Pt.4 ~ Like A Black Dog

The rush of artificially cooled air kissed Hanks face as he made his way through the cracked, chipped doorway of a mid century two story house perched somewhere between Sheol and the paradise for the wretched.  In no way was this a home but a fortress of lies, hope, debasement, and a thirst quenched by the decaying of innocence.  It had already been a night that felt had gone on for weeks yet the dawn had not taken her first breath.  Hank made his way though the sea of the unwanted giving and receiving handshakes, kisses and accolades for a show well done. As Hank stepped through the living-room he made his way to the bar and noticed Jewles sitting and sipping a cocktail alone. Jewles, a burlesque queen with tightly chiseled curves, eyes filled with heartache and sapphire, blessed with enough charm to out wit the devil, was usually never without company.  Yet there she sits tasting the evening. She had come to appreciate being alone.  Much like Hank.  In fact the two more often then not would find themselves in each others presence enjoying the solitude in a loud crowd together. Tonight looked to be no different yet it was a little early for her to be bored. Hank sat next to her and poured himself a tall bourbon, cracked open a bottle of Ale, then lit the cigarette that she had been twirling through her fingers and spoke:

“Long night already? Why don’t you just go home.”

“Same reason you didn’t.  Too quite. I saw you leave the club with Melissa.  Where’d she go?”

“She’s…At her place sleeping with ghosts.”

“Be careful Hank she’s… Not well.”

“Seems to be that way. You not keeping any company with you? You were at the show?”

“Everyone seemed to be at the show tonight.  Yeah, I don’t feel like being with anyone tonight. The rabble seems to be very… dark tonight. ”

Hank leaned back and turned to gaze the crowd.  The Stones were blaring on the stereo, people were engaged in boisterous fables and cocaine fairy tales. Lewd touching and acts could be found in every corner it seemed and who knows what was to be found in the bathrooms or bedrooms upstairs. Not for the faint of heart or anyone with a moral conscience at least. The one thing that seemed out of the ordinary were the three dick heads pushing through people, yelling, spitting on the floor, intruding into conversations and catching a feel without a care.  This never sits well with Hank but Hank turned back to engage Jewles. She was very well in the know on how to deal with such unsightlies and she didn’t even flinch.  Hank, on the other hand, began to feel his guts burn and fill with the venom of hate.

“Hank.  Go out back; I’ll meet you there.  I just need to hit the bathroom.  Just let it go.”

“See ya in a few then?”

Jewels kissed Hank on the cheek, laughed then floated off through the living-room and down the hall. Hank gathered his thoughts and essentials to make his way to the backyard.  Hank was already beginning to detach from himself.  He get’s like this.  Similar  to the catatonic daze he wanders in when he’s daydreaming; when the anger warms Hank seems to step outside of himself as if to get a front row look of the action. The few hundred feet through the kitchen to the back door might as well have taken days.  It seemed everyone on the way had gifts for Hank, hugs, high fives and kisses.  With each narcotic that was judiciously placed in Hanks hand he immediately gave it to the next carcass that dripped into his space.  As he stepped out through the door he was greeted with smiles and the smell of Bob Marley’s vegetables. This was a whole different scene than what was being played out inside. Hank made his way to the couch that was placed serendipitously in the middle of the lawn next to a palm tree. “Perfect.”  Hank sank into the corner of the couch and took a deep breath.  A few people wandered over and began to make kind, idle chit chat.  “Normal.” Hank thought to himself.  A calm waved over Hank as he listened politely and watched the stars break through the night sky.

“Hank. Hank!”

Hank shook off the night and found himself looking up at Jewles.  The corner of her mouth was bleeding and the sleeve of her top was torn a bit.

“What the fuck happened to you?”

“Hank just sit.  Just let me sit here with you for a bit; then you can take me home. ”

“What happened? Come on now!”

“Ugh. As I was coming out of the bathroom and one of those assholes pushed me up against the wall and tried to kiss me. I kicked him in the nuts and he grabbed my breast real hard and said he’d seen me dance, has a lot of money and is a bad mother fucker so I better behave.  I punched him in the throat and came out here. I just want to go home now.  Walk with me and we’ll go back to my place.  Please?”

