Sunday, December 31, 2006

Strike Me Down, Big Man: A White Trash Vignette

Strike Me Down, Big Man
by
James Robert Smith


There were seven of us: Scot, Robert, Brayboy, Tina; and Brayboy's sister, Reddog. And there was Phil, a garbage scow of a guy we all called Fat Bastard when he wasn't around to hear. At nineteen, I was the oldest, so I had dropped into the liquor store and bought the rum. The rest had brought coke; and me and the other braves were gulping the cheap, shitty rum and chasing it with Coca Cola. It tasted truly awful, but we were feeling good and drunk. I wasn't as high as the rest of the boys, since I weighed in at better than two-fifty, so I held my rum pretty good, and Phil didn't drink (the pussy). But Brayboy weighed one hundred thirty pounds, and even though he was only sixteen years old he was already a boozer who loved the stuff. He was going to make a sloppy drunk. Some of his teeth were rotting from too much booze and not enough food. He was drunk enough that I think he'd forgotten how much bigger I was than he, so I'd already had to tell him to shut up a couple times.
The girls weren't drunk, at all. Maybe a little. They were fifteen year olds, but they had plenty of experience when it came to males chasing after them. They well knew we were hoping to get them drunk enough so that we could talk them into lying down for us. Reddog wasn't a problem. She loved dick and everyone but her brother and me had had a taste, and I really wasn't so sure Brayboy hadn't had a go at her. But I just didn't think she was attractive with that pale skin and all that red hair. No thanks. Tina, though, was another matter. She was short, maybe not even five feet, but she was well built. She had great tits, and her hips flared out from a narrow waist and her legs weren't bad, either. If you bothered to look, she had a cute face framed with short, brown hair. All of us wanted to fuck her.
Earlier that day, I had stopped by the Brayboy house, and Reddog and Tina had been in the back yard. I went back to talk to them, and noticed Brayboy's barbells sitting in the dirt. Sandspurs had started to sprout around the concrete-filled plates; it had been so long since the little guy had used them. I bent down and picked them up, figuring he had about one-twenty on the bar. I was wearing a tank top and began to curl the weight easily, pumping up my biceps.
"My gosh," Reddog said. "Look at his muscles!"
I smiled and curled the bar a few more times, getting the desired result. But Tina looked up for a minute and said nothing. Shit.. I tossed the bar back to the weedy ground.
"How did you get so strong," Reddog asked.
"Heck. I'm not that strong," I lied. I was as strong as a fucking bull. I was so strong that nothing less than a gun scared me. Truly, I loved beating the shit out of other men. I had the lackonooky disease, so I walked around pissed off all the time. Tina was standing there wearing a halter-top and very short cutoffs so my dick was hard just looking at her. I did my best to hide my erection. I’m a gentleman.
"Where's Steve," I said. I rarely called her brother by his first name, but since I was on Brayboy property, I figured I should show some respect. I liked Mr. Brayboy, the father. Too bad his daughter was a slut and his oldest son was a rummy in training. He had four other kids stuffed into that five-room house, but they were all young ones and I didn't even know their names. Didn't give a damn, either.
"Him and Scot are off doing something," Tina said. I knew she really liked Scot. If any of us was going to get any action from Tina, I figured it would be Scot. She seemed to perk up a little at the mention of his name. Damn.
"Well, when they get back, tell them that I want to get up a bunch and go to the cemetery tonight. We can all smoke weed and get drunk and raise hell. You tell em for me, okay?" And I vaulted the chain link and trotted to my pickup.
So. We had all ended up in the Port City Cemetery, right in the middle of it at eleven at night. The rest of the boys were too drunk to notice the mosquitoes eating us alive, and I was too intent on trying to figure out how to get Tina alone and on her back to worry about the little bloodsuckers. We had come to the cemetery in a brand new 1978 Chevy pickup, just purchased by Scot and Robert's dad. It was a beauty: shiny white with four wheel drive and lots of polished chrome. I hadn't asked them how the hell they had talked their dad into letting them drive off with it. He must be out of town, I figured. Right then, it was parked out on Mane's Bluff Road, in a little turnaround area shrouded in by a couple of old live oaks and a line of scrub. The cops hardly ever came down there because the washboard road was hell on your suspension. Cops do love a smooth ride.
"Let's go look at that mausoleum Brad keeps sayin he gonna bust into," Scot said.
"God, that's one crazy fucker."
"He scares me."
"He scares you? You mean you ain't fucked him yet, Red?"
Reddog made a savage grunting sound and clawed at Scot. But he was too quick and danced away from her, bounding lightly over half a dozen graves. I could see his blond hair, even in the dark.
"You shouldn't do that, Scot." It was big, fat Phil. He stood, as usual, behind the group, watching us.
"Shouldn't do what?"
"Walk over the graves like that." Phil pointed, his fat paw kind of pasty looking in the half moonlight.
"Why the fuck not," I asked him.
"You should have more respect for the dead. You should fear God, man."
I laughed. Scot laughed. "Fuck that!" Both of us.
Scot hopped to a granite slab all polished and carved with the names of some family. We couldn't read it in the dark. He began to do a jig. "I'm dancin' man! I'm dancin'." He hopped about while I laughed. No one else was laughing. "Strike me down, Big Man. Strike me down!" Nothing happened, except that Scot and I began to laugh: big belly laughs while we made fun of everyone's religious beliefs.
"Hell," I said, pointing to the starry sky. "He ain't even got a cloud to pop some lightning out of." Scot looked up, thought that was especially funny, and laughed some more.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Night I Missed Iggy.

Many, many years ago I went to a new club where Iggy Pop was supposed to perform. Brand new club. Not much in there but a make-shift bar with cold brews, a bandstand, and many square feet of space where you could stand and wait for Iggy. An opening act came out--some shitty two-chord punk band out of Atlanta Gee Ay. They sucked ass.

As the club began to fill with cigarette smoke I stood and waited for Iggy. That was why I'd paid the cover charge to get into the goddamned place. The shitty fucking two-chord punk band from Atlanta went through their lousy three or four numbers. They finally stopped (thank the rock gods). The club continued to fill with smoke. As I have never smoked (tobacco), the smoke began to get to me. But I waited.

The shitty punk band from Atlanta stumbled back onto the makeshift bandstand and took up their instruments. Oh, the gods. Please. No.
But, yes, they began to play again. I asked around. Iggy was "delayed". I bought a beer. I drank it. The smoke was now so thick that to see you had to cut a space in it with your hand. My eyes were watering. My lungs hurt.

Finally, I went outside.

The air in the darkened parking lot of the new-ish shopping center was cool and mercifully clear of tobacco smoke. I drank it in and tossed the empty beer can into a trash receptacle. Someone else came out of the club and I asked the guy if he knew what the holdup was all about. Where was Iggy?

"Apparently," the guy told me, "Iggy Pop is in the alley behind the club. He won't come on until the club owner pays him his fee, in full, in cash. If he doesn't get the money, he's not going to play."

"Fuck," I said.

After a while, I went back into the club. By this time, the cigarette smoke was so dense the place looked as if it were on fire. I tried to breathe and could not draw a decent breath into my lungs. "To Hell with this," I said to no one in particular and retreated once more to the parking lot.

Four hours had passed since I'd entered the club. It was midnight. I was finished waiting for Iggy Pop. Not that I blamed him in any way for the delay. I wouldn't work for free, either.

The club owner, however, I'd like to have beaten severely. Instead, though, I strolled to my car, enjoying the cool, smoke-free air. I drove home, got into the shower and scrubbed the hideous stench of the cigarette smoke from my hair and my skin.

The next day, I spoke to someone who knew the club owner and asked him if Iggy had ever entered the building. Apparently, the guy had phoned his rich dad who somehow showed up with the cash in hand and gave it to Iggy Pop, who then went into the club and did his show. It started around 2:00 am or so.

The club never opened again. I never saw the guy who'd instigated the whole mess, and that's all for the best, I reckon.

Would have been nice to have seen Iggy Pop perform, though.

Monday, December 25, 2006

The Disturbing Popularity of Zombie Fiction.

Some time back I began to have some disturbing suspicions about the enormous popularity (albeit a niche market) of zombie fiction/movies/games. I think one thing that widely appeals to the folk who read and watch this stuff (I have to count myself as a fan) is that the heroes get to shoot other people with wild abandon. Think of it. Like a dream come true for the right-wing survivalist inside us all. A lot of the people who are into this material actually like the apocalyptic ideal. They get to gather up guns and blow the brains out of everyone who doesn't look like them, act like them, think like them. In fact, in these zombie-infested fantasies the bad guys aren't even exactly human, so it's okay to blow their brains out. The entire thing is just a kind of racist, xenophobic wet dream.


I've been able to talk to some of the people who write this material, and I don't think these guys are actively considering that they're writing neo-fascist propaganda. But I see a lot of disturbing parallels in the zombie fiction phenomenon and the rantings of the various racist groups who populate the internet and who often poke their heads up into the mainstream media and among the right wing of our current political system (the GOP).


My own attraction to the form has always been my tendency to look upon myself as an outsider. Thus, my sympathies with characters who find themselves isolated and threatened by the mobs of mindless zombies waiting to destroy them. But with the current popularity of the zombie-fiction media, I tried to take another objective look at it. And I don't like what I see. It's not that the fictions aren't well written or well produced. They largely are. And as I said I don't think the folk who are making this stuff are consciously creating neo-fascist dogma. But with the resurgence of Jew-hating, and racism, and the scapegoating of immigrants and non-Christians, I do see a connection.


At any rate, I've decided not to buy any more zombie novels. At least for a while. Until the racist/xenophobic mania that runs through our society abates.


And, dammit, George Romero's directing a new zombie movie that I really wanted to see. A back to basics film where the zombies are all really slow and stupid and totally brainless and waiting to be destroyed.


Bash 'em or burn 'em. They go up pretty good.


