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graphic by Jessica Del Greco Fish Terror
by William Fairbrother

Every day during summer months Jens paints his face, arms, hands and feet gold, takes on his worn velvet crimson with stained white brocade robe, his ratty cardboard crown, picks up his metal painted broom handle staff, grabs his hat, and heads downstairs and walks the few blocks to Stroget and walks down past Nytorv and sits on the high curb beside the unused second entrance of a fancy clothing store. He sits stone quiet, not even his eyes moving::::his money hat set out on the glittery pavement just before him::::stone::::a fixture::::he had made an agreement of sorts with the furrier ten years before, a gentle old Jewish man who smiled upon seeing him most days::::but as things go, the furrier went under two years past, and the clothing store people are not so nice::::he'd smelled trouble from that first June day they'd come around sizing up the location tailing behind an immaculately dressed smooth-smirking real estate agent::::Jens snarled to them all three to show ownership::::quite extraordinary for him to break, even for an instant::::they focused all their attention on his nearly empty dusty gray wide-brim hat set out hair's breadth from his golden toes.

And coins come. Laughter::::a reward of sorts. Derision::::a challenge, never entered into. Applause. Obligatory coins from tourists. Shy coins from children. Coins goaded from stiff husbands, suave lovers, eager boyfriends. Cheerful coins from women and children. Distant coins from travelers. Unexpected coins from wanderers::::hommages. Coins thrown, coins tossed, coins chipped-in, coins dropped, coins carefully put. Coins. Sometimes even notes.

On this particular day, Jens dies. Before he dies he thinks of everything, which is his usual routine. As when at eight years old, for example, he dreamed, or wished for himself, that he would be king::::certainly with the knowledge that he was not of noble blood::::he would be king. He had not even entertained this memory when ten years ago he mumbled what in essence is 'cheers,' walked down his stairway and out on the street and down Stroget and for the first time claimed his friendly space, plopped himself down and gave birth to the golden king. It had not entered his thoughts when he had planned it::::while walking that street many times swimming in his idea::::finding three locations where he could possibly set up shop::::and his first choice was this space next to the furrier::::a clean and well-traveled location::::perfect. He sat down::::then, and for the first three years, he had dragged a round-backed wicker chair along::::on his throne. So be it. Jens dies. He sits stone silent, not moving, not even his eyes::::you might call it meditation or a trance or something::::he's sitting, and all of a sudden he dies. No one notices. He sits. More coins. Even a half hour into death someone glides in a folded 50-note.

The seed of the idea came out of one of those package tours to Tenerife::::one of those deals where overworked old people are packed into a plane into a bus into a hotel, then back into the bus onto the plane and home again::::he meandered through the narrow twisting tourist town streets bored but glad for the warmth, shaking the cold and darkness free from his limbs like a tall willow tree shaking stardust, enough so that it only remained in his chest, in his head::::the unshakables. One day shuffling along the wide coral-stone beachfront promenade he looked over to the beach and saw a huge white glistening castle, with many pointed spires, turrets, numerous spiraling stairways, arched porticos, a deep empty moat with ornate bridge across::::taller and more massive than the largest building he'd ever seen, in scale::::a sandcastle::::he gazed at the castle even as he felt his lips chap in the sun, dreaming himself therein staring out from an arched portico with its huge round-windowed chamber behind::::looking out over the expansive wind-struck deep blue sea and up over at the impossibly steep red-blue-green mountains...

