack’s eyes shot open; he had been sleeping but, he heard a creaking noise. He hated this house. “Jackie?” He called out. Was the dog in the house after all? He forced himself up.

The creaking noises went echoing down the hall. Something was in the house. Something bigger than a Jack Russell Terrier.

“Joanne?” His first thought was that it was his wife but then he remembered. She was gone, and she wasn’t coming back. He struggled to get his fuzzy mind to work.

The creaking noises seemed closer; they were coming down the hall. A jolt of fear went through him. Something or someone was definitely in his house. He scrambled to the edge of his bed and grabbed the baseball bat he had stashed underneath it.

The creaking stopped. “Who’s there?” He shouted down the hall. He sat up, holding the bat in both hands. He listened but there was no answer. He worked up some courage and leapt from his bed. Hitting the light switch with the tip of the bat he warily went out into the hall.

The floorboards gave their usual protests as he walked down the hall. Jack winced at each one. If somebody was in his house they would know right where he was.

He worked his way down to the front room and the kitchen. He tried to keep his back to a wall as he explored his house. He looked at the entryway.

The front door was open. What the fuck. He knew he’d locked that door. Hadn’t he? He cautiously approached the door and gazed outside. It was still darker than shit. “Jackie?” He called into the night, where the fuck was that dog anyway?

He waited a minute before he slammed the door and threw the dead bolt. He’d been drinking too much. It was windy; the wind had opened the door. There was no other explanation. He put the bat on his shoulder and went back through the house, turning off the lights as he went. He left the bedroom light on, what did he care, he paid the power bill and nobody was here to call him a pussy.

He leaned the bat against the night stand, took a big swig off the JD to calm his nerves and climbed back into bed. He adjusted the pillows and the blankets, got everything perfect. Then a scratch came at the door.

“Fuck!” Jack cursed. He threw the blankets off and got out of bed. He stomped to the back door. He wanted the little shit to know he was pissed before he opened the door. Where the fuck had he been, anyway? He threw open the door.

Nothing.

 He flipped the switch for the back porch light. The bulb lit up a tiny sphere in the gloom. No dog. “Jackie you little shit! Get in here!”

Nothing.

The creaks came from behind him, charging down the hall. His bat, Jack thought too late, was back by his bed. The dark form moved too quickly for him to make out what it was. Jack screamed.

The sun rose and Jackie crawled out of his hole in the rose bushes. He found his master’s body half way in and half way out of back door. The smell of blood made him excited, he started to shake, and piss everywhere.

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Tymon Story Part One

The Spaniards were beginning to get on his nerves. They had taken their zeal for the Reconquista, purging the Moors from Iberia and brought it with them to this strange new world. All the skills the Spaniards had learned both in warfare and religious fanaticism during the Reconquista they brought to this new fight, this Conquista of the natives of this place. While the natives were no more Christian than the Muslim infidels that had conquered Spain, they had committed no great atrocities against the Spanish. They had not subjugated and converted its people to their religion. They had done nothing, except stand in their way. Yet the Spanish warred with them with all the brutality and hatred they had used against the Moors.

Tymon watched the little Aztec village burn. The women and children screamed as the conquistadors rounded them up and shoved them into a pen their men had used for livestock. The men, every one over the age of twelve, littered the ground of the village their blood turning the clayey soil into mud.

“What is that look on your face Brother?” The monk standing next to Tymon asked. “Surely you are no stranger to the realities of war.”

Tymon sighed and turned away from the scene. Sadly the monk was right, he had seen far too much war. He knew all too well what happened to the people caught in them. “It is not my place to judge.”

“No, it is not.” The monk agreed. “It is your job, and mine, to convert these savages to our religion; to save their heathen souls. Let the soldiers do their jobs; then we will do ours.”

“How willing to listen do you think they are going to be after this?” Tymon spat.

“I think they will be very willing. They always are, with their men dead, their homes destroyed and no hope for life outside of the mission.” The monk laughed.

    With his back turned to the village Tymon was the only one who could see the young man crouching at the edge of the jungle, well hidden in the dense foliage. He was at least fourteen or fifteen years old, old enough to get the sword instead of the pen. His wet eyes were full of rage and fixated on the Spanish soldiers doing their odious work. Tymon watched the boy’s body pulse as he worked up the courage to do something. Tymon knew what that something was going to be, and the inevitable results of an unarmed boy attacking trained Spanish soldiers.

    “Brother Sanchez.” Tymon said. “I must relieve myself.”

