The Club Girl - A Characterization by Joe McDonald

The button clicked under my thumb and I heard the ‘beep’ noise go off on my Mustang as it always does when I lock it.  When the noise sounded I felt my heart flutter.  The alarm was my car’s way of telling me “I can’t guide you anymore; you are on your own.”

It was not like I was scared to walk to my destination; it was more like I could sense the exhilaration building up in me.  The only sound I could hear was my heels clicking on the concrete of the parking lot as I closed in on the front doors.  The bouncer winked at me and motioned for me to keep going.  I smiled back flirtatiously; batting my eye lashes a moment, making him feel like he had a chance.  My smile was worth more to him than the ten buck he’d receive for working that hour.

I work at Hooters so I know how to work a guy into getting what I want.  If I want a bigger tip I just lean over the counter a bit more; if I want to enter this club without getting carded, I just flash the pearly whites.  I live in a world where being gorgeous is a trait that can be handy, so I might as well take advantage of it. 

The music was pumping hard as I entered through the doors.  No matter how many weekends I spent at the club it is was always a sight worth taking in slowly.  The music beat so hard in the room you could feel it slamming through your body making every nerve jolt.  At first you need to adapt to the weird vibration coursing its way through your body, but the adrenalin usually made it easier to withstand. 

The smoke was usually the second effect to hit you when you entered the club, only behind the loud music.  It had that ashy fragrance that seeped into my nostrils.  It’s a difficult scent to explain as it mixes in with the perspiration of everyone dancing and also the strong aroma of alcohol.  If the mist doesn’t knock you on your ass from the smell, then surely when it hazes your vision you will become aware of it just as I seemed to experience a moment ago.

When my vision came back I cursed my eyes because a few moments later I gazed directly into a few strobe lights and lost it once again.  As far as fancy effects and lights go that would be the last obstacle to overcome. 

I overlooked the dance floor, scanning for familiar faces and possibly even targets.  I giggled a moment at the thought of all the boys in the room as “targets.”  Let me clarify what I mean when I call all the males in the room by this term.  I am not by any means a projectile that needs to go find a target that I was assigned to destroy.  I don’t have to move from my spot to attract anyone.  A boy is a target because if I need a drink, he shall get me one.  Sometimes I have to ask him and work for it and sometimes I don’t.  It sounds petty, but you’d be surprised how common this happens with girls my age.  I am a freshman in college with no money just like everyone else.  I need my alcohol fix somehow, and this method always works. 

I work my way down the multi-colored stairs onto the dance floor.  I would have descended quicker if my heels hadn’t fastened to the sticky ground with puddles of soda and bubble gum on it. 

In my experience the best way to make your way through the overcrowded room was to just keep walking and ignore the thousands of eyes that seemed to all be fixated on you.  Or maybe they just noticed me because I am, well…me?  Anyway, just part the mass of people like Moses. 

When I reached my comfort zone on the floor I began to get my “groove” on.  I’d never actually call dancing by that phrase but it seemed to fit the bill.  My hips popped in and out, and my ass shook as I began to work my stuff.  Even though I had only been dancing a few minutes I could feel a few beads of sweat descend down my neck and into the cleavage of my tank top.  My hair flared violently out as I was moving to the thump of the bass. 

And like clockwork my brown eyes sharpened and lips smirked upward.  Target acquired.  A tall guy with blonde hair and way too much cologne on came over to me with a beer in each of his hands.  He handed me one and gave me a nervous smile; the kind that told me this was his first time to a club.  His eyes were anxious and darting all over my body as he admired what he saw; and why shouldn’t he? 

I downed the beer as he leaned down and screamed what I thought his name was into my ear.  I shrugged and mouthed “bye” to him as I turned around and began walking to a new part of the floor.  Within seconds I was just another faceless dancer on the floor waiting for some more attention.

This was pretty much how I started every Friday night of my life.  The world I have surrounded myself in is full of hurtful guys and selfish girls.  You either take advantage of someone, or have it done to you.  Hey, I’m not justifying that we are good people; I’m just saying this is my life.  The free beer is always a plus, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy playing around with people.  It excites me to be in a room full of testosterone and perverted dreams…and still come out the winner.

Grave Digger - A Characterization by Joe McDonald

Death is a hell of a thing.  A hell of a thing, it is.  They say a person dies every three seconds around the world.  Just this very moment some poor soul is gone in an instant.  The grim reaper takes everything that person has and all he’s ever gonna have.  I figure the people I bury are the lucky ones; I’m the man who buries the sons a bitches.

I got up at five-thirty in the morning as always.  I didn’t need some fancy alarm clock to wake me up; it was programmed in my mind and has been for the last forty-plus years.  A man in my shoes doesn’t need much sleep anyway.  I’ve seen things in my lifetime that would frighten Satan himself.  My mother used to ask me before she died so many years ago, “Jim, how come you became a grave digger down at West Clover cemetery?” 

