Bert’s Knees

“Hey!”

Billy yelled across the waiting room as Bert emerged through the mechanical hospital door.

Although the surgery happened just a mere 48 hours prior, Bert was required to use a cane to practice his walking upright (“…as best you can,” Yolanda explained as they were preparing his discharge papers. “It will look wrong, it will feel wrong, and, honey, it will BE wrong. But just let it be wrong. People get lazy on crutches. You are young. You need to practice living without them.”).

His walk was more of a stagger. Bert’s left leg was strong and fully intact. Before going into surgery, Bert made the claim that he would at least have one of his legs, “…to support the girth, if you know what I mean.”

“Hey…Night of the Living Dead…you really need to work on your pimp stroll if you’re gonna make any money again.”

According to Billy, the “everybody’s All-American”-turned-town drunk who blamed all of his inadequacies on an injury sustained during a JV football game 20 years prior, Bert’s kneecap was “blown the fuck off.”

“Dude,” Billy said, “I go by William now. We… (looks peripherally to the right, leaning towards his wife, and, according to Billy’s friends, “a true ball buster,” Carlene), “…put Billy to sleep a long time ago. Not that he doesn’t rear his ugly face every now and then when in Rome, if you know what I mean.”)

At one time, Billy tacked “if you know what I mean,” to most of his final thoughts. He aspired to be a “catch phrase” comedian. Since everyone loved Billy (“such a neat kid,” his former teacher, Mrs. Siming would tell people as he pushed the dust broom around her room at the end of each school day), no one was willing to tell this “special” man that this catch-phrase was unoriginal and burned out. As a result of so many people blowing smoke up his ass for so long, Billy believed their feigned laughter. His comic ego was eventually brought to a halt upon the severe heckling by a mob of drunken fraternity brothers who happened to be in the crowd at his first and only open-mic night. At one time so blinded by his ego, Billy’s response to this heckling would eventually lead him to full-scale alcoholic binges and eventual (literal) blindness.


Billy’s binges were affecting his communication skills. The odd thing was when they affected his communications skills. He was able to speak, but most people did not understand his slurring monologues he would bombard newcomers with during his nightly visits at “The Tavern.”

(added 10/17/19)

When Billy was heavily inebriated, which was most of the time, his enunciation was clear, his inflections were sharp, especially when reciting his poetry.

“The Tavern” was the only bar left in walking distance to Billy’s home that had not permanently banned him for this behavior. Partly due to lack of clientele and partly due to Clint, the owner/bartender, who didn’t give a fuck and let Billy converse with whomever he wanted as long as he wasn’t driving off customers on the nights when Clint really needed the money.

“The blue fields were full of moonlight,” Billy began. “Actually, they were just corn fields. Ordinary average corn fields that stood tall in lines down the length of two football fields.”

Clint usually eavesdropped on most of Billy’s monologues because, as Clint put it, “they are actually pretty interesting, albeit kinda fucked up and all over the place. You never know what you are gonna get.”

Clint was also impressed at Billy’s technique of getting others to buy him drinks.

“That motherfucker doesn’t even need to ask,” Clint would tell his part-time bartender, Antonio. “You just watch him some night. I don’t know how he does it. People won’t want to listen, then they will find themselves not being able to control their eavesdropping. They will buy him drinks to continue his tirades or they will buy him drinks just to shut his rambling ass up. Regardless, that talking motherfucker will leave out of this place totally blitzed and never have to open his wallet once.”

“The tall green stalks,” Billy continued, “loomed high above the broken soil where they had once sprung up.”

Billy raised his hand as far as he could reach then flattened the palm towards his head in an attempt to physically describe what he was talking about.

“The blue-yellow moonlight tinted the fields like a transparent blanket being thrown across the goddamn stalks.”

Clint pushed a freshly poured glass of beer across the bar in front of Billy.

“Thank you, my boy,” Billy responded. “Now where the hell was I at?”

