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Corby Ringtone
Can #7
© 2023 James LaFond
Video interview via Skype, from a dive bar in Portland, Oregon. The subject sits at the bar in a high swivel chair, turned to his right. Men can be heard playing pool in the background over his right shoulder. A glass of whiskey on ice and a draft beer are before him and a shot glass is placed there by a feminine hand from the left.
The man is perhaps 50, Caucasian, thin, with brown and gray beard, cropped close, shoulder length brownish blond hair, wearing a hoody under a thick denim jacket and a Seattle Seahawks fitted hat.
“Dare you go Corby,” sounds a female voice with Cantonese accent, and the man knocks back the double shot of whiskey, then quaffs down the entire draft beer, breathes deeply, and says, in a distinctive gravel-like voice, “Just enough—thanks, Amy, for letting me relive this fucked up shit in your bar!”
The man then makes eye contact with the video and says, “Thank you, Dawn, for capturing my misery with my own phone that somehow still works.”
“A sexy female voice says, “No prob, Corb.”
The subject then frowns painfully, “Awe hell, lets get ‘er done. Corby Ringtone here. The ringtone comes from the fact that I’m medically retired as a logger from getting smacked with a tree up in Montana—constant ringing in the head, lucky not to be dead. My mother, God rest her soul, had seven of us boys, and I’m the fourth.
“My younger brother can vouch for what is said here, because he saw it happen, in the very crosswalk that was put in after he lost half his liver getting knocked three blocks down Foster Avenue by some dumb bitch driver, who was uninsured to boot. So we joke, not only are we brothers, but we are Foster brothers two, knocked a combined 90 yards down this goddamned street from the very same spot.
Corby takes a sip of his whiskey on the rocks, seems to think better of something, downs it, and says, “Just another beer, now, thank you.”
“So, I have this perpetual ringing in my ear, medically retired, broke fucking back, hands all shot to shit,” waves an arthritic hand that is festooned with four silver rings. What is there to do but kill the pain?
“I’m across the street at Shimmers, you know, strip club, you used to be able to get a steak and eggs breakfast while the strippers were crawlin’ on the bar at seven in the morning—why not?
“Well, my little brother, who is six eight, has just gotten out of a coma. Before he’s out of the hospital the concerned civic government of Stumptown, more like Humptown if you ask me, has got a cross walk in.
“This stripper, beautiful, kind a woman I went through a lot when I was slaying it as a young man.”
The camera woman snickers and Corby pivots in his chair and throws up his hands, “Is it that hard to believe, am I that far gone, Dawn?”
“Oh, your still smokin’ hot, Corb,” says the woman holding the phone, and Corby grimaces as a beer is placed next to him, and he looks at the person whose hand has placed it there and grouses, “At least somebody cares!”
“So, this woman, her name is Barbara, she sits on my lap and says, ‘Do you smoke weed?’
“I say, ‘What the hell kind a question is that?—of course I smoke weed!”
“Well, so we hit it off. She’s beautiful, a pleasure palace in high heels, the whole nine yards, birthday threesome with some other hot bitch, Christmas blowjob, yadi, yadi, yadi.”
Takes a drink of beer and exhales, “So, I don’t know what happened.”
“You guys never do!” adds the woman behind the phone.
“Thanks for your support, Dawn.”
“I could have told you how it would end, Corb. But did you ask? No.”
Corby spins in chair, right, left, right, sighs and then grumbles with eyes widening in disbelief, “So, I come home after a three day drunk, you know, my little brother grew his liver back and wanted to test it, so we hit the bars.”
“Likely story,” says the camera woman, and Corby snarls and continues:
“I come home, to my place mind you, and all of MY shit is on the porch. The locks are changed. I knock on the door and she tells me to get lost and I’m like, ‘Come on baby, not like this.’
“And three of Portland’s finest show up. Now, I’m broken, I’m packin’, can’t defend myself with hands anymore. The cops have a warrant for my arrest for battery. One even has pictures on his phone of Barbara with bruised thighs, bruised butt. I say, ‘She’s a stripper, swinging from a pole, its a contact sport. I don’t hit women.’
“Well, for my money these three probably put the bruises on her when she was setting this up! I was still drunk, so I got a little feisty. I just didn’t want to be cuffed right, that’s all.”
