That Which Must Be Done by Mescalito


by Mescalito

featured writer
Dandelion Salad

Mescalito’s blog
Nov. 24, 2007

That Which Must Be Done

Ed Stanton wanted to say he was after some kind of singularity of purpose as he walked out of a roadside diner off that old 66 bypass. But it would take too much effort to explain that to Mabel, who was only looking to sell another slice of pie. And how do you clarify what’s coming to somebody like that when all she’ll be able to see come of it is the loss of his horses, his wife’s exodus from the county and the lonely deaths of his long separated mother and father on opposite sides of the town?

‘Well what kind of purpose are you being singular about?’ she would say. ‘Ain’t been drug-running through this part of Arizona in thirty years.’ Or so might she go on, Ed thought.

And he didn’t want to think about that anyway, he knew. Not one whiff of cocaine in thirty years. Nothing to make the occasional dusted roadside encounter anything more than just a pleasant distraction.

“Ain’t no cowboy ever made an honest friend past the age of thirty anyhow,” he said to himself, absently eying his cargo. “Nothing to look for but what I got to do.” He passed a mother in a mini-van broken down on the shoulder with two young children and drove on without a second glance. After that there was nothing but coyotes and fences for another eighty-eight miles of worn Arizona road, and he knew so.

The truck sputtered down to its last slurp of gas as he pulled into that field across from Tuco’s tin shack where everything had gone so goddamn wrong months ago last Fall. Ed didn’t even know whether or not the contents of the package he carried was still any good. He’d taken a taste off the top back in May, just for curiosity. But now he meant to return it to its rightful owner, come what may.

He wasn’t surprised that a pair of guard dogs trotted toward him to rip his trespassing throat out. The double-crack of his pistol was just like a knock on the door and the slow lope of Tuco’s shadow against the wood-panel inside assured Ed of the regularity of this situation.

“I hope you brought your dog money,” Tuco shouted over a stretch of dead widow weed. “Not everybody understands that is part of the toll for all my visitors.” Tuco could see the package put a strain on Ed’s shoulder. “Let me help you with that,” he said and jogged across the field, moonlit dust puffing up around his boots. “That old wound, it just gets stiffer with age.”

“Yes it does, my friend.”

Now they stood face to face. Ed could see a wasteland of abandoned trucks reaching out away from Tuco’s shack over a nearby hill. Coyotes played near the blood or rust stained wheel well of a burned out Chevy duster.

“Not a gas pump in a hundred miles,” Tuco said and lit up a stale cigarillo. “And we are not friends, senor.” Then he offered the cigarillo to Ed, who took it despite the shine of saliva on the butt. “My friends do not wake me at this time of night.”

“Well, I do apologize for that, Tuco. It’s just that-”

“Come inside. I will pour you a drink.”

Ed took on a shaky understanding of the function of Tuco’s home on entry as he noticed that only the wall across from the front window had been decorated in any way.

“Have a seat,” Tuco said, left the room for a moment and returned with a revolver tucked into his pants and two drinks, one small and thin, one tall and stiff.

Ed put himself into the smaller of two ragged lawn chairs, removed his hat and tried to imagine his wife, Imogene, driving east at sunrise to Louisiana where she could find a new life. One that made sense to her.

Then he re-lit the cigarillo, let himself settle back and took a long accepting look down the barrel of Tuco’s revolver.

Finding Ian Shook Me to the Core (a bent memoir) by Mescalito

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Finding Ian Shook Me to the Core (a bent memoir)

Current mood: Between a crock and a lard place

by Mescalito
Jully 5, 2007

I was sure Ian had killed himself somehow or had had his personality destroyed beyond all serviceable humanity by his illness and that legendary acid overdose. A morning spent taking chemical courage nurtured the notion to drive to his parents’ house and my evil amygdala boosted my fear that he’d died into total certainty that he had. The house was quiet. That couldn’t be a good sign. It was the 4th of July. But I rang the doorbell rubbing my scalp and prepping my nerves for a terrible blow when I saw his big, football shaped head in the window. He opened the door and stood there – huge, egg shaped, looking healthier than I’ve ever been and I felt as strange and gamey as I always had been back in high school when he and I were inseparable. He invited me in without saying much of anything. After twelve years apart we still knew each other so well that our mutual shock could go unspoken. We sat down on the couch. He put on the Sopranos – something cool and seedy for two cool and seedy guys, if only in our hearts. After smoking in strangely comfortable silence he said; “What are you on?” He could tell! What nerve! “I didn’t want to hide it from you,” I said. “I’m not like that. I just, well with everything you’ve gone through, I didn’t want to get you into anything that might, ah-“

“Send me into psychotic shock.”

“Yeah.” I laid down a few lines. He served me soda and we played pool in the garage. We talked about the days of our teenage wildness. His recall was twice as good as mine, and I’d never even smoked grass until the age of 21. I felt like a silly kid, totally exposed, but safe. The story of his acid overdose was blown completely out of proportion by a bunch of cracked-out waiters who we’d both lost touch with. But he had gone schizophrenic. It runs in his family. And it made his twenties a hell. But he stood before me now, with terrible lucidity, telling me things about myself I’d forgotten and giving me advice about drugs that I wouldn’t have expected from anyone less than the late W.S. Burroughs.

