#397: Massive Attack, "Blue Lines" (1991)

continued from #438: Boy’s Don’t Cry


I must’ve gone snooze again ‘cause I wake up in the kitchen sink now, water dripping down the crack of my ass and a gat jammed in my temple, some Tricky Kid with a rainbow grill slobbering in my face.

“Whar da soz’s at?”

Through slumbering head clouds I don’t rec the speak but don’t see him a tealeaf anyhow. “Hey pal, wallet’s yours. On the table,” I say, bargaining seconds like a turbaned bazaar vet, reaching back quiet for the wire scrub brushfor that caked on grease, so the dame in the pitch viz says anyway.

“Oi, ain’t inerest’d inat. Gettin’ a Visa card nowadays isn’t hard.”

I acknowledge his point with a shrug before bringing my arm around hard and jamming the brush in his eye; my other fist swinging pendulum-like wrapped ‘round a sudsy mug I picked up München way back. My souvenir stein crashing into his mouth and twisting his face up into a bloody tunnel of budding orthodonture; 52 pick-up with many-hued teeth.

“Feckin’ murderin’ bastard,” he screams through eyeless/toothless agony and I push myself out of the sink onto the floor where I land a kung fu chop to his solar plexus, followed by a knee to his now bent-over noggin, messing my slacks with some ocular leavings. With the pain and the blow to the head, he’s out. I tie him to the kitchen chair with some cord from the cupboard, wipe the sweat off my brow and walk over to the window, lean out into the drizzle, hands on the sill. A Blue Razr parked across the way speeds off. I nod to myself, tuck back out of the rain, spark a Morley’s and puff, collecting on my next move.


“Hey Momma,” I say into the vizcon. Trendy Wendy stares back though a brick wall of mascara: ‘coons must be the new thing in Dogtown. “I got a package for ya,” nodding my head at the drifting bloody dingbat leaking on the formica.

“Creepz Bobby, what’d he do?”

“Boy interrupted me from my Palmolive usings whilst waiting on a client. Damned hard to reach spots and streaky drying. Chapped my hands.”

“You sure enough did a number on ‘em.”

“Yeah, well, dukkha. I was hoping you could send one of your boys down for cog and disposal. Remove some toenails, Guantanomize, the like. Get to the prize of this particular Cracked Jack.”

“Sure thing Bobby, Judo Jonny be over in twenty, no problemo. Let you know what we find. Who’s the client anyways?”

“Some rich dame, who knows. Eyah Brusha here coulda been looking for her or come in her place; I’d reckon the former, making it more complicated than the easy few Cs I was counting on this gig.”

“Ain’t that always the case.” Trendy Wendy blows a kiss and signs off and I sit down to wait for Judo Jonny, smoke a fag or two, and meditate on the grievous prospects ahead.

By the time Judo gets the boy cleared out and bleaches the floor, I’ve gone through a pack of Morley’s and a bottle to boot. I lay my buzzing head down and finally drift off as the sun peeks out between the curtains, dreams of falling into a huge sandstorm, a bloodied Arab, an endless caravan, sand spinning ever ever ever.


The buzzing vizcon shatters steamy harem visions, perking me out the cot. Have to bend over sideways to take a leak.

“What is it,” I scream from the loo. Trendy’s on the screen again. I catch her grin tweaked and me covering my privates as I race by, her face made up in some newday perversion.

“Why good morning sailor,” she says, laughing. “Just wanted to let you know what we found out about One-eyed Willy here… Not much.”

I grumble from the commode.

“But, and fair warning on this one, he appears to be one of Ter Mojave’s goons.”

I raise my head and peak out the loo. “Ter Mojave?”


“Damn, that do plant a tick in my tenders don’t it?”

“You could say.”

I zip up and walk over to the screen. I can see now Wendy’s latest trip: a diorama of raised scars and implanted hillocks make a map of her face.

“Cute look.”

“You like it? It’s the newest thing from Ney Tokyo.”

“Sure thing babe, cheers for the data.”

Winsome Wendy, lips bearing curious around new bolts and designs into concern, “Hey Bobby, just get away with dem gangsters, we don't want it.”

The screen goes black.


