Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Blue Haze.

As the familiar sound of quiet surrounded the radio station, and in the moments before the next track played, Maxwell thought of the previous night's events.

Maxwell had the night off.  And what a night it would be.  When it was all said and done, he felt that the neighborhood had decided to drop acid and take a wild trip.  Her name was Catherine. "Just Catherine," she said.  Maxwell was surprised to see her at O'Harley's since she worked at Joe's.  Max actually preferred Joe's because it was less crowded.  So when he saw her there, he decided to joke a bit and act like he was going to try and pick-her-up.  He knew that she'd be drinking gin and he laughed as he tried to make a pass at her.  She was startled at first, but played along.

They talked and laughed about stupid things and people all crowding in to bark at Rick for a drink.  He was clearly overwhelmed. But after a while, Maxwell got tired of shouting and suggested that they head to Joe's, but they never made it there.

As they were leaving the bar, Maxwell could smell spray paint in the air. They passed a few people who, as if they were hypnotized, stood staring at the graffiti. He was about to say something to Catherine about it, but she touched his arm and said, "Maxwell, before we go to Joe's, I've got to take care of something."

"Okay, sure."

She walked quickly toward Herbert Johnson road and turned the corner. As soon as Maxwell saw the blue man, he stopped in his tracks, but Catherine kept walking and stood on the sidewalk at the corner of the asylum. She stood just in the shadow, but her shoes caught the edge of light. Maxwell slowly walked toward her.  He wasn't sure what he should watch.  The chaos of the scene, police, or the fire department, or people with their iPhones pointing up at the man jostling one another to get the best angle, or Catherine, standing deathly still in the shadows.  Maxwell decided to keep his distance from both.  He switched from one scene to the next and thought he saw Catherine muttering something right before the blue man jumped into the big, blue beyond.

Maxwell didn't see him hit the ground because of all the people trying to get it on their phones. He felt sick, but Catherine suddenly appeared next to him and said, "Let's go.  This is craziness."

Maxwell felt as if he was swimming up stream as he tried to follow Catherine away from the swelling crowd.  There was blue everywhere.  Maxwell became disoriented as he looked down at the countless tracks from shoes that had stepped in the blue paint.  People were brushing against each other and smearing blue randomly on one another.  He stumbled and fell against a wall that smelled of fresh graffiti.  When he opened his eyes, Catherine was gone.

The track had finished. As he reached to change the record, his sleeve revealed a spot of blue paint on his wrist.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The blood of Christ, Charlie Lemon, and the dead of night.

Maxwell stood in the doorway between the back room and the radio studio and looked down at the man on the couch.  He muttered a bit, his leg twitched and then he lay still.  The ringing phone didn't disturb his sleep.  Tonight the phone was ringing left and right and the requests and people were, in a word, crazy. Maxwell put on an extended set because he didn't want to answer anymore calls.

He had basically carried little Charlie back to the station.  By the time Charlie collapsed after the fit of singing and dancing around the church "revival" fire, Maxwell needed to be at work.  Nobody seemed to pay any attention to the collapsed guy, so Maxwell simply lifted him up and put him over his shoulder firemen style. He picked-up the guy's bag and started walking.

He was making good progress, but Charlie suddenly woke-up and demanded to be put down. Maxwell obliged, but as soon as he put him down, Charlie swayed and started gibbering something.  He sounded like the church people talking in tongues. Maxwell thought it was amusing.

Then Charlie stood stalk still and said, "We KILLED him, you know."

"What?"Maxwell's eyebrows rose and the smile disappeared.

Charlie stepped closer, looked both directions and softly said, "My mother and me," he swallowed, "we killed him. He was a crook, and we had had enough." Charlie's eyes told Maxwell that he was standing there, but he wasn't there.


"Pappa. The old man." Charlie was whispering by that point. They were standing in the alley. The night air seemed to be holding its breath. Maxwell could smell the smoke from the next corner.

"Charlie, I know we just met, you've probably just had a bit too much of the blood of Christ."
"I'm Charlie, Charlie Lemon. I never saw any blood. My mother made it go away, and then she went away." Charlie then snickered as if he remembered a joke. "And then I went away.  Far, far away." He gestured and then his arm just dropped.
"Dude, you should stop talking now.  I don't know what the church folks slipped into the punch that was passed around, but you clearly are out of your mind." Maxwell reached out and touched him on the shoulder and it was as if the spell was broken. Maxwell barely had time to catch Charlie before he hit the pavement.  As Maxwell lifted him back onto to his shoulder, he grunted. It felt like Charlie had gotten heavier somehow. "Come on, little man, time to get you on the couch."

The set was almost over, and Charlie turned over so that he faced the back of the couch, muttered something else and was still. Maxwell took another sip of his coffee, turned and went to answer yet another phone call.