Brown Jenkins, part seven. Soundtrack HERE.
“I jumped in the cab as it pulled up. Someone wasn’t invited, but I knew he’d turn up when I got where I was going. Bad penny, Clarke’s Law, whatever means it was that he employed to achieve his goals, he accomplished them. Wile E Coyote persistence.
Don’t know what the hell to do with a misshapen dwarf that seems attached to me. I don’t really know what he wants, or what he was originally sent for.
“The black man that I met at the double crossing would seem to hold the keys to everything. But he already said his piece. Brown Jenkin was certainly talkative, but he spouted so much bullshit that it was hard to tell when he had some nugget of truth buried in his pile of lies.
It was pretty clear to me that someone or something way higher on the food chain than I had taken an interest in my fortunes. That began at the crossroads. Ergo-the black man. I supposed him to be some sort of devil. I mean, things out of books are all well and good, but I don’t think they really exist. Not so sure about any of the religious tracts either-those are books, fiction just the same.
So what to do?
I found a job playing guitar at a dive bar on the edge of the barrio on Fridays and washing dishes the rest of the week. That got me enough money to take the Greyhound to Nogales and get new IDs. Brown Jenkin got IDs too, somehow. In the dark, if you’re not paying attention, he can pass for human for a minute. His hands and face are human enough. Fugly, but human. Ish.
He did his share of the work, when no one was looking. I can’t complain about that. Though he is literally the roommate from Hell, he isn’t lazy.
Messy, yes. Brown Jenkin is not a clean animal. He spits and rolls in muck and blood and shit and never washes, and he eats dead animal parts raw, with Cheetos, and wipes his paws on the furniture.
Just for starters.
He also pisses and shits wherever he likes. I try to encourage him to at least get to the bathroom, where I can hose down the tile.
We’re on the southwest side, surrounded by desert and palo verde trees. I planted an avocado tree, a lime tree, and started a little garden, with tomatoes and garlic and three kinds of peppers.
Getting with the program.
Can’t do anything right now. I tried to kill the little bastard more different ways than the Russians tried withe Rasputin. Poison, he laughs at. Gas, it makes him woozy for a second, like he popped an amyl. He can seeming reincarnate from alternate versions of himself, a trick he says is a learned behavior, intimitating that I too could learn it.
One assumes there’s a price for such things. Brown Jenkin once paid the price of being cast into that form. Every once in a while I think of asking about alternities where he didn’t turn into a rat-man, but then I think of his tantrums and stow the thought away.
Essentially, Brown Jenkin is a deadly little baby. Instead of holding his breath, or turning blue, he kills things. It’s really Wolverine-cartoony, but at the same time, it’s serious business. He’s murdered and probably eaten at least ten people since I’ve known him, which is six weeks or so, and there are plenty of times when he’s off on his own.
If he gets seen, he gets seen. He doesn’t care. Nobody believes their eyes.
The local police are likely to look at you like you grew a pinata on your shoulders and laugh about chupacabras if you say anything. If you say it again, they bust the pinata. They are cops, after all. This is way beyond their jurisdiction.
It just gets crazier and crazier. The thing at the apartment with the geometric patterns was just the start of the crazy. He has the idea that somewhere, there’s a door that unlocks with a silver key, and he wants that door and key.
I ask why, and he says “I’ll tell you in your dreams.”
So we’re going from Wolverine to Freddy, it looks like. “I need to figure out what to do about Ulthar..” he mutters under his breath. “Maybe the zoogs would help…”
Things are all intrigue, and hastily-whispered asides and secrecy, and there have been actual dossiers handed back and forth.
Brown Jenkin has had visitors. Several. I’ve stopped looking at them. The first one was sort of werewolfish, with big sloping shoulders, long arms, and short stocky legs. Its laugh was the most demented thing I’ve ever heard, like a combination between a hyena and a kookaburra. It brought a scroll. Jenkin copied the words down as best he could, on notebook paper, while the thing stood watching, drooling on the kitchen tile and scratching its dangling ball sack. Its tongue lolled and flopped as it talked, making its speech gloopy and glibbery.
It smelled worse than Brown Jenkin, all rotted flesh and corruption, and it wore a halo of horseflies. Those it caught and ate like jellybeans. It talked a lot about someone named Randolph. I couldn’t make out much of the rest. I left and went to the cantina after ten minutes or so.
His next visitor stayed outside and talked through the screen of the back window. It buzzed and hissed simultaneously as it pronounced the syllables of words I had never heard before. The wall bent toward him as he stood-I could see it growing more convex the longer he stayed out there. It didn’t snap back-the back wall of the trailer has a definite bulge.
The third visit was from a horde of ferrets, or what looked and behaved like ferrets, or maybe mink. I’ve never seen a mink,but I’ve heard about them. Four-legged piranha. They killed and ate the neighbor’s dog while they were here, down to the bone in about ten seconds. They shared a bone with Jenkin.
The neighbor saw this, of course. But he hasn’t said a word about it to anyone. “Dog gone,” he says when asked. He can’t afford to move, or I’m sure he would. He should, he’ll disappear eventually too, if he hangs around.
I wonder sometimes why I’m still alive. Can’t conceive any possible value I might have. Nothing makes sense, none of this makes sense. It’s worse than a nightmare, it’s entirely too far over the top to get a handle on, and it just keeps on happening.
Periodically I think I see a pattern, but before I can put it all together, the train of thought derails, as if it’s somehow too big to understand.
And that might be it. I don’t have my own life any more. I’m completely a victim of circumstances-granted, the circumstances are initially of my own devising, but what has happened since is just too surreal and far surpasses any sort of cosmic vengeance for my admittedly rash actions.
Six weeks. It’s been six weeks since that misbegotten little freak jumped into my car and into my life.”
“Cheer up, boychick,” says Jenkin, reading. “We have plenty of time left to be together.”
Nat buries his head in his hands. His hair spreads over his fingers in a torrent of gray and brown. His shoulders hunch and jerk as he sobs and then sinks in his chair and starts channel-surfing. He pushes the little table with the laptop aside, closes the cover. He picks his tumbler of tequila and lime and ice from the floor, tinkles the cubs a little, and puts it on the computer.
“Couldn’t be happier,” he says, and downs the glass in a gulp, spitting the cubes out on the floor.
They melt almost instantly, and the water evaporates in an eyeblink.
The fourth visitor threw the air conditioner into orbit.
Thanks for reading. Thanks to Todd Larsen for the splendid guitarwork.