Sunday, December 24, 2006

Corroboration

Corroboration
By
James Robert Smith


My father told me
that our government
had been wrong.
That it has committed
vast crimes:
Murders, genocides,
destruction without
equal.
Men and women and
babies
slaughtered because they
lived here first.
Men and women and
babies
enslaved and tortured
because they were
not white.
Forests cut, leveled,
slashed and burned.
Rivers dammed,
dirtied, polluted to death.
Creatures of wood,
and hill, desert and plain,
laid waste.
All these things he
told me,
while schools
and radio
and television
and comic books
told me America
is good, and great,
and beloved of God.
I grew,
pulled by two
versions of America;
one dark and bloody,
one bright and gaudy.
I grew,
and read,
and watched,
and listened,
and compared.
And I tell you,
you who will
hear:
Mark Smith
was right.
America murdered
men, and women, and babies
because they were here
first.
America enslaved
and tortured
men, and women, and babies
because they were not
white.
America did, indeed, level vast
forests,
polluted great, clear, clean
rivers and lakes;
gutted the forests and plains
and hills of our
wild heritage.
America, listen:
My father,
your son,
knew you well.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

CRANK IT UP!!!!

CRANK IT UP!!!!!
By James Robert Smith

I live in what real estate agents like to term “a town home”.

It’s a glorified way of saying I live in a smallish house jammed cheek by jowl with a block of half a dozen other structures sharing walls, all crammed together on postage stamp-sized lots with dozens of other such structures.

Fortunately, my “town home” is not a flat, and is a two-story building and I don’t have to listen to neighbors tramping overhead.

Unfortunately, I am sandwiched between two other such “town home” owners. The neighbor to my right is relatively quiet and I rarely hear anything out of him. The neighbors on my left had some extreme financial problems when the husband got laid off from USAir and then had the misfortune to subsequently get cancer. He lived, but the ensuing financial hardships caused them to lose the “town home”. I miss them. They were sweet people.

For several months, the “town home” that had once been theirs and was now the property of some bank or investor just sat empty. No neighbor is a good neighbor, when it comes to peace and quiet. It was great not to hear anything at all beyond that sheetrock on the other side of my office.

Then, someone bought the “town home” from the bank/investor/lawyers/whomever.

They moved in. Foreigners of some type. I hear them talking to one another sometimes when I get home and they’re in the front yard. They might be speaking Spanish. Or Portuguese. I don’t now. I’m just an American and can only speak English with a strong Southern accent; and a smattering of German and Yiddish. I don’t know what they’re saying.

My office, where I write, where I labor after carrying the mail all day for Uncle Sam is on the second floor. Right next to the room where my new neighbors have decided to place their amusement room. Big screen TV. Stereo system. Son with geetar. Just about the time I want to get cranking on my novel…

The bass comes thumping through the wall. Every time I get ready to type.

The bass comes thumping through the sheetrock. Every time I try to think of the next sentence, the next paragraph, the next phrase, the change in the plot.

The bass comes thumping through the wall.

Fuck.

I’m a patient man. Really I am. But after some hours of this, after wandering off and waiting for

The bass thumping through the wall to stop.

It doesn’t. It goes on for hours.

And, finally, I grow so tired of it that I feel a need to retaliate.

I have several thousand tunes on my computer. Residue from the heydays of Napster. I conjure a play list of rockin’, rollin’, yellin’, loud, shit-kickin’, hell-raisin’ tunes. My wife bought me some new kickass speakers. The nicest sound system I’ve ever owned. And, suddenly, there I am with Dave Edmunds, Nick Lowe, Bad Manners, Madness, drums, geetars, cranked up full blast, so loud that my feet are tingling and the bones in my legs are shivering.

The bass thumping through the wall.

After a couple of hours, I turn off the music.

Ah.

Silence from the other side.

Silence.

I can write.

And you know...I'd almost forgotten what it was like to crank it up to full blast. It was rather nice, actually.

DMZ

DMZ
By
James Robert Smith

Between North and South Korea
tigers and cranes thrive
where everywhere else they are
extinct.

Chernobyl:
There, the moose and boar and brown
bear live in
great numbers
where men no longer
should.

The western warlord stood before
the cameras, commenting on how,
from space,
the absence of nighttime illumination
marks the backward nation as something
dark and evil.

But if there were no lights
scarring the night sky
you could see the stars
as we could
once upon a time.

No lights, at night
is not a bad thing.
It’s good.
And so I implore
Mother Nature:
Turn out the lights
for us all.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Cat I Never Saw

The Cat I Never Saw
By James Robert Smith

I deliver mail.

When I first started I worked at a station that was in downtown Charlotte. A lot of the neighborhoods in which I worked were in very poor neighborhoods. Lots of run-down houses and clunkers parked in the streets. For whatever reason, there were always empty lots filled with junk and scrap wood and overgrown with weeds and sometimes the rusting hulks of abandoned vehicles. In the summertime the rollout garbage cans would be at the sidewalks where I walked and the stench of maggoty food rotting in the heat would be stupefying in its intensity.

Often, I would have to dodge nipping dogs, or wade through mewling kittens, or keep an eye out for trouble of various types. On three occasions I got caught in the crossfire of angry people shooting at one another with handguns. Sometimes the job was most definitely not much fun.

One day I was delivering mail in Wilmore. I’m not sure how the Wilmore Neighborhood got its name. But it was a lovely place, and you could see the old luster of respectability underneath the flaking paint and weedy yards; and through the screams and the odd gunshots, there was sometimes silence.

On a particularly hot and sticky day, I was hoofing it down what I knew was a very bad street in this very tough neighborhood. About one-fourth of the houses on the street were vacant. They’d been bought by speculators who knew the whole Wilmore area was going to be gentrified soon, and they were banking on making a killing once the white yuppies moved in to replace the poor black and Hispanic inhabitants. In fact, Wilmore was the last such neighborhood in the downtown area that had yet to be so gentrified. Houses that were once practically worthless were selling for high five figures, and sometimes six figures for the more well preserved estates.

I was nearing the end of the street, where it intersected with a major thoroughfare when a very old, very thin black woman came walking toward me from her driveway. It was a concrete driveway, probably poured sometime in the late-40s when the residents there had all been white folk. The drive was still concrete, but now it was cracked like glazed porcelain and broken by the roots of a dozen trees, both living and dead.

“Hey,” she said to me.

“Hello,” I replied.

“Would you like to see the biggest rat I’ve ever seen?”

Now, I had expected her to say something. I had expected her to ask me about the mail, or whether I had a package she’d been expecting, or if I’d take some greeting cards to the post office for her. Something like that. I have to say that to be asked if I’d like to see the biggest rat this very old woman had ever seen was not anywhere on any list of things that I would have suspected would be mentioned by her.

So I thought about it for a second or two. Long enough so that she maybe thought I was going to pass.

“You really should see this rat,” she told me. “It’s enormous.” Her diction was very good, and I suspect that she may have been either a teacher or a secretary in her youth.

“Sure,” I finally said. “I reckon I would like to see the biggest rat you’ve ever seen.”

“It’s over here,” she said. And I followed her up the slight incline of the drive to side of her modest brick house. She pointed.

And there it was. Ratzilla. It was, as she had advertised, the biggest goddamned rat I had ever seen. Thankfully quite stiff and dead, and the biggest she had ever seen, she had said. It was bigger than a large puppy. And, no, it was not a muskrat, which we do have in this area. And it was not nutria, which we do not have in this area. It was just a huge freaking black rat. It must have weighed more than two pounds, easily. It was bigger than my foot, not counting the ugly, gray, naked tail.

After being horribly aware of its enormous size, the next things that I noticed were the wounds on its neck. It had a couple of puncture wounds that appeared to have been formed by something the size of a sixteen-penny nail.

“What did that?” I asked her, pointing at the punctures on the neck.

“Oh. That. My cat did that.””Your cat? I’d have thought a big dog bit it.”

“No, that cat’s huge, too. Biggest cat I’ve ever seen. He doesn’t come inside. But he showed up here last year and I feed him.”

I looked away from the rat and scanned the empty lot next to her house, searching for a sign of a cat that had teeth big enough to make those kinds of wounds. My bare legs suddenly felt really vulnerable.

“Well, ma’am. I don’t know what you’re feeding that cat, but I’d keep it up if I were you.” Then I waved to her and wandered on down the street.

I never did see that cat.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Road Trip!

Not exactly "On the Road", but I'm headed up to Greensboro tomorrow to hook up with Mark Rainey to sign copies of our anthology, Evermore (Arkham House Books).

After we sign the books, we're probably going to hit a restaurant. It's been a long time since I've visited the Raineys. I'll probably post some photographs here tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Ray Bradbury Said It.

Ray Bradbury Said It
By
James Robert Smith

Ray Bradbury once said,
“The most horrible thing in the world is
a twelve-year-old boy.”
I don’t agree.
Not quite.
Twelve-year-old boys get
bigger
and stronger
and more clever.
And they learn to shoot guns
and fire missiles
and splash napalm.
And they foul
the water and air,
and despoil the land,
and they kill the animals
for food,
and for fur,
and ivory,
and their blubber,
or just
for fun.
Then they find women
to beat
and children
to abuse,
and sometimes they kill
each other (HAW!).
But they never
grow up.
They’re always
twelve-year-old
boys.Only worse.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Augh. By James Robert Smith.

Work.

Horrid.

Come home exhausted.

Eat.

Sleep.

More work.

Too tired to write

novel.

Sleep.

Thanks the gods

for

poetry.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Sample chapter from Port City, a novel.

This is a chapter from another of my works-in-progress, Port City, a novel.


Ed stood in the dark of the barn and ancient scents of old hay and horses and rich manure long gone floated up in the dust. The Nazi's jeep had come to a halt in the wide door and the lights were still on so that they could all see. Ed pumped the Coleman lantern and the wick began to glow with an almost supernatural incandescence. There was a slight ratcheting of steel as the jeep doors opened up and the pair of racists climbed out, their booted feet settling into the dirty sand, crunching down on the nubs of broken sandspurs and beggars lice and other weeds. Ed's right arm pistoned a time or two more, his great biceps filling with blood, coming to a pump as the muscles had been trained to do through constant, brutal exercise.

"You boys can shut them headlights off, now. We won't be needin em and I don't want nobody noticin us through the woods and comin down to see what we're doin here at night." To prove it, he lifted up the Coleman lantern, its glow dispelling the shadows to vague corners of the old barn. In obedience, the head Nazi reached through the door of the jeep and slammed the light switch down; the jeep ceased to glare at Ed.