A richly tanned scraggly haired bearded man, shirtless, in khaki shorts and floppy straw hat, stood beside the castle talking to admirers. Jens walked a little further on and found a long plastic pipe resting on the promenade wall flowing down to the beach near the castle, wherein people fit coins which slid down to a box::::just as he came to the pipe a small ghost white child was being hoisted by his Bavarian father, slotted a coin, listened intently while the coin rolled down, down, and clunk, hit the wooden box full of coins::::the child laughed. Jens also rolled a coin::::he also laughed. Every day he visited the site. One cloudy rainy empty day he even wandered down to the beach to take a closer look. The builder came out from behind his creation and caught Jens in mid-dream. Jens, startled, overwhelmed as if meeting his most cherished celebrity, stammered his admiration for the castle. The man, in his thirties, began telling in a lovely deep Australian drawl how he had traveled all around the world building sand sculptures::::looked up to the clouds and said it's getting time to move along::::he's off to Greece, or maybe the Maldives soon::::not sure yet::::then he turned and went back over to his castle and began repairing a delicately latticed bit of facade...

Jens wandered into the town and splurged on paella and three beers and a shot of whisky in an outdoor cafe. He contemplated the highlights of his life and then took on the life of the Australian wanderer instead which felt wonderful::::two hours later he noticed people stopped in their tracks staring at him::::the moment he shifted in his seat the people lost interest and moved on::::he'd been sitting perfectly still for hours. The waiter rushed over at seeing him move and asked if he'd like something more, fingering the bill laid on the table obvious he'd rather have the bill paid and Jens gone...

That evening in the hotelroom he sat up in bed, closed his eyes, and dreamed of being that Australian::::'the beachcomber' he wistfully named himself there. But it quickly soured::::having to talk to all those strangers, to strut around like the king of the gypsies::::striking shirtless poses::::no::::it rotted away::::it only worked because of grandeur, its scale. No. It faded completely. He woke up suddenly, sweaty, around midnight and shuffled out onto his little veranda six stories up and settled into the white plastic chair and sat and stared out over the blackened sea::::moon hidden::::alert as the wind which steadily slapped him::::not sleeping::::thinking about the past for there was little to look forward to::::there was being squeezed into a plane the next day::::packed, as it were, what he himself does for a living::::clean and chop up and pack fish in cans.

As when just before his wife died, in another attempt to pull her out of her sadness::::a sadness which constantly begged to be hugged::::he had said 'Sadness is a choice. One chooses whether to be happy or sad. Like one chooses to be honest or dishonest.' And she argued 'A happy person can decide whether to be happy or sad::::a sad person cannot. A thief cannot choose to be honest.' But he disagreed. He could not understand her sadness and he refused to comfort it::::like he would have refused to shake the hand of a thief. No guilt::::it was her fault she chose sadness, to comfort it would have been to encourage it.

Even an hour after his death there are still coins falling. 'A living statue!'::::a little pale English girl shouts and breaks from her parents and runs over to stand immediately before Jens::::not even registering the hat full of money at their feet. But she is mistaken. She looks deeply into his bloodshot empty eyes, sees something is amiss, and backs away wide-eyed as her father reaches around her and chucks in a coin. The girl takes her mother's hand and is silent::::further down Stroget she misses the huge toy store on their left, but her parents are relieved, not concerned. That night in their hotelroom the little girl vomits::::'Too much sweets, my dear.'

Just before he dies he thinks of his mother. How he wished he could have pleased her::::knowing this was impossible::::mustiness::::a distant faded perfume part lilac but he can't gather any more::::her face as a withered old witch-saint::::he oddly places predominant to the exuberant gaunt woman's face he had searched in his teens or the soft blank youthful face he had caressed in his childhood. Nothing there. No guilt::::she was immovable.

As when he first walked in, all coifed and as well dressed as he possibly could be, to apply for a job at the cannery::::a job he would hold for nearly thirty years::::he was twenty-eight, had given up on dreams::::they were useless::::and so he walked in the doors and presented himself to the manager as an eager enthusiastic worker::::though that was a lie::::and said he wanted to work there more than anything::::another lie::::and minutes later the manager handed him over to an old fiery fishcutter who, though providing Jens with a thick floor length dull white brown smeared apron, gleefully set about destroying Jens' best clothes, and imprinting the smell with which four cats followed him to his apartment that first day and many other cats for years after::::which he could not dissuade even with shouts, gestures, swipes or the occasional well placed kick to their sides.

