by Dalton McGee
A man, disparaged with life plays Russian Roulette each morning after breakfast.
|Tuesday: This coffee ain’t bitter, but it ain’t too good neither, but the odds of me downing another
cup of this bile’s about one in six, and if anything’s gonna get better, well I’ll tell ya one thing, it’s gonna be my lifeless fucking body laying headfirst in a pool of my own blood because right now this .357 magnum feels heavy, but its clink-clink to the floor’s gonna be bout as silent as a church mouse because revolvers, if I learnt anything, well, they’re damn loud.
And you know what, I wasn’t born with no silver spoon jammed down my throat, but my family wasn’t no scoundreling thieves neither. My pop, he was a butcher for years and years and if I learnt one thing from him it was to work hard and keep your mouth shut because if you got a job you’re lucky to have it, and if you don’t that ain’t necessarily your fault either because sometimes there’s jobs and sometimes there’s not. But, he was a good man up till he got a little too drunk and thought it’d be a grand idea to hop a train south. Ain’t heard from him since and for all I know he’s living a tip-top life in some other city with some other family. Can’t blame him, though. This city’s a shit-hole rotting with the walking corpses posed as happy-go-lucky families who don’t do nothing but bicker and fight and scream at one another. And I know one things, and that’s that my family wasn’t no model for sticking together.
That’s why I never married a soul, came close though, but put that to an end right quick; didn’t want to deal with the grief and problems that came along right with it, and to this day that might a been a good idea, might a not, but if there’s one thing not strickening a person with grief then its another and that other ranges from the IRS hounding a man over pocketing a little cash on the side for helping reroof a acquaintance’s house to your health declining into some oblivion
that ain’t no one come back from. As for myself, well, neither of them quite fit my mood, but this pistol’s getting heavier and now’s good a time as any to roll the dice.
I flip the chamber open because this’s a game and not no hundred percent verdict on my life—hell, she’s not even a fifty or thirty percent verdict on my life, I’d give it bout seventeen or eighteen percent verdict, but I ain’t that hot at math—and yup, we got five empties and single round sitting here all pretty and glimmery mooning me with its metallic asshole. I spin the chamber and flip that bad boy to the left and it clicks right in there, no way for me to know what’s what or where’s where.
I take another sip of the cooling coffee, sit it down back on the table and press the barrel on that sweat soaked flesh, squint my eyes at the clock tick-tocking right around the circle and squeeze the trigger.
Nothing but a click. Well, ain’t that my luck, but I guess you could say that either way it happened.
Wednesday: Figured I’d take a shower for the first time a week or so when I got up, but my hair’s
short and you can hardly tell when I ain’t had one. Keep myself smelling decent, wash my hands and face with the hose on the broad side of the house if need be, but beside that I was never a fan of bathing, definitely not when I was a tike: mom had to tickle me to tears before I’d get in the bath and even then I’d just wash myself off with water and play with some Lego guys, conjuring up all sorts a stories involving ninjas and pirates and robots from futures long ago just like in Star Wars.
Figured too, might as well scramble up some eggs and nuke some bacon, which I swear to God I ain’t done in about a year. Breakfast? Nah, I just like my coffee and paper, but even the paper’s been scarce lately. Maybe its just that boredom of repeating my days every day and every week since I got my diploma and got myself a job. So what’s the point, my life ain’t gonna change from here, can’t change, can’t do nothing about it. Wake, work, drink, sleep, work and so on into infinity-lined jest of a life.
Eggs and bacon really hit the spot and if there is something better in the morning for a man to eat whose bout to crap it out with Death, well, I don’t wanna know a thing about it. Stick to the essentials. That’s what mom always said before my sis committed her to that Christian assisted-living center the next town over, but that’s another story for another day.
If there’s one piece of advice I can pass on to another single person living out and about on their own, it’s this: buy some yellow, rubber gloves for doing dishes, because you can get that water scalding and there ain’t no way you can feel the heat through them suckers, and once my plate and silverware’s done and back in the drawers and cabinets I take that seat on that rickety old chair, sip my coffee and once again wrap my fingers round handle of my .357, lift her to my temple and squeeze that bad boy.
And again we got a snap of the hammer hitting absolutely nothing.
Thursday: Mormoms came by later yesterday bout eleven a clock. I don’t know why they insist on
coming to my door in the morning, I mean, how they know I ain’t sleeping still, that I don’t have a night job and sleep during the day so I can bring in the bucks. I don’t, and I wasn’t, and even so
yesterday was my day off, but shit, that stuff’s Goddamn inconsiderate. Course I told ‘em to get the hell off a my property and slammed the door before they could start up on any of that “You been saved?” or “You need Jesus?” nonsense.
