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Lite reading for the dreadful and depraved


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The following is a true chronicling featuring the exploits of Swifty Flannigan - attorney at law. Names were originally changed to protect the innocent. Then, upon further reflection, no one struck me as particularly innocent. Anyways, this is a mostly true story. Any similarities to real persons, live or dead, is probably because I’m talking about them. 
 

 

 

                               Scrambled

A Symphonic Editorial of Murder at the local cafe 

“You know that song ‘Minute by minute?’ It’s by the Doobies. Ya know that song?”

 

Swifty’s question hung still in the air between us. He kept his eye’s low, focusing intently on the eggs in front of him. Small scraping sounds broke from his plate as he continuously ran the fork underneath the small meal. Piling the eggs this way, mushing them with the utensil’s back and then starting over.  

 

“Sure.” I offered, “Michael McDonald. I know that song.”

 

Swifty nodded in a faint slow motion, his face never leaving the plate.

 

“That song plays here everyday at 12:07.” The corners of his mouth jerked quickly, as though he’d caught and pulled away a smile before it could escape.

 

I hauled my coffee closer and scanned the room. The diner buzzed with faint conversation. Occupants lined their booths and paid familiar faces with nods. Elderly men sat at stiff tables and spoke comfortably to the wait staff. The noon sunlight spewed fully into every window and light rock played in a controlled volume from overhead. 

 

“Is this one of those weird conversations where you insist every song is about murder?” I asked.

 

“That song is about murder.” Swifty assured, “but that isn’t this conversation.”

 

I placed both elbows on the table in a prayer motion, surrounded my cheap coffee with both hands and clasped my fingers tightly.

 

“Okay. What is this conversation, Swifty?”

 

Swifty piled the food methodically to the right of his plate - his brow compressing as he monitored the tiny egg tower’s development.

 

“Everyday at 12:07 the doobie brother’s minute by minute plays over these speakers,” he began.

 

“Yes, we’ve established that.” I replied growing impatient. 

 

“And today, at 12:07, minute by minute will play again. It starts with that weird fade in intro. At first you can’t hear it, then it gets louder. Just a keyboard…”

 

“It’s a fender Rhodes,” I added. 

 

“Right. And it just fades up and up and then the song starts.” Swifty was back to mushing, flattening the eggs until their fluffy form resembled a yellow pancake that covered his whole plate.

 

“Okay?” I replied hoping to motivate towards a direction. 

 

Swifty smiled knowing that the weirdness of this moment was growing. For a brief beat his eyes darted through the room but his body remained unchanged.

 

“Then the band kicks in,” he said as construction on his egg pile resumed.

 

“I know the song Swifty.” I shot firmly. I had grown tired of this game.

 

“Good. Then you’ll know exactly the second I’m talking about. Because right at that exact occurrence - right when the band kicks in - right as the beat and the bass and the guitar come swarming around … right at that very instance … I’m going to shoot and kill that man.”

 

Swifty broke from his food play, looking directly over my shoulder and pointed his fork in the direction of a row of booths by the entrance. Without thought I began to turn, but caught myself and waited for Swifty’s approval through a side glance. 

 

“It’s fine. He doesn’t know me.” Swifty said at a volume not befitting of premeditated murder.

 

I sipped from the coffee mug and coached myself internally to “move slowly.” Inch by inch, making sure to glimpse various locations as to misdirect my true intention. 

 

“It’s cool.” Swifty said, this time even louder, “I told you, he doesn’t know me.”

 

The back row was bustling. Retirees sat chatting with their life mates. Men joked harshly and pushed their brimmed hats upward as they traded in jest. Everyone smiled. All of them, but one.

 

Directly behind me, a much older man sat quietly reading an unfolded newspaper. He was slightly leaned over, causing his checkered flannel to cling tight to his withered frame. Tiny words reflected in his giant, boxy glasses. He was a Rockwellian figure of a define-less era - all but for the smacking from his gum. 

