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Ephretta, Pennsylvania: 6/18/2022
© 2022 James LaFond
The timer still works in my head for getting up. Guido is to wake at 7:30, so I wake at 7:18, start coffee and clear the single bathroom.
A serene music rings from his smart phone from the main room were he lies flat on his back, dreaming, I suppose, about his youth being hunted by packs of savage ebony man-hounds across the Five Barrow Mounds of the grinning metropolis of evil he escaped four years ago and returns to twice a month like Charlton Heston in The Omega Man to resupply the few stranded natives he left behind in the swirling shithole that is America’s purest distillation far beneath Heaven’s disapproving eye.
“Hey, Bro—you sleep okay, everything okay, bed comfortable enough...need anything while I’m out?”
“No man, I’m good. Nero is coming to get me today. I’ll take out the trash when we go.”
“What a good dude. It was so nice to hang with him and Rico last night. You been productive enough here? A good enough writing spot? Anything I can do?”
“Everything was perfect. I’ll be back a week in July and in August.”
“Yeah, man—en I’ll be down ta Baltimore to spar with you en The Brick Mouse en drink with Big ‘ill be a good summer—fuck this world!”
“A much deserved sentence, when finally passed. I like the navy blue on this uniform better than the other uniform from the last job.”
“Yeah, man that other job, they had me in Caribbean blue, anything to worship the ebony god.”
He puts on his shoes and grins wickedly, “You stayin’ with Nero and Cutie tonight?”
“Yeah, since my dumbass lost your spare door key, that seems to make the most sense.”
“Yeah, I wont be out until ten tonight at least.”
Stands and grasps right hand and does a shoulder hug, before grabbing his work bag and he says, as he opens the door and looks out into the just risen sun, “Have a good day, man—hope you get to see Erik’s new place, and you don’t have to go through the air lock and the UV light spectrum.”
We laugh at our memory of Brovid Jiveteen quarantine rituals from the last time we visited our mutual friend.
“Hey man, you have fourteen hours to save Boomer America from sloth, gluttony and misspent leisure!”
He grins and shakes his head, “Fat, whining America, here I come!”
He salutes the outer world, winks over his shoulder at me at the coffee pot, and out the welcome door and off to pointless work he goes.
Thanks, Brother.
See you soon.
PS: Here I write at the bistro table, having taken the other chair to his work table where he composes music, draws comics and reads rare and weird books. The dryer finishes my clothes in the background and a cup of coffee remains in the pot. The rucksack yawns empty in the back room, waiting to be filled with the used clothes donated from found friends across the country.
This completes the search for Juju Quartermaine.
As I travel in three stages down to Baltimore, to Lancaster, then to Shrewsberry, then down into the guts of the beast, I will try only to finish writing Cox & Swain: once there I am scheduled to meet Captain Drake at a Timonium diner and discuss training with knives, then meet Jason the esoteric writer and a “half Vietnamese martial artist who wants to meet you,” at Orchard Market Cafe in Towson, and as I drift towards The Brick Mouse House meet a reader, a Baltimore native I have yet to meet, somewhere near, perhaps the Raven Inn in Towson or Racers in Parkville, who texted me the following two days ago when I sent my arrival date:
“Someone finally threatened to shoot me last week. So I feel like my Baltimore experience is complete.”
Here’s to a life incomplete.
‘Amenities, James, Amenities’
writing spots
The Lair of Mescaline Franklin
honor among men
the combat space
z-pill forever
son of a lesser god
winter of a fighting life
dark, distant futures
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