    Sanchez, still watching the conquistadors, didn’t even turn around. “Fine, do not stray too far into the jungle. There are jaguars.”

    Tymon first went to the wagons and after a few seconds of searching found a grain sack of suitable size. Then he lifted the heavy Jesuit robes up off his body. The robes were cumbersome but they had their uses, they concealed Tymon’s sword for one and he hurriedly unbuckled it and placed it within the folds of the robe. He stashed both carefully underneath the wagon. Grabbing the grain sack and made his way into the jungle well away from where the boy was hiding.

    The dense foliage was soft and wet; making it all too easy for Tymon’s experienced feet to tread silently through the jungle. He looped out in a wide arc, bringing himself back to the spot that the boy was hiding. As he worked his way along a fallen log he spotted the young man again. He was crouched in the same position. This close Tymon could hear the boy’s sobs as he saw his muscles tense and flex then go slack. Next to the boy lay an obsidian headed javelin and a small deer; so he had been hunting when the Spaniards had arrived.

    Tymon crept ever closer, until they were just paces apart. He unfurled the bag and leapt quickly pulling it over the boys head, shoulders and arms before burying him under his weight.

    The boy struggled furiously, but to his credit he did not cry out. Tymon tightened the bag around the boy’s shoulders and arms keeping the flailing legs pinned under his. Tymon made soft noises, gentle noises, having no idea how to speak in the boy’s language. Tymon wasn’t sure if it was the noises or the realization that he was completely incapacitated that made the young man stop struggling.

    He pulled the bag over the boy’s legs and fastened the drawstrings. He slowly got up, the young man’s form was outlined in the sack but it did not move or struggle. Tymon looked back to the Spanish wagons and Father Sanchez standing there watching the soldiers tally the butcher’s bill and wondered what he was going to do now.

Mother’s Day Post

It’s Mother’s Day, so I thought a post featuring my mother would be appropriate:

Manhattan Nevada is the diametric opposite of Manhattan New York. For starters everyone knows about Manhattan New York; the only people who know about Manhattan Nevada are the twenty one souls that live there. The lonely mining town boasts two bars, a post office and an assortment of shacks and trailers housing the miners who toil there.

The gold mine at the bottom of the hill employs most the town, except for the postmaster and the bartenders. The bars, known affectionately as the lower bar and the upper bar, due to their position on the one paved road through town, take turns being open as there is insufficient clientele for both to be open simultaneously.

At the top of the paved road that winds up the little canyon that cradles the town sits my parent’s single wide trailer. It is one of the nicest trailers in town, its only competition being the double wide trailer owned by my grandparents just down the ravine from ours.

I was twelve years old and I loved the little ghost town. It was a great place to be a boy. I had a motorcycle parked in our front yard, there were lizards, scorpions and bugs in plenty and adventures around every corner for a boy with an overactive imagination.

That night however my parents were fighting. My brother and I were holed up in our room, waiting out the storm on our bunk beds, wondering if our parents were going to get divorced. They weren’t of course but when you are a kid every fight seems like the end of the world, and my brother and I were sure that this was going to be it. It certainly sounded bad. I can’t remember what they were fighting about, probably one of the thousands of inconsequential things that couples find to bicker about, one of the things that I probably have fought with my own wife about. It doesn’t matter now, and it didn’t matter then, I just remember the raised voices and the tension in the air.

At the apex of the argument my mother came into our room. Her face was still red with anger, tears and frustration. “Lystra,” she huffed, “come with me.”  I remember thinking that the fight had to have ended with them deciding to get divorced. I guessed that they had decided to divide me and my brother up between them and Mom got me. Choking back tears I hopped off my bunk and put my shoes on and followed my Mom out the door of our trailer.

I clearly remember looking at my father as we left. He was sitting on our couch in the front room, his eyes a mirror of my mothers, while it hurt to see my Mom’s tears it was far scarier to see my Father’s, he never cried, unless it was bad, it had to be bad, I wondered how long it would be before I saw him again.

We loaded up in the Ford LTD and Mom sped down through the little town past both bars and out past the lower trailer park. I saw her choking back tears and decided that I could not add my own; it would be too much for her to bear. I was well acquainted with being the man of the house, I knew the duties my Father expected of me, I had to be strong, like him, for her.

The little paved road that led out of Manhattan went up a small hill before it dropped into Smokey Valley; there was a turn out at the top of the hill. My Mom swerved off the road and into the turn out in a cloud of dust and threw the car in park.

