The Critics

by Liam Scheff
7 of 15×15

critic

“So, this kind of chunky Matt-Damon looking dude in a short-sleeve button-down white shirt with like, a Bible in his hand is walking with his butt-buddy, and I realize these are Morons, or whatever.”

“Mormons.”

“Right, and one of them goes to knock on Julie Assinski’s door, and I say, ‘Good luck with that one, Father! The only way she’s getting through the pearly gates is if you close her legs for five minutes!” Stevie laughs hysterically in his insane hyena laugh. This is how he likes to behave in public, and why I didn’t want to go to Target with him.

“They’re not priests, Steve-o. They’re, like… I dunno. Missionaries.”

“Oh, yeah, right…missionaries. For the…missionary position!”

“Stevie,” I’m gonna say. “Can you shut the fuck up in here? There are people around.” But before I can ask, he’s onto his favorite topic.

“Yo, Dougie, you see that Avengers movie?”

“Avengers 4? No.”

“Yo, dude. That shit was fucked up.”

“Steve, can we just get the diapers. I gotta get home to Molly.”

“Shit man! It’s like a nigga can’t hang out with his homies no more!”

He says this as we walk by this old black dude in his thick-rimmed glasses, who looks at me. So I tip my baseball hat, like, “Sorry, he’s an asshole,” and I say, “Steve, we’re both Polish-Irish. Don’t get us into a fight again.”

“Dude. You got to relax. Being married-like is bad for you doin’ you.”

I don’t argue, I just stop talking hoping it shuts him up.

Johnny is out of the city trying to make some money cutting trees and hauling dirt. Somerville has been doing this urban gardens project because everybody ran out of food last year, and the city had to take out a loan from the Fed to buy bread, cheese and potatoes. Then some of the Greenies in the assembly said, “We’ve got vacant lots, backyards, schoolyards, playgrounds and rooftops to spare. We can grow our own fucking potatoes.”

So all of Somerville has been on a gardening tear. But its disrupted traffic, and now, like you’d expect, all the Irish and Polish and Brazilians and whoever else has more than 15 or 20 guys in a crew are claiming rights over this patch of potatoes and squash or that one, depending on what side of the street it falls on.

The police don’t want to get involved, because they got their own problems, what with nothing to do with pot being totally legal now, they’ve got to make their shake-down money some other way, which has pushed them to the slavers.

Then Stevie says outta nowhere, “That fucking Scarlett Johansson, man I want to choke her to death while I fuck her right in that satiny pillow asssss…”

I’m like a foot taller than Stevie, so I grab him by his shitty jean jacket and bear down on him, and I say real tough, “Steve, you better shut the fuck up, man. We’re out in fucking public, and this isn’t Mac’s or your ma’s or the shithole you live in, so have some fucking respect.” I let him go and keep pushing the cart. Steve turns his head away, but he’s still half-laughing, the little fucking cut-up.

“Yeah, okay Dougie…big Doug, you don’t gotta get tough. I’m just talking about a movie man. Man! You gettin’ pussy or what?” I don’t answer, because I don’t know which of the two questions he’s asking.

“Just get to the movie. What’s your problem with Scarlett Johansson.”

“Okay. Okay – Okay – see? Now you’re askin’ the right question. Now you’re talking, Dougie. Okay, so. Name a Scarlett Johansson movie that you remember. Don’t take 10 minutes – just answer. Name a Scarlett Johansson movie.”

I think for a minute and kind of hit a wall. “Well.”

“Well?”

“Okay, well obviously Avengers, Avengers 2, Avengers 3. She’s in Avengers 4, right?”

“Yeah, she’s in Avengers 4. So name a movie that she’s in besides Avengers.”

“Stevie, this is stupid.”

“No! You see? You can’t. You can’t do it.”

“No, I guess I can’t. I don’t know. She’s in movies, like… I see the ads for some piece of shit movie from Europe or whatever, or South America, but I never see any of them. Molly sees some of them. Why don’t you ask her?”

“Doug, you see what I’m saying?”

We get to the diaper aisle. You drop off your used outside, which we did, and they either landfill them or wash them, depending. And you get your cleans in here. I take a big wadded stack of them, all tied together with scrap cloth, and toss it into the cart. Molly asked me to get more pins, so I look for those.

“Doug, are you paying attention here? This is what I’m saying.”

“What are you saying, Stevie,” I say, with zero fucking interest.

“I’m saying that this bitch – you can’t even remember a movie that she’s in, but yet she’s making 20 million dollars to show her tits in Avengers 4.”

“She shows her tits?”

“Yeah, she does. Of course, how else do you think they get people to see these piece of shit movies?”

“I dunno, Doug. I’m beat is all. I gotta get home to Molly. I got like, eight box gardens to build around the neighborhood. Hey. You gonna help me get into that thing at the towers? Don’t they need people, you said?”

“Uhhh. Yeah. Maybe. Maybe. I got a connect over there but she’s touchy, real touchy, and I gotta give her something to get me and you in –”

“And Johnny.”

“And Johnny, because we don’t have papers for North Cambridge.”

“Yeah, don’t I fuckin’ know it.” I get to the register and take out some of the paper money, some of the coins, and some of the seed bags from the sunflowers. The woman looks at the pile, takes one of the dollars, one of the bags and two of the coins, and waves her hand like it’s enough. I wave back. Once we’re out Stevie says, “Not a fuckin’ word of English on those Chinks, huh? Can you fuckin’ believe it? And they got jobs?”

“Fuck if I know, Steve-o. You wouldn’t want to work there.” We both look behind into the dusty warehouse, filled with broken pieces of shit that people traded for other broken pieces of shit, with the big red bullseye on the wall.

“Yeah, guess not,” he says. “But what I was saying about Avengers.”

“What? Oh. The movie. Can we… like, another time?”

“Oh sure, but it’s like this. So, she flashes her tits, and it’s like two good seconds, like fat seconds, and I’m about to pull out my snake and smack it, and then they just cut to Iron Man trapped in some cave, and that’s the end of the fucking movie!”

“What?”

“Yeah, that’s the end of the movie! And then it says, ‘stay tuned for Avengers 5,’ or some shit.”

“Yeah, that’s movies, I guess. Keep sucking you back in.”

“I’ll tell you what sucked.”

“Lemme guess. Scarlett Johansson?”

Stevie likes the joke so he laughs that machine-gun hyena laugh of his. I just shake my head. God, what a fuckin’ maniac.

–          –          –

This is Story 7 in 15×15. A story written and edited in one to two hours with no major revisions.

Liam Scheff is author of Official Stories, The Geneticals, and co-author of Summer of ’74, and its teaser comic – all available on Amazon and/or Kindle.

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About Liam Scheff

"Author, Artist, Film, Permaculture." Liam Scheff is a writer, artist and stand-up lecturer on issues that people usually don't make comic books about. (Visit liamscheff.com). Liam's highly-praised book "Official Stories" reveals the complex details behind the myths of our times.
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