Sunday, March 27, 2011

The American - Number 31

The taco joint had calmed since the failed attack on the counter, but Paul Sr.’s body would not soon forget the mistake. He sat next to his granddaughter and across from his daughter and grandson. Including his son, they were all he had left in this world. He sat and tried to find a way to save them.
The Indian was always here. He was always in this damn place; it was his job. Where the hell was that son of a bitch. Surely, he made it out of Blue Man’s Gorge.  He had to have made it out. His head didn’t get hit that hard.
Look at her. Carolyn’s frazzled. I wonder what’s wrong with her.  She’s probably upset were out someplace. I’ve probably made a scene, or just been hard to carry.  I hate being such a burden. I wish she’d just take me out into the country and leave me. I’d wonder out into the woods and freeze to death. Damn it’s cold in this place.  I wonder where we are?  Why the hell does my head hurt so much? Where’s my wallet?   

          Slowly turning to her father, Carolyn studied his condition, “Dad, how are you doing?”
“Fine,” he lied.
“Are you sure?”
Turning to her children, “What about you two?”
“We’re ok,” spat Marcus with a mouth full of half-mushed cheese and tortilla.
“Carolyn, my head hurts.”
“I bet it does. You ran into something.”
“I did?”
“Did I break something?”
“You did.”
“What was it?”
“A car.”  
“A Wh….What?”
Taking a deep breath and taking some of Marcus’s food in hand, “A car, Dad.”
“What do you mean?”
Marcus exploded, “Grandpa it was awesome! Ruth was in the middle of the road, and this car was coming and you jumped out of your chair and blew the car up!  Then we started running. And you made us steal a car!  And you said it was a piece of crap!  Then you said to look at the Indian girl with the big tits!  They were huge! Then we came in here and you were freaking out and then you tried to jump the counter, but you couldn’t and then Uncle Paul went across the street! But not before he bought us these cheesy tacos!  They rock!” And with that Marcus dug back into his food.
Questioning his position, “To save Ruth?”
“Yes, Dad.”
“Did anyone see us?”
“Yes, Dad.”
“Crap. After all that hard work to hide. Are we running?”
“Then you know they’re coming and that’s why were trying to find the Indian.”
“Yes, Dad.”
“Oh Carolyn, I’m so sorry. You’re probably about to loose it.”
“If it gets much worse.”
The four sat in the booth for a few minutes and worked on the rest of the food. Paul Sr. drank some of the watered-down tea, looked out the window and said, “Uhhh….This place looks familiar. Where are we?”
Under her breath, “Damn it.”
“We’re in the Indian’s taco joint in Santa Fe, but he’s not here, Dad.” Carolyn began to eat to ease her anger.  
“Taco Joint!? Sante Fe!?”
“Yes, it’s the one you brought us to.”
“I did?”
“Does it have a busty girl on the sign?”
“That’s Chlumani Chapawee.”
“The woman.  Her name is Chlumani Chapawee; she’s Sioux.”
“Chlumani Chapawee,” Carolyn began to try and figure out what the name meant in her head. “Chlumani Chapawee, Sioux.”
“I see that expensive education is paying off.”
“Dad, I was on scholarship for most of my Masters.”
“But the part you weren’t was really expensive.”
“Oh dad, now let’s see…Chlumani Chapawee…Sioux…Chapawee means horse, no water animal, I think…it’s either ‘badger or beaver’ and Chlumani means ‘wet dew’ Then her name means…that is so Gross, Dad.”
“She was pretty popular when I was younger.”
“No kidding with a name like that, I bet she was the toast of the town.”
“She was, and that’s why Neb Fixico painted her on the side of this taco stand. Me and Neb had a thing for her, but once he painted her on the side of this place, she was his. Just like a Muscogee to win the pretty lady.  We both courted her for some time before she feel for Neb; I guess I thought I was in love, but that was before I knew that love was more than a Chlumani Chapawee.”
“That’s gross, Dad.”
“What’s gross?” said Marcus excitedly.
“It would be fun to see Chlumani again if she was still around, but I bet she hasn’t gotten over Neb and my falling out.”
And then Carolyn’s cell phone started to ring in her purse. She reached in, opened the phone, and read the name, “Dad, It’s Paul Jr….Hello…Uh.huh…You want us to come over…Ok…Uh huh….  You say you’ve met an old woman that knows Dad. Her name’s not…Quit laughing, I know what it means … Is anyone else there…No…. Looks pretty safe huh… All right.  Good Bye.”
“Sounds like we’ve got a date.
Carolyn closed the phone, “You may be right, Dad. How are your legs?”
“As good as to be expected.”
“Kids get over here and help me carry Grandpa across the street.”
“No. I think I can do it, Carolyn.”
“Are you sure?”
“No, but I’ll try.  Please, let me try.”  Paul Sr. scooted out to the side of the booth, turned his legs to the side with his hands, braced for the push up, and then with all of his might began to leave the booth.
Quickly moving toward her father, “Here I’ll get underneath you.”
“I’m up.  I’m doing it.”
“Almost, now move your foot to the, the other foot….ok, now, we’re up. Good, now let’s go. Kids come on. Marcus, get the door.”