"While you're standin over there, go ahead and shut the barn door." Again, in silence, the big Marietta Nazi grasped the old, weathered wood and pulled the heavy door to. Ed figured by then that he followed his orders right well.
The other two came on into the barn, the smaller men as if facing off against Ed. He wondered if they could feel the hate burning off of him; but he doubted it.

"This here's Ed Jones," Tow said.

"Nice to meet you, Ed." The big shot Nazi didn't offer his own name.

"Hello." Ed's face in shadow despite the blazing lantern. His eyes maybe lit from something other than the Coleman.

The Nazi looked around the barn. Most of the contents had been removed before the farm had been abandoned, and thieves and kids had long since ransacked whatever had remained. A disc plow gone almost completely to rust deteriorated at the rear. The horse stalls were stacked with graying lumber of various lengths and dimensions, and straw gone from gold to pale yellow was scattered here and there. The fine dust in the corners was everywhere pocked with the inverted cones of ant lions lying in wait for six-legged meals. Spiders moved and crawled in the joists overhead, in and out of webs.

"Well," the North Georgia racist finally said. "We got some business to conduct here, so let's get to it. My friend, Phillip here, says that you have a large amount of marijuana which you are willing to let go for a bulk price."

"At's right," Ed told him.

"Exactly how much are we talking about here? In kilos."

Ed placed the lantern on the floor of the barn where it settled in an inch or two of powdered filth. "I ain't got the slightest idea how much in kilos we're talkin about here. What I got is an entire bale of weed."

The Nazi smiled. Ed could see his chiseled face wrinkle in the weird light. "And how did someone like you come to be in possession of that much contraband?"

"You want to buy it?"

"Hell, yes, he wants to buy it!" Tow spoke up, sounding more strident than he probably had intended, trying to impress the right-winger.

"Well," Ed crossed his thick arms, the muscles accentuated and exaggerated in the glow of the lamp. "It really ain't no concern of yours how I come by it, so don't ask. I've got it and I want to sell. Never mind where it came from."

The Nazi cleared his throat, but he didn't spit. "We just want to make sure that we're not buying merchandise that might belong to someone who might take offense at our purchasing stolen property."

"You ain't got to worry about that. I got it fair and square, and ain't nobody goin around sayin it's theirs and not mine. So don't worry about it.

"And anyway, what is it that J.C. Steiner wants with a pile of marijuana?"
Marietta man wiped his mouth. Ed could hear his callused hands rasp on stubble.


"Well, I'm on tell you. You want to make a profit, and we want to make a profit. You got to make a livin' and we got niggers to kill. Takes bullets to defend the white race from niggers and Jews."

The Nazi just stood there for a second, and then he asked to see some of the stuff. Ed reached into the deep right pocket of his overalls and drew out a huge five-finger bag of reefer, stems and buds and leaves the color of green-pea soup. The Nazi moved over to where Ed was, the lantern between them glowing like some magic doorway you had to know the secret word to pass through; he peeled the flap of the sandwich bag free and dipped his nose to sniff. Almost as strong as the pungent scent of weed there was.

"Diesel," he said. "You found this shit washed ashore, didn't you? How much you find, son?"

"Plenty."

"A bale, plenty? More? You found yourself a whole bale? Do you know who tossed it overboard? You think they might want to know where it is?"

Ed stood there, blank faced, the color draining from his flesh. In the weird light, the Nazi could not see the warning sign. Ignorant, he continued to talk, now hoping to scare the yokel into giving away the contraband.

"There's suppliers who might not think this is your dope, son. There's boys out there just as soon have this back."

"They threw it overboard when the Coast Guard was chasin em," Ed droned. His voice was starting to go shaky, and the Nazi mistook the warble for fear. "It's mine, now. I found it. I dragged it across the beach. I loaded it up and hid it. Ain't nobody's but mine."

"You know, Ed. You look like a white man. You talk with a fine southern accent and Tow tells me you born and raised in this great state of Georgia. But he also tells me you a nigger lover. Why you want to be a nigger lover?"

Ed's face had gone almost completely to white, nearly no color there at all. In the white glare of the Coleman wick, though, neither the Nazi nor Tow could tell. Ed said nothing, for to speak would have been to act, and to act would have been to kill two men. He swallowed, and then the Nazi put his hand out and patted Ed's gigantic shoulder, all muscle and solid as a grizzly's neck.

"Just jokin son. No call to get choked up. Why don't you just let me see the bale and we can begin to talk some numbers. What say?"

Ed looked across the barn. Tow was still where he had been; only now he was leaning against the barn door. He looked like a guard standing there at the exit.

"Wait here. I got to climb up and haul it down for you fellahs to see."

"Fine. Fine." The Nazi smiled and patted Ed once more, as if feeling to test again this inhuman flesh.

Leaving the lantern, Ed walked across the barn to a shadowed rear corner and put his hand on the dry, flaking wood that made the ladder. He climbed up, his sneakered feet making heavy scraping sounds. Old nails groaned beneath his weight but he paid them no mind. On the floor of the loft, he swatted at trailing webs and seemed not to feel at all the tickle of spiders that dashed along the flesh of his back and exposed shoulders before launching themselves off of the giant.

Below, the Marietta Nazi saw Ed's face appear from the lip of the loft, his face white, white as an avenging ghost. Two lengths of nylon rope, frayed and yellow, drifted down in slow motion. "You and Tow grab holt of these," he said, his voice quaking. "Y'all hold these and we'll ease this son of a bitch down for you to see."

He looked to see that the two did as he requested, both men standing about three feet apart, gripping the tethers. Then he vanished into the dark beyond the edge of the loft.

Beneath his flannel shirt, laid in tight to his ribs, the Nazi felt the holster of his little 9mm Beretta chafe against his cotton tank. He smiled at Tow, and Tow smiled back. Above them, they heard the small grunt that escaped through Ed's clenched teeth, and they barely noticed how the loft groaned above them, nails and old staples doing the suddenly damned difficult job to hold tight.

Up there in the shadows, the figure of pure rage lifted up the bale, hundreds of pounds, a goddamned miracle like some crazed mother levering a mass of steel off of her trapped child. Inside Ed, somewhere in his back, ligaments stretched, muscles painlessly tore, and the bale somehow like one of Hercules' tasks went over his head and he stutter-stepped to the edge of the loft and not really looking down dropped the enormous weight on the two fools who stood holding nautical rope attached to nothing save a heavy beam.

Below, he heard the bale come down with a soft thud, amidst the earthen sound a dry popping. Or two. He went to the edge and looked. A great gout of dust full of fine sand and horse shit gone to powder. As it settled, he saw legs jutting out, the yellow nylon ropes dangling down. The Nazi's fingers were splayed, his right hand, on the far side of the bale. A stream of urine was creeping out first between the Nazi's legs and then Tow's. Ed screamed. "Mother," pause, "FUCKERS!" He leaped down, his two hundred and fifty pounds landing solidly atop the bale, his knees locked even after a plunge of eight feet; he barely felt the sting of impact in his heels. Something beneath popped like a hard, unripe watermelon taken too soon from the vine.

"GotDAMNED shits!" He stomped on Tow's calf jutting out from the diesel-y bale. He did it again, the rage not gone yet, the adrenaline still pouring through his system. His mind was effectively shut down, and everything he saw he saw through a haze of red. The barn was a big red screen upon which were scrawled wooden beams and discarded lumber and old straw and dust floating lazily in the dead air. Ed gritted his teeth, grinding them, his jaw muscles bunching and clenching and he had bitten his tongue and the insides of his mouth so that blood was seeping in through little cuts leaving that coppery taste.

And then he saw what he'd done.

"Oh, god. Shit," he said.

The bale rested atop Tow and the nameless Nazi. Both were dead. A smell of spewed urine was rising up from the bodies, and in the seat of Tow's jeans Ed could see a soft round bulge of feces excreted beneath the weight of baled weed. There was also the stench of human excrement just beginning to pollute the close air of the barn. Ed smelled it through the diesel and the dope. Not far from one corner of the bale, the Coleman lantern burned on, showing the deed. "Shit."

Ed put his hand out, feeling the tight, dry burlap that held his marijuana together. Fifteen grand if he'd sold it by the pound. More if he'd been patient and let it go a quarter of a pound at a pop. Forty thou if he had set up shop somewhere and sold lids and dime bags and reefers to kids and skinflints. He looked around him. In the shadow of one of the old horse stalls he saw the edge of a croaker sack jutting up from a pile of dry-rotted two by fours. He went over and picked it up, felt to see if it retained any strength in its moth-y fibers. It was solid.

He shuffled back to the bale, reached into one deep pocket and drew out his pocketknife, the one his daddy had given him the year before he'd died. "A good pocketknife can be a lifesaver," he'd said. The bale sang a short, ripping song as he plunged the blade home, opening up the burlap skin to expose the leafy flesh beneath. Ed reached deep, jamming his monster arm in, far down where the diesel had not tainted the stuff, and he began to fill the sack. He reached in, drew out the stuff, dropped it in the sack, reached in, drew out, dropped in, reach, draw, drop.

When the sack was full, he went to the barn door, and he peeked out. Nothing moved except for the weeds in the warm breeze. He bunched the mouth of the bag together into a pucker and put it in the front seat of the Nazi's jeep. The keys were still in the ignition. "Thank you, fucker," he said.

Going back into the barn, Ed picked up his lantern and slowly turned the wick down until the light dimmed and dimmed and then was a tiny orange glow that lit nothing and then was gone. He put the lantern down, and in the pitch dark he drew out the book of matches and struck one, sulfur against rough. A tiny stink of what Hell was supposed to smell like and then a quick yellow flash. He waited while the flame ate the matchstick and grew fat. Then he bent carefully at the waist, feeling a twinge in the base of his spine, hardly noticing it, and he placed the plump little orange babe to the bale. The babe grew and made a twin of itself so Ed went to another spot on the bale and touched it again, made a triplet, then down and another sibling appeared and another and another until the family was crackling and popping having a party. Ed backed away, picking up his extinguished lantern, watching as the fire rose up and began reaching for the timbers and he could see Tow's rawhide belt steaming and the Nazi's pants catching fire and the bale was a great big gout of flame hissing out a tale of nastier things to come, arms reaching up and up sending fat yellow sparks to the loft which erupted with a low roar.

Ed went out the door and slammed it shut behind. From out there, you could see the sun inside the barn trying to get out. Thin lines of fire flickered and roared in there, saying that they were about to jump out, to cover the exterior of the barn and give off a show such as this old forgotten farm had never seen.

