EDIT: (05/20/2011) Here's a link to the pdf screenplay version of this story: The French Joint
This is a link to the filmed intro: Boundaries, starring Brian Tillinger and Mandi LaQuatra. Directed by Joe Wozniak.
I know this is an art blog, but I decided to take a time out and post a little story I wrote a few weeks ago. It was quite random and I just had to write. I guess part of it was trying to see if I was capable. Consider it a test run. Let me know what you think.
There it was. The look I can detect miles away, like a shark can do with a drop of blood. It's the look of obligation with a pinch of desperation. He was like a soldier on a mission. As I sat in the booth, eating one of the tiniest portions in existence, I couldn't help but think this was all staged on my behalf. The man with the look was ghoulishly dressed, wearing a long dark trench coat with dried mud on his boots. He did not blend in with the rest of the sharply dressed populace, not even in the slightest. He stood out like a Furry vacationing at a nudist resort. Unfortunately, I was in the same boat, but at least I wore a tie. He didn't even try to clean himself up and judging by the direction he was staring in, it was safe to say his entire look served as a tool of intimidation.
Across the restaurant, a young woman made eye contact with him, instantly freezing her as if someone splashed ice water on her back. It's another look I was very familiar with. Fear. She knew him and most likely had a clue about his intentions for the evening. The young lady was a brunette, had dark brown eyes and with red carefully spread across her full lips. Quickly grabbing her purse, she looked for the exits with her peripherals while keeping her attention on the raggedly dressed ghoul. Unfortunately, all the exits were on the other side of the restaurant. I've mentioned that the place was a fire hazard, but no one ever listened to me. Maybe it was the way I dressed.
A waitress walked over to her table, mistaking the purse in her lap as a request for the check. Something very important to her was inside of that purse and it wasn't her lip gloss.
“Are you all finished, miss?” The waitress leaned in, grabbing her plate. “Would you like any dessert?”
The brunette pulled out a wad of cash and placed it on the table, none the wiser about the surprised look on the waitress’s face. Even for the alleged five star restaurant, that was a lot of cash to pull out. The ghoul inched his way toward her, ignoring the host stationed at the entrance. Of course, the poor host just didn't have enough stones to tell 6 foot 5 inches of muscle a reservation was needed to enter the upscale establishment. Intimidation at it's finest was at work, but so was I. It was time for yours truly to do something he would regret in the morning.
As the ghoul slowly walked toward her, I quickly cut in front of him and slithered my way into the chair, opposite his target. The scent of cheap cigarettes lingered in my nostrils, but I did everything I could to ignore it. Surprised looks abounded, but it was a play that halted his pursuit and immediately got the damsel's attention. I doubt he wanted to make a big scene, so I cleared the cobwebs out of my throat.
“I really think you should try the dessert. It's the only thing here that counts as actual food.”
“Who are you?” She whispered, still keeping her eye on the ghoul.
“I'm just a guy, really. Just noticed you from across this joint. Noticed your friend, as well.”
She finally took her eyes off of her stalker and looked at me. Now that I have a closer look at them, her gorgeous eyes were a bit too much for a bloke like me. It made it extremely hard to maintain eye contact and the last thing I wanted to do was come off shy, especially for what I was about to say. Luckily the waitress saved me.
“Your bill, Mademoiselle.”
The mysterious brunette gives her a hundred dollar bill and told her to keep the change. Obviously, she wanted to be uninterrupted, or she was just a high roller since that meal was no more than sixty-five bucks.
“You noticed him”, she asked with some relief in her voice.
“He looks very gruesome. An ex-boyfriend of yours?”
“Oh my God!” She took a deep breath. “I promise you, he's not.”
A look of disgust appeared on her face. It would have been foolish to step into a quarrel of lovers. More importantly, if that were the case, it would have kept me up at night, wondering how an ugly son of a bitch like that managed to court such a beauty. Thank the heavens, and all the stars surrounding it, she was not in a romantic quarrel with the ghoul.