Fish::::oh it was everywhere in his thoughts, his dreams, his body::::poison::::throughout his senses::::'How can I be a human being with this odor? It permeates my desires. I am dead::::like dead fish. No. I will not let this thing destroy me. God, this is hopelessness::::this is smelling like dead fish but not being dead fish.' And then he died. Stoic. Being himself but being that other. The golden king. He is not a dead fish, he is a dead man.

As when he first met his wife. A sister of a colleague. 'I am only a fishcutter in spirit,' he said::::though that was a lie::::'I have dreams,' he promised::::though that was a lie::::he'd forgotten them::::or at least said to himself that dreams were useless. 'I can make you happy'::::but it was a lie::::as weeds come up no matter what. He was the one who destroyed her life. Murdered her. Left her empty. Added to her overabundant unhappiness. Though it could just as well have been anyone else.

He was stone::::he was solid::::solid gold, as things happened. Now he is dead. He'd been stolen from numerous times over the years::::kids reaching in and grabbing a few coins or a handful::::drunken Swedes grabbing what they could. Desperate urchins. The less fortunate. He never broke. No matter what, there was always something left::::even those who grabbed up his hat and emptied it had always in the end left the hat. He never broke for thieves. After four, five, sometimes six hours he would rise, stretch out his stiff bones, reawaken his flesh, pick up his hat, and trudge home weary::::like after a twelve hour shift at the cannery. It often happened, these past few years, he was too tired to scrub the paint from his skin, would fall onto his bed, and awaken hours later, slice his cold ham and raise his bottle of beer with golden fists.

Honesty was his father's mantra. It all begins and ends with honesty. Life is honesty. Being human is being honest. A religion::::or some replacement for having no religion. Jens, the first son, was to be the most honest. Peter, the younger, was to never be able to match that honesty. But Jens immersed himself in little deceits and tangled up his childhood in daydreams and misdeeds and lies to cover for misdeeds to the point his whole life was woven from the appearance of honesty. He believed, at age seven, that he had invented 'half-truths'::::a miraculous invention which eventually led him to pronounce in a dream that one day he would be king. Peter, the neglected, cast himself headlong into the pillowy apparition of his mother, utterly terrified of his father. Yet it was Peter who absorbed the prescription of honesty, to the point that as a schoolboy he was teased with the nickname 'The Saint.'

Just because he had been born with the name Mikkel, and that name was attached to a fox in an old legend, he was called Fox by his contemporaries, and even his brothers and sisters and soon after even his parents and aunts and uncles and grandparents took up the nickname::::no one asking Mikkel if it were his wish::::no one realizing that the name caused him pain::::even he forgot that it caused him pain. And then for several years, through high school at least, he learned to appreciate the power of the name::::for it made him something other than Mikkel Pederson::::he was not himself, not responsible for his actions for they were not his, he could turn back toward Mikkel and laugh::::yes, his laugh became fox-like::::his grin::::even the shape of his face had something of the fox, something sharp and pointed, frightened and frightening dark eyes::::and he could run like a fox, good at finding hiding places when need be. His hair was bright orange, cut to resemble fur.

While he stood outside of the main train station waiting for a bus with his friend Bent he looked across to the entrance of Tivoli and remembered the family trip there ten years before, when he was eight years old, and how he'd gotten lost in the crowd, and how his whole family were shouting out 'Fox! Fox! Fox!'::::and how the queerness of that name made the crowd turn and look around, as if a wild animal were loose::::for in his small Jutland town he was just Fox, but it was strange here, in the big city, and he felt ashamed again, that pain. He had forgotten all about that family outing until now::::funny how memories lose themselves::::it was meant to be one of the highlights of his childhood but became something buried. The bus came, they climbed aboard, anxious and amused::::they were going to Christania to buy and smoke some hash. Their first day of freedom, their first day being adults, on their own in the big city. Finding a room in a youth hostel was going to wait, first things first.

