By Benjamin Leatherman
By Glenn BurnSilver
By Glenn BurnSilver
By Troy Farah
By Roger Calamaio
By Mark Deming
By Glenn BurnSilver
By Brian Palmer
I was taking out the trash when I watched them swing around in that horrible pickup truck and park in front of the single-wide next to mine. I could recognize that prison tat anywhere. One can't forget a neck-adorning swastika, especially when stuck on an abomination like him. Nor could I be forgetful of his gape-mouthed visage, flat voice and murderous, blank-eyed stare. Or the ape-drape hairdo adorning his tanned and shirtless bully brawn and beer belly.
Yes, Meth-Head Red has returned, fresh from his latest penitentiary stint and ever resembling that old playboy Buddy Rose of the World Wrestling Federation. And just in time for eggnog. Oh Come All Ye Faithful.
In tow, and in total dedication to an obscene patriarchal assumption, is his silent, peroxide-damaged girlfriend, who is still standing, literally, by her man. Jenny is all food-stamp-weaned and porn-star glow with a puffy power pout, considerable nature-filled knockers, and bouncing bubble hind. She's an undoctored Pamela Lee, high on crystal, living by choice in that trailer and its constant state of suffocating anger.
The last time I saw them it was here, last summer. Meth was sitting handcuffed in the back of a squad car. The cops had just pummeled him with their holy nightsticks, and he looked like two eyeballs on a slaughterhouse floor. This was just after he had sent bullets whizzing through my trailer--an emotional, sleep-deprived by-product of binge drinking, crank snorting and girlfriend beating. And she was outfitted in a straitjacket and getting stuffed into a second police car all wild-eyed, crystal-headed, pregnant and screaming bloody murder, which sounded like evil had the winning hand within her. That was six months ago.
Now here they are, unloading a Christmas tree. Nobody told me they were back. And it looked odd, frightful even, to see Meth-Head Red handling some mundane holiday chore like this because here's a man who is not good by anybody's standard; he couldn't hang with only hurting women. He once told me he castrated a homeless man for lifting a six-pack of beer out of the back of his pickup. He treats his women with such a savage and unrelenting cruelty that even his drunken, female-hating Nazi friends can't bear to watch or emulate. He's killed dogs belonging to neighbor children just because they barked.
Meth-Head Red takes a whiskey bottle out of his back pocket, has a shot and sets it down on the hood of his pickup. He turns and looks at me. I can tell jail didn't do him well--he's aged in the last half-year: deeper facial crevices, tighter mouth, darker eyes; the overall disposition of a man who's been stepped on more than usual.
"Merry fuckin' Christmas," he says from his stance 30 feet away. "I was hopin' you'd be moved out by the time I got back, punk-rock weirdo."
This is the man who tried to kill me with a rifle. This is a very inarticulate man whose moods fluctuate in varying degrees of sour and mean. He's also a time bomb with the whiskey in him.
But I was already a six-pack into the day, so I greeted him back like the long-lost friend that he is: "Dat's right, pal, I ain't goin' anywhere, you Third Reich jizz-gurgler. And don't be tossin' that punk word around, either, since it's obviously been your elected job of choice as of late."
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Jenny stop dead in her tracks as she was walking across the concrete slab toward their trailer door. I could tell she didn't want to hear that. Neither did I.
Meth turned for the whiskey and downed the last third of the pint. He spun and threw the bottle at my head. I ducked, and the bottle shattered on my drunkenly decorated propane tank, sending bits of glass and Christmas lights to the ground. Here we go again.
"Bravo, dick-face," I said.
His eyes were now daggers, rabid. He came at me, running. I thought fast.
I was still holding the trash can full of empty beer bottles--a stroke of luck. I gripped it hard and prepared to swing. As he got closer, I could tell he was going for the throat. He was unhinged and possessed. He lunged. I retaliated. The 30-gallon can full of bottles was heavy, but it came off the ground with ease. (Funny--at this precise moment, it struck me that I drink a shitload of beer, and how I never really know just how much until having to dump the empties.) I put all I had into the trash can. I meant it. I lifted fast and swung hard. Bottles flew out and seemed to float like toy blower bubbles. Everything shifted to slow motion. The weighty tin connected across his bastardly face. Bottles exploded upon contact, and the can's handle snapped off in my hand. The impact of the lethal trash can sent Meth-Head Red airborne backward. He landed hard on his back. Blood followed in eerie ribbons.
All was silent as the dust rose and I slowly returned to real time. I realized Jenny was screaming, at me, at the sky, at something. Meth-Head Red lay there in peace. He'll rest a while. "Yeah, merry fuckin' Christmas," I said. I dropped the handle, turned and headed in for a beer with the notion that beer had just saved my life.