David-Baptiste Chirot


       Somedays don’t you just feel so goddamn good you feel like you’re gonna explode? The universe just doesn’t seem hardly big enough to contain so much pure ecstasy. Light was flying everywhere—off the hubcaps and bumpers—off any surfaces of water—off the mirrors—so much light flying around—
       Frankie and I were just tooling along in his beat up old compact. Smokin dope, poppin pills, swiggin beers. Frankie is about five foot two and needs some pillows to prop him up to see to drive and he kept sliding off so we were thinking we better get off the paved roads and head for the dirt. We took off up an old logging road that’s not used much anymore. The big trucks make huge ruts in it when it’s muddy and when it dries, they stay there and it makes driving tricky. We kept bouncing around in the mud trenches and grazing the logs laid out along the road in piles. The car was already pretty nicked up anyway so we didn’t care. Just some more decorations and battle scars was all.
       We come to a much smaller dirt road that heads way off into the hills, up past a couple trailers and tails off into the woods. We headed up that ways and got far as the end and pulled up to a stop by some old junked ski-doos. There was some beer cans laying about with holes in ‘em looked like they was used for target practice.
       It was early spring and still patches of snow in the woods. I saw a deer not far off and heard some birds high in the trees. You could hear a stream running not too far off and way far away the sounds of the trucks on the Interstate.
       We unloaded our supplies and started heading into the woods. There’s a small trail that leads out into an open space. It dips down in the middle and after rain or when the snow’s melting there’s a small pool of water forms there.
       When we got to the edge of the clearing we stopped to have a beer and pop some more dexies. Nothin like speed and beer mixed together—like riding a big foamy wave that never stops cresting. The scene was always beautiful and worth stopping to look at but today there was something extra added to it—a battered muddy big old GMC truck stalled out and leaning sideways into some tree stumps.
       “Let’s check it out,” Frankie said “maybe somebody left some goodies in it.” He was chuckling and toasting his beer can to the sunny air.
       On the way down, we could see there was somebody sitting inside the truck cab. “Must be asleep—or smashed.” Frankie was laughing and popping open another beer.
       When we got there and looked inside the man was propped in a strange position. His back was straight against the seat, but he was slumped a bit sideways, leaning with the truck and his head lolled towards us with blank eyes. “Shit man—you don’t think—“
       I climbed inside and checked his pulse and breath. Sure enough he was deader than a doornail.
       “He’s dead alright Frankie. But not for very long. See?” I held up one of his hands and moved the fingers around. Then I let the hand drop—the arm jolted around as though he were still alive.
       “Well whadda ya say man—play some cards?”
       “Sure. These tree stumps would make good chairs and a table and heck we could deal the dead guy in.”
       “Yeah—he’d draw the ace of spades, man!”
       We were laughing so hard about that we forgot he was really dead. It was more like he was just too buzzed to play without help. We dealt around, giving him a hand. I propped his hand up on the window ledge of the cab and stuck his cards in it, curling his thumb over them. We’d draw for him and lay down for him and call out for him. He even ended up winning a few hands.
       “Hey man it don’t seem fair he don’t get a brew and some blasts on a joint. Know what I mean man?”
       We poured some beer down his hatch, holding his mouth open, and then stuck a joint in between his lips and fired him up.
       “Man what an old dope fiend dude is! Look at him sucking it in and holdin it!”
       The dead man merrily smoked as we moved the cards in and out of his hand, cheering him on as he took a game here and there.
       “Poor old bastard probably hasn’t had so much fun since he met the wife.”
       “Give him some more beer man—and hey—slip him a few pills.”
       We worked his jaws open again and stuffed some dexies back to the end of his mouth and poured a can of beer down his throat. It looked like it had gotten the pills down inside him.
       “He’ll really be flyin now man! “
       “Yeah watch out—we ain’t seen nothing yet from him.”
       Sure enough he started winning more hands. My God! We had discovered the secret of reanimation! We pried open the jaws and shoved more pills inside and washed them down with another tall boy.
       “Almost seems like he’ll come to life any moment don’t it.”
       “Why shit man he’s alive now—can’t you see how he’s livin it up?”
       We laughed about that a bit and then Frankie got anxious.
       “Damn! We ought to give him a name. You know, to go with his personality.”
       “Maybe he’s got a name inside the glove compartment. You know, driver’s license.”
       We rummaged around inside the cab of the truck and went through all his pockets but there wasn’t anything with a name. The wild man didn’t even bring his driver’s license with him. Maybe he didn’t even have one. Or maybe everything had been stolen.
       “I got an idea. Let’s call him after the guy in the Bible that was raised from the dead—you know, Lazarus.”
