Losers never win,
That is what makes them a loser.
Losers never win,
That is what makes them a loser.
Not my President.
Not even my TV star,
NOT MY PRESIDENT.
Chelsea Manning, FREE!
Peltier, Mumia, Snowden?
Among so many.
Chapter 15 Gotcha, in the Cops and Robbers Game.
Jack had stopped listening long ago. It wasn’t a voluntary thing, he was just too captivated by the sight of her to care about anything else. After she had stopped reading she caught his gaze, which was locked on her eyes. They both smiled and kissed a kiss so passionate that it belongs in a movie. They damaged her mantle piece with the love they made.
Later, he sat on the edge of the bed, brooding. Jack never brooded in jail, but he brooded now, naked, sweaty, and coming down off an endorphin rush. His busty satisfied lover next to him sleeping and breathing heavy, happy breathes.
Jack truly did love Kate, and because he loved her he had never been more conflicted. Jack knew that the reason he hadn’t been caught and thrown back in jail so far was because he had managed to move from place to place. So now he had to make some choices. He had been here with Kate for three weeks now, he knew if he stayed much longer it wouldn’t be long before the cops would catch up with him.
“What do I do?” he thought. Does he risk getting caught and keep her at risk, this living gift that Jack had received after years of apathy and suppression. Or does he flee, leaving a note for his lover explaining why she may never see him again. Either way, he knew he would hurt Kate, and that was exactly what he was trying not to do.
He sat on the bed for two hours, trying to think of a way to elude the police and keep Kate. The more Jack thought about it the more he realized one way or the other Kate was going to find out that Jack was a fugitive. If he told her and she was okay with it, she would get locked up for aiding and abetting, and that was something Jack would never let happen. He would sooner take a bullet than let this woman go through the hells he did in prison. Especially a women’s prison, where she will be subject to the already sadistic guards.
He needed to clear his head and think. He put on some clothes and shoes and a beanie Kate had given him that she knitted herself. He kissed her cheek, then walked to the corner store to buy a pack of camels.
This turned out to be a mistake.
Jack got the cigarettes and left the 7 eleven with no confrontations, as he usually expected when going to a market at 3 at night. He lit one and smoked as he wandered the neighborhood and parked his ass on a bus bench, chain smoking and trying to figure things out.
Jack went through four cigarettes when he first heard the sirens, he thought nothing of them. He hadn’t been here that long, there was no way they could find him.
They did. When one of the six squad cars parading the area turned the corner and started speeding towards him. They braked suddenly by the bench, the red and blue sirens illuminating Jacks face from a fierce and distressful red to a chilling stunned blue in a taunting back and forth.
They blocked off the sidewalk with the car and before Jack could react or flea, another car came and blocked the sidewalk in the other direction. Jack had a cop car blocking either side of him and he now had four cops standing in front of him blocking him from fleeing across the street. Each one was strapped in kevlar and had their gun drawn. Within another the ten seconds the helicopter appeared and the light was right in Jack’s eyes. In a last attempt to keep his freedom, Jack blindly sprang to his right and managed to leap over the hood of the cop car and out paced the spot light momentarily. But he didn’t outpace the rookie’s taser which sent 50,000 volts into Jack’s body for what seemed like an unreasonable amount of time to take down an unarmed fugitive. When Jack came to he was in handcuffs, sitting on the curb with some schmuck in a suit and trench coat standing in front of him like some Law and Order SVU cliche.
I’m agent smith of the FBI, as you can guess you are under arrest Mr. Lewis.
Jack nodded. he read him his rights and then took in one of the most wanted men in America.
The news hit the media in less than an hour. While he was out Jack was just another transient to the world, now he that he was back in he was a celebrity, the entire world was captivated by the man who walked out of prison. Hashtags started trending for days, ones like #LongLiveLewis #JackAttack #WeLoveJackLewis he had become a folk hero of sorts to some. To others it was a chance to reveal their darker side of the internet once again with hashtags like #frylewis #LifeforLewis and the less creative #wehateJackLewis.
He used his phone call for Kate, he got the machine, she was dead asleep. Jack said he got arrested, gave her the station number, and said don’t bother trying to bail me out, they wouldn’t let it happen, there’s a lot I didn’t tell you, but if you give me a chance to explain… I will. I love you.
As he hung up he realized a bunch of the deputies were watching him and laughing at him. and mocking him “I love you..(grunt) yeah right”
“You’ll say anything to get people on your side won’t you.” were some of the jargon. This officer then shoved jack’s head, not enough to be called brutality, but just enough to remind Jack he was in and was powerless. That’s how the police operate in this world, they remind the citizens they are powerless. Jack knew this game, and he had played it his whole life. Who is the court going to believe the cop or the three time felon? The cops were going to remind Jack of that the entire time he would be in holding.
The other cells were full, so they threw Jack into the drunk tank but kept him under round the clock surveillance. It was futile effort Jack just sat there hanging his head until Kate arrived. When she saw him she leaped to the cell door and hugged him and kissed him. She asked what happened before Jack could explain a cop had his baton between the two and he pulled Kate just out of arm’s length.
