I am as relaxed as a fat old drunken dog, sprawled on the couch, shoes off, socks on, shirt out, belt unbuckled, the evening pretty much guaranteed to be a slugs paradise, if Hungry Man Chicken Wings is a guarantee of anything, especially paradise, my mind expanded about as far as Donald Trump could expand his which is further than many expected.
America might or might not be great, but, at this moment, I am, unexpectedly, feeling right on the money.
The walls in my apartment do seem closer than they should. I feel hemmed in, almost have an uncontrollable urge to scratch till I draw blood.
My old home was quite a size. Lots of room to move around. Here? Well, truth be told, I expect my coffin will be bigger.
I had to leave our house to her. I mean, vacate it for her…and the kid. It’s hard giving up the comforts of your home, the one you sweated bricks for, even if it came with a crazy banshee screeching like her brakes have been stripped, and a sullen kid who, you could swear, pissed in your bourbon.
Yeah, I’m relaxed. And, living above Poochi’s Pet Shop on the main drag of wherever the hell am I, US of A., I am rebuilding my life, repositioning myself in the grand scheme of things.
The Court forced me to live at least one town over. Christ, restraining orders are a bitch. They think they are protecting her and that ungrateful whelp. Maybe they are but they are doubling down on making my miserable life more of a struggle than it needs to be.
So here I am, as relaxed as the fat old dog I had to leave behind with Phyllis, when the doorbell rings.
“Frankie? You in? It’s Harley, Man. Buzz me up, fer Christ sakes.”
Through the door, up the steep stairwell, the irritating voice of Harley Lanigan storms up the peeling, patterned wallpapered hallway.
He appears in my doorway with that same gimpy, scrambled smile he had in high school, like he wants to tell everyone that we had been prowling behind Janine Caraway’s house to catch a peek at her changing for bed, as naked as Janet Leigh will always be, wanting to spill his bozo guts about that, but knowing, knowing somewhere in his degenerate mind that some things you just never speak about.
“What the fuck are you doing here, Harley?” I gotta know so I let loose.
“Frankie, Frankie, Frankie! I heard…the whole town’s talking about Phyl tossing you out on your dumbass ear. I had to see for myself.”
The years have cleaned Harley up some. I knew he had taken over running his father’s small hardware business, and that it been bought out by Woody’s, the giant home service corporation. After that, I thought I had heard that he had gone into home security. He always did know his way around perimeters
“Well, Harley, old chum, now you see. I’m back on my heels. So… I’ve been better. You here to gloat?”
He scrunches his flat face into a mock mask of shame. “No. Never, brother…”
Even when we were briefly peeping together, we were never brothers. But I let it pass.
“You better come on in,” I finally decide to bring his nocturnal self into my cell.
“Whoa,” he gestures, “the last phone booth in the universe! Ya sure you got room for me?”
I tell him to grab a seat on the sofa bed…where my feet were. “Beer,” I offer and he jumps at it.
We settle in. And he blurts again…”Phyl is not keeping quiet about you, Frankie.”
This is not news. She is telling most of my secrets, my anger, my bruising, the bad habits of mine that she knows about.
“I know,” I admit. “Nothing much I can do…”
“The old Frankie woulda found a way,” he says, almost with a wink. Maybe it’s a syphilitic twitch. What is he on about, I ask myself again?
Three beers in and he has not disclosed whatever it is that brought him here.
Finally, I stop being interested. “Shit, Harley, I gotta get some shuteye…”
“Yeah,” he mumbles, “I have to be heading back. Mostly I just wanted to say hi and let you know that she is bad-mouthing you and…”
“I’m doing home security these days, Frankie. Don’t know if you knew?”
“No,” I confess. “I didn’t know.” I don’t add, ‘Why would I ever care?’
He tells me why. “Home security was a side interest of my old man…became a perfect gig for a fellow with my…tastes. You remember my tastes, eh Frankie? Anyway, guess who wants me to fix her up?”
He doesn’t really want me to guess. He’s pretty much told me.
I thought I was so far down that I’d never stand up straight again. This won’t help with that. It’s just too goddamn tempting.
What is Harley really offering me? Whatever it is, it’s more than I’ve got going now.
I can taste payback coming, Phyllis.
This story has been written in response to FRIDAY FICTION with RONOVAN WRITES Prompt Challenge #17-A Friend Shows Up.
It is a tad seedy and painfully, necessarily misogynistic given the two characters predispositions, but, even so, I wonder if I was able to create the characters I had hoped for.
Some of my writings are planned from the get-go. Others…evolve.
This one, Repositioning, evolved. How evolved it became is probably open to debate.
Here are Ronovan’s specs…
- See if you can come in at more than a Word Count of 700. Control your word usage. (SUGGESTED)
- Using the prompt of ‘A Friend Shows Up‘ create a scene. This scene about a friend arriving at an embarrassing or perfect time. It could be, if a series is being written, a new friend we haven’t met before that changes the dynamic of the story. (REQUIRED)