Dear and Ever Vigilant Readers,
I am much pleased to again be returned to you from my vacation, and be available to answer your many invasive queries. In order to address this, please pardon me if I take a brief detour through what I believe is an illustrative anecdote provided by my long-time and faithful lab assistant, Rob. On Tuesday, as I endeavored to organize the colored squares upon the surface of Mr. Erno Rubik's ill-fated hypercube. He sat down and said, "Dude, that shit was fucked up," and I knew that I would not be able to return my attention to my experiments for at least the next five and twenty of your scraping and dry land minutes.
"I was, like, moving shit for my Da', right? Clearing some stank out of a commercial space in, like Belleville or fuck all, and we hit this snag that my Da' had to go talk to a guy, right? Complicated. Whatever. I was left sitting around a dead strip mall parking lot watching six glass display cases and a stuffed moose. Whole fucking moose. Taxidermied. Not stuffed like for kids. Skeleton and skin and bones and shit, packed with sawdust and staring at you with glass bead eyes. I ain't really been stoned since, like, '05, right, but that moose by its own motherfucking self was enough to draw acid out of my blubber. Half its lip was torn off some fucking way and it leered, you know?"
Rob held his head in his hand for fifty eight seconds, which is, I have determined, exactly long enough for me to assume that a normal grunt-chimp has ceased interlocuting. Exactly, precisely, long enough. And so, as was his custom, Rob continued before I could turn back to my project.
"So, my cell rings, right? I been there, like, forty five minutes, and I figure Da's calling to tell me to go home, or to lug the shit back in, and I was gonna lay into him about leaving me at dusk in a haunted fucking parking lot with a zombie moose when I hear, like, faint breathing. It's a chick. I check the number and I ain't never seen it before. 562 area code? Where the fuck is that? And then finally she talks, and she's all: 'Is you, lover?'
"And I am like, 'Hello, Miller Companies, Incorporated this is—' cause I'm on my Da's clock and people got my number for this shit because I been doing so much of the maintenance crap that they got me coordinating with teams—I got teams! You believe that shit? Man," Rob paused to reflect on his life while I counted the seconds in his pause, "Things been good this year with me and my Dah, you know. I been clean for a while, he been giving me jobs and shit, more responsibility. I been hustling teams around. Got my own apartment. You know that? I don't even need to come round here no more. I just, you know, miss this place is all."
He put a hand against the glass of my tank and he leaned his head against the glass. "I wish you coulda come over to my place, man. You'da been proud, you know. Nice TV, blue-ray movies. Even back into the Jew thing, you know. Roots and shit. Silver cup belonged to my Da', only thing come across the Atlantic with the Millers. You believe that shit? Whole damn war, all the Millers in three different camps, six make it through, and one fucking cup, with his da', fucker was 15, and it was all he owned besides the clothes Red Cross gave him. Silver cup. Back when we was 'Müller' and shit, right? And I got this apartment on my own dime, doing real work for my Da'. He actually let a guy go 'cause I was pickin' up enough work. I saved him money, got on my feet. When I invite my folks over for dinner, Da' has this box, right? An' after dinner, after Mom has gone down to the car and everything, he gives me the box, and he squeezes my shoulder and shit, and he walks out quick. I don't know what the fuck, right? Well, I open the box, and in it is the fucking Müller kiddush cup. Every Miller in the fucking Midwest drank from this cup at their Bar Mitzvah, right? Lost relic from the Shoah. Da' dropped a dime on an expert appraisal back in the '90s, before my bar mitzvah, had it sent to Switzerland. I remember that tiny wooden crate he had made for the occasion."
He paused again. "Man." He shook his head. "Anyway, up on the mantle went the cup. In the box, he wrote a note. Said, Fruit of the vine. That shit made me cry."
He stepped away from the glass. I twirled a tentacle to indicate that he should continue with his story or leave my presence. He smirked and nodded. "Right, so this lady called me while I was waiting in the lot, right?"
"'Daniel,' she says 'Is good to hear you. Please, Daniel, they come for me tonight. I am danger in. You must come.'
"I admit, I got my history with crazy ladies, but this lady had a voice. . . "
He looked deep into my optically perfect eye. He could see that I was mustering my very best vacant, expectant stare.
He brushed me away, frustrated. "Aw, shit, whatever. She had a pretty voice, okay? Like a purr, like if you took a regular voice and passed it through the Ukrainian super-model voice-box filter or some shit? Right?" He sighed. "Anyway, I wasn't gonna play her game, but I wasn't NOT gonna play her game neither, so I'm like, 'Lady, what do you need from me.'
"'Is good,' she purrs, 'You always to point get. So direct. Like cowboy with long cigar and pistol shooting sixes, yes? Ooohh . . . ' and the ooooh turned into, like, this trill. I mean, damn, you know?"