“At least two feet from the bar Miss.” jack noticed when the guard started pulling Kate away with his arm his hand noticeably brushed Kate’s breast. Kate noticed it, and Jack definitely noticed it. And the deputy definitely confirmed it as he smiled small but smugly as he walked away.
Later this cop would be sorry. Jack made sure of that, the next time he came to tauntack he had a surprise for him.
But now he had to focus, Jack didn’t hesitate, he wanted this to be as quick and painless as it could be. So Jack just spilled the beans, he told Kate everything; the escape, the wandering, Nancy, the head wounds, the crippled hand, Alice and the sorority girl, all of it.
Kate was speechless for five minutes, then when she got the chance as the guard wasn’t looking planted long wet kiss on Jack’s lips. “Let me know when the arraignment begins. I’m there with you the whole way. I love you.”
“I love you too” jack said and meant it. He never knew one could fall in love in such a short period of time, but he did.
Kate left, confident she could help Jack in someway, unaware she had helped Jack in the best of ways. Her presence in his life had given him something to live for, something to fight for.
Jack was left desperate for more of her company, this look was blatant on his face, and it drew the cop who just sexually harassed Kate over. He had some new material to taunt Jack and was about to use it. Jack hadn’t been in there for twenty four hours and already sixteen different cops have taunted him right in front of the holding cell door. This time the pervert cop got greedy, and opened the cell door and stepped in and out and in and out. “Look at me” he teased “ I can come and go as I please, just like a certain Mister Jack Lewis thinks he can. I can just waltz out of here and visit my friends and go and have sex with my girlfriend any time I want and wait, why don’t you too?” He kept the door open and stood aside while he raised his palm directing Jack like he was free to go, sarcastically of course, but the cop finally made a mistake he did this standing inside the cell. The three drunks in the tank made a leap for the door but were immediately clotheslined by the cop. “not you drunkies. Come on Lewis. go for it.” Jack hated it when he was addressed by his last name; this was the final straw. Before the cop could react Jack grabbed his outreached arm, twisted it like a motorcycle handle, then brought it down with all it’s gravity onto his knee. The bone began to stick out through the flesh as the elbow was now bending the wrong way, the guard yelped with pain, and Jack used the cops weight to chuck him on the ground, smacking the back of his head on the concrete floor causing a nice concussion He grabbed the cell keys and the gun. He stepped out and slammed the door and locked it, and told the drunks to “go nuts.”
The cops injuries were so bad he was given early retirement.
Jack made it out into the hall in a sprint but was once again stopped by some offensively high number of volts that leaped out from behind and bit him in the back.
Chapter 12 I’m With The Band
The next morning they all awoke one by one at the early hour of dawn. They all rubbed their twinging necks and backs and gave each other shit for being so stupid for sleeping sitting up on the couches, especially these couches which they found in a scrap heap, and had hints of scabies when they first got them and cleaned them.
They recovered from their twinges with whiskey and a hearty breakfast, as well as a hash pipe session that Seth was so kind to initiate. Jack asked what the plans were and Conner responded, “Well, we have practice today at five to eight. Before and after that we’re free, but before practice I’m gonna take a nap.”
“You know what we should do today,” said Hal, “role a fat joint, and I mean cigar sized, and we go to the forrest, drink some beers and have some fun.”
After about forty five minutes of rolling joints, packing food, and arguing for shotgun, they shipped off in what was an hour long drive into where Jack had no idea, it was some transcendent place in the Cascades. The more they went on these nameless freeways and roads that went deeper and deeper into the trees and fields the more Jack was getting lost in the awe of the sights before him. With every turn, with every mile came more and more beautiful blue sky lines dotted with puffs of white and the ground was just a bloom with the most vibrant greens, browns, and reds. The almost neon technicolor wildflowers sprung from the hills and dotted the green horizon. Jack had never seen anything so beautiful, so worthy of awe, in his entire life.
They eventually reached some huge park that Jack had never heard of, it was a popular local spot. After they parked the group carried their blankets, food, and drugs deep into the forest on some painful yet pristine path. Eventually settling on a spot deep in the woods far away from everyone, right next to a small lake surrounded by a grove of trees like a white picket fence, protecting our friends from the harms of the outside world.
They began their day. Joints were lit and the boys talked, some vented about their girl troubles, Hal went on tangents about the need for music and art in society, while Conner strummed a small acoustic guitar, and Jack just got high and listened. He was paying attention to what his new friends were saying and taking all of their words and perspectives truly to heart. However, he wasn’t in the conversation; he was not even looking at them when they passed him the joint. He was still lost in the awe that was before him; the shimmer of the lake, and the shine of the sun with its sweet reflection on the clouds in the sky, along with the circle and the bounty of the trees before him. Jack couldn’t help losing himself in it for some reason.
Jack was amazed and lost in the beauty before him. It wasn’t until Hal said something that he was shaken out of his nature coma.
“JACK!” yelped Hal with a smile. “You good over there bro? You haven’t said anything for a while.”
“I’m fine,” Jack replied. “Just, you know…” Jack was too stoned to think of an eloquent response.
“Just lost in the forest, huh?” Hal completed with a smile and without hesitation.