And when it did, when the barn went up like a ball of Hell, Ed was gone, taking the Nazi's jeep with him, taking it deep into the woods down logging roads thick with sassafras trees and post oaks and slash pines standing up like poles amidst the palmetto. There he left it, the keys hanging from the ignition, waiting for the next driver. An hour later, he was in the front of his pickup, the sack of dope stuffed behind the seat and his lantern on the floorboard.

And then he was home.

The next morning, black children, whose families had seen the orange glow of the burning barn in the night, came through their secret paths and they poked about in the cooling ashes. One of them found a little blob of silver, never knowing that it was silver, or that it had once been a twisted swastika.

Nothing else. There was nothing else except for vague, dark ashes that had ceased to smolder waiting for rain.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Woo HOO!

At last!



Ten years after I conceived the project, the anthology EVERMORE has seen publication from Arkham House Books!



I apologize for my appearance in this photo, but I'd just arrived home from a rough day at work. But I was too excited not to have my photo taken with this gorgeous volume from Arkham House! One of my dreams was to see my name in print on an AH title. And here it is!



Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Casino Royale

I've never been a James Bond movie fan. In fact, I've only sat through two of them--one Roger Moore and one Pierce Brosnan. I was never much impressed with the Bond films, except that most of them seem to have kickass opening credits and some really nifty action sequences.

So I wasn't expecting a whole lot when I went to see the new Bond movie featuring a new actor in the role of James Bond.

It was really cool.

Go see it.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Youth, a poem.

Youth
By
James Robert Smith


We may look
back
in time
at photos of our
golden, glowing
youth.
And we may say,
Where did it go,
My youth? Where did I
Spend it?
But
we don’t spend our
youth.
We invest it.
And if it bears
a child, or two,
and golden, glowing
grandchildren who light
the world with
unknown promise and
smiling, innocent eyes,
then that was
indeed
a wise and wise investment.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Neandertals Did This, Too. (A Poem)

Neandertals Did This, Too
By
James Robert Smith



My
father-in-law is
dead

Frank,
dead.

I know it isn’t
generally
supposed to be
that way,
but,
he was my friend.

On visits to
her parents’
home,
my wife would have to pry me
out
because of the long
conversations.

Frank
was a great guy. He
should have run
for office.

At the memorial
service I
am pissed off.
I am still
angry
with Frank.

For dying, for leaving
us.

He killed himself,
to my way of
thinking.

Cigarettes killed him.
I’ve never known
anyone
as addicted to that
stuff
as Frank was. I’m angry because
he robbed us
of his company,
his conversation,
his laugh,
his voice,
his father’s way
with love.

So.
I stand in the funeral home
and the people are there
in
freaking
droves.

More than one
thousand.
I kid you
not.

He should have run for
office, before it was
too
late.

No more plans to drive
his truck and trailer out
west. No more
plans for me
my wife
my son
to fly out and meet them in
Seattle
and travel up
the Al-Can
Highway to Denali.

Dreams die, too.

I’m pissed off.
With Frank.
With everyone.
The whole process of
memorial service
and funeral
pisses
me
off.

How stupid.
How much money has
his wife spent on
this dark shindig?

I’m full of myself.
I’m full of contempt for
everyone there.
Stupid apes,
I think.

His only son,
my wife’s brother,
approaches Frank’s casket
where
Frank lies pasty and white
and dead.

What is Ed
doing?
This yokel? This welder?
This wanna-be cowboy?
This womanizer?
This hellion?
This party animal?
This divorced jerk?
What is he doing?

He leans over the
casket.
I drift over.
To see.

Ed slips a
hunting magazine
into the casket
with Frank. Field & Stream,
Frank’s favorite.
And Ed puts a snapshot
of himself,
a small color
photo
into the pocket of the
coat
Frank wears.

I freeze.
The anger flows out
of me.
Back at
myself.
I feel
small.
And stupid.
And selfish.
And
alone.

It is all I can do
not to burst into
insane
laughter.

This man,
this son,
has shamed me
with this primitive,
touching
act of love.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Look! (A Poem)

Look!
By
James Robert Smith

Look how FAR
we’ve come,
they brag
(as if they’d done it themselves).
Jumbo jets!
Computers!
DVD players!
Interstate highways!
Skyscrapers!
Sewage systems!
Automobiles!
Modern medicine!
MORE computers!
Cell phones!
Satellites!
Space stations!
Planetary probes!
We’re great! We’re #1,
they say.
But do they EVER
stop to think
that we should have
achieved all that
stuff
500 years ago?
1,000 years ago?
That we should be
sitting, perhaps,
in the lap of luxury in
Paradise,
either here on Earth
or in orbit around
Betelgeuse? or Barnard’s Star?
or Proxima Centauri?
Or hauling black holes
around the Universe like tinker toys
while God kisses our ass?
No. I doubt
that ever occurs
to them.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Celebreation Gone Wrong, a poem.

Celebration Gone Wrong
By
James Robert Smith


This happened a few years ago,
at a strip club on Monroe Road
right here in town,
one block from where I now
work.
Three brothers were out
celebrating
the medical school graduation of
the youngest of the three.
He was going to be a dentist.
So they went out eating
and drinking
and capped it off with a visit to
a titty bar.
While in this establishment
they became a little louder than
they might otherwise have become
due to the celebration of the
youngest brother becoming a
doctor.
The manager of the joint,
a recent parolee named
Shorty McGuire
got in their faces.
They told him to go to Hell.
He told them to leave.
They did so,
but
turned around one last time
to tell Shorty where to stick
it.
Shorty waited for them to get out of the door
and
standing in that glass partition
on the titty bar side of it
he put three slugs from his
.38
into the new, young doctor
killing him
instantly.
Back to the pen for Shorty.
Off to the worm ranch for
the young dentist who would
never get to
ply his trade
make his mark
earn a good living
buy a huge house
fix a bad smile
pull some teeth
marry a pretty girl
raise a family
be happy.
I don’t remember the kid’s
name
but I recall Shorty,
and his ugly, worthless, bearded
face in the newspaper.
Seems he needed some
dental work.
Shorty’s gone now.
In prison forever.
The titty bar is still there.


'Click

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

New chapter of Coda.

I've posted a new chapter of my online novel, Coda.



You can read the new segment here.



Myself, my son (Andy), my nephew Mark and his son, Harris.

On the summit of Sam Knob, in the NC high country.


'Click


Sunday, November 05, 2006

Waterfalls and peaks.

Just returned from the North Carolina high country. I viewed a waterfall I'd never seen, and climbed a peak that's an old friend.

More later, when I've rested.



'Click


Thursday, November 02, 2006

Back to Panthertown Valley!

I haven't been hiking in Panthertown Valley wilderness since October of 2004. So I'm headed up there for two days and two nights to show my son, and my nephew and his son why it's called "the Yosemite of the East".





I'll post here when we return!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Liss Gap, a poem.

Liss Gap
By
James Robert Smith

My first long
backpacking trip,
at fifteen years of age,
I labor up
from Dick’s Creek Gap.
Up.
Up from the highway,
deep
into woods
climbing
the slopes of a 4,000
foot peak.
We slab along
the sides, climbing.
My pack weighs 65
pounds, I 180.
I sweat,
my heart beats,
hard,
sweat pours down,
into my eyes,
my hair wet, my back
drenched,
my legs tired.
We walk,
we four,
high school pals,
on a seven-day
trek.
At the top, we pause,
briefly,
in deep hardwoods,
silence,
then push on.
Tired, gasping for
breath, hoping for
relief, I wonder
why I’m here,
in woods,
on high ridges,
sweating, gasping,
wondering.
And then,
we come to Liss Gap.
Level, between
peaks. Forests, as
far as one can
see.
Deep.
Green. Dark.
The ground is hidden
by ferns that hug
the forest floor
and carpet it in hues
of lighter green.
Above it all,
a stand of
tall, vertical, proud,
pale poplars.
Acres of them.
On and on.
Straight, like some
natural exercise in
Geometry.
I shed my pack.
I sit
among the ferns,
soft leaves a
cushion,
and I admire
the poplars, the ferns,
the greens,
the sunlight and shadows,
on and on.
I breathe,
I smile,
I know why I’m here,
in Liss Gap.









Monday, October 30, 2006

Evil Biscuit

Evil Biscuit
By
James Robert Smith


While my wife
is in surgery
yet again,
I take
the elevator up to
the Mezzanine where
the fast food sells
and
I order a large
iced tea
and a chicken biscuit
for $3.34
and the girl at
the register
says, “Your change is
666.”
Was the biscuit
evil?
Or was it
the tea?
Or both?






Thursday, October 26, 2006

Online novel.

I've decided to publish an online novel. Entitled Coda, it's something I'm working on as I labor to finish another novel which is close to completion.

My intent is to publish a new chapter or segment each week until it's done.

If you want to take a look, you can see it here, at JamesRobertSmith.net.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Look at him.

Look at Him
By
James Robert Smith


Look at that bastard
sitting there
in the waiting room
with those two volumes
of modern
poetry
reading like he’s some kind of
stuck-up snob.
Look at him!
He’s got a hardbound notebook!
One of those hoity-toity
composition books!
Look at him.
He opens it up on his fat damned lap
and writes in it.
Probably thinks he’s writing
some great, bloody poem.
What an asshole.

Wait a minute!
That’s me!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Man-Hater's wet dream destroys the forests.

Man-Hater’s wet dream destroys our Eastern forests.
By
James Robert Smith

Go see them while you can.

In several sections of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are stands of hemlock trees that were never cut when lumber companies were hacking their ways through our vast tracts of forest. These trees, while not on the order of California’s redwoods, are nonetheless impressive. To stand amidst them and look up at those evergreen branches, their trunks rising great all around, the ground carpeted in the redred rust of needles shed and coppering on the forest floor... Well, you have to go see it, I guess, to understand the experience. Words are not sufficient.

But if you want to see them, you’d better hurry.

