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David Kulczyk

November 23, 2009

Born to first Generation Americans in Bay City, Michigan, Kulczyk (pronounced Coal-check) is a California based writer and award winning author of short fiction. Kulczyk was a synthesizer player, and noisy guitarist in many bands including Screaming Urge, Twisted Shouts, The Worst, Dust Bunnies and A Western Family. He ended his musical career busking on the cold streets of Amsterdam. His writing has appeared in Maximum Ink, The SF Guardian, the East Bay Express, The Seattle Times, and Pop Culture Presse among many others. Kulczyk is the author of California Justice - Shootouts, Lynchings and Assassinations in the Golden State and Death In California. He lived in Seattle for most of his adult life but has lived in Sacramento since 2002.

I met Holly at a bar near her house in the Roosevelt District on a rainy Tuesday night.  She had a roommate that she wasn’t getting along with and didn’t want me to witness any ugliness that was happening in her bad situation. The bar was empty except for two guys playing pool and the bartender. The CD jukebox was playing some crappy metal music disguised as alternative. 

I sat at the bar and ordered a pint of Red Hook while I waited for her.  The tavern was a big, wide-open space with four pool tables in the back and the same amount of dartboards. Four televisions silently danced in unison with each other in the four corners of the bar.  Floor to ceiling windows faced the street, giving the illusion that there wasn’t a wall there at all. 

Holly came walking in, shaking off her umbrella like it had cooties. She sat down with me at the bar and ordered a pint of Red Hook.

“God, that roommate of mine is driving me nuts.”

“What did she do?” I asked.

“Well she’s got this boyfriend who’s over all the time. He’s in that band, Chippewa Castaway.  It’s like he lives there.”

I lit a cigarette and took a gulp of beer.  I was hoping that she wasn’t going to complain about her living situation the whole evening. Holly went on.

“I get home from work this evening and Chuck is sitting on the couch, doing bong hits and watching the Discovery Channel.”

“Where was your roommate?”  I asked like I cared.

“She was at work.  She doesn’t get home until after eight!  Can you believe it?  He was hanging out in my apartment all fucking day!”

“Doesn’t he work?”  I asked.

“Fuck if I know,” Holly exclaimed like a lady, as she lit a smoke.  “He sure doesn’t make any money with that stupid band of his.”

I needed to change the subject.  “Nice bar,” I said looking around.

“Huh?”  Holly replied.

“Nice bar.  Lot’s of beer on tap.”

“Oh,” said Holly.

The pool players finished their game and one of them immediately ran off into the rain. The other player sat at the opposite end of the bar and was talking to the bartender like they knew each other. 

“Then to make it worse,” Holly started, “I get this phone call from the building manager and he tells me that playing amplified instruments is forbidden in the lease and that if there is one more complaint about it, I’m out of there.”

“He’s playing guitar while you’re at work?”  I asked.

“Yeah, the fucker is rocking out while we’re gone.  I didn’t’ even know that he had an amp in the house, so I go into Madeline’s room and there’s this fucking huge amplifier sitting in there.  I told him to get the fuck out.  That he doesn’t pay rent and had no business being there.”

“What did he say?”

“He said that he needed a place to chill.  So I told him that it was it was pretty cold and rainy outside.  He could chill out there.”

Holly went on and on about her roommate’s boyfriend and how her Madeline is always late with the bills.  I pretended to be interested in what she was talking about, but the boxing match on the televisions kept getting the best of my attention. 

Holly looked pretty good.  Her shoulder length hair had a nice bounce to it.  It was the blackest black that you can buy at a drug store.  She obviously took some care in her appearance before she came to meet me.  Her make-up was perfect and her clothes looked brand new.  She seemed to be the kind of woman who buys clothes at Nordstrom’s, wear them twice and then return them for cash. 

“So last I saw of him, he was standing at the bus stop waiting for the number seventy-two,” Holly said as she crushed out her cigarette with malice.

“Want to play some pool?  There’s four tables open.”

I had to get her to take her mind off her domestic problems or I’d be leaving after the second pint.  And I really didn’t feel like going home yet.

“Sure,” she said apathetically.

As I was racking up the balls, the guy that had just finished playing pool came over to us.

“That’s my table,” said the man.

“What?”  I asked.

He was about five foot seven, wore a ratty baseball cap and matching mustache.  His clothes looked like he had stopped by the bar after working all day on a house.

“That’s my table.  I won the last game,” said the man.

“Look,” I said.  “We’re just playing a game here between ourselves.  Kind of, like a date.” 

“I won the last game and that’s my table,” said the man.

“It seems to me that you were playing on that table over there,” I said as I pointed to the table next to ours.

“I’m up next,” the man said squinting his eyes like Clint Eastwood.

I really didn’t feel like playing his macho game.  He could have his fucking table; he’d just have to play with himself, like he obviously did in bed every night.

Just then, Holly walks up behind him and swung the fat end of her cue stick into the back of the guy’s head, breaking her cue and sending the dude to the floor, smacking his face on the adjoining pool table on the way down.  

The pool man didn’t look too good lying in a heap on the floor with blood pouring out of his nose and mouth.  I could see that he had lost a couple of front teeth on his way to the floor.  He wouldn’t be playing any more pool tonight. 

The bartender yelled at us as he dialed the police and Holly bolted out the door.  I tried to make the dude as comfortable as I could, while waiting for the ambulance and police to arrive.

The dude was unconscious when the paramedics took him away.  The bartender and I told the same exact story to the satisfaction of the police.  Not knowing precisely where Holly lived, I gave them no real information, but the bartender knew who she was and where she lived. 

I found out a couple of days later that the police arrested Holly at her apartment a half-hour after the episode.  She was playing her roommate’s boyfriend’s guitar with the amp on ten when they arrived.  She smashed the guitar into kindling as they broke down her door and it took four police officers to handcuff her and drag her to the police car.  It was her fourth assault in as many years and she got forty-eight months for it.