Anyway, while my dog was being dogged by druggies, my kitchen helper was drinking and toking deeply and consequently went into a dream-state. As I mentioned before (or did I?), Hinch’s personality changes upon any type of slumber: naps (including catnaps), daydreams, nod outs, beddy-byes, space outs and any sustained states of drowsiness. In these states of semi-somnambulism he is prone to mischief, mayhem and maliciousness of an advanced order, hence the straightjacket. It is for his own protection, believe me.
That being said, at the moment that suspicions (“it’s ALL his FAULT!!”) were dawning upon me, I was busy bleeding and heading for the dining room for some first aid; as I passed the bathroom I saw (and heard) the fire engines pull up. I quickly dropped to all fours and scuttled back to the laundry room to look out of the front windows leaving a trail of blood behind me. I cursed the day that I rescued Hinch from the Oompa Loompa casting queue at a Hollywood soundstage.
Here I must segue a moment to explain my living arrangements; hold these thoughts and images though: zonked out Hinch, Hector and Hermes in hiding, howling Hercules, smoke, shots fired, fire detectors clanging, police pounding, chiming clocks, screeching cockatiels, fainting canaries, speed bump tortoises, half awake bleeding heroes (me), stepped upon felines, fire trucks, thunderclaps, phones ringing, Petey Pappas rushing to my rescue and not one of us had a clue as to what was happening. ‘What else could happen?’ you might ask. ‘It’s just getting started’, I would answer.
I live in what is known, down in New Orleans, as a double shotgun house; meaning there are two apartments side by side in straight lines and named so because, the way the rooms are laid out, you can virtually fire a shotgun in the front door and hit whoever might be standing at the back door. Let me clarify that I don’t actually live in New Orleans; I live in a place called Gretna, across the river. Neat, huh?
This building as well as a small trust fund was left to me by my parents who deserted me on my twenty-first birthday and went to live in the south of France with the instructions that I never try to contact them…ever. My precociousness as a tot and young adult obviously did not impress them; but, that’s another story for another time.
One half of my ‘double’, as we call the structures, is a fully ‘operation ready’ private (mine) saloon and pool hall which I open on whim or when I feel the need for entertainment. I hire staff for the evening and simply go out… next door. No driving, no last call, no spending out of pocket (except for impressive tipping); AND, I live in the other half! Five enormous rooms that I have aligned so that the back of the house is in the front of the building and you have to go around back to be let in the front door.
At the moment, I was crouching in the back of the house in the room that was in the front of the building, in my Star Wars pajamas, bleeding from my left temporal lobe and holding a silk handkerchief on the wound to stem the flow of vital fluids. I then backed into the darkened kitchen just as my neighbor reset the circuit breakers and I reached out and came away with a handful of electric wires and slid on dead chickens and what turned out to be bullet shell casings; I was thrown against the 1928 Magic Chef stove that took four men, big men, to carry in. The corner of the stove caught my lower back, chickens fell on my feet and one hundred and ten volts coursed through my body until I, as a faulty conductor, blew the breakers again and the imported Italian bakers rack (another two hundred pounds) crashed into a spot directly between my shoulder blades.
The clock chiming had mercifully rung its course and the windows had been opened by my neighbor, Petey Pappas, who was also my lawyer and who was at this time explaining to the police and fire department that this was all one huge misunderstanding and that they could leave with a large donation to their widows and orphans funds. The birds and beasts had quieted and there was only a soft guilty sobbing from Hinch in the dining room which I would shortly sooth with sweet approbations and heartfelt forgivenesses. The Hispanics had blended into the shrubbery and disappeared
“I thought you said the party wasn’t until six-ish” was the first thing Petey said to me as things started to die down.
“Call for the doctor, call for the nurse, call for that metaphorical lady with the alligator purse!” I replied with all of the self control that I could muster.”My back is in excruciating upheaval, I cannot straighten from the fetal position and, even in my semi-conscious condition, I canassure you that I am in need of strong medication, it feels like I’ve been run over by a school bus of gibbering capons. Mother Superior, jump the gun!”
I was still bleeding, my head was still pounding and my shins were still barked, my back was beyond injured, but it was quiet at the homestead and I was grateful for that. I had tried to find out what happened from Hinch but he was no help, having been in an altered state of mind at the time the catastrophe was occurring. Petey and I again reset the circuit breakers and crept to the kitchen to put some of the events into perspective.
We found five naked chickens hanging from ceiling fans (three on the floor), two fans, one bird on every blade that had not broken. With the electricity back on the fans began to turn and we quickly shut off the wall switch. It was a good thing that we did, for we discovered that Christmas twinkle lights had been wrapped around, and inside the twirling birds as well as ribbons and a red Sharpie marker had been used to draw targets on their little chests: little heart shaped targets. We knew that they were targets because there was not one but two guns, as well as spent casings on the floor by a barstool and bullet holes in the birds and walls and appliances. All this time I thought Hinch’s guns were toys. Idiot Moi.
The image came to me of an inebriated Hinch, up on the stool in his cute cowboy suit with two guns, firing wildly at the spinning birds and causing a short in the electricity, starting a fire, setting off the alarm and it all going south from there. I was grateful that I had no sprinklers.
“Well, that’s it for the party” I said to Petey.
“Nah” he said “we can salvage this, I’ll make some phone calls”. He handed me a tumbler of single malt Scotch and two little blue and red pills. “Now, take these little helpers of mother’s and go lie down; I’ll call you when all’s well.”