Monday, November 30, 2015

Blacker Friday


"Hey Tony... you gotta see this."

"Lemme be, okay? I hate doin' this shit."

"Naw... you just hate doing this shit with me." The driver reached over and hit Tony hard in the arm. "Suck it up, my friend. Some day, all this'll be yours."

"Yeah. So you keep tellin' me."

"Look, see?" The driver pointed at the storefront. "See the blond? That's our girl."

"I see her. The black Jag, right?"

"Yeah. Right there." The driver pointed again, several cars up from the end of the row. "You got the key?"

"Yeah. How many times you gonna ask me?"

"Until we're fuckin' done. You got that? Until we're fucking DONE."

Tony shrunk into his seat, pulled his coat a little tighter, and looked out the window. "One day," he thought, "One day I'll get the fuck outta this city."

"There she goes. Get the fuck on with it, Tony. Go!" The driver hit him again and leaned past him to open the cab door. A split second later, Tony was pushed out of the truck and fell all the way to the ground. "Fuckin' amateur. GO!"

The truck whined and pulled away down the row of cars, chains swinging.  Tony ran into the Jaguar, found the key in his pocket and unlocked the door. He slid behind the wheel as the tow tuck lumbered past, swung tight to the row of cars and paused, the air brakes blowing pressure as it came to rest.  The Jag lurched to life, powered out of the parking spot, and came to rest behind the tow truck. In almost no time at all, the driver and Tony secured the Jag and were out of the parking lot. It was as clean a job as it could have been. They were practically invisible to the shoppers. Black Friday was calling their wallets. Who cared about a repossession?


Phil sat on his couch eating his breakfast. Scrambled eggs marked a trail from the plate to his mouth over the expanse of terrycloth robe covering his girth.  He slid the plate off his belly
and on to the couch next to him, leaned forward and gulped the coffee from the cup on the table. His phone rang, startling him and causing the cup to fall from his hands and onto the rug. He cursed, leaned off the couch to retrieve the cup that had rolled under the coffee table. The phone continued to ring as Phil sat back on the couch, cup in hand. "HELLO?" he bellowed.

"Heyyyy! S'me. Where you want the black kitty cat?"

Phil brightened. "In the old garage. It'll be safe there. I'll come by and square up the rest of what I owe you. in a week or so if that's alright?" He paused, "And thanks."

"About that. It was a lot tighter than we originally talked about. It'll be an extra $500."

"What?" Phil held the phone tight in his hand. "You never said..."

"Tough shit, Fatty. I grabbed this car in broad daylight in a public parking lot. You don't like it, I'll go put the fuckin' thing back. And furthermore..."

"Done. Sorry for the trouble. I'll make it $750 as a thank you." Phil hung up and smiled inside. "That bitch is gonna have the shittiest Christmas ever."

Phil sat back and let the warm glow of his own rage ripple over his body. He was winning. His ex just had her car 'repossessed' (okay, stolen Phil admitted to himself) and would be flipping out. With any luck, she'd take it out on their young son and Phil would need to come rescue him. Perfect. She'd lose the kid, her car, and after his lawyer got through with her, she'd be paying HIM child support. Merry Christmas, you bitch.

The split had been terrible. Terry, their son, was only a 8 months when they split. For the last 4 months, she'd been grooming her new boyfriend. She didn't waste any time getting the hole filled, so to speak.  Julie was a tall drink of water, long and lean, and a great piece of ass. Everyone warned Phil that she was setting him up, but he didn't believe it. He was in love. He was blind.

He could recount every detail of the day he came home early to surprise her. Terry was asleep in his playpen in the living room. There was a man's coat in the kitchen on the chair and the table was a damned mess. He immediately thought someone had broken in. Phil rushed upstairs and heard music coming from the bedroom and panicked. He dumped the flowers out of the vase and held it like a club as he pushed the door open to the sound of moaning and screaming.  It wasn't rape, it was fucking. She sat astride her lover, those long supple legs squeezing him as she rose and fell in heated rhythm to the music. She leaned forward a little and smiled in surprise at Phil as she made sure he saw the other man inside her. Phil exploded. He threw the man out of his bed and went after Julie. "YOU FUCKING BITCH!"

