Fiction: Ain’t Living Long Like This
By Joe S. Thomas
Jon felt sick. Mainly from kicking dope, but also due to owing some very bad people a whole lot of money. He owed these bastards a ton of cash. $20,000 to be exact. He had no choice but to kick.
The money had run out and the two day extension he received from BD made his guts rumble worse than the lack of dope. He decided to stay in the cheapest hotel he could find in the area. The plan he’d formed allowed him to get through the worst of the sickness and then worry about getting the money. The far off thoughts of being free and clear from the assholes who’d been taking his money for years and the cranked up, cheap air conditioning allowed him a bit of fitful sleep for the time being.
He got about 3 hours of sleep but it felt like three minutes when he bolted upright from his slumber covered in a sweaty sheen only a junkie could manage. Honor, he thought. She’d been able to help in the past when he’d been in need. He hated to think of asking her for anything but time’s running out and she seemed to be his last shot at survival.
He had no one else to turn to and nowhere else to go. He stood, dry heaved and pulled his leather jacket over his gooseflesh. He opened the door of the hotel room and the sun nearly floored him. He pulled his shades from the inside pocket of his jacket. He slid them on and turned to head down the steps in search of Honor but as he took his first step a hard, well- placed, whack from the butt of a gun knocked him out cold.
Honor did the last line of coke left on the mirror from the previous night’s shenanigans. She went to the kitchen and made herself a smoothie. Part of her daily routine as she began getting ready to head into her job at IBP. A bar owned by BD Jewel and a hangout for him and his goons to sling drugs, traffic women and do whatever other type of illegal shit he had going on.
She didn’t care. He had the best coke in town and he paid her well to bartend. She had to put up with unwanted comments and the occasional drunken grope, but she was usually pretty quick to correct such actions and people learned quickly not to make those mistakes again. If they did she just mentioned it to BD and he would have Chris or Jerry take care of the unlucky motherfucker who pissed her off.
She feared BD, but most people did. He wasn't really anything special but he had a lot of power and pull with the cops as well as the criminal element in North Georgia.
She hopped in the shower and washed off last night’s grime, put on her cut-off blue jean shorts, threw on a tank top and headed to her Volkswagen Jetta. She cranked the car and felt the vibrations from the backbeat of Waylon Jennings’ rhythm section blaring from her stereo as she sang “Clyde” on her way to the bar. “Set on the porch, ain’t got no shoes… pickin’ the bass and singin’ the blues…”
When Jon came to, his head screamed with pain. He could feel that a couple of ribs had been booted until they broke too. He slowly pulled himself up by the rail on the second floor of his hotel. He laid where he fell. Right in front of the door to his room. He heard a rustling sound while attempting to get up and noticed a note pinned to his shirt. It read:
You junkie motherfucker, you have two days to get my money. Got it? Good. I am not fucking around. Your luck has run out with me. If the money isn’t in my hand in two days, your time will run out too. You better pray to the God of junkie fucks you put that cash in my hand. Two days motherfucker...
You know who.
He sat holding his ribs and cursing the pain and the whole damn situation under his breath. He knew BD never did his own dirty work so this had to be Chris and Jerry. Those two cocksuckers were so far into BD they’d suck his dick if he told them to. They would also kill for him and Jon knew it all too well. He finally got to his feet and started walking in the general direction of Honor’s apartment praying she still lived where she used to.
They weren’t exactly on good terms. Being the addict he’d become, he’d fucked Honor over on a few deals too. He planned on begging her for forgiveness and asking her for any help she could provide.
Obviously, he figured she wouldn’t have the $20,000 he owed BD, but just maybe they could put their heads together and come up with something. Time was quickly ticking off the clock. He actually felt himself praying as he stumbled down the sidewalk.
It had been a long, uneventful shift and Honor felt more than ready to head home and finally sleep. Staying up for a few days in a row always fucked with her brain. She walked back to BD’s office to pick up her paycheck. Apparently Chris and Jerry were either off doing a job or they had the night off because BD was alone. That was rare. “Hey BD, can I get my check please? I’ve finished stocking the bar and cleaning up. I’m ready to head home and hit the hay,” she said. “Well, come on in and let me speak to you for a minute little lady,” BD smirked. She didn’t like the look in his eyes at all. There had been times when BD tried to talk her into sexual situations but she’d been able to talk her way out of them up until this point. She tried to play it cool. “What’s up, bossman?” She asked, smiling innocently.
