Sitting next to FRANK [words by R John XP]

In R John XP on March 4, 2010 at 12:53 pm

Sitting next to Frank, chain-smoke billowing around the curved wine glass I slowly drained, in swigs and gulps. I stared at the inexpensive dark purple liquid and lit another cigarette as the other’s crushed ashes still smoldered. The overweight bartender, whose un-endearing propensity to misinterpret my late night mumbling for the tallying of the bill, waded back and forth, waving his arms in the agitated dance of his funny anecdotes. As the bar cornered, the conversation shifted between intimacy and lunacy, redundancy and tomfoolery. I was miserable, except for my wine.

– Dude did you hear about Dwid breaking his nose? Frank’s goatee looked solemn and concerned.

– No. What happened?

– Well, you know Blaze?

– Yeah. No, is he the guy, wait a minute, what does he look like?

– He’s a lanky kid with dark hair…

– Yeah, kinda oriental looking motherfucker?

– I guess, he wears baggy pants and those little loafers, so yeah, kinda kung-foo.

– Yeah, then I know the kid, he was playing poker last night at Sam’s party. He went to Europe with Integrity?

– I don’t know about poker, but yeah he went on tour with Integ, sure ‘cuz that is when Dwid got his nose busted.

I looked at Frank, rubbing my eye, which was bothering me. He smiled and continued, – I guess what had happened was that one night they were all riding in the van and Dwid started talking shit to this Blaze kid, you know, and Blaze was just like – Dude, what the fuck is your problem? I don’t even know you and all you do is talk shit behind my back and start shit. What the fuck is your problem. And you know Dwid. He was like – I’ll kill you. So Blaze just hauled up and punched him in the nose. He broke Dwid’s nose right there in the back of the van.

Frank fell back, chortling.

– So it wasn’t some Nazi skinhead kid …

– No dude, it was like this kid, Blaze, who was on tour with them and shit, crazyfuckinshit.

– Well, I always said they’d kill each other.

Frank nodded. Almost immediately he was involved with a conversation with Beth who was sitting on his other side. With Frank’s shoulders as a barrier criss-crossing me out of the newly forged conversational bridge leading from Beth over to Jason, I was left alone again to my brooding stares and cigarette grimaces.
I didn’t think much about the tale of Dwid’s broken nose, more concerned, I suppose with the burning in my cheeks and the position of the awkward tie that I forgot to take off after work. A twerpy guy in small rimmed spectacles was attempting to weasel his way into any conversation with Beth, but ended up talking to Jason. Jason had bolted upright to offer hand gestures and directions to some weak ass club that twerpy guy asked about.

Frank commandeered another Eliot Ness. – Have you seen Schlacter?

– Nope. Is he in town?

– No, dude, he lives in Chicago now. He was at our last showand he was in prime form that night.

– Why, what did he do?

– Duuuude. There were all these little straight edge kids at the show and Paul was sitting on the side of the stage drinking beers and hanging out, you know. Then all of a sudden he stands up and yells – You’re all weak pussies! And the next fucking thing I know, there’s fucking Paul Schlacter storming around in the middle of those kids, in one hand a lit cigar and in the other a fucking forty ounce.

Frank spread his pencil arms wide in front of the bar’s ledge, convincingly pretending to hold both objects.

– Dude, he ruined those kids. Then after the show, we were all drinking at this four o’clock bar, like Dwid, Robbie and Paul and a bunch of other people. We were all really gone at this point and suddenly the bouncers decide to kick me out. We’re standing on the corner with like four bouncers and Dwid’s like – That’s my brother, man, you can’t kick out my brother! And the bouncer’s are like – Then we’ll kick you out too. You know? And by this point everyone’s standing on the corner and I’m like – It’s all good, you know whatever, just go back inside, it’s all good. So the bouncers go in, but then there’s this little chick outside yelling at Dwid – You can’t talk to my boyfriend like that. And Dwid’s growling, growling, dude, like a dog. So I say to this girl, who was totally hyper at this point – Look you don’t know who you’re talking to, you know what I mean? And she does one of these…

Frank cocked back and flipped his slender forefinger into the air with a snap of his wrist and tongue, his eyes popped out and his mouth slid into a straight line.

