Standing ankle deep in paranoia on the rise, I’m about to Heimlich Eddie until he gags up the name of whoever’s. …”
by ed markowski
Eddie Ray Bannister, the owner of The Undotted Eye on the corner of Vista Avenue and Sunset Street makes my double
Canadian Mist on the rocks a category four monsoon of the century in the dim and dank of this sot ravaged rain forest.
Looking down at the sink, Eddie runs a joke studded bar napkin around the rim of a beer mug until the napkin shreds
and disintegrates. Eddie whistles. Eddie shakes his downturned head. Eddie shrugs his shoulders. Eddie slips into his mystic
voice, “ You don’t have to say a word. I know all about it kid, and when it comes down to it, everybody’s palms sweat.
Anyone who tells you different, or denies it, is a flat out liar. Thing about it is buddy, down the road and around the
bend when it’s a fading speck in the rear view mirror, you’ll either laugh or kick yourself for all your worries because
it’s really no big deal. Look. See it from this angle kid, people around the world do it every day. If it works out then
it works out. If it doesn’t work out that’s how it works out. Laugh and relax. That’s the best way to handle it. “
MR. E as in eyes drops another quad shot half in my glass and half on my arm. Eddie pushes his sunglasses over a
topographic map of spider veins cascading down the North slope of his chalk white nose. He looks at me. I think he
looks at me. I can’t say that for sure because in the twenty – five years Eddie’s owned this ghost lodge, been the only
booze mule, and fence supreme, the only one who’s seen Eddie’s eyes is an urban legend who answers to the names
of Nada Nix, Nay Nay, No One and No Body.
Over the past twenty – five years the debate topic has been, Is Eddie blind ? Partially blind ? Disfigured ? Or bluffing ?
Every day, someone tries to trick him into exposing his private eyes. And, as a result of twenty – five years of total
failure, every day a different neighborhood Charlie Chan tapes together a new theory that will solve the twenty – five
year old mystery hiding behind Eddie’s cooler than cold, blackout black Wayfarers.
Ronnie Bender, The Flash Street Card Cheat claims Eddie’s mother blinded him with a blue candle on his third
birthday to prove the traveling faith healer who kept his hands concealed beneath her skirts, slacks, blouses, and
bra’s, every time he rolled through town, and who planted the seed that miraculously blossomed inside of her on
her forty – fifth birthday wasn’t a fraud.
Odd Number Ozzie swears a pineapple grenade flash blinded and enlightened Eddie in a Zen Buddhist Temple
two hours after he won his platoon commander’s wife, house, money, car, dignity, and honor, pitching piasters
on the temple steps during a lull in The Tet Offensive on Valentine’s Day, 1968.
Easy Street Evelyn from Chattanooga vows Eddie slurped and soaked up some super mean hillbilly juice fresh
from Lucifer’s Distillery after he drove a 1966 Chevy Malibu to victory in the 1970 Confederate Clash 500 at
The Stars and Bars Motor Speedway down in Bell’s Hollow, South Carolina.
During his last oriental team massage, Ace Wineski said Sandy Petrovich said Madeline Jackson said Ginger
Wilson said there’s nothing wrong with Eddie’s eyes other than their tendency to wander off, follow, drool,
throb, and stick to every dress, skirt, blouse, and halter top that sways down the sidewalks on Vista Avenue,
and up the center aisle at Our Lady Queen Of Apostles every Sunday before, during, and after the annual
Communion Parade. When Eddie’s fourth wife decided to remedy the problem with a full cup of battery acid,
she unwittingly improved Eddie’s vision by melting his eyelids.
Rank Frank Cassidy, The Plumber From Another Planet swears to God he watched Eddie gobble sixty – seven
cubes of Owsley Stanley’s neon sweet superfine Golden Gate Sugar on August 15th, 16th, 17th, and 18th, 1967.
According to Rank Frank, Eddie destroyed his vision on the 18th when he mistook a beach ball for the sun,
and watched it bounce all the way across the sky from China Bay to Tokyo.
A week before he reached the top rung of the heroin ladder six feet beneath the holes in the soles of his
shoes, Junior the junkie let it be known that Eddie’s been performing as the star morphine mummy in the
Motor City’s All American Junkie Jamboree since he met his leading lady, and wife for life, Chyna White
at a Halloween party on Bayonet Avenue in 1974.
Personally, I’ve got Eddie painted and packaged as an ace hustler who can out con, and con every major
league con artist from Jesus Christ and the Ayatollahs Too Many, to Hitler, Karl Marx, The Pope, Buddha,
Dick Cheney, Castro, Karl Rove, Leon Trotsky, PT Barnum, and Benny Hinn out of their women, watches,
money, jewels, and precious ideologies, while he hides in the shade of his cooler then cold Wayfarers.
