typical lower class morning
bar writer at deaths door, and known at near every tavern in the
South California land.
The girl had no top. And she was leaning across the stage hanging those
topless things on his head. She sighed as he placed a buck in her underwear.
"You know," she said. "You're not like all the other Joe's
that come into this shit hole. You're a real man, I can see that."
"You wanna come on over to my place when you get off and have a drink?"
She smiled. "I thought you'd never ask."
Telephone rang. Porntip opened his eyes. Porntip Magrue. He didn't answer.
He coughed and rolled over and got outa bed. He staggered into the bathroom,
pulled down his boxers, and released a stream into the toilet. He noted
the gut hanging out over the boxers in the mirror, went back to the bedroom
and picked a t-shirt up off the floor to cover it up. He made it to the
kitchen, swallowed four aspirin and put the coffee on. It was cold and
dull and grey outside and he felt no too very dissimilar inside. He looked
through the apartment for his pack of smokes. Looked everywhere for that
damn pack. Finally, through the kitchen window he noted his cat, Roswell,
sitting at the patio table, cigarette dangling from his mouth.
Porntip stepped through the back door. "Godamnit, I told you to get
your own smokes." He lifted the pack from the table. Roswell gave
him a look and kept puffing.
He sat at the kitchen table and poured himself a cup. Telephone rang again.
"Hey there, Porntip."
"Man, you were really something last night. Just unbelievable."
"Always glad to bring joy to my fellow man."
"How's your head there Porntip?"
"Don't feel so good. Head or anything else."
"It was really something when you fought that 300 pound gal. And
the way you took her down- shit, she'd been beating on folks for 6 months
at the bar. That's one mean woman. Maybe she'll think twice about messing
with people from now on."
"Yeah, well, it had to be done."
"But later on, when you took the digger into the band, that's what
really got me going. Broke that drum set all to hell!"
"Listen, Mickey, I got to go. Got things to do."
"Oh hell, things, that's all."
Porntip hung up and poured another cup.
There was a knock at the door. Porntip opened. It was the landlord, Mr.
"Mr. Magrue, we have to talk. I found vomit on my front stoop, again."
"No. Anyway, I've been finding empty quart bottles of beer too. This
is my last warning. We run a tight ship at this court. We don't want anybody
breaking up the place."
"Look, it wasn't me, I swear."
"Mr. Magrue, you have drips of vomit on your own stoop right now!"
Porntip opened the door a little further.
"No, see, that's from my cat. He's been having problems lately."
Simpkin looked to his left. Roswell was leaning against the side of the
building. A cigarette hung from his mouth, the pack placed neatly under
a front paw.
Landlord turned back to the one in the doorway. He was not amused.
"Uh, I didn't teach him that."
Simpkin pointed a finger. "I got my eye on you. You'd better believe
He stepped back down the walkway. Roswell seemed to be winking. Landlord
was shaking his head and then was gone.
Porntip retrieved the smokes. "Godamned cat." Then he realized
they were lights. Porntip never smoked lights. He tossed the pack back
down. "All right. You stay outa mine, I'll stay outa yours."
Roswell smacked his lips, scratched his ass, and blew out some smoke.
Porntip was closing the door. "And keep away from beer too."
"Oh hell. What now?"
He answered. It was Pauline.
"I thought you said you was gonna do some writing last night?"
she started in with.
"I heard you was fighting again. I heard you fought big Rosetta.|"
"It was her fault. She encouraged me."
"Porntip, I've had enough. There was a band at the bar last night.
You didn't do no writing at all. You lied to me."
"Baby, I got a few pages out before the band started. Nice stuff
too. Then Rosetta started poking me with that big greasy finger of hers.
You know how she gets. What was I supposed to do?"
"Porntip. I just don't wanna hear it no more. You ain't good for
nothing but drinking and messing around."
"Hell baby, what are you talking about? That's two things right there
I'm good at."
"Ha ha, that's a good one. You just funnied yourself outa the best
woman west of the Rockies."
"Ah, baby, c'mon."
Porntip heard the phone slam down at the other end. He poured a jigger
of bourbon into the coffee, had a hit.
"West of the Rockies?" he was saying. "You ain't even the
best woman west of Huntington Beach."
Roswell walked up, sat at the kitchen counter and looked at the human.
Porntip never could figure out how he got in and out of the place when
the doors were closed. "All right," he said. He poured a cup
and pushed it in front of the cat. Roswell waited. He looked annoyed.
"Oh Christ.|" He poured a jigger into the cup. Roswell sniffed
it and took a swill. He sighed.
