Prisoner

What is that noise?

“Get me out!”

Where am I? What’s that banging?

“Ya can’t keep me here, wake up!”

My head throbs. The night light cuts through my eyelids. I’m wet. I drag myself up onto one elbow. It almost slips off the shelf. A thin blue plastic mattress holds my weight. Its wet, too.

There’s a kid stood next to the door. “Who the fuck are you?” I say.

“Who the fuck do you think?” He turns and continues to assault the cell door. “This is your mess, get us fucking out of here.”

“My mess, how?” I scan the old familiar surroundings.

“You should have brayed the bitch.”

“Who?” I ask.

“Mary, who else?” He laughs.

Memory banks fire up as it floods back in. Fuck’s sake, not again!

I remember shouting through her letter box, wrestling with the new bloke. Out in the street, neighbours fully present, digging a key bumper to bumper along his paintwork.

Head still throbbing.

“And him, that goon with the motor, look what he’s done to your face.”

Stroking my cheekbone, yep, it’s sore alright.

A burst of energy. Depressed adrenaline. Quickly covering the nine feet as I hit the buzzer. A moment or two passes before the hatch drops.

A partial face, mainly lips, “Sleep well, did we?”

“What’s there a kid doing in here?”

He laughs, “It be pink elephants next sunshine, needing a little drink are we?” His wrist flicks back and forth in glass guzzling imitation. “No need to act the loon, the desk Sargent will see you soon enough.” He slams the hatch, “You be out before the pubs open.” His parting shot echoes through the steel door.

“Another fine mess,” I say out loud to nobody in particular.

“What about me?” Says the kid.

I look him up and down. Real enough. Look’s almost familiar. I head back to the bench and drop down hard onto my backside. And finally, it comes to me; after all this time, it makes perfect sense. The drink, the drugs, violence, sick sex, every conflict and disturbance. The separation and isolation. All him!

“I know who you are,” I say.

A tear carves a channel down his cheek, “Really?” He replies. “At last, so tell me where from?”

Furious, Im up pacing the confines. I hurl words that cut; reminded of every train crash disaster, I give him both barrels, sparing nothing.

Finished, I slump down to the cold floor, exhausted.

“I should never have listened to you,” I sob uncontrollably.

He stares impassively. A child. His turn; a wordless response, living pictures in my head. I see the laughter and the love, curiosity and innocence, a connection and direction.

“Where from?” He repeats.

“You’ve alway been here.”

He nods, “Right from the beginning, when God walked you out of the void.” He looks up at the ceiling and spins round a full circle, “Im the guide He assigned.”

“Then why all the fucking mess?” I shout.

The night light flickers, buzzing, before shrouding the room with darkness. I see two kids. Laughing. Playing. I sense something wrong. An evil. A temptation. One kid senses it too. He moves towards it, entranced. I want to scream at him to wait, stop, don’t follow it, something’s wrong. He won’t listen, can’t see the danger.

“You had to chase after them, didn’t you?”

“What! Who?” I shout.

He shrugs his shoulders and says, “All of them, every experience, every situation good and bad, you wanted it all.” He laughs out loud, “It was a buzz when they wanted you, but how’d it feel when they ditched you for something new?”

“You encouraged it,” I reply.

“Not so,” he laughs. Heading back towards the door, he knocks gently on the steel plate, “You made me their prisoner. I foretold the outcome.”

“What type of guide is that,” I ask, curling my knees up to my chest, burying my head.

“Mysterious ways type of guide that’s what. I don’t get to ask and neither do you. There was only one bite of the apple, but always two choices.” He sits down next to me and the night light buzzes its way back to life. The door unlocks. “Lets go Rocky,” says the cop. “Time to leave.”

Sunlight stings my eyes as I exit the police station. The kid reaches up and takes my hand.

“Pub then is it?” he says.

Shaking my head as I reply, “What with them crazy bastards, all that performing, no thanks.”

He smiles and squeezes my hand, “Hows about an ice cream?”

Yeah… that sounds good to me.

“And them, what about them?”

“I dunno, maybe its time we learned to love ourselves first and leave others to live their own lives.”

“Ah that type of knowledge is worth a fall,” he states, “Onwards, you lead the way.”

“Really?”

“Certainly,” he laughs, “You’ve earned it.”


“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery” ~ Bob Marley

“Take off the E and let it Go” ~ Unknown

“I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you visited me” ~ Matt – 25:36

D&O in Fresno

Circadian Fall

I sit at the table, order a scotch and light a smoke. The barman knows me, “don’t be calling me son again, mister! Whiskey is it?” The room half full. Deadbeats and alkys line the walls. They search for anything to wake them from their shitkicking existence. A sudden surge of pleasure is all that’s needed to make them forget. As for me? I’m only here to see her. My need is for her to recognise me, to remember how it was, before it all went separate.

The light fades while the curtain goes back. A tree stands centre stage caught in the spotlight. Drums beat, and she makes her way out in front of the crowd; naked as the first time I laid eyes on her. This nest of losers stare silently spellbound. The dance enchants and seduces them. They drool as she rolls herself around the tree, the snake slides down; it stares into her eyes.

“Looking for anybody in particular?” A huge black guy leans on the chair to my left, “Bubba Pimp, I know everything there is to know about the whoring business.” He nods towards a dark corner of the room where some scantly clad twenty something fakes a smile and strokes her crotch. I turn my attention back to the stage, “how much for her?”

Im going to tell you a story; before I forget. You see, a Man can live a whole day in a story, a lifetime, many lives, to make one story, and then forget. Climb out of bed to a history he can’t remember. Thrown into a day he neither foretold nor requested. And that’s how my story goes. How it plays out, each and every day…

A room. It seems familiar…but the girl? I don’t recall. Naked. Skin soft and warm, her breath light. She rolls away, lost in some dream. Instinctively I grab the alarm clock with moments to spare.

Each morning the same struggle. I wonder how I ended up here, managing this hotel – ‘Paradise City’. its beautiful gardens buried deep in some stinking concrete jungle. I smile at the passing guests. My skull thick with whiskey; constantly they bark requests as the mind’s eye shows me things I was never meant to know. Eventually the darkness lands. With a flash I’m gone, out the door, pulse racing with an urge to see her.

I trudge uptown brandishing the stick at the swarm of oncoming human traffic. The city bursts skywards. Giant advertising screens flash baseball stars and sportswear.

“Fucks your problem?” screams some fat cunt in linen pants and a fedora.

“I come in peace, son.”

“Ain’t your son shitbag, watch where ya walking next time. Fucking cripple!”

Without breaking stride or looking back I wonder at how many times Ive heard this and smile. The night air warm and sticky; taxi cabs blare horns, the smell of hotdogs drift from the street vendors. I push on.

La temptation’ Gentleman’s club and Bubba Pimp is in full pitch, a girl on each arm. The crowd of losers holla at the show, throwing twenty bucks a pop. The snakes tongue flicks at her snatch as she writhes on the stage.

“You couldn’t afford that one,” he says.

“Oh, I’ve paid for it.” I laugh, “many times over.”

