Monday, June 16, 2008

The Hippie and The Deadline

The Hippie and The Deadline

by diesel

The pain killer was working its magic and my laptop was ready. I sit on the couch leaning over the coffee table while I write. It's a small square shaped table that doesn't hold much. Uncomfortable but I don't have a desk. I've found a way to fit an ashtray and a note pad next to my laptop. The ashtray usually sits on top of the note pad. I live in a one room loft, 500 square feet, and don't have many visitors. Only a lamp next to the couch lights the room after dark. That's how I like it.

It was after ten and most of the people in my building were asleep. That's when I do most of my writing. A local underground magazine called Alive needed this story I was writing the next day to meet the deadline. It was a short story about a recluse from South Dallas.

Leave me alone world, I thought. Leave me be for one night. I only ask for one night alone. If the phone rings I'll throw it out the window, I thought. I don't think my neighbor ever sleeps though. In fact, I think she waits for me to start writing before she comes knocking. Her name is Daisy. She's a hippie. She also works the day shift at a strip club. Apparently the day crowd at this joint like un-bathed hippie type women. I'll write fast, I thought. She'll be here to bug me as sure as the seasons change, I thought.

I began the story. The only sounds in my cave came from a buzz fan and the traffic noise from the highway a hundred yards away. And the clicking noises my fingers made on the computer. My dog was asleep in the corner. Every now and then I heard Daisy clanking shit around next door. I always move into lofts next door to loud single women. Odd.

Momentum was on my side for once. The sentences flowed nicely. I had a good rhythm going. The words went together well. This thing would be done in no time without any distractions.

Of course this spectacular moment in time came to a crashing end, living next to a needy neighbor. Sure as shit. A knock at the door rattled me off the couch. I hit a couple of wrong letters on the keyboard fucking up a word. GREAT, I thought, WHY?

I had two dead bolts locked as well as the chain lock. The doorknob lock was broken. I turned the dead bolt latches and the locks rumbled out of their chambers burrowed inside the door frame. The chain stayed on. Then I opened the door as wide as the chain lock would allow. "Yeah Daisy," I said, peeking through the chain.

She smiled, "Hey neighbor, you got any papers?"

"You knocked after ten at night for paper?"

"Yeah I ran out. I was cleaning up the kitchen and…"

"Wait a second. I'll be right back."

"Groovy dude!"

I shut the door and leaned my back against it. Then I let out an impatient sigh and walked over to the couch. I ripped some paper off of my note pad and returned opening the door and peeking back through the chain. "Here ya go," I said, shoving the papers through the crack.

"No silly, not paper… papers. You know, rollers?"

Now I was beginning to get upset. "I don't smoke weed Daisy. Why don't you just go to the gas station? You still have an hour before they close."

"Are you sure?"

I responded, "Am I sure about what?"

"About not having any papers."

"Rolling papers would do no good to a person who doesn't smoke weed Daisy. I bet you could use a night off anyway." I slammed the door on her face and sat back down on the couch sinking into it.

I closed my eyes re-capturing my pill buzz and picked up where I left off. Clickety-clack I regained my momentum. My dog, Max, was curious about what was going on at the door and paced the floor in front of the table. Then he sniffed at the bottom of the door. Then he paced more. Then he sniffed more. Then he paced more. Then he sat down on my left foot looking back at me. That was his way of telling me he'd shit on my foot if I didn't take him out. "Go Lay Down", I ordered. He stayed there. Then he farted on my foot.

Max is always a nice change of pace. I never get pissed when he interrupts me while I'm writing. He's actually given me lots of funny stories to write. I got up to take him out.

Getting past Daisy's door was tricky. I didn't want her coming out to talk to me so I very quietly unlocked the door, leashed the dog and slowly put my jingling keys in my pocket. Max ran in circles while tethered to my hand. I coached him, "Be quiet boy. Let's get out of here quietly. Shhh."

