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PROMISE KEEPER | good night

Hawk and Squirrel

I remember watching a hawk carrying a squirrel high above a river bottom, giving him a ride, showing him around, one last look around, it seemed. I honestly don’t know if it was a dream or a real memory. Maybe I don’t know because I sometimes fly above myself and it is real.

Sometimes I move along and don’t remember moving along. The banana peel was still in the rafters. It must have been morning. I moved quietly into the house. There was a big sign tacked to the wall: welcome home asshole. I guess Crystal was angry. I was too drained to feel much. I ate a huge helping of oatmeal, gulped down a glass of milk, and moved into the bathroom. As I pulled my shirt off over my head, the smell of burning squinnies assaulted me. I took a shower and went to bed.


I slept the sleep. I hate waking up on the cold ground with dogs licking my face. I hate waking up in a bright hospital having my tongue stitched up. I really hate being awakened by a wild-eyed maniac with questions. It was Crystal. “Did you have fun last night?” “Hi honey.” A tirade of words and tears and spit and snot and fire and ice followed. I could see what she was saying and I understood the point, but the words I heard were like, “hospitals, jails, morgues, bars, little bitches, motherfucker.” She might as well have just said that sentence. Now I was expected to respond and my sentence might as well have been “rode Frankie’s bike got stomped in an alley orange groves Leatherneck killed Frankie so I burned him up. Do we have any cognac?” Big Joe was aiming at Leatherneck. Leatherneck was laughing. I was flying over the trees, looking down at the scene below. Yes, I’m quite sure this was Leatherneck. I’m quite sure that I’m flying, soaring, gliding. I’m in the ether, yes the ether. Is it ether? It makes me dizzy. I can swoop and dip. Can you shoot him, Joe? Just shoot him please? This whole thing is making me a bit loony. I know a bit about loony. You might think they’d lock a boy up for shooting his Grampa. I’ve been locked up, and I always chalked it up to shooting Grampa, but I never got locked up for that. That was an accident. Grampa comes to see me as a crow. I must admit this Leatherneck business is unnerving as hell. I’m not comfortable with this manifestation at all if that’s what it is. There is a general aura about the crow which leads me to believe its Grampa. Leatherneck not only shares the aura, but the gait, the laugh, the stature, not to mention the general demeanor. Criminy. Hoo hooing in the ditch while big Joe sweats out his future. That’s Grampa. I really should have mixed emotions, but I want Joe to do it. I really prefer the crow.


We have cognac. Of course we do. Crystal brings me a coke glass and a nice bottle of cognac. She can tell I’m upset. I drink quietly in bed while she gets ready to go to some Christmas party. Some friend from work. I grab the remote and flick through the channels. I fill the glass three times while she showers. The cognac is really going down. Its distilled wine from what I understand. Really intense wine and maybe that’s why I like it so much. I’ve spent a little time under the bridge. Crystal emerges from the shower in a fog of steam. I’m filling my fourth glass of cognac and I am drunk. I feel good and I know I’ll feel better soon. I’d like to go somewhere.

“Can I go?” She eyes me warily. “You drunk?” “No.” “You want to go to Sharon’s Christmas party? What’s up?” I smile serenely. “Just the season I guess.” Sharon is fine. She’s got kids though. It could never get serious. “You’re not going to embarrass me?” “Nope.” I look right into her eyes. “I just want to be with you.” Crystal grins widely. “I love you.” I hop out of bed and rummage around in the closet. I choose slacks, a shirt with a collar and a sporty jacket. This will be fun. I dust off some nice shoes and almost lose my balance. I must remember to take a sip now and then, stay sharp. I even find a flask, a leather covered flask. Oh my, the way I hold myself begins to change. You bet. I’ll be blending right in. I begin singing “Sharp Dressed Man” by ZZ Top. Crystal is laughing now, forgiving for now. I try to moonwalk. It’s been too long. I pose in the long mirror, and then go fill the flask. Crystal drives, I don’t. I look out at all the pretty lights. The holidays are a trip. I take a sip. “There will be wine and punch at the party.” Crystal worries too much. “Sharon’s kids have weird names.” I need a refresher, to impress Sharon. “Willy and Billy are the twins. The little girl is Hillary.” “Willy and Billy, that’s right. Weird. Weird little fuckers. Little queers. Little faggots.” Crystal worries more. “Don’t say anything.” “Yeah, right.”

party boy

Sharon’s house was full of Christmas. A tree, presents, twinkly things. I took note of the mistletoe above the doorway to the kitchen. The crowd was loose, drinking, ducking into the bathroom in pairs. Cocaine was the feeling I got, and I’m generally right on in the feelings I get, especially when my senses have been sharpened by doses of cognac.  Crystal and Sharon disappeared for a moment, only to return to the party bumping up against one another, smiling brightly. There was a rosiness to everything. There must have been 25 people there and some kids too. Billy and Willy looked to be about eleven. Hillary was probably eight. I decided to buddy up to the boys, but steer clear of the girl. I didn’t want any suspicions in that department. “Hey, boys,” I said. “You like football?” One of them gave me a look that just really pissed me off.

“Hey, boys,” he mimicked. “You like homos?”

Motherfucker. I sometimes wonder what I look like. Do I look like someone you can say that to? I wander into the kitchen and pour a glass of wine. I slam it. I pour another. I slam it.

“Damn boy, you thirsty?” A smiling suit boy, white teeth and all. I pour another. He asks another question. “You a friend of Sharon’s?” “Personal trainer.” I feel like fucking around. “I might judo chop her kids tonight.” “Haw haw haw. I’ll drink to that.” White Teeth pours a glass of wine, grabs a bottle of rum, and pours some into the wine. He slams it. I grab the rum, pour it into my glass and float a little wine on top. I slam it.

“Boooooooyah!” White Teeth yells. He does it too. Then he pukes immediately. Crystal rushes in with Sharon behind her. “Are you sick?” Crystal is playing the nurse. Billy and Willy peek into the kitchen. One of them barfs too. I decide to find another room to hang out in. I bump into the little puker on the way out of the room. Many people are rubbernecking for a look at the action. I go stand by the tree. It’s getting hot. I pull out my flask and take a little nipper. I fall down. I’m losing control.

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