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Alcohol and Jake Blues

Alcohol and Jake Blues

A Story by tworeeler

                I knew I was in trouble as soon as I hit the weak-kneed sonofabitch. I felt my gut sink about the same time he did, and I never wanted to take back a punch so bad in my life. You wouldn’t have thought it to look at the 300-pound mother, but he just farted and folded up right on the floor like a dead horse. Me and him, see we’d never really been what you’d call simpatico, what with him being a bartender and me owing him money all the time. I was drunker than nine hundred dollars at the time, and like I told him, I’d just lost my wad in an alley crap game that night…anyway, excuses aside, I jumped a freight car for Oklahoma City with no intention other than to find a nice dark place to hole up, ice my hand and drink myself into next Thursday.  But I guess news travels faster than a goddamn railcar these days, because the police were waiting for me when I got there.

 

                I’d never been an enlisted man, not up until then. I’d done some work for the War Department during the deuce, “putting in my bit” so to speak (I was classified 4-F on account of the piles and flat feet), even if it was just part-time polishing recycled shell casings. So, up until this point in my life I thought I’d managed to dodge that particular light artillery. But when you suddenly find yourself facing a 5-10 stretch in Joliet for assault and attempted robbery (the fathead bartender tried to say I reached into the till after I hit him) the Army starts to look a whole lot more inviting �" and anyways, who but the Army would have such a surly, big-fisted monster like me? So we made fast friends.

 

                There were some hurdles I had to climb first, the tallest of them being my age. At 36, I was going in for a job that was geared more to cocky Appalachian simps, not rummy Brooklyn ex-flyweights. I was in my decline, so to speak, on the far end of the full bloom of youth. In fact, I’d started to lose my hair early on, and my face was riddled with pock marks and brawling scars by the time I’d even started looking at girls. The only positive was that I never had any trouble getting into bars (though I have been thrown out of nearly all of them). The recruiter even mustered the nerve to tell me my face looked like it had already had its fair share of grenades thrown at it. I remembered his face, in case I should run into him again at a later date.

 

                The other disadvantage was that I couldn’t take orders to save my life. I’ve never been able to. The first memory I have is of cursing an old woman, because she pinched me for spitting. I once spent some time down on a labor farm in Alabama, a situation that did not end well. Lucky me, the Army had just the place for the kind of person that I was.

 

I made Sergeant First Class. 

 

 

 

 

I saw a lot of things over there, things I do and don’t remember, things I don’t even care to think about now. I did some things and watched some things, but I ain’t ashamed. All that is for discussion between me and my maker, if I ever get to meet the dirty sonofabitch.

 

I hitched around Europe on what I earned there, lived and drank well for a good long while. Never stayed any one place for more than a night, never remembered any names. I didn’t like to remember, and I did my best to stay ahead of the past. Still, I always felt it there creeping up behind me.

 

 

 

 

My ride to Sanremo was late, a cattle truck down from Genoa. I knew where to catch it because I’d jumped off there only just that morning, and the driver’d said he’d be passing through on his way back. I was going to meet up with some service buddies on the coast, have ourselves a little beachside fol-de-rol. The man had left me his pocketwatch as collateral, a dusty old silver thing that still worked when you wound it. I’d smoked my last cigarette about an hour before, and I kept my hands busy winding it up.

 

As I was walking up the road, just on the outside of midnight, was when I heard her. The noise was coming from somewhere off in the dark, beyond a stand of evergreen trees. I couldn’t tell what it was at first �" just a low, soft, burbling sound. I’d thought it was a bird at first. As I got closer, she quieted down.

 

“Who goes there?” I called.

 

There wasn’t any reply, not right away, but I could tell something was moving around back there. I left the road, wandered into the trees. I heard a brief squalling noise, like a cat, and called out once again.

 

The trees swayed, made a hushing sound that filled up a long stretch of quiet. I walked in a little further, slowly, on the balls of my feet. Like they’d taught me.

 

I heard a movement off to my left, cut wide path around it using the trees for cover. I felt stealthy, light as air. I crept up to the clearing where she stood there naked, bathing in a creek. She had that dark-tan country girl skin, tar-black hair flowing down over her shoulders and back like silk ribbons. Her skin and hair was wet, shining a little in the moonlight. She was a fair piece, alright. I stood there watching for a while, when a twig went and snapped under my foot.

