Friday, April 29, 2011

You Really Kinda Had To Be There

Harry B. Sanderford

The picture jumps then stops and before the heat from the bulb can burn through the image completely, Marlon Brando tells Rod Steiger, “It wasn’t him Charlie, it was you.” The film melts away altogether and the theater is bathed in bright light. The trailing edge of the film slaps loudly against the projector behind me. My fellow patrons are craning around in their seats annoyed with this interruption as I make my way down the aisle and hop up onto the stage.

“I’m ready for my close up Mr. Kazan,“ I announce to ticket holders twisting back around.

 “Remember that night in the Garden you came down to my dressing room and you said, "Kid, this ain't your night. We're going for the price on Wilson. You remember that?” My audience isn’t quite sure yet but a few are digging back into their popcorn. "This ain't your night"! My night! I coulda taken Wilson apart! So what happens? He gets the title shot outdoors on the ballpark and what do I get? A one-way ticket to Palooka-ville!”

Palooka-ville, yeah that slays ‘em. They know what’s coming. It’s nobody here’s first time On The Waterfront.

“You was my brother, Charlie. you shoulda looked out for me a little bit. You shoulda taken care of me just a little bit so I wouldn't have to take them dives for the short-end money.”  They’re with me now, hanging on every word and right on cue one audience member sets me up delivering Charlie’s line, “Oh I had some bets down for you. You saw some money.” A hundred more voices join in unison: “You don't understand. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let's face it. It was you, Charlie!”

I take my bow to thunderous applause. The projector rolls, and  awash in hehehehehheh--Woody Woodpecker, I take my leave. 

* all in itallics are taken directly from the movie On The Waterfront, written by screenwriter Budd Schulberg.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Morning Mr. Hanks

Harry B. Sanderford

Chester Hanks awoke with a Schlitz induced headache that while not uncustomary was never the less annoying.  Eyes closed, he sleep-walked to the bathroom to relieve himself. Eyes still closed, he flushed, shuffled the 14 steps to the refrigerator, popped the top on a cold can of good morning and drained its contents entirely before squinting out at the day.  The replenishing effects were immediate but short lived as the events of the preceding night crept home. He heard soft snoring coming from his bedroom followed by an awfully official sounding knock at his door.

FUCK, is what he thought. “Hold your horses, I ain’t dressed,” is what he yelled at the front door before hurrying to close the bedroom door; hoping like hell the bulk under the blankets was Ruby. He buttoned his fly and finger combed his hair before opening the door. “How can I hep ya?”

“Good morning, Mr. Hanks. Sorry to wake you.”  It was 11:15 and the boozy, bodily, funk of debauchery issuing forth from the unsealed capsule caused Detective Stine to take a shallow breath and a step back.

“I was already up Sergeant Smartypants. What brings you around?” Chester asked. He’d opened the door only partially so it would not be confused with an invitation inside. Stine saw his invitation over Chester’s shoulder should he decide to use it, in the form of the bong standing General over an army of dead soldiers lined up on the coffee table. “I need to ask you a couple questions about your replacement at the Bijou, Sparky Denton.”

“I ain’t sure I can hep ya there chief. I didn’t rightly know the boy. So if that’s all then…” Chester figured it was worth a try but he wasn’t exactly surprised to see Dan Stine’s brogan step in before he could get the door closed. “Something else officer?”

“I know it’s early.” Crack of noon, Stine thought and rotated his head side to side working out a kink. “So let’s try again. It looks like you had a little party here last night. Maybe if you can’t think of anything pertinent to my investigation into the murder of your replacement, one Sparky Denton, you’d prefer to tell me about the bong I saw on your coffee table.”

“Well the short answer there officer, is that it’s not mine.” This was true but Chester knew it made no difference to the detective. Chester had a hard and fast rule about cooperating with revenuers. He didn’t. He was going to have to give this one something though. Because for the life of him, he could not recall where the owner of that bong, one Eugene Gabardine, had gotten to and he did not want Sergeant Stine helping him figure it out. “You know, now that I’ve had a moment to study on it, I do remember that Sparky feller was referred to me by another feller workin’ off his debt to society in Alice.”

“Do tell,” Stine said pushing the door open a little wider and stepping back from the threshold.

“Dudley, Malcom Dudley is his name. Ever’one just calls him Malc-Dud. Get it?” Chester smiled his I’m on your side here partner smile, hoping that would be enough.

“Go on.” Stine prodded.

“I don’t know if it’s true, but word is Malc-Dud walked from a murder two rap with time served and 120 hours of commie service.”

“So what’s his connection with Sparky Denton and why did he want him working at the Bijou?” Stine circled Malcom Dudley, Malc-Dud on his note pad.

Chester now knew Malc-Dud had been setting him up all along. Apparently Sparky had accidentally taken his fall. He intended to settle that score himself but he didn’t mind if the cavalry helped a little bit. “Boss Gabardine provided Malc-Dud’s defense,” he answered.

"Open a window Hook," Stine said flipping his pad closed indicating they were done.

