March 31, 2006

Beat Down and Beat Up

Ever been in a fight? I mean one of those brawls that breaks out in the street and the cops have to come in, toss the whole knot of you in the car, and take you all the way back to the station to sort you out. A real, John-effing-Wayne fist fight.

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July 31, 2005


When I was 17, I worked hard labor for a guy who ran a cement company. Taking the job was a no-brainer because it was easy and I made twice what my classmates pulled in down at the Quick Burger, bagging fries and mixing shakes for the rich kids. I spent 50 hours a week in the sun hauling 80-pound sacks of readymix, digging holes, pouring footers, working childhood hands into rough knots of callus. I made a couple grand that summer, but never really did anything with the money. Mostly because it made me sick when I thought about it; my stomach would churn up its contents, curdling them into a hardened mass. A guilt ulcer.

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January 18, 2005

The Diary of "Chooter" McKinley

October 16, 1862

Three days since I signed up and I have come a long ways. Sergeant Higgins has been teaching the drills and I must say I don’t care for the man at all. He has got tobacco stains in his beard and he spends most of his time hollering and picking at his arse. I am lucky I learned to shoot at a young age because the Captain was very impressed and I am now learning the sniper trade from him. I am told a sniper is someone who shoots the enemy from a good ways off. You have to climb a tree or lay down in a creek bed to do it properly, at least that is what I am told. I don’t have to march around in the rain anymore. Now I take my instruction direct from Captain Becker. I think it somewhat strange the Captain was a sniper because he is a terrible shot. He shakes a good deal when he shoots and I believe he is a very nervous man. I think even little Silas back home is a better shot, but I don’t complain and I take his instructions with good humor.

October 19, 1862

The Captain said that I am a natural fellow with a rifle and he thinks I may be a leader of men someday. In the morning I am to go with the other fellows to join the regiment, already somewhere in Virginia. Some of the men have not had a bath since I arrived here and the smell is like a barn that has not been turned out in a while. Sgt. Higgins and the Captain are escorting us to Virginia, but I have grave doubts about getting there. They have been arguing about which route to take for some hours.

October 20, 1862

I am convinced we are lost. Sgt. Higgins thinks we are in Maryland, but the Captain believes us to still be in Delaware. We have been gone but two days and already our provisions have gone missing. Grady left them unattended last evening and the raccoons have made off with our bacon. It is lucky we are still near the towns or we would surely starve. We lost an hour’s time today when the Captain was stung by a bee; he made us stop to make a poultice. We bivouac outdoors at night even though we pass perfectly good hotels each day and I am missing my bed very much.

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December 23, 2004

Three and oh (A Christmas Story)

Terry's Pub got all kinds and tonight was no exception. Although the crowd was much lighter on Christmas Eve the customers made up for the lack of numbers by being even more exceptionally odd than on regular days.

There was the drag queen over there at the end of the bar, playing diva while sipping his/her spiced eggnog. The four fellows in the back room playing poker might have fit in at any Buckhead pub if they weren't all dwarfs. And if their stakes weren't bent straws. Tracy, a regular barfly at Terry's, was getting quietly drunk at her favorite table. That wouldn't last long. By Terry's count she was on number five and he estimated she had arrived with at least four already under the belt. In a short while she'd start screaming at whatever unlucky bastard caught her eye and he would calm her down while the taxi arrived, just like he did every Friday night. He had only had to call the cops on her once, when she punched out the taxi driver. Tracy had a problem with female drivers.

The half dozen other customers had their own oddities too but they were all good folk, just a bit off of the norm. Terry took care of them in his own way, giving them what they wanted to drink as well as something they wanted even more; somebody who didn't judge them. Somebody who treated them like regular people.

Terry busied himself with wiping down the bar and washing glasses. It was just busy work - the bar was pristine as always and there hadn't been enough business today to require hand washing anything. He brought the Diva another spiked nog and got a smile in return. Betty (Bert) was the name if he remembered correctly and he usually did since the personal touch was the key to good tips. Not that he expected much in the way of tips tonight. People out at a pub on Christmas Eve weren't there to enjoy themselves. They were there so they wouldn't be alone.

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