Monday, February 4, 2008

A Gift of Love

Here's a little something, just for you! A gift of love! Another snippit from "The Accidental Murderer."

The first time the side bell rang it was Bobby. “Hey man, how goes it?”

“Been a little excitement since I seen you last,” quite the understatement, that. Johnny and Bobby went up the few stairs to the living room and sat on the couch. Bobby heard sounds in the kitchen. “Hiya, Marie. What you up to in there?” “I’m cookin’,” she said, and then, with feeling, “for my family.”

“Ain’t she something,” Bobby was shaking his head. Johnny voiced an opinion: “But you know, you always know what’s on her mind.” Johnny valued that in Marie, that plus she was hot. Johnny’s own mom, no one ever knew what was on her mind. Until she’d snap, that is, she’d smile right on along and then explode, sometimes it was so removed in time that you still didn’t know what had gotten her going in the first place. Johnny’s dad was in the taxi business, he worked in the dispatch office for a big fleet. It was a good job, money wise, and it kept him out of the house sixteen to eighteen hours per day, which he thought was good too. It was Johnny and his sister who were stuck at home with mom. His sister was four years older than Johnny, she left home for college right after high school, three days after graduation, in fact. Johnny was almost never home. His mother didn’t seem to wonder or care where he was all that time. It was what he liked most about her.

“So, what’s all this excitement about,” Bobby took out a cigarette and Johnny reached to the right of the couch, opened an army surplus metal storage box, and took out a cigar box. “Claude almost got nailed last night.”

“What, on the bike?”

“No, cops.”

Bobby lit the cigarette; Johnny put a magazine on his lap and took a couple of things out of the cigar box, then he put the box on the coffee table. His hands were very busy. “You gonna make me ask a thousand questions, or what?”

“I got back, you know, I dropped you off, Darlene was here,” Johnny held a joint up in front of his face and blew on lightly. “They were just drivin’ along, mindin’ their own business, and here come the bubble-gum brigade.” He reached for an ash tray, there were a couple on the coffee table, sat back, and lit the joint. “They ended up at the station, Claude’s trunk was packed with sh*t, he threw the key out the window, it’s back there somewhere, by the time the cops get their wheels on the ground, the car’s gone.” Johnny took a long pull and held it, exhaling slowly. “He’s a f*ckin’ magician, that guy.”

“How’d you find all this out?” “When I got here Darlene was waitin’, in Claude’s car,” Johnny still couldn’t believe it, “Claude gave her the key and the cops let her drive away in the car.”

“So Claude walks,” Bobby said, laughing low. “Yeah,” Johnny passed the ash tray holding the joint, “all he lost was that good gravity knife.”

“Aw, sh*t,” Bobby could feel Claude’s pain, “he loved that knife.”

The second time the bell rang it was Paddy. “You’re lookin’ pretty sharp, there.” Paddy was wearing charcoal grey dress slacks, shined shoes, a black knit shirt and a three-quarter length leather car coat that fit him like a glove, “what’s up? finally get a girl friend?” “F*ck you,” said Paddy, luckily he was smiling, and he went up to the living room and made himself at home. “Hey, Lil’ Pat,” for a couple of years in high school, Bobby was “Little Paddy,” and Paddy got promoted to “Big Paddy.”

“What’s up? big brother,” always good to see Paddy, usually pretty exciting stuff going on. “You gonna hog that joint or what?” Bobby half got up and handed it over, Paddy was sitting in the big chair next to the TV. Johnny took his seat. “This what you got for me?” Johnny told him, “yeah, it’s your lucky day, I bought this for myself, I got an extra z just for you.”

“You lying little sh*t,” but kiddingly. Johnny was as tall as Paddy, but something in Paddy’s experience of the world had given him the belief that he was bigger than everybody. Paddy handed over the ash tray, with smoke coming out of his nose, “it does taste pretty good.”

Johnny snorted a little laugh, “just give it a minute,” and like a good businessman he added, “all natural too.” There was a lot of the new Dust around, it would knock you out but it wasn’t the same. “So, what’s it gonna cost me?” “Sixty.” “You f*ckin’ thief,” Paddy expressed mock outrage, “tryin’ to git rich off your friends!”

“Hey, you smoke a joint, you want your money back, it’s yours, keep the reefer.”

Paddy had, they all had, a good buzz going by then. Paddy reached for his wallet. “No, I think this will do nicely,” he took out three twenties, “very nicely.” Johnny leaned over to Bobby and said, low, “if I even think about cheatin’ Pat, just f*ckin’ kill me.” “What’d you say.” “I said, Pat’s my favorite customer, what a ray of sunshine.”

Marie walked in. “Hello Patrick,” they knew each other, “you stayin’ long?” “Hi, Marie,” he smirked, “still with the Brass Balls, eh?” Marie sat on the stick chair next to the phone table. “F*ck that,” and to Johnny, “give me a cigarette,” back to Paddy, “what you been up to? don’t see you much.” “I stay busy,” he left it at that. Marie took the cigarette and went back inside.

The third time the side door ball rang it was Claude. When they got to the living room Johnny gestured to the dining room, “grab a chair and join the party.” Claude saw Paddy and shouted, “wooooo! to what do we owe the honor!” “Shoppin’,” he said, and held out his hand. Claude slapped it and took a slap back. These two went way back. Paddy was one of the first kids Claude met when he moved to the neighborhood, that was early grammar school. They became friends right away, it was that or kill one another. They made a good living from kids lunch money, later on from other things. Claude took a dining room chair and sat next to Paddy. Paddy said, “stayin’ out’a trouble?” Claude looked over at Johnny and smiled, Johnny laughed out loud. “Sh*t, tell ‘em Claude.”

Claude filled him in, mostly the parts that made Claude look heroic. “You still get them Georgia plates?” He couldn’t believe it. “You lose them plates and you’ll be happier.” Yeah, yeah, I already figured that out.

“You should give lessons,” Bobby was relaxing and enjoying himself. Claude said, “somethin’ smells good.” Bobby warned him not to mention it, “I been disinvited already, so you ain’t got a chance.” Paddy got up. “I gotta go, I’m workin’.” Some poor soul out there. Claude got up too, “yeah, me too, gotta get rid of the car,” but Johnny was having none of it, “sit down, now ain’t good.” He told Claude to wait till after midnight, be quiet about it, and don’t wake me. “Leave my car on the street.” Marie heard the fuss and came back in. “Dinner’s almost ready, so where’re you three goin’?” Subtle, as always. “You guys eat?” Claude asked, and to Paddy, “you got time to eat?”

“Yeah, I got time,” and to Bobby, “we’ll take your car.” “Check.” Bobby collected his stuff; the other two were ready. Marie smiled, “that was easy.” “You got the secret, kiddo.” Paddy put a little bag in his coat pocket, smiled at Marie and said, “we know the way,” adding, “thanks, John,” and they walked out. “Let’s go to the ‘Roma.”

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