The Round Table 13: D Part 3

Yesterday was release day for a book I wrote called Beacon, book one of the Nation of Five series. The book is about young men and an impossible task they set before themselves. Well, I know a lot about impossible tasks. I’m a DID survivor who suffers from hallucinations. I have bipolar and Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Disorder. Getting through a day where I make dinner, hang out with my kids, be a husband to my wife, and not end the day screaming, is the completion of an impossible task. Well, it may be an impossible task that’s undertaken in the book Beacon, but it’s only even considered because of the friendship between four boys. Four teenage boys attempt this daunting feat. Got me thinking about the boys and men in my life. And so this weekend to celebrate the release of Beacon, I will be dropping upon you chapters from Reality of the Unreal Mind. These chapters are from the unreleased third volume, titled The Keep. I start at 7:30 in the evening on Friday, and will end at 9 at night on Sunday. So follow me now into the story of the men who made me possible.

Grab the money. Load the truck. A box of cheese sticks, and D and I are on our way. I am not great at the stick and he is, but I am the manager and I have to drive this truck. I can’t be pulled over or get in a wreck while he is driving, or the whole thing comes to a halt. Everything is over, and we want this to last.

The road from Waynesville to Richland is winding and twisted. There is a tight S curve that I am supposed to be doing at about 25. I am hitting that thing going at least 60.

The straight away that gets you from the highway to the beginning of the winding has a dip in it, and Shadow looks out the corner of his eye, slows, and speeds when D has a bite of cheese stick in his mouth and is swallowing. The timing was perfect. I hit that dip at about seventy. This is the kind of dip where your stomach drops and you lose your breath. He was swallowing and damn near threw up.

He cursed me. When we got to the trailer, we unloaded and Baby showed up early. She had begun doing that as soon as D started working there.

He is in the cooler with her and Crow leaves the trailer. He runs the bed and jumps onto the roof of the truck. In his mind, he is watching over a vista of a castle waiting for an approaching army. Artist gives him a hallucination of a horde of monsters coming to face him. He stares out at them as they approach and feels joy in his heart for the coming battle. But that battle never comes, and right before the trailer opens, he opens the door with his foot and swings into the driver’s seat. Shadow pulls the truck away from the door and we open.

Baby comes out of the cooler blushing. D snaps a cassette of Queensryche in the player and we get started. Pizza flies and jokes fill the air. D can’t keep his hands off of Baby, and she giggles the entire shift. Chevy’s boyfriend comes by and we toss him a free pizza. He drives a vintage Chevy. It is red and perfect, with big fins in the back and a white interior. She sits in his car for about half an hour making out with him, and I sling pizza, D sings at the top of his lungs, and that is when Hooker shows up.

Now Hooker is the shit in her own world. She is the only realtor in the entire area. If you piss her off, she sells your house for pennies, or she traps you in a shitty buy. She runs this town and she knows it. But she is about to run into Shadow, and he takes shit off of no one.

When she calls to place her order and the girls see she is coming, they freak out. “She is going to be a bitch,” Chevy said. “She doesn’t know how to not be.”

D looks at me and Shadow grins. He laughs and we wait.

Hooker comes to the window late. Her pizza has been sitting for twenty minutes. “This will not do. I don’t know how you run your business here, but if you don’t have fresh pizza ready when your customer gets here then you will not stay open for long. I ought to call your boss. I want to call your boss. Where do you work? What is the number of the store where you are based out of?”

Shadow gives her the number. She demands a fresh pizza be made for her, then stomps away.

“Are you just going to let her do that?” D says.

Shadow makes the pizza, and it is cooked. D cuts it and it sits on the warmer for half an hour. She shows back up, looks her pizza over, and is horrified.

“What do you call this? Because this is not a pizza. I can make better than this at home. I am not paying for this.” She is trying to hold back her smile. See, she is training us. She is letting us know that in this town no one upsets her. No one turns on her. She is all that is, and she cannot be fucked with.

“Listen, this is the deal, Mrs…. what is your name?” Shadow says.

“You can call me Miss Hooker.”

“Miss, huh? Color me shocked.”

D bursts into laughter and her face turns red.

“Hooker, this pizza is going to cost you twenty-two fifty. I want my money, then you get your pizza,” Shadow says to her.

“What is your name?” she snaps.

“I’m Jesse Teller, Miss Hooker.”

“Well Jesse, your boss’s number won’t be good enough. Give me your home number. I want to call you when you get off. What I have to say I can’t say in front of these customers and these little tramps. Give me your home number and do it now!”

Shadow leans out the window within kissing distance and smiles. “I would love to give you my number. I was hoping you would ask for it. See, I can’t say what I want to say right now. I’m on the clock. I’m a representative of Pizza, Inc., and I have to keep a shiny face for you. But when I get home, oh, man, the conversation we are going to have when I get home will be amazing. I have so much—so much—I am dying to say to you. A matter of fact, why don’t you give me your home phone number? I think this conversation will take a few calls. I might think of something I forgot to say.”

Her face falls. She stares at the ground for a minute.

“Twenty-two fifty, please. And the girls would like a tip.”

We are done. Now pack up the truck, say goodnight to the girls, which takes a while because D has to take Baby in the cooler for a proper goodbye, and we are off.

