IMAGINE ME AND YOU

Babe, you and I could be so happy together, just like in that old song, so wildly happy forever, if only that kid of yours got herself misplaced forever, Babe. 

You know I have no use for children—never have, never will. You had an inkling, no? You often nag me-- ask me, I mean-- to spend a little quality time with her, let her read to me her latest poem about puppies. But you can see the expression on my face—you must know. But because she is a limb of your tree, of your love, I must love her too, you figure. I don’t. I know she says I hate her. I don’t. I just don’t get her point, her purpose.

Read More

THE LAST OUTLAW IN RIVERFORD

Seems like it should go without saying, but nobody ever expected much of a man named Bork Bobienski.

Bork’s father, a lifetime resident of Riverford Massachusetts (other than the odd years he spent in Bridgewater State Prison), spent that lifetime being a general pain in the ass to the city and the outlying region as a whole. The least of his crimes being misspelling Raymond Bourque’s name on the birth certificate of his youngest son.

I got off easy when it was time to name his firstborn, Cam Neely being his favorite Bruins player of all time. Only so many ways one can fuck up the name Cam and the gods of birth names and hockey were smiling down on me the day I popped out of Nancy Bobienski’s nethers on that cold day in 1987.

Read More

DEAD PRESIDENTS

DEAD PRESIDENTS
By Chase Whale

Charlie loves Point Break . I swear he owns 18 copies on VHS. His favorite character is Bodhi because the dude surfs, skydives, and robs banks. A real tough guy. My favorite is Johnny Utah because he’s an honest cop who goes undercover to infiltrate Bodhi’s crew. You’ve seen the movie. Keanu Reeves' best role.

Last Monday, Charlie had me, Andy, and Lee over for a viewing. After, he gave us each a copy and told us to watch it religiously for a week. Said he was going to quiz us on it. Said it was for a big project he was working on. Nobody thought much of it.

***

Once the weekend hit, I headed to Charlie’s. When I got there, Andy and Lee were in the living room laughing their heads off. “What’s so funny?” I asked.

“You’ll…” Andy said with a stupid grin. “Charlie has planned an adventure for us.”Shit. I hate when Charlie has an “adventure” for us planned. It’s never for a good cause, if you follow me.

Relax. Shit. Shit. Shit. Relax. Shit.

Out of the bathroom and into the living room came Charlie. “Hey, President Reagan finally made it.”

“Huh?” I wasn’t following.

“Sit down, man. Did you study the movie like I asked?”

“Of course. Watched it every day.” I lied but have seen it enough to recite every damn line.

A maniacal smile that I’d never seen before split open Charlie’s sun-burnt face. It frightened me. “Awesome,” he said. “Let’s get down to it.”

I pretended to not be entirely lost in translation. The big project became clear when Charlie said these horrifying words: we’re going to rob a bank. A pang of dread lit up inside me.

Now I know why Andy and Lee were laughing their heads off. Those two half-brained goons would do anything for Charlie. I would too…but this? This was foolish.

“I’m not robbing a bank,” I barked. “I don’t even own a gun.”

“I’ve got that covered,” said Charlie with that evil grin. “C’mon, dude. Look how easy it is in Point Break: they execute a well-planned robbery and rack up a fat loot.”

“That’s because it’s fiction,” I hissed. “It’s not real. Also, they all die at the end. ‘Ja forget?”

“Not real? What about Bonnie and Clyde? Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid? They were real bank robbers. Legends.”

All I could do was let out an exhausted sigh.

Charlie knew I needed convincing. “Yeah, they became legends!” He high-fived Andy and Lee.

I couldn’t say no. Charlie had gotten me out of hot water many times. I owed him. I’m fucked.

Pros. Money. Lots of money. Cons. Arrested and possible death. I took a deep breath.

“All…all right,” I said. “I’ll do it once, that’s it.”

“Yes!” Charlie howled. “Trust me; this is going to be a blast.”

It turns out that the week we were supposed to be watching Point Break on repeat, Charlie was staking out a bank, blueprinting our in and out.

Boy, he has a bit of a wild side. There are always stories circulating about his temper, but I’ve never seen it first-hand. I heard three no-goods tried to rob him at a city bus stop once. Word has it Charlie lit them up, plunging his switchblade into any flesh they had to offer. Charlie takes pride in that moment. Nobody has tried to steal from him since.

