American Zeroes - Chapter 7
Chapter One: Georgie
Chapter Two: Guns, Blurbs, and Steal
Chapter Three: Big Jugs and the Hairy Arm
Chapter Four: Sophia, the Pain in My Chest, Part 1
Chapter Five: Dead Man Under the Table
Chapter Six Part 1: Drunk John
Chapter Six Part 2
Here Comes the Rooster
GEORGIE MUST HAVE KEPT some of Justin’s coke for himself. Cocaine really does bring out the worst in people.
“How you feeling, there?” he asks. “The cake hasn’t hit me at all yet. How about you?”
“Come here,” I whisper.
“What?” he asks.
“Come in. I want you to see something.”
“You’re not gonna read me the Bill of Rights again, are you?”
“No. Not yet.”
“I don’t think I could take it.”
“Forget that. I want to show you something.”
I grab Georgie by the front of his shirt and pull him into my room.
“Stop it, mate. This is Lacoste.”
“It’s an Izod.”
Hairy Arm’s headboard starts banging against my wall.
“Sounds like Hairy Arm is having a lady friend over,” says Georgie.
“It’s all an act.”
“I wish I could have an act like that. He’s really giving her the ole zig and zag.”
“What’s up with him?” says Georgie, pointing at Drunk John, still unconscious on my bed.
“Guy can’t hold his liquor,” I say.
“That geezer has a drinking problem, I think. He’ll be selling the Big Issue before long.”
I drag Georgie in front of the safe and stand aside so he can take it all in. I describe all of my guns and all of my different currencies and metals. He looks at me. He smiles, but in a weird way.
“Mate, I’m going to ask you a question I’ve been meaning to ask you since I got here and heard about your guns. What is a big, strong guy like you, who lives in the most powerful and richest country on earth, so bloody afraid of?”
I don’t exactly know why, but something about what he said and how he said it deeply offends me. Hairy Arm’s headboard hammers the wall with more intensity as if he wants to match the rage building up inside of me. My prized picture of me and Paul Ronsen falls off the wall and beside my bed.
What am I afraid of? Is he serious? What is any champion afraid of? What is the World Wrestling Federation or Mixed Martial Arts champion afraid of? He’s afraid of being at the top. When you’re at the top, you’re a target. Everyone wants to topple the champ. Everyone wants to be the champ! They’ve come to snuff the fucking rooster! What am I afraid of? What am I afraid of, Georgie? I’ll show you what I’m afraid of.
I grab Georgie by the balls and throat and military-press him above my head and pin him against the ceiling. I wanted to do this any way to punish him for making me eat the cake. As I try to adjust to his weight, my hand squeezes his throat with different amounts of pressure that make him sound like different Looney Tunes characters.
“Put me down!” demands Marvin the Martian.
“You’re crushing me bollocks!” screams Tweety Bird.
I press Georgie against the ceiling, steadily increasing the force as all of the day’s thoughts race through my head. I think of Sophia kissing that you-know-what.
I squat and lock my arms, and then stand, pushing with the full strength of my mighty quads. Luckily for Georgie, he ended up between two joists, and the wallboard of the ceiling gives and pops the spackling tape that had covered the seam where it met the other board.
“For fuck’s sake!” he screams.
It’s time for my big move.
“You want to know what I’m afraid of, Georgie?” I press him even harder against the ceiling. “Nothing!”
With one motion I body-slam him onto Drunk John with all two hundred seventy-five pounds of me, plus two hundred pounds of Georgie, coming down on top of him. The bed frame doesn’t even put up a fight. It collapses as if it briefly considered it and then said:“fuck it.” I feel something in Georgie’s back pop and he howls in pain.
“Get off! My back!”
“Back? You want to go back up on the ceiling?”
“Get off! My back!”
“Your back? Oh, terribly sorry, Old Chap.”
I get off of Georgie and stand over him. He looks pitiful in his helplessness. A thought flashes through my mind of picking him up again and throwing him down the stairs and into the living room, even though he is a genuinely good dude. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because my bed is completely fucked. That’s OK because sometimes you have to sacrifice things you value in order to make a point, and I can deal with that. That is the true definition of a sacrifice, one that everyone has forgotten. It is an exchange of something of value for something of lesser value. The Virtue of Selfishness taught me that.
Drunk John lifts his head up and looks at me all glassy-eyed.
“Can I grab another one of those Golden Asses?” he says.
There is silence from my neighbor’s room. There is silence but for the low moans coming from Georgie.
“Are you OK?” I ask him.
“Fuck off!” he groans. “You’re chicken oriental, that’s what you are!”
“Me?” I say. “Look what you did to my bed!”
“You fucking cunt!”
“Oh, Georgie, I’m sorry. Show me where it hurts.”
“Don’t touch me!”
“It looks like you’re in a lot of pain. Let me see if Justin has some percosets.”
He thinks about it. “Percosets would be nice.”
“I’ll be back.”
I take his cigarettes and lighter from his front pocket. He’s in too much pain to notice or care.
Hairy Arm’s headboard slams against my wall, harder and louder than before. I feel inspired and type Congressman Ronsen another email.
Dear Congressman Ronsen,
I think I have come up with a way to win the war on terrorism. Why don’t we just carpet bomb the entire Middle East with nukes? We have lots of nuclear weapons, and they’re kind of going to waste.
Just a thought.
I walk out of the room and leave Georgie and Drunk John to think about where they went wrong today.