Saturday, 27 February 2010

JOEY AND ROANNE by Robert Crisman

Joey and Roanne

Some people were made for each other.

Joey and Rob went to Summit on Capitol Hill, dopefiend alley. Joey had two grams to drop off. Seventeen-oh-three was the first stop, quick in-and-out, and then down at the end of the block, an ugly green house and then—hey! Look at this!

Roanne, traipsing out of the ugly green house. Loaded like dump trucks. Well now…

Roanne had copped from Joey one time. Joey had wanted to take her on home for a nightcap.

They watched her ambling their way. She hadn’t yet seen them. Her whole stroll was casual, baby. She floated along like tomorrow can go take a leap off a bridge. She wore a cream-colored blouse, black, tight-ass jeans, and black pumps. The blouse looked all wilted, the jeans had some stains, and they looked like she’d slept in them two or three days.

Still, she looked good, or as good as a dopefiend can hope for out there. A soiled hottie, slim-figured, with Mediterranean skin. She’d been out now two weeks and she wasn’t sucked up, though she did have a bit of a pallor and darkening shadows under her eyes. Meanwhile, her jeans weren’t all drooped off her ass. Maybe she’d stayed off full-throttle or something…

Hard to believe; she was truly a go-get-‘em dopefiend.

Yep, she looked good all in all. Joey sure thought so. Rob waited to see him start licking his lips.

Now she was two cars away and she still hadn’t seen them. Joey stuck his head out the window. “Hey, Roanne!” She looked up, saw him, looked closer—and, slowly, smiled.

“Joey?” She quickened her pace. Joey got out of the car. She came right up and stopped.

“How you doing?” he said. She shrugged. “I dunno, just—what are you doing?”

Both of them, grinning…

“You’re high, girl,” he said. Roanne laughed.

“Well, yeah, I am.”

“Feeling good.”

She nodded. “Uh huh.” Her eyes were bright. She’d speedballed. Joey, speedballer supremo, liked that.

“You want a ride?”

She looked in the car and saw Rob. “Sure, why not? Hey, Rob.”

She climbed in the back seat and sniffed. “It stinks in here, Joey.” She lifted her ass off the seat and checked it for dog hairs. She didn’t see any and settled back into the seat. “Why does it smell like a dog farm in here?”

Joey laughed. “Elizabeth, man.” That was the name of his dog.

Rob told her, “He’s kidnappin’ dogs.”

“Yeah?” Roanne said. “Any money in that?”

“I don’t know,” Joey said.

“Let me know. I could use some.”

They all laughed. They all could use some.

Joey looked at Roanne. “So what are you doing?”

“Riding around with you guys,” she said. “What are you doing?”

“I don’t know, just riding around. You want some candy?” Joey had shoplifted ten pounds of Hershey’s and Mars Bars and so forth a half-hour before. He passed a couple bars back. She said, “Sure.”

Joey started to rap, this riff and that. This lady he’d dropped off some flowers to in Edmonds: 400 pounds with a bald spot and teeth that clacked in her mouth like the Cannonball Special. Then, Amtrak—logical segue—He’d ridden it once down to Oakland, dopesick as goats, him and Chili, back in the day… They’d gone through six states, gotten stranded outside of Reno, the worst fucking day of his life. Cops popped them and tossed them in jail. “In Nevada, man, damn! Don’t ever get stopped by the cops in Nevada.” And so on.

Roanne told them that Chili was clean, playing guru in meetings.

“Guy’s out there 500 years, he oughtta be some kinda guru,” Rob said.

“Maybe on how to stay dopesick,” she said. With a sniff.

“All those people in meetings,” Joey said, “they want to pretend like they never got loaded. I bet I could go in there tonight with just what I got in my pocket and come out with $500.”

Roanne snorted. “I bet you could.” She wasn’t quite sure that was true, but she liked the idea.

“Oh, hey,” she said, “could we go up by 12th? There’s something I’ve got to pick up at this place.”

“Oh yeah? What?” Joey could never simply say yes to requests. He always asked questions. He didn’t necessarily care about answers, it was just, he didn’t like giving anything up free except on his terms. He liked to play hard to get. He’d do it, take her on up there, but first he had to go through his little dance.

Dopefiends and power trips. You know the drill…

She told him she had to pick up some stuff and some money. That cut the dance short.

Afterwards, they went for coffee up on 15th, this little place, the three of them sprawled there, Roanne and Joey into each other, rapping away, blah blah, blah blah blah. Rob didn’t feel like watching the movie, so after awhile he split.

Roanne and Joey went out to his crib for the night. They rolled up and went in and got a good groove on. Joey dished her a speedball. They fucked and then wrestled and goofed and giggled around. Joey would pounce and wrestle her down and jump off. She’d pounce and he’d let her wrestle and hold him, then shake her off. They’d sprawl there awhile, side by side, then Joey would poke her and tickle and she’d tickle back.

They played and whinnied like four-year-old kids. Joey, on the verge of a pounce or a poke, had this way of looking dead at her, with shiny, sharp eyes. Face frozen just short of a grin. His going-for-the-cookie-jar look—Can you catch me? Roanne’s own eyes brightened; let’s see where this leads…

They banged until daylight.

Walking into the place had almost given her pause. His room was a sty like his car; rigs, butt-choked ashtrays, spilled pop cans, old food tins, rank clothes and crap strewn around like the wind had tipped over a dumpster. The room was all dark and gloomy, the window taped over, and so forth.

And on top of it all, the dog-smell from hell. Dead letter perfect…

Nothing much in that room she liked except Joey. Yeah, she liked Joey. What was it again? Cute, sexy, yeah but—something way more. There had to be more for her to put up with the smell…

Then, on the bed, this imp-grinning, four-year-old devil, cookie-jar larceny deep in his heart. Her bones, blood, and guts got the message:

Sweet, dirty Joey, unwashed and free, unrepentant, no shame in his game whatsoever. My oh my… She got wet.

No wonder, then, that she didn’t much mind when Elizabeth the dog snuggled onto the bed as she fell off to sleep.

Meanwhile, Joey was smitten. He saw Roanne as someone to play with his own special way, a dark, sexy soul mate of sorts. This girl had spunk. Of course, any soul mate of Joey’s was made to be bitten and bled, not that he let himself see it in those terms exactly… A condition of his: she’d have her own sharpened teeth, not too sharp but, sharp enough.

Sexy danger, you know? He saw them locked in a game made for players.

Whoever gets swallowed is out of the game.

Joey had a feeling he wouldn’t be bored for awhile.

A match made in heaven…

Robert Crisman knew Eddies and learned early on that they'd die for nothing. He wanted to live so he cut them loose. He tries to bring them alive in his stories, however, through acid-noir looks at the way they did business. He loves Dashiell Hammett, who also knew Eddies, and thinks Raymond Chandler is bullshit.


  1. Nice n noir, Robert.

    "They banged until daylight" was the stand out line for me.

  2. The tender trap. A one way ticket to a runaway train. Smart stuff.