Lorcan's Machine

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Lorcan Hobbs in a twisted, wretched tale of love, lies, and deceit - and a feverish search for legitimacy.

Submitted: May 15, 2019

A A A | A A A

Submitted: May 15, 2019



Lorcan’s Machine

AJ Alexander


Heavy snow fell along State Route 87 as the aging RV rolled through the uneven lanes of Colley, Pennsylvania, where it took less than a minute for the vehicle to travel end to end. It had been a long time since the man had driven through snow.

He took a deep breath and managed a smile as if the plankboard spackled auto was full of friends and family. From Roanoke, Virginia, to Colley was hundreds of miles, much of it untested terrain. And it was the dead of winter, too.

The man with slumping shoulders and muttonchops preferred places he knew. Place like Chandler, Arizona, or Rim Rock, or Frisco, Texas – even Hastings, Nebraska, which he’d been on several occasions. The last time they ran him out of Texas – courtesy of a slew of emails meant to expose him – he spent three months in Hastings. Worked at the mall and crashed with friends.

But these are things young adults can do, not men pushing fifty. However, Lorcan H. had been homeless for years. Sure, he still chaired AA meetings, and still sponsored others – scores of others, in fact. He even wrote a book, My Simple Truth, which chronicled his life in sobriety long after he started drinking again. It was an uplifting, inspiring tome. However, what was written were merely imprints, flashes of other people’ stories chronicling their own escape from disaster; it wasn’t his story as we know it today. And his homelessness was just the tip of the iceberg.

Lorcan was a sponge when it came to drunkalogues, his version of events representative of patchwork memory. From Armani suits and big business deals, to combat veteran and publisher. From a wealthy New York family worth hundreds of millions, to a grind it out, family owned crab business in the Caribbean. He even tried out for quarterback of the New York Giants. It was a dizzying array of what the hell…

Greg McClure stumbled upon him in the spring of 2007, where the Get it Together Group was in full swing. He no sooner slipped out of the front seat of his car, ready to work, when a man dressed in dungarees, assless chaps, a baseball cap, and a t-shirt picturing Mickey Mouse snorting cocaine off Minnie’s ass leapt from a plastic lawn chair and bounded across the parking lot to greet him. “Lorcan H.” the stranger told my friend cheerfully. “Glad to have you with us.”

With bemused skepticism McClure extended his hand and allowed the greeter to hold court, talking rapidly without a break. Lorcan seemed unaffected when told him he owned the business next store, and wasn’t there for a meeting.  

“I have a feeling you and I will be friends for years to come,” Lorcan mentioned as he strolled back to his chair.

A year and a half later Serena and I relocated to Arizona, where McClure had a position waiting. A couple of weeks later, he showed us the home we purchased. And a couple weeks after that, we met Lorcan H. first time at Lulu’s Chicken and Waffles. Lorcan struck me as a rather timid fella - likely because he was small, maybe five-seven or eight. And he had these exceedingly tiny hands and thin wrists, which were overshadowed by an elongated tongue that rolled out of his mouth like a rug runner whenever he yawned. Other than that, I can say with all certainty the man was quiet, soft spoken, and subdued.

But I do remember telling Greg how I didn’t much care for Lorcan when I met him. That, and I was sure Lorcan didn’t care for me.

Serena and I made a go of it, and for a while things were good. But as she gummed up the works, she began to spend exceedingly large blocks of time with Lorcan, who she claimed was helping her ‘work through some stuff.’ Busy as we were at the office, and growing tired of her antics, I paid little attention.

The office of McClure Investments was adjacent to the AA clubhouse, and each morning, as I showed for work, there’d be Lorcan in that plastic lawn chair, sipping coffee and nodding a soft hello in my direction. And every night, when I left, he’d be sitting there still, albeit in different clothes, nodding a tepid goodbye.

One morning, I walked into Greg’s office before thinks got hectic. “Close the door, Rob,” he said directly, “and tell me what’s on your mind.”

I put down my briefcase and took a seat, not wanting to waste time as I stated, “You know, Greg, I couldn’t be happier with what you’ve done for me – what with the job and the van and all. I really hope you’re happy with my performance to date.”

To which he leaned back in his chair and put his hands behind his head, saying, “Outside of my son, you’re the best performer I have. But you didn’t come here to talk about that.”

And I laughed and shook my head. “You know me too well,” I told him. “No, I didn’t…” And I sat quietly for a moment, wanting to choose my words carefully. I didn’t wish to offend him. However, what I was thinking just had to be said. So I took a breath and told him. “I’m not sure you should let Hobbs stroll in and out of here like he owns the place, Greg. Something about him seems a bit off to me. Just putting it out there. You know I’m not the best judge of character but….”

He stopped me right then and there. “It’s already been taken care of,” he said.

