Saturday, March 26, 2011

the penultimate hit, chapter 4: peril

"hi, jerry, it's jake."
"yes, jake."
"i want to talk to bill."
"jake, how did you get through? i just told dorothy not to let you through."
"i told her i wanted to talk about something else - not get through to bill."
"but now you're telling me you want to talk to bill."
"so you lied."
'yes - i feel it's that important that i lied."
"you lied to dorothy - to dorothy, the gatekeeper to bill."
"yes - i just admitted it."
"jake, that's almost as bad as lying to bill. it's almost as bad as lying to me."
"can we cut the crap, jerry, and get this over with. just let me talk to bill, please."
"we've just been over all that. tell me what you want to talk to bill about, and i will decide whether he needs to hear it. that's my job. it's what i'm here for. it's what i do. i'm here to serve. let me serve you, jake, and tell me what is so important that you've been wasting my time all morning with it - and then, then i - i , whose job it is to do so, will decide whether bill needs to hear it. am i getting through to you?"
"i need to talk to bill. its very important."
"jake - "
"i'm willing to take the consequences, if any, of failing to go through proper channels."
"oh, really? and what about me? what are you going to do for me, if i get fired for not observing proper procedure? eh? eh?'"
"i'll buy you a drink."
"a drink ? did i hear you say a drink? i am sitting here fifty feet from bill's office and you offered me a drink? what year is this, eh? am i hallucinating here?"
"i meant a drink of pure spring water."
"what did you think i meant?"
"let's get back on track here. are you, or are you not, going to tell me what you want to talk to bill about?"
"i think bill should hear it directly from me."
"but the universe is in peril."
"the universe is always in peril. that's what it's there for. if it wasn't in peril, it wouldn't be the universe."
"i want to talk to bill. something has come up that he should hear about. directly."
"jake, this conversation is over."
"it shouldn't be."
"but it is."
"you are making a terrible mistake."
" jake, i have had enough of you. do you know what i am going to do when i get off the phone?"
"no, what?"
"i am going to find the biggest ugliest agent under my command and i am going to tell him to get the biggest ugliest stick he can find and he is going to track you down like a wounded animal and beat you with it."
"i really have to talk to bill."
"goodbye, jake."
jerry clicked off. he picked up a pint bottle of water - the only thing on his desk - unscrewed the cap and took a few thoughtful sips. then he got up, opened the door of his office and went to the reception area outside.
dorothy looked up at him.
"that was jake . he was lying when he said - "
"i know, i listened to the whole conversation."
"i hope you don't mind."
"of course not." jerry smiled. "it's what you are here for, isn't it?
"i hope you are not really going to have somebody beat jake with a stick."
"oh no. i was just kidding - just venting."
"violence never solved anything."
"i know that. thank you for reminding me."
"jake may be lacking in certain desirable qualities, but he shouldn't be beaten with a stick."
"point well taken." jerry looked up. "who is this?"
a man with a cloth cap shading his face was slouched in a chair along the wall. he looked up when jerry spoke.
"jerry, it's roy, roy cohn. you remember me, don't you?"
"roy - of course!'" jerry opened the little railing in front of dorothy's desk and held out his hand. "great to see you. what can i do for you?"
"i got something real important i think the big guy, the inspector, should hear about."
"i see." jerry glanced back at dorothy. "you wouldn't happen to be in touch with that rascal jake mccarthy, would you?"
"jake mccarthy? no, no i don't have nothing to do with that rat. i wouldn't walk across the street to pour a glass of water on him - if he was - if he was - something- i can't remember."
"that's o k."
"i don't remember everything. i'm not what i used to be."
"who among us is?"
"do you remember what you wanted to talk to bill about?"
"sure. that's what i'm here for."
"would you mind telling me first what you want to see him about?" jerry smiled. "that's what i'm here for."
"no, no, i don't mind. i may not be one hundred percent, but i know how the game is played."
"well, that's great. i'm glad somebody does."
"it's about brock, sergeant brock. you remember the brock case, don't you?"
"um - maybe you can refresh my memory. but we don't have to stand out here, come on into my office." jerry stepped back and motioned roy through the opening in the railing. "is there something we can get you? dorothy could get you something or have somebody get you something. something? anything?"
"anything, huh? how about a burger? or even better, a roast beef sandwich with horseradish?"
"uh - those things might present a challenge, even for us."
"i can get you some water," said dorothy, " or an orange or some grapes. how about yogurt - we have strawberry, blueberry, boysenberry - "
"strawberry is good. i'm a strawberry guy."
"that's settled then - we'll get you some strawberry yogurt and some water. come on in."

jerry closed the door behind him and motioned roy to the one chair in front of his desk.
"jeez, i'm glad you could see me. what i am about to tell you was going to blow a hole in my gasket - or my brain."
jerry sat down behind his desk. "well, blow roy, blow."

Thursday, March 10, 2011

i'll sleep when i get even, chapter 1

‎‎"let's get this lead out of your guts first - then we'll decide what to do about al. ain't that right, doc? "

jenny turned her blonde head away, so that she wouldn't be blowing smoke right into dave's blasted body.

she formed two perfectly round smoke rings which drifted across doc wilson's little office and into his front parlor, and fixed the doctor with her cold green eyes.

but he ignored her and kept on probing dave's stomach.

