Well are you ready to find out what really happened to Denny?
This is the Beta version. I sent it to my first editor. Now I need readers and input.
I’m a Scumbag
“Our dreams give us a moment of redemption. Then reality returns.” ~ Unknown
By Artemis J Jones
Can this be the end? I can barely see and there are tubes in my arms. Penetrating pain through my abdomen has frightened any movement from my limbs. A nurse is trying to talk to me and she is staring at my face, commenting and asking me things, many things.
“Sir, sir what is your name? Can you hear me? Do you know what happened to you? I’ll keep the blanket on you. You need to stay warm; your oxygen levels are low.”
My eyes close, but I can still hear voices. Other voices, a man’s voice, distant laughter. My tongue begins to swell, I am gasping for air. The nurse talks to me. “Sir, I’m going to put a tube in your throat.” I gasp for air ….
Sunlight pushes into my room, it pushes through the cracks between the curtains, over the top of the valance and it pushes right up to my eyes, forcing them to open. I am not used to bright light. In fact, I hide from it. Night and darkness are my comforts, not the warmth of the sun.
A nurse comes in my room, she greets me as sir, and she does not know who I am. “Sir, do you know where you are? What is your name? You were brought in a few days ago, you were in really bad shape. There was no ID on you.” she continued with “We are giving you blood, you have stitches on your abdomen. You are on an IV for fluids and here is your pain button. Press the pain button when needed.”
I fade in and out of consciousness.
I awake, but it is nighttime the moon is shining through my window and it is a full moon. I begin to have memories. The last time I saw the moon it was a first quarter moon. There is some clarity in my mind and I am thinking about a name, my name. I am yelling and fighting with a woman and her visual image is clear in my mind. I slap her, she swings at me, she is screaming,”Stop … stop!” At that moment, a man comes into my memory. He has a bat and swings at me. The memory stops. I continue to think about the memory, when a nurse and a sheriff’s deputy come in the room.
The nurse checks me and says nothing. The Deputy introduces himself.
“Sir I’m detective Robert Moreno of the Hendry County Sheriff’s department. I’m investigating your case. You were found at the intersection of 9th avenue and Everett Street. A deputy found you lying on the road face down, with your head up on the curb, unconscious. You had multiple contusions, bruises and stab wounds. There was no ID on you and we need to establish your identity. Sir, do you know your name?”
I think for a moment, then answer, “My name is Denny … Denny James Franklin.
“Do you know your address? Where do you live sir?”
I stare at him, confused for a moment. I am getting flashes of different places in my mind; a house with bricks, a trailer. The numbers 489 flash in my mind. I am looking at a house, with 489 on the front ….
I blurt out, “I live at 489 Ninth Avenue.”
“Do you have family? Is there anyone we can call for you?”
“I have a girlfriend. We live together at the address I just told you. I’m not sure of her name.”
“Do you want us to call her? Do you know her telephone number?”
“I don’t know, but I’m sure I live with a woman, a young woman. She has Auburn hair. Can I rest? I mean, I need to rest. I’m tired.”
The nurse leaves the room. Detective Moreno is silent for a moment, but stares at me, and then he begins to write on a card. “Mr. Franklin, I will leave you my card. Your case number is on the back of the card; my name and number are on the front. Call me if you can think of anything that will help us determine what happened to you.”
I watch as the detective leaves the room. There are bandages covering my abdomen and bruises on both shoulders, but the left shoulder is worse and more swollen. I push the pain button, take a deep breath and rest my head on the pillow. As the medicine takes effect, I use my hands to “look” at myself, to wonder, Who am I?
Looking down the length of my body, I note that have a long bruise across my chest, wider up near my left shoulder. Moving my hands around, touching my chest, abdomen, and sides, I feel tender, sore spots. I stop moving my hands, I do not want to know more, but the memories come back and, at the same time, I see myself from above the bed, staring down on the havoc of my condition. Mind, body, what else could be so damaged. Who am I?
Who else can I be? Denny James Franklin must be my name, but who is Denny? Some scrawny-ass pussy that everybody beats up? Someone beat the shit out of me. Why? And … who the fuck stabbed me? I can see and hear people talking about me in my mind. “He;s funny, Denny is so funny.” Girls are laughing. They are young and one is familiar. The girl with Auburn hair; someone calls her Jennifer. Yeah, that’s it, Jennifer is my girlfriend, , a little plump, with auburn hair. A smile comes over my face, an impulse, sudden. I am looking at her boobs. They are nice! My smile continues, Jennifer is my girlfriend and she has nice boobs, large and firm. She is laughing and looking at me and then the memory is gone.
