Post by George J. Dance Post by Johnny Galt Post by George J. Dance
I had this lady on SND months ago, but that was before we moved to facebook, so I'm giving her another go.
Mae Moore, Bohemia
I missed the bus, yeah, I did it again;
That's when I first met the Parisian
Poet-angel; it was his idea
I take my place in Bohemia.
I've got a view nobody's seen.
I read Burroughs but I keep it clean.
I go places inside my head
With an eye on tomorrow to keep my soul fed.
I'm glad you watched it, Zod.
The topic of the thread is 'Bohemia,' meaning I'm looking for songs about or referencing "Bohemian" poets and artists - Rimbaud, the vagabond and tramp poets, the Beats (notice the reference to Burroughs), etc,. If you can think of any songs that fit that bill, please post 'em.
I'm fond of this story, which is worthy of a song.
THE BOHEMIANS: A Metacontextual Tale Regarding a Steak Dinner for Three
I haven't had a chance to proof read this yet, so please pardon any typos:
Jeb Stoneman watched in shock as his brother dropped to the ground. Their attacker raised the rusted piece of pipe above his head and prepared to deliver another blow. Jeb's left elbow had been broken, but he managed to lift himself off the ground; his right hand clutching tightly to a rock …
It all started a week or so before. Jeb's good buddy, Dink, was on the verge of being thrown out of his trailer, on account of the nigh on a year and a half's worth of back rent that he owed. It wasn't that Dink didn't have the rent money, leastways most of it, each month; although Jeb couldn't for the life of him figure out where or how he got it. He just had a problem holding onto it for very long. You see, old Dink had a thing for the ladies … the ladies of the evening, that is … and those gals didn't come cheap. Nor, for that matter, did the pot, whiskey, crack, and meth that he had a fairly steady hankering for as well.
Dink Schwarzkopf was an artist. He was one of those abstract, modernist, bohemian type of artists, to which end his decadent lifestyle was something of a prerequisite. One day, while waiting to be treated for syphilis, he was thumbing through one of the magazines when he saw a photo of a Jackson Pollock painting that was listed at fifteen million dollars. "Heck, I can paint one of them," Dink said aloud while tearing out the page and slipping it (neatly folded) into the left front pocket on his flannel shirt. He spent the next thirty-seven years trying to prove it.
Jeb Stoneman was an artist as well, although Jeb spent the majority of his time writing poetry. Poetry didn't sell for anywhere near as much money as modern art, but Jeb didn't worry himself about such things. Besides, all of his poetry doubled as rock song lyrics, and rock stars make a bucket-load of dough as well, so he had all of his bases covered. It also saved him the trouble of having to learn how to write in complete sentences.
Now Dink and Jeb had been all set to turn the world on its ear, except for one little thing … neither one of them possessed the slightest bit of talent. So at the time that our story begins, both men are pushing sixty, unemployed, living in the same backwater town that they'd grown up in, and in dire need of a bath. As previously noted, Dink was about to be evicted from the trailer he was squatting in, whereas Jeb was squatting in his brother, Hank's shed. Brother Hank was unemployed as well, but that was just because he was kind of slow, so he at least had an excuse. Anyways, he received a monthly stipend from the government as a result, so the Stoneman brothers were never entirely destitute.
Brother Jeb also managed to bring in some money by doing odd jobs every now and then: most of these involved transporting illegal substance over state lines. He'd had odd jobs in Alabama, odd jobs in Florida, and odd jobs in South Carolina. Needless to say (to anyone familiar with U.S. geography) that he made his home in Georgia -- about a hundred miles south of Atlanta, just outside of Columbus. Jeb used to do a lot of drugs as well, but he'd been clean and sober for the past nine years, with the exception of an occasional brownie.
Now lest the reader should get the mistaken idea that Brother Jeb was a bit of a mendicant, a lowlife, or a just plain goodfornothin' bum, I'd like to set the record straight on that account. He may have been squatting in Brother Hank's shed, but it wasn't one of those funny looking lean-to models that you see in the funny pages with "Li'l Abner." No sir, it was one of those modern, prefabricated sheds with hot and cold running water and a fully working kitchen. It might have passed for a mobile home, had it been significantly bigger. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite big enough to accommodate two squatters, so Dink was flat out of luck in that regard.
