Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Bull's Pet Cats

Every single word written here is an extraordinary exaggeration of events that have played out in my head... based on the stories I have heard from people I have met in jail or while I was dealing with my own stupidity and carelessness, resulting from my own addiction to alcohol and drugs. This is in no way a glamorization of drug use, but a tool to lend some humanity to a subculture that has been demonized and written off as a hopeless and worthless part of our human family. I do not condone or promote any of the behavior or activities herein.

Chapter Eleven

             While the girls searched vigorously, turning the house upside down and collecting pipes, syringes, spoons, foils, tooters and anything else that even looked like it could be used to ingest dope, I was stoking the fire inside of the wood burner.  

             Bull had us all very well trained on what to do at the onset of a raid.  My primary job if I were in the house was to make sure the fire was good and hot so that any and all contraband could be burned if the farm and our activities had been compromised.  I was satisfied with the fire, as opening the cast-iron door to the burner immediately turned the pile of coals into a raging fire.  I began collecting the girl’s findings in a cardboard box lying next to the burner usually reserved for newspaper and kindling wood.  One by one, I carefully picked the syringes out of the box and tossed them in the fire.  Used needles always appalled me.  I took the tooters, which were mostly the tubes from ink pens and tossed those in next.  I carefully separated the glass pipes and dope bags from the broken pieces of glass and surprisingly enough a few mason jars and a denture brush that we used to scrape the sides of the jars to collect the dope stuck to the glass. 

            “Anybody want this before I burn it?”  I held up the denture brush, to which Bacardi left her new position of peering through the blinds on the main door to retrieve.  She stuck the brush between her cheek and her bottom back teeth and filled her mouth with rum from the diminishing Bacardi bottle.  She moved the brush to the center of her mouth, and seemed to be rinsing it with the rum she had just poured in there.  She swallowed the rum and went back to the door, brushing what was left of her teeth and gums with the dope soaked brush.

            She nodded in my direction, but still remained silent.  “Fuckin’ right, I’ll have to remember that for next time…”  I laughed nervously and went back to sorting through the dope trash, looking up at the camera monitors when I could.  Bacardi just stared through the blinds, brushing her teeth and tongue with the denture brush.  When I had disposed of every bit of useless paraphernalia the girls had found, I put the box of salvageable dope gear on the floor in front of the wood burner.  I would wait until the last second to burn everything… just in case this was a false alarm.  Either way, it was good to have cleaned up and gotten rid of the broken glass and used needles.

            Bull had a walkie talkie, and our device was sitting in the center of the round table, where we had all returned and found a chair.  Everybody except for Bacardi, who was chewing on the brush I had given her and staring through the blinds at the front door.   Each of us were transfixed with the camera monitors, and every time the screen changed to another view, we all simultaneously drew a breath in anticipation.  I’m not sure what we were looking for, but I began to see things in the ghost images of the previous camera view when the screen would change to a new one.     

            “Tell the garbage man to meet me at the crack trailer…”  Everybody jumped, and I felt a bead of sweat roll from my neck, down my shoulder into my armpit.  “…Now… and he needs to come in the dark, but bring a flashlight, and be quiet.  Don’t anybody respond to me on this walkie talkie.  Everything is okay, business as usual, except for the garbage man.”

            “I assume he means me…”  I choked out a laugh, and grabbed a flashlight from one of the shelves on the wall behind Bull’s chair at the round table.  I turned to see Milly and Bacardi whispering to each other while Milly texted somebody on her phone.  I looked to Dayna and darted my eyes to Milly’s phone.

            “Milly, you better put that fucking phone away, or Bulls gonna burn it when he gets here.”  Dayna said flatly.  Milly slid her phone shut and folded her arms in protest.

            With that I was headed out the door to the crack trailer.  This is what we jokingly called the broken down mobile home on the property that had been Bull’s when he first got popped for manufacturing over a decade ago.  I was convinced that the thing was haunted, only to be reassured by Bull’s reluctance to venture into the old structure after dark.  I was positive that he wanted me to make my way back to it in the dark, without the aid of a flashlight, so I stopped in my tracks and let my eyes adjust to the darkness and stillness of the farm after dark.

