Archive for July 12th, 2011


Short Story: A Visit From Lenny

Lenny came creeping in the bar in a gigantic coat with the collar up and an old baseball cap pulled down so low I barely recognised him.

His head jerked awkwardly as he scanned the room like it was attached to him with a series of gears that were grinding and cracking under the strain.

For a second he looked like he was about to turn tail and bolt back into the street, half the bar was already staring at him, trying to catch a glimpse of his face and see if it looked anywhere near as dirty and destitute as the rest of him.

His nerves got the better of him eventually and he leapt back into the street, disappearing completely into the shadows and the ventilation-shaft smoke.

A minute later, he bounded back through the entrance, crossed the room in a weird half-shuffling, half-skipping motion and perched at the far end of the bar where he fumbled with a box of matches for nearly a full minute and then lit the wrong end of his cigarette.

I finished pouring the draught I was busy with, slid it down the bar counter to Joe and his cronies and went to say hi to Lenny.

“Hi Lenny,” I said.

“Sam!” he replied, “S-Sam, my man, my main man, Sammy-Sam, Calamity Sam, heh heh…”

“You got out?”

“Yep. Yepyepyep. Yessir. Heh. Free’s a bird Sammy-Sam,” he said and lapsed into a violent coughing fit.

“You’re smoking the wrong end, Len. Here,” I said, taking his smoke and showing him, “see?”

“Heh! I see it, I see it man, I see it… S’ok, happens all a the time! All a the time!” he said, laughing apologetically. “Umm… you don’t happen to err…”

“Here,” I said, taking a smoke from my pocket and lighting it for him. He took it from me delicately, with the fingers from both his hands, like he was holding a tiny recorder or a flute or something.

He smoked for a bit and chewed his thumb nail horizontally between his two front teeth. I watched him cast anxious, jerky glances over his shoulder at every person in the bar. Not one of them so much as took a sip without Lenny’s skittish eyes fixing on them.

“You got a plan this time Len?” I asked him.

“Hm?” he said, his attention snapping back on me.

“You got a plan?”

“Ooh I gotta plan Sammy, I gotta plan you bet your fucking ass I gotta plan,” he said and laughed nervously, “I been hearing stories, everyone saying the same things, all a them, which makes it true.”

“What stories?”

Lenny suddenly grew quiet. He cast a quick jerky glance over his shoulder and leaned in a little closer.

“Big Bad stories,” Lenny said, “Big Bad stories.”

“Ah Jesus Len,” I said.

“Nononono Sammy, you don’t understand!”

I looked at Lenny, his fucking eyes twitching, red as road maps and sunken deep, too deep into their black sockets. I looked at his motley beard, uneven from the hairs he’d either pulled out or twisted into hard knots all over his starved, pallid face. His cracked lips, his yellowing teeth, his fin-bone nose.

I looked at Lenny, my oldest friend, but I barely recognised him.

“They said you were getting better,” I said.

“I am! Much, much, much, much better! Better ‘nuff to pull the ol’ switcheroo, the ol’ Cansas City shuffle and get the fucking FUCK outta there Sammy-Sam!”

“Alright Lenny, calm down.”

“Better ‘nuff to give em the slip, heh heh! Because I think…” Lenny suddenly grew serious, “there’s truth in the stories, Sam. Really. I do.”

I’d regret it later, but I had to know.

“What stories?” I asked.

Lenny leaned closer.

“There’s a guy in there. Santos. Hardly fuckin’ speaks a WORD!” Lenny said, spitting a little in my eye. “But he speaks to me. When the others aren’t watching and they switch the bugs off, y’know?”

I nodded.

“WELL! Turns out he knows, Sammy! He knows about Big Bad! Where he comes from! Says he worked for his fucking family! His fucking family! When Big Bad was just a fucking kid Sammy!”

“Lenny, I’m calling the bin, I’m sorry…”

“Nononononononono! Sammy! Wait!” Lenny said, gripping my arm, “Don’t do that, please, don’t.”

Something in his voice made me stop. I turned to look at Lenny, he’d stopped shaking and twitching. His eyes had stopped rolling around endlessly in his skull and there was a tiny glimmer, underneath the broken shell sitting across the bar, of my old friend.

“I’m going there,” he said to me with total and utter conviction, “I’m going to find his family.”

“And that’s going to make it better?” I asked him and no sooner had I said the words than he exploded with shrill, manic laughter.

“What do YOU think Sammy-Sam! Heh heh heh heh, what the fuck DO YOU THINK?!”

He stubbed his cigarette and pulled his collar back up, his head jerking as he scanned the room one last time.

“I’m getting better Sammy-Sam,” he said, “not much longer and I’ll be the old Leonard we all used to love.”

“Goodbye Lenny,” I said, but he’d already taken off disappearing like smoke into the smoke.


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I went home after that, drank half a bottle of grain whisky and tried to pass out, but sleep wouldn’t come.

I couldn’t shake Lenny from my mind, babbling like they all do about the place Big Bad comes from and how they know someone who knows someone who swears they knew Big Bad when he was a kid, harmless as any other, climbing trees, scraping his knees, making mud pies.

They’re stories told by babbling idiots, wretched basterds that all have one thing in common: what Big Bad did to them.

So they make up stories about the man, a hundred different kinds of bullshit and they hang for everything it’s worth onto the last shreds of sanity they have left because they can’t bare the truth.

That he has no family. No past. Not even a real name.

That we have it on pretty good authority that Big Bad was spat straight out of hell onto this Earth a thousand, thousand years ago and will exist for a thousand thousand more.

But it’s not that thought that keeps me up. I’m too old and powerless to ever be of any interest to a man like Big Bad.

It’s the memory of how I found Lenny, holding them to him, his head buried in the bloodied curls of their blond hair.