By: Jake Hatcher, Official Bookshelf Battle Blog Private Eye
Pop Culture Mystery Question: How did Doc and Marty from Back to the Future movies meet/know each other? (Or, what was their relationship?)
That old familiar brown liquid sat in my glass, staring at me, leering at me as if I were some kind of cheap dime store call girl.
Sure, that hooch would go down smooth and we’d have a good time together, but the next morning it’d be gone and I’d be left to face the world as a desperate rummy instead of the decent man I knew was lurking somewhere deep inside me.
Alcohol – all it ever provided me was short term relief from a long term problem.
Hatcher can’t get enough of that delicious brown stuff.
“I don’t need you,” I said as I slid the shot across the table.
I barely made it to thirty before I seized the glass and tossed its goodness down my gullet, the warm contents falling into my stomach and launching my mind into outer space.
Oh well. Who cares about tomorrow as long as you can feel good today?
I liked to think of myself as an independent man, a fella who didn’t need anyone or anything but alcohol was the monkey on my back that refused to relinquish my banana.
I wanted to quit drinking but the world was such a harsh place that booze had become the only cure for what ailed me. It distracted me from crippling loneliness and the sinking feeling that I’d never know the soft touch of a woman ever again.
The ironic twist? It was a filthy habit that was causing the ladies to steer their cabooses onto any other track but mine.
I drank because I was lonely and I was lonely because I drank. I was like a junkyard dog chasing its own tail.
I looked at the clock above Ms. Tsang’s stove.
Midnight. The witching hour. The start of a new day. I knew it wouldn’t be any better than the one before it. I suppose when a man reaches that point he might as well keep on pounding back the hard stuff.
So I did. I had another one.
Like a paparazzi’s camera roll after a starlet sighting, I was spent. Without the strength to carry my carcass upstairs to my office, I did the next best thing.
I laid down smack dab in the middle of Ms. Tsang’s kitchen floor.
It wasn’t as bad as you might think. Ms. Tsang was immaculate when it came to her workspace. It was already a floor you could eat off of so why not sleep there as well?
I’ve never been an overly religious man, but that night I was feeling low (well, lower than usual) and had a hankering to communicate with the almighty.
“Lord,” I said. “Your servant, Jake Hatcher here. I must say I’m awfully fond of one of your creations, Ms. Delilah K. Donnelly. If you could see fit to convince that gal to go ga ga over yours truly, I promise I’ll take good care of her.”
Me take care of her. That’s a laugh. Delilah was one of the most independent women I’d ever seen in all my days. If anything, it’d of been vice versa but the last thing she needed was a washed up old has been like me weighing her down like an anchor around her neck where her pretty pearls normally resided.
Ms. Tsang’s doorbell rang.
“CLOSED!” I shouted.
I wished I hadn’t. I had a headache that felt like a drum solo was being beaten into my brain. The sound of my big yapper made it that much worse.
The tiny beep boop machine in my pocket rang. I picked it up.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph plus all the saints thrown in for good measure. Who says prayers go unanswered?
“Yes,” I said. “Ms. Donnelly?”
Three more doorbell rings.
“Hold on,” I said as I raised my weary body up to a tenuous standing position. “I have to go deliver a clothesline straight to the snot box of whoever’s ringing Ms. Tsang’s door bell.”
I opened the door and there she was, a stunning blonde vision, switching her beep boop phone off.
“Ms. Donnelly!” I said, surprised.
“Good evening, Mr. Hatcher,” Delilah said as she crossed the thresh hold. “I wasn’t sure you were awake so I gave you a jingle. I do apologize for paying a visit at this ungodly hour.”
“Not a problem whatsoever, Ms. Donnelly,” I said as I closed the door behind her and ushered her to a chair at the kitchen table.
“And pretell, Mr. Hatcher, what would your mother say about you threatening to punch a woman in the…what was it? ‘A snot box?’”
I always got a kick out of it whenever Ms. Donnelly said lowbrow words in her high society Patrician accent.
“If I apologize a thousand times a day from now until the day I’m six feet under, it still won’t be enough. Please understand, it was a case of mistaken identity. I thought you were some bum trying to get Ms. Tsang to make him a late night snack.”
“I see,” Ms. Donnelly said.
She even looked good at midnight.
“I’d sooner chop my hand off with a rusty butter knife and feed it to a great white shark than raise it to a lady,” I said. “Ma Hatcher never even had to teach me that one.”
