A DEAD ROSE IN A PINEAPPLE GRAVEYARD
When I was in the navy, me and my best buddy, Zak, got into some troubles with drugs and the local law. The naval investigative agent who busted us was dirty as they come. He ripped off our pot and kept us dealing, only now he got the profits. On top of everything else he was pals with an admiral up on the hill. The admiral liked young girls but wasn't making anyone forget about Clint Eastwood. The agent knew that a navy gal on base was selling her bush. He knew we that knew her. Her name was Rose. It’s been twenty years since it all happened. I still wake up screaming.
This colorful dragon, like the kind you see in those parades in Chinatown, was slowly moving in circles over my bunk. It circled and circled, until it was going so fast that it was just a blur. All of a sudden it straightened out and shot right through the wall, disappearing with a "plop." Orange barrel acid will make you see some really weird shit.
A phone was ringing off in the distant and I was wishing that someone would answer the goddamn thing. It must have rung fifty times before I heard Zak answer it. I wonder when he got back? Poor old Captain Clint. At least he died in the saddle. Man, does Zak ever sound pissed! Wonder what the hell is going on?
"You know motherfucker, the sun doesn’t rise and set in your asshole. I don’t know how we wound being a fucking pimp for you and that old son of a bitch anyway." There was a pause. Quiet. I must have been dreaming. "Dead! How could she be dead? He couldn't stomp a mouse to death. Jesus Christ! You fucked up big this time! All right goddamn it! We’ll be there in twenty minutes."
I was wide awake now. I had been out partying with Tom and his girlfriend. She was this hot looking nurse that he had recently met and it had been love at first sight. They had moved into this little cottage half way up in the mountains and had started up their own little dope plantation.
She was also a stone cold acid freak and I had spent the day up there with them. Eating acid, drinking beer, and catching rays. Just like the fun old days before that NIS prick had ruined everything. The highlight of the day was when she stripped off her bikini and remained in that condition for the next five hours.
The first time I had visited them was also the first time I snorted MDA, a very powerful hallucinogenic. They had an outlandish looking orange shag rug in their living room and the MDA gave you the effect of wading through it like it was two feet tall. I had gone to use the bathroom and had wandered into the spare bedroom by mistake and was immediately lost. The room couldn’t have been more than twelve by twelve. I had a slight panic attack and crawled out the window and wound up taking my leak out in the rain forest, while I was hallucinating that a large tiger was crouched down watching me.
The night of the acid trip I had stumbled back into the barracks and had been laying on my bunk, seeing all this weird shit, and giggling up a storm. I must have finally fallen asleep.
Zak was standing over my bed, staring down at me. "Who’s dead?" I asked. Hoping that I was still dreaming.
"Rose. Rose is dead. Something hinky happened with the admiral. Get dressed. We gotta get up there."
I don’t know if I was still tripping or if Zak was driving that fast, but I don’t think I've ever been in a car that was going that fast. He was fucking flying. I didn't even remember getting into the car.
Rose had been very receptive when I approached her about the admiral’s offer and had been up to his house several times. Mrs. Admiral was very involved in the community and other military wife functions and the admiral had needed a way to spend the lonely nights when she was gone. Expensive scotch, fine cigars, and high dollar hookers. He paid Rose five hundred dollars a visit. She had laughed when she was telling me about it. Said he could hardly get it up and wanted her to call him "Daddy" and had her wear this old crackerjack uniform. What he really wanted was to do the old anal romp with her, but that was the one act she wouldn't perform. Saving that for the man she would marry. She always was a romantic!
Zak had returned from his emergency leave to attend the funeral of his father, who like to be called Captain Clint, a couple of weeks ago and just didn't seem to be himself anymore. The funeral had not gone well. Yolanda, Clint’s third wife, had been dolled up for the wake like she was still working tricks at the whorehouses of the Philippines.
They were the only two sober people at the event. Besides the attending priest (maybe) and Captain Clint, who had been dead for several days, but was still probably hammered. About six of his old shipmates had shown up and they were all stoned to the gills.
To top it all off, the Captain had left his entire inheritance to Yolanda and then Zak went and picked up a case of the clap. Both on the same day.
Yolanda and Zak had gone to the attorney for the reading of the will and when Zak found out that he wasn’t going to get diddly shit, he went ballistic. He had stormed out of the attorney’s office and drove straight to a bar in National City and hammered down six shots of tequila with beer chasers. He alternated shots of the booze with one hit toots of cocaine out of one of those little silver bullet like contraptions that measures out little one nostril hits.
After he was good and fucked up, he went next door to a peep show and immediately fell in love with his dancer. After an exchange of cash, she flicked a switch so that the door in her booth would stay up, backed her trim up to the glory hole, and Zak "made love" to her in this fashion.
The next morning he had a number nine hangover that could be cured with aspirin and a bit of the hair of the dog. He also had a radioactive dose of gonorrhea that couldn't be cured with all the penicillin in the dispensary and a red hot wire shoved up his tool.
"What the hell did Jerry say? (Jerry was the agent who was putting the shaft to us) How could she be dead? I didn't know she was going up there again. How did he find out? Did the admiral call him?" I was babbling like a fool.
Zak stared ahead at the road. "Jerry said the old fucker called him. He was bawling and sounded like he was bombed out of his socks. Kept saying she was dead, over and over, and that he needed help. He was calling from the admiral’s house."
We had to make one stop before we got there so I could puke.
Jerry answered the door. He looked liked he had been shot at and missed, shit on and hit. He pointed to the admiral’s study.
I was sober the instant I walked through the study door.
The place looked like Mardi Gras had been held there. Booze bottles were everywhere and there was a picture of the admiral and the current Pope laying on a coffee table, with what looked like about an ounce of coke on it. They had been cutting lines with a bayonet. Next to the picture lay a chrome Colt .45 semi automatic.