But as McClure Investments was rapidly becoming the standard by which small investors rate their earnings, Lorcan H. was the standard by which folks measured their growth in the rooms of the Double A Ranch. His knowledge of the program was textbook, even to others sober longer than he. However, book smarts and reality can be two different things. Amid his talks of peace and happiness, of real contentment and a love for all things spiritual, his home life was a shambles, his financial life even worse, and his temper and know it all attitude the worst thing of all. By November ‘09, his wife left him. After that, his sponsor died of complications from a long battled illness.

And seemingly overnight, Lorcan H. was a changed man.

While the case could be made he was simply reacting to tough times, which people change when they do, he went beyond the name calling and spittoon like rape of an ex’s character. Lorcan acted like a man infected with a combination of Turret’s and Asperger’s – and even the best of the brood wasn’t immune to his dissections.

His stories soon became the stuff of legend; from the battles he witnessed in the jungles of Vietnam to his skills as a pilot in charge of flying Hillary Clinton, Lorcan strutted like a branny rooster, seemingly unfettered by the mundane disappointments of daily life. God insulated him to the curves and prevarications of the world order, he said. What life experiences couldn’t change, he assured us the program did. Peppered between the humbleness of spirituality, his dialogue was infused with tales of major business dealings, a chain of treatment centers, seminary school, and anchor stores for new malls popping up in major cities. He also boosted about being one of the country’s premiere caterers, having offices in nearly thirty states – with each one close to the treatment centers already established or in the process of being built.

When asked why he never shared these things with the group before, Lorcan shrugged and said his sponsor, when he was alive, wouldn’t allow it. “People get jealous in this program easily, he once said. “My job is to help you on your path, not have you follow me in mine – which you’d do if you knew the truth about me.”

But the greatest canard was the new York team of lawyers, a group in charge of The Lorcan Trust, his eventual inheritance currently valued at almost $375 million dollars. And suddenly, the man who bummed coffee from McClure Investments and the AA clubhouse was worth millions, at which point money, he said, meant nothing to him.

Lorcan Hobbs, born Rudolph Hyman Rumsfeld, was the seventh son of Roy and Claire Rumsfeld, a poor Jewish couple living in a tenement in Harlem. After the building burned under mysterious circumstances, Rudolf went to live in Poughkeepsie, with an aunt who passed away when Rudolf was nine. He got in all sorts of trouble after that. Mother left Father for a better deal and lived the good life on Park Avenue sans her children. Hobbs’s father committed suicide.

He started doing drugs and drinking, and dropped out of Spackenkill High when he was sixteen. He moved back to the city and spent most evenings on the Bowery drinking Boones Farm.

His contacts with the Russian Mob had him making money hand over fist, but after a disagreement with the boss he joined the Army as soon as he was able. Two years later, a psyche eval led to a discharge, and a permanent military pension. Soon thereafter, an overdose sent to treatment.

And for years after he left, he remained sober - and, to his credit, led a half decent life. Better than most, in fact.  

It all tumbled through Lorcan H.’s head as he tediously made his way across Route 87 under heavy wintry conditions. All those years of recovery down the drain. Years of rage and disillusionment towards mother and father, sisters and brothers. And now, divorce. Only the grace of God, who protected his military pension, gave him hope. Beyond that, it was a veritable containment of poverty and gloom without an end in sight unless he returned to the rooms. But Hobbs, who thought himself guru to scores of people he ushered into recovery, wouldn’t hear of it.

He spun yarns so unbelievable, people hadn’t a choice but to believe him. Scores of wealthy newcomers fresh from rehab regaled the tall tales, and were only too happy to invest while he lived with them to ensure they wouldn’t relapse. His Hastings, Nebraska ‘anchor store’ netted tens of thousands of dollars in grift, which soon went up in smoke. It only took a few months before they ran him out of town. Believing his own bullshit and true intentions, he fell into a dark depression and felt exceedingly lonely after that.  

After that debauch, he took to keeping his interests mobile. Lorcan slept little when running the long con, and his brain went a mile a minute, awash in an apathetic combination of deceit and bogus optimism as he tooled around in the plankboard laden command center for thousands of weary miles month after month, occasionally phoning friends with stories of heart trouble and Agent Orange symptoms, which forced his retreat to a PICU, and his friends to retreat from him.

 And still, he tried to present himself as the next combination of Buffet and Robins – pointing to legions of Facebook followers which he claimed did business with him. When pointed out most were overseas, he shrugged his shoulders and replied, “But of course. Most of my dealings are overseas early on.”

Then, with a large smile etched across his thinning face, he’d retreat back to the RV, where he drank, popped pills, thought of his wife, and cried himself to sleep.

The grade on Sheehan Road was too steep to navigate, forcing the RV to a baseball diamond a few miles behind him. He pulled over, shut it off, and climbed in the back, hopeful the rustic hinterlands negated visits from local authorities.

