The Corner: Chapter Five

Chapter Five

I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise that Greg Marshall turned out the way he did. Granted, if I had a Dad like the Good Chief I’d be a complete fuck-up too. Growing up in a small town where your Dad is the chief of police would be bad enough, and that plus him being a holier than thou Bible-thumper must do wonders for your popularity. Young Gregory soon found a way around that stigma by doing things to prove he was cool, like vandalism and selling drugs.

Hence, G-Rock.

I’d imagine it’s the kind of thing that can make family dinner a little awkward. “Gee son, how was your day at school” “Well, don’t you remember Dad? You caught me with a dime bag during a random locker search.”

Since graduating a couple of years ago he and his two minions moved into one of the houses on the outskirts of town so as to expand on their criminal activities. They didn’t bother with having jobs or doing anything to account for they made their living and it was only a matter of time before they caught the attention of the Sheriff’s Office or the State Police. At that point Daddy won’t be able to turn a blind eye to it anymore.

It’s funny. You’d think that the Good Chief was enough of a hypocrite that he’d want a little cut of his son’s operation. No, he was above all of that. He’d rather take $100s to forget about speeding tickets and make sure that the flag was protected from gays than dip into sinfulness like that.

I’m sure Greg was as thrilled at the notion of driving his father nuts with a stunt like this as I was. After watching the Good Chief argue with camera crews and refuse to give any statements, I headed home to send my regards to G-Rock and congratulate him on a job well done. My high had been lessened a bit my the Good Chief’s thoughtless forgetfulness but it had been replaced by the high of my first attempt at organized chaos going so smoothly.

When I decided to get this whole thing started I’d figured the internet would probably be the best way to get in touch with Greg, and finding him online had turned out to be no trouble at all. Greg loved pimping himself out on the various social networking sites and included plenty of thinly veiled references to his misspent youth and current money-making enterprises.

Once I found him I created a generic email account, set up a mostly empty profile and sent him a message. It took a little doing, but I finally got a response

4corners: I’m looking for a source to get some weed and I’ve heard that you’re the man to talk to in the Barnesville area.

GtotheRock!: Yeah Im sure U R. Why don’t U look somewhere else NARC!

4corners: Not a narc, I’m just not really into walking up to a bunch of skate guys and ask for a dime bag. I’m sure you’d think that I was a Narc even more if you know who I was. I asked around, and Johnny Wicker said you had some good stuff.

GtotheRock!: Oh yea U know Wicker so I’m sposed to be all OK here’s sum smoke WHATeve, man

4corners: From what I hear, you’re my only option in this town, so what do I have to do to prove that I’m not some kind of cop? I can do pretty much anything but tell you who I am, and I can pay you well for the anonymity. About 3 to 4 times your normal prices.

GtotheRock!: make it 5 and we have a deal.

Ever the business man, our little GtotheRock! Daddy would be so pleased. He was the one that came up with the abandoned road marker drop spot. It was the kind of thing only a locally bred bad-boy would know about. Of course, going out there was a whole other story. I had visions of going out there and getting my ass kicked by a bunch of skateboarding drug dealers.

The only thing that would alleviate my anxiety was copious amounts of liquor but that had the added bonus of making it almost impossible to find a broken cement marker in the dark. I managed to find it without getting completely lost, left my money and staggered home. If my new drug-dealing friend was a man of his word there’d be a bag of weed I didn’t even want waiting for me the next night.

I returned, just as inebriated as the night before and lo and behold there it was. It looked like my name dropping of Johnny Wicker was enough to make Greg think twice about just taking the money and running, which was good because that would’ve changed the plan dramatically. On the way home from my intoxicated weed pickup, I thought one of the Good Chief’s deputies was driving up behind me and I tossed it down a sewer grate.

I guess just handling it was enough to make me paranoid.

From there, my messages were about how much I enjoyed his product, and how it was the only thing that made living in this town bearable. I was hoping he hadn’t just bagged up some oregano or something really terrible, but I figured my unusual paranoia about delivery had done enough to make me seem like a total freak. I hoped that as long as I paid money he was willing to put up with me and my bizarre methods. If he was giving me crap weed than all the better for him.

Of course, once I started talking about how much of a pain this town was GtotheRock! was only too happy to expound about it. I made a side remark about the Good Chief and how much a pain in the ass he was, and that was enough to open the flood gates. He was more than happy to go off on his old man, talking about what a giant hypocrite he was and how he made it so hard for him to just be who he was and do what he wanted.

Because every dad should give their son a chance to be a jobless, skateboarding drug dealer while covering up for his illegal activities. Anything else would be uncivilized.

Then came the ideas on what it would be like to really do something to piss his Dad off and make him look like a fool. Well gee, I told him, I happened to have a great idea for just such a thing. So great, I wish I could do it myself. Even greater than that, I’ll pay you to do it, just as long as you follow some simple instructions.

From start to finish it had taken almost a month for the whole thing to get rolling, including a week where I was sure I’d blown the whole thing since it took him a week to email me back. Turns out that week was his birthday, and the present he was giving me was an anxiety attack.

Once I got home from surveying his handiwork I sat down at the computer, logged onto my profile and sent him a note.

4corners: That was truly excellent work, and that little bonus you included in the package really made my day. I’m going to think up some more ideas for us to terrorize this little dipshit town with. If you get any bright ideas, let me know.

Of course, Greg’s version of a bright idea was to burn down the town offices building (y’know, where the cops and mayor work) or find a way to dose the whole town with acid. As much as I enjoyed his enthusiasm for our adventures in vandalism I needed to make sure he didn’t try any of that ridiculous Saturday morning cartoon shit on his own.

This was just the tip of the iceberg and needed him free and able to follow orders. The plan depended on it.

That night I dreamt of the corner.

It wasn’t the first time my waking nightmare entered my dreams as well. Generally speaking I was too wasted to dream at all, but some nights I feel asleep too close to sobriety like I was some sort of horrible Icarus, plummeting down into torturous dreams.

Like most of them I’m standing on the corner, watching Monica as she begins to cross. There’s the roar of the car and the squeal of the tires and I actually think “It’s going to be okay. She hears it, and she’s staying put. This asshole is going to drive right by.”

It’s amazing how self-delusion can find its way into your dreaming life.

The car rushes down the street and fishtails around the corner, and just like that day it corrects itself and heads right towards her. She’s freezes in the middle of the street and then she’s airborne. As she rolls over the hood and off the windshield everything slows down and unlike that day I can see the driver and passenger.

I’m driving and high-fiving Greg who’s sitting next to me.

I try to look away but my eyes fall on Monica, who is still in mid-air, her body bent at impossible angles. Even upside-down and bloody I can see that she’s staring back at me, and I can make out the expression on her face.

She’s disappointed.

If there’s anything remotely good about her death it’s that she never got a chance to give me that look in real life. Just seeing it in my dreams makes me want to never wake up.

Chapter Six

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About The Author

Thacher Cleveland

Thacher E. Cleveland is a contributing writer & columnist for PanelsOnPages.com, co-host of the Super-Fly Comics & Games PodCast, novelist & comic creator. Originally from New Jersey and previously from Yellow Springs, Ohio, he currently lives in Chicago. You can find him on Twitter (@demonweasel), tumblr, his personal website and even on Google+

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11 2011

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