We sat in near silence, the only sound being the barely controlled sobs emanating from both of our throats. I heard my Mom breathing deeply, steadying herself with each breath and I tried desperately to imitate her. Finally she spoke, her voice was calm.

“Look at the sunset Lystra.” She said.

I looked; the sun was just going down behind the mountains to the west. The sky was lit up in crimson and purple, God’s palette is far more diverse than any man can devise. I have seen sunsets on three continents, and I have never seen anything to rival the desert twilight, the crepuscular glory of the high desert is beyond compare. That night it was magnificent, there were light layers of clouds to catch the prismatic rays of the dying sun and for a second I could only stare.

“I want you to remember this.” My mother whispered to me. “Life is hard Lystra, it is hills and valleys. There are going to be times in your life when everything is easy, you are going to be on top of the hill. Those are great times, enjoy them, make the most of the them. But,” She sighed. “There are going to be hard times too. Times when everything seems pitted against you, when nothing goes your way, you will be in the valley. Those are going to be hard times but you have to remember that the hill is coming you will leave those valleys behind you. But even when you are in the valley you have to look at the good things in your life, the simple things, like a sunset, because even in the deepest of valleys you will find beauty if you look for it. I want you to remember that.” 

I could only nod in agreement. I had the vaguest notion of what she meant. I had hill and valleys in my young life, although none as high or as deep as I have had in my adult life. I promised not to forget. I do remember the sunset and I remember her words.

The sun went down and the world went dark and my mother fired up the car and drove us back home. My parents made up that night or a night soon after and have been married through hills and valleys for 36 years now.

My parents have given me many things. Too many things, both material and immaterial, so many life lessons that it is impossible to quantify. But that talk and that sunset come back to me, when my life is hard, when things don’t go my way, when I don’t know if I have the strength to carry on. My mother’s words ring true in my ear and I and strive forward and find the beauty around me and the will to see the next hill, and even the next valley.

Happy Mother’s Day.

I love you Mom.

Thank you

-Lystra

Published in: on May 11, 2009 at 5:46 am  Comments Off on Mother’s Day Post  
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Premonition