A few decades ago, someone bringing Asian hemlocks to the area around Washington DC introduced a pest called the Hemlock wooly adelgid. A bug. Native to the Old World, this pernicious little whore is of a species that has no males. Like arthropod versions of the Tribble, they’re all female and all born with the ability to eat like a black hole and lay jillions of eggs that hatch into versions of their bitch mommas. America’s hemlocks have no resistance to them, and there is no native beetle to prey on the tiny cunts. So they have had their way with the hemlock forests of America’s east coast. The Park Service is doing what it can to stem the infestations, but it looks as if the hemlock is going to become as extinct as the American chestnut.

So. If you want to see these amazing stands of trees, then you’ll have to visit the Smokies within the next few years. After that, the trunks will still be standing, but they’ll be dead. I’ve asked folk who know where the most impressive stands are located in the park and I’ve been making an effort to see them over the past few years. Biologists are predicting the complete elimination of both the Eastern hemlock and the Carolina hemlock from our forests. If you’ve never seen a hemlock tree, you might not know how beautiful they are. They’re my favorite tree when I’m hiking and backpacking. Instantly recognizable. Always green, branches sheltering, growing very tall. I’ve seen hemlocks over 150 feet tall.

All around us, the Earth is telling us how sick it is. All around us. Our atmosphere is in turmoil, but those who control us claim otherwise. Our forests are sickening, but those who hold domain over them want to cut them down. Our wildlife is vanishing, but those who can help will not allow us to protect that life. The land itself is poisoned, but those who pull the strings won’t let us cleanse that land.

Do yourselves a favor and visit the hemlock forests of the Great Smoky Mountains and the Southeast before the only thing remaining of them are dead, drying husks that once were trees.

Yours,

Bob.


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Monday, October 23, 2006

James Dickey Wasn't Writing Metaphor: Gilmer County & Ellijay, Snookie Fodder

Dickey Wasn't Speaking In Metaphor
By
James Robert Smith

In what now seems to me to be a very long time ago in a place very, very far away, I lived with monsters.

My father, fleeing an arrest warrant in Macon, Georgia where he'd been convicted of selling Playboy Magazine and then breaking conditions of his subsequent release by selling another such magazine, took himself and what remained of his family to the mountains of northern Georgia. He had bought a one hundred and twenty acre tract of barely accessible land in a backwater county named Gilmer. There are one hundred and sixty-nine counties in the great state of Georgia. Gilmer may very well be one of the strangest.

My father's acreage was bounded on all but one side by land owned by the gigantic Rome-Kraft Paper Company. I recall that they had accidentally planted part of a grove of pines on our side of the property line. This amused me until I realized that at some time they must have "accidentally" crossed the line to cut the hardwoods that had formerly been there; you could see some mighty oak stumps that had once formed the basis for some impressive trees. Oh, well.
Our human neighbors were few and far between. Perhaps the term "mountaineer" would best describe these folk. Human seems not to be the correct word. Denizens, perhaps, seems much more appropriate. At any rate, we basically had no neighbors. Most of the inhabitants of those mountains had fled for the lowlands-- where there were jobs--during the decades leading up to the Great Depression, so there were less people living there in the 1970s than there had been at the turn of the century. Our nearest neighbor was more than two miles from our front door. Our driveway was a shade over a mile long.

It took many bulldozers many repeat visits and dump trucks many trips to level and gravel our driveway. I have no idea how much my father spent on that road, but it must have been a pile.
The first five or six loads of gravel were sucked up by the thick, clinging red clay as if they had been illusions. It was only in the second year we were there that the gravel stopped being devoured by the road. One would have supposed that the Earth there had enough rock in it.

Our property was studded with former home sites and the low walls of rock picked out of former fields by ignorant dirt farmers long ago. The houses were all gone, save for vague foundations amid the pines and red oaks. The walls that marked the boundaries of former fields were quite evident and indicative of the struggle between the poor bastards who had lived there and the damned land that didn't want to give up a decent living. Well, they were almost all gone, by then. The denizens, that is.

When my parents fled Macon on the wrong end of that arrest warrant issued by that motherfucker Mayor Ronnie Thompson, they had about $60,000 in the bank. Enough to scrape out that road into the wilderness and build us a three bedroom house way, way down in the farthest reaches of our land: a place my father called Bear Scare Valley (another story for another time).

I recall that my father thought that he would enjoy this land and the people who lived there. He had read much of the friendliness and the generosity of the mountain people. Many stories.

They were all lies.

Now, all these years later, I am convinced of something. After I left Gilmer County and the land and the people there became bad memories and tenacious nightmares, I read a book called DELIVERANCE, written by a man named James Dickey. It's funny, for while I was living in Gilmer County a movie was released based on Mr. Dickey's book. I'm convinced that the fictional town in his novel was Ellijay, in our very own Gilmer County. I'm convinced that his "Cahullowassee River" was actually the Coosawattee River, which was being dammed to create the Carters Reservoir. The seven hundred foot deep gorge we used to stand and look down upon is now a vast lake. A pity.

When I finally read that book and later viewed that movie, I was chilled with the familiarity of it all. He nailed that place and those folk, for I lived among them and can vouch as sordid fact the things he spelled out in those works. Thinking of it, I shudder. I recall the barely human things who lived in those isolated hills, their dialect a remnant of people long dead elsewhere in this country, their flesh warped and twisted like their minds by vicious inbreeding to the point of the closest of incestuous relationships, their minds little more than urges to survive, their brains merely lust generators.

My earliest exposure to these folk were rides on the school bus, which picked me up roughly at 6 am and deposited me many miles away at the high school some two and one half hours later. I repeated that ride each afternoon. I was only fifteen years old, a kid. I didn't know any better than to sit and take it. There were books to read, and I often conversed with the kids who rode with me. It only took me a week or so to decipher their dialect. "The Fire" was the Fair. When those kids kept asking me if I was going to "the fire", images of vast bonfires surrounded by pale, jabbering faces kept appearing in my mind. Oh, I finally surmised. The Fair. I didn't go.

Eventually, I made acquaintances with some of these kids. I can't call them friends, for I shared no true common interests with them, nor secrets. But people do what people can to exist in a normal way. One day, on the bus, I agreed with my younger brother and two of the local boys to go camping at a certain place along a small river called Talking Rock Creek, a tributary feeding into the Coosawattee River. We were going to descend the steep gorge down to the edge of the creek and sleep at the foot of a precipice called Cedar Cliffs by the locals.

Cedar Cliffs was an impressive formation. It loomed a good two hundred feet above the torrent of Talking Rock Creek. Pale and gray, it was a jagged, cave-pocked wall that stood horribly high, overlooking the whitewater that thrashed at its feet. Below it, just above the level of the creek, was a great overhang that afforded shelter from the rain; it was an ideal camping spot. We went.
My father took us in his pickup truck to gather the other two boys. My younger brother and I rode up front with him. When the two acquaintances from the bus tumbled into the back of the truck, my father emerged to help them load their quilts and pillows and other supplies. One stayed in back with their stuff, the other followed on a dirt bike. From a dark porch hanging onto a shack of a house, someone who may have been a parent watched us ride off with their son. As we bounced along the rutted logging road that led to the lip of the gorge behind Cedar Cliffs, my father looked back at our rider and then at me and he said, "You're going to learn about cleanliness on this trip." I saw that he was eyeing their quilts. Later, helping move stuff down the slopes beside the cliffs, I touched one of those quilts. I scrubbed my hands in the churning waters of Talking Rock Creek.

By mid-afternoon we four boys had our camp set up to our satisfaction. My father was long gone and there was only us: Myself, brother, D-- W-- K-- and R-- C--.

D-- W-- was a picture of inbreeding. His head was misshapen in a way that was hard to describe. One could only say that there was something not quite right about his skull. His skin was pale almost to the point that there didn't seem to be any pigment there. His hair, what there was of it in a thin thatch over that skull, was a dirty blond going to dark brown at the crown. His teeth, what there were of them, bucked out from his thick lips. Mostly they were yellow, but some of them were green. A lot of his teeth were gone, and a few of those that remained seemed to be hanging on out of spite of my eyes.

R-- C-- was short and solidly built. He was only about six inches over five feet tall, if that. His hair was thick, so thick that it formed a kind of cap on his ugly head. I could imagine rain shedding off of that brown stuff effectively. I'd heard that his parents dearly loved him, and unlike K--, his teeth were all in his head and his hair was regularly washed so that it did not mat on his scalp as D-- W--'s did. But his quilts were equally as filthy.

We spent the day exploring the cliff. We climbed up to the top and looked down at the caves which could be reached by way of a thin ledge but which I was afraid to venture upon. I'd heard that feral goats lived there, and sure enough I could see mounds of goat droppings outside of one of the caves. I also recall chasing lizards--green anoles fading to brown and back as we ran them down and into cover. They all got away. The fish were not so lucky, and we cooked them over a fire we built in our campsite beneath the overhang under Cedar Cliffs.

Darkness came.

We made pallets under the cliff. We talked well into the night, although I have absolutely no recollection of what was said. No recollection at all. We built up our fire and gathered wood and looked out into the darkness. The creek roared and splashed and we could hear nothing else but the creek. Talking Rock Creek spoke and blathered and never stopped. At last, though, we faltered and I fell into a deep and tired sleep. My younger brother to my back, I dreamed.

I awoke.

It was very dark. I was looking up at the roof of the overhang, uncounted tons of solid stone somehow supported as if my some Frank Lloyd Wrightian magic. The fire was almost out. Not quite, but almost. There was only the pitch-blackness of a moonless, overcast, starless night amidst the dark and piney woods. But for that faint, barely revealing luster of the fire's fading afterglow. It was almost as if the fire was loaning my immediate surroundings some kind of infrared gift of sight.

Had I heard a sound? No. No sound but the rushing water. Had I seen something? There was nothing but us. Nothing had moved. No one had risen. No one was mov..
In the dim orangey glow of the fire I could see something move. I peered across at the quilt-covered form of R-- C-- and DW K--. They were a clothed lump in the blackness; a mass, one might say. A single mass in the night. In the dark. Far and far and away down in the gorge at the foot of Cedar Cliffs beside the babbling scream of Talking Rock Creek.

It took a long time for me to comprehend. I was an innocent and naive fifteen-year-old.

The quilt rose. It fell.

It rose. Fell.

There was no sound. No sound, I tell you. No one spoke. No one grunted or squealed or even seemed to breathe.

There, far away from my home, from my mother and father, I was watching R-- C-- fuck DW K-- in the ass. As I realized this I felt the lump of fish in my stomach freeze like a tray of solid ice. And I recall that I slowly reached back to make certain that my little brother was still with me, still at my back.

