Tuesday, January 31, 2012

You died sparking up a ghost-wolf in grandma's hamper

When granddad passed, that old shed up outta grey splintery panels inviting nosey little spies through cracks all summer but otherwise strongly forbid under thick knitted brows turned forgotten like a problem having solved itself. No lock so rusty would ever work a key to be of use but the mere hanging of it, the massive weight and desert red scabs rich around the bolts sent message enough there unlatched. Each day you spent staring it down was one closer to practising the kind of courage that pays big in later life and you would wriggle it free to know an old man for your whole life hidden behind family and a stinking brown pipe.

The sky came up murdered that morning as fires ripped through what at first appeared to be neighbouring bushland. Realistically it behaved at a much safer distance from the contentment of your grandmother's outdoor Christmas Eve lunch than the adults, mainly the men, had made assumptions of after many glasses and several bottles between them of sparkling wine. Your uncle Shawn and aunty Achla and the cousins were late as usual and there was mention of the hold ups and detours they might be facing and growing concern for cell phones going straight to messagebank.

You had messaged the cousins on Facey about raiding granddad's shed, and the suspicion you shared with Jared but kept from Winona was the possibility of pornographic magazines while Jared spoke the disappointing hypothetical (and he was full of those because let's face it he was pretty much always a total downer) that they'd probably be all photos of old ladies like grandma, but of course the intrigue of it outweighed any worry about that.

When it came to seven thirty and while there was still sun out you had a change of heart about waiting not only from thinning patience but also because it had only just dawned that you could in fact be a bit of an asshole about the whole thing if you snuck in early to catch a peek before they even arrived. And who's to say they were going to make it before bedtime anyway? It might've been the only opportunity you would have with all talks of the adults wanting to add a section to this and restructure that. Poor grandma just wanted things to be left as they were and when she was gone well they were free to have at it. The garage dolphin torch from when granddad still had an itch for clubbing toads would do nicely and with the ruse of a totem tennis paddle in hand you journeyed through the unkempt garden for the back fence.

Anxieties returned as you considered how one would maintain silence in prying the door. It came with unfounded relief while edging open by the handle you found no squeak in the hinges at all; the old man having kept them well greased in aid of his own clandestine purposes. Encouraged by this stroke of good fortune you ventured in, viewing an expected array of objects lining the walls beneath torch light: garden tools, carpentry tools, fishing rods, a stringless flamenco guitar. That dartboard you remembered from two summers ago, the surface curling inward from the edges, all segments approaching the same neutral tone. One side devoted to shelving and transparent drawers; jars of nails and screws and mixtures of things you could grab by the handful. You scanned the torch around the floor over the boxes and the inside of one plastic milk crate shone with the familiarity of a glossy magazine. Diving down to your knees to review its contents, disappointment came when you flicked through nothing more than a pile of car manuals, the most recent being grandma's '99 Festiva. Next to it, sitting dust covered out of view between one of those ancient bounding oblong refrigerators was a rectangular chest, the size of a cat coffin, and inside of that alongside a scattering of rifle bullets and chewing tobacco was a smaller box. A cigar box with the word 'Spookies' embossed over the lid in 1930s billboard cursive.

* * *

"My idiot husband--apologies Barbara--but my lovely idiot husband thinks he can entrust our lives in some GPS he bought at a garage sale whose previous owner probably used it to map out his methamphetamine delivery schedule!"

"What does that matter? Everyone running yard sales is a meth dealer now?"

"He drives us--this man who needs a robot to tell him how to get to his childhood home--"

"It's been seven years! They turned that interchange into a labyrinth's asshole."

"And so even with the help of his infallible robot, my husband, bless his little heart, albeit a heart that doesn't quite seem to beat hard enough to supply the brain with oxygen at times, drives us straight into a ghost town cordoned by the fucking curtains of hell! Barb, forgive me."

"And here we are!"

"And the kids?"

"Lounge okay ma? They got their sleeping bags from last Christmas."

"But of course my darling boy. Let them sleep where they like."

"Speaking of which, where's our little urchin?"

"Out whacking toads it looked like."

"He really shouldn't be doing that. Filthy creatures."

"The old man wouldn't have anything bad to say about it."

"Fuckin' hated them things."

"Who doesn't?"

* * *

In the box were eighteen cigars, each as thick as whiteboard markers, wrapped tightly in dried leaves and there was a deathly grey tone about them. Sitting dead-centre on top of these Spookies a silver lighter, textured in an array of shallow pyramids, with the side facing up bearing a logo carved in like a stamp. Inside the circle was the head of a bull or an oxen and some squiggly lines surrounding it, maybe letters and words of a foreign language. As you inspected the cigars more closely you found the same logo stamped on each one in a rich viscous ink.