But old Jeb was a sly one, and had another ace or two tucked up his sleeve. In this case, his ace was Tony "Blackjack" Stiletto -- a fellow rock star-poet from up North. You see, while Jeb might not have been able to afford internet service, he was savvy enough to take advantage of the free Wi-Fi at the local donuts shop (the whole Stoneman clan was a tad on the large side), and had come to join a Usenet poetry group of which Blackjack was also a member.
Mafioso name aside, Blackjack was a big city Yankee, and as such, was something of a liberal and a bleeding heart as well. One heart-tugging post depicting Dink's plight later, and a fifty dollar bill was winging its way to Georgia, courtesy of the United States Post. Now fifty bucks might not seem like a lot of money to Northerner, but down in Columbus, it was considered a sizeable fortune … and old Jeb felt he was rightfully entitled to a share.
This is not to imply that Brother Jeb as a dishonest man -- far from it. You see, it isn't as though Jeb was out to cheat Dink, or anything like that. But truth be told, that fifty dollar bill was all his doing. Dink hadn't lifted a finger toward its procurement. Why, it was only fitting and proper that Brother Jeb should take his duly appointed cut. So instead of telling Dink about the money, he sort of just allowed it to find its way into his own pocket, so to speak. After which, he roused Brother Hank from his afternoon nap, rounded up Dink who was busily engaged in expanding his artistic repertoire with a painting in the style of Jasper Johns, whereupon the three amigos headed off to the local steak house.
"If I could just get my hands on a fifty," Dink sighed, "I could put down a deposit on Faline Stephens place."
"Faline's movin'," Brother Jeb asked, as he sawed off another slice of steak.
"Hell, no, Faline ain't movin'," Dink shot back with a wicked smile in his eye. "That old gal done up an died t'other day."
"Wha'd she die of?" Jeb inquired as politely as he could manage with a quarter pound of steak stuffed into his cheeks.
"Haven't the faintest. One day the neighbors noticed that there was an inordinate amount of rats scurryin' around her trailer, so one of them knocked on the door, and when there weren't no answer, he done kicked it in."
"An' she was dead?" Brother Hank asked.
"I reckon so. What the rats hadn't et was stinkin' worse 'an last month's garbage."
"Tryin' to eat here," Jeb blurted out as he reached for anoter handful of fries.
"Well anyways, old man Jenkins is her next of kin of sorts, seein' that he owns the trailer park, an' all. An' he said that for fifty dollars he'd let me stay there for up to a month whiles I wait for my V.A. check to come in." Dink had done a four-year hitch in the Navy back when he was a teenager, and he figured he could get some disability payments from them, what with him being a drug addict and all.
Brother Jeb felt a twinge of remorse in the pit of his stomach as he sucked down his second beer. Jeb didn't count beer as being against his clean and sober policy, since everybody and their brother drank it … and besides, he'd been drinking beer since he was knee high to a grasshopper, and if his folks hadn't anything wrong in it, why should he? But perhaps his pangs of conscience caused him to have a beer or three too many that night, as he nearly fell out of his chair while trying to slap the waitress rump as she passed by. (In Jeb's defense, she passed by a bit quicker than usual, as the Brothers Stoneman were known for getting grabby with the ladies ... and plus, they were crappy tippers to boot.)
The dinner had proven to be such a success that Jeb immediately logged it in his memory as a night to remember. Fact is, it had been so long since any of the boys had eaten so well, that they'd barely remembered what a nice thick, juicy slab of rump roast tasted like. And as is natural to human beings when they're having an unusual streak of good fortune, none of them wanted the night to come to an end. This unspoken agreement to prolong the festivities was cemented by Jeb's spending the last of the ill-gotten fifty on a bottle Everclear which the three compadres shared in the parking lot of the long-deserted mill.
Now making allowances for beer is one thing, but I surely doubt that anyone is foolish enough to attempt to claim that approximately one third of a bottle of Everclear falls within the parameters of being "on the wagon," but this is precisely what Jeb managed to do. Special nights have special rules, he reckoned, and as this was a very special night, all rules were shot to the wind. And it was this unfortunate lapse in Jeb's sobriety that directly precipitated the harrowing event with which this story began.