They got off in Christianshavn and looked about themselves. Bent went up to a likely looking subject, a wild-haired, glazed eyed, dirty smelling street urchin and asked directions::::the man laughed at them but then pointed. They walked, Fox stopping suddenly and gazing up at the golden spire of the most magnificent church he'd ever seen, dazzled. Bent pulled him along having noticed a stream of people, feeling they were on the right track.

Of the twenty-eight kids in their class, half were going to work on the family farm or in the family store, ten were off to various schools and training programs, one was off to university in Odense, one girl, Trine, was totally lost, defeated, scattered::::she will struggle through two more years::::drug abuse, physical abuse from lovers, the failed promise of a broken engagement, an abortion, an overdose, and finally a deftly executed suicide::::the first moment in her life where she got everything to work exactly as she'd planned, and Fox and Bent were escaping, just escaping::::find some kind of job in Copenhagen and figure out the rest as need be.

They pass by a huge brick wall plastered with rock posters and this shrine adds even more energy to their anxiousness. They become the rock stars themselves::::each separately::::then look to one another for an instant::::realizing they were both fantasizing on the same wavelength they turn away, embarrassed::::then Fox punches Bent in the shoulder::::they laugh, end up chasing each other through the entrance into Christania. Once they reach the stone-laid roadway and see ahead to the has selling stalls, they slow, begin walking together, reverent, as if walking down the aisle of a church::::smile huge to each other, bop to the rhythm of the hip-hop blasting from some ghetto-blaster somewhere.

Bent dives to in front of the first stall on the right. Fox gently pulls him back and away. They walk, as if staggering drunk, from side to side, looking over everyone's shoulders to see the wares laid out.

"Fifty kroner apiece. That's it."

"I know, I know."

"We gotta go back and buy papers, too."

"Yeah, yeah."

Then, standing at the far end of pusher street, in the middle of the street, Fox pulls Bent in.

"What? One gram of killer, or two grams of cheap?"

"We got the papers, too."

"Can't be more than ten."

"Nah."

"Well?"

"Killer. I mean, we toast and stuff."

"You're rolling, dude!"

"Damn right!"

"Here, give me twenty."

Fox fishes out a twenty kroner piece and puts it in Bent's hand. They walk over to a stall and Bent does the ordering. Black Nepal.

They turn, Bent slips the baggie deep in his front pocket. They feel like crooks, walk stiff. Then slowly begin to loosen up.

"The fucking papers!"

"Shit."

And they turn around. Walk back down pusher street acting like tourists amused by the stalls::::not interested. Fox buys the papers from the rasta store. They stand for a moment, not knowing what to do, where to go.

Fox starts walking, fast. Bent keeps up. Once through pusher street Bent just follows Fox's lead. They're silent, focused. It's as if they're already stoned. Each pulls out and smokes a cigarette while they walk. They walk. They come to the lake, find a quiet space, thick grass shaded by trees protected by shrubs, and sit.

"Beautiful."

Bent pulls out a cigarette and toasts it with his lighter, toasts a corner of the chunk of hash, crumbles and mixes the hash into the crisp tobacco. Fox hands him a paper and Bent rolls the joint. Licks it, smiles. Fox grabs it out of his hand and lights up. They smoke. Cough. Smoke. Laugh at nothing. This is what they had planned, months before, nothing but this::::the rest will take care of itself. They smoke it all the way down to a tiny roach, which Fox flicks into the lake. Bent stands suddenly, scaring Fox.

"What? What?"

"Ahhh. Do it!"

And Fox stands quickly.

"Whoa!"

Then they both sit laughing and lean back::::Fox lies down completely, hands behind head, staring up at the cloudless sky.

"I want a beer."

"Fuck, Bent, just hang."

"Naw."

"Well, I'm done-in, I'm not going anywhere for a while."

"Want one?"

"Yeah, grab me one."

"Come on, then."

"Naw, can't. Really."

"Shit."

"Where you going?"

"I saw a cafe back there, come on."

"Naw, can't."

