09 Jun The Luckiest Bastard Alive
“The Luckiest Bastard Alive”Written by Kyle Harrison Edited by Craig Groshek Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek Narrated by N/A
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available
⏰ ESTIMATED READING TIME — 10 minutes
Screw Marvin Jenkins. The luckiest bastard in the world.
Let me start at the beginning.
I was born and raised in Flagstaff, second-generation blue blood. I think I first held a gun at the age of five. I known my way around these parts probably even before that. And in all my years of running around and shooting the shit with folks, ain’t no one in this place been more of a thorn in my side than Marvin Jenkins.
Looking at him you wouldn’t think Marvin was anything special at all, just some kid from the wrong side of the tracks that had more lives than an alley cat. He always wore mismatched clothes and was unmistakable by the bizarre four-leaf clover tattoo he had under his left eye.
Marvin’s the kind who is always in trouble. Whether it’s drinking, drugs, breaking and entering or just plain old jaywalking, you name it, and Marvin has done it at least four or five times in his sorry life. For Marvin, he actually bragged about all of the times he’s been in the county lockup… like he thought he would get in the Guinness Book of Records or something. Honestly, it was sickening to me to see that a piece of trash like Jenkins could just keep on getting away with shit and never even bat an eye about the destruction and suffering left in his wake.
His worst crime though? Marvin married my sister. I didn’t even know they had a thing for each other until she came home and announced she was pregnant. Dad wanted to wring Marvin’s scrawny little neck. I think I was eyeing the shotgun a few times when the lovebirds said they were going to run off to Vegas to get hitched. How the hell was Marvin Jenkins, certified idiot, going to be a good daddy?
The night it happened, after Dad did his best not to blow up and give Marvin “the man talk”, Marvin and I decided to go get shitfaced drunk at a little hole in the wall called Callie’s. I was going to drown my frustration. And maybe hoping Marvin would get so hammered he would wind up in lockup again so that my sis would wake up and see what a mistake she was making to even be close to this guy.
Instead, as we started downing shots, Marvin began to get more and more depressed. Then, like the magic elixir that it is, the bourbon and whiskey started making Marvin spill his guts to me.
“I’m fucking cursed, Joel,” I remember him saying. That was the moment that I just couldn’t hold back anymore.
“Cursed?” I repeated as I slammed down my shot glass. “You got to be joking. Marvin, you’re the luckiest bastard alive.”
“You just don’t know what that even means, Joel. I can’t even control it anymore. Shit happens and then I have to watch it play out,” he said.
“What the hell you mean by that? You’re the one that always gets into trouble, or causes it,” I told him.
“Shut your pie hole! I’m trying to tell ya something important!” Marvin said angrily. He was redder than a shrieking baboon. Probably half as smart though. But I gave him the benefit of the doubt and asked, “All right, all right. Tell me, Marvin, what makes you so unlucky?”
He looked around the bar, like he thought someone would be eavesdropping. Then he leaned close to me and whispered, “I killed a leprechaun.”
You know that face you make when you just don’t know what to say ‘cause you’re so flabbergasted by the stupidity of a human being? That’s got to be the face that I gave Marvin when he said those words.
His however was a mask of seriousness. His eyes were hazy and showed the look of a desperate and crazed man, serious and steady.
“Aren’t leprechauns supposed to give good luck?” I asked. I don’t know why I played into it. Probably just to see how far down the rabbit hole he planned to run.
“They are. That’s why I was surprised when I met ‘em and he told me what he wanted. It was right here in this bar too. Didn’t look no different than any other fella. Maybe a little shorter sure, but all in all a good bloke,” he said with a laugh.
“What he wanted?” I repeated.
“Oh, yeah. Forgot to mention that. He came in here trying to pick a fight with anybody willing to beat the living snot out of him. Guy had a death wish, I said, and then after I smacked him around a few times I found out that was exactly what it was. He was trying to kill himself,” Marvin said.
“So… a suicidal leprechaun. Now there’s something you don’t see every day,” I muttered.
“Ha. I about said the same, Joel. After I properly pummeled him for ogling my girl, the feisty little guy demanded that I finish the job. Like this was some kind of video game or some shit. Now, I done a lot of stupid things in my life. But killing? That’s a road I ain’t ever crossed,” he said.
I only nodded and kept listening as his story got more and more bizarre.
“Ya see, the leprechaun told me that if I killed him all the luck that he had would be passed on to me. I could do whatever I wanted, *when*ever I wanted. Now I know I’m not the brightest bulb, but that sounded like a pretty sweet deal.”