He took off his shoes and let the musk of three day old socks permeate the gutted living space, which was void of cabinet doors and other features. It had a sink, a fridge, and a working commode, however, which Lorcan surmised was all he needed. He prided himself on being able to live frugally, fancying himself a minimalist. He stretched out upon the tattered, blanket-less mattress and retrieved his cell, grateful he got a signal that far out. “James!” he said enthusiastically, his words constant and spastic. “Hey, it’s me…yeah, I made it to Pennsylvania. Listen, I just finished the meeting with the investors. They took me to some country club for dinner here, some place called The Mountainview. Very upscale and elegant…when you get here I’ll have to take you. Don’t worry, it’ll be my treat. In fact, they made me an honorary member after hearing the proposal, so no doubt they’ll be spending some money with us…”

“Why so late?” the voice on the other asked.

“Why? We had a ton of paperwork to go over, that’s why. Verifications, supplications, economic maturations and all that. Their accountant was running about an hour late, too, which held things up a bit. So I kind of had to do a reverse presentation, meaning I started from the end and worked my way back to the beginning. It’s all very complicated. No worries, nothing I haven’t done before. In fact, when I was with the team of lawyers back in Nebraska I had make a presentation the same way. I didn’t want to do it, but the team insisted since I’m so experienced and nothing frightens me…Anyway, when the accountant got there he wanted to eat, to which I said no because he was running late, and I felt it was inappropriate to watch him down food when the rest of us showed up on time and were ready to wrap it up. He was really upset; but don’t worry, I gave him a copy of My Simple Truth, which he heard of, and it calmed him down immediately. Finally, he went over the figures – and we had the guy eating his words, I swear to God. He was that impressed! Not only with The Lorcan Trust, but with our proposal as a whole. So, it’s definitely a go.”

“That’s great, Lorcan,” the man replied.

“Yes it is,” he told him. “You’ll have a hundred grand in your pocket by the end of the year. Promise. But here’s the bad part - nothing we can’t handle, mind you, but it’s kind of a sticking point so we need to hurry and get the ball rolling. There were considerable expenses from repairs on the command center in Roanoke, which I took care of with the money I had. Now, I was going to fix it myself, but the work would’ve taken me hours – I would’ve had to take apart the manifest and disconnect the cruise control in order to repair the leak, but then I would’ve had to miss the meeting, which I know you didn’t want me to do. So I took it to a garage that specializes in RV repair. Of course, he wanted to overcharge but as soon as he realized I knew what he was talking about he backed off and gave us a fair price…so, I need you to wire me a thousand dollars just to tide me over for a few days. I’ll notify the trust to send you a check to reimburse you.”

“Why can’t the trust just send you money directly?”

“It’s a very technical procedure,” responded without missing a beat. “Plus they can’t send cash, which I need right now. And I mean now! If you can’t do that just send $500 and I’ll make it work.”

The man thought about it for a minute before responding. “I can do three hundred right now, Lorcan. More later on maybe, but really…”

“Ok great!” Lorcan shouted, cutting him off. “I’ll make it work. Actually, I think I can get some more from another investor, not a big deal. Well listen, my cell’s about to die so I gotta run. You wire that money first thing in the morning and I’ll pick it up at Wal Mart Western Union. It’s going great, you’re doing great, my friend…I’m excited, aren’t you? Okay, gotta run. You get some sleep, be ready in the morning. God is good!!! Love and peace now! I’ll be in touch.” Then he hung up the phone and tossed it on the bed.  

Hobbs sighed as he rubbed his empty pockets, took two Xanax, and went to sleep.

As it is in Sullivan County, the weather can turn on a dime, and that day wasn’t any different. A foot of snow fell through the evening, making the road impassable. It was two days before Hobbs was able to get to Tunkhannock. He rationed out the canned goods, water and Xanax by smoking meth, and killed time by Facebooking spiritual messages to people in recovery for ten consecutive hours. He smiled when he imagined them sitting there, amazed at how enlightened and knowledgeable he was.

LSD was standing by the front entrance waiting for him when he pulled into the Tunkhannock Wal Mart. She stole a case of bottled water and a bar of Dove soap before she entered the RV. Stripping Lorcan down, she methodically washed every inch of his body, including the thick patch of hair on his arms and back. After that, she let that elongated tongue of his tickle her vagina thoroughly.

They sat by the kitchen table smoking cigarettes when it was over. “Hey,” she asked him sheepishly. “You don’t think any less of me cheating on Rob with you, do you?”

“You two are divorced,” he reminded her. “Besides, Rob’s an asshole. It was only a matter of time before you stepped out on him.”

“He’s a very good father,” she mentioned in between drags, staring out the window as the sun finally appeared.