"Shit."

Bent stands woozy and slowly steadies himself and shuffles off. Fox relaxes::::not sleep exactly, but warm like sleep, lost in thought::::thinks about Trine, fucked-up Trine::::she'd said she's go with them, but chickened out at the last minute::::even had her pack with her. At the bus stop she'd kissed Bent sweet then kissed Fox, but not sweet like Bent::::more::::and he thinks about the kiss wanting more but not having her not having anyone or anything but the future, feeling good, and changing his memory of Trine from this basket case to this dreamboat, until her image floats away::::he feels like calling out to her.

He awakes. Muddled. Dull. But happy. Then he figures Bent has been gone an awful long time.

"Fucking Bent."

He gets up and grabs his backpack and swings it on. Then he walks::::gingerly, swaggering some::::rubs his eyes, itchy, but stops. Feels his eyes swollen. Walks. Stumbles a bit. Takes deep breaths. Walks looking around for Bent. Walks down pusher street actively seeking out nonchalance in his manner. Feels good about his walking skills. Goes on automatic and heads down the street. Looks up suddenly at the golden spire of the incredible church::::nearly falls back. The sun is setting::::reflecting orange-gold-vermilion.

"Fuck Bent, man."

He gets to the street where the bus is, tries to make sense of the sign, but can't, so many busses, looks to see if a bus is coming::::giving up on trying to figure out which bus to take he begins walking. He walks over Holman's Bridge, in toward the city. The sun now very low::::bright red-orange. Stroget dark and shadowy, shimmering red on top::::he walks over the little bridge to it. And he walks down Stroget. He's guided by the idea of a map they'd once seen which showed a youth hostel on the other side of the train station, and by reversing the direction of their bus ride. He knows he's heading right. People stare at him::::he feels that people are staring at him::::he's no rock star now::::just some stoned motherfuck. But he lets it go. 'Fuck them::::Bent's got the hash. Fuck Bent. Fuck.' All he wants is a bed to lie down in::::not to sleep::::to lie down in.

He thinks about his little brother Jeppe's farewell.

"Why you going?"

"I don't know. Just to do it."

"What're you going to do there?"

"I don't know."

"I don't want you gone."

"I know. I know. Just gotta."

And Jeppe held back his tears and gave Fox this great big frightened hug. This was a week before he'd left, and Jeppe didn't say a word to him that whole week::::avoided him completely. Fox saddens, almost cries. 'Jeppe. Jeppe. Jeppe.'

He looks to his left and sees in the shadows a fleck of gold. Stops. It takes him a moment to focus, but then he sees that it is an old man, painted gold all over, sitting on a door stoop, a painted broomstick in his golden fist, and a stupid crown on his head. 'What the fuck?'

He regains his balance, then shuffles over to the golden king::::amazed, amused, but suddenly fills with ridicule.

"Old man, hey!"

But the golden king doesn't answer.

"Dude, what are you doing?" He looks around himself for he's spoken very loud, but no one is anywhere in sight.

"What the fuck are you?" He's slowly approaching the golden king::::as if an apparition::::sees something in the shape of the face that reminds him of his father and becomes apologetic, but shakes that, shakes his head.

"I don't understand."

He walks right up to where the little English girl had stood::::looks down at the hat brimming with money.

"A good business, eh?"

But the golden king says nothing.

"Come on, man::::Talk to me!"

But the golden king says nothing.

"Can I borrow a hundred, dude?"

He kicks the hat lightly::::making sure it is as full as it appears::::never looking directly into the old man's eyes.

"What a racket, huh?"

Still no one is around.

"Prince Henrik know about you?" And he laughs. Then becomes angry::::as if at his drunken father.

"Fuck you. I'm taking it!"

He spits sloppily to his side, wipes his chin.

"Yeah, fuck you!"

He bends over and sways back and forth like an elephant::::arms dangling, fingers hovering almost touching the money hat.

"I'm taking it! You're no match for me::::I'm the Fox!"

