Made to Break

By D. Foy

Two Dollar Radio
March 2014



I'd just scanned an ad for a dildo inside Dinky's latest trash, Pink Champagne Bitch, when a turmoil of voices called me back.

"I'm telling you," Lucille shouted, "someone's out there!"

Dinky must have heard it, too. He lurched up hideous and swollen and said, "That's our book . . . Turn out the lights . . . No . . ." Then he cocked an ear to the door. "Who invited her?"

"I came in to check on you," I said.

"In the dream I was having . . ." I waited for him to go on about this dream but his words were dribble.

"In the dream you were having what?"

Dinky covered his face with the sheet and coughed. "Maybe we could ask those chuckleheads to put a lid on it. Do you think we could do that, Andrew?"

From the wall above him a clown gazed out with that comically lugubrious expression old people somehow feel compelled to adorn the faces of clowns in art. Dinky's great-goddamned-grandmother, or someone like her, had probably slapped it up.

"Even if I wanted to," he said, and looked away, "I couldn't." I watched him fumble with his pants. He looked like a child, with a child's confessional eyes. "Hickory, I mean," he said, though I'd known what he meant. His lips were trembling. He was speaking of himself as I. "I only wanted someone to hold," he said. I realized then the clown was staring at me, too, or so it seemed. I hated clowns more than anything, to say nothing of paintings of clowns. And now Dinky had to go and lay a guilt trip out. "About getting her on her back. You know I didn't mean it . . . Right?" His hands came up as if with a toxic globe. "Look at me," he said. I tried to look out the window but only saw myself. "How can a guy get any sleep with that?"

We heard Basil say, "Turn out the lights," and then Hickory something about a lamp. Meanwhile Lucille had begun to chant: "O my God O my God O my God."

The sounds were undeniable, clunky and deep at first, like a hammer on a hollow box, scratchy and thin the next. By the time we reached them, Hickory, Basil, and Lucille were at the window again, with just their eyes above the sill.

"Watch it, you guys," Lucille said. "Someone's out there."

"No one's out there," Basil said.

Dinky slid down the jamb and turned into a ball. "Is that why we're all on our hands and knees?"

"There," Lucille said, and pointed. "Did you see that?"

For just this once I wished she'd been lying, but she had seen what she'd seen. A shadow moved through the rain, then faded into mist. Then the sounds began again, leisurely nearly, steady, like a bridge troll, or maybe a giant, crunching on his bones.

"Who do you think it is?" I whispered.

On a talk show on the tube three enormous women argued round a little man while the singer from his box moaned about a girl with hair full of ribbons and gloves on her hands.

"You're out of your mind," Basil said. "I didn't see dick."

"Someone is out there," I said.

"Then that's it," Basil said, and strode to the door with his hatchet. "I go out there and holler, and no one answers, I don't care if it's the Queen of fucking England, when I see him, he's as dead as fuck. What's the matter, baldy?" he said when Dinky wouldn't budge. "Afraid of the big bad wolf?"

"The guy can hardly walk," I said.

"He's good enough to get out of bed, he's good enough to kick some ass."

"Blood," Dinky mumbled. "Bright red blood."

"Don't do it," Hickory said.

Lucille began to wail, something I couldn't get.

Basil glared. "You coming or not?"

We went into that fist of night, hunched against the rain, scared as hell, too, speaking for myself. Something was out there, in the wallows beneath the deck perchance, lurking and munching, and we were stoned and drunk and tired, to say nothing of critically blind. I looked to Hickory above me, her hand on Dinky's arm. The best my friend could do was prop himself up to watch. By the way she cradled him, I could tell it was all for show. She wanted him to think she thought he needed checking. The rain had soaked me through again, now. I felt dirty and soft and stupid as could be.

Basil moved crabwise down the stairs, brandishing the hatchet. "Whoever you are," he said, "you'd better stop fucking around, cause we mean business."

Once upon a time I'd fancied myself that bearded miser's secret spy for truth—once upon a time. Because now we were stuck in a game. Anything could happen, anything at all.

"After we go around," I said, "you stick to the wall, and I'll slip over by the trees. That way, whoever it is, if he's got a gun, he can't get both of us at once."

"Where's my knife?"

The water ran down our faces, over the brim of Basil's hat, his face a glistening shade. I could see his hatchet. I could see his shiny teeth.

"There's this," I said, and showed him my Swiss Army pocketknife.

"You little fuck," he said.