“Shut the door,” he said, looking at her with bloodshot eyes. “I’ve been watching some of the closed circuit footage from the cameras I had installed behind the bar and I know what you’ve been doing,” he said. Honor knew she’d done nothing wrong.
“What are you talking about BD?” She asked in a higher pitch than she meant to. Her voice betraying the fear she tried to hide from the power BD held over her.
“What am I talking about?” He smirked. “How about the $200 I saw you slip into those sexy shorts that hug your tight ass just right?” He said. “Do you want to take them off or do you want me to?” He asked her with no hint of humor whatsoever.
“You’re fucking crazy, BD. You know I would never steal from you. I need my job and I know what you do to thieves.”
“Take them off and hand them to me,” he demanded.
“I’m not taking off my shorts, BD,” she said.
“Fucking do it, now,” he screamed. She could tell he was fucked up on something. She’d never seen him act this way and he’d never screamed at her. “I’m not taking my shorts off,” she said, almost crying. He opened the top right drawer of his desk where she knew he kept his pistol. He quickly reached in, grabbed the gun and stood all in one motion.
“Ok, ok BD.” She made no attempt to hide her tears now. She slowly unbuttoned the shorts and began to beg once more. BD slammed his hands down on the table causing her to flinch when he did so.
“Bitch, if I have to say one more fucking word to you I doubt you’ll ever leave this room with breath in your lungs.” Tears fell as she unzipped the shorts and began to pull them down. “Slowly,” he said. The shorts slid over her hip bones revealing that she wore no panties. BD put the gun on the table and rubbed himself when he saw her stepping out of the only thing covering her bottom half.
“Bring them over here and hand them to me,” he whispered. She could see his erection through his pants. She slowly walked the shorts over and held them out to him. He quickly grabbed her arm and pulled her into his body. He held her from behind with his arm around her neck. She felt his cock rub her ass as he used his other hand to massage her pussy. “So wet,” he said. “I knew you’d love this shit you little whore.”
Honor trembled as he stopped fingering her and picked up the shorts. He knew she would never steal from him, but he made a show out of turning all of the pockets inside out. Honor felt she was in a nightmare.
Time slowed down and her body shivered at BD’s touch. When he checked all of the pockets he said, “I better not ever catch you stealing from me you cunt. Do you understand?” She tried to speak but the words would not come. She shook her head quickly in the affirmative.
BD pushed her away from himself and threw the jean shorts hitting her in the face with them. The button hit her lip and she began to bleed. “Now get the fuck out of my goddamn office!” He screamed. She didn’t bother putting the shorts back on. She ran as quickly as her feet would carry her until she felt the safety of her locked car.
Chris and Jerry made it back to the bar not long after BD had assaulted Honor.
“Did you pay that junkie fuck a visit like I asked?” He said.
“Yeah boss, even left a love note,” Jerry said as he smiled through his brown teeth.
“Good. You boys call it a night and have a good time. I think I’m gonna go get my dick wet. Enjoy yourselves. I have a feeling you two are gonna be working hard in two days.”
He lifted his fingers to his nose breathing deep and then placed them in his mouth savoring Honor’s juices.
Jon didn’t feel well at all. Thankfully he’d finally found the street and then the building he remembered from long ago, back when things were good. When he and Honor were good friends and life hadn’t quite kicked his ass so much.
He sat on the wall in front of the apartment complex to catch his breath. Suddenly he saw Honor’s Jetta go past him as she quickly entered the parking garage. She seemed to be going a bit fast. He couldn’t help but think that there might just be a patron saint of junkie fuck-ups after all. He sure as shit hoped so. He felt his heart speeding up and battering his broken ribs. He thought he may puke again, but he pulled himself together and took off toward Honor’s apartment.
As he found the elevator and tried to remember her apartment number, Jon’s mind ran back to the early 1980’s when he’d first met Honor.
Although he was a punk rocker, the country “Outlaw Movement” was in full swing. Rhinestones, silver jewelry, leather, cocaine and cowboy hats were the fashion of the day. Jon had grown up listening to Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Paycheck, David Allan Coe and a few outlaws who didn’t make it quite as big as those guys.