We get to the store and he does the dishes. He is fast and done by the time I am done closing the books. We make a pizza for the road. A few orders of wings. This was when you got twelve wings per order, and off we go.

We jump in his car. He is fast and we are at his house in a blink. He still lives with his parents but has a basement to himself with a bedroom, a living room, a bathroom, and a pool table. We eat, drop the bones back in the boxes, then out come the books.

We play Dungeons and Dragons until about four in the morning. Solo games, and things get crazy.

See, solo games are where I shine. When it is just me and one player, I can do things, build things slowly and head toward a climax hand-tailored for just one person.

He yells, comes off the couch, and even at times weeps. We talk about how I am going to do this for a living, and he is in bed. We drop for about eight hours until I wake up to blaring music and a kick of the couch I’m sleeping on. We leave the boxes and hit the road.

What we don’t notice is that all the chicken bones are gone.

After the dip thing, he doesn’t want to ride with me anymore, so he drives his car. That car is built for speed, and he burns through the turns at speeds my dually can’t keep up with. See, he is chasing out all the cops. Or at least, that is what he says. We are running a Smokey and the Bandit routine, and he gets to the trailer about ten minutes before I do. Back the truck to the step. I am purposefully slamming the step every time I back it up for the unload, and by the time we leave this trailer, the step is bent horribly. Into the trailer. Crow is back on the roof of the truck. Baby and D are in the cooler, and we are ready to do it again.

D got arrested.

We load the truck with the dirty dishes and he takes off. He hits the road out and the lights go on. See, these cops do not like the fact that out-of-towners are running around like they own the place. We don’t give them discounts on their orders and they are fed up. D’s exit from the lot is enough and he is pulled over.

The town has a circle here and I take it very slowly. I make my way through the town and come up on the same street again. D is still being talked to by the cops. I make another swing through. By the fourth, the cop stops my truck.

“You can move on. We are arresting your friend,” the cop says. He has a satisfied look on his face because he has won. After this, we will be put in our place. No more slamming the step. No more Crow on the roof. Hooker has complained and we are put back in our place.

I hit the gas and I am out of town. I make it back to the store in record time and rush in for the phones. I call D’s house and they know. D’s dad is on his way to the police station and he is pissed. No one has ever crossed this man in his town, but Richland is not his town. And he is going up against a police force enraged by the war cry of Hooker.

I am washing dishes when D shows up to help.

“What happened? I figured you were in for the night,” Shadow says.

“Dad is awesome,” D says. “They arrested me under three counts: speeding, noise pollution and I didn’t have my license.”

“Man, those charges don’t seem arrest worthy to me.”

“Wait, it gets better. I am not even in a cell yet when Dad shows up. He asks why they have me. They tell him speeding.”

“‘Show me the receipt. The radar receipt. I want to see it,’ Dad says.” D grinned.

“Well we don’t have one but we are sure he was speeding. We had to speed to catch him.”

“What was the speed limit?”

“25. He was moving much faster.”

“How fast did you have to go to catch him?”

“We had to run at least 30.”

“That is how catching works, officer. The car that has a head start will have a head start until you drive faster. If you had to go 30 to catch him and he was in front of you, how fast did you think you had to drive to catch up?” D’s dad shakes his head. “What else? That was obviously bullshit. So tell me, what else did you arrest my boy for?”

“Noise pollution. That car is not up to standards.”

“Show me the car,” D’s dad says. They take him to the impound, which is basically the parking lot out back. “Pop the hood.”

They obey.

D’s dad tinkers with it for a few minutes before he points at the cop. “Try it now, if you can start up a stick.”

The cop starts the car and it hums.

“Yeah, a spark plug was unplugged. Ever heard that before? Sounds loud but it happens. Now does this car sound out of standards to you?” D’s dad is warming up now. “What else? Why am I missing my show now? What other bullshit claim are you making against my son?”

“Well he didn’t have his license on him.”

D’s dad looks into the car and flips a jacket in the floor over to expose D’s wallet.

“You should have heard that cop cuss. Dad pulls out my wallet and the cop turns his head. Can’t even look at dad,” D says.

Well a few weeks later, D is late for work. We have opened and there are about three customers in the parking lot. He is dressed to the nines in a nice shirt, a tie, and slacks. See, today was his court date and Hooker’s cops and the county judge were powerless to hold D or give him any sentence at all. Everything fell apart in court. Free and blameless, D pulls up in his car and kicks off his shoes in the parking lot.

Off with the belt. The tie is loosened. The shirt comes off, the pants drop, and D is standing in the middle of the lot in boxers, a loose and swinging tie, and his socks. He stands for a while. He looks around at the city he just beat and slowly gets his work clothes on.

The trailer is not busy, and into the cooler with Baby he goes. They are in there for a few minutes and the day begins.

Clean dishes. Closed books. Pizza for the road and wings. A mind-blowing game of DnD. And again when we wake up, we do not notice that every chicken bone is gone. Leave the mess. His mother has been coming down and cleaning up after us.

And Shadow and D do it all again.

This chapter is from Reality of the Unreal Mind, Vol. 3: The Keep. 

Vol. 1: Teardrop Road, is available here on Amazon.

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