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Quinn the Mighty
Chapter 2: Deacon and the Seven Dwarves

by chad    April 30, 2002


Quinn smoked for 36 minutes on the loading dock. Morty reappeared.

"I know this incident has been especially stressful for you, but I do need you to watch the till while Hunter and I go to lunch," Morty said.

"Stressful," Quinn huffed. "Stressful is not the word. Try detrimental, or excruciating, or mind-altering."

"Um ... whatever. Watch the till. Okay?"

"Yeah."

Quinn flicked his still-smoking butt into the air. A perfect acrobat with its head on fire, the butt did four tight back flips and landed in a puddle of muck that had oozed from the faux-Italian restaurant next door.

"Fuck right," Quinn muttered.

The temperature had been low that morning. But weather is a lying dog, well-worn and oft-cursed. It was now 89 degrees. Fahrenheit.

Quinn inadvertently drank his own sweat. The streaks trickled from under his long dark matted hair. He stank.

The lunch hour usually produced more business flow. Old ladies and snooty lawyers, finished with chicken salads and BBQ sandwiches, wandered the tables and stands, perusing, flipping, remarking on the store's evident dust predicament.

Quinn stood behind the counter, trying not to pass out from heat exhaustion. His 5'9" frame held nearly 200 pounds. He was far from obese, but neither close to a healthy playing weight. His T-shirt melted into a second wet-sponge skin. He was dreaming of pastrami sandwiches and clean shirts when an ominous form hovered outside the front door momentarily, then bounded through like a confused bull.

It was a man, yet more akin to a monster. Third-cousin to Frankenstein's creation. He stood a little over six-foot tall. His skin was dark, sun-used, a tough leather which appeared to have been sewn over his skeletal frame. A large square head sat where a neck should have been. Marty Feldman-eyes popped from beneath short-cropped hair, spiked all over like tiny black snakes with no sense of direction. He surveyed the new-found surroundings like a hungry wolverine cub. His eyes landed on Quinn. The monster-man smiled a yellow-tooth smile.

"Awwwshit," Quinn sighed.

"HI, QUINN."

"Hey, Deacon."

"CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS SHIT?"

Quinn mused how Deacon's voice only knew one volume: maximum. There was no variety. A monotone piercing that assaulted the senses.

"I SAID, CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS SHIT?"

At the end of his death-grip clamp of a hand was a flyer, recycled paper with green ink. Deacon's agitation prevented Quinn from reading it properly.

"Dude, calm the fuck down. We've got customers," Quinn said under his breath. A couple of the blue-hairs had given the duo a flash of disgust. "You can't come in here, swearing at the top of your lungs."

"Sorry, Quinn. But can you beLIEVE THIS SHIT?"

"Man, if you don't tone it down, I gonna make you leave."

"LOOK. JUST LOOK," Deacon said, forcing the flyer onto Quinn's chest.

"All right. All right."

Some of the local hippy population had been circulating these flyers. It was for a no-TV day tomorrow, a day in which no one would watch TV. Go outside instead. Hug some trees. Make love to some flowers.

"Yeah, so," Quinn said, finished reading.

"HOW CAN THEY EXPECT US TO DO THAT? NOT WATCH TV? THAT'S RETARDED."

Quinn smirked.

"I WATCH PLENTY OF TV. AT LEAST SIX HOURS EVERY DAY. AND LOOK AT ME. I'M FINE. IF I DON'T WATCH TV TOMORROW, DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I'LL MISS? A LOT."

"Dude. You don't have to. It's not like a law or anything. CALM DOWN."

Quinn noticed their dialogue was attracting too much attention. Folks expect order and peace when picking out their new Stephen King horror/thriller.

"HOW DO THEY EXPECT PEOPLE NOT TO WATCH TV? STUPID. THAT'S WHAT IT IS. STUPID."

"You're right, Deac. Stupid. Insanely stupid. Mental institution-style stupidity."

Deacon squinted at Quinn. A large vein throbbed over his left temple. A sudden spurt of fear tingled Quinn's spine. Deacon leaned slowly towards Quinn, his nose inches away. Baseball bat, baseball bat, Quinn thought nervously. Why don't we have a baseball bat? Deacon opened his mouth. Quinn grasped at possible escape routes. He was cornered. Out claws. On foul breath, Deacon whispered Quinn's death sentence.

