Historical Insignificance by Garrett Clancy
People’s Choice Award Finalist Story in the 6th Annual Warren Adler Short Story Contest.
I AM: unemployed once more, 4th time in past year, which is 100% tell-me-somethin’-I-don’t know info as
I AM: an L.A.-cliché, AKA failed TV writer, with lone 6-years-in-past credit, but 2-day is 2-day and
I AM: on Zuma sands, sweating ass in yellow plastic chair.
I AM: sans sunblock yet again,
I’M: still on Prozac, AND
I’M: reading something calculated to make me more attractive to some Baywatch beauty-type, though she’d need a degree in contemporary Lit or else won’t recognize name of author of same Grove Press tome which I hold, but don’t read really- a ploy, as I say, to gain the interest of some boobs and brain dream-combo and NOT the fully-dressed man with the John Brown-wild, granite-colored hair and beard who, as he stands like darkened dew-fat cloud between yours truly and the warm-as-raisin toast sun, is fucking with my George Hamilton, and who claims
I am your biological father
and who has tracked me here to this spot, he further elaborates, after having received tip from faux-Jamaican accented mama answering the telephone at 1-900 psychic thinggy – but he could just as easily have found my # & my address after B.S.-ing some nosey neighbor, Crazy Kelly no doubt, she with aged tattoo of weeping Jesus on Pillsbury-Doughboy white left ass cheek, latter and its twin in serious need of Thigh-Master action to point that Jesus, when Kelly sashays in satiny G-string bikini bottom after leaving my apartment door disappointed yet again, shimmer-moves and appears to be face from LSD flashback (Vermont, 1979, Neil Young plucking acoustic guitar in converted cow pasture, and me speaking aloud to any funhouse-mirror faced fellow concert-goer nearby fluent German, I think, having never studied same) all wavy’n shit and Kelly always slapping at same ass cheek with turquoise ring-weighted hand, reminding me that “he’s” (weeping tattoo Saviour) “got my ass covered!” then haw-hawing at own quasi double-entendre & extending invitation # 332 to me to drink Mickey’s tallboys by our apartment building’s kidney-shaped pool, said pool overflowing with water the color of that which passes thru same organ, but I digress; daddy, or so he claims, could’ve gotten info on my whereabouts any number of places/sources, though when he mentions
You were born in Washington D.C. to an Army Corporal mother named Sally Des Bladdes
he gets my attention, as that is my surname and mommy of mine was in fact a soldier once upon a time. My back stiffens as though I’ve just been informed that some black widow spider crawled upon same, then daddy, if he is indeed who he claims, pokes at cover of book I pretend to read and offers
Kathy Acker- dig her stuff too and here is a little something I’ve been keeping for you son which explains just how twas you came to be
and he hands me this gnarled blackened THING which I take, after contemplating three or so beats, to be a bullet, tho kinda looking now like a stubbed-out cigarette butt that’s been bronzed and left to tarnish
gouged it out
Daddy points to bullet with Uncle Sam war poster finger
with m’Swiss Army pocketknife from this bus stop bench in Austin Texas three days after same little sonofabit-chin’ bullet come within a cunt hair of givin’ me an impromptu pan-cree-ass removal an’ ol’ Charlie Whitman he’s the reason this bullet is the reason you are here as I dove like Johnny Weismuller for shelter behind said bench and fell a-toppa this pretty young filly wearin’ an Army suit- in the Navy once m’self – and we clung to each other two survivors Lucky as the so-named smokes all day and thru one sleepless shivering night and when I got back to m’ daddy’s ranch outside Laramie Wyoming a year or so later after working oil rigs in Tulsa Oklahomey and various other assorted bullshit gigs my own daddy showed me this faded kinda yellow-like-ginger candy Western Union telegram announcing the birth of my baby boy which’d be YOU by God I’d hardly recognize you and sorry and all that but I’ve got cancer of the balls see and by the way I hope you’re wearin’ sunblock case!
it’s her-editary and I am on my last legs as they say old hairy pencils at that so here we are
he breathes finally and sits down beside me on my beach towel, which is actually a poster for The Godfather, and of course is yet another ploy to…but it’s too late for that now; what cute/smart angel could even see it underneath Raggedy Andy’s bone-butt? and by God I’m seriously thinking about introducing this character to Crazy Kelly, dad or no, just for fucking with my serenity and new girlfriend-dream plans and interrupting my flow of such-themed thoughts with
here we are at what has got to be one’a the prettiest darn beaches on the sweet clean ass of Mother Earth and to be honest with you sonny I’m broke as Moses and tried to sell
pointing to MY bullet
self-same symbolic token of your existence and my near-death experience a’course as the chubby fella at the last pawnshop told me and he was right there just ain’t no real way to prove that there slug is the gen-u-wine article fired from that crazy-as-a-shithouse rat ex-Marine’s rifle on that awful awful day but ain’t it funny how I think often that I almost lost my life and made a NEW one all in the same 24-hour period but again as I say pawnshop owners don’t give a monkey’s ass about history so can you spot me say a ten-spot or a couple’a sawbucks sonny so’s I can die in some motel room in Malibu which has in fact been my dream for quite some time now
You’ve never read Kathy Acker
(In addition I’d like to know, though I don’t mention it, the whereabouts of some three decades-plus of back child support, seeing as I am, myself, broke as Moses or whatever he said, and could sure as fuck use even some fraction thereof)
Well o-kee so I lied ya caught me but I read a lot’a stuff in my Navy days stuck out on the battleship U.S.S. Virginia 6 long months at a time I mean you got your smarts from somewheres I suppose
YES – my mother!
