Philadelphia, scabs, and coffee.

 

Scab earned his name after his father opened his bedroom door and caught him jacking off to a magazine called Chicks With Dicks.  He tried to toss the mag and zip up, but he caught his dick in his zipper and his father had to cut his pants with scissors to build pressure for the zipper to pop open.  But the zipper had a hold on him, and his father had to rip it away.  It left a scab that was constantly broken because Scab couldn’t stop jacking off.  He told a few of us the story after he was kicked out of the house.  His father was a lifer in the Air Force, and he was already apprehensive about Scab because Scab played the cello.  Scab’s mother sneaked him money when she could.  He was juggled between the families of friends, then he was allowed back in the house until the day he graduated, but by then his father was dead.  His mother followed two years after.  He stayed with me for awhile, then with somebody else after I left Arizona, then he eventually met a girl and lived with her, until she discovered that he also liked men.  He literally closed his eyes one day and pointed to the map.  He had set his finger on Philly, quit his job and moved.  His little brother was living with him.  I hadn’t seen him since he was shipped off to live with their grandmother in Tulsa after their mother died.  He stood in the kitchen and ran his mouth about his new punk band, about how it went against the mainstream and underground, how it was against anything stock or ordinary, as well as false and forced for trend.

“Alright.  So what’s the fucking band called?”

“Wreckedge, as in wrecking the fucking edges: straight edge, emo, rap metal, gangster, R&B, hip-hop; destroying all that bullshit.  Even taking it beyond the realm of thrash.”

“You got a lot of balls to be able to say that.”

“Fuck you.  You’ll see.”

“You’re standing there with an eyebrow ring and eyeliner, telling me that you’re part of something astonishing.  You’re an idiot.”

“No,” he paused and acted like he was scratching his balls, “Maybe I’m doing this on purpose to reach everybody and help re-educate them.”

“Talk about bullshit.”

“You’re a hopeless cynic.  I understand why you’re a writer.  But your perception of music is retarded.”

I sat there and drank my coffee.  He lit a smoke and walked out of the kitchen.  I cracked my neck and rolled a sheet through.  I started a letter to Emily, telling her about Philadelphia.  Right now she was getting ready for work.  Blitz walked back in and put a tape in the cassette player,

“What are you writing?”

“A letter to my girlfriend.”

“Check this shit out.  This is Wreckedge.”

He hit play.  It was awful.  Blitz played rhythm guitar and sang.  The band was out of key and the lyrics were laughable, something about burning down the world and how they were the chosen few, a lot of shit like that.  I reached over and hit stop.  He looked at me,

“Why’d you stop it?”

“It sounds like everything else. Only worse.”

He gave me a hurt look.  I tilted my cup at him,

“I’m just being honest.”

He stood up and ejected the tape.  He held it in his hand,

“You’re a dick.  You have no ear for the original.”

I nodded to the tape in his hand,

“Likewise.”

He punched the wall and walked out.  Scab walked through in his boxers.  He brewed a new pot and waited by the counter.  It was useless to talk to him before he tasted coffee.  He pulled the pot off the heater and held his cup under the drip.  He walked past the hit on the wall and sat down. He drank his coffee and rolled his eyes at me,

“You saw my little brother, huh?”

“We had a conversation about his God complex.”

“I heard.”

“I didn’t mean to fuck with him.”

“Don’t worry about it.  We go round and round over that shit.”

The doorbell rang.  Nobody got up.  There was a wait, another ring and the door opened.  A young girl walked in.  Scab and I stared at her.  She was there for Blitz.  She was barely dressed.  Her body was great to the point where it was cruel for us to look at it.  I lit a smoke.  She stood in the kitchen and stared at us,

“Where’s Blitz?”

Scab looked into his cup,

“He’s on the shitter.”

Blitz screamed from his room,

“No I’m not!  Shut the fuck up!”

I walked over and poured a coffee.  She looked at Scab,

“So, I take it you’re Craig?”

“Right.  This here’s my buddy John from Portland.”

“Maine?”

“Oregon.”

“Oh.”

Scab looked at me and smiled.  I shook my head at him.  He nodded at me,

“John’s a writer.”

“Oh?  For a living?”

“That’s right,” he said. “Novels published and everything.”

I poured the sugar in,

“Don’t listen to him.”

She cocked her head at me.  I was in town to do a reading.  I had to read that afternoon.

“What’s your last name?”

Scab told her.  She laughed,

“Oh my god!  Wait, you guys are fucking with me.”

“That’s right.  I told you not to listen to him.”

She ran over and pulled my wallet from my pocket.  She read my license.

I sat down.  She walked over and gave me my wallet,

“Can I please give you a hug?”

Scab smiled at me.  I stood up.  I wasn’t wearing a shirt, and I could feel her navel ring and tits press into me.

“I’m Jenny.”

“Of course,” I said.  Scab laughed.

I sat back down.  Jenny sat next to me at the table.

“I never do this.  I never geek out like this.  I had no idea you were so young.”

