Home > Remonstrations of Fingers Rolly > FEATURE: Getting to Know Fingers Rolly

FEATURE: Getting to Know Fingers Rolly

December 7, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments
By Bernie Keebler

By Bernie Keebler

In the past few weeks, the world has become entranced by the writings of Lankville Daily News reporter Fingers Rolly. And yet, I always found myself wanting more. Who is Fingers Rolly? What are his thoughts? Can he even be known?

I made the long drive to the Lankville Desert Region to find out.

Fingers Rolly lives on a patch of desert surrounded by a natural arrangement of lovely pincushion cacti. His home is a series of old aluminum trailers that have been shoved together in a fanciful manner, thereby creating a rather large structure. There are the remnants of succulent gardens along one edge and a well-tended gravel walk but the land itself is cracked and brown, pulverized into dust by a relentless sun.

The road simply ends at Mr. Rolly’s rambling home; it goes no further. A tremendous amount of dust kicks up as I pull to a stop. Upon alighting from the car, I detect a strange sound that suddenly changes in timbre. Whereas at first it had sounded mournful, now it sounds almost demonic. I realize that it is the famous desert howling of Fingers Rolly.

Will he even answer the door? I ask myself. “If he’s howling, you can forget about it,” said an anonymous source, whom I probed for information about the mysterious writer. “You’ll have to try another day.” But I am resolute. I quickly change into a finely-tailored suit (I had been wearing some workout short pants and a lightweight shoulder harness) and make my way to what I presume to be the front door.

The demonic howling suddenly stops. Nothing moves. No sound can be heard from within. “Fingers?” I call out. I tap again at the door and it suddenly swings open. I can perceive only shadows from within.

I enter a mysterious room. There is a living room set (leather sofa and chair, cowboy motif) but large hand-painted plywood signs are stacked neatly against them. I flip through the cracked and warped messages, clearly punished by the desert sun– NO! GO AWAY! LEAVE! I DO NOT WANT YOU! I cross to a bookshelf– more signs stacked on the dusty floor, more strange pleading edicts to persons unknown.

The howling comes again– this time low and somber. I move towards it. It is lighter here– a filthy kitchen stacked with old tins and bottles, covered with a deeper layer of dust. And in a kitchen chair, I find the great writer. He is shaking and moaning. He almost appears to fall asleep at times, then suddenly bolts upright and lets loose a vile stream of profanity.

I gently put my hand on his shoulder and he turns around. He is sweating and his clothing is filthy and ragged. On the cluttered table before him, I find some stationary from a long-defunct hotel– Fingers Rolly is working on his latest article.

“Will you speak with me?” I ask. I find a chair on the opposite side of the table. There is an ancient tractor transmission before me, resting on a yellowed newspaper.

“Didn’t you see the sign you…you little asshole?” he says in a voice that, I am immediately convinced, is possessed.

Before I can respond, he begins howling again, then cursing wildly. This goes on for four hours straight. As the light begins to fade, I interrupt and offer to prepare dinner. Fingers looks up– his face seems his own now. “Go ahead, you fucking asscake. Who’s stopping you?” He looks back to the window but I can tell he is grateful.

I search the dusty cupboards for our meal.

II.

Fingers gnarls at his dinner; he has a strange habit of putting food into his mouth sideways and hunching over his plate protectively.  Suddenly, he will bolt upwards in his seat and, remaining completely still, will gaze for an interminable period at something far off and distant out the window.  Then, he will slowly return to his meal.  For Fingers, eating seems a completely pleasureless experience.

I ask him about his last job.  “Physical education,” he blurts out.  “God damn desert high school.  No fields to speak of, just that cracked brown whore dirt.”  He spits on the floor.  “For a time, I enjoyed it.”  “How so?” I probe.  He stares at me.  Then: “It was fun to torture the unathletic children.  But then I’d have to go into my office to fill out grades or something and even with the blinds shut, I knew that god damn desert was out there, mocking me.”

He takes a long, steadying drink of coffee.  This is a rare, lucid moment.  I know it will not last long.

“Then, I took to sleeping under the gym bleachers at night.  I could no longer use facilities because, standing there, I could see that asshole desert out the window.  So, I started going under the bleachers.  The principal called me in after a few weeks.

“What did he say?”

Fingers Rolly

Fingers Rolly

“He said, Fingers– he said, we like some of the work you’re doing.  You’re making important strides in teaching the fatter, unathletic kids how to wear their gym shorts.  But we can’t have this moaning and screaming at the desert.  And now that we’ve learned of this expelling of waste beneath the gym bleachers, well, I’m afraid that’s the last straw.  So, he kicked me out on my ass.”

