So tonight I did the ol’ ringround, the gumshoe phone ‘em shuffle just to sound them out. Let them know who’s boss. I’m a good boss. I’ve got kindness for those who deserve my strokes and nurtures. I’ll walk them over the hot coals if they agree to take my hand. Any of them want to go it alone, they can burn. There are always those who want to tell you they’ve walked the coals for years. Well, I want to see the scars. If they’ve got the scars they didn’t walk the right way. I’ve got enough of my own and I’m not a goddamn cosmetic surgeon.
I’m Marker Mike. I’m a Dick on this Spec. I gave them the dial tonight to sound them all out. Got eight dames and one guy. That’s the way I like it. The first was out, unavailable, but she’s the one I really want to get to know. Sam Beam – Miss Sam Beam – but I’ve already given her the pillow-talk name. Luther’s the guy’s name and he sounds like he’s been there and done a few. We’ll see. He was out too. Hope it wasn’t with Sam because that may be the last two straws they share at the milk bar.
Then there’s Grassaby. That’s a strange name. She’s got rawhide in her lineage. Tough woman I would figure with all those kids screaming in the background and her being gruff with me. Well I’m not one of those brats she’s doing the marking just to feed and we’ll see who smacks ass over the coming days. She’ll be face down in those coals if I get any more of that kinda nonchalance and sass.
Amanda plays jazz. A musician and I could tell she liked the music in my voice. I confess I went a little singsong for her, guessing she’d warm to that warmth: real empathy in the aural arena. I can hear her playing there. She told me close to my ear how much she appreciated the call. That’s what they all say but I could tell this was real. Bluegrass too. Jazz and bluegrass. I think she knew I was going to ring tonight.
And as I was writing all of that down Ruth gave me a call. Sweet Ruth. Ruth and her two babies. Four weeks old and two years old. Sweet Ruth and her sweet two babies. I suppose when you are that young and innocent and sweet you think you can suckle and examine at the same time. Here’s to Ruth and her optimism and her enthusiasm and her commitment. I’ll hold her hand. I’ll walk her wherever she needs to go. But I’m not burping that baby for her. I’ve done my time and moved on.
Speaking of sweet I also talked to Natalie, one of my old dames. Natalie has bathed her scrolls in red ink to the caress of my coaxing for many years now and I have to confess it was comforting to speak with her again. To have her under my wing. I’ll spread my wing again and let her fly there feeling the freedom of flight. I’ll protect again. I’ll have her recall those earlier days. To have her recall that vest as she reminded me tonight, a nostalgic and energised tone in her voice. I imagine how she still sees me wearing it. I imagine seeing myself still wearing it. Only one of us knows the truth.
I haven’t been able to shine the light in all their faces tonight, but I’ve got the lowdown on most. There’s still Luther and Sam. I’ll get to them. Sometimes a Dick just has to wait and savour. Expectation and imagining. It’s like standing at that night-time street corner, the cars going by in just a flash of lights, the rain coming down to make an argument, lovers kissing in an alleyway but you guess they only met today, and you wait for someone to walk by and ask you too if you want to find out all there is to know, or all you know you can discover by just listening.