Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
The Devil’s Pancakes
By: Robert J. Day
Copyright 2011, Robert J. Day
And He (Jesus) asked him (the man), "What is thy name?" And he answered, saying, "My name is Legion: for we are many. -Mark 5:9
Somehow our devils are never quite what we expect when we meet them face to face.
The Devil is a gentleman.
-Percy Bysshe Shelley
Paul Scranton walked into an International House of Pancakes. Where is not important, it was a small town in the middle of nowhere, like so many towns he’d been to. Been through. Paul was a drifter, had been for some time, for almost as long as he could remember he had been going. Going, going, but never arriving at a destination, never stopping, never staying. He was dirty, he was tired, and he was very hungry. He planned to spend his last five dollars on whatever sort of meal he could afford before walking to the freeway onramp and sticking out his thumb, destination unknown.
The restaurant was unusually crowded, even for a Sunday morning. A line of people stood inside the door and out into the parking lot, waiting to be seated. The other patrons all seemed to belong to the same church whose services had just concluded. They did their best to ignore Paul, who looked like he’d slept in a dumpster because he had in fact slept in a dumpster, and talked about what a great sermon the pastor had delivered on the subject of “Christian Charity.“ It was almost an hour before Paul finally scored a booth. He sat down and eagerly scanned the menu, looking for the cheapest things that would be the most filling. It could be a day or even two before he ate again.
“Pardon me” said a deep, pleasant voice, “I couldn’t help noticing that you’ve got this booth all to yourself.”
The voice, Paul saw when he looked up from his menu, belonged to an older man about sixty-five or so, with a perfect pompadour of white hair, dentures that were just a touch too large, and dressed in a suit that while obviously expensive and tailored, had seen better days.
“I don’t mean to intrude” the man went on, “but if you’d be so kind as to share your booth with me, I’d be happy to pay the bill when our meal is concluded. Would that be satisfactory?”
“Uh, yeah alright, sit down then.” Never turn down a free meal. All of a sudden Paul’s bowl of oatmeal with a side of toast was now an enormous stack of banana pancakes with whipped cream and a side order of sausage links and bacon.
“Excellent! I can tell you’re a man who knows a deal when he hears one Mr. um…”
“Scranton, Paul Scranton. Nice to meet you sir.”
“Sir even. My, my, how polite you are. It’s a pleasure to meet you as well young sir. My name is Legion. Mr. Legion. Let me ask you something Mr. Scranton…”
“Sure, go ahead.”
“What is it you want most in the world?”
“Ha! Banana pancakes indeed! And you shall have them for here comes our waitress now. But I don’t mean for breakfast Mr. Scranton. No, no, I mean what do you want most in Life? Fame, Fortune? Women? Or men, I don’t judge? Power perhaps?”
Well, thought Paul, breakfast keeps getting more interesting all the time. “Sure, all those things I guess. I mean, doesn’t everybody?”
The waitress arrived and they ordered. The old man surprised Paul by ordering T-bone steak and eggs.
“Oh and please have the chef prepare it as rare as he can stand would you? Thank you my dear.”
“So,” Mr. Legion continued after the waitress had gone, “where were we?”
“Fame, Fortune, and Women?”
“Ah yes, of course. What would you say, Mr. Scranton, if I told you that I have the power to make all of your dreams a reality?”
“I’d say you were crazy and that I’d be happy if you just had the power to make our food get here faster.”
“Of course you would, rightfully so for you don’t yet know just who it is you’re talking to. Let’s say I did make our breakfast arrive at the table in a more timely manner, would that impress you sufficiently enough for you to then take me seriously?”
“Sure I guess, but how are you going to do that there must be a shitload, uh, I mean there must be lots of orders in front of ours.”
“My dear boy, I’ve already done it. You see? Here comes our food now.”
“Already? That’s impossible we just now ordered! That’s gotta be for someone else, another table…”
“Sorry about the wait!” If the waitress was aware that what she was doing was against all the laws of science and nature she gave no indication. “More coffee?” She placed the food in front of them and was gone with a smile.
“What the hell is going here?” Paul was more than a little confused. “Is this some kind of hidden camera show? Are you putting me on?”
“I can assure you my dear boy that I most certainly am not, as you say, putting you on. I was merely making sure I had your undivided attention. I have a proposition for you but first let us enjoy our meal shall we? Such a fine repast it would be a pity to let it get cold.”
Dumbstruck, Paul began to eat, even though his appetite had faded drastically. Who the fuck was this creepy old guy and how did he do that trick with the food? The banana pancakes were delicious, and went a long way towards restoring Paul’s appetite but he made sure to keep his eyes on his own plate. The sounds of the old man’s oversized dentures working on the bloody rare steak was slightly disturbing.
By the time they had both finished their meals, Paul was feeling better about the whole situation. He must have just misjudged the time and their food just arrived rather promptly that was all. His imagination was just playing tricks on him, maybe it was the hunger, he had been a little lightheaded.
“So Paul,” said the old man, “are you ready to hear my proposition?”
Paul had been propositioned before, more than once actually, during his life on the road. It sort of came with the territory when you hitchhiked. There was always some old pervert, or some deeply closeted homosexual…
“If it’s all the same to you I’m gonna have to pass. I don’t swing that way.”
“Neither do I son, neither do I. It’s not that kind of proposition.”
“Okay then, I’m listening. But if you come off with any of that perv shit I’m outta here!”
“Fair enough. As I said my proposition is not sexual in nature. I want to give you every thing your heart desires, make all of your wildest dreams come true, and in return I ask for only one little thing.”
“And what’s that? No wait, let me guess, my immortal soul right?”
“You’re insane. Who the hell do you think you are?”
“Oh, I think you know. I think you know all too well, you just refuse to believe.”
Paul looked at the man, and he saw him clearly for the first time. His oversized dentures were stained pink from blood of the raw flesh he’d just eaten, there were tiny little chunks of meat caught in-between the teeth. His fingernails were long, curled, and yellow. So thick they were more like the claws of animal. His suit, Paul now realized, looked ragged but was in fact just singed, around the edges, as if the man had recently escaped from a burning building. The hair in his nose, his ears, and on his knuckles was curly and black, and much too long.
But the worst part was his eyes. They burned with an unholy light that made Paul want to find a safe place to hide, and perhaps cry himself to sleep. Eyes that contained not the slightest trace of anything resembling decency or mercy or kindness or compassion. He could only stand to look at them for a moment, and he was instantly nauseous, his cursed free banana pancakes felt like a ball of hot lead in his guts.
Twenty minutes later, a new spring in his step, Paul walked out of the International House of Pancakes and into his brand new life. He’d never felt better. The old man had made him an offer he couldn’t refuse, and when it had come time to sign on the dotted line Paul had barely hesitated.
The Mercedes was parked just where it was supposed to be, unlocked with the keys in the ignition. The tank full of gas and the trunk full of cash, just like he’d been promised. Paul knew that when he died there would quite literally be Hell to pay, but until that day came he had a Hell of a lot of living left to do.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
Time passes. Slowly for the most part. The stark reality of what might have been, what almost was, drags you down deep into the depth of dark despair and depression. Like a ship that sank into the deepest part of the ocean and settled it’s broken remains at the bottom of the abyss where no light can penetrate the complete and utter blackness and no sound can break the eternal silence.
There is no joy, but strangely enough there is also not much pain. Mostly there is just nothingness. An icy cold void that can not be filled. You are filled with nothing. You are nothing.
Oscar can’t help you, though he doesn’t stop trying. Neither can Blake, or your parents, all whom he’d enlisted in his quest to restore your humanity. You’d remained impassive and unresponsive and he’d eventually returned to work and just left you alone. For now.
You go through the motions of living like the well-programmed automaton that you’ve become; eating, sleeping, bathing, these are just mindless tasks you perform on a semi-regular basis because you can’t find a good reason not to.
Can’t find a reason, or maybe it’s the balls you can’t find. The balls to just eat a bullet, take a dirt nap, or enjoy a nice relaxing bloodbath instead. You don’t deserve to die but you’re too dead inside to live. You’ve lost all interest in drugs, alcohol, sex, even food has no comfort to offer you.
Time passes. Slowly for the most part, but you take no notice. Your soul, or what’s left of it, may be turned off but your body remains functional. Your wounds, your physical, bodily injuries, heal.
Wal-Mart girl, the baby… You could have been a family… Should have been… A good family, a happy and loving family.
You spend your days and a good part of your nights staring at Oscar’s big screen, always the twenty-four hour news stations. Seeking some sort of solace in the world’s misery.
Misery loves company, as the saying goes, and the talking heads, the well-groomed harbingers of doom and gloom on the cable news channels are the perfect companions for someone in your state of mind.
You’ve often wondered how newscasters can be so emotionally detached from human suffering that they can deliver a half hours worth of the latest terrorist attack, of various rapes, robberies, and homicides, in a crisp monotone and then effortless switch to meaningless banter about the weather or a story about squirrel who can water ski.
Even when the subject at hand was genuinely humorous, which it usually wasn’t, their laughter was as phony as the single shake of the head or the “that’s too bad” that was supposed to convey a sense of concerned empathy.
“-was pronounced dead at the scene. At this time the police have no suspects. Alice Jibberson was eighty-one. This is the eleventh reported rape/murder of an elderly woman so far this year.”
Head shake. “That’s too bad…”
Big goofy grin. “And now here’s Debra Fitzpatrick at the annual potato festival!” Plastic grin widens horrifically. “By golly Debra that looks like one heck of a good time!”
Three more children are found dead, then a fourth is found still alive, but dies in an ambulance on the way to the hospital. A little girl, seven years old the television informs you.
She asked for her mommy and for the family dog, Bruno, shortly before she died. The tv didn’t tell that, Blake did. He comes over few days to score smoke and bitch about how there are still no solid leads in the case. You don’t even pretend to give a shit anymore. He’s lost a lot of weight, his face is sunken and haunted looking.
Tonight he smells like he’s forgotten to bathe since the last time he was here, you can smell his anxiety and the pungent aroma of fear. Fear that he’s missed something that could have saved little Sarah Ferguson, or Daniel McNamara or any of the others from being killed and then discarded like so much litter.
He’s smoking pot like it’s the only thing keeping him alive. Like a junior high kid whose only just discovered the joys of cannabis, without regard to any kind of moderation. You want to tell him that all that toking can’t be helping him to catch the bad guy, but you can’t the summon the necessary energy and doubt he would heed your advice.
