Brown Jenkins, part nine-soundtrack Here
Brown Jenkin by John Donald Carlucci
(note-some of the events in this series refer to the story “Pnakotic Reaction”, from the anthology “The Fall of Cthulhu“, published by Horrified Press. Therefore the author recommends the purchase of same 🙂
Some of the material was inspired by the moderators and denizens of the online community Lovecraft Eternal. )
Brown Jenkin was wearing an ornate silver key on a lanyard around his neck. Nat didn’t know what to make of that, and Jenkin wasn’t telling.
“Mind your own business,” he snarled.
“Whatever you do is my business,” retorted Nat, reasonably. “I’m in charge of this ship.”
“Do tell,” the beast barked.
Nat just sighed. There wasn’t any use in arguing further. Brown Jenkin had his moods, and that was putting things lightly.
He busied himself cleaning up, unpacking boxes, stowing away gear and plates and silverware. Carl owned a building midtown, and he had installed Nat in an apartment there, though it was a commercial lot. It was being refitted as a studio, and Carl appointed Nat the watchman, in order for him to draw a salary while he was learning the group’s repertoire.
Carl was strange and controlling, but there was no mistaking his sincerity or generosity.
“NO worries,” he emphasized. “I just want you to relax and learn. And create. Write some songs. Play the hell out of that guitar. Get drunk. Smoke weed. Whatever you have to do to get your head right. I mean it.”
He gave Nat a new guitar too, a beautiful vintage Stratocaster in surf green. “This belonged to Jimi,” he said.
He knew that Nat had a Hendrix fixation. “Play on,” he said. “Play on…”
And he left Nat to his own devices.
Jenkin showed up later, eating, as always, something unidentifiable and bloody. “Got any Cheetos?” He asked cheerily.
“No. Haven’t been shopping yet.”
“Ahhh, what good are ya?” He settled himself in the armchair and turned on the tv. Jenkin was partial to game shows.
The silver key reflected the light coming in through the partly-opened blinds. “I love this channel!” GSN was on. Chuck Woolery in a vintage performance.
The dishes and pots and pans and silverware were put away. The kitchen got squeaky-clean, Nat sweeping and mopping and dusting and scrubbing. He sucked down a couple of bottles of water and a glass of iced tea during this, sweated them out. The building had a swamp cooler, no central air.
Terra cotta and stucco and rustic ceiling beams. Even a fireplace.
“Living large,” Nat observed. “I must have a guardian angel or something.”
“Or something,” offered Jenkin.
“Go suck an egg.”
Jenkin curled up and went to sleep, the key cradled between his paws. “Zoogs,” he murmured.
Nat fingered his own keys in his left-hand pocket and decided to go out for groceries. It was a short bus trip to the store, with the bus running every fifteen minutes, this time of day.
He got to the bus stop just as the bus was leaving and decided to wait it out rather than walk the two miles to the market. He occupied the time by smoking a blunt filled with Jenkin’s special mix.
Upon alighting, he found that the people on the bus all had a strange greenish pallor. He chalked that up to window-tinting and thought nothing of it, or of the relative quiet on the conveyance. Usually a city bus is pretty loud, with many conversations taking place.
But Nat was occupied with his own thoughts. He did notice the smell…remarking to the bus driver when he left that “someone should see about that reek…”
He went shopping, picking up a flyer from the front entrance and reading it as he pushed a cart into the produce section. One of the people in the store, and older guy with black socks and Bermuda shorts and sandals, had that peculiar greenish cast also.
“Odd,” Nat said. “He smells, too.”
He stopped by the “Manager’s Special” case, where nearly-expired meats could be found cheap. “Smells like bus,” he said. He moved on.
Nat wasn’t much of a cook. He could manage spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, sandwiches. He liked microwave burritos. The cart filled with tv dinners and lettuces and stuff for salads, tortilla chips, salsa, cheese. He threw in a couple of bags of Cheetos.
He went to the customer service desk, waited in line, got store discount cards made, bought a bus pass. He got in line, paid for his things. As he was leaving, he noticed an ambulance by the front entrance. As he watched, the paramedics wheeled out the old man he had seen a little while ago.
His complexion was ashen now.
Other ambulances were screaming down the street.
“Must have been an accident,” he remarked to an incurious woman exiting the store.
“Must have been,” she said, moving on.
He carried his bags out to the bus stop, sat down for a few minutes while waiting.
Two kids, a boy and a girl, came running up, red-faced and breathless.
“Wow,” the boy said. “You shoulda seen that.”
“Bus turned over on its side, blew out the tires or something. Took out a Subway and a Circle K, then blew up.”
“Holy shit,” said Nat, suddenly understanding something.
The bus came. Nat, now on autopilot, clambered aboard, barely remembering to take his packages.
Brown Jenkin was still asleep when he got home, or had fallen asleep again. He had acquired a couple of scrolls while Nat was out, and now clutched those to his chest, along with the silver key.
Nat took the little baggie of Jenkinweed and stowed it in the medicine cabinet. “I’m not sure I like what that does,” he said. “I don’t want to know those things.”
He nuked a burrito for himself while putting the groceries away and ate it standing up, looking out the “kitchen” window. His apartment had been an office, it was pretty clear. The sink was an industrial number, and the bathroom had two stalls. Probably he was living in what had once been a canteen or break room, an employee’s lounge of some type.
“That’s okay by me,” he said, around bites of his burrito. “Better than that beat-up trailer, or even my old apartment.” He chewed thoughtfully. “I wonder what that key is for? He sure seems to be guarding it.”
Brown Jenkin was still fast asleep, the key now clenched in his right fist and the scrolls tucked under his arm.
Nat was surprised and disconcerted to see that the creature was smiling, evilly.
One eye opened and shut again. He rolled over, still clutching his things.