Corby drinks some beer and shakes his head and Dawn says, “You’re almost there. I’ve heard this story forty times, if twenty.”
Corby visibly sucks it up and looks narrowly at the camera, “Well, those cops had a good time with me. They whooped my ass, beat the living dog shit out of me, stole my gun, which I still haven’t got back. Here I am packing a goddamned peashooter while those pricks are at the range with my hog-leg 3.57.”
Corby stalls, winces in pain and drinks more beer, a shot glass appearing his hand and the unseen barmaid saying, “Dat from Dawn.”
“You got this,” says Dawn.
Corby downs the shot and gasps, “151, awe hell!”
Shaking his head, Corby turns to look level at the camera, “Suffice it to say, after six weeks in the hospital, the cops drop the charges, but I don’t get my gun back and I’m confined to a wheelchair, which is thankfully powered, because these pricks have broken my right arm. Fortunately I shoot left handed.
“Well, I’m gonna kill some pain, out to the bar I go—headin’ across the street ‘cause they let you smoke weed over there.
“I am riding in my scooter chair, across Foster, in the crosswalk, installed after my brother got launched down Foster by a can’t drive worth shit bitch, and another can’t drive worth shit bitch hits me in her 2018 Honda CRV and launches me down the street. The under carriage, which is heavy as shit, of my chair, stays jammed up under her car as she continues down the street, fucking grinding away, while I am launched thirty yards in the chair, still strapped in. I get bounced up onto the sidewalk.
“The worst part was, these two tweakers with skateboards were right there, carrying bags of cans for recycle and instead of helping me they commence to looting! They are cutting me out of the strap so they can roll me over and get my wallet. My phone is on the center line.
“And I see him there, like Black Jesus come down off the cross, well, if Jesus Christ was not only black but a crackhead. He was standing their torpedoing a BAM energy drink, just watching. Then he takes out this crack pipe which is jammed with rock, like a baking soda cocaine family reunion out of 1986, and he fires this pipe up with—I shit you not—an acetylene torch.”
[Corby stops and listens to an unheard question.]
“Torches are actually pretty common in the Pacific Northwest, people have wood stoves, and during the rainy season, which is the entire winter, it helps start a fire quick. There is probably one on a back porch a half mile from here in every direction.
“I mean this guy looks homeless, ragged, not dressed too good, really, and I’m amazed that he is getting high while watching me get rolled out of the chair. And then he explodes—I mean it was on! He sung out like a banshee, really, charges the tweaker that is lifting me, spears him with a head but that knocks his teeth and snot right into the gutter; out like a light!
“I’m amazed, lying there, and the other tweaker is making off at high speed with my wallet. I can see the man who came to my aid is going to chase him and I say, “Can you catch that tweaker?”
“Boy, Jesse Owens had nothing on that man! Fucking ran him down in five seconds, launches the tweaker head first through the passenger side window of that can’t drive bitch’s Honda, brings me back my wallet, and carries me right here, to this very seat.”
“He was a very nice guy. They wouldn’t serve him in here as he was obviously high as a kite, and you know this establishment is careful not to over serve…”
Another shot glass, full of golden liquid is placed before Corby and the barmaid says, “Peanut butter whiskey, from Yim.”
Corby toasts a man standing behind the camera, downs the shot, clears his throat and concludes, “I honestly don’t know what happened to him. All he really said about himself was ‘Can’ usually n reference to me asking if he was gonna by okay out there in the rain, or can he get what he needs, and did he have anything to eat.
“Fuck it!—this guy saved me, saved my ass and got those tweakers off of me before they found my .25 auto in the vest pocket. So I gave him all my cash, about $350, I’d say, and wished him a good life.
“He did say he was from Wilmington, wherever the fuck that is, when I asked him where he was from. Then I heard about this Crackman Can Good Samaritan guy, and, you know, people don’t mess with crack much anymore, its all about the meth. So I figured that this was the guy—dude didn’t even have a backpack or a decent coat. Hope he got some real help. He sure helped me.”
Dawn says, “That was great, Corb. You did what you could for the poor guy.”
Corby winced in pain and reached for his beer, “Why not, we’re all fawked in the end, might as well extend the hand.”
The End
Sansa Jones
let the world fend for itself
thriving in bad places
dark, distant futures
the sunset saga complete
on the overton railroad
book of nightmares
when you're food
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