“Yeah, he’s a good dad, sure. But even good dads can be assholes. Anyway, you wanna walk across the street to Burger King and get a bite to eat?”

Hungry, she wholeheartedly agreed. As Lorcan devoured an Angry Whopper, LSD noticed his drawn features, loose skin, and unkempt muttonchops. She felt sorry and attached to him simultaneously. He noticed her stares as she chewed slowly on some fries. “I know, I know,” he said to her. “I don’t look good.”

“You look fine,” she told him, taking his hand.

“You don’t have to lie to me, Serena,” he replied. “I know I look bad. I feel bad, too. Driving to and from for the last three years, collecting other people’s trash and handing ‘em out as trinkets like they’re keepsakes, it’s embarrassing. I know Rob and Greg are laughing at me…”

“Rob and Greg laugh at everybody, Lorcan,” she told him.

He took another big bite and swallowed. “Did I ever tell you Lorcan means ‘little fierce one’ in Irish?”

“You’re my little fierce one,” she said between bites of chicken.  

He was about to speak when he was interrupted by the phone; looking down, he saw the name ‘Greg McClure’ across the screen and ignored it. “Speak of the devil,” he joked. “I’m guessing he wants that money he lent me back.”

“Awe, fuck him,” LSD said. “Those two have plenty of money – and Rob has my kids.”

“And I got the team of lawyers working on that in New York. Don’t worry, you’ll get them back. Promise. Then, we can be one big ass happy family – and Rob can suck my dick.”

“I’ll suck it for you, baby,” LSD smiled.

He smiled. “Maybe later. Right now, I gotta get the money James’s wired to me…”

“He’s still alive?” LSD asked.

“Yeah… and doing okay, too. He got sober again. I’ve been sponsoring him for the last six months. That’s where I got the meth I’ve been smoking. Isn’t it funny how people are so stupid they’ll believe anything?”

“I couldn’t agree more,” she said as she picked her nose.

“Anyway, I gotta get that money. Then I gotta find a place to park the RV. Wal Mart’s okay in a pinch, but I need somewhere with hook ups running so I can have water and electric.”

“How about the Hughesville Fairgrounds?” LSD suggested. “It’s about thirty miles outta Dushore, but it has hookups and all sorts of services. Plus, I can come to you. Rob would blow a gasket if he knew you were here…”

She stopped her speech when Lorcan doubled over. He was vomiting heavily. Burger, blood, and jalapenos were everywhere. He fell to his knees, but LSD helped him up, tears forming in her eyes. “What have I done?” he muttered as he fell to the floor. “What have I done…God help me…” Then, he passed out.

Hobbs took a three day stay in the Wilkes Barre PICU, then followed LSD to Hughesville, where he rented a space at the Fairgrounds. With access to water and electric, he felt immediately better. Pills and circus sex helped with that, too. But his body was showing signs of repute.

The winter was a harsh one for Lorcan. And LSD. All of his friends terminated, all his dealings up in smoke. And without a driver’s license or plates on the RV, the police came and hauled it away. And Lorcan H. was as homeless as he’d been since his days on the Bowery.

Serena kept him hidden at her place, turning tricks behind his back until he had enough money to bail out the RV. Then, it was back to Hughesville, back to seclusion. Lorcan still went to meetings, but this time, he sat quietly in the back, avoiding eye contact with the others. And he’d sneak away just before the meeting concluded to avoid speaking with anyone.

More drugs. More drinking. Each monthly shit of the eagle extending less and less. It fostered weeks of exclusion from anything resembling normalcy.

He held tight to LSD, who understood him. One night, they went to a Williamsport NA meeting together. And Lorcan, still with this incessant need to impress her, held court and dominated the meeting, speaking for fifty minutes without end. Afterward, a handful of young guns beat the shit out of him and took his phone. One of them took LSD for a magic carpet ride and anal sex at his place. And without a phone, the Facebook texting on spiritual matters went along with it. and the followers shred from four hundred to eleven.

McClure said Lorcan disappeared for reasons other than alcohol and drugs, believing all men and women to be inherently decent, but I knew better. I lived with addiction for years, courtesy of the very woman he believed loved him.

The next eagle shit found the two yapping it up at the Ironhorse. That’s when Lorcan took LSD to the men’s room. That’s how the twins were conceived.

I’m certain he wished to attend her funeral. And I’m certain he never blamed himself for her death. He likely knew the twins were his. He likely thought she was faithful. He believed her like the last one, a beacon of light on a distant shore where the seas would catapult the boat over and under and back again, leaving him at its mercy to stare into the eyes of death.

And somewhere out in the distance, if I listen carefully, I could hear the strained engines of Lorcan’s machine as both man and beast searched for legitimacy.

For peace…

Or for the next drink, pill, and hundred dollar bill. And God only knows where the man’s headed next.


© Copyright 2019 AJ Alexander. All rights reserved.

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