I’m still looking, gazing at myself from above. There is no mirror above me, but I see myself in a vision. My head is oddly shaped. I see how I look and I am ugly, with grayish eyes, bald, but not in a sexy way. My hair is growing back, but I look more dirty than sexy as specs of keratin push through the dermis wrapping my skull. I continue to gaze at myself from above, there is no intimidation. This causes great concern. When people look at me they are not concerned. I am obtuse. I can remember a woman saying that to me once. “Denny you are obtuse.” By definition, I am simple, undiscerning. Then why did someone stab me and beat me?
I stare at the walls when I am awake, and sleep during the day. I remain awake most of the night. But I am filed with a sense that some time has passed. The nurses that come in during the night ask me. “Do you want something to help you sleep? I can get you some Benadryl.” I reply, “No, no thanks.” The nighttime gives me comfort, solace. My memories continue to increase each and every night that I am here in this bed.
People are in my mind now and they all have identities. There is Bo, he is in the trailer. The trailer always has the curtains closed. Bo has beakers, vessels, glassware and tubes in his kitchen. There is a glass coffee table in his living room, which is very small. The chairs in his living room are from old cars, bucket seats. Bo works in a junkyard. Then there is also the memory of Jennifer. I know I like Jennifer. I see her laughing, playing with me. She keeps telling me “You are so funny.” Why did Jennifer and I fight. Why … ???
The memory of Jennifer’s brother and father come clearly to me. I am afraid of her brother, but her father really scares me. He is quiet and he always watches me. He says very little to me, but I always overhear him talking to Jennifer. He says stuff like, “Why are you with him? He is almost forty years old. He doesn’t own a car. How fuckin’ lazy is he?” stuff I do not like to hear. One time he came to see Jenifer, because she had not answered his texts. He came over walked in the house without knocking and he was pissed, pissed at me. Jennifer and I were in bed and she was so mad at him.
Memories continue to flush out of my mind. They are vivid and purge everything that I wanted to believe about myself. My mind is pulled into catharsis, which I want to go away. I want to be something good, but I am not.
As the morning sun awakens the day for everyone else, it is a sign for me to rest, to pull the blankets over my eyes and hide. My reality is in darkness. The night is a shield for the clandestine behaviors of a thief and a drug addict. I know now how I earn my money and where my customers are and my moments of opportunity, to steal anything I want. TVs, I-phones, maybe a car. I also have opportunities to sell what I have stolen, do some part-time drug deals and skim off some extra goods for myself. I need to rest.
During the day, the nurse’s or doctor, somebody, put these pulsating things on my legs. They keep blowing up with air and deflating. They awaken me and keep me awake. This causes me stress; it will take away the comfort of my nights.
While my irritation builds, Detective Moreno comes in the room. He looks at me for a moment and then addresses me as Mr. Franklin. He is confident in his use of a formal tone and does not doubt that I am Denny James Franklin. Adrenaline pushes through my veins to my limbs and they are tensed, ready.
“ Mr. Franklin, You are indeed Denny James Franklin. I was able to make a positive photo ID from our records. I went to the address you gave me. It was not on file with motor vehicles, but I went there to see if anyone there knew of you. The house was empty. Someone had recently lived there, but most of the belongings were gone. There was a picture of you and a young woman who had blonde hair, but the photo had been partially burned. It was in a dish on a small table, next to a reclining chair. Behind the chair was a broken lamp on the floor and the lamp had blood on it. Do you know anything about that?”
“No, sir,” I answer quickly and try to change the direction of the questioning with a question of my own. “What color was the chair?” I ask.
“The chair is light brown. Mr. Franklin, do you know anything about the lamp?”
I am silent. He already knows more about me than I know about myself and I am scared, but am to wide awake to feign anything that might distract the questions. He stares at me with determination in his eyes. I have seen that look before, in other people, dealers, police, Bo, and Jennifer’s father. When those eyes of determination met their mark, those obtuse like me, I needed to turn away, but they followed me into my psyche. I close my eyes, but I feel the weight of their stare, fixed, focused and demanding.