 

“Oh, yeah I see it,” I said still evaluating the unknowing victim, “this one’s a real menace.”

 

I whipped around shooting a patronizing look at the would-be-assassin. 

 

“Even the menacing grow old, Mooch.” Swifty held firm.

 

“What is this Swifty?” I grieved. 

 

“What?” Swiftly questioned facetiously.

 

“This. What the hell is this? You bring me out to a third rate Denny’s, then you engage in the world’s most boring food fetish, now you’re telling me that you have plans to murder someone - who is so old - that time might actually beat you to it.”

 

Swifty thought hard. His face scrunched and suddenly his head seemed ready to pop under the constraint of a silver power tie. He pierced into me, his eye lids lowering and his teeth locking inside of his mouth. He was all at once disgusted by my question, annoyed at having to explain himself and somehow disappointed that I didn’t share the amusement.

 

“Well…” he began in a ‘shows what you know’ type tone, “… it will be in self defense.”

 

I turned my full body to look on the elderly man, this time without much hesitation. 

 

“Self defense?” I condescended over my shoulder.

 

“That’s right.” Swifty said more excitedly.

 

“Okay Swifty,” I started as I turned back, “tell me your plan.”

 

“Well…” 

 

Swifty leaned over the table and sprung to life. 

 

“That man’s name is Charlie. 76 years old, he never married. Retired auto worker, he never had his own business. Never had kids. No great love to speak of. He’s one of these that no one even sees. He’s camouflage.”

 

“The evil b*****d.” I joked. 

 

“Charlie comes to this diner everyday at 11:05. His pattern never changes. First he orders coffee. Then eggs. Then more coffee. After that, he reads the paper. He lays it out flat, totally open. Usually he starts with the sports section. Then more coffee.”

 

“A terror.” I continued to play. 

 

“He’s known here to the wait staff but never overly friendly. He always sits at the same booth. At 12:07 and change, he will retrieve the gum from his mouth, stick it under the table, close his paper and leave.”

 

“Not a doobie brothers fan, huh?” I replied to the fascinating intel. 

 

“Only today, will be different..” Swifty offered. 

 

“You boys need more coffee?” Asked a suddenly present waitress holding a carafe.

 

“We’d love more coffee ma’am.” Swifty answered still looking to me with a paused grin. His voice was full bodied and sure. We sat fastened to our gaze, neither man willing to look away. My fingers clutched the handle of the cup tightly and time seemed to halt as the waitress poured and poured. A wild flare lit and hid in Swifty’s eyes. His breath was heavier and he inhaled in wide, confident motions. 

 

Finally the pouring ceased. 

 

Without a hint of trepidation, Swifty resumed his itinerary as the steam was just rising from our mugs. 

 

“Only today will be different,” Swifty repeated, “because today, at 12:07, when Charlie goes to stick that gum to the bottom of his table - he’ll be grabbing on to a loosely placed - rightly fitted - hand gun.”

 

“You attached a handgun to the underside of Charlie’s table?” I questioned rhetorically. 

 

“I did.” 

 

Swifty beamed with pride. 

 

“And when he retrieves the weapon, you’re gonna shoot this man, claiming that he pulled a gun?”

 

“I am.”

 

The lawyer was now almost giddy with self congratulations. 

 

“And when the investigators realize that a contraption was implemented, a contraption that held this gun, what then?”

 

“That’s the most brilliant part…” 

 

Swifty leaned back into his seat as a peace fell over him.

 

 “…it’s being held by his gum.”

 

Satisfaction draped over the attorney like warm blankets. He lifted his coffee in a sort of triumphant pose and drank from his cup deeply. 

 

“Gum?” I questioned, with a sudden logistic investment.

 

“See for yourself.” Swifty confirmed. His free hand stretched across the table and covered an unused butter knife. Moving slowly, he dragged the instrument along the table until his hand reached the edge and the knife fell to the floor. Swifty’s eyebrows shot up as if to say, “there’s your chance.” 

