"Tales From The Wasteland"
A collection of short-stories
East Chattanooga, Tn. 1983
Austin had barely made it out of the trailer with a kitchen knife embedded into his shoulder with the promise from his meth driven younger girlfriend Tabitha, “I’m gonna fuck you up!” Seems that Tabitha, also called “T” had found the telephone number of his ex-wife in his jean jacket. This really pissed her off. Austin had left his wife Rita two years ago along with the 3 kids to hook up with her and she wasn’t gonna let him get away, even if she had to kill him. She loved her man.
Austin got in his truck and with fractured hope he prayed that the piece of shit would crank and it surprised him by hitting on the 1st try. He could see “T” coming out of the trailer dressed only in a soiled pair of panties. He gunned it, laughing and covered her with rocks and gravel and hauled ass. Austin went to the only bar in town, “The Get-Away”. He was hoping somebody could help him with the blade that was still stuck in his fucking shoulder.
He pulls up out front and gets out. He walks into the cosmic darkness with the sounds of 70’s country music blaring and that sickening stale beer smell that old fucked up bars have. He saw Kitty behind the bar and walked up. She looked at him with her mouth wide-open.
“What in the fuck, man”? Kitty says. “That fucking bitch stabbed me, she fucking stabbed me!” says Austin. Tommy the cook comes out from the back and helps Austin over to a chair. Kitty brings him a couple of shots of bourbon. “Well, what are you gonna do man” Tommy says? “Well for fucking Christ-sake, I guess get this fucking blade out of me first!” They all kinda laughed.
About 30 minutes later Jimmy Douglas the local sheriff shows up at the bar. The blade is out of Austin’s shoulder but still bleeding pretty bad and Sheriff Jimmy looks at him with a sorrowful look. “Well, I guess you mother-fuckers are gonna finally arrest that crazy bitch, right?” says Austin. The Sheriff is waiting for a good moment. “Well, we got a problem Austin”. They all three look at the sheriff. Jimmy starts off slow. “The problem is, Tabitha is dead!”
The rocks that he had spun-out with the truck hit T in the forehead; and killed her instantly. Austin was arrested and charged with 2nd degree manslaughter. He’s doing 10 years to 25 years at the state prison. His ex-wife Rita visits him as often as she can and always brings the kids. Austin works in the prison library.
Old Down and Out’er
Arnie had been in a lot of jails since he’d left home when he was 14. Wasn’t much of a home though. Mother dead, alcoholic father and 3 other kids. It just seemed like the right thing to do and he was tired of the old man anyway and the other kids could just fend for themselves. He’d been to both coasts and even up into Canada a couple of times, mostly hitch hiking his way. He never thought of settling down he just kept wandering. Almost got married one time to this Drive-Inn waitress in Tucson but at the last moment he ducked out of town. He just laughed as he sprinted his way towards the interstate to thumb a ride.
So here is Arnie back in jail again. This time it’s a really a low-end place. The jail was in the basement of this old building that looked like it was getting ready to fall. No light except for a 25 watt bulb that hung from the ceiling and the place stunk of urine, sweat and breath odor. There were three other guys in the cell. He was good at meeting people. A couple of cigarettes later and Arnie is already fitting in. One of the guys was from Kentucky and the other one was from the town. There was another one but he was passed out over in a lower bunk.
A lot of stories were passed around in the next few hours. Most of them full of shit but Arnie didn’t mind listening to someone else’s dreams. He didn’t talk much and let the others blab. The guy that was passed out in the bunk was still face down.
“Hey, what’s up with that old guy over there?” says Arnie. Carl puts his cigarette out. “Ah, that’s Jessie; he’s just an Old Down and Out’er, who’s always in here!” They went back to their bullshit stories. Finally a sound out of the corpse. He turned over on his back. The old man let out a yell. “Mother of fucking g_d what am I doing here?” The others were surprised enough that they didn’t say anything. He coughed a couple of times and then rolled back over on his stomach.
