Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Time Expired by David L. Rasey

Time Expired
by David L. Rasey

59 minutes, 44 seconds – There, we’ve got an hour on the meter. Can you believe that? Fifty cents for an hour on a parking meter! Used to be a dime when I first started driving, and we had slant parking then too. Well, what the hell, it’s a nice day for a walk. Man, traffic’s pretty heavy on the main drag now, isn’t it? It wasn’t like this back in the day, that’s for sure! Why are people always in such a damned hurry these days? I remember when no one drove fast in town, because you never knew when some kid would come running out into the street. Yeah, we were more careful back then. Remember that time Jerry Mosell swerved to avoid some drunk guy in the middle of the street and ran right smack into a garbage truck? It cost him a pretty penny to get that smell out of his leather upholstery. It wasn’t funny to him, but didn’t we laugh? Yessir, he never lived that down, old Jerry didn’t.

48 minutes, 17 seconds – Look over there. Isn’t that sad now? That’s where the old Monarch Hobby Shop used to be. I can still see Mack back behind the counter there, working on a model plane when things were slow. Man, he was a good builder. He could paint a plane so pretty you didn’t know whether he should fly it or put it in a museum. He used to always give out a tube of glue free to any kid that bought a kit, remember that? And he was always saying that if you gave a boy a hobby, you’d never see him in jail. Good old Mack. Tragic, what happened to him. You’d never figure some junkie would rob a hobby shop, would you? The little punk shot Mack, and over what? The fifty-six bucks in the till. I’m telling you, this was a good town before the damned drugs came along.

40 minutes, 2 seconds – Ha, I can’t believe that place is still running after all these years. I still remember when it used to be called the “Top Hat Gentlemen’s Club”. They had the best girls working in there when I was a young man and driving cab. Say, do you recall that one girl, the one with the unusual name? What was it? Oh, right, Minyaun. She sure was something, wasn’t she? A little on the chubby side, well, more than a little, but she had more moves than a sewing machine! She was the best dancer Goldie ever had working there. Remember that time we found out she wouldn’t turn down a dare, so we dared her to dance without the pasties and g-string? Damned if she didn’t just whip ‘em right off and go to town up there on that stage! She was gorgeous! And then Goldie got pissed and tried to make her put ‘em back on, but we took up a quick collection and gave Goldie twenty bucks, and she let Minyaun finish her set buck-ass naked.

Good old Goldie. I used to drive her some when I drove cab. She was always saying how poor she was, remember that? Let me tell you: she wasn’t. This one time, I picked her up and took her over to Kennedy’s Chrysler-Ford. She told me to wait, and I did. I knew who she was friends with, so I did what I was told, and you would’ve too! Anyway, she looked around, talked to a salesman for a bit, then picked out a brand-new, bottle green Chrysler Imperial and paid for it in cash. Cash, I tell you! Then she paid the fare and gave me a twenty, which was a huge damned tip for those days, and sent me on my way. Yeah, she was a pretty good old girl, Goldie was. Did all her best business after closing time with a bunch of Italian guys from Youngstown, get me? I wonder what ever happened to her? Never mind; let’s just keep walking.

29 minutes 51 seconds – Damn! Where’s the fire, buddy? Sorry, I didn’t mean to shout in your ear, but that guy was driving like a maniac. I’ll say it again: This town has gone to hell since I was a kid. What? No, that’s not true. I don’t live in the past. I’m, y’know, at peace with the past. I just like indulging in a little stroll and some nostalgia now and again, dig it?

Oh-ho, doesn’t this place bring back a memory or two? Let me tell you, Murray’s was the best place in town for a working man to get a drink. Did I ever tell you I was the last person to see Murray alive? No, it’s true. I was in there one night not long before Christmas, and it was closing time. Well, every one else had left and it was just me and Murray sitting there at the bar. We were talking about girls, you know, and finally Murray said to me: “Here, kid. Have one on the house before I shut down.”

He got up and mixed me a hot buttered rum. Then he poured himself a long scotch and we toasted the season. Then he played “White Christmas” on the jukebox and we sang along. Well sir, I put on my coat and left, and wasn’t I shocked to read in the paper the next day that he was gone? Heart attack, they said it was, and it happened maybe ten minutes after I left, but I think he just worked himself to death. Yeah, I sure miss Murray. I wouldn’t mind having him pour me one right now. I wouldn’t mind that at all.