“Mr. Franklin, the blood on the lamp wasn’t yours, we tested it. The sample gave us a DNA signature that did not match you, or anyone in our database.
“Am I being charged?” I ask Detective Moreno and then I assert whatever strength I have for a moment. I use it to look back at him, and I stay silent. My instincts reveal themselves and I know I have done this before. I wait for an answer. The Detective leaves the room.
There is a place between dreams and memories, where the mind gives you images, but you do not know if you are dreaming or remembering. The fight started long before the lamp was broken. I was at Bo’s to get some goods. He had finished cooking a batch the day before and it was ready. I tested some samples.
“You have hit the jackpot my friend. Where did you learn how to make this? We can cut this stuff and still sell it for the same price.”
Bo gave me a few specs of goods to sell and threatened me as I walked out of the trailer. “I better see some money tonight, Denny, or I will put you in the crusher tomorrow.”
I leave the trailer to go visit my customers. They all want samples, some get a hook, some do not. I need some for myself. Bo’s stuff is by far the best it has ever been. I make a little money and I leave the old abandoned building we meet in. I see a blue F-150 down the street with the engine running, but no one is in it, or nearby. I jump in, drive it up to Everett Street, shut it off and get out. I start walking down Ninth Avenue and Jimmy, a neighbor, stops me. He wants drugs. I sell him some and then I head for my house.
When I first walk in the door, I greet Jennifer. She smiles. Everything seems fine. She is cooking some chili and we have it for dinner. I remind myself to make her laugh at something, anything, and it bolsters my hope that I may get some tonight. She starts talking and asks me about Melinda, one of her friends. Melinda is blonde and has a way better figure than Jenifer, but she’s less intelligent, more silly and boobish. I smile at my apt description of her … “boobish.” Melinda will laugh at anything and that is how I tagged her more than once. Jennifer shows me an older photo of Melinda and me, and tells me she came around that night, wondering what we were doing. Then her we changed to you.
“She wanted to know where you were.”
She asked a lot of questions; well not really, but the same questions over and over. We started fighting. Jennifer lit a match to the photo and placed it in a dish next to the chair. I put it out.
“I’m leaving,” she said. “You have no job and you’re an addict and a dealer.”
“Come on baby,” I reply. ”Let’s go play in the bedroom”
“No, and I mean it!”
I go to grab her and she resists, so I slap her. She screams. In seconds, her brother walks in the front door with a bat in his hand.
“Let her go Denny!” he yells.
I grab the lamp, letting Jennifer go, and swing at her brother It breaks, cutting his arm. He looks at the blood, swings at me and gets full contact right across my chest. I fall backwards into the kitchen. I get up and run, as he pursues me out the back door, Jennifer’s father is there, and yells to her, ”Get in the car!” He has a knife, a fishing knife. He comes towards me. The look in his eye has a strange sense of desire, but not for pleasures that I know or understand. We struggle and he stabs me several times, but I escape and run.
I am running down Ninth Avenue toward Everett Street thinking aloud, “Where is the truck I stole?” I see it on the other side of the intersection and begin to cross. Tires squeal and a car hits me as I cross. My body flies through the air, but the drugs and adrenaline keep me conscious. I land, unable to move, with my head on the curb. My eyes are open, my heart is racing, and blood is pumping out of my body. I hear sounds of a car leaving, tires squealing. Next, I hear footsteps from very heavy boots. I hear Bo’s voice.
“I want my money Denny.”
My hand is under me as I lie face down. I can feel the blood soaking the skin of my hand. Bo puts his foot on my back pushing some air from my lungs. He reaches into my back pocket, takes my wallet, and walks away. My flared nostrils, imbibe the smell of the street and the sewer nearby.
Slowly, now, goes my heart. Eyes remain open. Two juvenile delinquents take a photo of me, laugh, and then walk away.
Dream or memory, I hear doctors, nurses.
“I’m a Scumbag” © Copyright, Artemis J Jones, 2014
Editors notes :
Get into the habit of indenting, using the tab feature of whatever word processor you use. Usually it’s 2.5 spaces.
Active vs. passive.
Cliché and bad form.
With ellipses, use only three, more is bad form (Yeah, I know they pepper them all over the Internet. Still bad form)
Active versus passive.