Thursday, April 9, 2015

Hush Falibur's Last Hurrah



Hush looked down at the traffic on Larch Street from the window of the second floor of the medical building, watching people step off the curb and negotiate the melting snowbanks, hopping over the puddles in their path. A pair of taxi cabs drove by the Coulson hotel, spraying a little old lady and her dog with the dirty off-white colored slush mixed with road salt that was everywhere. The woman threw her arms up in exasperation, inadvertently jerking the terrier-mutt back on its leash. The dog looked back at its owner, then shook the street water off his fur, spraying the lady again.
This city is always so fucking ugly in the spring, he thought.
The door opened behind him, and Hush stood up and turned around.
“Hello Mr. Falibur,” the man said. “I’m Doctor Nguyan. Please, sit down.” Despite how his last name was spelled, he pronounced it Wynn.
“That bad?” Hush asked.
The doctor was wearing a white coat with a pen clipped to the chest pocket with faded blue ink stained at the bottom. He was a brown man, but that didn’t bother Hush. East Indians were real smart motherfuckers, they made good doctors. What did bother Hush was that stain. He couldn’t take his eyes off of it as the physician said Hush’s frequent migraine headaches and muscle pain were symptoms of neuroendocrine cancer. The doctor said the cancer was a slow burn. Hush probably had it since he was in his twenties, little lesions on his kidneys and liver and on his brain just sitting there all this time dormant and undetected….until now.
Ink is tough to get out in the wash, he thought. The doctor was sitting on the examination table using words like biopsy and malignancy and worrisome but Hush wasn't really listening to any of it.
How can a man smart enough to be a cancer specialist walk around with an ink stain on his fucking clothes for everyone to see? He can’t afford a new lab coat? Maybe he’s a degenerate gambler. His name sounds like “win” but maybe he’s a loser. Could be he’s on the sauce or into pills, he thought.
 Many years ago it was Hush’s job to collect bad debts, and in that time he had dealt with a lot of young professions just like the doctor sitting across from him now.
The more money they made he thought, the faster they pissed it away on the ponies or football or whatever the fuck.
“Do you understand, Mr. Falibur?”
Hush nodded slowly, still wondering what the stain might indicate about the doctor’s competence or lack thereof.
“How long?” Hush asked.
The specialist paused and pressed his lips together into a thin line.
“Well, we have a form of radiation therapy that has been very successful treating your type of cancer. I’m confident it would slow the disease in your kidneys and liver down to a crawl, however the tumor on your cerebellum is quite aggressive.”
“How long?” Hush asked again.
“That all depends,” the doctor said. “Are you a fighter?”