Eddie turns his back to me. He rearranges his whiskey and vodka selections,
VO Crown Royal Old Crow Buffalo Trace Knob Creek Wild Turkey Evan Williams Virginia Gentleman
Pappy Van Winkle Seven Crown Gentleman Jack Kentucky Deluxe Four Roses Early Times Black Velvet
Absolut Absolut Citron Snow Queen Black Dot Minskaya Krystal Double Cross Xan Pinky Polar Bear
Sputnik Dragon Bleu Finlandia Ketel One Grey Goose Magic Spirits Glacier Three Olives Square One
All the while talking man to man with my reflection in the mirror behind the bar.
Eddie says, “ I like you kid. Always have. “
“ Why ? “
“ Your old man and your mother raised you the right way. “
“ How do you know that Eddie ? “
“ You don’t show up in the Eye trying to find what isn’t lost. “
“ I’ve thought about it.”
“ Keep it there where no one can see it. “
“ I thought about it ten minutes ago. “
“ I appreciate you keeping it inside. “
“ It’s been in there for six years Eddie. “
“ Like I said, your Ma and Pa raised you right. “
“ You have no idea of how hard it is to .”
“ To what ? “
“ Hold myself back from ripping the shades off your face. “
“ Here’s my face, big as the moon. Have at it kid. Tear ’em off. “
“ No. “
“ Why not ? “
“ That’d be the same as emptying a can of spray paint on the Statue Of Liberty. “
“ How’s that kid ? “
“ You’re a fucking neighborhood treasure. “
“ Spill some more kid. “
“ You’re a tourist attraction Eddie. Every business on Vista Avenue thrives on your mystery. “
“ Can you believe people waste their time staring at an old man. What the fuck is that about ? “
“ You’re a freak show Eddie. You should have the gawkers spit up a ten dollar cover charge. “
“ Bounce a little bit more off my ear drums. “
“ We’ll put up signs hundreds of miles away directing traveler’s to this sacred site. “
“ Like the Burma Shave signs? “
“ Bingo, Eddie. “
“ Like I said kid, your old man and old lady raised you right. That’s why I let it go on. “
“ Whatever it is it’s none of my business. “
“ A fucking men kid, and may God bless you. “
“ Eddie, everyone owns at least one secret that’s too personal to billboard. “
“ You got one kid ? “
“ I do. “
“ What’s it about ? “
“ It’s about that. “
“ Everyone has a price kid. I’ll give you five – thousand dollars for your invisible sin. “
“ Everyone has a price Eddie. I’ll give you five – thousand dollars for your Wayfarers. “
“ Come on kid, sell your invisible sin. “
“ Come on Eddie, sell your invisible eyes. “
“ Remember this, if it happens again after Saturday. “
“ If it happens ? If what happens ? You don’t know what it is. “
“ It’ll make everything fuckin’ impossibly difficult. “
“ What are you talking about ? “
“ Casting your line in the right lake. Dipping your divining rod in the right well. “
“ No riddles Eddie. “
“ You crushed that girl’s heart two years ago. “
“ How do you know ? “
“ I see enough kid, and I hear a hundred times more. In an hour we’ll map your loyalty location. “
“ What ? “
“ We’re gonna check your loyalty level. We’re gonna make sure you’re a safe bet. “
Standing ankle deep in paranoia on the rise, I’m about to Heimlich Eddie until he gags up the name of whoever’s
been spilling my personals down Eddie’s drain. Then, Eddie throws a curveball that throws me off balance. “ Look
kid I know damned well no one walks in here to take in the scenery, or to soak up my wisdom. So, what are you
looking for ? “ I ask, “ What’s on today’s swag menu ? “ He drops another quad of Mist, half in my glass, half on
the floor. Eddie smiles at the potato chip rack five feet to the left of my green naugahyde perch, then his sermon
of swag begins . . . . .
“ I’ve got lawnmowers, sparkplugs, socket sets, Italian Suits, goldfish, radios, Cuban Cigars, cigarettes, hubcaps, Valium,
Siamese Cats, cell phones, cases of coke, grams of coke, BF Goodrich Snow Tires, tuxedos, food stamps, mag wheels,
pool cues, Levi’s, canned hams, leather jackets, silk scarves, Ginsu Knives, Piston, Tiger, Lion, and Red Wing tickets,
three Apple Laptops, freshly hijacked Swanson Salisbury Steak TV Dinners, gold chains, Chinese Baby Formula, guns,
leather bound bibles, faux gold crucifixes, top notch monkey dope from Thailand that’s unconditionally guaranteed to
take you on a tour of Heaven before it kills you. And kid, word in the alleys is you’re gonna need a diamond ring
soon. The Ebony Elf dropped off some true beauties last week. Dial D R as in diamond rings to take a look see. “
Eddie almost tops off my drink. Glass shatters. A waterfall of Mist trickles over the lip of the bar. Eddie says, “ Ok
kid, hang like a bat. I ‘m gonna add some atmosphere to this tomb.” Jukebox bound, Eddie slaloms through tables
and chairs, bumps into tables, upends two chairs, and knocks over a beer. Upon arrival, he searches for the coin
slot. Quarter one hits the floor. Quarter two hits the floor. Quarter three hits the floor. Eddie’s index finger finds
the slot. Quarter four slips in. Sinatra crooning The Way You Look Tonight slips out. Eddie’s snapping his fingers.
