Beachum stops at the Bi Lo to get his latest prescription filled. While he’s waiting he looks for something to kill the cat, some kind of poison. He looks up and down the aisles. It appears that grocery stores do not carry poison anymore.
“Where would I find the poison?” he asks the pharmacist
“What kind of poison are you looking for?” asks the pharmacist. He acts as if the mere contemplation of such a question has given him indigestion.
“Something that will kill a cat.”
The pharmacist sighs. “There are many things that will kill a cat,” he says stapling a sheaf of instructions and disclaimers six inches thick to the bag containing Beachum’s prescription that no one, least of all old Beachum, will ever read.
“Can you recommend something?”
The pharmacist shakes his head sadly. “No,” he says.
And now little Charlie is banging on the door. He doesn’t understand why his dad has locked himself in there, and neither do I. All I know is that I started looking at myself in the mirror and now I can’t get out. And I’m sweating through my shirt, my tie hanging undone around my neck. And I’ve only just realised that my trousers are down around my ankles. I’m ridiculous. A grown man rooted to the floor with his trousers down. Imagine if Charlie was to see that? He’d be traumatised, confused, even more than I am.
You can touch Shax, but only by “appointment.” First you have to establish eye contact with the old tom and at the same time make a “scratchies” gesture with your index finger. If you correctly spy permission in his imperious gold eyes, then, and only then, may you apply a “scratchie” to the surprisingly short distance between his ears. Any failure to comply with this procedure will result in a personal math system based on the number nine.
‘I need a lift you see.’
My voice strains to be heard outside Mike’s house. There’s a hot stink of ale chasing him out the door, a cigarette resting along his ear, and a slapped cheek look about his face. He looks down from his considerable height, bolstered by the chunky doorstep. He is a statue on his plinth and I’m a beggar with a crutch.
– I’d get yer ginger man from Billions on the tv on a boat, take him out there to Mutton Island and let him do some inside-trading on me.
The other two shrieked with laughter. It was the three cleaners’ second smoke break since lunch.
Two days ago there were still those who went about saying that Peter was a false Tsar, perhaps the Anti-Christ himself. But then, just as the hour of three was being struck, two long, thin clouds joined in the form of a cross above our village. It was a Friday according to the new reckoning. Marina, the serf girl, was the first to see it. She fell to her knees and crossed herself, then ran to tell the priest, my father. If he was drunk, as usual, he was nevertheless quick to realize how he could use this “sign”. Were the rumblings of those who opposed the Tsar to go unchecked, the soldiers would soon be set upon our village to leave behind the smoldering remains of peasant huts and bodies swaying from scaffolds. So I was ordered to toll the bell which summons the peasants to the village square where my father put them on their knees in witness to this miracle. Such a voice he had!
There’s a quick double rap on my apartment door and my son, Elijah, opens the door and walks in like he’s paying the rent. He ain’t. “Pop, what’s up dude? What’re you watchin? Why don’t you have the game on? You got beer? I know you got beer.”
He goes directly into my tiny kitchen and comes back with two bottles of beer. He flops on the couch beside me.