Chad A Rinn’s first novel was written in 1995, has since been made into a feature length film and a comic strip. Below is some opinions of the book and the first chapter.
“…Characters and the rather decadent situations they find themselves in, rub against me in a guilt-ridden pleasure the same way [Martin] Amis’ and Confederacy [of Dunces]’s did…” “…not sure I want to know what is lurking in the gray matter of this books creator…”-Terry “Mess” Messal, bass player for “Vitamade”
“…the characters are well-defined…they come across as action figures…”-Leyla Acker, Ass. To the senior Editor of Alfred A. Knopf
“…I think Rinn captures the spirit of many Boise youth…I find the breezy, informal narrative adds beautifully to the work. The storyline has independent film written all over it. Half Ass Jig should appeal to fans of Quentin Tarantino and Hunter S. Thompson alike, as it is very reminiscent of both.” -W. Lane Startin, Associate Editor of Bainbridge Books
“…didn’t really get past the first chapter. Why’s it have to be so gross?”-Catherine Rinn, author’s mother
Chapter 1- Puke, Piss and Bloody Pages
June 21st 9:30 PM
The smell of puke and ammonia assails his nostrils as Cliff makes his way to the Stinker Station beer aisle. He stands, legs apart, deep in contemplation, in front of the glass doors of beer as the orange-and-brown-clad employee listlessly pushes vomit around the floor with his mop. Cliff tries to remember which manly images and busty TV women go with which brand of beer. The smell of throw-up, however, manages to invade his psyche and render every TV image of true manliness impotent. Coupled with the ammonia smell, the puke odor has the power to transform the well endowed Swedish volleyball team in his mind into a squad of three-headed monsters, each with a single Tammy-Faye-Baker-made-up face perched above two jiggling one-eyed heads that nod an ominously insistent “yes, yes”.
Unable to think clearly Cliff leaves the Stinker Station with a delicate tip-toe leap over the chunky mess the employee was still spreading around the floor (who, by the way, was not wearing his name-tag, an unforgivable oversight).
Once outside, gulping at the warm Boise air, Cliff realizes that the beer he has already consumed this evening has created an uncomfortable pressure on his bladder. He leaves his big black truck, Lady Killer (as it says in flaming letters from fender to tailgate), in front, and makes his way to the alley behind the Stinker Station. He unzips and sends a steaming stream of urine at the back wall of the Stinker Station. In mid-piss he is struck in the back with an empty beer can. A snickering bald man named Bob is tossing beer cans over the brick wall that separates the alley from his back yard.
Unsure how to react, Cliff turns his alcohol shriveled penis toward the bald man and aims the spattering stream at the moonlight reflecting off Bob’s bald scalp. The stream barely makes it to the brick wall. Bob giggles and playfully tosses more beer cans at Cliff. Out of urine and patience, Cliff zips and gives Bob the finger. He storms off remembering a time when a tidal wave of obscenities and at least the threat of violence would have been his response to the aluminum tossing Bob. Lately, though, it’s as if words have abandoned him. Sometimes he wonders if it’s the intensity of his feelings that have diminished or if it’s the ability to capture that intensity in words that has deteriorated.
Crash! Whoop, whoop, Whoop! Whoop, whoop, Whoop!
Cliff instantly recognizes Lady Killer’s voice, and darts for his beloved truck. Two kicking legs in dirty trousers protrude from what used to be Lady Killer’s windshield. They kick and flay like dying animals on Lady Killer’s hood as their owner scoops the empty cans of Pabst into his hefty trash bag.
“Hey!” Cliff shouts, not knowing how to react, his mind locking into a stupor-state of complete bewilderment. He is paralyzed by indecision until the scavenger finishes his collecting and, with a cocky grin, makes his retreat, hefty bag of refundables dragging behind him.