But I guess there’s something good that came outta them knocking at my door: I hadn’t really noticed the day, but fuck me if wasn’t beautiful, so what’d I do? Took me a stroll, which I haven’t done in God knows how many years. Five maybe? Six? Hell, I dunno, but it’d been a while, I can say that for sure.
Anyway, took myself down to the watering hole and had myself a couple beers and played a game of pool gainst a few folks who been going there since I was crying for mom to let me stay out just a few hours later because the summer’s great, and swimming’s great and I can’t wait for it to get a bit warmer so I can get on down to the marina and take a dip off the end of the dock.
Eggs again this morning. Bacon, too. Added some toast and finished her off with some coffee because if you ain’t drinking coffee then you don’t know what you’re missing because there’s nothing quite like a cup a joe to get a man ready and rearing to laugh at God’s plans, and right now there’s a few things going through my mind, but keeping up this fatal game’s the top a the list, so I snatch up that revolver without a second thought press the gun inches from my eye and squeeze that bad boy and wouldn’t you know it, I rolled a seven first throw again. I top off my coffee, leave room for some Irish cream and sit back, staring at a couple birds circling each other in the sky, squawking back and forth like a couple kids playing a game a airborne tag.
First thing’s first and that’s a Advil and extra strong coffee because this hangover’s kicking my ass, and I don’t even feel like going through the motions today so I get right to the point, spin that chamber, snap her closed, put the barrel against my skull and pull that trigger tight, and there you go, not a damn thing. Lady Luck’s laughing at me every day this shit goes down without a hitch.
And if this coffee’s not burnt I’d be a liar, but that’s fine because I ain’t been down to Connie’s... in shit, probably a decade. There’s no way its been that long, but I can’t remember the last time I been there. Probably bout that time I got in a scrap with that fella down the street over the roof I helped him nail back on after that in-land hurricane hit cause he said I intentionally left spots blank for spite’s sake, and there’s ten or so things I’d do for spite’s sake to that guy, but messing with his house ain’t one of em. So right after that scuffle I walked down to Connie’s, got myself a cup a joe and some biscuits and gravy and enjoyed the rest of the day because there’s nothing quite like Connie’s biscuits and gravy.
So I jump in the ’64 Chevy pickup I got a steal on however many years ago (13? 14?), toss my magnum in the glove box and slam her in reverse then while rolling back shift her back into first and scurry on down the road toward Connie’s which’s probably two or three miles down the road from me near the town square, but not quite on it.
Connie slides my biscuits and gravy and home fires down the counter right to me and I dig in quick as a cedar bird snatching up a vole to take home to her babies and Jesus Christ if it ain’t good. After she’s nice and done I down my coffee and mosey into the bathroom, pull the .357 outta the front of my pants, spin her on the trigger guard like Dirty Harry, spin the chamber, snap it closed and like I been doing it all my life raise the barrel to my temple, pull the trigger then just stand there, dumbfounded like a child seeing his first air show, looking into the mirror at the prematurely graying beard I got coming in now because shaving’s a chore and I just don’t feel like doing it no more.
Probably a good thing Lady Luck wasn’t smiling on me again because I’d feel awful if old Connie had to clean up that mess of brain and blood left on the dirt-stained ceramic tiles gracing the floor. So back at the counter Connie’s daughter pours me another cup a coffee and I sit there and peruse the local paper looking for anything interesting that might be going on tonight: any gigs, any shows, anything like that to keep me occupied in this blooming life I got going here until some jackass taps my shoulder and I turn around and wouldn’t you know it, Frankie Albers that fool with the roof’s standing there eyeing me like a coon hound stalking some small game in O’Hannity’s forest there south a town.
“Well, Goddamn, look who it is, Frankie Albers!”
“Just Frank, man.”
“How’s the roof, Frankie Albers? Doing good? Keeping sealed?”
“Wouldn’t know, moved outta that place years ago, you son of a bitch. Now how about you reimburse me for the damages I had a fix because you’re too dumb to fix a roof right.”
“Ya old fool. I fixed that roof nice and good all them years ago, and I can tell you one thing that’s true as anything, and that’s that ain’t no way am I giving you no money for something I did, quite Frankiely, a good job on.”
“Man, you gonna pay for that because I’ll be damned if I let a thieving scoundrel like you and your ilk gip me outta that much cash.”
“You know I did just fine, now leave me be for I take your sis back down to the dugout and lay it to her again and embarrass your ass front of the whole town again.”