As Charlie was going over the plan, I knew it wasn’t going to end well. A plan is just a list of things that never happen. Especially in Charlie’s world. He may have felt invincible, but he’s got a death wish.

***

We met up at noon, as planned. Charlie showed up with two large bags: one containing three small guns and one giant shotgun, and the other, empty.

“I’m taking the shotgun,” Charlie said. “You three can fight over the rest.”

I grabbed what was left from the pile.

Charlie managed to get the infamous president masks from the movie, which kind of impressed me. He tossed one at each of us. “Andy, you’re Nixon.” Andy laughed and threw up peace signs. “Lee, you’re Carter; I’ll be Johnson. And here’s yours,” Charlie said, tossing a mask at me. Ronald Reagan. Great, I thought, the president who got popped in real life.

“Let’s go over the plan one more time,” Charlie yapped.

My anxiety was on fire.

***

Charlie put the plan in motion and we followed. Into the bank we went.

“Everybody freeze!” Charlie wailed. “This is a robbery!” Instead of the panic and screaming you see in the movies, everyone turned, looked at us, and then went about their business like we were invisible.

“I said freeze!” Charlie reinforced. He walked up to a bank teller, shoving the customer aside. I followed and tossed the empty bag to the teller. Charlie demanded him to fill it up to the top.

The teller balked. “You can’t be serious,” he said. “What are you, twelve?”

“Thirteen, motherfucker. Vaya con Dios.”

That's all it took. Charlie turned and looked at me. Through that droopy Johnson mask, I could see the madness in his eyes — it cut right through my soul.

And that’s when Charlie pointed the giant shotgun up at the teller and pulled the trigger. Where the man’s head used to be was now red mist. His skull decorated the back wall.

When the 437.5 grains of lead from the slug exploded the man’s head, it felt like the world stopped. You never really think about death until it sprays you right in the face.

Once the panic set in, my numb brain caught up with the frenetic energy from the horrified crowd. Instead of dropping to the floor, they all ran straight towards the two swinging front doors, shoving one another to get out. Zero compassion for each other.

Andy and Lee didn’t seem to know how to use their guns. They were smacking them with their palms, looking stumped as to how to get them to shoot. I just stood there, slack-jawed in my stupid mask. There wasn’t talk of shooting people. Charlie said if they wouldn’t give us the money, we’d leg it out.

He lied.

Charlie started firing away, plugging as many people as he could. He was a natural. This was not his first time shooting a real shotgun. This was not his first time shooting a real giant shotgun at people.

“What are you doing?” I yelled. “This isn’t what we talked about.”

Before Charlie could say anything, an off-duty cop lying on the floor buried four bullets deep into Charlie’s chest. He fell to the ground, screaming.

I had dropped my gun minutes ago and never realized it, but I threw my hands up anyway. The man told me not to move. I stood as still as the dead air and pee started to trickle down my leg. I began to cry, hard. Everything was blurry; I didn’t see Andy and Lee sneak up behind the man and stab him to death in the neck with a couple bank pens. The man bled out where he lay.

Leaving this place safely is now only a dream.

Within minutes, the place was surrounded by cops.

I didn’t hear Charlie’s screams anymore, and that was because he was dead. Andy and Lee took off out one of the front swinging doors, masks on, and all I heard was gunfire. I guess they were dead, too.

I don’t want to die.

I took off my Reagan mask, kept my hands up high like in the movies, and walked ou. Slowly, I yelled, “I’m unarmed!” Didn’t matter. Some trigger-happy yahoo popped me in the chest as soon as I got outside.

I splayed on the ground as if I were making a snow angel, my shirt drinking up the blood pouring out of me. The shock of the bullet in my body stole the glory from me feeling anything, from me hearing the policeman who was holding my wound tell me to breathe, that I was going to be OK.

I just looked up at the sky, watching a flock of birds fly over.

What a day.

 

Note: This was first published on Out of the Gutter.

LEAVE IT TO CLEAVER

LEAVE IT TO CLEAVER
By Chase Whale

While I was choking the life out of Ronald, I kept thinking about her. Poor, sweet innocent Rachel. The only sure thing in life is death, but she shouldn’t have gone out like she did: raped, murdered, and hurled into an alley like trash with a needle of junk jammed in her arm.

Rachel was the only thing left for me in this cesspool. Pop blew his brains out when I was 35, and cancer took my mother two years later. Rachel was born into misery –- her parents were junkies—so I took care of her until she was old enough to work and live life on her own. 

