Authors: Richard Johnson
By Richard Johnson
Copyright © 2013 by
All rights reserved.
This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner
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the use of brief quotations in a book review.
Imprint by Chicago
This is a work of
fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either
the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any
resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely
Copyright © 2013 by Richard Johnson
Cover design by Derek
Murphy of Creativindie Covers
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Table of Contents
“Hope you like sitting through first grade again,
Charlie Campbell chugged a strong rum and coke as he changed
several grades on the computer. Subbing over the summer was always a hassle,
but today’s shenanigans took the cake. However, with a little creative record
keeping, he evened the score with one tiny terror named Markus.
The balding thirty-year-old took another swig and let out a
tiny belch as his class returned from lunch. Having already dealt with
fistfights, crying episodes and missing lunch money, Charlie hoped the stiff
cocktail would get him through the afternoon. Still, he knew days like this
tended to pick up steam.
“Class, let’s get it together,” he said, flicking the lights
on and off as paper wads and curses whizzed about the room. They didn’t even
pretend to stop jacking around. In fact, they got worse, so Charlie changed
tactics. “If you’re quiet we can have recess at the end of—”
An eraser flew past his head and bounced off the chalkboard,
blanketing him with dust.
“Who threw that?”
This group was a gnat’s hair away from setting him off, but
he couldn’t complain. While it was an odd job for someone who hated kids,
Charlie loved that he could skip work whenever he wanted. Depending on the
hangover, whenever he wanted was about three times a week.
The sub fanned himself with a folder as he handed out
worksheets and wondered why the air-conditioning wasn’t working. He then
retreated to his desk to sip his drink and kick his feet up. Like most
inner-city classrooms, this deathtrap was chockfull of black mold, lead paint
and asbestos. Oddly enough, the parking lot was filled with brand-new cars.
A little boy with a stutter approached timidly and asked to
sharpen his pencil. Charlie pointed to an old electric sharpener on his desk,
and a girl shouted, “We don’t get to use that. Miss Marsh says we always
“I’ll do it.” Charlie sharpened the pencil, only to turn
around and find several students lined up behind him. He did a few more but the
line only grew longer. “This is getting ridiculous. Your pencils didn’t all
break at once.” Charlie checked over the new arrivals. “These are fine, go sit
down.” He turned to the last student in line. “Markus, I sharpened that two
“It broke.” This statement was technically correct since
Markus did break the pencil seconds after the teacher sharpened it the
“We’re done here,” Charlie said, fighting the urge to hold
his young nemesis upside down over the trash can. “Use crayons if you have to,
but I'm unplugging this.”
“I don’t have crayons,” another student said.
“Borrow one then.”
“Hey, he stole my crayon.”
Charlie glanced at his watch and noted he only had two more
hours left in that particular dump. He could handle it. Maybe.
“Teacher, I gotta make one,” a small boy wearing cornrows
“Make what, Dantel?”
The boy held his rear. “I gotta make a doodoo.”
“Me too,” added a pudgy kid with a squished face.
By this time, Markus simply had to get in on the action. “I
think I'm gonna squirt my pants.”
A dreaded bathroom trip was going to happen whether they
needed one or not because Charlie knew these kids weren’t above pissing their
pants to make him look bad.
“I want two single file lines.” He prepared for the worst.
The students pushed their way to the door, knocking books
off desks, kicking pencils across the floor and shoving each other for
“Sit back down, that’s not how you do it.” Three tries
later, the class was ready. “I want complete silence. That means no talking, no
They entered the hallway with a flood of general horseplay
and grab-assery that let Charlie know just how badly this was about to go. He
glared at Markus, who was now gyrating as if he were having a seizure. “Why are
you dancing? I mean seriously?”
“I wasn’t. If I was dancing, I’d be doing this.”
The class roared with approval as the seven-year-old popped
dance moves that would make a bar slut blush.
“Check out these moves, Mr. Campbell.”
“Just knock it off and get in line.” They arrived at the
restrooms moments later, having broken every rule in the book. Luckily, the
administrators were out golfing that day and Charlie’s lack of classroom
management would fly under the radar once again.
