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Further Phoenix
at Rio's Attic:

Mike Waters
Rio's Attic: Celebrating the Life and Times of a Dearly Missed River Phoenix

  God Damn a Potato E.C. Kasalivich  

        Mike woke up on a couch, head propped on one of the arms. It was not an uncommon awakening as far as the furniture went, but when he opened his eyes, two identical little girls were staring at him. He stretched as he got his head together and took in his surroundings. He was in a small room with dark walls and little furniture. Just the couch he was on, two worn-out easy chairs, and four wooden chairs arranged untidily about a battered table. A large TV dominated the corner left of an open fireplace. There were pictures on the walls; a large oil of a forest scene with two deer peering from the undergrowth, a much smaller one of Jesus calming the storm and framed in ornate, gold-painted wood, and several other of mountain scenes.
        'Mom's out,' said one of the girls.
        'Johnny's fixing us supper,' said the other.
        'Er, right. That's good,' managed Mike.
        'Johnny's strong. He hefted you in here all by hisself.'
        Mike sat up and drew his hands down his forehead and across his eyes.
        'Are you a damn junky?' asked Nicola.
        'No, I am not. Just get, kinda sleepy is all.'
        ' 'cause Johnny hefted in another boy once and he was a damned junky and he died right where you're sitting.'
        The kitchen door opened and Nicola shut up quick, as if she was treading on sacred territory.
        'You okay, Mike?' said Johnny, pan in one hand.
        'Sure. Just talking with your sisters.'
        Nicola came in, her voice a little higher than before. 'We were just telling Mike about Toby.'
        'He died here?' asked Mike looking a mite spooked.
        Johnny nodded. 'I couldn't do anything for him. Story for another time, Mike.'
        'Bad junk?' asked Mike.
        Johnny nodded slowly and he took on a distant look. 'Like I said, story for another time.'
        After supper the girls went to bed, then Mike and Johnny watched some TV while they swapped stories about the day's work. Johnny made up a bedroll on his floor, and they turned in a little after midnight.
        Mike awoke next morning to the sound of screaming. Nicola and her sister Kim were fighting over whose turn it was to have the free toy out of the cereal packet.



        Sitting next to Johnny, Mike looked out at the passing scrub as the sedan gunned it for Minidoka. Johnny checked his mirror for cops, then edged it up past seventy-five.
        'She goes some for an old model,' mused Mike.
        'Yeah. Shit!' yelled Johnny as he braked hard. 'Damn jackrabbit!'
        Mike saw the creature scuttle off into the scrub with a dust cloud behind it. 'D'you think he's out to get us, that rabbit?'
        'I reckon it's Nathan, shape-shifted. I'll get back home to find me a speeding citation.'
        The sun shone in through the windshield and warmed Mike as he enjoyed the ride, thinking about how his wake-ups just got better and better. He contemplated faking a flip after the day's work, if it meant waking up in Johnny's bedroom again. So, the floor was a bit hard - but that was the only minus. Mike liked that room, sparse and untidy, piles of books everywhere there was a place to stack them. He liked the pyramid of washed but un-ironed clothing behind the door, the PC and printer tucked away in the corner with more books piled on that, and the Idaho State flag tacked on the ceiling above it. He liked the post-card sized pictures of classic motorcycles, and especially the pair of crumpled boxers lying at the side of Johnny's bed, right next to Johnny's hand where it had flopped out from under the duvet. He liked the thought of Johnny sleeping naked just a couple of feet away.
        Mike snapped out of his sun-induced ethereal revelry. 'Hey Johnny. How come you got no Injun stuff in your room?'
        Johnny chuckled. 'That's on account of my tomahawk being all bloodied-up from the last scalping,' he said, swatting Mike's thigh with the back of his hand. 'Seriously, who I am is about what's on the inside. I don't have any ceremonial stuff. My Indian stuff is these jeans, this jacket - or any other damn thing I happen to have on at the time.'
        'Right. You and Jay are alike in that respect.'
        'Uh-uh. He wears white-man clothes. Wait 'til Saturday. I think maybe some of your questions will be answered.'
        The gas station hove into view, a little too soon for Mike's liking. He was enjoying the conversation.
        'Here we go then Mikey. Another day, another dollar.' Johnny reached over to the back and grabbed Mike's jacket. 'Reckon you could call Dan and Hettie? Let 'em know you're sleeping over at mine Friday?'
        Mike's heart tripped a fandango. 'Well, yeah. I suppose. I didn't know I was.'
        'It would be best. There's a lot of preparation to be doing. Sleep over and we can make an early start.'
        Mike screwed up his face, like he was thinking about it, then, as casual and as unexcited as you like, 'Sure. I'll tell 'em. See you after work then.'
        Johnny winked, pulled the door shut behind Mike and swung around for a day in the garage.

 
 
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