Luigi O’Reilly in Hipster Hell

Woody Caribou, the famous French philosopher once said: “No sir. I ain’t paying ten bucks for a Tartiflette that I happen to know for sure is just a bunch of french fries that you and your hipster buddies have smeared philadelphia cheese over with your sweaty hands. Give me some onion soup.”

I’m walking along a crowded boulevard. It’s daytime. The light is piercing, seering through to the back of my skull. I put on my hat and shades and try to convince myself it’s night. There’s a coffee shop just up ahead. I duck inside.

“Give me a cappucino, make it strong”
“Do you want chocolate on that?”
“What kind of chocolate?”
“Surprise me.”
“We got 40 types.”
“Well that really is a surprise. Here’s an idea: Why don’t you pick one, sprinkle it on the coffee, take my money, smile, but not too much, then hand me the coffee and let me drink it.”

The guy introduces himself as Zack. He’s talking in a phony 1930’s style New York accent. Sounds ridiculous. He’s wearing a beard that even Amish folk would find a little passé. What a joker.
I finish my coffee and step back out into the agony of day. How do people live like this?
I walk maybe a hundred yards when I see an electronic cigarette store. This should be pretty straightforward.
“Yeah I want a bottle of e-liquid, blueberry flavor.”
“Do you want blueberry surprise, blueberry kiss, blueberry hill……………….”
The guy’s wearing the same beard as the guy at the coffee shop, except …. this one’s ginger.
“Just plain blueberry. Say, are there any barber shops in this town?”

Next thing I’m in some kinda cafe. The guy behind the counter is wearing a red checked shirt, tight jeans. His beard is twirled at the ends with pink striped ribbons holding it all together.
“Is this the lumber store?”
“This is a cafe. I find your attitude extremely aggressive and hurtful.”
“Yeah I need some nails and a couple pieces of wood, about six feet long. Oh and give me some onion soup. Make that French.”

A Very Fine Garment Indeed – or – Thrift Store Theodore

Imagine a street with nothing but thrift stores. One right after the other, as far as the eye can see. I turn down a blind alley and a familiar smell hits me. A hand that seems to be my hand is pushing at the door to what I’m guessing is some kinda speakeasy. I breathe in the fumes as the door creaks open in front of me.

“Say, what’s the deal with all the thrift stores ‘round here” I ask the bartender.

Some guy who’s name I don’t know or even care to know answers the question for her.

“Always check where the garment came from” he says.

“That’s not what I asked buddy and besides, the question that I asked was not addressed to you. Maybe I’m just making small talk with tootsie here”.

I turn back to the bartender but she’s already walking away, off to the other end of the bar to pour another drink and break another heart.

“You know what I do?” the guy who’s name I don’t care to know says.

“When I see an article of clothing that piques my interest I first check the label, make sure it’s the right size. Then I take it on up to the counter. I hold the, let’s say shirt, in one hand and a dollar bill in the other, and ask, ‘ma’am, could you tell me the history of this here shirt’. They usually stall a little and require further prodding. ‘What I’m trying to ascertain here is did this shirt belong to a guy who was living at the time that he last wore this shirt but is now sadly dead?’ At this point they’ll try to give you some baloney about not knowing the full history of the garment. This is where you pull out another dollar bill. ‘Thing is’, you say, ‘I’m looking at this here shirt and I’m seeing a fine garment, a very fine garment indeed. No pinhole burns, no buttons missing, everything looks just dandy. And yet you’re selling it for a buck’. She’ll take the shirt off you, have a good look at it, end up agreeing with you, take your two dollars and delicately fold the shirt in a bag.”

“You don’t say” I mutter.

“Another thing you gotta watch out for is the smell. And you can never get that smell out. I tried everything. Cheap liquor, vinegar, cat litter… dice. Now, when you buy any kind of drapery at a thrift store you can’t tell how bad it smells ‘cause the whole place stinks. You need to take that sucker outside and give it a good long sniff. The golden rule is; The badder the smell, the longer the dude’s been dead.”

I look over at Tootsie at the other end of the bar. She’s talking out of the side of her mouth to some guy covered in tattoos across the counter and every now and then glancing over in my direction. I can’t hear what she’s saying but I know she’s saying something by the movement of her chest.

“I got a jacket once in a thrift store. Perfect piece of cloth. Looked new. Fit like a glove. Only when I wear it for the first time do I notice that it has a mysterious quality about it. I’m stepping out the door, I light a cigarette, I take a drag. Nothing unusual so far. Then I go to put the cigarette box and matches into my pocket and…………….No Pocket! I look down, there’s a pocket flap there but no pocket. I try the other side, same deal. Now I’m getting a little testy. I check the breast pocket, nothing there neither. Now why would somebody design a jacket like that?” he asks me.

“It’s a crazy world that makes no sense and there’s no point in trying to make any sense out of it unless you’re fixing on winding up crazy too. Jackets with no pockets, bars with no beer, dames with no name, I’ve seen it all buddy. There is not a thing you can tell me that will come as too much of a surprise” I tell him.