"Dave-Barry," he said slowly. "Where-do-you-keep-the-DAVE-BARRY."

"Uh-uh, um ... " Quinn stuttered, surprised, stunned at the request. "Over there. In the Humor section, next to Business."

Deacon slowly turned his head in the direction Quinn pointed.

Under his breath, as if it were a CIA secret, he muttered, "Fucking hilarious. I love that guy." He turned sharply, awkwardly slaloming around the tables toward Humor. Unnnnh. Fire. Bad. Quinn sighed.

Crisis averted. All was again right in the world. Except the goddam heat. Quinn went about his sweating.

A man in a brown hat and glasses approached the counter with a stack of books. An elderly man, neatly dressed in a matching brown suit and brown tie, he reminded Quinn of William S. Burroughs, minus the drug-ravaged flesh.

"Could you ship these for me?" the man asked.

"Sure. It'll be extra," Quinn answered.

"That's fine. Here's the address."

The man produced a small card, an address scrawled on the back. Quinn recognized it as the State Penitentiary in Parchman.

"I can send these, but they don't always except large packages," Quinn explained. "They sometimes get sent back."

"That's all right," the man said softly. "They're for my son."

Deacon reappeared, like a humongous magician's rabbit.

"CAN I USE THE BATHROOM?"

Quinn spotted that he was holding an art book. Nude photography. "No, dude. It's broken. Sorry."

Actually, it wasn't broken. Despite the morning's explosive activity, the commode was in perfect working condition and cleaner than ever, but Deacon was well-known by the employees for spending long periods in their bathroom "reading." The art book tipped his hand.

Quinn returned to the elderly gentleman. "How would you like to send--"

"ARE YOU SURE?" Deacon interrupted.

Quinn stopped, turned to Deacon.

"Yes. I'm sure. It's plugged up from the last time you used it."

"WHY HAVEN'T YOU FIXED IT? YOU THINK YOU WOULD'VE FIXED IT BY NOW."

"Excuse me, sir. My friend here tends to be a bit impatient," Quinn said to the man. "Deacon. Look. You can't use the bathroom. Put the nudie book back. Give it a rest."

"JESUS!" Deacon shrieked, slamming the book onto the counter. He made an about-face and headed toward the Children's section. He sat with a huff into a small rocking chair. Quinn thought for sure it would've collapsed under his weight, but the child's chair maintained with a quivering creak.

"Sorry, again. Now, how would you like to ship these?"

*****

12:20. Forty minutes until nourishment. Quinn's stomach groaned. It moaned. It fucking squealed. It liked food, and Quinn wasn't one to discourage it's insane cravings.

Quinn stared at the clock. It smirked omnipotently. Gloating. "Fuck you," Quinn seethed.

The customers had slowly drifted away. New ones took their place. Perusers. Comparison shoppers. At least Quinn thought they were customers. Maybe they were only mirages, stemming from the heat-oppressed brain. Deacon was still there. Unfortunately, Quinn knew he was real.

He had been rifling through the Children's section. That's probably a good thing, Quinn thought, more his speed. Quinn glanced at the clock. He turned back. There stood Deacon. Quinn jumped.

"Fuck, dude! How do you do that?"

"DO WHAT?"

"Never mind."

"LOOK!" Deacon thrust a book into Quinn's face. Quinn took a step back. It was Snow White. Brothers Grimm.

"Yeah. So," Quinn said.

"YOU SHOULD BUY THE MOVIE."

"Now, why the hell would I want to do that?"

"THEY'RE PUTTING IT BACK IN THE VAULT."

"Who's whatsit?"

"DISNEY. THEY'RE PUTTING IT BACK IN THE VAULT. YOU WON'T BE ABLE TO BUY IT. OFF THE SHELVES. I GOT THREE COPIES. YOU SHOULD. THOUGHT I SHOULD LET YOU KNOW. DID YOU KNOW THAT?"

"Um. No. I didn't," Quinn uttered.

A grin crossed Deacon's face. Quinn could tell he took pleasure in knowing something Quinn didn't.

"WEEEE-EELLLLLLLLL. NOW YOU DO."

"Yep."

