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Badminton 
a Novel by the Goliard Staff

There was a miscarriage of justice. Onlookers were stunned by the amount of blood. The doctor on call nearly fainted her ownself.

Truth be told, justice was none too happy about it either, although the birth canal was wider than he'd been led to believe. Next time, he thought to himself on the way out, next time I'm gonna come to term come hell or high water. His last thought was the hope his mother was OK, and then it was back into the great abyss of undifferentiated nothingness until the wheel caught him up again.

"Hey, Justice, back so soon?" laughed the void, slapping his...well, actually it was the sound of one hand slapping.

Almost prescient were the screams of the orderlies as Buchanan passed them in the hall. He was going to deliver himself a baby whether conceived or not. Above him, the fluorescent lights flickered and dimmed as he passed. So much spilt seed he thought. Wasted progeny tossed in with the cellulite and gall bladders earlier removed.

Meanwhile, across town, a tattooed, shirtless, 50-something Anglo-Saxon man with bifocals and a reflective air leaned comfortably against the El Camino in his driveway. He lit up an American Spirit and thought about Jenny, vaguely wishing he had stopped five or six shots earlier the night before. It was so hard to control his mouth in the middle of a Jack Daniels binge. His native arrogance really grabbed him by the throat and refused to let go. Hell, Jenny might even have come home with him if he had been enough in his right mind to convince her to take a vacation from the hospital the next day. Looking down, he noticed that someone had shaved the words "EAT ME" into his chest hair. He did not remember that happening.

A gold-flecked cherry red low-rider pickup with chrome wheels careened around the corner and accelerated down the block. Kids were hanging out of every compartment, laughing and pushing each other and waving their guns. They disappeared around the next corner with a scream of rubber, leaving a haze of burning tires and exhaust in their wake. Big Dog the Radical loved his neighborhood.

Jenny was barely making it through her shift. The night before had been another tough one and the lights kept flickering in and out, on and off, in her ward. It didn't seem to be affecting the machines. She had some vague awareness that the fluorescent surges were almost exactly coinciding with the passing of some jackass who appeared to be nervously pacing the halls outside but Jenny didn't really have the energy to investigate further. Rummaging through her bag for a Motrin she felt a dull pain suddenly in the webbing between her thumb and forefinger and pulled her hand out quickly to find it suddenly dripping with blood. Closer inspection revealed that the straight razor her father had given her and that she used for shaving patients was not in it's case and instead had been loose in her bag. Holding it up before her she noticed with a feeling of impending doom that it seemed to be covered with short and curlies.

"That," she thought wryly, "is not my pubic hair." At that moment the lights winked out for good.

Big Dog was a contented man. Admittedly he was a little lonely at the moment, but he had confidence that the situation would resolve itself in another couple nights at the most. In the meantime he had cigarettes to last a month (beta testing the new American Spirit Medium-Tar Bazooka), a clean ride with a relatively new two-tone paint job (eggplant and olive from Earl Scheib), an awesome rental house in a crack neighborhood (lots of cops, but always busting other houses) and a wholesome hobby: looking out for number one.

It was shaping up to be a nice day, so he decided to take the El C out for a spin. He stubbed out the butt with the toe of his clog, and turning to go he noticed the open window in the living room. That's when the phone rang.

The phone as it turned out was not for him but an annoying woman on the other end with a shrill voice begin grilling him about where somebody named DeShaun might be. Goddammit. What was wrong with John or Ron or even Juan? Big Dog was about at the end of his rope as far as the naming trends in these parts were concerned. It didn't seem like the appellates being assigned to girls these days had suffered the same degradation. Sally, Sue, Josie. And he had just met Jenny the other night.

When the phone rang again it was a deep bass asking for Tawneekwa. The Big Dog put down the receiver and walked out into the sunlight. It was clear to him what he had to do.

Climbing behind the wheel of the most gratifying car ever discontinued for aesthetic reasons, he paused to light up again. This accomplished, he eased out of the driveway and headed west, sure that Jenny's secret longing would overcome any lingering repulsion from the night before. He flipped on the radio to hear what the shock jocks were saying these days about charismatic but unqualified governors. He harbored the illusion that one day he, BD the R himself, might be issuing edicts from some ivory tower. The vision was sweet. Hogs for everybody and a Nietzsche aphorism before bedtime, was his intended platform.