You see, Jeb felt terrible that he'd been, however unintentionally, the cause of his best friend, Dink's having missed out on the opportunity to take over the Widder Faline's trailer. And if there's veritas in vino, there's got to be good, whopping dose of the same in Everclear. And while many a relationship has been built upon honesty, there are just some things that are better left unexpressed -- especially when one or more of the friends is in his proverbial cups. So roundabout three a.m., when the pot had all been smoked and liquor had all been drunk, Jeb dropped a hint that the fifty dollars just might have been slated for Dink.
Now, when one is in a habitual state of inebriation, one tends to develop a sort of affinity for that state, wherein the level of one's impairment from a prodigious amount grain alcohol and drugs will have far less effect upon his ability to function than will a much smaller amount on a man who takes the trouble to sober up. And drunk as Dink was, he picked up on Jeb's hint. When Jeb's excuses failed to satisfy him, he picked up the first stray piece of pipe he could lay his hands on as well. And, what with them being in the parking lot of a steel mill that had shut down thirty years ago, this task proved far less difficult than one might suppose.
Which brings us back to the beginning of our tale, wherein Dink had taken both of the Stoneman brothers down and Jeb was in the process of coming to Brother Hank's defense with the aid of a fairly good-sized rock. At this point, Dink had his back to Jeb as he was in the middle of relentlessly clobbering Hank with the pipe. Brother Jeb stumbled toward him and brought the rock down hard on the back of Dink's head … which caved in like an egg cracked on the edge of a frying pan.
"Oh, boy … now you've really gone and done it," Jeb said to himself. He looked at Dink's body lying prostrate at his feet. Every few seconds, it twitched about and spasmed -- spraying Jeb's jeans with bloody brain bits in the process.
"Dink? You okay?" Jeb asked, not really expecting an answer. "Are you dead, Dink?" he asked again, figuring it best to take a second tack. This time, when Dink failed to respond, Jeb reckoned it a "Yes," and stepped over him to look at Brother Hank.
Brother Hank was lying belly-up, with blood running from his nose, mouth and forehead and a glassy look in his eyes. The glassy-eyed stare didn't bother Jeb much, as his brother pretty near always looked that way.
"Hank. Hey, Hank. Wake up Hank." Hank rolled one way and another, let out a little groan or two, but didn't seem anywhere near to getting up. "Come on, Hank -- the ice cream man's here." The ice cream man really wasn't there, but this was how Jeb used to wake Hank up when they were kids.
Hank opened his eyes, blinked a few times to get the blood out of them, and stared at the mess on Jeb's pants. "Looks like one of Dink's paintings," he said. And, in a sense, I guess you could say that's what it was.
"Dink's dead," Jeb told him. "Leastways, I think he is."
Jeb helped Hank to his feet, and the two brothers lumbered over to Dink and proceeded to poke at him with a stick for several minutes. "Yep, he's dead," Brother Hank affirmed. "Reckon we oughtta be buryin' him." Hank had always been the more pragmatic of the brothers.
"Reckon so," Brother Jeb acquiesced. "Some place wheres nobody'd ever look to find him."
Now, at this point, I feel I should take it upon myself to explain why neither of the Brothers Stoneman ever once considered their going to the police. You see, Brother Jeb didn't exactly have the most laudatory reputation around the town, what with the drug-running and all; and Brother Hank ... well, Brother Hank was charitably looked upon as "slow."
And besides, as Jeb figured it, Dink was going to be evicted from his trailer in a few more days. Would his disappearance raise so much as an eyebrow around the town -- especially if his belongs were to disappear as well? He'd just have to spread the word that Dink had headed off to Florida, and that would be the end of it. The only real question was where to Mr. Schwarzkopf was going to be interred.
And the only real answer was under Jeb's shed. The shed was situated far back from the road on the Stoneman property, and folks tended to keep their distance where the Stoneman Brothers were concerned. Plus it already stank something fierce, and the dozen or so feral cats that hung out in the yard would keep any telltale rats away from the scene. One couldn't have wished for a more perfect spot.
Funeral services for Adolph "Dink" Schwarzkopf, III were held later that morning, at precisely nine fifty-seven a.m. in a private ceremony with only the Stoneman Brothers in attendance.
"Well, that's that," Jeb pronounced as he scraped the freshly-laid concrete smooth with a piece of cardboard torn off of Brother Hank's box of Lucky Charms breakfast cereal.
"When's breakfast?" Hank asked.