The annals of peer pressure had not yet exposed you to such curiosities as smoking or alcohol, and you considered yourself lucky to have avoided the embarrassment of the losing of face tied to such scenarios. However it was at this point an idea chimed out from the black bile on the outer edges of those quivering guts, something intangible spiraling up through your airwaves. You recognised it as a rare opportunity of great power bestowed upon you. It came in the way of a brief narrative as you pondered who exactly these kids in school were with their substance connects, who held a tough glare when roaming in packs and if you met their eyes beyond a whimper expect nothing less than a homosexual slur directed fiercely at you like the ward of a junkyard dog. These kids before they stole weed off their older brother who would kick their ass regardless, or the one with the creepy step-dad who worked in the liquor store exchanging product for something no-one ever heard about, these kids were just you, exploiting an opportune moment all the same. They were moral degenerates no doubt; disrespectful assholes with childish limitations of the mind. And you would kill to walk a school term in their scuffy sole-flapping shoes (the one's their parents couldn't give a fuck about ever replacing.)

It was obvious that the first step on this riveting staircase manifested as the lump in your throat was to light one up and see. To know the bone-thick smoke unfurling through spongy green lungs like they were sea foam. Testing the lighter in your hand, feeling a notion of its antiquity and cash-worth not to mention secret information formed only by it being heavier than you imagined and a quick strike escapes the deeper mind asking what they might call it; the perceived value of a thing going up when it turns out to have weight to it than one'd thought just looking at it (and did this phenomenon rise exponentially or was it something which nature let no clues about?), your thumb taking the message hidden between cog's teeth having waited ought number of decades to imprint the pre-ephebic digit (the thumb) and it reciprocating with a gesture of force so quick to be learned, that keeping out of the wind the way you were a glowing end came about and in the moment you reasoned that any smell the parents caught would be argued nolo contendere by aid of the distant smoke doing some serious wool pulling over their time-worn olfactories.

What would bring significant cash-worth from these Spookies by way of antique dealer or privy tobacconist was that each cigar was unique, meaning not the sense of being hand rolled (though they were in fact hand-rolled, since who would have a machine capable of compounding such brittle elements which begged for nothing less than the hands of a most noble artisan) but in the sense that each was uniquely 'flavoured' by the remains of a wild animal and each animal meant the world to their respective killer, hunted as part of a ceremony which would literally blow your mind apart in your fate to obliterate all over the inside of grandma's hamper.

* * *

It was sometime the following weeks, around dismantling the old shed for resale intentions, that the story granddad journaled, the whole crazy history on some kind of fancy paper unyellowed by its age, emerged from the very bottom of the cat coffin. Your father was first to read it there on the floor where you had knelt, he sat like a kid reading about the biology of sex with his legs as crossed as he could make them. The first time since your horrific passing his soul bore a spark extinguishing the past three months driven by lifeless mechanics.

While never relayed by any suspicious mannerisms, your granddad held a unthinkable secret regarding each one of those cigars in that box plus the one made soggy between your pallid oversalivated lips. Each stood for a man of Chinese origins and each Chinaman one whose life granddad had been the one to put an end to. The cigars themselves weren't from China and neither was the script on the logo which was more likely (when they went to get the things valued) a scarcely-known early days variant of Nepali mixed with other untraceable proto-Devanagari proto-languages.

The men granddad had slain, as par his notes, were an expedition he crossed at base camp in the Andes during his travels after the war. He quickly befriended any of those speaking an inch of English and together they went, eighteen Chinamen and one Aussie completely out of his depth along a trek which would finish all but one of them. Those who could speak the best English, mostly Bingwen, and Liu in less tumultuous weather, explained the purpose of their collective journey to the white man only the night before setting foot via the perilous mountains. Each one of them had seen in a dream a vision of their animal. The dream animal was what they were linked through in fate, and so if they were ever to reach any kind of major-league enlightenment the men would have to hunt and kill their animal by the primitive methods of their ancestors, in order to experience the nature of true grief. Past standing face-to-face with loss, the men would seek redemption in a land within the mountains, moving only by foot, in the vain of their animal companions and onto a plateau only mythologically heard of where ground was familiar with life again. They would find none other than the animals they took from their earth and there would be forgiveness and comfort and by way of this very spirited location each man would delve volumes into their interior for the precise question of being, triggering the next inevitable stage which was to get down to the best possible solving of It.

On their fourth day the expedition took a bad turn as the map Bingwen and his companions had been following led them to a zone notorious for its shifting snow and in record winter heat your granddad's inexperience coupled with these trekker's blind faith would unwind into almost inevitable peril. A growing intimidation of his surrounds led granddad to plead with the expedition that they should take shelter until they could at least get their bearings of what lay ahead and w/r/t their destination they should rationally consider, your granddad said, whether or not the day would allow for it.

They took camp that night beneath the shallow cover of awning shaped batholith grouping their tents as cautiously as possible from the sheets of loose snow. Your granddad carried packets of polyvinyl-chloride playing cards which provided a novel distraction from the cold as many took part in a riotous multi-deck variant of Gnau. In an entry dated months after that fateful night, your granddad blamed himself for the events which followed, that it had been the card game--he was sure of it--which carried the mob to heavy drink and mischief.

