“Rebel, Rebel” – Fiction by T. Mazzara

ChargerBe warned: T. Mazzara‘s “Rebel, Rebel,” one of the short stories from our Spring 2014 issue, contains some extremely salty language. But beneath all that salt there’s also tremendous tenderness. 

{ X }

for Shawn

I GOTTA GET TO NEW YORK BEFORE 3 AM or Big Meanie, Jimmy Dread, is gonna fuckin stick-rape me with a broom handle and feed my bones to his bulls, gonna cut off my ears and chop off my head. I been driving this route and driving it drifted for two years now, trying to buy the ticket on dad’s ranch house. Buy it back from my sunk-headed Moms. She’s got not a marble left and they’re gonna take the dump from her, she don’t get square with the bank. I been driving this route since Jean Genie bit the big assfuckin farm on it. That’s my cousin, Jean Genie.

Jean died when his box truck launched off this elevated road (that’s Route 17 East to New York-fuckin-Shitty). Jean buried truck and driver in the woods just betwixt Beaver Kill and Roscoe. And that’s Roscoe “Trout Town USA.” Upstate. He buried Jean Genie good too. Fucker was a mess of blood and knotty, greasy hair and white meat and wood and red meat and metal splinters, buried in bark and sticks and branches, cloaked in wet red and steam and smoke and brake lights. Twisted metal, twisted Genie. Twisted sister. Jean Genie. Ziggy Stardust.

I’m carrying a load of H (and some blow on the side). All packaged neat in 50 pound bags of organic flour. Genie still talks to me. I’m the Jazz. It’s something I do. It’s something I do for the Dread. It’s something that’s done.

I’m passing Slaterville Springs, now. Bug zappers zapping and flashing and it’s 35mph thru here so they’re easy to hear over this godawful loud engine. I’m still on east 79. It goes up to 55mph after here and then I’ll be headed thru Richford and past Robinson’s Hollow Road and there’s fuckin nothing out there.

But there is a red Dodge Charger here now and he’s been behind me and beside me and I’ve passed him real careful-like, twice now, and he’s weaving like a motherfucker. There’s drunks at night out here. Small town, not much to do at night. Day too. Not certain if this one’s a drunk. Can’t never be certain of anything, really, Jean Genie used to say. But Dodge Charger keeps slowing and I pass him and then he’ll waggle in my rearviews and he’s in and out of lanes and I lose sight of him around a bend til he guns it and smashes past me, suckin wind and shakin the Bigtop.

You never can be sure of much. Jean Genie used to say black holes was planets that had evolved some species into machines that needed to eat and needed power to eat and they then went off and e’en everything. And it wasn’t like astronomers said and what the hell did astronomers know? They had theories and observations. Hell, we could make theories and observations. We could make observations and theories all we fuckin wanted, but unless they could magic his ass up to the center of the galaxy and let him stick his finger in a supermassive black hole, he didn’t believe in black holes and thought the center of the galaxy must just be filled with unicorn farts and marshmallow fluff.

He always said that the world as we know it was coming to an end and that everything that is just now, even as I say this sentence here, is now the past and everything back then is questionable and every configuration of us was different from one moment to the next. Or some shit like that. I think I said it right. I don’t know. He was a confusing shit and I was faced when he told me that.

Never seen you so faced.

Jimmy Dread, the Big Meanie, hired me out for these runs. He’s a big dreaded fuck. Fat like medicine ball. Fat like Tuesday. Round and tattooed and living outside of Ithaca with his big round wife and his big round kids. He owns land all over the place down around Cayuga Lake. Takes money to own land like that. Takes me. It took Jean Genie.

I’m passing the “Town of Lisle,” now. And West Windsor. 175 miles from New York. I know I smoke too much. No, that’s wrong. If I had the money, I’d smoke until it killed me. I would. These cigarettes, these mini thins and this Dex are all saving my life (while fuckin with my piss). And that’s no shit.