“He's been following me for weeks.”
“Is that so? I can't really blame him.”
The food in the restaurant was lousy, but the dinnerware was top-notch. Shiny and extremely reflective, I used the silver top of a dish as a mirror, tilting it up so I could keep an eye out for Mr. Trench-coat.
“What do you mean you can't blame him?” She asked, genuinely confused. Like her curvy figure and movie star looks were things that didn't draw the attention of assholes and gentlemen alike.
“Well, you're attractive. I'd chase you across town, too... but I'm less creepy about it.”
As I looked into my make-shift mirror, I could see her ragged stalker back off closer to the entrance door. Like I gambled, he wanted to keep his dealings with her private. Making a scene would have jeopardized his mission.
“So that's why you decided to come over here?” A wicked smirk appeared on her face and I imagined a sparkle at the end of it. “Think you'll get lucky tonight?”
“Nothing like that. No matter how hard I try to avoid dangerous situations, I manage to find myself knee-deep in them anyway. I just figured, I might as well pick my poison for a change.”
She takes a sip of her margarita. “The good Samaritan, huh? Sounds too good to be true.”
“Yeah. Unfortunately, I'm the last of a dying breed of do gooders.”
I noticed Mr. Trench-Coat exited the restaurant, which gave me more time to talk to the damsel. Not that I was trying to crack, but I hardly had company during my evenings...afternoons.... dare I say mornings? Aside from the cat at the apartment, I haven't spoken to a soul in months. Hell, I had almost forgotten what my own voice sounded like.
“So now that ugly-face has left the building---”
“Rachel.” She cut me off. “The name's Rachel.”
“Ah, Rachel, then. Now that he left the building, mind telling me why he's being such a bastard?”
Her body language changed tremendously. Shoulders were more relaxed and her back was up against the chair unlike her frigid self minutes prior.
“I'm somewhat of a big deal back home.” She chuckled a bit, almost embarrassed to say. “My father sent him to bring me home. I've been a bad, bad girl.
“Girl, no. Woman, yes. What are you, twenty four? Twenty five?”
“Twenty Three, but it doesn't work that way. Once you're family, you're in it for life.”
“So you're trying to escape your father?”
“I'm trying to escape the business.”
“Oh. I see...”
She leaned in and stared directly into my eyes. I pretended she's a wall because, despite her eyes being so dark, it was the equivalent of staring into the sun.
“Yeah, I want out of it. You don't know how much shit I have to put up with... How much shit I have to see everyday and I have to go around and pretend nothing happened. Do you know what that's like?”
Actually, I did, but for her sake and the fact that she was opening up to me, I shook my head no.
“I'm sure you've seen a lifetime's worth of bad things.”
“There's this room in the mansion,” she continued. “I remember playing in it back when I was a snot-nosed brat. Back then, I didn't know what Dad was up to. Just a lot of his friends show up one day and some of them you just don't see ever again. Growing up like that, I learned to not get attached to any of them because most of them would take a trip back to the motherland.”
From the corner of my eye, I spotted my waiter searching for me. The crazy idea of avoiding him altogether popped in my head. That meal wasn't worth fifty-five ninety five. I tried to liven myself up from my usual sloppy self while listening to Rachel talk about her life as a mobster's daughter. She continued as I sat up straight and proper.
“As it turned out, all of them were with me my entire life. Stuck inside the walls.”
The waiter noticed me. Must have picked up my scent and my change in posture wasn't good enough to fool his hawk-eye vision. He wasn't like the others. The restaurant must have upgraded since the last time. Regardless, I maintained the conversation with my company.
“I can't imagine how that must have been for you, Rachel.”
“It was an eye opening experience, to say the least”. Rachel's back rested on her chair again, a bit more relaxed. “After discovering the bodies, I had to leave. I just had to, you know?”
