Gramercy, The Journey of Jack Lewis. Chapter 4

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Chapter 4  Jack Lewis, Meet Lewis Carroll

Jack didn’t awake to the sounds and smells of a fresh breakfast.  This time Jack awoke to Alex’s loud vomiting in the bathroom.  It was 11 a.m. on a Sunday morning, Kobe and Fiona were still slumped in a hangover coma on their respective claims of the couch.

Jack wasn’t even nearly in as much pain as any of them.  Jack had been a regular drinker since he was 12, he could chug half a fifth of anything and still wake up the next morning feeling as if he hadn’t drank at all.  The only alcohol that ever made Jack sick was the wine he would make or buy in prison.  His stomach would burn for days after drinking that stuff.

So to say the least, Jack had a better tolerance than his friends.  He even poured himself a Jack and Coke before they were awake.  Alcohol this good would have been a treat in the joint for Jack and the other inmates.  Jack remembered how excited they would get when he could get some prison wine made under his bed.  Needless to say, he was grateful to finally have a drink bought at a store.

 

When Fiona, Kobe, and Alex, were finally strong enough to slump into the kitchen, Jack had surprised them by making breakfast this time.  This breakfast was one thing worth while that Jack’s father had taught him.  It’s the perfect hangover cure, besides weed.

 

Buttered wheat toast, orange juice, ice water, fresh sausages and eggs with cheese for protein.  Jack was glad to finally share something he made with the group.  Jack at times felt guilty he didn’t have more to offer these people who were so nice to him, but he reminded himself it wasn’t his fault because he was fresh out of jail.  He knew the mantra didn’t make sense, but it was enough to clear his head so he could return to his traditional state of indifferent balance.

 

The weather had turned south on them, it was raining so hard it actually hurt to go outside and it wasn’t even hailing, it was just incredibly heavy rain.  So they decided to laze about inside.  The three would do what homework they had to get done, which didn’t take long, and the afternoon was free for just sitting in a circle, listening to music, watching movies, and smoking.

 

They got into conversations about who was better, Stevie Wonder or Barry White.  Fiona  spoke for Stevie and Alex for Barry.  Jack settled the argument by saying they were both amazing artists who changed music for the better, but they played different styles and were therefore not suitable for comparing and contrasting.

 

It was the smartest thing Jack had said since he had gotten out of jail.  For a few seconds he was very proud of himself.  He could never think of another time where he actually used the word “therefore.”

 

The topic soon shifted to the power of psychedelics and their emphasis in Alice in Wonderland.  Jack told the group he had never read it and they looked at him in a wide eyed shock, as if he had kicked their puppy.  Then they laughed, they teased and assured him it was worth reading, along with Through the Looking Glass.

 

“In fact,” said Alex as he stood up.  He walked to the shelves of pipes and grabbed a book that had been resting behind a bong and handed it to Jack.

 

“You can have this, I got an extra copy.  They are must reads.”  Alex handed Jack a Barnes & Noble copy of Lewis Carroll, both books in one, just for Jack.

 

The conversation shifted more into literature and Jack was once again left outside the trio’s ring on this subject.  He just sat and listened, feigning interest but not really caring or understanding.  Although when they got incredibly enthusiastic about Cornel West, Sinclair Lewis, and Moby Dick Jack did become curious.  “I should remember those names,” he thought to himself.

 

Suddenly, there was a loud bang on the front door.  Then a bellowing yell, “FIONA!”

 

“Shit,” she said to herself as she scattered and ran into her room.  Jack thought she was going to hide and lock the door but she came back out with a baseball bat.  Jack immediately smiled, “I love this woman,” he told himself half joking and half serious.

 

He stood alongside Alex and Kobe, forming a human wall between her and the door.  Jack looked back at her to see the hatred, and fear in her eyes.  Yet for some reason, she wasn’t about to run and hide.

 

The bangs and yells continued until Kobe opened the door with Alex standing behind his shoulder, both were in plain sight, and tried to look tough, Jack just stood between Alex and Fiona looking naturally intimidating as he usually does.  Soon the door was open and the whole crew were exposed to Fiona’s drunken abusive ex from high school.

 

“Fuck off George!”  Kobe told him.

