(A Jason Half-Pillow Ennui Existential)
When Amy One Eye Shut, an almost pathologically shy Navajo Maid at just another in a scattered series of California desert town Ramada Inns between Barstow and Bakersfield, bends her round figure down to prop up Room 113 with one of those weird, slanting rubbery things that have no conceivable alternate use, she doesn’t expect to find herself walking into the bloody aftermath of what looks to be a cult crime scene. But the dirty linens she expected to find on the bed are instead covered in blood and the towels on the bathroom floor are too. Then, as if that weren’t enough, she pulls back the shower curtain to find a dead white man laying in the cramped tub, the top button of his no-iron, Van Heusen dress shirt open and his tie slightly undone. A cryptic message is smeared in red permanent marker on his forehead:
“I SUK,” it says.
Is this merely a misspelled insult or a phonetically rendered version of a rival Pueblo Phrase meaning, “time now me pay back, you bastard, for you steal all tribe’s sheep”?
This is the last thing Amy needs at this moment in her life. Scheduled for some time next Thursday is her wedding to slobbering, goofy, four-eyed, Dungeons and Dragons nerd, Nathaniel High Water, a half-breed Navajo, though what the other half is, no one is quite sure.
Amy One Eye Shut must busy herself with her wedding preparations and knows better than to start investigating the murder. High Water’s father is a big-time tribal elder and has it within his power to permanently ostracize Amy One Eye Shut if, instead of making by hand her own sheepskin wedding dress, she instead spends her time solving her fifth California Desert, Ramada Inn Murder Mystery and tries showing up in some store bought knock off. No dress, no wedding – those are the rules. What will she do?
As Amy ponders whether to stick her nose in yet another murder that is none of her business, her existential dilemma is resolved, yet again, by the incompetent Chief of Police and the County Sheriff’s office, staffed entirely by morons, the dumbest of which was the Sheriff himself. He and the Police Chief have something else on their feeble minds than allowing One Eye Shut the time to make her sheepskin dress and focus her mental energies on dreading her own wedding, and they take their customary steps to force her, yet again, back on to yet another case by closing it too soon, solved incorrectly.
Realizing the time and work required by a full fledged murder investigation, the two men choose to shut the case with some bullshit story that it was just one more in a long string of depressed travelling white, salesman suicides, and they even concoct a badly misspelled suicide note to prove it, one they write in blood they take from the cut finger of a passed out wino the Sheriff was holding in one of the two cells of his two cell county jail. Maybe the two men aren’t so dumb after all, and they guffaw like retarded donkeys in between sips from their huge Big Gulps the whole drive to the morgue, with siren blaring, where they hope to plant the note in the dead man’s coat pocket. The coroner drinks and is always behind on his work, so they figure there’s a good chance he hasn’t yet cut off the man’s attire, yet another in a long line of ill fitting and rumpled dark blue suits taken right of the sales rack at some Macy’s, in some dull city or suburb filled mostly with white people – where? God only knows, that is, if he’s even bothering to keep track. Stupid after all, the two men bungle it, and the note is found instead on a different corpse, the victim of a traffic accident – a triple trailer drove right over his Prius and half crushed the man to death. Now his co-workers at the water treatment plant wonder how they could have missed the signs, what hint of quiet desperation had they not heard in the man’s cheery, incessant, daily chatter and constant pleas for assistance with his crossword puzzles?
The Sheriff and Chief of Police panic but after six or seven beers, agree it doesn’t matter, and let their conclusion that the Ramada Inn killing was a suicide too stand. And they are right: it doesn’t matter, no one cares, and life goes on. No one in town wants to question their findings, nor question the dumb secretary, Amy’s secret nemesis, who types the final report. Amy One Eye Shut thinks it was so unfair that woman has a job, that dumb blond lady with the bazongas and the high voice, and a cushy desk job at that.
Life is so unfair, and she resolves then to put herself back on the case, to rebel against the order that puts her in the Ramada Inn pulling sheets perfumed with other people’s sweat and lingering fart smells, while that white bimbo lady is free to misspell as few bogus suicide reports as she can muster finishing in the eight vacant hours allotted her each workday in this little, nothing ever happens desert stop over town of theirs, once derided as filled with shit-kickers until even they got too bored and all moved out, dispersing to places as far off as Sacramento, where they hang out in Pool Halls and keep the local cops busy rushing over to break up racial brawls stemming from them playing one too many Country Western songs on the juke box.
No, she’ll solve this case and expose the Chief and Sheriff and the bimbo for the frauds they are, and the mayor will appoint her Sheriff, finally righting the injustice of this place, if not the entire world.
So Amy One-Eye Shut, once again, thrusts herself knee deep into yet another case.