“Yeah. Let’s walk.”

“Hank?”

“Come on I gotcha.”

Hank and Jewles went back inside and began the jaunt through the sea of decay, intemprance and high living. As they got to the front door Jewles yelled and another voice seared through making it’s way into the thicket,

“Hank!!!”

“Come here bitch. Slow down. Come on now whatchu leavin” so fast for huh?  Fuck that faggot right there.  I’m your man tonight.”

The guy went to slap her but before he could Hank punched him in the face with the beer bottle he was still holding.  Not the greatest of ploys as Hank felt the knuckle in his pinkie break then the unmistakable warm crimson washed over his hand. The guy grabs his face to hold the blood in while Hank snatched the man by the throat and threw him outside and the guy took off.  Like at the races Hank darted after, up the road dashing through street lights, garbage cans and ghosts. As they both turned the corner the guy threw his sport coat at Hank’s head and dove for him.  Hank got him to the ground in a head lock and let all the years of hate, abandonment and fury loose into the guys face as if the Devil himself was now in control. During the ravaging Hank heard footsteps pounding closer, tires squealing, car doors slamming and yelling.

“Let him go mother fucker *click click* NOW!”

“Hank!!!!” Jewles came running out from around the corner. “He’s got a gun,” *Pop Pop*

“Hank let’s go”

Hank kicks the guy over and begins to look and feel for holes.  More tires squeal, spot lights and flashes of blue and red danced across the street and faces of the guys two buddies holding guns 10 yds from Hanks head. Hank found himself starring into puddles of gasoline rainbows and blood.

“Put down your weapons and lay the fuck down!!!!!”

The two men dropped their guns and laid down.  Three cops ran over and after what seemed to be quite the tussle they had them up, cuffed and laying on the hood of their red corvette.”

“What the fuck is with corvettes tonight?  Jewels, hey…”

“Alright tough guy who are you and who’s.. Whoa!  Sarge can you call an ambulance we have a third male in the fetal position with lacerations to his face.  His face is swollen and you can’t see his right eye.
Get up and step away from him buddy and come here.  You little lady go see my partner.
What’s your name buddy.”

“Hank.”

“What happened here tonight Hank?”

“I was at a get together up the street a ways and that thing punched and sexually assaulted my friend.  So I helped her.”

“She your girlfriend?”

“No Sir. She’s my friend.”

“You messed him up a bit son; are you hurt anywhere?  As we pulled up we heard a couple of shots fired.  You have anything to do with that?”

“No Sir. I think I broke my pinky though and my hands are gross?”

“Your pinky!?  Boy… Hang tight I’ll be right back.”

The officer walked over to his partner and allowed Jewels to come back over to me.  The ambulance had arrived as well and the medics were doing what they could to clean the guy up to see what was what. All Hank could see were the cops shaking their heads and then handcuffing the guy.

“They’re going to let us go.  Those cops know your band, they used to be friends with your guitar player in high school and I know the other one. As long as you don’t have a record we’re good.  The one you beat and the other two all have warrants for attempted murder, grand larceny and drug dealing.  You are so stupid Hank. Somethings watching over you.”

“Kinda seems that way. You’re welcome.  Gotta smoke?”

Jewels lights Hank a cigarette and the cops make their way back over.

“Here’s your I.D. You both can go.  Listen little lady.  You’re lucky this guy was here tonight.  Those guys would’ve hurt you.  Maybe it’s time to do something else eh? Go home, not back to the party.  That’s where we’re headed next. And you… take care of your pinky.  Hahaha, These are bad dudes you fucked with.  If they didn’t have warrants… you technically should be going in too. But, I’m giving you a break. Do something different now.”

” Yeah, someone told me that once. Thank you Sir.”