He took a cigarette out of the pack and bounced it’s butt on the bar top. Taking a long look up and down the bar, he saw that he was alone. Popping the cigarette in his mouth he fished for the lighter in his shirt pocket.
 “You shouldn’t do that.” A voice came across the bar along with a lit match.
 He lit his smoke, and then exhaled. “I know.” He said to the bartender. “No smoking in bars that serve food.” He took another drag, “but seeing how it is just us in here and you brought me out an ashtray and all, I thought it might be okay.”
 “No,” She laughed, busying herself wiping off the bar, “cancer dumbass.” Bartenders, he found, never really stopped moving, even when the bar was empty.
 “Oh that,” he nodded grimly, “yeah. I’m not too worried about that.”
 “You planning on quitting?”
 “No,” he harrumphed, “Never. Reckon that I’ll never get around to it.”
 “Why is that?” She asked. Then, pointing to his empty scotch, “one more?”
 He nodded. “You believe in premonitions?” He watched her as she pulled the Johnny Walker Blue Label from the shelf and poured him a new glass.
 “Not really.” She answered, leaning over the bar to wipe the condensation from the bottle off the counter. He watched the little show as he took a sip of the scotch. Smiling, she threw the bar towel over her shoulder and leaned on the opposite counter.
 “Good.” He returned her smile, “Me neither. But I got this feeling, something I can’t shake. I don’t know what the hell you would call it, except maybe a premonition.” He took another long pull off his cigarette. “See, I don’t think I am going to get another birthday.”
 “Why is that?” The bartender asked coyly. She started washing out his old rocks glass in a little sink behind the bar.
 “Don’t know, it’s weird, and it happened on my last birthday. I woke up and a voice deep inside of me said that this is the last one. I’ve felt it ever since.  This is my last year, ain’t going to see another birthday. Every day it gets stronger.”
 “And you believe that?”  She said, drying off her hands. “You really think you are going to die.”
 “I don’t know.” He let out a nervous laugh. “I really don’t know. I can tell you that I am going to be thrilled when my birthday rolls around again next year and I’m still here to see it.  But I don’t know. Every day when I wake up that voice is there, and it was never there before. I keep thinking about my old man telling me that some of the guys in his unit used to know the day they were done for. He told me one of his best friends confessed it to him the day he got his head blown off.” He took a big pull on the scotch and swallowed it down, hard. The alcohol burned his throat and gut.
 “Really.” The bartender replied skeptically.
 “Maybe.” He answered with a wink.  “It’s all a big joke anyway.”
 “What, your premonition?”
 “No. Not that, that’s no joke,” He took another drag, “that ain’t a joke at all. Life. Life is the joke, a cruel bitch of one too. You start out life thinking that you are something special, the hero of your own story. You are sure you are going to do something worthwhile, something great.”
“Yeah.”  She nodded in agreement.
 “Yeah.  Then as you get older you start realizing the things you aren’t going to be. In high school you don’t make varsity baseball, so you cross playing in the majors off the list. You smoke some pot and do some blow and there goes your shot at President. You flunk out of college and realize you aren’t going to be a doctor, lawyer or even a two bit suit on the corporate ladder. But that’s OK, you think, because you’re still young and fuck it you got the world in front of you. You never really thought you were going to do any of those things anyway, right.”
 “Right.” She answered, refilling the drink that had emptied in front of him.
 “But then you start losing the little shit. You get too old to run away to Hollywood and become a rock star or an actor, not that you even planned on it but suddenly the option is gone. You look at the list of ways of getting rich or famous shrink a little every day. I’m too old to join the army and be a war hero like my old man. Too old to even start a family.  The worst part is the smaller the thing you cross off the harder it is to take. It bothers me more that I’m never going to learn how to golf than the fact that I’m not going to be an astronaut.”
 The bartender giggled. She said, “Sorry, you don’t look like a golfer.”
 He grunted and continued. “Every day you have to take a little more shit and see life a little more clearly and cross one more thing off the list of shit you ain’t never going to be. You are just a meaningless cog in a purposeless machine, and your tiny candle ain’t enough to light a monkey fart. The older you get the less chance you got at being somebody, I am down to winning the lottery, but seeing how I ain’t long for this world, I don’t really think it’s going to happen for me.”
 “Well that’s a pretty shitty way of looking at things.” The bartender sighed and returned to polishing the brass edging of the bar. “You know I hear a lot of depressing shit in my job, but I have to say that tops it.”
 “Thanks,” He tipped his glass in mock salute.
 The door opened and he watched the two young men enter. They couldn’t be twenty one, he thought, not that he was any good at guessing age anymore but they had baby faces under their hoodie sweaters and he was pretty sure they weren’t there to drink.
 “Help you boys?” the bartender asked cautiously. She looked tense behind the bar.
  “Yeah,” the taller boy answered, he swayed as he talked, like a metronome. “Me and my boy here, we’d like a couple of shots of tequila.” Neither boy sat down, both standing at the edge of the bar.
 “You got ID’s?” the bartender asked, unmoving for the first time since he had come into the bar.
 “Yeah, we got ID’s” The taller boy answered pulling a pistol out from the back of his pants and cocking it.
  Here we go, the voice in the man’s head said quietly, and he nodded in agreement.
 “How you like this mother fucking ID?” He shouted.  “Give us our drinks bitch, and all the fucking money in the till.”
 The man calmly stood up, took a drink of his scotch and began walking toward the boys. The shorter boy displayed a matching piece and steadily trained it on the man. “You need to sit the fuck down.” He shouted.
 “Really,” the man replied, he continued walking toward the boy, he was sure he couldn’t be over sixteen. “You really know what you are doing to yourself son?” he asked.
 “What the fuck you talking about motherfucker, I’ll fucking kill you.” The shorter boy replied. Now the tall boy was training his pistol on the man as well. 
 “You get caught for this you’ll never even get a chance to cross shit off your list. It’ll all be gone whenever they catch you, and they will catch you son, they always do.”
 The tall boy turned to the bartender. “Is this guy drunk or what?” he yelled.
 “You should listen to him.” She replied.
 The man jumped forward tackling the boys. He wrapped his arms around them and fell with them to the ground. He used his weight to pin them down. He tried to pull a pistol from one of their hands.
 The sound of the gunshot startled all three of them and they froze in place. He was looking into their confused faces when he saw the blood flowing out from underneath them, pooling on the checkered tiles.  He coughed, blood sprayed onto the boys terrified faces. Shit, it’s me, he thought and the voice in his head agreed. He could hear sirens in the distance.  The bar got darker as he felt the boys squirm out from under him. The door chimed as they ran out into the street.
 “How much in the till?” he asked the bartender. He could barely make out her face as she stood over him crying.
 “You really want to know?” She asked.
 “Yeah.” He answered. “Don’t lie to me.”
 “Cross hero off the list.”

Published in: on March 27, 2009 at 9:44 pm  Comments Off on Premonition  
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