“What the fuck!?” he screams loudly. He’s sitting on the couch next to you. The case file is spread out all over the living room and on the coffee table in front of you are the crime scene photos of the vacant lots where the bodies were found. “What the FUCK!??” he screams again, red-faced and sweating. Angrily he runs out the front door. You hear a car door slam and then he peels out of the driveway, tires barking.
He’s left the case file, forced to temporarily abandon it before it drove him completely over the edge. Some of the photos were taken before the bodies were removed. You try to ignore them but even in your current state of quasi-catatonia the bloody faces and battered, naked bodies are too much.
You slowly start to gather them into a pile. Then you notice something that brings you back to earth with a bone jarring crash. In every picture, amidst the garbage and refuse you’d expect is a candy wrapper. A lollipop wrapper to be precise.
You know you should wait until Blake comes back and tell him your suspicions, but you want to make absolutely sure first. After all, it could just be a coincidence and you don’t want to give him false hopes, not now, when he’s clearly desperate.
For the first time in many weeks, you venture outside the house. The sunlight seems unnaturally bright as you walk the three blocks to the nearest bus stop and you wish you ‘d thought to bring your sunglasses.
Because that whole scene in the liquor store that day was so bizarre, the memory is still clear in your mind, even after everything that came later. There’s no doubt that the candy that homeless dude was buying in bulk was the same brand as the wrappers that were in the pictures.
At the time, you’d thought maybe the bum was using the lollipops to quit smoking or kick some other bad habit, but what if he had been poisoning them and using them to feed an addiction that was far more depraved than alcohol or crack cocaine.
Could the always friendly albeit dirty and disheveled derelict who used to hit you up for spare change and cigarettes be in reality a serial murder, a sadistic pedophile? You weren’t sure, but as you stepped on the bus and paid your dollar and a half, you told yourself that you intended to find out.
The first thing you needed to do was locate the guy, and it seemed the most logical place to start your search would be the corner store by your old apartment. The place you’d seen him at so often that when he wasn’t there you would catch yourself wondering where he might be with an almost parental concern.
For nearly two years that guy, Ralphie, had been if not your friend exactly, then something close to it. Almost like a pet. Yeah, your pet vagrant. On several occasions you’d even shared a joint with him behind the store and you had often bought him a forty ouncer of Malt Liquor when you had a little extra cash. He’d always seemed so utterly harmless, scared of his shadow really.
But you knew that the reason a lot of people ended up on the streets was because they were mentally unstable. Hadn’t you often joked that you were just a shopping cart and some mental illness away from homelessness yourself? So yes, it was entirely possible that your friendly neighborhood hobo had been hiding some very dark secrets.
This was the first time you’d been back to your old neighborhood since you’d been evicted from your apartment and you’d moved in with Oscar. It was still the same dreary place it had most likely always been. It’s filthy streets and badly maintained buildings and boarded and barred windows emitted a veritable reek of poverty and despair. You’d always been vaguely aware of this, but having gotten used to the neat and tidy upper middle class neighborhood Oscar lived in, you saw it all with new eyes.
Quicker Liquors was your average, run-of-the-mill corner store. Middle Eastern owned and operated, with a decent selection of beer and hard liquor and a not so discreet rack of dirty magazines and XXX DVD’s behind the counter.
There was no sign of Ralphie, either in front of the store or in the alley in the rear, so you go inside. For old time’s sake you buy a beer. The clerk is not the same on who sold Ralphie the candy that day, but you lived in the neighborhood long enough to know that he’s a cousin of the guy you want to talk to. When you ask, he tells you that it’s his cousin’s day off but if you come back tomorrow he’ll be working. You pay for your beer and leave.
There’s a park about six blocks away, with a nice tree-shaded picnic area where you used to drink beer and score the occasional overpriced gram of weed or coke. You head that way. Your beer is in a paper bag and you take a few swigs and smoke a cigarette while you walk.
You feel like someone is watching you, and when the same blue Honda drives past a third time you’re sure of it. You turn a corner towards the park, walking a little faster now, and aren’t a bit surprised when a moment later the Honda comes around the corner behind you. Entering the park, you grab a seat at your favorite picnic table, and wait.
You had returned to your old neighborhood looking for a homeless man who may or may not have been poisoning lollipops and giving them to children so he could violate their corpses. Taking all that into account, it’s easy to see why you might momentarily forget a little thing like the outlaw biker gang that wants to end your existence.
But when the man parks the car and starts walking towards you, you find yourself welcoming the confrontation. He’s a young guy, about your age, and a patch on his leather vest identifies him as a “prospect” which means he isn’t yet officially a member of the gang, just a wannabe.
It’s been a couple months since you moved away, and this poor bastard had most likely been assigned the exciting task of staking out your old neighborhood on the off chance that you might someday return. No doubt his orders were simply to follow you home and then report your location, but now that you had actually shown up this ass clown had decided to scare you, maybe rough you up some.
You look for a telltale bulge in his clothes that would tell you that this fuckhead is carrying a gun, and when you don’t see one you relax a little. He could have a piece tucked into the waistband of his jeans behind his back, but you don’t think so. You know from personal experience that that’s a less than ideal location for weapon concealment.
He’s tall and skinny, with a curly mop of reddish brown hair. The smirk on his face and look in his eye say you are supposed to be afraid of him. Not too long ago you would have been, but you aren’t now. Not even a little.
“I can’t believe you had the nerve to show your ugly face around here again,” he says walking up to the picnic table, “big fuckin mistake asshole. Now I’m gonna make you -OOMPH!”
As soon as he got close enough, you smashed your mostly full beer bottle on the side of his head. He never sees it coming and it puts him on his ass, which is right where you want him to be. You reach into the dripping wet paper bag and remove a particularly nasty looking shard of glass.
After kicking him in the ribs a couple time, loving the sharp cracking sounds, like someone snapping dry tree branches over their knee, you put the piece of glass against his throat, pulling his head back with your other hand.
“Listen very closely Douchebag, I have no intention of repeating myself, you get me?”
He nods quickly.
“I am sick and fucking tired of this horseshit. If you boys want to keep playing these games then we’re gonna play by my rules. Rule number one is I kill anybody who fucks with me. That is all. Go back and tell the real bikers what I’ve said. Think you can handle that?”
He nods again. Now that he knows you aren’t going to just gut him like a fish or give him the old Puerto Rican smile, most of the fear has left his eyes. You are not okay with that. If you let him go now he’ll come after you again, and there’s a good chance that he’ll neglect to relay your message.
One good stomp of your steel-toed work boot puts his lights out. You go to work on his face with the piece of broken beer bottle, then relieve him of his belongings. Driving away in the pristine, nearly new Honda, you wonder what a dirty scumbag like that was doing with such a nice clean car.
Twenty minutes later, as you douse the interior with two quarts of oil you found in the trunk and then light it up, you almost feel a twinge of regret for torching such a fine automobile. Almost.
Justin Norwood woke up lying in the grass in a puddle of beer that might have once been frosty cold and delicious but was now piss warm and stagnant. Never in his life had he experienced such severe pain. Every breath was agony, a fresh Hell that would have made him cry out if he wasn’t afraid that doing so would hurt even worse than breathing.
That crazy son of a bitch had really done a number on him, even his drunk ass stepfather had never beat him this badly, he thought as he slowly made himself sit up. Justin felt in his pockets for his car keys while simultaneously looking over at the parking area. When he became aware that both were empty he began to cry softly.
Because his motorcycle was both two conspicuous and uncomfortable for any kind of long-term surveillance work, he had had to borrow a car. Years of drug abuse and chronic unemployment had not made him the most popular family member, not by a long shot, and the only one willing to even consider such a request had been his grandmother.
Grandma Helen was seventy-two. Just four months ago she had spent the last of her retirement savings on a brand new Honda Accord. There had been no money left for insurance. Grandma Helen insisted she didn’t need it because she only drove to the grocery store once a week plus church and Bingo on Sundays. She was always careful she said, and it was a brand new car so she didn’t have to worry about it breaking down.
Justin had begged her for hours and spent many more hours pulling weeds and planting flowers so he’d be able to borrow it. Now it was gone. He might not have cared so much if he hadn’t just move in with grandma Helen after he was kicked out of his apartment when the gang partied there one night. Now he was going to have to like to the only family that still gave a shit about him. Hopefully, the old bag would believe the car was stolen while he was volunteering at the homeless shelter, otherwise he might have to become one of the shelter’s newest residents.
Walking slowly, Justin made his way over to the bathrooms in the middle of the park. His forehead was covered in crusted blood and he dabbed at it gently with a handful of wet paper towels. When he checked his reflection in the mirror above the sink, he started to cry again. Carved across his forehead in angry capital letters was the single word “PUSSY.” Justin was no pussy, but he no longer felt like such a badass either.
After your little carbecue you’d taken the bus home. You were hoping that Detective Blake would be there but he had apparently returned while you were out and then left again. He’d taken the case file and your stash of grass from under the couch with him. He’d had the decency to leave your bong on the coffee table fully loaded, so you take a couple hits before trying his cell phone.
As you’d expected he didn’t answer, so you leave a message telling him call you, “right fucking now!” He needed to know about the lollipops, and also about your little run-in at the park, in case the shit hit the fan. You rather hoped it would. With this in mind you help yourself to a Glock 9mm from Oscar’s well-stocked gun cabinet. Whatever was going to happen, you’d be ready for it. Your days of running and hiding were over.
Oscar came home about an hour later and perhaps because the television was turned off and you had shaved and weren’t wearing pajamas, he immediately knew something was up.
“Feeling better kid?” he asked.
“I guess I am” you answer, and it’s true. You do feel better. Not great maybe, but better than you have in a long time. “I think I just needed a little action to pull me out of the funk I was in.”
“Well,” Oscar says, “it’s good to have you back. I’m almost afraid to ask but what kind of action are we talking about here?”
You tell him about the day’s events, leaving out your suspicions about Blake’s child killer for now. You want to make sure there’s really something there first, and see what Blake thinks. By the time you reach the part where you set the car ablaze, Oscar’s eyes are shining with excitement.
“Goddamnit boy! This changes the game a bit! From now on you better make real sure to watch your ass, and mine too. Those bastards don’t like it when you shit on their colors the way you did today, prospect or no prospect. You better get you some heat and keep it with you until this shit is over and done with.”
You pull out the Glock and hold it up.
“Good, don’t let that get any further than arm’s reach away from you. You gonna tell that reefer-toking detective about this?”
“Yeah,” you say, “I think I probably should. I’d ask him for help but he’s got more than enough on his plate right now.”
“What do you mean ask him for help?” Oscar asks. “You got something you’re planning to do now that you’ve gone and once again stirred up the hornet’s nest?”