"kind of flabby aren't you, dave? i thought you desperadoes kept in a little better shape." he looked up quickly at dave. "just kidding."

"i don't get it, doc. i just don't get it. me and al - we were partners for years - since we were kids. why would he just turn on me all of a sudden, just like that?"

"hold still. don't excite yourself. still - still - perfectly still. well, there are usually one of two reasons or both. the first of course is money."

"but the deal was a bust. there wasn't any money. we were just trying to get away."

"take a breath. hold it. all right. maybe he was mad about the deal not going down. maybe he blamed you."

"nah. it wasn't my fault."

"was it his? maybe he figured you'd get mad so he got his lick in first."

"it wasn't anybody's fault. it was just bad luck."

"there. i think i got it all."

"you think?" jenny interrupted. "did you get it all or didn't you?"

the doctor gave her an annoyed glance. "i got it all."

"then why did you say 'i think'?"

"it was just a manner of speaking. hold this on the wound," he told dave, " while i unwind this bandage." he took a long roll of white bandage out of a drawer under the table dave was sitting on. he began to wind it around dave's body below the gunshot wound just below his heart.

"as i was saying before i was so politely interrupted, there are two reasons for even the tightest partnerships to break up. money of course - " the doc looked over at jenny. "and dames."

"why you cheap gin-soaked back alley butcher, how dare you insult me -"

"easy baby, easy." dave laughed. "doc, consider the specific situation. jenny is here, ain't she? she's not with al. and she brought me here. she dragged my bleeding carcass away with her brute strength -" he grabbed her arm and squeezed her bicep - "strong, ain't she?"

"i'm strong for you. baby."

"very touching," doc observed. "of course, what could i have been thinking? here, let go."

he slapped a pad right right over the bullet hole as dave flinched, then continued winding the bandage above it. "all set. now, you just have to rest up."

"can i light up a smoke now?"

"sure, why not?"

dave fished in his pockets. "looks like i lost my smokes in all the fracas."

"you can have one of mine," jenny told him.

"they got filters. doc, can i bother you for a smoke?"

"i smoke cigars. parodis. you want one?"

"i guess they will have to do. thanks."

"hold on, i'll go get one."

jenny scowled at doc wilson's back as he left the room. "can we trust this cheap chiseler?" she asked loud enough for him to hear.

"relax, will you? being trusted is doc's stock in trade. he's not going to win the nobel prize for medicine. are you, doc?" dave called after him.

"did you hear the way he insulted me?"

"he was making a general statement about human females. don't be so sensitive."

"i'm a human female, ain't i?"

the doctor returned with a red and green pack of parodis he had taken from his jacket hanging in the front hall.

he extracted one of the crooked little cigars from the pack and gave it to dave, then lit it for him with a wooden match he struck across the sole of his scuffed brown shoe.

"no, if doc was a better doctor he'd be treating four star generals for indigestion at walter reed hospital, not stitching up the likes of us." dave blew some of the vile smoke into the air. "this is awful."

"you sure you don't want one of mine?" jenny asked.

"jeez, i just might."

the doctor cleared his throat. "well, dave, after you've finished - enjoying your smoke, we can settle up and you can be on your way."

"what? what are you talking about? we're going to hole up here." dave laughed and waved the parodi in the air. "have you gone out of the hole up business? that's the biggest part of your trade."

"what about her?"

"i don't know, what about her? haven't you ever holed up two people at once before? why, just last year -"

"come on, you know what i'm talking about. i don't trust her. i don't trust her not to shoot me when we both fall asleep. i just have a bad feeling about her."

"please. i know we're all under some stress here and harsh words have been spoken, but let's act like adults. and what about your fee?"

the doc held up his hand. "dave, there will be no payment. we've known each other for a long time and i hope we can do business again in the future. but i just don't trust this bitch."

he leaned forward and in a stage whisper intoned - "are you sure she's not in it with al?" he straightened up. "she can drive, you can walk, those aren't problems. you'll have to go."

"but i've got the police of six states after me."

"i'm sorry, dave."

"this is totally ridiculous."

"can you guarantee she won't shoot me or both of us?"

"yeah. yeah, i can guarantee it." dave reached behind his back and pulled a pistol from his waistband. jenny laughed. dave quickly checked the safety, released it, and shot jenny in the head.

"henry! what's going on down there?"

