Texas Hold ‘Em

Jake the Rake in a desolate, unearthly Galveston jail cell. A saliva-soaked, sticky, half-eaten Mars bar protrudes from his front pocket. He’s not full, just game ready. White-knuckles wrap around iron bars, coated with perspiration. A salty confidence. No one’s gonna mess with him anymore. Instant cachet, street cred, whatever. He felt he had officially arrived.

Neatly attired veteran officer Brickhouse approaches. “Why did you write that story?”

“Why do you wear that clown suit?”

Officer Brickhouse burns a red face. “Oh, you’d like me to walk in there with a little discipline, wouldn’t you?”

“Nothin’ I ain’t already used to. And I know my daddy hits harder than you. Probably you’d use that dildo hangin’ from your belt… not your fist. Like a faggot coward.”

Brickhouse grinned angrily, casting a pitiful look at Jake’s three other cell mates, still unconscious from their afternoon naps. “How old are you boy? Fourteen… right? And first time in jail? With that filthy mouth? Won’t be your last, I’ll flat out guarantee that.”

The Rake stared glassy-eyed at the slow-moving ceiling fan directly above Brickhouse. In a horribly run-down, putrid Galveston jail, the inmates laughed hysterically when the ceiling fan broke free, sawing the officers’ head off, much like a helicopter would if one forgot to duck. That would be the opening sentence to his next masterpiece when he got out. And out he would get.

They couldn’t touch him. Wouldn’t dare. Violent images exploded in his mind whenever The Rake self-hypnotized. A few tugs at his pocket and his Mars bar transformed into an semi-automatic machine gun. What a cool idea! He did the only thing any angst-ridden kid would do in that situation; he blasted the shit out of everything. In 15 minutes he was free, having carved pig after pig into bloody scraps of flesh and bone with terrifying precision. My God, who knew how easy it was being a writer!

“So come on. Why the story?” Brickhouse knew he’d have to release him, but there was a game to play first this little punk wouldn’t win.

“Well, if you must know…” Pause for a scrumptious trip to Mars… intense, gooey, chewy, chocolaty, maybe even orgasmic. “It was a Halloween story assignment for English class,” The Rake explained, while masticating like a madman. “Mrs. Chambers said scare her, so I did… guess I scared her good.”

“Guess so.” Brickhouse breathed hard, hand on dildo… ah, baton. What a piece of sewer garbage… raging adolescent anxiety, forever threatening to erupt. A real spit wad. If this Charles Manson/Eddie Haskell crossbreed was his son, he wouldn’t live to see graduation day. A smirk. The thought of this degenerate graduating… “A story about your classmates duct taping Mrs. Chambers and beating her with pointers and yardsticks, and then… making her write obscene things on a chalk board with each hand for hours over and over until both her arms shook with spasms, then forcing her to face a blank wall in a corner without food or water for the rest of the day and all you kids taking turns ridiculing her wrinkled skin until she cried, then re-programming her brain in some abandoned building… that’s torture, is what that is!”

Jake’s peculiar diamond-shaped head poked a through the iron bars a smidgen while his mouth continued chomping on chocolate ecstasy. “Exactly. Halloween tales are generally scary. You’re pretty smart for a clown.”

Brickhouse smacked that head with his baton, hoping to knock some humility into him. Well, that was pretty stupid, he reconsidered. While Jake whined and cursed and rubbed as if his head was on fire, Brickhouse realized he’d gone way too far. Again. He’d have to come up with yet another lie Sarge could easily swallow. And he found it. Lying was second-nature to him now. Stepping up to the bars shooting venom in all directions with a low-keyed, fierce desperation… “Now you listen to me and listen good. I’m not fucking around anymore. Punch me in the face… in my eye… right now, you hear? It’s your chance to get even. Do it or I’ll get in there and crack your skull again!”

The Rake scowled with an eerie glow. Mars bar juice trickled down his chin. “Police brutality is a Bozo no-no.”

What hit Brickhouse’s eye, instead of the fist he’d asked for, was the remnants of Mars bar catapulting from Jake’s mouth. The Rake raised his hand, slowly folding his fingers toward his palm, except the middle one. “Life’s over clown. My lawyer will see to that.”

His lawyer? Normally, Brickhouse would have thought a little turd like this incapable of understanding what a lawyer was. But he knew this was no ordinary little turd.

Brickhouse bowed his head. What could he do? What did his immediate future hold? Last chance with the force blown… fear… sleepless nights… drinking… drunken stupors… investigation… suspension with pay, suspension without pay. Scandal… society outcast… lost respect from wife and family… divorce. Fingerprints about to be matched… dug up evidence of missing drugs… torture… abuse of authority… termination. Jail. They would uncover everything. He’d exist in a dark, dismal state of mind for the rest of his life, in some other state struggling with an avalanche of nightmares, shrinks, desperation, and drugs. He’d live totally alone. He’d die a miserable death, always remembered as a pathetic scumbag. Seemed like a good time to bypass all that crap and end it.

The solution was logical considering his circumstances, and gave him an odd sense of freedom. It was surprising he thought of it so quickly. A bullet inside the mouth… Jake, as witness, scared forever… perfect. He’d kill two birds with one stone. Why not just shoot the kid then? Nah, let the images haunt him for the rest of his miserable days. The pressure was off. He grabbed The Rake’s arm, yanking it through the cell bars. Jake still wasn’t frightened—damn him! Brickhouse deftly removed his revolver from his holster and cupped Jake’s hand over the handle with his. “Take the gun and fire one shot into my mouth or I swear I’ll kill your whole goddamn family!”

The Rake grinned. “Really? You’d do that for me?” Serious now, he thought about his daydream and how it could really play out, albeit in an abbreviated version. He coolly stiffened his arm.

Another slimy, dripping Mars grin. The stupid cop made the mistake of getting to close. An opportunity presented itself—after all, it was only self-defense. The contusion on his head was proof. Bang… a legend forever.