The ride back to Jewels place was quite.  No radio or talking; just the hum of the engine and two heart beats doing their best to settle.  A few moments later Hank and Jewels found their way up the stairs to Jewels luxury condo downtown.  Lavish decor, art, leather furniture and sculptures spread throughout the place.  As Hank sank into one of the plush couches he noticed Jewels holding her rib a bit while leaning into her bar to make some drinks.

“What’s wrong with your side?”

Jewels walks over, hands Hank a drink, some ice for his hand and slowly curls up next to him sipping her drink.

“While that guy had me pressed up against the wall squeezing my boob he punched me in the rib a bit.  It hurts.”

“Should we go get it checked out?”

“No, I’ll just drink this then go take a shower.  Maybe ice it.  It’s not broken.  I’ve had broken ribs before.  It just hurts.”

“Listen little lady..” Hank says imitating one of the officers.

“Shut up; don’t make me laugh.”

“Ok, ok…  You should hire someone to watch over you when you’re out at night. You can afford it.  You could’ve been really hurt.”

“I think you’re right.  Our company has a security firm that we can hire from.  Maybe I’ll look into it.  I think I’m gonna go away for awhile.  Maybe go to Hawaii for a month.  I have a sister there.  A month on the beach should refresh.  Then I’ll look into my options.

“Sounds perfect.  Go shower and I’ll bring you some ice.”

“What are you going to do?

“I’ll lay in bed and write a bit.”

“No… I meant with all this.  I’ve known you for awhile now Hank; you need something different.”

“Why do people keep saying that?  I’ll find my way.  I’ll always be ok.”

“You’re wasting your talents.  Pour me another drink when you bring the ice.  I’ll be done in about 15 min.”

“Yep.”

Hank sauntered into Jewels bedroom, set his drink on the night stand, and sprawled out upon the king size bed.  He began to write…

‘Melancholy follows like a black dog
Licking the wounds of the wretched
Only to be kicked and shunned with
the thankless gratitude of a hateful twit

Mocking the morning it spits in the eye
of the beholder of a black toothed grin
Smearing and smiling while the blood stains
the sheets of the innocent. Reckless and abandoned.’

Hank notices the first sprinkles of daylight dancing with the shadows and making love through the pane glass window.  Hank realizes it’s been longer then 15 minutes so he gets up and gathers some ice to bring to Jewels.  Opening the door to the bathroom he can still hear the shower running but waits for the steam to leave.  Hank walks in…

“Hey, I’ve got the ice.  You almost done? Jewels! Ah shit…”

Still sitting on the bathroom counter, leaning back against the wall, skirt hiked up, there perched, was Jewels with a syringe still biting her inner thigh.  A small streak of burgundy made it’s way down her leg. Hank rushed over and felt a pulse.  He laid her down gently and ran for the phone. The five minutes it took for the medics to arrive were agony. Five minutes is a lifetime when one watches life ebb and flow as if the soul is making the decision to stay or not. The medics came than raced her away. They told Hank she had a 50/50 shot she’d make it. “That’s something then..”  After a few questions from the police Hank was left alone.  Sitting on the couch; Hank finishes his drink and takes a deep breath.  He can still smell her perfume.  Sweet and sad.

An hour went by sitting in nothing.  With a sore heart Hank gathered his things and made sure the place was locked and safe. Shuffling down the stairs Hank felt the pit get deeper with every agonizing step.  Each step heavier than the last. Now, teetering and tottering down the cobble stone driveway Hank made his way down the city streets towards the hospital. A few miles drifted by and Hank enters the Emergency ward.  The hustle and beeps and screams made Hanks heart cry.

“Excuse me Ms?  If you don’t mind could you tell me if  a women by the name of Jewels has checked in to recovery?  She was brought in by ambulance about hour and a half ago.”

“Are you immediate family?”

“No Ma’am I’m the one that called the ambulance.  I’m her friend.”

“Let me see… Would you come with me please?”

“Yes absolutely!  So she’s in the recovery room then? I have her purse.  Her wallet is inside.”

“What’s your name baby? Here, sit.”

“Shit… Sorry Ma’am, it’s… it’s Hank.”

