A SHELL OF A MAN

A SHELL OF A MAN

Who the hell do you think you are,
Sitting out there in your fancy car?
Everyone know that you’re just a tool
Strutting around town like a Goddamn fool! 

You spend more time on your pretty boy look
Thinking you can snag me with your Devil hooks.
Well, let me tell you something that you might not know:
Your looks count for nothing when it’s all for show.

You’re not a man, just an empty shell
Of someone I thought I knew so well.
It’s obvious to everyone who called you friend
You care for no one and deep wounds never mend.

What happened to your soul, your spirit, your heart?
Did you ever once wonder why we had to part?
Of course you didn’t; your conscience is clean
Of every misdeed you claim to have never seen.

You used and confused me, deluded and abused me
And made me forget the strong woman I used to be.
I don’t look any different; it’s inside I’m not the same.
It’s gotten so don’t even recognize my name.

It won’t be long before you’re all alone.
No one’s gonna call you on the telephone.
You’re the biggest loser so face the facts:
People will judge you by your deeds and acts.

You think you’re perfect like Christ walking on water
But what kind of man abandons his wife and daughter?
My father always said you were a piece of shit
But I turned a deaf ear; I just didn’t want to hear it.

I trusted you once; I was blind, deaf and dumb
To the fact that you were nothing but a piece of scum.
How could I have been such an idiot not to see
What a snake in the grass you’d turn out to be?

You wooed and chased me, swept me off my feet
With pretty little gifts and whispered lies so sweet.
I felt so very special when we were out together.
Never listening when told I could do much better.

I loved you so much and you promised me all
So we ran off and got married at Buxton Hall.
A quiet little honeymoon at the Tan Hill Inn;
No more sneaking around and ‘living in sin’.

It didn’t take long for your true colors to show.
I caught you making time with some floozy named Flo.
That was just the start of a whirlwind of deceit.
You broke my heart to bits and I kicked you to the street.

So now you’re sitting there just like you own the place
With a look so smug I want to slap it off your stupid face.
You thought you could control me, break me down, but in the end
I turned into a willow tree and I learned how to bend.

Do us all a favor and get the fuck out of here.
Don’t come close to me or those I hold so dear.
Drive as far away as you can and don’t ever return.
You’re going straight to hell and I’ll be laughing while you burn.

NAR © 2021

SINS OF THE FATHER

Twenty years had passed since Danny Cameron had seen his parents. Perhaps he would have handled things differently had he known this estrangement would be the outcome. He asked himself that question every day and the answer was always “no”.

Danny excelled at football and had a shot at going pro but his real passion was music. His dream was not shared by his father, Donal, who constantly pushed Danny in the direction of professional sports. Night after night Danny was subjected to the same diatribe:

What the hell kind of musical career do you think you’re gonna have?
If you think you’re gonna be the next Paul McCartney you can forget that pipe dream!
Danny, you can be a great quarterback on any pro team you want,
make millions and have women beating down your door.
You’d be a damn fool to let that opportunity pass you by!”

Danny couldn’t stand another lecture and the dam burst. He yelled at his father in frustration:

Dad! Enough! Football may be your dream but it’s not mine.
I know it won’t be easy but I’m determined to pursue music.
Forget the money and all the women. I’ve met someone and we’re moving in together.
It’s time I started living my life on my terms.”

Before Donal could respond, Danny’s mother Fiona chimed in excitedly:

Danny! Why didn’t you tell us you have a girlfriend?! This is so exciting!
What’s her name? How did you meet?
We must invite her to dinner. I want to hear all about ……..”

STOP!” Danny shouted. “I don’t have a girlfriend. I have a boyfriend. His name is Richard. I’M GAY!! Mom, Dad – I’m gay.”

And there it was – not exactly what Danny planned but the words were out and there was no taking them back. Donal was enraged; he lashed out, slapping Danny’s face so hard he almost fell over.