 

“And a hello to you to,” slurred George in a drunken stupor.  When he saw Fiona with the bat he just laughed smugly, “What you gonna do with that? Huh?”

 

Kobe and Alex tried to push him back as he stepped forward into the door, but George punched both of them in the stomach so hard they began to gag.  When he stepped towards Fiona, she gave one swing into his ribs, and for a few seconds he was hunched over.

 

Before Fiona could swing again, it was as if Jack had awoken from a coma.  In a matter of seconds Jack had leaped out, grabbed George by the front of the neck, and with one hand had him pinned against the wall and off his feet, at least three inches off the ground.  The rumors about all the muscle you build in jail, if you do it right, are true.

 

What made it all the more terrifying was the fact that Jack didn’t show even the slightest sight of anger or any other emotion on his face.  He was less than an inch away from crushing this drunk’s windpipe, and he wasn’t even showing a hint of anger, stress, or hesitation.

 

“Listen,” Jack began. “I’ve served time in the hardest of prisons with some of the most dangerous of people. You see me standing here now?  That means I had no problem surviving.  I have no problem going back, and I especially have no problem going back for crushing your throat  until your arteries burst and spray like liquid fireworks.  You got me, fuck face?”

 

George gave what he could of a nod as his face was turning bright blue. Jack let go and the pathetic man slumped onto the floor, he wondered who the hell this guy was, why he was so quick to defend these people, and what the fuck was wrong with him.  George was violent, but he had no idea anyone in this world could be so ruthless.

What Jack said terrified george.  George had been threatened before, but never had he believed it.  He genuinely believed this guy, the fact someone could say something so horrific with absolutely no emotion was capable of anything.  George attempted to stand up and leave but Jack forced him back onto the floor with a kick down.

 

“No,” Jack declared.  “You crawl out of here, or you don’t leave at all.”

George obeyed, and he crawled out of the house on all fours, like a sad wounded pup, and into the harsh rain.

 

Alex and Kobe recovered and stood by Fiona, who had just watched the entire scene both gratified and speechless.  She was thrilled to see George finally get what he deserved, but she had no idea Jack was capable of such terror.

Immediately after the crisis had been handled, Alex,  Kobe, and Fiona could nothing but just stare at Jack.  Jack hadn’t even noticed them, he was in the kitchen pouring himself a drink when he turned around to find them all staring at him.

 

“Nice Job with the bat,”  he said to Fiona.  “Good choice for home defense, I used to have one back when I lived with my folks.”

 

The three still stood speechless.  They all sat immediately when Jack did.  Jack finally asked through his drinking, “So what was the deal with the bastard?”

 

“He was my ex from high school, I was with him all four years, which was a mistake, he was just a drunk bastard who just, had this power over me.”  Fiona seemed almost ashamed to talk about him.  “I can’t explain it, but it wasn’t until I finally got him out of my life that I could make something out of myself.”

 

She paused for a moment, searching for the words.  “I can’t explain.”  She said again continuing, “But when I was with him at first there were these moments when he just made me so happy and feel so special, then he would just go off on some booze and ecstasy binge and remind me of how quote, “I’m nothing without him.”  Eventually I got away.  Eventually I realized I don’t need a man to make me whole.  No girl does, and men don’t need ‘better halves’ for that matter.”  She was just thinking out loud at this point, but the boys let her speak, they knew she had been holding this in for a while.  “Security starts with the self, you know?  I’m not saying love isn’t real or important, but you have to love yourself before anyone else can. You know?”

 

Fiona was silent.  She apologized for going on a tangent.  Kobe and Alex looked stone cold serious and empathic at Fiona’s painful reminisce.  Jack could tell the painful memories were not just her’s but theirs as well.  Kobe rubbed her shoulder in a comforting manner.

 

Jack felt empathy for Fiona.  “I wish my mom was as strong as she is,” he thought.  “Then maybe she wouldn’t have taken all of dad’s bullshit out on me, she could have gotten away.”

 

Jack rubbed her other shoulder and assured her she didn’t need to explain herself.  She thanked him, but the look of caution was not going to be wiped off of their faces any time soon.  Jack could tell his actions weren’t comforting them.  They did thank him for getting rid of the guy, but Jack could see there was a mild fear in them, and it made him feel shame.  He knew that they would never look at him the same way again.  They knew what he was capable of now.  Although Jack would never hurt these three, he knew they would forever be afraid of the chance.