It was at an outdoor festival at Centennial Park in Nashville, Tennessee where he’d first laid eyes on Honor. Obviously coked out and dancing as though nobody was watching, she’d caught Jon’s eye. As her hips rocked and swayed to the bass of Jerry “Jigger” Jones and the drums of Richie Albright and as Waylon’s set blew minds, Jon crept closer and closer making his way toward her through the crowd.
He felt drawn to her like metal to a magnet. Though he didn’t recall what he actually said to get her attention, somehow he did and felt like the luckiest sonofabitch in the world.
He ended up buying her a beer and she shared a few bumps of her coke with him and as the conversation continued he found out they both hailed from Northwest Georgia.
At the time Jon thought this may have been providence. Looking back it probably had something to do with the coke and alcohol that had him thinking this way. More than likely just coincidence. Still, he more than felt the magic between them.
They made out and danced to some of Waylon’s slower songs. At the end of the night they exchanged phone numbers and promised to stay in touch. They did. For good or ill…
Jon finally made it to apartment 213. He felt fairly certain this is where she lived. He attempted to straighten his clothes and hair before knocking on the door.
He’d ripped her off for two grams of coke 2 years ago and this would be the first time he’d seen her since. He felt too embarrassed and ashamed of himself to attempt to apologize to her before this. Now, with his life on the line he hoped like hell she’d understand… He knocked on her door.
Chris and Jerry came dragging ass into the bar the day after they’d gone out and had their fun. “Well, looks like you sad sacks had more fun than you should have.” BD smirked. “Listen, I need you boys to keep an eye out for that bitch Honor I had tending bar. I caught the whore stealing and I had to give her a little talk last night. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with her just yet,” BD said. Of course not mentioning his assault upon her.
“No problem,” Jerry said. Chris slowly shook his head up and down. He felt he’d known Honor and he didn’t peg her as a thief. He wasn’t about to let it come out of his mouth in front of BD though.
The two goons were heading back out the door and when out of earshot from BD Chris said, “Man, something’s up. Honor’s good people. I’d damn near bet my life she didn’t steal from that asshole. She’s not stupid.”
“Better watch your mouth son,” Jerry whispered looking back toward BD’s office. “The old man will have your balls in a vice. You’d better keep that shit to yourself and just do your job.”
He spat a large stream of tobacco juice as they went out the front of the empty bar. They were headed back to Jon’s hotel to keep an eye on him in case he decided to try something foolish.
BD sat at his desk back in his office counting the money from the night’s take. He knew he couldn’t take back what he’d done. He wasn’t sorry, but he sure hated to have to find another bartender. Especially one as fine as Honor. He damn sure wanted a piece of her ass. He leaned back in his chair and got lost in a fantasy of what he’d do to her if he had her alone and willing. Hell, maybe not even willing. Maybe just alone.
Jon knocked on apartment 213 for a good five minutes. He’d heard movement when he first arrived at the door but it seemed nobody was going to answer. He looked at the peephole from the outside of the door and just as he did so the door quickly flung open and suddenly Honor wrapped her arms around his neck and crumbled to the floor in tears.
He knelt down with her stroking her hair and trying to soothe her as she fell apart. This was the last thing he expected. He picked her up and took her inside her apartment shutting the door, thankful to be holding her again. Even in this capacity.
After she was cried out and began to calm down a little she reached back and slapped Jon across the face. Hard. It stung horribly and caused his eyes to water. “I deserved that,” he said.
“You deserve much more than that, you asshole,” she said.
“Listen Honor, I am begging for your forgiveness. I know there’s no way in hell I deserve it and I would completely understand if you hated my guts forever, but I’m in trouble and if I ever needed you, it’s now.”
She sat silently without saying a word for what seemed an eternity when she shook her head and tears began to pour from her beautiful eyes yet again. Jon couldn’t believe he’d ever hurt such a beautiful, kind creature. He’d never hated himself more than he did at that moment.
“Will you at least tell me what’s going on with you,” he asked. Maybe there’s something I can do to attempt to make up for what I’ve done if you’ll let me.” She began crying harder. Jon went to the fridge and grabbed her a beer. “Here, take a sip and try to calm down,” he said.
“To be honest Jon, I’ve never been happier to see your damn face.”
She chugged the beer, wiped her face and gave him a very solemn hug that made him believe what she said rang true. “Let me run to the bedroom right quick,” she said.
“You aren’t going to shoot me are you?” John half smiled.
“Even though I should, no, I’m not.” She remained gone for maybe five minutes and came back out with a mirror piled with at least 3 grams of coke.