 II


Hush hadn’t been in the hotel for years. They switched up the layout of the place, the live band stage was where the strippers danced now, the old VIP lounge was converted into a private bottle service area with a couple of black leather couches and the showcase area had been converted into a dance floor.
Hush bellied up to the bar and ordered a rye and coke. And then another. And another after that. Then he switched to doubles.
He thought of the four men he sent to their graves all those years ago, how they each had cowered and cried and begged for mercy. The tears and groveling never bothered Hush. He had a job to do that he was paid very well for, and it was business. What did bother him was how they all prayed. Like God would save them. When they started frantically rattling off their Our Fathers and Hail Marys it angered Hush. It made it easier to pull the trigger.
Father O’Sullivan had shown him the truth of God in the priest’s little apartment behind the church when Hush was only eleven years old. His mother and father were so proud Hush had become an altar boy. How could he tell them what Father had done? Would they even believe it? Better to say nothing.
When my time comes, Hush always told himself, I won’t beg for mercy from a bullshit god.
Yet while he was in the doctor’s office he had found himself hoping the man diagnosing him was a quack, pathetically questioning his competence based on an ink stain.
Hush was a tall and lean 63 years old. His hair went completely grey when he was in his mid-thirties and he hadn’t changed his look much since then. With his handlebar moustache and long hair that hung just below his ears, he looked like he just stepped out of the nineteen seventies.
The girl on stage was young, at least far too young for Hush to look at without feeling like an old spent pervert. He focused on the two pool tables next on the far side of the bar instead, where he saw a young kid with baggie blue jeans and an oversized black baseball cap crooked sideways on his head playing a game with a slim raven-haired dancer in a gold colored bikini. He talked busily on a cellphone while chalking his cue. The stripper leaned over to the table to line up her shot and the kid raised his eyebrows and smiled, enjoying the view of her ass. The thick gold chain around his neck gave him away instantly.
The bar used to be a real dive back when Hush was a regular but it was swankier now, with plush dark blue carpeting and mirrors on every wall. Despite the more upscale appearance, Hush still detected that old Coulson Hotel undercurrent of sleaze. The girls seemed be younger than Hush remembered, but titty-bar dope dealers were just as stupid as ever.
When the kid walked into the bathroom Hush paid for his drinks and followed behind. The girl had missed her shot and was fixing her make up in the big wall mirror, the bartender was watching the sports highlights on the little TV mounted above the liquor shelf. No one saw Hush snatch the white ball from pool table and stuff it in the pocket of his black leather coat.
Hush heard the little punk still talking away on his phone, saying all the things Hush knew from experience that you should never utter over a land line, never mind a cell.
“Yeah, yeah,” the young dealer said. “I’m having a drink. Come see me.”
Hush zipped his fly and shook his head.
When I was young I didn’t give a fuck about jail. It was part of the life. I thought I’d live forever. That’s the arrogance of youth.
The doctor’s diagnosis made Hush feel older than ever. Weak.
He walked over to the sink and wrung his hands under the faucet and then walked to the electric hand dryer on the wall by the door next to the condom machine and banged the button to start the blower.
When the automated hand dryer stopped, the kid walked out of the stall.
“Hey,” Hush said. “Whatcha got? Blow?”
“Slow down Grandpa,” the kid said. He cocked his head and smiled.
“Nice mustache! There a Village People cover band playing tonight? Ha!”
“Funny guy,” Hush said dryly. “I want an eight-ball. Good shit, you understand? How much?”
“How do I know you ain’t a cop?”
“You don’t,” Hush answered. “But if you put a line of that powder out for me, I’ll do it up right in front of you.”
The kid had a thin patch of blonde hair covering his chin, his eyes were so pale they were almost no color at all. His pupils were as big as saucers.
“Cops do coke too, Gramps,” the kid said.
Not so dumb after all, Hush thought.
“You’re right,” he said. “Look kid, I’ve a fucked up day. I just wanna go home and get fucked up myself. It’s been years since I partied and I figure I’m due, you dig? I got money, and unless I’m mistaken, you got the goods. Can you help me out or what?”
Hush pulled out his wallet from his back pocket with his left hand.
“Ha ha!” The kid laughed as he dug into the inside of his coat. “You dig. Sure bro, I dig, I feel you. A ball is two-fitty.”
When he saw the sandwich baggie, Hush took the que-ball out of his jacket with his right hand and smashed it into the kid’s forehead, splitting the skin above his left eye into a bloody gash. For half a second he stood there, his eyes rolling back in his head. When the kid’s knees buckled Hush quickly grabbed him by the collar of his coat, felt the back of the kids ridiculous baggy jeans for a wallet and then shoved him through the stall door and sat him down hard on the toilet.
“Shhh…shhh…shhh, that’s it kiddo,” Hush said quietly.
The kid dropped his bag of dope on the floor and Hush scooped it up and stuffed it in his pants pocket all in one quick motion.
Then he rifled through the kid’s coat and found two more bags.
“What we got here?” Hush asked, chuckling. “Weed and OxyContin. You’re just a walkin’ pharmacy aren’t ya?”
The kid was still dazed. Blood dripped in a steady stream from the cut on his forehead down into his eyes making him blink wildly. When Hush found the thick wad of bills, the kid regained at least some of his senses.
“You know who I work for?” The kid moaned. “You’re ripping off the Irishman.”
“Is that right?” Hush said as he backed out of the stall.
“Vern Donnelly is still kickin’ huh?”
“You’re gonna fuckin’ get it,” the kid growled. He tried to get to his feet but lost his balance and caught himself by grabbing the wall of the shitter.
Hush laughed.
“I’ve known Vern for a long time, son” Hush said. “Since you were in diapers. If he’s still the same as I remember, what do you think he’ll do when you tell him you were robbed by an old man like me?”
The kid didn’t answer. He just stood there leaning against the stall with a blank expression on his face.
“When you see the Irishman, tell him Hush Falibur says hello.”
The kid spun the toilet paper roll, tore off a strip and pressed it to the cut on his forehead, grimacing in pain.
Hush gave the kid a salute.
“That’s gonna need stitches,” he said, grinning.
  Hush walked out the door smiling. 
Robbing drug dealers used to be one of his favorite pastimes. He loved the rush and it always put him in a good mood.  He couldn’t remember the last time he did it, but damned if it didn’t make him feel young again.
Free money, Hush thought. Just like the good old days.

2 comments:

  1. all hail, hush! may you bullshit forever! here's to many more hurrahs to come!

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's coming along nicely. For the rest of hush's story you;ll have to buy the forthcoming book.

    ReplyDelete