Шлёнский Александр Семёнович: другие произведения.

The Drummer and the Rat

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The Drummer and the Rat

   Once upon a time there was a guy in the inner city whoes only passion was playing music. As he did not know how to play any decent musical instrument, he couldn't do any better than rattle his drum and howl like a jackal at night, even though he'd usually do it in the daytime.
   He did not have enough audacity to call himself a musician but he modestly named himself "Drummer". When people saw him pound his old greasy drum, they'd usually spit at the pavement in front of his feet and top it out with a couple of curse words. Not the best sign of recognition but still much better than cold indifference.
   Sorry to say, drumming was not enough fun to keep Drummer's life afloat. Fortunately, he knew that, on top of a nice tune, a good drink could always hit the spot. There'd be always someone in the street who'd grab him by his sleeve and growl: "Shut up, you bitch! Here's five bucks for you. Go get drunk and spare my ears!" And Drummer would always do exactly as said.
   Drinking alcohol might have been called his another passion albeit the word "addiction" had been already reserved for such a case. Not a very exciting lifestyle but if you've been raised in the inner city and remember yourself being abused every possible way though denied any manageable way to go in your life, you'd probably have been drinking too, all the same.
   The apartment buidling, which provided a shelter to Drummer, was condemned and abandoned long ago but still not demolished because the city did not have no funds. Well, it's not exactly like the city had no funds at all. Say, there were some funds for the mayor's wife's monthly Las Vegas getaway, the Forth of July fireworks show, the mayor's re-election campain and some other shit - but not for a decent bulldozer and a racket ball. Good for Drummer: he had some roof over his head and could live there rent free.
   "Thank you, Lord for the corruption of power and negligence of the society for it bestows upon the meek people a chance to stay who they are. Otherwise, they'd have been forced to strive for the survival and either become strong or die. And then, who shall inherit the earth?" Good or bad, but that was the Drummer's favorite morning prayer.
   Drummer was a very religious person. He got up about six o'clock in the morning and drag his skinny butt to the First Baptist Church for an early service and a tiny slice of an apple pie with a cup of cheap coffee. Two hours later he could be seen in the Mahayana Buddist Temple doing his morning meditation and topping it out with a glass of watery orange juice and a stale doughnut. Finally at ten o'clock he would appear in the Hasidic Synagogue and have some chicken wings and a cynnamon bagel. It always pays back to have a strong faith, especially an ecumenical one.
   In the whole wide world Drummer had only one friend but a very good one. His friend's name was NPR and he lived in a small plastic box called "the radio". NPR shared his box with many other guys and girls whoes names would always begin with a capital "K". KRFN, KYMX, KWLC... you name it. When Drummer felt like he could use some company, he'd push a button on the box and turn a little wheel to chase those other guys away and listen only to his friend.
   "Vintage Books, a division of Random House, is publishing the Iraq Study Group's report on U.S. strategy in Iraq", said NPR melancholically. "Like some other notable official documents, including the report on the Sept. 11 attacks, it may become a surprise sales hit".
   "I'll walk a wet string in Hell before I buy anything from the government", said Drummer.
   "Britney Spears and Paris Hilton have become close friends since the pop superstar filed for divorce from Kevin Federline, and the two are now like sisters, reports the San Francisco Chronicle", said NPR.
   "Now sisters, huh! I wonder, for how long?"
   But NPR did not answer Drummer's question. Instead, he invited some English John Billow guy into his box, to share some British news.
   "Police were called in Birmigham after a mass fight broke out between 23 teenage girls over a handsome male student", proclaimed John Billow proudly. "The girls, aged between 15 and 18, used brass knuckles, chains and beer bottles to fight over the lad whose name was not revealed".
   "I'll be damned!" said Drummer. "Sure enough those girls were like sisters to each other, too, before they met the guy".
   "Most of the participants ended up with black eyes, broken jaws, and multiple-fractured limbs", concluded John Billow in an irreproachable British manner.
   "Thank you very much, John!" wraped up NPR the news from London.
   "My pleasure!" replied John Billow priggishly and disapppeared from the box.
