Jimmy the Wrist [Repost]



Bernard’s mother was the accordion player in an ethnic folk band. They called themselves the Charlie Manson Quartet, and played for dances and weddings in Legion and Elk halls up and down the valley.

Of course, this was years and years before the Charles Manson family committed bloody murder in California. Bernard remembered guitarist Charlie Manson as the most benevolent kind of year-round Santa Claus, with his premature white hair and trimmed beard. Except when he drank, which was actually rare, he was a jolly trickster, who made charming but suggestive jokes in between songs, told the most ridiculous tall tales about fishing in the lakelands, and played Chinese Checkers with a fierce competitiveness.

The other band members were Harry Porter, the bass guitarist, and Jimmy “The Wrist” Corcoran, so named because he drummed a full spring wedding season with his left wrist in a cast. Bernard wasn’t sure the wrist ever healed properly, but the fracture never seemed to affect his drumming, which was odd. Or maybe he just wasn’t a very good drummer.

Jimmy was kicked out of the band after The Incident, and they never replaced him, using a small electronic rhythm device instead, which turned out to be a good thing because they could sell the van and just go from gig to gig in Harry’s massive old Lincoln, which had room for the three of them and their instruments. They became the Charlie Manson Trio.

Bernard’s mother was a pretty brunette, with doe-like brown eyes and a shy demeanour, though she really was, Bernard remembered, a crackerjack— smart, funny, and talented. She could play any kind of keyboard fluently and had a low, sweet singing voice.

She loved the water and Bernard remembered many summer afternoons at the beach, he digging in the sand for creatures— clams, mussels, burrowing sea bugs of all kinds —which he put in a big plastic washing tub filled with sand and water. Sometimes he waded on the shore in search of painted turtles, but didn’t put them in his washtub aquarium anymore because one young turtle ate all his collected clams. He brought them to his mother to be duly admired, and released them again.

Sometimes at the beach his mother read books from the library, sometimes chatted with Bernard about his collection, but mostly she liked to lean back in the blue and yellow strapped lounger in her swimsuit, and feel the sun. He remembered her humming, tunes the band played for people to dance to, or little patches of songs that she made up.

Bernard remembered one day, filled with the lazy sounds of waves lapping the shore, seagulls squawking overhead, his mother humming. The sunlight shimmered behind her, and he saw another, larger silhouette appear alongside.

“Hi Bernie,” said Jimmy The Wrist, waving stiffly. “Why don’t you go play in the water or somethin’?” Jimmy had a funny part in his hair, too close to the centre, which made him look a bit like Jimmy Olsen from the comics.

Bernie turned to his mother, who sat up in her lounge chair and ruffled his sandy hair.

“See if you can find another turtle — you can show Jimmy,” she said to her son.

People always looked strange on the beach when they were fully clothed; awkward and out of place. Jimmy wore a starched white shirt, open at the collar, and a pair of grey slacks with a belt. His shoes were polished black leather and fastened with shoelaces.

Jimmy joined Bernard’s mother on the lounger, perching on the edge, while Bernard waded ankle deep in the cool water. He hadn’t learned to swim yet, and wasn’t allowed to go any deeper.

All was well until Bernard heard loud voices. “No, I’m not!” his mother shouted. Bernard froze, and then he saw Jimmy stand up and slap his mother hard across the face. She screamed and Bernard started to propel himself from the shore towards them.

Before he reached his mother, before the blonde couple down the beach or the man at the concession stand up by the parking lot could react, a seagull, a raggedy old grey and white seagull, flew straight into Jimmy’s face.

It flew in with its beak and claws out, tearing up Jimmy’s clean-shaven face and neatly-parted hair. It fluttered its broad wings and flew away. There was blood.

Jimmy flailed around blindly, and Bernard’s mother put a towel into his hand, Bernard’s towel that had the Superman crest on it.

Jimmy was gasping and crying, the towel pressed to his face. Bernard reached his mother just as the young couple did, and she clasped his hand tightly, her other hand on her cheek. The man at the concession stand then arrived with a heavyset man in uniform, who, after talking in low tones to Bernard’s mother and the young couple, invited Jimmy to come along with him. No one seemed in a great hurry to tend to Jimmy’s wounds, but he was quiet now, and walked away with the officer silently, subdued.

Bernard’s mother knelt in the sand and enveloped Bernie in her arms. He could feel her breathing heavily, and feel the heat from the cheek that had been so forcefully struck. She hugged him tightly, and he looked over her shoulder at Jimmy and the officer in the parking lot as the officer opened a white car door and Jimmy bent to get inside. Just before his bloody face disappeared into the back seat, the old seagull returned, circled, and shit on the top of Jimmy’s head.

“We’ll get you a new towel,” Bernard’s mother, unseeing, whispered in his ear.