 

Chi è?” she called over her shoulder. “Che si, Paolo?”

 

I couldn’t talk Italian so good, so I muttered something I thought sounded like the language. Nothing doing �" she shrank away a little from the sound, covered herself up with her arms and turned around to look at me.

 

I came out into the clearing, put my hands out to show her I meant no harm.

 

Her eyes were wide and dark, like a fawn’s. Her body was tight with the cold, I could see the gooseflesh. She scooted away up the far side of the creek, to where her clothes lay in the tall grass. The muscles in her thighs and neck were twitching like crazy, her black eyes shining in the dark.

 

“Chi se?” she demanded, covering herself up with a white cotton dress. “Mio marito Paolo sta arrivando.”

 

“Hope you don’t mind, I was just over there huntin’ for grouse.” I said.

 

“Que?”

 

I shook my head, smiling, shrugged.

 

“I’m sorry.” I said.

 

 

 

 

When I’d finished with her, she lay there quiet in the tall dark grass with her legs pulled up to her stomach. She was still shivering, so I laid her dress down over her body. The sight of her naked had begun to disgust me a little. She didn’t even look human.

 

I didn’t try talking to her again.

 

I was halfway back to the road when she started screaming.

 

There was a man there when I came running back into the clearing, knelt at her side. I took him to be her husband. I rushed him from the side, cut his throat with my trench knife. I beat her over the head with the butt of it until she stopped screaming.

 

It was once she stopped screaming that I finally heard the baby.

 

 

 

 

She was a beautiful thing, soft white and mewling like a hairless calf. I took her in my arms, set her down by the water. She’d calmed a little, now that all the noise had subsided, and she gripped my thumb with the tiniest little fingers I’d ever seen. She smelled of the night-earth.

 

I tried to push gently, and she didn’t fight me much.

 

 

 

 

I found the truck about three miles up the road, the driver almost passed-out drunk. I pushed him over into the passenger seat and took to the road out of town. We hit Sanremo at dawn, and I nudged him awake.

 

He grabbed for my wrist, and I tensed up.

 

Mio orologio,” he grumbled, eyes almost swollen shut. He saw the queer look I gave him and corrected himself: “Watch...you have watch.”

 

I rummaged around in my pockets but couldn’t find it.

© 2013 tworeeler


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Featured Review

We'll this late night reading has left my stomach a lil uneasy. I'm curious to see where the story goes. I really like all the action you get in. It's crazy really. I' haven't read many stories that can travel so flipp'n fast without feeling as though it's someone beating a rug outside only to have the dust settle back down while expecting an audience. Hey it's amazing how talented you are. I'm insecure to say much about it. I'm so self consumed it's to personal or whatever. Someone called my writing archaic. Deep down inside I'm proud of that but still my difference in personality from one day to the next. My mind is forever changing so to read something I write about with past judgements ect. it's hard. It's apathy sometimes to. I'm so f*****g different Nick it's unreal. I go from thinking its badass to weirdo central. Problems of a Bipolar Bear!!! Take care/talk soon.

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

tworeeler

6 Years Ago

I'm not sure where it's going. It might just be the mood of the season...I feel a similar ambivalenc.. read more



Reviews

We'll this late night reading has left my stomach a lil uneasy. I'm curious to see where the story goes. I really like all the action you get in. It's crazy really. I' haven't read many stories that can travel so flipp'n fast without feeling as though it's someone beating a rug outside only to have the dust settle back down while expecting an audience. Hey it's amazing how talented you are. I'm insecure to say much about it. I'm so self consumed it's to personal or whatever. Someone called my writing archaic. Deep down inside I'm proud of that but still my difference in personality from one day to the next. My mind is forever changing so to read something I write about with past judgements ect. it's hard. It's apathy sometimes to. I'm so f*****g different Nick it's unreal. I go from thinking its badass to weirdo central. Problems of a Bipolar Bear!!! Take care/talk soon.

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

tworeeler

6 Years Ago

I'm not sure where it's going. It might just be the mood of the season...I feel a similar ambivalenc.. read more

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Added on December 13, 2012
Last Updated on October 23, 2013
Tags: Charles Willeford, Jim Thompson

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tworeeler
tworeeler

Nowhere, WA



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