       “All right man! Hey Lazarus ante up.”
       We kept on playing cards and were having so much fun with Lazarus we were wondering what to do to fix it so we could keep it so he’d be up here next time we came. Why we could start coming up here regular to see him and bring him all sorts of goodies and keep him plenty happy. But how to do it? Wouldn’t someone be wondering what had happened to him? And wouldn’t the police start looking for him?
       We were in the middle of trying to figure this out when Frankie went off into the woods again to take a leak, I heard a terrible scream and he came running out of the forest hollering and grabbing his left arm. He’d been stung all over his bare arm by wasps. Seems he had been so high he hadn’t seen their nest by a big log and stumbled right into it.
       “Better get you to the doc. The General Practitioner’s nearest. Stick your arm in the pool while I pick up our mess and then we’ll get goin.”
       The screams had straightened me out enough I realized I better clean up all of our butts and beer cans and roaches. After all, we’d been hanging around with a dead man and somebody might get very curious.
       I got everything cleaned up and we headed to the doctor’s. Frankie had straightened out enough—or was in enough shock—to drive well enough to make it there without attracting attention.
       Inside the waiting room, after we saw the nurse, we saw there were a couple people ahead of us. One was a huge woman with an immensely swollen eye and battered bleeding nose. She had two dirty noisy children with her and was sneaking nips from a pint bottle. The other patient waiting was an enormous man with one arm hanging by what looked like a bandaged thread. The bandage was soaked in blood which was drying out now and turning brown except for a red area in the center. His lower arm was completely coated in dried blood and so was his hand. Despite his horrible appearing wound he seemed quite cheerful. He grinned at us and showed uneven rows of dirty teeth and his eyes squinted and glinted with a touch of inbred insanity. He had hair that was more like thick fur that stood upright on his head in a thick brush and enormous ears and lips and a nose the size of a holiday ham. His head was just plain gigantic and a bit more than slightly deformed—one side of it had a bulge to it as though his brain was pregnant with an as yet unheard of form of thought. He had a thick torso and legs the size of logs. He smelled badly—a mixture of game meat, grease, kerosene, wood smoke, sweat and filthy clothing and skin. Add a touch of rot gut tokay and a dash of the beer he was drinking out of a can half hidden in an enormous paw.
       “What is this—the backwoods bar?” Frankie said. “Damn I wish we had brought along some better painkillers than just codeines.”
       “Here—just pop a few a few more.” I handed him a bunch and he swallowed them dry.
       “What happened to you little guy?” The enormous man with the arm hanging by a bandaged thread was peering at Frankie with big solicitous eyes. He looked like a very concerned mother moose.
       “Stung by wasps. And you?”
       “Shot by my daughter-in-law an her father god damn it. I got the old man good though. Left him sittin in his truck thinkin things over. Maybe when he heals up he’ll see things different.”
       Frankie and I looked at each other. I shook my head. Better for now the guy thought the old man was still alive. Then we could testify to that.
       “Yep. Had us quite a feud goin. My daughter-in-law ain’t nothing but a low down dirty evil whore. Got my poor son in so much trouble. I went over to talk to the old man and she come in and caught me off guard. Shot me she did. The old man was pullin up outside. He’s laughin at me and she jumps in the truck and they took off. I followed em and we come to the end of the road. Up in the pasture past the two trailers where the Fortier family lives. The girl had run off but he’s too slow—I shot him in his truck. Wounded the old bastard I guess. Then I come down here. Once they fix me up I’m going after that bitch, one arm and all.”
       We were in there quite a while waiting our turn. Frankie fell asleep from the codeines, the woman passed out from her pint and the enormous man lapsed into silence and then took a nap. The doctor had to wake up each patient without being too rough and in the cases of the woman and the enormous man the police had to be called in to make their reports. When Frankie came to for his turn and saw the men in blue there in the waiting room he turned completely white. I kicked him very fast and hissed at him “everything’s cool man—they’re not here for us.” Still, he was shaking badly when he went into the doctor’s office.
       Finally Frankie came out, some prescriptions in his hand and a smile on his face. “let’s go get these man and get something to eat. “
       We were driving off in the car when he turned to me with an anxious expression.
       “Anything happening tonight man? I feel like doin something.”
       “There’s a horror double feature down at the drive in. We’ll get some more beers and smoke and do some pills and you know how great those big outdoor movies look when you’re high.”
       “Yeah man—nothin like seeing horror things outdoors.”

previous page     contents     next page



Blogger EKSwitaj said...

Striking conclusion. Characters reminiscent of Sherwood Anderson grotesques.

6:22 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home