The bottles were few but the spirits were strong, your granddad had written. This first entry chronicling the nine days of his survival out of the mountain range having lost all maps and most supplies, began with as best as he could retell them the events of the night before, the deathly algid rug snatching eighteen hardened mountaineers into the void hiding all traces of its work and any hope of recovery in the eight hours masking first light.

Once they had run out of beer and rum, those who had taken to the effects of heavy intoxication were now on the hunt for anything to continue the merriment, and it was from the knapsack of an unsuspecting Bingwen that one poor fool found himself rummaging through before bolting his fist to the sky and held in its clench a brown forty liquid ounce bottle. The gesture was greeted by what could only be described as a unified gasp--even the other drunks taking heed--across the camp and from your granddad's measure of the situation it seemed the bottle wrapped in its old label worn at its edges like a joke pirate-map--but there was little of amusement to be had (not even in the seeming hyperbole of their reaction)--the bottle now at the mercy of one man and from the vibe he was taking in granddad knew this to be a situation that should never be, that the naieve and absolutely self-destroying being in all his idiotic youth this young Zhang lost from his body so far that he does not for a moment even recognise the danger brought upon by what lies in his grasp Grab that fucking kid Bingwen yells to his men and the rotund little Dingxiang hardly sober but still a great deal sullied by the incident, charges for the young fool full pelt taking him around the waist and to his fatal detriment not seeing as none of the others had seen either, that Zhang had in his statuesque pose in those few moments managed to loosen the cork from the bottle by the sneaky wriggling of his thumb.

Next to Dingxiang the toppled fatty, your granddad was closest to the transpiring of events and it was in the instant his eyes crossed paths with Bingweng that he knew the necessity of containing whatever it was that was in that bottle and he wrote of the ache in his legs fatigued by the day's ascent now crossing the twenty-five feet or so towards Bingweng's tent and the leap that knew had twisted his ankle but the flooding of pain not coming until well after he had landed completing missing his target of snatching away this weaponised glass vesicle coming at Zhang around the shins and toppling the young lad along with the bottle until it was loose from his grip and the liquid now filling out the contours of trampled snow.

A horrid chemical smell bled out into the seconds after when your granddad was nursing his foot while pushing the defeated Zhang up and off of him. Granddad felt the ice sheet split, he knew that much, but as he rolled over it was up the slope and away (by only metres) from the catastrophe which consumed the entire expedition. Smoke rose up from the invisible mountainscape until a rolling of white slush stripping it back to its prehistoric surface and granddad lay there at the edge of the abyss, his words, and he did not hear so much as a single scream.

* * *

After he had almost slept himself into a deep freeze coma, your granddad came to, he had written of a nightmare involving Bingweng in his final moments reaching out to him. As he sat up in the snow your granddad realised that the only thing which had survived besides himself was Bingweng's tent and so he frantically crawled inside, momentarily forgetting the pain in his ankle. It was inside the tent that granddad went through the remains of Bingweng's knapsack, and it was here, wrapped carefully in layers of fine cotton that he found the sacred objects which to the present day had remained safe and perhaps long forgotten in a cat coffin in his garage. Each cigar had been stamped the same. It was an insignia which stood for their collective fellowship, which represented nothing more than the bond of lifelong friends. Your granddad claimed to have taken accompanying documents back home upon his return to have them translated, and it was then that he put together the pieces of the spiritual journey these men had embarked upon.

* * *

Your father sat on the story for some weeks before finally going to your grandma with questions he, despite the grief of your loss having stripped away so many of his inhibitions, he still felt some deal of embarrassment asking her about this journey completely unknown to him taken by his father overlapping his time when it was to your father's understanding, old granddad had spent basking in the glamour of being considered a war hero (whatever that even meant). It was with, in some regards--pleasant--relief that your father heard that there was no trip to the Andes, well not in any real-world sense and that what he had read, despite it being so perfectly back-dated (one of the perks of being retired being that one has the time to spend on such painstaking details), that this was nothing more than another one of his godawful, your grandma's words, attempts at breaking into some niche of adventure fiction writing, most of which took place after he won a ten-litre coolbox full of acid tabs in a local game of five-card draw. She also pointed out that he damn near killed himself after the oh, eighteen months of tripping his ass off, just from the downer of the whole thing of going clean and it was damn near impossible for a seventy-nine year old man with no connects to score acid up this far north. Well not totally impossible, but she had sabotaged any further attempts he made to obtain the drug since the whole thing was like looking after a fucking four year old and the way she saw it it was up to the nursing home to deal with that whole kettle of shit.

The cigars, your grandma recalled, also came out of some card table or another and despite being fascinated with the things, she said they damn well creeped him out too much to inhale. Might be a dead person wrapped up inside he would say, mostly after melting a couple of tabs on his tongue. The way she heard it, they came from a gun for hire who specialised in taking out Indian folk, out in Nebraska or somewhere, and he'd fled the states for money reasons, maybe he lost his fortune on cards and thought maybe there'd be a thicker spread of suckers down below the equator or who knows but the way your granddad cleaned him out, well he knew his limits and he took what he could before pushing the guy to his limits and it was after those Spookies came home that he didn't go back to that card table any more.