I did not know, and did not say as much.
"So, she just plowed on ahead while I stared at the leering moose and the sun set. 'I need you. It is Katrine. They kill me soon, Daniel. You come to 417 Blanchard. Quickly. The word. . . she is moose.'"
"And the line went dead.
"I shit you not, man. The line was dead. I stared up at the yellow moose teeth. The sun was low. I locked up the store—which was basically empty—and figured that six old ugly glass cases and a beat down moose would probably survive the night in the parking lot. Figured it was on my Da', anyway, for ditching me without a word. It was too late to call in a crew, and Blanchard was on the north side, by my new place, half way between my folks in the suburbs and downtown. The neighborhood was starting to flip back in a good direction, and I got in cheap. 417 was a junk shop three blocks away.
"I go in and it was run by Boris fucking Yeltsin, except with a blond hairpiece and one eye fucking missing.
"I walk up and down every aisle in the store. I look at power tools hocked at the end of summer by construction workers who need to pay for hookers and drugs. I stare intently at, like, fifteen fucking X-Boxes in a locked case. Finally, I am standing in front of the main counter looking down at watches. Nice watches, all hocked by pimps on the skids. The whole time, it's glasnost with Vodka face. He just stares at me. Even his empty socket, which he lets sag open with no fucking eyeball, just stares at me. I mean, don't you gotta stick something in there? Like, by law? Anyway, I preferred the fucking moose is all, you know?
"So, I just stand there trying to think of what I should do.
"And he says, 'Is gentleman lady shopping?'"
"And I am all like, 'Man, no fucking way. Get an eye patch, Pimpshevik.' But what I really said was, 'Well, my Dad needs a nice watch, right?'
"And he's not missing a beat, and I figure probably just his English is all from double-discount learn-at-home-in-15-minutes-a-day cassettes, cause he says with a smile, 'Ah, yeah, father is noble man to honor with fine European time chronograph, yes? Here, let me show you my fine imported selection.' And as he unlocks his front case full of Zippos with naked ladies and heavy duty brass belt buckles that double as bottle openers or say things like, Lick the Lizard, I start sweating it because I want to find the stairs up to wherever the Soviet Bombshell is, but he starts showing me all of the watches, and I start to feel bad cause of his eye, and we go through each one with its features, and I pretend like I am impressed by all of these beautiful new watches, except one of them is obviously engraved on the back and I catch a look at it. Says, To D'Shane, love Mom, and it makes you cry cuz she probably bought that shit for him for when he graduated high school or some shit, and he never made it to the diploma line because it was cooler to cut out every morning, smoke blunts with baggy-pants assholes, boost shit out of cars, and turn out girls he went to grade school with in some crap-ass no-windows cinder block bar on Six Mile. Finally he hit rock bottom and had to pawn the watch, which his momma had never actually given to him but he probably stole from her on one of his 'raids' on her purse for money when he was seventeen and already dropped out of school. D'shane woulda taken the hundred out of her purse, seen the watch, stolen it quick, and not looked at it until the middle of the night. Then, while he's getting a hummer from some strung-out twenty-eight-year-old white crack head from Bad Axe, he flips over the watch and he sees the inscription, and he figures it all out in a flash: All the hopes his momma had for him, all the potential he had in life, and here he was, getting a BJ from some gal who'd would be dead inside of a year from shooting Fentanyl-spiked baby formula, and he's got three kids he don't know in two different suburbs, and already his whole life is a bust. And he don't even care. He see the whole thing out there, but he's seventeen and high and some white girl on his dick, and he drops that precious keepsake onto a coffee table littered with cracked vials and resiny sandwich bags and doesn't thick twice about it until it's three years later and he's hocking it to buy enough heroin to keep his skin from fallin off.
"I saw all that in a second when I flipped over that watch. My chest hurt like I'd been stabbed with a hollow ball a' nothin'. Next thing I know the happy chap is wrapping it up while I'm counting out 15 twenties. He hands me the watch in this very nice box, and he seems to look at me with, like, pride and respect, like I am making him feel good about being a father again after a long fucking time.
"Then, nervously, like I was buying a box a condoms at grocery store, I say, 'Moose.'"
"'What?' the man says.
"And I'm all like, 'Nothing, nothing,' and waving it off.
"'You said Moose.' He says, still holding the watch.
"And I sighed. 'Yeah,' I'm, all sheepish and shit, 'Yeah, I said moose.
"He grimaces and hands me the box. 'Why you not say so in first place?' He shakes his head, turns back to his little TV, and yanks a thumb over his shoulder to a curtained area behind the security monitor."
I Remain Returned,
Your Giant Squid
Love the Giant Squid? Buy his first book.
Share on Facebook
Tweet about this Piece
Poor Mojo's Tip Jar: