by Herr Rudolphus der Rude
Johnny Boy was having trouble sleeping again. He never
slept well on the eve of a job. He also never slept well
when he was drunk. " Shit, " he said sleepily, " Shit. "
He lay drowsing lightly on the mattress by the window,
oblivious to the puddle of cheap wine on his chest. He was
only half asleep. His mind had slipped into that
freewheeling state that comes with light sleep and
drunkenness, but his eyes were open. He watched the gold
neon sign of " The Spot " flash on and off across the street
from his second floor room.
" I rob dem once, " he mumbled in his mind. His lips
mumbled incoherent snores. " Robbdem - sometime."
He pictured an ashen faced bartender handing him a huge
roll of bills after he'd shot four bottles of scotch off the
shelves in front of the mirror. He chuckled in his throat.
Sometime - when ? Who cares ?
A small lizard poked its head around the side of the
window frame. A small gold lizard.
" Hi! " said Johnny Boy, " Howya doin'? Wanna drink? "
The lizard looked at him disinterestedly - cocking its
head over to one side. It flicked its tongue out, then
slowly sucked it back in, like a fisherman reeling in a bass
Johnny Boy groped under his mattress and pulled out a
.32 automatic. " Hey lizard! " He chuckled, " Hey lizard,
gimme you gold, huh? "
The lizard flicked out its tongue again.
" Look man, lizard, I mean you gotcha plenny gold -
gimme little bit. Gotta keep me this hole crawl into, wine
make me happy, hokay? "
The lizard smiled, vaguely amused.
" I mean, Johnny Boy, he never ask much, never hurt
nobody -- great guy, nice guy, love everone -- Why don't he
ever get him gold? Have fine foxes and pretty birds and
Johnny Walker Scotches and Black Satin Suit? Huh?? "
The lizard yawned.
" Shit man, Fuck you! " Johnny Boy pulled the trigger.
The hammer clicked down on an empty chamber. " Shit fuck "
Johnny swore without heat, looking down the barrel as he
pulled back the slide on the small pistol. " Shit fuck "
Johnny Boy fumbled groggily under the mattress and
pulled out a dirty green cardboard box. " Remington! " said
the box in screaming red letters, " .32 ACP! "
Johnny Boy opened the box and took out eight of the
small cylinders with one rounded end and rolled them
uncertainly in his hand. " Shit fuck " he breathed.
The lizard looked in at him. A slow flush of red spread
through its gold colored skin. It puffed out its cheek
pouches and grew larger.
" Yeah, Fuck you! Think you smart shit, huh? "
Johnny Boy was trying to remember how to release the catch
that held the magazine in the pistol. He mechanically pushed
and pulled each protrusion on the pistol. " Fuck you, smart
The lizard's head bloated larger. It was now a bright
orange and filled the lower half of the window.
Johnny Boy finally hit the button that dropped the
magazine into his lap. He had put the cartridges down to
fumble with the catch and they rolled around loose on his
mattress. " Shit fuck, " he said as he picked them out of
his dirty wool blanket, " Shit fuck. "
The lizard cocked its head and peered in at him with an
eye the size of a cantaloupe. Its head was cherry red and
evil looking triangular teeth showed around its serrated
lips. It smiled. It flicked its long purple tongue out
lazily and reeled it back in. Small laugh lines appeared
around its eyes. A private chuckle rumbled in its throat.
" You sonabitch, whatta fuck you doin'? -- Smartass,
huh? " Johnny Boy sat pushing .32 shells into the magazine.
" Sonabitchin smartass. "
The chameleon's bloodshot yellow eye filled the window.
Its skin was a deep red. Johnny Boy finished loading the
magazine and pushed it back into the pistol.
" Show you, smartass, " he mumbled, " Show you. "
The lizard turned so that all that could be seen of it
through the window was a triangular smile of mouth. The
mouth opened and a long muscular purple tongue flicked
lazily through the window and wrapped around Johnny Boy's
" Aw fuck man, whatta ya doin'? Gimme break, huh?
Johnny Boy was trying to free his left hand from the sticky
tongue so that he could chamber a round in the pistol.
" Waitta minute, huh? Fuck man, gimme break, huh? "
Johnny Boy pulled his hand free as the purple tongue
drew him back toward the yawning toothy hole. He worked the
slide on the pistol slowly and disinterestedly as he
disappeared into the lizard's mouth. " Shit man - whatta
fuck? Shit - Huh? "
The lizard swallowed. A lump traveled down its throat.
A muffled explosion bulged its cheek pouches for an instant.
Smoke drifted slowly out of its nostrils. It belched, then
" Goddamn old wino! " She was saying. " Goddamn old wino
drink hisself to death in my clean room! " She was a small
skinny crone of a woman in a dusty brown sweater and a
colorless bun of hair. The sweater was covered with fuzz
The policeman nodded as she spoke. The morgue
attendants carried out the foul smelling plastic bag that
contained the fermenting collection of organic chemicals
which had a week before been all that Johnny Boy could half
honestly call his own.
" Take the damn wine bottle with the damn wino! " she
said, gingerly picking the bottle off the stained and evil
smelling mattress and, with two fingers, placing it on the
She had noticed a stronger odor than usual in her
building that morning, and after finding the source of the
evil smell, she'd taken the pistol down to her room and then
called the police.
" Goddamn wino! Now gotta clean the damn room. " she
said as she ushered the policeman out and closed the door.
" Clean damn room, clean damn mattress - Damn old wino! "
A cockroach eyed her from the doorframe as she locked
the door. She flicked out her long purple tongue and nailed
it as it tried to scurry into the protection of the door
crack. The police officer flicked out his tongue an instant
too late and it tangled untidily with hers as she slowly
sucked in the roach.
" Sorry, " said the policeman, " Sorry. "
author's note: I wrote this in the eighth grade, (1963) .I recently came across it in an old schoolbook, This is the style of stuff I intended to writem before things got so political here.