The kid from the town chimed in. “Yeah, he was a pretty big deal at one time, they say.” Yeah, what?” the guy from Kentucky asks. “Well, hell I don’t really know but my daddy said he was a songwriter for all the big country and western stars”. All three of them looked back over at the man. It went silent for about 30 seconds, almost like the other three could see themselves in the same fix when they got that old if they even made it that far. “He was gonna be the next Hank Williams they said.” Now the old man was just a clump of flesh and bones. “I use to write songs sometimes” said Arnie. “What kinda songs”, the Kid from Kentucky says? “Well, I guess rock songs.” No one says anything for a minute or so.
“You heard of that songwriter guy Kris Kristofferson ain’t cha” the kid from the town said? “Yeah, well sure, I guess” Arnie grunts out. “Yeah, old Jessie helped that guy a lot and taught him how to write songs.” Even gave him money to get to Nashville on and a couple of songs to take with him to show the record people down there. I think those two songs made a lot of money for Kristofferson.” “Well, in the morning I’m gonna talk with Jessie and see if he can help me, I been wanting to go to Nashville, “says Arnie.
The next morning there was no movement from the old man. The sheriff came in to see what was up and found Jessie was dead. Arnie got out that afternoon and decided to head up to Alaska. He bought a $10 dollar guitar at a pawn shop and headed to the Greyhound bus station. He was out of cigs.
At the next town this wild looking girl gets on the bus. Of course she spies Arnie immediately. I guess you could say they were soul-mates from the start. Over the next 15 hours she told Arnie her whole story, I mean everything. Arnie just listened to the blonde. About an hour into the trip he found out her name was Dinah. Like Dinah Shore one of his mom’s favorites singers.
By the time they crossed over into Canada, Arnie was in love. He told her and she told him back that she loved him too. The first town they came to was Medicine Hat. They got off the bus and went to a small tavern called “The Moose Call”. There they slipped into a booth and ordered a couple of beers. Dinah told him right up front that she did not like French-kissing because she thought it was dirty. This amused Arnie but he took it at its face value. He asked her what she liked to do and she said play with dolls. Out of her travel bag she pulls out this old beat up baby doll. It had no clothes on but words written on it with a marker. Things like " tramp, whore and slut ". She sat it up in the booth with them. Arnie asked her what she liked to do with the dolls and she causally said “make’em do thangs”!
This did not alarm Arnie but it did get his attention. They settled in with a few more beers and then switched to tequila shots. Arnie threw in a couple of white crosses he had and that helped them in figuring out they would get married as soon as they could. That night they went to a dive motel and checked in. Once in the room Dinah took all her clothes off and positioned the doll at the end of the bed and climbed in and pulled the covers up to her neck. Right then Arnie realized that Dinah was his dream girl. He never made it to Nashville but he kept the guitar.
Billy Don Ray
“Yeah, fuck yeah”, said the fat faced Navajo laughing. He turns and takes the boiled coffee off from the campfire. His partner in crime is Billy Don Ray. A West Texas renegade who plays both sides of the aisle, and as he says, “All in the name of Jesus, Pilgrim”!
(6 weeks earlier)
“When you drive thru Kansas, I swear to fuck you can tie your steering wheel to the door handle and get in the back seat and take a fuckin’ nap or be balling some chick-out and never have to turn the fuckin’ wheel”, exclaims Billy Don, loud enough for everyone at the black-jack table to hear. He don’t care, actually he just don’t give a shit what anybody thinks about nothing. He done been thru a living hell to only be 24 years old. Spending 8 of those 24 years locked up in juvenile and or at Leavenworth. Both of ‘em suck shit, for real, you betcha.
Billy Don slides a $100 dollar chip across the green felt jungle and into the limelight of the Blackjack table and smiles at the cute little blonde Nazi dealer. He thinks he fucked her one time or maybe not. If he did he’d like to do it again because Billy Don Ray needs to get some love put on his ass. He’s been pussy-less for over 3 years and he was damn sure not gonna fuck any men or let any of them cock-suckers fuck him when he was laid up in stir. He just needs to get his mind right and he thinks that hole of hers might do the trick for him. The game continues and Billy Don is getting drunker and drunker. He goes into the bathroom and takes a 3 gram amber bottle and sticks it in nose and pours the stinging bitter medicine into the abyss. He stumbles out of the bathroom stall and back to the table. He sits down in full conversation with himself.