The snake rises to attention then dips back down flicking its tongue across her nipple. The audience goes wild. My heartbeat reaches critical as fingers tighten round the stick. Urge turns to rage. I’m up and out of the chair stick held high. The reptile turns it head. It taunts me. I see my reflection in its eyes. Teeth grind, my chest thuds and I swing heavy. The branch from an ancient tree shatters its skull. The bums go psycho.

“What the fuck is wrong with you,” pleads Eva “Why don’t you just leave us alone?”

“Axel, son of man, pleased to meet ya.”

“You’re not the son!”

“What ya talking about?”

“Don’t you remember? You didn’t want us.” She points at the snake, “you’re not the son… he is!”

The serpent disappears, a half-eaten apple takes its place.

A voice shouts across the room, “you’re not the fucking son!”

“Not the son, not the son, not the son…” Faces chant, charging towards me. Stale whiskey and body odour rise with the heat; a nightmare scenario.

“Bitch” I shout, raising the stick towards the oncoming human traffic.

“Not the son, not the son…”

Blows reign in. I’m on the floor. I feel the snake slide against my leg. It’s soft and warm. I hear my breath gently moving in and out. The taste of whiskey sour in my mouth. Instinctively I reach out, grabbing the alarm clock with moments to spare.

Guests at the hotel come and go, forever needing something. They are always asking for help. I tire of smiling at them and take a walk in the garden. My buckled legs ache and the damp shirt clings to my skin. It will be dark soon, almost dark enough to see her again. I sense an urge and it begins to rise…

“If I were to begin life again, I should want it as it was. I would only open my eyes a little more ” ~ Jules Renard.

“To live a spiritual life we must first find the courage to enter into the desert of loneliness and to change it by gentle and persistent efforts into a garden of solitude” ~ Henry J.M Nouwen.

“You don’t know my mind, you don’t know my kind. Dark necessities are part of my design” ~ Red hot chili peppers.

D&O in Fresno

Resurrection

Vegas looked at the betting slip. What chance did it have really…14/1 against the heavy favourite, in the big race as well, complete fucking long shot! He lifted the pen to his eyebrow and scratched. A voice in his head said, “Leave now before its too late.” The shop door bursts open, all eyes are on the interruption as two snivelling shitkickers accompany some lover of sun beds and Armani. Staring deep into him, they float by close to the nose. Too close. An elbow clips his mid drift as they descend on the roulette machine.

A scene like someone he once knew. Way back. That night in Caesars Palace. Wasted on Don Perignon and Cocaine, strippers and 70 Grand to the good. Long back, a whole fucking Universe from this, and that walking overestimation stood at the gaming machine.

The Armani Kid barks orders while his stooge moves to the counter.

“You sure Tommy?” He says, looking back over his shoulder.

“Place the bet dipshit.”

The dipshit lays down a wad of cash. Then the unexpected happens, nothing but something. As the assistant picks up the money there’s a pause. She glances through the crowd straight into Vegas’s eyes. A fraction of time, and in it he sees. He sees fear mixed with something else – Respect.

“Is that really you Billy Boy?”

“Yeah Colonel its me, how you been?”

The old man looks him up and down, “Prostate Cancer and Malnutrition thanks for asking.”

“Sorry to hear that Pops, got a tip for the big race?”

“Since when do you take tips from the likes of me? See you’ve met our rising star.”

“Who is he?”

“The new you.”

“Bullshit Frankie I wouldn’t be seen dead dressed like that.”

“Things have changed while you been missing.”

“How come?” Vegas asks.

“Drugs!” The old man turns his attention to the gang at the roulette machine. “They peddle that shit on the streets then make a stake over the counter. Play with somebody else’s money.”

Vegas notices the assistant look over again; pretty thing, good tits, looks a little tired, maybe squeezes the headboard too tight.

“They cleaned this place out last month. Took it for 50 large, place was shut for a week.”

“Nature of the business” said Vegas.

Lights flash, the machine screams and the sideshow give it their best Zebedee impersonations. The kid turns, stares straight at Vegas smirking. Abbott and Costello congratulate him with puppy dog appreciation.

Around the room feet shift nervously.

Vegas holds the stare, “what’s his fucking problem.”

“You” said the old man.

The assistant takes a ticket from the stooge. A slimy looking bastard in Stone Island jeans and a Hugo Boss T-shirt. Arms animated he badgers her impatiently as she calls for the manager. Vegas strains to hear what’s said as the TV announces runners and riders for the next race.

“Fuck it, add it to what I dropped on Bonsai Baby in the next race Dave, ya can write me a check if ya short.” Armani Kid laughs. The manager develops alopecia on the spot. Again the kid darts a look at Vegas as they move towards the big screen.

At the counter Vegas asks, “How much?”

“Excuse me sir” the assistant replies.

“Smart arse with the chuckle brothers, what’s he got on the next race?”

Anxiously lowering her eyes, “we don’t want anymore trouble, its best you leave Billy.”

“Why’s that, and how come you know my name?”

“A Grand, even money! You like to place a bet? There’s customers waiting sir.”

Noise rises. The shop springs to life. Vegas looks on from behind the crowd. Bonsai Baby crosses the line in first place as the dynamic trio explode into revelry.

Vegas heads for the door; almost makes it, hears the shout, “Leaving already Mr Big Shot?”

“Business of yours is it?” He turns to see the whole crowd staring. The Colonel moves to the flank, pulls the peak of his cap, lowering his eyes.

“Heard you were good at this, maybe you just lucky.”

“Get fucked.” Vegas replies.

“Take a bet?”

“On what?”

The Kid smiles, his friends look on with excited faces.

“I match what’s in your pocket, horse of my choosing against that betting slip you been hanging onto so tightly.”

Vegas feels the roll of notes through his trouser pocket. The fabric aggravates callouses on his hand. Months gripping the front rope attached to a pipe from the concrete pump. Hours of overtime. This new life. Straight as a dye. The shop across the street. Jewellers. A ring sits in the window. An honest girl and a warm home to go back to every night.

“Gotta say I’ve been having second thoughts, don’t think the distance is right for my horse.” His fingers loosen, hand opens, the crumpled paper drops to the floor.

Armani moves in close. His forehead on Vegas’s nose, sweet liquor breath rises into his nostrils. “Like I said, lucky thats all.”

The Kid spins round Michael Jackson style; throws his arms skyward, announcing victory, he shouts, “All of it Dave, fifty big ones I took from ya, stick it on Click and Collect next race.”

“But but…”

“Never mind but but but you stuttering fuck, this still a bookies isn’t it, hurry up man they’re at the gates.”

What happened next is better seen than told…

In a betting shop a long way from Las Vegas a group of men stand watching a horse race on TV. An old man pushes up the peak of his cap, leans into the wall and lights a cigarette. One betting shop assistant glares at an individual who watches from way back near the door. Eleven horses complete the first lap. Four fell attempting the fences. The punters scream as the horses reach the second circuit. The manager grips his chest, falling to the floor. A button pressed, shutters screech as they lower and lock into place. The 6/4 favourite Click and Collect heads the field at the final fence. He makes the jump. 100 yards to go. The small crowd go wild. The camera pans back slightly. One horse makes a final dash. Franticly the rider deploys the whip, he’s gaining ground, its looking close.

“Open these fucking shutters bitch or I swear I will carve you up.” The kid yells.

“What happened, thought you were good at this” says Vegas “or just lucky?”