“I’m sorry but Ms. Jewels passed about an hour ago.  Do you know her parents or any family members we can contact?”

“She has a sister in Hawaii.  Maybe there’s something in her purse..”

“Hopefully. She’s not in the system and when they brought her in she was obviously without her stuff.  I’m sure the police will be able to find her family.  You ok?  You look pale. Do you want to talk to someone? Are you ok?  Hank…”

“Thank you.”

Hank stood for a moment then turned and walked away.  Out into the streets and into the seething sun.  Hank took a deep breath.  He could still smell her perfume.  Perfume that was left on his shoulder from when she nestled into Hanks arm and chest. Another deep breath was taken.  Sweet…And sad.

© Carlson 2013

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Hank Pt.3… A Vagabonds Heart

Hunched over the steering wheel of an old 78′ Chevy Van Hank was in the midst of a daydream while barreling down hells freeway towards freedom and the unknown. Hank was never alone in these daydreams, actually they more closely resembled trances, and today was no different. The space and time Hank was locked in on was six months earlier at his Pops funeral. It was an overly bright day for a cemetery but being it southern California what should one expect? The cerulean dashing through the sky didn’t seem real. But this was why Hank’s Pop moved here a few months before he passed. A different life was warranted and his Pop wanted a chance to change.

Hank was sitting alone in the front row watching family and other’s he did not know mill around with somber faces. Well wishes and condolences were dished out without a thought of what they meant. No one approached Hank and he was grateful. Death does funny things to people. Makes them feel uncomfortable, often tongue tied and can turn the most intelligent into an inelegant schlub. So many try to say the right thing. Or fumble for the perfect prose. There isn’t one. Hank sat enjoying the flowers and the feel of the lush green grass under his bare feet. Hank had kicked off his shoes and was gently caressing the grass with the soles; not unlike a mother caressing her child’s hair while trying to comfort and console. The ritual began and Hank couldn’t help but shed a little smile when he noticed the casket. It was of the cheapest material one could be buried in. Hanks Pop found it “goddamn ridiculous for someone to spend that kind of money on something thats gonna smell of rotten flesh and be filled with maggots. You put me in one of those I’ll haunt every single one of you sons a bitches.” Hank almost laughed aloud but quickly remembered where he was. Somehow Hank new his Pop was laughing too. The ritual went on and kind words were spoken, psalms were spewed and Hank drifted back into the grass. Only to be aroused by the steely stare of a female soldier placing the flag in Hanks lap. Then, as if the skies opened up to scream, the loud thunder of fighter jets flew over in the missing man formation. Only to be one upped by the clatter of gun fire in the ceremony of the 21 gun salute. As Hank turned around to watch the jets disappear in the distance he noticed five men in suits standing back and off to the side as if intentionally not to disturb. Hank received gentle nods and then they turned and just walked away. No one new who they were. Hank wanted to leave then. It was too much. All the crying, the jibber jabber, the secrets still being bitten back. Hank had had enough.

At the wake Hank slipped off with a couple beers and sat in silence. The words of his Pop hanging in his ears as if his Pop was sitting right next to him: “Don’t do what I did. DO the opposite.” When Hank daydreamed it was more like he was having conversations. With any spirit that would listen. Today it was his Pop’s presense. Hank still believed when people left this world they wandered and stayed around whom ever was not afraid. There was no big empty. Was there a heaven? A hell? That’s too easy. That’s why no one knows. It was that moment Hank decided when he got back to the desert it was time to move on.

“Hank!!!!! We need to get off at the next exit ya gotta get over! Hank!!! Jesus!!!!”

Hank jerked himself and the van out of his trance as the voice of his best friend and band mate Jack screamed obscenities into his ear from across the van.

“Yeah I got it. Sorry.”

“What the hell is wrong with you? J.J and Little T are behind us you know they can’t keep up?”

