Archive for August, 2020

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After midnight at the Metropole, it was all hanging out. Frank was hunched over the bar, his internal discord currently tamped down to a dull harangue thanks to a steady diet of generously poured Bushmill’s from his old friend Sack, the hangdown shuffling around behind the bar like a mental patient on Thorazine. Waverly was standing to Frank’s left, Keith seemingly having a hard time standing still, and was involved in as discussion with some cute young thing. And then out of the blue a fish stink attacked Frank’s nose—nothing fresh or clean about it—followed closely by the sound of Danny Moran’s strained, just-above-a-whisper-because-I’m-really-too-drunk-to-talk voice. “You guys missed quite a show.”

“Jesus Christ,” Frank said, turning to watch Moran struggle onto the barstool. “You slither in here, man? Figured you were still out at the river biting the heads off smelt.”

Moran’s face was paper pale with irregular red blotches on the cheekbones. His eyelids were at half-mast. “I would be,” he said in a rasp. “But Pillsbury and the old lady got into a row and that ended the festivities.”

Frank perked up, lifting his head a couple inches. “They had a fight? You hear what were they fighting about?”

“I got an earful, let me tell you that. Judy and Linda got pretty nuts after hippie boy there (flicking his head toward Waverly) turned their cranks. They were drinking and carrying on with the Sultry Sisters of Smelt routine, and everybody’s having a good time, y’know, but then old Pillsbury starts yelling at her. They’re down at the water and he’s grabbing her arm and she’s pulling away and he’s stumbling after her and she’s saying she’s just gonna jump in the water and drown or some ridiculous shit like that and they go tussling down the shore. Then Judy stumbles and falls in and she’s dripping wet screaming at Pills and he’s yelling at her and the other two geeks are standing there with their thumbs up their ass staring and mumbling to each other like they’re worried it’s their fault or something. Personally, I thought it was fuckin’ hilarious, but all I could do was look concerned and try to keep from laughing, which wasn’t easy, let me tell you.”

“Are you fuckin’ serious?” Frank said.

“Serious as a heart attack, Frank. So then Judy goes storming off up the hill and Pills is still grabbing at her and she’s jerking her arm away and screaming ‘don’t touch me,’ ‘keep your hands off me’—shit like that—and Pillsbury is hissing at her like a big goddamn snake. The rest of us are standing there staring at the rocks like deaf and dumb retards, and a couple minutes later everyone but me takes off. And the bastards left the cooler and the smelt sitting there, so now I got thirty pounds of smelt and Pillsbury’s cooler in my truck.”

“Good source of protein, Dan,” Frank said, turning toward Waverly in time to hear Keith say to the cutie, “I’m not much for inhibitions.” Smiling, Frank said to Waverly, “Moran tells me the toot you gave Judy caused a psychotic reaction, man. She and Pills got into a row.”

“No shit,” Waverly said, turning and seeing Moran. “Hey, Danny, you made it, man.” Then looking back at Frank, Keith said, “Funny thing, though, Frank, I never gave Judy any toot. Offered it—but she turned it down. The other chick, Linda, put a couple mounds up her nose though.”

“I heard Pills growling something about street coke and hippies,” Moran said.

“I swear she never had a grain, at least from me,” Waverly said. “She did seem to be coming on a little strong, and I’m used to that, but it did seem a bit staged, y’know, like she had an agenda—the old make-your-man-jealous routine like the girls in high school used to try to work all the time. But I’m all fucked up, so I could be wrong.”

(To be continued)

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