What has happened to me, Cliff wonders. Not only have words failed him, but now even the usual satisfyingly cruel act of violence has abandoned him. He climbs into Lady Killer and looks around. The intruder was upsettingly thorough. Not a single can is left, full or empty. Unable to face the vomit-reeking Stinker Station, he pulls Lady Killer onto to Fairview and heads west to Garden City in search of more beer. Z-Z Top blares as thick shards of shatter resistant glass bounce on the passenger seat and thick clumsy thumbs tap on the steering wheel, both to the beat of “Tush”.
June 21st 9:43 PM
Officer Blandiekiewicz (that’s what his badge says, we’re still not sure about the pronunciation) doesn’t even notice Lady Killer speed by as he stirs his coffee to the beat of “Tush”. He is tired of being a cop. Tired of being a pig. He wants to be a hero. A hero that protects the innocent in more interesting ways than passing out speeding tickets. Wired on coffee and a little nauseous from the apple fritters, the truth of heroism hits him. Heroes don’t enforce petty laws; heroes inspire others to be heroes themselves. And the only way you can do that is by being larger than life, and the only larger than life heroes left are on the silver screen.
“You need these?” asks a shabby man, interrupting Blandiekiewicz’s caffeine and sugar induced Epiphany.
“No.” he replies, pushing the unused containers of non-dairy creamer to the edge of his table. The man rolls his hefty bag off his shoulders. It makes that dull aluminum sound, somewhere between a clank and a thud, as it hits the floor. Four packets of creamer disappear into his coat and two are emptied on the spot, thrown back like shots of tequila.
“There is no virtue in giving to others what is useless to oneself.”
“What the Hell is that supposed to mean?”
“Just a nugget of wisdom I thought you could appreciate,” he said laughing and shrugging his shoulders.
The shabby man leaves the coffee shop and the hands on the clock freeze up again. With a deep sigh Blandiekiewicz pushes back from the crumb covered table, dons his cover , and decides to leave. He tries to formulate a plan to get from the police force to the silver screen and wonders if two weeks notice should be any part of that plan. Strangely invigorated by indecision he bids the coffee shop a final farewell and ventures forth into the warm night air of Boise in June.
June 21st, 9:51 PM
Driving into Garden City, warm June air blowing in his face and occasionally sending more pieces of his windshield into the cab, Cliff recalls a scene he witnessed just three days ago. Right there on Chinden Ave, three blocks from Honey’s trailer, which he seems to pass, lately, on his way to anywhere, a clean shaven well dressed man dropped his pants and defecated on the sidewalk. In broad daylight, he just dropped his drawers and shat. Heavy traffic on both sides of the street and this man just calmly squatted down, absently stroking his tie, and squeezed a healthy log right out onto the sidewalk as cars slowed down to see if they were really seeing what they thought they were seeing. Cliff wondered if things like this were common in big cities; people shitting on sidewalks, breaking windshields, and throwing beer cans at each other. Maybe in L.A. or New York this would have been a normal week, but in Boise all this is definitely out of the ordinary. And Cliff’s reaction to all three events has been just as out of the ordinary. No acts of violence or aggression, not even a verbal assault.
Cliff barrels into the Maverick parking lot and stops Lady Killer inches from the glass doors. He is ready to unleash his anger and disgust on anyone, deserving or not. He jumps out of the truck and yanks the Maverick door open so hard that he smashes Lady Killer’s left headlight. He climbs back into his truck and backs her up three feet before he remembers that the Maverick doors swing both ways. The wasted effort of backing the truck angers him more. He grabs his Louisville Slugger from behind his seat and makes his way back into the Maverick. This time he kicks the door open so hard that he knocks over the comic book rack.
With one swing he sends gum and Certs and those little rolled up horoscopes flying, and with another swing he cracks the counter.
“Pabst Blue Ribbon!” he yells, forgetting all the macho men and busty women of beer ads and siding with Dennis Hopper’s stirring endorsement from “Blue Velvet”. The skinny Maverick cashier stands frozen. Seconds elapse and Cliff feels the need to repeat himself.
“Pabst Blue Ribbon! Now!” He smashes the bat down on the cash register with an unsatisfying ching! that sends that cash drawer flying open. The cashier blinks and farts. Although he is Cliff’s age, his voice crackles like a teenager’s; he pushes his glasses up the slope of his nose and says, “Y-yes, sir. P-Pabst Blue Ribbon, coming right up.”