“How does complete and total destruction of their entire organization sound?”
“Fancy. And fun…”
“Arson, kidnapping, assault, and maybe even some justifiable homicide.”
If Oscar had looked excited before he was practically jumping for joy now.
“YES! Jesus Christ kid, I was hoping you would pull yourself out of that hole you were in and get your balls back but I never dreamed you would go so completely over to the Dark Side. Let’s have some fun!”
“Look kid, I’m glad you made it back to the land of the living and all, but are you sure you wanna do all that?” Blake has finally returned your call. He sounds optimistic, if not overly excited, at the possibility of the first real lead in his case. Less so at your plans for the next couple days. “Technically I should just go ahead and bust your ass right now. Bring you in for even thinking you could get away with kind of stupid shit. But seeing as how you put me onto this Ralphie character I got more important things to do than once again pulling your skinny ass outta the fire.”
“Yeah,” you say, “plus if you lock me up you’ll have to find somewhere else to score free weed.”
“True. And I really hate having to pay for my smoke. Just be careful for Christ’s sake. You can call me if it’s a life and death kinda deal but for the most part you two characters are on your own. How’s the little guy doing anyway?”
“He’s so excited he’s like a little kid on Christmas morning, how the fuck do you think he’s doing? Right now he’s picking up some supplies from your SWAT buddy you introduced him to.”
“Well,” says Blake, “at least I know you’ll be carrying a full of basket of goodies on this little picnic the two of you have planned. I’m almost sorry I gotta miss it to go look for some bum. Don’t have too much fun without me amigo.”
“Happy hunting Detective.”
“Same to you kid.”
After you hang up you go over your plan for the day, looking for any holes you may have overlooked. There’s a lot of risk involved, but just the same you are looking forward to wreaking havoc on the sons of bitches who tortured you and anyone who gets in your way.
Oscar comes home bearing gifts. A full set of body armor for you, including a helmet with a built-in gas mask. The best he could do for himself was a child sized bullet proof vest. Tear gas canisters, flash bangs, fragmentation and incendiary grenades, a single-shot bean bag shotgun, of couple of anti-personnel claymore mines, and a fuckton of ammo. You were ready for World War III and/or the zombie apocalypse.
“Uh, dude… you do know we’re not planning on actually killing anybody right? Not unless it’s us or them and we have no choice?”
Oscar smiles. “Yeah, but the guy made me such a sweet deal on all this shit I just couldn’t resist buying it. He damn near had me talked into buying an RPG launcher but it was just too fuckin heavy to mess with. Maybe I’m a sick bastard but I really hope I get a chance to use most of this stuff. Especially those mines, and the bean bag gun, how fucking cool is that thing?”
“Man, I’m glad you’re on my side because sometimes you really scare the shit outta me you know that?”
“Love you too. Now gear up and get your ass in the van.”
Oscar’s excitement is contagious, you put on the body armor and you can’t help feeling like a badass. Nevermind that you have zero fucking training, you’re a fucking commando, a Navy Seal or something really kickass like that.
You stand in front of the full-length hallway mirror posing while Oscar gets ready. The two of you load the gear in the back of the van and cover it with several layers of moving blankets and a large roll of bubble wrap. Oscar makes you take off the body armor and stow it with the rest of the stuff.
“How’s it gonna look if we get pulled over? We’re supposed to be two guys from moving company and you got all that shit on. Put it up for now.” Somehow he’s gotten his hands on a magnet decal from a popular local moving company and he puts it on the van door.
Feeling slightly chastised you do as ordered. “Yes mother…” You’re about to climb into the passenger seat when a car pulls into the driveway, effectively blocking your exit route. It’s your mother. Oh shit, speak of the devil. You quickly sink down in your seat. “Tell her I’m not here!” you tell Oscar.
“Too late, she already spotted you man. Anyway she’s your mom why wouldn’t you want to see her?”
“Wait, how do you know she’s my mom? Aw fuck dude, you did this didn’t you? How else would she know where to find me. You are such an unbelievable asshole Oscar!”
“Right back atcha kid. Hey, I thought you should see her one more time. There’s a chance we won’t make it back from this you know, and I didn’t think you would listen to reason so I called her myself.”
“Why?” You can’t believe what you’re hearing.
“Cause it’s the right thing to do I guess, I dunno.” Oscar shrugs.
“What did you tell her?”
“I told her you missed your mommy and were too much of a pussy to admit it. Now get out there, she’s waiting.”
She’s gotten out of her car and was standing in the driveway looking uncertain.
“Just go!” You go. “Hey ma. How have you been?”
“How have I been? I don’t hear from you for months and months and that’s all you can say to me is how have I been?” She pulls back her hand as if to belt you one but then pulls you to her and hugs you fiercely instead. After a moment you return her embrace.
Oscar was right, you do miss your mommy. You’ve never gotten along but you love the woman.
“I’m sorry mom. I was dealing with some stuff. I’m better now. No more drugs. Well, no more hard drugs anyway. Just some weed.”
She gives you the once over. “You look good. You’ve gained some weight and you’re not quite as pale. Oh honey, I was so worried. I was afraid I’d never see you again, after that last time, in the hospital…” She’s crying now.
“Shh mom, it’s okay, it’s fine. You were right about what you said. But that’s all over now, I finally got my shit together. Which reminds me…” You point to the van, “I gotta go. I’m real sorry mom but how about I come over to the house tonight after work?”
“Oh honey, that would be nice, I’ll make your favorite spaghetti. You bring that nice Oscar with you too.”
“Oh don’t worry, Oscar’ll be there.” You give her another hug. “I love you mom.”
“Love you too son, I’ll see you tonight okay?”
You watch her get in the car and she waves to you before driving away. A tear rolls unnoticed down your cheek. You get in the van.
“Ready momma’s boy?” asks Oscar.
“Shut the fuck up and drive midget!” To your surprise, he does just that.
Donald Trevarius, AKA Big Tree, was the president of the Whiskey Marauders motorcycle club. When their shop and clubhouse had been raided, he’d been among those arrested. Because the District Attorney was pushing for an indictment against the club as a whole and because he was it’s president and amongst the various charges against them was one for attempted murder, the judge had denied him bail.
Thanks to the club’s lawyer, nearly everyone else had been bailed out months ago, including Bodie, his V.P. and the guy whose unwanted facial had started the whole chain of events. But Big Tree was still residing in the county lockup’s general population and he was not a happy camper.
True to his name, Big Tree stood six feet three inches tall in stocking feet and weighed in at just over three hundred pounds. The County Jail was a rough, violent place for even the most hardened of criminals but fucking with Big Tree would have been suicide and everyone steered clear.
It was the boredom and bad food that was the hardest on Tree, at least until today. He’d been called out of the cell block by a guard who said his lawyer was waiting to speak with him. But when he’d walked into the holding cell used for attorney/inmate meetings instead of his lawyer he found half a dozen guards armed with billy clubs.
He’s tried to back out of the cell and had been shot from behind with a taser. He’s tried to fight back, but was quickly beaten into unconsciousness. He’d come to in the jail’s laundry room. He was gagged, blindfolded, and securely strapped down to a gurney. They had stripped him of his jumpsuit and underwear, and for some reason he was lying facedown. He didn’t know what was going on but by god somebody was going to pay dearly.
Christopher Stephens was serving nine months for probation violation. Unlike Big Tree he was not big and strong and feared by all. Quite the opposite in fact, he was slender and rather short. He was also very, very gay, and not particular about the types of men he enjoyed. His nickname, given to him by some of the jail’s African American contingent that Chris regularly serviced, was “Firecracker.”
Firecracker worked in the laundry, washing clothes yes, but also sucking and fucking. Unlike Big Tree he liked it here just fine. After his cellblock had locked down for the night, he had been right in the middle of giving a hand job to his cellmate Victor, a Mexican who was married and had seven children and was in jail for something to do with guns.
When Victor was first into the cell with Firecracker he’d loudly threatened to kill the “queer motherfucker” if he tried any of that “gay shit.” Now he was gasping and bumping his hips to the motion of Chris’ hand when their cell door suddenly opened.
“Hey Firecracker!” yelled the guard, “There’s some stuff in the laundry room you need to take care of. Now.” Looking at Victor, who was pretending to be asleep, he shook his head in disgust. “Never figured you for flaming faggot Gonzalez.”
Firecracker was expecting a load of blankets or jumpsuits or maybe an officer’s uniform to iron and press, but he liked what he found a lot more. He knew just what to do with it.
“No. Fucking. Way.”
It seems that Detective Blake felt bad about not being able to go with you guys on your little covert mission. So to make up for his absence he arranged a little party for El Presidente, hosted by some of his jailer friends.
Oscar has just informed you of this in his own inimitable way as he drove.
“Way. It all went down late last night. Right about now that poor son of a bitch is wondering how long it will be before he can sit down without wanting to cry. My money’s on three to four days, but you’d know better than I would wouldn’t you?”
It takes a second for you to realize he’s referring to the night you first met. When you were completely out of your mind on magic mushrooms and had woken up on his couch the next afternoon and been led to believe you’d been voluntarily sodomized. Except…
“Holy shit, you were just fucking with me!” you yell, a palatable sense of relief washing over you. “I was so afraid it might be true I just sort of blocked it out. But my browneye wasn’t sore at all the next day! You were only joking! Right? Right?”
Oscar’s face remains momentarily impassive then breaks into a grin of the shit-eating variety.
“If I wanted to bang a dude I’m sure I could do a lot better than you. So does this mean you’re talking to me again?”
“Are you kidding? I’d kiss you except now I know it won’t go anywhere.”
You laugh together.
“Well” you say after the laughter has died down, “It’s serious now, there’s no turning back.”
“Kid, we’ve got enough weapons and explosives to take on a small army, not to mention land us in prison for decades. But some dude gets fucked in the ass and all of a sudden now it’s serious?”
You laugh together some more.
The gang’s new digs aren’t nearly as nice as the old clubhouse. After legal fees there hadn’t been much left in the treasury and almost none coming in. They had been forced to move out of the old place because of money laundering and fraud charges against their repair shop.
The new headquarters was a small store front on the outskirts of town but most of the gang preferred to hang out at Ronnie’s Roadhouse. Blake had learned all this from a few of the many criminal informants on the police payroll and passed the information on to Oscar when he’d called and told him about Big Tree losing his butt cherry.
The old clubhouse is your first stop. Because the investigation is still pending it still technically belongs to the club but their business has been forced to close down. You don’t need any of the weapons for this part of the job, just two five gallon containers of gasoline and your Bic lighter.
