Out of the Asylum, Into the Madhouse
2014 Barrett Winner
Finally free after two years, Evan was looking forward to his return to the ward. He almost faked being schizophrenic to stay inside, but it was time to face reality. He felt the warm spring air brush his face and saw the waves it sent in the bright green fields outside the facility. Even so, he still had a knot in his stomach that not even Maniac Magee could untie. No car waited outside; in all his nightmares, there was always a car waiting for him. Where is Eddie?
Eddie always said he’d be waiting for him on the outside. Maybe Evan should take this as a sign of relief. Maybe he should start running and disappear into the green, get a simple job and live a simple life free of stress, free of his- Here he is, just when Evan was starting to get his hopes up, too. Eddie came up in the family RV, a classic Winnebago. He wondered if Eddie looked different. Eddie always prided himself on being muscular, being fit, sort of like Leandra, his aunt-in-law, but not as extreme. He always compared himself to Patrick Swayze, and to be honest, they do look a little alike. At one point Eddie even grew a mullet.
As soon as the Winnebago stopped, Eddie jumped out to hug Evan and gave him a crushing embrace and held Evan’s right hand with both of his. He spoke in a rapid pace, “Brother! Evan! MY man! How ya been? Never mind that, shit it’s so good to see you! I tried a bunch to visit but they never let me. Still, HOL-Y Shit it’s so good to see ya. You don’t know how much I miss you.” He unclasped Evan’s hand. Evan always loved his brother, and he always will, but his brother always too much for him. All he could muster was a shrug of the shoulders and a whisper of agreement. He didn’t change a bit; he even had the same tight black shirt worn by Swayze in Roadhouse, it was his favorite shirt. Evan deflated under the despair.
There was no escaping his brother’s face, there was too much love and admiration in his face, he really did miss Evan, and only at a few points did Evan miss him. The knot was only getting tighter. “You look good, Brother. Look at that suit! Outta the loony bin lookin’ sharp like a razor,” was what his brother said to try to cut some of the tension. It was his suit he wore to court before he was locked up; he wasn’t even going to try to go there. “Yeah, it’s nice, isn’t it?” replied Evan with a smile, “Hey, I need to visit my probation officer, can you take me there?” Eddie was all too excited to comply. The ride is going to be a long one.
“So whatya need from your probate?” asked Eddie, “Oh!” he added with a snap of his
fingers, “Before I forget, I got a shit ton of your clothes inside the RV if you wanna
change out of the suit.”
Evan shook his head “No”.
“And I hope you don’t mind that I borrowed fifty bucks while getting your clothes. I needed gas.”
“No, I’m fine.” I’ll never see those fifty dollars anyways. “And I need to check in with her and get the keys to the halfway house.”
“But you don’t need to go to some stinkin’ halfway house, you can live with me. We would hang out every day; I could find you a fine-ass job serving drinks at the bar I bounce at.”
“I don’t know… I should at least check the place out,” said Evan trying to find a way out. “I guess…” admitted Eddie with a tone that made Evan’s gut sink real like lead ball in tar. “Hey, you know everyone misses you. They have been counting the days to see you. Grandma even wanted a family reunion.”
“No.” That was absolutely out of the question, handling Eddie was one thing, but that whole bag of crazy? Hell no.
“Oh come on!”
“No,” replied Evan with a tone that cut his brother’s ego right down the middle. After a while, Eddie shut off the radio and said, “You know family sticks together, no matter what. We’ll always be with you and we’ll always love you.”
Evan’s heart skipped a beat. No escape, they’ll never leave him alone. Deep down he knew it, but he sure as hell wouldn’t accept it, not after the stuff they put him through.
That trial was a mess. But Evan couldn’t say anything, he wouldn’t say anything, and there was nothing to be said. The rest of the car ride was silent minus some directions and gestures to the office.
The building was all brick and no window, just one set of double glass doors leading into security. Empty your pockets and don’t give them an attitude. Even Eddie knew better than to give security a hard time (minus winking at the female guard). “What? She wants me.”
After a half hour of listening to Eddie’s life for the past two years, it was their turn to visit the parole officer. “Laurie Diamonds” was printed on the glass of the door. Diamonds are hard. Evan sighed and knocked on the door. “Come in,” replied Officer Diamonds in a peaceful, even cheerful tone. Evan looked to his brother and his brother patted him on the back.
