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Fiction #42
(published May 31, 2001)
A Fragment from Raymond Chandler's First Scenario for the Sopranos
by Terence S. Hawkins

I was shaving my balls when the phone rang.

I dropped the Mach 3 and my scrotum. With my right hand I pulled the Lucky out of my mouth and with the left cradled the receiver. I got shaving cream on both.

"Yeah," I said.

"What're you doing?" said Jimmy the Bedwetter.

"Shaving my balls," I said. I flicked the Barbasol off the Lucky with my thumbnail and stuck it back in my mouth.

Jimmy the Bedwetter laughed. I don't like it when he laughs. It makes me want to stop smoking. "Hey that's really funny," he said.

"It isn't funny. I was really shaving my balls."

The Bedwetter paused to consider this news. "No kidding? What the fuck for? It's fucking February, for Christ's sake."

I moved the jewels a little to the left and squinted through smoke to attack a particularly tough follicle. "February? So what if it's February?"

"It ain't hot enough to shave your balls. You don't need to shave your balls until May. April, maybe. If you wear wool pants. Not February. Not unless you wear fur pants and I know for a fucking fact you don't."

"That I don't," I said. I thought for a minute. Maybe I shouldn't have said anything but I had to know. "So you shave your balls in the spring?"

"Fuck yes. Maybe not spring. Maybe early summer. Usually Memorial Day for sure. Why?"

The Lucky was going to burn my lips in a minute but I dragged on it hard anyway. I decided not to tell him about the crabs. I decided that maybe I wanted to kill myself before I talked to him again.

"So Jimmy," I said. I spat the smoldering butt into the ashtray so I could concentrate on my perineum. Soon as I finished there was a bottle of Old Infidelity and a chess problem that needed work.

"So what?"

"So why'd you call?"

"Hey not to talk about your fucking balls that's for sure. But hey maybe I did. Something you need to know. Fishlip Billy got whacked."

The Teflon blade poised over an artery I really didn't want to nick. "Fishlip Billy? From Justin the Rectum's crew?"

"Fuckin A."

"So what's it to me?" I knew it was something and I didn't want to finish defoliating if he was going to say something that made my hands shake.

"Just this. He had your card in his pocket. And Lloyd the Jew says the LAPD wants to talk to you about it."

I was trying to figure out what it meant. I was also trying to figure out how to get another Lucky without getting it all covered with Barbasol. "Thanks. Thanks Jimmy."

"Hey," he said. "No problem. Hey, don't your balls get cold when you shave them this early?"

"Nah," I said.

"Fuck," he said, and hung up.

I dropped my ballsack and stood up. My pants were still around my ankles so I had to take little baby steps to the window. I got shaving cream all over the blinds as I parted them to peer out. The sun had gone down half an hour before and the drunken boulevards were just coming to life.

Jimmy the Bedwetter. Fishlip Billy. Justin the Rectum. Lloyd the Jew.

It was going to be like that.

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