[Here are the first five Chapters of a developing short story.]
The Book of Carver: Ssssmokin’
Carver woke up with his nose crunched down on the cold damp sidewalk. He turned his head, and pried open his swollen, blood-crusted eyes that tried to focus on the partially dissolved cigar next to his face. It never did come into view very well. As he began to tense his body, hoping he had the strength to get up, he felt a stream of hot, wet liquid splashing onto the back of his head, stinging the many cuts and abrasions on his face that he
didn’t know he had until now. Each one stinging sharply, and the waft of a putrid stench began filling his nose. Someone was pissing on his head, he realized. He threw his hands beneath him, to thrust his body upwards in one herculean push-up, but just as quickly, the sound of metal cracking on bone reverberated in his head, followed by a ferocious pain that almost made him vomit, and the force of a large booted foot came down on his head and squashed his nose back into the sidewalk like a bug, breaking it with a loud crunch. The taste of blood seeped into his mouth, and he coughed a bit before he could angle his head into a position where he could catch steady breaths, gasping through his mouth.
Just as suddenly, he heard the footsteps of the booted man walking off into the distance. Carver pried his eyes open once more, and tilted his head forward. There he saw a pair of sexy 3-inch black and white Patton leather heels, arranged in a ballet stance of third position, topped with long slender creamy legs that seemed to go on forever. He didn’t have the strength to look up any farther before a pack of smokes and a book of slightly used
matches were tossed in front of him. Then, those shiny heels and dreamy legs clicked away, completely out of view.
Again, Carver, placed his hands beneath him, and he curled his legs to the side. He sat up and took in the view. He was right below the front steps of his own apartment building. He tapped his pocket to see if he still had his wallet, and it was there. He opened it to find everything in place, including $400 in cash.
Carver snorted in a repulsive mess of piss, mucus and blood, attempting to breathe from his cracked nose, but that didn’t work. He reached over for the cigarettes and match book, and slid a cigarette into his mouth, sitting up a little straighter. He examined the matchbook—it was from a local tango club that he frequents. And, suddenly, he remembered those shoes, and the legs that went on forever. He remembers asking this exotic Argentinian lady for a smoke, and her eyes fluttering at him through her sultry smile. He tried to remember more, but it all came up blank. Like he had his head caved in by a falling concrete wall, and he wasn’t too certain that didn’t actually happen.
Carver flicked open the matchbook, and saw black letters inscribed that read, “Smoking can be hazardous to your health.” A smile drew across his face as he lifted his brutalized body inside to his apartment. “Not nearly as hazardous as long-legged Argentinian women,” he thought to himself.
Freshly showered and deeply buzzed by the pain, he chews a fist full of pills—a modest rainbow party of over-the-counter meds washed down with a double tall, ice cold vodka and apple juice. He knows he should be in a hospital, but the effort it would take to even make the final decision to go isn’t in him right now. His nose is still bleeding. He passes out on his sofa.
The invigorating scent of expensive perfume urges him awake, along with the repetitive, gentle slaps across his cheeks made by soft, small hands.
“Carver!” he hears slowly drifting into his ears, followed by sobbing and repeated slapping. “Carver!” he hears much clearer and louder now as his eyes begin to open most painfully. “Carver wake up!” he raises his hand to keep her from continuing to slap him.
“Desi! Stop it. I’m awake,” he says to her.
“What the fuck happened to you, Carver?!” she continues to cry.
“Nothing,” he says as he rises to his feet, only to collapse like a deck of cards, spilling back onto the sofa. He points over to the far corner of the room, by the window overlooking the sidewalk where he just recently had his ass kicked. “Hey, Desi, look over there. It’s finished.”
Desiree’s gaze follows his pointed finger leading to an amazing work of art. There are 25 skate boards and surf boards bolted onto metal racks, portraying a mosaic of skeletal figures skating and surfing side-by-side in a brightly colored Mexican Day of the Dead style. She is mesmerized and approaches the work as though she had just seen the Arc of the Covenant. Caver bursts into a painful smile, watching her reaction.
Soon, the hypnotic effects wear away, and Desiree quickly pivots enraged at Carver, “You are getting up, and I’m taking you to a hospital right now. You idiot! What the hell happened to you… Never mind. You can tell
me later.” She reaches under his arm and helps him to his feet, headed straight for the door.
“Desi, wait!” he says whining.
“No, we are not waiting. You have no idea how horrible you look!,” she says.
“Well, thanks for the flattery, really,” he says while stubbornly planting his feet down onto the wood floor, “I’m in my boxers. Can I at least put on my pants? Pretty please?”
“Where are they?” she barks.
“Here,” he says, moving over to reach into the bathroom.
“Did you piss your pants?” she asks, smelling the foul odor emanating from his kakis.