He had never met his parole officer before, so he didn’t know what to expect, but when
he was greeted by a six foot plus Amazonian warrior, he was taken aback. She would
have been intimidating if she wasn’t so nice. Okay, maybe she still is intimidating. “Hello
Mr. Foret.” When they shook hands, her grip made him cringe in pain. Eddie just smiled.
“And you must be…”
“His brother, I drove him here.” When she grabbed his hand, he stopped smiling.
“Of course, Edward, so pleased to make your acquaintance. Please, sit down.” When they sat down she filled them in on the rules: No leaving the state, no going far away in the state, no guns, no breaking the law, and her word is the law.
“What if we have a reunion in Grand Rapids?” was the one question Evan’s brother had to bring up. Evan couldn’t help but to give Eddie a nasty look.
Officer Diamonds smiled, “I’ll just give you permission. Evan should have a chance to see his family. You have an address you can give me?”
Grandma’s house was in Grand Rapids, and Evan knew he couldn’t do it. He’d be in jail all over again.
“Sounds like fun,” she said, “Just give me all the addresses of where you’re going and I won’t see why he can’t go on this trip.” It’s like I’m not even here. Evan grabbed Eddie’s shoulder to signal to him that it was a bad idea, to call it off, to listen. All he did was pat Evan’s hand and say “I’m excited too, bro.”
“I can’t do it,” Evan muttered.
“What?” asked the other two at the same time?
“I can’t do this ‘road trip family reunion’.”
Right away Diamonds knew what to do. She got up and said, “I’ll give you two exactly two minutes to figure out what you’re doing.”
Right away Eddie got up and said “C’mon Evan, she gave us the green light. What the hell is your problem?!”
“You just don’t get it. I don’t want to go! Why can’t you all leave me alone?!”
Eddie took a step back and looked like he was punched in the gut. “Oh, I see.” He finally understood.
But Evan couldn’t live with it, “Wait, brother, I’m sorry.” He swallowed his pride, “I’ve just been so mad over these years… I just don’t know if I can handle it.”
Eddie bounced back and spoke with pure glee, “Don’t worry about a thing! If you ever
feel like you’re going to lose your shit, just tell me and everything will be called off.”
Evan nodded his head to the lie and started preparing for the worst.
After everything was set up with Officer Diamonds, Eddie and Evan set off to go to the reunion. Evan was unsure of himself than he’s ever been before. They left the officer together, one smiling, and one frowning. There the RV stood, alone in the parking lot, waiting to take him to hell.
For the first few minutes, Evan didn’t talk with his brother. He was content with whistling to some blues he was playing. After a while, Evan went to the bathroom to change into something lighter because the spring was making him sweat through the suit.
He picked his Pink Floyd shirt and a cardigan, and some jeans and Converse. After a quick cat bath to clean the sweat, Evan was dressed. Before leaving the bathroom, he caught a look at himself, a real look where he saw himself for who he really was. On the outside, he saw his once bright blonde hair now brown and lackluster. He had a dirty goatee now, too. His hair had grown to near shoulder length now. As much as he looked like the laid-back “Dude” Lebowski, he felt like the very antithesis of the Dude. He was more stressed than he had been in the past two years, he was afraid and angry and depressed. Evan was at the brink of crying when he heard Jeff Bridges’s voice say, “The dude abides.” Then he cried.
Evan left that bathroom feeling lighter now that he shed some tears. Maybe he was ready,
probably not, but it didn’t matter, he was on the train and it wasn’t going to stop. Outside
the bathroom there was more than just a smell of poop, he brother was smoking weed. A
big joint was sticking out of his mouth. Some things never change. Eddie always smoked
pot, which was weird on a person like that. All muscle and big trucks one wouldn’t think
he somkes smoke pot. It didn’t fit his character. But it did fit Evan for that day. He was
going to need to survive the car ride much less the reunion.
“Wanna drag?” Eddie lifted the joint for the world to see.
Evan sat down in the passenger’s seat, grabbed to the joint and took a long drag, paused, and then another for good measure. After a few seconds he hacked and coughed for a few minutes.
“Lightweight,” chuckled Eddie.