No shit.

My cousin Jean. And – just so you know – he wasn’t a fuckstart like me. He was upright and a under-appreciated genius, who, aside from his obnoxious obsession with David Bowie, was a Space Oddity and a smooth talker and a bean pole and we called him Patches and sometimes Skittles and he was Major Thom, and the Dancing Queen of Dryden. People said he was no-good. But most people are no-good and whatever the fuck that means. Cause what is “good” really? I mean, in a cosmic sense. Genie was a true motherfucker, the goddaughter of good times and the father of strange ideas and stranger reason. Yeah, my cousin Jean was all-white.

Just gassed up at the Sunoco at Whitney Point. I’m on my thirteenth tab of Ephedrine. Lucky thirteen. Thirteen. Thirteen. Lucky. Ah, my sweet mini thins, my supple white-cross pre-game. Yeah, Dexedrine is next. You know it is. But not til West Point. Gotta be disciplined about it all. Disciplined. West Point. Get it? Can’t hit the New York Shitty too shifted and all at once. Gotta make it just right, roll in too queered up and I might punch a hole in Union Square or flip the Bigtop – the sprinter – the too-much-van on the West-side Highway and then where’d I be? I know what I’m doing. I know what I’m doing.

I’m heading out to 81, now, just outside Whitney Point.

Keep up.

Major Thom (still Jean Genie) did this road stone cold sober, maybe hopped up on coffee, but that’s it. He was clean living Jean. Pot don’t count. He smoked that too. He drank an ocean, sucked a scheme – yeah – did his fair share of boozin with me and the boys. But, that thin, greasy fucker was clean as a whistle otherwise. Not like us now. Now we got the dirty ride and we know what we’re carrying.

Not like poor Ziggy. He was straight and narrow by comparison. It’s sad, really. They found all them bricks of Calvin stuffed neat inside the twenty-six 25 pound bags of all-purpose organic flour in the back of his truck. Two hundred bucks a weekend. He coulda been making my odds n’ ends, bank and whatnot. Poor Space Oddity never knew what hit him. Didn’t know what hit him when he got impaled by that branch and decapitated by that brace. Didn’t know what hit him when his head was rolling off, bouncing off-kilter like a football, they found it a hundred feet from the wreck. And all the time him hauling glitter he never’d known he was hauling.

Never knew. Never knew. Never cared.

I just past thru a smog of bugs on that stretch of 17 where it splits from 81 South to Scranton and their bodies are pasted smears of mother-of-pearl on my already smudged windshield. Approaching brights make it impossible to see and I’m all fly by instinct at times. It’s the solstice and it’s bright outside to begin with. Fireflies winking in the trees along the road. Gotta keep it above 70 to make the Shitty by 3 AM. But hold fast, this – whatever the fuck this is – this shit’s about Jean Genie. This shit’s not about me.

Jean was a skinny fuck and got beat up no-end in school. Me too, for that matter, so no big thing. He’d let his hair grow long and that was double-trouble when the jocks started noticing him and called him Jean Fairy cause he had a girl’s name and was light-weight and had longish hair and wonderful, strange ideas about life. But he ended up winning with them too. He owned that shit. He started with thrash metal like Slayer, Anthrax, Metallica, Sepultura, and then on to hardcore and punk. I remember he started wearing eyeshadow for a time and listened to old punk rock, day and night, head buried in noise-canceling headphones and he even talked with a British accent all one summer. That didn’t help much. And we didn’t really get along, I mean musically or otherwise. I don’t listen to anything really, or I guess I’m like one of those people who listens to “everything,” but I hate people who say they listen to “everything” cause that’s like saying you don’t discriminate and that you have no opinion and that’s just weak.

Jeanie had opinions. He discriminated. He loved his long brown hair and it always seemed wet. And the kids and parents of Dryden all thought he was gonna build pipe bombs and shoot up the school. But, I knew he was a peaceful little shit who secretly loved David Bowie and dreamed of starting a glam pop band.