Jack nodded, “Yeah. I don’t know why, it’s just so..”
“I know why!” Hal interjected again. “It’s because its’ the brain kicking in your natural instincts. Our brains are so caught up in the artificial world we feel we need to survive we ignore the states of emotions we get just by coming out of the artificial. Just by coming out here you’re just getting a taste of what prehistoric man saw and experienced. You’re getting a taste of what the Natives saw before we stole their land and you’re feeling what the first pioneers must have felt when they saw the world beyond what they were used to. Now anyone could say these aren’t natural instincts, these are romantic fairy tales, that being awe struck isn’t a natural instinct but just psychological romanticism.
“But they are wrong. All our emotions, are somehow in-tuned to some animal instinct we have. Our awe of nature is our instinct of reflection on the self and the world. It’s through this reflection that we are able to see who and what we really are and can be the more wiser for it.
“It was the awe and beauty that ancient man felt that inspired him to create song and paint on walls, which are the things that make life worth living. Now some say that still isn’t natural and we don’t need those things, but again they are wrong. If it wasn’t for our songs and our art and these outlets, these entertainments, then we would be just like every other animal. That’s what makes humans so cool, we not only have animal instincts but our instincts also become both analytical and psychological while still standing in the romantic.” Hal paused for a minute and tried to remember what he was originally talking about. His speech returned to its normal speed when he said, “So I know why you felt awe struck.”
Jack didn’t say much in response. he just smiled nodded, he said that it made sense, and passed Hal the joint.
The hours passed, Jack and the others had become incredibly stoned, they were blotchy and red from the sun, and were out of food. As the sun slipped away and the sky began slipping to its tri-colored beautiful warning sign of the night, they shipped off and returned home.
Once back, Seth gathered his things and left to go back to his place. He said his goodbyes to Conner, Hal, Jason, and Jack and promised to be back for practice the next day. Jason left soon after.
Once Seth and Jason were gone, Conner got a big box of Pizza Bagels and heated them up while Hal put on a movie. Conner then passed out beers and they sat and passed the hours of the night once again.
“When’s your guys gig?” asked Jack when he remembered.
“In two more days, at 10:30 at some house party.” said Conner. “It should be pretty awesome. Tons of beer, tons of girls, you know just a fun time and a hopefully good show.”
“It will be good,” said Hal with his usual enthusiasm. “We got lasers and bubbles!”
The days passed in the manner that Jack had become accustomed, in a smoke filled haze. After hours and hours of pot smoking and cartoon watching, the day of the gig came. They all left for the party, and Jack acted as sort of a roadie. He helped them set up and enjoyed the benefits of telling the passers by at the party he was with the band.
The crowd grew and built in mass. Soon the house was full to burst with people like a 19th century ship on the Atlantic filled with East European immigrants. Jack was front and center when the show began, first with a cover of the Red Hot Chili peppers’ “Can’t Stop.” It was the minute the intro peaked with the guitar solo that she walked in.
Jack was frozen stiff. Jack had never seen anyone so beautiful, so original, and so soft of an air. Thanks to a stroke of luck, her eyes caught his, and both looked away with a smile, and both drifted closer and closer to each other as the band played their set. Eventually they met, and Jack extended his hand.
“What’s your name?” he yelled over the deafening guitars and drums.
“Kate.” She said with that sweet auburn smile that hypnotized Jack.
“I’m Jack,” he responded, searching for the next thing to say.
“You have a very strong grip.” Kate said to him. Both couldn’t help but giggle at how awkward and dorky the other felt.
The night carried on with the most minimal and awkward of back and forths between the two, but one thing was desperately obvious. The two were already falling in love with each other.
Jack didn’t want to believe it, but he did. He didn’t know what it was, but there was something about this girl. The more time he spent next to Kate, dancing with her, talking with her, the more he couldn’t bare the idea of being apart from her. He wished the music wouldn’t stop and that this party would never end. Jack had never felt like this before in his life. The warmth of her body as he held her close sent a sensational tingle up his spine. He didn’t want her to leave, he did not want to let her go.
Soon the gig ended, and the party slowly dispersed, but they still held each other close and still talked. On the surface it seemed like idle chit chat. Yet Conner and Hal could see in Jack’s eyes that he was falling for Kate, and decided to help him seal the deal.
“Hey Jack,” said Hal, “I see you met our friend Kate.”
“I did. She was telling me she’s learning to be a nurse.” Jack replied.
“And I was about to ask Jack about his tattoo,” added Kate, much to Jack’s despair.
Kate saw the frozen look of despair on Jack’s face and she knew that it was her last comment that made it happen. But it confused her to no end.
“What’s wrong?” She asked.
“I didn’t want to tell you so soon. The barcode is a prison tattoo. They’re my numbers from when I was in Leavenworth.” Jack, for the first time, felt pure unadulterated shame when he had to say that, the only thing Jack was ashamed of before this was trying to tell his dad he loved him when he was five, and his dad laughed and beat him and called him a faggot.
Jack couldn’t even look her in the eye when he said it. Hal was so uncomfortable he just slipped away. But Kate only smiled, she lifted Jack’s chin up with her fingers, and led his face toward hers.