“I think it just works on people out there. It’s just too damn straight, that’s all it is to it”! Nobodies paying attention what he’s saying. He’s just talking to the wind. The dealer “busts” and Billy Don and 2 others at the table win. Billy Don smiles at the dealer. She smiles back. He leans up into the table and stands up about 2 feet from her face.
“Well, hey babe, I gotta split”! There’s a bit of a smile on the little blonde Nazi’s lips. “I’ll be over at the Paradise Room, after, say about 2AM”! Why don’t you come on over and check it out when you get off”. She smiles at him with those ice blue Bavarian eyes, looks back at the cards she’s picking up and shyly says, “When I get off”? She dips her eyes back to the table with that Nazi smile of hers. Now Billy Don can’t do nothing but smile back. He actually Burt Reynold’d’ her with a wink. “See you later babe”!! He throws a $100 dollar chip on to the table and never looks back. The Nazi realizes the table has been watching this whole little melodrama unfold. Looking back towards the pit boss Carmen, she goofily realizes that he was watching her do this whole thing.
Now when she got to Vegas she was totally so fucking broke. She was also on the run in her mind because of a 2 ounce heroin deal that went bad back in Pittsburgh. She went from casino to casino bumming drinks and thinking she was gonna need to turn a couple of tricks to get a little bit of money. She’d been picking up drinks left by other patrons too and after a solid hour of that she is pretty fucking drunk. Maybe too drunk. She catches her heel on the corner of one of the bar stools and goes flying flat on her face. Her nose bursts open bleeding and it looks like she’s been shot in the head its coming out so fast. She looks up at the crowd and says drunkenly, “That feels like I am cuming out of my nose”! That gets a large laugh from the mainly old geezer players. That’s when she met Carmen, the pit boss. He picked her up and took her back to the lounge area and had the EMT’s come and take a look at her. Well one thing led to the next and in about an hour she is up in a room swallowing Carmen greasy love stick. She stayed in the room that night. Carmen musta took off for home around dawn. She slept in. There was a knock at the door. It was housekeeping and they told her that Carmen had asked them to look in on her. So that’s how the whole thing with Carmen started. Over the last 5 or 6 months she’s had to do some really nasty things to this fat grease ball to first get a job in housekeeping and finally becoming a dealer after Carmen paid for her dealer school and license, to get this job. She would blow him a couple of times a week. She just looked at it like a job and anyway she just pretended she was in Florida at Disney World. Her dream vacation. She never got to go when she was a kid and she always dreamed about going there. I guess you could say her best friends were Snow White and Mickey Mouse. She thought of them as family, like a real family. So her dream in life is to go to Disney World hopefully before she is dead.
About 2AM she is leaving the casino and Carmen walks up her to her with that “I sure need my wiener-sucked look” that he gets a couple of times a week. She didn’t even stop to say no; she just put up her hand and shook it like “no fucking way”! She heads out in the wet, cold night air and lights a cigarette and grabs the first taxi she can.
On the way over she is actually getting excited about meeting up with “that fucking guy” at the Paradise Room. She has half a Woodie just thinking about eating this guy up alive. She has not been properly fucked in 16 months and her body and mind ache for it. She lights up another cig and shakes the ashes off in the floorboard of the cab. Just a few more minutes.
She gets out and walks into the bar. It is pretty deserted. In fact there are only a few people there. She looks around trying to be cool but her “I’m getting fucked-over again” wand is up and active. She does not see Billy Don anywhere. “God dammit”, she thinks. She orders a-triple vodka straight up and sits down trying to contain herself. “Why does this shit always happen to me”, she thinks?
About 4 blocks away Billy is sitting in a cell. He got arrested for knocking out a bar patron. “God dammit”, he thinks. He is out of cigarettes and crashing off the coke. “Why does this shit always happen to me”?