Eddie’s dancing, Eddie’s singing. Dusty light bends and bounces off of his window shades. Mister E, The Baron Of
Booze, The Fence Fantastic, bumps, trips, bangs, stumbles and twists his way back to the bar yakety yakety yacking.
“ How about a crystal chess set ? How about a chandelier ? How about that diamond ring for your cookie queen ?
How about a five foot five inch North Korean Butter Cup for you to plant, water, harvest, ravage, and conquer ? “
I chase a mouthful of habanero pork rinds with a river of Mist. Eddie makes it back to the bar bruised blue up
and down both arms. “ Go ahead and place your order, “ Eddie says to the empty space four stools South of me.
I shrug. I shake my head. I feel the Mist slosh. I see the Mist thicken. My brain’s become a toxic water balloon.
I tell Eddie, “ Nothing on your swag menu tickles my tramp. “
“ Don’t chintz your chick when you’re this fuckin’ close to the finish line,” Eddie says.
“ I ‘m on a swag fast, Eddie. “
Eddie Jeterpivots faster and smoother than Derek, “ You’re what ? “
“ There’s nothing on your list I need or want. “
“ For Christ’s sake kid, do it the right way. The girl deserves it. “
“ You don’t know Monica. “
“ It’s a small world. “
“ You don’t know anything about her. “
“ The city’s even smaller.
“ What do you know about her ? “
“ She stuffs donuts, cuts cake, carves cookies, and smiles in the Sweet Spot’s display window. “
“ What else ? “
“ She deserves the best because she’s never been fishing in this lunatics and losers cathedral. “
“ And the best is stolen property ? “
“ I ‘m trying to help you get started. “
“ The rock we’d build our lives and family on would be a lie. “
“ That’s right kid. That’s it. That’s how it works. It’s a bitch, but that lie is the undisputed truth. “
‘ I ‘m not gonna slip a sleaze wreath on her finger Eddie.”
“ On the house kid. A seven – thousand dollar ring. Give me the word, the ring becomes your pair of handcuffs.”
“ I don’t need that kind of help, but because of your generosity Eddie, you’ll have a ring side seat next week.”
“ Believe me kid, if you’re there I ‘m there, and I honestly hope you make it. “
“ What the fuck does that mean ? “
“ One more thing kid, are you sure you’re cool swag wise ? “
“ I need two things that weren’t on your list. “
“ Yap it at me. “
“ I need a car battery. And, I need to shee your eyesh. “
Four ice cubes bounce off the bar an inch to the left of my glass. The torrent of Canadian Mist he pours locates the exact
center of the center of my glass. Flying non stop on booze bravado, I ‘m a wink away from asking Eddie if he’s totally blind,
partially blind, or just clumsy. Holding a royal flush of booze psychosis, I feel my hands rising. I hear Monica’s voice, “ Just
rip the glasses off of his face. He won’t hold it against you. This game’s gone on since the day my mother left twenty – five
years ago. “ I try to lift my hand, but it’s glued to the glass, so I sip, and I sip, and I sip, and I sip. The Canadian Mist
clarifies everything until Eddie says, “ Say I do please. “ “ Shay I choo pleash,” I say. Eddie’s black lenses become the seeds
in a melon wedge smile that’s eclipsed his face. “ Kid, I have a car battery in my office downstairs. Watch the cash register
and pour another drink for yourself. We’re gonna find out what it’s all about soon enough. “
Three drinks later, Eddie shouts, “ Hitch your eyes to this trollop train kid.” There’s Eddie standing at the top of the stairs.
A factory direct Die Hard battery is tucked under his right arm. His left arm is hooked around the right arm of a five foot
six inch impossibly and illegally gorgeous, five – hundred horsepower seeing eye Korean sex magnet. She guides Eddie through
the maze of obstacles scattered between the basement steps and the bar. I notice Eddie’s swapped his black hole black classic
Face to face with the woman, Eddie talks to me. “ Kid, meet Soo Choo Yoo “ Face to face with me, Eddie talks to his her.
