Say, Say, say…
He spit out cockroaches, roses and butterflies as ladybugs crawled over his stomach.
“Say!” the guard asked, “ready to come out that cell yet?”
Brock sucked on his teeth. He shied away from him and dropped back against the wall of no sun. The man’s voice was something familiar it sounded like a trumpet He crunched up as sweat dripped from his eyes, his vision blurred in the whiteness like the first word. His typing fingers looked like crusty long rocks. Stiff arthritic psychotic drugs their mission accomplished by them; by all of them. He laughed like a captured drum with a nasty bass voice. He hit his head against the wall over and over as blood sprayed in madness, “Awwwww! Awwwww! Awwww! Awww!”
“Mr. Peters!” the guard peeped through the thick screen window, “say stop that!” He watched him continue, “Say! say! Mister!”
He kept banging his head against the wall. “Awwwww! Awwww! Awwwww! Awwwwww! Awwww! Awwwww!”
The guard got a lump in his throat. He pulled a syringe of blue medicine to tie the blue ribbon into a nice bow, from his pants pocket he got his keys and unlocked the door. He went inside the apple green colored cell to this man with handcuffs. “Say, Mr. Peters,” he gripped him by his shoulders, spun the exiled man as if he was the only one at Saint Ellsworth. He bashed, slapped him and hollered. “Say, you piece of shit…stop laughing! Stop laughing like you want to write again!” He hollered between his confused eyes. “Sonofabitch! you will never write again!” he fumbled in his coat, “you piece of shit!”
Brock spotted the syringe in his right hand. He growled and head butted him, this knocked him against the wall. He hit him with a knee to his groin, but the guard knew he was threatened and reached out and up for his eyes. Brock uppercut him, he saw an excellent opening, charged him again with his head right to his stomach. He kicked him in the throat; this took wind out of the guard, his fat blue shirted stomach whizzed, his eyes became dead blue pools, this knocked him out.
He peered around, focused with sweat on who might be coming for a high level raid. Brock didn’t kill him; he searched for the keys to the cuffs in his pockets. He stopped* waited for foot steps. Nobody came—he fished through the pockets and got the keys. He fumbled, twisted his wrist and got the key in the lock.
He was free; he stretched, shook off the steel shackles and put on the guards white coat and I.D.
Brock took the clip board, took a deep breath and walked out the room.
White walls laughed, like words of protection. Brock walked calmly, he used the keys and unlocked the other doors. Until he turned down a yellow floor stripe hall as Howard Feld, he greeted some people as he followed the yellow line out the front door. He nodded to some nurses coming up the steps; as he flocked into a night that tasted like sweet butter and smelled of battery acid.
And this monster man ran, and ran, and ran and ran. This monster man ran so fast that the night squeezed his chest as he held his breath on the steps of Falstaff Virginia train station. Brock coughed, whizzed from his chest like it was a hundred pound. How long it’s been one-two years at the base of his life of preserved coldness in his bones? It must be the other dope they shot him up with. He tried the door; locked. “Damn!” He counted to ten slowly In the cold breath of his thoughts. Stars cried as he banged his shoulder against the door. The door gave; he shoved himself in and slammed it behind from the smell of bad winds. He was hungry, he wanted fried chicken but he smiled anyway. Brock nodded, searched around in the darkness of the place. Clammy, sweaty he was free as he heard the winds blowing from the steeple ceiling. He was so lost like a ball of yawn. Cancel that, he started playfully marching and dancing around in the cold station of surprised owls.
Brock coughed in the football size area of dusty rows of wooden seats, pictures of trains on walls, with yawning priceless brass lamps left behind as voices of sounds went through him. He listened, sneezed, shivered in the message and dropped on the seats. He stretched, tired, tired as if he could sleep in the blessings of voices and dreams…
He dreamed of women floating in a chalked garden, landscaped near the beach, they wore long white dresses, apple seed smiles under big straw hats, clipping and snipping blooming purple, yellow, green, redr yellow and white roses. And titan he saw his mother, his sister and a secret as they continued to clip, snip and plucked roses. She pricked her thumb and blood flowed…blood flowed She started crying and she told him not to tell anyone. No one, no one, no one…
In the early morning, Brock traveled about five miles of Falstqff Virginia back roads, he rubbed sleep from his eyes, spotted a giant mannequin of a teddy bear over top a brick and tar shingled Diner with a chimney on Black Crow Road. He thought he was still sleeping but the winds and rains pushed him towards the front door at a convenient hour. He noticed cars parked, searched for the Sheriff as he sniffed up the sufferings of hunger from the screen door at Teddy’s Place. HELP WANTED sign was out on the porch. Eggs, sausage, ham, bacon and toast breakfast, he went to a waitress with a red rose in her hair, short styled blonde with slam dunk eyes of blue diamonds and a sexy style that would leave a scar on any man’s heart, he saw her nameplate, “Morning! Miss Earlene.”
