Friday, June 25, 2010

THE DEATH OF A LIVING MUG SHOT (flash fiction)


Looking at the body, I'd give anything to be in my bed watching stupid re-runs of "The Bachelor" with my wife.

This wasn't happening. I wasn't watching my friend's body twitch away into lifelessness staring at the cold, hard ground. The gun pierced in the left side of my rib cage like a dull spear told me otherwise and I was just waiting for that pop -- the last sound Bobby J ever heard.

* * *
I'd been talking to Bobby J on The Living Room, a new social network where you invite friends over to your virtual living space - like big 3D room. I pimped mine out with all sorts of corny sports and gangster movie knick-knacks and I had the illusion that this ridiculous site was my cyber bachelor crash pad. All sorts of people would drop in from new work friends to old school chums I haven't seen in years. Yes, it was all very odd and at times, kind of juvenile but it passed
the time.

Then Bobby J found me. You know the type. That one guy you've known your whole life back to when you both barely stopped pissing your pants? Your oldest friend but not necessarily your best? The one who, as you've matured, just seemed to regress back to those days of piss-stained overalls? Yeah... That was Bobby J.

When I saw that he rang my virtual door bell, I sighed. Now I knew what Seinfeld meant about the dreaded "pop in." When my wife heard me groan from the other room, she wanted to know what the big deal was? She never met Bobby J. and I explained that we were "like this" growing up.

"You never mentioned him. He didn't come to our wedding. How good of a friend could he have been?" she asked in that half-snarky tone that I hated.

"Yeah, well, your're lucky he didn't show. He prolly would've fucked a cocktail waitress, knocked out one of my ushers and stole a car from the valet.""Sounds like a real winner," she said.

I didn't answer her. She didn't get it and I didn't feel like explaining anything further. Women just don't understand the intricacies of male friendships and I wasn't about to start schooling her.

* * *
After a few weeks of dodging him, Bobby J. finally nagged me enough to agree to meet for a few cocktails during happy hour after work. Well, after my work. Bobby J. said he was on disability. For what, I couldn't tell you.

We decided to meet at an old bar that we used to hang at called Spinners. I parked my Honda outside, down the block and judging from the amount of graffiti, I'd say the neghborhood wasn't what it once was. It seemed to have gone from working-class Italian and Irish to downright vacant.

The bar, though, was still filled with college kids. After all, it was still a college town and the semester was in full groove. The bar was still the same and just the smell of the beer-stained linoleum brought me back.

During school, I'd cram for finals in the back in one of the booths and Bobby J would run numbers and scam the WASPy kids every Sunday during football season. It was always
something with him.

I snagged our same booth and when I saw Bobby J. walk in, he was almost unrecognizable. Most guys our age, get fat and go bald. Bobby J. was skinnier now then back when we copped our first feel. His hair was greasy. Long. In his eyes.

He looked like one of those guys in those meth ads -- the ones who age in mug shots. I was staring at a mug shot personified. My heart ached. That's when I first wanted to be home.

"So..." he said scratching his arm furioisly. "Whatcha been up to, man?"

* * *
We talked and caught up. I knew half of what I was listening was bullshit but what was I gonna do? Three Bud Lights, two Jacks and an order of Buffalo wings later, Bobby J. asked me for a lift home. Fuck me, was all I thought. Then I remembered the neghborhood.

"Sure, Bobby. Least I can do..."

Walking towards the Honda, Bobby kept rambling about who blew him where and under what stoop. All I was fixated on was the double-parked Escalade on the side that pinned us in. We
weren't going anywhere. I felt those buffalo wings rumble in my stomach.

Before we were at the car, the biggest one punched Bobby J. hard. I never heard a jaw break, but of I did, I'm sure that was it. I watched Bobby moan with blood spurting out of his mouth as he spit out a few teeth. I didn't know where the fuck I was.
"Don't you know if you don't wanna be found, you ain't supposed to let your butler tell people where you're gon' be," the Big One barked.

Bobby J. really didn't have a butler. The Big One was talking about The Living Room. You get a virtual butler, letting people know what you're up to when you're offline.
The rest was a blur. I mean, there was lots of shouting about money owed. I mean, how much could it have been? Was the Big One Bobby J's drug dealer? Pimp? I kept my mouth fucking shut and before I know it, the Big One shoots Bobby J. as if was Grand Theft Auto.

* * *

I remember pissing my pants. It was warm and they were soaked through and through. The others next to the Big One mocked me.

"Give me your wallet," The Big One snapped.
I tossed it his way and he gave me back my money, but kept everything else. He perused my pictures and studied my driver's licence. "Eagle Ridge Drive..." The Big One said. "Nice area."

I nodded.

Before handing my wallet off to one of the others, The Bog One said, "Now hold the gun."

And there it was. He just placed me at the murder scene. After a few seconds he snatched it back using a plastic bag, making sure not to touch it.

"You wanna live?" The Big One asked.
I nodded.

"Good. Cuz I ain't gonna kill you," he said laughing low. "How else are we gonna get rid of this here body?"