 

They said their goodnights and all went to bed.

 

Except Jack, Jack did not go to bed.  Instead he lied on the floor staring at the ceiling playing the events over again in his head on a loop, and he cared a little less each time he replayed the events.  He didn’t over react, he did what he had to do to keep them safe.  He did, however, decide it was time to walk on.  He had made a share of money from the pot sales, and he didn’t want to bare the looks of his friends knowing that behind the friendly exterior they fear a murderous potential.

 

Jack packed his bags, counted his agreed share of cash out, and took a few ounces of the less potent weed, knowing they wouldn’t mind.  He also grabbed a few bottles of Jack Daniels, and he left a note that said, “Thank you for everything, you were the first people who were legitimately nice to me in years.  Thank you again. I will always be in your guys’ debt.”

 

Then, shaking it all off and quickly resolving back to not caring, Jack was out the door and back on the road.

 

He stopped quickly to check his bag to make sure he didn’t forget something.  He was relieved to find the book they gave him when he opened his bag.  Sighing, he closed his bag again and continued in what he believed was North or North East.  He was glad the rain had stopped and the wind had parted the clouds, so he could see the stars as he walked.

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On Ferguson – The System Isn’t Broken, It Was Built This Way

The title says it all!

The Belle Jar

I have an uncle who was a cop.

His kids, my cousins, were around my age and when we visited our family in Québec every summer I practically lived at their house. As soon as we got to my grandmother’s house, all rumpled and grumpy from our eight hour drive, I would start dialling my cousins’ number on her beige rotary phone. I spent the whole damn school year waiting for summer, and my time with my cousins, to come; we wrote each other letters all through the dreary winter, hatching plans for new summer exploits. Life with my cousins – swimming in their pool, family barbecues, playing hide-and-seek in my grandmother’s mammoth hedge at twilight – was lightyears better than my boring life in Ontario.

Pretty much every summer my uncle would, at some point, take us to visit the police station. He would pretend that we were criminals and…

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Gramercy, The Journey of Jack Lewis. Chapter 3

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Chapter 3  Fresh Bacon

Jack had never had slept so comfortably in his entire life.  Usually he was in so much pain when he woke up in the morning that he needed either a shot of whiskey or a cigarette to make the pain go away.  For the first time in a while he woke up in high spirits.  It wasn’t either to the prison alarms or his mother’s angry fighting with his dad, or his mother’s crying, or his mother calling telling him his “lazy good for nothing ass needs to wake up so that he can get some kind a job and pull some fucking weight for once.”

This time, he awoke at 10, a more than comfortable hour for once, to the clitter and clatter of pots and pans and the delicious smell of frying bacon and scrambled eggs with pepper-jack cheese.  

FRESH bacon, an inconceivable luxury in the joint. Jack knew it was real cheese in the eggs he smelled to, the fake cheese they used in the pen reeked of grease and chemicals.

Jack got up yawning and walked to the kitchen, Kobe, Alex and Fiona were all at work at the same time making the delicious treats.  Jack offered his help but they assured him they had everything covered.  

“Bro don’t trip, we got it,” said Kobe with his usual smile.  “Go wait in the living room and pack a bowl, work up a good case of the munchies for a bomb-ass breakfast.”

Jack obeyed.  He wished there was some way he could help, but he settled for bong hits by himself in the living room.  Once the breakfast was served they all sat around the kitchen table with breakfast and a joint.  Kobe, Alex, and FIona carried on the conversations they would have if Jack was not normally there, and Jack just sat and smiled when everyone smiled and laughed when everyone laughed.  He pretended to know what they were talking about when they talked about SHpongle and Bass-Nectar.  Jack hadn’t followed music since he got locked up and the Crunk Hyphy “movement” was going on.  These were the conversations that reminded Jack he was an outsider, just a visitor.  He loved these three, but he could tell that he wasn’t intimate enough to be a part of the family.  He was more than welcome, he didn’t doubt that.  He just wasn’t an official member, more like an honorary one.  