“OK, mom.” And Marcus ran to the door and held it wide open. Carolyn and Paul Sr. began to walk. One step at a time, they closed in on the door. Paul Sr. was in a great deal of pain, but this was nothing new to him. He kept moving. He had too. There was no other choice. He had to get out. They had to get out. They needed him. How could he help them?  Walking. They needed him to walk. Walk. He had to walk. THEY NEEDED HIM TO WALK.
And with that thought Paul Sr.’s legs straightened a little and half of his weight was removed from his daughter.
“I’m doing better. Let get going while it lasts.  Come on kids.”  
“OK. Marcus, I want you to hold Ruth’s hand while we cross the street.”
“Do I have to?”
“Listen to your mother, Marcus.”
“Yes, sir. Come on Ruth.”
“Dad, you’re doing pretty good.”
“Please don’t jinx it.”   
The road was busy. Cars raced up and down the strip. “Dad, what’s going to happen when we get over there?”
If Neb’s alive, he’ll probably, “ lowering his head to whisper the remainder of his statement, “kill me. Most probably, he’ll kill me.”
“There was this place called Blue Man’s…”
“I’ve told you about it?”
“Just the name, but Dad, I don’t think Neb is there.  Paul said Chlumani was there alone, and it looked safe.” 
“Well, if she’s the Chlumani Chapawee I used to know then I bet she’s only letting Paul Jr. see what she wants him to see.  That woman could hide an aircraft carrier right up under your nose. I remember the time we were in the kitchen after making love….”
“Dad, you are not allowed to put those images in my head.”
“Carolyn, you know I am a man as well as your father, right?”
“That may be, but I like to think that physically you were only with Mom, and it was always sweet, with butterfly kisses and long hugs after you read books on the couch by the fire. And then afterwards you held each other, shared your hearts thoughts and had a cup of tea.”
“No wonder Steve left you.”
Carolyn’s body tensed and her hands began to crush the old man, “I will drop your old tail off right here, if you bring that Sperm Donor up again.”
Trying to stand and breath, “Fine…Sorry.”
“Do not talk to me for at least five minutes, or I will…”
“I’m sorry. That was uncalled for. I’m sorry.”
Carolyn dropped it and began to move forward.
“Mom, Ruth’s not keeping up.”
Gritting her teeth to the point of rupturing them, “Ruth, a little faster please.”
Carolyn’s bottom tensed and the body of the group silently followed her the final way into the parking lot of the motel.
Once safely in the parking lot, Carolyn stated the obvious, “We’re here.”
“Hey, this place looks familiar. Are we in Santa Fe?”
“Relax, I was just kidding.  We need to go over there, the door with the Welcome Sign. That’s where they used to stay during the day.”
“That was not funny.”  
“I know.”  Leaning in to his daughter, “Look, just in case Neb is in here or it turns ugly, remember that the kids are more important than me. Take them and run.  I’ll grab Neb and hold him as tightly as I can and for as long as I can.”
         Paul Sr.’s concern eased Carolyn’s angry, “Dad that probably won’t be necessary.”
“But if it is, do it.”
Turning toward his grandchildren, “Marcus take your sister over to swing set, you here.”
“Yes, sir.”
“Marcus, you’re in charge, until I get back. Don’t let your sister get hurt.”
“Yes, sir.”
“Come on, Dad. Let’s get going.”
“No, wait until they’re over there. Remember they come first if it hits the fan.”
“Yes, Sir.”
“I’m glad you remembered your manners. Now open the door.”
“I love you, dad.”
“I love you.”
         Carolyn opened the door and found Paul Jr. sitting on an old stool next to the most beautiful and chesty eighty year old Indian woman.
“Hey, it took you long enough.  I’ve been sitting here with Chlumani. Chlumani, this is my sister, Carolyn, and my Dad…”
The Indian woman interrupted, “Paul McConnell, the original American Boy.  You’ve been a busy boy Paul. I see you’ve got two kids. Busy boy indeed.”
“Hey, Beaver. How’s tricks?”
“Not as hard as they used to be.”
“And Neb?”
“You don’t waste any time. Do you American?”
“I was never a patient man.”
“Maybe you should be the one telling me where Ned is.  I haven’t seen him since you left all those years ago.”
Paul Sr. began to play his bluff, “You’re lying. I know he’s here.  He’s always here. And if he hadn’t made it back, you would have killed me in my sleep a long time ago.”
“Maybe, dead. Maybe, maimed. Maybe…”
“Oh shut up and tell me where he is.” 
“I see.  We’ll he’s not here. But, he did leave you something in case you ever showed up.”
Under his breath, “Damn it, Carolyn step back.”
Pushing his daughter, “I said step back.”
Before her eyes could blink, Chlumani pulled a buck knife the size of tennis racket out of her dress. “You old bastard. Here’s Neb’s knife.  He wanted me to stick it in your gullet, then spit in your eye.” 
In one eased moved, Chlumani crossed the room and rammed the knife into Paul Sr.’s fleshy stomach. Carolyn screamed. Ruth watched from the window. Paul Sr. buckled. Paul Jr. turned green. Wet Beaver spit in Paul Sr.’s eye and laughed.

Paul McConnell is the American.
"The American" is a free web comic and pulp story brought to you by the good people at Pro Se Press.
Written and Illustrated by Fuller Bumpers

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