JUNE 2007

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Jacques & Pierre
By Bradley Michael Hamlin, Jan 28, 2007
The big egg yoke burning in the sky threatened his hangover. Steve chose an outdoor table with an umbrella and felt the breath come out of his body as he slumped down onto the uncomfortable hard wooden chair. He looked at his watch, almost noon, should have been here by now, he thought. He motioned to the waitress and ordered a bottle of something he couldn't pronounce. Fucking France. He had heard so many strange stories and how the English hate them for their degenerate manners. Surprised I didn't make it here sooner, he thought.

The waitress set the bottle on the table with a glass and said something Steve didn't understand. He handed her some money but she didn't give him any change. Steve forgot all about it as she turned around and walked away.

He was halfway through the bottle when Pierre Boulle arrived and sat across from him. Pierre looked dirty, thin, worn-out, haggard as if he had just woken from some horrible dream. He said something in French and the woman brought him a glass. He poured himself a drink and said, "The Americans are killing me."

"It's what we do best."

Pierre grunted. "Hollywood is for imbeciles."

Steve shrugged his shoulders. "France ain't so hot."

"You ask me here to talk about the weather?"

Steve took a drink. "Where's Jacques Cousteau?"

Pierre frowned. "How the hell do I know, eh? Fucking scuba-diving for all I know."

"I thought you were coming together."

"You Americans are killing me," he said. He finished the bottle and snapped his fingers violently until the waitress with the good legs brought another. She frowned at Steve but he forgot all about it when she turned around and walked away.

"Hello," said Jacques.

Pierre and Steve nodded at Jacques and motioned for the waitress and another glass. She did it all on high heels, the best art Steve had seen in all of France.

Pierre laughed. "She's stealing your money, fool."

Steve said, "Huh?"

"Tomorrow," said Cousteau, his hair a seaweed tangle, the circles under his eyes dark as the ocean at night, "will be hammerheads."

"Do you feel," Steve asked, "like you're James Bond down there, in all that water, sharks surrounding?"

Jacques leaned over to Pierre. "What did he say?"

"He writes articles for America. He doesn't know what he's saying. Have you seen what the states have done to my novel La Plančte des Singes? They have changed the whole meaning. It was not supposed to be about this stinking Earth!"

Steve smiled. "Planet of the Apes? Wasn't it originally called Monkey Planet?"

"No, some idiot in England changed the name. Why would I call it Monkey Planet, then write about apes? Apes are not monkeys and vise versa, you fool!"

"Well," said Steve, "I thought it made a damn good movie. Charlton Heston will never make a better film."

Pierre threw his glass out into the street. "Fuck Charlton Heston!" He snapped his fingers for the waitress sharp and quick like an ol' beatnik at a poetry reading. Jacques raised his glass like a gentleman and said, "Fuck Charlton Heston."

Steve laughed. "I was going to bring a tape recorder so I wouldn't have to write anything down, but a girl stole my equipment last night."

Jacques raised his eyebrows. "Hooker?"

"I don't know," Steve said, "but I paid her to fuck me."

"Puffer fish," said Cousteau, "the Australian puffer fish has been known to give seashells to the female of the species just before making love."

"I once wrote a story," said Pierre, "about a man who sold parts of his body to an irresistible whore who also happened to be a cannibal. At the end of the story he can only give her head."

Steve spit out some wine and asked, "Did it get published?"

"Only in America."

"You must live each second," said Cousteau, "as if each moment lies inside the jaws of death, one more breath, one more glass of cheap shit wine."

Pierre snapped his fingers.

Steve paid.

The waitress walked away.

"What's it like?" Steve asked. "What's it like being the immortal champions of inner and outer space?"

Pierre threw his glass out into the street.

Jacques filled his glass.

"You are the greatest explorer in the world," Steve said, "but do you have any limitations?"

Cousteau drained his glass. "I can't get the hard-on," he said.

Pierre laughed and snapped his fingers for the waitress. This time she sat on his lap as she poured him a fresh glass. "I have a question," she said.

"In that book you wrote, the one about the monkeys. Could they be like that, you know, really intelligent?"

"Yes baby," said Pierre, "in outer space, they are like that."

He let his hand slip off her leg and touch her ass as she left the table.

"Love," said Jacques, his eyes cold and crazy, "is the only adventure worth exploring. Everything else is just another strange fish, another passing of the time, another empty room with a single chair by the window."

Pierre laughed and threw his glass out into the street.

Bradley Mason Hamlin lives in Sacramento, California. His poetry, short stories, and articles have appeared in several small press books, magazines, and literary journals. Hamlin created Mystery Island Publications and publishes a literary pop culture magazine called Mystery Island Magazine. Recent work includes the publication of Tough Company by singer/songwriter Tom Russell, featuring Charles Bukowski. Hamlin is also the creator of the metaphysical crime series Intoxicated Detective. He is married to the pop erotic model Lucy Hell. For more information about Hamlin and other wild things, visit here.

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