“You fuck off ya has been, think coz ya scored once in Las Vegas, I’m telling you ya don’t know jack shit.”

Raising an arm out straight Vegas opens his had. A crumpled piece of paper in his palm.

“Take it, look what ya could have won.”

A shriek echos the room as Vegas turns the door handle. Pausing to smile, he knows what’s behind it. 14/1 The winner ‘Resurrection’, “Good luck with all this kid, you’re gonna need it.” Not looking back he walks out, crosses the street and heads towards the Jewellers.

June ‘19

I first had the idea to write this six months ago. Sat down, fired up the keyboard and waited for the Muse to show up. Like I have any control over that. I quickly shut the whole thing down and done something else instead. It was the beginning of what has proved to be the most challenging period of my recovery and maybe even life itself. I’d be lying if I said I’d never thought of a drink. I have, many times. Twice I’ve been on my way. Stopped at the line by something outside of or deep down within me. Im still no closer to knowing what that is. All I know is that it is, and I continue to seek the experience of Him, Her, It, or none of the above. My job is just to remain teachable and open to the lessons that often come disguised as demons, then reveal themselves as blessings later down the path.

I love you JJ, trust the journey, wherever it takes you, “More will be revealed to you and to us…”

“Live in the layers not on the litter.” – Stanley Kunitz

“My Father didn’t tell me how to live, he lived, and let me watch him do it.” – Clarence Kelland

“For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life?” – Matt 16:26

D&O in Fresno

Elevator

Flash Fiction Series…

A reflection beams back from the Crome; the scene mirrored in a visor. Chinstrap loose, pushing the helmet up to suck in air, the shell drops back down into place. Time check: half an hour has passed. Helmet feels heavy, breath sharp, a look round, the space closing in.
Walls gleam, nothing unusual, an average lift.
Thirty minutes trapped. Boxed in tight, nowhere to go. “We are still here Sir,” says a voice through the speaker. “Are you ok?”
The reply curt, “yes.”
Head butts the wall; no force, just a tap. The voice of the responder again, “won’t be long now Sir.” “Ok.”
The conference will be due to end shortly. A need to get out and away before the main speaker is missed. A busy city like London, not uncommon for people to be late. Soon the questions will start. They will come looking.

Hurry the fuck up

Sweating; it’s close like a coffin, helmet tight, uncomfortable. A glance up at the camera. Still broke, smashed before pressing the alarm. The visor stays down.

Fucking feet ache

A wiggle of the toes, a look at the phone… still no signal. “Sir, the engineer has arrived.” That voice again, an irritating tone. “Won’t take much longer,” she says. “He will need to set up, then winch the lift to the rooftop.”
Gun removed from the waistband, gets into position.

Relax

“Is it definitely just you in the elevator?” says the speaker, “the hotel CCTV shows two people entering.” A corpse sits behind, the wall above painted in blood. The silencer fastens into place as the door peels back. A workman stood there, mouth open, his face in terror. An employee screams. Two shots fired. The gunman steps out onto the roof and moves towards the fire escape.

On the street crowds exit the hotel. The motorbike starts first time. It speeds off. The call connects in the helmet, “Go ahead.”
“Mr Yakanawi will not be speaking at this years conference Sir.”
“Very well Julie,” the reply. “Payment will be received in the usual fashion.”

 

Tell it as it was – Flash Fiction

So we are in NYC right, and all we have done for 3 days is drink. That and walk. We spend this one afternoon cracking jokes with the hotel barmaid. We bring the laughs; she pours the drinks. This girl is hot stuff; her eyes sparkle as she giggles. I’m erect.
Jimmy is hammered. He flips a drink, trips over his feet, says enough is enough and heads back to the room for a siesta. I’m happy for him to do so. It gives me a clear chance at the girl.
The charm rolls from my tongue like pure magic; she’s loving it. I’m almost in the end zone when suddenly there’s a tap on my shoulder. I turn to see this black hulk. He stares at me, “you a guest at this hotel Sir?” Hotel security, reports of a disturbance on the 5th floor.

Instinctively I know this involves broken brains. He has a track record of fuck-ups. The bouncer accompanies me to the elevator. We exit to find a half dozen Yanks stood over my friend, he’s laid out flat in the corridor, key card in his hand.
“I know CPR,” screams some fuckwit as he dashes to the scene. The guest medic gets down into position as my tolerance packs up and leaves. I stick the boot into Jimmy’s ribs, “no heart attack here, just a drunken clown.” Somehow they don’t get the British humour, unlike the barmaid.
I toe poke my friend in the temple. Somebody shrieks. I smell a lawsuit in the air.
“Let’s get him inside,” says the doorman as he scoops him up. I grab the key card. The hulk throws Jimmy face down on the bed.
“Shows over folks,” I slam the door towards their gawping faces.

Downstairs at the bar I slide back into the flow; beer and best chat up lines. “Is your friend ok,” she asks.
No he’s not, in fact now I think of it, he never was.
“Sir, I need to speak with you again.” It’s the hulk. “Your friend Sir, he’s wandering the corridor naked now.”

 
I’m no longer erect…

 
Jimmy, eh?

 

D&O in Fresno

 

Road to Realisation

Sleep Diver Part 5 (Final)

Road to Realisation – Texas

Continued…

Outside the small town of Realisation, Texas – A gunfight takes place. Two cars stand on either side of the road, their occupants shoot frantically at each other.

On the backseat of one is a suitcase containing $100,000.

One of the shooters is hit in the chest…

“You care for a drink White Man?”

“As a matter of fact Chief,” I reply, “yes I do.”

“Sorry, looks like we’re all out.”

“Aint that a shame,” I splutter. “Tell me old man, you God?”

“Hell no, though I know of Him.”

“The Devil?”

“Acquainted, but again no.”

“Then who?” I ask.

“Isn’t that obvious?”

“Maybe to you.”

“I’m everything you cant let go of Eli.” He pauses. “I’m the weight around your neck.”

Blood trickles from my mouth; I cough and more of the stuff bursts forward. It feels like I’m choking.

“I had a strange dream Chief.” I struggle to breathe, “you were in it.”

“I know,” he says.

“The girl, the runner… the boss.” I gurgle, “all in this dream.”

“You only loose what you cling to.”

“There were others, some guy at a table.”

“Let me go Cryl.” He smiles.

I’ve never felt this cold before. “I’m dying?”

“Sleep Eli, dive into the sleep. Dive in deep.”


A phone call…

“The mark escaped Ma’am, I’m afraid we lost them.”

Silence.

“Theres one more thing… Cryl, he got hit. He’s gone!”

“The money?”

“Sorry Miss Lou.”

“Ok Stan, thats slightly unfortunate. Clean up then come home.”


El Paso – Mexican side

A car speeds towards a crossroads. Dust rises from its wheels. A black Sedan is parked at the junction, its heavily armed passengers lean back on the vehicle smoking cigarettes. The car pulls along side.

“Señor Dan.”

“Zorro.”

“I hope your journey was a pleasant one.”

“We made it.”

“You have my money?”

The suitcase sits on Marcie’s knee. She holds it tight. Dan takes it from her and passes it through the open window, “Its all there.”