J.J and Little T were the rest of the band mates who were crammed into Little T’s beat up 80’s 4 cylinder Corolla. The Van hauled the band equipment, Hank’s bag of clothes and Jacks. The Corolla held a TV and one box of dishes. They left light. The goal was to be minimalists. Never to own anything that can’t fit in a car or van. It was a simple life Hank envisioned. As they got off the freeway and headed toward their new home both Hank and Jack were fixated on the change of scenery. Run down buildings, pawn shops and bars anchoring every corner. Alleyways and doorsteps housing the forgotten while they slept off the day. Nylon clad walkers primping for the night fall and the dealers providing everything one could need to get through the night. Hank pulled into the parking lot of the complex that would house their dreams with a smile.

“What’s with the smily the clown?”

“Lil T’s gonna shit himself. Look.”

Hanging on one of the picnic tables by the commons area were three black gentleman and two pitt-bulls. The men were wearing what Hank called “ghetto slippers,” Hank would know because he himself owned a pair. Hank was used to these types of neighborhoods having grown up in a few of them. Hank always fit right in. Lil T however grew up in Beverly Hills. Anyway what caught Hanks eye though were the colors being proudly displayed like badges of honor. Two had theirs draped over a back pocket and the other had his tied ever so around his head. Hank was comforted that they were older. Instinct and past history told him these guys would at least not be jumpy. As Hank and Jack got out of the van they noticed Lil T white knuckling his steering wheel. Hanks laughter caught the attention of their new neighbors.

“What chu laughin at muthafucka?”

“He’s scared.”

“Who scared?”

“My friend.”

“Aaaaaaahahahahahha little nigga scared.”

Hank and Jack started to pull the equipment out of the van and proceed to their new compound.

“Shiiiit. You in a band or something?”

“Yep.”

“What chu play homey?”

“Bass.”

“What chu know about bass man?”

“I grew up listening to James Jamerson shit. That good enough?”

“Ooooooo nigga know Motown! Shiiit, come on man play me something.”

Hank slowly put his stuff down and was getting irritated. Being that it was 120 degrees and he’d been driving a few hours all Hank wanted to do was shower and drink.

“Pssh. Come on man.”

“Naw man we just playin’. Hey, your friend really scared? He’s still in his car.”

The common area was now filled with laughter; hand shakes were being passed out as well and Lil T was shamed into coming out.

“Come on Lil Nigga get yo ass over here. Hey! Welcome to the hood G.”

They all grabbed him and did their best to make him feel at ease. It was then that a bunch of little kids came running out and their Mommas hollering about “No runnin in the street or I’ll bust you up.” The complex was alive and vibrant of all the different colors of people and different smells of what ever was cooking on the stoves and BBQ pits. The big one named T.T hollered,

“Hey man, anything you guys need man I got.”

“Are you a gang banger?”

“Ahhhhhhhahahahah. Man you’re a trip little man. Bitch I’m retired. I’m an entrepreneur. Let the little niggas do that shit. This place is where we chill; ain’t no *spoken with his impression of a white guy * gangster raucous going on her Sir. Aaaaaahahahahaha.”

“You’re a dork dude.”

“Shut up Hank.”

Hank and his gang finished loading everything in and they all opened beers and laid on the floor in sweat and harmony. Listening to the laughter of children playing outside Hank drifted off with a smile. Hank adored children. So alive and free.

*Blap, blap, blap, blap, blap*

Hank and the boys were shattered awake to gun fire, glass breaking, yelling and then stretching tires. Lil T came running out of the bathroom,

“See! I told you!!! You guys are assholes, OW!!”

“WILL YOU GET DOWN YOU MORON! You wanna get hit? Just chill and wait a bit.”

Hank did his best to ease Lil T’s nerves but with the other two laughing now Hank couldn’t help but snicker. After a few minutes they heard a helicopter and police radios off in the distance. Then a knock on the door.

“Hey open up it’s T.T.”

“What up?”

“Oh you know man just another night in Da hood. I came by to see if Lil Nigga ok. Did he pee?”

That’s all any of them needed and the belly laughter began to drown out the helicopter. Lil T stormed off to one of the bedrooms and slammed the door.

“Ah man, I’s just playin’.”

