Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Girl with Gun

Long assumed lost to the ravages of fading time, misplaced memory and mainstream publishing indifference, the final manuscript of the late, great, obscurely brilliant and clinically insane writer, Henry Hank Clatterbuck, has recently been excavated in, of all improbable places, an outdoor flea market in Ulaanbaatar. As an homage to Hank, the first tattered chapter is offered below.
Bang, Bang, Honey Pie
(part 1)

Gaze, if you will, upon this exquisite piece of weaponry, the man is saying, his thick, rubbery-looking lips almost blowing a kiss on the word weaponry. Pay particular attention to the cold forged steel, he says, stroking the long barrel with his stubby fingers, like he might start sex moaning any minute. Does look cold, I have to admit. Wouldn't want to be touching it in the middle of winter.
The sort of firearm that defines a man, he goes on. Who he is, why he is. Cuts right through all the sentimental crap of the confused male identity whiners and their politically correct hangers on.

I'm standing there with Skimmer, who's technically my Dad, but I've always called him Skimmer. Dad just lacks realism. Not that I doubt it was actually his seed that intervened in some convoluted fashion with my Momma's egg. No way around that incontrovertible fact. Just that he's the sort of man you can't exactly imagine as a Dad. More like a big, moody, unpredictable baby. Not that I don't sort of like him. He's got his occasional good qualities, although good may be a stretch, and definitely don't stand around thinking you can count on them in a crisis.

Care to hold it, the guy asks Skimmer.
Skimmer sure does. He grabs it by its pretty pearly-looking handle and does that judging-something's-value-by-its-heft thing. Looks like he's shaking hands, or exercising his puny arm muscles.
Go ahead, the guy urges. Smell it.
Skimmer raises the gun to his nostrils and takes a long serious sniff. Closes his eyes, seems to be enjoying the odor, although I'm wondering how something made of cold forged steel can smell at all.
Now tell me, the guy says, his face all pink and puffy with pride or something. What does that say to you?

Skimmer has to think about this for a minute and then says, Uh, clarity.
The guy looks only half pleased, but says, Yeah, that's a good one. Anything else?
Well, Skimmer says, glancing around like he's hoping angels will suddenly appear and whisper the correct answer to him. Freedom?
There you go, the guy smiles, showing plenty of less than beautiful looking teeth.

There he goes where? I'm wondering. I am familiar with the concept of freedom. It's what people are always whining about the federal government stealing, also what Momma claims she has none of, owing to the unfortunate circumstance of being married to a man like Skimmer. But how a gun says freedom, I can't figure, although judging by the grunts of approval from all the men standing nearby, I may be the only one.
One giant of a guy with a big bald head and scary tattoos up and down both arms slaps Skimmer on the back, shouts, “Right on, my brother.
Skimmer seems pleased that he's all of a sudden so popular. Generally people tend to avoid him like a disease.
Yeah, Skimmer says, she's a real little beauty, isn't she?

For a stupid instant I think he may be talking about me, you know, like being an actual human Dad, making an announcement to the thick-necked multitudes that some things – i.e. his darling daughter – are a lot cuter and more interesting than some dumb gun. No such luck. The way Skimmer's caressing the thing, his eyes going all moist, like he's just met the one and only true love of his life, it's pretty clear that in the shriveled up universe he inhabits, I barely exist. 

Hello! Remember me?
Skimmer makes a move to hand the little beauty, which by the way is anything but little, back to the guy behind the counter, but you can tell his heart's not in it. He's like a guy who can't make up his mind, knows he should, but would prefer to just stand here forever, to the end of time, doing nothing.
Maybe the little lady would like to hold it, the guy says to Skimmer, who stares at the guy like he's suddenly speaking Chinese. Huh? he says.

The guy uses his eyes – eyes, I notice, that are starting to look a lot like the eyes of a snake, the kind you sort of think might be smiling, but turns out it's just doing what it does with its mouth right before it bites you – to steer Skimmer's bewildered brain over and down to where guess who is standing.

Oh! Skimmer says, like he's just figured out some big mystery that's been tormenting him his whole, stupid life. How about it, Honey Pie, he says. Wanna hold the gun?

In case you're wondering, no, Honey Pie's not my real name. It's just what Skimmer calls me when he's in a good mood, or when we're in public and he wants to come off looking like he's some sort of nearly normal person. Meanwhile, why would I wanna? I'd much rather be holding a hotdog, or maybe a puppy. I shake my head in what I hope will be a definitive fashion.

Never too young to start, missy, snake eyes says, leaning over the counter towards me, at least as far as his big jelly belly will tolerate.

No thanks, I say. Guns are bad things, I say. They maim and kill on a fairly regular basis.
Talk about the deadly silence of outer space. A hush falls over the entire place like a giant mute tidal wave. I'm guessing if looks could kill, I'd be a goner. Skimmer appears like his head might explode.

Just an opinion, I shout. It's called free speech, in case your dumb brains are wondering.