It's an ordinary day in The Hole.
Me and Ash are walking downtown heading for the arcade when up the street we see Benny Smudan’s big orange fro poking out from the stoop in front of the Hotel. Why he was hanging by the tavern and not at the arcade I couldn’t tell. He was all by himself, looking all covert-op like he was hiding something.
Smudan looks over and sees us coming. So he starts bumbling our way all handicapped, cradling the front of his dirty hoodie like he’s got something heavy in there.
When he gets to us he says ‘S’up?’ all sneak-ass and we say ‘Nuttin. Jus on our way to Bob’s.’ Then the sneaky turd pulls a 60 of whiskey from under his sneaky sweater.
‘You guys wanna like buy this?’ he asks all dumb and stoned. You could tell he’d been smoking shit because his eyes were pink and glazy and stupid. You could always tell with him because he’s just one of those people. Where you can always tell.
So me and Ash look at each other with brain damaged faces because we knew Benny hadn’t been at home to’ve ripped booze from his mom. And we knew Benny wouldn’t be peddling booze he’d paid for.
We were wondering what the deal was. So we ask the guy ‘Where the hell’d ya get that from?’ although it’s not hard to score booze if we want it.
I was thinking Smuddy might’ve ripped the old guy again. The old drunk guy. The one who lives in the apartments above the arcade. I don’t know his name, but Old Drunk Guy used to make booze runs for us until he went nuts and drove down Main Street pointing a rifle out the window of his prehistoric pickup while yelling, ‘Lil bastards punked ma sauce!’ So I wanted to know if I should be ducking to avoid whizzing bullets.
But ripping off Old Drunk Guy would be a lot of trouble for nothing because now we got Permafry’s uncle to make runs for us. We just have to hang out and drink with the guy, and arm wrestle him when he gets all licked up, and listen to stories about people’s asses he kicked fifty years ago and how he’s only got one nut, and watch him punch the air and do drunk karate with his shadow. Permafry’s uncle has the same hairdo as Shakespeare, bald on top, long at the back. It’s pretty bad-ass.
Sneaky Smuddy puts the bottle back under his hoodie that smells like a wet dishrag left in the bottom of the sink for two weeks. Then he asks for a smoke. I told him I didn’t have any even though I did. I didn’t want to give the bum a smoke because he’d been bumming off me a lot that week. So Ash gave him one because he can afford to be a cigarette dispenser.
Smuddy grabs the smoke and lights it with his own lighter. The bum always had a lighter but never his own smokes. Then he takes this dramatic choke-haul and says ‘I broke into the liquor store. Gak.’
At first I didn’t believe him because he’s always so full of smud. But I didn’t tell him that, so I just hovered there thinking about how the huge bottle sticking out from his gut made him look like he ate a 60 for lunch. The guy was pretty much advertising by standing like that on Main Street for everybody to see, all sly with his carrot fro and shifty eyes and short-slurpy drags from a donated smoke, his beak pecking around like a sneaky rooster glancing through and around us as though we weren’t there in front of him.
He would always do that, try to act all hardcore and smarter than what he is. Smuddy was no master criminal. But he was too simple to know he was simple so you had to forgive the guy when you let yourself get trapped in arguments about how an orthodontist is some part of the female reproductive system. ‘So when I go to the orthodontist to have my braces tightened I must have to crawl inside a vagina,’ I’d say to the guy. No effect. The orthodontist is located somewhere next to the Filipino tubes. Look it up.
Now from what I could tell when Smuddy showed me and Ash the 60 it hadn’t been cracked. I did think that was kinda weird since I’d’ve suspected the orange-afroed pigeon to’ve dranken some before trying to sell. But the bottle hadn’t been cracked, so I just figured Smuddy’d ripped another 60 off Old Drunk Guy and didn’t crack it this time because he was on the run, because he might’ve more needed the money, because Smudan breaking into a liquor store didn’t add up. Me and Jeremy’d reconned the liquor store more than a few times. We’d decided not to burn it because we could tell by the magnetic strip running along the window rim that there’s an alarm. So I couldn’t believe Smuddy burned it because he’d never burned anything with us before and he was always so very full of feces. But that uncracked 60.
So me or Ash ask, ‘When the hell’d you burn it?’ and the guy grunts, ‘Burnt it las night.’
As dumb as the G-Spot police are, I’m sure they would’ve been keeping an eye out the day after a liquor store burn for anything suspicious. They might consider some dirt-ass kid pregnant with a bottle of booze on Main Street in broad daylight a person of note.
I’m pretty sure I wasn’t in town the night of the first liquor store burn. Or else I’d’ve known about it.
And I knew Benny wasn’t testicular enough to do a burn like that all by himself. So I asked the guy, ‘Who the hell’d you do it with?’ trying to get more info out of him. But Simple Smuddy was more focused on his wares.
‘So do ya wan it?’ he kept saying all whispery while doing some noodle-necked air peck. ‘Thirty bucks, eh guy? A 60’s more like— more (peck)— like (peck)— double that (peck peck).’ He kept scoping up and down the street, taking these jerky drags and saying ‘C’mon guy, c’mon, I don’t got all day’ while glancing through and around me and Ash.
Smuddy thought Smuddy was pretty hardcore. I’ll bet he never changed his underwear the whole few weeks he was on the run.
And I didn’t want any of the Skid-man’s booze. I was just interested in finding who the guy’d done the burn with. Of course Jer came to mind. So I asked Skiddy, ‘You burn it with Itch?’ But he just kept saying ‘C’mon guy, c’mon’ and was getting pretty annoying.
So finally I said to him ‘N’yah, I don’t want it right now,’ so he says ‘C’maaaaan,’ in his extra-whiney voice he does. ‘I’ll sell it to you’s fer cheap. 25— 25— c’man, HEY— 25.’ But I told him I didn’t have that kinda cash and said ‘maybe later’ to get him off my case. I do that a lot.
Skiddy’s interest in me went flaccid pretty fast because he knows by now I got no money ever. So when he started focusing his pitch on Ash, saying with this big lame smirk ‘I know YOU have the cash, Mr. Moneybags,’ I decided I wanted to go find Itch.