Jim Meirose

Spare change city

               Spare Change City; “Horse” wove his rig slower off to the shoulder, barely missing this day’s first hitchhacker, and rattled to a slight slide of a stop, and raised his right hand, which, seen through the tint of his summery doorglass, signaled the shape to enter the cab. The metallic belt buckle thrusthome, and the clatch of the door told him to leftspin his wheel, and check if the road in the leftside mirror were clear for pulling back out, so the hitchhacker spoke first, saying, What? Uh—yes, I—I do want a ride. Yes. And thanks.
               “Horse” turned his face slightly rightwise toward—the—yes. I was okay to think, that the hitchhacker’d said an odd thing—long back away, he’d emerged from the juvinalitarian self-delusionary lifestage, where most of his type believe that that they must be in the wrong when any form of difficulty with others was encountered. He was of the kind raised that way, being told consistently and firmly, no, not that way, but this way, no, that’s wrong, and this is right, and over and over and—ug, can calculate the various variations of that particular father-specific usually in most families that that type that there country and this here time—it being wartime. Breeding fear, sowing the seeds of, got to hate that, there—sometimes though the enemy is no longer just flowing out their this-here tele-visionary-tube planted ‘cross all such huts, but, out the ones slathered with the typical false crusts of lovingly-ness that—become brittle, hard, and, once split open, make a hard to heal wound, first scabbed over, then rubbed clean, by post-op hip beltline’s slow, deep, rub, or sharp itchyscratching, then scabbed over again, and rubbed or picked clean by another beltline eh slow down-deep rub of a session, or even more sharp itchyscratching, so, got to hate it, and; since these never heal. They ooze slowly, saturating the entire household of the afflicted, pets, houseplants, dead or dying, and all. No matter! And, “Horse” being on himself all part, all parcel, well, just gist out what that means—which has the peculiar condition of meaning exactly that, but that being what it cannot possibly mean, so—eat when inappropriate, only. Within your secret God-given carapace, stay true to what you’ve been taught that you are; fart loudly, spit out, and spit over, no; that cannot be what I mean, and especially since it has been thrust up in me, so—no I thrust back with you don’t look so bad—here’s another.
               My word missy missy, was that man pissing hard into that wall just slid past by us?
               Hip, hip, I don’t look so bad, here’s more bad over hip, hip, think this is bad, eh-eh?
               Donald come here—that dog walkman’s squatting pants down into our fresh mulch-job.
               I’ll show you what bad is, hip, hip, so; being one of these overing underling persons, “Horse” gulped down the particular brand of instantaneous pain and judgementalist reaction, at the odd thing flung in his face by this hitchhacker, spat a big splitter tight into the wordstream torpedoing to him—that being, What, uh, yes, I—I do want a ride, yes. And, thanks a dart of parsing cut clean in, out, and through this quick string, being, Hey, why did you say that? That’s funny. In the truck already you were, telling me what I must already know, if I am somehow off my zone, all outside-like, somewise—and this penetrated what would have been the armored belt of the words said by the hitchhacker, if the hitchhacker had been actually the spirit of some old scow of a great war’s overbuilt dreadnought, and drove deep, deep, an’ deeped into th’ through of the heart of the matter, curled around, squeezed, mashed, and dumbed up the whole thang flown in, down to this;
               So, okay; I—me? Calm? Yes, calm.
               A. That’s ride. Funny. Yes. In. And the thanks-truck already you were, and told me what I must already know, if I am somehow off my zone all inside-like somewise—I bet you say that to all the drivers, but—thank God, praise the master foundress themselves; no. No. Simply put, no. So, he scrolled back all kindly, rewinding to saying nothing. His head turned back to watching the road, and he gripped the shiftknob, which, for no reason, seemed so oddly hot he nearly recoiled down his thankfully heavy-duty all optional great big Truckadian Motor Coach Corporation hot-dogger transmission. The two together, now calmly rode the smooth-running PeteringBabyBilt FatCab, down the slow lane through the no traffic, streaming easily by. Relaxing deeper into the calm cool pool of what looked to be becoming an easy rather fun sunny-drive of a day, “Horse” glanced to the rider. So good to have company. Anticipating the Flicky-lite fluttery-diaphanolion sheets of nothing-banter you get once that’s sure once you’re sure that’s it flowing by you sure, so he said it, and.