Fox grabs the hat by the brim with two hands, hoists it up::::heavy::::and jogs off and turns down a side-street. There's a couple walking toward him. He straightens. Looks away. Ends up carrying the hat out in front of him as if a serving tray. Once past the couple he looks back::::no one::::nothing. He goes a little further, takes off his backpack::::takes out his sweatshirt off the top, and sets the money hat there, restraps the pack. Groans as he lifts and fits the pack on::::heavy. Keeps his sweatshirt in his hands while he walks::::wrenches it in his hands.

Now he's lost. He stops and tries to figure out which way to head, but he's lost his sense of direction::::couldn't even find his way back to Stroget if he wanted to. He's on some little parallel street, but not sure he's headed in the right direction. He stops, then turns and starts walking the other direction. He stops again. Mumbles 'Shit.' He gets antsy and decides to just walk. He finally comes across a seedy looking corner bar, ducks inside.

Dark and motley::::quite a crowd standing at the bar::::a few people scattered around the tables. He chooses a fairly secluded table and swings off his pack::::losing the weight of it makes him dizzy::::reawakens his high, and he has to sit for a moment. Then he secretively reaches under into the top flap of his pack and grabs a handful of coins. An old man two tables away is watching him with interest::::Fox realizes it and rushes, while still trying to be secretive, but ends up dropping a few coins as he pulls out his hand. The dropped coins make alot of noise on the hardwood floor. A twenty rolls over by the old man::::he doesn't move::::stares with a little amusement but mostly deep interest at Fox, who's a bit flustered, guilty, embarrassed, clumsily chases after and picks the coins up off the floor::::looks up and into the cold blue eyes of the old man, then slowly rises.

"What'd'ya got in there::::a pot of gold?"

Fox doesn't respond. Slips the coins in his front pocket. Then he walks halfway over to the bar before thinking and looks back at his pack and to the old man, goes back and picks it up and carries it over with him to the bar as he orders and gets his beer, then heads back to the table and sits. The old man raises his bottle in a silent toast. Fox reciprocates, shaking loose a layer of nervousness, and drinks.

The old man soon finishes his bottle and gets up::::quite drunk. And starts out. He signals to some people at the bar::::nods goodbye, and leaves. Fox sits with his beer::::not really in the mood to get drunk, but not really in the mood not to, the high wearing off slowly and the shakiness caused by the incident with the golden king calming down at a similar rate so everything all in all becoming mellow. Fox doesn't notice that one of the guys the old man had signaled to has gotten up from the bar and is heading out the door.

Outside on the street the guy stands under the streetlamp and looks around for Rasmus, the old man. Finally he sees him standing pissing against the wall in a dark passageway. He shakes his head, streaks his beard, and heads over.

"What, Rasmus?"

"Ah, Billie. Billie, gold!"

"What?"

"Pot of gold, Billie."

"What you talking about, old man?"

"I get half::::hear me?"

"Half-crocked."

Billie turns to go back into the bar.

"Naw, Billie. That kid just came in. Something special in his backpack."

"Probably nothing."

"Naw, naw. You should see him baby the thing. I saw him reach in and just pull out a handful of coin::::like it's just stuffed with it."

"Let it be, Rasmus."

"Naw, come on, Billie. Pot of gold, I'm telling you."

"So?"

"He's stoned. Get him drunk. Put the kid asleep."

"I ain't investing a single kroner in getting the kid drunk."

"Listen, I'm so sure there's a pot of gold there, listen."

He pulls out his roll of bills and takes out a crisp hundred and hands it to Billie.

"He's already stoned. Listen::::I get half. It's me who told you::::it's my investment."

"I don't want to strike-up some shitty conversation with the punk. You do it."

"He's on to me. He knows I know. Besides, I'm fucked myself. Come on. One hour is all it'll take. Pot of gold, I'm telling you."

"If he's a peckerhead I'm giving up. I ain't wasting my evening talking to some moron."

"Feel it out. You'll see."

