May 27 2012 12:46 pm

Dirty Dickies and Cardiac Arrest

Cardiac Arrest stopped at a diner somewhere just west of the Palisades Parkway at three in the morning. It was one of those glass and steel and vinyl diners, the kind that get wiped down a lot but never cleaned. Everything is always greasy.

He’d been up early fishing and drinking and doing a reasonable amount of recreational drugs for the past several days. He was strung out and sun burned. He’d kept himself awake for the drive with amphetamines and cigarettes and Mountain Dew. Surely the caffeine in the soda pop was overwhelmed by the amphetamines and completely unnecessary as an alertness aid, but he liked the mechanical action of drinking out of those wide-mouthed liter bottles and he liked the taste of Mountain Dew. He really liked the last half of the soda, when it was flat and warm and got really syrupy. The best cigarettes were the ones after that last bit of soda.

Cardiac Arrest walked slowly through the parking lot and climbed the long concrete ramp to the door using both handrails, sliding his hands one at a time with each step. The handrails were greasy, but he didn’t care.

There was one woman working behind the counter. It was not Ellen Barkin. Cardiac Arrest did not have a large folding knife. He did have a pistol, though, which was stuck in the waistband of his pants, but he probably wouldn’t ever use it.

There was one man sitting at the far end of the counter eating pie. He was wearing a dirty blue Dickies work shirt and dirty blue Dickies work pants. He had big brown dirty work boots on. He looked up at Cardiac Arrest for a moment and then went back to his pie.


“No. Thanks. I’ll just have a water please. Where’s the bathroom?”

Cardiac Arrest was wearing a sweatshirt and some lightweight fleece pants that were tucked into some wool socks which were crammed into some old sneakers that were untied. He dragged his shoelaces through a lot of grease and urine in the bathroom.

“Miss? I’ll have whatever pie that gentleman at the end of the counter is having.”


Dirty Dickies looked up and over at Cardiac Arrest. “Why would you do that?”

“Well I don’t know, you look like a smart guy.”


“What are you trying to say?”


“Nothing, nothing, I’m only trying to say that I bet your pie choice was sound. That’s all.” As Cardiac Arrest sat down on his stool his gun fell out of his waistband and clacked loudly on the tile floor behind him. He scrambled to grab it and put it back in his pants before the waitress noticed. Dirty Dickies noticed. He put some cash on the counter and pushed himself up off his stool and walked out of the diner.


The waitress brought the slice of pie. It was key lime, which struck Cardiac Arrest as kind of odd, because he knew it was going to be key lime before he woke up that morning. He muttered to himself, “Well, anybody that knows anything knows that.”

When he finished his pie he put some money on the counter, pushed himself up off his stool and walked out. Dirty Dickies was waiting for him in the parking lot. “You are one goofy mother fucker. I think you were trying to say I look dumb.”

“Hey man, I wasn’t trying to say anything like that. I’m a little strung out and I just figured you knew what you were doing in terms of pie. I guess that’s kind of weird, but I didn’t mean anything by it.”

“I know you have that gun, but I also know you’re not going to use it.”

“You don’t know that.”


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