 

 Carefully I backed the chair out of position, leaned toward the floor and reached my hand for the knife. My neck twisted lightly. Lightly still. Reaching for the cold unused tool, I was now almost completely underneath the table - just low enough to see the underside of the booth surfaces. My fingers felt for the cutlery but my eyes were completely transfixed on the weapon - seemingly suspended in the center underneath Charlie’s table. 

It was a hand gun. 

 

I sprang back to my seat, knife in hand. Without speaking, I watched the whimsical expressions light up my companion’s face and fought hard to defend against the panic filling my head. 

 

“What the hell are you doing Swifty?” I growled.

 

“Good, right?” 

 

“You manic dolt. You’ve invited me to be an accessory to your weird murder plot.”

 

“Not murder.” Swifty waved off, finally chewing his less than fresh eggs.

 

”Who is this man Swifty and why did you invite me to this shack?” Heat began filling my face. 
 

“Just a man. And that’s all you need to know. Besides, I thought you’d like to see it for yourself.”

 

”You thought, ‘gee, somewhere between shitty coffee and the brunch special, Mooch would really like to be an accomplice to murder.’ That’s what you thought?”

 

”Come on man,” Shifty appealed, his voice resembling a disappointed child, “It’s not like I haven’t been there for you. Remember when you punched that nun in Disney World?”


“Swifty, for the 100th time, that wasn’t a nun. That was a hooded man.”

 

“Whatever, did I give you grief for hitting her?” He offered in a whining tone.

 

“Him! It was a him, Swifty. He was trying to steal some kid’s merchandise bag.” 
 


“And all I’m saying is that I defended you.”

 

”You charged me full price including a restocking fee. Lawyers don’t even have restocking fees Swifty. Because they don’t have restocking.”

 

”You’re not being cool man.” The lawyer said defeatedly. 


I stopped to consider our situation. 
 

“Swifty, you poisonous tick - that song is not about murder. It’s not. Minute by Minute is not a murder song.” 

 

Suddenly a belly laugh rang from my lunch mate, sending eggs out of his mouth and a slight choking from his throat. 

 

“Hahaha. You think I’m killing this man over a song, Mooch?” I looked to Swifty in complete confusion. 

 

“I’m not killing this man over a song,” Swifty confirmed, “Jesus - that’s crazy talk. In any case, that song is absolutely about murder.” 

 

“It’s not Swifty!” I demanded through gritted teeth, “it’s about not being able to move on from someone who keeps letting you down.”

 

“Right,” Swifty started, “and his only recourse is to kill himself and be done with it.” 

 

“No!” I yelled slamming my coffee down. 

 

Swifty was shaken by the anger in my tone and finally felt the weight of talking at such a pronounced volume. He waved his hand in a “calm down” motion, adjusted in his seat and leaned far into me to reset the meter of our discussion.

 

“The song,” Swifty began, “is about a man on the brink of desperation. He’s been dragged around. He’s been hurt. He’s angst ridden. He tells himself that the lies and pain of his lover will result in a revelation. She’ll change…”

Swifty shook his head as if to understand this predicament meaningfully.

“… But in his deepest thoughts, he knows that won’t happen. He knows these events are cyclical. He’ll get hurt again, because he’ll accept her apology again. It’s not just that she won’t change, Mooch. He won’t change.”

 

“That’s the point of the song Swifty.” I uttered through contempt.

 

“No, the point of the song is the bridge. It’s the part that confirms his plans.”

 

“His plans are to ‘keep holding on’ Swifty. It’s literally in the chorus.” My back tingled with sickness. Sharp daggers seemed to be flinging their brutal points into my stomach. I wanted to run. I wanted to smash a plate over the receding hairline on the peak of Swifty’s head. 

 

“No mooch,” Swifty said in a welcoming manner. He could feel my blood rising. He spoke quietly and with composure. 

 

“The bridge says … 


‘Call my name and I'll be gone/ You'll reach out and I won't be there/ Just my luck you'll realize/ You should spend your life with someone/ You could spend your life with someone…”


Swifty’s eyes closed, almost singing the words as he recited them. 

