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

 

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.

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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

You can hear it in my accent when I talk…

I love traveling. Not in any geographical escape manner, though I’ve tried that a few times. It doesn’t work. Everywhere I go I take me with me. However there is one place I love to visit that allows me just to be comfortable with exactly who I am. That place is New York City. There is something about that particular spot on the planet that just swallows me up and gives me a head space which could best be described as “not giving a fuck!”
I’ve just returned from my 5th time in the greatest city on earth and again it was a wonderful experience. With all its hustle and bustle, near constant flow of people, traffic and obvious problems on the surface around homelessness and mental ill health. I’ve never felt more at home! Staying present and focused on the here and now, exactly what’s in front of me while dealing with reality feels totally intuitive there. It seems to happen in a way that I have to work hard on a daily basis to achieve anywhere else. I fall more and more in love with the Big Apple each time I go there.

This time it was that bit extra special as I was travelling with my son. It was his first time in the States and it was great to be able to show him round. I know the City well. I can find my way around without any real difficulty. Im at home there and have friends who I like to touch base with as soon as I land. This time was no different. We met up with my good friend Eoin as soon as we dropped the bags in the hotel. We sat down to some Korean food then walked the High Line Park. It was built out of a disused railway line on the Lower Westside running from 14th street up to 34th along 10th Avenue some one and a half miles. It is elevated and has a constant view looking down on the City and over at the Hudson River. We walked and talked, taking in the incredible views, stopping for ice cream along the way. It quickly became obvious that my sons eyes where opening to the fact this was a little different to anything he had experienced before. I resisted the temptation to start taking control and becoming a fount of information. I just rolled with it, allowing him to experience it his way while dropping into the conversation anything I deemed important.

Hitting the street at 5am to take the Subway from Hells Kitchen up to 96th street to meet up with “Mutual Friends” Im aware of the fact my mind is calm and tuned into my surroundings. Unlike the instant attack of compulsive thoughts I awake to back home. Something Ive grown to be grateful for. The routine I’ve developed to cope with this has gave me so much more in return. Still it’s nice to have a break from it and be able to walk out the door on a morning after a quick wash and grab a coffee on route.

The week itself was incredible. Mostly just to be with my boy. He stuck by the old me through thick and thin. When everybody at one point or another turned their back on me for a time as I sank further and further into a drink and drug induced madness and the chaos that brings. He was always there! We have always been close and have a solid bond. But like all relationships there comes a time when some space opens up and he has forged his own life. We never really get time to spend more than a day here and there together and thats cool as long as he is happy and healthy. So having this week together on the other side of the world in a place I feel so relaxed in was a massive privilege.

We got round quite a bit. A visit to Gleasons Boxing Gym in Brooklyn and walked the Brooklyn Bridge. The Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island. Times Square and a steak at the world class steak house ‘Gallaghers’. Central Park. “A Bronx Tale” at a Broadway theatre. A Baseball game at Citi fields. Football (Soccer they call it) at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. A train ride out to Jersey Shore to spend a day at the beach, and various sight seeing, restaurants and bars. I know it couldn’t have been easy on the boy enjoying a few beers with a middle aged man and former hell raiser as I sipped on ice cold Coca Cola. But he made the best of it. Something I would have found extremely difficult at his age. We had a great time. All the while knowing that like minded “Mutual Friends” are never far away in this Metropolis and always pleased to see me as I walk through the door. A true miracle and one I cherish and feel blessed to be so firmly connected with.

The whole week the weather was hot and sunny. Except for the day we came home. It rained heavily in a thunder storm those few hours as we prepared to head out to the Airport after lunch. It would be easy for me to fantasise that it was the City’s way of saying “So long, it was great to see ya again, sorry your going come back soon”. I like to think so, who knows!

Back home all is as I left it. Same crazy head, same little struggles. Same tried and tested 80 year old program that delivers sanity on the grounds that “half measures avail us nothing!” Back to a new job I started 2 weeks before jetting off. All is well. Its great to be alive and even better to be sober. All of it thanks to an amazing world wide fellowship of people that started with 2 men, one from NYC, sitting down together admitting that on their own they were fucked! I thank ‘Him as I understand Him’ for including me in that and all that it has given me.

“You can hear it in my accent when I talk I’m an Englishman in New York” ~ Sting.

D&O in Fresno

Taking tea with Tesla

“If we where having coffee right now I could tell you all about…”

…Taking tea with Tesla.

Day 11 of the #everydayinspiration 20 day WordPress Challenge finds me having a “Virtual Coffee Date” with anybody of my choosing…

This brings me to La Colombe Coffee Roasters, a Café @ 1045 6th Avenue ‘Tesla Corner’ near 40th Street West – New York NY. Its late morning and I’ve already eaten. The street is fairly busy but not manic. Its a Sunday! I love coffee and go crazy for it at times, just the good stuff mind none of that instant crap! To be fair the good stuff is more popular and readily available these last few years. Or maybe it always was, seems I was drunk a long time! Coffee didn’t become a priority in my life till I needed a beverage replacement (along with a personality and brain transplant). It could of been anything, but since coffee (the good stuff) was relatively new to me it brought something refreshing to the table and I was quickly hooked (Im sort of like that)! I got here early about an hour before the arranged rendezvous. I have a date but with who? Still going for it big time with the ‘Veggie’ diet experiment I passed on my usual rashers of Danish and opted for a bowl of Grits. I treat myself to Butter Croissants washed down with plenty of the black stuff (hot variety, not the Irish). Its another one of those wonderful days were I have to pinch myself to believe I’m actually living it, sure enough I am!