You gotta admire the kid for giving the finger to all them fucks. He’d been sent to the school shrink after he spent a few weeks wearing a prom dress to class. What are you so angry at Jean? And of course Genie was like, What the fuck am I not? You call me a fairy and I’ll be your fairy, I’ll be whatever you think is bad cause that’s what, huh? That’s total fuckin what.

Total fuckin what.

Jean didn’t leave me his bicycle. We all just went over and grabbed shit after he passed. I ride it up the hill to the farm every weekend for this shit. It’s a tough ride in the summer, better come fall. It’s worse this time of year. There’s the stank of ginko and – oooooh – then that good smell of magnolia and there must be a grove up there in the maples near the farm, or – at least – I speculate. The moon’s so bright. Solstice. Crossing the Susquehanna, now. 14 miles to Deposit. Demascus one mile. Gunning the engines to maintain speed on the uphill. Gotta love the sleeveless summer.

Big Meanie hired Jean just outa school. Hauling organic all-purpose flour to the City, from one of his farms just outside of our sweet, sweet Dryden. Good gig for an outa luck shit like him. Good work for a shit like me.

And what the fuck? A firefly just landed on my collar and I killed him on accident and he’s all smeared on my hand and it’s like the lights coming off that not working radio. Dodge Charger is back. And it seems like he’s followed me from 78. There’s that shudder and vacuum as he passes. Windows tinted.

Dunbare road, Occanum.

Done-done-done bare, oh come on.

Where’d the Charger go now?

All Jean Genie wanted to do was save up money and go be a jackass in Brooklyn. Holy shit! That fuckstart in the Charger is behind me and he’s still gots his freakin brights on. Fuck me. Cop.

No. Just some asshat all geared up on probably something you got in quantity in this van.

Delaware county. Exit 84, Deposit. The van smells like moldy flour and it’s 10 miles to Hancock. Lightning barking in the distance. Pretty, anyway.

Hale Eddy. Hale.

Roods Creek Road.

Oh by the Roods Creek Road.

Man, another dick just passed me with his brights on and some bat just come pinwheeling outta nowhere and spun past my mirror, shrieking the whole fuckin way. Dopplered the fuck by, he did. Poor bat. That’s most likely how Jean Genie bought it. Speculating here, but I bet it was some stupid fuckin bat or some stupider fuckin bird come hurtling outa nowhere what made him lose control. Made him lose it on the highway and lose it all over the woods after passing the shoulder. Rolling stony over the shoulder, like some border, some skipped moment of lookout! just before some big moment of real peril. Aw, who the fuck is this?

Not Dodge Charger.

Not Dodge Charger. Good. Coming up on Callicoon.

The village of Handcock.

Exit 89 and Fishs Eddy. That’s fishes. Fish’s. Ed-ed-eddy.

Sharp curve, Bitch. Watch it.

Liberty, 31 Miles.

East Branch and Downville. Here comes Charger.

Slow to 55. Let that Charger pass. Again.

Sometimes there’s fog, sometimes there’s rain, sometime there’s rain and fog.

There’s a bend right after the Beaver Kill sign. Head in the game, Jackass.

Fog and clouds break and then there’s stars. So many. Awesome.

Big gully to the right after Beaver Kill. Wow, pay the fuck attention, Jazz.

And here it is: mile marker 308. And why the fuck did the highway patrol tell us that? What fucking difference did that make what mile marker he bought it at? My addle-brained moms had tears in her large addle-brained eyes and I never thought she even gave Genie two thoughts. But those tears was big and real and reflected red and blue off the cruiser’s lights spinning in our drive. Small funeral, he weren’t missed by a town that paid him nothin but criticism. He weren’t missed by nobody but us and stitched-up old Big Meanie. Oh, Genie. Why’d I take this job? Why’d I listen to the Dread?

You’re a big pussy. That’s why.