Evan hadn’t smoked anything since his freshman year in college, but this was a special occasion. After a little while Evan was really high and so was his brother. Evan was relaxed and ready to talk with his brother. At first they shared stories about the last two years. Eddie talked about his “sweet new job” at the strip club being a bouncer getting free drinks and flirting with the girls. He focused on this one stripper in particular, Claire, aka Chastity. Her name actually isn’t ironic; Eddie’s been trying to get with her for months. He said he might be in love. Evan raised an eyebrow to that notion.
Evan shared some stories from the asylum. One time a patient secretly stopped taking his medications and went berserk in the middle of group therapy and flung his own feces at the psychiatrist. It missed but the psychiatrist still vomited. Eddie reminded him of how similar that is to how Evan landed in that place in the first place. His ears went a little red.
Still in the stratosphere, the two brothers started talking about family. They talked about their oldest uncle, Uncle Leo, and wondered what he was like. He died in Vietnam long before they were born. He didn’t die in the war, or even fought for that matter. He owned a sweatshop in America and smuggled cheap labor in from there. He also had a habit of playing Russian roulette with the immigrants while the ship was crossing the Pacific. After three years of smuggling and gambling, he lost his last bet.
Uncle Leo’s younger brother Uncle No-Arm whose real name is Ivan. The reason he’s called No-Arm is because he has no arms. He’s always been called that and doesn’t seem to be bothered by the name. Surprisingly enough, he has the worst temper of the family, probably due to him being made fun of as a kid for having no arms. Despite his disability he has a successful career as a lawyer and functions well without his arms. His legs have become freakishly flexible to compensate. He eats with his feet. Evan remembers how his uncle defended him at court, how he would angrily point at the witnesses with his feet and how eventually lost his temper completely and was held in contempt. Not enough dope in the world could keep Evan from cringing at the memory. He had mix feelings for No-Arm. His heart was in the right place, but how could he mess up so badly? Couldn’t he hold his temper at least once for his nephew, for his livelihood? Evan started to tear up when Eddie changed the subject to Uncle Koi Pond.
Uncle Koi Pond was a weird guy. His name comes from the Koi pond he’s owned for over twenty years. His real name is Earl, but no one called him that. He retired before he was even fifty just to be with his koi. He’s like grandpa in the sense that all he does is do one thing almost all day, and that entails is watching his koi swim around in his pond all day. He has two dozen of them. He even named his two kids after his first two koi fish. He’s still married, too. It makes Evan wonder how he had the time to make two kids. Evan remembered a time when he was five or six, he wanted to pet one of the fish, but fell in trying to reach. When Koi Pond saw what he was doing, he ran over faster than he’d ever been seen running before. He yanked Evan away out of the pond and checked his fish and started asking them if they were all right. Not even looking at soaked little Evan. Something has to be wrong with that man.
Evan started to think about his cousins. Uncle No-Arm has a son named Leo who is known in the fitness world as Card-Leo, like cardio. He’s a real flamboyant guy whose exercise outfit is reminiscent of the eighties. His exercise routine is even weirder. The whole thing is just a bunch of jumping and hand-flailing. Somehow he actually has a big fan base and even has background people doing the exercise with him. Koi’s sons are called the Koi Brothers when together (which is all the time) own a bar called the drunken Koi. They only have one koi in the bar from what Evan remembered, and they don’t share their father’s obsession with koi. That doesn’t mean they’re not weird, just they aren’t like their father. They are creepy, plain and simple. They leer at everybody with their fishy eyes; whenever someone shakes their hand, they don’t let go until it the person starts to panic; they’re also greasy from never bathing, it’s either that or they sweat a lot, or oil up, but Evan didn’t want to think about that; finally, they like their lips at the most inappropriate of times, like when they’re leering at someone. They make Evan’s skin crawl.
“They can make my skin crawl, too, brother,” said Eddie, “But just remember that they’re
family and that they love you in their own way.”
“Yeah, I guess. Are we almost there yet?”
“Don’t you remember what Grandma’s place looks like? We’re here.”
Evan looked up and saw the house in all its horror. Evan came down so fast he was experiencing jetlag. It hit him like a sock of rocks. He wasn’t high anymore and nothing could save him. That happy car ride meant nothing now that he was staring at the mad house. It was growing and growing until a sudden jolt stopped the RV. It was the parking brake.
“We’re here,” said Eddie as he took the keys out of the ignition.
