Fiction

Every Day is Sunday

by Peter Bracking

.
Ross groans almost inaudibly. He rolls on the hard bed and this causes the phlegm in the lungs to shift and out pops a single soft cough that cannot be stifled. Before he opens his eyes the door is being squeaked open allowing the forty five pound black and white mutt to jump on the bed ready to stick to Ross’ side, from the moment of entry the dog could always see his face. In the doorway is Pavel. He is rubbing a finger under his nose. His one good eye winks and he is gone leaving the door open. The pisote, ten pounds of terror, leaps into the room to ensure the dog has not given it the slip. The beginning of the morning ritual.

.
Ross ablutes. Leaves the room, squeaking the door closed and uselessly telling the dog to ‘stay’ outside he pushes his way into the Pole’s room. Pavel is in his forties, tight brown curls with a knife scar that runs from his eye to the edge of his chin. He is medium height. He weighs about four pounds if he is holding a small barracuda. He is sitting on the bones of his ass bouncing on the edge of his bed. He is a bit flushed and his blind eye always looks as if it is staring directly at Ross.

.
“Something to wake up with.” It is always a statement and always a necessity for him. Ross sits on the only chair as he does every morning knowing by afternoon he would search corners for mythical rocks. “Ja,” Pavel smiles for the first time.

.
The rooms are two of four on the floor. Only two rooms are ever occupied. The rooms are cubes 10×10 with one corner plumbed with a shower that works if you use a bucket and not the faucet and a toilet with a cistern that doubles as the room safe guarded internally by intricate spider webs that operates the same way. Two walls are windows. Floors, walls, and ceilings are unpainted, untreated concrete. The window is spiked shut, concrete gouged out below the frame in number of places where the long spikes were much stronger than the concrete the window was eventually anchored to. Grey, grey, grey is the décor. There is a ceiling fan with about a four foot wingspan that does work when there is electricity in town and a table to go with the chair that Ross occasionally wobbles on.

.
Pavel and Ross are the outcasts of the white population of about twelve. They live in a hotel on the beach. In the Garifuna part of town, the black part of town, with the descendants of the failed slave revolt on St. Vincent Island off the coast of Venezuela. They are anathema to the upstanding white population that are there to stretch their civilized pension dollars. As if the two of them could ever give a shit.

.
The thin Pole has been there about a year and Ross has been dragged down the short corridor every morning for about six months now. Ross wondered why he ever complained about it to himself.

.
Pavel had told his story even if Ross would not break his own vow never to reveal his. Pavel told him that he had slummed in most of the capitols of Europe. In a whirlpool of drugs. That he preferred an Italian winter to a Scottish summer. Ross got the idea that the Pole knew how to get by on nothing everywhere he went. Pavel told him that he learned to speak English in prison in Morocco. His scar was born there too. He thought some Arab had been giving him the eye and so tried to give him a blow job in the shower one hot morning. He had lost his eye in the ensuing knife fight. He told Ross that he had simply fallen in love with the wrong big fucking Arab. Morocco was his third prison and after his release his family would not suffer him to return to Gdansk, they could not stand the idea that he was even on the same continent as they were. He got a fat monthly allowance to stay very far away. This thin strip of brown beach was very far away. Pavel was one of the many remittance men Ross had met. But that is another story.

.
He was an addict. If it could be liquified and sucked into a rocket that he could poke into a vein it was good by him. Pavel spent more money on syringes than Ross spent on food. Pavel’s problem was that it was impossible for him to get high alone. He did not just want company, someone to sit there and to talk but someone who was high as well. Hence every morning the door squeak and the finger under the nose.

.
It can’t be later than nine am as he has not heard: “Rosco, su desayuno!” shouted up from below. For some reason that he could never figure out it was impossible for his neighbours to call him by his single syllabled name, always adding the ‘co’. Ross always thought that Pavel could never wait until after breakfast and if Ross did not stir he would wake him. Ross, unfortunately, never could sleep that long to find out. There is small time element then as all that needs to be done must be done before the breakfast call. The first round anyway.

.
This particular stretch of beach was part of the cocaine trial from Columbia. Most of it came off the cargo ships that unloaded across the bay, a one- time training ground for the mercenaries that fought as Contras in the most recent American intervention in Nicaragua. A great deal of uncut cocaine moved through and around the tiny town that they lived in. Pavel is in heaven.

.
The first thing that he does is hand Ross a rather new copy of an Estonian/Spanish dictionary left by the only previous occupant of the grey room. Ross is the only person who uses it and he never opens the book. Pavel smiles more broadly now, his scar stretching his face into a grimace that actually looks like pain. Then it begins.