   "You've got pleasure, British boy, eh? Broken jaws, cracked ribs, lots of bruises... I had each and every dish out of this menu for so many times... Still can't figure out what kind of pleasure it is", Drummer mumbled. "British people, they are... God have mercy! "
   The NPR news sparkled some hunger in the Drummer's stomach, and he poked his hand into his pocket in search of a cookie. No doubt, the pocket was absolutely empty. "Ugly but unsurprising experience..." Drummer sighed. "After all, I never put the damned cookie into my pocket, to be straight". He paused for a minute, thinking, then he raised his face up and uttered very softly: "Hey Lord, I know you're too busy to throw in a cookie for me but how about just a couple of little breadsticks?"
   No one replied. And sure enough, the pocket remained as empty as it was before.
   "It's okay, Lord. Never mind! I know you are too busy, helping other people. How about a little tuna for my dinner? Of course, no tuna! Have no bread either, and no tuna, but can always play a little tune." He grabbed his drum and started tapping but, surprisingly, no sound came out. Instead, his hand suddenly dropped into a big hole in the drum's skin.
   "Holly-molly!" Drummer yelled. "Who dared to make this damned hole in my property?"
   "I did", said the voice from inside the drum. Drummer stuck his hand into the hole again, trying to catch the perpetrator and, soon ehough, caught a long skinny tail. "Got ya, bastard!" exclaimed Drummer and pulled the tail, and whoever was attached to it, out of his damadged property.
   "Don't you grab my tail, brother! Let go or I bite your hand!" said the perpetrator.
   "You ruined my drum, buddy!" said Drummer with a bitter voice, releasing the tail.
   "Listen man, it ain't your drum anymore! I declare it my house, and I am gonna live in it rent free! Ya dig?"
   "Shoe'nuf, you rat!" said Drummer. "So what?" replied the Rat.
   "What do you mean "what"? You ruined my life! How would I play my music now?"
   "Your music sucks, man! Don't you know that already?"
   "Tell me then, what I don't know!"
   "Forget the f... drum, man! You need something else."
   "How so?"
   "You don't understand no rhythm, brother! How can you play a drum, huh?"
   "What instrument can I play, then?"
   "Why wouldn't you try an Irish warpipe."
   "An Irish warpipe? But why?"
   "Listen to me, man! Was grinding the electric wires in the school down the street, the teacher telling the class that Irish people used to listen to the bloody pipe, to prepare themselves to die."
   "Die how? Commit a suicide altogether?"
   "No. Die in a battle with the British."
   "Fight the British... commit suicide... Wellhell, what's the difference?"
   "There is no difference, ye'right. But the point is: if they're gonna die anyway, they shouldn't care too much, which music to listen."
   "How can you be so sure?"
   "Look, man! If you was gonna die in an hour or so, would you care about the fucking music, at all?"
   "Me, no whatsoever... But what if those Irish people would hate my music so much that they decide to kill me first, then kill the British and then die themselves. Remember, they are dead men walking, have nothing to lose! They must be as ruthless as fire ants! So what should I do then?"
   "Can you drop the pipe and run away real fast?"
   "Oh, man!"
   "I ain't no man, brother! I'm a Rat."
   "I know you `re a rat but actually, you sound like a black person. Are you a black rat?"
   "Yes, sir! I am African-American. Which is, yes, black."
   "If you say you're black, how come your hair is gray and your tail is pink?"
   "My blackness is inside. You can't see it but you can hear it. Are you happy now?"
   "Copacetic! Fuck, man, I told ya I can't live without my music!"
   "Then, buy yourself an Irish pipe, stop whining and start playing."
   "I ain't got no money!"
   "What's your problem, brother? Put your little gun into use, rob a fucking bank!"
   "But I don't have a gun!"
   "How come you don't have a gun? Everybody has a gun in this country!"
   "You think? Why?"
   "Because you know what they do down there? Those hillbillies start shootin' at me every time they see me in their backyard! That's how they use their fucking guns and the second Amendment!"
   "Does the second Amendment say that you can use your gun to rob a bank, too?"
   "Look, brother! Second Amendment does not tell'em they have the right to shoot a colored person like me in their backyard, either. It all depends on how exactly people understand the American Constitution."
   "I don't think anyone underdstood the American Constitution right since the very time it was written."
   "Finally you got the truth, white boy? That's right, brother! Every man for himself! So, you need a gun. A big one. Tell you what... the cops in the streets are running in packs, and they all carry guns. Why don't you go out and take one?"