Evan’s terror was so great, he began to pray. Our father, who art in heaven… Then they started pouring out of the house. Card-Leo leading the way with a jog, then his dad, then Uncle Koi Pond, then the Koi brothers, and then Grandma and Card-Leo’s mother. She was never in his nightmares, but things just got a lot darker because she is. That woman has as bad as a temper and is just as fit as her husband, but she has arms. Evan began to hyperventilate.
Eddie touched Evan’s shoulder, “Dude, chill out, they’re going to notice.”
Evan went into fetal position in his seat briefly before taking a breath and getting up. Eddie led the way out the RV and into the yard where everyone waited. The whole family waited outside to greet Evan.
“Hi Evan!” they all exclaimed that moment he stepped out the door. Card-Leo jumped up to hug Evan first and said, “I’ve missed you so much, buh-dee!”
The Koi brothers circled around and closed in Evan and Card-Leo together in their hug. He was cheek-to-cheek with the Koi Brothers and only a few inches from Card-Leo’s face, which looked striking like Evan’s but cleaner cut and happier. Three out of the four people were enjoying the hug that would never end. Uncle Koi Pond joined in the hug and grabbed Evan from behind. He was in an unhealthy fish sandwich.
“I hope you’re feeling better now, bud,” said Uncle Koi pond before finally breaking up the hug. Evan was still surrounded by everyone with little space to run.
Evan just brushed the grease off his cheeks before he was jumped by Uncle No-Arm who wrapped his legs around Evan’s waist, “I missed you, sonny.”
Evan couldn’t breathe under his uncle’s crushing wrap. He simply replied by shedding a tear.
“Oh, sorry,” said No-Arm before hopping back down.
“Staying out of trouble, I hope,” said Uncle No-Arm’s wife, Leandra, as if she knew he was up to no good.
“Aren’t you going to say hello to Uncle Leo, Evan? What’s that? Of course, Uncle Leo says hello.” That had to be Evan’s grandmother, and it was. She stood there with a framed photo of ol’ dead Uncle Leo, shaking it around in a teasing way. History was repeating itself all over again and it looks like no one learned from the first time around.
It Looks like they need a refresher course.
As Evan walked to Grandma, he overheard his brother saying that he knew he could do it, i.e. face his grandmother. How wrong he was to think that. Evan smiled as he grabbed the photo of Uncle Leo and said, “Hi Uncle Leo,” before throwing it as far as he could to the west. There was no danger of it hitting anyone else because the house was on ten acres of property, but it would be best not to hurt anyone like last time. Everyone was shocked when he threw it, they were slow to act. “Why don’t you have a photo of dad? He’s your son too! Don’t you love him like poor ol’ dead Uncle Leo?! Uncle Leo was a crook and a slave runner! My dad was the most decent human being out of all of you!” He lifted his hands in his fury when the Koi Brothers grabbed them and pulled Evan away. His grandma went off to find the picture. “Why?! Grandma, WHY?!” he yanked his hands away from the Koi brothers, “Get your greasy fingers off of me!” They looked hurt. “Evan, Evan! Wait!” called out Uncle No-Arm, “Evan, this is supposed to be a nice day! Calm down.”
“Calm down?! You want me to calm down? You’re one to talk!” Evan pointed at Uncle No-Arm. “I needed you keep calm for one day! One day! But nooo, you go and lose your shit in court! You nearly ruined everything!” Evan began to tear up and Uncle No-Arm started to go red in the neck.
“You better calm down or I’ll call the police,” said Leandra.
“You go call them! I’d rather be in jail than be with you people!” Evan turned his back and started walking away.
It did look like she was pulling out her phone, but it didn’t matter to Evan. As he walked away he passed by Uncle No-Arm who was so ready to blow he ripped off his toupee with his foot. The Koi Brothers simply continued to leer at Evan; at least they had a good reason this time around. Card-Leo was crying, Uncle Koi pond was looking at the ground as if it was his koi pond, and his brother was leaning back into the RV with his arms folded and looking away from Evan. He hurt a lot of people today, but it didn’t matter, it was over.
Evan had been walking for the better part of an hour following the main road before he heard running behind him. He was ready to fight until he noticed it was Card-Leo. Fight or flight, Evan? He wanted to run, but Card-Leo was an athlete and would just keep following him until he ran out of breath.