The waiter walked over to me with a huge smile on his face. It was a smile that said, “Yes, you are going to pay for this shitty meal, you cheap bastard.” I hated that smile and pretended not to see him.
“I wouldn't have known about the bodies if I didn't decide to look for my mother's diary.”
“There you are, sir!” The waiter practically yelled it out or maybe it sounded louder because I've been caught red-handed. “I didn't know you made it a dinner for two tonight.”
“Oh yeah.” I muttered under my breath, trying not to show my anger. “Friend of mine from work.”
He placed the bill on the table and scurried off. I turned the paper over to see the numbers I was dreading the entire night: fifty-five ninety-fucking-five.
I almost forgot that Rachel was in the middle of saying something.
“I'm sorry. You were saying?”
“My mother's diary. She hid it a few days before she died. She had a heart attack at 47....or at least that's what my father told me.”
“So that's what's in the purse?”
Rachel nodded her head. “I'm actually just a bonus, really. The diary has a lot of family secrets that could destroy him. It's my little leverage.”
“And what are you planning to do with that leverage?” I asked while reaching for my dingy wallet. Fifty-five ninety-fucking-five and all.
“To be perfectly honest, I don't know. Part of me wants to give it to the feds. I'm sure it will be a good read for them. Another part of me just wants to start over fresh. I want a normal life.”
“Sorry to say this, but as long as you possess that diary, that will never happen.”
“I know.” She took another sip of her margarita, looking a bit depressed. “The thing is, this diary is the only thing I have of her. The rest of my mother's belongings were tossed out because of his new bitch of a wife. It's something I can't just let go of.”
“I can understand.”
I pulled 4 twentys out and placed them on top of the bill. Rachel immediately plucked my money out of the way and replaced it with her own.
“Allow me”. She smirked.
“Oh, I can't let you do that, Rachel. I mean... Well, if you insist.”
“Think of it as a thank you for listening to my boring story and for getting rid of Tony.”
“Tony? So, that's his name.”
“They call him 'Big Tony' where I'm from. He's pretty nasty and he's my Dad's personal blood hound. He didn't really go away, you know? He's waiting outside for me.”
“It wouldn't be good to leave out the front.” I pointed to the back of the place, right where the kitchen was located.
“There's an exit through the kitchen. Ignore the cooks and go through.”
“OK. Thanks.” As she grabbed her purse and scooted out of the chair, she noticed something a bit strange.
“You know, I never got your name.”
“Jack.” I tried to say it without drawing too much attention to my last name. I was somewhat of a big deal myself. “Jack Coleman.”
She extended her hand and I immediately shook it. I wasn't sure if was for a handshake, but I was somewhat desperate for human contact. Her soft hands did more harm than good, unfortunately.
“Thank you, Jack.”
“My pleasure, Rachel.”
As she walked towards the kitchen, it was hard to ignore her figure. Rachel sported long legs, even without the heels. Her cocktail dress exposed her bare back. You can call me weird, but I'm the rare type that's into a woman's back. There's just something about a perfectly aligned spine that intrigues me and certainly passes specifications. She had this walk about her, which definitely confirmed her royalty, but it wasn't the Disney princess variety. She was a filthy princess, or that's what I wanted her to be for ten minutes. Just ten minutes. The torn sheet of paper in my hand smacked me back to reality. To my surprise, it was the number to her cell phone. There were too many people in the restaurant for a happy dance, but on the inside, I was doing a Gene Kelly bit... Umbrella and all.
Outside the restaurant, the atmosphere was in rare form, but some things were spot on. The ground was wet and shiny, glowing with the lights that illuminated the city. It was pretty to stare at when sober, but when you're piss drunk, the colors induced vomit. Sadly, I spent many a night decorating the sidewalk. The rare features were the absence of people. In addition, moving vehicles were also scarce. The sidewalks were bare and there was virtually no sound that indicated human life. If I didn't have so much disdain towards people in this city, it would have been rather creepy. I'm what you'd call an isolationist, despite what went down in the restaurant. Rachel was attractive. The rules are different for hot, attractive, mafia princesses in distress. That's something you won't find on a dating site.