It took time to get Ronald alone — he always had an entourage with him — but when a man has nothing to lose, patience becomes his most loyal companion. His father, Mickey Welles, is one of the city's biggest crime shitbirds. I don’t know how they never connected my relationship with Rachel — divine intervention? — but they never discovered I was her uncle. This was their biggest mistake.

                                                                           ***

I snapped Ronald’s neck and watched blood leak out of his glassy, dead black eyes. I pulled out my cleaver and went to work. Once that party was over, I picked up his phone and dialed Mickey.

“I’m busy Ronald, what do you—”

“This is Charlie.”

“Charlie? Who the fuck are you?”

“The man who just killed your son.”

“You better be fucking around.” I could feel the tremble of fear and fire in his voice.

“Meet me at Leave it to Cleaver’s in 45 if you want the other half of your son back.”

Click.

***

My name is Charlie Lang; known to my associates as Cleaver. I’m not a good man, but I’m not a monster, either. I used to make ends meet street-fighting, but old age beat me to the punch. Now I run my late Pop’s deli shop, Leave it to Cleaver. (Pop loved a play on words and puns.)

Occasionally, I’m a hired butcher. When someone needs a dirty rotten scoundrel to disappear, I’m called. It’s a dirty job but pays well. My tactics are swift, clean, and I leave nothing behind. At the shop, I have a colossal grinder that scrambles the bones and meat into digestible food for my two hungry pits, Brutus and Sadie. Easy money.

***

I got back to the shop and waited. I leaned against the counter and waited for death to arrive. I knew I punched my ticket killing Ronald, but I’m an old, broken piece of meat and Rachel was all that I had. Ronald was a rotten dog — you give him a steak and he wants the whole cow. He was a rotten dog that took Rachel from me and needed to be put down. In this business, there are no clean breaks. Everyone has their comeuppance. 

Knock knock. Death has arrived. With Mickey are two goons packed with AKs.

Be cool. I told myself as sweat poured down my right brow and burned in my eye. I was ready for a fight: a sawed-off double barrel in my left hand and the sharpest fucking cleaver that would slice through God, should He stand in my way, in my right. I buzzed them in.

Silence.
  
“You must be Cleaver. I’ve heard about you. Do you know who I am?” Mickey asked.

“You’re Mickey Mouse,” I said as I pointed the cleaver at the goon on his left, “and you must be his pal Donald Duck, and the other rodent on the right is your princess, Minnie.”

I set my cleaver down on the counter.

“You’re a funny fella. I hate to kill funny fellas.” Mickey retorted.

“Make it slow, I love the smell of blood,” I quipped.

“Let’s get down to business — why did you kill my son? We don’t tamper territory this side of the tracks.”

“Your son killed my niece. The end.”

“I see. She must have been a whore. My son loves fucking rats.”

Fuck it. Behind me was Ronald’s head, which I grabbed and tossed at Mickey. During his shocked and horrified state, I snatched the cleaver and bum-rushed the three, thwacking it into Donald’s skull; it cut through like a knife slicing through hot butter. His scream filled the shop. While the cleaver was traveling through his skull, the sawed-off in my left-hand boomed and shredded half of Minnie’s head into roast beef.

Mickey threw a wallop left hook into my jaw, and I heard the sound: crunch. His bone-breaking punch reminded me he also used to be a fighter. He threw his right fist into my ribs, and I dropped fast. I scooted back against the counter while he pulled out a pistol and popped one in my left shoulder.

“You see,” he said, “big meatheads like you don’t plan, you just punch. You thought you could take out all three of us? You should have shot me when you had the chance.” Mickey looked around. “Nice shop, family-owned? I’m going to have a time using what’s here to tear you apart.”

I spat blood and started laughing. My maniac guffaw distracted him while I pulled something out from my pocket. "Two things, Mickey: You watch too many gangster movies, hahaha, and you talk too much.”

He started to raise his pistol.

“There’s one more thing I almost forgot,” I said. And that’s when I showed him the pin I pulled from the grenade in my pocket. “Time to meet God.”

The last thing I saw was tough guy Mickey’s frozen, terrified face.

And then.

Darkness. 

Chase Whale is a graduate of the University of North Texas' Creative Writing B.A. program. He's a film critic and crime fiction writer, and you can find his work on Out of the Gutter, ScreenAnarchy, Indiewire, MTV, Flaunt Magazine, and other places. More on http://www.chasewhale.com

Note: This was first published on Out of the Gutter.