The Jimmie Situation

McSwain! and runpunkrun both declined to find this story eye-bleedingly terrible. I will say that I have never felt so anxious about using a particular word in a story, no matter how many times Jules said it himself in the film.  Story for AnitaRay, Yuletide.

Jules had always liked Vincent Vega just fine, but he could get on a man’s last motherfuckin’ nerve. Partly it was because Vincent could be a stubborn little bitch if you offended him. And it was pretty motherfuckin’ easy to offend him some days, because the heroin could make him touchy as hell, and if he got in a mood, he’d sulk for a week. On top of that, the guy was a little deaf, all that gunfire, all that shit, burst an eardrum on the transatlantic flight, and that’s why you don’t get on a plane with a headcold, fool, and he was fuckin’ vain about it, so the man didn’t always hear you right, and that made him even touchier, because half the time he was convinced you were saying something to fuck with him.

But for all his touchiness, the man was a professional, and he’d always been steady on any job they’d been on together, and that counted for a lot. None of that freaked out shit like Marvin, curled up in the corner like a kicked dog, practically calling for his mama. He kept his head, even if he had a bit of an attitude, and he had Jules’ respect. So on the way home from dropping off the case with Marsellus Wallace, driving English Dave’s borrowed shitty fucking Volkswagen Cabriolet, Jules didn’t call him a petulant bitch (out loud), and he let Vincent stare at him for twice the time it would have taken him to pimp-slap anybody else.

“You better tell me why you’re staring at me like that, because if you have developed some grand passion, I don’t think my girlfriend will appreciate it.”

“It’s just.” Vincent gave that little smirk he always got when he thought he was being all clever and shit, and then he stopped to look out the window and show his smirk to the passing traffic, before he swung his head back and gave a smarmy little chuckle. “I’ve never seen you tap-dance before, is all.”

“Tap-dance?”

“Tap-dance. You were just a little old Fred Astaire there for our friend Jimmie. I’ve known you, what, ten years? And I ain’t never seen you kiss somebody’s ass like you kissed his. Matter of fact, stick your tongue out so’s I can see if it’s brown or not.”

“Listen up, Vincent, ’cause I won’t tell you again,” Jules snapped. He’d just had a shitty motherfuckin’ day and it wasn’t even lunchtime yet, so it wasn’t surprising that he himself was less than even-tempered. Plus, English Dave’s pussy ride had his knees practically folded up to his chest, all crammed up under the teeny steering wheel, and freeballing it in Jimmie’s tacky red shorts made him vaguely uneasy. “Just because I’ve decided to go the way of the righteous man don’t mean I won’t beat you down if you continue on in this conversational vein.”

“If I continue on in this vein?” But he stopped sniggering and raised his hands. “All right, all right, I’ll lay off.”

There was maybe twenty seconds of silence before Vincent spoke up again, anyway.

“But not before I say one thing, Jules. You acted like you were honest to god afraid of that guy, a guy you told me was a friend of yours, more than that, your partner, but I ain’t never heard of him before, and if he’s so goddamn friendly, why were you in his kitchen giving him a song and dance about how good his coffee was? Just tell me that.”

“I don’t have to tell you shit.”

“Which means you are afraid of him,” and Vincent sounded all kinds of satisfied, and folded his arms against his Banana Slugs tee-shirt.

“I’m not afraid of any man on this Earth,” Jules said calmly.

“Yeah, ‘cept skinny little white guys who brew gourmet coffee in their bathrobes,” Vince snorted.

“You scoff, motherfucker, but you’ve never seen him. I’ll tell you straight, he knows no fear. I mean, he will fuck your shit up. I saw him beat down a guy twice his size with a broken arm, man, and what’s more? That fat son-of-a-bitch didn’t just lose the fight, he lost an eye. So believe me when I tell you that Jimmie Dimmick is volatile.”

Vince looked wide-eyed, and his folded arms relaxed until his big hands were cupping his pasty, hairy knees.

“An eye?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Shit.”

And that shut Vincent Vega up all the way to Redondo Beach.

*

The truth was, he’d met Jimmie Dimmick in school. Jimmie had transferred in to Los Angeles High the second half of Jules’ senior year. They had a gym class together, even though Jimmie had only been a sophomore, and a shrimpy, hunch-shouldered, squinty-eyed little motherfucker at that. Jules had his boys and he kept to himself, and he’d probably have never even learned the kid’s name if Josef “SlowJoe” Langsammer hadn’t decided to give him shit.

The class had been a couple of rows up in the aluminum bleachers, white glare of sun bouncing into everyone’s eyes as they filed down toward the coach setting up hurdles, and SlowJoe gave Jimmie a shove, tipping him all the way down to the red dirt of the track. He landed badly, and Jules could hear the crack of his arm snapping like a bad hockey stick. For a long moment, the whole class stared at him as he staggered to his feet, his forearm looking like it had extra bones in it, and SlowJoe came trotting right down, laughing so hard he had tears in his eyes, and when he got close enough, he said something snide and Jimmie just…went for his throat.

