Tuscan Chatter Box (Cont’d.)

In the morning the envelope is still there, its sharp angled shoulders festooned in frost. Miles Banyan does not awaken until well past noon. His temples throb like electronic djembes in an African metal band; his lips chapped as a sheet of dehydrated sandpaper. His green eyes have turned two shades darker than a shot of cranberry rum. And, upon a whiskey glazed maypole of leftover consciousness, a dream is still fluttering its flag, whispering its tryptamine shrieks.

The last thing he remembered of the dream before awakening to his headache’s newest hit single, Electric Igbo Death Shakes, was a woman. She had platinum blonde hair that spiral staircased its way to thin shoulders. She stood over Miles while he knelt at the riverbank, shoving handfuls of water lockets into his rucksack.

All she said was, “Give them away, Miles. There’s an infinite supply.

As a grunt began to form in his gut, a glob of chortle in his stomach basement, he opened his eyes to the dingy sight of his one room shanty. The interior is just large enough to accommodate a twin bed, an end table with a radio and a hotplate, a wicker chair, a sink and an open shower. The pipes are as ancient as Miles himself. Groaning, grating, and dripping with the same brand of wheezy dilapidation. The electricity is not much younger. It flickers as though running the light show for Electric Igbo Death Shakes. Not exactly a hangover’s best friend. Moreover, a family of mice has taken to eating whatever food has escaped from Mr. Banyan’s rotting chops.

The flat used to belong to the railroad companies, back when the Chinese and the Irish shared bunkhouses along the grade. This one belonged to a foreman. In the 1900s it was used as a mattress for a mafia family–redone and given plumbing and electricity. When word of its use got out, a rival family blew the place up. One night every bunkhouse along the river went up in flames. Spaced out bales of fire and smoke rose over the Industrial District. From the other edge of town it looked like a pillaging mob of dynamite Vikings had landed in Kansas City. The flat was rebuilt over the years until the big suburban sprawl pushed everyone south. When Miles got hold of it, the place had been abandoned for forty years.

Two miles to the east, in a distinctly higher scale apartment overlooking the River Market, Jackie Abernathy is still in bed, wearing a pair of fuzzy green socks, an oversized casino t-shirt, and a damp washcloth on her forehead. Her fever is still higher than a rasta eating brownies on a Colorado mountaintop. Bridget is in the kitchen, preparing a tumbler of ginger ale and two soft-boiled eggs. The eggs invoke images of her favorite childhood program about a little grizzly bear cub and his band of adventurous woodland friends. She smiles and places the tumbler on a tray.

Jackie’s eyes are closed. She is still having visions. And the latest one is a doozy.




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