Jim Ruland

Here I am in the streets of San Francisco, looking for a place to spend the eight bits burning a hole in me pocket.

Up at the car park me friend Duffy is after a scuffle with an overheated little man with a nicked fender.

Piss off, tosser! says he.

What's this? A huge mustachioed fella gets out of the car. I square off with the giant, throw me oar in so to speak, and give him a puck in the gob before he gets his hands up. His eye swells up like a bladder.

Beep beep!

Me mother pulls up in her jeep, tells us to knock if off or she'll bloody well run the lot of us over. Head down, I shake hands with Goliath.

Sorry that.

Pshaw. I deserved it.

I get in the jeep and we go. She's got an awful football jersey for me. It's made of blue velour, two sizes too big. I tell her it's brilliant and mean it.

She takes me to her flat with the bullet hole in the door, the faint notch painted over and fingered smooth. I see me brother Dexter's been busy, filling it up with furniture. Two sets of everything she could ever want. I wonder if she knows it's pinched.

It's like effing Noah's Ark in here, I tell her.

Mother makes the tea. I climb out the window.

I duck into a bar where the girls from the Catholic Society are selling sweets to raise money for the soccer matches in Sacramento. Ten cents a donut. The whole bleedin' box for a dollar.

You'll never make any money that way, I tell them, but what do they care? I pick out a jelly donut and give them all me money.

Thank ye, sir!

Ah, it's a grand cause, but what's this, luv? Why's the jelly green?

Because it's Saint Patrick's day, you eejit.

Crikey. So it is.

In the corner, a bunch of manky punks start their set. They're not any good, but they're earnest and it's early yet. Half the band goes shirtless, showing off fresh scars and anarchy tattoos. The frontman strips off his clothes and jumps around, making a holy show of himself.

Now, I ask meself, is that any state to be in when the girls from the Catholic Society are after selling biscuits and cakes? I wonder what Duffy or Dexter would do, and I'm not long in the wondering.

Mind your bollocks, lads, there's ladies present.

Fuck you, the singer snorts and he gives me the one-fingered salute.

I've never fought a naked man before and I don't favor the prospect, so back to the bake sale I go.

Don't be getting any ideas now, I tell the girls from the Catholic Society, cover your eyes like the fine girls ye are.

When their eyes are shut I make off with a box of donuts and start lobbing 'em up on stage like they do in the north. The green jelly makes a marvelous mess. It gets all over their beat-up guitars and spiky hair.

Take that you fecking art-school anarchists!

Me ammo gone I'm out of there, up the street and through me mother's window again. She whistles along with the radio in the kitchen. Skink the cat plink plonk plunks his way down the piano. I sit down and roll meself a fag as the teakettle starts rattling atop the stove, the most beautiful music of all.

Jim Ruland is a senior copywriter at a Los Angeles advertising agency and a veteran of the U.S. Navy. His work has appeared in Bikini, Blue Murder (forthcoming), Exquisite Corpse, Flipside, Linnaean Street, Pop Smear, Thin Air and the online supplement to Zoetrope All-Story. Further, Linnaean Street now features excerpts from his novel "The Spirit of Gravity."

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