“No, not exactly,” he said tossing them to the floor and proceeding out the door in his fresh clean boxers. He decides that the minor humiliation from prancing around in his underwear far surpasses the repulsion of sitting around in pants soaked with some other man’s urine or trying to convince Desiree into letting him grab a new pair of pants out of the bedroom from the second story loft.
“My bed. God I love my fucking bed,” he said as he began waking up. Soft, white, crisp cotton sheets and downy covers—he curled up, hoping he could drift back to sleep, but the pain was starting to throb. Nothing specific—it hurt everywhere, and the pain was getting stronger.
He remembered the wicked ass-kicking from the night before, and he remembered Desiree kidnapping him in his boxers, making him go to the hospital. “The hospital!” he thought. He remembered that he was taken to the
hospital. He didn’t actually remember being in the hospital, but he knew he was taken there, so that means there must be pain killers around the apartment somewhere. Surely they’d prescribe pain killers to a man who looks like the product of a botched slaughter from a blind butcher, or something like that, he thoughtt.
He slowly slid his battered flesh out of bed and began hunting for the pills he was certain were here. Checking the bedroom loft, then over to the small bathroom upstairs—there was nothing. He made an effort not to glace in any mirrors, not wanting to know what his agony looks like. He slowly made his way downstairs and into the first floor bathroom. No sign of a prescription. He did catch a glance at his hand and saw the hospital band still
strapped to his wrist—proof that indeed he was treated. His eyes lit up, more certain than ever that his pills are here. Somewhere, they are here.
He began heading towards the kitchen, and the pain became unbearable. From all over his body, sharp stabbing, throbbing and fiery pain began building into a relentless frenzy. His head, however, fell numb, as
though it wasn’t even attached to the rest of the tortured torso beneath it. He could barely keep his legs moving beneath him as he smoothed over every surface of the kitchen, looking for the damn pain pills. He found nothing.
At this point, walking was out of the question. He fell to his knees and crawled to his favorite spot on the sofa. As he lay down, he saw a small piece of paper on the coffee table in front of him. It looked like a prescription. He grabbed it—a script for a big bottle of oxycodone was clenched in his hand. “A lot of fucking good this does me,” he thought to himself. He lay back into the sofa with an excruciating stabbing pain jabbing him in the small of his back. He passed out as if someone had simply flipped the off switch—he was out.
“Hey, Carver! Why did you leave the door wide open?” Desiree shouted at him as she walked in to find him sprawled out on the sofa with his eyes wide open. “Carver?” she said, “What’s going on?”
“I’m in fucking pain!” he bellows.
“I know, I know,” she says pulling out a couple white pills and sliding them into his mouth, handing him a bottle of chilled water. “Go ahead, and swallow. They’ll kick in soon,” she said.
Carver did as instructed. Then he thought about the prescription still clenched in his hand. “Hey, didn’t you need this,” he said, holding up the paper script in a death grip.
“No. I had a cheaper supplyand closer, in my medicine cabinet right down the hall,” she said. “We’ll get this filled a little later.”
“Good neighbor,” said Carver. He rested his eyes, and then that sharp pain stabbing him in his back threw him into a spasm. He gripped the back of the sofa until the spasm passed, and he wished he were back in bed. His back felt fine in bed, he thought.
Desiree seemed to read his mind, and she pulled him up into a sitting position, “Let’s get you back to your bed,” she said. Then, her eyes darted to the cushion where Carver was resting his back. “What the fuck, Carver. Look if you’re just trying to off yourself, let me know now, and I’ll leave you to do whatever the hell it is you think you need to do. Christ!”
“What the hell are you talking about. I just had my ass kicked, I’m in excruciating pain, and you’re screaming at me about some crazy bullshit about suicide,” he blasted back.
“The gun, Carver. The gun. I don’t know any sane people, you know who don’t have a fucking death wish, who sleep on top of guns. Do you? Oh, I see. No, I get it. You were afraid some hoodlum was going to pop up through the cushions of your sofa, and the gun would protect you. You cuddle with it to feel safe or something? Fuck you, Carver. Just be honest, ” she shot back at him.
“What…” Carver looked over to his side, and there in fact was a gun. He popped up to his feet enraged, “What the fuck is this shit all about? Why did you bring a fucking gun into my house, Desi. I fucking hate guns! Shit! Get it out of here!” Carver is now speechless. Silence has taken over as the room as the two of them stared, dazed, pointing at the gun. Carver eventually broke the silence but otherwise didn’t move a muscle. “It’s not your gun, is it, Desi,” he said.
“No.” said Desiree, still motionless pointing at the object.
Carver looks at Desiree with a crooked face, not that it’s easy to tell what with all the swelling and bandages. He lowers his hand and says, “I think it’s time I call the police.”