I pulled the letter out and flipped it over, “Young my ass.”

“How old are you?”

“I could be your father.”

“I doubt it.”

“How old are you, Jenny?”

“Twenty-three.”

“Well, if we were in Kentucky I could be.”

“How old are you?”

“Thirty-six.”

“That’s not too bad.”

Scab got up and poured another cup.  He lit one of my smokes,

“John doesn’t believe in aging.”

She reached over and touched my arm,

“I can’t believe you’re sitting right here.  I have so many questions for you.  I mean, I’ve read everything of yours I could find.”

I looked at the diamond in her navel.  I wanted to fuck her so badly I could barely swallow.  But I had Emily, and I couldn’t do that to her.  I grabbed a shirt from my suitcase and put it on,

“You can ask me.”

Scab sat down.  The phone rang.  He held it over to me,

“Emily.”

I answered.

“Hi, beautiful.”

Jenny smiled.  Emily was behind the bar getting ready to open.

“I just got to work.  How’s Scab doing?”

“He’s good.  I started writing you a letter today.”

“Shit, I have to go.  Fuckface just got here.”

“I’ll talk to you.”

We hung up.  Fuckface was her boss.  His real name was Todd.  Todd was the bar manager and a real prick.  Emily wouldn’t quit her job.  She made good money there.  Jenny looked at Scab,

“How did you two meet?”

“Grew up together.  He went on to become a famous writer and I went on to become a sleeper.”

“Blitz said you played the cello for a living.”

“I scrape by.”

Jenny focused on me again,

“I think your writing is amazing.”

I smiled at her.  Scab shook his head,

“He’s one of those queers who can’t take a compliment.”

She laughed and squeezed my arm,

“Oh, he’s just humble.”

Blitz walked in and shot her a cold stare.  She walked over to him.  Her jeans were loose and low.  Scab and I watched her ass cheeks wobble around her thong.  It was torture.  She hugged Blitz,

“You never told me you knew John Struyveint.”

Blitz shot me a bitter nod,

“This dude’s a dick.”

I put out my smoke, “Thank you, Blitz.”

Jenny laughed.  Scab looked into the newspaper,

“He’s just pussyhurt because John doesn’t like Wreckedge.”

Jenny cocked her head at me.  She was pigeon-toed and soaked with sex,

“Why don’t you like it?”

“I have go to take a shower.”

Scab laughed.  Blitz shook his head,

“Fuck all this.  I’m outta here.  Jenny, you can stay here and suck his dick.  I don’t give a fuck.  I’m on a mission.”

He grabbed his guitar from the couch and slammed the front door.  Scab smiled into the paper.  Jenny looked at me,

“Are you staying here?”

“Two days.”

“I want to talk to you about your writing.  I’ll see you later.  Bye, Craig.”

“See you, sweetheart.”

She went after Blitz.

I looked at Scab,

“I’ll be hitting the ceiling tonight.”

“Man, fuck that.  Emily blows her away.”

“No, she does.  And she gives me balance.  But still.”

“I hear you.”

“How long has Blitz been here?”

“Oh, fuck.  It’s gotta be half a year since he showed up here.”

“Does he have a plan?”

“Of course not.  He never has a plan.  He gets to one place then shoots to the next.  No roots, no address.  I expect no less.”

“He’s changed.”

“He’s changed into a little bitch.”

I laughed.  Scab nodded at the counter,

“Well, hell, he fits right in here.  They think Blitz is a cool nickname he’s earned.  They think it’s cool and he lets them think that.  I don’t blame him.  I wouldn’t want anybody to know that my father was an uber jock and named me after a football play.  But he’s let it go to his head.”

I rolled the sheet back through.  Scab stretched,

“I heard you tell Blitz you were writing a letter to Emily.”

“I was.”

“You’ll be back before she even gets it.”

“I know.”

Scab told me he had met a girl and he was happy with her.  He met her through some personals in a fetish or sex magazine.  She was a full-on woman with a cock above her pussy.  Scab told me the cock was functional but she couldn’t get off with it.  Scab told me he had fought the notion that he was bisexual after the last guy he was with bored him within half an hour.  He said he did a week of soul searching and he figured out that he liked the body of a woman, but also a cock, but that having to see a guy’s bare torso or ass to get to the cock was always an obstacle which became too large to hurdle:

“I never thought of myself as bisexual because I never liked to take it up the ass or even give it up the ass.  I didn’t even like kissing another guy.  I just liked sucking a hard dick.  I use to always fantasize that I was sucking some dude’s dick while I fucked his girlfriend or his wife.  Now I have it both ways, with the same woman.”

I stared into my cup,

“Fucking freaks.”

“You’ll meet her.”

He got up and poured another cup, started a new pot.  He sat back down and opened the paper.

“Just don’t tell her you know she has a dick.  She doesn’t think it’s anybody’s business.”

“Got it.”

Excerpt from ‘Wreckedge’ in Dead Birds Hot.

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About Jeff Stewart

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