Archive for May, 2011


Surrender or die

PhotobucketThe kid trained his gun on the old man’s head.  “Surrender your anger, Motherfucker!”

“What are you, a vigilante guru now?  A backstreet psychologist?  ‘Cause I know you ain’t got the smarts or the gonads to get a real degree.”

“Man, you got some serious shit eatin’ you.  It don’t matter what I am.  What are you?”

“What’s eatin’ me is worthless punks like you.”

The kid moved in on the old man, jabbed the barrel of the gun into his temple and gritted his teeth.  “Answer the question.”

The old man stiffened his back in the kitchen chair, squinted his hateful eyes toward the kid.  “Why you good-for-nothin’, pointless little piece of shit!”

The kid shoved the barrel harder into the old man’s head.  “I said, what are you?!”

“I’m the hardest-workin’ man in this two-bit town, done more and earned more in my lifetime than a lazy-ass, half-wit like you ever could!”

The kid guffawed.  “Well, lookee here, it’s two-fer-one day!  Pride and Anger.”

“Screw you, punk!” the old man yelled.  He strained all red-faced against the ropes strapping his legs and upper body to the chair.

The kid stepped back, regarded the old man in his futile fit.  “Oh I know better’n anyone how you made your money, you extortionist fucker!  And look at you now: a tempest in a teapot.”

The old man growled and fought his ropes all the harder, tried to hop his chair toward the phone.

The kid smacked the old man’s head with the butt of the gun, made a small cut above his eye.

For a minute the old man just looked at him, blank, while a bit of blood worked its way down his face and into the corner of his mouth.  He spat it at the kid.  “I ain’t scared of you, Punk,” he snarled.  His jaw muscles twitched like the withers of a mule plagued with flies.

The kid smacked him again.  “I’m not playin’ with you, old man.  Surrender your anger or die!”

The old man blinked at him.

NOW!” the kid yelled.

The old man shook his head like to clear it.  “Naw,” the old man mumbled, “This can’t be real.  You can’t make someone change their whole way of being with the snap of your snotty fingers…”

The kid grabbed the old man by the hair at the back of his head and pushed the gun upward under his jaw.  “This ain’t no snap of fingers, you old fuck, it’s this: I pull the trigger and end your life or I don’t.  What do you choose?”

The old man’s eyes darted back and forth in his head all crazy.  He tried to struggle.

“I said: What.  Do.  You.  Choose.  Mother.  Fucker?”  The kid shoved the gun harder into the old man’s throat and angled a bulging eye at the old man.  He cocked the trigger.  CLICK.

The sound was as loud as a mortar shell blast in the old man’s head.  All of what was left of the neurons in his brain were going haywire, the synapses bristled to near overload.  There was nothing he could do to help himself.  The pressure in his head was building and building, becoming unbearable.  His head was going to blow up even before the gun went off.  He closed his eyes.

The kid gave the gun another upward jab.  “Hellooooo!

The old man’s eyes flew open, filled with fear.  He gagged, couldn’t breathe, struggled wildly like a drowning man.  The kid let up a  bit on the gun.

“I think I’m having a heart attack!” the old man gasped.  His eyes darted back and forth.  He began to shake.  His chest heaved uselessly.  “I think I’m dying!” he croaked, and then his body went limp.

The kid slapped the side of the old man’s face repeatedly.  “Breathe, motherfucker, breathe!”


The kid started to panic.  “Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit…”  He ran around the kitchen in circles.  Then he went to the cabinet, got a glass, filled it with water and threw it on the old man’s face.

“POP!  You gotta wake up!”

The old man stirred.  The kid shook him, then looked him in the eyes real close. “Pop!  Are you OK?”

The old man’s eyes fluttered.  He opened them and there were these youthful, urgent blue eyes all wide and looking back at him.  It was the funniest thing he’d ever seen.  He burst out laughing.

The kid let out his breath.  “Pop?”

The old man tried to lean forward but he couldn’t move.  This also amused him and he began laughing again.

“Oh, sorry, Pop, let me cut these ropes.”  The kid got a knife from the block and cut his old man loose.  Then he got some rubbing alcohol and cotton and cleaned up his cuts.

“Who are you?  A cherub?” the old man asked.  He observed the frightened reaction on his son’s face and this, too, was a riot and he busted out laughing.

“Geezus,” the kid said.  He tested him.  “Pop?” he asked.


“You know who I am?” the kid said.

“Why?  You don’t know?”  The old man went into fits of laughter.


The old man stopped himself, cleared his throat.  “Yes, you headstrong and aimlessly roving boy of mine!  I know who you are, you little shit.  Jonah is your name and you are the last-born son.”

The kid Jonah sighed, relieved.  “That’s right.”

“And when you came of age you were swallowed by the great white Whale of Peace and you left the fold and became a weirdo and lived on a commune complete with its own guru!”  The old man roared with laughter.

Jonah waited for a lull.  “Yeah, OK, Pop, I see you’re alright.  A little too right, maybe—”

“Ain’t no such thing, boy!” the old man said before buckling under laugher.

Jonah hugged his dad.  “Alright, Pop, I gotta go.  Macey and the kids are waitin’ for me.”  He turned to leave.