“What did you do?”

“I went home and made up two signs– I still have ‘em, in there in the living room.  Then, I took up a post here in this very chair and started screaming at that sonuvabitch.  That cracked, god damn sonuvabitch…”

He gets up from the table (his rugged gait now marred by age) and starts towards the back door with a shotgun.  I stop him.

“There’s nothing you can do, Fingers,” I plead.

He breathes rapidly but stops at the counter.  He removes his hat and looks at the floor for several moments, blinking.  He seems near tears.

Then, suddenly, his face changes completely.  The transformation is stunning.  FFFFFFUUUUUUCCCCKKKK   OFFFFFFFF he moans slowly.  He tries to strike me but I duck out of the way.  He moves to his chair and begins the deeply unsettling desert moan broken by occasional moments of vile profanity.  I keep out of his way as best I can.  “At this point, he’ll start tearing the kitchen up,” warned a journalist friend.

I dig in and prepare for the worst.

III.

The low moan continues to dusk.  When the desert disappears in darkness, the face of Fingers takes on another stunning transformation.

“There’s them cake hunks in the icebox,” he says aloud.

Indeed, I find a creased and rumpled bakery container filled with asymmetrical hunks of cake.  I push them gently onto filthy plates.  Fingers begins eating almost before the dessert is even before him.

“They had this guy come out and he bought up the earth beneath us,” he comments.  Indeed, an enormous plot of desert land had recently been purchased by the heirs of Ferdinand Buntz, mallows king of Lankville.  Rumors, none verified, were flying around the region.  “What do you think he wants with that land?” I ask.  “The land is an asshole.  What would you do with an asshole?”  He pushes his plate away and then onto the floor.  It lands in a pile of garbage.

“Tell me about your wife?” I ask.  It’s a dicey question; Fingers’ bride had died decades before.

“She was in the stenographers pool at the high school,” he responds in an even, quiet voice.  “They gave her a little cubicle and I used to go in the cubicle and talk to her.  Lovely girl.  Very fat.  But lovely.  She looked like a gibbous moon.”

“And then you moved here, to the desert?”

Fingers slowly shakes his head.  The sweat is pouring off him.  I bear witness to the rising vitriol.

MOTHERFUCKKKKKKKKKKERRRRRRRR.   He gets up and grabs the shotgun again.  I stop him.

“Rest.  Rest in the chair,” I command.  He does as told though I notice that his face has changed again.  I decide to press.

“Why?  Why do you hate the desert?”

But he will not answer.  He is gone now.

For want of something to look at, I find a small stack of old gas station road maps in a heap of floor garbage.  Many are of the desert region.  Opening them, I find a thick series of crude markings in various inks with arrows leading to the margins and annotated with a mysterious combination of letters and numbers.  These markings are virtually impossible to explain so I pocket one of the maps so that it may be photographed later.  It is reproduced here for the first time.

Gas station road map of Desert Region with Fingers’ strange markings.

Gas station road map of Desert Region with Fingers’ strange markings.

Then, I am surprised by the distant sound of a motor vehicle.  Lights flash across the windows.  It seems to be coming surprisingly fast– the crunch of boots on the gravel outside causes me to freeze where I stand.  Then I drop to the carpet and attempt to construct a hiding fort out of blankets and pillows.  They are outside the door now.Hours pass.  My curiosity is insatiable.  I quietly move to the living room and, with the faint illumination of a cellphone, look through the signs again.  Moving to the coffee table, I begin sifting through the mass of papers and letters (many never opened).  Yet, there seems to be no key that I can stick in a keyhole, turn, and, by the rotation of moving cylinders, pin tumblers and so forth, unlock the mystery.

“Flatten them,” someone says.  Boots crunching again, then the sound of my tires being slashed by a knife.

“You jus’ let me know when you’re ready,” the same man says.  It is in monotone; a brutal voice without mercy.

I throw off the blankets and pillows and make a beeline for the backdoor.  I pause only for a moment as a deadly shotgun blast bursts through the wood frame.  It seems to have come from nowhere; almost silent, faintly sibilant.

Then, I am running across pitch black scrubland, away from the house.  A booming roar of an engine starts up and I am now being chased by a raging pickup burying everything in its path.

This may be my end.

Bernie Keebler is currently missing.

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