“Well done my friend.” He opens the case, takes out a bunch of notes and drops them into Dan’s lap. “Buy your lady friend a sombrero.” He laughs. “Welcome to Mexico.”

A Diner. Upper West Side, Manhattan

“Hey handsome,” says the waitress. “You want more coffee?”

“No thank you.” He looks at the empty seat across the table, “I just take the check.”

“You been stood up again?”

The Kitchen Table Man gives her $20, “It happens.”

“You’re a regular finder of lost children ain’t ya!” she says.

“Somebody’s gotta do it.”

“Maybe they show up later.”

She walks back towards the cash register as he says, “he’ll get another go; we all get another go.”


A little beach somewhere in California – The sky paints crimson again; this time its Sunrise. Exhausted, I wade through the water and crawl across the sand to the trailer.

Inside I find an old woman stood at the cooker, “Good morning Eli, how would you like your eggs?”

“Easy over, with some home fries,” I reply.

“Salt and Tabasco?”

“You know me too well,” I say, still not certain who she is.

“Indeed I do.” She laughs.

“Eva.” I begin to remember, “Lou.”

“That’s me sugar, sometimes ‘Shawn’.”

“Eva Lou –”

“Eat your breakfast Eli.” She puts the plate in front of me, it smells delicious. I feel a warm glow come over me. It feels good.

“Where next?” she asks.

“I get another go?”

“Sure do, still plenty left.”

“Home fries?”

“Experiences,” she says.

It all starts to come back. Different places; different times. The sensation washes over me like a Déjà vu.

“How many left?”

“A few…billion.” She cracks some more eggs into the frying pan. She looks a lot older than the Chief.

“Is there any reason for any of this?”

“What, you mean for living every life that ever lives?” She smiles, her eyes are so friendly, her skin so wrinkled.

“Gonna take a while.”

“You have a better idea on how to walk through eternity?” She scoops an egg from the pan and catapults it onto my plate.

“I get to choose?”

“Hmmm… you can suggest.”

“Somewhere warm.”

“Afghanistan?”

“A little too close I think, hows about Hawaii?” I’m starting to like the sound of this.

“Pearl Harbour 1941 looks interesting.” She begins to chuckle.

“Really.” I say, “I get to experience everything?”

She leans forward and runs her hand through my hair. “No Eli, I do.”

THE END

“One day your life will flash before your eyes; make sure its a show worth watching.” – Unknown.

“When we reach out to what is unknown to us, we let go of the notion that we can control what we experience.” – Ken McLeod

“We’re all just asleep, dreaming that we’re awake.” – Unknown.

The journey is the reward.

— Taoist proverb

D&O in Fresno

Down the Rabbit Hole

Sleep Diver part- 4  ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’.

Lou’s Place – NJ

I walk through the door into a darkly lit foyer. An old man sits at the counter.

“Didn’t I warn you to stay away from those Preachers!” he squawks.

“Grandpa??” Horror kicks in.

“I ain’t ya Grandpa Sonny.” His face changes.

“What is this place?”

“Members only,” he says. “You got an invite?”

I pull the card from my pocket, “just this.”

Without looking at it he says, “Ok go on in.”

A curtain pulls back… Lights flash; the music’s almost deafening. I step forward and into the Club. From behind I hear my grandfathers voice… “A lively bender is only a good mans fault Eli, don’t you ever forget that.” His laughter trails off as I make my way to the bar.

“Usual Sir?” Asks the Barman.

“And what would that be?”

“Wild Turkey of course Sir, what else!” He pulls a bottle straight from under the counter and pours me a drink.

I’m on the verge of freaking out. “Do we know each other?”

“You know everybody here Mr Cryl.” He begins to laugh. At first warm, friendly, then it starts to change. Quickly it turns to hysterics, followed by an evil cackle as tears stream down his face. I throw my head back and down the whiskey.

“Another one Sir?” He stands calm, composed, no sign of the laughing freak show.

He refills my glass. I take a 20 from my wallet. “On the house Sir,” he says.

“Why would that be?”

“Its your party Mr Cryl.”

“Really?” I reply. “And whats with the Tux and Dixie Bow? Bit over the top for for a place like this.”

Smiling as he polishes a champagne flute, “Its a special occasion.” He nods towards the podium.

I lean on the bar and turn my head; the place begins to fill up. The lights flash to the beat of the music. I glimpse faces in the crowd. They somehow seem familiar.

Briefly I spot old Mr Henderson my high school english teacher. It cant be, surely he’s dead by now! A couple of the boys from my old army battalion. A dancer on the floor reminds me of a photo grandpa kept of my mother.

I’m brought out of shear disbelief with a firm slap on the shoulder.

“Eli old buddy, how you been?”

I turn and face, cant believe what I’m seeing, “Stan?” Total shock. “What the fuck you doing in Jersey?” I have to raise my voice above the drumbeat of the music.

“You think I would miss this?”

“We agreed, once the deal was done, never to meet again.”

“Yeah yeah Eli.” He slaps my shoulder a second time, “its good to see ya man, tell me, what did ya spend the hundred grand on?”

I cant take this in. My head swims. I need another drink.

“Cumon Eli, what you spend the money on?”

I look for the bar tender. Nowhere in sight.

“Invested it.”

“Oh Yeah.” He looks puzzled, “what in?”

“Me.”

Just then an announcement is piped through the PA System, “Ladies and Gentlemen the management would like to thank you for joining us tonight in our special celebration.”

The room goes dark. A spotlight shines on the ceiling then begins to dance around the walls.

“Drumroll Maestro please…”

The sound effects end with the noise of corks popping. The spotlight finally lands on me. What the fuck is going on here.

“… can we all show our appreciation for tonight’s guest of honour – Mr Eli Cryl.”

The lights go on. All eyes are on me. Glasses are raised and a rendition of ‘He’s a jolly good fellow’ bursts out across the room. Something feels very wrong. I’m about to turn heels and sprint for the door when the room darkens and the spotlight stops at the podium.

The music now sleek and seductive. She steps out from the shadows and onto the stage. I’m frozen in time, glued to the spot unable to blink… Marcie.

She begins to dance. I’m captivated, almost hypnotised. It seems as if she’s floating towards me, above the crowd. My heart pounds, but there’s something else. I struggle to think what, but theres something…

“Enjoying the show my friend?”

My head spins to the left. Its the Kitchen Table Man, laughing in my face. He’s drunk.

“Where’s my money?” shouts Louise Wishbourne, stood at my right.

The crowd all turn to me.

And then I realise what that something is. I’m cold. Very cold. Deathly cold.

“Eli…”

The room goes silent. Again a second time, from behind… “Eli.” I turn to see Dan at the exit. Stood there with his arm around Marcie, “Where’s my rent?” He laughs. ”You’ll never catch me Buddy.” Its at this point the whole crowd dashes towards me… Screaming.

The terror is overwhelming and I begin to shoot. I fire rapidly as they snarl and grab at me. They just keep coming, I’m going under. And then…

…the glitch kicks in!


The buzzing fades. The sparks leave my eyes. I’m flat out on my back looking at the sky. The sun beats down on my skin. Its hot. The air is dry. I feel cold. Very cold. Gunfire echoes from either side…

A big old Indian stands above me. Looking down as he says, “care for a drink White Man?”

