You’ll scratch the Urethane Right Off
“There’s not much of a crowd around noontime and they prefer it that way.”
Sitting in the corner was a man that Jack only sees now on occasion. The man was perched on a stool in front of the chessboard which was hand-burnt into the wooden top of the bar—sixty some squares charred and shaded, dark to light, and beautiful. The man was rolling something around in his hands.
“Put those rocks away, Brian,” Jack told him. “Hello,” Brian said, “It’s good to see you again, Jack. I just drank a beer.” “Did you, buddy?” he asked him.
Brian and Jack had grown up together. Brian lived only four houses down the street from Jack’s house, and his birthday was on the 6th of December, just eleven days after Jack’s. Brian, his mother, and his sister lived alone for most of the time that they all lived on Winston Street—the only exception was for a few months when Brian and Jack were seven-years-old, and his mother let her new boyfriend move into the house with them.
Brian’s mother worked in the utensil factory making spoons, forks, knifes, and scissors on the graveyard shift, and one night her boyfriend tried to drown Brian in an old washtub while she was at work. When she came home that next morning, the sun was beginning to rise and Brian was still alive but he has never been the same.
“I caught a butterfly today,” he said as he continued to move the five rocks around in circles that he had placed on the bar’s top. “Well done, Brian,” Jack told him, “Now put those rocks away.”
Brian placed two of the rocks into his right pocket, and the remaining into the other pocket of the gray cotton sweat pants he was wearing.
“Some are boys, and some are girls,” he said to Jack with a grin, “If I put them together they will make babies in my pocket.”
“Goddammit, Brian,” Jack said shaking his head.
“ANOTHER ROUND,” he shouted at Charlie.
“Can you handle another one, Brian?” Jack asked.
“Oh yeah, I mean yes, I mean sure,” Brian said, “Thirty percent, I like the thirty percent.”
“No,” Brian told Jack, “It seems that about seven out of ten times that I sit down on the toilet to take a poop, I get goose bumps on my thighs, and I don't like it at all. I don't like it in the morning time, I don't like it in the evening time, and I really don't like it when mom is gone to work.”
“You’re a fuckin’ nutcase Brian,” Jack said laughing.
“No. I am okay,” Brian told him, “I just really like the other thirty percent.”
“Okay, Brian,” Jack said as Charlie slid the drinks down the rail, “I think most people probably prefer the other thirty percent as well.”
“Thank you, Jack,” Brian as he said pulled the rocks out of his pockets once again.
Charlie walked over and sat down beside Brian. “I saw Margaret walking by about an hour ago, Jack” he said.
“I'm giving up on that woman,” Jack told Charlie.
“It’s about time,” Charlie sighed.
Jack finished his drink and then left. Brian and Charlie sat at the chessboard alone. “Put those rocks away, Brian,” Charlie said.
Selected pieces of Victor Clevenger's work have appeared at, or are forthcoming in Chiron Review; The Beatnik Cowboy; Dead Snakes; Blink Ink; Zombie Logic Review; Rat's Ass Review; Lady Chaos Press; Your One Phone Call; Bad Acid Laboratories, Inc; Horror Sleaze Trash; UFO Gigolo, among several others. His latest collection is titled, In All These Naked Pictures of Us.