Fiction 2013 / Volume 43

Hobo Chronicles — Rashad Harris

The First Mistake 

Within the first few days of the fifth hour of my dogs death, some giant of a man lumbered up to me on the corner of Tavington and Sunset and slammed a club into my face.

The backflip I did was fantastic, and the enormous man waved me off as I soared into the stratosphere where (unless I miss my guess) a gravity-repelling Large Mouth Bass flipped me the bird on my way up.

I could see the Northern Lights far to the west as I soared, and that stock blue fairy stood ready to greet me as I settled into the solar system’s heliosphere.

She said, “Come softly.”

I said, “Got a drink?”

She told me of the umbrapause, the energy given off by the dark matter of the universe, all that empty space where nothing lived but creation itself. She said, “Stay within the heliopause and move from system to system, else you shall lose your reality.”

“I still want that drink. I’ll go to Neptune.”

“Go to Andromeda instead,” the fairy told me. It sounded like a command. But she left me afterwards, and I was tempted to go straight to Neptune. Passing to Andromeda involved moving from one heliopause to the next, and though I found the Berrylium gates, I did not trust them.

But there was a third option. To reach Andromeda, I could pass through the umbrapause and lose my reality. The fairy had told me not to, but as far as I was concerned you can’t have things both ways, and even

though it would take a long time, the giant man’s club had imbued me with patience at any rate.

So I passed out of the golden heliopause and into the blackness and I saw creation, that emptiness unfathomable. And I could feel the fairy’s harsh scream of terror and fury, but I no longer cared. Civilized folk don’t know how to cook a pig.

The Second Mistake 

Here’s the gist of it: I woke up with a nail in my foot. I dunno how; I’ve never sleepwalked once in my life, my wife says I didn’t, and if we had any nails in the house we’d have fixed that five foot hole in our bedroom roof by now. Still, there’s the nail. In my foot.

Wife told me to go to the doctor, I said forget it; the firm has a new deal going down today and I’m presenting to the Chinamen. She didn’t let up, so I left. I don’t know when we’re divorcing, but we’re trying to wait until one of her parents dies so at least we can have some kind of money to actually fight over.

I cut off about nine and a quarter people on the road to work (a teenager’s only worth a quarter on the road), and when I got to the firm Old Tums was waiting for me right outside the parking garage. Old Tums the antacid dispenser, hobo who’s got nothing better to do than exchange antacids for crank, and I’ve got family in the Ozarks, so I’m his best customer.

I jacked around in my office waiting for the Chinamen. Wife called to tell me she was pregnant, and I told her she was full of shit since we hadn’t knocked uglies in five months. When the time came and I did start the presentation, necrosis set into my foot where the nail was dug in. I hobbled through the presentation well enough to get us a two thousand dollar advance, then hobbled into the bathroom and screamed for my foot. Bailey came in and asked if I was alright, I said I was. He said maybe I should go to the doctor, I told him he sounded like he was pregnant.

I drove home with my other foot, don’t ask me how. When I came in my wife told me a beehive had fallen in through the hole in the roof and she’d had to seal off our bedroom. That night we slept in the backyard, with no ceiling, and had sex for the first time in five months, which was fine until she got excited and yanked that nail out of my foot.

I went to the doctor the next day. A week later I died. Nine months later my wife gave birth to me and the whole sorry thing started all over again.

The Third Mistake

Once upon a time a well-endowed Belgian lass walked into a vineyard belonging to her uncle and found there a patch of red grapes.

“Leave those red grapes alone!” her uncle shouted to her. “They make the best wines!”

The Belgian lass was hungry though, and she ate one while her uncle had diarrhea. Immediately her hair turned a vibrant red, and upon seeing this her uncle denounced her and cast her out of Belgium.

To be cast out of Belgium is a far greater disgrace than can be managed; the now-red-haired lass went to France, but the French cast her out for being a Belgian-made wine. She went to Germany, but they were trading beer for vodka and so were only interested in Russian lasses. She couldn’t swim, and so couldn’t go to Britain; Sweden was too perfect, Greece was too poor, and Spain was full of Spaniards. With little choice left, the red-haired lass went north to Scandinavia. Passing through Russia, the Russian lasses all laughed at her as potato skins fell from their lips and into their uncles’ beards. The red-haired lass swore she’d eat a potato if ever she returned.