“Evan! Wait!” shouted Leo from behind.
“Go away, Leo,” Evan didn’t stop.
“C’mon Evan, give us a chance.”
“‘Give us a chance?’ Do you want me to start shouting at you?” Evan stopped. “No, but why didn’t you?”
Evan thought about it for a minute, “You weren’t in my line of sight.” As flamboyant as Leo was, Evan really didn’t have any beef with him.
“Oh,” he looked disappointed.
“Leo, you’re weird, but you’ve never really bothered me. But it’s still everyone. Our family is so messed up. Is Grandpa still even alive?”
“Yeah, but we aren’t messed up. Our family is just different. We all get along, except for you. Evan, we love you, why don’t you love us?”
“Blame Grandma, it starts with her. I mean, why doesn’t she love my dad?”
“Don’t say that! She has always loved your dad. But maybe she isn’t all that clear in the head. That doesn’t mean you should start screaming at her, it isn’t her fault.”
“Shut up, Leo.” You’re making too much sense.
“What about my dad?”
“Your dad, man he, he’s coming right at us.” He saw the armless figure running at them. “Oh yeah, he wants to talk to you.”
More like kick my ass. Evan was ready to run when his uncle called out to him.
Uncle No-Arm was shouting, “I’m sorry! Evan! I’m so sorry!” before stopping beside Card-Leo. When he caught up, he wasn’t even out of breath. “Evan, you’re right, I messed up. I lost my temper the one time I should have kept it together. But what you don’t know is that I’ve been taking anger management classes. Evan, forgive me. I’ve haven’t lived down what I did to you.”
Evan was taken aback by his uncle, he couldn’t say anything else, “It’s okay, uncle. I should be saying sorry to you for losing my temper.” His uncle hugged him with his legs. “Also, Leandra didn’t call the police. She says she’s sorry for threatening you.”
“Is she going to show up, too?”
“No, she’s preparing the food with Grandma, but the others are coming.”
Just as he finished the RV showed up down the road. His brother was driving and Koi Pond was riding shotgun. The bus parked so close to Evan that he had to step back. Then the door swung open and Uncle Koi Pond came out. He looked serious.
“Boy, I left almost all of my Koi at home to come have dinner with you, and this is what you do? You hurt Grandma, you hurt my sons, you made Leo cry, and you ruined your brother plan. Think about your selfishness.”
“Uncle Koi Pond, I’ve never seen this side of you. I-I’m sorry.”
He hugged Evan before releasing him and revealing the Koi Brothers. They were washed and cleaned and no longer had the greasy texture they normally do.
“What do you think?” asked the little Koi.
“You washed up?” replied Evan.
“Just for you, we actually feel a lot better. I think I might stick with this. What about you big bro?
“Yeah, I think so too,” said the big Koi.
Evan saw what they were trying to do. They are all trying to appeal to him, to show him they can be normal too. Frankly, it’s working. Then they revealed the piece de resistance. His Grandpa was being helped out of the van by Eddie.
“Grandpa!” exclaimed Evan, “You, you’re out of your couch! I didn’t even know you could walk!”
“Neither could I until a few months ago when your brother told me about his plan. It took weeks for me to even stand! Har!”
Evan was stunned. He had never seen his grandpa leave his couch, let alone walk. He only spoke when someone was in the way of the TV and here he was, standing, trying to inspire Evan to stay.
“Come on, boy. Give us a chance. Let’s eat together. You want us to be normal, we’ll be normal for you.”
Evan smiled at their determination. “You know what, Grandpa? I don’t need you guys to be normal. Maybe it’s me; I just need to appreciate you guys more.”
They all formed a group hug. Everything was going to be all right. Evan just needed to see how much his family loved him. He was ready to see his Grandma. After a fun ten minute car ride of joking and awkward eye contact from the Koi Brothers, they reached the house. Evan led the way outside the car and into the house. The air was heavy with all sorts of foods and seasonings. Leandra looked happy to see him and stopped her dish washing to hug him. “Glad you came back, Grandma has something to show you out back.”
Out back the table was set, the food on the table, and the grill was lit. Grandma was in the middle with her back to Evan. As everyone walked past him to take their seat at the table, she turned around and revealed the two framed photos in her hand. One was of Uncle Leo, its glass was cracked; the other was of Evan’s dad, in pristine condition. It had been so long since he had seen his dad’s face. Evan welled up and hugged his grandma. “I love you Grandma.”