To be continued…

A Subway Train Named Sitting Bull

Sleep Diver‘ Part 3 – A Subway Train named Sitting Bull

The MTA is quiet; its late, the train almost empty. I sit back and remember how Afghan Dan first appeared on my radar. The call from New Jersey; an Afghan man skipping bail on a misdemeanour, did I want the mark?

I tracked him down to the Lone Star State. He put up one hell of a fight, then begged me to cut him loose, “no man you don’t know what’s going on! You gotta let me go man your killing me.”

We drove into an ambush on route to the Sheriffs Office. He took a gunshot wound to the chest. I got lucky; the slugs still in my shoulder. Two dead bad guys and a witness box. Some misdemeanour that was. We’ve been close ever since. Dan and the Kitchen Table Man, they’re all I’ve got.

The trains half full now. An old Indian sat opposite stares intently at me. He’s huge, a real chief sitting bull. Our eyes lock. The booze starts to ware off. I feel unnerved; possible situation brewing. Too big for a take down, but he’s old, real old, maybe wise to common sense…

“What’s up old man you loose ya squaw?” The Indian remains silent, “listen Chief this ain’t the cuckoos nest quit staring at me.”

Its as if he sees straight through me. Who knows, maybe he does.

“Jeez we got a live one here and it’s making me nervous!” I raise my voice while scanning either side of the train. His silence spooks me.

“I thought the L Train held the freak show at this hour.” None of the other passengers pay any attention.

The train stops at 116 & 8th. ‘Stand clear of the closing doors.

Using the interruption to save face; I look along the carriage. Its then that I see her, through the window, out on the platform… Marcie!

It can’t be, surely to God… how, where, what the fuck?

I’m up and on my feet, hearing myself shout her name ‘Marcie’ as I dash for the door.

Like a God damn limpet mine this fuckwit latches onto my wrist. His hand squeezes so tight it stops me dead in my tracks. He’s rooted solid; unmoving.

“Fork tongue White Man, speak slowly.” His eyes never leave mine.

“Let go Sitting Bull or I’ll unleash the fucking Cavalry!”

Again…‘Clear the closing doors!’ And he lets go. I burst forward, almost make it. The doors nip shut, my hand half a second behind.

She climbs the stairs as the train bolts off. “Marcie,” I scream.

Geronimo laughs as I bray on the glass.

My heart thuds through my chest, head spins, time seems to stop. His laughter pulls me back.

The train screeches into the next station.

“I be seeing you Cryl.”

“What did you just say mother fucker?”

He reaches inside his coat and pulls out a bottle: Mad Dog 20/20.

“I be seeing you Cryl,” he repeats, pushing the wine my way.

I walk the last nine blocks home and find the place a crime scene surrounded with yellow tape. A squad car parked up front; two cops on the sidewalk. Across the street in the shadows, leaning on the corner of a building… a figure. I recognise the shape.

“What happened?” I say as I get close.

He turns to walk away. I reach out and throw him back against the wall.

“What the fuck is going on Zorro?” My hands grab his collar, “don’t give me any of that ‘No Hablar Ingles’ bullshit.”

He smiles. Silver glints from his teeth as sparks fire up in my skull; the glitch in my consciousness – they flash behind my eyes; an electric buzz in my ears. My stomach turns, I begin to convulse then crash to the floor. His face hovers close above mine, “dulces sueños Señor Cryl.” He laughs as his fist slams into my jaw.


A trailer on the beach. I wake to sunlight and the sound of a radio. Eddie Grant jams away —“You left me with a problem. Now I know what its all about…

Expecting to see her cooking breakfast as I walk into the other room— “Do You feel my love..” and grab a beer from the fridge. She’s outside talking to someone. Her voice seems muffled, almost a whisper. I step out through the door and onto the sand. They pause, both look at me before scrambling into the car… her and Dan. The car speeds off —“Feel my love as I walk away.”

I turn to hear laughter coming from the sea. Louise Wishbourne wades through the water towards me. “Just me and you now Eli,” screaming as she dives at me, then the Glitch sparks up again.

My head pounds. I sit up. A half empty bottle on the nightstand. I grab the whiskey and take a swig. Last night comes flooding back. Downstairs is shot full of holes. This is fucked up.

The Cops found me out cold. I remember they ran a radio check, letting me in when my key fitted the lock. I grabbed a bottle on the way to the stairs… ‘That’s four now Dan’

The next night: a room behind the Beacon Theatre.

The Meeting ends…

‘Who you see here, what you hear here, when you leave here… please let it stay here!’

We grab a coffee from the street vendor. I drop a scotch in the mix as he turns to pay.

“What’s going on Eli?” he says, not trying to hide the concern.

“Not sure,” I reply. “Starting to wonder, maybe I’m loosing it.”

“Jails, Institutions and Death!” He swigs coffee.

“Marcie showed up yesterday.”

“What? How did that—”

“And Dans missing!”

Startled, he pauses, stares straight into me, “you better start at the beginning my friend. The truth Eli; the whole truth!”

I explain recent events: the booze, Miss Lou, Dan, the fucked up dreams and shocks to the skull, Marcie, Zorro, and the old native on the train.

When Im finished he just stands there quietly drinking coffee deep in thought.

“Tell me again, how you first meet Dan?”

“Old story.” I feel the hip flask in my pocket; that need for a drink, “why now?”

“Dunno, maybe I forgot, getting old, memory a bit fried.” He throws the coffee cup in a trash basket nearby. “Lets just say the booze blew a few amps,” He laughs, “whatever man just humour me.”

We walk west along 73rd Street towards Broadway.

“Ok.” I start, “I get to go play hide and seek with him down in Texas. Turns out he was in over his head; some dangerous characters, a heroin bust, nearly got us capped, he takes the stand, we live happily ever after.”

I pull out a pack of cigarettes offering him one as I light up.

“Yeah until the wicked witch shows up.” He takes the cigarette, “Whishbourne, what is it she wants?”

“Find a mark, what else!” I say.

“Exactly, what else, what about Dan?”

“Meaning what?” I snap.

“A drug bust brought you together. This ‘Miss Lou’ has him spooked, his place gets hit, he hails from the worlds largest exporter of heroin and—”

“Dans from the Bronx,” I interrupt. “His mother an Afghan, the old man a pipe hitting Negro doing 25 to life in Rykers Island.

“Yeah and he’s missing. Running scared by the sounds of it.” He stands on the cigarette.

“Right then my cell phone rings ‘ID withheld.’ I notice the tremor in my hand.

“Answer it,” he says.

“Mr Cryl?” Its Wishbourne.

“Yeah, listen lady I’ve been thinking, maybe I will pass on your offer of employment. The timing feels wrong.”

“Really Mr Cryl?” She sounds disinterested, “given your relationship to the mark, I would say the timing feels perfect.”

“Why you say that?” Sweat trickles down my brow.

“The man by the name of…” She pauses, “I believe you call him Afghan Dan!”

Brooklyn Bridge

By the time I make it to the centre of the bridge I’m soaked to the skin and a little pissed off. The flag above the brick arch barely noticeable, almost hidden under a cold mist. The Manhattan skyline burns bright as I power on towards Brooklyn. Cars zoom bellow. Its dark; midnight usually is.

