Mondo Cargo by Nolan Knight

The vinyl booth squealed as a pair of bare-bottom brunettes grinded Hollis’ crotch into a slimy mess. He peered ’round thick brown nipples to see Juanito and Teddy, awe-struck before a thunderous clapping of asses. All they needed was one stack dropped onto the table; girls could smell it through tender roast beef being carved in the kitchen. Sam’s Hofbrau: A world they’d re-imagined for years on the inside, reliving its sensory overload to eviscerate cold steel bars. Not today. Now they were on the outside—on top. Less than fifteen minutes on a rain soaked night and dreams were now a reality. This stop was just a brief after party; a celebration before the rest of their lives. What better than a mind-numbing feast of flesh?

The vinyl booth squealed as a pair of bare-bottom brunettes grinded Hollis’ crotch into a slimy mess. He peered ’round thick brown nipples to see Juanito and Teddy, awe-struck before a thunderous clapping of asses. All they needed was one stack dropped onto the table; girls could smell it through tender roast beef being carved in the kitchen. Sam’s Hofbrau: A world they’d re-imagined for years on the inside, reliving its sensory overload to eviscerate cold steel bars. Not today. Now they were on the outside—on top. Less than fifteen minutes on a rain soaked night and dreams were now a reality. This stop was just a brief after party; a celebration before the rest of their lives. What better than a mind-numbing feast of flesh? Continue reading “Mondo Cargo by Nolan Knight”

T-Town Blue by Nolan Knight

The blade slid warm across Sonny’s lip, grape jelly sweet on the tongue; tip toes strained on a Bud thirty-pack: had to see over the kitchen counter to spackle stale sourdough. Was wiping the switch with his t-shirt when a slap jarred his skull, sending the knife to blistered linoleum. Pops didn’t say a word, like always, closing the blade back into a pocket. Winston ash dangled over Sonny’s chipped eyeglasses, smoke blanketing the brain.

Pop: “Eloise! Get dat ass in here—fix Sonny fo’ school!”

A disheveled brunette in sweatpants emerged from the bedroom. Sonny always focused on her interesting toenails, reminded him of Easter eggs—ones Frankie showed him at recess that time.

She wasn’t his mommy.

Didn’t really know her at all.

Pop came back with her after Judge Dick sent him on a ninety-day “vacation.” She squatted to his level, mascara snaking out eye sockets. He lifted both arms as she tore the stained shirt up over his face and dabbed it under the faucet; Lomita Sheriff emblazoned the heart: Pop’s dream job, snuffed by too many vacations. Sonny remembered him telling mommy, “Could bear arms at all times, babe—no hasslin’.” Never quite understood. Pop had arms all the time—same kind Sonny had high in the sky. Arms were arms, right?

Real mommy lived at that silly hospital on Carson Street—but not all the time. Sometimes she would get lost on adventures. Last time Granny took him to visit they shared a pack of Zingers. Sonny longed to give her another hug—maybe they’d have Chocodiles next time, long as she could laugh and scream in peace. The good doctors loved her so much, that’s what Granny said. Granny was nice too, always letting him roam Western once she drank the world’s biggest juicebox. Soon as she began snoring, the world was within reach.

Raindrops peppered windows. His textbooks needed a plastic bag; could see ’em stacked on the pink couch. Dinner table held three plump grocery bags. Grabbed one, unloading its contents: tall amber vials that rattled like baby toys. Headed for his books, careful stepping through the living room: bodies were strewn about the carpet, shaking and snoring—sweat beading off every brow. One of the dozers remained upright on the couch, nodding gibberish out the lips, extension cord strangling a forearm.

Sonny gazed at the man in wonder, loading Math and Social Studies into his sack. Not so fun anymore. His only pen wasn’t in the Trapper Keeper. Dug an arm between sofa cushions to fish. One handful produced a Pringle and three gold pellets, ones Pop put in “big boy toys.” Second try unearthed an empty baggy, flecked with sticky brown dregs.

Eloise snatched it from his hand, jamming the wet shirt back over his face. “Get ’long now. Gonna miss da bus, mijito.”

He stared, silent, barely blinking.

She sucked a false front tooth. “What?”

“It rains.”

She peered out the window, swiping a black beanie from off the floor and handing it over.

Sonny pointed to the kitchen.

Eloise rushed to wrap his sandwich in Kleenex. He dropped it atop books as she spanked him out the door.

Park was quiet this time of day, trailers scattered catawampus, just like Pop’s pals at home. Wondered if Frankie would crash on his floor someday, when they grew big—share shiny pellets—vanish on long vacations thanks to Judge Dick. Hopefully no crying on Carson Street though…just adventures.