"YOU SHOULD GO BUY IT, THOUGH, YOU KNOW--"

"Man, I get the point. I'll pick it up tomorrow. I love that show. I really do. It's my favorite of all time. I especially like the part where the Queen's henchmen cuts out a boar's heart and pretends it's Snow White's. That rules."

Deacon was stunned. He was not used to having such tirades redirected at him. Quinn grinned.

Deacon turned, as if to leave again, then spotted a movie poster for The Sound and the Fury. It featured a fully-maned Yul Brynner standing over an apparently frightened Joanne Woodward. "No, Yul! Your hair. It scares me! Please, for God's sake, shave it!"

Deacon spun with a new-found vehemence. He was not about to be out-tiraded. This was war.

"DID YOU KNOW FAULKNER WAS A DRUNK?" he boomed. This statement caught Quinn miles off his guard.

"What?" Quinn managed.

Deacon engaged, jockeying for position. "A DRUNK. FAULKNER WAS A BIG DRUNK. EVERYBODY KNEW IT. HE WAS THE TOWN DRUNK. DRUNK HIMSELF TO DEATH. SOME PEOPLE SAY HE FELL OFF A HORSE AND DIED, BUT THAT AIN'T TRUE. HIS LIVER EXPLODED."

The words pounced from Deacon's mouth like a Muhammad Ali-flourish of combinations, smacking Quinn's ears with surmounting intensity. Left jab, left jab. Big drunk. Damn big drunk. Right jab, right jab, left. Yep, crying shame. Damn crying shame. Uppercut, uppercut, hook. Quinn's tolerance was down for the count. An obvious K'O. Down goes Frazier. He snapped.

Bounding across the counter with a nimbleness he had never known, Quinn grabbed Deacon by the shirt collar and managed to shuffle him toward the door. Deacon's gigantic Army boots thudded across the floor. Over the scuffle Quinn grunted, "We don't need that kind of talk in here. Faulkner is a national treasure. He is a literary genius. Don't come back until you know it." With a mighty heave Quinn propelled Deacon out the door.

Deacon stopped and collected himself, turned back around. Quinn caught his eyes. Puppy-dog-so-lonsesome-you-could-cry eyes. Quinn almost felt sorry. He slammed the door. But Deacon rebounded. His Hyde took over. His forehead crinkled, his brows angled towards his nose, he stalked away. Quinn exhaled.

He noticed the whole store, all five customers, were staring. Certainly, the whole episode must have taken the appearance of a minor brawl. In his frazzled state, Quinn could barely think or communicate. Only his mouth worked properly, although it was working from a third-party source.

"I'm sorry, folks. We at Dynamite Discount cannot tolerate such insults thrown at Mr. Faulkner. He is a treasure. A NATIONAL treasure. I hope this incident has not affected your consuming pleasure."

This seemed to quell the crowd's curiosity. They returned to their discounted diet books and used copies of Mein Kampf.

Quinn staggered to the counter. He could feel his faculties slowly releasing. Slowly packing for an extended leave of absence, not revealing the possibility of a permanent vacation. He sat on a high stool, propping his elbows behind him on the counter. His head fell back. Maybe, he thought, if his mental abilities were flying away, throwing his head back in such a manner would catch them if they decided to fall back to Earth.

He opened his eyes and squinted. A massive square hole had been carved into the ceiling. Ten feet above the opening a huge skylight had been placed, directly above the counter. Metal bars sectioned the glass into small squares. The glass was old. It's flawed translucence refracted the sun's radiance into a soft glow. In this space, between the walls, within the glow, Quinn thought he saw angels, nearly 20 feet above. Angels drifting in the air. He knew they weren't really there, but in his current state of distress and heat distemper, he wanted to believe badly.

They were long-haired beauties. Locks of gold drifted about their heads. Their mouths moved as if they were speaking, but Quinn couldn't hear the words. He closed his eyes and strained his ears. Nothing. But Quinn was certain it was a message. A message he needed to hear.

They held the purpose. They knew the answer. They wanted to tell him, but he was too far away to hear. Or too misguided. That's when it hit him. His mission. His goal. His duty.

A pyramid.

He saw a vast uncharted desert, the sand blowing and billowing in clouds. The dunes of his imagination cleared, and he saw it: a pyramid, rising out of the sun-toasted earth, reaching toward the heavens. He must have a way to draw nearer the angels, to hear their message. He went to work.

A pyramid.


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