The way you went, specifically was self-immolation, but a handful of papers with nothing to lose ran it as spontaneous human combustion, just to spook it up a little and your father in particular couldn't put it out of his mind as a possibility. It wasn't that he believed either of his parent's versions to anything close to being true, but he did feel that you had imbibed something a little too strong for your spirit that night, but had he been presented with the same situation in his youth he couldn't say that he wouldn't have done similar.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

You died getting lazy in the workplace

"I was thinking like you know when you're talking on the phone and you have to spell out a word, or no--like a name, and you have to pick a word to associate to a letter because you're not being heard clearly over the phone--"
"Like N for Nellie?"
"Right and like I was thinking when we pick that word, like today I'm like Wattlesworth: W-A-T-T--yes, T that's T for...tadpole, like that right I was thinking was that a Freudian thing?"
"You mean..."
"Did I hesitate to say something obvious like Tom, or Tugboat, because I was like sexually into the woman on the phone?"
"And were you?"
"She sounded like a prize."
"Like did she feel it as well?"
"Did she feel your preference for tadpoles over men named Tom and or tugboats?"
"Ho-ho Dick Cynical, don't mind me while I'm here trying to dig up on a real thing."
"Dick Cynical. Straight up."

You'd been peering over the cubicle for a good ten minutes as these two took turns on the paper shredder and really between the three of you it was a close choice. It was the second Friday of the month and you knew full well what that meant but somehow their conversation had drawn you in as a passive observer, and it was really the passive nature of your activity, just idling there for a good ten minutes while these two, while doing next-to-nothing--still they were shredding paper--they'd set you up (whether intentionally or not, you would never find out) and bursting through the strawboard ceiling panel busting a perfect square like that from a chessboard, a good three meters of a tentacle uncurls then just the end of it re-curls around your neck jolting you up into the ceiling, and now besides the hole and the remnants of straw, there is no longer any evidence of you having come in at all. The sounds of your choking struggle hidden under blades agitated furiously through pulp, and the other too close-to-call candidates cross a glance contemplating just for a moment the eyes watching them over the next fortnight.

Friday, May 20, 2011

You died wreaking irreparable havoc upon Klad's Machavial

Kimmswick Community Hall, Kimmswick MO

"You say that there is this free floating planet...Machavia?"
"The Universe she is not some community swimming hole. She is not the Dead Sea." Low-laughter from the audience sitting cross-legged on the hall's splintery panelled floor. "But yes, Machavia, and yes she is falling to us."
"To Earth."
"On a crash-course?" More tittering from the audience. The interviewer's expression of mild perturbation.
"It's the concern in your question. As though this would be a bad thing."
"Klad, if I may call you Klad?"
"Mr. Klad."
"Mr. Klad."
"I'm kidding."
"Klad then, could you tell me and our listeners Klad why this would not be a bad thing?"

* * *

Fort Dale vs. Monroe -- Fort Dale Academy, Greenville AL

"Naw the Machavial was merely an instructional guide for anticipating what Klad referred to as The Great Congealment. Machavia being described in the text as a core-less ocean planet consisting of a liquid not unlike cerebrospinal fluid which would envelope Earth. Cere-burrow-spahn-al that's one word. And uh, it was kind of a sink-or-swim preparatory manual to transcend functional dependence on Earth and to rise to the occasion as it were--Mickey you go get us some dogs would ya? Dog?"
"I already ate thanks."
"Just make it the three for me Mickster. Get yerself something but I'll want change from that twenty--all that stuff about it spoiling young minds and takin a pavement saw to your free will I mean you've read the thing do you really think--"
"No I haven't read it."
"Hell I had a feeling I was giving you more credit than I shoulda had."
"Haven't got around to it."
"Around to it? It's a eight-fuckin-page pamphlet! Maybe you're a little consternated is what I'd say."
"I don't think that's a word."
"Well I went to Duke motherfucker and what you don't think could most likely accommodate the volume of Moby Dick had the pages been unwritten on."
"Haven't gotten around to that one either.."
"You wanna come down here and--fucks sake Mickey how about one that isn't sodden with what tastes more like yer Mom's diaper than it does mustard--you wanna come down and ask me about why I signed up for all that shit and I can give you the same answer I give everybody, and hell knows I've been asked enough times already--I can tell you I was coming from a bad place and I was vulnerable quote unquote but that's a pile of horse manure you won't ever get past on me cause you forfeited your right to getting in here" (index and middle finger of right hand tapping on his chest) "by being too much of a pussy to even read the fuckin thing you came to ask me about."
"I'm sorry you feel that way."
"...And maybe Klad hung himself in that Mount Vernon holding cell, or maybe Missouri's finest decided to practice a little retribution of their own, cause if you ask them he was nothing but a broad shit stain on the community. But I don't have time to ponder conspiracies. The point is it doesn't matter that he's dead, Machavia is still comin for us. I know it, you know it, the difference is you're too frozen with fear to even want to try and survive it. You wanna be a survivor like me?"
"...You earn a pair and learn yourself two things: how to read and how to swim."