"We'll stop at the diner on the way over to Dink's place," Jeb answered. "Get ourselves some flapjacks, home fries, scrambled eggs an' toast."
"With sausage and bacon?" Hank asked, unable to conceal his anticipation.
"With sausage and bacon," Jeb confirmed. At this point in the narrative, it should be noted that the Brothers Stoneman were more than a tad on the large side.
"In the meantime, let's get your head all bandaged up," Jeb said as he tore a strip off of one of Hank's T-shirts. "You remember what you're going to say when folks ask how you got hurt?"
"I tripped gettin' outta the pickup t'other night and banged it really hard on pavement."
"You know, it's a damn shame we can't tell nobody 'bout Dink's bein' dead an' all," Jeb mused. "If folks know'd he's dead, his paintings'ld be worth millions ..."
That night Brother Jeb went to the local bar -- it being open mic night, folks expected him to perform a song or two. While there he made a point of mentioning that he'd helped his good buddy Dink pack up his things, and drove him to the bus station that morning. Dink was off to visit his relatives in Florida, and Jeb couldn't rightly say when, if ever, he was comin' back. Jeb was also a mite lax with his "clean and sober" policy that night, but you can't really blame him on that count -- his experiences over the past twenty-four hours would have been enough to have knocked old Billy Sunday off his water wagon.
Jeb's performance was a rousing success. You see, Jeb wasn't exactly the world's greatest singer, and when he was singing sober folks held contests to see how many bar napkins they could stuff into their ears. But when he'd been drinking, he was really a hoot! -- just about the biggest hoot folks around these parts had ever had the good fortune to hoot at. On this particular night, Jeb was staggering about the stage reading his lyrics from a copy of "Playpens" (a local listing paper to which he contributed a monthly rock 'n' roll-poetry column). And at six-foot one, three-hundred-and-something pounds, with a large mop of frizzy white hair and a grizzled beard to match, old Jeb made for quite the spectacle -- his trademark of wearing dark sunglasses in a dimly-lit dive bar at one a.m. contributed significantly to the overall mirth as well.
Later that night, Jeb stopped in at the local twenty-four-seven donut shop, and checked in with his Usenet poetry group. I suppose it was easier for old Brother Jeb to remember the good times of their farewell dinner than the traumatic events that followed; he and Dink had been best friends since the third grade, after all. And truth be told, that steak dinner had already been etched into his memory banks as one of the happiest nights of his fifty-eight years on God's earth. But whatever his reasoning, he giddily reported the following:
"Blackjack Tony will be happy to hear that his fifty dollars was well spent. Dink, Brother Hank and I shared a delicious meal together at the Frontier steak house before he hopped a bus to Florida where he'll be spending the Winter with his family. Thanks again, Blackjack!" Needless to say that Blackjack Tony was not so happy as Jeb had thought. Fact is, he was downright livid. From his perspective, he figured he'd been swindled, and his Sicilian blood had pretty near reached its boiling point. One can only thank the powers that be for having seen fit to ensure that the Stonemans were too poor to afford a horse.
Nigh on a year went by without further incident, in spite of the fact that Blackjack was nursing a none-too-secret vendetta that grew more and more frighteningly vindictive with every passing day. And this is where our story should have ended ... and would have ... if only Brother Jeb hadn't gone and gotten greedy.
Of course Jeb didn't look on it that way. He thought of it as doing one last favor for his friend. The fact that me might stand to profit from this altruistic deed was just one more example of poetic justice's taking a hand in the actions and outcomes of our daily lives. In any event, it wasn't as though he had planned it out or anything. It just happened. One day, while he was looking over the two hundred-odd paintings he had rescued from Dink's trailer, he couldn't help thinking that old Dink should've been numbered among the greats.
"If only Dink was really dead," Jeb sighed. Even Jeb couldn't fail to appreciate the irony in the situation. "If only we could kill old Dink for real," he floated this idea past Brother Hank, although Hank didn't seem to be listening much. Then again, Hank pretty much always looked that way. But ideas have a way of taking root regardless of whether they've been acknowledged, and Jeb soon took it upon himself to kill Dink off a second time.
When Dink first disappeared, folks around town would ask Jeb if he'd heard anything, to which Jeb would always answer, "Nothin' yet." They'd ask him at the local bar on open mic night (and any other night he happened to drop in). They'd ask him at the coffee shop where he promoted himself online every morning, and at the donut shop where he promoted himself online each night. But after several months had passed without there being word, their inquiries started dwindling down once every other blue moon or thereabouts, and before the year was out, it seemed as though poor old Dink had been expunged from everybody's memory.
