PSEUDO SOPRANO – SHORT STORY

13 Feb

 

The cushions molded around him as Jake grabbed his beer and sank into the couch in one easy practiced movement. Another day another dollar – hopefully tomorrow would be the same. The handyman business had really taken off and after three years of hard graft he’d managed to establish a reliable and lucrative clientele. It was peanuts by giant corporation standards – just Jake, his truck, and his fifteen year old son occasionally accompanying him on weekends.

It was super low tech, making for quick decisions and easy money. Living on a side of town where retirees outnumbered the working stiffs there was a bundle to be made. Jake enjoyed his job;  everyday was different.

He had seen it all from the good to the bad to the extremely ugly. That was the beauty of being a handy-man you got to become a professional sneak. Poking around people’s homes, checking out their pictures, record collections and everything else they chose to leave out. Decorum and modesty was anathema to most of the paying public. He had come across the most personal of items lying around bedrooms and bathrooms. From the innocuous vaginal dryness creams and male-enhancement pills to the very latest in electronic gadgetry and vacuum pleasuring devices. He had even had the dubious pleasure of making the acquaintance of several personal inflatable companions; nothing surprised him anymore.

 

 

It didn’t matter, money was money, and strangely enough he had no aversion to any delinquent or pervert that was prepared to write him a check or fork over the ready cash.

The truck was unloaded and garaged, the soiled rags from the day’s labors tumbling in the wash machine in preparation for tomorrow. It was time for a little relaxation; some well deserved Jake-time. He flicked a switch on the remote and the DVD sprang into life. One more manipulation and it whirred into action. He was watching the latest DVD selection from HBO, some mob series about a family in New Jersey. Good stuff, lots of tits and stiffs, just the way he liked it. Jake had spent hours living vicariously as a mobster, to the extent where his ever later bed times were causing issues. Getting out of bed was increasingly problematic. Something had to give and usually it was the alarm clock. A quick bitch-slap and the screaming demon could be silenced at least for another five precious minutes.

 

 

He’d utilized every excuse under the sun to explain away his tardiness to his customers. Tall tales of errant children, sick daughters, punctured tires and trucks that failed to start. They all displayed the same faux sympathy, reassuring him that it really didn’t matter, that they hoped all would be well and that they were just glad to see him.

 Better late than never?

They loved Jake, he’d been doing their houses for ever, had strongly recommended his services to their neighbors. He smiled gratefully, accepted their contrition, picked up his tool box and went about his business.

The mobster series was fantastic, well filmed, well dialogued and totally believable. The lead character a bastard, but a lovable bastard. He exuded a level of psychopathic empathy which made him more approachable than your average mob boss. Of course he had to enforce his territory, make sure that his goons were performing to his satisfaction when dealing out the necessary violence however wasn’t that the same for any management position? The position of Godfather clearly demanded respect, and to be honest, Jake thought that the hours and the benefits didn’t look so bad. Especially when compared to some career choices he could think of.

 

 

The large screen TV was burning images into his brain, the message of violence and extortion laid down for subconscious posterity. Thousands of neuron connections created with every episode he watched. Frequently, especially after a three-client day, he would catch himself dozing off halfway through the show. His mind switching from the pseudo reality of the living room to the manifest depths of dreams where wildest fantasies were played out in technicolored, surreal brilliance. He found himself cramming 9mm shells into chrome plated pistols, beating delinquent debtors, strangling made-men and generally pursuing the life, liberty, and happiness of the average gangster. The dreams were so real he would wake up at night in cold sweats, the covers in disarray, staring around the room to see if he was being watched or followed. Of course he wasn’t and so drifted off to sleep again, only to reencounter the darker side of the New Jersey population.

 

 

One particular episode involved the mob boss shaking down an Indian restaurant. There he sat, suited and booted surrounded by hundred dollar bills and multi-limbed goddesses, serenaded by sitar music, whilst digging into a plate of chicken Vindaloo. Indian food at the very least is extremely potent and Vindaloo is right up there with the Madras and military grade explosive. A dish not to be taken lightly and one which should at least come with a Surgeon General’s warning.