               The hitchhacker’s cheek flicked as though “Horse” went back going ‘nd hearing, to answer what he had, but no, said no, which it turns the road out did not fit ahead, did not ring, held him fast, and actually had probably rather if he’d said glanced, actually, this sidewise—but, not driver is off all the way, and maybe somewhere else, but—“Horse” slowly inexorably remembered having said exactly, You sure, one time back when, and it had been said in reply to the question possibly being from somebody past-back which was, Eh, you know, we’re just about there, I can or was gonna’ to get not out a’ here, question, which. Not at all a question, but the answer, to which “Horse” had said firmly, You sure? To which some hitchhacker had answered, Yes; Yup. I got to walk out that hill—and, being politely and properly raised beyond weaning by a supplicant Mother, he moved to face his rider’s face, to ask gently, Eh, I did not get that. This rig is quite loud—please say that again?
               But. But.
               It’s muddy. Are the bullheads biting today?
               The hitchhacker sat still straight facing front, taking in the onrushing worldview playing through the clear bright wide windscreen, and “Horse” gagged back the words, all slicked down to shoot, and raised the barrels of his Browning over and under, as he had, ways back, in that hot n’ humid swamp duckhunt, when he heard his older brother’s swift bootcrunch coming down the path, and thank God, he had not fired at the quick duckflight he’d thought the first snap twigging sounds had seemed, for if he had fired, no doubt at all, his life would have taken a turn for the worst, for lack of his brother, but—thank God that story never existed to be told—“Horse” looked away from the seemingly content and oblivious hitchhacker, praising the Savior he’d not been forced by stupidity to prove one sho’ ‘nuff was to make an ass of himselves.
               So. The best attack now for the day rushing up, over, and beyond his control, was to logically wall off the rightside of the cab, and wedge tighter into his already form-fitting skin, and realize the discomfort he’d imagined a driver, any driver, would feel, named Earl, or Scheib, or even nineteen ninety-five when he saw a truck down the docks with his Dad, who, because by hobby he was an industrial machine of any kind leisure time spotter, which was a typical bigrig but which cab was folded down over into the right half of itself, making a single-seater of a weird kind of bigrig, which baby “Horse” thought would be terrible for the driver driving cross-country, or further, ‘cause it felt like it’d be some type of torturous solitary-confinement rolling punishment chamber, though. Since, he was just a boy. And since, he had no flowery words. Even though his mummy was drilling him on reading and vocabulary nightly against the will of his here father, who d’rather he come to the greasy docks, or pungent choky airfield filled with non-secured connies and boxcars down the pike just a mile or two further, all baby “Horse” could say was, Why is there just one seat in that truck, but, he never said it, because its terrified fish-face got lop-sliced away, but. So. In the spirit sometimes of the cruelty advancement is of necessary, heck, science is necessary is cruelly terrifying, also, so; an okay came down, knifing it off so, but from where what?
               Speak plain now, please be.
               Oz, from the hitchhacker and. “Horse” gripped the wheel, straightening, looking right, but but—the hitchhacker still sat still continuing straight facing front, not looking like taking in the onrushing ‘hich he’d never looked off from worldview, playing through the clear bright wide rin-tinty dog-facing windscreen, and saying, Got said someplace plain, as requested.
               So, okay; I—me? Calm? Yes, calm.
               What? My wash—up no, can’t be. I didn’t say it no way he heard it, not, no, yup. No, I got to he’s sitting walk-facing front saying straight out, that not looking like nothing hill taking in the remembering is not, no, not it’s over onrushing hearing, or worldview playing, seeing into and through him that way, the people and this is all just fear driving, too; I’m long meeting that is, I been driving must be, yup; terrified fish-faces down the line slicing down lopping over falling into that pile, right there. Here come the cats, running. Big toms are faster, fight their way in first. Around the hung shop trouble-lamp taped round over from the treelimb out overreaching the scaling skinning session, the glittering glittery scrape of showering scales, the toms and their followers fight their way screaming under the sawhorsed up rotdoor, as the fatlimb reached up out the light to who knew how long screaming, I, it, really taperslanted to, in the dark up out that window yes the hitchhacker must stare the way ahead, I don’t want to die out the sides, so my truck can barrel through easy, fast, and smooth.
               Yeah, I know.
               Uh, who way what’s s-said? Oof. Out from under the waypast scalyrain, “Horse” scraped down the bloody raw inner-backside of his face for a sensible reply, but, do kept not his say tongue, the bit’s a wrong thing, so, keep it a bit, but shit shit shit, Bloom. Uh. It’s June seventh. On the dash, there—say, do I know you? already got said, but—no. No, no, ‘cause having said what he said, or maybehaps not, because there sat his hitchhacker steadyahead, still possibly, no probably divided by the big definitely, never even moved, no, non, no. Tip.