            After several horrifyingly, painstaking minutes alone in the dark, my eyes began to pick up on the light that the moon was offering me this night.  I began to ease my way into the property, and back to the crack trailer, which was about fifty yards out from the garage, along the property line and the farm field.  I found my journey a little more enjoyable than my charge to the farmhouse had been.  I was nervous in the dark, but I knew if Bull had asked for me to come out to him alone, that this would be worth whatever anxiety I was feeling at the moment.  I noticed that the moon was nearly full, but the reason I had struggled with my night vision was the cloud cover.  The clouds began to pull away from the moon, and it suddenly became very easy for me to see where I was going.  I was very close to the garage, and could see the folding structure of the crack trailer, just over the silhouette of the fire truck in Bull’s boneyard.

            When my feet passed the fire truck, I stepped into a large puddle of mud and water that I hadn’t expected.  I began to curse under my breath, and was nearly startled into a scream when Bull’s arms pulled me out of the puddle and behind a large maple tree.  He had clapped a hand over my mouth to keep me from sounding off.  When he was satisfied I wouldn’t fuss or make any noise he let the hand go from my mouth and held his pointer finger in front of my eyes.  He still hadn’t let go of the arm keeping my arms and ribcage from moving.

            “Now shut the fuck up… your flashlight was the neighbor.  His dog took off onto this property.  He was just looking for his dog.  I sent him home.  His dog is dead.  I want you to see something.  Nobody will ever believe that I showed you this, but I’m gonna show you anyways.”  He lowered his pointer finger into the farm field in front of us.  There was a pile of something in a beam of moonlight.

            “What the fuck is that, Boss?”  He relinquished his hold on my ribcage and arms, and knelt down.  He curled his pointer finger at me, beckoning me to do the same.

            “I guess that’s what’s left of the neighbor’s dog.” Bull smiled a little, but kept his gaze fixed on the carcass.

            “What the fuck did that to his dog?” I whispered.

            “Well, I hope I get to show you… now shut the fuck up.”

            We sat in silence for what seemed like forever.  My knees and legs were burning, but I didn’t want to breathe, let alone move while my friend was so fixated on whatever had his attention.  We knelt there in silence for what must have been an hour.  I was flexing my toes inside of my boots when he patted my shoulder and I heard a twig snap in the distance.  My eyes started scanning the landscape, and from a pile of farm brush I saw an animal’s silhouette creeping towards the carcass.  I drew in a startled breath, and Bull’s hand was over my mouth again.  I turned my eyes to him, and saw him smiling and nodding slowly.
            “There they are!” he whispered.  His hand moved from my mouth and planted itself on my shoulder and gave a firm squeeze.  From out of the shadows appeared two more silhouettes.  I thought at first that they might be coyotes, but they definitely weren’t canine in nature.  Their sleek profiles led to me to think that they might be feline, but I had never seen cats this big.  The animals were as big as hunting dogs, but far more agile and appealing to watch.  Bull was retreating from my vantage point and standing up.  I couldn’t take my eyes off of the sight in front of me.  Within seconds, the animals were noiselessly pulling and tearing at the carcass in front of us.  I was dumbfounded and amazed.
            Before I could offer protest, Bull was several yards in front of me.  He was moving like a prowler, and I can only assume he didn’t want to startle the animals in front of him.  The moon cast an aura on my friend that made him glow with a faint blue shimmer.  The animals let go of the carcass and stopped immediately.  Bull stopped his approach.  He held both arms out and opened his hands as if to show them that he meant no harm.  The silence was deafening, and then Bull let loose with a sound that I can only describe as the purr of a lion.  It was a low guttural sound from deep in his lungs and abdomen.  The animals he was approaching began crouching into a prone position, and I began to think that they were going to attack him.  He let go with one more guttural growl, and the three cats pounced to his approach and he knelt down to greet the three of them as if they were kittens.  They were immediately pawing and licking him and playing with his shoelaces and his hands.  There was no fearsome aggression at all in these three giant cats.  My friend began laughing and growling with his pets.  I smiled to myself, amazed, and stood up to take a piss.

            Upon standing up, the cats noticed my movement and scurried off about five yards from Bull, and he sat up.  He clicked his tongue several times and they shyly approached him again.  He waved me off, and I turned away, stunned, to try and relieve myself.  I walked into the shadows of the property to try and make sense of what I thought had been a dope-fueled story about my friend and his giant cats.  

            I was smiling in spite of myself.

This work is the intellectual property of Jerome J. Panozzo