Then I opened the door and tippy-toed out like a ninja. I slowly closed the door and turned. Guess who was standing there? Daisy wore a long flowy dress with flowers all over it. She had a flower in her hair too, above her right ear. She was bare foot and smelled like an un-bathed farmer. She would fit right in if this were the sixties. She should wear a brazier. I bet her cunt smells like her armpits, I thought.

"Hey diesel, you going to the store?"

"No, my dog has to take a shit."

"Well if I give you some money will you get some papers for me?"

"Hell I guess so. Do I have a choice?"

"We all have choices. You don't have to."

"In this case, Daisy, I don't have a choice. You'll hound me all night till I do SOMETHING for you. Isn't that how it usually works?"

"Geeze! You need to relax. When you get back I'll give you a massage," She said batting her eyes.

"You'd have to bathe first and we both know that's not going to happen so just give me the money and I'll grab some papers for you while I'm out."

"Here's the money. And I DO bathe, I just don't use deodorant or shave my legs."

"Well you should."

I walked away toward the outer door of the building. Max ran in circles biting at his leash tugging my arm. He's one strong boxer. He'll knock me down sometimes if I'm not ready.

We were outside. The night air was nice. A slight summer breeze rolled over the bushes and tree-tops.

Nobody was out. I felt like I had the entire city to myself. We strolled along. Max pissed on a couple of bushes and a car tire. We got to his spot where he likes to shit. It's one of the few grassy areas in my neighborhood. It's his pretend back yard. I think the homeless shit there too. I let him off his leash and he trotted around sniffing. He sniffed for several minutes until finally deciding the specific spot he'd shit on. And he did, shit that is. His face was a satisfied one as he unloaded the loaf of bread he ate earlier. "Good boy," I said, "Let's go."

I hooked him back up to his leash and we proceeded on. As we got closer to the gas station people seemed to appear out of nowhere. Homeless men roamed aimlessly. A few homeless women too. They all looked like zombies. I always wondered how they ended up that way.

Where were their families? Where were their friends? Where were their jobs? This IS the land of plenty so why didn't they have anything? How do they eat? Were they insane? It seems cruel for a rich city to let people dwindle away. Maybe they chose to be that way. Maybe Daisy was right about choices, I thought.

I figured I'd walk faster to avoid the inevitable pan-handling. Two guys passed us pushing shopping carts overflowing with useless things like hubcaps, two-by-fours, dirty blankets, a fishing pole, ancient floor speakers and copper wiring. They didn't ask for anything. They saw Max and kept their sad looking eyes straight ahead. I thought to myself, they probably slam the two-by-fours into the ground then cover them with the blankets for shelter. Then they go fishing with the poles and cook the fish over a makeshift fire using the hubcap for a plate. The speakers? I had no idea what they'd use those for. And, of course, they'd sell the copper wiring to buy crack.

They didn't pay taxes. They had no ID. They chewed their own fingerprints off their fingers. They did whatever the fuck they wanted. They were the only free people alive. I mean really free. Free from it all. I slapped myself across the face and walked on down the sidewalk.

The closer we got the more people we saw. I thought about my story I wasn't writing. My face transformed into a scowl. That sometimes ran off pan-handlers if Max didn't bark at them. One zombie took a chance, "Say. Say homie. Say boss man."

"I'm in a hurry," I said.

"Man! That's a purty dog. Is dat a Pit Bull?" The poor guy asked.

"It's a Boxer. He'll eat you alive if you get too close. Just move on."

"I don't wont dat thing gettin on me."

"No, you don't," I said.

He moved on. Another black homeless man took his chance. "Alright home boy!" He had his hand extended out like he wanted to high-five me.

I asked, "Can't you see I have a vicious dog on the other end of this leash?"

"Dat ain't nuttin but a Boxer."

"Yeah, A FUCKING MEAN ONE!!" I pretended to hold Max back.

"Help me out so I can catch this bus right quick," the homeless man asked.

"Busses don't run this late."

"Man I'm hungry. Please help me out."

"Can't do it. All I have is my debit card. Plus my dog is getting pissed." I tell the homeless I have a debit card so they'll leave me alone.

"I should fuck you up white boy!" He threatened.

