Savage but toothless

8:15 PM. Shaggy tatters of goatheard, running breathless; and beard and matted hair glimpsed in pieces in and out of warp speed. Bread spilled everywhere and cans of tomato soup fell behind like depth charges in his wake. Bleached red converse sneakers, in a Looney Tunes blur, beat their resonant tattoo on the pavement underneath him. Like cannibal war drums. Rings of fire and bleached bones sprayed with the blood of their enemies. The steady rhythm drowned cries erupting from far behind. His own heart reluctantly took up the chorus; oar-strokes on a slave ship. Boom. Boom. Badabada Boom. Each beat shook his chest like combat boots on a doorframe. Up ahead, he could see the steps down to the shore of big river. Worn stones that had spent their entire life waiting for his step. The last descent. A one man stampede of untied shoelaces. Two more steps. The tribal drums peaked in a deafening crescendo, and forced his foot down. His foot actually obeyed. And where it fell, the stones had retired long ago. A cartoon coyote, well past the cliff finally looks down. A slow motion instant of vertigo, and then. Flailing in an eruption of groceries. Lettuce, mustard, and croissants hung weightless in space. DeLain tucked his chin and curled up to minimize the impact trauma and suddenly, the thought hit him. “Those croissants. Those croissants were MY idea. At least I’ve still got a little class, goddammit!” Unconsciously, the laugh made him exhale. This made the landing much rougher than planned. One trip ass over ankles, and he lay on the damp shale looking up into the cherry face of a gasping constable. “Watch out for my croissants!!” he roared as the nightstick met his cheek. Later, after he was safely locked in the back seat, DeLain watched the two fat policemen gorge themselves on his croissants between cigarettes. A steady flow of iron-rich blood came from the new hole between the right incisor and first premolar. Blood whistled and sputtered through the gap as he laughed out the fleeing ghost of a cannibal shaman. Defeat tasted like blood; but hypocrisy? That tasted like cigarettes and croissants.

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