Read the new literary works published on CC for August 15, 2016
Jackie called the station complaining of a growling dog at Saint Matthew’s Cemetery on Old Mill Road. It seems this hound was protecting a bone, later identified as a human thumb bone, not a major issue out in the sticks, but then we received a call the very next day that the dog had returned, this time with a shoe containing a human foot.
Big news in Ridgeway, but then on day three,
yes, the dog was back, this time with a knee.
Day 2 – a shoe
Day 3 – a knee
We’ll realize with thin-lipped smiles
That the great, woolen beasts which sheltered us in our youth
Must be folded and pressed away
Into the dusty corners of life’s closet.
Instinctively, we’ll shrug the jackets from our shoulders
And peel our skins down to the newest, blushing layers,
Marveling at the lightness of our bodies as the wind stings our cheeks.
It’s not commonly known, but tornadoes do on occasion tear through New England, have been known to cause massive damage when this occurs, and it was just such a violent storm and its aftermath which had changed so much of Brian McReynolds’s life when he was just a boy of seven—now fully twenty-one years before he and his traveling companion Ditch were stuffing beef jerky and Twinkies down their pants while the cashier was busy counting change at a dingy convenience store on the outskirts of Spokane, Washington.
Brian grew up, predictably and somewhat fittingly, on the wrong side of the railroad tracks that bisected West Warwick, Rhode Island. It was a vulgar country town rife with Podunk graft and welfare fraud, moribund economy and varicose industries, too many young men whose only adornments were flannel shirts and axle grease, too many young women who missed their senior prom because they couldn’t find a baby sitter, an impoverished hamlet where rickets and head lice epidemics hit the foul-mouthed children with the assuredness of a Dickens novel and a terrible place for a homosexual to grow up. And of course, he knew, had from a very early age, which was just fine, except lots of other people knew too and that was less than fine. It made for some rough gym classes by the time the kid reached middle school.
The tornado in question emerged one late spring day and flattened almost the whole of the Irish and Italian ghetto where he lived, a place hatefully called Shamrock Park, the first part because of all the breadline micks and the second part because of all the doublewide trailers cinder blocked atop it filled with all those breadline micks—a place so impoverished, tough and mean even the stray dogs had “LOVE” and “HATE” tattooed across their paws. Brian’s family was one of the few who lived in an actual house, and amazingly—and to embittered patriarch Andy McReynolds’s furious rage and regret, over many years—this one lone dwelling survived the hundred-mile-an-hour winds and swirling debris which had turned every other filthy property to matchsticks and unidentifiable junk. Andy mourned the lack of this tender mercy upon his ramshackle home until the day he died.
You know, I once rode in a car with a man who’d just had his finger cut off. Yes it’s true, and the finger was in the back seat of the car as well. The scene wasn’t as weird as it may sound to you. Maybe it was. I don’t know. You lose touch about what is weird and what is not after a while—when you’ve kicked around as much as I have with all them freaks, psychos, drunks and junkies. There were good reasons for the entire matter . . . logical ones. I know how you modern folk are—can’t stand for anything that ain’t rooted in logic. Mystical? Throw it out! Toss it to the hyenas! Drown the next mystic in the river! Nail Jesus up there again! The bastard never should of come down! That’s you harpies’ position. Oh, I can give you tiddle-bums some reasons. My noodle isn’t as cooked as all that.
I’d gone up to a town about 60 miles north on the big highway, hitchhiking. I was supposed to meet this pal of mine up there. Hitchhiking can be a drag—if you ain’t in a good mood, or you don’t want to talk, or a predator is trying to hit on you, or some lonely dude that talks incessantly. But I got lucky. Two dudes that could have been out of a Hunter S. Thompson novel picked me up. It was two (sorta) hippie dudes in a nice Airstream-type deal—it had a lot of room to lie around in in the back. Them crazy dudes sat up front and passed the weed. They offered it to me, of course, but I ain’t the weed smoking type. They pulled out a bottle of tequila as we listened to somebody like David Allen Coe on the stereo. I was like “Oh yeah!” I was a drunk. But it got even better! I loved barbiturates. I adored them. And it was the mid-80’s—barbiturates were getting hard to find. They had Quaaludes! My fave! To lude out! Yeah! Those wonderful 714s! I popped a handful. I asked the dudes, since they seemed so chill, if I could just lay back and be fucked up. They were like, “Hell yeah! Kick back young fella!” And I did, and it was a delightful ride. And they were going all the way to the town I was visiting.
Oh lord, dear reader, I got to take you on a tangent. It’s my problem, never telling a story straight. I apologize, but stick with me my beloved perusers, it will be worth it in the end—I promise! I’ll get to my Canuck and his finger.