“Two in at a time. You have a minute.”
The first boys went in and immediately turned the hand dryer
into a beat-box. Charlie ran in to find the sinks were already clogged with
paper towels and the floor soaked.
“Get out now,” he said through clenched teeth.
All hell broke loose in the hallway as Charlie unclogged the
sink. Blood pressure rising, he came out to find a girl pinning Markus by his
throat against the wall while the other students shouted things ranging
between, “Hit that punk,” to “Get that bitch, Markus.”
He somehow managed to separate the feral children while
dodging their flailing appendages. “What happened?”
The girl’s lips began to quiver. “He said my momma’s head
look like a vegetable.”
Markus grinned. “No, I didn’t. You need to stop trippin’,
girl.” His case was hurt by the fact that he’d been caught lying approximately
twelve times that day.
Charlie sighed. It was no wonder his hair had started
falling out in clumps.
Another teacher burst into the hallway and gave him the
stink eye. “What’s going on out here? We’re trying to take a test.” She stared
down the little girl. “Don’t make me get your momma from the lunchroom.”
Charlie hoped the tirade was over, but she turned her
figurative guns on him next. “You need to get these kids under control. Runnin’
around all crazy. That’s probably why you’re still a substitute.”
“Go fuck yourself,” Charlie said.
Actually, it’s what he wanted to say instead of standing
there like a whipped dog, which is what he did. Back in his days of fast living
and no consequences, the words would have rolled off his tongue without a
second thought. Those days were long gone.
The harpy’s door slammed shut. “Damn, Mr. Campbell got
told,” Markus said, and the students lost it once again.
Charlie clenched his fists tightly and narrowly avoided
dropping the mother lode of f-bombs. “Oh, you think it’s funny Markus? Go to
the office, now! The rest of you line up. Any talking, touching, dancing or
singing and you’re joining him.”
He read them the riot act back in the classroom. “Put your
heads down and keep your mouths shut. I’m not playing. No story time, no snacks
and definitely no recess. You blew it.”
Returning to his desk, he got his phone out and found a text
message waiting from his stoner landlord.
“R u rdy to get fkd up tnite?”
Charlie Campbell’s mouth twisted into a crooked smile as he
pictured the upcoming bachelor party. He’d never been more ready for anything
in his life.
Boys’ Night Out
Charlie jumped into his rusty Ford Bronco and reached under
the front seat to grab a worn-out metal flask. “Hello, old friend,” he said and
took a healthy pull. The whiskey burned going down and he started to choke on
the ninety-degree rotgut. It was this poor attention to detail that had led to
Charlie’s station in life.
After struggling to get the truck started, he finally sped
away to the soothing rap-reggae sounds of 311 blaring out the windows. His
shitty workweek had finally drawn to a close, and it was time to make his daily
escape from the shadier part of town.
The truck soon approached the yard of the newly built, state
of the art mega-prison. It was here that Charlie carried out a daily ritual of
flipping off the inmates while honking the horn. One prisoner in particular, a
stocky, dreadlocked beast of a man, always seemed to take it personally. This
made Charlie smile because even though his own life sucked, at least he wasn’t
that guy. He hit the gas and left the stress of the day and the ominous prison
Turning his thoughts to the weekend’s festivities, he
realized his old fraternity buddies would already be at the apartment. Joining
them would be several co-workers of Blake, the groom to be.
Blake was a consistent one-upper and bullshitter, but the
fast-talking stockbroker knew how to throw a party. Unfortunately, his two sets
of friends clashed, and the volatile mix of high-class and white trash was a
powder keg ready for a spark.
Charlie jammed his truck into the narrow parking space
behind his apartment and jogged up to the old stone three-flat. He lived on the
second floor with his roommate Trent, while Smokey, their friend and owner of
the building, lived up top in an art studio.