 

“It’s the ultimate revenge. His death will set her emotional epiphany in motion. And for her cruel games and wicked inflictions, she will pay. She’ll pay by loving him, as he loved her … by never having him completely. Because she couldn’t see it until it was too late. 

 

And then she can’t un-see it.” 

 

Swifty’s eyes turned soft as they reopened. In his face was a need for belonging. His expression was almost hopeful. He waited for a confirmation. A nod or a release from this impasse, while the air grew dense between us. Clanging and chatter returned to my ears and suddenly every noise played like a soundtrack in its unpaused form. 

 

“His death, huh?” I said half openly. I reached into the corners of my pocket and retrieved coffee money, “maybe.” 

 

Swifty leaned back again, satisfied with our exchange. I stood sharply, tossing the money next to my empty cup.

 

“Swifty.” I said, nodding a farewell. 

 

“Mooch.” Swifty said back and smiled as he looked upwardly towards me.  

 

I turned meaningfully toward the entrance, barely noticing the break in the music over head. My feet picked up pace as the smooth sounds of fender Rhodes began to fade up and into the diner speakers. My arms lengthened fully as I increased the momentum. The music inched louder and louder as my hands were suddenly pressed to the glass entrance door. The music was now full, as the pull of the keyboard readied a band to count in. I flung the doors hard, inserted my fingers into my ears and paced at a low run towards my vehicle. 

 

I drove fast. At first uncontrollably. Blinded with exhaustion and terror. But as the miles passed, I forced myself into a jagged normalcy. Slowly my muscles unclenched. My jaw loosened. My fingers extended and my breath returned. Liberation surged through me and between tears, I laughed with the energy of an escaped lunatic. 

 

Laughing. Laughing. Until my chest was empty and my eyes were desert dry. 

 

And then silence. 

 

Large, void like silence. Marker after marker, until the exit signs became nameless blurbs and the road lines faded into oblivion.

 

Finally, as though I was doing it out of habit, my fingers fumbled along the stereo dial in search of any sound to carry me through this fog. The console light sprung to life and loud music burst into the car like a terrific beast. A deep voice ruptured the solitude and sent quivers through my core. As my car screamed hysterically through the highway - I found myself singing along … 

 

“Minute by minute, by minute/ I’ll be holding on…” 

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I was debating whether I'm dreadful or just full of dread, but as it seemed to be just the right lite reading while sitting in this new posh thing in an ancient house that roast its own coffee, on one of the very few (1/4🎼) seating options, speak bar stools, facing the windows, like in an aquarium, while you have everyone, from Swiftly himself to any rare coffee bean customer, in your back, I just told myself "whatever", which made the coffee machine cough as if it had caught the latest virus variant - I don't believe in coincidence, not if it's related to Swiftly even in the slightest - and read on. I'm feeling a little less dreadful now, than after scanning the forum thread titles, thank you. I still owe you an espresso. Someday.

Make that a doppio, as a sentence for that far too long sentence above.

That is, if I ever make it out of here alive. The hole that I feel someone is staring into my back, feels more daggerlike minute by minute. (No, nothing to do with me occupying 1/4 chair(s), I think not, am the only one having put up with this sitting arrangement so far. But maybe I should order another cup, just in case, don't want to miss the next episode by being ten feet under, or ten feet behind that ominously looking backdoor.)

Edited by miiila
Edit: Look at that, Swiftly managed to exert control over my phone and get it to "autocorrect" his name... if that even is his name, anyway...
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7 hours ago, damooch916 said:

The following is a true chronicling featuring the exploits of Swifty Flannigan - attorney at law. Names were originally changed to protect the innocent. Then, upon further reflection, no one struck me as particularly innocent. Anyways, this is a mostly true story. Any similarities to real persons, live or dead, is probably because I’m talking about them. 

I look forward to reading your latest post, but I will save it for a bit later and enjoy it with my afternoon coffee. 

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