It was entirely my fault. I had accepted the drink, and now my new buddy, Jeb, was trying to extract the price in camaraderie. I wasn’t interested, but it's hard to decline when a fellow that size wants to strike up a conversation. I did my best to keep my answers brief and my eyes on the television.
"I sell concrete," I said, short and sweet. My attention returned to the screen. I had no reciprocal question for the big guy.
"Oh, uh-huh. Yeah. I see. Well, what you do, pal, you sell it by the bucket?"
Jeb was starting to develop a hard heavy edge; you know, a you drinking my liquor and you too good to talk to me kind of pissed. I thought it best to give him a little eye contact and a smile.
"No, not buckets. We sell it by the yard. By the cubic yard". I kept my face pointed in his direction. "That's how we measure it."
"Oh hell buddy, I'm just jerkin you around. I know all about concrete. I can give you a dozen good reasons why a post tensioned slab is superior to a conventional slab and rub my belly at the same time. I can give you...”
[distraction - shift] …”hey Frankie, grab a stool".
"So I sez to the gentleman, I find destiny, destiny doesn't find me. I am that rough tough son of a beast slouching towards Bethlehem... you don't like that, you can kiss my ass."
I thanked my lucky stars for the intervention and focused my attention on my drink. I was ready to jump back into the fray if required, but eventually…
"I was trying to talk to that twerp over there about concrete, but I guess the subject was a little too hard." Laughs all around. Safe again.
Well you summoned me. Me: Baalboy. Billy Necrosis. Lucifer. My latest gift is something really special. Why not tell you about it - you can't stop me - I'm Flambeau!!! This is beauty. I am giving the godly gift of vision. You will be able to see the true faces of all around you. Begone, your veil of illusion.
The truth is, I like bar talk, the crazier the better. I just don't like being on the receiving end. No, I like to be a stool or so away, pretending to watch the TV while my eyes glaze over and my ears overflow.
"Human reason has this peculiar fate that in one species of its knowledge it is burdened by questions which, as prescribed by the very nature of reason itself, it is not able to ignore, but which, as transcending all its powers, it is also not able to answer."
You talking to me?
"Bet you Kant come back on that, can you Buddy? Your brain just ain't big enough. That's all right, let me buy you a shooter. Barson! A kamikaze for my friend here, and another Dickle for me. No wait, I'll have a kamikaze too...”
“You know what's funny? I'll get on a word or a sound and I fuckin have to riff on it. You got me started with that concrete business of yours, and one thing leads to another. Like talkin about Kant, that made me think about Kamikazes. Kant? Kamikaze? KaKa. I'm talking caca, ain't that some shit…."
Beady eyes. Noses that smell not. Tiny heads. Hey, there can't be too much in that tiny head, can there? Maybe hold a brain about the size of a walnut. Ears that flap in a monstrous display of useless cartilage. Hair growing out of the top of their heads... tiny heads as I mentioned earlier. Two left feet. Bodies unfit for thongs. Tongues that clink and clatter in unfortunate teeth filled mouths. Did I mention beady eyes? Well okay, maybe eyes with one big hairy unibrow, just like Sam Donaldson…..
"…. Anyway those kamikaze pilots was brainwashed - all their schools and institutions tellin em that they should be willing to die for the Emperor - who just happens to be God as far as they know... Then the war starts goin south, and what the hell? You know that poetry writin admiral whatsisname - Admiral Takijiro Onishi, that's it - what he said about those bozos was "if they are on land, they would be bombed down, and if they are in the air, they would be shot down. That's sad...Too sad...To let the young men die beautifully, that's what Tokko is. To give beautiful death, that's called sympathy."
“That's kind of poetic, what you think? You know Onishi never thought that friggin organized suicide attacks would be an efficient tactic but....."
Good fortune will seek you out. Luck is coming your way. Your mentality is alert, practical and analytical. Your wisdom has kept you far from danger. Do not mistake temptation for opportunity. All your hard work will soon pay off. Good things are being said about you. Your troubles will cease and fortune will smile upon you. Beauty in its various forms appeals to you. Simplicity and clarity should be your theme in dress. Your future is as boundless as the lofty heaven.
"….that guy Kavka? The one who wrote in shapes? He said “A small amount of interest that you pay to another person is a small amount that you don't have for yourself.” Kind of sounds true but then you think…."
Here's the question, then: is something wrong just because it's easy? I sell concrete.
© 2002, Mark Hoback