“Honestly man,” I said. “I had given up on you. I was sure you were dead or had lost your humanity. Now I find you here, like this, well and calm as a monk. It’s like meeting a bear in the forest who it turns out can talk and what’s more knows all about you. You’ll have to forgive me if I seem nervous. Plus the coke is coming down. I may get the Fear. But I can see it coming. I’ll take off before it takes hold.”

He laughed at me. “You need something else to bring you down,” he said. I went white and had to steady myself on the table. He was right. I’d had whiskey on hand almost every time, but not in the last few weeks. I thought it was just a side effect of regular cocaine use.

((This is a true story. And it happened only just yesterday. At the moment I find myself unable to accurately recreate Ian’s impressive presence and the contrast of the crazed and incoherent person I remembered him as. So I’m not going to finish it here as I am still processing the memory. I went home, still coming down getting nervous, depressed and unsure of myself while using all my hidden discipline to be mindful of the fact that this sudden crushing sadness and self doubt was only chemical. I went to bed scared as a chicken in a thunderstorm, but not of danger. It was a fear of life, that which must be done, and the future that this down-phase, for which I was not prepared, put into me. It took my whole will not to call my EX and beg for a cuddle. For the first time in years I felt embarrassed, because Ian had just seen me being very foolish and not showing the usual self-awareness of which I usually boast. He became like a kind older brother while I turned into a head-shy dog. I intend to visit him again tomorrow before I leave town, give him a copy of my novel and try to show him some sense in a relatively sober state.

I will feel compelled to paint a clearer picture of Ian in the future as I put my memories of yesterday’s encounter in order. Until then, a toast to old friends!))


There Was Enough Trouble Already by Mescalito (short story)

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There Was Enough Trouble Already

(an impromtu short story)

Current mood: Tapping into my Cat on the Inside
by Mescalito

Jack’s nerves zinged like a pile of dowsing rods dropped out of a car window at highway speeds. He’d regressed to a bottom shelf whiskey because his habit was becoming evermore serious. He couldn’t take his mind off the baggy of cocaine (cut with crushed No-Doze – for economy) in his cigarette case even though his heart felt weak from a lack of sleep and serious tobacco abuse. If he could just sit down and meditate maybe me could see his way safely through a few lines. But Kate had totally taken over the penthouse and he couldn’t possibly get relaxed enough to do any bio-feedback there. Not a single friendly chair in all of Manhattan. She hadn’t spoken to him for three days and a night because she’d been raped on a subway by a pack of sailors and couldn’t bring herself to tell him. There was enough trouble already. Jack took to serious consideration of selling his thinned 8ball and leaving town secretly like a pedophiliac clergyman.

By the time I learned of all this I was already right in the middle of it. Kate had smashed Jack aside the head with a plastic vase while he ate some order out eggs Benedict. Apparently she just couldn’t stand the sight of a man eating eggs and went wild. The door was ajar when I hit their floor and I kicked it in the way I like to do when I enter a room of old friends. Jack had his head in a sink full of iced water and Kate was reading aloud on the balcony from a pocket copy of the Constitution. So shocked was I that I dropped a bottle of Guinness on the marble entry floor spraying glass and beer all over my new black leather boots.

I managed to close the slider door on Kate with a queer smile, sat Jack down, fed him some beers. Then he laid it on me.

“She didn’t say anything until the moment she started swinging,” he said.

I struggled to remove my beer-soaked boot. It didn’t seem like a polite gesture at all given the situation. Kate was still screaming on the balcony.

“When did it happen?” I said.

“Too weeks ago,” he said. “Gimme a cigarette will you?”

I complied. “And she hasn’t reported it?”

“I don’t think so. She seems to think cops will search the place if she files a report. I offered to go to the station with her but she won’t even look at me except to mash me up.”

“Maybe you should report her!”

“No way. I’ll get over this,” he said. “But she…”

We both looked out at her. Kate had her hands pressed against the window like a caged lunatic. “What I want to do is get out of here, arrange to have her sister stay with her for a while. You want to get clear of her, too.”

“Yeah. I suppose I do.”

“I’m sorry. You came here expecting fun and get this.”
“Really, it’s okay. Let me call her sister.”

We went to the street, called Maggy from a public phone, and walked into Brookline like a couple of beaten kids. Jack gave me that horrible 8 ball for thirty dollars on account of the fact that he’d all but ruined it with that damned caffeine powder. We hugged for a long time at the bus station. I took a Greyhound to Miami, taking a fix or two in the bus toilet.

I’d settled into a Motel 6 after a night of rum and failed pick-up lines when Kate called my mobile crying uncontrollably. I could hear Maggy screaming incoherently in the background, wailing in a way really.

Jack had died of a heart attack. He’d somehow found two of Kate’s attackers, chased them with a knife through Queens and collapsed in an alley.

I convinced her to go to the police and try to have the guys found. Then I finished off that baggy and hit the town again. Because a man my age should avoid sadness like the plague.