Porntip sat at his beat up recliner and turned the TV on with the remote.
There was some talk show about a medium that could speak with the dead.
He was going on about reincarnation. He shut the TV off. "I ain't
coming back this way again unless they make me come back." Roswell
was shaking his head and the phone rang. It was his former agent - Rudward
"How ya doing Porntip? Making any headway?"
"Well, I gotta short comin' out in Reflections."
"Hmm. Reflections. Never heard of it."
"It's on the internet."
"You have a computer?" asked Rudward with just a tad disbelief.
""Well, it's a friends. She lets me use it every now and again."
Then he realized, with the previous phone call, that he might not be using
that computer again for a while.
"Listen, Porntip, I been thinking. I'd like to work with you again.
I been shopping around that anthology and the novel on my own these last
few months. Still ain't got no takers on the novel, but I think I got
a small press that wants to pick up the anthology."
"Yeah man. They're west coast and they want west coast writers. I
told 'em all about you. They're very interested."
"You ain't shitting me are you? I don't have to put up any cash,
"What? Of course not! Don't you trust me?"
"Porntip, I am injured to the core by your words. Don't forget the
history we've had."
"I haven't. That's why I said it."
"Hell, Porntip, I'm just trying to make a little cash for the both
of us. I think I can have a deal drawn up in the next couple of weeks.
In the mean time, I'll keep pushing the novel. Is that fair?"
"Sure, Rudward. Give me a call when you hear something."
"Sure thing, buddy."
Porntip hung up the phone. He felt like he'd just given a 2-dollar blowjob.
Well, at least it wasn't for a buck, and that was nice. Things were looking
up. He pulled the pack of smokes from his pocket. Empty. Then laid his
head back in the recliner.
He was sitting at the bar, writing. A beautiful young woman approached.
He had seen her before. She had commented once on how attractive it is
for a man to put words down in a place like a bar. Very sexy. He moved
forward and they kissed. She said that she had something to show him.
They left the bar, but just outside was a cliff. He began to fall. Jagged
rocks were coming up fast. He held out his arms, and at the last second
swooped over to an endless field of heather and clover. A nice leather
bound book lay open on the ground. He opened it up. It was his writing.
Phone rang. "Shit.. god.. hello?"
"I just wanted to say I was sorry. I didn't mean all those things
I said. Let's just pretend it never happened."
"Porntip? Wont you come over tonight? We can have a little make up
"Sure. Can I use your computer?"
"Of course you can."
He laid the phone down, then took it off the hook. He stepped to the refrigerator
and opened it.
"Shit all mighty," he uttered. You see, he had no beer.
He turned and noted a brand new 12 pack placed on the dining room table.
Roswell sat close, an open beer before him. He watched over to Porntip
Porntip reached for one, cracked it, and swallowed a fair amount.
"You're okay," he said. "Can I have a smoke?"
The town folks met
in the parking lot of a strip mall. Some wielded hammers, a couple, knives,
most had baseball or clubs of some sort. They didn't figure on needing
any guns. They didn't expect too much of a fight put up against so many.
Little Haime pulled on his paps pant leg.
"Why must this be done?" he asked.
"Well son," began Pap Johnson, raising up a nine-iron. "It's
like this- we're damn sick and tired of all the nonsense. All the countless
ages of bullshit.|"
"Honey please, your language," said the missus.
"Sorry, but see son, it's time for all this crap to end. We've had
enough. Centuries of wasted emotion. We're doing this for you. and little
Robby, and Annette, and all the other kids. It'll be better, much better.
You'll see. You'll thank us eventually. Yeah you will."
"All right," announced Sanders. "He's staying at a warehouse
over on Central. Let's do this thing, but we gotta be quiet on the way."
Sunny Bibkin came running up all outa breath. Running hard from outa the
"Wait, I just heard, just found out from the street, he ain't at
the warehouse no more. He's staying at a building over on Fifth, near
"There ain't a thing over that way except tenement buildings,"
said Pap Johnson.
"Make sense though," said Millhouse. "Times ain't what
they used to be for him."
"You sure about this, Sunny?" asked Pap.
"I heard it from good sources."
"All right. All right then. We'll see. We'll just see."
They moved out. About twenty of 'em. Mainly men, and a few women, but
no kids. To much violence coming for their innocent eyes and minds.
Hit Fifth in about 15 minutes and Alameda an about 5 more. It was a dark
part of town. Very fucked up. Even the police avoided the area. It was
not terribly uncommon to see groups swaggering down those streets swinging
about clubs. But they never had been so well dressed before.