“You were talking about how the moonlight looked like a blanket,” Clint replied.

“Oh yes.” Billy pinched the bridge of his nose, took a swig of beer, and continued, “Light fog slowly filled gaps strewn between each row. Various critters…snakes and the like…made their ways through the rows. This was the only time they could run fearlessly free without being shot or dying at the blade of the farmer’s hoe. The night were their time to move. By moonlight still and fog so dense the creatures of the night did lurk!”

Clint looked bewildered.

“Is that it?”

“What do you mean ‘is that it’?”

“Is that it, you fuckin’ drunk?”

The voice was far from feminine. Familiar patrons referred to it as “witchy.” A cackly, cough laugh filled the room followed by a fart loud enough to silence the drunken mumbles of the late night crowd.

Billy stopped and craned his neck to the right, trying to scann through the haze of both his brain and the smoky room.

“Is that you, Mildred? You fuckin’ hag.”

The cackle cough continued.

“By God,” Billy said, stutter stepping towards the nearest booth. He composed himself and walked towards the laugh. “By God, it is you, you goddamn witch. You grotesque excuse of a human being.”

The laugh continued loudly, the quickly fell to a muffled titter of high pitch and guttural sounds projected from her nostrils.

As Billy staggered danced his way to the bar, Clint moved to the side and followed up with his previous question with a comment.

“Nice, one, lady,” Clint said, poking his elbow into Mildred’s shoulder.

Mildred’s laughing ceased. The sound resembled that of a record needle scratching its entrance into the exit of a song.

“Beg pardon, son,” Mildred rasped. Her left eye was partially closed. No one knew the history of this deformity, but nobody (except maybe Billy) had the nerve to ask.

Clint smiled, then chuckled, then snorted, then…

“ugggghhhhhhhhh”

Mildred had Clint by the balls. Literally. Clint’s eyes were rolled back as he stiffened in pain. From afar, one would think Clint was either having a seizure or an orgasm.

“Beg…PARDON…son??”

Mildred stepped into Clint. While her right hand clenched both testicles as a good portion of what Clint would later describe as “halfway up my goddamn asshole, man. A whole goddamn nail up my ass. And I was wearing jeans, man!”

Mildred loosened one ball as her right eye glared directly into Clint’s. He let out a scream followed by what Clint said was a fart, but was later described by his ride home to be a “blood shart”.

Mildred’s cackle returned as she loosened the remaining pressure as stepped away.


(Flashback)

Episode 2: “Billy’s Present”

Billy –

19 years old. Insecure.

Father (Herman) leaves Billy with stepmother (Janine) when he goes on the road for work. (Herman is a contract trucker with a taste for speed, and not just acceleration.)

Mother died when he was 6. He was an outcast from school and peers ever since her death.

His older brother (Moe is 23 years old) abuses him and is having an affair with stepmother. Moe is a mall cop.

Janine (Stepmother)

Bible toter (for optics only). Hypocrite. Actually hates the world, but loves cocaine and sex with random men, including her stepson, who is 15 years younger, when his father is on. the road.

“BILLY!!!!!”

Janine’s voice pierced the neighborhood silence.

“You are NINETEEN years old!!! You just can’t go around life without help from the ALLLL MIGHTY himself.”

Janine was, by some definition, an extremist when it came to her religious beliefs. His dad said Billy was “kinda slow” when it came to “God’s glory” or “the Almighty power of Jesus.”

“Billy, now I want you to go upstairs and bow down on your hands and knees with the up-most (utmost) sincerity. And I want you to think about what our Almighty Father shows you.”


(flashback)

Episode 3: “Billy and Turtly”

Billy goes camping with a schoolmate (Herbie)

As they are fishing, Billy finds a box turtle near near a tree. He decides to keep it, even though he is told not to bring any more animals into the house, but he accidentally kills it on the ride home.

(Draft #1 – 8/8/19 / revisions – 1/17/20 and 5/20/20)

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