Ten minutes after arriving, the van pulls away from the curb leaving a towering inferno in it’s wake. Hungry flames three stories high eagerly devouring everything even remotely combustible. Let the games begin.
The next stop was the new place. You had originally planned the same sort of torch and run for this building as well, but as Oscar pointed out that would have been terribly unimaginative of you.
“First that punk kid’s car, now their shop, you are dangerously close to becoming a first-rate firebug. Soon, just the sight of someone striking a match will be enough to cause uncontrollable masturbation…”
“Fuck you Oscar. You have a better idea I assume?”
“Well yeah, now that you mention it.”
Oscar’s idea was a lot better, but it required the two of you to stake out the building for the better part of four hours. Finally, just one man remained inside, everyone else had ridden away in groups of two and three, presumably to Ronnie’s to begin the nightly drinking.
As fate would have it, that one remaining guy was none other than Vice President CumFace. You had a clear view of him through the front window. He was sitting behind a desk looking at a computer print out of some kind. If the look on his face was any indication, whatever it was, it wasn’t good news.
“Stay here and watch my back.” Oscar says, “Go ahead and put the suit on if you want.”
You want. Even though it’s as hot as a summertime sidewalk inside all that gear you can’t wait to put it on. Once you’ve suited up you stand behind the van and sweat as you watch Oscar cross the street. He’s taken one of the mines and a roll of duct tape with him and he’s wearing his vest and armed with the bean bag gun. He’s marching right up to the front door like he belongs there. Very quietly he opens the door and slips inside.
Less than a minute later he reappears. CumFace hasn’t moved, he’s still behind the desk looking perplexed, his back to the hallway that leads to the entrance. Oscar places something in the doorway to keep the door from closing all the way as he steps back outside.
You realize what he’s done and can’t stop smiling as you open the rear doors of the van and remove another gas can. The chopper parked by the door would be too nice to burn if only you weren’t such a pyromaniac these days. Anyway he started all this.
Sure, you accidentally ejaculated onto his face from the second story balcony of his favorite bar, but that wasn’t half as humiliating as being tortured until you cried and pissed all over yourself like a newborn, and you’d also apologized profusely and did your best to compensate him for the inconvenience of the unwanted facial.
The flaming motorcycle doesn’t immediately get his attentions so Oscar throws the big, heavy roll of tape at the window. It cracks loudly. CumFace turns towards the window and when he takes in what’s happening he grabs a pistol from one of the desk drawers and comes running outside. When the front door closes behind him it depresses the trigger switch for the Claymore mine Oscar had placed inside the door.
With a deafening boom, thousands of steel pellets are shot out of the mine in an ever-widening arc. If Oscar had placed it facing the opposite direction we would have all been instantly reduced to hamburger. Instead, the blast rips through the building, the shrapnel cutting through both sheetrock and plywood like the proverbial knife through butter.
Bodie is too stunned to use the pistol he’s holding in his right hand, it hangs limply down at his side. Given enough time he might come around and recover enough to fire a round or two but he never gets the chance because Oscar promptly shoots him in the face with beanbag shotgun. The last thing Vice President CumFace hears before the lights go out is the sound of his nose and teeth shattering.
So far so good. You’ve managed to avoid being killed, captured, or arrested up until now but you still have to pull off the third and final act before the curtain closes for the last time. You’d left Bodie lying unconscious outside the door and were on you way across town to Ronnie’s Roadhouse for the final showdown.
If you hurried and managed to stay alive, you could still make your dinner appointment with mom and dad. There was nothing like arson and assault to help you work up an appetite, you can almost taste the spaghetti and garlic bread.
“Whatever happens,” Oscar says, “you gotta promise me that this time you won’t set anything on fire. I’m seriously starting to worry about you kid.”
He makes a jerking off motion with the hand not holding the steering wheel and winks at you. You flip him a bird.
“You really fucked that guy up back there Oscar. You think he’ll be alright?”
“What the fuck do you care, he wants you dead remember? Yeah, he’ll live, he’s gonna be a little uglier is all, probably got a concussion too… Jesus, what a fuckin shot! Can you believe I was actually aiming for his balls? Fuckin thing don’t shoot like no regular gun, that’s for sure. So you gonna tell me what we’re supposed to do when we get there?”
“Well, you won’t let me torch the joint so I guess we’ll just go in with guns a’blazin like ‘shootout at the O.K. Corral.’”
“Here” says Oscar, “torch this joint. That’s bullshit and you know it, we don’t want to actually kill anyone, just maim and cripple. Hey, don’t bogart, pass that shit!”
You pass the joint and give it some thought. “I’m going to kick over their bikes and shoot out a window or three. The first couple guys that come running out, I want you to shoot in the leg. You can snipe them from down the street with a rifle and provide covering fire If necessary while I send a shitload of teargas canisters inside. Then I’ll pop a can of that colored smoke and we’ll go to dinner at my folks place. You like spaghetti?”
“Love it. Wait, run that first part by me one more time?”
TO BE CONTINUED...
Thursday, December 23, 2010
You have no idea where you’re going, and you don’t really give a shit. You just need to get away, to distance yourself from what just happened, what you just heard. You’re afraid that if you allow it to sink all the way in it will take you to a dark place from which you could never return.
For some reason, you are not a bit surprised to see that Oscar is still sitting in his van in the same spot where you left him. You walk over to the car and climb in the passenger side. He’s about a quarter of the way through a joint, and as soon as he catches a glimpse of your face he hands it over wordlessly.
After lighting a fresh one for himself he starts the engine and drives away, still not talking. It’s as if he somehow knows exactly what you need, because instead of taking you back to the house he goes straight to your favorite strip club. The two of you go inside and a grab a table right in front of the main stage.
You light a cigarette and stare off into space while Oscar goes to the bar. He comes back leading a parade of waitresses bearing food and strong drink. There’s hot wings, potato skins, pizza, and plenty of ranch dressing, plus two pitchers of beer, a bottle of Jack Daniel’s, and a bottle of champagne in bucket of ice.
Oscar expertly pours beer into two enormous and frosty cold mugs and sets one in front of you. Another waitress arrives with a tray full of empty shot glasses. Cracking open the bottle of Jack, Oscar drinks deeply and then dumps the rest over the tray of shot glasses until the bottle is empty. Through all of this, neither one of you has spoken a single word to each and you feel like you should at least thank him for doing all this just to try to cheer you up.
Before you have a chance to speak though, the generous dwarf throws the empty whiskey bottle at the closest wall, and it shatters loudly against the bricks. The music cuts off abruptly. Uh-oh, now he’s done it. No way are the bouncers going to put up with that shit. You’re about to get tossed out and you haven’t even touched your beer.
But Oscar doesn’t look too worried. He gives you a sly, conspiratorial wink, and then loudly claps his hands over his head. The music starts back up again, much louder than before, classic rock this time instead of the House music they’d been playing. The lights dim, and then you find yourself sitting in the middle of an extremely bright spotlight.
From behind stage emerges yet another parade of women. This time it’s the strippers instead of the wait staff. The entire day shift, eight girls, all of them completely nude of course.
They each down a shot of whiskey before surrounding you. Because it’s the day shift, in the middle of the week, you see a lot of stretch marks, cellulite, C-section scars, even a few needle tracks. You don’t mind.
The girls are all over you, pushing and shoving to get near enough to rub themselves all over your groin area. Then you notice that Oscar is among them. He’s lost his clothing as well, and he’s weaving in and out of the women, ding some sort of mad shuck and jive number. He pops the champagne and sprays you and the strippers down real good. The girls lap up the bubbly where it pools in your lap.
The whole scene is surreal, and so completely over-the-top and absurd that in spite of everything, you finally break down and crack a smile, you just can’t help it. Soon you’re laughing uncontrollably, and it feels good.
Five or six hours later, Oscar finally speaks to you.
“How you feeling kid?”
“Oscar my friend, I am feeling no pain.”
And it’s true. The pain is still there of course, but you’ve managed to numb yourself quite nicely. This is partly due to the recent arrival of the night shift, the A-list strippers, and the dealer they brought with them.
Four Ecstasy pills and a couple grams of some good coke went a long way towards equalizing all the booze and giving you your second wind. The new girls are hot, this one Asian chick in particular is especially yummy, but you’re not feeling very horny. The most full figured (fat) gal from the day shift sucked you off while you were getting a private dance a few hours back. Still, you don’t want to appear rude, so you get a few lap dances from the Asian girl.
Oscar, in between lines of blow, gets lap dances from all of them. You realize that since the moment you first walked in here, you and Oscar have been the only new customers. After you managed to scare off the handful of regulars with that first big scene, no one else has showed up. You’d been too distracted to notice.
“Where the fuck is everybody?” you ask Oscar.
“Private party” he says, “I bought the whole place out for the night. Told the owner I’d double whatever he usually made on a week night, and gave him my platinum card. Nice, huh? I mean really, could it possibly get any better than this?”
He laughs loudly as he lights up yet another joint. You let the question bounce around inside your alcohol soaked and chemically altered brain. Could it get any better? Probably, yes. In fact you know it could, just not right now, at this moment. About the only thing that could make this party any better was…
“Chickenwing!” you yell out suddenly.
“You want more food?” asks Oscar. “We didn’t even finish the last basket of wings we ordered. I ended up giving them to that big bitch you got the private dance from, she said she was gonna take them home to her kids but I bet they were gone before she made it outta the parking lot. Whatever though, I’ll have them bring some more. I can’t eat any or I’m gonna puke my guts out, waaaay too much Whiskey…” he trails off.
“No,” you say, “we have to go and get Chickenwing. The person, not the food.” Dereck would love all this shit, it’s his idea of what Heaven would be like if such a place really existed. You realize you really miss the fat bastard. Or maybe it’s just the Ecstasy. Still…
Oscar asks, “Your tweaker friend with the fucked up arm? Isn’t he in rehab?” You might think that being a midget would make Oscar a little more sensitive to those who are different, but you would be wrong.
“Yeah, we have to go bust him out man!”
Oscar sees that you’re serious, and warms to the idea. This sort of illegal adventure is right up his alley,
“Wait here a minute, I gotta go find us a driver.”
The Right Path Recovery Center was a rundown old warehouse that been converted into a drug and alcohol treatment facility a few years back. You and Chickenwing had stumbled onto the website for the place while researching area rehabilitation centers. At the time, you were both nearing the end of and especially long and nasty meth binge.
You had made a pact to get clean together and had chosen The Right Path because it was among the most inexpensive and the website promised “comfortable beds” and “gourmet meals.”
