My Heroes Have Always Been Cowards

"Hey GT."


"I call you GT, for Gravy Train."

"What does that mean?"

"I call you Gravy Train 'cause you got it made in the shade, baby. You on a gravy train headed for mashpotata' mountain."

"Why's that?"

"Cause you always know where the party at. Any man always know where the party at got no complaints."

"What are you talking about, Mitch?"

"You don' like to party?"

"I haven't been to a real party in about four years, except wedding receptions and the Friday Happy-Hour things you never go to."

"That's cool. I know how you party, GT. You party tight and you party complete. You know how to respect the party. You keep it real and you always show much love for the beat and the subtle intensity of the dope sex-rhyme."

"In all honesty, I really never know what you're talking about, Mitch. Really. When you walk away, after we've been talking, I always wonder what the hell just happened. Sometimes I wonder if I'd imagined the whole thing. Then I wonder if I've just been made fun of. I'm having trouble maintaining a grasp on reality right now and I'm not sure if I can handle any more ambiguity."

"Don't hassle the tassel, GT. Aint' nobody gonna make fun of thee whilst I'm on the motherfucker."

"You're the funniest person I know, Mitch."

"Ain't' nothin' funny about it. Truth always sound funny tell you think about it. Then it just sound true, knowhatamsayin'. I be real and I come to you straight. You tell me straight. That's why we cool. We always been cool. Since you started here, we had no beefs. No one gets up on us 'cause they know they get the truth."

"I guess that's true."

"You know so. That's why you be laughin' and shit."

"Yah, I guess so."

"You know so, GT, you know so. What's the U.S. News and World Report?"

"Nothing really. I think Infomax is down. I'm just writing an RFP. Actually I'm writing a story, but if anyone asks, I'm writing an RFP."

"I ain't gonna blow yo' cover. You wanna steal money from our employer by pursuing non-business related endeavors while on the clock, that's yo' bidness. Me, I don't go down for that kind of lackadaisicality. I feel a responsibility, knowhatamsayin', to the Verticord Corporation to put in my full eight hours and shit."

"Give me a break. I can smell pot on you, and you can barely keep your eyes open. I'm going to use that, by the way, 'Lackadaisicality'. That's funnier than heck."

"My shit way funnier than that. Take what you like, GT, but a brother best like what he take. Reciprocity is a bitch. Maybe one a' these days I be sayin' 'Holy cow' and shit and 'Funnier than heck', knowhatamsayin'. Shit, I didn't bring any Visine, you really smell it?"

"No, I'm kidding. Your eyes are bloodshot, though.

"This story about dogs again, them Cubensis?"

"Basenjis. And no, it's not about anything. Just free-association, rambling. Typing."

"That's Cool. You be writin' some stoney-ass shit. I could smoke herb to it. Make me think about stuff I been through, knowhatamsayin'. Story you wrote about the big-titty freak with Alzheimer's and shit? Shit was real. You got a' ear for that shit. You a listener like me. You watch and listen and write the truth. We a lot alike."

"I know we are."

"Heh, heh, Don't let it scare you now. I know, in your head, you be thinkin', 'Yah, we a lot alike but I aint' some doped up nigga' from the south-end pickin' up mail and smokin' weed on my lunch hour. Some day that motherfucka's gonna be in lockup liftin' weights and selling pocket-pussy's made outa' soup cans and shit'. But don' be so sure, GT, I might surprise you."

"You could never surprise me. You really couldn't"

"That right?"

"You are the party, Mitchell. I could listen to you all day. Do they really make pocket-pussies out of soup cans in prison? How does that work? That's disturbing."

"I never been in, except for a brief internship with Youth Services as a younger man when my head was full of the white-devil's misinformation and demagoguery. But that's what I heard. Why, you want me to make you one or some shit? That's some freaky-deaky shit, man. Be a trip and shit. I wonder what the hell people think we talkin' bout up-in-here."

"Beats the heck out of me. They probably don't think we're talking about putting our dicks in soup cans."

"Just so shit is clear, I wasn't talkin' about my dick or your dick, so please extract that concept from your mind. I don't want my dick starring in your homo, white male, nigger-slave rape fantasies and shit. You get turned on by some creepy shit, GT. I'm not sure if I feel comfortable in here. You need to think about something else besides my genitalia, you're making me very nervous. Look how agitated I've become."

"Yes, of course, I'm terribly sorry for that. Maybe I can find some pictures of soup cans on the Internet. Probably all different kinds of soup on there. Bean with Bacon is pretty hot. Ooh, maybe black bean with bacon, that would satiate those 'nigger-slave' fantasies I've been harboring. Be patient with me, I'm not well."

"Man, you the one funnier than shit. Mauriceo said that when he come by the other day. He's all, 'That white guy's funnier than shit.' Alright, I been hanging out with your ass too long. I better get back to getting' back. Your fucked-up work ethic is gonna rub off on me and get my ass fired. I'm too black to be sittin' around writin' stories all day."

"I know. I need to get my shit together. I'm not really sure what I'm doing anymore. I think people would be surprised if they knew what a loser I am."

"No they wouldn't."

"I feel like people think I'm an okay person but I don't think they know what a dipshit I am. I used to know exactly who I was and what I wanted. Now I think I'm just falling. Sometimes I know I'm not even here."

"You're here. Chill out, I can see you."

"Just one of those days. I was thinking, I never used to feel regret or worry. I never worried."

"You thinkin' bout what I think you thinkin' bout?"


"Let that shit go, man. Let that shit go and you' be able to party again."

"I know".

"You don't act like 'you know'."

"I know."

"All right, GT. Take time to smell the pussy this weekend."

"All right, Mitch, I will. Have a good weekend, man."

About the author:

James Ward is precious to a fault. He spends evenings alone on his cot listening for the midnight shrill of the spider monkeys he calls, 'Le Petite Comediennes'.