Jules never found out what SlowJoe’d said to make Jimmie go ape-shit on his ass, but what he saw, he never forgot, because one second Jimmie was just standing there, and the next, SlowJoe was howling and trying to hold the kid off. Even with just one arm, Jimmie had managed to swarm up and sink his goddamned teeth into the guy, hooking a thumb into SlowJoe’s eye-socket. That was some intense shit, right there.

The gym teacher was some little blonde thing from Nebraska, come to do important work with inner-city youth, and because she was crying and clearly freaked out, Jules had tried to pry Jimmie Dimmick off of SlowJoe without losing an eye himself.

Since Jules had three younger brothers, he was not unfamiliar with breaking up fights between kids who were beyond reasonable motherfuckin’ argument, so when he clapped his hands around Jimmie’s sweaty, heaving ribcage, he said soothingly, “Chill, nigger, just calm the fuck down, you won, okay? You killed that bitch, he’s D-E-D dead, okay? You have been victorious. So come on now, let him go. Come on, baby. Let’s be cool. There you go, that’s it. That’s it. Good.”

Eventually, Jimmie had relaxed his grip enough to let Jules unseat his thumb from the wet red pulp of what had once been SlowJoe’s left eye, and when Jules gently set him on his feet again, he swayed, his face sweaty, shock-slack and vampire pale.

“He’s. He’s bleeding,” Jimmie said distantly.

“Oh hell yeah.”

SlowJoe whimpered and the teacher knelt beside him, still crying.

“Okay,” Jimmie said, and then he’d vomited on Jules’ brand-new high-topped sneakers.

Damn.

*

Jimmie and SlowJoe both got expelled for classroom violence, and Jules might have forgotten Jimmie’s name, except that Jimmie was apparently some kind of brain or some damned thing, and after getting kicked out of school, he got his GED and ended up at City College. In Jules’ Elementary Spanish I class.

Jules had taken Spanish for the easy A–he knew all about that Spanish shit, he and Esteban Abeliera had grown up watching Woody Woodpecker cartoons together–but it was his motherfuckin’ Finance class that was giving him fits, so he’d been blowing off conjugation of quebrarse (yo me quiebro, tú te quiebras, él/usted se quiebra…) trying to finish an assignment due later in the day, when Jimmie, who’d been sitting next to him, leaned over and said, “You need to calculate the overhead percentages.”

Jules had just glared at him and returned to his work. But yeah, he’d forgotten to calculate the overhead percentages, and at the end of class, Jimmie had said, “I could, uh. Help you with that.”

Jules passed his finance class that quarter, and when he saw Jimmie in the hallway, they’d exchange cool nods.

*

Marsellus Wallace was only two years older than Jules, but he had a smooth way about him that a) did not a goddamned thing to hide his palpable air of menace and b) made you feel sure that this nigger knew his shit, so when Marsellus Wallace said he could offer Jules more than an Associate in Arts, Jules believed him and quit school. He’d carried a gun since ninth grade; the main difference was that he used it now.

It was maybe funny, maybe not, but when he took out his first guy for Marsellus Wallace (a dealer who’d cut his shit with rat poison, which had in turn killed a few working girls on Marsellus Wallace’s turf), all he could think of was Jimmie Dimmick puking up on his red Chuck Taylors.

However, when Marsellus Wallace found he needed, you could say, a little help calculating the overhead percentages, Jules had asked Jimmie if he would maybe consider doing a little laundry.

Jimmie, who still lived in Hampton Court with his Aunt Ginny and Uncle Conrad and his Aunt Ginny’s eight hundred yappy little dogs, had happily agreed.

*

Jimmie’s years at U.C. Santa Cruz were financed by a generous grant from the Marsellus Wallace Foundation. Marsellus Wallace had liked what he termed Jimmie’s “refreshing lack of cocksucking bullshit” and because he always repaid hard work and loyalty with respect (and because he knew a good investment when he saw one), he sent Jimmie to school. In no time at all, Jimmie was a Certified Public Accountant, and was working full time on two sets of books. He and Jimmie saw each other once a month, more or less, when Jules came to hand off the cake he’d collected from various bookies, pimps, dealers and leaned-on businessmen in Marsellus Wallace’s empire. No matter how busy Jimmie claimed to be, Jules would take him to lunch.

“You can’t just sit around all day, man, looking at numbers. You need to get out, get some sun. I can see through you, bitch. That’s how pale you are. You sit around all day, looking at numbers, how are you ever gonna get laid?”

Jimmie had shrugged indifferently and just gone back to cramming his face full of sashimi.

“And hookers don’t even count.”

Ducking down in his booth, Jimmie studied his pickled ginger with labored concentration.