“He’ll be fine. He grew up…. well let’s just say he grew up proper.”

“Ohhh, alright, alright. Hey tell em to smoke this he’ll be just fine.”

“Cool. What the hell was all that about?”

“Some fool’s tried to rob the convenience store and got himself shot. He ran off so the ghetto bird is looking for him and the other drove off. They ain’t from around here.”

“How do you know?”

“Cause errbody now the clerks is packin. They mean too. Muthafuckah tried to roll in and got himself jacked. Hahahhaha. Anyway, you guys be tight and tell Lil nigga he be alright. Smoke him out.”

“Cool. See ya”

“Word.”

The months turned to years like pages in a novel. The boys were settled into their surroundings and their band was finding mild success. Shows were getting bigger, albums were being made, songs were being played on late night radio and decadence was felt in mass. While not making much of profit; things were paying for themselves and the promoters offered plenty of free incentives as did the hangers on. Their were a couple other bands that Hank and the boys would play shows with and between them all there was not much that could not be obtained. The crowds that followed were of an interesting lot. They became very popular with dealers, pimps, low level mafia, ladies who hawked their wares in Gentlemen’s clubs (although Hank could attest these establishments were not often frequented by gentlemen) and ladies and men who worked in the porn industry. Bartenders, waitresses, promoters and owners were fond of them too as they made a lot of money off of the crowds. All this offered quite an evening for the average everyday person. Provided a back drop for fantastic stories to tell. Especially the private after the show parties.

Hank looked out over the crowd as the last chord was being drowned out. Hank’s band and the others just finished up a private birthday party for the owner of a nightclub. This guy was connected and paid for most of Hanks bands recordings. So when asked to do favors you agreed. Great guy, but connected, so there was always that extra incentive. There was to be an after party and apparently all 350 people were invited. The show was invite only and the after party was supposed to be small. As Hank leaned against his bass rig the owner invited everyone to the after party. “Great” Hank thought as he began to pack his bass for the roadies to take.

“Another long night eh?”

“Come on Hank! It’s gonna be a blast; they always are.”

“Yeah. Jake, you wanna go hang a bit before we go? I just wanna get my head right?”

“Dude really? Naw man I’m just gonna head straight over. Kelly’s driving.”

Kelly was a dancer that Jake was hanging out with. Nice girl and all but Hank didn’t want to be the 3rd wheel amongst 350 people. For the past few weeks Hank was becoming distant and lonely. Being lonely in a crowd is a hard pill to swallow and Hank swallowed plenty. Hank was either the life of any party or a wall flower happy to just watch from the sides. Usually all in the same night. Indulge, then back away and watch the show. Made great writing fodder when he finally got home. Hank knew what was missing. His heart had never mended from his younger days and a heart left broken the blacker it grows. Hank wanted love. To be loved and to love. This usually led to troublesome adventures as one could expect from the crowds he hung out in. Hank could see the beauty in the darkest of places. Only to find not everyone wants, or has the ability, to let the beauty shine.

“I’ll take you. You can come with me”

Hank turned to find a blonde, green eyed girl dressed in a dark flowing dress brushed with scarlet ember smiling up at Hank. Hank remembers her from a few weeks ago at a show. Her name was Melissa. She was with someone that night so she didn’t stay long but she found him funny and Hank found her… beautiful yes, but unnerving in an enchanting sort of way.

“Hey, where’s your friend?”

“He wasn’t my friend. You wanna come with me?”

“Alright. Hang on.”

Hank handed his bass over to their roadies and sauntered over to the bar while waving her over. There they got a few drinks and began to chat while the nightclub staff were feverishly trying to clean up as they were anxious to get to the nights event. 45 minutes went by and Hank feeling buzzed he turned and asked,

“What did you mean he wasn’t your friend?”

“He was a client.”

“A client? Ok. So what services do you provide that qualifies the relationship as client based.”

“Oooo a smart ass. Let’s get this out right now. I’m not a hooker. I don’t dance and I’m not in the movies. Businessmen, sometimes businesswomen, who travel get lonely and need companionship for the night. I provide that.”