They reached the tenement building. The rats were big. Big as Dobermans.
One trip face down and you were done. Those rats, they really knew how
"He's on the 5th floor," said Sunny. "Room 501 I heard."
But then Sunny bailed unnoticed. He really was a pussy at heart.
They staggered up the 10 flights of stairs. This took a toll on most of
'em, being flabby meat eaters. Only the beer drinkers and smokers made
it without problem.
"This is it," said Sanders. "Let's break the door down!"
"Wait. We gotta make sure it's him first," said Buddy Wells.
"Right." Pap Johnson pounded on the door. "Hey in there.
Open up. We got something to say to you."
There was a rustling inside, but no voice answered.
"All right, we tried. No break it down!"
Sanders bashed the door in with one kick. It splintered like cardwood.
They rushed in. He was standing near a window, thought real hard about
jumping. But it was, after all, 5 stories up.
He cringed and cried out as he was grappled to the ground. He really was
much more unattractive in his raw form than they had expected. As a matter
of fact, depending upon the angle of the light, it was hard to tell if
he were a man at all. But they had heard that part about him.
"Please, what is it you want from me?!!" he wailed.
Pap Johnson grabbed him about the throat. "I'll be honest with you,
Love Boy, or Mister Love, or whatever the hell it is you call yourself.|"
"Love. Just love," he gurgled.
"Well, Love, we're here to change things. Sorry, man, you got to
"You're going to kill me."
"Man, it's got to be done. Nothing personal." Love stopped squirming.
He had a settled look. Nearly content. Even happy.
"Oh, I have waited for this day. Dreamt of it for a century. Happy,
happy times have come!"
"What? You want us to kill you?"
"Hell yeah. It's my only way out. I just can't do it anymore. You
people are animals. You don't know how to handle love. It's like poking
needles in my eyes every day. I gave you the gift, and you contorted it,
twisted it," as he made a grimace, "twisted it into a horrible
mess. I'm tired. Would have ended it years ago myself, had that sort of
thing not been forbidden in the contract.|"
"What? You sayin', you blaming us for all this?!"
"All I'm saying is that you don't need love. Why, just think of what
you'll accomplish. I'll bet you'll have colonies on Venus in no time."
"Yeah we will, mother. And no jealousy. No bickering or arguing.
No depression. No love related suicides or murders."
"For the record, all that stuff don't have a thing to do with me.
But it don't matter. There's nothing I can do to make you folks happy.
Just like trained monkeys with a remote. Instead up arts and entertainment,
you always end up watching monster trucks or the porn channel."
"Why you!" said Rodriguez. He plowed a fist into the gut of
love. Love vomited blood.
"Do it. Kill me. Make it fast. Make it hurt. I just don't care."
"So, you agree we'll be better off?" snarled Sanders.
"Yeah. Whatever you say, man. Whatever you say."
Pap Johnson snapped the bat down on Love's head. Love sighed, seemed to
smile. The pounding came. Love died in a tenement in the industrial part
near downtown L.A.
Pap Johnson sat in his living room recliner reading the morning paper.
He had a cup of steaming coffee on a table at his side.
"Will ya look at that," he was saying to the missus. "Government
says beatings and knifings is down 80 percent. Gosh, and what about this.
Civilians being gunned down is even more."
"That's nice dear. How would you like your eggs this morning?"
"Sunny side up, of course." He flipped through the pages. "Ah,
that's too bad."
"What's that, dear?"
"Says here that the last church closed in the city due to lack of
interest. There's not but two left now in the whole country. Ah well,
that doesn't seem to be too bad. And the government has got this new deal
going on for all those poets out there. Seems they're all headed for civil
service. They opened 'em up to jobs in the National Parks for a while,
but since all those closed down they gotta find 'em something else to
do. I think that's kinda nice if you ask me."
"Sure is, dear. You know, I was reading just yesterday how marriages
are lasting these days. Just like ours. They just don't seem to have divorce
any more. That's what I think is nice."
"Yep. Here it is. Big aerospace company says we should have colonies
on Venus within a year. It's just amazing. Say, get me a beer, too."
The missus opened the refrigerator and pulled out a cold one. She gazed
out the window. Flowers were blooming, the sky a brilliant steely unmarred
blue. Birds chirped and danced through the tree. She looked back to the
one sitting at the recliner. She used to really hate him. Now, there just
didn't seem to be a point to that. A tear slipped down her chick. She
wiped it away, never really knowing why it had come, and handed over the
© D.G. Harris,bar writer at deaths door, and known at near every
tavern in the South California land. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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