She nodded over to some tables by the window, “Have a seat.”
He sat down, touched the ash tray on the table and watched a couple dance to some Dolly Parton, it was a comfortable place to eat. He felt at home. Tile Diner was a multicolored canvas of cherry wood tables around rustic oily aromas of greasy country food as he watched the sleepy face people woke up from this waitress sweet voice.
Earlene went to him, pulled the pencil from behind her ear. She noticed the black guy sat like a worried comfortable chair.
“Can I help you?”
*1 see,” he rubbed his hands, “you have a help wanted sign in the window.”
“Uh,” she shrugged, “yeah.”
“Yeah, yeah,” he rubbed his chin, WI. ..I wants the job.”
“You a skinny puppy dog, you don’t look like much to work with.”
“I never realized it,” he winked, “you should try this ole’ puppy dog out”
She liked his voice it twirled her like she was on a first date with the whole marching band.” I’ll bring you an application.”
“Try me out…no application.”
She liked his face, “Okay!”
“Thanks,” he looked around,” when you want me to start?’
He lied, “Howard…Howard Feld.”
“Mr. Howard Feld follow my inspiration.” She winked and walked him straight to the kitchen away from customers.
Brock was scared as he stood in front of the dishwashing machine. He rubbed his chin and listened to Bob tell him the mechanics of the horse. Voila, the rack of dishes, glasses and forks sprayed through the magical fountain, it was about him succeeding in this world away from the screams, the dreams and the holidays. He never use to be a part of it was about this awesome horse of aluminum steel in front of him as he pushed a green button. He smiled as Bob slapped him on the back. He pushed the button that gave him help into a world he treated like Christmas day.
Brock finished the job about five. He rolled down his shirt sleeves and went out the back door to walk to the train station. The white sun slowed over some branches with the highway about thirty feet from the Diner. Earlene saw him; she thought he was seriously lost in his late twenties with nothing in his pocket and guilty of everything.
“Hey! Brock come here.”
He walked over, clutched his shirt tight around him in the cold air.
“You need a ride?” she lit a cigarette, “where you live?’”
“Here! “ he took a piece of glass from his tire, “there.” He looked at her as if she was a blond cold pill he could suffer to swallow. “I got an extra room,” she puffed,” if you don’t act right…I’ll shoot you:” She opened her car door. He nodded, “Fine with me.” He got in the car. He smelled a nice powder in the eighty three black Escort She drove, talked a lot about her son living in Milwaukee, her childhood in Falstaff and burying a husband who was also black. She cried at each stoplight. He became uncomfortable and he had to talk to calm her as she was driving off in
traffic. He didn’t want them stopped by the Sheriff.
“Earlene, it’s going to be fine, just stop crying.”
She smiled.” Brock I see you a simple man, probably rich, lost and quiet,” she put her cigarette out,” the kind of man who could sell his heart with just a smile. I bet you the devil, huh!” She started laughing, he did too.
Brock felt nervously comfortable when he went up her three steps…
Earlene had plenty of room in her trailer. She cooked bacon and egg sandwiches in a trailer of lambskin chairs, pictures of Elvis on the wall and velvet red curtains strung up, as he stood around in the kitchen with the big blonde with a soft baby voice like a teddy bear that was on her feet all day.
She swiped a fly from her face as she spoke to him, and read his dark face of castles and men she took home from time to time.
” Where you from Howard?’*
” My mama told me I was born in Natchez.” He crossed his arms, sipped some scotch in a red cup,” but I grew up around Portsmouth Virginia.”