Well I bet you ain’t read half the stuff I did stuff like Journey to the End of the Night by this French doctor Say-leen and mucho stuffo by Jack Ker-roo-ack whose name I mispronounced for a good year’re more til a Lieutenant J.G. from Massachusetts set me straight and then old Thomas Wolfe and As I lay Dying and Sound and the Something-or-other by William Fawk-ner and aww hell I ain’t got time to argue this shit out with you I’m dyin’ boy have an ounce of sympathy why don’t you by God show some appreciation for history that bullet is REAL fired off the University of Texas li-berry tower and it might be the ONLY true connection between us you’n me and do the math were you not born pretty much exactly nine months after the fact why how could I make such a thing up an ol’ cowboy like me who may or may not’ve read a couple’a good books and I’d settle for pocket change at this point kiddo maybe a ride back to Santa Monica a good word fer chrissakes even
PLEASE I think but don’t say and then it smacks me like Moe Howard’s hand across my too-thin superior lips that this has been MY dream, to see an old, dying man who claims to be my father show up one fantasy day, broke and much like this dried up husk of a John Doe (I still don’t know his name) who sits beside me – it has been my wish to take satisfaction in the suffering of he who abandoned me (and my mother) before, even, my very birth – but though it has been my hope my passionate desire to have this man, my father, beg forgiveness (in my dream it was from a piss-smelling wheelchair) for all his many wrongs just so that I could pass him by on Skid-row (though why I’d even be walking on such a street is unclear to me) with nary an acknowledgment of his wretched existence, don’t need you or recognize you are even alive, old man I dreamed of saying – but now I find I am inexplicably moved touched, empathetic even, wanting and wishing now I could help somehow this unfortunate!
creature, my father…and it is then I see the porpoises. A pair. Dipping disappearing re-appearing slippery in and out of the Earl Grey-tea colored seawater behind the surfer dudes hanging-zero and lazier, even, than me. Smooth, Flipper’s second cousins are, diving again like black…bullets
by God look at’em go
dad says interrupting my thoughts, once again, my very fears
free as rain what a great and wonderful thing it is to be free as rain
LATER, after I have driven us the re-united to my Van Nuys $510 per month failed screenwriter special shit-dump, and after I was sure as he lay there on my tequila and cheap beer-stained passenger car seat (that trip to Ensenada with Frederick and Nickle-bag Boy) with eyes closed, spittle fizzling over lower lip he had in fact already gone to swim with Flipper’s second cousins forever, and after Crazy Kelly nosed in and was actually welcome for once, a regular Candy-Stripe 19-70’s drive-in movie theater exploitation half-angel/half-whore Colleen Camp nurse-maids, and who whines “oh, the poor old cowboy why didn’t you tell me your dad was comin’ to visit you what kind of son are you he’s a real looker too do you think he wants a beer?” and after he opened his eyes just as CK , mini-skirted simply because it was Tuesday, was bending over in front of dad prone on my lone sad couch to remove his socks blacker than an Arabian horse neck and saw the weeping Jesus tattoo smiled and cried
I do not deserve your piteous tears Dear Lord but take me home and end my general discomfort and let sonny-boy know by sign or miraculous intercession that he was although a stranger indeed be-loved of me
After all of this I want to say WAIT DO NOT DIE ON ME, but do not as I know by now, though deprived of paternal guidance and affection these 36+ years, until this moment that is, that strange events such even as the visitation of ghosts do not cannot occur without there being (though dog-years may pass without genuine clarity concerning same) some MEANING attached…
And thus it was epiphanic and clear to me, pretend-reader of great novels, terminally-unemployable, borderline cruel rejector of too-many-to-count advances of Crazy Kelly, that we had, my dead father and I, all along shared so giant (Gibraltar-like, really) a THING in common, the THING being that which was the explanation for every tear ever shed, every mirror ever shattered with closed fist by your’s truly –
I got Kelly to lend me a hundred dollars and promise to water my cactus plant once every three weeks in exchange for letting her call 911 to report the death of the strange man on my couch in order to give her something to talk about for the next two months (“my gawd it was awful right in front of me he went just like that – SNAPP!”), and also, though I hate to admit it, one long, sad night of forced (on my part, of course) lovemaking during which I was afraid to put my hand on the quivering vision of weeping Jesus for fear I might (once again) offend and hurt him
I load my car with books to make me seem serious & learned & in general a threat to no-one on Earth to any cop who might mistake my porcupine cheeks and haven’t- dozed- a-nano-second in 26 consecutive hours eye-glaze for a potential Charlie Whitman redux, and figure I’ve got just enough gas & food & beer $$$ to reach Las Vegas. I hold in my T-shirt pocket the address of the son I abandoned 6 years before and his mother, with whom I had spent a few sweet comforting nights not so long ago but never knew really, but who is now the very Lotto ticket to all of my future character and purpose….
My name is Abel and so-named is my little boy. He’ll probably want to bring his gnarled and tarnished bullet to school for Show & Tell. He is, it dawns upon me I as I drive thru Victorville, not far off the age of the Latino boy shot-dead in the stairwell of the UT Li-berry tower as daddy called it by the firer of my ballistic memento (tho my recollection of same tragic moment in time comes via the Kurt Russell-led MOW I saw some years back while waiting for my un-employment benefits to once again run dry and so might not be 100% on-target, pun intended all the way.) I’m listening to a block of the Stones on KLOS as I cruise east on the I-15, ass-deep in the midst, as I intimate, of my 19th Nervous Breakdown. I have, tho, Sympathy for the Devil, and I hope like my momma did when she was shivering behind that Austin Texas bench in fear for her very life that my new family will, alas, take pity on me and Gimme (the) Shelter I so desperately desire & need.