They kissed, and for the first time in his whole life, Jack let his guard down, and he let the warmth of the woman he loved into his life.
Chapter 11 Portlandians
On the third day, the rain had not stopped, and Jack rose that morning in such a hungover stupor that he felt like he was rising from the dead. He stumbled drunkenly into the bathroom and emptied his water-ballooned bladder. He was groggy, he didn’t realize how strong those ales Nancy drank were.
Jack could tell that the place was empty, Nancy was nowhere to be found. Jack thought nothing of it and proceeded to load bong hits. Nancy returned fifteen minutes later with another twelve pack of beer and a few groceries, soaked from the storm still raging outside.
“We are in luck,” said Nancy.
“Why is that?” asked Jack.
“I just cashed my last check, and now I got hella beer money.” Nancy chuckled and lit a cigarette. He gave one to Jack along with a beer. Jack reluctantly accepted, remembering it was blasphemy in his world to pass a free drink.
They resumed their past activities of shit talking trash tv while getting drunk and stoned. Until after a loud crash of lightning and thunder, when the entire house went black.
“Ah fuck!” said Nancy with a chuckle, which made it hard to tell if he was seriously upset or not.
“Well let’s just drink and smoke.” Jack proposed.
They continued and jabbered on to twiddle the hours. This time Nancy went on a tirade about how it’s unconstitutional to pay taxes, which didn’t sound quite right to Jack, but he decided not to challenge it. He was not in the mood for a debate; he didn’t care if he was right or not. Jack liked Nancy, and he wasn’t about to instigate conflict by challenging his views.
The conversation then shifted to Nancy giving a thirty minute tirade about how stupid twitter was, and it ended with Jack admitting he had no clue what twitter was. Nancy explained it to him as “stalking made easy.” Then asked if he hadn’t heard about prisoners sneaking in phones where he got locked up.
“All the time,” Jack admitted.
“That’s one of the things they do with them, they actually updated their facebooks and twitters with shit like, ‘Oh shit some nigga just got shanked and shit like that.’” Nancy explained. “Charles Manson actually just got in trouble for that, but it makes me wonder how the fuck he got a cell phone. I mean a guy like him has to be pretty hard to get to.”
Jack pointed out that Manson did have a wife who visits him, and Nancy and him both had a laugh about how desperate that bitch must have been. Then they both cringed a little at how crazy the bitch must be.
The conversation shifted back to an explanation of twitter. Which led to a conversation about Facebook, which Nancy also hated, and from Facebook trends in general. Which lead to a conversation about dub-step. Jack admitted had no idea what it was, and Nancy immediately told him, “Good, it’s the worst trend in music and it’s an embarrassment to guys like you and me who don’t waste our time when we get fucked up. All dub-step is, is techno on ecstasy and acid. It sucks. It is the shittiest music genre ever. It’s worse than country, hell with country you have to at least have enough intellect to come up with lyrics, shitty though they may be. But with dub-step all you need is a mix-table and a laptop, hell you don’t even need the fucking mix table. All you need to make dub-step is a laptop, mainly because any dub-step song you make no matter what you use sounds the fucking same. The people who make dub-step don’t think so, they think they’re being fucking artists, and they get all pompous and bull-shitty about it. Now every jerk off with a PC can “make music” while spanking it to Bree Olsen and then go around calling himself a musician. It pisses me OFF!”
Jack had seen people in his cell block get stabbed, he heard them getting raped during quiet hours, and he had seen his father beat his mother to the point of death. None of those things scared Jack anymore. This reaction of Nancy’s, scared the living piss out of him, but like usual, he kept his composure and all he did was nod, and reply with, “I know what you mean.”
The time passed, Jack and Nancy passed the hours by drinking more beer, smoking more pot, and swapping stories. Jack told Nancy about meeting Leonard Peltier and how many shankings he had witnessed, 75, and Nancy told him about countless nights of blurred drunken escapades that generally involved either a sardonic take on satanism or some anti societal bias.
The storm passed the next day. Jack resolved it was time to leave his friend and carry on. Around noon they shared one last beer and bong rip, and they parted ways. As he walked away Nancy yelled out, “Remember you’re out and you can stay out. I know your girlfriend Bubba will miss you, but you’re a good guy, you don’t belong in jail.”
Jack said his thanks as he walked away, he felt bad he didn’t show more emotion because that was actually one of the nicest things anyone had said to him.
“A little kindness from a stranger can go a long way.” Jack resolved to himself. He knew he would miss Nancy just as much as he missed Fiona, Alex, and Kobe. He wondered if they ever thought about him, but soon resolved that he didn’t care.
“I don’t need people,” Jack always told himself, “I didn’t need them in prison and I don’t need them now.” Jack was very much in denial in regards to these matters. Like anyone in denial he knew he was, but still like everyone of them he told himself he didn’t care.
It was immediately after he had this thought that a homeless thug came up from behind and bashed him in the head, and robbed him blind.