‘* Amazing,” she scratched to top of her breasts, and turned off the stove,” I have cousins in Portsmouth,” she put the fried egg and bacon strips on the bread, spread ‘ mayonnaise over the bacon,” you ever heard of the Clarkes?”
*’ No,” he sat down at the redwood table with his sandwich,” I haven’t” He looked at her like she was an older sister, although he knew she didn’t want that from him/’ I use to work at a restaurant called the Captain Fish.”
” My husband and I bought this Diner about six years ago,” she poured some scotch, u he died about a year ago, left me with the bills and some friendly customers,” she played with her bacon,” that’s why I’m still here.”
u Thanks,” Brock scratched his brow,” for trying me out” He bit into his sandwich, “Ummm! this is good.”
“I like you,” she said.
“You do?” he scratched behind his head bit into his sandwich and concentrated on his scotch. He quietly remembered his father sitting at a table like this when he was about twelve with a drink of scotch in his hand, suddenly hauled off and slapped his mother across the mouth.
“Yeah,” Earlene smiled, “I do.” She put her cigarette out, Til be right back.” She left and went to her bedroom. She went in in the back to her closet and rummaged through a closet of old dresses, negligees’, old rabbit fur coats, shoes-many shoes were a rich option of a woman’s security in the world under her feet She was a fool, but she liked young men. The warm embrace of new scarves, panties, or the latest knock off French designer wear, th^ day after her Jeffrey died. She searched for a bustier, plucked and plucked for the sensual affairs of corsets, and shoes wrapped in newspaper, and reached for her robe of Chinese embroidered silk, but one of the.shoe boxes marked with a stenciled X, she got out the 22 gun. Earlene combed her hair, looked in the minor by her bed at an old blonde qualified for. any man to be happy with and she searches in her blue eyes and thought back to the day of carousels in Falstaff9 when she was eight.. .when she was eight
Oh! red, yellow, white lights spun around, spun around like the morning dew. She laughed and laughed and laughed like a harmonica as her father sat her on the wooden gold, peach horse on a pole of silver clouds and pearls around her neck. She had a seat with the other little girls around a golden circle, as music figured eight around her. She waved going around and around as her father, mother pointed and cried at their little girl as she went up and down in the dreamy red, yellow, white lights, flew her around, and around…
Brock was tired and bewildered from her wonderful blue eyes with secrets of her body incased in black bustier, garters and heels under the flow of perfume and gold silk robe. Maybe he had too much alcohol, but he had problems when she stuck the .32 in his face. Upset, this scared him but he was too groggy to run from this woman with a gun.
Brock got a grip on his fear, “What this?”
“Wake the fuck up!” she held the gun at his head.
“Earlene why the gun?”
“I want to play,” she got him by the hand, “a little game with you.” She pulled him off the couch. He limped towards her perfume breast winked out the bustier. She wanted him in his chair with the bottle of bourbon on the table. Two glasses. She poured drinks. Aromatic candles burned, she smiled as if this was fun. She was like a little girl again; as if this world was innocent and the gun and him were her toys.
“Whoooaaa!” Brock eyes got fresher when she opened the gun chamber and put one bullet in a chamber, “are you kidding?”
She spun it all on the line like nobody was going to take it from her. I’m not kidding honey,” she lifted her glass, “Drink.”
“Earlene what’s this game called?”
“Q and A…” her voice was a bad news forecast for him,” when I get a man like you in my house I like to play games.”
“Games,” he nodded, “this isn’t the way you play games.” He rubbed his lips, “but maybe you like scaring the shit out of guys who have guts enough to be with you.”
“Mr. Feld, if that’s really your name,” she looked at him like a bad mark on her map of love, “I’m sure if I killed you, there would be nobody to cry over your ass.”
“Maybe not,” he shrugged, “but I don’t see your family around here.. .either.”
“Okay,” she acted annoyed, “here are the rules.”
Brock sat back, took another sip of scotch that was making him drunker-sleepier, but it also made him bolder, ready to die in this place she ruled. He sweated from his palms. He made sure he kept his eyes on her; but glanced around for answers and found the giant iron wall clock ticked close to ten in a kitchen that smelled like baked apples. He had to stay focused, maybe he could snatch it, but he wasn’t some damn hero. He noticed she liked; the sound of his voice.