She tilted her nose upward. It wasn’t that far of a trip, since she walked around with it in the air most of time anyway. She sniffed the air and a disgusted look took over her face.
I reeked of booze. I wasn’t proud of it.
“Well Mr. Hatcher,” Delilah said as she handed me an envelope. “I shan’t keep you from your pleasant evening of inebriation for much longer. I just wanted to deliver your next Pop Culture Mystery.”
“Thank you ma’am,” I said. “Not that I’d ever scoff at your delightful company, but I must say I’m intrigued to see you here at this time of night. It almost makes one wonder if you felt a sudden need to feast your eyes on my mug.”
“One should keep wondering,” Delilah instantly replied. It would of been nice if she’d at least taken a minute to think it over.
The front door opened and Ms. Tsang walked in. She was approaching seventy years old and yet the look on her face? The old gal was giddier than a school girl who’d just won a hop scotch game.
Her escort for the night was some old timer. A little bald man with great big horn rimmed glasses. He was hunched over and leaned on his cane as he plopped a smooch on my landlady’s cheek.
“What a wonderful night, Susan,” the old man said.
“It doesn’t have to be over,” Ms. Tsang replied. “Come on in and I’ll get us a nightcap. Maybe we can even…”
And then Ms. Tsang spotted Delilah and I sitting around her kitchen table.
“Oh, Jake!” she said. “I didn’t see you there. Ernie, come meet my tenant.”
I stood up and walked over to the geriatric couple.
“Pleased to meet you,” Ernie said as he stretched out his hand.
I was madder than a hatter without a cup of tea. I smacked the geezer’s hand away and grabbed him by his shirt collar.
In retrospect, it probably wasn’t my best move. Old Ernie was about as frail as a bag of chalk.
“Say, what’s the big idea, bub?” I said. “This here’s a respectable woman and you’re trotting her out at all hours of the night like you’re some kind of Good Time Charlie.”
Ernie was befuddled. His face turned as red as a pack of wild strawberries.
“I…I don’t…I don’t know?”
Ms. Donnelly was taken aback and did her best to pretend like she wasn’t noticing the scene I was making.
“Jake!” Ms. Tsang hollered as she whacked me upside the head with her purse. “Let him go! He has a pacemaker!”
I did as instructed then turned my venom to Ms. Tsang.
“And you!” I said. “You’ve got a lot of nerve, young lady! I’ve been up all night worried sick and you don’t so much as call to tell me you’re ok. It’s a big city out there! You could have been kidnapped by perverts or sickos or communists or God knows who else…”
“You’re not my father, Jake!” Ms. Tsang shouted as she stomped her foot.
“I know I’m not!” I said. “Thank the maker he’s not around to see what a shameless hussy his daughter’s become!”
Oh boy. That last one cued up the water works. Tears poured out of the old gal’s eyeballs like they were a pair of busted faucets.
“Ernie you’d better go,” Ms. Tsang said as she hugged her companion. “I’ll call you tomorrow.”
“It’s ok,” Ernie said. “I’d better go make sure the orderlies at the old folks’ home aren’t stealing my stuff anyway. Last week my room mate stayed out past midnight and they sold his sleep apnea machine.”
The old man looked up at me. “It was nice to meet you.”
Yeah, I was confused too. I’d just roughed him up and he was being nice to me. I’m not sure all the bats were fluttering around in Ernie’s belfry. He probably wasn’t too sure of what was going on.
“Yeah yeah, whatever you say, Jack, just watch those hands. They’re busier than a child laborer at a sweat shop sewing machine.”
I slammed the door in Ernie’s face and looked at Ms. Tsang.
“I think you’d better go to your room and think about what you’ve done, young lady.”
“I hate you!” Ms. Tsang said as she walked out of the kitchen. “I wish you’d of never woken up!”
Ouch. That one broke my heart…the pieces of it that were left anyway.
I returned to my seat at the table across from a very bewildered Ms. Donnelly.
“Mr. Hatcher,” Delilah began. “I rarely ever inquire about the personal lives of my work colleagues, but after witnessing you scold an elderly woman as if she were a teenage girl I must say I’m curious to find out what just happened.”
Don’t worry 3.5 readers. Jake will EVENTUALLY talk about Back to the Future.
Copyright (c) 2015. Bookshelf Q. Battler. All Rights Reserved.
Images courtesy of a shutterstock.com license.