Lee marvin

Humans have become a lot like crows. We let someone else do the killing, then after all the heavy lifting is done we come along and eat the remains. We are carrion birds. I like crows, by the way. They are imposing birds. Big. Dark. Strong and opinionated. And, they only assist. Not killing is, I suppose, a good thing. They just clean up the mess. Crows are the janitors of the animal kingdom. I’ve gotten off track, though. Now that we have gotten past the random thought for the day, I’d like to supply another story for you. This one was published in Diddledog:

Lee Marvin Gets His Ass Kicked in Denver
by Nathan Tyree

All day I pace in my shit box apartment and smoke cigarettes and think that I shouldn’t have a drink even if I do want one. I play with ideas like taking a nap or cutting my wrists, but never quite get it together enough to do either. Then, all other options exhausted, I watch vapid teevee shows until I think my eyes will melt. Finally I decide to go out and see what the city has to offer.

It must be after two in the morning when I wander in to the quick stop to get a bite to eat. I can see the clerk behind the counter eyeing my long hair as if it’s a sign that I’m likely to rob the place and leave him gut shot and bleeding to death in the alley out back. His eyes are easy to read: spic is what those eyes say. I know that he’s wondering if I speak English and imagining me wading across the river to steal his job. I fix him with a cold stare and clench my jaw, then find my way to the cooler to get a can of Coke. With the Coke freezing against my palm I start looking for something substantial to fill the emptiness in my gut. For some reason I decide that a Mars bar will do the trick. Approaching the counter I realize that the greasy clerk hasn’t taken his eyes off me for a second and I think that it could be fun to fuck with this guy.

“Can I get anything else for you?” He doesn’t smile as he asks the obligatory question.

“Just all the money in the register,” I say under my breath.

I see real fear in his eyes as he says “What?” His jaw vibrates and his frame tenses, ready for the gun slipped from a jacket pocket.

“Pack of Camels and a box of condoms,” I say as if that was what I had said before.

“Oh,” he says belying a level of relief that he didn’t mean. He gathered my items and pounded the numbers into the register. “That’ll be ten seventy-five.”

I toss some bills on the counter, grab my stuff and walk out the door. I can feel the clerk’s eyes on me, taking not of exactly where I fall on the height chart. On the other side of the glass I turn back to look at him. He’s stopped watching me and picked up the book he was reading. I can just make out that it’s Music for Iguanas. I smile for an instant then head up the street. I need a shower, but don’t want to go home yet. Walking seems like a good idea, but I can’t think of any reasonable destination so I tear open the candy bar and begin chewing without tasting. When it’s gone I drop the wrapper on the ground even though I know that I shouldn’t. I can’t help it. Fuck the environment, I think, what’s it ever done for me.

I’ve turned south without realizing that I had decided on a direction. There’s a woman coming up the sidewalk. She spots me and hugs her purse close like a child as we pass. I consider lunging at her just to make the bitch piss herself, but I let it pass and keep walking.

I miss Helen. She’s been gone almost a week and I can’t get her out of my head. She’s most of the reason that I’m in the sort of shape I am. She always said that I was just too angry; too unsettled. Look at it, I’d say, I’m stuck here in this. Just because my skin is sort of dark, everybody thinks I’m an illegal. It never occurs to them that my parents were born here. And so what if I was a fence jumper. This place is all fence jumpers anyway. None of that could calm her. She just couldn’t take me being me. Anyway, she walked and I miss her.

Past the alleys and gutters I’m still walking. There isn’t much activity this late. All the little insects have scurried off to their homes and only the predators remain on the street. A guy on the corner asks me if I want anything. A few years ago it would have been crack. Now it’s meth. I don’t want either so I just keep moving. When I landed here I thought this city was a mass of opportunity and chance. It isn’t. It took me a few months to land in a menial job that was supposed to be temporary. I’ve been doing that temp job for four years and I can’t see the end anymore.

My dad used to take me to movies when I was a kid. He loved westerns and action movies. Dad always talked about the rugged individual: the guy who was tough and smart and could accomplish anything if he tried hard enough. He insisted that those movies were all metaphors for that idea. Lee Marvin played a series of characters that my father made into personal heroes. Then he tried to make those characters my messiah. In the end it was all a bunch of bull shit.

Eventually I fall back to my apartment and crash for the night. Tomorrow will be better.

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