He was too young to be so old… and too jaded by his years in the brothel. There was nothing in human experience that could shock him, or move him.
Then he met Jaylyn.
She was rather plain, and her dress and mannerisms didn’t fit anyone who’d be caught dead in a brothel.
And he’d never had a jane who just wanted to talk…
Still, she’d paid her money, and he could use the rest.
She said, “Tell me about yourself,” and he saw her eyes clearly for the first time.
Deep blue, not like ice, more like the blue just before black.
In spite of himself, he began talking. He told her truths about himself no one else knew, he revealed sides of himself he hadn’t known existed before the words tumbled from his lips. He laid himself bare, and hated himself for his weakness, hated her for hearing his confession.
When he was done, and empty, she smiled.
“Don’t you feel better now?”
“No, fuck you, I don’t feel better.”
“Then do what you have to so you do feel better.”
And she left.
The water was slowly turning from pink to red, and he thought, as such things went, slit wrists weren’t a bad way to go.
Damn her to Hell…
Twenty-eight dead, slicker than owl shit.
It was like his mother said, “it’s all fun and games until somebody loses an eye”… or their lives.
Hell of a thing, industrial accidents. OSHA is a joke, and making sites a little more dangerous was easy… easier still.
His ad on Craigslist was subtle, and he got a lot of people looking for something other than his specialty… but enough of his kind of business to keep body and soul together… and feed his nest egg in Credit Suisse.
The client wanted the drilling sites shut down.
He watched from a hill, back to the sun, so no glint off his binoculars…
The workers hadn’t a clue… and any minute…
The explosion was bright, and oh-so-loud. The burning spray of oil like an offering to the heavens.
Third well that month.
I always liked Ed… whenever I needed to feel better about my life, I’d get together with him over drinks, and listen to him talk.
Ed’s life was never better than a bucket of suck, and no matter how bad things were for me, Ed had it worse.
But this… this was different, and I was pretty sure Ed couldn’t top this.
Divorce, not a community property state, and he took me for everything. I kept my car, and if I watched my money carefully, I could keep my bare bones apartment for another month or two.
Ed and I sat, drinking cheap Denny’s coffee, and I found I was wr0ng.
Ed had it worse.
“So, I left my keys at home, and yeah, I stayed out drinking late, but that’s why I took the bus, so I wouldn’t drive drunk.
“I got back around three, no keys, and knocked ’til I woke her up.
“Better I should have slept outside, on the ground.
“She was pissed, really pissed… told me I owed her a nice something from the jewelry store.
“Like we got that kind of money.
“So, I found out you can get real good money for a kidney…”
Thanks, Ed, you’re a lifesaver.
There wasn’t any reason to be a virgin at twenty-five. He was okay-looking, not Adonis, but far from Quasimodo. He had a nice personality… good manners… his Mama had raised him right…
Just one little problem…
He froze when he tried to talk to girls.
Not ‘had problems putting words together’ – unless you took that to extremes, as in ‘said nothing at all, just looked at the ground, and shook’… seriously, not a single word.
So, his friends had to help.
“Look, Mandy, I know you like him, you’ve been mooning over him for the last six months, you even asked him out…”
“Yeah, and that was a disaster.”
“This is just taking your efforts a little step further.”
“Carl, I’m not putting that costume on…”
“Mandy, don’t be that way. The whole reason for the costume is to override his issues about whether you’re serious about… you know…
“You wear that, he won’t doubt your intentions. It’ll work, trust me.”
“Fine, all right, I’ll wear it… he really likes ‘Sailor Moon’ that much?”
“Yeah, and don’t talk. If you don’t talk, he won’t try to, so no embarrassment.
“Just meet him in the bar for drinks, leave no doubt you want to jump his bones, haul him up here, and do him.”
“You’re awfully good to him…”
“Listen, it’s self-preservation, Mandy. If we have to listen to one more lament about him still being a virgin, we’re gonna scream.”
“Okay… let me go get dressed… if you can call it that.”
“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. I am impure in thought, word, and deed.”
“Go on, my son.”
“I have killed for money, I have murdered from rage, I have ended lives for no reason at all, just because it was Monday, another time because my coffee sucked balls.”
“You mean the Denny’s massacre?”
“Bingo, Father. Whole damn restaurant, full of corpses.”
“Didn’t you know the coffee would be bad going in?”
“Know it? I was counting on it. I woke up feeling bloody that day, just needed a trigger.”
“My son, I don’t think you’re feeling any remorse about any of this… why are you here?”
“Good question, Padre. Shit, I’m not even Catholic. I was raised Baptist. Lemme tell ya, those are some unhappy damn people. Not a laugh in the bunch.
“As to why I’m here… Padre, you remember hearing Johnny Matizone’s confession?”
“I can’t comment on who, or what, I’ve heard in the confessional.”
“Doesn’t matter, we’ve got it on video. You go in on your side, he goes in on this side, you talk for a long while… well, Father, you can guess he doesn’t come to confession often.”
“I don’t know what you’re getting at…”
The silenced pistol coughed eight times, punching holes through the thin confessional screen.
“You guys aren’t supposed to talk about confessions… but my bosses, they just aren’t that trusting.”
listening to: “Rock of Ages” – Def Leppard
mood: okay, all things considered