               “Horse” was then told by his innerself no, no. There’ll be no talk this ride. Don’t beatdome or elsewise bash up your inner man trying to force it, ‘cause did you really say that to me, Julian? Out front the drive window, backhauling in through th’ inside of itself, the calm the first day was created to have—the left hand’s there, and the right hand’s here, and it’s ‘tween radio stations my God, my God. This dead spot’s miles over—rolling out over wheels pushing, but no, pulling them into the actual future God molded to the perfect shape NASA astronauts suit-seat, like for what they are to flow into what they will be when they get where they go, but—I cannot believe you forced your pistons into their bores with—but for some near-far so-reason, the plugin never hits home. A hammer, and then tried to kickstand-start the big goof—the forward’s not the okay since just far enough’s what matters—a hammer. What kind? Rubber it had to be, because—there’s the road to normal all coming at us, eh—to use a steel headed hammer would have meant you—how refreshing and bright to be—are even more stupid, and by that, I mean—rolling out up toward the noonward milestone of this great air-conditioner of an open-windowed dayrace—you can be acting stupid, but within that stupid, one or two tiny things you may do sensibly, like—and the wheel feels good, really—even though hammering in the pistons is wrong, the precaution of using—and we are rolling along, and I am alone—a rubber mallet and to strike—I am alone in this cab—many times gently, not—and have made it so that—one time hard with a—there can be no expectation of—claw job, or five pound stubby-sledge—friendly light banter to pass the time, or—to smash open the heads of your pistons—to keep them there white lines coming and coming—you are not the worst type of stupid—and becoming paralyzing boredom to press the day flat—maybe my Father is at least five percent right, when—and cause me to need to—he says I should be like you—stop get out walk around take a piss—instead of like myself, which is—but somehow. Yes somehow. One stop what the hell doesn’t equal—a loser.
               A lost cause—oh, eh.
               Uh, no, but—yah that sounds right. It’s June for sure, but I don’t think you know me.
               My God—my God—my Father had no use for me, but—awk, no ut, ut—why’s this trouble of a hitchhacker blessed down upon me now? Why, Lord? Did I say maybe? What cause had he to say, to say—to sneak a snap-glance over, and still—his face’s all front, and, there is just one thing it could all be—an all fantastic thing, which is—
               Oh yeah? I—maybe, he said. But maybe not, too. I look like somebody else, maybe.
               The—the answer to that’s sizz sumpim’ like, you look familiar, and it came. Make a game. Game better than radio. Game that can last long as he’s there, and as long as he’s homed to the slice of today, now this tomorrow that’s feeding him. Yes, feeding him—
               —these answers, but. That show’s not on TV anymore. At least not where I watch it. Which is nowhere. We didn’t get the sleeperback-ut wait shift, eh, the space don’t suck me back to someplace where I’m out of range of the game, oh—the answer’s what is the opposite of yes, wait. From from that there Otto? Who—oh yah, Otto. Okay—so—hey, hey. Yah, we sussed out sleeperbacks but, but—anything good used goes for a few too many grands, so television is not included, ‘cept when we’re out Lent. Where Otto is but it’s funny. So learn. Never but in Lent had “Horse” thought of Otto before. To play. What is the opposite of yes, eh ho hey. Up?
               Piano for people.
               ‘member all Otto all silly-saying hawk, hawk, but. Back to in the-the driving here, yes, and now, but, and, so. That was happy because that wordy distraction cleared the haze. This hitchhacker’s harmless, and long as he’s harmless as nothing sitting there would be. Anything whack. How ‘bout we test him? In the square, “Horse” got told of fourth or tenth hand-out as someplace in the old country how powdered-up Halloweened men—at least that’s the, the they seemed like, all drape-gowned in the sun caking down off their faces, in paste pastry white are—and there’s tourists from America, seemslike—well, anyway—Cassie Bash told me she and hers were in the town square, out Bath England, we think, milling the small square outside the roman show—
               Eh you know we’re just about there. I can get out here.
               —wait—where four or five artificial romans stood stock still, enticing bored tourists to snap their pictures with them all together, but. The only sensible kind to take were stock-still single pictures, like the kind that end up backdrawered in too hot upper unused mothballed bedrooms, showing such as brothers in law or similars tight pressed up to their leftsides, and stepsisters or similars tight pressed down to their rightsides, the robed rump centered exactly between. And the vast majority of these kinds of pictures taken of b-list relative hangers-on, end up face down for the length of each family’s allotted forever, after which their discovery will be termed gee-whiz, Mom—he, Mom, and her Mom get in here, come here. See, movies don’t get of taken no mo’, still of life ‘n this breed movies, would be wasteful since nothing’s moving, but at least—Marge can say how very funny this was—Jackson the Jelly—yah that one yes that one the one the bullies called Jackson Big Jelly—until he raged the biggest fake Roman down on her face with a good right hook, but that’s one more long story told already so gee did you miss out mistah’ man—
               He had not answered the question before what?