* * *

Kimmswick Community Hall, Kimmswick MO

"So this original manuscript, what significance does it hold over other copies?"
"Meaning is it...blessed?"
"I didn't--"
"You bet your ass she is blessed!"
"We can pick this up again tomorrow if--"
"It's right of you to assume that the oracular stout I have mixed in with half of this forty of High Ten is manifesting itself hideously from my breath. But tonight I bring you here to show you something that no alcohol would dizzy."
"I'm with you."
"Behind this modest curtain--you were wondering about this curtain?"
"You've mentioned the curtain serveral times already."
"For emphasis I mention it again! Behind this curtain are words set immortal and pulsing with a warm glow like a hot spring beneath moonlight. Transcending the experience of any Xerox or Kindle-friendly downloadable content. The real tamale."
"Son of Klad! Whose labrador is this?? And apple butter?? Who the fuck left a thing of apple butter--"
"Uh--I think, I think they were using it to hold it down."
"Hold it down?"
"I mean it's only like four pages double-sided."
Those guys that left a couple of hours ago in the Saturn? A & R?"
"And the dog?"
"They're intelligent creatures sir. A lot of it has to do with the length of their nose I think. With breeds."
"Uh sir? Klad man, wait. I don't think the Luger is a good idea. I'm sayin A & R would shit."
"Oh hell man what did you do?"
"A shot has been fired."
"The sound of Ronny in promotions losing his bowels. You've lost it man."
"People are now exiting the hall on mass, many are getting into their cars. A small group attracting interest in the car park, perhaps some kind of vigilante, the family of this beloved chocolate lab, bottles and rocks are being passed around, now it's a case of will authorities arrive in time."

Saturday, May 7, 2011

You died with a million year-old sample of Lead Belly's urine eating away your butt cheeks unravelled in glacial agony (upon butt cheeks et al.)

"I just flew in using the propulsion of my own jizz shooting me backwards and boy are deez nuts tired!" He said pointing down to his crotch at the respective spoken cue with his right index and pinky fingers extended, before proceeding to furiously wave this gesture of "the beast" back and forth in front of his genitals which fortunately enough were concealed by baggy light blue jeans scrunched up in heavy creases around the cuffs over shoes which extended the perceived girth of his feet no less than threefold. His face pulled a cross between invisible vomiting and staring directly into the sun.

"Listen muchacho," his words directed to you at the bar twenty-three minutes later after he'd door-nailed five boilermakers and he was kind of heavy set but kind of hard to see how much fat from muscle was what from the medley of hiphop apparel he'd chosen to poignantly represent tonight's get-the-crowd-going-in-mock-enthusiasm-for-this-d.bag-who-obviously-brought-the-hell-of-all-parties-with-him-2nite-until-the-crowd's-choice-of-shitty-beer-eats-away-at-the-buffers-of-irony-and-the-crowd-here-now-caterwaul-said-d.bag-for-real-way-before-even-the-curtains-close (so to speak) so it's hard for you to know exactly how fucked up this guy is fixing to get before the half hour is out but he speaks still clearly enough and maybe any traces of intoxication are only still part of the act or at least a rehearsal for something yet to come. You knew you were in on him on some level, just you weren't sure how deep the dude's persona went, or if in fact the whole layered persona thing was, in the spirit of all disappointing performance art fossilized in ephebic arrest, a bottomless pit of reflexivity.

"Listen," this was his sixth "money these days," he slides his non-drinking hand along the bar away then back in toward his barrel-chest gesturing the acquisition of an invisible currency, "some people are blessed in that they can just be given to do--but, my friend, there are those of us, I think you know who I'm getting at here--but those of us who have to not only chip at it, not just that one thing--many things--in the hope of a nibble" he adjusts his crotch then raises his non-drinking hand back to the bar and using the backs of his forefingers gestures a bowl of peanuts toward the bar waitress and holds no particular qualms staring down her top because if he were a geologist he would make a comment about the perfect cubic nature of those titties against one another the way they were framed in that circle of overwashed gunsmoke cotton but that if he were to take her home later that night he didn't want to be running his hands up the notches of her ribcage so for heaven's sake baby eat a thing--here, eat "we keep chipping until we realise that the rest of the picture is not even anywhere where we thought it would be. It's like digging up half a dinosaur in Cairo then having your uncle ring you fifteen years later telling you he just shat out the skull and that he's probably gonna have to do a bit in the hospital to get him sewed up all right again."

"My point is is that my kind we have to be ready to get it from all angles. The money part. My eyes are peeled so far back you can see the fucking stones, you dig? So I look at a guy like you and immediately my intuition tells me--just my gut--I mean I could have my eyes fucking glued shut and I'd know a guy like you. Could sniff you out in this mouldy beer trucker fart air a mile off. You been chipping away just like me brother. Not pissing in your pocket. But well, heh heh, that kind of brings me to what I'm willing to offer you."

The guy lifts up his breathable NBA jersey to reveal a girdle and attached to it several vials in a specially designed leather caddy.