When he woke, the police and a rescue were there, tending Phil's head as well as Julie's. Before the rage could well up again, something softer filled him and he thought she had been attacked by the intruder. The police questioned them, and the man, and as he answered he came to realize that they were blaming him for the injuries. The other man came to her rescue and hit Phil in the head with the same vase that Phil had used to hit her. It took weeks for Phil and his lawyer to get things bargained down to a plea, some financial restitution to her,  and some community service. Phil sat through the abuser's classes and fumed in his heart. He plotted and planned as Julie moved out of his place, took her stuff, some of his, and their child.

He would make her sorry.

As far as the world and a couple of two-bit repo men were concerned, he just had.


The week passed slowly. Phil waited for the phone call to come from the police that he was a suspect in a robbery or something, but it never did.  Julie called a couple times over the weekend. She only left one message for him to contact her. Phil didn't.

But Monday Phil got a call from Family Services. They wanted to talk to him about Terry. Something about neglect and endangerment or some such shit. "Oh, this is rich." Phil thought. If she's hurt him, he'd kill that bitch. But the woman on the phone had a thick accent and Phil was having a hard time understanding what the hell she was talking about. Finally he agreed to just go down and talk in person.

Phil arrived at the office of Family Services. He was greeted by a short, thick woman in a green dress. Her dark hair held off her face by wide glasses. She spoke with a heavy Spanish accent.
"Mister Austin?  I'm Angelina Gomez, Terry's case worker. Thank you for coming down. These things are always so hard to do over the phone. Have the Police spoken to you yet?"

"Police? What about?" Phil reeled. The LAST thing he needed was the cops involved. "Can't you tell me what the hell is going on?"

"Oh, Mr. Austin, I'm so sorry. Please come with me." Angelina took his hand and led him into a small office. It held only 3 chairs and a child-height table. There were drawings on the walls and a box of kleenex on the table. "Please, have a seat"

"I don't want a goddamned seat. I want you to tell me what is going on?"

"I will, I promise. It's just... Mr. Austin, your child is missing. He's been taken."

"Taken? You mean kidnapped?" Phil was feeling sick. That lazy, ignorant bitch. Julie was a terrible mother, Phil knew it. It was all her fucking fault and he would be so glad when Terry was safe at home with HIM."Tell me."

The woman lowered her eyes and opened the file. "Well, the police really should tell you, but since they haven't. yet..."

"No, they goddamned well haven't."

"So you haven't been contacted by anyone this weekend? This is the first you have heard of this incident?" She questioned him, keeping her gaze on his eyes.

"Correct," Phil snapped. "I HAVEN'T HEARD ANTHING!"

The woman sighed. "Mr. Austin, Ms. Burroughs left your son in her car when she went shopping last Friday morning. The car was stolen with your son inside. She claims he was sleeping...Mr. Austin, are you okay?"

Phil felt the world reeling. He felt the darkness wrapping around his vision and drag him into unconsciousness. "FUCK!" he screamed "NONONONONONONONONONOOOOOOOOO!" The mountain rose, pushed past the woman and hit the hallway running.  He had to get out of here. He had to know if his son was... was...

The elevator doors opened just as Phil got close to them. The officer stepped out just in time to catch Phil as he passed out into a sweaty heap.


The police officer approached the Jaguar and moved to the rear passenger door. The windows were all rolled up tight. The doors locked. "Anyone have a key?" He shouted to the two men handcuffed to the chain-link fence.

Tony looked at the driver. They both turned to the officer and shrugged. "No idea how it got here, officer. it just showed up Saturday morning."

The officer nodded knowingly. "Yeah, you said that already." He raised his flashlight and broke the passenger side window, reached in, and pushed the door lock switch. He opened the rear door and saw the car seat. Flies swarmed out of the car as the officer covered his mouth just before wretching his breakfast onto the ground.

"How the fuck did you not notice a kid, fuckhead? A KID!" the driver whispered hard under his breath.
"Must have been asleep. He never made a sound." Tony said as he started to weep.

"He never made a sound."

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Fifth Free Thanksgiving

I'm cheating a little. I'm writing this on Wednesday the 25th of November. I'm a bit early, but tomorrow will be busy and I won't have time to write my thoughts down. Enjoy the ride, if you so choose.

For the first time in my life, I will not be having Thanksgiving dinner at anyone else' home. With the help of those I love and cherish, Home South will be where this year's dinner will be served.  This is an occasion, to say the least. So while I beam over that fact, let me tell you a story about nuts. 

Growing up, Thanksgiving was still a pretty crazy time of year. We always hosted, and I mean always. My mother would get the turkey in the oven at an ungodly hour, and as I remember it the damned thing was always in the neighborhood of 25 pounds. (It probably wasn't, but that's how my brain remembers it, so I'm going with it, okay?) There was the mashed potatoes (I actually remember adding the milk and stopping exactly when my mother told me to) and the carrots (not whipped, but mashed in a consistently coarse manner I don't think I recall experiencing anywhere else), and the yams (sweet potatoes), and the stuffing (oh, the stuffing!), and all the other fixin's. It was a pretty typical spread, I suppose, but it was OURS. There was football and the usual familial back and forth, and pickles, and olives (my father ate too many of them), and the bowl of mixed nuts in the shell. Walnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, filberts, and pecans awaited their demise in the nutcracker. We used a heavy crystal for a long time, then it changed to a thin wooden salad bowl that I think she still must have somewhere, I'm sure.

As I age, I begin to believe that it was not the spread that I liked best about Thanksgiving dinner - it was the nuts. We always had them, and I seem to think that we had them for Christmas as well, but they were SUCH a part of the Thanksgiving season. To be honest, I think my mom might have just saved the nuts left over from Thanksgiving and served them at Christmas dinner! But why, you may ask, is a bowl of nuts so important to my memory?

I don't know.

If you've cracked nuts in a cheap silver handheld nutcracker, you might understand my nostalgia. There is a satisfying <CRACK> when the shell gives way and reveals the delicious bits inside. If you never cracked nuts, I suggest you try for yourself. It's a lot of fun to pick the freshly-roasted meats out of the remains of the shell - especially filberts! Yummy!

When I was a child, I connected mixed nuts with the richness of life. Maybe they were something I considered exotic. I'm not sure, but I do know that I felt rich when I reached into the seemingly endless bowl and pulled out one after another, cracked them, and ate the delicacy I found inside. They are tied forever to my holiday.

Funnily enough, as much a part of the season that they might be to me, I can not have them at OUR hosting of dinner. One of my partners is deathly allergic to tree nuts, so the bowl shall remain empty forever. I'm sure she'd tell me to just go ahead and have them, that she won't touch them or go near them. But you know, the memory is really what's important. I say that a lot to people who attach themselves to things rather than memories. Things can be lost, or destroyed, or stolen, or any of a million other possibilities, but memories are yours for as long as you can remember them.  Only time, the giver of wisdom, can take memories from you. I've come to recognize that more than anything, I cherish the sharing of the stories around the holidays. I enjoy listening to how my family remembers events in a slightly different way from each other and from my own recollections. I enjoy sitting around with my ever-shrinking family and remembering collectively.

I see this same thing with my additional family members - the ones I inherited from my loves. Grandparents, aunts, siblings, cousins, and all manner of family new to my life in these past 5 years, but each a new source of stories and laughter and shared joy.  I remember those I've lost, both in the distant and not-so-distant past. Their stories will make their way around the table this year for sure, I'll see to that.

To all my friends, family, and loved ones: May your hearts be full, your tables be beautiful, and may love shine on. I'll wish you well this Thanksgiving. I'll hope that even if you are hurting from a loss this year, that you can find the joy in the memories. Share them and let the continue to be a part of your tradition.