“Let’s eat!” shouted Eddie.
The family was seated at the table in the huge backyard. Grandma was seated near the head of the table and was trying to spoon feed the photos of Uncle Leo and Evan’s dad. Grandpa sat next to her and ate some mashed potatoes and laughed at Uncle Koi Pond who was feeding his Koi in the seat next to him. Uncle No-Arm sat across from Koi and scooped up mashed potatoes holding a spoon with his toes. Leandra sat next to him studying some legal precedents and sipping some coffee. The Koi Brothers still licked their lips, but it was because the food was good. Card-Leo ate some salad. Eddie for once no longer drank beer at the table but ate some chicken. The picture was one of a happy, healthy family. Evan sat next to his brother and let the warm spring air brush his face and looked at the waves it sent through the acres of green field in his family’s yard. Evan finally felt free. The knot was untied. “The dude abides,” whispered a familiar voice in the wind. Then Evan laughed.
Redneck Romney-Ryan Bumper Sticker
On the back bumper of a first generation Ford Ranger, there was this Romney-Ryan bumper sticker. I could tell it was there probably since the election since it looked faded worn, but then again so was the truck. I couldn’t tell if it was red, or if that was just the rust. The salt ate away at the fenders. It was a real jalopy. This person obviously wasn’t tidy; honestly, who still has a Romney-Ryan bumper sticker? I wouldn’t even doubt it if there was a McCain-Palin sticker under the Romney one.
There had to be something worth taking inside. In the bed of the truck there was scrap metal and a tool box, all hidden by a torn tarp. I sure can’t carry scrap back home by myself. Inside was a mess, to say the least. The last time it was cleaned must’ve been the day it was taken out of the dealership. A smell of stale cigarettes assaulted me upon opening the door. Deeper into the car, there was a faint smell of feces, actual feces. Funny enough, there was a black ice pine freshener on the rear-view mirror. The floor mats had holes in them from being used so long. They were essentially torn to ribbons. The seats also had a couple cigarette burns and a mysterious rip in the passenger’s seat. Underneath the seats hid horrors, terrors of the worst crime, I dare not look too long. Between the seats weren’t much better, old McDonald’s orders, half full coffee cups with cigarette butts, and Guns Magazine featuring a Bushmaster. Typical. The glove box held miscellaneous receipts, papers, expired insurance, and a spent shotgun shell, pretty typical stuff. Until I found a wedding band, it wasn’t made for a man’s finger, it was too small, plus there was a diamond attached to it. The diamond was so small, but it must’ve been real, not that I’m a professional, but call it a gut feeling. It was more of a beggar’s ring truth be told, ten karat gold, a real plain thing; though it brings up many questions. Was the man married? Was he rejected after proposing? Is he a widower? Did he leave her? Was there some sort of affair? Before any more questions could be thought of, my spidey senses alerted me to a big, burly man storming in my direction.
He was a big ginger with trucker cap, a Carhartt coat, and a work shirt with “Ivan” printed on it. Before I could run off, he gave me a stiff kick in the ass and a punch to the back of the head. Lucky for me, his fingers were pudgy, so the blow was cushioned. “Stop! Stop!” I called out.
“The hell is you doing in my car you little shit?!” was his reply.
“I was curious!”
“Curious? That’s your excuse?” he stopped trying to hit me at that point. “Your bumper sticker drew my attention.”
He gave me a look like I was insane, a rational reaction, I’ll give him that. I nodded at him and directed him to his bumper sticker since it looked like he didn’t know what I was talking about. “Oh, that thing? Shoot, I’d already forgotten about that. Wait, what the fuck were you doing in my car, boy?” he said boy in way meant to insult me.
“I told you I was curious. Were you married?” I showed him the ring. He then reached into his coat. He was reaching for his gun. I felt my heart skip a beat. But something stopped him, maybe it was the fact his gun was inside the truck, but I believe it was the Holy Spirit because what else could stop a republican from shooting a minority? Instead, he tried to snatch it away, but he was too slow. “C’mon, tell me about it.” That distracted him long enough to forget about the ring in my hand.