"I'm gonna tell you what the problem with Pete Rose is, you aborigine! The problem with Pete Rose is he got caught! I say do what you want but be smart enough to know who NOT to tell!"

Big Dog made a lunge for the dial. He landed in an unfamiliar part of the spectrum, but the voice he heard was soothing, with no exclamation points.

"I know what you're thinking," she purred. Did she? "You're on your way to show her just how dedicated you can be. You're on your way to an apology, and if you're lucky [somewhat indefinable pleasure sound mixed with vague derision] she might just accept. Where would that leave you, honey? After all, it's just a name."

Big Dog sat up straight, pushed up his glasses and looked at the radio. Had he heard correctly?

"It doesn't matter what the world calls her. It matters what you call her. Sure, you could go along with Polly, Sookie, Jenny...Jenny is actually nice, I think I'll use that one, mmmm-hmmm......."

Was this what public radio was like? Erotic messages tailored to whatever was inside your head? He hoped so. Years of football and Howard Stern had done little to prepare him, but he liked this just fine. He had a few minutes of traffic before he got to the hospital, so what was there to lose?

Buchanan hadn't voted in the last election. Truth be told Buchanan had never voted. When the darkness finally came he pulled the lever and crossed into the ward silently. "A vote for Buchanan is a vote for me," he muttered to himself as he felt his way along using the metal rails on the bedsides as guides. Just as his eyes were beginning to pick up shapes in the gloam he felt his foot slip out from under him and ended up splayed down on both knees. His hands touched a sticky substance that smelled vaguely of iron filings.

"How did you make the lights do that?" He looked up in the emergency lit gloom to find himself nose to razor with a dripping utensil worthy of the demon barber of Fleet Street, being wielded by an only slightly less ferocious looking apparition in hospital blues, sucking on her free hand. 

"P-p-p-pacemaker on the fritz," he stammered.

BD the R backed the El C into the handicapped spot near a sign that said "Maternity Ward and Ambulatory Surgery." He sat for a moment continuing to be impressed by the way the radio programs he chose seemed to be speaking directly to him. "Hey buddy," a disc jockey was saying now, "You'll have to move this Camino piece of crap on down the line." Camino piece of crap? He lunged for the knob shutting the radio down but it didn't turn any further and the voice continued even louder. "There ain't no excuse for backing a heap like this into a space meant for a expectant mother in a wheelchair on her way to a surgery. Now move yer big ass on down the route." The BD slowly turned his head to find a red faced rent a cop looking in at him, his foul breath fogging the Big Dog's side window as he bellowed on.

This was not the type of thing Big Dog liked to hear. For one thing, as anyone in their right mind knew, there was not a more desirable automobile than the El Camino, and there was not a more desirable El Camino than his El Camino. So clearly this person was not in his right mind. On the other hand, he was wearing a uniform, which could imply a weapon of some kind. He decided he really did not need the distraction of this uniformed person. His goal was inside. He pulled out of the handicap spot and backed into the spot where the rent-a-cop had been standing. That was some consolation. He got out and sidled up to the still glowering but as anybody could see largely impotent guard. "It ain't a good thing to criticize a man's El C...SIR. Anyway, hope yer happy. Oughta try a little harder to appreciate the finer things in life, though." He left him on the curb to ponder that wisdom and pushed through the doors.

"Can I help you sir?" inquired  a bulbous nosed woman as Big Dog approached the counter. "And there's no smoking in here." The BD went to stub out his American Spirit but realized he wasn't smoking. "Just so you know." The woman added smugly.
    "Well Well Well," BD said to himself. "A wiseass." He leaned on the counter and read her name tag. "Genovese" it said.
     "Well yes Jen, maybe you can help me. I'm looking for a friend of mind Mike who is supposed to be workin here today. He and this guy Jack were supposed to be doin some installin of somethin or other here in the lobby."
    Genovese's eyes narrowed. "I haven't seen anyone new working around here." she said.
    "Well I'm sure they're in this place somewhere. Maybe you can page...."
    Genovese cut him off. "Page them. Yes I'd be glad to. Unless their names happen to be Mike Hunt and Jack MeHoff."
    "Damn it." cursed the Big Dog as he shoved his way back out the front door. He'd have to find another way into the hospital.