fallingGeronimo, Motherfucker

by Andy Henion

He wears the rags of the homeless but dances like an angel, ballerina style, around a garbage can at the edge of a cliff. It’s the most generous can in California, he tells us, providing the delectable castoffs of the rich and famous and attracting any number of woodland creatures that end up skinned and sizzling on his makeshift spit. So keep your hairy mitts off my bounty, he warns, or I’ll stain your souls. To which Cleavon laughs and says cool your jets, Twinkle Toes, and eat your crust.

His name tag says Randall though I cannot vouch for its accuracy. Other badges up and down his torso say Sally, Frederick, Trainee, Nurse Perkins.

It’s clear he’s a professional. Dance like no one’s watching, I’ve heard it said, and Randall embodies this perfectly. Watching his slim figure spin to and fro, his movements precise and elegant, his scraggly beard swaying in the ocean breeze, it’s nothing short of mesmerizing.

Two men run through the roadside park just before noon. The first is the bodyguard, the second our mark, a mildly famous athlete who trains in these mountains in militant fashion. At first the runners eye us uneasily, but we also wear rags, our faces purposely dirty and unshaven, and after a while they ignore us along with Randall. Of the 60,000 bums in the metropolitan area, we are but two more.

The athlete does things to his wife unknown to the public. Despicable, brutal things. At least that’s what the wife told Cleavon. I have my suspicions, I’d like some proof, but Cleavon won’t hear of it. Says he doesn’t need to see bruises. Says the lack of a prenup proves nothing. Says he knows the truth every time he sees the cocky prick’s mug up on the television.

Today is the day. We sit adjacent to the trail, 12 feet apart, red-eyed and mumbling, our long, sharpened branches on the ground at our sides. Success here today means 50 grand each, our biggest payday to date, yet this, I realize, is my last job. I glance over at Cleavon. There’s a gleam in his eye, a sneer on his lips.

Woulda done this shit for free, he says softly.

They talk and laugh as they jog up the trail, right on schedule. The big bodyguard is mine. He pays me no mind as I stand in a slow, hunched fashion. It’s 70 feet to the boulders below, straight down.

… and mushrooms, the bodyguard is saying to the mildly famous athlete behind him. Best fuckin’ sauce…

I bring up the thick spear and turn. Jab the bodyguard in the ribs, but not hard enough to send him over. I tighten my grip in preparation for another strike, yet I hesitate, frozen by the screams of the falling athlete, and this allows the bodyguard to scramble to his feet and grab the branch. He rips it away, calls me a cocksucker. Says he’s going to tear my fucking heart out. Cleavon comes up from behind and breaks his spear over his head. The bodyguard falls to his knees, two feet from cliff’s edge, blood spouting from his scalp.

Do the job, Cleavon says, swinging the stunted branch, now the length of a baseball bat. The next jolt sends the bodyguard the rest of the way down but not over, and he goes fetal under a cascade of blows.

Wild-eyed, spittle flying, Cleavon barks out his mantra.

DO. THE. FUCKING. JOB.

The bodyguard shows considerable spunk against the assault, laughing and taunting his attacker. Growling, Cleavon steps forward and kicks the bodyguard in the sternum, moving him just enough, his muscular body beginning its terrible slide off the cliff, but his arm flashes out and grabs a pant cuff and Cleavon is pulled hard onto his hip and then over the edge, two pricks for the price of one. I find myself reaching out a hand for Cleavon, but that’s it, really. Just the hand.

I could just as well be waving.

Geronimo.

I look over and see Randall launching into a series of pirouettes, the slightest of smiles gracing his grubby face.

Working quickly, I kick dirt over the bodyguard’s blood, toss the branches over the cliff and begin hoofing my way down the winding mountain road toward the bus station.

Better find a new dance studio, I call over my back.

Geronimo, motherfucker, Randall singsongs, twirling about. 

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Andy Henion was born the day before man said some stuff on the moon and has been howling ever since. He likes tangerines, 74-degree days and superhero movies that don’t suck. His surreal western noir novella (!), The Devil in Snakeskins, is forthcoming from Beat to a Pulp Books, and he blogs at andywritesstuff.blogspot.com.
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