"Without a shadow I can read a cat like you for being all about the Deep South. It's not just in those eyes brother, but I tell you a lot of it's in those eyes. Heh heh. Muchacho if you haven't guessed by now my hand is not now firmly placed on your shoulder merely as some late-in-the-drink patronising gesture. Yes, believe it, these are indeed vials of piss dating back to the very cardiac centrifuge of Delta Blues. Brother, I'm talking of none other than the Stella-pluckin' stone smashin' whitey shaftin' left only now in the narrative pervading heavy through our souls brother, the Lead Belly hisself, the agua of ol' Hudy's very being saved by such good fortune as to be delivered into these very hands" (the palms of his hands) "by some on the skirts of Houston like Saturday yard sale. The hell was I even doing at a yard sale? The hell was I even rolling awake in bed that hour of the A.M. without a dry mouthed lady friend unstickying her eyes making those cute alveolar fish-mouth clicking sounds in the generous indent left by my whore of a teenage-sweetheart ex-wife? Fate on my shoulder bros; time to get the pick-axe out of retirement and start again the chipping, if you're all with me on the metaphor."

There was a crumpled twenty somewhere in your pants that ended up on the counter top and one of the vials he had unhitched from his caddy was rolling to meet that twenty. He explained that he had a copy--if you so required it--there was a copy of the certificate of authenticity in the glove compartment of his car. It was a copy which had been stamped and signed to signify that it was in fact a certified copy of the certificate of authenticity and so was as good as the genuine thing, just if anyone ever wanted to call you on that shit, is what he was explaining.

* * *

You faced the warmth tumbling from circular glass doors, perched nakedly beneath your Blue's Clues bathrobe on the edge of one of the skintone polymer chairs slotted together to mirror the alignment of the washer/dryers like one rigid accommodating centipede. The LED countdown minutes away from rewarding you with a new clean week redolent of fabric softener boasting fluffy ducks in blankets bathed in harmless sunshine, not only harmless but somehow life-affirming in all its excess.

The door clicked to signify unlocking and you removed your favourite pair of jeans of the two you owned, your favourite because of the way they were shredded at the knees in a subtle enough way like some exotic reptile had hissed raw baby-killer acid all over them, just on the knees. Normally there was just enough rock in those babies so that you didn't have to commit to a musical instrument. On that morning unforunately for you you met the razor edge of a twelve-string blues god which left your denim coarsing with fatal mythology.

Never one to check your pockets before putting a load through, the rationale being you would wait til the end to scoop up from the metal cylinder coins and notes and ruined memos you had scribbled an either really basic or just really stupid chord progression on with something like Stoner rock desert jam lyrics regarding Hungarian chicken dish? Yum! written underneath but you would pretend it was like way more poignant and urgent to your development as an artist--what you had written--and so you'd hate yourself for letting it get ruined and blame fate for never giving you a break cause life is one random love distributing motherfucker and you were clearly off the radar. The love radar. So Lead Belly's urine or whatever the hell was in that vial stayed in your back pocket through the Full Cycle and the cork on that thing must have come partially dislodged so that it leaked mostly down the back pocket but also diluting into the wash liquid itself which then ended up somewhere we can only pray a stray dog wandering the storm drains didn't get a lick of it after seeing what the hell it was about to unleash on you.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

You died collapsing the human pyramid in gym class

You sunk your eyes deep into the Cap'n Crunch before you, hearing the clacking of your stepmother's absurd heels she had just about broken in so that her feet no longer disfigured themselves in an outward bend while she accelerated her gait down the oak staircase your real mother had once lost a tooth on and it'd been difficult to distinguish between the blood and the red wine. Your father had left for work as he always already had, and it was always just the two of you until you were saved by the pneumatic sigh of the school bus that gave you exactly enough time to wipe the milk from your lips and press them momentarily against the cheek of the awful woman across the table and avoid anymore conceited motherly advice until at least the afternoon when t.v. was no longer allowed and she would suggest well since you never have any friends over that don't make her want to puke shit, that perhaps holding the Cutex (until the inevitable fucking up of her diaphanous green toenails) would be a fun thing to do. But sitting there just then, there would be excruciating minutes to fill.

A certain conversation materialised out of nothing, just the innocent clinking of a spoon against fine china versus the sawing of bacon and those fingernail-to-chalkboard slips of the fork as she tore away at a Full English Breakfast well beyond your privilege, screeching into words suspending your spoon en route to mouth, words on you, the girl, becoming a woman, and that youth is taken for granted and spent all too soon. Becoming that woman can wait my dear no matter how hard your biology wants, it can wait. From the face on your stepmother that you could barely glance at, it was not even a thing, just an order veiled as a suggestion as she wielded an oily shard of scaley dark pigmeat on a fork that was more than eager to take an eyeball to any argument: raising it to be a good idea from now on, as a girl entering teenage years, if you made an effort with the help of her meditative breathing exercises, to supress all future menstral discharges say, up until some time soon after your wedding maybe?