Seconds passed. I realized that I was staring and so squinted my eyes so that no one could see anything reflected in them should they turn my way. A long time seemed to flow slowly by, unlike the water in Talking Rock Creek, which bubbled and roared on and on and on. The quilt rose. And it fell. I waited for it to stop, but it didn't. I thought of R-- C-- there, locked over DW's boney frame, and I wondered if he had a knife, if he were aware that I was awake, if he were human. I waited for that slow, almost bellows-like movement to end. I stopped watching.
Somehow, I made myself become drowsy. I felt that, somehow, if I let them know I was awake, that I was seeing what was happening, then something bad would happen. I wasn't physically afraid of the two: I felt I could fight them easily. I was taller and heavier and stronger than both of them. But they could even have brought a gun, I thought. And so, strangely, I not only became drowsy, I slept.

Morning came. I got up. DW and R-- were still asleep. My father was picking us up early there at the top of the gorge, and I was happy for that. Oh, man, was I happy for that. Quickly, my little brother and I gathered our stuff and began to take it up the steep trail to the top of the cliffs. "Ain't you'ns a-goin' to fish no more," DW called to us.
When my father came, my brother and I jumped a bit too eagerly into the truck. My father asked us if we had fun and we made small talk. "We caught some fish," I told him. "We cooked them over the fire."

The next day I was out at the edge of the woods that pressed in all around our little house down there in Bear Scare Valley at the end of that mile-long driveway with the nearest neighbor two miles away and the nearest paved road three miles away and the nearest phone five miles distant. My brother saw me out there and joined me as I sat in the brown and brittle forest floor.

"Did you see anything last night," he asked.

"What," I said.

"Did you see or hear anything last night?"

"No," I said. "What are you talking about?"

"Fuck yes, you did, too. You know damned well what I'm talking about."

"I don't know what you're talking about," I told him and retreated to the house.

In time, we all retreated completely from our mountain home. We abandoned it and sold it when my parents died. The locals savaged the place after we left. We had no way to secure it from the mindless creatures who inhabit those hills, and there was nothing to do but sell it away. By the time we left, my father held no more illusions concerning the “people” who exist in those green and stunted mountains in the north of Georgia. Dickey knows them. There are some who say that there is something of value in them. I hear that Don West, the working class poet that was spawned by this same Gilmer County professes some worthiness to these mountain folk. But, not I.

When I think of them, I think of their black and distrustful eyes shining dark and flinty out at you. I think of their filth and their rotted teeth and the dark, tilted hovels in which they spawned their offspring: children of their own, out of their own children. And I think of Talking Rock Creek blathering like a party of madmen. And I think of that quilt rising, like a great beast drawing breath; and falling, like a monster huffing. Rising and falling. Like that. Not stopping.
And I think of my own prudent silence. I made myself sleep. I kept my mouth shut, that night on Talking Rock Creek.

And, by God, Dickey wasn’t speaking in metaphor.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

When Messiahs Come

When Messiahs ComeBy
James R. Smith


When messiahs first
realize they are
special,
do they,
for instance,
as certain gays
taking those initial
tentative steps out of
the closet,
gather, perhaps,
a dozen pals,
and say to them, (shyly),
“So. Like, would you…
follow me?”

Friday, October 20, 2006

Ark

Ark
By
James Robert Smith


Species, going two by two
into Extinction’s black ark.
Trees
on LeConte
drinking poison rain.
The tall, once green trunks bleaching
white, bone white
dead
dry
in air, once cool
once good
now dangerous, biting, killing,
white death
blowing on and on.

I walk in sun,
dangerous,
that once fed us all
and now burns
in some new
sub-cellular
way.
I walk in sun
where shade was once,
protecting the earth,
providing cover,
making a canopy
that now is gone,
branches gone
needles gone
deep balsam fragrance gone.

Where are the little
red squirrels who once
chattered?
Who once gathered food?
Who once lived?
Where are they?
Gone to that black ark,
or on their ways,
some few stragglers hanging back
to say goodbye.

I walk up the mountain,
maybe walking like the red squirrels
up the ramp of that black ark?
Does anyone else see
it?
Don’t they know? Don’t they see
the trees,
my trees,
the forests of my youth
once tall and strong
climax rain forest clothing
the slopes like a black cloak
healthy and dark
the fragrance I can still recall
but barely,
barely as even the trees tilt
toward that ramp
that leads ever upward to
that black ark.

Everything is going.
Beautiful cats,
lynx, tiger, lion
once proud and numbering the
plains are fading fast.
The elephants, largest
that yet remain of the old
Pleistocene masses that
Man recalls, that Man destroyed
that Man will put away in that black ark
closing up the door as they go
two by two
to that final journey into
Oblivion
hastened by a poisonous mouth that has no
parallel in Greed
in Ignorance.

I stand on the peaks
and feel the poison clouds
enveloping me, invisibly
burning with a touch so feather soft
that it’s the perfect poison.
How can such a thing be deadly?
And I turn and look,
the trees,
our trees,
the forest of my youth,
once tall and strong and black
with green so green it was once
dark like shadows, dark like the pupils in
the eyes of patient tigers
lying in wait.

Only a few see. And they have
no power to
make things right. No power
to stop the poison
to close up the ark
to tear down that ramp
where the creations of
Creation are shoved
two by two
into the white, dead, sterile place
from whence there is no return.

I stand on that mountaintop
and I see the ramp!
I’m standing on it!
My son is standing on it! My family is standing on it!
You are standing on it!
Pushing all before you!
I’m doing it along with you. I’m nudging small
bodies, green things, large things,
needed things, unknown fellows we will never
now know for they will
be gone before we meet them.

And we’ll follow.
Going with our brothers,
Our sisters,
Our fellow creations
As one of two
by two
Into that white, dead place
in that great
black
ark.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Monday, October 16, 2006

I used to know a Nazi.

I used to know a Nazi. Now, I mean the real deal. His name was Michael S--- and he was a German national who had been raised in Asia as an infant and then the USA. So he spoke flawless American-accented English. I was into several conversations with him before I knew he was a German and not an American.

Mike’s (he wanted me to call him Mike) family had been Nazi Party types, big time (as Dick Cheney would say). When the war was winding down, and the American troops were coming (they were lucky enough to have lived in what would be the American zone), his grandparents had to assemble family members and scramble to knock down the brick fa├žade on their rather large house because they’d redesigned it to include colored bricks forming an enormous swastika on one side of the ancestral home. They knew that the American troops would use it for target practice if they didn’t act quickly and get rid of it. They succeeded and the only thing the troops saw was a house with a pile of bricks on one side of it.

Mike thought that the Nazis were okay. They went “a little too far”, he would say. (I never told him that my mom was half-Jewish and this fact would have made me oven-fodder during the Reich.) Mike would bring in large maps that his uncles had given him, military maps that were handed out to soldiers before various campaigns. My favorite was “The Push to Norway”, which was given to all soldiers at the start of some Nordic campaign (which, I assume, ended with the installation of Mr. Quisling). I would look at Mike’s face as he gazed longingly at these maps. His favorite document, which I never saw, was his mother’s birth certificate, which was emblazoned with a “beautiful” Nazi swastika.

Mike would talk about his Uncle Otto who had fought in both World Wars, only to see his nation lose each time. “Talk about a bitter man,” Mike would tell me. You don’t say.

At any rate, the point of all of this is something Mike said to me that pissed me off at the time, but which fills me with dread now, and not for the reason most might think.

During one of our conversations that had degenerated into an argument, Mike told me, “Germany is going to get the eastern territories back”. I didn’t say anything to this, but merely gawked. “Next time, we’re going to get it right.” I gawked some more before reacting, angrily.

Now, I don’t for one second believe that Germany is going to try to retake any “eastern territories”. I don’t. Germans won’t go down that road again. (At least that’s what I believe.) What chills me now is the part about “getting it right”.

Doesn’t it stand to reason that some maniacs with lots of military, political, and economic power might try to take over the world, as many have tried (something only rarely, and anciently, having worked)? Doesn’t it stand to reason that there might arise some persons or group who would, at last, “get it right”?

America is currently in a totalitarian state that is doing just that. This time, these guys, this team, is going to “get it right”. They will allow limited so-called free speech (if, like The Clash said, you’re not actually dumb enough to use that right). No overt racist propaganda. There will be scapegoat-ing, yes, but no mention of vast concentration camps and extermination depots. They may scapegoat, and they may exterminate, but it will be done without overt racist propaganda.

Has it begun? Yep. Will they succeed? I don’t know. But I do know they think, with all of their dark, filthy hearts and poisoned, devious, scheming minds, that they have, at last, gotten it right.

Thanks for the tip, Mr. S---. Oh, and by the way, I’m glad your Uncle Otto died a bitter man.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Kittens.

"Kittens"By
James Robert Smith

When I first became a letter carrier, I never knew where I'd be delivering mail. That's the curse and the blessing of being a new Part Time Flexible employee of the USPS. The Part Time label is misleading. There's no "part time" about it. I’d do fifty plus hours a week. But the flexible: ah, there was the rub. Until I walked through the door in the morning and went to the desk of my supervisor, I didn't know precisely where I’d deliver the mail. It might’ve been to a neighborhood where the houses all cost over half a million bucks apiece and the streets are fifty feet wide and lined with hundred-year-old oaks. Or it could’ve been a public housing war zone with not a tree in sight and stray dogs roaming about looking for a mailman to bite, and crackheads trying to figure out a way to fool me into thinking they live in a unit where I'm about to deliver a welfare check they can steal. I never knew.

One day I had the best of both worlds. I delivered to a war zone, and I dropped mail among the jillionaires.

In the low income area I tromped about in the sun, the temperature as usual was well into the nineties and approaching one hundred. Sweat poured off of my head and into my eyes and soaked my clothes from shoulder to ankle. But I didn't mind. I only had to think of merely one of the minimum wage jobs I’d had before the Postal Service rescued me and I was resuscitated. So I moved along, went from house to house and watched for mean doggies in this strange place.
Along one of the streets I happened upon a yard in which a rather large Rotweiler strained against chain and collar to get at my flesh. I gave the big doggie perhaps a wider berth than was necessary. And there came a young voice from behind me. "Hey," it said. I turned my head as I continued to pound the steaming pavement and noticed a group of kids following me. About seven or eight kids, one of them a white boy who glided silently along with the others on his bike.