Of course, after the crystal was all gone and you had both finally passed out and slept for a full day and night, you had a good laugh about how stupid you had been for entertaining such a foolish notion. Pshh, rehab was for quitters. It’s not like you were addicts, just a couple of dudes who liked getting high you told each other, knowing full well how completely full of shit you both were.
Oscar rode beside you in the backseat of an aging BMW that belonged to Ginger, a cocktail waitress from the club that Oscar seemed especially fond of. In the passenger seat next to Ginger was Mai Lyn, the hot Asian dancer, whom you had somehow convinced to come along for the ride.
Ginger was a skinny little bag of bones who couldn’t have been an inch over five feet tall, with kinky red hair cut short and a generous sprinkling of freckles across her pretty face. Perhaps her size was the reason that Oscar was so smitten with her, and she seemed rather taken by the charismatic midget as well.
Mai Lynn was nothing less that the combined masturbatory fantasies of every man with an Asian fetish, a club you’ve been a member of since the tender age of twelve. Mai Lynn does not appear to be attracted to you at all now that you are no longer in the confines of the club, which leads you to believe that you may have drunkenly promised her some exorbitant amount of money for the pleasure of her company on this little excursion. A promise you have neither the means not the desire to keep.
Right now you have more important matters to tend to. How to get inside the place, locate Chickenwing, and then escape undetected. And you must do it all while shitfaced drunk and high as a kite to boot. No easy feat, but you’re a ninja, and your kung fu is strong.
“Are you out of your fucking mind?”
You’ve just finished telling Oscar your plan and now the dwarf is looking at you like you’ve just sprouted an extra head.
“That’ll never work” he continues, “this place is fucking huge and you think your drunk ass is gonna be able to sneak in there, find your friend, and get him out here without being caught? Seriously dude?” He shakes his head. “Might as well just go turn yourself into the cops and save everyone a lot of hassle…”
“I can do it” you say, suddenly nowhere near as certain as you were a moment ago. “Anyway, do you have a better idea wiseass?”
“Yes I do as a matter of fact. The direct approach. Ginger honey, you stay here, keep the car running. Mai Lynn, you come with me, I may need to use you for bait. Nothing clouds a man’s mind quite like a sexy Asian bitch, no offense doll.”
Mai Lynn shrugs to show there’s no hard feelings.
“And no offense to you either kid, but I think you should probably sit this one out. Stay here and keep Ginger company alright?”
“What?” You can’t believe what you’re hearing. “This whole fucking thing was my idea in the first place Oscar!” Oscar says, “Be that as it may, you look pretty goddamn scary with all those stitches in your face and all bruised up like you are, and we can’t have spooking the staff. Not to mention the fact that you’ve ingested enough booze and drugs to kill a large Rhino and can’t walk a straight line.”
“No, but he sure can snort one!” Ginger chimes in, giggling.
“So if you really wanna spring your buddy’s fat ass outta this place, then shut your hole, do what I tell you, and let the midget handle this. This type of shit is what I do. Well, this and make really good porno flicks.”
“Alright, shit, do what you gotta do I’ll chill here” you say. When Oscar gets like this, arguing becomes next to impossible. Besides, he’s right, you are completely fucked up.
Somehow, he appears to be almost sober and you have no doubt that when enters the building he’ll have rallied completely. How the fuck does he do that? It’s like he has super partying powers or some shit.
“Okay Mai Lynn, let’s go” says Oscar. The get out of the car and you get in the front seat. You notice that Oscar seems to have no problem walking a straight line, his back is ramrod-straight in determination. He’ll get Chickenwing out of there or die trying.
“Isn’t he great?” asks Ginger, and you have to agree.
Nothing to do now but wait. Thinking about straight lines makes you remember the vial of coke in the pocket of your jeans. You cut out a couple of big lines and you and Ginger toot up.
“Am I really that scary looking?” you ask her self consciously.
“Nah baby, you look okay” she replies in a soothing voice. She leans over and kisses your cheek, then your lips, and then her hands are in your lap, fumbling with your zipper.
Miguel Perez was dreading another boring and seemingly endless night of manning the security desk. Maybe a couple of the drunks and/or druggies would get into a fistfight after lights out, that would provide a little excitement, give him something to tell Rosa about when he got home.
He wasn’t allowed to watch television or even read a book, not that Miguel was much of a reader, so he spent most nights just staring at the desk until it was time to walk around the building for his hourly security sweep, and trying somewhat successfully to stay awake.
The night was shaping up just like any other, until the two visitors showed up. I could have been the beginning of some hilarious dirty joke; a midget and an Asian hooker walk into a rehab clinic…
Of course, Miguel didn’t know for sure that she was a hooker but she sure was dressed like one. What if the little guy was her pimp? How funny would that be? All of a sudden his night was turning out to pretty interesting.
The midget and the beautiful Asian who may or not have been a hooker and her pimp didn’t actually walk into the rehab clinic, because the doors were locked after dark. The walked to the glass double doors and, seeing Miguel sitting behind the security desk, the midget rapped sharply on the door with a tiny fist.
Miguel stood up and walked to the door, then used a key from the enormous key ring hanging by his side to open the door.
“Can I help you?” he asked politely. The Asian was even better looking up close, stunning really, and Miguel found himself wishing that she really was a prostitute. He’d never been with an Oriental before, only Hispanics and a couple white girls, and he had always wanted to try a piece of the Asian persuasion.
The midget hesitated before answering, he was looking at Miguel very closely, almost like he was sizing him up. Finally he said, “Yeah, let me ask you something. Do you like to party?” Reaching into a coat pocket he pulled out a vial of white powder and a Ziploc bag nearly full of what could only be some seriously high-grade marijuana. The girl pulled down her halter top, exposing the most perfect set of C-cups that Miguel had ever seen.
Miguel did like to party. No, scratch that, he fucking loved to party. The problem was he love it a little too much. He had been clean and sober for almost a year and a half now, ever since he completed the program right here at The Right Path. Well, mostly anyway.
Rosa allowed him a six pack of Tecate a week and he had secretly smoked weed with his cousin Jorge on two occasions.
But cocaine had always been his drug of choice, and until now Miguel had been lucky enough to avoid coming face to face with his old nemesis/lover. Just the mere sight of the white powder in the vial (about two grams, he knew immediately) made his heart race. Hardly aware of what he was doing, Miguel stepped back and let them inside the building, locking the door behind them.
Ginger was very good with her hands. She would have made a great masseuse, or perhaps a magician, because there was definitely some magic happening below the belt. Normally the copious amounts of alcohol, cocaine, and ecstasy would have rendered your trouser mouse all but null and void, but tonight you were on a roll.
First the pleasantly plump stripper gives you a hummer that beats any machine made by General Motors, and now this little redheaded waitress is waxing your carrot better than even you yourself could do.
You grab her blouse and pull it down, exposing a tiny pair of breasts with perky, pierced nipples. Her chest is sporting the same adorable scattering of freckles that decorates her heart-shaped face. You play with her little fun bags a bit but her A-cups don’t even make half a mouthful and you soon lose interest.
You slip a hand under her denim mini skirt and are delighted to discover she’s not wearing any panties. She’s super moist and as you slip an exploratory couple of fingers inside her it feels like your dipping them into some hot bath water.
She moans softly as you delve a little deeper. At the same time, you reach around her with your free hand and lean the seat back as far as it will go. Knowing what’s next, Ginger raises her hips off the seat and stops beating your meat so she can use both hands to pull up her skirt. You mount her, and together the two of you begin to test the car’s suspension.
When the little bearded man told Miguel that he was looking for “Chickenwing” he knew immediately which resident he was referring to.
“Yeah, he’s here” he said, “I’ll take you to his room.”
“You the only security guy?” Oscar asked.
“What about doctors, or counselors?”
“Don’t worry” said Miguel, “The only other staff on duty is the live-in counselor Mr. Cullen, whose in his room passed out. He goes to bed early and sleeps like the dead. Plus the night nurse in the medical ward on the second floor. She’s either watching an old movie while she stuffs her face or she’s asleep on her cot, either way she won’t bother us, she never leaves medical. Follow me.”
Miguel led the down a series of long, dimly lit hallways, before stopping in front of a door. “This is it.”
Miguel opens the door without bothering to knock first. Inside the room, a large man lie in bed. The way the blanket is moving below his waist, he’s either vigorously scratching his genitalia or masturbating. His obvious embarrassment suggests the latter.
“Miguel?” he asks. “Is that you? What the fuck, I was almost asleep. Whatta ya want? Who is that with you? What’s…” He notices Mail Lynn and falls silent. The bedside lamp casts enough light on his face for the others to see him blush a deep red.
The enter the room and Miguel closes the door. “You got some visitors Chickenwing” he says.
“My fucking name is Derreck asshole!” says Derreck. “And I don’t know these people.”
“You know my friend” says Oscar, “he’s your friend too. He claims that you are just about the best friend he’s ever had. He wanted to break you outta here. I made him wait in the car cause he got real fucked up at the titty bar. I think his girlfriend dumped him or something today…”
“Hey” interrupts Miguel with a hungry, slightly desperate look in his eye, “I thought you said we were gonna party?”
“Sure, sure…” says Oscar. He pulls out the coke and the weed. “Knock yourself out kid. Cut us all out a nice line while I twist one.”
Miguel is already rolling a five dollar bill he’s taken out of his wallet. He grabs the vial and pours it out on the bedside table, loving the way the sparkles under the lamp light. That means it’s the good stuff.
Oscar hops up on the foot of the bed and makes himself comfortable. He produces a pack of Zig Zag rolling papers and goes to work rolling a joint while he continues talking to Chickenwing, who looks stunned and seems unable to take his eyes off Mai Lynn. She’s taken a seat in a desk chair across the room and if she’s aware of his intense scrutiny she gives no indication.
“My name is Oscar, and this is the lovely and leggy Mai Lynn. Miguel you already know.”
“Hi” says Mai Lynn.
“Nice to meetcha” says Chickenwing.
Miguel says nothing, because he’s halfway through snorting a long line of cocaine. He nods a greeting as he switches his makeshift straw to the other nostril. The other half of the line is gone in a flash. So is his eighteen months of quasi-sobriety.
Oscar says, “I’ve heard quite a bit about you Derreck.” The joint is ready and he fires it up.
“Tell me something. Why are you friends with that asshole anyway?”
