Savior on the StormbyTom Mandy©
It smells. It smells everywhere. But not as much so in this stairway. God, it’s a stench of dead insects and sour cheese mixed with sauerkraut under an Arabic towel.
This isn’t my league, I should go.
Then I remember what’s up four floors – Zelda. I met her at the arch welding class on Greystone Ave. in the Bronx. She couldn’t have looked more than eighteen or nineteen but she tried to put it off like she was twenty five.
She’s been nice to me, actually, since the class started last month. We even went to the Blue Bay for lunch a few times. She was for a good lot of that time pretty quiet. I also remember that day after class when she had a fresh, blue bruise right on her check and right-eye, looking like a fourteen or fifteen year old still, but with marks like key scratches and rough dents on a car. She explained quickly, in her most trying to hold back voice that her uncle just gets a little ‘ill tempered’ sometimes.
I looked up her address in the phone book- of all places- under the name Kassovitz, Sheldon…W 158 Street, Bronx, apartment 6F in building complex 66. Too many sixes for my taste, but at least if I got done in time I could check out the last inning of the wild card game.
I’m going up now with that memory intact. Not to mention a cut-rate .45 in my pants pocket. I only got three bullets left, but I’m not intending on loosing a load here, just for intimidation purposes today, boys and girls.
The smell is still intoxicating me, definitely in a not-so-good way; at least it loosens up once I reach the sixth floor. Six F is staring me right in the face, twenty feet away. I can hear some soft music in the air. That seems to be replacing the fragrance of filth.
I’m about to get the heaviest dose of filth in my lifetime.
The doorknob was open, but a chain-lock hooked the door to the wall. My pocketknife solves that equation in lifting the chain through the cracked space and softly gaining access to the apartment.
This could very well smell worse than the stairway. How interesting to careen on through two levels of skunk. Here, it was the perfume of ass, old nachos and mildew. The apartment, if you could call it that, itself was a war zone- flung clothes and underwear (both male and female) a rug soaked in beer, whiskey and tarred cigarettes from back when Brown & Williamson were still in business, and furniture that the cast of Suburbia would deem gratuitous.
And the music. I recognize it now being a vinyl version of Midnight Rambler by the Rolling Stones, blasting from the bedroom where I can also make out a squeaking, obviously the bed itself.
I creep as best I can to not make a floorboard belch in pressure to the bedroom door. I also hear panting and yelping. These signs are not pointing to a good outcome.
I open the bedroom door, open at the most one inch apart and look in a la Norman Bates style to the procession:
From looking at a couple of pictures in the hallway as my backup, I see before me Uncle Sheldon plowing Zelda on the Serta Perfect Sleeper Mattress.
(All we are concentrated on is the harmonica).
If there had to be a glimpse, a gander of the underworld and all the results of Hades and the antichrist, it’s on that Serta.
On that record, on the walls with crude pornographic images smeared all over in crusted ketchup and mayonnaise.
I got the power.
I leave the door still a bit ajar and swiftly escape the apartment. I stand outside the door. Was it all an illusion?
Not likely. I make out the changing of the track and the uncle finishing his set. My mind has all this sunken in now.
It’s on some sort of motor reactor level.
I knock, pound, kick the door a couple of times and hear more from behind the door coming my way:
“Shut up. I said shut up, goddamn you, I’m going to the door...fucking witch you.” The door swung open and then he said “What the fuck’s your problem?”
“Hi, I’m from the Institute of Better Technologies and I’d like to offer you a complementary opportunity to try out one of our latest systems for a crucial survey.”
“Oh is that right, asshole. You come barging around offering com-puters and shit. And at this hour, fuck you. I ain’t trying shit, you goomba.”
He tried to shut the door in my face but I kicked it back open, flinging him inside and that’s when I walked in- “Well sir, I really think you should sign up cause it’d be worth your while, you dig?”- And that’s also when I whipped out the .45, facing his front.
“What the fuck is this Mafia bullshit, I’ll kick your fucking teeth in you prick!” he yelled as he reached for a bat, somewhere, on the cluttered table.
I beat him to the thwack.
Two .45 deposits unloaded in his shoulder and lung. Sheldon Kassovitz, in his beer and grease stained shirt barely covering his fat blubber-isc as towel around his privates but nothing to cover his head and curved nose, fell to the rug he had worked to contort.
