A Night In Denver:
Finally, he yanked the door wide. No corpse. No body. Just shoes and clothes in his closet.
It took a moment for this to sink in.
"It was a joke. No body here! Ha, ha!"
I was disgusted and angry.
"A joke! This was all a joke! Fuck this shit, man. I'm getting out of here."
He stepped toward me, squatted, put the knife on the floor beside him, then placed his hand on the boot I was pulling onto my foot.
"No, you're not. Stay put. It was just a joke. No reason for you to get pissed."
I fumbled the boot away from his grasp and struggled to get it on my ankle. Again, his hand on the boot.
"Gimme that, dammit!" I muttered, reaching for my boot.
He yanked it from my grasp and shouted, "Now listen!"
I stood up suddenly and he leapt up with me.
"Fuck you!" I shouted.
"NO! FUCK YOU!" He slapped my face - left! right! - then shoved me back down on the sofa bed. I stood up again, but before I got to my feet, he slapped me twice more and shoved me back down. Three more quick slaps and he was raging. Shouting, ranting, he grabbed my chin in his fist, forcing me to look into his face. Spittle showered me. Angry, frothing open mouth, teeth all around, and raging red eyes.
"You're not going anywhere. It was just a joke, just a fucking joke. That's all. What's your problem?"
Inside I was fuming. This fucker slapped me. Outwardly I was stiff, rigid. He was still holding my boot, and made an elaborate show of leaving the way to the door clear.
"Go ahead! You want out? There's the door. I'll give you a head start! Think you can make it? Think you can get the door open before I catch you? I'm going to kill you. You're never getting out of here, except dead. Cut you up! I'll soak you in lye!
I focused my eyes on a spot on the wall, unmoving and silent. I was not looking at him. He seemed to find this unnerving.
Soon he was trying to provoke a response from me. Again he grabbed my chin in his fist, forcing me to look at his face.
"Look, I'm sorry. You're right. It was lame. It was stupid. I'm sorry."
"You don't need to be slapping nobody, man."
"I'm sorry. I was just trying to snap you out of it. You looked crazy."
I was silent.
"Do you understand?"
"Lemme get out of here."
"No! Will you just listen... FUCK IT! I'm trying to talk to you. Will you just listen?"
He was gripping my boot in his clenched fist. those boots became a symbol of power to both of us. For me, those boots meant the power to leave. For him, they meant the power to hold me. He threw them both across the room.
"Go get them, fucker!" he shouted. "Go ahead! You want them so fucking much, go get them!"
I was not moving or speaking. I said nothing whatsoever.
"Well? Whatcha gonna do? Huh? Whatcha gonna do?"
I said nothing.
"C'mon, pick `em up, asshole! Do it!"
I was silent, unmoving, focusing my eyes on the wall.
In a few minutes again, he was pleading with me to speak. "Look, I'm sorry. It was stupid. I'm sorry."
"O.K. It was a joke. I understand. Now I gotta go if I'm going to find any work today."
"Not until I'm sure it's O.K. Just relax. I don't want you leaving while you're angry."
"I'm not angry anymore. I understand it was just a joke. Now lemme out of here."
"You want your boots? Go get them."
There was a tone in his voice that warned me off.
"Look, I'm just really tired. O.K.? Haven't got much sleep in the last few days."
"Maybe you oughta just relax. Get some sleep."
"Like I said, I gotta go get some work. O.K.?"
"Well, just relax. I'm sorry I pissed you off. Just relax a bit."
So the agonizing negotiations began. My only goal was to get out of there, but this was a very delicate operation. Each time I got ready to leave he exploded. The knife was never out of his hand for more than a minute or two at a time. He clung to it like a baby with a pacifier.
At 8:00a he returned my boots to me. Made a huge show out of it. Without a word I began to put them on. My right boot was on! Now for the left boot.
But this triggered another explosion. Very violent. He swung the knife at me. No time to get my boot on. No time to do anything. He was screaming now. Foaming at the mouth raging, barely articulate, "Fuck you... (hack-slash) unforgiving... (jab-jab-cut) asshole... (slash) sunuva... (hack-cut)."
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A Night In Denver ęGreg Bryant 1998 All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction of this material is prohibited. Unless authorization is given via Knighmayor Productions.