Bean, a nickname which has stuck longer than its origin, sits in front of a small black laptop lying on the kitchen table. An empty bottle of Gilbey’s gin lies on its side in the window sill, aimed at a silhouetted spider plant. The spider plant shoots stems and leaves relentlessly at the hapless bottle. Past the glib Gilbey’s bottle and beyond the window pane, sits an empty football stadium. Bean stares blindly at the computer screen and then at the empty stadium.
“Whatcha doin?” Nance steps gingerly down the steps into the kitchen. Her long straight brown hair meets the middle of her back and contrasts with his curly black mop. His hair is long too, but it stays high up on his head, wild and unruly.
“Writing a story.” An edge of defensiveness skitters from his voice enveloping the response.
She opens the avocado green fridge and pulls out a yogurt, stripping the aluminum top off with the noise of tape peeled off wet skin. Then she bumps the avocado green door shut with her ample butt. “What’s this one about?”
“It’s about a guy who can’t write a story.”
“That’s a great idea.” The words ooze from her lips, the largest glop dripping from ‘great’. Her grin suggests patience, but she continues … “Next story should be about a guy who can’t write a resume’”
“Thanks. Needed some inspiration.” Bean pretends to type.
She finishes the yogurt with a hollow scraping noise from the spoon on the inside of the plastic container and throws the empty yogurt container into the trash bin. It requires a push from her hand, leaving the hinged top swinging. She places the spoon in the silverware rack of the avocado green dishwasher and moves toward the door. “We’re going out with Geena and Scott tonight. Don’t worry, I’ll pay for you.” And she is gone.
Three hours later he plays poorly at a game of cards on the computer. The stadium remains empty. The glib Gilbey bottle still lies on its side impotently guarding the window. A lanky Hispanic man walks into the kitchen. “Hey bro . . . Wastin another day?” He reaches into the avocado green fridge, pulls out a lime and a half empty bottle of tequila. “Share some breakfast with me.”
“Yeah, looks like your writing man.” He flips his long black hair from his face with a swing of his head and slices the lime eight ways. “Okay, f’real. What about?”
Bean answers, “About a guy who can’t write a story. It’s a synecdoche for my life.”
“That’s gotta be the dumbest thing I ever heard, bro. And what the hell is a synec … whatever, anyway?” He laughs and pushes a slice of lime and a double shot of tequila across the table.
“You’re passing me tequila at eleven-thirty in the morning and telling me I have a dumb idea?” The writer drinks and follows with a slice of lime.
“At least I have a job, man.” He drinks his turn.
“You’re in a band, Javi. It’s not a job.”
“Shit man, I made more in the past two weeks than you made last year. . . . The bar we play at needs a bartender. Come with me this afternoon and get a job.”
“You give me tequila and then take me for an interview?”
“I didn’t say you’re gonna work today, bro. I always have a buzz on before I go in. You help us set up this afternoon and I’ll introduce you. Our band makes the owner lots of money. He’s cool. He’ll hire you.”
A double shot washes down each exchange of conversation. Finally, the last demon drops from the bottle with a plop into the shot glass. Javi speaks. ”Help me get the devil out.” This term, to Javi, as Bean already knew, represented a simple albeit somewhat dangerous ritual performed on an empty bottle of tequila.
The devil, from Javi youth, screams icy Dante-esque three faced gnawing skin peeling tortures of hell; or a Milton-esque creature whose allure raises the hairs on one’s back as easily as the evil he brings those who seek him out. Nowadays Javi, of course, places no faith in ancient tales or superstitions. He rarely even thinks of them. The creature’s name comes up mainly during juvenile drinking games and meaningless oaths.
Bean’s understanding of the devil is less defined and less focused. He read Dante and Milton for exercise only. His religious school hardly mentioned the creature. This young man with dark curly hair knows a devil that tested Job and crawled in the grass, but he did not study the four horsemen.
So much for religious schools and children’s dreams; the story has already moved on to the juvenile drinking rite. The two young men take turns rubbing the empty bottle of tequila. They rub the bottle with a slightly inebriated gleam of concentration which often accompanies drunken exercise. After about five minutes of rubbing, Bean grabs a lighter, flicks the flint. Then Javi unscrews the top of the bottle and tips it to the lighter. A gentle ‘whoosh’ of flame gushes from the mouth of the bottle.
The young men will eventually know evil on a par with the strongest of their demons; they will pay the cost of aging. Today, however, one will get a job and the other will play a few silly songs on an electric guitar.
Bean leans back in his chair. “Yeah, I’ll go with you to the bar. It’s a stupid idea for a story.” Bean deletes the story without saving and shuts down the computer.
About the Author
Baruc Avrim lives in the Kansas City area. He has numerous stories in various stages of completion. Besides writing, he enjoys his children and mountain biking.