She leaned back in her chair and continued to consume as though the matter had been settled. The woman who would only months later swindle your father out of two-thirds of his orthordontist's salary, to stick it to him for spending so big on your stupid funeral (like she'd have to be dead before he'd even do something so nice), felt that it was her honest duty to cordon your newly acquired powers of sexual readiness like the ephebic nymph she knew you so truly would come to be.

The practice was entirely healthy, she had assured you, and the next morning she carried out a ceremony of burning your tampons at the breakfast table, she stood them up like birthday candles in the margerine tub, lighting them from their cotton fuse lines, and if there was a word of this to your father well how about we all go have a look inside those Doc Martins above your wardrobe for, what's that: a bag of amyls and this dogearred copy of Kickin Back Mickies with Penis H Christ? As she waved infront of you two items of pre-planted incrimination you knew that this was one of those moments that while you weren't entirely sure of the gravity of what those things meant, that it was likely this was your last sizeable chunk of childhood innocence being not only defenestrated but also landing to slide down the inside of an unflushed public toilet.

* * *

Heading for what may well have been a morbidly obese adolescence, the fun run was never going to be your shining moment. If you could just get through the thing without well, dying, then that would be victory enough for you to walk home with an Oreo McFlurry in each hand and a schoolbag steaming up from the heat of some bedtime McNuggets, but unfortuately the one thing you and your peers feared more than death itself--the fear of humiliation--struck you down with an unfairness you never had the chance to question, nor to seek retribution against the heinous threats of a woman (you had no way of knowing, besides a nagging intuition) born a man fit to be tied over the complete set of female sex organs he would never entirely possess.

You'd been keen on chocolate milks that lunch time, though it didn't occur to you until you were out on the track the price you would pay for your over-consumption. What was it you were trying to prove running up ahead past your usual crew of sluggish lards, up past Jessica Kebel in her Adidas get up she had her mom write a note for and the sports bra that wouldn't need replacing until after babies, you powered on until the stench of a particular row of bushes hit your lungs like that time you were jetlagged in a Berlin rumpus room and your dad was smoking fat ass cigars so not to look like the pansy ass geologist who couldn't even hold a job in a mine because the particles he might inhale scared the beejesus out of him, there in front of his uncle-in-law who wasn't even at the wedding and you already began to recognise how there's no getting men--this was about the time you fell into one of these stinky bushes and you felt the warmth of liquid running down your leg.

First you'd just pissed yourself, but then there was blood. With the help of a mysterious powder your stepmom sprinkled onto your cereal every morning, you had already missed several periods, but really they had just been bottled up somewhere you preferred not to think about, backed up with no exit strategy. Placing your body in an exhaustive state allowed you to finally release, but along with this came everything else. Not just pissing; you were clearly aware that you'd released the contents of your bowels, and on top of that you were puking what was left of the flavoured milk across the fence separating the school from a junked out backyard complete with barbed-wire-collared staffordshire terrier on maximum apeshit, each snap of its teeth commanding from you another heave of liquid in every direction.

* * *

Unfortunately it didn't kill you, and neither did the embarrassment. You would have to wait another excruciating twenty-three minutes until you'd cleaned yourself up in the burns shower and were wearing the spare uniform they keep in sick bay that must've been last worn by someone who died of ballooning titties that expanded to the size of human heads before exploding because that shit was sagg-ee, and so you were sent back with fiery cheeks to the oval where a test of endurance along the lines of just get up on top of this pyramid of bodies barked from the mouth of your spam-necked Phys. Ed teacher and if you had half a brain you might've considered to check your socks for pissy shit that caused at first a dry heave in Gavin Wheedus which soon led to the real thing puking a river and forfeiting his vital load bearing responsibilities throwing you into the cement pathway at the bottom of the hill where a moment later you would be met by Llana your sea cow bff obliterating your already fractured skull a second too long for the surgeons to piece you back together.

Monday, January 31, 2011

You died unleashing the Bringer of War

This was really going to be your year wasn't it? Early morning laps of the neighbourhood with your second wife and man she'd been taking care of herself since that weekend passing through Belmopan five years ago when you managed to get her taken hostage by one of the same cartels funding that project you would eventually sell to the Chinese: generating a habitable atmosphere on Mars.

* * *

It took a lot of luck and a lot of nods from the right heads before they considered your now notorious (considering if notoriety would be even close to fitting to the entire weight of this thing within its (notoriety's) comparitavely modest history) Fifty-Year Plan, involving the colonisation of a barren, alien, for the most part unexplored, and til-then-so-far-only-superficially-observed planet with the help of all those super tiny as fuck robots. A lot of luck considering that this money would be lining the pockets of the plans of a once esteemed heart surgeon disgraced by a string of coke offences and missing sex workers, a string as long as the line you pulled that one time the span of your dining room table while puffy nippled redhead Legs Fawn watched over from her propped tippy toes, not quite dangling from the ceiling suspended leash tight right around where her neck became her jaw.