“He’s not an asshole!” says Derreck sternly. “Well alright, maybe he is, but he doesn’t mean anything by it. He’s actually a pretty decent guy when he’s not acting like a total douche nozzle. He has a soft spot for animals and he always gives money to homeless people if he’s got it and they ask. But this one time when he was broke I saw him take a forty of malt liquor away from this one bum and when the guy tried to stop him he punched him in the face. Still, I’d rather be friends with a guy like that than someone who thinks they always have to be nice to me just because of this.”
He holds up his deformed arm and hand, in which he’s holding the joint. He takes a puff, coughs, then says, “That’s good smoke. Here ya go dragon lady.” He passes the joint to Mai Lynn. Her slender, beautiful fingers linger on his as she takes it and they make eye contact, sharing a moment until Derreck looks away bashfully.
“Yeah, I know what you mean dude” says Oscar, “I liked the kid from the first moment I met him. The son of a bitch can consume more booze and drugs than anyone I’ve ever met, and I once partied with Dr. Thompson.”
“It’s almost like he’s not human or something!” exclaims Derreck. “I’ve seen him eat half an ounce of good mushrooms in one night. The next morning he went to church with his parents! He was still trippin, he said that was the scariest thing he’d ever had to endure, that morning worship service, but no one ever knew a thing.”
Hopping down from the bed, Oscar goes over to the table to do a line. Reluctantly, Miguel relinquishes the straw. Oscar takes a blast up each side, then offers the straw to Chickenwing. “Toot sweet?” he asks.
“No thanks, I better not. They probably won’t kick me outta here for pot, but anything harder and I’ll get the boot for sure. It’s not worth it. Unless… You don’t have any Ice do you?”
“No, sorry, I’m afraid not” says Oscar. The way he says it he could be the waiter a restaurant apologizing because they’d run out of the special. They continue to swap stories about the exploits of their mutual friend. Mai Lynn and Miguel go about vacuuming the rest of the coke up their noses, making small talk in between lines. Another joint is rolled and passed around and is nearly gone when Oscar remembers why they’re there. “Let’s get outta here” he says.
It feels like forever since Oscar and Mai Lynn left. You and Ginger have bee fucking almost the entire time and you’re beginning to lose interest. For some inexplicable reason you just can’t seem to cum. Your little soldier is still standing tall, hard as a granite slab, but every time you start to feel like you’re close to ejaculating the sensation fades away.
You would just give up, but thanks to the Ecstasy you’ve never been more horny in your life. You’ve tried nearly every imaginable position but you just can’t get your rocks off. Ginger is loving every second of it, you’ve lost count of the number of times you’ve gotten her off, the driver’s seat is soggy from her juices.
Finally, in desperation, you turn her around and slowly slide your cock into her ass. You’re not normally a huge fan of the backdoor lovin but the Vag doesn’t seem to be working for you at the moment so any port in a storm right?
She’s got a tight little bum, you have trouble getting all the way in. She arches her back and rocks her hips, synchronizing with your rhythm, her eyes are closed and she’s silently mouthing the same words or phrase over and over again, like some sort of ass-fucking mantra.
You grab a handful of her hair and thrust harder as you feel the elusive orgasm building up inside you. Closing your eyes you concentrate on finally reaching sweet release. You’re almost there. Closer. Closer. This is it. Here it comes…
“Hey man, how’s it going?” Chickenwing’s voice, ruining this beautiful moment, killing it. Like a bucket of water thrown over a single lit match.
But you’re past the point of no return. Joylessly, you explode inside her ass, blowing an enormous load that would fetch a handsome price at any sperm bank, if only they paid by volume and didn’t test for drugs.
You pull out quickly, and Ginger pulls her skirt down but not before everyone standing outside the car gets a glimpse of the river of semen that’s running out of her anus. The parking lot is very well lit, there’s no way they could have missed it.
The morning after. Well, technically the afternoon after, but what the fuck ever. The temporary emotional paralysis, that comfortably numb emptiness, brought about by several thousand dollars worth of overpriced alcohol, reasonably priced drugs, and lap dances full of the inappropriate touching of women with self-esteem issues has worn off. You hurt all over more than anyplace else.
You long for the temporary escape of a bottle or bag, or even a needle, but you have no money, and there’s no way you can Oscar to foot the bill, not again. Not after last night. Shit, Oscar. You knew he was into that cocktail waitress, Ginger, and yet you fucked her anyway. Barebacked rear entry, knowing it was wrong and that you could have been caught in the act at any moment. And then you were caught, of course you were, and all you could do was grin sheepishly.
Chickenwing had slipped you a sly wink, but thankfully refrained from comment. No one had mentioned it. You’d stood around in the parking lot, shooting the shit and passing a joint around, you afraid to look Oscar in the eye, afraid you’d see him hurt and feeling betrayed.
That Mexican security guard had asked if you had any blow and after you gave him the half a gram or so left in the vial he’d snorted it all off the trunk of the BMW, never offering any to you or anyone else and never so much as a “thank you.” Then after he made sure that no one else was holding, that there was no more coke, he’d gone inside saying he had to make a phone call and never returned.
Who would have guessed that Chickenwing was actually serious about cleaning up this time? He’d smoke a little weed with you, but had refused to leave even after Oscar offered to score him some crystal.
Even more amazing, Mai Lynn had stayed behind with him, and she was looking at him in a way that said he was in for the best night of his life. They had walked back inside hand-in-hand, and neither one of them had bothered to look back.
Feeling ashamed and dirty, you’d told Oscar you had had enough for one night, and he agreed to call it a night. Ginger had driven the two of you back to the house and without saying a word you had gone inside and, falling into bed fully clothed, had passed out immediately.
You must have slept for a long time, but you feel far from rested, like you were hit by a truck that then proceeded to back over you again, and again. The light shining in your windows goes through your eyelids and straight into your brain, like a pair of expertly sharpened daggers.
You mouth tastes like you’ve recently feasted on a meal made up entirely of fresh shit sandwiches washed down with warm stale beer. You’re lying in a congealed puddle of what you can only hope is your own vomit and you seem to have pissed yourself at some point, but it’s your hazy recollection of last night’s events, and not any of these other things, that bring on a wave of nausea too powerful to be ignored. You’re gonna puke.
You manage to crawl into the bathroom and spend a few minutes with your head hovering over the toilet bowl, praying to the god of porcelain as they say, dry heaving mostly. Still crawling, you get into the shower and turn on the water. The warm spray feels so nice it lulls you to sleep. You wake up shivering when the hot water runs out. After shutting off the water you wrap a towel around yourself and start to walk back to your room.
Your intention is to plop down into your bed and die, vomit puddle of questionable origin be damned, but the smell of food cooking in the kitchen is too tempting to ignore. Oscar is standing on his stool in front of the stove turning what looks like an enormous omelet. He’s nude.
“Hey kid,” he says when he notices you, “you look about like I feel. Grab a seat and have some chow dude.”
You sit down at the table and the towel around your waist comes open but you don’t bother wrapping it around you again. Oscar sets a plate in front of you, a king sized omelet full of bacon, cheese, mushrooms, onions, and peppers, plus hash browns and wheat toast on the side.
You start to tear into it and then stop yourself. “Hey Oscar, I’m sorry about last night,” you say, “that was a real dick move hooking up with Ginger like that. I knew you were into her, I don’t know why I insist on being a total douchebag.”
“The fuck are you talking about?” asks Oscar. “You think I’m pissed cause you banged some chick I got the hots for? I’m a porn star for fuck’s sake! You think shit like that bothers me? Is that why you got all weird on me last night? What a dumbass…” He shakes his head unbelievingly as he uses a spatula to plate the latest omelet. “Ginger baby!” he hollers, “Get your ass in here, you gotta hear this shit!”
Ginger comes into the kitchen wrapped loosely in a sheet with nothing underneath it but freckled skin and sits at the table across from you. Oscar puts a plate in front of her, sets two more plates on the table, then pours coffee for the three of you.
“Tell her what you told me!” he cries gleefully. “Tell her what you told me!”
Embarrassed now, you say nothing and concentrate on your food, but isn’t going to just leave it alone.
“Come on” he insists, “I wanna hear it again!”
You’re spared answering because just then the doorbell rings. Oscar goes to answer it, and a moment later Detective Blake is seated at the table, shoveling food like an Ethiopian at an all-you-can-eat buffet.
If Detective Randy Blake thinks it unusual to find himself sharing a mid-afternoon breakfast with three degenerate drug dumpsters in various stages of undress, he keeps it to himself. His sole focus is the food, and his plate is empty in record time, even before yours and you’re barely chewing.
He looks haggard, worn out and worn down. Like a man carrying a very heavy burden. As he puts his plate and fork in the sink and helps himself to more coffee his movements are slow and sluggish, as if his limbs weighed a metric ton apiece.
Plopping heavily back down into his chair he lets out a half-hearted belch and then finally speaks. “Who do ya have to fuck to get some grass around here anyway? Don’t make me arrest you Oscar, not after you were kind enough to invite to breakfast.” The barest hint of a smile touches his lips, letting you all know he’s just bullshitting.
“You’ll never take me alive copper!” says Oscar in an old-timey gangster voice. Opening a drawer under the kitchen’s granite countertop he produces a large joint. “Puff on this while I go into my office and weigh you up a bag. Will half an ounce be enough to last you Officer Smokey?”
“That will do just fine” says the cop, lighting the joint with a gold Zippo. “How ya been?” he asks you.
“Kind of shitty” you answer honestly, “and you?”
“The same” he answers.
“What’s up?” you ask him. He looks like he really needs to talk to somebody.
“Another dead kid and still no leads…” he passes you the joint, “I’ve got city hall and the parents of all four victims all over my ass and I’ve got nothing. No witnesses. No suspects. Just four dead little kids, all of them poisoned, their corpses raped, mutilated, and left in dirty vacant lots around the city.”
“Eww, that’s gross!” cries Ginger, then flees from the room. Neither one of you pay her any mind.
“I’m sorry man” you say, and mean it. In spite of the fact that the two of you got off to a rough start, you now consider this man your friend. “I got a dead kid problem myself.” You can hardly believe those words just came out of your mouth, you weren’t planning on sharing that information. Maybe Blake wasn’t the only one who needed to talk. You find yourself telling the whole story as Oscar comes back into the room. This is the first he’s heard about the abortion and they both listen intently.
“Aw, that’s seriously fucked up!” says Oscar when you’ve finished. “I figured it was something like that…”
“Jesus, I’m sorry kid.” says Blake.
The conversation moves on to less serious things, the weather, real tits vs. implants, how bad the Raiders suck this year, etc. You’re feeling better thanks to the food, the smoke, and the company. You break out the bong and you and Oscar try to see who can take the biggest hit. You lose. Detective Blake declines to participate.