Jack didn’t wake up for nearly two days, when he woke up he had no shoes and no cash, not even his books. Blood covered half of his face, some of it still wet and other parts drying to a deep red crust. He was slumped in front of a free clinic, according to a homeless man, he got dumped in front of the free clinic when he was taken to a hospital and it was found he had no insurance. They didn’t notice he was also an escaped felon.
Jack got his wound sewn shut after a three hour wait. He wandered the streets circling block upon block, his beard dirty and stained with dried crusty blood, lost in a confused amnesia like daze. For the first time in years Jack felt alone, scared desperate, and confused. He was like a three year old lost in the supermarket looking for his mom. He was clutching his dirty hobo hair on the verge of tears, lost in fear and anxiety. As soon as the world started to spin, Jack passed out again.
Every few hours Jack would open his eyes, only for few seconds, and then suddenly they would close again. Every time he opened them he saw something different. First he saw what looked like the shadows of humans surrounding him. Then he felt like he was being carried, moved , as if he was flying, he opened his eyes only to a bright beam of sun behind a form sitting next to him. He still felt like he was flying.
He didn’t wake up until the next day. It was to the smell and sizzle of fresh bacon. He awoke with a start. Could it be he was back with his college friends?
No, he wasn’t. He immediately realized thathe was not in a beachfront house, but an apartment, that looked like it was decorated by Tommy Chong and the Grateful Dead. Tapestries with celtic knots and tie dye covered the windows. Hendrix, Morrison, and Zeppelin posters decorated the rooms. The person cooking in the kitchen was some hipster in a thrift store sweater, fitted jeans and a beanie with a strand of hair sticking out over one eye. At the table was a pale kid with brown short hair and a lime green sweatshirt with the faded logo of some college no one’s ever heard of, he was strumming a baby blue nylon string guitar and singing about things he saw around the room. “Lamp, Lamp, Oh Oh I looovve Lamp.” He stopped when he noticed Jack coming to.
“He’s awake.” he told the guy in the beanie cheerfully.
The man cooking turned around to show he had a thin beard and glasses. He smiled along with his friend at the table. “Good, he looks way better.”
“Yeah he’ll be alright,” replied the guitarist.
“Where am I?” Jack asked still delirious from his pulsating brain.
“You’re in our apartment, we found you lying on the sidewalk with that bump on your head and that mutilated hand of yours and we thought “Wow, this guy needs help,” said the guy with the guitar.
“We were going to take you to a hospital but a guy lying knocked out outside of a free clinic doesn’t seem think you would have insurance,” said the guy in the beanie. “So we brought you here, did what we could for your wounds, you know, cleaned them and treated them with this balm.”
“Then we laid you down on the couch. You’ve been out for almost a day,” completed the guitarist. “I’m Hal, and this is Conner.”
“Nice to meet you.” Jack said, “I’m Jack. Thank you, that was an incredibly nice thing of you to do.” He was amazed, that was probably the nicest thing anyone had done for him, up to this point at least. These two had such a happy friendly air that Jack couldn’t help but feel happy along with them despite his pain, which was thankfully starting to die away.
“How are you feeling?” asked Conner.
“I’m feeling better, thank you.” Jack replied.
“So what’s your story stranger?” asked Hal after a dramatic strum. “How did you get all these wounds if you don’t mind me asking?”
Jack explained to them about the gash on his head and how the store clerk mutilated his palm. There only response was “Damn that’s fucked up,” followed by a comical tirade by Hal about how bad guns are.
Jack sat down at the table as Conner served the breakfast and joined them. Jack also explained that he was homeless because he was an ex convict, and about his past thefts. Hal sympathized. “I was put on probation for Opium possession when I was in college.”
“Bummer,” was Jack’s reply. Jack remembered when he was first put on probation when he was seventeen. Some bitch in school lied and told the cops he held a knife to her throat. Jack got two years probation and had to see a counselor. He faked his way through therapy then got busted again.
Jack enjoyed the company of these two. They had the air of living cartoon characters who were only concerned with having fun. Through their talks they revealed to Jack that they were musicians in a band. The had been working a lot of local gigs for the last couple of years, to the point where they can even make a decent living off of it. They had a few demos recorded but no official album. “Our dream is to get a record deal,” said Conner.
“We are getting there,” added Hal. “Our gigs are getting bigger and bigger and a lot of people follow our shows. So we already have fans.”
“We are going to be having practice soon if you want to hang out and listen,” said Conner. “The other members should be here around three.”
“I’m down.” said Jack, he felt the least he could do for these guys was listen to their music after they took him out of the cold, fed him, and treated his wounds.
The two smiled and were happy to have someone to play for. They spent the morning smoking a joint and playing Super Smash Brothers, waiting for the rest of the band to show up. The other two members showed up and introduced themselves. One was a long haired hippie named Seth, who Jack decided he liked immediately because he had as friendly of an air as Hal and Conner. The other guy, was Jason, a non pot smoker but avid drinker who showed up with two bottles of whiskey for everyone.
