Rogues’ Gallery #7: CLIFFORD “CLIFF” JONES

Once, in his youth, Clifford had dreamed he would someday be famous. He wasn’t sure how or why, he only knew that it was fated.

Being a career celebrity like Paris Hilton or Charles Nelson Reilly would be perfect, but those gigs were hard to get.

At first, he suspected he may find fame through sports… basketball, perhaps. However, his vertical growth stopped at five foot two, foiling that possibility.

Music was his next calling. His music was loud enough that no one really noticed he was tone-deaf, but having the rhythm sense of a sick ferret in a washing machine prevented him from ever having wide appeal. His recording career was abandoned, leaving behind a legacy of one unlabeled half-blank cassette tape.

Acting was the next obvious choice. He moved to Hollywood, and started wearing sunglasses all of the time. Getting into movies he found surprisingly easy (or at least into movie studios), but his tendency to ad-lib during scenes that he wasn’t a part of kept getting him eighty-sixed from sets.

Having exhausted the obvious choices for acquiring fame Clifford considered some less obvious ones. Politics was only for ugly people. He wasn’t smart enough to invent something. He had no talent for art.

His epiphany came to him in the early hours of a warm winter evening. Without hesitation, he grabbed the semi-automatic from the basement closet, gently set it in his Shaquille O’Neal duffle bag, put on his ray-bans and headed for the mall.


Whatever did happen to all of Hiram’s friends, anyhow? High School, the best years of their lives, already 16 years gone… they won the state championship, the STATE CHAMPIONSHIP, and what does he have to show for it? Trophy on the mantle, sure… looking at it now makes him so queasy sometimes he literally vomits in his mouth. He can’t seem to take it down, though.

The recruiter from the state college had him at the top of his list. It would have all been different if it wasn’t for his knee.

The last of his buddies must have left Duncanville over five years ago now. Losers. Why did they leave?

Well, Ben won’t be going anywhere now, at least. Ben and his family were just passing through the “old stomping grounds.” Stopped in the truck stop and Hiram didn’t even recognize him, he was so goddamn fat. Ben, however, recognized Hiram right off (hardly a change other than the deeply receding hair line). “Hiram! You’re still here! Good to see a friendly face!” the doughy mass gurgled uncomfortably.

Seeing Ben obese and domesticated was just too much for Hiram. Ben had been their goddamn quarterback… their LEADER… and now he was just a sack of shit. They had been brothers… warriors! This moon-faced, jiggling monstrosity that stood in front of him was a sick abomination, an insult to the memory of what he had been. Worse yet, it ruined the fantasies that he had long harbored of their reunion. Hiram found he could no longer picture young Ben as he was in his mind without having it blotted out like an eclipsed sun by this fat caricature of his lost beauty.

How Hiram had missed him… Ben’s return as an unrecognizable slug (with a wife and kids, no less), was not merely disappointing, it was a betrayal. He put him down quick, from behind, like a horse with a broken leg. He never knew what hit him. Hiram sobbed and mourned his lost friend as the tire iron solved the problem of Ben’s bitch and brats.

It was a mess, sure, but the law is sparse and incompetent around Duncanville. Hiram saw their local Barney Fife, Officer Earl the next day, and damned if he didn’t help him load the bags of cement into his blood-splattered pickup.

Hiram would mourn Ben until the day he died.

There was still hope for a happy ending, though. Maybe Craig would pass through town, Big Craig the linebacker, just as fine and strong and beautiful as he had been that night under the bleachers…