But Tony Stiletto remembered. And when he saw Jeb auctioning off Dink's artwork on eBay, he caught a whiff of another scam going down, and decided to something about it.
One week later, at exactly two forty-seven in the afternoon, Brother Hank was roused from his daily stupor by a series of loud knocks on his front door. Hank wasn't used to having company, other than Brother Jeb, that is … and Brother Jeb always just came right on in without raising any sort of fuss. So it goes without saying that Hank was more than a little wary about opening the door, but as the knocks kept on growing more insistent, he eventually bit down and gave in.
When he opened the door and saw two police officers accompanied by Mafia-looking Italian in a fedora, he immediately switched over to panic mode. Although in Hank's case panic mode didn't look much different than his usual mode, but inside he was shaking so violently that anyone who knew him would've thought that Brother Jeb had caught him with his hand in the brownie jar again.
"Mr. Stoneman?" one of the officers asked him in such a way that it hardly sounded like a question.
"Uhm … yeah?"
"Mr. Henry Stoneman?"
Hank thought hard on this one for several minutes. Nobody had ever addressed him as "Henry" before, and while he was fairly certain that Henry was his name, he thought the office might be looking for somebody else.
"Folks 'round here us'ly just calls me 'Hank'," he finally confessed.
"Mind if we come in, Hank?" one of the officers asked? "We've got a few questions we'd like to ask you."
"I wer'n't 'spectin' no comp'ny," Hank replied, as cordially as he knew how, "but the kitchen table's purty clean, I reck."
After Hank had seen that everyone had been made comfortable, the interrogation proceeded.
"Mr. Stoneman, are you familiar with a Mr. Adolph Schwarzkopf?" Brother Hank knotted up his brow and stared blankly at them. "Mr. Schwarzkopf has reportedly been a friend of your brother for over forty years. He's a painter …"
"His Jeb usually refers to him as 'Dink,'" prompted the Italian in the fedora.
"Oh, Dink!" Brother Hank practically shouted. "I know
"Are you aware that your brother has been offering some of Dink's" paintings for sale on the internet."
Brother Hank scratched his head. "I don't mess with no 'lectronic gizmos," he half mumbled. Hank had always been more than a little embarrassed by his inability to operate electronic devices.
"He's been listing them as 'valuable collectibles from a deceased modern abstract painter'," the policeman informed him. To which Hank merely blinked.
"Is your brother, Jeb at home?" the man in the fedora asked. Hank didn't much like the fedora man. He seemed to be a little too familiar with Jeb and Dink -- and if that weren't enough, he didn't look anything like a policeman.
"He'd be takin' his afternoon nap 'bout this time," Hank grudgingly admitted.
"In the shed?" asked Tony, for as you may have guessed, the mysterious man in the fedora is none other than our old friend Tony "Blackjack" Stiletto.
"Yeah ... ," Hank mumbled, "in the shed."
"And what about Dink?" asked Tony. "You hiding him in the shed as well?"
Brother Hank looked down, guiltily, at his feet. "Yeah ... in the shed," he repeated.
The minute that Brother Jeb opened the door, he knew that the jig was up. Brother Hank's face said it all. When Tony asked him where Dink was, he didn't even make a half-hearted attempt at a denial; he simply moved aside his cot to reveal the fresh patch of concrete on the floor.
Jeb's trial was short and sweet. The jury of his peers had been Dink's peers as well, and didn't once doubt his story that he'd done acted in self-defense. On the other hand, they figured that Dink had just cause for trying to kill Jeb as well, and that the two just sort of cancelled each other out. In the end, the deciding factor turned out to be one of civic improvement: to wit, the prospect of the good townsfolk getting a twenty-year break from Jeb's attempts at singing on open mic night proved a mite too tempting to pass up.
In a final twist of fate, interest generated by the murder caused the price of Dink's paintings to skyrocket, and Brother Hank soon found himself scoring ten, fifteen, and even twenty dollars for a painting. And by the time the interested had died down (that is, about a week after the trial), he had made enough money to fully reimburse Blackjack Tony with enough left over to buy himself a clean pair of clothes.