More Than a Feeling

Originally published @ akashicbooks

Thursdaze (because the weekend won’t come fast enough) features original flash fiction modeled after our Drug Chronicles Series. Each story is an original one, and each encapsulates the author’s fictional experience with drugs. Our print series has anthologized authors writing about marijuana, cocaine, speed, and heroin, but contributors to the web series can focus on any drug, real or imagined, controlled or prescribed, illegal or soon-to-be legalized. Submissions to Thursdaze will be judged on an author’s ability to stylistically emulate his or her substance of choice. Submissions are also limited to 750 words, so try to focus. (They have a pill for that.)
This week, David Inglish’s pair of painters take their turns with a can of varnish.

More Than a Feeling
by David Inglish
Varnish

“Brad Delp fucking killed himself, man!” Lairmo was frantic. “The voice of a fucking angel! Gone!” Lairmo popped the lid and dipped his head into a can of varnish for a big morning wake-up huff. His mouth puckered, eyes squinted shut. Calmed, he sat in his white overalls, shaking his head. “You know how many people his songs have made happy?”

Mike was the other in the empty “great” room. He put his paintbrush in the trough and picked through his big grey beard for a piece of white lint that was running from him. “Who’s Brad Delp?”

“Boston, man! The singer! If he would’ve reached out to me, I would’ve fucking been there. Held his hand. Told him don’t do it, man! You are loved.”

Mike’s eyes crossed, following his thumb as it buried into the hair under his chin. “Maybe he had money trouble.”

“Money? Are you fucking kidding me?” Lairmo stood up from his knees. He lifted his hands in the unfinished manse and asked again, “Money? What does money get you, a twenty-foot ceiling? Fuck that! It’s not about money.”

“Hey, Lairmo,” Danny Beekman said when he walked in the room, “your voice is echoing through the whole house. Keep it down. No more f-bombs. The owner’s gonna be here in ten. Did you get those samples finished for her?”

“Money?” Lairmo whispered harshly at Mike and hunched his shoulders. “You got it, boss. I’m just doing the last one.” Lairmo snuck another huff. He sang: “When I’m tired and feeling low, turn on some music to start my day.”

Mike nodded. “And dream of a girl I used to know.”

A fire lit in Lairmo’s eyes. “I close my eyes and she—”

“Enough, enough,” Danny Beekman said while writing on his pad. “Let’s get to work.”

“You got it, Mr. Beekman.” Mike said. He brushed a spot under the granite counter. “Maybe his voice was gone?”

Lairmo stopped midstroke on the piece of walnut he was staining. “God wouldn’t do that to him. Besides, you don’t sing like that from your vocal chords, you sing like that from your heart.”

“Maybe he had a broken heart?”

“Duh!”

“Was there a note?”

“There were like ten of them.” Lairmo started to cry. “He was so fucking considerate.”

“Ten. Fuck.”

“No f-bombs!” Mr. Beekman yelled from the other room.

“Three for the cops to warn them about the carbon monoxide, one for his kids, one for the ex, one for his fiancée. And one pinned to his fucking chest.”

“What’d it say?”

“Mr. Brad Delp. J’ai une âme solitaire. I am a lonely soul.”

“Are you translating, or did he?”

“That’s what it said.”

“His name, then once in French and once in English?”

“Yeah.”

“Why’d he do that?”

“So shitheads like you and me would get it! He was considerate, wanted to be deep, wanted to be poetic, like his music, works on so many levels. You don’t have to speak fucking French!”

“Gimme some of that.” Mike took a huff of varnish. “Whoo. Put on KGB, I’ll bet they’re doing a tribute.”

Lairmo plugged in a paint-spackled boom box and turned it on. He smiled like a stuffed panda. “Foreplay! Listen!” The Farfisa organ solo was echoing through outer space. The drums were pumping triplets. It got quiet then it came back like a dead man’s pulse. “It’s been such a long time . . .” Lairmo and Mike bobbed their heads and clapped their hands with the band during the breakdown—just guitars and bros.

The song faded out. The deejay allowed silence. “Yeah,” she said in a rust-covered voice, “that was dead air for Brad Delp. The Universe thanks you, Mr. Brad Delp.” Silence once again, then in the distance a silvery guitar, a hook, the beginning of “More Than a Feeling.”

It was magical, then, Danny Beekman turned it off. The owner stood right there in hot pink yoga pants. Mr. Beekman asked, “Okay, Lairmo, which one is which?”

Lairmo pointed at the samples. “This one is the mahogany . . . this merbau. This one oak. This one is . . . uh . . . walnut.”

The owner pursed her lips, looked at the samples, and said, “It isn’t washing the way I wanted. Maybe try it with blue or black.”

Lairmo reached for the pad of paper.

“You taking notes, Lairmo?”

Lairmo held the pad up to his chest. “Mr. Larry Morris. J’ai une âme solitaire, aussi. I am a lonely soul, too. Pas problème, dame. No problem, lady.”

***

DAVID INGLISH has led police on a high-speed chase, shaken hands with a Bishop, jammed with Neil Young, pissed next to Bono and been tubed in Bali. He is the creator of the popular humorous website roadhousebible.com where a man can learn about manliness and manly deeds from the Patrick Swayze movie Roadhouse (1989). His first novel, BEFORE THE FLOCK, is available in paperback and on Kindle. When not writing, he licks his wounds and attends to his family’s whims and needs.