Ter Mojave has a Cadillac the size of an aircraft carrier, TV antennas in the back, sunroof top, and a collection of 30 Eurasian twinks whose only job is to spit shine the windows. Restricted to a diet of aloe and lilacs, their sputum makes clean and fragrant. This Sally who paid me a visit the prior eve not one of that lot, obv. Ter’s business spiderweb in need of as many toughs as poofs.

Dig this scene: rumor is Ter’s a mutant. Nobody seen his face since the aughts when Mommy or Daddy covered his egg with a burlap sack and shoved a sawed-off in his tiny mitts. Wound up the toy soldier and pushed him into a Circle-P whereby he enacted his first, of many to come, criminal enterprise. Such compassionate education led predictably into pimping and usury, drugs, arms, a whole sandbox of toys for the bobbing babe. He’d ditched the burlap some years back for a more fetching skintight balaclava, but lingering rumors of mutation persisted, facial deformities, wolf eyes, cleft palate. Still he stands tall.

If my visitor was one of Ter’s cast of characters, and he was after my client, a dame I’d seen but the one time she come strutting and waving her sallow Benhameens, I had more trouble than I thought. I guess I could forget the whole shebang, take a trip down Barbados for a few weeks, live life as a fever dream of shuffleboard and piña coladas, but she’s already left a deposit after all. A man’s gotta do.

The place to start if Ter was involved was the Sheik Mansour Supper Club, a posh joint in Lil’ Da Nang for the hoi polloi and layabouts of the sweeter set. After a pot of coffee and a round of cigs, I put on a dinner jacket over my gat and stride out to catch a Johnny Cab. It’s early yet, but the lunch crowd at the Sheikh Mansour would be a little easier to handle; no need to go in all musket balls and ramrods.


Elvis Phơưng’s doing a soundcheck up on stage, while lunch patrons slurp phơ and smoke black Gitanes. Bạn không là gì, nhưng một con chó con chó săn, đung đưa tất cả các thời gian. His voice more gravel than his namesake, guitars jangly and loose. The maître d’ in his monkey suit looks down on me like King Kong perusing an abused gaggle of Skull islanders on a lunch buffet.

“Could I see your identification sir?” he says over the backbeat and slurps. I feign chagrin at his thinking me heat all duded up and all. His face shines no sympathetic crag.

“Hey hey,” I shuck, “don’t call me an officer. This ain’t official business or nothing.”

The beefcake is unimpressed and I flip a card on the podium like some Lost Vegas card sharp. He continues unimpressed and disdainfully tweezes it between two grinding meatsticks, peering quizzical at the raised Lucinda Grande on Bone Alabaster. Tiki Taka falling deaf on the ogre, I go Route One.

“I’m looking for Ter Mojave.”

“And your relationship with Mister Mojave.” Not a moment’s breath and all focus on the Mister.

I harrumph and jaw, “We’d a been book club pals, Edith Wharton and whatnot, come what may. Err… boy’s school locker room hi-jinx, some youthful experimentation if you get my drift. Snapping towels, rape-lite. We go way back, the Mister and me.”

His meaty nostrils flare a meat minute, clenching up fists the size of my sorrowful bean. Eyes protuberances of ripe fruit peeling away layers of sweat and melancholy. I momentarily reckon perhaps my tactics were in error.

“Yers a greeby fuckstain ain’t ya?” his door manners dropping like trousers in a Re-Orleans nutlounge. “May I oughta learn yous a thing or two bout…”

I don’t wait to suss his teachings and instead plump my Taze-o 5000 up under his equally greeby armpit and let go a mean buzz. All hmmsss and hoiiisss, he burbles to the floor spurting pee and snot; Elvis and his cohorts carry on uninterrupted. I straighten my dinner jacket and step over the hulking island at the foot of the podiumthe harder they fallscanning the room for Ter Mojave.

Horus Birdface joins Elvis on the stage and they duet something nice.  

Light at day, the lady’s lay,
Broken, cray, this baby’s pay to play,
Marzipan love and sugar pop dove,
She stove my heart with a hearty shove.
The big wheel do keep its turn
Unfinished and unsouled.
Will be for all time,
The end of time,
All time.
End time.

Up on the stage, one man struggles, another relaxes.

—Erik Wennermark