This is a small bit I wrote for a collaboration with A*K that we started last year and will resume sometime soon. In the meantime, you can play catchup beginning here: if you are so inclined. H

Friday, April 15, 2011


Harry B. Sanderford

The Hazeltown Holler surpassed daily circulation and printed an evening edition for the first time since Nixon was impeached. Chester Hook’em Hanks nabbed the last one from a paper box outside of Murphy’s Mud-Cat, a beer joint and bait shop over in Alice where he served his community service (for fishing drunk without a license for the fourteenth time) by polishing a barstool with his back pockets.  He ordered a can of Schlitz and smoothed the paper flat on the bar. He read no farther than the headline about Boss Gabardine and stopped to drain half his beer in one long swallow. The fat cats that scavenged the ponds around Alice were not the only ones Chester was inclined to angle for. He’d overheard a bit of information concerning The Boss and that pretty film critic for the Holler. Being a married man himself, he figured The Boss would rather his wife remained unaware of such information. He also figured the Boss might want to hitch a new Ranger bass boat to the back of his pickup. When it came to figuring, Chester’s calculating could be ponderous. Boss Gabardine was the biggest fish in any pond at anytime. His headline worthy woes could only serve to make him cranky, cautious and likely even more dangerous. Another man might sum up it was time to cut his line. Chester Hook’em Hanks determined it was time to dangle bigger bait. 

Hook’em walked over and unplugged the juke box to silence Molly Hatchet. He had a plan to hatch and damned if their infernal caterwauling was helping him think. He successfully warded off any objections from the whelps at the pool table with a practiced stink eye that seldom let him down. The three of them, still too sober for pressing the point, broke eye contact first and went back to their game. Hook’em raised his can and gave a nod in their direction showing his support for the unspoken treaty.  Long as he had the can in his hand, he went ahead and polished off the suds. He set the empty on the bar, pulled his note pad from his back pocket and began bullet-pointing his plan.

Ruby picked up the empty can and set a fresh cold Schlitz wrapped in a bar nap in front of him. “What you studying on so hard tonight, Hook?” the rotund Ruby inquired. Chester closed the pad quick and smiling up at Ruby said, “Darlin’ I’m composin’ a sonnet for the prettiest barmaid I ever did see. I’m a little stuck right now though, maybe you can help me. I need something that rhymes with Ruby and all I can think of are boobies.”
Ruby rolled her eyes, sifted the pile of change from Chester’s twenty, extracted two ones and offered, “How about Doobie? As in, I find your sincerity to be dubious. Or maybe try Scoobey, as in you are a damn dog! Then there’s always Newby, as in you are one naive son of a bitch if you think you are ever sweet talkin’ your way up next to this!” Ruby stepped back and presented with a sweep of her hand just what it was Chester would be missing out on. Then she turned on her heel in an exaggerated huff and rang the register for Chester’s two dollars.

Chester couldn’t help but grin. He loved getting Ruby going and he loved it even more when she got the better of him. Truth be told, Chester loved Ruby. He plucked a five from his diminishing pile, folded it lengthwise so it would stand and balanced it on the edge of the bar.

Chester had just reopened his note pad when the door opened with a jangle and he looked up to watch Boss Gabardine’s no account nephew Eugene, shamble into the bar. He wondered if this night could get any better.

This is a small bit I wrote for a collaboration with A*K that we started last year and will resume sometime soon. In the meantime, you can play catchup beginning here: if you are so inclined. H

Friday, April 8, 2011

Honey I’m Home

Harry B. Sanderford

“Honey, I’m home… Just me, Sugar,” Doc rehearsed on his walk from the barn to the house. It always took a bit before his borrowed ears adjusted to the sound of his borrowed voice. Physical sensations were mostly familiar, though often incorrectly categorized. Twisting the icy door knob awoke senses in his fillings. Snow melting in his boots felt like sand between his toes. He’d watched his host slip on the steps, landing squarely on his ass. He had a private chuckle, truth be told, yet the only discomfort he registered now was a ticklish burn in his earlobes.

Pushing the back door open, he was relieved to see the bluish flicker that meant Beth was watching television. If he played it right he could thaw out in a warm shower and collect himself a bit before engaging in more than cursory conversation. It was not that he wished to avoid Beth; he'd become fond of her on his previous visits. She of course knew nothing of the arrangement, but her smile was real and his to keep whenever he manned the controls of her husband's body.

“Hi Sugar,” he called from the hallway.

“Hey babe, it’s going to be a cold one tonight. How do you feel about chili?” Beth asked.

“Sounds great to me Hon. You know it’s you who’ll pay later.”

“No beans in yours!” she shouted.

 “Ha, fair enough. I’m going to take a quick shower to warm up," he shouted back.

Safe, he thought and gestured with hands already becoming familiar as he watched them close the bathroom door.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Dookey Earl... Pukey, Hurls!

Reigning Ex Ex Games Containment Competition champ, Earl “Retainy” Gainey, blew chunks Saturday after clinching his second world title. Gainey, who has long attributed his counter-crapping capabilities to a near bovine tolerance for lactose, stirred wide-spread panic at one point during the competition. Fearing he’d blow, Earl’s grimace and gutteral growl, sent the crowd of constipatory constituents clamoring for the exits. While most reported only having the shit scared out of them, three remain hospitalized. Earl managed to keep his shit together long enough to defeat fellow fecal freighter, “Skid” Mark Loafster, but moments later erupted spewing Vesuvius volumes of vintage, but vile and viscous vomit from veranda to vestibule.

Following Ret’s Rainbird imitation, manager Dung King, was quick to issue a statement countering speculation that the champ's bungus may have actually grown entirely shut. Proven true, the allegation would lead to Gainey’s disqualification and possible exclusion from future Extreme Excrement Games. King assured the press that Earl did indeed possess an XXG approved ass-hole, leading to further speculation as to whether King referred to himself.

Reached for comment Retainy seemed unconcerned. “Retention records come and go,” he said. “But did you see all that corn? I ain’t ate no corn in over 2 years,” he further articulated.

OK, sorry about that. Sometimes the 7th grader that lives in my head takes over the keyboard and must be indulged. H

*XXG Extreme Excrement Games is product of the fertile imagination of my eternal co-7th grader, Barrius Q. Tuttlebein.