"Shit."

Billie heads back into the bar. Orders two beers, then sits at the same table the old man had sat at. He sees Fox but doesn't pay him much attention. Drinks from one of the beers::::and puts on this act as if he's impatient::::shifts in his seat::::he's waiting for someone.

Fox slams the last of his beer and sits in that moment before getting up and pulling on his pack and heading out.

Billie comes over to his table carrying the two beers.

"Waiting on my bitch. Here::::have her beer before it gets warm::::the bitch. With her girlfriend Tina. Going to come, she said. Ah::::they'll show. Here, take it.

"Uh, thanks."

He sits and looks out over the crowd.

"Women. You got a woman?"

"Naw. Well. Naw."

"Exactly."

"This Tina she's hanging with is a bullet. I mean a bullet, you know. I got no respect for her. All the time *Hey, you're cute!' There she goes. Then she moves on. I don't like my Camilla hanging with her. You want the thing though, well there it is."

Billie finishes his beer, gets up, goes over and gets two more, brings them back. Sets the other beer in the center of the table.

"Where you come from?"

"Ah, outside Thisted."

"Jutland boy! Cool! My family originates over there."

"It's alright."

"Yeah. Copenhagen is too much some times."

"Oh, I'm stoked to be here."

"Where you live?"

"Um. Getting a flop or something."

"You don't got a place yet?"

"Naw. I'm reserved in this hostel over behind the train station."

"Hostel? It's nearly one, boy. No hostel'll let you in this late. You do Christania, or something?"

"Yeah."

"Ah, it's so expensive there, dude, I've got this friend who sells killer for what they sell regular for."

"Cool."

"You just got in?"

"Today."

"Camilla's such a bitch::::but I love her. Here, take this. I just hope that Tina isn't with her. But she does have a nice apartment no far from here::::wouldn't be much work to score a nice warm bed."

"Dude, I gotta go."

"Listen, I'm telling you, no hostel's going to check you in at one in the morning::::and cheap hotels, well, you'll have to go to Vesterbro. It's a walk."

"Shit. I lost my friend Bent at the lake. I don't know."

"I got a couch."

"Naw, naw, I'll get a flop."

"Well, it's a walk."

"That's O.k."

"Well, I'm walking part way anyway. Fuck the girls! Come on. Drink up. We'll, I'll go part way::::point you in the right direction."

"Let's do it."

Billie slams the rest of his beer. Fox swings on his backpack. And they're off and out the door. They walk. Fox feels a bit drunk, a bit stoned. His head hurts. He just wants to find a cheap hotel and crash. Billie leads him into a very dark and narrow street.

"That pack seems heavy. I'll carry it."

"Naw. That's O.k. It's not bad."

"Naw. Let me carry it."

"No. Really."

"I'm just being friendly::::come on."

And Billie puts his hand on the strap on Fox's shoulder. Fox twists away.

"Let me help you with your fucking pack!"

Fox sense the weirdness, but isn't immediately afraid, just annoyed.

"No, I::::"

Just then Billie shoves Fox back into a wall.

"Hey!"

"Give me your fucking pack!"

Before Fox has a moment to think or say anything, Billie slams him against the wall again.

"Fuck, dude!"

But before Fox can get his right arm up to slug back, Billie punches him hard in the face::::breaking his nose. Once down on the ground Billie begins kicking Fox in the side::::as hard as he can::::then one swift kick to the head. Another. Another. Fox dies.

 

Several days later Peter is called by the police to claim his brother's body::::it had taken the authorities that long to identify Jens. He goes to the morgue and verifies the body is Jens'::::the gold paint gathers moisture in the cold so it looks as if Jens is sweating.....

***




William Fairbrother born La Jolla, CA April 10, 1956, 10:10pm. Winner of Bravura Award for poetry, four plays produced, eight collections of poetry and four novels published. Lives in Denmark.

Email: wfairbrother@virtualitch.com
Website: http://www.virtualitch.com/


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