Zelda ran out of the bedroom to look down on her uncle. She had on a bathing suit-looking one piece, colored white in black stripes.
“Oh my god,” she didn’t exactly exclaim this, but the look on her face said she wanted to.
“Look, just get dressed...we’re getting out of here. Go, now!”
She ran back into the bedroom. I feel confidence that no one in the other apartments would budge at the possibility of two .45 bullets being expulsed since most of these animals have shotguns and pipe bombs and such. I feel a frightened excitement all throughout my brain, an ironic pleasantness in staring down on this sloth’s carcass.
“Pig-fucker,” I murmur.
Zelda comes out of the bedroom, Monkey Man now blasting from the record in Rambler’s end. “OK, we’re getting out of here,” I say.
Before she can say anything, Sheldon’s arm suddenly in a terror of fervor grabs my leg! He’s pulling me down. I see his face is while and reddish and blood is being coughed and breathed out as he still grabs me in his clutches and reaching up towards me, shoulder flapped off and all.
Sheldon isn’t living and hasn’t crossed over yet. The piercings in the inner flesh have done nothing to stop his craze to bring me down with him to the afterlife. Fuck that.
The fisherman’s pocketknife falls out of my pocket on the floor, but I retrieve it with ease and effort, plucking up the sharpest mini-razor, leaning the skull of the living dead to the side and nailing the knife through to the other side.
The gagging stops.
The dead body, the sloth himself, is exterminated. I stand up, no blood on my shirt but a good lot on my pants legs.
Zelda’s eyes, those sea blue eyes, are gazed on the not is but was on the cols footing. I grab her arm and pull her away from her standpoint, out of the speaker distance where the main portion of Monkey Man goes on...”all my friends are junkies”...into the hall. I shove the gun in my pants pocket and shut the door on 6F.
“Are you alright?”
Zelda warily shook her head up and down.
“Look, don’t be scared, OK, we’ll get out of this. You just have to follow me and we can get out of this shit-hole area.”
Zelda shook her head again in understanding and we ran down the six flights, outside walking to my rusted 86’ Chevy and starting the car with 11:16 on the clock and Penny Lane by the Beatles on the dial. We’re both too tired to change the station.
I’m not sleeping yet, I still have a good 45 minutes left in me before I konk out.
Speeding a bit on the Degan north, looking periodically at Zelda again.
Zelda, looking up at the starless and barely moonlit ceiling, mind frazzled by the meaning of what happened tonight. She, with her dress on not revealing her sort of stomach, falls asleep on the passenger side and finally Penny Lane is said for the last time in three + minutes.
Tired, reddish eyes awaken to 7:35 on the clock and nothing now on the dial. I parked on a ne1ar empty side street in Yonkers some point last night and did indeed conk out. I wonder hoe long Zelda conked out for....
A face turns right and sees the .45 in front of the eyes, behind that .45 a girl with sea blue eyes and tears on either side.
Zelda’s been up for a few minutes.
“Zelda, why did you reach for-“
“Be quiet. You killed my uncle last night. You know that, right?”
“Yeah, he was raping you-”
“He was making love to me. And you shot him and stabbed him. Did you ever take the time to consider that I loved him? And he never did anything wrong to me or you and you do something so selfish.” She pulls her finger on the loader. A bullet with frog wings is in the chamber.
“You’re out of your fucking mind, aren’t you? You’re going to shoot me for killing your incest having scum-fuck?”
“That scum-fuck is THE FATHER OF MY BABY!” She screamed at me. I could sense the pride, and the smell, in her voice for her unborn creature. “Uncle Shelly gave me happiness and you just take it away like a punishment.”
“BUT I WAS SAVING ----------you, bitch.” (The dots are the sound that came around and about the car from the final piece of death flung into my soul).
Slipping eyes see her run out of the car into the New York Wilderness.
She’s escaped the zoo of her mind and soon will be put in another one with white walls and shocking treatments.
That’s the last spark of hope talking in my lead ridden brain. Now I fall away to the land of nothingness, drought, where blood does not escape with wounds of passion and father’s brothers are locked in dungeons of despair.
At least the smell is gone, out of the league for good.