She chopped up some of the blow, cut out four lines, zipped two up her nose and handed Jon the mirror. He quickly followed suit with the remaining two lines placing the mirror on the coffee table when he finished.
She went into her story as she began chopping up more of the cocaine. With drugs damn near out of his system, the coke hit him hard and fast. He couldn’t believe they were actually sitting together again like they’d never missed a beat.
As she got to the part of the story where she’d been assaulted Jon demanded to know the motherfucker’s name who’d done this to her.
“A drug dealing scumbag I’m working for named BD Jewel,” she said. He looked at her and began turning pale.
“Are you fucking serious?” He said. “BD fucking Jewel? You know that motherfucker?” “Yeah,” she said, "I've been tending bar for him at IBP for the last two years.” Jon couldn’t help but think of that whole providence thing again. “Motherfucker!” He said. “I can’t believe this shit.”
“What?” she asked. “You aren’t going to believe this shit,” he said. “May I have another line? I’ll tell you the story.”
Jon told Honor about his downfall over the past two years. She couldn’t believe he knew BD Jewel and even more so couldn’t believe he’d taken a loan from him and racked up a tremendous drug bill without paying him back.
“He’s a dangerous man, Jon.” She said, “I’ve been nothing but a good worker and a friend to him and you heard what he did to me. Something has changed within him lately. His eyes were completely evil. I’m lucky to have my life and I’m worried for you to show your face at the club even if we could somehow come up with the $20,000.”
Jon was perplexed and the coke started making him extremely anxious. He began forming a plan that would involve Honor if she would agree to help him. He really didn’t want to ask. Especially since he seemed to be back in her good graces. Or at least getting there.
He told her he needed to clear his head and walk back to his hotel. They exchanged numbers so they could stay in contact. “I’m going to walk this off,” he said. “I’ll call you when I make it back to my room. I have a plan but I'm going to need your help. I know you’re scared, and rightly so, but this is my only way out. If there really is a way out of this. Please tell me you’ll think about it.”
They both stood and Honor embraced him for what felt like a blissful eternity. He didn’t want to leave but he knew he had to finish thinking out the plan that had crept into his mind. She gave him a passionate kiss at the door. He made sure she wouldn’t open up for anyone else but him and they parted ways for the time being.
When he exited the building and felt the fresh air hit him he vomited into the hedges in front of the apartment complex. He started back to his hotel with all sorts of thoughts floating through his head.
As he walked along the streets his plan started coming together. Assuming he would have Honor’s help. He hated thinking about it, but she was the bait. There was no other way to put it. He really hoped she could get over her fear and go back into that den of horrors one more time. For him. For his life, though he didn’t deserve a damn bit of anything from anyone. Muchless her.
He felt nervous and edgy as he came to the hotel. His ribs still throbbed from the beatdown he’d received earlier. He slowly climbed the stairs, his heart seemingly speeding up with each step. He found another letter taped to his door. It read:
Dear Junkie Fuck,
Hope you enjoyed the tune up you received earlier. Trust me, that wasn’t even a morsel of what’s to come if you don’t do what you’re supposed to. Just in case you decide to try and run Chris and Jerry may or may not have eyes on you right now. So be smart and do the right thing, fuckhead. See you very soon, asshole.
You know who
Jon attempted to look every way at once. To say he wasn’t scared would be a bold face lie. He pulled the key from his jeans, opened the door and quickly went inside. He pulled out his phone and texted Honor. He needed information quickly and in the worst way. Fuck, please let her help me he thought as he shook with tremors from the cocaine, fear and adrenaline.
Honor’s phone rang. She didn’t look at the screen, she just assumed it would be Jon. “Hey little lady,” BD’s voice chimed through the phone, chilling her to the bone. “I believe you and I need to have a conversation,” he said. Her hands began to shake and she could barely hold the cell in her hand. “You there little lady?” He asked.
“Yeah, I’m here,” she stuttered.
“Listen, I apologize for the other night. I’d had a tough day and I wasn’t myself,” BD said. “You still have a job as far as I’m concerned. Plus, I’ll throw in a couple of grams as part of my promise and apology that what happened the other night will never happen again.” He said. Still shaking, Honor asked when she was needed again for her shift. “Well, tonight would be good little lady,” He said. She could tell he was smiling and thinking he’d got away with what he’d done.
“Ok then,” she said, “I’ll be there at five when we open.”