Taking in the cool night air, I decided to head the normal route to my apartment. Since the night was going surprisingly well, I just hoped there wasn't a steaming pile of homeless turd on the front stairs. If you haven't guessed by now, I'm as cheap as they come. The bastards like to leave me gifts for ignoring them in the morning.
Two blocks before I reached home sweet home, I heard footsteps behind me. Heavy footsteps. Three hundred pounds worth of foot steps. I tried not to turn around because I was starting to imagine a gorilla or something out of a wild jungle behind me, but that was a slim possibility. Even with the increase of city folk harboring wild animals in their apartments, there was no way they could contain a gorilla... Hence the reason why it would be on the loose, behind my ass.
I fought the urge to turn around and tried to walk normally, but I failed, epically. I know for a fact that I walk a certain way when nervous. People used to say I walk like I have something stuck up my ass. It's not a pretty sight.
As my ass cheeks moved as one down the street, the footsteps got louder and more frequent. The gorilla's pace had quickened and I found myself turning around. Like Fujin and Raijin, two late night joggers ran past me in unison. One of them insulted me as he ran by.
“Don't shit on the sidewalk, asshole!”
Who in their right mind jogs at night? Good thing he had his life-partner to protect him, huh? Despite the embarrassing walk of shame, I was relived and continued to my apartment. Unfortunately, I was out of the frying pan and into the fire.
A pair of huge black gloves reached out of the shadows and pulled me into a poorly lit alley. My back slammed up against the wall. To no surprise, my ass cheeks were tight again. As I looked up to see my attacker, I noticed the familiar smell of cheap cigarettes. Smoke was blown directly into my face, but I was so used to that from my Aunt Margaret, I developed an immunity for that sort of thing. Regardless of the toxic fumes, I was able to see that it was none other than big, ugly ghoulish Tony.
“You really think you're cute don't you?” He asked as his cigarette hung from his chapped lips.
“That's what your mother keeps telling me.” I'll have you know, insults directed at someone's mother was an unfortunate gift of mine. It's totally not fair to the person's mother and I usually feel a little bad about it later on.
Tony punched me in the gut and I couldn't help but fall to the germ infested ground. He's a big guy and his fists were practically made for punching things. By history's standards, he would have made a fine Spartan soldier, but something told me that he would have been tossed down the mountain as an infant due to his ugliness. The elder Spartans would have been like, “Fuck efficiency, just this once.”
The damn shot to the gut made my voice sound like I aged 70 years. “Tony... Can't we just talk this over like gentlemen?”
“You call yourself trying to be a hero, huh?” He picked me up and gave me another punch to the gut. You have to understand that when the wind gets knocked out of you, it's extremely hard to move. I wanted to stop his big fist from rearranging my innards, but, at that point, it would have been like trying to stop George W. Bush from squinting. Scientists are still trying to figure that one out, I'm afraid.
He kept my body up with his free hand and I became a human punching bag for a few moments. His fifth punch activated my bowels and I felt like I actually had to take a shit. Suddenly, a boost of adrenaline flowed through body and my arms were able to move. Sure, it was all wriggly like a person with epilepsy having a seizure while being electrocuted, but it was moving none the less.
“I won't be shitting my pants tonight!” I shouted. Not just to Tony, but also to those happy-go-lucky joggers miles away. They needed to know, dammit.
With his next punch, I twisted my torso so that his fist would hit the brick wall behind me. The pain wasn't excruciating, but it was enough for him to let me go. In case you haven't figured it out, I'm not a great fighter. During the course of my travels I picked up a few moves here and there. These moves are nothing fancy, but they get the job done.