“And all you had to do was kill him?” I guessed.
“Yep. And he even sweetened the deal and said I would live forever. I didn’t even hesitate, Joel, I pulled him out back to the dumpster and told him I would strangle his ass right then and there if that was legit…”
Marvin was just blabbering now, barely making sense as he recalled the incident.
“The little fella was laughing the whole time, told me I had to want it, whatever the hell that meant. Just made me angrier, so I slammed his skull against the dumpster a dozen or so times. Finally, he said that was enough. Then as he lay on the ground bloody and bruised, he gave me a warning. Something I’ll never forget…”
Marvin paused, a look of dread and worry covering his features.
“He told me never to get attached to anybody or anything. Or the luck would be gone. My luck o’ the Irish would be a fuck o’ the Irish.” He laughed at his little pun.
“Don’t know why that didn’t matter to me at the time. But I punched him straight in the face one more time to get it over with.”
“Once he was still, the fella started to disintegrate, like you see in the movies. The flesh on his face and neck started to burn away and these nasty little green maggots just started spilling out everywhere. They screamed and wriggled their way into the ground as his bones collapsed onto themselves, and then he was gone. Just like that, I was back in the real world.” Marvin took another shot and stared off vacantly.
“I didn’t even believe it was real until I saw what he gave me,” he paused and pointed toward his tattoo. “Once this thing magically appeared on my skin, I knew it wasn’t a dream.”
“First thing I did was buy a lotto ticket. Pretty dumb, huh? Like luck works that way. I even tried a couple of times, no dice. I was thinking that I had just killed the sorry son of a bitch for nothing when about a week later, I was going down the interstate and my left tire had a blowout.”
“I remember that,” I interrupted him. “The car was a total wreck, everyone in the county said that it was a miracle you were alive. And not a scratch on you.”
“That was when I realized how it really worked. The luck. I was untouchable. A free man, free to go and do whatever I wanted. So I did. I been doing that for years.” Marvin was losing his train of thought but I wasn’t finished with this tall tale.
“Doesn’t sound like that’s a curse to me, bud. I known you a lot of years, and I think it’s been pretty consistent good luck,” I told him.
“It was. Until I met your sister,” he told me. I gave him an odd look.
“Let me explain, Joel. I love your sister. I love her so damn much I would give her the whole world if I could… and well, that’s the problem. I’m in love. And the luck is running out,” he told me.
I rolled my eyes. I don’t know if it was because I was sobering up or cause I just needed to stop losing brain cells listening to his rant, but I decided not to entertain him anymore that night.
“Fuck you,” I told him as I got up and paid for our tab.
I didn’t see him again for almost six months.
It was at the same bar, I was off duty but got a call from dispatch about a bar fight. As I was the closest, I became the first responder. When I got there a row of truckers was circling the right window and chanting for someone to kick someone else in the head.
“Joel, thank god you’re here,” the bar owner said.
“What the hell is going on?” I asked.
“It’s a bloodbath. Fucking Jenkins just came in and started fighting anybody that looked at him sideways. He’d been going on and on about some stupid Irish curse or some shit. I swear if you hadn’t come I was gonna in there and shut him up myself,” the man said.
I pushed through the crowd and saw Marvin lying on the floor covered in bruises and blood.
He barely opened his black eyes and smiled at me with half a mouth of teeth, saying, “Hey… I know you.”
I yanked him up, told everyone else to clear the scene and shoved him toward the door.
“Whoa. Where you taking me? I’m not done yet,” he said.
“Oh, yes, you are,” I muttered.
“You don’t understand. I’ve got to end it. I’m doing this for my family!” he growled as I pushed him into the back of my Ford.
For a minute as we drove down the road, Marvin was sulking like a toddler. I didn’t engage though. I didn’t have time for his idiocy.
Finally, though, he couldn’t keep his trap shut and started rambling.
“I was close, you know. So damn close.”
“There was this one dude from Salt Lake. Looked like could he kill if he wanted to. I had almost got him riled up good when you showed up.”
I kept driving. Marvin got quiet again as we turned onto the next desolate highway.
“You could do it, Joel. Right here on this stretch of road. It would be easy. Plenty of places to dump a body. Fill me up with a few rounds and then let the coyotes finish the job.”
I slammed hard on my brakes.
His nose broke against my headrest.
“Joel! What the fuck!”