I almost regret not taking the subway then remember why; I need to be sharp, its the only game in town. I cant risk the hustle of a late train over the river with some psycho playing for laughs.

Almost there now. I can see where the sidewalk slopes down into a stair case. The stone walls lead down onto Dock Street. “Meet me there Mr Cryl,” she had said, “and one other thing… Come alone.”

My hand goes to the right side pocket; I feel the gun through the trench mac. In the left pocket a hip flask. I stop, take a drink, go to return the flask then take another swig. Whiskey – the one constant through this shitstorm of life. I have a need to give it up, but not now. Now I need it more than ever.

I pause at the first step. Its dark. Silent. I head down slowly giving my eyes a moment to adjust, ‘Still scared of the dark Cryl’, the thought flashes through my mind.

0620858B-BAF7-49A2-A633-C3A7E877A30B

I make it to the bottom. Nothing. I look around. Still nothing. The sound of cars fading into the distance, but here just an arch leading to an empty street… a ghost town.

I light a smoke and draw hard. Leaning into the wall, my head pushes back into the cold stone.

“Eli Cryl,” I hear from up the stairs.

“Come out come out wherever you are!” A shiver breaks through my body. I know that voice, know it very well. I make my way to the bottom step and there stood on the level, silhouetted, hood up, but unmistakably her… Marcie.

“Hey sugar tits, how you been?”

“Seriously Marcie?”

This isn’t like anything I ever imagined. “What you doing here baby, what the fucks going on?”

Another figure appears at the top of the stairs. He places an arm around her waist and a gun to the head. I see the sparkle in his smile. “Señor Cryl,” laughs Zorro.

“Don’t move Eli, we don’t have much time.”

“We as in all three?”

Zorro laughs some more.

“She wants you dead,” says Marcie.

“Most people do.” I feel a tear leave my eye. ”Where did you get to? You broke my heart leaving like that.” An anger starts to rise; I feel for the gun. Light bounces back from the Mexicans smile.

“Its over Señor.” I knew that fucker spoke english.

He screams, “its time to die Eli Cryl.”

I hear the gunshot ricochet off the stone as a side force rams me into the wall. I free the gun from my pocket and scramble onto one knee. I squeeze off a shot as Zorro disappears out of sight.

I look behind, see the Chief walking off into the darkness, towards Brooklyn.

“I be seeing you Cryl,” he says.

That glitch again. My mind paints sparks that fire deep into my brain. An electric buzz bursts through my ears. The skin on my forehead heats like coal, then quick as it came… its gone!

I vomit violently. Unable to focus; I reach out to the wall, balance almost fails me.

“Marcie,” I wail, sprinting up the stairs.

I see Zorro running, at least a hundred yards ahead. I consider taking aim. Whats the point? Hard shot any day of the week, with the rain in my eyes… Impossible.

Frantically my eyes search for Marcie. Nowhere to be seen. On the ground a card. I pick it up, a strip joint: ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’ – New Jersey. On the back, written by hand ‘Lou’s Place.

To be continued…

D&O in Fresno

Sleep Diver-Part 2. Afghan Dan and The Kitchen Table Man.

Afghan Dan and the Kitchen Table Man

Little beach California; somewhere on the coast – close to Los Angeles…

Moonlight strikes the trailer. Her arms drape loosely around my neck, her legs hug my lower back. She rocks me gently with the waves, her face close to mine, just above the surface… “Promise me Eli no matter what, we stay together. Don’t ever let me go!”

I look to the shore. There is a silhouette standing in the shadows smoking; some lady in a short skirt and fitted jacket. She turns to walk away then stops, looks back and begins to laugh. The laughter gets louder and louder until I can no longer hear myself scream!

 


The door slams. Footsteps on the stairs…

“Nice to meet you, maybe call again some other time!” Hard to miss the insincerity in Dan’s voice. 

I’m shivering! Heatings broke. I grab a gown; finish the whiskey, whats left of it, and decide to speak with Dan about the temperature.

What was it that just happened? ‘A gentleman by the name of…’ That lady, what was her name? Mind feels hazy, moving in and out of range, like some smart ass fighter down at the Garden, a flash of sparks, and shockwaves buzzing through my ears. Drink is killing me!

I head downstairs to the mini-mart. Dan is stood at the till. His arms dance like a puppet as Zorro keeps nodding. I struggle to catch a sentence before they spot me. 

‘Senor Cryl, Hola.’ Zorro smiles. The ceiling light reflects off his teeth. The neighbourhood christened him ‘Boca Plateada’: Silver Mouth!

I’ve never understood why Dan keeps him around. What use is he? A promising fighter in his day, so they say. Until he went berserk with a switch blade. Caught his old lady with some chancer. Zorro left him with the sign of the Ze… so the story goes!

He spent the next five years in the State Pen. Never boxed again!

“Yo Eli wassup?” 

“When you gonna get this heating fixed Dan? Guy could freeze to death round here.”

“When I see this months rent Eli! Guy could starve to death round here!”

“Bullshit my slimy little friend. You got enough to carry us through winter right here.” I grab a bottle from the liquor shelf.

“Thats three now Eli. How you gonna make rent digging deep on that juice?” 

I keep walking.

“Thats three bottles and a months rent. Don’t fuck with me man. I want my money Cryl.”

“What’s your problem… Goat hungry again?” I joke.

“I fucking kill you, you drunken piece of shit” I almost feel the blast wave.

“By the end of the day mother fucker” He’s screaming now.

“I told you not to marry that bitch.” I’m on a roll now, “Can’t say you weren’t warned.”

Zorro sniggers. I aim the middle finger high, hearing the cash till slam as I head back to the stairs.


Dark. Silent. I come round sat upright on the couch: watch says 7pm. 

Whiskey… I drank the bottle as I thought of Marcie and that Wishbourne lady. Thinking, thinking, and more thinking. It was light then, now dark. I had passed out in the chair.

I need to sober up. I get the importance; a fucking absolute necessity. The thought follows me into the shower. I let it keep me there; stood watching water drain away. I turn the heat up as I start to shake! He needs to fix this heating system. Maybe not top of the list in Kabul Dan, but this is NYC and its winter!

‘I assure you Mr Cryl, the pleasure is all mine!’ What the fuck did that mean? Why had she said that? It seemed distant now; like I was back in the dream, like Marcie was there. How could that be? And whats with the sparks and buzzing in my skull? I should speak with a doctor… Yeah maybe. Maybe later.

Take a break Eli, sober up, head on down to 96th Street and hit a meeting. The man will be there!

I kill the shower and get dressed. My mind races. I should straighten out and work this case. Thing is… Im not sure why Im taking it! Sure I need the money, who doesn’t? But this Wishbourne lady, she kinda gives me the creeps. And to be honest I’m having a hard time remembering what she said. I recall something about a phone call. Sober up she said, I need you sharp she said, those in my service she said. Fuck you Lady, I should have said, Just who do you think you are   I should have said! Then why didn’t I?

Something else stole my attention! A darkness, buzzing, those sparks, then she was gone. I need to get the fuck out… and fast!

The 7-11; stores empty… except for Dan, zoned out, cellphone in hand. 

No sign of Zorro; always a good sign.

“Hey Dan.” I say.

