Bradley ‘Boo’ Barrett~Character

A favorite character of mine is Bradley Boo Barrett from my first novel ‘No More Mister Nice Guy’ . He plays a short but critical role, and is much like I was in a former part of my life. Boo lives on the outskirts of normal society stuck in a 1970s Rock n Roll past. At this point, I won’t explain the origins of an old cowboy who makes an appearance in this chapter. That would be much too big of a spoiler. This complete chapter is from near the end of my first novel, No More Mister Nice Guy. Thank you for considering the read.

The Beginning of the End

He gazed with wide wonder at the surrounding world as if looking upon it for the very first time; his new long-coat was overlaid with the dust of centuries and smelled of the ancient earth. Uncomfortable within its ill fit, he hunched his shoulders trying to adjust himself into the hand-me-down. Then, quite imperceptible at first, the coat began to pull and tug at itself until it hung perfectly tailored to his frame.
Gunner stood shadowed in the alcove of 3501 Broadway in Sacramento, California; he looked out upon a newly minted world. Old chafing cares and concerns were gone, faded shadows against a galactic background. Those had been stripped of their power to influence his actions or thoughts. Without thinking, he stroked the purple silk that peeked from his rough-hewn overcoat. And smiled.
Peace was a living force within him now; it hummed and coursed its way through every cell of his being. And, for the first time in his not-so-long life, each thought flowed coolly uninterrupted one after the other in perfect order at a steady unhurried pace. He liked it. Heck. He loved it, and restrained himself from dancing and shouting right there. Instead, he stretched as if waking from a long, long sleep and coolly secreted himself in the shadows as he waited for something big to happen, of which he knew every detail.
Several blocks west and south in a long neglected dying neighborhood, Bradley “Boo” Barrett sat halfway up the thirteen wooden steps that led up into his crumbling hundred-year-old house. Dry rot ate away at its supporting beams and the porch leaned so that a discarded bottle or can would roll off the edge and into a growing pile of empties. He was three weeks behind on his rent and could care less.
The bitter end of an outsized joint sizzled in the wetness of his lower lip. He cursed it, as much for burning out as for the injury.
“That’ll leave a blister,” he whined, and pulled his lip down using a discarded rearview mirror to survey the damage. He winced as he poked and prodded the wound.
The fifth sixteen-ounce can of Budweiser that morning crunched under his boot heel, and he kicked it into the pile of empties alongside the porch. He thought for a moment he might have enough to recycle and buy another case, but then considered the work involved and found it wasn’t worth it.
Boo, at fifty-three, was fifty pounds overweight. A youngish mane of smooth, straight blonde hair fell to the center of his back; it was the only thing he was fastidious about. His face was fleshy, smooth, and pale; cheeks and nose were flushed pink, exaggerated by the good buzz he had going. The clothes he wore and his manners remained in a constant state of ruin, which somehow he thought was cool.
“Hildy!” he hollered into the house. “Let’s go for a ride!” She didn’t answer, so he banged on the side of the wooden house with the palm of his puffy hand and shouted again, “Hildy!!”
“What is it, Boo?” Halfway through a box of Oreos, she was watching old Warner Bros. cartoons. Her exaggerated irritation was intentional.
“Today would be a great day to let the Pontiac out of its cage. Wanna come along?” In Boo’s boyish mind, giving the 1973 Catalina’s 455 cubic-inch engine a chance to stretch was like taking a dog for a walk.
“That might not be such a good idea…Boo.” Her mothering tone rankled his nerves.
“I’m your husband not’ch your child!” and wagged his head back and forth, mouthing her words.
“I saw that Boo—”
Amazing, he thought. Was he that predictable or could she really see through walls?
That little chat was headed downhill quick, and if he had been a little more or a little less buzzed, he just might’ve stormed into the house and taught her a thing or two.
“Don’t worry about me, I be alright,” his words were slurred, but only slightly, according to him. In his reasoning: He had never been arrested, yet he’d driven a million times, well maybe only a thousand in much worse shape than he was now and hadn’t he just received a promotion and a raise? Head of the spray team at WestWing Manufacturing – makers of fine office furniture. He had good reason to celebrate and flap his feathers a little. Besides, it was Sunday, hardly anyone would be on the road. Boo’s image of himself as a fine, upstanding member of the community grew as the seconds ticked off.
Hildy knew his argument backwards and forwards, and barged down the center aisle of his thoughts… “It only takes once, Boo. Busted or kilt,” she hollered loud enough to be heard over Bugs Bunny’s voice two doors down. “Why don’t you stick around and do something here for a change? There’s no shortage of things that need fixin’.”
