The International Writers Magazine: New Writing
Frank Dryhandel pushed open the office door covered with faded tourist stickers. The motel dropping from a three star rating to no rating at all.
The fat man puts his hands on the desk
“How long you going to be here? It’s cash on the line and don’t be taking any 30 minute showers neither. Out here water’s a gift.”
Frank Dryhandel slapped down green on the counter. “There’s a month’s worth.”
The fat man gave him a suspicious look. “This ain’t no cat house if that’s what you’re thinking. Free enterprise don’t live in these walls,”
The fat man moved his Jimmy Dean sausage fingers and scooped up the cash and handed a large tired purple key for room 6. Outside Frank fought the sand blasting wind took the key and jammed it in the lock and opened the door. It was hot and Frank turned down the brown box near the window, the fan rattling and spitting cold air. Frank dropped his portfolio case and his suitcase, it looked like a beat up football. He laid on the bed and stared at the ceiling remembering the day it started.
Everyday he drove to work on his motorcycle, slid into his booth and started making cold calls.
“Yes, my name’s Frank Dryhandel and I’m calling on behalf Kaman Brother’s Exclusive Florida Resort. let me run down the benefits of time sharing and how you can have sun and save money too.”
The job didn’t pay a lot, it bought enough to cover his art supplies. His wife Jeannie was dragging down 80% of the money -- and it drove him crazy. Everytime they had an argument she used it against him; it was like a slug in the gut. He hated his job, but Frank loved to go upstairs and work with his paints and clay. One Sunday night Jeannie walked up to his studio, stood for a second, hand on her hip. Frank thought about asking her to pose nude for him, like she had done before they were married, however she got the first shot off…
“Frank when are you going to grow up and get a real, good paying job instead of making those crazy phone calls for commissions you never make.” She had a point there. The last and only commission he had gotten was six months ago. “
“With the economy the way it is and the jobless rates what kind of jobs do you suggest I try for?”
“You have an MBA in finance why don’t use it? '
“Because I feel fucking smothered in those kinds of places. I’m in one of those places now, it’s all I can do not shoot the place up. Who’s going to hire someone in their middle 50’s when there are kids who do it cheaper and take less benefits? I want a job that’s a no brainer and where I don’t have to think. You know like Kris Kristofferson when he swept the floors at Columbia Studios in Nashville at night he wrote songs. You have to admit I’m in one gallery here and in San Diego.”
“You know those are small galleries, and when was the last time you sold anything? Never. I rest may case.”
“When I sell something big you’ll have to take those words back,” Frank said. “You knew what I was when you married me. Fucking finance? I did it because my old man wanted me too. Okay so I don’t fit in. I’m tired of the bullshit. Our friends treat my painting as hobby when they sit around, their vacant heads spewing shit back like sociopath parrots. To hell with them.”
“If we did things your way,” --her eyes like two steel missiles—“we'd have no friends at all.”
These arguments are stupid,” Dryhandel said. “I think you ought to let me paint you nude.” Frank declared.
“Sure Frank why not, we’re 16 again.” Jeannie said, and stormed off, her heavy walking could be heard through out the house. Frank made up the couch for a bed he had been sleeping there most nights now. At sunrise Frank and Jeanne got up not saying much to each other.
After his bullshit job he returned home to find everything gone. She had even snatched the microwave
She'd never get a divorce from him. She’d have to file. Frank knew he was doing it to be a prick. He’d blow town to the desert and get lost. “I could sell my paintings by the side of the road if I have to.”
Frank sat on the steps of their house and took inventory of his life. He was in his middle 50’s and if he didn’t live his dream now he never would. Leaving him with nothing? He’d show her what nothing was. The sun was starting to inch up like a hot vanilla wafer on a blue plate.
He showed up at the house with two cans of gasoline, they looked like too red cubes with snouts raised up like elephant trunks, and a pack of matches. After spreading the gas around their bedroom he dropped a match. He bolted from the house and stood in the street watching the house burn. Next he poured, like toxic rain, gas over their 2009 Lexusus. It beaded up on the heavy waxed surface. Frank torched it.
Smoke rolled out the windows, the smoke had the smell of jail. He didn’t give a shit. He strapped his suitcase and art portfolio on his motorcycle. He pulled on a T-shirt and rode in the heat, It felt good. Frank decided to stop at a rundown motel at the edge of Indio where they rent the rooms by the hour. He loved the way the gravel parking lot sounded under his feet. He felt hungry really hungry for the first time in months. This was going to be good for him he thought and good for his art. How would he survive when the money the ran out? He’d find some way to get by except this time he wouldn’t have to listen to his old lady and her class climbing friends labeling his art as being nothing but a “fucking hobby.”
“Oh! How’s your hobby coming, Frank? I should take something like that in a night class.” Fucking Bert Marsh he could take his clients list and shove them up his ass. Then there’s Tanny White. What kind of first name is Tanny? Many times Frank had thought Tanny, with his dough boy like body a band of fat going from one side to the other around his belly. Frank would loved to kick her friends in the balls. He knew he’d never do it. It was big talk on his part. Frank thought his wife was having an affair with this fat bag of shit. Speaking of the subject of fat, Frank had to ask the battleship up front at the desk if he could set up and paint behind his room?
Frank took his eyes off the plaster ceiling. He hadn’t eaten since yesterday. Frank rolled off the bed went outside and stepped on the highway. He crossed it and entered a small dinner “Ethel’s Highway Of Eats.” Inside the place was small a rotating three level glass case displaying creamy lemon and brown, smooth good looking cherry pies and the smell of hamburgers on the grill. Frank ordered a double cheeseburger and a cherry coke. He hated coffee and couldn’t understand why people wanted it.
He was in the middle of eating his burger when he saw a blue pickup truck with deep black wheels and deep treads. It looked like a red neck pickup truck on steroids. Two men got out of the truck and came in the diner yelling and laughing. One of the guys looked like he had been in Budweiser commercial and tasted his own product. He had sandy blond hair and a T-shirt sleeveless with Leonard Skynard on the front. The other one had dark red hair and wore a wife beater T-shirt. They started to bother pick on the waitress, because she was a little over weight. It made Frank seething with rage. Finally Frank had enough he stood up and started to beat the shit out of the first guy slamming his head against the steel and wood grained counter in a shower of blood and teeth. The guy turned towards Frank with a gun he had stashed his waistband. Frank stepped forward and before the rebel, punk could get a shot off Frank wrestled the gun away tossed it over the counter and kicked the guy in the balls. He was down on all fours and crawled out of the steel diner. The second guy charged Frank right away. Frank stopped him with a quick knee to the nuts, and then crashed dinner plates over his head until he had run out. The guy staggered towards the door and Frank helped him out with right to his jaw followed up by an upper cut the guy fell though the entrance.
Frank came out of his fantasy and stared and at his half eaten cheeseburger and finished it. Frank looked down the counter at two road workers drinking coffee they didn’t even notice him He had always wanted to beat someone one silly; he knew he never would because he wasn’t wired that way. He was the one in school the other kids beat up and ridiculed to tears. He imagined his soon to be ex-wife laying in some asshole’s arms laughing hysterically about him. He paid for his meal and crossed the highway went to his motel room.
© Jay Marvin Jan 2010
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