Move number one: The Head-Clap, a neat attack that involves the use of both arms. You basically just clap as hard as you can, catching the opponent's head in the middle. The NFL outlawed this move because it sent players staggering to La-la land well after the game was over. Of course it was known as a “Helmet Slap” and was mainly executed with one arm, but that's beside the point. Move number two: The Throat Thrust. I like to think of it as an instant fight stopper because no one expects to get hit in the throat? Move number three: A swift kick in the nuts. Plain and simple. I know it's not really a great move and it's rather cowardly to use on another man, but I'm too lazy for fisticuffs. The sooner I can end it, the sooner I can go back to being miserable. The sooner I can use my toilet!
Tony rushed me into the corner of the alley, swinging like a wild-man. The head-clap connected, but I forgot to mention that it only worked on people who have brains. He was still swinging and I believe my attack activated his saliva glands or something. Drool accompanied his fist as he tried to take my head off. Perfectly timing move number two, the throat thrust caused him to make a weird sound, which was music to my ears, but the fight wasn't over. Tony, for some sick and twisted reason, defied my Kung-Fu.
“I'm gonna kill you!” All sorts of slobber flew out of his mouth. “You're dead!”
Move number three stepped to bat. I usually felt bad for resorting to it and God knows it's not always used as my third move. Depending on my mood, the numbers get mixed up and rearranged. I'm a bastard like that. The other day, I had to kick my neighbor in the nethers for stealing my magazine subscriptions out of the mail box. He's an artsy guy, too. Liked to cut them up for his “projects”. A crime worthy of move number three, I say.
Tony, like a raging bull, charged towards me and for a second, my life flashed before my eyes, but it's cut short due to the confidence that “Move number three” would work. I mean, it's patented. Who cares if he's running toward me at uncanny speed for a man his size, I thought. You don't need to be a martial arts master to put your foot to someone's balls. I have a niece who happens to hit me in the balls every time “Uncle Jack” visits and she just turned 5 last Wednesday. If she can master the nut-smasher at such a tender age, then my foot should be at the level of Chuck Norris.
My foot reeled back. Yes, it looked cartoony, but you try kicking a monster in the nuts as he attacks at you in a dark alley. Let's see how you look then. I, “Mr. Cheap Pants”, would pay good money to see that. So, back to move three, it was prepped, but it reeled back a little too far and I stepped on banana peel and slid. My legs went in opposite directions from each other, one going forward and the other going back toward the wall. It's a damn split you'd see cheerleaders do, or some 300 pound woman on the Maury Povich show. Apparently, splits don't have weight restrictions, but it definitely has age restrictions. A 40 year old man with questionable athletic experience, holding back his bowels, should never do a split. It's safe to say my pelvis will never be the same, and I suppose it would also be appropriate to laugh. After all, this scuffle was chock-full of Looney Toon antics. On the bright side, the unexpected stretch caused Tony to miss me completely. A sickening thud echoed in the alley and then...
It took a few moments for me to stand up. I limped over to his body, which was a bit risky, but I had to check his vitals. Maybe it's the civil servant in me. His pulse was pretty damn high, but it was dwindling. Unconsciousness tends to do that. Big Tony was alive and kicking,
which really wasn't a good thing for me. Another man would have finished him off, but I happened to be of a different caliber of man.
Instead of killing a defenseless man, I turned his massive body over to his back, checked for banana peels, reeled my leg back, and kicked him square in the nuts. He almost made me shit my pants, so some sort of sweet satisfaction was in order. Tony let out a little moan, but he managed to stay unconscious, which was good enough for me. It meant that he was really out of it and I could freely search him for information.
Nothing of importance was in his pockets, unless you count an unopened condom. It's nice that Tony was prepared to take the necessary precautions, but, he was so ugly, I doubt he could even purchase sex. His money was no good to him tonight, so I gladly “confiscated” it. I have morals, except when it comes to money. Ask any waiter. Starring at the unconscious ghoul, I felt the need to say something witty like they do in the movies, but nothing came to mind. My injuries just cut the muse off completely and I just wanted to lay down.
It was definitely something to think about on the toilet.