“Fine, that’s just fine sweetheart,” He said.
“And BD,” she said, “my name is Honor from here on out, got it?”
“Oh, fine, fine, Honor.” He said with a smartass tone. She hung up the phone.
BD sat back at his desk thinking how damn good it is to be king sometimes. He bent over and snorted the huge rail of coke he had laid out on a picture of he and his wife.
When Jon woke up after a very shitty night’s tossing and turning he’d realized Honor hadn’t texted him back. He got up and ran some water on his face and tried texting her again. Still nothing, no text or call back. He peeked out the window of his hotel and saw Chris and Jerry sitting in the parking lot staring at his room in Jerry's Z-28 looking like they hoped he’d try something stupid. Panic began setting in yet again. Why in the fuck is she dodging my calls… He tried her number once more. Nothing.
Honor slowly pulled into the IBP parking lot. She noticed BD’s car sitting in its usual spot. Other than hers, it was the only car there. For once, she actually wished Chris and Jerry would be there even though they gave her the creeps. She checked her phone and saw where Jon had been trying to make contact. She felt she needed to do this alone and it wasn’t like he could just show up for her and talk to BD. No, it was now or never. She hoped he would understand.
Jon paced the room back and forth thinking. Throwing himself into panic attack after panic attack thinking the absolute worst case scenarios about why Honor hadn’t tried to return any of his attempts at contact. Chris and Jerry were still in the parking lot. He had to get to Honor. Period. He kept pacing and racking his brain.
Chris and Jerry sat in the Z-28 watching Jon’s room and shooting the shit. “Man, this motherfucker ain’t gonna make a move, he’s a chickenshit,” Jerry said.
“BD said to sit on him,” replied Chris.
“Well, what BD doesn't know won’t hurt him, besides, my damn guts are rolling. Aren’t you hungry,” said Jerry.
“Hell, I can always eat but it would be my luck the moment we pull out that asshole will break for it. Ah, fuck it. We can roll up and grab something quick but we’ve got to come right back. Let’s go,” said Chris.
Jon never unpacked his bags, ever. His motto always remained: never stay anywhere that you can’t pack up and leave within fifteen minutes. This time it served him well. He’d placed the curtain where he could keep an eye on the Z-28 as he paced the room back and forth. When he saw the car pull away he couldn’t believe it.
He grabbed his shit and went down the back flight of stairs and out the back exit and found himself on the street watching the brake lights on Chris and Jerry’s car. When they turned, he bolted as fast as his legs would carry him.
He had to get to Honor, but he didn’t know where she happened to be. She still hadn’t contacted him. He grabbed the knife he kept in his bag, placed it in his pocket and took off toward Honor’s apartment complex. He looked in the parking garage where her car was parked the night before. It wasn’t there. He quickly ran up to her apartment and banged heavily on the door knowing she wasn’t home. He prayed she hadn’t gone back to IBP but his feet carried him quickly in that direction.
BD had just finished packing several bricks of coke and the money from his safe into a duffle bag when he heard someone come into the building. He looked at the monitor and saw Honor heading toward the bar to prepare for her shift.
She made her way to the bar, placed her purse and apron underneath and began preparing all the things she would need for the night. She heard BD come from his office and walk toward her.
“Good afternoon little, I mean, Honor.” Upon hearing his voice she spun quickly plunging the knife she was using into his chest. His eyes grew as big as saucers when he realized what she’d done. He fell at her feet without a word. Calmly, she walked back to his office and looked around. She saw the duffle bag of cash and coke, grabbed it, went to the bar, grabbed her things and placed everything in the trunk of her Volkswagen.
Jon was jogging quickly toward IBP. He got there just in time to see Honor’s car pulling away. He held up a hand in an attempt to get her attention but she kept going. He would never know if she saw him. He heard the gravel crunch behind him as he dropped his hand from trying to get her attention. Chris and Jerry pulled up looking to do some damage.
Honor plugged in her tape of Lonesome, On’ry and Mean and pointed the Jetta west. She started out to make a new life in California. Far away from the redneck trash that had held her down for far too long.
Joe S. Thomas is a punk rock musician as well as a writer. He records under the name Sonic Haints. While not rocking and rolling, Joe spends his time in the southern United States between Georgia and Tennessee. Look hard, you may find a few of his published short stories. Joe hopes to have his first collection of short stories published in the very near future. Keep your eyes peeled!