Years earlier, Smokey had water-bonged his way out of
college and ended up in his parents’ basement. With nothing but time on his
hands and a healthy imagination, he somehow developed a knack for making art
out of junk. One morning after a mean acid trip, Smokey discovered he’d welded
a masterpiece out of a muffler, the neighbor’s mailbox and an old Schwinn
bicycle. The sculpture tastefully depicted a naked George Bush riding backwards
on a striped Zebra-corn. Art critics compared it to a Don Quixote-like vision
where the ex-president tilted at non-existent weapons of mass destruction. It
was his big break.
Sean Penn purchased the “art” for several hundred grand and
Smokey took the cash and never looked back. He used the windfall to buy the old
building and set up a studio for himself. However, the easy living stifled his
art, and he couldn’t even get off the couch, much less fire up the welder.
Cartoons, a never-ending supply of cereal and a massive stash of pot didn’t
Still, he did manage to make the apartment eco-friendly with
some renovations and was now bringing in steady rent checks.
At the moment, the long-haired burnout focused on finishing
off an expertly-rolled joint on his front porch. He didn’t even notice the
police cruiser roll up. A portly officer came towards him and pointed angrily.
“Is that a joint I see, scumbag?”
“Sherlock Holmes, I presume?” Smokey blew a stream of smoke
into the officer’s face and then winked at Charlie as he came up the stairs.
“Well?” The cop took off his dark aviator glasses with a
flourish, and it was obvious he had practiced the maneuver quite often.
Smokey took another drag. “You tell me.”
“It is a joint, and it’s my last one, asshole,” the cop
Smokey made a half-baked apology to the man, who happened to
be Charlie’s roommate, Trent. “My bad. I thought there was some left in the
Trent glared at his friend. “There was. That’s the one
you’re smoking right now, douche.”
“And this is why you’re the worst fucking landlord in the
city,” Trent said.
“And you’re the worst cop in the city.”
“Point taken. But you can get back in my good graces by
scoring some blow. These strippers aren’t gonna bang us for our good looks.” He
pointed to Charlie. “This guy knows what I’m talking about.”
“Fine. I'll call Julio. Man you’re a pain in the ass.”
“Remember, no laced shit or I’ll nab your buddy for walking
while Puerto Rican. Last time I thought clowns were chasing me, and you know I
hate clowns.” Trent jumped back in the cruiser. “Anyways, text and let me know
where to go. I've got two
on call, so make sure people save some
The police radio crackled.
“I gotta jet. Don't forget to buy that shit.” He flipped on
his lights and pulled away, wondering why his friend was such a mooch.
“Fuckin' pig,” Smokey said while turning to Charlie. “Like I
didn’t know it was his last joint.”
Charlie laughed. “I figured. Who’s here?”
“Blake and some of his friends. Plus Jim.”
“His wife let him come after all?”
“Yep. Other than that, Gay Mike and Left-Nut made it. Oh,
and Big Rob's here. He took a massive dump and clogged your toilet, by the
Charlie groaned. “God damn it. This isn’t the first time
he’s done that.”
“And it reeks like a dead skunk.” Smokey flicked his roach
into the garden below, forgetting he would have to pick it up later.
Big Rob greeted them at the door and then turned back
inside. “Charlie's here, so stop wiping your asses on his pillow.” The bearded,
six foot six mixed-martial artist donned a beer helmet packing Jack Daniels on
one side and Coke on the other. He pulled a straw from his mouth with a hand
the size of a catcher's mitt before asking, “Want a pull, muchacho?”
“I'm gonna get changed first,” Charlie said.
He got several high-fives on his way past the living room
bar and noted that drinking games were already in full swing. The host got
dressed and finally joined the party.
A skinny white-haired rogue approached and handed Charlie a
can of ice-cold beer. “Long time no see.”
“Hey, Left-Nut, how's it hangin'?”
“Like usual, massive and right down the middle.”
His name was Matt Tucker but nobody had called him that in
years. The story was that Matt had been riding a bike during a thunderstorm
when a lightning strike made him crap his pants, turned his hair white and
caused one of his testicles to burst. And so Left-Nut was born.
As Charlie cracked open his beer, another friend known
affectionately as Gay Mike walked over from the kitchen, grinning from ear to
ear. “Hey, sexy, it's about time you showed up. I've been waiting to do some
Gay Mike set down a blue bottle of Reposada and two shot
glasses on the table. The veterinarian wasn’t gay by any means, but did have an
odd habit of making comments with homosexual undertones. Like Left-Nut, the
nickname had stuck.