“Shut up!” I yelled as I glared at him in the rearview mirror. “I don’t understand what the fuck is wrong with you, Marvin! You’ve got everything you ever wanted in life. But instead of appreciating it, you’ve squandered every goddamn minute.”
He didn’t say a word as I continued my lecture. “You’ve got to grow a pair and be a man. You’ve got a wife and a kid on the way. Stop this nonsense and start thinking about them for once.”
He shook his head and laughed. “You don’t fucking get it. No one does. That’s why I am doing this, Joel! I have to! Or they’ll never have a good life. I already seen it happening. The magic is gone. Hannah has been getting sick. Doc even said our baby might not make it. And it’s my fault. All of this is.”
“So what? You want the easy way out and just get someone else to end it all for you? That’s not altruistic, Marvin, that’s cowardice,” I snapped back.
Jenkins didn’t say a word. He just stared down at the floorboards and I started to drive again. A few more minutes down the highway and I had calmed down. Figured I could talk some sense into him.
“Look… Marvin, what I’m saying is…” That was the last thing I said before everything went to hell.
I saw his arms come up over the headrest. He was still handcuffed and he wrapped them right at the base of my neck and started to pull back. I frantically started to gag and slammed on my brakes again before swerving off the road. My car hit the ditch going about thirty-three miles per hour.
As the airbag deployed, Marvin came through the front windshield. Glass shattered everywhere, but he still wasn’t done trying to fight me. He fumbled for a piece of the broken glass and started to wave it about wildly.
“What the fuck is wrong with you?!” I screamed as I pushed my way out of the car. Marvin was right on top of me, punching and jabbing at my chest and shoulders.
“Fight back, dammit!” he snapped as I pushed him back against the car door.
“Come on, Joel. Punch me in the jaw. Make it count. I know you been wanting to for years.”
“You’re a psychopath,” I said. But Marvin refused to give up. We tumbled over into the ditch, a patch of mud splashing against his bruised face as he madly stabbed the broken glass against my thigh.
“Fuck!” Something inside me just switched off. I didn’t care anymore. I grabbed his neck and slammed him against the hood of the car. I held him tight and started battering his head against the pieces of broken glass.
Marvin was spitting in my face.
“Come on, Joel! Come on! You have to want it!”
My hands around his throat, I squeezed as hard as I could. I watched as the light went out of his eyes. Then Jenkins slumped over, dead and still smiling like an idiot.
I fell back, hitting the dusty road and catching my breath. My hands were shaking. I felt like I wanted to vomit. Somehow, someway I pushed myself up and fumbled to find my cell phone.
I opened it up to dial for 911 and then stared down at the broken corpse of Marvin Jenkins. If circumstances were reversed I knew he would have just left me to rot in the midday sun.
So I did that too and limped down the road to the next service station.
When I got there I smashed up my phone and used the landline. Told them that an antelope had crossed and made us run off the road. The EMT didn’t question my report. Why would they? I got a few stitches and was told I could go home.
Instead, I went to my dad’s house. When I got there, my sister was waiting with a look of disgust and madness on her face.
“What did you do?” she screamed. But I didn’t have time for her. So I just pushed her away and went inside. Despite all that Marvin had done to her, she still loved the crazy bastard.
She came to my room that night and started pounding on my door, demanding to talk to me. I could tell from her breath she had been drinking.
“Tell me you didn’t do this!” she demanded. She was red-eyed and looked like she was about to vomit. But I didn’t even make a response. My face was all that she needed to see to know the truth. She collapsed into my arms and sobbed like an infant.
“I hate you! I fuckin’ hate you!” She started to punch me in the chest. I tried my best to calm her down, but she just wouldn’t give up. In frustration, I shoved her away. Her foot came down on a discarded towel and she slipped.
Everything seemed to flow in slow motion. She screamed as she fell back away from me and down the stairs. She didn’t stop until her body hit the bottom of the thirteen steps.
It felt like a bad dream. I ran down to her and watched as blood gushed out the back of her head. Dad called for the EMT again but it was too late. She was gone.
I watched in a dream-like state as they took her body away, her eyes still open and glaring accusingly at me. It was all I could do not to break down right there in front of everyone.
Dad poured me some whiskey once they were gone. I got so drunk that I passed out. When I woke up, I didn’t even want to believe that any of it had happened as I went to wash up.
But the proof was as plain as could be. There under my eye, a mark had been made.
It looked just like a four-leaf clover.
🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available