“Eli.”

“Listen bro I’m sorry about earlier.”

“The rent money; by the end of the day.” He leans on the counter and glances up, “Theres something about that woman, I don’t trust her!”

“I apply that rule to everyone, especially our little Mexican friend.”

“Keep her outa this place Cryl. She’s trouble!”

“You could always put a Fatwa on her ass.” I laugh.

“This ain’t funny Eli.” 

Im almost at the door when he says, “I’ve seen her before, sure of it!”


I board the 3 train on 125th. Dan’s words stick in my head. He’s right. I can’t pinpoint it but he’s right. Theres something about Louise Wishbourne thats almost familiar. 

I say fuck Dan, his rent and the Lady Wishbourne, whoever the fuck she is. 

I’m sat on this train watching people jump on and off; I wonder where it is they go in this fucking Metropolis? And I think to myself: All that other shit can wait!

“Stand clear of the closing doors.” The driver barks at every stop.

I’m filled with an urge to ride the subway all night. Just sit here. Many times I’ve done exactly that. Yeah sure, you get your share of freaks and the occasional lunatic, but theres a peace here, below ground, zipping stop to stop.

I exit the subway at 96th & Amsterdam. The scene is familiar. Manhattan Diner to the right, a bus stop to the left. The subway station separates two roads, crossed by a third. Traffic is light but the street is busy. A church sits on the corner. Outside are three guys, sharing a smoke and cutting the shit. I cross the street and head over.

“You looking for the meeting buddy?” Says one. 

“Sort of” I reply, “could use a word with the Kitchen Table Guy first.” 

Six foot and 200lbs of ’I know the way outa here’ steps forward, “Eli, you look like shit. Its good to see ya.” He grabs my shoulders pulling me into a bear hug. It feels good. “Where you been man? We been worried about ya!” Its warm, friendly and different from how I’m wired up. I know his struggles, stared me dead in the eye and shared them with me, first time we met. I also know he got his shit together. This works for him. Whatever this is.

“How’s things going?” He asks. 

“Work, drink, same old me.” I look at the floor as he stares right through me. 

“How’s Dan?” He asks.

“Hasn’t poisoned me yet!”

 He starts to laugh, “You don’t need his help with that.” 

I just smile.

“Cmon, its about to start. Let’s take a seat.”

The meeting starts. A woman sat up front shares her take on experience, strength & hope. I feel a tremor start back up. Nervously I look around. Nobody seems to notice. My head spins, guts turn, the sickness starts. I need a drink. His eyes are on me and I know it. I glance over my shoulder. He gives me a smile and nods his head. I look back to the sharer. I remain focused best I can: Teenage years, first drink, first love, first DUI, first divorce, first rehab, first meeting, first relapse, first time coming back, first sponsor, first step, first sponsee…First chance I get I’m going to throw up!

Its over quick. Friendly faces remind me to ‘keep coming back, how great it is to see me and please stay this time.’ 

“You got time for a walk?” He asks.

 “Sure, lets head over to the park.”

“You carrying Eli?” 

“.357, it goes with the territory.”

“Good, its getting late; junkies, rent boys and muggers they all be doing the rounds soon.” He pauses to light a smoke, “Don’t shoot anybody though. That ain’t working a program.” He winks. “You don’t look too good.”

“Who me?”

“Yeah you,” he says “you’re shaking like a victim.”

“I can take care of myself.”

“Obviously.” He starts to laugh.

We leave the park at Strawberry Fields and I throw up outside the Dakota Building. Im sure Lennon would of seen the funny side. Then again, maybe not.

I break the long silence as we head south on Central Park West, “How come I still struggle with this?”

“You carry some baggage Eli.” He lights another smoke and pockets the packet. “That and not a fifth step in sight. When you gonna do the work?”

“I mean to, can never find the time is all.” I hear the bullshit leave my mouth.

“Always find the time to get loaded though don’t we… is all.” He makes no attempt to hide the sarcasm. 

“Got me there.” I feel the need to vomit creep up again.

“You get drunk, turn up looking like shit, stick around long enough to feel better, then repeat. Sooner or later somethings gotta give; one way or the other.” A  look of concern crosses his face, a hint of pity. Quickly replaced with a stare; like a mirror.

He picks up the subway at Trump Tower. “That meeting off Broadway behind the Beacon Theatre, you remember it?”

“Of course man.”

“Be there at seven tomorrow.”

We shake and he’s gone. 

 


I head west on 59th Street and stop at Jakes Saloon. The grip of the grapes squeezes tight. A few beers will take the edge off. I sense thats just delaying the inevitable. Its also insane but what the fuck. My head spins and guts ache. That shit can wait one more day.

I throw a whiskey back while the barman pours a beer.

“Tough day?” He asks.

“Everyday.”

“I hear ya.” He places my beer on the mahogany bar and wipes the counter. “Hola if you need anything.” 

My mind races uncontrollably; something doesn’t sit right. I let the whiskey take effect while drinking the beer. Bits of the day rewind back. A news channel reports mass shootings between Mexican drug cartels and police. I think of Zorro…

“Hey Barkeep!”

“Another beer?” 

“No man, I wanna run something by ya.”

“What’s up bro?”

“A friend in need, you ever miss the signs?”

“In what way.” He feigns interest. 

“My buddy he wanted to tell me something today.”

“And?” 

“And I walked away with a wise crack.”

“Whats got ya thinking this?” 

“Look on his face, I’ve seen it before.” A memory flashes through my mind. 

“He often wear this look?” He runs the cloth over the counter again. 

“No” I reply “Only seen it once before, few years back” I chug at the beer. “During some fucked up circumstance.”

“What was that?” He’s interested now. 

“We were been shot at and he took one in the chest, nearly died.” I clean the glass and order more whiskey. He pours the dink and asks “How come?”

“We were newly acquainted down in Texas. He had upset the wrong people, real mean hombres. He was in my custody on route to see the Sheriff.” 

The bartender leans on the counter, “You a cop?”

“Collect Bail Bonds.” I take the glass from him, “Runners.”

“How did it end?”

“Shooting, lots of it. Everybody got shot. Bad guys died; we lived.”

“Jeez man that’s heavy shit. But what’s that got to do with his face today?”

I throw back the whiskey “He had that look earlier, just for a moment, same look he had lying on the floor puking blood and gasping for breath.” I lay 20 bucks on the bar, “A look of fear… and I missed it!”

Back out on the street my temperature drops. Again I feel the cold.

To be continued…

 

D&O in Fresno

Sleep Diver

A Noir thriller series; part 1 – Introducing Eli

Little beach California: somewhere on the coast – I’m laid down horizontal outside our trailer trash apartment; the waves lash against rocks nearby. I snap back the ring pull on a cold one and take a drink. Home from home. Face like a hot stone in the pale sand, my legs whiter than a Klansman’s hood. Its a long way from New York City. 

Crimson paints the horizon as the Sun begins another game of hide and seek. 

A picture perfect moment as the hole in my soul packs up and leaves. God damn she is so fucking beautiful; skin gleaming as the ocean drips from her body.

“Hey sugar tits, one of them for me?” She says, walking towards me. “Sure is darling.” I smile “Why don’t you sit your pretty ass next to mine, the sand’ still warm here.”