One of the others dug for my car keys and popped the trunk. They dumped all my fishing gear on the curb along with my son's soccer stuff.

My heart sunk as I watched The Big One order his guys to dump Bobby J's body into the Honda. My car dipped low towards the ground and I had to remind myself that it wasn't the time to worry about the shocks.

"Now you make sure Bobby J. don't get found. If you go to the cops, we go to your house. That simple. You tell anyone, and this gun pops up mysteriously. We clear?"

I nodded again.

* * *
I watched the Escalade blur into the stoplights 10 blocks uptown and I sat in my Honda. I didn't know where I was going or how I would see Bobby J. off. Do I just dump him at the side of the curb? Do I bury him? Do I toss him down a ravine?

Driving away, all I thought that this was the kinda shit that happens to schmuks in movies.

I couldn't say if I was driving too fast or slow but when I saw the siren light in my rear view, I knew one thing for sure -- no good could ever come from social networks and the blood splatter on my oxford shirt proved me right.

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29 comments:

  1. What a ride, Ant. This is exactly why I never answer people I knew in elementary school on FB.

    Tough and excellent writing as always. Excellent story.

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  2. The story started as a nice little ride and then, BAM! What a great ending, Anthony. Loved it and I like the way you're using photos in and around your stories. Top work my friend.

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  3. Damn good. Damn good. Wow. A solid blow to the temple. Rock on.

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  4. great pace and feel..indeed a wild ride

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  5. You know you're hooked into a story good when you catch yourself wondering what you would do with the body. Great tale, Anthony, it just rushes along at breakneck speed. Love the characters, especially Bobby J, and what a cool name.
    For the record, I'd go pick up my family first and then drive to the nearest cop shop.

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  6. I was lying on the floor when I started reading this. By the time I was done I was sitting with my nose almost touching the netbook screen. I don't remember moving. Now that's a good story. The details in this were impeccable.

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  7. Wow Anthony, such a gritty and gripping story. Nicely detailed (fishing poles and soccer stuff in the trunk for example)and well woven with elements like the wife's view of Bobby J and of course the techno-twist with the social network bit (especially since I found the link on FB) and then finally the frame. Great Friday Flash!

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  8. Hey everybody. Hey Anthony. I'm digging what you're all about here.

    I googled "Bukowski Blog" and ended up here. I'm thinking I'll stick around for a while.

    Compliments on the short story. A very nicely dark view on social networking. Concise as well.

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  9. Great story, and unfortunately it's a good extrapolation from getting back in touch with "that guy." Ugh, that guy. Damn MyFaceFriendSpaceBook.

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  10. Awesome! A very good reminder too...leave your shit friends behind.

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  11. Excellent, excellent story. A real punch in the literary stomach. K'O

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  12. A gritty, tough read with some acute truisms. The oldest but not necessarily dearest friend; how even in 'virtual world' we groan when we get visits; watching reruns with the wife--heck, the exchange between the husband and wife was too real; and bringing it all around to piss-stained pants.

    I'm glad I don't live in your world, but thanks for the invite. Great read, Ant.

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  13. Great story! Loved how you weaved in the social-network commentary. The frame at the end was particularly well setup. As Cathy mentioned -- I found myself wondering what I'd do :)

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  14. I could read your seedy storys all day long, Ant. Another great flash with a bad end. You can't help but feel bad for the sap!

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  15. Poor guy. Great read, fantastic update on a classic tale and a perseptive comment on our culture. And I think your photos are the absolute perfect companion.

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  16. Better to stay under a rock than go out drinking with an old buddy.

    Ouch.

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  17. 'Kay, THIS is why I use a pseudonym online. I think I bit my nails to the quick.

    This is awesome, Anthony. I'd love to tell you how great it is, exactly, but I'm off to delete my Facebook account.

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  18. Wow...

    Sure sucks to be that guy.
    ~2

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  19. Simply stunning story Ant, and I love the pictures you use. You have such a great way with detail - it was easy to picture Bobby J with his scratching and greasy hair.
    Bravo!

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  20. Ant, this is another one of your great stories. Some vivid one liners and the

    Jeanette Cheezum

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  21. Ant, this is another one of your great stories. Some vivid one liners and the set-up was perfection.

    Jeanette Cheezum

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  22. Anthony, I love how first person real you make your stories. It's like we're sitting across the table from this guy while he drinks the stale coffee, handcuffed to a metal table. Poor sap.

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  23. I want to thank everyone who took the time to read this... I know blog-trolling sometimes is rough. Especially on weekends and during the summer. Thanks, again!

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  24. I'm going thru the collector and trying to catch up on my favorite authors and I came across your name and title. I had to come back to tell you, the title is brilliant.

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  25. Indicator for quality work, Anthony: I'm medium-level tired and don't think I can grasp this story. Paused for a moment at the creep factor of the very premise of The Living Room. The name and concept are totally coming.

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  26. Anthony - This was indeed a wild ride. That was a very bad day for our protagonist, made worse by the blood splatter!

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