Chapter 6: Chicken Scratch 1-3
I was sitting at the Quarterpath bar and grill sucking down a lime Fizzy and Jack, when a man in a ripped Chex sport jacket asked if I had a bowl of kidneys. I thought I’d misheard him since that was my third Fizzy and Jack Daniels; and halfway through the first glass, I felt a beam of light from the heavens lift me thirty feet in the air above everyone else. This old bastard sounded like he’d just swallowed a cigar box of marbles. We eyed each other in the large mirror that sat on the paisley blue wall behind the bar.
“I don’t eat meat,” I slurred. “Pig, cow, chicken,” I added to the lie. “Nor human…..if that’s what you’re getting at.”
The tattered man pushed a silver bowl across the bar counter. It slid toward me at the speed of sixty miles an hour but had the look of a worn-out old jalopy with a drunk behind the wheel. The bowl was slipping and sliding, wobbling, almost jumped off the edges of the counter several times. I looked down and saw kidneys from a human stomach lying in the bowl. Startled, I almost fell off the barstool.
When I gathered myself together, I saw the bowl was gone.
“How…how did you do that?” I asked the tattered man.
“I apologize,” was all he said. “I find it most amusing to screw with people I don’t know. Especially using powers that were bestowed upon me,” he sighed heavily. “Powers I did not want to begin with.”
“You should find another hobby, fella,” I sniffed, turned my back on him. “It might get you killed.”
“Apparently so. Next time you see me,” he shrugged. “I might be in a coffin.”
The bartender approached us, asked if we wanted another drink. I nodded. “Same thing, Chambers?”
“Yeah, Charlie. Thanks,” I handed him my glass.
The old tattered man stared at me. The look on his face was hard to read. A cross my pleasantly surprised and violently anxious.
“What?!” I screamed at him.
“Did that bartender just call you Chambers?”
“Oh, shit,” I whispered. Who knows what this will lead to, I thought. “Yeah,” I told him. “So what?”
“Pete Chambers?” The tattered man said as he sneered at me.
“Well, fucking obviously. How many people in this desperate town have the last name Chambers. Zero. That’s my fucking curse.” The bartender sat my glass in front of me and I handed him a ten. We nodded to each other.
“I’d like to buy you a drink.” The tattered man informed me.
“Thanks,” I sipped my Fizzy and Jack. “I already have one.”
“I would also like to hire you to kill me.” The tattered man leered at me.
“I’m sorry,” I shook my head. “I don’t do assisted suicides.”
“You wouldn’t actually kill me,” he laughed, sounded a lot like a high-pitched cough after someone had smoked a pack of cigarettes. Then he pointed to a booth in the back of the bar, where a man who looked just like him, even down to the tattered clothes and strained look, sat drinking a gin and tonic. “You’d be killing him.”
I got up and sat in the booth next to the doppelganger. He kept smiling at me until I informed him that it made me nervous.
“I can’t myself,” he said. “It will finally be over.” Then he began to weep. Looking away from me, he apologized. “I’m so happy….I can finally die.”
I shook my head, started to leave. “I’ve seen a lot of weird things lately,” I told him and stood.
“This shit takes the cake. I’m sorry, buddy. I can’t help you.”
“No,” he waved a hand and my legs wouldn’t move. It felt like I was stuck in cement.
“Hey! What the fuck did you just do to me?” I screamed, tried in vain to move around, but no dice.
“Please…you came highly recommended.” He said. “I will remove the spell if you promise to sit and listen to me.”
I nodded in agreement and once again movement came back to my legs. I sat down and asked what his name was.
“My name is Brooks and I need your help badly. Look….you came highly recommended.”
I was stunned. I had to keep my emotions intact. But I struggled like a flopping fish caught in a net. “How do you know Maggie?”
“I’ve had banking business with her husband. I disappeared for ten years and reappeared in this city. I looked her up…..she told about you before…..” he let the sentence trail off. “She said you would help me.”
“I’m just agreeing to listen to you. That’s all.” I told him.
Brooks smiled again and began to tell his story.
Brooks popped another Adderall and laughed, as he entered the whorehouse in Rodjero, Mexico. Thompson and Farelly followed, bumping into the doorframe, nearly knocking each other down. They were far away from the bank in Austin and neither cared nor worried about anyone knowing about their exploits in this sleepy little village buried deep in the mountains.
The other day, Thompson flew into Brooks’ office, just about took the door off the hinges off. Brooks was on the phone with Debbie, talking about their impending marriage, the house her Uncle Roy was buying them, and how he was going to move the thousands of books he’d collected over the years into a storage unit.
“Whewwwwwwwwww!” Thompson crooned at the top of his lungs. “We’re going to Mexico, asshole!”
Thompson stiffened, threw a pen at him.
“What did he say?” Debbie asked.
“Look, I’ll have to call you back, honey,” Brooks told her.
“Ned,” She screamed. “You are not going to Mexico this weekend! My mother is expecting us—
“I’ll call you back.” Brooks quickly hung up. He looked up at Thompson and yelled, “What the fuck is wrong with you! Shut the damn door, asshole!”
Thompson laughed, closed the door to Brooks’s office. Brooks jumped from his chair, rushed to Thompson, ready to strike him. Thompson braced himself and Brooks swung gingerly, laughing.
“You dickhead! Couldn’t wait until I was off the phone with Debbie?”
“Nope. I want her to know about the romantic weekend you have planned with Pete. In case you give her Aids you catch from his stinky asshole.”
Farelly came into the office, feet sliding across the floor. He never wore shoes in the bank. Complained the required footwear bunched his toes together, five hundred dollar leather shoes the bank president and his execs always wore. Truth was, Pete Farelly liked to slide on the bank’s floor in his socks.
“I knew you fags would be in here talking about my asshole,” Farelly said.
Brooks smacked both his friends on the shoulder. “This weekend, no one sleeps. Get it?”
Thompson giggled. “I’ll be getting it. Don’t know about you two fags.”
Farelly tapped Thompson on the chin with a light smack. “Just leave the animal folk alone, buddy. Even dirt-poor Mexicans have standards.”
“Your Mom don’t,” Thompson said. “Speaking of which, I’m surprised she said yes, Pete.”
Thompson sighed. “Lori always says yes. Can’t get enough of this sausage. Oh, and Mom is okay with anything I do, as long as I make her mortgage payments.”
“Hey,” Brooks had a serious look on his face. “Shut up. Don’t talk….business at work.”
The three of them shot each other glances, nodded.
“Now,” Thompson said. “Let’s do some planning—“
“Whorehouse!” Brooks and Farelly chimed together.
Next Tuesday, Chapter 6: Chicken Scratch pts 4-6
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