“One bullet,” she looked in his worried eyes, “one man.” She spun the chamber, “You tell me why you here, if I don’t believe you,” she sweated from the alcohol, “than I’ll pull this trigger.”
“Earlene, I wish to thank you for helping me out I thought I would never make it if it wasn’t for you. I came here because I had broken up with my wife, left her and my son one Sunday morning because I couldn’t take it anymore, trust me. I’m just trying to find a new home, a new place to live, to get my life together.”
“Fucking liar,” she wiped sweat from her cheek,” at least you can tell me the truth before you die.”
“No!” Brock threw up his hands, but the gun didn’t fire. He trembled over the lacey table kitchen cloth, sweat and scotch all over him and ruined her table cloth. She probably shoot him for just that, the bitch was crazy and beautiful. Crazy and beautiful.”What do you want from me bitch?”
“I want you to care Mr. FeldV she wiped tears from her eyes, “I just want you too care about a woman who is starting to have nightmares about killing all men, a woman who doesn’t think she is pretty anymore, a woman who hasn’t been on a date in ages, and a woman who still needs a man like the night skies need a star to shine and I can still have babies.”
“Miss Earlene,’* he touched her hand, “we can work this out”
“Can we Howard,” she sniffed, relaxed her finger on the gun, “can we work this out”
“Any and everything can be worked out,” he opened his hands up, “you are beautiful, sexy in your negligee and full of love, you just what I want in a woman, you are sensual, haughty, funny and a saint of a woman,” he bit his bottom lip, “why are you angry at me?”
“You are a man who leave women and children behind like old rusty keys and go on to unlock new worlds like time will never run out for you.” She slapped spilled scotch off the top of her breasts, “and you don’t give a shit about anybody but yourself.”
“You don’t know me,” he pointed at himself, “you don’t know me.” He melted sadly and slapped tears from his cheeks, “I carry a lot of shit in my heart. I come from an insane asylum, I am a runaway, the cops are looking for me, and if you kill me you would be doing the world a big fucking favor.”
She smiled, “You a fucking crazy man like the rest of us,” she laughed, “only, you got loose.”
“Yeah, I got loose,” he wanted her to stop laughing, “now you know the truth.’*
“Are you really crazy?”
“No more than any man,” he became intensely cold, “I use to be a newspaper reporter in Washington D.C. One night I found my wife in bed with another guy,” he shook his memory loose more scotch, “I got my revolver and took them out. I went quite mad.”
“You deserve to die like your wife,” she tasted the scotch it was a good snack as the room became bleary and the gun felt heavy.
“I reflected on this and agree with you, surrounded by nightmares-of her death, the man in her arms and the murder in my heart” Brock saw her eyes doze, the gun got looser in her hands. “Let me have the gun,” he softly spoke her name, “Earlene…” he reached out, “you don’t have to do this.”
“No! I want to,” she stared in his scared brown eyes, “finish this game.”
“It’s,” he sounded certain, “finished.”
“Take it,” she pointed a finger at him, “you want it?”
Brock snatched it and sighed relief as if it was the first breath he ever took in his life. He felt free. He rubbed his chin at this good looking woman with ringlet blonde hair, her body was a doubled date served up for his death and one last look at something of angelic beauty in this simple ugly life. It was surreal, in a small town as he almost died in a crazy woman’s trailer on a dusty road.
She felt hot and out of time.
He looked in her eyes of lust and pain of losing a husband. Dazed and confused at thirty three. The many years of men doing her wrong—leaving her for some crazy vision that would only come when they got grave dirt on their faces. She was beautiful, sad like that generous Van Gogh painting of women baked under a golden sun, she breathed hard as her . blue eyes cooked for new drunken frontiers.
He stood, put the gun in his pants pocket
“Now, we go to bed.”
Earlene closed her eyes, heard the buzz in her head and the surprise of the man for not ripping her heart but her throat Brock was special; She stood and poured in his open arms. And who is this man that made her lose all thoughts?
He exposed her to the taste of his lemony neck. He kissed her like an old lost song. She blossomed in his arms. He kept his teeth and tongue on her neck and took her to his kingdom.