The band got their stuff together and started playing. They rehearsed their songs and covers, then worked on a new song for an hour or so. Jack enjoyed their sound, they sounded like a return to the rock n roll of CCR in an indie band with synthesizers added to the mix. Jason was a fantastic drummer, and Seth’s bass was perfect with Conner’s vocals and his guitar. From song to song, Hal jumped from a drum to a keyboard to a rhythm guitar, and he did it with such ease that Jack was impressed. When their practice was finished Jack gave them a genuine applause and praise.
“We have a gig in a few nights if you want to come?” said Seth.
“I’d love to.” Jack said
After the rehearsal, Jack spent the hours smoking with the members of the band and conversing. Jason didn’t partake but he stayed and hung out while serving everyone whiskey. While they got stoned, Seth and Conner began doing some half baked philosophy.
“You see I don’t think you can say humankind is good or evil,” said Conner as he toked up. “I think that people are what their surroundings make them and what they choose to be. You know, like good and evil aren’t really real things”
“That’s not a hundred percent accurate,” interjected Jack, which surprised no one but Jack, he was never one for philosophy. “I’ll agree that humans are not intrinsically or naturally one way or another, but good and evil are very real things. For there to be people who are nice decent and good there has to be people who are pure scum. I’ve been in Jail for a long time, I’ve seen both the most disgusting scum ridden piece of shit, and I’ve seen decent guys who just got a bad stroke of luck. It’s half luck, half effort when it comes to making your own world or defining who you are. But good and evil are very real.”
“Yeah but what defines good or evil?” said Hal, “Who’s to say what is good or evil?”
“Evil is the unnecessary harm of living things. Harm may be necessary at times, but people who profit or amuse or relish in the suffering and pain of others are evil. I’ve seen these people. I can say they were evil. As for who creates the written in stone definition of the two, that’s completely up to the individual. I said good and evil were real but I never said they were not relative.”
Jack was shocked at himself. That was the most eloquent and intelligent thing he had ever said. The others nodded their heads and mulled it over, then Hal suddenly changed the topic to opium laws and Andy Warhol.
Jack didn’t talk for a while after that. He was confused, awe struck even. He couldn’t figure out how a schmuck ex con like him, who didn’t even show up for most of his schooling, put together such an intelligent sounding thought. Then he realized, it was the reading and the travel. He was finally starting to see a world beyond that which he knew.
The gentlemen got more and more stoned or drunk until they were basically glued to their couches. They eventually passed out on the couches slumped in manners that would destroy their backs and necks the next day.
Chapter 10 Nancy
Jack walked and walked, depleted of memory or energy. He felt weak, he needed food and needed it fast. He was glad to find water fountains so he could drown his dehydration. Jack hadn’t been in so much pain in years. So devoid of energy and strength, he felt open and exposed, as if anyone could get him at any time if they wanted to, and it was true. Any one could get him at this time, Jack was surprised that nobody tried. Then again they already had.
Jack eventually found a mom and pop liquor store. He walked out with his bags as full as if he had just gone grocery shopping.
He walked up half the block before the pop from the store, a sixty something Vietnam vet, fired and reloaded a shot from a small handgun, grazing Jack’s palm, taking out a healthy sized chunck. Jack looked back and was lucky the old coots eyesight was failing him because he just dodged another bullet meant for his stomach, the last bullet was supposed to go into Jack’s spine.
Jack easily outran the bastard but now became aware of the sound of sirens behind him. Jack thought the sound was coming from at least two blocks behind, and he saw a dumpster ten feet ahead. He timed it just right and laid low in the dumpster as he heard the sirens pass. He didn’t hesitate to see how far they were. He just grabbed his stuff and went in the opposite direction of the old coot and the cops. His palm smeared blood on all his clothes and a big red deformed animal print was left all over the dumpster.
The cops hunting Jack would never find it. They still thought Jack was in Boise.
Jack ran grasping his palm in horrific pain. He took out the pimp’s shirt from his back back and tore a long thin strand of its fabric and wrapped it as tightly as he could around his hand. He choked off the bleeding, but couldn’t move a single finger except his thumb. He could actually see the gap in his palm and see the pool of blood filling it in. Jack wondered what to do, and he resolved to get the hell out of the city as soon as he could.
Jack got out of Portland in a matter of hours and before the day was over, he had entered Washington state. Jack decided to continue his trek north, as far north as he could go. Jack would do what it takes, but he resolved he would start a new trek in Canada. It was far from the authorities and he could fight extradition easily. he wasn’t Leonard Peltier after all, what do the cops have to gain by putting one schmuck like him back into some already over crowded and diseased infested prison.
Cops only had the bragging rights to gain, saying they brought in a dangerous, escaped convict. It was all they had to gain by putting Jack back in, and it was all they wanted. It was all the reason they needed.
Some of the guards at Leavenworth even hoped they would bring him back there, and in their hopes were already preparing their taunts and teases for the bugger. One was going to take Jack’s chains off and leave the front door open and pretend he didn’t have his gun.Then if the bugger made a move for it he would bash his brains into the depths of his bowels.
That guard had a heart attack and died the same day he had the idea.
Another was going to dangle keys in front of Jacks cage like a game of keep away in an elementary school play yard.