The guy who was talking to the barmaid stands up and starts walking over. Must be seven foot high. His frame blocks out the small amount of light that seeps through the tobacco and beer patterned curtains. As he gets closer I can see that the tattoos that cover his face and arms are not delivering messages of hope or words of encouragement. There is not a single term of endearment in any of it’s images or couplets, not a single one.

He walks right up to the guy who I don’t care to know the name of, lets call him Thrift Store Theodore. He grabs hold of him by the waist, lifts him up till they’re eyeball to eyeball and holds him there. He begins to speak.

“The dame behind the bar tells me you’re a little careless with the bar tab. As in you don’t pay. She tells me you owe her fifty eight bucks. And now you’re gonna have to pay me a hundred bucks on top of that as a service charge.”

“I Haven’t Got Any Pockets. I got nowhere to keep dough” I hear Theodore whimper behind me as a hand that is certainly my hand turns the handle of what I now know for sure is the door of some kinda speakeasy. I breathe in the fumes as the door creaks shut behind me.

Luigi Buys Some Shoes

Ok. So picture this. I’m walking ’round downtown looking to buy me some kind of footwear. There’s a shoe shop at 3 o’clock with a coffee vendor outside. “Black, no sugar. Say, you got any bourbon under the counter?” She don’t bite.

I keep walking down the street, in my old shoes. The reason I’m looking for shoes is there’s a surprising smell in my apartment. First I figure it’s the previous tenants discarded nachos, or maybe just a dead body. Then I realize the smell hangs around every place that I hang around. Wait, I know that smell. Mildew. Musk. Yeah, I had this once before. I carefully remove my left shoe and take a look under the hood. My sole’s got a hole in it. All the rain and dirt got trapped inside and now it’s emanating toxic gasses into my new apartment. I need new shoes.

Now, the last time I bought me some footwear I had to buy the box. I take the shoes up to the counter, broad tells me I gotta bring the box up to the counter too.
“I don’t wanna buy the box, I got plenty of boxes lady, I just need shoes.”
“Well, you need to take the box otherwise we can’t sell you the shoes”.
That was California.
This is England.
Not New England.
England, England.
They don’t put shoes in boxes, they ask you if you want a bag.
“No, I want a box. They’re shoes, put them in a goddamn shoe box.”

The Spectre Of Stoneythorpe

“I see you there with your banjos. Plucking away. Playing your sea shanties.”
It’s said that Slack Eyed Willie could see the past. Now, a lot of folk might say that when it comes to the paranormal this is the bottom of the barrel. But not Relentless Ritchie.
“What do you see Willie, what do you see?”
Ritchie was a history bore, liked to poke around old buildings. Talked to drunk guys in bars about a certain brick on a certain building on some street downtown. Most of them would say “yeah I know the brick you’re talking about” thinking this would bring an end to the matter, but it only made matters worse. Some folk even went so far as to quit the bottle just to get away from him.
“I see them there with their trumpets. Blowing away. Playing their marching songs. No, it’s not a trumpet. It’s a rifle. Somebody’s getting blown away.”
“Didn’t somebody get murdered in here once Luigi?” asks Ritchie.
I order another bourbon even though I’m still drinking the first. Next thing this joker is gonna say the place is haunted.
“I see him there, falling to the ground screaming ‘I’ll be back for you Smokey Joe!’”
“The Spectre Of Stoneythorpe!” says Ritchie. I knock back my first bourbon and start laying into the second.
“Back in 1788, long before it became a bar, this joint was owned by a certain diplomat, used to throw parties for visiting dignitaries and this and that. It’s said that at one of these parties a man was shot dead over some broad and that his ghost haunts these corridors to this very day. The bartender himself will tell you he’s heard doors slamming and deathly moans coming from the rooms upstairs.”
I’m about to put on my hat and leave when Slack Eyed Willie raises a finger and somehow stops Relentless Ritchie mid drone.
“What is it Willie. Do you see anything else?” he asks.
Slack eyed Willie takes a deep breath, stares into the distance and says:
“No. It IS a trumpet.”

Midnight Stink

It’s midnight. The fog is thick. I move along the street like a cat on thin ice. There’s a certain menace in the air, a bad smell, something ain’t right here. A kid jumps outa the shadows asking me to go into the liquor store and buy him beer and cigarettes.
“Beat it Buster” I tell him, and walk on past. Then I hear him whistle behind me. Next thing there’s a whole bunch of goons in front of me. Can barely see ’em thru the fog. A lone street lamp bounces off the hand of one of the punks. He’s holding something shiny. A watch? No, too big. An iPhone? Wrong era. A flick-knife……?
My heart starts pounding and my blood runs cold like I’m in some kinda bad 80’s song. I see a left turn a few feet ahead and tell my feet to get ready to run. ‘Start running big guy’ I say to myself.
A hand grips my shoulder tight. I try to turn around but…….