Their bodies were without boundaries. Brock understood the milky rivers of her stomach beckoned him to mount He waited and kissed her, they curled their toes like crabs on a beach, hips swayed as witness in the oceans of love, bailed them over roaring waves of bed songs, like lovers in a situation of tears and sweat running through the trailer; exactly as Earlene begged him, and Brock told her his version of walls burning between his thighs. Who are you? Who am I between the pillows of my sweat? What’s my name? She bit into his thick wide shoulders that could reach around her back and straddled as if to ride the fires in her mine. He rocked, rocked. She fingered, a scare, a little flit of a scar beside his split chin dimple. When he laughed—his whole face came up like an African sun, but his hazel brown eyes said something much more serious about himself—much more serious as they slept like Christmas packages.
It became clear as the days left them both stranded in the Diner’s kitchen. Brock shaved his head balled, grew a Fu Manchu mustache, and put on a pair of wired rimmed eyeglasses to hide.
Days patterns of a couple of weeks easing in to a couple of months out of the generosity of fates heart, they wrote this love with a blank check as girlfriends talked of the burden of her new man. Earlene looked at herself, and found she was happy, happy for now and that’s all she could ever want, all she could ever have as the sun tripped over Falstaff buildings the likely culprit of ending this all was Sheriff Hobart Brown.
“Miss Hunter new Wanted Posters hang the new ones up on the bulletin board.” He rocked, stuck his boots up, read some of his Washington Post in the morning like he was some canary making a miraculous recovery from last night blistered argument with his wife, “Um! I should have married you Miss Hunter. I love your coffee better than I love Dottie.”
Miss Hunter sifted through some of the pictures like new coupons. Wait? She saw something weird, it was him; Earlene’s guy. She stuck the poster in his in-basket.
“Morning Earlene!” customers scratched, yawned and drifted in the Dinerof apple pancake aroma at seven thirty in the morning. Doors closed the big chunk highway put inside green and white wallpaper flowers painted around, seduced you with today’s blue plate specials as folks came in and got seated. Mr. Snyder sneezed, than ordered juice and coffee, Mr. and Mrs. Patton ordered their usual—bacon and egg sandwiches on wheat
“You boys eat up those eggs, or I’m going to feed them to my cat Curly/’ Earlene spoke to some trucker on a sleepy dream delivery chain between Flagstaff and Washington, D.C.; she fed her four big regulars. She knew most of them as they loaded up on pancakes, hash browns, coffee, bacon and eggs like thankful dogs.
“Earlene you some bold woman,” said Billy Redman, “but I will always love your eggs…all both of them.”
“Jack consider a cold night in hell when you get a hold of my eggs.”
They joked and drank good coffee in the morning sun of the Diner and the country whistling songs of Willie Nelson asked them to get up and grab the sun in the palm of their hands.
“Earlene you want these new bottles of cats up on tables?*’
“Anty,” Earlene peeked over at her waitresses, “Debbie take care of that for me, that’s fine.”
Debbie cleared catsup bottles off empty tables. She shook her hips east to west a little Chubby Checker sentimental twist, she danced with Miss Enus around her table.
Amy and Debbie were two five-seven red heads who popped bubble gum, wore tight skirts tucked in tight asses. These were Vampire hot women, who kept the truckers coming in for black coffee. They use to spin through Leesburgh Pike I-95. All the truckers spoke about them driving up in rest stops doing good things to help them through the bad winters. One Saturday night their princes popped up from rigs out of Delaware, and they never looked back after they settled down in Falstaff, but they were as bored as out of pockets peanuts, they nerved up and asked Earlene if they could work for her. She provided them with meeting-greeting waitress jobs as they called on truckers not for whoring but for serving good coffee and good food without stepping foot on losing their frog husbands. They were like sweet corn fed ex-hookers that looked out for their sweet boss.
“Earlene,” Amy went to her, “you going to the Fourth of July picnic with us at the park this Saturday?” She unscrewed the bottle top, with a wet rag from her shoulder.
“Can I bring Howard?”
“You better,” she smiled, “we hoped you would.” Amy wanted her boss to know, “He reminds me of a hero who would die for his lover.”