.
Pavel leans over and searches through the papers, empty match boxes, cigarette butts, the occasional bit of food, the general mess found on any junky’s table. He finds nothing. Then he searches in the drawer. More paper, useless junk, a tablespoon with the bowl blackened thick with carbonation that he sets aside, bottle caps, match boxes, even paper clips, but not what he seeks. His smile gets wider with frustration. The appearance of pain palpable. He moves his bones off the bed, gets on his sharp knees and looks under the bed where there is nothing and never has been anything. He walks over to his suitcase abandoned in a corner of the room throws it open, searching deep into the emptiness and finding nothing. Ross can hear the dog outside whine some communication to the pisote. Pavel stands in the middle of the room his head and good eye turning wildly around. Ross begins to wonder how long until the breakfast shout. Pavel is breathing heavily now, sweat is beading on his forehead. Ross says nothing. He knows better. Pavel finally has a brainstorm, looks over his shoulder to see if Ross is looking and when he assures himself that Ross is staring out of the window at the palms, reaches up to the ceiling fan and there, exactly where it always is, on one of the wings, is a very large bag of high grade coca which he plucks down with a heavy sigh of relief. Success. This takes about ten minutes from the beginning to the end. Every morning. If Ross is ever foolish enough to mention where the dope is Pavel gets paranoid, thinking that Ross is watching where it hides to steal it. Ross has nothing but time. This is Pavel’s ritual, not his. And who is Ross to say anything about it? Both waiting and the counting of time are meaningless when compared to the eternal rhythm of the ocean a few meters below and across the street.

.
By now there is at least one cantina blasting Bob Marley outside. Another will start up playing different Marley at a competitive volume within moments. Kids are shouting and will be playing. Young ones jumping a hank of frayed rope removed from an equally frayed, now useless net. Older boys rolling a dead tire through the dust with a stick. The bars on the corner are open and will be beginning to fill. Two bars, eleven posts at widely varying angles planted in the sand with a plywood seat nailed onto the tops is the total seating arrangement. Life trudges on. Outside.

.
Pavel’s eye is locked on the bag, quarter ounce or half ounce.

.
Back to the table and Pavel digs out a new rocket and places it precisely at the edge. He takes the four month old newspaper and opens it on his lap. He carefully opens the bulging bag. Now he takes back the dictionary. He picks up his tablespoon. He fills the tablespoon and dumps it onto the book. There is usually a gram or two of the yellowed grains in a little hillock. He covers the hillock with a matchbook, to stop it blowing off but the window is nailed shut and the only other possible source for moving air is the fan which is never turned on. He hands the book with it’s carefully covered hillock carefully back to Ross, Pavel’s partner in dreams. “This is for you.” Again, the same as every other morning.

.
He fills his spoon again with the yellow coca, looks at Ross who finds a reason to turn away, and immediately unfolds the few thin pounds around his bones standing to replace his precious bag on the always still wing of the fan. Then he adds a drip of water to the concoction while Ross lights a candle. Pavel hovers the spoon steadily over it and the dope and water begin to bubble immediately. He fills the rocket and looks at Ross. Ross must always be first so he cuts a big line out. Pavel smiles, reaches over and flips papers, with a blind hand, and passes over a crisp tightly rolled American hundred dollar bill. Ross honks back a good part of his hillock. As soon as Ross lifts his head Pavel pokes the rocket into his arm and plunges into his dream. Moments later after his head falls back onto his greasy pillow and Pavel is on another planet. He will remain, in his dream, on another planet or in another dimension for about ten or fifteen minutes. Pavel does not fuck around with his dope. His plan is to get fucked up so small doses are a waste of his life.

.
Ross has to piss to beat the band and now is the moment to make a move. He slips out as politely quietly as he can and zips down the three flights with both dog and pisote trying to trip him believing misguidedly as animals tend to do that they are off for a walk. Ross slows and smiles at the black family who adopted him and runs into the latrine across the street. Listens to the sound of his water falling, falling and ignoring the stink. Finally relieved
he opens the door almost tripping on the dog and the pisote standing eternal guard. Ross takes a minute to help pick out the daily fish from someone’s cousin that both the family and hotel guests will eat and then he has to beat it back up the stairs in a rag tag parade of three to be there when the Pole reenters this dimension. He takes only a moment to look at the glistening sea and to smell the mangoes growing within arms reach. He slips in and usually his timing is perfect. Pavel lifts his head, probably at the sound of the dog’s whine on being shut out, shut out, always shut out, and Pavel rejoins the mundane living just as Ross is cutting another line.

