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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.


Coming on strong

That evil, serial-killing SOB is on the streets again, sucking the life out of his victims with drinking straws made of their own rolled-up performance reviews.  Once he drains his victims dry to the bones, he burns their remains and snorts their ashes through their rolled-up paystubs. 


Save for an unnoticeable drop of sweat or blood here, a wayward ash there, he works tidily enough to be the only evidence.  And he keeps himself well hid in a genius way, by being in front of our noses and on our lips, where we’re least likely to look.


If he had a psych profile, it’d be unlike any other.  There’d be no sordid past—no parental abuse, no record of abusing animals or other kids, no connection to pornography.  At the core of his existence, there’d be nothing desiring being stopped, being found out in the long run.  At his core there’s only evil.


And time’s on his side.  He bides it, skulks ‘round the shadows of minds ‘til they break down, become weak and careless, get crazy, slip up.  And now I feel him on my case, on the spiral staircase of my mind.  I feel him working me, but I’ve got to keep cool.  My one defense is in knowing his ways, the pattern of the evil bastard, Deadline.



No more speed, I’m almost there

Gotta keep cool now, gotta take care

Last car to pass, here I go

And the line of cars drove down real slow


And the radio played that forgotten song

Brenda Lee’s “Coming on Strong”

And the newsman sang his same song

One more radar lover’s gone


Golden Earring