Hey, Joe

February 12, 2012 at 10:30 PM | Posted in Fiction | 3 Comments
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This week’s challenge was to make an unlikable character the protagonist. I think I can handle that. To read more, go spend some time over here:
Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge: The Unlikable Protagonist
But also, while you’re here, go read my story from the challenge from two weeks ago, where we had to do a story in present tense. I really like that story, but no one read it. Such is life.
The Baby Boomer

The customer won’t shut up.  Fuck.  I smile and nod and kind of lead him towards the desk, and hand him a pen.  “Why don’t you get started on this, and I’ll make sure they get everything ready?”
The asshole was probably still talking after I left.  The shit I have to put up with to make an obscene profit–
Outside the break room I find Denny.  “Hey, Lenny—“
He turned to me and rolled his eyes like a bitch.  I tossed him the keys.  “Prep this Merc, pronto.  Joey made a sale.”
He grabbed a clipboard and walked off disgusted.  What the hell is his problem?  I spied Sarah in the break room.  I’m gonna hit that ass, and soon.  I walked up behind her and gave her a small dose of Joey’s charm.  “Hey, sweetheart—“
“Oh, Jesus!  Joe!  Get your hands off my ass.  And quit sneaking up behind me; that shit is irritating.”  She walked off in a huff.  Must be on her period.
After that sale, I’m done for the day.  “Joey is outta here.”  Joey doesn’t ask permission, not from the owner’s son.  I slide into my Jaguar and get ready to roll.  Rolling in a Jag takes preparation.  Driving gloves—check.  Expensive sunglasses—check.  Loud-ass tunes—check.  Perfect hair—double check.  Fuck, I look good.
I don’t look behind me; behind me is for losers.  Some dickhead honks his horn at me.  Do you not know what a Jag is, you pick-up-driving Neanderthal?

I’m a partner in a Jewelry store.  The location is shitty but we see a lot of traffic.  Mostly niggas buying gold for their bitches.  I got my fiancé a job there, because I wanted someone to watch out for my shifty Arab partner. “Hey, baby.”
Right away she starts in on me.  What the fuck?  I didn’t really pay attention to what she was saying, because I was looking at her tits.  Besides, I don’t actually have to solve any problems, I just have to pretend to listen.  She doesn’t like when I solve her problems for her, the ungrateful bitch.  You’d think that giving her a job would have been worth a blowjob.  I swear I don’t understand bitches.
After she finishes her little tirade, I expect that she’ll feel better.   It’s usually slow in the middle of the afternoon.  We could lock the door and go in the back for a quickie.
“Didn’t you hear a goddamn word I said?  This neighborhood is fucking dangerous, and I’m not working here anymore!”
Oh, shit.  I heard that part.  Maybe she had a point, but if she loved me, she’d take one for the team and stick it out.  One for all, all for me.  I might still be able to talk her into going in the back room and bending over the desk for me.  Bitches like to be complimented, so I whispered in her ear. “You’re so pretty when you’re angry.”
She pushed me away hard.  “Just get the fuck out of here.  Go.  Come back tomorrow when Rashid is here.”
“Oh, that reminds me—did that Arab leave a deposit in the safe?”
“He’s Pakistani, Joe.  No, he took it to the bank.” I stood there, trying to figure out how to out-maneuver that crafty African bastard.  “Joe!”
“Get. The.  Fuck.  Out.”
“Fine.  I’ll see you later, sweetheart.”  I gave her a kiss on the forehead.
I’m back on the street, and I’m rollin’.  Everybody else be hatin’.  Especially this cunt in a minivan in front of me.  There’s traffic all over, but she is in front, slowing me down.  I can’t get in the other lane, and she won’t switch lanes to let me move ahead.  What the hell is her problem?  We go down a couple miles and what seems like a hundred fucking intersections.  I flash my lights every so often, but she doesn’t take the hint.  I honk a few times.  I think she’s ignoring me.
Joey is not ignored.  Not by bitches in minivans.  The light changes, and I can see there is big space in front of her. She is going about 25.  I can’t take it anymore.  Maybe she needs a reminder.
Ever so gently, I tap the back of her van with my front bumper.
That got her attention.  She looks at me in the mirror.  You look good like that, honey, with your mouth hanging open.  I tap her again.
I have to slam on my brakes as she hits hers hard and pulls over to the shoulder.  Finally.  I slide right on by, through a yellow light.  Maybe a little orange around the edges.

Later that night, I’m at home watching Sportscenter and drinking some Dewars.  Joey likes top shelf.  There’s a knock on my door.  I look through the window.  Cops.  Uh-oh—did that bitch call the cops on me after I asked her nicely to move out of my way?
“Hello, officers.”
“Sir, are you Joe Cannoli?”
“Yeah, that’s me.  Joey Cannoli.”
“Are you one of the owners of Shiny Gold and Jewelry?”
A sigh of relief.  I wasn’t busted.  Wait.  Shit, did I get robbed?  I bet it was an inside job.  That slimy Arab fuck Rashid.  Man—I hope my insurance is paid up.  “Yeah, that’s me.  I own it.  Did something happen?  Was there a robbery?”  This was looking better and better.  I could cash out, get out of that business, ditch my partner and my pathetic excuse for fiancé.
“Sir, yes, there was a robbery.  Two armed men came in, shot the clerk, and took everything.”
“Wait-shot the clerk?“  Ha.  That bastard Rashid is dead.
“I’m sorry, sir.  She was dead before police arrived.”
I didn’t hear the rest.  It wasn’t Rashid.  It was Jenny.  My Jenny.  My Jenny is gone.  Oh my God.  Now what am I going to do?
I bet I can parlay this into some sympathy sex.