But he enjoyed himself for now.  The three had decided to spend another day at the beach, and Jack they said was more than welcome to tag along.  He accepted, and they set out.

While in the car Jack decided to ask, “You know, I am a little short on cash at the moment, you guys wouldn’t happen to know where I could get a little work around here, at least for a few weeks?”

Kobe actually smiled, “Yeah, Actually, we have a job opportunity for you.”

Jack guessed, “Does it involve the giant crop in your guy’s cottage?”

“Yup,” Alex said from the passenger seat.

“Basically we need someone to sell our weed for us.  We are in school when we aren’t in the house taking care of the plants.  We already are sitting on a shit ton of crop that we haven’t moved,” Kobe said.  “The most we can manage to push is just an occasional quarter or ounce that that our friends buy.  You know, don’t get me wrong,” he conceded, “it’s nice of them to buy from us, but it only goes so far, you know?”

“I get it,” said Jack.  “You guys want me to peddle your weed for you while you’re in classes.”

“Exactly,” said Kobe.  “We’ve been looking for someone for a while, and since you’re crashing on the floor for now, consider it your rent, and we will give you 25 percent if that’s cool with you?”

Jack was more than cool with it. “Sound’s perfect.”

Jack enjoyed another day at the beach with his new friends, they then retired to the cottage to more weed and beer and a Bill Murray movie marathon.  The next day was Monday and the three had classes all day long.  So Jack got as much of one of the strains that was already dried, the first was Purple Kush, into sandwich baggies, weighing out grams, eighths, and quarters.  He then loitered outside local high schools, malls, and beaches, and anyplace else he could find teenagers.  He sold out before noon and had to make his way back to the cottage on foot to get more.  

He made four hundred in cash.  He got lucky and he knew it, but still Jack felt smug.  He couldn’t help but feel he had earned his keep.

Needless to say the three were thrilled that so much weed had been sold.

The next day was slower, much of his previous customers still had the weed from yesterday, but they all brought friends to Jack.  The weed was so good that word of mouth spread faster than Jack could expect.  

The third day was better than the first, the original customers were out by now, and so were the friends, and this time the other friends brought their friends.  

In less than one week Jack had pushed a pound of weed.

They decided to celebrate their new found success by showing Jack the party scene.  Everyone from school was going to this beach bonfire and so were they.  They had more Jack Daniels than anyone else at the party.  

Fiona and Kobe were off dancing together, Alex was with his girlfriend, and Jack was standing alone with some weed and taking swigs of a fifth of Jack Daniels.  Jack usually didn’t care about whether he was alone or not.  When random drunk college girls were rubbing up on him or talking to him, Jack just stood and didn’t react in the manner that the girls had wanted.  Jack was confused as to why he was so uninterested.  He had been in jail for such a long time that at night he felt like he could jump on any girl at any minute.  But now he was just uninterested, he couldn’t help but feel a little pathetic considering how many opportunities he had. College girls are already loose and being a thief and ex con gave him the danger angle, but he decided to just spend his time getting intoxicated and watching the crowd.

As he stood and people-watched, Jack could not help but reminisce about the parties he used to go to back in South Central.  They weren’t many differences, but the few that there were, were noticeable and not what Jack was accustomed to.  He was used to shit getting broken, fights breaking out, and know one used to share stuff, it used to be all BYOB and bring your own weed.  But in a college party the air seemed to be about sharing.  It was the goal of everyone not just to get fucked up, but to get everyone fucked up with them.

It wasn’t until the sirens and lights went off that the party came to its close.  Everyone made their way out, and got into their cars and drove off.

Kobe had a few drinks, but he was definitely sober enough to drive.  Alex was so drunk he forgot he was wearing pants, Fiona was in a girl drunk, she was giggly and slumped onto any shoulder she could, and since Jack was in the back seat he was the lucky winner of being her support beam.

They stumbled their way into their house, got into a circle and smoked a final joint for the night.  They all passed out almost in unison exactly where they slumped in the living room.

That night Jack dreamed of Alice, only in the dream she didn’t have her tattoo.

He then had another dream that he was still in prison, watching a guy get jumped in the courtyard during break.  Jack had lost count how many times he had seen that happen in real life.  But there was a big difference this time.  In his dream he could remember saying, “I wonder if he is okay.”