GAY? Call it what it is, Danny – you’re a fucking queer! You make me sick!
Get out of my sight! Get out and don’t come back!!”

Grabbing his phone and car keys, Danny stormed out. He moved in with Richard, a law school student by day/valet parking attendant by night. Danny had a couple of gigs in a bar but that didn’t last and he eventually got a job as a singing waiter. He hated it but it helped pay the bills.

Fiona secretly phoned Danny from time to time and managed to get his belongings to him, but father and son never communicated.

Richard passed the bar exam and landed a great job. Danny had written several “damn good songs” as Richard called them but he just couldn’t catch a break. Richard encouraged him to be patient and keep trying.

Friday was a busy night at the restaurant. Danny was singing “Something” to a newly-engaged couple when he saw Richard come in with a group of people. When Danny’s song was over, Richard motioned him to the table and said “You have a great voice! Do you sing anything other than Beatles songs?”

Thinking “What game is he playing?”, Danny followed suit saying he had written a number of songs.

Well, how about singing one of your own songs for us?” Richard asked.

Wondering where this was all going, Danny sat at the piano and sang his heart out. The restaurant erupted in applause. One of the men at Richard’s table handed Danny his card and said “Call me tomorrow”. The card read ‘Bob Ludwig, Gateway Mastering Studios, Inc.’. Feigning calm, Danny expressed his thanks but his heart was pounding and his head was exploding; Bob Ludwig was a mega recording producer!

Later that night at home Danny couldn’t stop thanking Richard for his introduction to Bob Ludwig. Richard hugged him and said he deserved it.

Danny’s career took off and he became a sensation. Then the call came from his mother; his father was gravely ill. Fiona said Donal was asking for him. After all these years Danny knew it would not be easy seeing him again; he reluctantly acquiesced.

Danny returned to his childhood home where Donal was being privately treated. Waving Fiona and his nurse out of the room, Donal beckoned Danny to come closer. He could barely speak and Danny bent down, his ear next to his father’s lips.

Donal rasped, his breathing labored:

I hear you’re a star, a real big shot. You’re famous!
You’re living the life you always wanted, aren’t you, Danny?
Everyone adores you but to me you’re still nothing but a disgusting queer!”

Danny looked into Donal’s cold, unforgiving eyes full of loathing and revulsion. Staring emotionless at his father, he reached for Donal’s oxygen tube and squeezed it as tightly as he could, cutting off his air supply. Wheezing, Donal’s eyes bulged and his face turned blue; then he stopped breathing.

Danny straightened the crimped oxygen tube and walked out of the room without looking back. Hugging his mother, he whispering “It’s over”.

NAR © 2020

YOU REAP WHAT YOU SEW

“Grundy, you old son of a bitch! What the hell are you doing here?” exclaimed Ian Simms.

“Same as you, Ian, and your brother, Carter. Attending the reading of your father’s will. May he rest in peace. 

“Carter, look who’s here!” declared Ian to his twin. “It’s the one and only Grundy!”

It’s been a while, Grundy. I can’t even recall the last time I saw you” remarked Carter. 

“I believe it was your sixteenth birthday – the day before your mother deserted your father and shipped both of you off to military school.” 

“You know, Grundy, there was a time when you showed a bit more respect to me and my brother. You used to call me ‘Master Carter’ and my brother ‘Master Ian’ – back when you were my father’s lowly valet.” 

“Yes indeed – when you behaved like the spoiled crowned princes of Palm Springs. I’d say we’re on equal footing now, Carter.” 

“Watch your mouth, old man” snarled Carter. “Remember you were just a servant!” 

Were being the operative word. Here’s your father’s attorney now. Let’s get on with this, shall we?” 

“Good afternoon, everyone. Please be seated. I’m Lester Garrison, Mr. Simms’ attorney, and we’re gathered here today for the reading of his will. All right then, let’s begin.” Garrison cleared his throat: 

• “I, Franklin Theodore Simms, being of sound mind and body declare this to be my last will and testament.

