Friday, March 11, 2011

The High And Dry Rye Whiskey Blues

The High And Dry Rye Whiskey Blues
a quick piece of flash fiction by jake kilroy.

"This ain't no peasant stop," he slurred. The words made it pitifully through gears of his mouth. His machine tongue was misfiring and his teeth pressed against each other like the factory of his face was in flames. He would've been sweating bullets if he had anything to load his gun with.

Instead, he just sat slumped in the driver's seat holding a bottle of rye. He looked like a pile of dress clothes the morning after. The top of the car was down and he tried whistling a tune that Tom Waits wouldn't have even understood.

"There's a place I know," he yelled with a melody that sounded like broken glass. He continued, "Folks won't pass me by."

The girl in the passenger's seat watched him with fascination and disgust. Behind the both of them lay the ocean. The car was parked on a patch of grass overlooking a cliff. The moon was high and white, the lone spotlight of the west.

"Dallas, Texas, that's the town. I cry, oh hear me cry," he croaked like a nightclub singer with a slit throat.

He took another sip from the bottle and finished the tune. "And I'm going back," he yelled again with the dynamite sound of rubble, "going back to stay there 'til I die, until I die."

The last words rolled out of him like he was talking in his sleep. He pushed rank air out of his mouth and his lips fluttered like an old car barely starting on a dirty backroad. Just the sound of his own failed engine struck a chord within his suicidal orchestra's heartstrings and he burbled out a laughter that was as raspy and poisonous as a leaky gas pipe.

"You like that song?" he said, twisted his neck and swiveling his head towards the lady next to him.

"I haven't liked any song I've heard tonight," she replied promptly.

"Yeah," he said, wiping his sweaty face, "I don't like music either."

"I like music," she informed him sternly. "But your entire songbook is lifted from degenerates and you're still singing them wrong."

"What do you know about degenerates?"

"I know I'm sitting in a car with one."

He let out a cackle that could've been accidental.

"Just so you know," he said, letting his finger wave in the air like a flag, "Dallas Blues wasn't written by a degenerate."

She raised an eyebrow. It was the first thing he had defended all evening.

"And," he said with the gathering steam of a rusting locomotive, "it may have been the first blues song ever recorded!"

The sentence exhausted him. He let his head hang backwards suddenly and hit the seat with a muffled thump.

"Then it's responsible for generations of drunks like you thinking they've got problems when they don't," she said with a calm air of enthusiasm.

"Lady," he hiccuped, "you don't get the blues."

"I understand the blues," she said. A sly smile slipped out from underneath her small nose.

"No, that's not what I'm saying, honey," he growled lovingly. "I'm saying, you don't get the blues. The blues get you."

His eyes sparkled like blood diamonds, sparing an alluring glow with a cold history behind it.

"Anyway," he said with an enthusiasm that had long been missing from his disheveled grin, "I should probably get out of your hair."

"What?" she asked. Her eyes furrowing. "You're just going to leave me here?"

"No, darling, I'm giving you the keys."

"You're giving me the keys to your car," she repeated flatly, making each word a different parody of his sentence.

"Well, I can't drive," he said, mirthfully exiting his own vehicle.

"You're serious," she said with a squint and a scoot.

"Sometimes," he shrugged. "Just leave the car wherever and I'll find it."

"And what if you can't find it?" she asked from behind the wheel.

"Then it's just one more reason to sing the blues," he said, leaning back with wild laughter that sounded like a bubbling oil geyser.

He swung a deep swig from the whiskey, draining the color from the bottle's face, with his other hand swaying purposelessly behind him. His body looked like rubber stretched beyond its means.

She watched him, shook her head disbelievingly, started up the car and left the man to start a long merry walk alone. As she sped up the coastal road, she heard the disintegrating sound of the blues and allowed herself a soft smirk.

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