In Norway she fell off the northern edge of the world, for the Northern Arctic is a myth. She fell into a longboat of the Vikings and was taken to Erik the Red, who embraced her and took her to wife. But the Vikings had plenty of mead and no need for wine, and no matter how many Vikings tasted her she found no purchase among them. When the Vikings sailed to trump Christopher Columbus, she dove overboard and fell again (the Northern Atlantic is just as much of a myth), and she fell resoundingly into Russia, where she stole a potato from those bitchy Russian lasses.

Thus did a Belgian winemaker create the first vodka-wine of the century, and though many followed after no other winemaker had the guts to cheat the French so thoroughly.

The Fourth Mistake

There was once a colon, where my heart is now. My heart is black, rather like that corner of your mind where Uzbekistan lies. Black like a jackrabbit on speed and—be honest—that probably occupies the same mental space. Black, as I’m sure you’ve realized, like the morning. Morning coffee. Black and a couple of sugars. And some whiskey. Maybe that’s not black anymore, but you get my point; I drank so much my colon became a heart, and let me tell you how boring that is.

I can’t remember what my colon did, but God do I miss it. I’ve heard of people toying around with the idea of having more than one heart, and not just for entertainment; healthier blood flow, a backup system if it could be hooked up right. God, it’s miserable.

Predictable, too. One day I walked out of my office building to get a hot dog and I saw the police banging up some guy on the sidewalk. As if the adrenaline wasn’t bad enough, I’d just had a cup of coffee too! My black heart was beating faster than my red one! When I ate the hot dog, I got heartburn and I couldn’t tell which heart was on fire, which really confused me because a second later I saw Millie from acquisitions come out of Cousin’s Subs and I got an erection, and I could definitely tell which heart that blood was flowing from.

My daughter works at a real estate place in the suburbs, she told me just stop drinking. I dunno why I would; much as this heart buggers me, my colon clearly wasn’t that important.

The Fifth Mistake

In the epicanthic folds, why the hell not?

You see, people have this tendency to focus completely on some obscure outline that no one really understands and frankly no one ever cares about. But there are a select few parts of this outline that people can’t deny, because to do so would be stupid and even the best Secretary-General would be an ass to try and get around them.

But focus: Let’s call it Jim. From the head down Jim widens and takes on hills and valleys; a veritable nation unto itself before it splits for the piping and becomes two long Scandinavias (they’ll tell you Jim’s color is yellow, don’t trust them.) Not that Scandinavia is wide, but neither is Jim; it occupies that once upon a time space of mass that hasn’t been harkened back to since probably before the prudes won out.

Jim is one of us, or at least that’s the easiest thing to say. But you’re not Jim, I imagine: Perfect in your own width. Fucking communist.

The Inaccuracy 

Where was I? Where were you!

I came into Baghdad last night on the back of five dragons tied together with hemp which we were smoking one roll at a time. I was watching shooting stars wrestle in a Texas cage match with five hundred dollars in with the bookie.

Some girl called me wanting to fuck.

I took a hit of tea leaves from that underground island and I didn’t get high. In my disappointment I attempted seppuku but failed for missing my navel. It sucked. It sucked so much I called Napoleon from the grave and he said not to worry about it, that the Rapture in fact belongs to the vanquished.

She kept talking, wanting to fuck.

I raged against my own bathroom after eating at Joe’s, and the shitfield I created was enough to make Vietnam jealous. My neighbors set up a system, ferrying people across the shitfield and to the pol puree, which was apocrypha. All who crossed forgot how to wash their hands in the crossing. The Promised Land is covered in feces.

She still wanted to fuck.

Roaring, I wandered the wastes of downtown Illinois until my voice grew hoarse from the gospel I spewed. Twice I was a prophet and twice again was I martyred, but they are one and the same and as I died I saw Napoleon again who came hand in hand with Boudicca and led me to the stars, where my preaching at last found purchase among the drunks assembled in Alpha Centauri. Fifth planet from the sun.

I asked her if she wanted to fuck. She said no. I hung up, got on my horse and rode off crushing spiders.

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