• To my former wife, Gloria Morrow Simms, I leave a dildo so she can go fuck herself. I’m sure she didn’t have the decency to attend today but there was never anything decent about her. 

• To my sons Carter and Ian I leave both the amount of $19.79 which represents the year you were born. Perhaps if you had bothered to call or visit me just one time in the past 24 years the amount would be substantially higher; however that is not the case. You reap what you sow, boys. 

• To the San Diego Zoo I leave $2.5 million dollars because animals are infinitely nicer than humans. 

• The remainder of my estate, all my worldly possessions and $18.5 million dollars I leave to my one true friend – Samuel Grundy. Sam, you were never just my valet; you were my brother. You were the only one who remained when my family abandoned me. And when I became sick, you cared for me, refusing any income. We spent many hours in the garden by the weeping willow tree playing chess, sharing memories, baring our souls. 

• A note to my sons: if you hadn’t been so self-centered you would have known Mr. Grundy’s first name. Instead you treated him like chattel and called him simply ‘Grundy’. Shame on you both! 

• My lawyer already knows that I don’t want a funeral. I’m to be cremated and my ashes buried under the old willow tree where I spent my final days with Samuel Grundy.

• See you at the tree, Sam. The rest of you ingrates can go to hell.”

NAR © 2019

inspired by Fandango’s One Word Challenge (FOWC)of 24 September 2022, spite

THE BENCH

Grundy sat in his favorite spot: a dilapidated bench on the boardwalk at Coney Island overlooking Brighton Beach. He was celebrating the sixteenth anniversary of his divorce from Cathy, the “Crowned Cunt of Canarsie” as he called her. And he was getting drunk as he did every night. 

His routine never changed. After his shift at McDonald’s, he’d grab a Big Mac, walk across the street to the Liquor Loft, buy a $7.49 bottle of Old Crow Kentucky Bourbon and a pack of Camel cigarettes, then stroll over to his bench and settle in. 

Grundy’s Bench … his home away from home. Well, not literally. Thanks to his cousin Marcy and her husband Phil, he had an actual roof over his head. Grundy was real close to Marcy, growing up together and all, and Phil was as nice as they come, humble but with the bearing of a prince. Grundy lived with them and their three kids and all Marcy asked was for Grundy to cook Sunday dinner for the family. Hell, he’d cook dinner every night for those precious people if he wasn’t always shit-faced after work.   

“Pretty sweet deal” Grundy thought as he took a swig of his Old Crow. “I’m a freaking loser, an embarrassment, yet they treat me with a love I don’t deserve.” He had his own room, a TV and Marcy did his laundry. He mostly kept to himself, getting home late. He had the day shift, breakfast and lunch included. The pay was lousy and so was the food but it beat a blank. 

How the fuck did he end up here? Carl Grundy, a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, working in some of the finest restaurants in the world … once one of the best chefs in New York … now a burger flipping drunk in Brooklyn. 

So what happened? Bourbon happened. He wasn’t much of a drinker – an occasional beer – but one night after a particularly ugly argument with Cathy, he surreptitiously chugged a shot of the restaurant’s finest bourbon. It was ambrosia and he had another. Before long it became a ritual, then a habit and finally an addiction. He got caught, fired and the cycle began. Land a new gig, drink their booze, get sacked. Eventually the only job he could get was at Mickey D’s and Old Crow was all he could afford. 

Out of nowhere he recalled the words of some televangelist his mother used to watch: “Your decisions cause your circumstances”. Damn straight! He didn’t even realize he was crying. Well, enough reminiscing for one night. 

Grundy gave his beloved bench a pat and stood up to begin his walk to Phil and Marcy’s. Suddenly he felt a searing pain in his chest and crumbled to the ground.

“Oh, Lord! I’ve made a fine mess of things” Grundy gasped. “I’m hurting and I want to go home. Mom and Dad are waiting for me.”

He died alone that night, his hands still clutching an empty bottle.

NAR © 2019