   "But I can't! No cop won't give me his gun, no sir!"
   "Well, ye'right. A cop won't give you his gun, `cause he needs it himself. That's why you have to catch him by surprise and..."
   "Kill a cop? Do you know what they do with cop killers?"
   "Did I tell you to kill a cop? All you need to do is squirt some pepper spray into his eyes. Then you can empty his holster."
   "I have no pepper spray either. I don't have even a breadstick for my dinner!"
   "I've got a little piece of cheese. You can have it if you want."
   "Where is it?"
   "In my house."
   "Where's that?"
   "In the drum, man. It is my house now. Remember?"
   "Holy monkey spit! It's parmesan! Smells like heaven!"
   "I don't eat shit, brother!"
   "That's good to know."
   "And do you know why I don't eat shit? Because I do not steal shit! When you don't have to pay for what you're taking, you're supposed to take the best stuff. That's the rule."
   "Well, thanks for the snack, man!"
   "I ain't no man, didn't I tell you already?"
   "Yes you did. Now, how can I get the pepper spray?"
   "Go to the St.Patrick park tonight. Walk all the way through, and in the back of the alley you will see a fat girl with a little dog taking a shit."
   "Who's taking a shit? A girl or a dog?"
   "I don't know. Maybe they both taking a shit. But let me finish. The dog's name is Jerry W. Smith Junior. He is Jack Russell terrier."
   "I don't get it. What's the dog's name really - Jerry Smith or Jack Russell?"
   "God have mercy! Just call the dog by his name, and stroke his back, and he won't bite you. Then you should start raping the fat girl."
   "I can't do it, man! I have faith! First you wanted me to become a bank robber, now you ask me to be a rapist? How can you live with yourself!"
   "Chill out, brother! Just listen. You don't have to rape the fat girl for real. But you have to pretend you're going to rape her. Once she gets scared, she'll take out a bottle of pepper spray out of her pocket to protect her virginity. That's exactly what you want."
   "I don't want her virginity! Had not my father and my uncle screwed my butt every day when I was a boy, I'd be a virgin myself!"
   "You don't need her virginity, you need her spray bottle. Wait for that moment, snatch it out of her hand and quickly disappear."
   "Then what?"
   "Then the fat girl will become real mad and call the cops. By the time the police arrives, you'll be hiding in the bush and waiting. When a cop comes out of his car, spray his face, grab his gun and the car key and drive away."
   "What? Now you want me to steal a police car! "
   "I am not telling you to steal a police car! Just drive it a couple of miles away from the park and leave it in an empty street."
   "I can't do it."
   "Do you want to play real music, man?"
   "Okay, okay! I'll do it!"
   "That's my boy, man! That's my boy! Go for it! Well, wait!"
   "What now?"
   "Here's a condom for you. It's in the drum. Take it, just in case."
   "You rat! You told me I'm not raping the fat girl for real! So, why do I need a condom?"
   "Well... You never know how a dead rabbit may come in handly."
   "What do you mean by that?"
   "It's just a line from a very funny movie about a dead man. The guy had a cable TV, so I used his house as my movie theater for a while. Well, I've got no movie theater anymore, cause I ate his cable."
   "I think I understand why those people were shooting at you. They don't shoot at you for your being black, they shoot at ya `case you're a real rat!"
   "Yes sir, I'm a rat! But if I was a white rat, they wouldn't shoot at me, they'd rather call the cops. By the way, I didn't cause no harm to the guy until he started huntin' at me, as if I was an animal. Yes, I ate his cable but he drew the first blood."
   "Drew the first blood? What do you mean?"
   "Nothing. It's just a line from another movie I watched at his house. Are you gonna get yourself a gun or what? Go!"
   "Okay", said Drummer, took the Trojan condom out of the drum, put on his old trench coat, and off he went into the wild blue yonder.
   The Rat dove into the drum and swallowed the rest of the parmesan in a split second. A minute later he started tapping a beat with his tail and rapping: "If rats ate cats and wore cowboy hats, if they could fly like bats, never pay their debts, have their own pets and their own jets...". Then he suddenly fell asleep and started snorring so loudly that the old drum began shaking, rattling and sliding around the floor.
   To be continued...

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