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 breathe and penetrating pain through my abdomen has frightened any movement from my limbs. A paramedic is trying to talk to me and she is staring at my face, commenting and asking me questions.
“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.”
The ambulance is loud, the sirens are blaring, the road it travels on is bumpy and straps hold me on the gurney. I am on a path to be saved – the promise I made, and the lie are the same and must be protected. The lights inside the ambulance flicker then it stops, there is no attendant. Everything goes black.
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 paramedic returns and talks to me. “Sir, I’m going to put a tube in your throat.” I gasp for air ….
Bright light comes for me, and I am in a 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. Night and darkness are my comforts. But I want something, life, my eyes now open reflexively.
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 moments ago. You’re in really bad shape. There was no ID on you.” she continued with “We’re giving you blood, and we need to stich your abdomen. You’re on an IV for fluids and here is your pain button. Right now we will make you comfortable”
I fade out of consciousness … the light recedes. My mind wants it back … knowing I must follow the path that light illuminates or face certain death.
My eyes open, giving me hope to travel on the path of light towards what I seek. Memories take over and control my thoughts. There is clarity in my mind, but it’s not welcomed. I’m thinking about a name, my name. I’m 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, vague, distant, and large. I continue to think about the memory, when a nurse and a sheriff’s deputy come into the room. The path of light fades, but remains faint near the top of the valance. Now I am tensed-stressed.
The nurse checks me and says nothing. The image of a deputy now comes before my eyes in black and white. 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?”
“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’m getting flashes of different places in my mind- a house with bricks, a trailer. The numbers 489 flash in my mind. I’m 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.
Looking down the length of my body, I notice there is 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 don’t 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. Delusional? Now I ache for the bright light, to give me salvation, but my eyes are closing again.
Who am I? 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’re 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’m 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. There is no intimidation that emanates from me. When people look at me they’re not concerned. I am obtuse. I can remember a woman saying that to me once. “Denny you are obtuse.” By definition, I’m simple, undiscerning. Then why did someone stab me and beat me?
Tears well inside my closed eyes, and a reflection of myself from those tears, lays witnesses to my receding life. I beg for the light-I lie to get it back-I force my eyes to open with every ounce of strength that possesses me.
Slow flashes of light and sounds surround me. The darkness remains my comfort, but I hope the light will return. 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. 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?
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. I looked at him with a smile -felt his dissatisfaction - his presence disturbed me. I tried to bullshit him more with a handshake, but he refused to accept my lie of friendship.
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. The light dims, and begins constant flickering, my eyes open and shut rapidly. “Give me one more chance!” I plead, “I will be different this time.
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. Those thoughts bring comfort.
Detective Moreno comes in the room. 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’m silent. He knows more about me than I know about myself and I am scared. He stares at me with determination in his eyes. I’ve seen that look before, in other people, dealers, police, Bo, and Jennifer’s father. When those eyes of determination meet their mark- I need to turn away- but they follow 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’ve got for a moment. I use it to look back at him, and I stay silent. My instincts reveal themselves and I know I’ve done this before. I wait for an answer. Detective Moreno vanishes.
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’ve 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 met 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’ll 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. Impulse forces a smile on my face. 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 and put my hands around her neck. 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’m 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 into my skin. 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, but no light will enter now. Two juvenile delinquents take a photo of me, laugh, and then walk away.
“Mr. Franklin you cannot be saved. Your hope for redemption has been declined-you’re mine!”
“I’m a Scumbag” © Copyright, Artemis J Jones, 2014