“Yeah, I was married,” he said. His face became sad, his age became very evident. Every wrinkle was no longer there because he was angry, but because he was old. He took off his cap from his balding head to wipe the sweat off with that same cap before putting it back on. “I don’t suppose you want to hear about it, Dr. Phil?”
“I’m interested, c’mon, let’s sit down, drink a beer, and talk about lost love.” An offer too enticing for him, and funny enough he had a six-pack in his grocery bag that I didn’t realize he had with him. There was nothing else in the bag, obviously. After a couple beers, I learned his story, raised up in Grand Rapids; he met a “lovely” woman from Kentucky, a match made in heaven. She was his world, and he was hers. She was his ideal wife, she cooked, she cleaned, she loved, and she tolerated him. They were married for ten years; everything ended when she had a coronary and died. When he mentioned her death, he just sat there, blank. I had to pat him on the back. He showed me a photo of her, surprisingly enough; she wasn’t a half-bad looking woman. Curvy, yes, but not fat, there was more of a classic view of beauty to her. She was a brunette who had a smile that made me smile just from looking at the photo. That must’ve been a fine ten years. “To those ten years,” I said as I cracked open a new beer.
“I’ll drink to that.” He gulped down more of his beer. “Hey, you know what’s funny about that bumper sticker? Behind it is a McCain one!” We shared a laugh. “Before I forget, here’s your ring,” I pulled the ring from my pocket. I was going to steal it to pawn it or give to my future wife, but my conscious kicked in, he deserved it. He took it without anger, it looked like he believed me.
That’s Definitely Edward James Olmos
Edward James Olmos (?): Sixty-Seven
Danny Trejo (?): Sixty-Nine
Setting: Motor City Comic Con, from left to right there is an influx of tourists,
cosplayers, and furries alike. Booths full of comic artists from all over the US, some big,
some small, and to the back is a large line of people several rows across.
The Real Story: My friend, Henry, and I went to the Motor City Comic Con in 2013,
there we had a bit of fun talking to the many unique figures, and one of them was not
Edward James Olmos. He was there, of course, but none of us we brave enough to speak
to such a figure. I could barely believe that was him. This story is inspired by that failure.
Henry and Kevin walk into the large warehouse that is the Metro City Comic Con. They
walk to the beginning of the large line.
Kevin: Why are there so many people lined up here?
Henry: To meet the guy from The Walking Dead, look.
He points to the large sign promoting The Walking Dead.
Kevin: Oh, so they’re going to meet the cowboy sheriff guy?
Henry: No, Daryl, the guy with the crossbow. Look.
He points to the sign again, and there is a large picture of the character Daryl in it Kevin: You’d think the main character would have a booth at Comic Con. Oh well.
They both shrug their shoulders and walk away.
They walk to a large area surrounded by a curtain and peak in. There is a man on stage speaking into a microphone.
Kevin: Hey look, that’s Edward James Olmos!
Henry: Is not.
Kevin: You cannot tell me that isn’t Edward James Olmos. Just look at him! Henry: That is definitely not Edward James Olmos. That shirt is way too lame. They look to Edward James Olmos, who is wearing a plain polo shirt and slacks. Kevin: It’s just a polo shirt.
Henry: You’d think he’d wear a better shirt to Comic Con.
Kevin: First off, it’s the Motor City Comic Con, not the San Diego one; and secondly, he is Edward James Olmos, he can wear whatever he wants.
Henry: I guess, if he is who you say he is.
Kevin: Just look at his face, look at those pockmarks, and look at his hair.
Henry: Not every Mexican with pockmarks is Edward James Olmos. That could be Danny Trejo.
Kevin: Henry, I know what Edward James Olmos looks like, that is not Danny Trejo. Danny Trejo has a mustache.
Henry: So you’re saying Danny Trejo can’t shave his mustache?
Kevin: I’m saying he won’t, ever. Seriously, Google him, there isn’t a single picture of him without his mustache.
They both pull out their phones and Google Image search Danny Trejo. Henry: I guess you’re right.
Kevin: Ha! See? I told you that was Edward James Olmos!
Henry: No, wait, here’s one without a mustache.
He shows the phone to Kevin.
Kevin: That picture must be twenty years old! Trust me; Trejo almost always has a mustache.
Henry: Maybe you’re right; Danny Trejo would bring a bigger crowd.
