Chapter One: ‘Dead End’
“You’re a liar! Shut the fuck up, Jimmy,” I start – pull an equalizer for punctuation as situations spiral.
“Fuck you think you’re doing, Jeff? Put the gun down,” I recoil – steel myself to mayhem as I raise my forty to meet his nine. Keep the breathing regulated – relax – stay centered.
“No! Fuck you, Jimmy. Put your fucking gun down. I’ll pop a cap in yah ass,” I blurt back in my best gansta as sweat seeks to break past barrier of brow – sear at vision fraying.
This feels real in ways that makes day-to-day – plastic – numb – counterfeit. Hyperkinetic awareness courses through air like ball lightning rolling around this clearing – hilltop in Griffith – surrounded by sprawling expanse of branded wasteland – City of “Angles”. Darkness holds back glistening gems of incandescence knitted across the strata of “normalacy” below. Alone together they’ve begun this karmic dance without end – staring across a vast chasm wedged between them – these brothers – their lives – to become a destiny in its own right. Only way out – dive in – head first – the abyss.
“Pop a cap? That all you got? So last century. You think tryin’ to sound all street gonna make you seem tough? Naw. Situation like this calls for ‘quail hunting your ass’, ‘pulling a Cheney’, us bein’ friends and all. ‘Sides, I know where you grew up and, last I heard, Rolling Sixties weren’t rolling through Brentwood,” I try, both of us slow dance sideways circular –measure for fissures. Sure, I can talk my way out of a situation – got the gift – Mister Smooth – selling bottled water to fish. Probably talk my way out of this. Question is: Do I want to… Might be more expedient just end it – here – now. Get rid of this festering liability once – for all.
“You don’t know shit, man. Stop tryin’ to confuse me that bullshit smooth talk of yours. I mean it, Jimmy,” I spit – groping to keep a grip. My hands – shaking –adrenaline over-amps at nerve endings. Can’t let him see me rattle. He’ll think I’m scared – a punk. It’s weird – like two people in here at once. There’s me out there holding a gun – saying words – acting tough. Then there’s me in here, all calm – collected – watching – detached. Pulling levers – feeding lines. What would they say in the movies – how would they pose for the camera – hold the gun just so – who’s running this show? Everything screams this isn’t right but I. Can’t. Stop. It’s like things have been predetermined – set in stone. Life reduced to Shakespeare – read the lines – exit – stage left.
Weapons heavy – sag at hands – as they fret and front their machismo dance. This is different from fantasizing and strutting in front of bedroom mirrors – stroking at moving bits over and over – pulling apart and putting back in hope of earning relationship – intrinsic knowledge of inner workings – intimacy of mechanics and mechanisms until bond is formed – Jedi intuition – mastery akin to the one garnered with that other weapon – one you keep in your pants and fire off in the shower as often as you can. No, this echoes from some primordial imprint – part of a human BIOS – a firmware base code so raggedly elemental that it defies reprogramming – upgrade – logic. A self-destruct apparatus that, once activated, feeds upon itself like fissionable material until – critical mass.
Ubiquitous cell phone blurts its tinny rendition of some current popper by an all too drug-addled “celebuteen” that cuts through quiet – jars at tension.
“Mind if I take this, Jeff? Only be a sec,” I query – apping for some “diplomunity”.
“Always gotta be multitasking huh, Jimmy? Knock yourself out. Got nothing but time here. Update your status while you’re at it,” I offer back – attempts to feed into cool.
Jimmy reaches gingerly into coat – retrieves a smarty – no false moves here. A glance at illuminated pixels provokes snort – shake.
“Speak of devils,” I opine – pull mobile to ear – engaging. “Hey, beautiful. What up?”
Jeff looks up over his jammy – curiosity catching a crest on his brain train. He leans in – relaxing from prior tension – building towards new.
“Yeah. No. In a meeting just now. Jeff? Yeah, right here, baby,” I purr at the electronic compulsion. Nod towards Jeff, “Says your cell isn’t working.”
“Probably ‘cause I put a hole through it with my Glock. Target practice. Gotta keep the skill sets sharp,” I sneer – saddling up my John Wayne. The sky – beautiful tonight – some sort of inky purple black. My brain feels as big as the darkness – stars tickle at lobes when I move my head. Fuck. That’s. Cool.
“Yeah. No. Says battery’s dead,” I translate through digitized ethers. Absurdities of situation not lost – gun in one – cell in the other – conducting a three-way. Nothing to see here – move along. Instructions feed back. Holding the electronic leash out, “She wants to talk to you,” I educate.
“Yeah? Well, toss it over,” comes my snap as I break from the two-handed – free a paw for catch.
“I’m not throwing this jabber-stick, it might break,” justifying lack of deed. Hey, it’s an expensive phone and I’m at the head end of a two-year tunnel. Extending hand – cautiously move towards center.
“What’s the matter don’t you have an app that lets you throw the damned thing,” I sneer – post up imaginary points to invented scoreboard – move forward.
They stalk like dueling matadors who’ve lost their bulls – turned on each other as the only game left. To center – imaginary circle – they pull. Each – arms extended – wily shuffle – look to fissures – read between signals – listen for that final metallic ticket punch that gets you on the boat.
Phone soft lands on a low boulder that centers the clearing – eye of a storm – ground zero in a passion of plays. Exchange made – frictions ebb – fighters return to corners – wait for next round.
Jeff plants phone to lobe – tenses towards it.
“Hey, you. How’s it going? Cool. Yeah. We’re kinda in the middle of something here,” I submit, shooting at nonchalance that is Jimmy’s stock in trade. With me it comes off a little bent – off chorus. I pull him into frame along barrel sight as he flames a smoke – something to do. “What’s that? No. I don’t know how long. Why do you want to know? The old place. Yes, up in the park. No. No. All right. Whatever.” Phone pulls from stud holder - I thumb it. Habit makes it slip into pocket. Jimmy doesn’t seem to notice – care.
“So, what are we doing here, Jeff? We dancing devilish tonight? Fine eve for it. Jasmine in bloom, intoxicating as hell,” I flick, offering the cigarette butt off on an arc into dark – wondering if it will fire a start. Now that’s what we need up here – good blaze – burn this burg to some ground – commence again. Shit grown too high – harvest time.
“She’s on her way up. Got something she needs to facetime,” posting up latest in program changes. This is awkward. What in hell are we suppose to do while we wait. Old days we’d of had a laugh riot up here – now – shit changes too fast in this life. Leave it to Jimmy to fast-forward through the commercials.
“Hey, Jeff, remember that time we was ridin’ around in Randy’s mom’s wagon,” I reflect – grasping for burn time. Gotta keep the mood up or we’ll cap each other just to break the tedium. “Hell was her name?”