Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Judd Winslow: The Famous Rambler

Judd was down and out. He hadn’t had a job in years. Part of it he could blame on the economy, but that wasn’t the whole picture. Judd had only been good at one thing his whole life and that was precisely the thing he couldn’t bring himself to do anymore. It took a lot out of him remembering. The crowd, the love– a thing of the past. He had to find something else, develop a new skill. But what? He didn’t know.

Judd picked up the paper. Nothing; always nothing! A guy like him needed something real particular. His landlord would say particular don’t pay your rent on time. And as much as be begrudged him, it was true.
He decided to take what little money he had left and treat himself. Some ice cream, even a beer would be a nice distraction. The street wasn’t quiet. Gangs seemed to run it with impunity, but Judd couldn’t stop them. He thought about it. But it would just tempt him back to his old ways; that was something he couldn’t afford. The heartache was just too much.

The gang of kids was now stripping a car. Judd pretended like he didn’t see. The bar was just another couple miles away…

He managed to get there without much more temptation. Downtown was a little better, but not a lot. The thugs just managed to hide themselves a little better. They’d still steal and rob pedestrians, of course, but most always waited until nightfall.

Judd walked inside and ordered a Bud Light. It calmed his nerves being away from it all. Images continued to drift in and out of his mind; images of her. The alcohol hadn’t made him forget. She left him when he couldn’t stop. How could he when it brought so much?

He was three or four beers in. A nice buzz was starting. A loud noise blared behind him. Someone had swung the door open hard. It was unusual aggression for the time of night.

“Everybody put their money in the bag!” Judd hadn’t seen it coming.

“Everybody play nice and no one gets hurt, got it?” the voice continued. But Judd didn’t hear it. Other voices filled his brain. Judd, I can’t live like this! You’ve got to stop!

“Did you hear me, buddy? I said put your wallet, watch and what not in the bag?”

He didn’t hear him. He was daydreaming a nightmare. It isn’t a job, Judd, it’s a sideshow! I didn’t get married to a freak!

“I think he’s passed out,” an accomplice said, “just reach in and take his wallet.”

But something came alive in Judd. He started talking. He started rambling.

“Hey man, get off me! Don’t you know gun’s can really hurt a guy? I once knew a guy, seven feet tall that played basketball. He could’ve been in a league. A League of Their Own, now that was a great film, when Tom Hanks said there’s no crying in baseball. I went to see my first game when I was ten. Ten planets used to be one short the number in the solar system before they took Pluto away. They said it was a dwarf. I always liked dwarfs. Gimli was a load of fun. Did you ever have Fun Dip? My mom loved it. Had me bring her home some from store. Can’t ever make mom happy. I think I know all the lyrics to Don’t Worry be Happy. Ain't got no place to lay your head, somebody came and took your bed! Don't worry, be happy! The landlord say your rent is late, he may have to litigate, Don't worry, be happy!”

The burglars backed away. Before Judd could say another word they dropped their bags and ran out the door. The patrons of the bar were astonished. Judd imagined his ex-wife embracing him. She kissed him, told him how he had been a man all along and she was sorry.

No one showed any interest in Judd, however or even thanked him. They got their valuables from off the floor, assuming their hero was not right in the head. But Judd felt something inside again and that was worth more than praise or adulation. He could finally start down the long path toward being whole.

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