The cashier circles the counter and makes his way to the beverage aisle. He returns with a six-pack of Pabst.
“A six pack!?!” Cliff points the bat at him as though it were the barrel of a gun. “ONE six pack?”
A trickle of sweat rolls down the cashier’s nose.
“Don’t I know you?” the cashier asks, curiosity taking precedence over fear. “Yeah! Cliff! Boise High. We had Mr. Lara together. What a freak he was. Didn’t he have a crush on Coach Manning or something?”
Cliff nods his head and lets the bat fall to his side.
“Sorry, dude.” Cliff grabs the six pack and, resisting the urge to pay, stumbles over the fallen comic book rack and leaves a muddy foot print on the cover of “Galaxina” #1.
There’s no way he could know that a “Galaxina” #1 will be worth more than Lady Killer by the year 2012.
“Hey, no problem,” the cashier calls after him. “Where you going right now? I get off in an hour maybe we could…”
Cliff guides Lady Killer away from the Maverick and heads for Honey’s trailer. He parks his truck on a neighbor’s lawn and downs his third beer. There’s never any parking in the strange little trailer cul-de-sac where Honey lives, so Cliff parks on the neglected little patch of grass in front of the neighbor’s trailer. He has been warned not to, but he still feels better about parking there than blocking somebody’s driveway. He steps out of Lady Killer and tosses his empty beer can into the tiny row of shrubs that surround Honey’s patch of grass. After tapping on the thin door with the handle of his Louisiana Slugger for several minutes, he finally hears a sleepy, delicate voice ask who’s there. Once again Cliff feels the familiar sense that the appropriate words and actions have abandoned him. At another time in his life, would he have kicked the paper thin door in, or would he have said something forceful and sexy that would make her open the door? For some reason, he can do neither.
“Who’s there?” Honey’s voice asks again.
“Me,” he says, feeling very small.
She opens the door with a look of annoyance. She steps aside to let Cliff stumble into her home. The whole trailer shakes as he collapses onto the tiny love seat, the only piece of furniture in her home that looks capable of withstanding Cliff’s frame. Honey shuts the door and stands expectantly over Cliff. She’s wearing a silky red nightgown that hugs her hips; her hair is in a stylish bun on top of her head. She stands above him with grace and poise that is undiminished by the crust in the corners of her sleepy eyes. Wrinkling her nose with more cute charm than snobbery, she whispers “You’re drunk.”
“Honey,” he says, trying to turn his bloodshot eyes into big, love oozing puppy dog eyes.
She holds his big, strong, angular face in her soft hands and kneels before him. Still whispering as though she doesn’t want to wake herself up, she tells him it’s over.
She smiles sweetly and picks a thick shard of glass off his shoulder. “Cliff, you’re not the same person you were when we met.”
“You don’t love me anymore?”
“I never said I loved you in the first place. I’m just saying that I don’t want to be…”
“Who cares why?”
Cliff wraps his tattooed arm around Honey. He looks at her as though that answers her question.
“Cliff, look,” she says,” that’s just what I’m talking about. You care. All of the sudden you care. You care when you never cared before, but you just don’t understand.”
His brain sloshes in his head as if it has just been pummeled by an 8th grade math word problem. He looks at the ground. He looks her in the eye and says “I understand.”
“Yeah. That’s what I mean.”
Smash! “What asshole parked his shit-bag truck on my lawn!?!” Crash!
Honey holds the curtain back with her hand.
“Chad’s fucking with your truck, again. He told you not to park your truck on his grass.”
Cliff wanted to “are you fucking him?”, but something about the condescending look she was already giving him made him feel like he’d be a fool if he had to ask. Forgetting to grab his Louisville Slugger, he storms out of Honey’s trailer. Once again he feels the odd sensation of not reacting with the foul language and violent behavior that would have come so naturally in the past.