He’s got me by the short hairs now. Fucker put in the papers to buy dad’s joint. Moms is in peril and doesn’t know up from down. I been telling her not to give up with the bank, but she don’t know. She don’t fuckin know. Advantage-taker. Big Meanie, you big, fat, fuckin slob. I got your number, fuckstart.

He’s gonna own you.

Nobody’s gonna own me.

Oh, hey. Exit. And there goes Charger up the highway.

I just swung a left, under the overpass, past the Roscoe Fly Fishing Museum. Trout Town, USA. Newspapers Sold Here. And groceries, apparently. Bank of America. They call this downtown area “the Commons,” but it’s really just a single street in the middle of fuck-where. Guns and Ammo Country Store. Might need a bit of that if I don’t make time. Zipped past Raimondo’s Restaurant. Left past the Roscoe/Rockland Fire Department. American flags hanging from a light pole. And that always makes me laugh. The United Church, red, big, and useless, like the stars and stripes. Beaver Kill Angler. Still in Roscoe. NYC 117 miles. Prohibition Distillery Tasting Room, Railroad Museum. That’s Roscoe.

I pick up a load of pasta out at the Rockville Farm and that’s a scary, dead place (there’s a little packet of pills in between the folded invoices and bags of organic pasta) and I’m out-out-out on to the 27th Division Memorial Highway, again. More dead bugs.

Keep driving. Keep on. Make it before the morning.

Before dad died, he gave Genie space on our property to build a place of his own and he did just that. That kid could build anything. He’d find plans and just build. Built my moms a farm-house coffee table and a end table and a chair that nobody could sit in cause it wasn’t all that comfortable. But he fuckin built it. Built a cabin out back our place. One room shack. A nice pro-fessional job and sturdy as fuck and just enough for him. Loft bed. Little desk on the ground floor. Even drew electric from my dad’s place. Had sound power and listened to his Bowie and his seven inches. Genie had plans. Nobody else seemed featured in those plans.

You did. You featured.

He spent that springtime just before dad died collecting trash cans, metal cans, and he’d gut out the bottoms. Sparrows hunting bugs in low bowling swoops in our backyard. Stacked them cans on their sides in rows on top of rows, not ten paces up-wind from his cabin, like stacked sewage pipes at a construction site. Said he got the idea from that, from seeing webs inside the sewage pipes over on 79 when they built that McDonalds outside of Lisle. Strapped them down with cargo straps and rope. And he’d spend every day for a month picking spiders from around our property and relocating them to the inside of these cans. Tried to coax them into setting up shop. I heard him talking to a few. Some took. Some ate their neighbors. Some just wandered off, but by mid-summer he had a nice collection of spiders and webs and all of them inside these gutted trash cans. The grass grew up between the cans and he’d let that be, but was highly concerned about the grass near his little hut. Cut it low like the putting green on the nineteenth hole. Said low grass kept the bugs out. Said the spiders killed the interlopers. A spider colony. Go fucking figure. Not certain if all that shit about low grass and bugs was true, but drinking High Life outside that cabin late summer was about mosquito free. That’s when he said it to me. Out back. After Dad’s funeral. All we can do is be good to each other. We can’t eat each other. We’re not like them. All we can do is take care of each other. It’s not who we are. Not where we come from, but what we do. And it hit me. It did. Even a fuck like me. It stuck.

Gotta get the ticket on the house. Gotta do a few more runs like these. Gotta be free.

Dodge Charger just showed up again and if I was a paranoid fuck instead of just a regular fuck, I’d think he was tailing me. I’m pretty sure he’s a drunk though. It’s hitting him pretty hard now.

He is just plain unsettled back there. Those skinny new lights doing a zig-zag right near my back bumper. I can’t even let up on the gas, cause he’d plow right into my ass.

Watch it.

Yeah, thanks, Ziggy.

Woah! And fuck me! He did just spun the fuck off.

He did and just that.

