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PROMISE KEEPER | a tragedy in various acts – Louis P. Jaennette


the dream

Was it tequila and Valium? Was that it? Had I been drugged?

It was murky. I couldn’t think straight. I was paralyzed. I was dreaming.

Someone there. Who?

“It’s me, Greg.”

“Greg? That you?”


I was relieved to have my old friend nearby. “Greg, I think I’ve been drugged.”

“You’re on drugs again? Why?”

“Someone gave me drugs.”

“That’s no reason to take drugs. What about the children?”

“Naw, Greg. In a bar. Drugs in my drink.”

“Drinking okay. You shouldn’t take drugs.”

Greg was wandering. I was losing the station.

“Greg, where you going?”

“Cock hour. I must jelq.”

“Will you return?”

“I will. Must jelq. Then jank. Then cocktail hour. Then jank. Then jelq. Must shoot the birds.”

“Damn Greg. You sure pull yer pud a lot.”

“It’s what I do. It makes life worthwhile.”

“Alright then. Go ahead. I’m getting sleepy.”

“But you’re already asleep.”

“I know. Goodnight.”

after the dream

Hangover. My first thought. Cold, hard, asphalt morning. My face pressed on pavement, my mouth and throat parched with pain.

I was in an alley. Behind a business or businesses of some sort. The alley had a concrete dip running down the middle. Water gushed through. I rolled over and lowered my face to the water. Clenching my teeth, I sucked water into my mouth. I couldn’t stop swallowing, chugging and groaning between swallows.

“Hnnnnn hnnnnnnn hnnnnnn. Aaahhh ahhhhh.” I was like some animal. Those bastards would pay.

I rolled away from the water, disgusted with myself for losing control. I pushed myself to my knees, then my feet. My head swooned and I retched out a bubble of barf. Then the water came like a river, gushing from my mouth. I couldn’t believe I’d drank that much, but it was all clear. Just a hint of dishwashing liquid and stale spaghetti sauce. Then a burp that tasted like burnt Vaseline. Jeez. This was demoralizing.

I looked around for witnesses. I found an empty milk crate and carried it over to the cinder block wall that ran along the alley. It was two miles uphill to my house and I was going to need something, anything to get me home. I was penniless, weak, and completely disoriented. I needed a place to get myself together.

There was a tract of houses on the other side of the wall, and I peered over into a well kept backyard. Palm trees and ferns and shit. No dog that I could see and all looked quiet. I hoisted myself over the wall and plopped to the ground. I was a little sore, not bad. I picked up a little ceramic dwarf of some kind and launched it through a sliding glass door. I was in no mood to fuck around.

basic necessities

I stepped through the broken glass as quietly as I could. The house was warm. It smelled like apple shampoo. It was a female house.

I was in a small dining room, with a kitchen on the side. I stood silently, and felt for movement. Nothing. The fridge was my next stop. I wished for beer and opened the door. Mickey’s Big Mouths. This was odd. Female house, Mickey’s Big Mouth, bean tostada. I liked her.

I carried two Mickeys and the tostada to the dining room table and consumed them. Good mix. Quiet place. I leaned back in my chair and relaxed, eyelids drooping. It was nap time.

I wandered slowly through the house until I found her bedroom. I flopped down on her bed and cuddled her bear. Rolling over, I opened the top drawer of her nightstand. Handcuffs. I mean real handcuffs. Condoms too. I tossed the cuffs onto the floor so I wouldn’t forget them and laid there on my back.

Little dreams started right away. Wading in water. Wake up. Wading again. Snap out of it. Cottage cheese on the ceiling. Mountain lions blowing bubbles. Fish with terrified eyes; mouths frozen screaming. Then I was wading in water again.

Something was swimming next to me, bumping playfully, going around me. The spirit was cheerful. My old dog was there. He was worried. The jaws clamped onto my elbow. I was trying to run. The water was thick, like liquid nitrogen.

“How would you know liquid nitro?”

There was silence. Then, “Burglary? What the fuck?”

Greg was having fun. I felt defensive.

“I need a place to chill out, peckerhead. Fuck off.”

“Remember you always had to shit whenever we broke into a house? Remember you shit in that living room, speared a turd with a fireplace poker and wrote ‘shit’ on the wall with it?”

“I shit last night at the bar.”

“Good thing. They’ve got that DNA test now. You’d get caught. Don’t be jacking off either.”

Greg was irritating me. I didn’t like being labeled this way. Then he said something I really didn’t like: “You’ve got company.”

WHAM. I bolted upright. I was clutching a teddy bear to my stomach. I had a boner. But the WHAM was echoing in the air around me. I crept to the window and looked out front. There was a white Ford at the curb. Big Joe’s Private Patrol.

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