Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Guest Writer: Elliott Cox

I Lean on Jim

Roman stared at his companion for a moment, sizing him up. The man with no hair and a bushy gray beard took a long pull from his label-less beer, licked his lips and gave Roman a wink and a nod, “Jus’ what I see, you up-tight sumbitch. Let the trout lick your toes a bit ‘fore you grab ‘em is all I’m sayin’. Loosen up, man. Beer?”
Roman didn’t acknowledge the brown bottle that the bushy-bearded man was offering him and said, “How did you know what I was thinking?”
“Thinkin’? Son, you were slobberin’ all over yourself like a bulldog on slippery pork-chop night ‘bout the time that lady threw her blinds open.” The man put his calloused bare feet up on an empty chair. “Don’t take no rocket-surgeon to figger out what was floatin’ through your melon.”
“Smiley,” Roman would call him, he didn’t seem to do much else, other than drink beer and wear that goofy grin. “Alright, Smiley…”
”Name ah Jim”. Roman stopped. “Sorry?” The old man put his feet flat on the concrete pad, leaned into Roman and said, “I go by the name of Jim.”
“Oh, sorry, Jim. I was just saying…”
“Where I come from, you tell a man your name, he tell you his.”
“Oh, right. Sorry, Jim. My name is Roman.” Jim smiled and nodded. “Go on.”
“Don’t you mean, ‘go on, Roman,” with a smart-assed grin on his face.
“Tell ya story, boy. Don’t make me jerk a knot in ya head, just tell ya story.”

Roman cleared his throat to break the tension and said, “I was just sitting here minding my own business, I caught some movement out of the corner of my eye, I turned to look…a lady was waving to me…and that was that. End of story”
“Mmmm-hmmm.” Jim finished his beer while looking at Roman. “End of story, huh? Whatcha workin’ on now?”
“I’m not working on anything now. That was it. That’s all.”
“Son, I been around the block a few times in my day, and I’m gonna tell ya, you full of it. If ya wanner, go getter. I don’t mean rape or nothin’, try that an’ I’ll cut ‘ya balls off my own self, ain’t no man worth bein’ called a man’ll do that. I’m sayin’ jus’ go be yourself. If it is, then it is, if it ain’t, it ain’t. Just do ya thang.”

Roman stared at her closed curtains the whole time Jim was talking. He looked back to give Jim the thumbs up, but Jim was gone, bottles and all. Roman went through the door to her building, up the stairs and stood outside her door. He knocked on the door and immediately ran back down the stairwell.
Idiot, idiot, idiot, Roman thought with each footstep as he worked his way back to his room. He splashed cold water on his face, grabbed two more beers, and went back to his courtyard.

The blinds in her window remained silent and still, although Roman could swear he saw them move every few seconds.
“Well, son, how’d it go?”
Roman jumped at the sound of Jim’s voice. “Jesus, man, you scared the crap out of me!”
“Just cause I’m old don’t mean I’m clumsy. Beer?”
Roman accepted the cold beer from the man and popped the top.
“So, how’d it go? Ya get ‘er?”
Roman took a long drink while shaking his head. “Didn’t have the stones, Jim. I got as far as knocking on her door and I bailed down the stairwell.”
Jim tisked and said, “Tell me Rome, what’d she look like? When you saw her through the window, I mean.”
“Well, she had brown hair and a pretty face. That’s about all I could see.”
“Seems to me you seen a whole lot more than some hair and a face. You wunta been so ga-ga over just some hair and a face.”
“I don’t know, Jim. I’ve been on the road, wrapped up in work for so long that I never took the time to start a family. I can count my serious relationships with women on zero fingers.”
“Looks like you might jus’ get that chance.” Roman looked at him and Jim nodded toward the woman’s window. Roman turned to look and saw her standing there looking at him. She made the gesture for “one minute” while mouthing the words, and went back into the room. Roman, eyes wide and mouth agape, looked back at a smiling Jim.
“Better close ya pie-hole, son. You gonna catch a fly.”

The door of her building opened and she walked toward the men, frozen drink in hand and a smile on her face. Roman just stared and tried not to look too dumb. She sat down beside Jim, gave him a kiss, and said, “So what ya’ll boys talkin’ ‘bout?”
“Roman, I’d like you to meet my wife. Eileen, Roman. Roman, Eileen.”
“How ya’ll doin’, Roman.”
Roman stared at Jim in confusion for a moment. “You two are married? Jim, why didn’t you tell me THAT instead of all that other stuff?”
“Well, son, you didn’t ask. Beer?”

© Elliott Cox 2010

Elliott Cox is an aircraft mechanic/avionics technician by day and a writer by night. His work has been selected to be included in two Six Sentences collections: The Mysterious Dr. Ramsey and Mind Games.


  1. Elliott, this is priceless - to start with I thought it was going to be a fishing tale, then I got totally entranced by the bloody-minded dialogue and finally hooked by the twist in the ending. A superb piece which well demonstrates your wide range writing.

  2. Great story, Elliot! Like the life lesson in it too: keep thinking of the next good question. Always! Good on ya!

  3. Well, I just think that was a mean trick.
    And what was the fetching Eileen doing with a bald, bearded, alcoholic geezer, anyway?
    Good 'un, Ell.

  4. This was a great piece Elliott! Not short on southern charm either!!! Loved it!

  5. HAHA This was great. I never saw that one coming. But serves him right watching her, like he did. (:=)

  6. Love the dialogue in this piece. Great twist at the end and overall a whole lot of fun.
    Adam B

  7. Jim should trade that "label-less beer" for a Dos Equis. Stay thisrty my friend.

  8. Enjoyed the story - lots of good dialogue. Poor Roman - Jim and Eileen were just toying with him.

  9. Well Elliott, you little trickster... I didn't see it comin'. The dialogue had me going the whole time, every word pulling the story along. Very enjoyable piece.

  10. It just goes to show you, sometimes we put our foot in our mouth without suspecting a thing! A very good story, Elliott!

  11. Well, I wasn't expecting that. Nice dialogue.

  12. Cool twist, Elliott. I thought Jim was going to be an imaginary drinking buddy. Your version was way better than mine.

  13. I've read this one a number of times since posting it and each time it makes me slobber like that dog on a slippery pork chop night. It's very funny, and told in that inimitable Elliott Cox way, wherein you don't know how it's going to go, and when you read the last sentence, you feel as if you've been had--in a very good way. Very much looking forward to "competing" with you during November's big thing.


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