The answer should have been simple for her.  My dad died at a young age, and my mother struggled with bills, but made sure I had a roof over my head.  We were poor people; the kind society gave up on long ago.  My mother could never find a job until she eventually took up prostitution.  Middle class folks would ride her like a damn horse.  If people think working for a cemetery for forty years is the worst part of my life I’d have loved to introduce them to my mom as she was going down on some faceless paper pusher. 

The point being, what choice did I have in my career path?  I could work like a horse back in my prime.  Hell, I still do and I am pushing sixty-five.  That cemetery was willing to hire a kid from the slums, so I had to take it.  I had no education, no money, and when my mom died I had no place to stay.  There was a brief period when I lived in the tool shed at West Clover.  Now I at least have an apartment in walking distance of the cemetery.

Those thoughts seemed to penetrate my mind everyday when I woke up.  I basically started my life in a cemetery in a small town in Nebraska, and god damnit I was gonna die there one day too.  I had no regrets because I never had a chance for a better life.  I never married or had kids and to be honest I’m not gonna apologize for it.  I don’t have anyone out there to please ‘cept myself. 

I put my faded red flannel shirt on, along with my worn jeans and work boots.  Oh the scents these clothes have!  The stench of a thousand corpses and the whiff of a thousand days worth of back-breaking sweat. 

I only gave myself a few minutes to dress and such because I always walked to West Clover and the one satisfaction I’d get was to watch the sun rise as I made my way there.  There was something about it that filled my heart with a sort of feeling of hope or happiness that gets me through the day.  Like maybe I won’t be too depressed today about being the last person to cast my eyes down on a lifeless carcass.  I never got too depressed because I really never got emotionally attached to anyone in my life, but like I said it’s a hell of a thing to stare death in the eye everyday and have it not shake ya.  I don’t have much to live for; I’d be the first to admit that.  People come all dressed in black, mourning their friends and family, and they’ll see me digging some hole in the ground.  They don’t wave or nod their head to me.  They don’t greet me or talk about the weather.  They just sorta stare at me for a few moments…knowing that when I am digging a crack in the earth that means another soul has been claimed in town.

I walked to the burial ground watching the sun come out of hiding.  It rained the night before, so I noted that it’d be softer soil to dig today.  It didn’t matter much to me if it was hard or soft ground, it still had to be dug either way but it was worth noticing. 

I guess the trek to West Clover is about, oh, two or so miles.  No cars traveled the path ‘cause it wasn’t a main road in town; well I’m not even sure if there is a main road in town.  Nonetheless, not many traveled it. 

When I saw the rusted, iron gates in view there was Mr. Keller waiting.  Mr. Keller was the man who managed the cemetery as far as who gets buried where, and all the legal business.  He assigned me where to dig and that was usually the end of the conversation.  Today was Tuesday so there was no need for him to give me my money.  I only got paid on Saturdays. 

“Morning Mr. Keller.”

“Good morning Jim.  How’s it going?”

I watched him smoke his pipe and give me that stupid half grin he always gave everyday.  One of these days when I lose my senses I swear I’ll slap that grin right off his face.

“It’s going, as usual.  I guess ya got some holes need digging?”

He handed me a piece of paper with a name on it.  He gave the number of the plot he wanted dug up in the cemetery.  Each plot of land had a number, and each plot represented where a person would be buried once I dug the whole.  I’m sure up north there are better systems to handle this but we did well with the way things were.

“Ok Jim, I’ll let ya get to it.  I got a meeting with a family up at my trailer.  If you need me, just come get me.”

And with those words he turned and left.  We had this same conversation ever since he took over West Clover.  What the hell would I need him for when I was digging?  I just mumbled under my breath and went to the tool shed.

The shed was dry rotted and had been for years.  I told Mr. Keller we needed a new shed years ago, but that fell on deaf ears.  There were holes in the roof, so the rain eventually rusted the tools we had in there.  It didn’t matter much to me as long as I could use them. 

I picked up the shovel I tended to use more than the others.  The wood was solid on the handle still and the spade had a few rust patches, but overall it was in good shape.  I headed over to plot number 4-26.  There were a few grave sights that were already used scarcely around the plot I was to open.  I kneeled down to examine the tombstone I was about to dig for. 

“Charlie Pandoon.  Born February 19th 1949.  Died October 7th 2006.”

That was only a few days ago.  I knew they were having the funeral today sometime after noon.  Father McKenzie would probably show his face in a few hours.  When he showed up early he’d give me the gossip of the town, as if I was interested.  He was a nice man, and always looking for a friend.  I guess he felt we were friends, I dunno.  It didn’t bother me much to bullshit with him.

