The Poisoned Ink Well

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

I've added some new things to this one and I may keep on going with it.
more additions this am (4-17-04) and (4-20)

W, and The Prophecies of Nostradamus

(Warning: The Alert Level is now raised to Flaming Red)

I had a friend years ago who was a real idiot. I hope you don’t mind me calling him that, but he really was an idiot. For the purpose of this diatribe I am going to call him by the first letter of his first name which is W. I don’t want him to get busted, so I‘m not going to use his whole name.

I think the only book that W had in his house, besides the phone book, and the bible, was a book on the Prophecies of Nostradamus. He kept an AK-47 in the corner of the kitchen and lots of FMJ ammo in his closets to help him prepare for the day when every thing fell apart. I knew him and his family as they readied themselves for the end of civilization, as we know it, back in the late 1980s. They were sure that 1987 was the year, that was going to be end of the world. I was pregnant at the time and they were my neighbors.

Every morning I had to face W in the parking lot. W was a short, middle aged, gnome looking, little country guy, from way back in the swamps, he had greasy dark hair, and squinty eyes. When he smiled it revealed a half empty mouth of blackened, decaying, corpse-like, fetid, rancid meat smelling, stumps of teeth, and he knew how bad they looked, but took pleasure in their appearance, and would sometimes try to kiss unsuspecting friends of his teenaged daughters and send them running out of the complex parking lot in tears.

And it wasn’t that W didn’t have access to a dentist. He did have a dental plan at the auto body shop where he worked and could have had them all pulled at once, and replaced with those new egg shell colored veneers, but he preferred to have them done one at a time after he began seeing the new dentist whose office sat over the floor of the old grocery store on Airline highway. Everyone had given the new dentist the nickname of Dr. Demerol, because of his favored method of pain control, and W figured at the rate of having one tooth pulled or worked on per month, that he could get enough prescriptions to last him up to the Apocalypse, and after that it wouldn’t matter because all the drugstores doors would be wide open (it’s occupants having fled in the confusion) and then it would be “ Nothing but Dilaudid for this old long haired country boy” W’d say patting on the dull rig in his right hand pocket of his filthy, grease stained levis while sucking gleefully on his remaining teeth. And judging from the six teeth that I could count on the top and three on the bottom, it looked like Armageddon was going to happen in about nine months give or take a few abcesses along the way.

W always wore a dirty white T-shirt. His parking space was next to mine at our apartment building and W would always be sitting on the hood of his beat up old butternut yellow colored 1966 Chevelle with his AK-47 assault rifle propped up next to the 15 inch front driver side Cragar wheel. The Cragars were the only thing decent about the whole damn car and I think W knew that, too and he would position his assault rifle propped up next to the wheels just to show off his most valuable worldly possessions.

When W wasn’t talking about the end of the world, he would read the want ads in some soldier for hire trade magazine out loud to anyone who would listen, and he’d talk about which job he was going to take, usually some kind of mercenary position in South America, I think. He'd exclaim loudly if he found one looking for a hit man, and who ever was walking by, (mostly me) would have to point out to him, that the one for the hit man, was probably put in there by the feds. And then he’d scratch his head and agree, and go back to reading, or he’d bring up Nostradamus and the end of the world, again.

I don't think W ever carried out any of his plans, although everybody in the neighborhood had heard about the aborted hit that didn’t place in Metairie when the ex wife of the man that paid them caught him and his friend hiding in the bushes around her town home just off Veterans Boulevard and chased them out of the yard armed only with a garden hose and spewing obscenities as they hopped a fence and almost dropped their assault rifle. “ That was just a rehearsal for the big one" is how W explained it later as he counted the 1500 hundred dollars that he had to return or get hit himself.

W’d see me outside going to work or a doctor’s appointment or something, and he’d walk over and say things like, “Well Marie are you ready for it? It’s going to start with earthquakes and then everything is going to happen at once. It's going to be the war to end all wars and everyone on earth is going to die” and then he’d hold up his assault rifle and pat the barrel of it and say, “If you need protection, girl you know I’m here.“

His daughters and his wife believed it too, except they were into this religious thing and if they were outside, they’d chime in with eerily sweet little tinny voices and say odd things like, “Jesus, will come for your baby, so he won’t have to be born or die.” Everyday was going to be our last day on earth, or could be according to them, and Orson Welles, who narrated the movie about the life of Nostradamus, which they watched over and over, and talked about incessantly.

If you live in a city like Baton Rouge you get used to scenes like that. Hyper religious, republican, racist, gun nuts with assault rifles in your parking lot are all the norm in Louisiana, Texas, and Arkansas but W and his family were starting to really get on my nerves. I was 6 months pregnant and every morning I awoke to that asshole and his brood and their apocalyptic visions complete with weapons, and descriptions of how he was going to be ready for the fall of all civilization, and he said it with such a gleam in his eyes. You know, I think W and his family were actually looking forward to it.

Finally one morning I’d had enough, so I started yelling at him “Look W, let me tell you something. I don't give a FUCK if it is the end of the whole FUCKING world as we know it. W I have had enough of this and I don't care if we are all about to die. I have to go to work, and my feet hurt, and it's going to be another hard day, and the last thing I need to wake and hear, is more about possible catastrophes. I may walk across the street and get hit by a car and die from my injuries, or I may get struck by lightening, or die suddenly from a heart attack. W what you and Nostradamus say might be true, we may all be about to die in one big bang, in earthquakes, wars, or terror attacks, but we’ll all still be the same kind of dead. It doesn’t matter if we die one by one, or whether we all die at once, because when I die it’s the end of my world, and when you die it’s the end of yours. People have been dying for millions of years, so what fucking difference does it make how you die, or how many people die along with you? You‘ll still be just as dead. W you gloat too much about fighting in wars for profit and you don't even think about who you might kill if you do answer one of those ads. W I think you and your whole family should enlist and go join the fight." I kicked the Cragar wheel on W's car for emphasis, as hard as I could, and watched as his AK-47 clattered down to the pavement.

W just scratched his greasy gray-black hair, and pretended not to think, and jumped down off the hood of his car, and picked up the assault rifle and released the magazine catch and removed the magazine and cocked the rifle, holding it with his left hand ready over the receiver to catch any ejected cartridge. Then he released the catch on the right side of the rear sight and he pushed the piston assembly cover forward, detaching it from the rear receiver. Then he lifted it and then pulled it back and removed the piston assembly and bolt. Then he began cleaning it and paid extra special attention to the barrel, gas hole and gas piston. He oiled it and reassembled. Then before he inserted the magazine he pressed the trigger to release the spring tension and then he cradled it, like it was a newborn, (I think he may have kissed it) and then propped it up on the car, again, and then went back to reading the classified ads. I think the idiot really wanted to be a hit man or a mercenary.

My baby was born, healthy, months later, and 1987 came and went without the fall of civilization or the massive continent jarring earthquakes, or world wars, and we moved away and I don't know if W ever answered any of those mercenary ads, but I haven't seen him in quite a while.