“Sex involved.”

“Jesus, straight to the point. Surprisingly not as much as you might think. A lot of the time it’s the fact that they are lonely and want someone to take out and have a conversation with. World can be a lonely place know what I mean?”

“Yep. So what’s this?”

“This? You’re cute, interesting and I get lonely too. Here… Take this.”

She then proceeds to put a tab in Hank’s mouth but Hank politely disregards the offer as Hank was well taken care of already and LSD was not Hanks thing.

“You sure? It could be a fun night for us. I already took mine and I don’t want to be alone.”

“I’ll hang with you tonight. I won’t leave you alone but I’m good. Really.”

“Ok. Well let’s go.”

Melissa then pops the other tab and downs her drink. Hank was such a sucker when it came to women. And that night proved to be no different. They made their way to the parking lot,

“Which ones yours?”

“The yellow one.”

Hank looked over and there, parked under the Marquee sign, was a yellow convertible corvette. “Here,” she says and tosses the keys to Hank, “I shouldn’t drive.”

“Yeah, probably right.”

“Let’s not go to the party yet. We’ll go later.”

“Where then?”

“My place. It’s only a few blocks over form the party and I need to grab something. I’ll make you a drink; then we’ll go.”

“Cool.”

With that Hank got in and could feel the hot leather seats through his jeans. With the top down and engine roaring; off they went. Way too fast. Hank had never been in a corvette and the temptation was too great. Top speed was quickly approaching but Hank quickly backed off as Melissa was screaming and in tears.

“Whoa, sorry I didn’t hear you.”

“I’m tripping you prick slow down.”

A few minutes later Hank finds himself sitting in the living room of a quant little 2 bedroom bungalow. Nestled in a soft velvet couch nursing a warm bourbon; Hank notices reading material and art work. Splattered across the walls were images of nude portraits, gothic art and on select shelves and tables were antique looking sculptures. The books were of the Occult genre and off to the side, in the corner of the living room was a small alter and old looking scriptures. Hank never thought in a million years he’d miss his hood but he couldn’t help but to feel a little weird. Not scared, as Hank has had many acquaintances that were into this type of stuff. Hank found it fascinating but some people could get a little over the top. But these things came off has not being purchased form a five and dime store.

“I’m not into it like that. I just collect odd pieces when I travel.”

“It’s fine. Is that you in that picture.”

“Yes. I had it taken while in Paris. I was there for a summer during college.”

“College. Hm.”

“Don’t act so surprised. I have a fine arts degree with a minor in art history.”

“And you escort for a living? Seems about right.”

“Don’t be a dick. I also have a gallery. I started escorting in college and I like it.”

“Sure what’s not to like right? Should we go or…”

“Or.”

“What does that mean?”

“I’m not ready but if you want you can leave. It’s only a few blocks.”

She turned and as she walked away she began to take her dress off. Once the dress hit the floor she turned and gave a little head tilt towards a door and walked in. Hank waited a few minutes and finished the last of his drink… pondering. Something didn’t seem right. The idea of a night with a beautiful someone wasn’t the issue. Hank always had great instincts and something didn’t feel right. Hank unfortunately is weak in the matters of the heart and shrugged off the thoughts as “just Hank being Hank.” He made his way to the doorway and peered in. Laying in the candle lit room on porcelain like white lenin was Melissa. The room was laid out like the rest of the house. Ripe with antiques, books, flowers and mirrors. A bottle of wine was warming on the night stand while shadows danced across the brushed like velvet wall. As Hank got closer to the bed he heard Melissa whispering. It was clear now she was peaking. “LSD, the true party killer. Great.” Hank dealt with this a lot growing up. From Uncle K to random “friends” who would think it was a great idea. LSD isn’t for everyone. Hank found it boring as it lasted too long. LSD is for the the mind that is unimaginative. Hank had no issues in this realm. Hell, Hank spoke to ghosts at will. He didn’t need a substance to play in the unknown. Hank leaned down on the bed to make sure Melissa was ok,

“Hey, were you at?”