17 minutes, 9 seconds – Okay, okay, I know I must be boring you with all these old stories. You’ve heard ‘em all before, I guess. Still, when you get to be my age, memories are about all you got left. I don’t like the way things are now. Everything’s all computerized and everybody’s being watched all the time. A man can’t take a shit or wind his watch without it’s in some database somewhere. You’re right, nobody winds a watch anymore. They’re all that digital crap now. But look there. Right over there used to be the Heartland Pawn Shop. I got my first watch right in that store. It was just an old Timex, but to a poor fellow like me, it was a big deal.

Ha, you want to hear something? My first piece of tail was the daughter of the guy that owned that joint. We were both fifteen and I didn’t know from shit about how to do it with a girl, but she sure knew what to do! Let me tell you, she broke me in good! She’d been around! She had that brown, curly hair, and those dark eyes that were so deep you could drown in ‘em. Yep, she made a man out of me, all right. If her old man had ever found out, he’d ‘a shot me! I always got a laugh out of it too. Me, a poor kid from Blair Gardens and her, a rich girl living in one of those old Victorians on Vine Street…Well, she was rich to me, anyway. She ran off, got knocked up, and married some worthless clown back in seventy-three, I think it was. One of those hippie-types, you know? Still, I spent a whole summer doing her every chance I got. Yeah, those were some damned fine days…

10 minutes, 39 seconds – Let’s head down Center Street here. I want to look at some stuff down that way. The old Woolworth’s used to be down here. It always smelled weird, but they had the best fries at their lunch counter. I used to buy stuff there sometimes. Not clothes; all the ones they had looked like old-people clothes, but I remember I bought a television there. Black and white, little twelve-inch screen, got three channels on the rabbit ears. Not like these overgrown monsters they have today. You have to be a rocket scientist just to turn ‘em on! They got remote this and high-definition that and surround-sound the other, and Jesus H. Christ knows what all. I liked it better when you just pushed one button and could sit and watch the eight o’clock movie after a hard day at work. There wasn’t any of this fiddling with remotes and programming and so on.

What do you mean, get with the times? Let me tell you: When I was your age, everybody talked about the future and progress, and all the miracles that were waitin’ just up ahead. Well, I ain’t seen no miracles! What I see these days is lazy people that won’t even go out for a walk like we’re doing. If they can’t drive where they’re going, they want no part of it. And everything is “virtual” something or other now. Nothing is real anymore. Well, if that’s your wonderful present day, you can have it! I’ll take my memories any old day!

No, I have not missed out on life! I’ve lived, bucko. I’ve had such a life, you wouldn’t believe it! Why, I’ve got a million stories I could tell! I always figured one of these days I’ll write ‘em all down in a book, y’know? It’ll probably make me rich. Of course, I’d have to get a computer to do it on, and I don’t want one of those things! Just another stupid toy for lazy kids, is all those are! Nope, maybe I’ll just dictate it and have someone write it up for me. Hell, I got plenty of time to do that.

1 minute, 9 seconds – Let’s cross over here. I think I still got a little longer before the meter runs out. I want to stop by Saint Mary’s, see if it still looks the same as when old Father Feury was the priest. Man, I remember one time Father Feury was performing a marriage, he was, and this was back when CB radios were popular –

51 seconds – Holy shit, watch where you’re driving that thi–


28 seconds – What happened? God, that hurts! It’s worse than the time I broke my collarbone! I can’t… I can’t feel…

2 seconds – What’s happening to m—

00:00:00 – Time expired.

Author bio:

David Rasey is a writer living and working in the beautiful, forested hills of New York's Southern Tier. He is forty-grumble but tries to keep his heart young and elastic. He grew up in northern Ohio, but like the Johnny Cash song, he's been everywhere, man. He primarily writes what he calls "bizarre fantasy", fables, and science fiction. He has published work previously in Literary Fever (www.literaryfever.com) and The Monsters Next Door (http://www.escape.to/tmnd), as well as a story co-authored with James Gonda at Admit2 (www.admit2.net)

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