Tales Told Tall 2 (Elliptical Epilog) – Part 2
M C Alves
Continued from yesterday …
Daniel looked over at Phillip and said ‘That’s my boy!’
Phillip said ‘Chip off the ol’ block, alright.’
Mistake. They both turned on him.
Daniel called him worthless, a parasite and said he was tired of feeding him. ‘Ask that fuck-face for money,’ he told the boy, ‘he eats enough of my food!’
Phillip gave the boy five dollars just to end it. He left. Daniel gazed at Phillip with naked hatred. ‘Yeah, right, you got money to give to the Fat Bastard but none for me, huh? Asshole!’ He threw an empty bottle against the wall. It shattered. ‘You always were a coward! You never had any balls. Always a parasite. You never had the guts to go and take it. You’re just a fucking loser asshole …’ He staggered into his bedroom and slammed the door. Phillip heard him crash to the floor.
Phillip could feel his insides churning. It shocked him. He began to tremble. It felt as if some protective wall around his heart had been breached, quickly crumbling. All was lost.
Daniel always had a gun. Phillip knew where it was. He found the taking of one’s own life somehow heroic, courageous, honorable. He had read a story as a boy about the old custom of offering a defeated but honorable enemy the option of killing himself instead of a firing squad. The closed door, alone in a room with a gun. A gentleman’s death, romantic. He quietly opened the cupboard where Daniel kept his revolver. He closed the lights and sat on the floor in the moonlight and for perhaps an hour tried to find the courage. Conflicted, tortured, he could not find it within himself to commit the act but neither would the misery release its grip on his soul. Finally, he thought to reach out to someone. Anyone. He picked up the phone and got the Suicide Hotline number. Phillip called the number. Twice. The line was busy. He stashed the gun in his jacket pocket and walked out, all the way Here to the last stop on the line.
The biker bar was called American Trash and there was Molly in the house. And Meth. It was a well-known haven for both. He had been in once before. It was another Last Stop at the end of another line. There were only a few Hogs parked in front when Phillip, tired but no longer shaking, got there. If he ever needed a drink it was tonight. There was a sign on the door which read “Poetry Night”.
It did not take long for Phillip to score. He had not even finished his first Jack Daniel’s when Jethro Pugh lumbered over and sat next to him. He had bought a little meth from the ancient biker once before. Jethro, as he called himself, was a big, old-time Cowboys fan. He wore the Dallas Star on his German Army helmet. There was no amount too small for Jethro to sell which is why Phillip was able to get anything at all. A slick, slight-of-hand later and, presto, he had a small crystal rock and capsule of Molly. He had to ask Jethro for a loan of a pipe. That cost him another fiver but when he emerged from the dank and thoroughly filthy men’s room he was quite comfortably numb. A one-hitter blast and a capsule of pure Ecstasy. Beggar’s Banquet. He was sipping the whiskey and weighing in his mind whether the high-powered rush was equal to or greater than that of an orgasm when the first Hell’s Angel bard took to the open mike onstage. A lovelorn King Kong? The giant beast of a man cleared his throat, paused for several seconds, closed his eyes and in a soft voice began …
‘Concupiscence thwarted, holistic, half-cocked habedasheries of the libido. Helium overdrive. Hard on the pelvis. Try inflatables, I am told, nobody can blow just one … “Otto” (“Airplane”), where for art thou, Otto? …. all is pointless, hopeless, hollow … but yet we hang on, carry on, question everything, believe in little or, better yet, nothing and stand while others fall. Fall from grace, fall from high places, fall for love or something similar, fall upon, fall apart, fall down. Last long enough and you will, rest assured, see and feel all there is for you to. More still. You may outlive family, friends and enemies, mother or child, left behind, older still than you ever expected. Youth means nothing to a universe, memories are scattershot and the folderol of failing eyesight, stored haphazardly in the hope chests of all frail souls. We march on, for fear prevents surrender, and there is not, after all, no one nor nothing to surrender to. Bring your banner, claim your place, defend whatever honor demands of you, hold very loosely to the thread which secures the Gordian Knot. Alone you are. Have no doubt. Surrounded always, kinship and fellowship in every corner, but in the end as in the beginning it is alone you will face time’s end. What we do in life may echo in eternity. It may not. Remembered you will be. Even if you have forgotten. YOU will fade to black. Thankfully. Until then?’
The room was silent. There was no applause. But no one threw anything at the poet-warrior. The MC yelled, ‘Next!’ Phillip left.
Phillip had been sitting at the far edge of the parking lot of the 7-11 for quite some time. He no longer felt cold. Since he had taken to his vigil, three cars had pulled up, the customers went in, came out, drove off. One Chevy and a Chrysler. One Gremlin. The customers all took nearly the same amount time to get whatever they had come for, about four minutes each. Only the guy who got coffee took an extra three minutes. No one had appeared for nearly ten minutes now. It was a little after four in the morning. No cars had passed on the street for over twenty minutes. He could hear the mechanical clicks as the traffic light changed. There was no other sound to be heard. There was one street lamp with a busted bulb, dark. He could see the guy behind the counter resting his head in the crook of his arm on the counter, facing away from the window. This might be the moment, Phillip thought. He took out the pistol, held it in his lap for a while. Phillip’s heart was racing. But then, it had been racing all night.
‘ …whether ’tis nobler to face the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune … or take arms … and thereby …’ Phillip put the gun in his jacket pocket and walked slowly, very slowly, across the parking lot toward the store. He could see down the road in both directions for a good distance. There were no headlights on the approaching. Only darkness illuminated by dim streetlamps. The guy behind the counter had not moved. ‘… whether ’tis nobler … to sleep under a bush … or …’ He opened the door and walked toward the counter. He had the gun held firmly in his pocket, finger on the trigger. The man looked up. The safe must be right behind him, Phillip thought. My salvation lies just beyond a few keystrokes at the register. All he had to do was …
The old man behind the counter wiped his face and smiled sheepishly at Phillip. ‘Woha, ’musta dozed off. Whew … can ah help you mister?’ Phillip looked at the man directly, into his eyes. They were green. Phillip stood very still and looked at the man for some time. Who was this man? Just another stranger. The man smiled at him and waited. Phillip said, ‘A pack of Juicy Fruit, please.’ He paid for it and walked out.
When he got back to the house Phillip walked softly to Daniel’s bedroom. He could hear the snoring. He opened it. Daniel lay on the floor. He took the pistol out of his pocket and aimed at his half-brother. He stood over him in silence. Then he closed the door. He emptied the gun and threw the bullets far into the backyard. Then Phillip went over to his bush, crawled under, and went to sleep.
Bio:M C Alves (Manny) is a freelance writer, author of a collection of short fiction, a former journalist and editor as well as author of two books on Information Technology and operating systems. He is a contributor to various publications and is currently working on a novel. Manny is a longtime resident of New York City.