Jack was completely oblivious about the fact that the law was going insane trying to bring him in. The media hadn’t even mentioned the story since Jack first walked out which Jack also hadn’t realized it but that was six months ago. It had been a whole six months since he saw Kobe Alex and Fiona, he missed them. Especially the warmth of their home.
He decided to camp in a clearing under the stars when his energy was no more. When he lied down to go to sleep, he could not help but find it a little funny that after he might have knocked up a girl he got shot in his hand.
By the time Jack reached Seattle he had finished Ivanhoe and was now beginning The Art of War. He had been moneyless for days and had stolen every drop of food and alcohol he had when he ran out of goods from the old coot’s store. The palm caused Jack horrific pain daily, yet with almost everything else Jack saw, he didn’t care. He honestly couldn’t care less about the safety and cleanliness of his wound, he was more concerned with the lessons to be taught by Sun Tzu.
Jack still had no use of his hand except his thumb, but he still managed to get by alright. The blood had thickened into an almost perfect circle, and had solidified as if Jacks palm had a big red circle in the middle of it creasing into the bottom edge of his pinky. The streaks and lines on his gushy circle looked like a cross hairs of a sniper rifle.
Jack slumped in an alley behind a pizza shop, and stuck his nose in his books, but he was interrupted by the rain. It started to come down in bucket sized drops, and the wind blew harsh like a tempist storm. Jack consented to sit in the pizza place until they kicked him out. He knew that since he couldn’t buy a slice they wouldn’t let him stay too long, but Jack just wanted to be out of the rain. Now he started to miss his old friends even more.
He sat in the farthest corner of the parlor, a 21 year old covered in tattoos came from around the counter and asked if there was anything he could get him. Jack told him he didn’t have any money and just wanted to get out of the rain. The obvious death rocker told him it was cool, and he understood. He told Jack he could stay as long as he needed, or until they have a rush and needed the table.
Jack thanked the guy and returned to reading. “The man’s generousity definitly conflicted with the bloody sea creatures and deformed mutants he had tattooed on his arms,” though Jack.
Ten minutes later another person, much older and probably the owner, came up to Jack asking the same question, but in a much more forceful irritated and rude manner. Jack told him the same story, and the man asked him to leave. Jack told him the other guy told him it was cool. The man asked to be excused for a second.
In the back room he could hear them screaming and shouting.
“ITS NOT YOUR FUCKING RESTAURANT ITS MINE. YOU GOT IT?” the boss screamed.
“FUCK YOU,” screamed the tattooed employee. He continued knowing he was definitely fired after that outburst. “HE’S JUST A BUM TRYING TO STAY OUT OF THE RAIN. WHAT THE FUCK AM I SUPPOSED TO DO THROW HIM OUT ON THE STREETS?”
“YES!” screamed the owner back, soon following it up with a yelp of pain, a gurgling of blood, and a crash which was then followed by benign yelps of, “PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD JUST GET THE HELL OUT!”
Jack soon saw the employee storm out and throw his apron on to the counter. He put on his leather jacket and walked out into the rain. Jack followed after him.
“THANKS.” Jack cried out sincerely.
The tattooed death rocker had let his hair down since leaving, revealing curly untamed Tarzan locks. His combat boots were stained with paint, and like the rest of his clothes they were black. He puffed away at his cigarette under a shoddy umbrella as he turned to face Jack.
“No problem!” he yelled over the traffic and wind. “Don’t trip, it ain’t your fault, this was just a long time coming.”
After a brief pause the man made Jack an offer he couldn’t refuse. “You wanna come smoke some pot!”
Jack jumped on the opportunity and followed the man up four blocks to a townhouse that reeked of pale ales and pot. When Jack stepped through the door it was like being back in Santa Monica, only with one other person in the house.
“I’m Jack by the way.” Jack said as they stepped through the door.
“Nancy, and if you make a joke about that I’m going to punch you in your crotch.” He replied soon following it with a vibrant smile and chuckle.
“It’s cool,” said Jack, “I’ve been to the pen so I’ve heard weirder names. Trust me.”
“Oh,” he said following it with another chuckle, “No shit? Well, whatever dude. We’ve all had a run in with the law. Do want a beer?”
Nancy retreated and soon returned with two large pale ales. “Yeah a couple of these fuckers, and they’ll put me in my place, and its a good place.”
They both chuckled and drank their beer, as they talked Nancy packed and lit a bowl in his bong.
Jack did think it was odd that a man with bloody skeleton tattoos and psychedelic sleeves would go by the name Nancy. But Jack was fairly open minded for your self educated ex con. The guy could be named Pinky Mcgee and Jack wouldn’t have cared.
Nancy was different. He had the look of a death metal Marilyn Manson worshiper but the air of a friendly and good natured person.
Then the conversation somehow shifted to Charles Manson, apparently although he thought he was a horrible person, Nancy admitted that Manson’s writing Helter Skelter was in some aspects true and should be given credit where credit was due. “I mean he was right about a lot of shit, I mean, yeah, he’s responsible for killing innocent people and almost killing a president, but he was right about shit, like how everything is going to have to be destroyed before it can be rebuilt.”