“Jesus Christ, Jimmie, you’re not even old enough to drink yet, and you’re already an old man. Well guess what, Marsellus Wallace is throwing you a goddamned birthday party, and my lady Evangeline is gonna introduce you to some nice girls. No more hookers, Jimmie. Your dick will fall off, motherfucker, you keep up with that shit. You gotta get yourself a girlfriend, understand?”

Nodding absently, Jimmy polished off his squid and then poked a chopstick at Jules’ Gunkan-maki.

“You gonna eat that?”

*

The three friends Evangeline had lined up to meet Jimmie all backed out at the last minute. Her cousin Bonnie had finally agreed to come as a favor, even though Jules was far from her favorite person. (Bonnie’s general disapproval of him could be traced to an incident involving a hospital fundraising dinner, a cake from Andre’s Patisserie and Little Steve Kincaid’s pinky and ring fingers [although not Little Steve, who had come through with the cash after all]–but so far as he knew, Bonnie had no idea that his day job involved firearms and body disposal on a regular basis.)

Jimmie liked her right away, Jules could tell. And because he liked Jimmie, and because it was the kid’s birthday, and because he didn’t want Bonnie to hate him any more than she already did, he took Jimmie aside and said, “Jimmie, you have got to be cool, man.”

“What are you talking about? I am cool!”

“You and I must have different dictionaries or some shit, because you are not operating by any definition of cool that I happen to be familiar with. You need to back the fuck off. You’re all breathing on her face and staring at her.”

“Well, she’s really pretty. And she smells nice,” Jimmie explained excitedly, rocking on his heels.

“Look, man, just take it easy, okay?”

“Yeah, yeah, sure. Easy. I can do that.”

But half an hour later Jimmie’d spilled a Cosmo on Bonnie’s dress, and Jules knew he could just count himself as uninvited from Aunt Geraldine’s Thanksgiving dinner this year and probably next year, too. And that was a goddamned shame, because Evangeline’s Auntie could cook and she made this casserole with white gravy and little pearl onions that was one of the reasons he was even still dating Evangeline, who three months ago had decided that she could/would no longer eat meat.

It probably would have ended the evening, except that Anthony Vallo was having a fight with his girlfriend Ciara, and he hauled off and smacked her, right there at the wet bar.

Anthony, who was a bouncer at The Club Car and whose neck was as thick as his head, was curled up on the ground before Jules could even blink, and Jimmie was quietly, busily, doing his level best to kick that sorry bitch’s ribs in. Jules suddenly remembered that the weirdest part of watching Jimmie rip up SlowJoe back in school: apart from short, loud gulps of air, Jimmie hadn’t made a sound, and you just come to expect that when a brother flips the fuck out like that that they’ll screech bloody murder, not just… take somebody apart with eerie ninja silence.

And just like last time, Jules talked him down.

“Hey, hey, hey now, it’s just not cool to kill somebody on the boss-man’s carpet. It’s just not done. You need to calm the fuck down, now. Come on. Deep breaths. Let it go. That’s it, baby.”

This time, Jimmie looked down at Anthony and, with Jules’ hands still hooked around his elbows, gave Anthony another measured, deliberate kick.

“You never lay a hand on her again, you got that? It doesn’t matter if I can see you or not, I’ll find out about it and I’ll see that you swallow every tooth in your fat head, shitheel.”

Jules let him go, and Jimmie straightened his tie and went right back to offering to get Bonnie some club soda for her dress. Most girls would have been spooked by that kind of display, but Bonnie wasn’t most girls, and the look she gave Jimmie, hard, assessing, satisfied, gave Jules to know that maybe Jimmie had a chance at getting laid after all.

Sure enough, they were married six months later. Jules and Evangeline gave them a silver soup tureen the size of a car engine, with a ladle you could fit a baby in, all engraved and everything.

Bonnie’d been a lot friendlier ever since.

*

Vincent slammed the door of the Cabriolet and then leaned in the window.

“He clawed a guy’s eye out?”

“And that’s why you tread lightly around one Mr. Jimmie Dimmick. Tap-dance, my ass, bitch.”

“Well. It’s been a slice, my friend, I’ll tell you that much.”

“You wash that greasy hair of yours and get some decent clothes. You know you want to look sharp for your date with Marsellus Wallace’s wife, now. ”

As expected, Vincent flipped him the bird before he said “Yeah.” He straightened and slapped the roof with one hand. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“No, you won’t,” Jules said placidly.

“I give it a week, Jules. You’re too invested, man. No way are you gonna walk away from the Life.”

“Who’s walking? I’m driving away. In fact, I’m driving this piece of shit right into the Pacific, first thing.”

Vincent laughed.

“You think I’m kidding?”

“I think English Dave’s gonna be pissed if he finds his car on the bottom of the ocean.”

“He can take it up with God. He gets what he deserves, drive a pussy-ass car like this.”

Gunning the engine, he headed for Inglewood; he could see Vincent shaking his head at him in the rearview mirror.

He wondered what brand of gourmet coffee Jimmie bought; that hazelnut had been some good shit.

END


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