– First of all, you fuck off. So I’m like whatever, you know, I tried to warn her. Just as she is about to turn around to yell some more at Dwid, and he’s got this crazy drunk look in his eyes, you know. Then spurts out, – You can’t talk to my brother like that! He grabs her by the back of her head and body slams her to the ground. She went down hard. No shit it was like …

The slow palm of his hand hit once upon the bar, his silver ring hovered slightly above his other fingers still lingering on the bar. His palm barely lifted off the bar, then resoundly slapped the moist ashen surface to lay dead.

– She bounced dude! And Mike and Robbie and me were just – Holy shit. We were looking down at this girl, totally unconscious and were like – Lets get the fuck outta here. So we cross the street. By this time the girl was reaching up her arm to the door knob of the bar. It was totally like some bad horror movie, you know? I was like – Wait, hide behind this car. So Mike and Robbie and Dwid and me are all couched down behind this parked car across the street. I poke my head around to look, you know, and there were like twenty huge motherfuckers all looking to kill us. Crazy, huh?

– Does Dwid ever hit anyone but girls?

Frank sat back in a muted smirk – I don’t think so.

As a silent conversation conspired along the crowded bar, I took a sideways glance at the gentleman seated a chair away on my left hand side. His wide insect eyes were examining me at great length, the small white sheet of paper crumbled in front of him was littered with orange and blue hi lighter smears, I sensed he wanted to explain his study code to someone and I enjoyed no notion that it should be me. I, quickly, turned away from him, just as I thought he was about to say something. My wine glass rested with just a few drops left, I reached for the pack of cigarettes stuffed in my pocket, then thought better of it. I asked Frank for one.

– Sure, help yourself. Frank replied dropping the open pack between us. I brought the round candle up to the cigarette tip, exchanging flames. By the second exhaled stream of grayish white death mingled with the air conditioned breeze, Frank was waiting for the rotund bar tender to pry open his fourth Eliot Ness.

– Robbie Stevens almost got shot a coupla weeks ago…

– No, what happened?

– Shit. Well, Karen Novak, me and Robbie were getting out of her car one night in this parking lot about to go into this bar, right. I am totally drunk so I do a Dukes of Hazard slide across her hood, you know, like Bo and Luke Duke shit. And Robbie, who was in the back seat, saw me do this and decided to try it himself, only he slid across the back end of the car in front of us, some sort of purple Pontiac or something, but it was purple, dude. I turn around and see Robbie about to slide across the back of this other car and am like – Robbie that’s the wrong car, dude. Suddenly, there’s this total Puerto Rican dude standing near the driver’s side of the car like – Wat de fuck you donin’ to ma cahr, mhann? And his hand was right here in his belt

Frank puffed up his chest, pressing his elongated fingers flat against his belly, pointing two fingers down toward his large silver belt buckle. His face became distorted into a snide Fu Manchu expression, squinty eyes and downturned mouth, he repeated the Puerto Rican’s threat in his best imitation of American Me.

– Robbie immediately attempts to apologize but its Robbie, you know, and plus he’s drunk so, Karen Novak and me are just like – Keep walking Robbie, just keep walking. But that dude was going to shoot him, he had his gun out and was going to shoot Robbie Stevens!

Soon after that tale, I crawled into my jacket, paid the bill and walked home.

  1. This really made me laugh, and I don’t laugh much anymore.
    Thank you, Johnny.

  2. You write dialogue very well, man.

  3. Great piece. Love this kind of real life conversation, rambling onward, story/nonstory.

  4. Y’all should also know that R.John edited The Dead Beat for me, a few years after I had first written it. He kicked my ass for months, lots of, “Fix this, Daisy, men don’t talk like this.”
    I learned a lot.

  5. Thank you for the wonderful comments. Daisy you made my morning!

  6. It’s true! The Dead Beat wouldn’t be what it is without you.

  7. great to see the hardcore references in a story that not about “the scene” and “keeping it real”. great work!

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