She went behind the counter as Debbie rang up Mr. Tolle’s order. Howard was in the dishwasher steam. He worked the dishwasher like a small plane trying to get through fog. He pulled out deep fried utensils from the door, more wet vapors jumped out in the kitchen as fat belly Gus cooked sunny side ups; he stuck orders under hot lamps.
“Earlene tell Debbie table three is ready!”
“I will Gus give me a minute.” She snuck up behind him and grabbed his butt. She snuggled and kissed him, “Sorry to disturb you.”
“I missed you,” he said, “that was so sweet.”
She kissed him, “Ummm!” steamed water glasses rolled from the conveyor belt “Okay, now tell me we can go to the Fourth of July picnic this Saturday with Amy and Deb?”
“Great! it should be a big enough crowd.”
“Don’t worry honey,” she hugged him, “we’ll be okay.” Earlene wanted him to feel at ease, it was hard; she rubbed his back and left out the kitchen, “Gus! I got the plates.”
“Man,” Gus went to him, “you one lucky ass hole.” He wiped his hands on his apron, swiped his face with a cold wet rag as the bacon fried and the dishes washed.in the area with them.
Brock slammed the shiny door and hit the green button. He saw this old guy with a coffee belly as fatherly, too old to swing his hips but with good sense to tell a good thing from a bad one. “Things are going along too good, you know what that means Gus?”
“Means your ass about to get handed to you on my blue plate special,” he stuck a plate in his face. “Howie! try my blueberry pancakes.”
Fourth of July people fanned through food, lemonade booths over green lawns about three am. Children flapped like chirping birds on the Ferris wheel rides. Bands sang up some old James Brown, Elvis, get back Jack Michael Jackson tunes, welcomed towns folks inside the ceremonies. Mayor Crouch was a short man with a shag haircut, nose all red, smelled like some things would never change in his blue suit and red rose. He was there to keep his job. He grinned like an old radio as he went around and kissed babies. Falstaff Virginia was an sleepy town created by slaves from the 1860s that grew with family and friends flocked to pig races and pie eating contests as a yellow sun sweated over wide chestnut trees.
Brock and Earlene got there when the sun was going down. They hung with Amy Swan and Debbie Mayes their husbands were two old men about twenty years their seniors. They were old enough to trust on the road, because they sure wore them out when they were at home. They were nice guys. Earnest chewed tobacco and drank Pabst that was Amy’s man, and Deb’s man was George lie Was loud and told dirty jokes about animals and their love life. But he was okay, and he knew everybody. He was a griller and he did in deer, pig, beef, and he even threw a lamb on the fires,.
Brock found a pick-up game of basketball, it was the Mayors staff versus anybody in the town and he had to put on a blue tee shirt, like anybody. His team was shorter, but when he got in he up the level and took it over the Mayor’s six-seven Administrative Assistant Mr. Mars. Than the game got rough and he was crushed in the nose as he tried to take it to the rim against the red planet “Ouch!” He flipped flopped to the ground.
Earlene ran over and they both laughed under a golden sun getting colder. She pulled him up and he limped off as he slapped hands from his funny Mike Jordan imitation, even the Big Planet rubbed him on the head. He ached and sat down. Brock had a juicy pork rib sandwich, sipped down his beer, screamed with laughter as they joked about the road. Falstaff women sat around in colorful sundresses, enjoyed their strong stupid men. Brock enjoyed himself, but he saw a woman in a pink dress pulled his Earlene to the side. He felt uneasy as the sun got colder; lights came on in the U shape park before the fireworks.
Earlene cried, hugged Amy and Debbie. They knew it was time for him to leave—the husbands didn’t know what was going on. Brock got up and hugged them. He left with Earlene’s arm curled in his. They rushed about fifty feet from the picnic as the day started to circle into a magical night and he looked back and watched firefly red, blue, yellow lights explode in the sky.
Uptight. He saw the Sheriff and others point him out He walked faster witn his Earlene. He couldn’t take her, where was she taking him?
“Howard,” she stopped, “down the bank about twenty yards there is a boat and this boat and the river will lead you down the Potomac.” She kissed him and handed him the keys, “it use to belong to my husband.”
Brock sighed, as he drifted from her hand, cried from her sparkling blue eyes that fed him and made him warm in the cold night as he rowed away under fireworks.