The next few hours passed by slowly.  Rightfully so since all I did was dig a six by eight hole.  I had to take the dirt by wheel barrow to a large pile we have on the back side of the cemetery property.  It was hard work, but very quiet.  I especially enjoyed working on early autumn days like today.  There was a gentle breeze that touched my face making the sweat on my face and back cool down.  It was also cloudy, so the sun was not beating down on me.  Actually, it was quite an eerie day as it was silent with no movement anywhere, not that there was much excitement in a grave yard.  I smiled on that last thought.

The hole was done.  I trudged over to the shed, breathing a bit hard, and put the shovel away.  No sooner had I leaned against the shed to rest, a figure popped out from one of the dying apple trees a few yards away.  It was Father McKenzie. 

“Hello Jim.  I see you have dug up poor Mr. Pandoon’s resting place.  Sad times for his family.  What an unfortunate event.”

I raised my brow at him as we went through this every time I saw him. 

“I guess so Padre.  I wouldn’t know much about the loss of anyone, and you know that.  All I know is someone has to dig those holes and it might as well be me.”

McKenzie nodded his head understandingly and left, most likely to seek out Mr. Keller.  I on the other hand was going to take a nap behind the shed until I had to assist with covering up the deceased Mr. Pandoon.

The Retired Killer Clown - A Characterization by Joe McDonald

The train station was cold tonight; well colder than usual.  It probably had a lot to do with the Autumn season changing into Winter within the week.  That was the logical explanation, but then again it could be that scruffy looking character sitting on the worn, wooden bench waiting for the midnight train to arrive.

Now, this man stood out for a few reasons.  First and foremost, there was no one else waiting for the train.  It was unusual for people at this station to be taking the midnight train.  But the other reason you would notice him, even if there was a crowd waiting, was he only had one arm.  You don’t see many people with one arm walking down the street, but then again you don’t meet a former “top ten most wanted” criminal everyday either.  Unfortunately this man had both characteristics under his belt.

Doug Narson, or Doug “The Mug” as most people knew him by, is well past his prime.  He sits there innocently re-reading the same ticket over and over, but you never really know what’s going through his mind.  You could try to read his eyes I suppose, but his left eye is lazy and you’re not even sure he’s paying attention. 

Amazing how some people turn out isn’t it?  At one time this man was a circus clown wanting only to entertain children of all ages.  A few years later he brutally killed almost everyone in the audience at a show he was supposed to perform at.  No one really knows why.  Hell, he doesn’t even know why he did it.  It didn’t appeal to him or even make him feel good.

The best part about it was he got away with it.  Not even a slap on the wrists.  When the few survivors told the police who had killed members of their families or friends, all they could identify was a clown.  All the performers and entertainers were dead in their dressing rooms, so no one knew the man behind the make-up.  Old Dougy ran out of the tent when the deed was done and fled to Canada.  He never looked back.

Now he travels from town to town, never staying in the same place too long as he is forced to look over his shoulder every second of every hour.  Sleep is a privilege that rarely comes to him.  He flees everywhere he goes to protect himself from the law, but every day he lives is just a terrible realization of who he is and what he has done.

The Badass - A Charactization by Joe McDonald

It was two O’clock in the afternoon on a Saturday and I was stuck working the register at Super Fresh instead of being with my girlfriend.  The worst part about it was that absolutely no one was even shopping, and who in their right mind would be anyway?  Maybe a few single moms or lonely bachelors, but that was about it.

My eyes were practically shut when the throaty sound of a V-8 screeched outside the big windows by my register.  I didn’t take much interest in it but it did wake me up from my daydreams.  I watched a mint green Mustang convertible get parked in one of the handicap spots near the front doors.  Without opening the door, a man about fifty-something jumped out and began his trek towards the store.  Either this guy was a badass, or mentally unstable.  Either way he was a change of pace.

He strutted in and took off his sun glasses putting them in the front pocket of his faded high school varsity jacket.  His long gray hair looked like it had been dyed, but needed to be redone.  He walked past one of my co-workers, Becky, and winked after pointing at her.  Wow, he’s only about triple her age. 

He went down one of the aisles and I lost sight of him.  The man perked my interest.  He was one of those dirty old guys that would hang at strip clubs and reminisce about how he made a game winning shot in his senior year of high school about thirty years ago.

After hearing the taps of his leather boots, he came whizzing out of the healthcare aisle and strolled up to my register.  He didn’t say a word or wink at me, and I didn’t say anything either even though I was always supposed to ask the customer “did you find everything ok?”  I knew he had since his one and only item was a box of condoms.  I wanted to give him a stick of gum on me to hide his putrid smoke infested breath.

After I rang the box up he handed me a few crumpled up bills, told me to “keep the change” and left the register.  I used the tips of my fingers to transport the money into the register, knowing they were probably down some girl’s g-string at one point.  On his way out he whistled over at Becky again and headed for his Mustang.  He scorched out of the parking lot probably blaring Kenny Loggins or something, and that was the last I saw of him.  I wasn’t attached or anything, just bored.