As Harry came to, a bolt of white-hot pain shot up from his wrist. He looked to see that wrist – and correspondingly, he – was handcuffed to a radiator. The room was a sickly cataract yellow, and there, seated a few feet away, an obese and ruddy-faced cop seemed to take great interest in Harry’s re-entry into the conscious world. “You were a real tough guy last night, you know that?” The question itself seemed to excite dormant pain in Harry’s jaw. The more his head cleared, the more other stuff seemed to throb and ignite. “On the contrary, Officer, I feel quite tender this morning,” replied Harry as he swiveled his head to see what might shake loose. The corpulent fascist brought his nightstick down hard against the radiator, a millimeter or so from Harry’s hand. “You think we don’t know about you, fucker? How you’ve written tracts criticizing President Amabo? Read books by Von Mises and Hayek? You could go away on that alone!” Harry was about eye-level with the officer’s navel, which was protruding through a button that couldn’t take much more. “Make your offer. I”ll do what I gotta do.”
The officer went back to his desk, opened up the top drawer and removed a document. He brought it to Harry. “You read. I’ll be back.” He left the room.
Harry’s mind had recalibrated to where he could allow it to cascade over the previous night’s abominations. He’d stopped off at Waler’s for a quick beer. Around fifteen minutes pass before Hoss Bruner stops in. Hoss is drunker than hell. Hoss is six-foot four. Hoss is way over 300 lbs.
Hoss is the fat cop’s brother. The fat cop is Sgt. Horst Bruner.
Hoss punches Harry one in the teeth, sending him rocketing off of his stool. Not being one to leave a job half-done, Hoss proceeds to kick Harry numerous times in the neck, chest, gut, ribs and genitals.
For Harry, there is little pain. He is bathed in stars and purple light and something approaching revelation.He feels no need to resist.
As Harry’s head wiring orbits Jupiter, Hoss pulls out his cell phone and does the last thing any law-abiding citizen in the neighborhood would do.
He calls the cops.
“You better come quick!” Hoss barks into the device. “Harry’s fuckin’ everybody up!”
Things get murky from there.
Harry clicked the pen, got ready to sign. He didn’t even read the charges. It didn’t matter. With any luck, some ham-fisted mutant would kick his brains back into that special inter-galactic nirvana anyway. It seemed like an ok deal.
But then the door slammed open. Old fat Horst burst into the room, a giant sphere of adipose tissue and frustration. “You’re free to go. Looks like you have a benefactor. Provided you use this.”
He handed Harry the bus ticket.
Why do baristas insist on asking “What can I get started for you?”
This has got to be one of the most annoying sentences ever conjured by Man. I mean, let’s consider the implications contained within.
The phrase “get started” manifestly indicates that there is a lengthy process ahead. Do they not realize that morning coffee through the ages and without exception is a ritual of urgency?
THERE SHOULD BE NO FUCKING PROCESS!
Bad enough if you have to ply the stuff with milk and sugar yourself, which by the way, in a perfect world would be the most elaborate step in the whole goddamn transaction.
What you can “get started” for me is of minor import. What in the name of Christ on His throne can you get FINISHED for me? That is the central question.
As a great man once said, “I do not pay for a service. I pay for a result.”
I do not believe in process.
I do not believe in revision.
I’m Sonny Liston.
I’m Pete Rose.
I’m Walter White.
and the room
stinks like a fight,
the wall crucifix
draped in blood, sweat, lunacy.
Booze howling into vinegar.
Booze howling into you.
Fists howling into
some entombed nerve
that can’t make out the hangman’s count,
that’s lost the eyes it needs to succumb.
And the coffee table
the t.v. rattling into
that special place
that t.v.’s go.
only to gasp and scream
“THIS IS EVERYTHING WE STAND AGAINST!”
cars stop short,
Feral men honk horns
with their foreheads
the sky fattens on its own tears,
which will burn what they touch.
And who’s to say?
Maybe you will too.
off the pages.
They’re back and they’re loud.
farts are often loud too
never go away to begin with.