Last year I did I wrote a short story for Ivan Hernandez‘s show, Give Me Fiction.
I can’t remember the last time I was asked to write a story, and the whole experience was challenging, but also pretty fun. You can check out the story I wrote below and you can also hear the whole show, here.
Immortality with a Side of Bacon.
(With apologies to Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
I realized I was immortal the night I died, when I was only and sweetly 16 years old.
Picture me running from a mob. Not the mob, mind you, just a mob of angry gangsters who were chasing me and Uncle Salvador through the lean streets of Port Chops, an unfortunately named town that had bigger problems on its plate than a paltry pork pun.
Salvador wasn’t my biological uncle, just a boy slightly older than me who would often wrestle me into uncomfortable positions and demand to be bestowed with a title of familial respect. On the night in question he and I broke into what we had believed to be an abandoned slaughterhouse, but was in reality an occupied slaughterhouse filled with men in suits having a polite but intense discussion over what appeared to be cocaine and cash. Fortunately for us, we were smart and quiet, considering our age and attitude, and were almost back outside, undetected and unfettered when Uncle Sal whispers,“It smells like pigs in this place, but I don’t see no cops around.”
Now, you know me, I love a good joke, so you can imagine how I react when I hear a great joke! I let out a guffaw and a snort, which is a great way to surprise and then get the undivided attention of a pack of criminals engaged in clandestine activity.
They start shouting, we start running, they shout louder, we run faster, they start shooting, we start dying. Really, we’re being killed, but I’m not a passive person. Sal’s blood leaks from his body like water from the plastic-bag shower-head Mom made that one time we had running water in our apartment for a few months straight. I try to scream his name, but the only thing that comes out of my mouth is a gurgling choking sound followed by a bunch of blood. My blood! It’s pouring out of me like it never wanted to be in there in the first place. It’s flowing from my face and over my body and clothes and begins to make big wet dots on the sidewalk… littering it with ellipses as I sink down to the ground and all I can think of or see are periods. I’m on the pavement crying uncle, wrecked and recumbent and remembering Rebecca, of all people, my older sister, talking about her time of the month, “I’m bleeding like a stuck pig,” she’d say, before going on to squeal like said pig. She was always so weird to me.
She also happened to be exactly 26 floors above me and 13 feet to the right of me, but I didn’t know that at the time.
The last thing I remember thinking is, “I can’t believe I’m dying. I’m dying and I’m thinking about jokes and pigs.”
Rebecca looked out the window of her small apartment and stared into the dance studio from across a deep but narrow valley made by the city’s buildings. She could clearly see the dancers’ limber bodies stretch and warm up while faint strains of the song “Fame,” wafted over and mixed with the sounds of traffic and humans from below.
She smiled to herself and stubbed her menthol cigarette into the cheap plastic ashtray she had stolen from a Day’s Inn while on tour with her now defunct band, The Squealing Fortunes.
“Fame! I’m gonna live forever! I’m gonna learn how to fly. High!” The song had inspired her to quit community college and pursue her dream of becoming an Artist, with a capital ‘A.’
It seemed obvious to her now that if she was shallow enough to be moved so deeply by an ephemeral piece of pop would she would never make it as a serious artist, but hindsight, as her mother would say, is what you see when your head’s stuck up your own ass.
She felt like a pig stuck in a pen, cramped in this tight space with the ghosts of her past’s failed potential lining her walls and waiting patiently to be used or even loved one day, but more likely to be simply sloughed away. Mix tapes, used books, photo collages, and other reminders of the lives she could have had seemed to silently taunt her. She needed to do something different and crazy and maybe a little bit dangerous. But first she needed to get outside.
Joey stood with the other men around the table. He had a gun strapped to his torso, a mean look pasted onto his face, and an unsettling feeling in his gut that he and his best friend, Lenny, were in way over their heads and this was all going to go terribly wrong.
Lenny was arguing with the leader of the local bike gang, the Boars. “Look, Mikey,” I brought you all the coke I said I’d bring ya. I don’t get what the problem is.“
“The problem is that I have since been moved to reconsider the terms of our agreement, Leonard,” Joey hated the way Mikey spoke, as if his high-brow accent superseded his low-level miscreant status.
“Oh, fuck, now I’m doing it too!” thought Joey.
Just then they all heard a pig laugh from the other side of the slaughter house. Three Boars ran off in that direction, and it wasn’t until after Joey followed suit that he thought, “Oh, fuck, that must have been a person, not a pig, why am I so stupid?”
And it wasn’t until he heard shots fired behind him that he thought, “Oh, fuck, I just left Lenny alone in a room full of Boars. Oh. Fuck.”
He kept running because he didn’t know what else to do and he caught up to the Boars just in time to see them unloading their weapons into two teenagers.
“Oh, fuck, those are just kids!” thought Joey. “Oh, just fuck it all!”
“Hey Boars!” he shouted, “Here’s blood in your sty!” He shot each one in the face, exactly where a surprised look had just been. “Boars Eye!” he thought, because he was much better at killing than thinking.
Rebecca looked out of the window from her small booth at the front of her local bar, “4 Swine.” It used to be a gay bar called “Diamonds and Pearls B4 Swine,” but the sign out front, along with the rest of the building, had fallen into a state of disrepair. She inhaled deeply on her cigarette.
There was a small buzz of excitement in the neighborhood because of the shooting, but it didn’t worry Rebecca too much. She figured whoever had done the shooting was miles away by now, if they were even still alive. Plus she never associated with people caught up in that world, so she decided it didn’t really concern her. She even resisted becoming one of those gawkers who circled the crime scene trying to catch a glimpse of victim.
“I’d rather focus on the living,” she said out loud as she had walked by, to absolutely no one in particular.
She turned to face the interior of the bar and locked eyes with a tall, good looking man looking slightly disheveled in a wrinkled suit. He looked frightened and elated, like he had just made the best mistake of his life. She knew immediately she wanted to write songs about him. But first she had to get to know him. She took a long last drag on her menthol, excitedly ground her little nub into another cheap ashtray, and stood up.
I realized I was immortal on the morning I was born. Picture me as a baby seeing my older sister looking down at me and realizing she was my new Mom and realizing the man who avenged my death is now my new Dad. You guys know me, I love a good joke, but this was too much. I snorted with laughter like a little piglet. My new parents looked at each other and smiled.