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