“It’s a little early for tequila… ah, what the hell. I think
I’ll have mine in the glass, though. How are the animals treating you?” Charlie
“I can't complain. I’m making good money and my hours are
cake.” Gay Mike leaned in. “How are the animals treating
Charlie chuckled. “Not good. I think my blood pressure’s
skyrocketing. It’s like they always know exactly how to piss me off and then do
“You should seriously find something else to do. I could
hire you as a vet tech.”
“Yeah, sure,” Charlie said as his eyes glazed over.
“Anyways, back to me. We
got a new assistant last week who is a total smoke-show. She knows it, too,”
Mike said. “I think she's caught me staring at her tits like five times
“Shit, maybe I should work for you.”
“She reminds me of that chick you nailed in college. I can't
remember the name, you know the softball player with the—”
“Carrie Evans,” Charlie said wistfully, remembering better
“That chick was hot. She was in my psych class, and I
couldn't concentrate because I had a boner the whole time. Those were the days,
man. You could fall out of a boat and land in pussy back then.”
Charlie nodded. “Now I’d be lucky to hit water.”
There was some yelling from the bathroom. “Who clogged the
shitter? It looks like someone tried to flush a dead rabbit.”
“Damn, I forgot.” Charlie slammed the shot and headed for
the kitchen cabinet. He returned a minute later with purple rubber gloves and a
plunger, ready to battle the unholy beast.
Big Rob was currently
shirtless in the living room and rapping to an old Tupac song. His arms were
still massive, but his gut was now equally impressive. He paused his
performance. “Be careful in there, last night was two for one Whoppers at
Charlie emerged moments later and gasped for air. “Jesus,
it’s like you gave birth to Rosemary’s baby in there.”
“I'll go in the yard next time if you want.”
Charlie pictured the old lady on the first floor having a
coronary. “Just use a courtesy flush for God's sake. The bathroom smells like a
damned nursing home. You need to start eating more fiber or something. It’s
like you literally crapped an entire ham. Intact.”
“I’m on the no carb diet.” He patted his substantial belly.
“Nothing but meat.”
The sight of another friend coming from the kitchen with a
cigar in one hand and a glass of wine in the other caught Charlie’s attention.
“Right when I thought Mike was the queerest guy I knew, you show up drinking
wine at a bachelor party.”
Jim, Charlie’s best friend from childhood, pulled up a seat.
“Gay? I’m not the one wearing purple gloves, faggot.”
Charlie nodded. “Touché. Still… wine? Getting all
sophisticated on us?”
“What? I like wine. I always have and—”
“Oh come on, your wife wants you to drive home tonight,
doesn't she?” Charlie knew something was up. Jim was ready for a church potluck
and everyone else was liable to piss on the couch.
“Cindy knows how we act when we get together. She might be a
bitch, but she’s not stupid.”
Of course his wife was right. The average intelligence of
the group dropped five points every time another one entered the room, and
would go down five more every hour they spent together. By the end of the night
there would be a bunch of slack-jawed idiots trying to hump or fight anything
not nailed to the ground.
Rob jumped in. “She’ll have big dongs waving in her face
tonight so you might as well cut loose too.” It was sound advice, even if it
did come from a sweaty and shirtless ogre sporting a beer helmet.
Jen, Blake's gorgeous fiancée, was having her party across
town, and most of the group’s significant others would be attending. The girls
were actually going to see a transvestite fashion show and finish the night off
at a dance club — tame compared to what their men had in mind.
The bachelor noticed the discussion and saw the glass of
wine. “This ain’t a book club. Get this pussy a shot of Wild Turkey.” Blake
made gobbling noises and flapped his arms.
Peer pressure could be a
bitch even for thirty-year-olds, and Jim saw the looks he was getting from his
friends. “Fine, but someone's taking my car keys and I don't wanna know who.”
Charlie had a huge smile
on his face as he went for the Wild Turkey in the freezer. The shenanigans had