It was one of those bad ideas that was available all night, cheap and close to where the locals handed out free drinks to the heathens, the drunks, the gamblers, the strung-out weekend warrior bachelor party meatheads whom- if you listened to them talk- you would think them to be sired from the same man.
“Bro,” Greg slipped out of a shamelessly SUV-styled limoscene, lime green of course. “Let’s fucking do it! Vegas, baby!”
(None of them had ever seen Swingers.)
Pete’s Tats offered custom art, designed, sketched and inked within at most two hours. They promised professional, quality work for a fair rate- so long as you could stand on your own feet and quote your birthday.
Greg hopped on to the leather-padded bench, leaning up and forward to inspect his artist as she plugged away at her machine. She was the exact type of looking girl one would find in any tattoo shop on the planet. Slipping on plastic gloves and cradling her needle like the cigarette she so desperately wants to go out back and smoke, she makes reluctant eye contact with Greg.
(In his head, Greg assigns her a numerical rating based on her looks and proceeds to tailor his attitude as such.)
I should drink less coffee. I’m treating it like gasoline. Is my hair too long? Does it look good? I think it does. I don’t really care. She told me to stand up straight so I’m trying to do that more often. Walking is relaxing. I think I have a brisk, unfocused yet confident stride, though I’ve never once seen myself do it. I suppose I would have to pass say, an extended mirror. I’d probably get self-confident, throwing my pace off. Unless the mirror was one hundred, one hundred and fifty meters long so I could develop a typical pace and have a moment to properly analyze things. Am I bending my knees too much? Are my shoulders straight? What are my arms doing? Yeah. I’d need about ten percent of a kilometer of mirror- in daylight, average spring day, brisk wind- to really figure this one out. But where would you find a mirror that long? This whole conversation is ridiculous.
I try to stand up straight.
Every day was exactly the same.
I’d wake up around noon. There’d be stale coffee in the pot. You could reheat it and lump in enough sugar and milk to kill the dead taste of preservatives and chemicals. Or make a fresh cup, at least as fresh as instant coffee could be. It usually depended on when payday was. Or on how hung over you were.
If I could stand it, Foley would be on my couch. I figured I owned him at least a tough old sofa and dirty blanket. He didn’t like to be at home anymore since his mom and Jerry the Mechanic had become less than subtle about their love tryst. Something about hearing your mother scream in sexual ecstasy that makes it hard to get in eight hours on a weeknight.
“He’s fucking my mom, I know it.” Foley finished his beer. Signalled for another.
Chris scoffed. “How can you think about something like that?”
“People fuck. My mom is people. Easy, man.”
“How would Jerry even know her?” Chris was often purposely aloof, always leading Foley by the nose.
“Cause I invited him over to dinner. She wanted to meet him.”
Jerry was the mechanic and body shop guy Foley was apprenticing with. He was almost sixty, battled gout, and made inappropriate comments about the underage girls who passed by on the way to the coffee bar a block over. Sometimes he’d wander out front for a cigarette, always with a wrench. He’d toss it to the ground. “Help an old man grab his tool,” he’d ask, and you knew he was referring to his dick because of course he was referring to his dick.
CHAPTER 7: PUNK ROCK
I kept it under my bed next to a He-Man lunchbox and loose collection of dirty magazines. Had my mom stumbled on either of my three treasures, I deduced it would bring an equal amount of discomfort and anxiety, though I could have probably explained away the Hustlers. Had she opened said lunchbox, well the dime bag and cocaine-y piece of glass would have been a little more difficult to justify, though to my mother, probably somewhat less than why I had my father’s 1959 Fender Stratocaster tucked under an old blanket.
The case was pristine. It was a sort of metallic black that shimmered in light, a single peace sign sticker centered on the back. It had two clasps, each with its separate three digit combination lock coded 666 and 420- hey, I never said the man was clever- and between them, a silver engraving with my father’s name and my mother’s (our) phone number on it. The velvet lining inside was soft to the touch. Under the neck was a box for picks, capo, tuner, rolling papers and a lighter, all of which were included. The strap was handmade and smelled like a freshly deadened cow.
Scrounging the depths of one’s past artistic endeavors can be a humbling experience.
Below- if only for my own amusement- are completely out of context excerpts, fragments and half-starts I’ve attempted to cobble into existence. For reasons varied and unknown, none of them ever saw the light of day or for that matter, completion:
In 2009 I was really good at staying up all night while drinking beer and writing short stories. Over one particularly productive weekend, I scraped together 130 000 words about a guy who decides to drink himself to death after he accidentally causes his best friend to be murdered by methamphetamine dealers.
It’s juvenile, crass and tries too hard. Below are two chapters, unedited and out of context.
Finish your novels, kids
I was encouraged to dig through my old files to find some inspirational half-starts and unpolished turds. The following is an excerpt from a novel I tried to write about six years ago.
Click below to read chapter 2.