Tuesday, March 15, 2016

dark night of vengeance, part 2: phil and bill

by horace p aternwall

illustrated by roy dismas

part two of ?

for part one, click here

the streets are merciless
they don't care if you confess
to the most desperate crimes
or stoop to pick up nickels and dimes

phil stumbled through the night
with no coherent plan of flight
but only hoped to make his way
through the darkness into day

he had seen it all before
he had heard the oceans roar
in his drowning desperate brain
and had felt the whole worlds pain

he was the cursed one
the seventeenth son of the seventeenth son
but just as you would expect
he got no respect

in his youth he had struv
to earn the world’s love
but to his eternal shame
he could not learn the rules of the game

when emily brown, who had welcomed his advances
on bill smith cast friendly glances
phil had no veneer of civilized grace
but his passion blazed forth on his red face

emily laughed out loud
and quickly attracted a crowd
which with untrammeled hoots and jeers
derided poor phil’s primal masculine fears

phil seized emily by the throat
the onlookers quickly took note
and rescued the poor damsel
before phil could finish sending her to hell

phil was charged with assault
he hired a lawyer named walt
walt did the best he could
but the results were not good

phil testified so forlorn
but the jury reacted with scorn
to his tale of provoked passion
for such pleas were no longer in fashion

the judge brought down the hammer
phil got five years in the slammer
and as he was led away
he heard his rival bill smith say

as a law-abiding citizen i insist
that five years is a slap on the wrist
and when you get out, old son
your troubles will have only begun

emily brown went away
exactly where, no one could say
bill smith blamed phil for her fleeing
and hatred consumed his whole being

in letters to phil, bill let loose
with an endless stream of abuse
and promised phil, when let out, a harsh fate
because bill would be waiting at the gate

four years went by - and then
phil busted out of the pen!
when two true desperadoes named roger and clyde
obligingly took phil along for the ride

roger and clyde left phil by the side
of a dark road - with nowhere to run or hide
hunted - without a friend!
hunted - though the road never end!

somehow the years went by
always out of the corner of his eye
phil waited for the hand on his shoulder
as he grew slower, weaker, and older

phil somehow found employment
though he never knew what anything meant
and fell into a routine
and almost forgot who and where he had been

of desires he had only one -
to remain in oblivion
was that now to be denied?
to the pitiless sky phil cried

his cry echoed down the dark street
and the flapping of his running feet
and the bubbling in his brain
were only heard by the wind and the rain

(to be continued)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

al will kill you

by chuck leary

illustrated by roy dismas

al let billy sleep on his couch, but billy was supposed to use the bathroom down the hall, not al’s private one.

one morning billy woke up.

he never slept good on the couch. he had bad dreams, but could never remember them.

al wasn’t in the apartment. he never told billy where he was going or how long he would be away, and billy never asked.

al was scary. billy had heard he was a soldier in iraq, or maybe in afghanistan, or that he was a bodyguard for a colombian or a mexican drug lord.

billy didn’t know or care if the stories were true, or if any stories about anything were true. he knew al was scary.

on this morning, billy’s brain was kind of fuzzy.

without thinking he went into al’s bathroom. he took a whiz and flushed the toilet. the toilet took forever to flush and was really loud.

then billy took al’s toothbrush - or a toothbrush that was sitting on the sink, he didn’t think of it as “al’s toothbrush” - and squeezed some toothpaste on it and started brushing his teeth.

while he was brushing his teeth he noticed a comb on the edge of the sink.

the comb had hairs in it.

al’s hair. (al didn’t have much hair, he was kind of bald.)


suddenly billy was completely awake, and the horror of his situation exploded into his brain.

al would kill him.

he had specifically told billy not to use his bathroom.

forget about using his actual toothbrush.

i’m in this deep, thought billy, and for one insane second he actually thought of using al’s comb.

he took a deep breath. maybe he could clean the toothbrush off, hope that al wouldn’t notice anything?

especially if al didn’t come back for a couple of days, and the toothbrush had plenty of time to dry off.

but he might be back in any minute, any second.

billy washed the toothbrush off as best he could with trembling hands and put it back on the sink.

was is it in the exact same spot? how could he tell?

billy ran.

he checked his pockets to make sure he had his wallet - his empty wallet .

he took the key to the apartment - the key al had trusted him with - he trusted me, thought billy, and this is how i repay him - i deserve to die - and put it on the table beside the couch al had let him sleep on.

billy ran down the stairs.

there was no sign of al in the street.

where could he go? anywhere he went al was sure to find him.

he had enough change to get to queens, to his grandmothers. he would beg, plead ,cry for enough money for a bus ticket.

he would murder her if he had to.

billy got his money, without actually having to murder his grandmother.

he got a bus to albany. in albany he panhandled enough for a bus to cleveland.

in cleveland he started hitchhiking. it wasn’t easy.

this was how he would live from now on - always on the run, always looking over his shoulder, never able to stay in one spot.

knowing al would hunt him down eventually.

from cleveland he got to chicago. in chicago he came up with enough for a motel room.

he slept for eighteen hours on the motel’s big bed.

when he woke up it was past time to start running again.

des moines, omaha, tulsa, amarillo, albuquerque, flagstaff arizona.

he decided to skip las vegas - al probably had friends there who would be on the lookout for him.

yuma arizona, death valley.

finally huntington beach - the end of the line.

he knew al would find him eventually.

billy thought of walking into a police station and confessing to any damn thing , just to get thrown in jail.

but al or his friends would find him there too.

at least al would probably kill him quick - not waste time on him. who knew what the friends would do?

with the sound of the surf outside his window, billy fell asleep.