“Oh, I’m here. Just scared. Why did she… Who’s… She wants to talk.”

“You’re just trippin’; we’re ok. How ’bout a drink?”

“So sad. She’ll never be understood. Do you remember the old tales of the blues musicians who’d travel to the cross roads to make a deal with the Devil? The whole bury a black cat bone and all? DO YA!!!!!! Bite my wrist’s…”

“What? Sure I remember! I’m not biting your wrists just chill. Here, have some wine. Here’s a blanket; let’s get comfy and you can tell me your story.”

“How ’bout you undress and we figure it out together?”

“Don’t spill… What lady were you talking about? What deal? Tell me the story.”

“The Devil likes you Hank. He told me. You get it. He likes you. The side line wanderers and poets. They always get it. Yet, you never make the deal. That’s your penance. The lady? It’s a story I read in some old beat up chapbook while in Paris. I still get nightmares. She’s real. She killed him and he watched. She’s bleeding still; forever. She’s fine though. So is her baby. That man will never rape again.”

“It’s just a fable. The Devil has no place at the table tonight; lets have a drink and bring it back home. You’re just trippin’ it’ll be over soon. I like your flowers. They fit…”

“She say’s she likes you…”

Melissa now was sitting cross legged with a crisp, black fur blanket wrapped around her sipping wine. Her being very matter of fact and lucid had Hank a bit on edge. He’d walked people through bad trips before but this was different. Melissa seemed as if she was completely ok and almost under control. Then she began to speak in verse,

“The lady’s hands were sore and red,
From the bloodstains that flowed
From choking the damned.
The violent screams and
Tortured sleep was now
Silent from the death of the Damned.

Here baby will never weep
Over swollen sheets and
The Devil will know.
And we’ll get on just fine.”

“We’re done tonight Hank. I can’t be this anymore. I wish you took what I gave you. We could’ve had fun. Honey, the things I’m seeing would make a great story. I’ll find you again but listen… You need to be… Just let go. Do you ever feel watched? You get too far down the rabbit hole, Hank, there’s no coming back. You’re cute Hank. Something about you…”

Melissa turned, wrapped her self tight in her blanket, sipping her wine and began to mumble. Hank felt it was as good a time as any to leave. It was obvious she’d been to this place before and was quite comfy. Hank helped himself to a fresh bottle of wine and hit the streets. “Only a few blocks.” Hank assured himself. But those parties are not what he needed right then.

“What was she talking about? What the fuck is it with me? Man Hank, you sure can pick em’. ”

Hank slowly sipped the wine and made his way the few blocks. He wasn’t looking forward to the party to begin with but now? He just wanted to go home. Back to what was real. Back to the hood. As dumb or tripe as that may sound Hank felt at ease there. Things were solid. As Hank made it to the driveway of the party he stopped and leaned on an old beat up BMW. Laughter, squeals, music and banter rang out through the house and into the dark soothing street. Street light’s dancing from side to side and couples stealing a kiss and a fondle as they made their way in. Hank longed for love. Sipping the last of the wine; Hank lit a smoke and began the long walk in….

 

© Carlson 2013

And They Will…

Glasses Full of Wishes
A Thousand Dead Drenched Cigarettes
And She Will
Tell The Truth.

A Waste of Time and Paper
A Taste of Lime and Deceit;
but Later the Porcelain Goddess
Will Be Her Savior.
He Tips His Glass
And He Will
Tell The Truth

She Slips on Her Jacket,
Good Morning? Don’t Ask
Because It Won’t…
Last To Long

Now, He’s Smacking
A Bunch of Dead Spiders
Bloated From All The Flies.
Now He Knows How It Feels.
Now She Knows How It Feels.
And They Will
Tell The Truth

Coming Home To Find It Broken
They Climb Into Build To Hold It.
They Feel So Close To Wholeness
And Wait For Them To Wake Up,
To Climb Into The Bed and Stay Up,
So They Can Read, The Funny Papers.
And Forever Will They
Tell The Truth…

© Carlson 2013