“I’m on duty and I’m already baked. I better go.” He stands up. “See ya. Oh yeah, I meant to tell you earlier kid, watch your back, a couple of the bikers made bail yesterday. They’re not the ones that wanted you dead, just some underlings whose charges weren’t serious, so you’ll probably be okay. I just thought you should know so you’ll keep an eye out for scumbags. Call me if ya need to.”
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Walking up the stairs to Wal-Mart girl’s apartment you’re both nervous and excited. You realize you should have called first, you haven’t spoken to her since before all the crazy shit with the bikers went down. The day Chickenwing flew the coop to rehab. The day she told you she was pregnant and your life changed forever.
You suddenly realize that she may not even be home. After all, it’s the middle of the afternoon on a Wednesday, most “normal” people are working at jobs they hate. Of course, this woman is anything but “normal.”
Your first knock is so light she would need dog ears or highly sophisticated spy equipment to hear it. Cursing yourself for a fool, a scared little boy trying desperately to grow up and be a man, you knock again. This time you overcompensate and it sounds like the Gestapo are at the door, intent on a brutal interrogation followed by a one-way train ride to the camps. You have the absurd urge to yell out, “Open the door, we have you surrounded! Resistance is futile!”
Thankfully, before you succumb to this childish whim, the door opens. Wal-Mart girl is standing there, looking fantastic in a dark blue sundress that falls to mid thigh. You catch a whiff of some floral scent, subtle and understated.
“Oh, it’s you…” she says, sounding surprised and a bit taken aback by your sudden appearance on her doorstep. “Who is it?” asks a voice from inside. In the living room behind her you notice there’s a man sitting on the couch, holding a Playstation controller in his hand. He’s young, early to mid twenties, scraggly brown hair in desperate need of washing falls down to his shoulders. Wearing an old Megadeth t-shirt, ripped and faded jeans, and combat boots. Your standard issue slacker/stoner dude.
“A friend” says Wal-Mart girl and leaves it at that. “Tony I think you should probably take off now, we need to talk.” “Ah, come on babe, I just leveled up…” Tony’s eyes never move away from the television and he makes no move to leave. “Get the fuck out!” she orders him, loud and forceful enough for Tony-boy to get the message. “Whatever. Call me later?” he throws the controller onto the couch, pouting, then slinks out the door, avoiding eye contact with you.
The familiar way he called her “babe” puts you off, and you can’t help wondering just what the hell is going on with them. You feel hurt and jealous. There’s an awkward silence that lingers long after Tony is down the stairs and gone.
All of a sudden it’s like you’re back in middle school, at the spring dance with your first real girlfriend, Veronica. You’re completely petrified, unable to even form a coherent thought, much less turn that thought into words. You seem to have temporarily lost the capacity for speech.
Wal-Mart girl breaks the silence at last. She does not invite you in for video games.
“I’m almost afraid to ask, but what happened to you? You look like you got hit by a Mack truck.” After much throat clearing and a couple false starts you manage to say, “I was kidnapped and tortured by that crazy biker and his buddies, but I’m fine now.” She looks concerned and starts to reach out to you, then stops herself. You press on.
“Look, my life is a wreck. A totally fucked up mess, and it’s been like that for a long time now. I think I just stopped caring, and could never find a reason to start again. What I’m trying to say is, oh shit, what I’m trying to say is… this thing… this baby thing…” “Oh, you don’t have to worry about that” she says quickly, cutting you off mid-sentence, “I took care of it. I’m not pregnant anymore.”
You were about to tell her how you felt about her, that you had finally found a reason to care again and it was her and the child the two of you had made together, but her words stop you dead in your tracks. You feel like you’ve just been stabbed in the chest with an icicle. You can’t seem to catch your breath, and standing there at the top of those gray concrete steps, you feel some part of you, something deep inside, die a horrible death. “I gotta go” you gasp, then flee down the stairs as fast as you can.
TO BE CONTINUED...
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Darkness comes quickly to the desert. On moment it’s day, the next it’s night, almost as if the sun is in a hurry to get to bed, exhausted after yet another long day of burning brightly and relentlessly scorching the landscape. The air had cooled rapidly, and the wind felt good in my hair as I drove down the lonely highway in my rented convertible. The car was filled with the comforting scent of cannabis, both the lingering aroma of the joint I’d just finished and the stronger smell of the still smoldering roach in the ashtray.
It had been nearly an hour since I’d passed another vehicle or seen any signs of civilization apart from the paved road I traveled on. I was beginning to believe I had inadvertently driven into a parallel world where I was the only living thing when I saw a shimmering light far up ahead, in the distance. I had been driving all day and the fatigue, coupled with the high-potency Mary Jane, made my head feel like it weighed a ton, and I seemed to be having trouble with my vision. I was grateful for a place to pull over at last. When I was close enough to see the sign that claimed the place was a hotel, I knew I had better stop for the night.
It may have called itself a hotel, but it looked like an old, Spanish style mission, a really big one. Adobe walls, tiled roof, even a bell tower. I parked near the front doors, noticing as I did so that there were no other cars in the unpaved lot. They must have a parking area around back somewhere, I thought.
As I got out of the car, stretching my legs, a beautiful woman opened the front door and stood in the doorway. Long dark hair, with a body that was so shapely I was instantly aroused. She was like some kind of desert angel, and all of a sudden I thought I might just have died and gone to Heaven.
Then the mission bell began to ring, and something in it’s tone was so undeniably sinister that I began to wonder if maybe I had it backwards and this wasn’t Heaven after all, but that other place people go to. But that’s just stupid, I told myself. I wasn’t in Heaven or Hell, I was just at some weird hotel in the middle of the Mojave desert.
The angel’s name was Maria. She rented me a room for the night for $60.00. With tax, my total came to $66.60, which had I been superstitious and Maria not been so normal and so lovely, might have alarmed me.
The hotel actually was an old Spanish mission, Maria told me as she led me down a series of long, meandering hallways to my room. It had been renovated to become what it was today, but except for running water and a phone system that only worked inside the building it was much the same as it had been when it was first built well over a hundred years ago. There was no central heating and air, and no electricity. The building was lit entirely with candles that sat in holders built into the walls.
Stopping in front of a pastel green door, Maria removed a candle from the pocket of the black apron she wore and lit it from the candle on the wall closest to her. “This will be your room” she said, “you will know it because of the color of the door, the rooms don’t have numbers.” Opening the door, she led the way inside. The room was small, just a twin-sized bed covered with an obviously handmade quilt, next to an antique looking roll top desk and straight-backed chair. An old rotary phone was on the desk. Another door on the opposite side of the small room presumably led to the bathroom.
“I will leave you now” said Maria. “If you wish to dine with us it is included in the price of the room but we do not serve the feast until very late. I can call you on the phone when it is time.”
“Sure, that would be great” I said, thinking, The Feast? Sounds good… “Is it possible to get something to snack on until then, perhaps something to drink?" “Yes” she replied, “Just dial a six and ask for whatever you like.” Maria handed me the candle and then left. I watched her go, thinking that what I’d really like would be for her to stay, and get naked instead. As she was closing the door I seemed to hear the sound of voices coming from further down the corridor, a sort of mad, giddy laughter, and words too faint to discern. Then the door closed and there was only silence.
It was surprisingly cool inside my room, probably due to the thickness of the adobe walls, and having started to come down off the reefer I was no longer feeling quite so tired. I decided I needed a drink more than a snack, so after setting my small suitcase on the floor and kicking off my shoes I lay back on the bed and reached for the old fashioned rotary phone. When I picked it up I heard a dial tone, but nothing happened when I dialed a six so I tried it again, and then again, and finally on the third try there was a ringing sound and a voice answered.
“Hello?” said the voice, a male with a strong Hispanic accent, “How can I help you Senor?” “Um, is Maria there?” I was hoping I could coax her back to my room on some pretense, the memory of her tight little body had steadfastly refused to go away, that perfect ass and that beautiful face. Such a lovely face… “No Senor, Maria is no here, this is El Capitan. How can I help you?” Damn. “I’d like a bottle of wine please Captain.” “No wine Senor, not since 1969 or so. You would like a bottle of our special Tequila yes? It will make you feel soooo niiiice.” “Sure” I said, “even better. And some salt and limes too please.” “No limes Senor. They no grow in the desert.” The line went dead, so I hung up the phone.
Almost immediately there was a knock at the door. I opened it, anxious to get a look at El Capitan, but there was no one there. On a tray in front of the door was some sort of clay jug and a single shot glass. As I picked up the tray I could hear that strange laughter coming from down the hall again.
I set the tray on the desk next to the phone and poured a shot. The Tequila was darkly colored and one whiff was enough to let me know it was the real deal. I tossed back the shot and was pleasantly surprised. It was the smoothest Tequila I had ever tasted, and left a warm, comforting glow in my stomach. I immediately felt more relaxed, so I poured another shot and drank it down too.
When it was gone I noticed there was something left at the bottom of the glass. When I looked closer I knew what it was but I couldn’t believe it. It was a piece of a Peyote button. Now, I have always liked to party just as much, and probably more, than the next guy. I was all for better living through chemistry.
But I didn’t appreciate being dosed without my knowledge or permission. I didn’t know how much Peyote was in the two shots of Tequila I had just consumed, but judging by how strange I was already feeling it was a whole hell of a lot.
I snatched up the phone to give The Captain a piece of my mind while I still had one to give, but the line was dead. Even though the door was closed, I heard that insane laughter again, sounding much closer this time. Then there was another knock at the door.
“What the fuck is going on around here?” I demanded, jerking open the door. I was expecting El Capitan but it was Maria standing there instead. She had taken off her apron and let down her hair, and she was holding a bucket of ice, the neck of a bottle sticking up over the top, and two crystal glasses.
“I was told you wanted some wine. I thought I would bring you this before El Capitan tried to give you some of his Tequila. That shit is full of Peyote, only a madman would drink it.” “It’s too late, I already drank some!” I said, pointing at the bottle accusingly, “What’s going to happen to me?” “Nothing you don’t want to happen” was her reply as she closed the door.
The stuff inside the bottle Maria had brought was not wine, or at least not exactly, but it was gloriously Peyote free. It was pink champagne. We each had a glass, and the next thing I knew we were pulling off each others clothes and Maria was pushing me down on the bed and climbing on top of me. For the very first time, I noticed the full length mirror on the ceiling above the bed and I gazed at our reflection while the lovely Maria rode me like I was Seabiscuit and she was trying to win the Kentucky Derby. Afterwards we lay together, sharing a cigarette in the slowly dying light of the candle.