  • Original Prompt: Beach, May 5, 2016


Prompt: Treasure


Jeremy’s father wanted to go outside for a walk. Lately he’d avoided going outside of the apartment, because he couldn’t walk without Jeremy or Xavier to lean on, or without his walker, which he hated to use in public. It was early December and a chill north wind slicked up the sidewalks, but Jeremy’s father was adamant. Jeremy suspected he was just being a bastard— wanting to inconvenience his son or his caretaker as much as he possibly could. He did that when he was bored. Bored and vain about his age, and a cantankerous old bastard. That’s my dad.

Jeremy had to work an afternoon shift, so Xavier was tasked with the adventure. He truly didn’t mind, even though he completely understood the man’s motive. Xavier loved the cold— had never experienced cold like this and hoped daily that it would snow. Perhaps today! Snowflakes!

He bundled up Jeremy’s father in layers of wool and flannel, and then a puffy down jacket and scarf, gloves, and warm socks and shoes. He had less of a cache of warm clothing, so layered his shirts as best he could, borrowed a tartan scarf from Jeremy, and pulled a soft toque down over the tips of his ears.

The cold hit hard as soon as Xavier opened the door of the apartment to the street. It was only three o’clock, and twilight hung over them like a grey shawl, and Xavier put both hands in the pockets of his jeans. Jeremy’s father put his hand through Xavier’s right arm, and off they went down the sidewalk, in the direction of the Shell station and the 7-11. Cars slowly streamed by, steam rose from the pavement which had been warmed by early sunshine, and Xavier breathed deeply, causing sharp stabs like icicles in his lungs. It felt good. It felt exhilerating!

Their pace was necessarily slow. Jeremy’s father’s breath was a white cloud. His breathing was heavy and laboured, so Xavier asked frequently: Are you ok?

“Just keep going,” said Jeremy’s father. “Go to the liquor store, I want a bottle of whiskey.”

There were three stairs leading to the short stretch of pavement to the double glass doors of the store, at the base of which was a bench, inhabited by a scruffy older man scowling at them resentfully. Xavier wondered if such an attitude was helpful in soliciting coins for the coffee cup that the man held out.

Jeremy’s father eyed the three steps. “I’ll wait here,” he said, and took a worn leather wallet out of his jacket pocket. He pulled out two five dollar bills and two tens, handing them over to Xavier. “Get that brand with the horse on the label.” Xavier knew which whiskey he meant, but before he could take the money he was blindsided by a solid punch to his left ear.

“Fucking spic!” Xavier was forced to the ground. Three young men looked down at him, then one turned to Jeremy’s father and said, “You ok, old man?” And grinned. Then one of the boys kicked Xavier in the ribs, and he gasped, and a tiny trickle of blood dribbled from his lips. “Chunt! Fucking wetback!”

Now as it happened, Xavier was an illegal immigrant. And Jeremy’s father has used those very words to describe him, often and in a loud voice. But for now, Jeremy’s father snatched the coffee cup out of the scruffy man’s clutches and broke it over the head of the boy who was now delivering another kick, to Xavier’s stomach.

“Get out of here!” he shouted, just as the manager of the liquor store and two employees flung open the glass doors and rushed down the sidewalk.

One employee ran off in the general direction the three assailants had taken, while the manager and and the other young man helped Xavier to his feet. The manager gave him a kleenex to wipe the blood from his mouth.

“Let me call the police,” she said, taking out her cell phone.

“No, no,” said Xavier and Jeremy’s father, in unison.

“We know those boys,” Jeremy’s father lied. “I’ll take care of it.”

Jeremy’s father gave the drunk on the bench the five dollars he demanded to compensate for the broken mug, then paid the manager for the bottle of whiskey that an employee fetched for him.

He and Xavier leaned on each other on the walk back to the apartment. It was almost dark. A nice glass of whiskey was what young Xavier needed, thought Jeremy’s father. Fucking wetback.


Promp: Scars

symbolical head

Joshua had a bone spur in his skull that was pushing itself into the back of his left eyeball.

A team consisting of a neurosurgeon, ophthalmologist, and plastic surgeon spent almost eight hours, pulling his scalp back like the flap of a canvas knapsack, scoping, drilling, and sanding, all while avoiding damage to his eyesight and brain. After completing the procedure, they patched up torn tissue with dissolvable stitches, returned the scalp flap to its rightful place, and then punctured his head with thirty-four staples.

He and his wife, Carnation, laughed about the scar, which arched across the top of his head to behind his left ear, as the doctors said “Yes, the hair will grown back.” That was a relief.

“There is definitely no, um, brain damage?” Carnation quietly asked Doctor Happin, outside of Joshua’s room.

“None at all,” the doctor told her, with only a hint of pride. “He will be back to his old self in every way.”

Carnation touched her cheek. Only five weeks ago the whole side of her face was purple, her eye swollen shut, and her cheek fractured. She moved her hand to her wrist, which since being broken last winter still ached in the damp weather. There were fresh bruises on her upper arm, and near the tops of her thighs.

No scars, though.