E FOUND ME. HE FUCKING FOUND ME.
I was supposed to go to the Death Match Cage Slam for cutting edge poets tonight. Or maybe I was supposed to go hang with the Santa Cruisers at the Beat Museum Boho Ganja fest. I skipped out on both to spend time with my (gasp) family and go to a 90’s nostalgia fest rock concert and fireworks show.
Listen to me you little punk ass bitch…is that how you shitbirds say it these days? I don’t know; we never called another man a bitch in my day without someone losing teeth.
& so now I’m out here on this floating pier with ten thousand other motherfuckers just asking to drown me and my kid in the bay on these shaky piers. And here he is hanging out with a group of people all twenty five years younger than he is not ten feet in front of me. AND he died in the 90’s after all. I’m supposed to be getting away from him and his ilk.
He of all cocksuckers, wasn’t supposed to find me here; out on this god forsaken floating festival cruise.
He doesn’t notice me at first, but eventually I catch him staring. I keep pretending to listen to Collective Soul or Kenny Wayne Shepherd onstage, but can’t avoid that sloping salt lick baggage whipping its head around and staring me down with as evil a smile as ever has landed on me.
He holds an apple in his hand and takes a bite, never once breaking eye contact with me, even as he pulls the apple back down and chews; slowly; one chewy cycle of his moldy mandibles for every three seconds that passes.
He takes another bite; still not breaking eye contact. I can’t take it anymore. I look down quickly. A quick glance back in his direction demonstrates that this tactic will be of no use.
He’s strolling over with a gleam in his eye that shouldn’t be there.
No one here’s got my back & no one should. I sense that all these lower end fifty-somethings; still clinging to a youth that was sold to them around the time Nirvana hit it big; I sense that all of them have got his back.
Then…his voice, unmistakable; some kind of hybrid between a growl & a drawl that is, yes: effete; and that much more frightening for that very fact.
“So I hear you’ve been scoring easy points off my dead ass you worthless piece of dogshit.”
It’s time to cowboy up writer. It’s time to own your shit. I look him in the eye & confess:
“Yeah I did it Buk. I shit in your Wheaties. I spray-painted a booger running out of the nose on the Mount Rushmore of the underground. I sold you out to sell a book of poems written by an author I don’t really know or who I might not even really like. What can I say? Take it personally.”
& he laughs; loud. Uproarious spittle flies in my face. There was a time I would have sworn to never wash my face to have his saliva smearing it. What the fuck was I thinking?
Should I go for it? Should I take a shot at him?
I dunno. They say he was the one who took down Papa in an unpublicized road binge that wound up with Ernie and Hang going toe to toe in a New Berdoo cockfighting pit, covered in his own piss and feces before he silently crawled back home to Idaho & pulled the plug. Or maybe that was some story he wrote that he couldn’t get published anywhere else except his own ‘zine. Sometimes the boundary between mythology and fact is so pointless. I’ve sucker punched him twice now & now I don’t have the balls to commit to a third. Everything I say or do to him from here on out has got to be straight up & he’s already looking at me like he knows it.
“Listen to me you little punk ass bitch…is that how you shitbirds say it these days? I don’t know; we never called another man a bitch in my day without someone losing teeth. In any case, I don’t really have much interest in leaving you a worthless, piddling blob of blood, and vomit to be stepped on by all these stinking hippies wearing all this goddamn Eddie Bauer safari clothing. I just want to smoke this joint and listen to just another band from East L.A. and Greg Allman rock my ass off.”
Then his voice softens, and for a moment I allow myself to believe that I might come out of this okay.
“Listen. I respect what you did. You have every goddamn right to call me a phony, but don’t call me a cheater. Do not call me a cheater, you punk ass bitch. I worked too damn hard at cheating to be stuck with that after I died.” And the uproarious spittle follows again, spraying in my face till I’m blind with apple pulp.
One More Cliche' Ghost Story About a Small Press Hero continues...