Warning: this curry will turn your innards to lava causing you to spend the rest of tomorrow in bathroom isolation.

The predictable of course happened. The boss fell foul of Delhi belly and for the rest of the episode Jake watched him race from bed to bathroom, puking and farting simultaneously with no control of his bodily functions, leaving lots of trace evidence for the FED’S.

Gandhi had truly had his revenge!

Jake felt his pain,  he too had succumbed to delicious aromas emanating from a curry-house back in the mists of youth and had paid dearly. Like the mob boss his enthusiastic indulgence had been his undoing. He recalled his own Olympic sprint to the bathroom, the last sheet of paper as it peeled of the roll, a story he had told many times. He had run to an invalid bathroom, knowing they were always empty, and proceeded to devastate the porcelain. He had emerged shaken, half the man he had been from the ground zero only to find a row of desperate wheel chair bound amputees lined up in the corridor door waiting to use the convenience. Guilty as he was, the least he could do was tell them not to go inside, however his advice fell on deaf ears. 

 

 

After kicking off his shorts, rubbing his nuts, and sinking into the welcome embrace of the couch, Jake’s long suffering wife brought across the meal she had prepared for his dinner. A steaming plate of golden brown surrounded by a halo of white,  accompanied by God’s amber nectar. Truly a feast for the immortals – ambrosia in the form of Chile Con Carne and bottled beer. Jake’s demands were simple however his tastes refined. The Chili couldn’t be spicy enough. He prided himself on his cool demeanor when friends would cough and splutter at the mere mention of Jalapeno, break sweat at the allusion to chili powder.

If you can choke it down when those around you are losing their cool, then you will be a curry-eater my son. Pussies!

Chile was a man’s meal. It wasn‘t just food it was a test, a badge of honor. Hadn’t one of the tasks of Hercules been to consume the entire chili reserves in the Augean stables or was he confusing that with an episode of ultimate something’s on one of the so called learning channels? Either way he was prepared, stabbing his fork into the morass of heat, slurping down the meal. He felt the heat hit the back of his throat, burn all the way down to his belly like bomber-dropped napalm. Raising the beer to his lips he slurped greedily, emptying half the bottle in one swig. This was really living. His senses burned with the hot chili infusion, sweat breaking out on his thinning scalp. Jake looked at the TV mob boss – the mob boss looked back at Jake. They were one and the same. It was hard to make out who was living vicariously, and just who through whom?

 

Jake in his own mind was a made-man, the DVD-reality running through his mind only serving to compound the revelation. Conspicuously he had started to develop an Italian east coast accent, practicing to himself every morning in the mirror. His lip would curl, his hands gesticulate wildly, his stance adjusting to support his aggressive attitude. The mobster in the mirror would stare back at Jake, repeat the expletives whilst tossing his greased back hair and staring at the balding man in the saggy underwear with the protruding belly before him

 A blind man would have sworn they were twins, or at least distantly related – brothers form another mother perhaps?

 

 

Jake liked the way he looked, and had taken to wearing dark 30’s cut pin-striped suits when he took the ‘Mrs.’ out for dinner at the local Spaghetti Warehouse. Lacking only the Trilby, the burp-gun, the gangster’s mole and the black sedan, Jake personified dangerous.

***** 

Day followed night and Jake was back on the job. He parked his truck outside the client’s house and checked the rear view for any sign of the Feds. Nothing – either he had lost his imaginary tail at the coffee house or he was just too smart to be caught. They were no match for his criminal genius. He jumped out, walked to the door and rang the bell. A dog barked somewhere inside and after a couple of seconds the door opened. A woman in her early fifties, divorcee, widow, he couldn’t tell but knew that she lived alone. She smiled and they talked small. No matter the topic of conversation Jake couldn’t take his focus of the lone, errant whisker poking out from her chin; a survivor of the quotidian plucking holocaust which her body no doubt endured. Something to do with higher testosterone as estrogen leaked out of them during menopause. Memories of Aunt Mary flashed through his mind – the only woman he knew with a permanent 5 o’clock shadow. Chewbacca told Jake she’d have to leave but would return shortly. The over pampered mutt, humping the kitchen stool, had to be taken to the groomer. 