“ Soo Choo Yoo, this is the young man we’re testing today. I want you to give him everything and anything he wants. No
holds barred. Make him whisper. Make him shout. Make him shiver. Make him scream. Squeeze it out of him if that’s what
it takes. “ Whatever and whoever Eddie’s looking at, the scenery of emptiness is holding steady and shining on the sterling
silver lenses of his mirrored Wayfarers.
Eddie pours a double Mist on Soo Choo Yoo’s blossoming wet rose thigh tattoo. The tip of Soo Choo’s double bubble
pink tongue circles her lips, then mine. “ How’d you like to lap up my thigh liquor ? Mister Eddie’s gonna tell you how. “
“ Ok my almost about to be, here it is. Here’s the deal. You get Soo Choo Yoo, a lifetime supply of pharmaceutical grade
Ecstasy, a lifetime tab here at the Eye that you’ll never have to pay, and a honeymoon with no cost or obligation that will
start as soon as I stop pounding on your ear drums if you choose her.
Drunk or sober, just a fraction of a flash glance at Soo translates instantly into sheer transcendent beauty, and the pure power of
of raw sex. My entire being, seen, unseen, and obscene is being drawn to her . . . . . .
I ‘m dirt the cat dragged in.
She’s a top of the line Electrolux.
She ‘s a long trail of coke.
I ‘m an addict’s nose.
I ‘m a light crazed night moth.
She’s a thousand watt bulb.
She’s a patch of exposed flesh.
I ‘m an anopheles.
I was a sinner this morning . . . . . .
Now I ‘m a helpless, hopeless, spellbound sinner with no will or desire to stop dipping into and tasting a woman I’ve never
dipped into or tasted. Eddie laughs. Eddie says, “ Your eyes are bugged out. “ Eddie circles me. The shark vibe is palpable.
Eddie’s dorsal fin slashes through a curtain of smoke. Soo Choo Yoo stares me down. She winks. Soo Choo Yoo gives me
the good news for post modern man, “ I am Soo Choo Yoo also Soo Yoo Choo also Soo Screw Yoo also Soo Yoo Screw
and also Yoo Screw Soo.” Her tongue orbits her lips again. Her tongue orders every aspect of my body to stand at attention.
And without question, every one does.
An Antonio Y Cleopatra blunt wags between Eddie’s lips. He lights the foot of the cigar. He blows smoke in my face. He
says, “ Ok kid, this is it. this is what it’s all about. No editorials, no elaborate moral proclamations, no dissertations, and
no street drama. All we need is a yes or no answer to the question.”
“ Whush the question. “
“ We’ll get to that. “
“ Whush ish all thish ? Whush ish it, Eddie ? “
“ It’s the bachelor party your father – in – law to be threw for you in the name of saving his only child. “
“ Bashelor party ? Fasher – in – law ? Whush the fuck ? “
“ Yeah kid, with one twist. If you choose her, when the party ends, the event next Saturday doesn’t happen, you’re
still a bachelor, you leave your banana cream pie queen in the Sweet Spot’s display window, and you walk out of
her life for ever and ever Amen. “
“ Fasher – in – law ? Sheesh told me heesh whush gone for good. “
“ Make believe kid. Just pretend. Have some fun. Wear a mask. Here’s the question. Who will it be ? “ Make your choice. “
I look at Soo Choo Yoo. I look at Eddie. I think of Monica’s blue eyes. I drunkenly wonder if Eddie’s hidden eyes are blue.
I look at my face reflecting on a surface of mist. I look at the empty space that connects Eddie, Soo Choo Yoo, and me. I
sip some more Mist. I say, “ Monica.” I look Eddie squarely in the eyes. I find my eyes floating on a silver sea in the center
of Eddie’s mirrored Wayfarers. He wraps his arms around me. Eddie says, “ Congratulations kid. You’re a lot stronger than I
figured you’d be. “ Eddie grabs my hand, “ Lead me to the stairwell kid. I’m gonna show you what you said you need to see. “
When we reach the bottom of the stairwell, Eddie asks me to open a door on the left. The room is long, well lit, and filled
with men and women playing Roulette, Black Jack, Poker, and Keno. Eddie leads me to a craps table. He picks up a pair of
black dice. He shakes the dice the way a good bartender shakes a Martini. Eddie says, “ You said you needed to see my eyes
son, well, here they are.” The dice bounce down the felt and off the bumper. When they roll to a stop, snake eyes stare me
down. Eddie curls his arm around my neck. A python connects the dots hanging in my mind. Eddie says, “ Congratulations kid,
you won her hand. Welcome to the family. Now tell me what it’s all about.” I watch My glistening eyes illuminate the surface
of his mirrored Wayfarers. Then I tell him, “ Eddie, it whush about, it ish about, and it will alwaysh be about . . . . The Girl. “
Ed Markowski lives and writes in Auburn Hills, Michigan. More of Ed’s stories can be found in the Vault of Smoke.