“Carver, what happened?” asked Desiree.
“Desi, can you please write this down?” Carver says, pointing to a pad of paper on the kitchen counter. “I don’t really trust my memory to hold, what little I have left of it. There are so many blank pieces between last night and this morning.”
Desiree grabs the pad with a nearby pen then plops cross legged on the floor beneath Carver’s feet. Carver moves slowly onto a stool and looks down towards Desiree. At once, he sees her differently. He sees a beautiful young woman, not just the edgy hot chick that lives down the hall, but as someone sensual, desirable. He sees a warmth in her eyes he has never noticed before. A glint of compassion and nurturing, maybe. He felt like he just wanted to curl up next to her, for her to hold him and make this nightmare disappear. Ah, he thought, that’s it. The pain killers are kicking in! Woooooooooo!
“What happened, Carver?” she repeated softly. He told her of the Tango club, the Patton leather shoes with the legs that went on forever and the sultry Argentinian lady he asked for a smoke. He told her about the proper
ass kicking and the blank spot on his memory just before the last part of the beating. He recalled what he did following the beating, pointing to the pack of cigarettes and match book, showering and passing out on the sofa followed by her, Desiree slapping him awake. He went on to describe what happened while they were together, then Desiree had to fill in the blanks of the time spent at the hospital to returning with the front door to his apartment swung wide open. Thy both completed the rest of the story together leading up to and including the
discovery of the gun. The gun.
“Why the fuck is there a gun in my apartment?” said Carver.
“I’ll call,” said Desiree as she whips out her iPhone adorned with rainbows of tiny skulls.
Yep, he thought. That’s sexy. I’m still high. Carver smiled.
“So, you don’t know anything about the guy who urinated on your head? You can’t remember the color of his boot or whether he was short or tall black or white?” asked the bland uniformed officer.
“No,” said Carver.
“I have no idea. Like I told you, I wasn’t there! I was in my apartment acclimating a new shark to my aquarium,” declared Desiree to the other bland uniformed officer who arrived, responding to Desiree’s 911 call.
Just then, a skinny young man walked through the door in an expensive dark silk suit that hung on him like a hanger in a closet. He had a soft, underdeveloped voice like puberty still hadn’t slapped him properly and his balls were still waiting to drop. “Who is Carver Thompson?” he said, walking through the room with an air of confidence that seemed overinflated, betraying the slightness of his appearance.
“Odd duck,” said the first bland uniformed officer to Carver.
“Mr. Black, It’s ready for you,” announced Carver, excited for the young man to see his commissioned work.
Mr. Black removed a pair of mirrored aviator glasses to look more closely at the creation. “Its symmetry is eloquent, movement is tumultuous but fluid and the colors electric. I could never have imagined something so perfect,” he said to Carver. “Can you load it up?”
I’ll deliver it to you. What’s the address?” asked Carver.
Mr. Black handed him a shiny thick black card embossed with:
666 Black Drive
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
“Do you have the poster?” asked Mr. Black.
“Oh, it’s in my apartment. I’ll be right back,” Desiree said as she bolted out the door and down the hall. She returned as quickly as she left with a large cardboard backed poster of Mr. Black skating and surfing in Hawaii—all wrapped in a generous amount of clear cellophane. Desiree fumbled around with the wrapping for a second while Carver grabbed a black paint marker off of his drafting table for Mr. Black to sign the poster.
“Oh, yes. I remember this one. I like this poster. Carver, so something with a similar style but more recent? Get with my people for some photographs you can use. I want the design on an electric guitar and a poster, you understand?” said Mr. Black signing the poster Desiree is holding for him. “A benefit for foster kids, you said?”
Desiree nodded, “Yes, there are about…”
Mr. Black interrupts her, “Will there be foster kids at the benefit?” Desiree nods yes. “Please bring an invitation for me. I’d like to go,” said Mr. Black.
“Oh, that would be amazing, Mr. Black. Thank you very much!” said Desiree as Mr. Black quickly leaves the apartment in an abrupt awkward silence. Not rude—there is nothing rude or unkind about him, just awkward.
Meanwhile the uniformed officers bagged up and catalogued the evidence: 1) the gun; 2) the cigarette pack; 3) the match book; 5) some fingerprint samples from inside the apartment and outside near the attack site; and, 4) Carver’s shirt from last night soaked with blood and urine in case there’s a need and ability to pull any of the assailant’s DNA from the garment. They left Carver with a case number and let him know that a detective will be
assigned to the case and to expect a call for further investigation.
Once the police left, Desiree helped Carver upstairs to is bed, gave him more pills, and they took a quick nap before heading over to Mr. Black’s house to deliver the art installment.