 

 

The conversation ended and he turned to go. As the door shut he felt the first thrust of his bowels, quickly followed by a tsunami of heat rushing through his body. Jake farted, recognizing instantly the essence of chili. Recovering himself he thought no more about it and went about his work. The gas persisted and Jake fought back his body’s natural reaction to defecate. Wave after flaming wave of gut wrenching spasms flashed through his lower abdomen. 

The garage door suddenly opened distracting Jake from his misery and the woman reversed her car out of the drive. The bumper stickers on her car declared her devotion to the cross marking her as one of God’s chosen. She waved at Jake. Jake waved back. 

As the car disappeared from view Jake knew he wasn’t going to be able to maintain the status quo of civilized expectation with the necessity which was brewing in his gut. What the hell was he going to do? He couldn’t go in the house when she wasn’t there. The last thing he needed was to be accused of breaking and entering. How does a man explain himself to a woman who comes home to find a stranger grunting and groaning in the bathroom with his pants around his ankles? 

 

 

He extinguished the fantasy and thought fast. Action was required. Without action there would be consequences. His mind raced, his palms sweat as he was overcome with the desire to shit. It had to happen, and it had to happen now. But what if she came home? There was no time to waste, the metal was hot, the iron was about to strike – the turtle was rearing its ugly head. 

Stop, drop and dump! 

He fumbled with his belt, ripped down his pants, rending the zipper useless as he did so. He didn’t care that he was exposed, vulnerable, and taking a dump against the side of somebody else’s home. He braced himself against the French doors, between the air-conditioning unit and the American flag sticking out of the plant pot. Jake stared fixedly in front of him, straight into the kitchen window of a neighbor’s house. Too late, no time for modesty, what would be would be, it was coming fast. 

 

Squatting like a garden gnome at a horticultural show, Jake let rip. Like a steaming train emerging from the mouth of a tunnel with whistle blowing, Jake shit himself. Fireworks exploded, choirs sang, and the light of heaven beamed down on the sinner. The abrasive pyroclastic flow of released gasses burned his arse cheeks, singing his hair. He felt the hot blast shoot past his balls, splattering like an exploding paintball against the side of the Christian lady’s residence. 

 Curiosity overcame him and he turned to view the destruction he had wrought. The steaming pile spoke volumes as it oozed and shimmied in its own heat haze. He thought he detected the face of Jesus, quickly dismissed the idea, blaming it on the momentary stress of the situation. He reached into his pocket and fumbled for a rag which he proceeded to drag across his arse. No time for niceties, no checking to see if he was clean. The wipe was as perfunctory as it was swift.  

He discarded the once yellow rag in the grass and fought to recover himself. Speed was of the essence, the difference between discovery and escape. He couldn’t afford to mess around. Looking straight ahead he imagined he saw a shadow at the kitchen window of the house opposite, but tried to dismiss it as rationally as possible. He continued to stare, but saw no further movement. Today fortune was on Jake’s side. The guardian angel that had been hovering around his nether regions had saved him in his moment of need. Jake invoked the spirit and gave thanks. 

 

 

He heard the car coming up the drive, the slam of the door, the sound of footsteps, and panicked. He was dressed but disheveled; the evidence of his deed plain to see. He thought quickly, his mobster reactions racing for a solution. His synapses fired and entering fight or flight mode he grabbed for the hose pipe by the side of the house. His fingers came alive, dexterously operating the faucet and directed the ensuing jet at the chalk-outlined evidence. 

Like a mobster pumping round after round from a Thompson machine gun, he obliterated the turd from memory; spreading DNA far and wide – erasing the crime scene. 

The Christian lady popped her head around the door. 

“Everything ok?” 

Jake looked up, smiled and with an open handed Mediterranean gesture, dropped his lip, and rolled his shoulders – indicating  there was no problem. The evidence was gone, the deed hidden. There was however still the matter of the witness at the neighboring house who had to be taken care of. Jake’s imagination went into hyper drive as he envisioned hits, shallow graves, and moonless nights.  

What was he thinking?  

What he really needed was an early night and some decent sleep – maybe a couple of beers and a few hours in front of the TV.

It was going to be a late night.

 

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