Rain had ceased; Torrance Transit bench glistened up ahead. Frankie would board near the stone train bridge; they’d split the sandwich: Frankie never had breakfast. Winter chill didn’t burn much anymore, just cold, blue. Pop was right: “Dis T-Town, Sonny. Don’t need no jack-it.” He removed his glasses and pulled the beanie down over his face: three harsh slits circled the eyes and mouth. A slow dance on concrete brought warmth, arms wiggly as wet noodles. Creeping cold felt nice; soul clouds leaked with every breath. Today wasn’t so bad. Embraced the chill—took his mind off stuff, for now.

Rise, Charlie, Rise by Nolan Knight

The tree house was safety. Whenever glass shattered or flesh thwacked. Out the window, up eight planks, a hideout till shouts simmered. Cigar smoke drifted through slats. Charlie covered his ears, forearms blistered from being ‘Too damn stupid!’ Newest scars in the collection; Ma still had him beat. Through the kitchen window, could see a busted jaw added to her list. He rocked atop a litter of comics, praying for an end, imagining a new world, ripe with adventure—happiness. A world without Ma—without rules. A world where Doyle fit snug in a coffin.

Life nowadays was purely voyeuristic. He grabbed binoculars off a nail and scoped the neighboring house. Older boys, sometimes pretty girls. Stole a beer from ’em once—they were busy wrestling Molly McClusky. First clam he ever saw, still dreamy. Ma told him to mind his own but what’d she know besides taking a punch.

The yard was cluttered with car parts; an old Toyota bed on blocks. Two boys emerged, wheelbarrow in tow. Charlie double checked the kitchen; Ma shook in Doyle’s rusted arms, clenching a fork. Would be awhile before they called for supper. He turned back to the truck bed, watching as the boys swung orange tipped axes, cheddar like, dismantling methodically.

In all of twenty minutes, metal flanks were strewn about weeds. The boys stood by the wheelbarrow, thirty-six black packages piled (Charlie counted as they were tossed from the lining). He listened as the bald boy stuck one with a finger.

“We’re good, Teddy.”

The cackle out the gaunt boy made his skin crawl. Always snorting like some goddamn piggy. Was pondering the package contents when Doyle’s baritone shattered the world.

“Charlie-boy—git yer faggot-ass down here!”

The boys looked up from the yard, straight at him, pupils the size of melons till he dropped the lenses. He ducked from the window, acting invisible, peering through a hole he’d made for just an occasion. The boys scrambled out their side gate, axes low. He watched as they sprinted for Doyle’s front door, grabbing a rubber band gun, sliding it down his jeans. Heavy knocks made him shudder.

Doyle screamed, “The fuck?”

Ma snapped from the stupor, smearing her leaky face.

Charlie heard the door unlatch as he slithered down planks. Only option was running.

Doyle: “The fuck are you, some nigger knockers or somethi—”

The crunch rattled Charlie’s eardrums, followed by a loud thud. Could see Doyle’s boots on the carpet, steel toes up, twitching a two-step. He rolled behind a lawnmower and saw baldie shove Ma off the chair, mouth so busted, couldn’t muster a scream. Teddy rushed into the backyard, up the planks.

“Kid ain’t here!”

Baldie pressed the dripping cheese wedge to Ma’s throat. “Where’s the boy?”

She grumbled nonsense, swiping the fork at his calf.

Charlie flinched at the coming blow. The splat was his starter pistol. He dashed for the side gate, one he’d climbed a million times. One he’d almost climbed again. Thin bones clenched the base of his neck, tearing him off the fence, slamming him to soil. He gasped for air, wincing at the gleaming blade, high over head. He pulled the wood pistol.

“No, Teddy!”

The axe thumped beside him.

Charlie opened his eyes. Both boys hovered like gravediggers.

Baldie snatched the toy gun. “Look at him, man. Face all busted—raccoon eyes.”

“Cigar burns too—up the arms.”

Charlie writhed, spine burning.

“Fuck it—lemme do it, man.”

“Supposed to handle anyone that gets in the way—never said nothin’ ’bout no kids. ’Specially ones this fucked.”

“What then?”

“Hold your dick—I’m thinkin’.” He scratched his dome. “Stand him up.”

Charlie coughed while being yanked.

“How old a you, kid?”

“Eight an’ a half.”

“You seen too much. Me and Teddy here used to spy on folks when we was eight too. Never resulted in no shit like this but…hey—you’re welcome.”

Cackle—snort.

Charlie leered at his bare crusted toes.

“Hell, Teddy—little shit’s comin’ with us. How that sound?”

Charlie smirked.

Cackle—snort. “Go on an’ smile, kid—not every day you rise from the dead.”