Pasty faced and shaking like a leaf, the admiral was leaning against his desk wearing only his boxer shorts. His stubby, pathetic, pink dick was sticking out of the fly. And he was staring down to the floor at Rose, who looked like the victim of a hit and run auto accident. Beside her head was a bloody crystal ashtray. It looked like it weighed five pounds. I could see some of her teeth in the shag rug.
If I hadn't seen her dance topless at several parties I would never have even known it was her. She had a tiny rosebud tattooed on her left tit. Her face looked like it had been beaten with a crowbar.
I looked at the Admiral. "What the fuck happened?"
He looked at me through bleary red eyes and stifled an acidic belch. "Fucking bitch gets all coked up and starts giving me a ration of shit about not letting me fuck her in the ass. I’m paying her, she has no say in it. I’m an admiral, she’s enlisted. Tells me if I want it that way to go on down to one of the ships and get a boy. She wouldn't shut up. She obviously didn't know who she was fucking with."
He stopped talking and just stood there staring at her. Specks of vomit and blood were splattered in the gray hair on his scrawny chest.
"And by the way, sailor. Address me as either sir or admiral when you speak to me."
"I think you’ve kind of lost that right, numb nuts." I replied.
Zak was down on his knees cradling Rose’s head in his arms. He had meant to check her vitals but there was no way she could be alive. Looking up at Jerry he said "Get this old drunk bastard cleaned up and get him to bed."
"Who you calling a bastard?" the admiral screamed.
Before Jerry and I could move, Zak jumped up and grabbed the admiral by the throat, pinning him to the desk.
"After tonight it’s over! We clean up your shit tonight and I better never even see your ugly fucking face again. You understand me shitbird?" Zak began to straighten up then suddenly threw the admiral’s head back on to the desk. Hard! Sounded like a cantaloupe thrown out of a window.
Zak turned and faced Jerry. "That means you too, geisha boy. After tonight we’re even. You even think about snitching us off to the Feds, I’m going to blow your fucking brains out!"
Jerry just nodded and led the admiral, who was now bleeding rather profusely from a scalp wound, to the bathroom.
I went to the kitchen and found a roll of black 30 gallon trash bags and a roll of duct tape in the utility closet. When I came back into the study, Zak was just beginning to scoop the coke back in it’s baggy when I noticed something. On a tripod was a 35 millimeter camera. The old sex maniac must have been taking pictures of him and Rose in action or non- action as the case may be. Over twenty shots had been taken. I quickly told Zak to stop cleaning and placed the admiral’s desk nameplate next to the coke and shot up the remainder of the roll.
I went through the desk drawers and found another roll of 24 shots. We placed the nameplate next to Rose’s body and shot the roll up, making sure that a variety of the photos would include the overall view of the study. I pocketed the rolls and returned the camera to its original place.
We then slid Roses’ body into two of the garbage bags along with her clothes and purse. I had removed her identification from the purse. We then secured the bags tightly with the duct tape and moved the body into the trunk of her car.
On a sudden impulse, just before I had started to wrap up the plastic covered body with tape, I had taken a silver framed snapshot of the Admiral and his wife that was sitting on his desk and put it in the garage bags with Rose. Zak found several shovels in the backyard tool shed and put those next to the body in the trunk.
"We’ll take her out to the north shore and bury her. Then we’ll leave her car down in a parking lot at one of the beaches. They’ll think she drowned. Hopefully." Zak said as I followed him back into the house.
Jerry was standing over the admiral who was already snoring loudly. "I gave him a ‘lude, he passed right out."
Zak walked over to Jerry and jammed his finger into his chest. "It’s over fucker. Remember that. You’re fucking dead meat. You don’t believe it, just try me."
Jerry didn’t say a word. He looked like a battle fatigue victim.
Her final resting patch was in a banana patch at the end of an old service road down by the pineapple farms. The black Triumph Spitfire that she loved so much we had left in the parking lot of one of the north shore beaches. Bad rip tides there. Drowning there would not be out of the question.
Atlanta Rhythm Section's Imaginary Lover was playing on the car radio. Every time I hear that song I remember that night and what I said to Zak. We hadn't spoken a thing to each other since we left Rose’s car at the beach. Just driving in silence. Alone with our horrible thoughts.
"I’m taking off. Soon as we get back to the barracks. I’m gonna pack some shit, grab my money stash and take off. Catch the first flight out of here. There is no way that Jerry is going to stay quiet about this, man. We’re gonna fall for it. You gotta come with me. There’s no other way."
Zak had the Colt out and was looking at it. "No. I’m not going to run. They want me, they can come get me. I’ll fill those motherfuckers full of holes."
"Zak, I think you have truly lost your mind."
He laughed. "Maybe. But there comes a time in life when you have to make a final stand. This might be it for me."
"There is absolutely no fucking way this is going to come out good! You and me are gonna do that old bastards time. While he’s schmoozing with the Chief of Naval Operations at some cocktail party, we’re gonna be busting rocks and getting fucked in the ass."
I didn’t waste any time. I got my backpack and threw in some clothes, cash, files, and the rolls of film along with Rose’s identification. Zak dropped me off at the airport.
"Please Zak. Come with me. Just to see if it blows over. If it does we can come back. Big fucking deal we’re AWOL for a couple weeks. Better than prison. Do you think you could handle Portsmouth?"
He grinned at me. "Take care, Bro. I’ll see you in hell." And with those poetic words he dropped the clutch and left about twenty feet of rubber on the asphalt.
I took off and never looked back. Zak stood his ground. He’s been dead some nineteen years.
Every time the phone rings or the door knocks I think it’s my turn.