A Cut-up Life By Patrick McDermid [PREVIOUS PAGE] [NEXT PAGE] [Texts Index]


Part 6: Not A Square John


Blurry and Don and I are sitting in the front room listening to the stereo and drinking coffee. Suddenly there emerges into our presence a balding middle aged man.

"Hi Bob." said Don, obviously recognizing him from somewhere. "Bob runs the furniture business downstairs." explains Don. The alleged "furniture business", as far as I can tell, involves the irregular late night appearances of a pick up truck with serious muffler problems and the loading and unloading of large nondescript boxes. Bob looks us over and launches into a disjointed monologue:

"No kidding, there are all sorts of horny middle-aged women who get turned on by young guys like you....It'll be a party, I swear... 70% coke, no kidding, and all the booze you can drink..."

His speech is slurred, and he keeps pausing, knitting his brow and searching for words with obvious effort. I casually reach over to the coffee table and depress the record button on the miniature tape recorder. Bob doesn't seem to notice.

"And listen, I am not... a square John man. This operation is on the up and up. All you gotta do... Y'know, put on a wig, some high heels... do a little dance..."

Blurry was beginning to get the gist of what Bob was suggesting. He stood up and struck your standard indignant pose: both hands scrunched into fists and placed firmly on his hips.

"Do you run a male prostitution ring or something? It all sounds pretty disgusting if you ask me." he says. An uncomprehending, worried look flashes over Bob's face. He is so screwed up that he doesn't realize where he is or who he's talking to.

"You better leave now." continues Blurry, making an effort to sound authoritative. Bob compliantly backs out of the front room and out the door, a pitiful lost expression on his face. I immediately play back the tape recording. We laugh at how absurd the whole thing sounds: His drunk voice droning on... I start thumbing the rewind and play buttons in quick succession, creating an interesting loop effect:

"I am not... a Square John... I am not... a Square John... I am not... a Square John..." It has a sort of lyrical quality, a mantra of desperate entreaty. Did we say he was a square John? Is that what his whole mysterious performance was all about: to prove that he was not a Square John?

I keep looping the phrase for another couple of minutes. It seems that with each repetition the phrase reveals deeper layers of meaning. This voiceprint; this sample of speech is the clarified essence of a man's soul. The D.N.A of his Psyche. His karmic mission is to walk the earth in a constant desperate effort to disprove the pronouncement laid down on him by a cruel dispassionate world:

"I am not...a Square John..."


Creative Writing with
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