               —wait—one swears to God now, swears to God then, swears to God never, maybe even oh, but it’s assumed everyone’s of age has. Hah funny-suck, he never thought he had no guts at all stuck down inside all tight hot but, hoot—in Bath, he was just about old enough to toddle here there fairly unsteadily, but the five percent well-directed and focused childlike mischief-steam he had at his disposal, proved enough for a fine job of pestering anything or that thing’s body too. The white robed artificial roman stuck out all unusual; was homeless and hungry and ripe for Big Jelly. The wide silver dish at its feet lay littered loosely with multicolored coins of various sizes and more this time, too, because it was near Friday and the American tourists, in the last day of their vacations, saw the silver pans at the feet of these unfortunates as—
               The hitchhacker musty think of him no, oh.
               —wait—providing cheap opportunity to discard toward good causes the various shapes sizes and colors of days away from worthlessness alien changecoin, annoyingly lumping their hip pockets so uncomfortably, in some way other than the standard old last-minute action of strewing it ‘cross their hotel room dressers. This way is better. It scratches a boil. Rubs it down raw. Makes it seem something the Savior might of suggested—that being the first of countless other irrelevant rambly-muses pointing in, pointing out, the plus side of such giving—the bottom most being, that this way had the benefit of being done so quick and so neat, that not even a course of mildly tart oral OTC antibiotics need be given for any or all proving wise enough to not fall for this or that trick, or gas pack, or ginny rump of any never before thought of way to—
               Yes; Yup. I got to walk out that hill. It’s over that way—the people I’m meeting, that is.
               —wait—ok, thank you please, stock Kevin hitchhacker. What was trying to knot itself into meaning back in my face was—it was stock pennies in heaven just cut it loose for some faceless day-bedmaids. Tip. So, having disposed of these slim slices of their lastdays, wide young Jackson ah Jelly ran to the pale romans bowl, gripped up a handful of its hard earned coin, and ran off away down the upsloping backpath, cut out from the square toward an accompanying ancient, big, spooky world-famous photogenic spook-cemetery, and—Marge nearly puked, saying how the white fudge-faced flowy gowned artificial roman made off o’ his inverted old hub-platter of a fake silvery sprayed half crushed fat pedestal, and here’s how exact-what she said—
               Yah, sure.
               —wait—shut your face back, we are rollin’ an’ choking back wave over wave of deep-giggly-puke, she went, I couldn’t take it, no, there they went. Little Jackson said later he leapt into a tomb flush with black mold, plus some deeply puddled green of a stink, but—for nearly fifteen or forty minutes—we can’t know now, it’s been a while maybe, but—that ghostly roman flow-fled one way through the lopsided headstones, then the other way back then up down and around faster so fast as to blur over aglow, in what became the most beautifully moody deep deepening fast twilight, you know, that was so, so terrifyingly off, that how little Jackson Big Jelly escaped it all intact, we can’t possibly know—
               I—uh okay.
               —wait—when asked about the money, Jackson didn’t know, and now that he’s a nearly grown shade of the boy he once was, we laugh. Yas, we laugh. And now, he is a man. How’s about that? A man you’d never guess. Just look at my fine big boy. Hey, eh, just look. So that was a funny thing, a funny story, and I had, or at least I sense I did have, an answer for that again which I, the hitchhacker, don’t think I get the no like no this that’s it part—yah, there it is.
               “Horse” turned to politely say the answer, because it smacked him back charged up positive like he was but, turning to the passenger side there was only some four words hung fading fast in the air.
               Thank God all praises.
               —ah, eh—dear God, dear Lord—
               Shake head!
               “Horse” saw it come clear out from under the words, after they faded away the fact. The fact. The truth that here now he was pulling back into lane from the shoulder and okay, fine. There’s the mirrorlook ‘t the back mirror.
               Yes, there’s one fresh ejected by the roadside, falling back.
               How rude, how rude.
               Yes, there’s one smaller now at the roadside falling away.
               Snap the speedo, she’s fifty and rising and.
               There’s nothing but roadside flowing away, so.
               Look front.
               Look front.
               Otto? Who—oh yah, Otto. Okay—so.
               Forward the road’s coming’s the importa-pack, for today.
               Funny Otto.
               Settle down, now. Drive.
               End Spare Change City.

Jim Meirose's short work has appeared in numerous venues, and his published novels include No and Maybe - Maybe and No (Pski's Porch). Le Overgivers au Club de la Résurrection (Mannequin Haus), Understanding Franklin Thompson (JEF pubs), and Sunday Dinner with Father Dwyer (Optional books). Info at www.jimmeirose.com @jwmeirose
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