“That was pretty incredible” I told her. “Not that I want you to leave, but I understand if you have to get back to work. Anyways I’m really starting to feel that stuff I drank. Soon I’ll be tripping balls and I doubt if I’ll be good company after that.”
For reasons I would find out later, she found this last remark hilarious. She laughed loudly, and I couldn’t help noticing that that there was a touch of hysterical madness in her laughter, not unlike the manic Hyenas down the hall. It might have just been the Peyote, but I don’t think so.
“I do have to go, but not because I have to work. There are no employees at the hotel, we are all just prisoners here, of our own device. Some of us choose to help out a little.” “No employees?” I asked, “What about The Captain?” “El Capitan? Sadly, he passed away several years ago. Too much Tequila.” She laughed again and this time there was no mistaking the lunacy in it. I laughed with her this time, knowing she had to be kidding me, I’d just talked to The Captain on the phone. She dressed quickly and blew me a kiss as she went out the door.
After she was gone I realized that I’d forgotten to ask her for another candle, and the one in the room was dangerously close to burning out. I picked up the phone to call and ask for more candles but instead of a dial tone all I heard was static that sounded disturbingly like millions of whispering voices, none of which had anything nice to say.
I hung up and decided to check the small dresser, maybe there would be a candle in one of the drawers. If not I could always steal one from the hallway, but for some reason the idea of leaving the room was a little frightening. The first two drawers were empty but in the third was a large black candle, a book of matches from the International House of Pancakes, and a Gideon’s bible.
Placing the candle on top of the dresser, I lit it with one of the matches and because I had nothing better to do I picked up the bible and opened it at random. I was expecting the usual thees and thou shalt nots, the words of Christ in red… but the pages were blank. All of the pages were blank I quickly realized as I flipped through the book.
As I neared the front I started to come upon words at last. But not printed scripture, hastily scrawled pen and pencil, random stuff not unlike what you’ll find on the restroom walls of every highway rest stop in America. “Jimmy wuz here!” “So was Richard!” “For a good time, call The Captain!” “Free rolling papers!” Those last two made me laugh a little. Inside the front cover, in purple ink, some anonymous poet had written four lines of verse:
“Anytime of year,
you can find it here.
What a nice surprise,
bring your alibis!”
I dug around in my suitcase until I found a pen then a lit a cigarette and smoked while I tried to think of what to write, finally settling on, “Four out of five voices in my head recommend this hotel!” Not very original but the best I could do under the circumstances. I was high as a kite and it was getting hard to concentrate on anything. I put the unusual bible back in the drawer, put my cigarette out in a half empty glass of champagne, and laid back on the bed.
Sometime later the phone woke me up. I felt like been asleep for hours but it couldn’t have been more than a few minutes. The black candle didn’t appear to have burned down at all. I was still undoubtedly out of my gourd but I felt a little more in control.
I answered the phone, hoping it would be Maria, or even El Capitan. I wasn’t pissed off at him for dosing me now that I was starting to really enjoy my buzz. Instead, a male voice I’d never heard before exclaimed brightly, “Wake up Sleepyhead, it’s time for the feast! You don’t want to be late do you? You’re the guest of honor!” “You said I was the guest of honor!” whined a shrill voice in the background. “We’re ALL the guests of honors!” screamed the first voice, without bothering to move the phone away from his mouth. “It’s really you!” he whispered into my still ringing ear. “I heard that!” screeched the second voice. “SHUT THE FUCK UP OR I’LL PUT THE GODDAMN LEECHES ON YOU!!”
I managed to avoid permanent hearing loss by holding the phone out at arms length. There was the sound of shattering glass in the background, the a muffled sobbing that quickly became uncontrollable giggling. “Anyway,” said the mystery caller in a normal conversational tone, “get dressed. Or undressed if you prefer, and get over to the dining hall pronto! The Master hates to be kept waiting!” There was a click and the line went dead. I still hadn’t said a word.
I didn’t know who had called me, or who “The Master” was, and I didn’t have a clue how to get to the dining hall. But I did know one thing, I was crazy high and tired of being fucked with. Obviously these freaks were indulging in a bit of fun at my expense. Well what the hell I thought, I can dig it. There were certainly worse things that could happen to me than having my chemically soaked brains fucked out by a beautiful Hispanic girl. Clearly, these people knew hot to have a feloniously good time, what was the harm in playing along?
Opening my suitcase, I took out my bathrobe and put it on over my boxer shorts. I grabbed the Tequila, my cigarettes and bag of weed, then tore out a couple of bible pages to roll with. I slipped on my shoes, then grabbed the black candle and left the room, no longer fearful. In fact I was feeling great. “I’m the guest of honor!” I yelled out loud to the empty hallway.
Finding the dining hall was as easy as following the smell of food down to the end of the long corridor. A pair of enormous double doors stood at eh entrance and swung inward as I approached. “Let the feast begin!” announced a commanding voice.
The dining hall was a large room, at the center of which was a long wooden table. The table was covered with gold and silver place settings and matching candelabras. Seated around this table were people dressed in medieval masquerade costumes. To the left of the table, a group of musicians, also in costume, sat motionless in straight-backed chairs.
All eyes were on me as I approached the only unoccupied seat. In the seat of the chair was a mask of the same animalistic style that everyone else was wearing. Mine was some sort of a bird, it looked like an eagle to me.
My chair was at the far end of the table. Straight across from me at the other end was a goat. To the goats right sat a dog, bear, fish, and cat. Along the other side was a deer, horse, frog, and fox. The musicians were all rabbits.
I put the mask on, tying it behind my head, and sat down. Apparently this was the signal for the band to begin playing because at that exact moment they came to life and struck up a lively tune. Instead of “Greensleaves” or something equally appropriate given the renaissance-like setting, I realized they were playing an instrumental version of “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath.
My memory of the next couple hours isn’t very good because this is when the Peyote kicked into overdrive and shit got real weird, real fast. All around the table crazy conversation raged while tuxedoed waiters wearing plain white masks brought food that for the most part went uneaten and drinks that were greedily consumed by all.
For awhile I discussed the merits of various sexual positions with the cat, doggystyle vs. missionary, etc. I recall she seemed quite fond of the 69 and wasn’t opposed to anal sex, she just didn’t particularly enjoy it, which didn’t stop her from offering. I politely declined, saying I was hallucinating just a little too much.
It was true too, some of the hor d'oeuvres seemed to be crawling around on their platters and out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw one of the musicians bash another’s brains in with a violin but when I turned my head they were playing normally and never missed a note of Inna Godda Davida.
The fish must have overheard my conversation with the cat because right as he was in the middle of telling the fox and the bear a long story about harvesting black market organs from undocumented day laborers, illegal aliens picked up from in front of various home improvement stores, he turned to her and asked if she would blow him under the table. Without a word, she disappeared beneath the tablecloth.
The fish tried to continue telling his story but was quickly distracted. He gasped and moaned, and I saw his eyes roll back in his head until only the whites were visible beneath his mask. The frog was busily cutting lines of coke on an empty serving platter so I moved over to the cats vacant seat and asked if I could join him. I thought maybe a little Bolivian marching powder would balance me out.
“But of course my good man!” said the frog. I recognized his voice as the one that had called to tell me it was time for the feast. “Enjoying the party?” he asked in between blasts. “We can’t have out guest of honor falling asleep from boredom now can we?”
“Not at all old man!” I said, mimicking his speech patterns, “I’m having a marvelous time, simply marvelous… Although I must confess I’m a bit overwhelmed by all this.”
“I have a confession to make as well” said the frog. “I’ve recently started luring homeless drifters into my home with the promise of a bath and a hot meal. After drugging them into unconsciousness I lock them in my soundproofed basement. On Saturday nights, for kicks, I hold them at gunpoint and force them to act out scenes from my favorite sitcoms of yesteryear! If you thought Full House was mildly amusing back in the nineties, just imagine if it had starred a bunch of half-starved winos begging you to spare their lives!”
He laughed wildly, banging his fist on the table and spilling several hundred dollars worth of cocaine onto the floor. I had no idea what the hell I was supposed to say to that but luckily I was spared trying to come up with a response, because at that moment the goat, who had up until now been as still and silent as a statue stood up and clapped his hands twice. The band stopped playing and everyone at the table was instantly silent. The cat emerged from beneath the table and wiped her lips and chin with a napkin. “It is time for the main course!” boomed the goat.
I remember thinking that he must have been wearing contact lenses, because his eyes glowed a bright, fiery red.
Upon hearing his words everyone began yelling and screaming and laughing and working themselves up into such a frenzy of excitement that it pulled me in and I added my own voice to the deafening roar and began to get excited myself. I don’t know why, main course or not I was nowhere near hungry but their insanity was contagious.
Two waiters appeared, carrying between them an enormous covered serving platter that I thought probably contained a turkey, or maybe a duck. The waiters set the covered dish down on the center of the table, and after receiving a nod from the goat removed the lid.
The “main course” was not a chicken or turkey or duck, or even a turducken. It wasn’t a honey-glazed ham and it was not a pot roast with carrots and potatoes. I don’t really know what the fuck it was but it looked like some sort of demon baby and it was still very much alive.
It had hoofs instead of feet, sharp pointed teeth, and horns. It was much bigger than any human baby I have ever seen. It was looking right at me with black eyes that were filled with such knowing malice I started to scream again but this time out of pure terror.
All around the table the other dinner guests were grabbing weapons. Some drew daggers from scabbards they wore on their belts, others wielded knives from the table. They jumped up onto the tabletop and attacked the beast, plunging their blades into it from every angle.
It should have been killed almost instantly but instead this only seemed to enrage the thing. It shrieked and lashed out with tiny claws that nevertheless tore off half the face of the woman wearing the deer mask who had been trying to lap up the thick red blood flowing from the things stab wounds. Her mask came off, and I recognized Maria.
I began to scream louder and the next thing I remember I was running towards the door. Then I was in the hallway, frantically trying to find my room, where I had stupidly left my car keys. But everything looked different that it had before, the passages seemed longer, and the colors of the doors different.
Even though I was pretty sure I had come straight down the hall from my room to the dining hall, in desperation I started turning corners at random and somehow I ended up at the front desk. A young man sat behind it, reading an old copy of Rolling Stone magazine. He looked surprisingly, thankfully, normal. Just a guy passing the time at his boring job.
“Please man, tell me what room I’m in so I can get my car keys and get the hell out of here! I have to get out of here!” I shouted. “Relax” said the night man, “we are programmed to receive. You can check out anytime you like, but you can NEVER leave.”