Until that is…
Bored local white Private Eye Sam Steelboot does a quick pro bono check on the register and finds out the dead man was sharing a room with a guy wanted for murder in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, and recognizes the name as belonging to the same man presently subject to a massive, Southwest Region manhunt, some guy named Bill, though a few news reports have referred to him as William. Last name unknown.
Steelboot uses his connections with competent cops in all three states to Fed Ex them the forensic evidence he gathers from the hotel room, thanks to the cursory, negligent walk through by the Police Chief and the Sheriff, who taped the room off and left it that way for Steelboot to cut with a pair of scissor made specially for left-handers like him. All of the labs report back that it’s definitely the same guy. “A slam dunk,” he muses. “Not one of those “three out of four dentists agree” deals that always leads to a reasonable doubt and hangs the jury.”
Then, just when the case couldn’t get more closed, on the news that night in her trailer, Amy sees a white woman report that the inter-state murderer was cornered by some 19 year old Medics from near by Edwards Air Force Base, who pumped him full of tranquilizers then dumped his limp, unconscious body on top of a Sheriff’s patrol car in a CVS parking lot, with a note syringed to his lapel reading “here’s your guy.”
Now the case is suddenly closed, the problem solved, no thanks to the bungling local law enforcement authorities but thanks instead to rival Private Eye Sam Steelboot.
So Amy One Eye Shut faces once again the soul numbing prospect of cleaning rooms, then going home to her trailer and working all night sewing together her sheepskin wedding dress. She can try occupying her mind with whatever programming might come in on her eight inch screen, miniature TV set, but the reception is horrible, so she’ll be alone, once again, bereft even of the company of late night TV, having to endure the sheer, mindless drudgery of her wedding preparations before going to the Ramada Inn and doing more or less the same there. She will think the whole time of nothing but how her life has been one big meaningless waste, a pointless journey from the womb and here to this desert town and finally into the scrawny arms of slobbering Navajo alpha-nerd, Nathaniel High Water, whom she desperately hopes is as much a failure at impregnation as he is at everything else.
Read on to find where her meandering interior, stream of consciousness, monologue takes her in this fifth of the series, as acclaimed master of existential ennui, Jason Half-Pillow, renders perfectly Amy One Eye Shut’s dull, defeatist pain throughout the book’s remaining 450 pages in his trademark plodding and near catatonic style. Half resisting and half reconciled to her fate, Amy One Eye Shut exists at a spiritual crossroads. Which way will she go? Where will her thoughts take her?
And now that she’s dropped the case, has she set herself irrevocably on a pathetic path? Can she escape yet again from another existential choice? Is the choice to try really even hers to make?
Rave reviews for The Blood Soaked Bed
“Starts off strong, then limps into pure shit, which in turn is transformed into the most liquid streams of diarrhea.”
–San Antonio Express
“The cover is misleading…”
-Eugene Blimmer, Tuscon Times Book Section
“As boring as a three hour black and white film with subtitles containing a total of three shots of the same three speed bicycle sitting outside a café in the rain.”
–Washington Post Book World
“More formulaic drivel from Jason Half-Pillow…”
–Navajo End of Times Half-Page Book Supplement
“Imagine Stephen King mating with J.K Rowling and producing an offspring raised by Nancy Drew on an Indian Reservation, and you’ve got Jason Half-Pillow and this is his finest work yet! Another arrow shot in the white man’s hide! What literary journal editors mean when they say they are always looking for stories from writers from traditionally underrepresented groups. Amy One Eye Shut is not white, is a woman, is working class, and marries also a nerd and her dreams of glory are shattered by two dumb white men who work for law enforcement: a perfect formula which yields a perfect book. It will one day be noted for singlehandedly shifting the entire paradigm and ushering in a new world of perpetual multicultural bliss.”
–Nueva Jork Tiempos Libro Review, Half Garbled Immigrant Street Creole Edition
“After five murders in the same hotel, you’d think she’d get a new job, but she’s too shy to try, yet somehow has a knack for solving murders but never actually apprehends any of the killers or even informs the police of who they are because Sam Steelboot always beats her to it with a few simple phone calls. When haven’t we slogged through this kind of shit a million times before?”
-Timmy Smithers, Detective Fiction Review
“Half the shit on the back cover isn’t even in the book!”
-Todd Jurvis, Paris Review
“Mercifully void of obligatory sex scenes.”
“I wrote it and even I say it sucks!”
Jason Half-Pillow lives in Vicenza, Italy, where the people speak Italian in what sounds to be a Swedish accent. His writing has appeared in many places, including his computer and on unemployment application forms and at the Santa Cruz, California DMV. His writing has also appeared in the Iowa Review, Hobo Pancakes, The Driftwood Press, the Bicycle Review, and The Paris Review, though in the last case, it was his handwriting: he used the inside cover to practice forging his mother’s signature. He is left-handed but plays tetherball with his right.
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