Kevin: He would not. Edward James Olmos has more variety to him, a history. Danny Trejo is just an archetype.
Henry: Are you dissing Danny Trejo?
Kevin: No, I am simply disputing your opinion that Danny Trejo would bring in a bigger crowd. Besides, you don’t know anything about Edward James Olmos.
Henry: I totes* would, he was in Blade Runner. He was the weird guy who made the origami stuff.
Kevin: That’s all you know?
Henry: … Maybe.
Kevin: See? I know him from that, Mi Familia, Miami Vice, Battlestar Galactica, and American Me, great actor.
Henry: That can’t be Edward James Olmos, he’s too fat. He’s supposed to be skinnier than that.
Kevin: What makes you say that? He isn’t that fat. He has a bit of a gut.
Henry: He was a twig in Blade Runner.
Kevin: Blade Runner was thirty years ago. He’s grown since then.
Henry: More like gained some.
Kevin: So you are saying that’s Edward James Olmos up there!
Henry: No, that ain’t Edward James Olmos.
Kevin: What’s it going to take to convince you?
Henry: He has to say it.
Kevin: He has to say he’s Edward James Olmos?
Henry: Yeah! Go ask him.
Kevin: Well, I can’t just go up there and ask him if he’s Edward James Olmos. That’d be rude.
Henry: You don’t have the guts to do it.
Kevin: Hell yeah I don’t! Listen, let’s just wait until he leaves.
Henry: Like jump him when he’s walking to his car?
Kevin: No! When he leaves the stage.
Henry: It’d be pretty cool if we napped Edward James Olmos.
*Fake Edward James Olmos.
Aghast, Kevin palms his face. Sometime later, Edward James Olmos is seen leaving the curtain . Kevin: Hey! Mr...The words stick in his throat. Henry: Hey, are you Edward James Olmos?
Olmos hears Henry and turns around
Olmos: Yes, I am Edward James Olmos. Are you two fans?
Kevin and Henry reply at the same time: Kevin: Yes.
Kevin shoots him a nasty look.
Henry: I don’t believe you are Edward James Olmos.
Olmos: I am Edward James Olmos.
Henry: Then why would you wear that shirt?
Olmos: Chuckling I’m Edward James Olmos, I can wear anything I want. Kevin: See, I told you!
Henry: No... Still don’t believe you.
Olmos: Didn’t you see the big sign in front of the curtain? It says “Edward James Olmos, guest speaker.”
Henry: You sure you aren’t Danny Trejo?
Edward James Olmos and Kevin both palm their heads and simultaneously say “Que Bruto.”
Olmos: Raising his voice so that the people around him turn their heads I’m not Danny Trejo. How many times do I have to tell you people?!
Edward James Olmos begins walking away.
Kevin: Wait Mr. Olmos! I’m a huge fan!
Olmos: Oh yeah? Well your buddy doesn’t even know the difference between me and Danny Trejo! Henry: Well you could have shaved the mustache.
Kevin: To Henry He told you he’s Edward James Olmos! And you just had to ask him if he’s Danny Trejo! We already went over that! To Olmos Mr. Olmos, can I at least have an autograph?
He stops, then turns around.
Olmos: Okay, kid, what do you want me to sign?
Kevin rummages through his pockets looking for a paper Kevin: Umm… have any paper?
Olmos: Forget this.
He walks away.
Henry: You blew it. You could’ve had a signed autograph of Edward James Olmos.
Kevin: So you’re finally saying you believe he’s Edward James Olmos?
Henry: Yeah, that’s definitely Edward James Olmos.
Kevin places his head in his hands.
Kevin: lifting his head from his hands Do you realize what you just did?
Henry: Yeah, I just pissed off Edward James Olmos, and that’s pretty great.
Kevin: Yeah, that’s pretty damn hilarious. You see how pissed he got when you called him Danny Trejo?
They both burst into laughter.
Henry: in a mocking tone He has to get that so often! “I’m not Danny Trejo! How many times do I have to tell you people?!”
Kevin: His shirt really was stupid, too.
As they walk away, Kevin turns to look at Edward James Olmos one more time and sees two girls run up to him.
Girl 1: Oh my God, it’s Danny Trejo!
Girl 2: I love your movies; can we have your autograph?
Olmos: I’m not Danny Trejo already! Leave me alone!