.
Now if Pavel is very serious he will now begin to fill another rocket. Ross waits, crisp bill halfway to his nostril. Pavel thinks for an instant and stands and he digs around on his piled table until he finds the baking soda and it is time to cook some rocks. Ross always holds out the pile on the dictionary to fill the spoon for rocks. “No, no, how many times, no. That is for you.” Pavel says this so many times he has almost lost his accent with the repetition.

.
And again, as always, Pavel begins the search for his comfort coca. Table, drawer, bed, suitcase, at which point Ross finds something interesting about his broken sandals, then the miraculous thought of the best hiding place, the wing of the ever still fan.

.
He dips the spoon back into the bag, judiciously adds soda, water and they watch the magic of chemistry. The mixture bubbles. Then slowly a slick, an oil forms on the water. This oil is skimmed off and as soon as the heat is gone it hardens. Crack. One spoonful yields a number of large rocks. One spoonful is never enough. They begin to smoke the first pile as the second is being made.

.
There is always a collection of ashes stored in any one of the many matchboxes. The pipe is a pop can with pin holes. Ash is mounded and the rocks placed on top and ignited melting down into an instant dream. When the ash is all sticky it is put aside and saved in another match box, to be smoked that later when Pavel is too stoned to see how much dope to mix with the soda. He is toking away and he nods at the book and the pile of cocaine under the matchbox and he stares at Ross with his piercing eye. Get higher is the indication. Pavel can’t even wait for Ross to decide his own pace. Pavel has a mission and Ross is merely the second in command. He has to keep up. After all what are friends for?

.
The dog whines outside the door. Someone is coming up the stairs. Pavel freezes with the can pressed to his face. Ross knows it is someone the dog is familiar with but he is still as well. A shadow passes the window. Emilio. Pavel’s lover.

.
The door opens and Emilio, very large Emilio, glowers at Ross reaching out and taking the pipe from Pavel. Leans down and kisses him, kicks the door shut. “Phosphero,” he says. Another ugly look is fired at Ross.

.
Nothing changes. In the past Emilio’s wife had been interested in every aspect of Ross several times before Ross was ever aware of Emilio who was now hatefully part of his every morning. Ross was now very aware that sweat was poring off the black man. The heat and closeness of the room was beginning to smell.

.
Pavel put another large rock on the ash and lights it for the love of his life. Emilio inhales and blows out a swirling acrid cloud of smoke. The can rattles as he puts it down spilling the coated ash onto the floor. Emilio wipes his hand over his dripping brow. Ross is sure the hand shakes.

.
Ross picks up a match box with ash to reload the pipe when the dog barks. This means someone is on the stairs that the dog does not know. This was never to happen without a call from below. Pavel paid a great deal of money to be informed. Ross’s hand froze. Pavel’s eyes close. Emilio stays very still.

.
The dog began to bark in earnest. The pisote chittered in support. The door is kicked open. The first and only thing that Ross could see was the gun. The small hole of a revolver pointing into the room. He sees the uniform next. Two cops burst in waving guns. Pavel starts to giggle. He cannot stop. Ross remains frozen, box of ash in one hand, the other stretching towards the crushed can next to a large pile of crack rocks. Emilio stands.

.
“Si senor,” one of the cops says. Emilio and the cop exchange hard looks.

.
The other waves his gun at Pavel, motioning him to stand. The gun waving in his face stopped Pavel giggling but left him short of breath. “What’s going on? You know I pay. I pay. What’s going on.”

.
The first cop, the one who had spoken, eyes still locked with Emilio tightened his jaws and said, “Asasinado.”

.
Ross looked at Pavel’s blank stare. He shook his head. “Murder,” he told the Pole.

.
“Vamanos.” The second cop had adenoidal problems.

.
The cops push Emilio and Pavel ahead of them. The second cop turns to Ross and rubs a finger under his nose and laughs. “What’s happening?” Pavel screeched. “What is happening to me?” Only when they had start down the steps back to the beach did the dog stop barking. Then Ross took a breath. His heart began to beat again.

.
Ross starts to move after a moment. He grabs the can, fills it with ash and selects a very large rock and places it on the grey mountain. He lights a match and as he begins to pull the chemical into his lungs; to initiate the dream.
Carried on a sea breeze he can hear:

.
“Rosco, su desayuno!”

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Peter Bracking tells tall tales. Earth point: Vancouver, Canada.

Words have been published by more than a dozen presses in four countries on two continents including:

Maisonneuve; Black Heart Magazine; Lantern Magazine; Feather Tale Review; Thrice Fiction ; streetcake magazine; Existere

The only occupation he regrets leaving is beach bum. Peter is the artistic director of Utter Stories.

Self aggrandizement: http://utterstories.wordpress.com

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Kreso9

painting by Kreso Cavlovic

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