I sit outside in the warm sun people watching, its always a favourite pastime of mine whenever I’m in NYC and have a little time on my hands. I loose count of the cigarettes. I like to chain smoke whilst engaging in this activity, it adds something to the experience – don’t ask me what, it just does!

I feel very relaxed and again I put this down to the Manhattan vibe I’m feeling. The City that doesn’t sleep always seems like the safest place to just take a nap, I know that isn’t so, but it certainly feels that way at times. I start to feel drowsy and shake my head. I take a quick sniff at the empty coffee cup making sure theres no smell of ‘Bushmills’ , the tobacco seems pure enough – old habits and all that, just to be certain!

And then… It was the waistcoat that caught my eye!! Almost instantly he disappears behind a slow walking middle aged couple who are holding hands and engaging in what seems like a humorous conversation. A quick glimpse of a face through the gap between them, the moustache its his… could it be? Surely I’m dreaming! Then there he was walking, no… bounding towards me! That obvious Eastern European swagger –  and the clothes, timelessly outdated and classy. He smiles a youthful smile though he is anything but youthful. My friend appears mid 30’s – Incredible considering he’s been gone over 70 years! He reaches out a hand and I go to shake…

“If we were having coffee right now John…??

“Tea Nikola – Legal Aliens in New York take Tea!”

“All alone not by myself.. another girl bad for my health” – I hear the Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ oozing rift coming from the sound system behind me in the Café. My Guest pulls up a chair and I signal the waitress. By the time she returns with Tesla’s Earl Grey our conversation is in full flow. He is warm and engaging, though one senses he has a low tolerance for stupidity and ignorance. I endeavour to challenge whilst also remaining respectful. This is a great man and I get the feel he enjoys my questioning, however the look he shoots me when I say… “ The whole deal with Edison and J.P Morgan must have been hard to take? They allegedly robbed you, burgled and burnt down your Lab, took credit for your work and eventually left you penniless. How did all that feel?” Tesla glares at me, his eyes are piercing and it feels as if they are boring into my skull. It must have been nothing more than 3 or 4 seconds but felt like an eternity before his thin smile breaks at the lips. He responds in his Serbian accented English… “My dear friend, I built an energy for the world. One that was to be used freely by all for the advancement of humankind. They wanted to monopolise it and so they did. What good did it do them? Where are they now?” I make a joke about how in those days of been hard up he would leave restaurants and bars without paying the bill. I reassure him I’ve got this one. He grunts and turns his attention to the tea cup.

NikolaTeslaWiFi.jpgI quickly produce my iPad from my ‘man satchel’ and amaze him with the WIFI connection he dreamt up long before World War 2. He listens intently as I update him around how it all came about. He points out his boney chin in a proud mannerism as I describe the worlds first WIFI hotspot – a statue of him in Silicon Valley!

 

Bouncing backwards and forwards, mixed up but enjoyable and easy to follow along with, he gives his account of Edison’s adaptation of his electric current. He generously concedes a place in the world for both. Niagara Falls hydro electricity, Torpedoes, and his Eidetic (the ability to witness a scene for no more than a few seconds and later be able to recreate it to the finest detail) memory all come to the fore in animated conversation. I am in the presence of genius! Realising the massiveness of the company I find myself in I try to steer the conversation towards his old friend and debating partner, the king of geniuses Mr Albert Einstein… “Einstein was asked how does it feel to posses the greatest mind ever to live? to which he replied ‘You would do best to ask Nikola Tesla that question!’ Some complement eh?” Tesla laughs and pauses to sip at the tea. “You ever bump into him from time to time?” ‘Bertie?’  he replies “We are connected, always have been, since the dawn of time!”

Speaking of, I enquire of his statement about – “There is a core intelligence to the Universe,a life force, I know it to be true and given enough time I can prove it!” I ask if he now could validate that statement. He replies… “John if I was having coffee with you there is much we could discuss and all of it I can prove. But you look tired, let me shout for the waitress!”

“Sir, Sir.. would you like something else or can I get you the check?”

Startled to wake I look at the seat opposite me. Its empty. disintegrated by the rising sun, I rode a blackout of oblivion… never in the wrong time the wrong place, desecration is the smile on my face” – The same RHCP song comes forward from the Jukebox.

Thats ok, I will just settle up. “Just the two tea’s was it sir?”

A hardly touched Earl Grey sits at the seat opposite, not to be left unpaid for this time. I guess it really is safe to take a nap in the Big Apple.

“The desire that guides me in all I do is the desire to harness the forces of nature to the service of mankind.

The future will show whether my foresight is as accurate now as it proved heretofore” – Tesla

“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito” – His Holiness XIV Dali Lama

(Image) Heather Paul – flickr located at the intersection of 40th Street and 6th Avenue in Manhattan, is a constant reminder to all New Yorkers of the greatness of this genius.

D&O in Fresno.