The old man grabbed his hand, looked up into his eyes.  “Your mother’d be proud you stuck up for yourself.”  He though a moment and added, “Finally,” then he cracked up laughing again.

Jonah kissed his pop on the forehead, where the cut was.  He turned and walked toward the kitchen door, happy for his pop, but sad for himself, that it wasn’t him who became enlightened this night.  He pushed through the screen door, heard it slam on his old man’s laughter.



PhotobucketJonesey waits out life with no conviction.  Most folks wouldn’t agree with me.  It’s tricky, because for all the world he looks eager to jump into a serious game within the game of life.  He’s bouncy and fun and willing to please and if you needed it, he’d give you the shirt off his back without thinking twice.  But he can’t hold a prudent thought in his head.

Anyone who’s knocked back a couple of beers with Jonesey, they usually end up making him a job offer, he’s so gung-ho.  And Jonesey, he acts like they’re a godsend.   They pay the bartender and pat Jonesey on the back, smiling and laughing.  “You call me now, hear?” they holler on their way out the door.

Trouble is, by the next morning the job offer has lost its luster.  It’s as if Jonesey resets overnight and the pissant job he’s had for most of his life looks to him like a life raft he’d better cling to.  He’s waiting for the crème de la crème of careers to fall into his lap.  He’ll know it when he sees it he says.

He may call the “bozos” he’s met at the bar, or show up at their business for a look around or for an interview, but it’s a big city with a lot going on.  It’s easy for business owners to believe that Jonesey, with all his “talents,” has found something better than what they had to offer.

“Jonesey, my man, it’s alright!” they say on the phone.  “I don’t blame you, not at all.  Listen, you’ve got a job here any time you want.”

“Thank you so much for understanding,” Jonesey says back, his voice wobbling like on the verge of tears, “I was rent in two, torn asunder I tell you, but it’d be irresponsible of me to turn down this other offer I got, even though I think your position would have been more enjoyable, I have to think of my wife, and as I told you, we have a baby on the way and—”

“Think nothing of it, Jonesey,” they say.  “Listen, let’s get together for a beer sometime!”

“I’m all for it!” Jonesey always says.

I look up from my sewing, glance at him from under the hanging-down bulb in the corner of the kitchen.  A shirt of his is in my lap.  It’s a combination of tired-out cloth and my thread, repairs that represent his waiting for a life so great that he could never see himself deserving it or living it anyway.

He sits on the stool by the phone, feels my eyes on him, and I can feel his thoughts rally and teeter between pretending he doesn’t feel me and turning to meet my eyes.  I think to myself, “You had better look at me.”  But he doesn’t.  He knows I don’t think too much of his two-bit waiting game.

There is no hotter offer.  There is no baby.  There probably never will be.  Same as there probably never will be the life Jonesey promised me on bended knee with all the earnestness of a preacher promising Heaven.  “Think nothing of it, Jonesey,” I think to myself.

I cast my eyes back on my sewing, stitch up a three-corner tear, then secure a button back in place.  I smile.  It’s a bang-up job.  Looks professional if I don’t say so myself.  He’ll go to work tomorrow looking spiff enough.

“How many cakes you got to make tomorrow, Hon?” I ask.

Jonesey darts his eyes over to me, sees I’m not holding anything against him, and he smiles wide.

“Well, Darlin’,” he says, “it’s gonna be tough, but somehow I got to find a way to make six!”


“Yup.  And one of them’s a three-tier wedding cake!”

“How’re you gonna do it, Baby?”

“Oh you know me, I’ll find a way.”

“Yeah.”  I sigh, grab a pair of Jonesey’s jeans that need a patch.

Jonesey slides off his stool and walks over to me, takes the jeans from me.  He puts them back onto the pile of mending and takes my hand.  “Come here,” he says softly.

I stand up and he pulls me in.  He hugs me, kisses the top of my head, holds me there.  I can feel his thoughts like china teacups trembling on a shelf in a squall, rattling louder and louder, jiggling closer to the edge, and then everything stops, and there’s only rain.

Jonesey holds me away from him.  He regards me in the quiet and I see the bleak gray in his eyes, feel its damp cold settle on me like dew in the hours before dawn.  “I know it hasn’t been easy for you,” he says.

I look down, notice a hole in my right sock.  Jonesey tilts my head upward with a finger under my chin.  His eyes are clear, bright again, like sun through glass, dancing in distorted patterns on walls.  “Tell you what,” he says.  “Tomorrow I’ll sneak some extra ingredients and make a little cake for you!”

I tell him like usual, “You don’t have to do that, Jonesey.”

“No, Darlin’, I’m doin’ it!”  He crosses his arms in front of his chest.  Then he winks at me.  “I’ll even stick one of those bride and groom toppers on it for you.”

After all these years of not doin’ it, I think to myself, “What are the odds?”  I look at the bouncing light in his eyes and smile.  “OK, alright, Sugar.  Twenty-five bucks each way on a cake, please.”

Jonesey laughs.  “That’s my girl!”



Photo ‘Going Nowhere‘ by photosbyflood on redbubble


Zanzinece’s “Jonesy” was spun off the Sunday Scribblings prompt “#265 – Cake.”  Click here for more on prompt #265 from other Sunday Scribblings participants.