Jack didn’t quite agree with what Nancy was saying, but he consented to give Helter Skelter a read. He was slightly irritated over how he didn’t agree with what Nancy said about Manson, but Jack couldn’t think of anything to counter or prove him wrong. He knew he was wrong but he could not figure out how to explain why, as with almost any other intellectual debate Jack had ever had remote involvement in.
After Jack was drunk on pale ale and high on Nancy’s home grown, Jack pardoned himself and said he did not want to be a mooch and consented to leave. Nancy assured him it was no problem, and he extended an offer of his couch for a couple of nights. “This storm is supposed to last half the week, I couldn’t just turn someone out into this weather, even if I knew them or not. I mean I trust you. You’re not like a baby fucker or creeper,or anything like that right?” Nancy followed it with his usual chuckle to reassure Jack that he wasn’t being serious, and it was just his twisted sense of humor.
Jack appreciated it. Jack had developed a twisted sense of humor since prison, and he was glad someone else had one two. Jack had to admit, Nancy was brutal at times, but it was funny none the less.
Jack accepted and slept on the couch, both men had passed out into comas by seven, and had awoken by nine. Jack arose to Nancy stewing a big can of baked beans over his stove.
“Just in time,” said Nancy, grab a plate and a coffee, and there’s some bread on the table.
Jack sat down and helped himself to a slice of the white bread on the table and put another on his plate. He then sat down as Nancy poured two big scoops onto both of the plates. They ate quietly as the storm outside raged.
“I appreciate you taking me in dude,” said Jack after they had finished their beans and started nursing the coffee. “I mean most people are less than open to..”
Nancy interrupted him with his palm and a shake of his head, “Don’t worry about it dude. When all you’re trying to do is live your life, you shouldn’t be fucked just for that. It’s super messed up that I actually had to fight my boss over shit like keeping someone from catching pneumonia or some shit like that. I mean… what was I supposed to do be a dick and kick you out into the storm?” He answered his own question with another chuckle. “Hell no.”
Jack nodded in complete agreement. After the meal they washed it down with some more pale ales and bong rips. Then Nancy put on a copy of the Big Lewbowski. Jack had never seen it before and loved it. He loved John Goodman’s character, and knew he was going to quote him more than once. “YOU’RE ENTERING A WORLD OF PAIN!”
“Classic,” thought Jack.
The two stayed up for a few more hours watching basic network shows as Nancy made fun of each sitcom and commercial.
“What moron would need that!”
“Isn’t it funny that someone can be as much of dick like Charlie Sheen, and they get ridiculously paid just for acting to a bad laugh track?”
“Why the fuck did Jim Belushi’s brother get a show again?”
All of which were followed by Nancy’s usual chuckle and smile. All of which Jack agreed with as well and thought were funny.
Eventually Nancy couldn’t help but ask. “So what happened to your palm there,” he took the voice of a crotchety old mining prospector “Ol buddy.”
Jack made up some story about being caught in the middle of some gang crossfire and was too poor to get health insurance.
Nancy sympathized, and said he didn’t have insurance either.
As the hours of the night passed, Nancy retreated back to bed, and Jack was left awake in the weed filled living room, furnished with an old leather couch and milk crates. He sat on the couch until the start of dawn with his nose in a copy of Ivanhoe and Macbeth.
Jack was starting to think that Shakespeare was his favorite.
He slept for a few hours. He was awoken once again to the sound of sizzling beans and bubbling coffee. The rain still pounded outside, so Jack and his new friend were stranded for another day. It consisted of downing pale ales and of Nancy giving an estate lecture on Rembrandt and Marcel Duchamp. It also consisted of Nancy’s explanations of why he hated Aretha Franklin and Chevy Chase. Jack defended them, not entirely sure why seeing how he wasn’t a die hard fan of either, but he didn’t dislike them.
They mixed their pale ales and conversations with more bad television and Weed.
“I just thought of something,” said Jack. “That Helter Skelter book, you got a copy around here?”
“Oh yeah.” said Nancy as he finished his sixth beer.
“I don’t suppose you got a copy I could borrow, at least for my time here?” Jack asked, figuring he could probably read through the thing in a night or two.
But Nancy ecstatically responded, “Actually I got an extra you can have.”
Before Jack could even officially accept Nancy had already gone back to his room and reemerged with a little black book with red letters and handed it to Jack.
“Thanks,” Jack said nervously.
Jack was interested in the perspective of another convict, but he did have the feeling it wouldn’t be as insightful as Hamlet, or Moby Dick.
“No problem,” replied Nancy, happy to share something he enjoyed with someone else who wasn’t scorning him, or thinking he was insane for reading a book by Charles Manson. Jack could appreciate Nancy’s enthusiasm, he could tell other people didn’t.
“Yeah, my mom gave me a copy for my birthday last year, but I already had a copy so you can have this one,” continued Nancy as he swung back more beer stumbling back into his seat and returning his attention to the rerun of Two and a Half Men. Then he made a smart ass comment about a tampon commercial.
“They should have Carlie Sheen do one of those ads, he’d be perfect especially if they put them in during his show. Think about it.”
Jack chuckled as he took another bong rip, grateful to finally be sharing someone’s company again.