"Hey," I returned.

"Are you scared of that dog?" The speaker was the kid in front, bigger than the rest of them and I figured he was their leader.

"Heck, yes, I'm scared of that dog."

There was a moment of silence from the kid. None of the others said anything. I got the distinct impression that they'd never heard a grown man admit that he was afraid of something. Finally, he spoke up as I approached my next stop.

"I'm scared of him, too," the kid said.

"I'm scared of all dogs," I told them. "They can all bite."

The kid considered that for a second as I put the mail in the box on the front porch of the house and turned toward the next one. "You're scared of all dogs," he asked.

"Yep." I moved efficiently along and the kids followed me, silently.

"Are you scared of cats?"

I smiled. "Nope. Cats don't weigh one hundred pounds and bite your ass," I told him. He laughed.

"Well, goodbye," the kid said. And he and his partners peeled quietly away and vanished down a side street. I walked on.

At the next house in this "bad" neighborhood, as I walked up to the front porch, I noticed that the stairs and the porch itself were covered in kittens. Yes, kittens. Little, furry, delightful kittens. They all turned my way and mewed oh so faintly and made me want to take them home with me. As I stooped to pat a particularly friendly little tabby on its tiny head, the front door opened and out came a young black man.

He smiled at me, said "hi" and I returned the greeting and handed him his mail. He was dressed in a uniform and obviously works for a big landscaping company here in town. I asked him about the kittens. "What are you going to do with all of these kittens," I said. "Are you giving them away," I added before he can answer.

"Yeah," he told me. "You're welcome to one. Me and my wife are buying a house. Moving to a much better neighborhood," he added. "She feeds these cats and they take up here and start having kittens, and I don't want them at the new house so we're giving them all away."

"Wow. Did one cat have all these kittens? They all look the same age." I indicated the dozen or so baby cats lying about.

"No. Two cats." He pointed to a calico. "That one had all the colorful ones." And he showed me a yellow cat lying under a chair. "And she had all the dark ones. About a day apart."

"Well, I can't take one right now. I just started the day and a kitten would die in my jeep on a day like this. But can I come back some time and get one?"

"Yeah. Sure. Just come by after work and you can have one. We're moving soon. To a nice neighborhood," he reminded me.

I waved at him and said goodbye, left. As he drove off I mentally kicked my own ass for not introducing myself.

And this dumb little poem comes to me.

Kittens here and kittens there.
Kittens, kittens everywhere.
Kittens on the porch
and kittens on the lawn.
Kitten siblings and kittens' mom.
Now I don't know if this is bad,
but there was no sign of kittens' dad.


We all have our ways of staying sane. So, there. There was my day. Another typical day in the life of this mailman.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Next signing event.


My next author appearance will be Sunday, November 12 at the Charlotte Comic Con run by Dave Hinson (of Dave's Comics) and Rick Fortenberry. If you can't wait that long for a copy of the novel, you can try a local Barnes & Noble or Borders Books, or buy a copy online at Amazon.com or at Shocklines.om or Barnes & Noble Online or any of a number of other online sellers. Heck. Even Wal-Mart has it in stock!

A big thanks to all of the readers who are fueling the sales of The Flock!

Harry Potter and the Wage Slaves.

“HARRY POTTER AND THE WAGE SLAVES”
By
James Robert Smith

Well, it was a first for the Postal Service, as far as I knew. Granted, I’ve been with them less than ten years, but a standup talk concerning the legalities of delivering a newly released children’s book had to be unique.

There we were, called away from our cases where we’d all been busy getting the mail ready for delivery. These talks are almost a daily occurrence, yes, but they generally involve safety issues or changes in protocol. This time, however, the talk was about HARRY POTTER.

And the “something or other”.

The USPS had an exclusive contract to deliver some unknown hundreds of thousands of copies of this book. They were to be delivered on Saturday. The station manager reinforced this fact a number of times. “Saturday only,” he repeated. If we were to find any copy of the book in our parcel bins before said Saturday, we were to turn them in to our supervisor where they would then be locked in the manager’s office until the proper date.

Anyone caught delivering a HARRY POTTER (“and the something or other”) before the aforementioned Saturday would be fired.

That’s fired. Not spoken to. Not written up. Not disciplined.

Fired.

I returned to my case after the talk, sweating the possibility that one of the hideous novels might be in my parcel bin early and that I’d deliver it by accident to some horrid kid who would rat me out. It could happen, I supposed. How would I know if I had one? Aren’t they delivered in plain brown wrappers, I thought? I asked my shop steward about that.

“No,” he told me. “They have HARRY POTTER written on the package.”

“You’ve seen them?” I asked.

“No. But I’ve been told.”

Great. Something else to worry over. I began to think of them as something more like THE NECRONOMICON than a children’s book. Maybe one would worm its way into my mailbag and wreak havoc. When, an hour later, I was ready to hit the streets, I pawed through every package very carefully. Maybe my skin would crawl when I touched one. There were a number of brown boxes in there from Amazon and B&N. None of them had ‘HARRY POTTER’ printed on them. Cool. I was safe.

But the USPS is notorious for blaming employees for events far beyond the control of those employees. I’d been dressed down for not delivering mail that arrived in the office long after I’d left for the street. As if I could do anything about it. Cold sweats again, so I pushed it out of my mind.

Saturday, the books arrived. I had a dozen of the little bastards. HARRY POTTER & THE SOMETHING-OR-OTHER. My shop steward was right: it was printed on the outside of the packages. I got the mail ready and hit the streets. I placed the novels in mailboxes, put them on porches, leaned them against doorjambs and rang the bells.

I handed one over to a mom who happened to be waiting at the door. She called to her daughter. “Your Harry Potter book is here,” she yelled. A blond-headed ten-year-old appeared from within the air-conditioned depths of the house. “Oh my God,” the little girl yelled. “It’s here!”

Indeed.

My job was safe for another day. But, last week, word in the office was that more than one letter carrier had been fired for delivering that damned book a day early. Anecdotal material, unverified by either management or union, but there it was.

All I cared was that I was home free. Harry Potter be damned.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Some Day.

Some Day
By
James Robert Smith

I feel that the day
may arrive when
I will see distant peaks and
not wish to climb them.

I may one day see a
pretty girl and
just see a
person.

A day could arrive
when the wind blows
through trees, rushing through
leaves and the forest will not
call my name.

A sun could rise over
sparkling waters and I
will not wish to
plunge in.

A morning may dawn
and I will awaken
and my legs will ache
too much to take me
down paths
through woods
in valleys
on trails
atop ridges
that overlook
the world.

I hope that morning,
that sun,
that day
if it comes
will be far and far and far
away.





Offline.

I've been offline for some days. My wife and I went camping at Hurricane Campground in the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area in Virginia. Considered one of the finest National Forest campgrounds, it deserves its ranking. I'll add a new blog after I organize from the drive home.




Thursday, October 05, 2006

Human Nature: I Must not be Incuded.

Human Nature:
I Must Not Be Included

By
James Robert Smith

I went out to eat dinner at a seafood restaurant with Carole, her mom, her dead brother’s daughter, and her Aunt H-- and Uncle S--. As usual at these gatherings of my in-laws I just sat there and listened—I don’t generally have anything to add to conversations about people of whom I know nothing. But Carole’s Aunt H-- began telling a brief story about another Aunt: P--. Now, P-- I do know. She’s about as horrid a person as I’ve ever met. Pure snob, bossy, and completely without tact: a classic example of the self-centered jackass. I loathe her.

Apparently, another relative had died (don’t ask me who, but she was rich), and P-- had hoped to inherit some money from this relative, but didn’t. So, still trying to butt her way into the death situation, she sat down and wrote an obituary, which she wanted to be placed in the local paper. But she wasn’t in a position of authority for this, and so had to hand it off to the woman, a cousin, who had been named in the dead relative’s will as the sole beneficiary of a couple of million dollars. When the obituary did appear in the paper, it was obvious to P-- that the one she had labored over had been cast aside and a new one written. This angered her. (And quite amused me.)

Since I assumed, from the catty quality of the story being related by H--, that H-- didn’t care for P-- any more than I do, I smiled, and blurted:

“Aunt P--: She puts the bitch in obituary!”

This went over like a fever blister. No one laughed, or smiled, or said anything. Carole revealed to me a bit later, after we left, that H-- and P-- are as tight as Jennifer Lopez’s jeans. Which doesn’t, however, preclude her from telling catty tales of P--.

Oh, well. I thought it was funny.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

"Screwdriver Throat", a script.

In earlier days, I wrote comic scripts from time to time. It was good work, if you could find it. Eventually, I couldn't quite get my foot in the door and went back to short stories and novels.

In my quest to expand the range of what I was selling to the comics industry, I wrote some true-story type things and some humor scripts. This one, "Screwdriver Throat" is both: based on an actual event related to me by an ambulance driver who worked that job in the 1960s.

I don't submit comic scripts anymore, so this is likely the only place I'll ever publish this. Take a look.




Screwdriver Throat
By
James Robert Smith


Page One

Panel One: Outside shot of an ambulance, circa 1959. An old Corvair.

Panel Two: Cab shot of the two occupants. POV from front looking in? We need to see their faces. There's Jimmy, wearing sideburns, black hair brylcremed back, trying to look like Elvis but too creepy to achieve anything approaching the right feel. (Looks kind of like a redneck Frankenstein monster). He's riding. The driver is Eddie, light-haired, taller, leaner, cleaner cut, normal looking guy.

Panel Three: Closeup of the dashboard. There's a police band radio in there. Eddie's hand can be seen adjusting the volume.
Radio: Attention! Suicide attempt at 118 Cranberry Lane. Male, 17 years of age. Proceed.

Panel Four: Close-up of Jimmy, smiling. We can see that he has at least two teeth missing.
Jimmy: Yee-HA, champ! Somethin' to do!

Page Two

Panel One: Outside shot of the ambulance, lights flashing. Speed marks.

Panel Two: Inside the cab with Eddie and Jimmy. Eddie doesn't look as happy.
Eddie: Shit. I hate suicide attempts. I feel like we're wasting our time. You know?
Jimmy: Whatchoo mean? Suicide or accident or medical emergency, it's all the same to me.