God! That woman’s voice is irritating. “Fine, have it your way. Stay here; I’m headed out. See you in an hour or so.” He saw the loose threshold of the front door over his shoulder, cursed, and swore he would fix it when he got back. That’d show her.
Boo shook out his long, straight hair, and slid down into the cushy cocoon of the bucket seat. He turned the key. The engine labored as if he had just woken it from a deep sleep, then it fired. It always did; Boo spared no expense in keeping the old car humming like a top. The big motor roared to life. Boo smiled. He loved the sound and feel of that monster forcing its breath through twin GlassPack mufflers.
“They don’t make cars for men anymore, only puny sissy little girl cars now. Always afraid someone’s gonna get hurt.” This started his rant, to nobody, on current affairs and the sad condition of the world.
As he backed out over broken concrete and rocks, remnants of a once nice driveway, one of those girly imports had the nerve not to slow and let him out.
Beep! Beep! Puny car—puny horn, thought Boo. The Neon screeched to a stop just in time to avoid hitting his Catalina; hell, even the tires sounded small. If they had collided, Boo would be buying a new quarter-panel, the girl would need a new little Ford and plastic surgery. They both knew it. Boo cursed. The lady driver gave him the finger and she sped around and away.
He turned out onto Broadway, his favorite profiling drag. And as he barreled up, or down, the street, all depending on where you stood, he was oblivious to the role he was about to play in history.
Out on the road, Boo felt good, free, happy, and in control; the car didn’t give him any lip. He pressed the pedal and she responded eagerly. The faster he went, the better he felt as the lullaby hum of the mammoth car coursed right down into his bones. Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” filled the air. The stereo had been worth every penny, especially at the pre-owned SPECIAL DEAL price. The first owner had come out one morning to find frayed dangling wires where his sound system had been.
He was now on a second turn down his favorite stretch of Broadway. Palm trees filled the median, leftovers from more prosperous days for this neighborhood.
If it weren’t for the fog of his chemical buzz and the euphoria of speeding his monster Land Yacht down the road, he would have seen eight-year-old, soon to be nine, Esmeralda Sykes, as she walked Pickles, her Chihuahua, across Broadway at 35th. She was also under the influence, but her drug of choice was hot chocolate. She was little-kid happy, a pleasure most of us too soon forget.
Neither of them saw the old cowboy standing in the doorway of the abandoned building, likely, he was the entire reason for the unfolding drama. It wouldn’t have changed a thing if they had.
Boo’s buzz vanished the instant he saw Esmeralda and Pickles; his head became crystal clear and he executed what he thought was the perfect panic swerve to evade them. Unfortunately, a 1973 Pontiac Catalina at seventy-five mph doesn’t respond well to sudden turning commands; the right two wheels came up off the ground and the left front caught the curb of the median, which sent 4,310 pounds of steel and rubber warbling in a slow, wicked arc through the air. The massive grill hit a stone median marker, ripping the steel bumper from the frame. The trunk raised higher than the hood, much higher, and caused the rear to swing towards Esmeralda and Pickles. The car twisted, then flipped.
Fractions of a second before it happened, Billy saw Boo’s failed maneuver; a close observer would have seen the cowboy run for the girl before the car was close enough to be a threat, but by the time Billy reached her, the car was airborne. Time froze. Boo and Esmeralda both remembered the car frozen in midair. Bill scooped up the girl and brought her and Pickles safely out of the car’s deadly trajectory.
With an ugly crunch of metal and … something else, the car came to rest on its top. Boo was trapped inside. He was still conscious and semi-cooperative when the gunslinger reached him.
“Where’s the girl!” Boo screamed with what little breath he could draw. Stricken through with terror, his oversized bulk hung upside-down and strained at the old-fashioned restraint system. Until the cowboy crawled in to rescue him, he’d alternately watched as gasoline dripped on the headliner and the nice pair of ostrich-skin boots protruded out from under the crumpled roof. Twisted legs clad in blue jeans were only several feet from his unblinking eyeballs, and he wished they’d just roll up and go away like the Wicked Witch of the East under Dorothy’s house in the Wizard of Oz.

“She’s okay; let’s just worry about you,” the gunslinger said as he produced a large Bowie knife and sliced him free of his restraints.
Thank you for taking the time to read this excerpt from ‘No More Mister Nice Guy’. Would you consider buying and reading the full book. It currently is rated 4.3 out of 5 stars.
I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.
M. Matheson
Please check out my short stories, free at SMASHWORDS

If you’d like to leave a comment and find the form tedious you can comment on my twitter feed @mikeyznsacto or

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