I seen his lights go left and then go right and then I seen his tail lights disappear off the shoulder. My brain’s yellin at me. Should I stop? Hey, Genie, should I fuckin stop?

What would Jean Genie do?

Fucker’s probably just passed out, head on wheel, and gonna be found by the next person might pass. But, Man. What if he’s dead? Like Jean Genie was dead. What IF he’s dead? What the fuck do I do then? Getting distance between us, now. No time. No time. No time. Jimmy Dread’s gonna fuck me. Gonna fuck me without passion. Without affection. FUCK ME.

What would Jean Genie do? And my hand is turning the wheel on its own now and it seems like it’s outside my own control and I’m rumblin on the shoulder. The rocks on the shoulder skip and spit as my foot slides up on the brake. Fuckin Big Meanie is gonna whack me. I know it. But, I’m stopping. Can’t help it now. Can’t stop the stop.

Reverse.

About a quarter mile.

Took you long enough.

Fuck you, Ziggy.

I’m walking up to the Charger now, and there’s steam and smoke coming up from the engine. Stupid drunk. My legs don’t want to move. I’m light-headed. I want to sit down. I’m not gonna. He’s got that Charger all twisted and accordioned against an oak. Windows smashed out and his blinker is on. Yellow, yellow, yellow and the casings smashed and in the grass. The engine sounds like it’s complaining and the front wheels are still spinning, but slowing. What the fuck. Hope Drunk’s not dead. I can’t call the cops no way. No fuckin way. I’m loaded to bear with a ton of illegal chems, and that’s just the van. Got enough inside me to spook any Barney Fife. Don’t be dead, Mister. Don’t be dead.

Blinkers flashing in the smoke.

Driver’s side, no glass.

There’s blood.

Shit. Fuck.

There’s a arm hanging out the window.

He’s got black marks and blood on that arm.

And the winds picked up and my flashers are winking and warning from the shoulder.

Too bright out here for this late.

Window.

Big Meanie.

Jimmy Dread.

Jimmy Dread is dead.

That is, unless he can function with a oak branch stickin outa his neck and half his fat face gone.

Possible, but unlikely.

And in one godawful moment, I’m free.

And Jean Genie is free.

And Jean Genie is paid the fuck back.

Paid back in full. Even if we don’t get the ticket back.

Some other Dodge Charger will fill the vacuum. No doubt. But it ain’t gonna be Big Meanie no more. And you can’t sell a house to a dead man.

Door slams. Key turns. Engine lives. Popped two whities. Foot slams hard on the gas. Rocks spit in a hundred different arcs out the back. Red flying rocks in the sideviews.

I’m singing now. Roaring down 17. Doing eighty. Breakin all the rules. Even my own. Hop, skip, and jumped up on my pretty-boy, Mmmmm, Baby White Cross. I’m thinking of you, Jean Genie.

I’m thinking of you right now and I’m howling at the moon and at the top of my lungs. There’s enough powder in the back of this big stupid sprinter to buy Dryden. There’s enough to put Moms away and take back Dad’s ranch house. Just gotta find a buyer. And how hard could that be? It is New York fuckin Shitty.

I’m belting it out for you, my hero, Ziggy fuckin Stardust, Rebel Rebel, Major Thom, Jean Genie. You big fuckin Space Oddity. I’m gonna drive this route til another bat, my own bat, comes pinwheeling outa the night. But maybe it were’t no fuckin bat to begin with. Maybe it was Big Meanie and his Dodge Charger that done in Genie. And maybe that makes me the big fuckin hero, just for one day. The world as we know it has just come to a motherfuckin end. I’ma get to the Shitty by 2AM. Just a’cause. I’ma sing for you the whole way, Jean. I’ma keep on keepin on.

Turn your fuckin brights off, asshat!

I wish I could swim! Like dolphins can swim!

{ X }

T. MazzaraT. MAZZARA was born in Virginia and studied at Trinity College Dublin.

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