"nothing dear, go back to sleep."

the penultimate hit, chapter 3: changes

"well, i just wish you had told me this before."
"the billing cycle doesn't come up for another week, i was going to notify you then."
"do you think he will give you any trouble?"
"i don't know. probably not."
"i can send somebody over. to be there when you tell him. i'm really sorry about this."
"no, don't bother. i can handle it. nurse johnson and i can handle it."
"you sure?"
"yes, i'm sure."
"if you change your mind, let me know,"
doctor fenway put the phone back in his pocket. he took it out again, began punching in another number, then shrugged and stopped.
he took a flat pill container out of his pocket, opened it and took out a small blue pill, which he quickly swallowed.
then, with a sigh, he opened the door to the front sitting room.

brock was back in his stuffed chair, breathing a little heavily, and nurse johnson was back on her sofa. both were straightening out their clothes.
"i hope nurse johnson didn't tire you too badly, sergeant."
"he'll be all right."
"yes, i'm sure. um, listen , sergeant , i just got off the phone with the representatve of your sponsor -"
"sponsor? what's this sponsor? what am i , a race car?"
"the gentleman who has been paying me for twenty-five years to maintain you in comfort."
"gentleman? how about good old uncle sam? i mean, i am a sergeant in the u s army rangers, am i not? or not?"
"do you mind if i sit down?" the doctor edged toward a stuffed chair close to the sofa nurse johnson was sitting on.
brock looked at him curiously. "it's your place, isn't it? sit wherever you want."
"thank you."
the doctor tried to lean back in his chair but quickly hunched forward again.
"you have been unconscious for over thirty years. you understand that, don't you?"
brock thought for a few seconds. "i understand the concept. and so far i am taking your word for it that is the way it is."
"why? why are you taking my word for it?"
"why not? i will find out quick enough if you are telling the truth."
"really? how?"
"i don't know - look at a newspaper, see what the date is."
nurse johnson interrupted. "there are no more newspapers. they became obsolete years ago."
"how about radio?" brock asked. "hey, i know - how about television? that was the next big thing thirty years ago - i bet everybody has a television now."
the doctor shook his head. "ancient history. come and gone. remember, this is 1977."
"yeah. yeah."
"look, he doesn't to need to know all this stuff right now. what's this about je- about the sponsor?" nurse johnson stared at the doctor.
"the sponsor is dead. according to harris." the doctor turned to brock. "harris is his representative."
"and we are just hearing about it? when did this happen?"
"a couple of weeks ago. harris was going to tell us when the next payment was due."
brock yawned. then he yawned again.
"hey, you just woke up!" nurse johnson laughed.
the doctor didn't laugh. he looked intently at brock. "you know what this means, don't you?"
"no doctor, what does it mean?"
"it means - it means - you have no visible means of support."
"you mean, except the three hots and a cot the u s army gives me. i'll be all right."
"no - you don't understand. there is no u s army any more. there is no u s any more. do you begin to understand?"
brock scratched his head. "not really."
the doctor laughed nervously. "you seem to be taking it like a philosopher, anyway."
"it hasn't had time to sink in."
"you are right, doctor," nurse johnson put in, " it hasn't had time to sink in. so why not leave him alone?"
"leave him alone? but who - who is going to take care of him?"
"me. i will take care of him."
"someone appointed you his caretaker?"
"i appointed myself."
"well - you have always been a take charge type of person, but this is above and beyond the call of duty. thank you."
"you are welcome." she stared at him. "since i am being so helpful, maybe i can have the rest of the day off - i will take our friend here home with me, explain a few things to him - gradually, the way it should be done."
"you want to leave early? what about the report on mrs miller?
"you can't do it yourself?"
"oh, i guess so." the doctor exhaled and leaned back in the stuffed chair.
nobody moved. the doctor and the nurse looked at each other and brock looked at the floor.
"i sure could use a smoke," he announced after a while.
"sorry," nurse johnson told him. "that is as unlikely as anything in this world - or any world."
brock sighed. "how about that steak?"
"maybe. i will see what i can do. it will take time. i can't make any promises."
"you can get him a steak?"
"you heard what i said. i said i could try."
"you never told me you could get me a steak."
"did you ever ask?"
"no, i guess not." the doctor leaned back and shook his head. "it never crossed my mind. i knew you were resourceful. i didn't know you were that resourceful."
"you know," said brock, "i thought the modern world and science and stuff was about progress. what kind of progress is it when there is less stuff, not more?"
the doctor forced himself up out of the chair. "an excellent question. i am afraid it is one i can't answer."
nurse johnson also stood up. "come on, big guy. let's move out. we will leave the doctor here to his busy afternoon."

the doctor stood at the window, watching brock and the nurse move around the side of the building to the nurse's parked car.

"jeez, that's a small car."
"you think so? it's bigger than most - i had it made special."
"get in." she opened the door on the left side.
"it's not locked?"
"no. get in."
brock got in, careful not to bump his head.
"pretty good neighborhood, huh, nobody steals cars."
"no money in it?"
"no money in anything. no money."
"now you've gone too far." brock settled himself in the right front seat, and gazed out the window. "i know you are kidding me now." he turned to face her. "hey! what the - where's the steering wheel?"
"don't need it." nurse johnson took a little metal object like a cigarette lighter out of her big purse and pressed it. the car started up - brock could barely hear it - and rolled out to the street by itself.
"what fun is this? could you drive it yourself if you wanted?"
"there's places you can go to drive cars around by yourself."
"well, that's something. any around here?"
"no, they are on mars and jupiter."
"but they are not that hard to get to."
"i guess not."
the car picked up speed on the straight empty street. soon they were driving through flat desert.
"what's this about no money? if there's no money, what makes the world go round?"
"love, huh?"
"i'll tell you all about it when we get to my place. relax and enjoy the view."