Panel Three: Eddie is driving with one hand and gesticulating with the other, pointing with some force at Jimmy who's flinching back, against his door.
Eddie: Bullshit! These dumbasses try to kill themselves and we have to run off and see to them, when we could be helping some poor kid who's been hit by a car or someone who's got hurt at work. But instead, we're out here running after some loser who can't take it anymore.

Panel Four: Jimmy has his hands up, as if to shield himself from Eddie's pointing finger.
Jimmy: Whatever you say, Buddy.
Eddie: And stop calling me "Buddy". I ain't your buddy!

Page Three

Panel One: Outside shot again of the ambulance. They're really tearing down the street. They're obviously in a notsogood neighborhood. (Everything circa late 50s.)

Panel Two: Jimmy has a map out, looking at it. Eddie seems to be glancing at Jimmy.
Eddie: Where the hell is it, Jimmy?
Jimmy: Shit. I should have known.
Eddie: Oh, no. Don't tell me. Don't say it.

Panel Three: Close-up on Jimmy's face. He appears to be uttering these words with some amount of insane glee.
Jimmy: Branford's Trailer Park! Yee-HA!

Panel Four: Side shot from driver's side, looking toward Jimmy. Eddie actually has loosened the steering wheel and has his face buried in his hands. Jimmy is staring at Eddie, eyes-a-popping.
Eddie: Shit! I hate that place! It's nothing but trouble! Last time we were there I got cut!
Jimmy: Grab the wheel! Jesus, Eddie!

Page Four

Panel One: Shot of the ambulance veering off the street and into a late 1950s era trailer park. A bad trailer park. Maybe the worst trailer park you can imagine.

Panel Two: Eddie is hunched over the steering wheel, peering ahead, squinting. They're at a kind of shitty dirt road intersection with trailers all crammed in together.
Eddie: What does that one say? Is that one Cranberry Lane? Jesus. Why do they give them these nice sounding names? They ought to call them Shit Road, or Crime Avenue or Fuckstick Way. Not Cranberry Lane! Bastards!

Panel Three: A ground level shot of an ambulance tire splashing into a pothole. We can see the trailer park's roads are all dirt.

Panel Four: Cab shot. Jimmy is pointing.
Jimmy: There it is! Cranberry Lane! I've been here! I thought it sounded familiar.
Eddie: You've been here? Why the hell would you come here?
Jimmy: Me and Mary almost moved in here. But I didn't like the trailer that was for rent. There was shit smeared on the bedroom wall.
Eddie: Give me a break!

Page Six

Panel One: The ambulance is pulling up in front a trailer that has a big crowd standing around it. Trailer trash, circa 1959. A lot of them look like Jimmy. Lots of little kids around, with bikes, fingers up their nostrils, etc.

Panel Two: Jimmy and Eddie are out of the ambulance, Eddie with his little emergency first aid kit. Eddie is addressing a fat woman standing there, baby in one arm, foot in a puddle.
Jimmy: Lady, do you know who needs our help? Who needs aid?

Panel Three: The fat lady is pointing toward a male figure who seems to be staggering out of the crowd around him. We can see his denimed legs and bare feet, but his face is obscured by fat lady's pointing hand.

Panel Four: Half body shot of the guy. We see him from waist up. I guess we can also see some people in the background. The guy's head is tilted back and there's a HUGE, heavy duty screwdriver sticking handle up, out of his mouth, which is held wide open to accommodate the screwdriver handle jutting out.
Caption: That's him. Dickey Wayne Crump!

Page Seven

Panel One: Eddie is standing there looking at the guy who, though his head is tilted at this crazy angle, is giving Eddie a really nasty stare.
Eddie: Can you sit down, sir? Can you sit down so I can help you?
Dickey Wayne: Uck oo! Uck oo! Uck e-ee-un!

Panel Two: Eddie is being shoved back by the guy.
Dickey Wayne: UCK OO, AN! UCK OO, AH ED!

Panel Three: Eddie is sitting on his ass in the mud. The guy standing over him.
Dickey Wayne: Uck oo.

Panel Four: Jimmy and Dickey Wayne in this panel. Jimmy has approached screwdriver-throat, his hands up in supplication, smiling his gap-toothed smile, his Elvis sideburns showing. Screwdriver-throat is looking at Jimmy, but no glaring at him.
Jimmy: Shit, man. That screwdriver looks like it hurts. Why don't you let us get that damn thang out your throat, man. Then you can tell us what's goin' on around here. How about it?

Page Eight

Panel One: We see Jimmy and Eddie sitting down on the front step of the trailer, the guy in between them.
Jimmy: We're going to get that thing out of your throat, now. Okay?
Guy: O Ay.
Eddie: You hold the back of his head, and I'll get that thing out of him. Hold tight, now. One. Two.

Panel Two: We see the guy's head. We can see Jimmy's hands holding the guy's skull. Eddie has a good grip and is pulling back. The screwdriver is already halfway out in this shot. Kind of sloppy, I would assume. (Some blood around the guy's mouth, etc.)
Eddie: Three!
Sound effect: Skuk! (or some similarly attractive noise)

Panel Three: Eddie is putting the screwdriver in a plastic bag, while the guy and Jimmy are still sitting there on the step.
Eddie: We're going to take you downtown to the hospital, man. What's your name? Dickey Wayne Crump, right?
Dickey Wayne: Fuck you, man. I ain't going anywhere.
Eddie: Well, you're going with us, like I said.

Panel Four: The guy has stood, hands like claws, an insane expression on his face, eyes wide as platters. Eddie is jumping back, Jimmy is half standing.
Guy: I'm gonna kill myself! I hate my fucking brother! I'm gonna kill myself if I can't kill him! You hear me! I hate my brother! I hate him! I'm gonna kill myself if I can't kill him!

Page Nine

Panel One: Long shot. Eddie is actually running back toward the ambulance. Jimmy seems to be standing coolly by while Dickey Wayne waves his arms wildly and looks like a crazy man.

Panel Two: Half shot of Dickey Wayne and Jimmy. Jimmy is smiling, his eyes actually half shut, as if almost bored.
Jimmy: Shit, man. I hate my brother, too.
Dickey Wayne: Huh?!

Panel Three: Jimmy has his arm around Dickey Wayne's shoulder, and Dickey Wayne is looking at Jimmy with some trust, blood trickling out of his mouth.
Jimmy: Yeah, I hate my stinking brother. He's a complete asshole. I'd like to kill him. He messes up my whole life. Now, how about goin' with us down to the hospital. So the doctor can take a look at your throat.
Dickey Wayne: Yeah! I know what you mean! That sounds just like my brother!
But I ain't goin' to no hospital until I can kill my brother.
Jimmy: Well...what if I help you kill your brother?

Panel Four: Jimmy and Dickey Wayne are climbing into the back of the ambulance, the doors of which Eddie is holding open for them.
Jimmy: I've thought about killing my brother many a time. I'd be happy to help you kill your brother.
Dickey Wayne: Really? You'd really help me kill that bastard? I'd really appreciate it, man. What's your name?
Jimmy: Alan.
Dickey Wayne: Man, Alan. You're my friend! Yeah, I'll go with you to the hospital. We can talk about killing my damn brother on the way. Okay?

Page Ten

Panel One: The ambulance is pulling up to the hospital. Emergency entrance.

Panel Two: We see the two ambulance drivers and Dickey Wayne. Back shot as they walk down a corridor. Some nurses, doctors in the background.
Dickey Wayne: You think it would be easier to kill him with a rope? I don't think that would be easy, at all. I think we ought to use a gun. I wish I had a shotgun. My dad had a shotgun, but he took it with him when he lit out on us. I was only twelve when he done that. Left us, I mean.
Jimmy: Nah. Gun makes too much noise. Rope's much better. Make a trap that can choke him when he comes up the stairs.
Dickey Wayne: The stairs?

Panel Three: Dickey Wayne is lying in a hospital bed. The nurse is wrapping tape around his wrists, taping them to the metal rails around the bed.
Dickey Wayne: What about stabbing him? I was gonna stab him with that screwdriver.
Jimmy: I don't think they're gonna give that back to you, man.

Panel Four: Jimmy seems to be eyeing Dickey Wayne's wrists, which a nurse is still taping to the bedrail.

Panel Five: Inset. Very close-up shot of Dickey Wayne's wrist with the tape around it.

Page Eleven

Panel One: Jimmy is addressing the nurse, who has finished taping Dickey Wayne's wrists and is looking at a chart in her hands. Dickey Wayne seems to be zoned out. Eddie is standing there, too.
Jimmy: (whispering) Ma'am. I don't think that tape is goin' to hold that boy down. He's right agitated.

Panel Two: The nurse, a pretty but snooty bitch, is giving Jimmy a withering glare.
Nurse: That tape has held men much larger than this young boy. I think you should keep your comments to yourself unless you know what you're talking about.

Panel Three: Close-up of Jimmy's face. He's fuming! He's really pissed. Eddie is standing behind him, kind of sneering at Jimmy.
Eddie: Yeah, man. She knows what she's doing. Mind your own business. Sometimes I can't figure whey they put me with a dumbass like you.

Panel Four: The nurse and Eddie are leaving the room. Jimmy still looks pissed.

Page Twelve

Panel One: Jimmy is standing at the foot of Dickey Wayne's bed. Dickey Wayne's eyes are shut.
Jimmy: Dickey Wayne?
Dickey Wayne: Hunh? Whu? Whut izzit?

Panel Two: Dickey Wayne's eyes are half opened, and he's looking at Jimmy.
Jimmy: Dickey Wayne. You couldn't kill your brother, even if you tried.

Panel Three: Close-up shot of Dickey Wayne's face. Eyes wide. Mouth a frozen grin, all teeth showing. Spit flying.
Dickey Wayne: AAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRGHHHHHHH!!!!!

Panel Four: Dickey Wayne is shooting up out of the bed, the tape like so much air. Jimmy is scooting out the door.

Panel Five: Jimmy is running down the hallway, Dickey Wayne in pursuit, orderlies and the nurse chasing Dickey Wayne.
Nurse: Catch him! Oh, catch him!
Jimmy: It's held bigger men eh? Hoo hoo!
Dickey Wayne: I'll kill you!

THE END