Chad smashes Lady Killer’s right head light with a 2×4 and comes at Cliff, 2×4 swinging. “Didn’t I tell you not to park that dirt ass truck on my front yard?!”
Chad swings the 2×4 as a threat and then, when Cliff doesn’t react, slaps Cliff with his open palm. Cliff reaches deep inside himself and though it doesn’t bubble to the surface as easily as it used to, he finds the hatred and violence he’s kept inside him for too long now. Cliff head butts Chad and grabs him by the shirt collar. He doesn’t feel the usual rush that comes with his acts of violence, but he forces himself, through sheer will power, to continue with the violence. He drags Chad by the shirt collar back into Chad’s trailer.
“Look, I’m sorry, ” says Chad, bleeding from his nose and stunned by Cliff’s strength. Without a word Cliff tosses Chad over the couch and picks up the 2×4. He steps around the couch and begins beating Chad with the 2×4.
When Cliff finally puts the 2×4 down, Chad’s head is little more than a pulpy, bloody mess on the carpet. Cliff closes the front door, just now realizing that it was open during the whole bloody battery. He wonders if any of the neighbors saw him beat Chad to death. He sits down at Chad’s desk, stunned by the enormity of what he’s just done. He had tried so hard to react with anger and all the other emotions that he should have felt during the situation, but instead some cold part of him reacted with some rough approximation of emotion. Some cold part of him that neither felt the heat of anger nor the sense of compassion that should have stopped Cliff before Chad’s melon soft brains were dripping onto the carpet.
He looks around the desk, still vaguely wondering if Chad had been fucking Honey. Chad’s desk is stacked with flyers and envelopes and stamps. There is a little bottle of water with a sponge where the cap should be by the stamps. Something about the disorder and incompleteness of Chad’s desk upsets Cliff more than the disorder and incompleteness of Chad’s head. The presence of both, however, gives Cliff that itch at the back of his skull that tells him he must do something to remedy the situation.
He finds the largest, although not the sharpest, knife in Chad’s kitchen. Unfortunately he doesn’t look on Chad’s dresser where he would have found Chad’s hunting knife that would have made the carving a great deal easier. Cliff drags Chad’s body closer to the desk and goes to work on it with the huge dull knife. Every envelope is neatly stuffed with a flyer and a slice of Chad’s abdomen, sealed, and stamped. The itch gone, Cliff deposits the bloody stack of envelopes into the blue mailbox that squats directly in front of Honey’s trailer. With a wipe at the stinging salty blood on his brow, he leaves the situation completely behind him.
June 21st, 9:59 PM
Ralph, who changed his name from Moonbeam when he was sixteen, in an attempt to leave his origin completely behind him, drags his bag of pilfered Pabst cans past the bloody mailbox, right past you, past the row of immobile trailers, and into the middle of the dirt lot where his cardboard home sags. Most of the neighbors complain about having to look at Moonbeam’s cardboard box on their block (we’ll call him Moonbeam for now, because we know it pisses him off). Of course no one complains to anyone who could do anything about it, because they somehow know that there would be some kind of retaliation if they messed with Moonbeam’s life.
Moonbeam adds his new found treasure to his stack of newspapers, aluminum, and plastic that takes up more space on the dirt lot than his cardboard home. He squirms on his belly into his cardboard sanctuary. The inside is wall-papered with pages of books he collects from various dumpsters. The dumpster behind the Desert Dunes Apts. is an exceptionally fertile hunting ground for literature, but we’ll talk more about that later. Randomly selected pages come together on his cardboard walls to weave a tale more rich with human insight and moral lessons than the Bible. And when pages from the Bible do make their way onto Moonbeams walls, their wisdom is that much more enlightening by being juxtaposed with particularly racy excerpts from Danielle Steele novels, or bloodless, sterile descriptions of the human body from medical texts. Who can really understand Revelations without it being immediately followed by the climax of “Hop on Pop” by Dr. Seuss? Surely Moonbeam is the only living mortal deemed worthy of this insight. And shouldn’t it be so? Do you know someone more worthy? Neither do we.
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