Well, Frankie Albers don’t like that (and he definitely don’t like the pun) and he gives me one of them snarls that creep up when a man don’t have anything to say anymore or can’t think a some good response and he stalks off to God knows where, but not before tossing me the finger as the door’s slamming behind him. I just smiled to myself because I’ll be damned if I’m gonna let some jerkoff like Frankie Albers bully me in to giving him money I sure as shit don’t owe him.
Saturday: Woke up to a brick through my front window, but not with a note attached to let me know
who or why though I have my suspicions, and that ain’t even the whole of it because right now I got a puddle forming in my living room, and my carpet’s soaking that water up real nice because a thunderstorm crept up on us outta right field. Them meteorologists don’t have a clue what they’re doing, their job’s no more skill than my game of chance is.
And son of a bitch, I don’t like the rain, too depressing; my life was looking pretty decent: gave a good telling off to that bastard Frankie Albers, had some damn good breakfasts, saw some good music, had some good beer, and the only thing that ain’t been going the way I woulda liked it is my incorporeal dice game with God, whatever the fuck that means. You know, I quit believing in that hocus pocus when I was about thirteen. I’d be sitting there in church and the preacher would be going on talking about how God is Love and he wants you to be in heaven but if you eat meat on a Friday during Lent then you’re gonna spend the rest of eternity in some fiery old place where demons’re gonna torture you. I’d wonder, if the devil fell from Heaven and was punished for challenging that God, then why’s he get to rummage round earth and torture and maim people? Don’t seem like much of a punishment to me. What’s more on that, is I’ve read that book back and forth and can’t find no place where the Devil get thrown outta heaven. Far as I know that whole thing’s just made up by some poet hundred’s a years ago. All that nonsense just didn’t make sense to me so I left that place and never looked back, though there were times when I was damn near close, but now, right now I’m putting my faith in this here handgun because that’s the only thing that’s remotely real to me.
So, after grabbing a spare window outta my shed and replacing the shattered one I drank my coffee, spun the chamber and once again pressed that mother against the side of my face and squeezed the trigger set the pistol on the kitchen table and read the paper while eating a round a french toast and a couple fried eggs just like my sis made for me when I was in sixth grade and she was about to graduate high school and pop already left and mom, well, her mind was going faster than the wheels on a stock car, smoking up the track making everything all blurry and incoherent with the sound a screeching.
Sunday: I need to get me some dimmers because flipping a light switch on from dead black causes a kinda blur that I can’t explain, but I’m sure everyone’s experienced, which’s why pirates wore eye patches (so they say), but the reason I’m doing all this light switch flipping’s cause there’s something or someone rummaging round in my living room and I can hear em nice and good.
.357 magnum in hand, I stalk out the door into my hallway toward the kitchen cause I can round about whoever’s creeping round in my living room from the side door. You can never trust a person to not stalk in your house in these days and age cause there’s murders out there and rapists and pedophiles just waiting to sneak in your house and kill you in your sleep just because, because people are crazy. But no matter what people want you to think there ain’t no more crazies now than there were twenty, thirty, fifty years ago, it’s just the news and such report on it more; ain’t nothing on the news but murder, murder, murder, robbery, puppy riding a tricycle, murder, guns, protests, kidnapping, and that’s it. You ain’t never gonna get nothing happy or real outta them folks and you best not to think about it.
Right when I step in my kitchen, the person who’s snuck in there’s walking in too and wouldn’t you know it, it’s Frankie Albers, drunk as a baboon.
“What’re you doing here, Frankie Albers?” but Frankie Albers don’t say anything, he just lifts his gun up, aimed right at my chest. “Frankie Albers, what’re you doing there, bud.”
“Just Frank, and I ain’t your bud, thief.” Frankie Albers walks forwards, gun still positioned right at me, so I grip mine, finger on the trigger ready to fire back at him.
“Get a grip, Frankie Albers; c’mon, y’old fool. C’mon. You’re stinking drunk. C’mon, lower your gun.” Frankie Albers mutters something that I can’t pick up, but that gun’s still held on me so finally I lift mine up too, pointed right back at the old bastard.
“Got ourself a standoff, don’t we, Frankie Albers?” But Frankie Albers don’t say a thing and next thing I know there’s a spark and I’m gainst the wall bleeding like a fool. I lift my gun to put that prick in his place, take him with me to the dirt and I aim best I can with my fading, blurry-ass vision and squeeze the trigger a couple times. Click. Click.
“Fuck!” I pull the trigger again. Click. Frankie Albers trains that mother on me again and squeezes the trigger and the hammer of the gun’s going so slow that there ain’t no way its gonna give off nough of a spark to get that bullet to lodge itself all snug in my head. Ain’t no way.