then, before we got married, I
didn’t know. Not really. Jim was funny, and sweet. Abrasive, sometimes, but always
throwing fifties, hundreds on the bar.
“Lots more,” he said, with that mischievous
smile, “where that came from.
Hey, I gotta great job, Kid.” He always called me “Kid,” though we were like
the same age. “Moe takes care of me,” he said.
Moe was Big Shit in the restaurant biz. Or maybe
those food courts in
malls, where lowlives came, to eat free shit. Actually, it was supermarkets. All
I knew was, when Moe said, “Jump!”, people said, “How high?”
“I’m a butcher,” Jim said. “At
least, that’s how I started.”
Yeah, he was Moe’s right-hand man. Always
at work, doing something for
But somehow, at the weirdest times, Jim was free.
Like that day I’m talking about, in August
’88. Suddenly, he was available
. . .
For my cousin Theresa’s wedding. When
my “boyfriend” Billy stood me up.
“You fuck!” I screamed at Billy’s
answering machine. In a red satin dress,
with black tears streaming down my cheeks. “The wedding’s in an hour.”
“Give me twenty minutes, Kid,” Jim
said, when I called.
“What an asshole,” he said, when he
picked me up. Only he could pull off
that yellow-and-white checked suit. “He don’t deserve a prize like you.”
“Thanks.” I sniffled. “No work
“Few hours.” As he turned the corner,
he said, “Problem in the downtown
store. Klutz left early again.”
Like I knew who he was talking about.
“You know, ‘Klotz, the Klutz.’
Butch Klotz, King of fuckin’ Workman’s
Comp. Slippery floors, falling soup cans. Wanna hear today’s excuse?”
I was fixing my makeup. Klotz. Sounded familiar.
Jim jabbed a cigarette in his mouth. “Got
hit with a shopping cart,” he said,
through the cigarette. “Then, a car.”
“Oh, my God!”
“He’ll live. Car just tapped him.”
Smirking, Jim lit up. “Too bad.”
Naturally, that got past me. I was mourning Billy,
and the past year,
Recalling other times Billy had fucked up, leaving
me home, alone. Drunk,
with just egg rolls, and ribs to keep me company.
But today, of all days . . . to
stand me up, for Theresa and Tommy’s wedding. Make me face scary Uncle Vince .
stand you up? my uncle would say. With eyes cold as a shark’s.
“What’cha drinking, Kid?” Jim
asked, as we walked in the hall. Suddenly,
he stopped dead. “What the fuck . .
I craned my neck but just saw Theresa’s
new father-in-law. A chubby,
sweaty version of Tommy, with a home-movie camera. Such a klutz, he backed
right onto a bridesmaid’s foot. “Ow!” the girl screamed.
He looked around, then froze when he saw us.
“Klotz,” Jim said, in a low voice.
“’The Klutz?’ ” I said.
“That’s the groom’s father.”
Looking terrified, Klotz disappeared into the
“Oh, yeah?’ Jim sucked down his first
drink. There were lots more to come.
What were the odds? That my last-minute wedding
date would be the groom’s
father’s boss? Angry boss. You couldn’t make this shit up.
And things got worse.
Oh, the meal was outstanding: surf n’turf,
rack of lamb, fancy hors
d’oeuvres. And a full, open bar. Top-shelf shit. In the corner, something
fruity, but lethal, was shooting out of a fountain.
Only two people didn’t eat one bite: Jim,
and Klotz. Jim drank like booze
was going out of style. Klotz was scared to.
Not once did he look in our direction.
“Be right back,” Jim said, halfway
through his uneaten meal.
“I like your date.” Uncle Vince lowered
his big self into Jim’s seat.
“Better’n that other scumbag.” Billy.
As guests banged their spoons against glasses,
Theresa and Tommy kissed,
Uncle Vince leaned closer. “Better’n
scumbag, too.” He hated Tommy.
“’Scuse me,” I said, getting
Jim had been gone a while. I was getting a strange,
sick feeling and hoped
it wasn’t the food.
Outside the rest rooms were pay phones. As I approached
the ladies’, I
heard a familiar voice. “Tellin’ ya, Moe,” he said, “We each chip in two large,
our problems’ll be over. No more Klutz.”
In a checked suit. Only one in the place.
When he turned and saw me, Jim smiled. “Yeah,
He had to be kidding. But he didn’t seem
drunk, anymore. Still on the
phone, he enveloped me in this huge hug. Like he loved me, or something.
“Yup,” he told Moe. “It’s
he was kidding, I thought, as we headed back to our table, arm-in-arm, like real dates.
Jim was always joking about people deserving to
get hurt. Like Billy. A dirt nap, he needs, he said, once, when
I’d said Billy was too tired to come over.
Uncle Vince was still in Jim’s seat. As
we got closer, my uncle’s face lit
up. But it was a strange smile: like Jim was part of the family. Maybe not
ours, but somebody’s. . . .
“Buy you a drink?” Uncle Vince joked.
It didn’t take long.
This next car that struck Klotz in the supermarket
lot squashed him like a
bug. Car was doing, like ninety. How it missed killing screaming shoppers who
were in the way, was a miracle.
Some witnesses said the driver was drunk, and
weaving. But one teenage boy
said, “It headed straight for him!”
“Changed his story, Kid,” Jim told
me, over dinner, that night. Chinese,
at my place.
Not once did Jim ever stand me up. Moe, or no
Moe, who I’d still never met.
Maybe I’d marry him, I thought. I mean,
if he asked me . . .
Still, I had to know. “So,” I said.
“It was an accident?”
Smiling, Jim squeezed soy sauce on his food. “His
He and Uncle Vince were pals, now. I kept thinking
about Tommy. Once, he’d
beaten Theresa bad. Too many nights, he staggered home, drunk, once across a
One more nasty, reckless drunk.
Another accident waiting to happen.
Collected in Stupidiocy by Cindy Rosmus. Copyright © 2019 by HEKATE
Publishing. With cover and illustrations by Coates “Keith” Walker.
is a Jersey girl who looks like a Mob Wife & talks like Anybody’s from West
Side Story. She works out 5-6 days a week, so needs no excuse to drink or
do whatever the hell she wants. She’s been published in the usual places, such
as Shotgun Honey, Hardboiled, A Twist of Noir, Megazine, Beat
to a Pulp, Out of the Gutter, Mysterical-E, Dark Dossier, and Twisted
Sister. She is the
editor/art director of the ezine, Yellow Mama. She’s a Gemini, a
Christian, and an animal rights advocate.
A. F. Knott is a self-taught collage artist focused
on book layout and book cover design as well networking in conjunction with
Hekate Publishing, one of its missions, bringing together artist and writer.
Sometimes seen selling in New York City's Union Square Park. Work can be found
flickr.com/photos/afknott/ Any exchange of ideas welcome: firstname.lastname@example.org