The Baby Boomer

February 1, 2012 at 7:31 PM | Posted in Fiction | 2 Comments
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I skipped a challenge or two–I had things going on. But I needed to get back to the writing, so this one came along at just the right time. Chuck’s Challenge this week was to write something using present tense.
Originally I thought of a story about time travel. I think it still is.
Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge: The Present Tense

I’m laying on my deathbed.  Lying?  Laying?  I’m laying on it, and lying.  My daughter holds my hand.  “I had a good life, Sweetheart.  I have no regrets.”  And I’m gone.
It was what she needed to hear, but I’ll never see her again.  Probably.  Here I go with the peaceful calm feeling and the sensation of floating and the goddamn light again.  Oooh, a heavenly choir.  Angelic voices.  Fuck em.
Because here I am again getting pushed out of the womb.  Again.  Can’t a guy catch a break?  You assholes who think you’ll sleep when you’re dead have got it all wrong.  Sleep when you’re alive.  I’ve been dead a few thousand times, and I never get so much as a catnap.
It doesn’t hurt, but it is annoying.  The light hurts, but I refuse to cry.  Not this time.  The midwife slaps my ass and I choke and cough a little, and I give her a single “Wah.”  I’m done with this shit.
I have the same mother, and the same tired, used nipples.  Ain’t life grand?
I try so hard to remember everything, but it’s no use.  It just fades away.  I bet I’ve tried to remember before, too…but I don’t remember trying to remember.
Everything seems like déjà vu to me, but only because it is.  I get caught up living life again, swept up in the exci—
A girl.  I’m twenty.  I turn.  She looks familiar.  If only I could remember what I did before.  We’re sitting in the commons at university.  I don’t know what I did before, but this time I’m studying engineering.  She says to me, “Do you ever have déjà vu?”
I mumble, “My life is déjà vu.”
She smiled, not understanding.  “What?”
I say to her, “I don’t remember.”  It’s the only time I ever tell the truth.
We date, we marry.  We have kids.  This time, it’s three boys.  My middle son, John, dies in a car accident when he’s 17.  He dies because he is my favorite.  Oh, well.  I’ll have more.  Next time.
“He seems out of sorts, doesn’t he?  Since Johnny died.”  I hear them in the next room talking about me.  I smile and pretend to read the paper.  Ha!  I’ve always been out of sorts.  That’s the problem.
As bored as I am with it all, Life always throws some curves at me.  This time, my wife cheats on me.  Chuck is supposed to be my friend, but I guess this is what people do.  I’m sure I’ve done something to him.  I hope he’s had a hot wife before, and that I fucked her.
I forgive Charlotte, but not because I’m forgiving.  Slowly, over the years, I make her pay.  She’s such a martyr, she just takes it.  What a pathetic excuse for—
Just as I’m really invested in my hatred of her, she comes home crying.  She just came from the doctor.  She has cancer.  She’s dying.  I hold her and comfort her because she gives me no choice.  “It’s going to be okay,” I tell her.  I’m surprised that I tell her the truth, two times in one lifetime.  It will be okay.  She will die, and she will suffer no more.
And I have to go on.
Charlotte hangs in there like a trooper.  Or to spite me, I can’t decide which.
Looking at her tombstone, with the space for my name ominously blank, I do what passes for reflection.  I get the feeling, the sensation—
You know how when you have a dream, and you aren’t told things, but you just seem to know them?  Like the rules for this dream and how things are done?  I have that.  I have that most of the time.
And I feel like I used to think I knew why this kept happening to me.  Like the Hindu reincarnation, or I’m supposed to learn something and change and be a better person, and then I can move on.
I know it’s not like that, however.
It’s 2007, again.  I’m 60 years old, and I’m alone.  My two remaining sons have families conveniently on the coast, several hundred miles away.  If I did it right, I pushed them away.  In my condo I flip on the TV, and happen to see a movie coming up.  Bill Murray—“Ground Hog’s Day.”
I’ve only seen it once before but it seems like I’ve seen it a hundred times.
When it gets to the part where he realizes he can become a better person for love, I pull the trigger.
The bright light hurts, but it’s a relief to be out.  Still, I start crying before I get slapped by the midwife.  That’s okay, because she cleans me off and hands me to my mommy.  I love my mommy.
This is going to be a good one, I can feel it.  I feel love, and I feel loved.  When my eyes can see better I take in my surroundings.  Middle-class post war, oddly familiar décor.  I can read and I can think, I just can’t talk.  Such is the life of a baby.  From Mommy’s shoulder I see the calendar from the First National Bank.  October, 1947.  I’ve been here before, I bet.
The deep, strong voice of Papa fills the room.  I’ve only known him for a day, but already I love him.  He comes up to us and kisses Momma and gently touches me.
He says to Momma, “What are we going to name her?”

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