Throwing Keys, Cards, and Part of a Finger

When did you first lose your will to live?

Were you six or sixty?

It could have been the embarrassment you felt in front of all the kids at the shitty camp in the woods where the councilors jacked off at night down on the dock or the full house, aces over, that got buried by the quads. The fat guy laid the four eights on a mix of cash and chips and said you really shouldn’t have been there with the big boys.  You were eighteen.

Do you recall that one like a spider in your bed?  Or maybe the time you told the cops you were going to kill one of them for splitting the head of your friend wide open.   He was never really the same after that.  Of course, you were drunk, but still you were there, showing yourself.  Was it like that…slowly losing your ability to come back from the edge of something unpleasant…playing with dynamite on the beach, while all the families were trying to enjoy the holidays?

Losing your will to live comes in small doses.  Like the time you won big and found yourself over pancakes with a Dallas stripper and part-time whore.  She was choosy, but liked gamblers since they tended to live in the security of darkness and were not too concerned with past mistakes.  You asked if she wanted to learn how to throw a key into a lock?  She said yes, so you got one of the cheaper rooms at the Adolphus Hotel, which had those old-style door locks, the ones that looked like a Keith Herron head without the arms, and you spent three days with her eating room service, drinking Jack whisky, throwing keys into the door and cards into a hat and you held her to ten feet away on the lock and twenty feet for the hat.  Slowly she began to get the hang of it.

You were the teacher and she was the student and there was something forbidden about fucking her while she cried.  She kept saying it wasn’t you and that she really liked you, and to please finish so she could shower.  You laid there with her and things got ugly with her past and you let her talk herself to sleep.  The drugs and booze helped, but she wasn’t much of a fighter, more of a victim with a black sense of humor, afraid of her boiling nightmares.  She died a few times unable to breathe through the darkness foam covering her face.  When you looked at her straight on you couldn’t see her nose, just two little holes above those full, red lips.  You weren’t paying her by then.  You had become intimate riding her elevator down.  Yes, it was something else and you found out she moved in a fatal dance within defined borders.  Her body was a shadow and sometimes she would be at the window nailing her hand to the wall.  She said things like, “Come look at all the little people down there, buying and selling crumbs.  Would you bounce at this height?  Living hard takes a toll, right?”   She turned out to be a manic-depressive with heavy self-medicating needs and at night she bled for your enjoyment while jumping up and down on perfect feet.

During the third day, she became a pro at throwing things and you started to believe that maybe you could make some money on her new-found skills.  Throwing keys and cards seemed to please her in a loud sort of way.  You proposed that she change professions and come with you on the road.   She said yes and so you contacted your traveling buddy, the Dynamic Denton Dart, who was out on bail for art fraud, and off you went for a tour of Texas and Louisiana.  She won a few bucks throwing keys and cards and you slept with her every night, while the Dart played pool across all of those neon-lite streets that turned night rainbow.  Finally she stole part of your roll in Shreveport and you never saw her again and surprisingly she never gave you a thing, except her take on fatalism and part of her little finger which she left in a plastic cup on the bathroom sink.  She cut into the fleshy part right behind the middle of the fingernail, a nice chunk, and the plastic cup was about one-eighth filled with blood.  You fucked an ill girl from Dallas for weeks and you got a few scratches on your butt and she lost the top of her little finger, but she was pretty good at throwing cards and keys. Everything was a trade-off you figured, even when it came to self-mutilation, and then you threw the contents of the plastic cup into the toilet and flushed it away.

Yes, you were the teacher and she was the student and nobody went to jail.

Do you remember?

When did you lose the will to live?  Think about it.  Look for the spots in your mind, the faces, the events, the long roads that eventually end with broken down shoes and blank looks.

You might start with the stripper from Dallas.  The one who could put six out of ten keys into the door lock from ten feet away and forty out of fifty-two Kem plastic playing cards into a hat twenty feet across the room.

That could be a good place, a good face, to put it all together.


5 thoughts on “Throwing Keys, Cards, and Part of a Finger

  1. Wow Duke, breath taking doesn’t begin to cut it. I think that experience would qualify as more than just a small dose. Thanks for working through pain on this piece – it’s amazing. Like many of your pieces, impossible to forget.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Writings from the bottom of my personal pool. Same old shit. How about a nice Christmas story? Maybe a hundred years hence where the grasshoppers dance in long lines and the sun cuts greetings on the ground like somebody had a really big laser and they were using it to sign their name on the planet.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Funny how one keeps coming back to look at a piece of writing. They are like children and we know what’s best for them and they smile and cry and usually get what they want. I can see these people so clearly in my eyes. What has become of us?

    Liked by 2 people

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