She stops mid track, “Eli, you hear that?” Her head turns sideways. “I thought you promised no telephone today! Jeez mister when ya gonna quit and give me due attention?” 

I hear nothing except waves crashing the rocks. “Not a phone or any other thing for miles baby. Come on over, lets fool around.”

“Fuck you Cryl.” She gives me the bird.

Then I hear it! The shrill of the telephone, louder, it rises louder inside my skull. 

The Sunset, the waves, sand and Marcie all dissolve…

My head screams! Sparks fire rapidly into my brain. My ears buzz and the skin on my face starts to boil.

Sweaty hands grab at the nightstand as I knock the phone sideways. The volume reaches critical. Fingers scramble the floor, clipping it, sending it further out of reach. In a semi-conscious stupor I half sit up. The couch bellies under my weight. “Christ sake already you better be fucking serious.” 

Surroundings become familiar; a shithole of an office, apartment, drunk tank, mortuary, rocking the high life up on 125th. Harlem. I’m home!

I get a grip on the instrument of torture and punch the accept button.

“Whats up Dan?” the words echo through my head.

“Cryl you gotta guest. Shall I send her up?” he replies a little too loud.

“Her?” surely not Marcie! “Give me a moment bro I’m not decent.”

“You’re the most indecent mother fucker I ever had the misfortune to be acquainted with.” I like Dan! “Hurry it up Eli this ones bad for business.”

I mull over that statement and struggle from the couch. Jim Beam, half empty bottle, stares across the room. I draw hard on the whiskey and open the blinds instantly wishing I hadn’t. Razor sharp daylight floods in. What time is it; what day is it? I haven’t the fucking slightest idea! 

A vortex of shit surrounds me. An ashtray in need of emptying sits on the old bureau desk and spills its guts. Yesterday’s shirt hangs over the computer screen. Beer cans, trousers, and socks cover the rug. Twenty square yards of me, my couch and I. No sign of shoes! 

I take another hit from the bottle and dial back down. The phone rings three times. I hang up. A door slams, stairs creak, footsteps approach. I pull on the pants, don the shirt and try to impersonate somebody not resembling a total fucking jerk!

“Mr Cryl I presume.” She stands silhouetted in the doorway, legs long, tits high, looks like a million. 

She lights a smoke “May I?” 

Don’t mind me lady I just live here. “Of course Miss, why don’t you come in Miss… Miss?” 

“Mrs actually! Mrs Louise Wishbourne.” She interrupts my stutterfuck!

“Those in my service call me Miss Lou.” She breathes hard from the cigarette. 

And I cant help but think they do: This stranger, this broad, leaning against the door jam, short skirt, fitted jacket, appearing every inch like Ingrid Bergman! Bad for business, wasn’t that what Afghan Dan said?

I reply “Eli Cryl at your service. Why don’t ya step inside Miss Lou.” I feel seriously underdressed, “Tell me, to what do I owe this pleasure?” Don’t see many of her type in this neighbourhood. Eyes on mine as she says “The pleasure Mr Cryl, I assure you, is all mine!” 

“Ok Ma’am, so how can we help?” My head thumps! “In what way can the EC Fugitive Recovery Service be of assistance?”

Cryl’s Story

It was a night that war fever ran high in the US Airforce Base ‘Incirlik.’ We sat restless on the Iraqi border with the battle for Kuwait over. Ole Saddam’s boys had scuttled off back to Bagdad while we all waited for something a little different to hit the menu. It turned out to be the Brits! A running pitch battle with those crazy fuckers. They took the base by storm just for the hell of it. We had drank together, went into war together, and on this night would batter each other, for no other reason than there was nobody else left to fight. The MP’s had other ideas – Dogs! One of the snarling bastards locked onto my face as a truncheon put my lights out. My war was over; the scar a permanent reminder!

Landing back Stateside I had dreams of leadership. Hadn’t the boys praised me as cool under fire, best section commander in the battalion? My talents would take me to the top. I was sure of it!

I took a law course and obtained employment as an Investigator for an insurance company. The drive to the top was on. I’d prove to the world I was important. An early warning showed up regarding drink. I almost failed the law exam; too drunk to write or think!

Somehow I scraped through and the firm sent me to Los Angeles. Big investigations equalled big bucks. For the next few years fortune threw money and applause my way. We parked the Winnebago on a small secluded beach; me and Marcie. We were happy…for a while!

Drink took an exciting, important centre stage. I found plenty bar buddies before it all got too serious. The morning drink continued right through the day and into the night. Remaining faithful to Marcie due to love or been too drunk to fuck, who knows! Plenty chances came my way with the ladies but many rows accompanied. They viewed me as a pest: A bomb and a barfly. Fuck em, who needs em! 

I became a lone wolf and for short periods drank less. Then I would explode with a bang. Violence would erupt on a shoestring. A fight with a taxi driver made the press. Let go in disgrace we headed home to Brooklyn and moved in with Marcie’s parents. I hardly drew a sober breath in the years that followed. Liquor became a necessity. Things got worse and I would kid myself; fantasising about control till I could take no more. I woke up. It had to stop. I made promises to Marcie. Surely I could do it for her? The girl who gave me the look; the one that was the one! And so I could for a while. The goose hung high and dry for a time till… 

An old army buddy sought me out. We met up over a few drinks. I listened to his proposal. It netted me 100,000 dollars on a drug deal. More importantly I was back on the sauce. It felt good for a while, til my brain again raced uncontrollably. The morning madness returned. Marcie prayed for my sanity as the DT’s put me in dark terror.

Admitted to Belmont Detox Facility off Central Park; I returned to find Marcie gone. She left without a note or goodbye. I’ve never seen or heard from her since!

Fear sobered me for a while. But I was back in Detox within a few short weeks. Chance introduced me to a good doctor. Shortly afterwards he sent a guy to my house; a real decent fella! 

Sat at the kitchen table drinking, I listened as he shared his story with me. He  knew his stuff about the liquor problem. What he said made sense. I still see him. We meet up regularly. Me, him and many others. Ive done ok in patches; some periods of sobriety. Still those periods of drunkenness, but I keep at it, maybe one day.

I have this little business of my own up in Harlem. Only white guy in the Neighbourhood. Me and Afghan Dan. One up one down. The work focuses my mind. One sickness replaces another. Still, I think I will keep meeting up with the Kitchen Table Guy, see how it plays out.

And just how is that working out today? 

Well just for today she is stood in the doorway, her legs long, tits high, looking a million.

She holds my gaze and lights a smoke.

Don’t mind me lady I just live here. 

I notice her head turn as she scans the room. “Lets get down to business shall we?” 

Im not sure I like the look of disdain on her face. “What is it you need Lady?”

“I need you to find somebody.” I thought she would say that, educated guess!

“This somebody have a name?” I reach for the cigarette packet next to the whiskey, pausing a second, I decide to wait till she leaves.

“Yes indeed he does. A gentleman by the name of…”

To be continued…

Disclaimer: Its obvious a certain section of this ongoing story has took inspiration from another (as in writing, recovery, and life).

Reminder: This is a ‘Just for Fun’ & ‘Not for Profit’ creative exercise (as is writing, recovery, and life).

Till next time… 

D&O in Fresno