I stepped toward the trees, trying to keep my footing in the mud. Basil crept along the wall until a thick, hollow cloonk sounded through the pitch, and then a muffled humph. He had plunged to the ground and by the time I reached him was rocking to and fro.

"Son of a bitch of a stone slammed me in the balls, man."

Again we heard the sounds, this time from inside the cabin. My brain was reeling, with gutter rags and dirty socks, and broken teeth, and fingers, and brooms.

"He's in the basement," I said.

"I heard the bastard."

I tried to take his hatchet. "Maybe you should give me that."

"The hell you will."

My buddies at the window couldn't see us or anything else. They couldn't hear a thing, either—nothing but wind and rain. All they could do was wait, afraid for the sound of a shot, the screams of some twit getting killed. I squinted hard at the trees as their skin crept round their Etch A Sketch limbs, searching endlessly it seemed for the lamest of signs, until just as I was ready to quit a shape emerged from the wall at my right, about twenty feet off, and like a phantom set our way.

"There he is!" I said.

Basil leapt growling to his feet and drove toward the shape, its movements clipped, as if by a wound. The shape came on, a man now, I knew, who might not've seen us even, lurching as he was to some alien poise. But just as Basil fell on him, the man feinted one way and dodged the next. The hatchet made an arc of whaleback-blue, then dropped wide of the man, and the man leapt forward and spun and with a boot sent Basil down. Then both fell from sight but as quickly emerged, then fell back again. I heard a crack, and then a grunt, and then, as though by bitter poets, a cry of hurt and rage. To know what was what or who who was hard, but soon the man rose in deep silhouette, the hatchet aimed at Basil's neck, his face the print of terror.

I rushed in now, my little knife lost, and took the man by his wrist. Straddling Basil, still pinned, he swiveled round to meet me. Those pale eyes—that silver beard and earwig mouth—the hand with the hatchet bony and wet—the tattoos on the fingers—

"You," I said.

"No, no," Super said. "Not me." He still had my friend by the throat. Basil tried to speak, but couldn't so much as squeal. "You ain't no bard," Super told him. "Rest a while, now."

"It was you in the basement," I said.

"We weren't nowhere near the basement."

"You would've killed him."

The old man snorted. "This little squirrel? Heh. We were just scratching his mortality some. Catch our drift?"

I looked at the hatchet. I looked at Basil. I looked at the hatchet, and then again at this spooky man. And then once more I saw the rain, veiling with its ceaselessness stage and play alike, and knew I was just a groundling.

"I don't suppose you have any more of that stuff," I said, hoping Super would know my intent.

With two fingers he picked a blob of mud from his face and studied it like he might a gem. Then he balled up the blob and squashed it. Next to him, as if he'd been there always, sat Fortinbras the dog.

"Laddie," the old man said, "your telephone has gone kapooey."

"What?" I said.

"But fear not, fear not. The man we used to be just did a bit of surgery. The wires are fine, we think."

"Who is this guy?" Basil said, and I just about laughed. With his blackface of mud he looked a wretched minstrel.

"The one we told you about."

"This crusty boob?"

Super stood quietly by, a quasi-grin working beneath his beard. He'd just topped Basil at his own game, mano a mano. But worse than that, he'd shamed him. Looks made Super the grizzled old man half Basil's size. And yet here he was carrying on like the matter had been less than a drill in humor. He could've been the high school jock laying a yo-yo on a freshman nerd.

"Naw," Super said. "Don't say it's so."

"You want to cut my throat, dickwad, get on with it. Otherwise, blow me."

"Tell us, Laertes. Just how is it you expect to get our cousin down the mountain?"

"You have any idea what he's talking about?" Basil asked.

I shook my head.

"Stuyvesant Wainwright the Fourth, of course. We come to see that old black clown doesn't carry him off."

"Let's get out of this rain," I said.

"Not till you officiate some manners-making, you won't." I looked at the old man. "Your cohort," he said. "We don't know him from Hill."

Goddamn. Crazy as it was, the geeze wanted introductions. "Super," I said, "meet Basil. Basil, Super."

Super extended a hand. "Pleased to rub truth with you, son."

"Basil. My name is Basil."

The old man scratched his beard. "If we can recollect better than piss in a pot, memory says the name ain't never the thing. Fools of nature's all we are, to the last of us."

Basil turned to me, defeated. "I'm really cold," he said, almost whispering. "And this guy makes me feel like a mollusk. You mind if I kind of just, you know, go inside?"