"TRY IT! I'll turn my dog loose and he'll tear your fucking throat out!"

"Man don't put your dog on me, I needs ta eat mang."

"So get a god damn job!! We all have choices!!"

Then I walked away. He still talked to me in the distance. I couldn't make out what he was saying and I didn't care.

We reached the parking lot of the gas station. FINALLY. Four or five black homeless men stood in front of the store with five-gallon buckets, news papers and squirt bottles with water in them. They asked every person who pulled up if they wanted their windows washed. No, was the response every time. Why do they even bother?

I walked by them all and they moved out of my way fearing my dog. They weren't as brave as the guy before. I took Max into the store with me.

The middle-eastern clerk said, "No dogs please."

"Do you want my dog in here or the walking dead?" I asked.

"Ok please hurry. You get me in trouble with dog."

"If you had a couple of dogs in here you'd never get robbed again."

"HA! Good idea my friend."

"Ok we're not friends, just give me some rolling papers."

He turned to show me the papers, "We have long, short, wide, thin, rice, blunt…"

"You decide." I said. He gave me the most expensive ones they had.

"9.99 please."

"Jesus Fucking Christ Almighty. How do you sleep at night?" I asked as I peeled out the money.

"You like get high, you pay."

"Give me my penny back you fucking thief." He tried to keep my change. I walked toward the door to leave.

He said, "Thank you come again."

Yeah I'll come again, I thought, to burn this god damned building down with him in it. Then I'd burn all those lazy no-job-having black zombies to hell too. Then I'd blow the gas pumps up and roast marshmallows in the blazing inferno, I thought. Someone would eventually do it for me. I'm too much of a coward to do something like that.

I was back on the sidewalk now and had to run the gauntlet back home. The people I said no to before didn't bother me. A crazy looking black lady tried to say something to me but ignored her. She had no teeth, no hair, no ability, no strength, no nothing. Her dignity had been washed away long ago like the faith in herself. I knew as long as I ventured into their turf I'd have to put up with these things. That's why I stay inside as much as possible. We walked on. I thought about my story.

Now we were back my territory. No bums. But they were close. They were always close. We walked through Max's pretend back yard, down a couple of side streets and up to the outside of our building. I opened the door to the building with my key and let Max run free. He made it to the top of the stairs in a flash and I followed. He trotted to our door and sat down outside of it. I heard loud music coming through Daisy's door. I pounded on it. Nothing. I pounded again. BAM BAM BAM. Then another neighbor peeked out and said, "Do you fucking mind?"

"You can hear me knocking but you don't hear this loud music?!"

"She's a girl."

"So fucking what!!! Get your ass back inside or I'll sick my dog on you. Bitch."

Her door slammed and Daisy opened up at the same time. "Oh you're back! Did you take the scenic route?"

"Funny. Do you have any idea what I just went through?"

"Come in and tell me all about it. I have some really good pot."

"Take your papers. I have a story to write. I really should get back to it."

"'K Neighbor. Happy writing."

I wish I could be so bubbly. Well, maybe not bubbly but nicer.

I shut the door behind me and sat back down on the couch. I looked around at my loft. Everything in there was exactly where I wanted it. I was happy. My dog was happy. I finished the story and took another pain killer. I leaned back shutting my eyes waiting for the effect. It came twenty minutes later. I'd make the deadline.

I went next door and got my massage.


tiff said...

You crack me up the way you write! You leave it a mystery as to whether the events took place or are fiction. I look forward to reading your pieces every week!!

Allison said...

Great! I love to read your stories! You're an extremely Great writer!! I can never tell if they're true and altered, completly true, or all just something created! I will LOVE to read more!!

Allison said...

Great! I love to read your stories! You're an extremely Great writer!! I can never tell if they're true and altered, completly true, or all just something created! I will LOVE to read more!!

Anonymous said...

Good stuff dude.

Alison said...

These stories are written by an old friend of mine who goes by diesel. I am honored to be posting them on here. Since they seem to be getting such a positive response, I will continue to post them. Thanks for reading!

jessica said...

always entertaining.
xo, jess