You certainly took those Indian chaps for a ride with your wide-as-the-world promises about what would ultimately render their vindaloo or whatever powered interplanetary probes running off parts hoarded from some unmanned NASA spacestation that conveniently fell out of the sky during their testing of an archaeic plasma beam thing back in the twenty-one twenties the equivelant of "down syndrome in space" as your interpreter roughly translated it to the long rosewood table of grey yet seemingly eternal, and slightly bewildered Hindustani businessmen. Bewildered as in who the hell is this guy jostling Bodiba our versatile errand boy and part-time translator all the while yelling about the wonders of a planet roughly the same colour as the unlidded sharpie held up to young Bodiba's throat?

"Good fellow," one of the elderly men began as he tried to haunt you with a dose of emtpy wisdom: "you come to us with no wife to speak of and have not yet conceived, yet you already name your son Chandrashekar." So you slapped him back with a no, that's what I called your mother last night. Bam motherfuck. While gesticulating those last two words, your hostage broke free and whimpered out of the boardroom like a little Bengali bitch.

"What my colleague means to say is," another intervened.

You told that walking colostomy bag to zip up; that it was time to watch the shit out of a movie you'd shot in your third wife's luxury double-wide along with spliced footage of the centuries-old John Carpenter documentary Ghosts of Mars starring an actor who had grossed high profits in the Old Money for his exploits as an explicit hoodoo mentalist (all the rage to dour brainwaves of the twentieth C). Before this Iced Cube could even grace the screen's presence with his penchant for taking care of business, you were ejected from the building by the hands of khaki-uniformed mercinary twins and jailed in an Opticon Sphere for three weeks on minimal rations until your lawyer had successfully leaked rumours that you were in fact the spokesperson and CEO of the American Space Program's most valuable asset. Soon thereafter you were held at gunpoint in a building with India's greatest physicists devising what you promised to be the future of life as they could not possibly yet know.

* * *

Once your business associates brought in the cocaine, along with a handful of other vital stimulants, your head was right to be getting down to it, and it never failed to surprise you how a person's negative predisposition of your character would be out the window after seeing you function in the lucid grasp of a wholehearted drug bender. Suddenly the mutterings of an unshaven white guy about silicon-based nanomachines engineered out of a unicellular algae known as Thalassiosira pseudonana weren't so utterly retarded, and maybe somehow he would still get them out of this laboratory at the end of it without a bullet in the head and a ticket down Mumbai's now famous "Class C" toxic sludge channel.

The practical application of diatom nanotechnology had been shelved more than one-hundred and fifty years ago, and so it wasn't until you had something up and running in the lab that your fellow scientists began to take you seriously. When you weren't in withdrawals, you were an artist; weaving impossibly complex organic machinery from a dish swarming with chaotic blooms, tracing them to schematics guided with nothing more than simple hand augmentations and the lens of the nanoscope. Now with adequate funding, and a little less of the guy pointing the gun in your face twelve hours a day, you had within a week sketched out the basic prototype of you would lead the world to believe would be mankinds bringer of life to the most unforgiving of living environments: The Universe.

* * *

Your reluctance to first approach the Chinese with your proposal came from a previous business deal where you had received the misinformation that over at the embassy they in fact preferred being paid in one kilo bags of heroin instead of dirty American greenbacks, when it comes to the intial bribe amount needed to earn some face time with the relevant consul. If it hadn't been for your quick thinking and ability to be able to unflinchingly kick another man in the testicles, they'd have you rotting in a cage somewhere (perhaps still living) with your ears clamped to a car battery, waiting to be traded off for some war criminal, so think yourself lucky that you only lost your eleven keys of a-grade junk that day.

You were explaining this situation to your second wife at the end of your morning circuit, while she wiped her brow and bent down a little with her hands around the sides of her thighs as she always did when she was tired from the running, and you looked down her top a little bit because you believed it made you try that little bit harder to impress her and maybe you could go so far as to say that it motivated you to do the things you did. Because at heart you were a simple man, and maybe a quick glance at some ripper cleavage was all it took. When she looked up again, you instantly adjusted your eyes to cross her gaze and she gave this look like if anyone could find a way it would be you, and more specifically, if anyone could find a way to her again, it would be you. Try harder...for me, her eyes totally were saying.

* * *

Three years of being held captive and losing most of your body weight to the putrid water, and India finally got their shit into space. With a combination of fusion sails and antimatter propulsion, the craft took three months to travel to Mars, where it split into two pieces. One was a payload of machinery which would begin colonising the planet, the second part, the remaining spacecraft, would continue on to the asteroid belt to further separate into series of mining probes situated on Cereus, and surrounding planetismals.

Your fifty-year plan had been an optimistic figure you'd pulled out of thin air regarding the time needed for the rudimentary machines being sent to the planet to evolve into a full-scale terraforming regiment. They would begin by melting the ice-coated surface, washing over the previous fuck-ups made by the former United States (as they pumped the last dollars of their shithole economy into promising about twenty-five rich guys that there was indeed a better life for them, a very affordable seventy million kilometres away, which in turn resulted in twenty-five very dead rich guys), and set the ball rolling for an Earth-like atmosphere, all the while your creations would make it their duty to use what they had to do the best that they could, and every day they would better their best. As your lab assistant Raja liked to say in times of great triumph those fuck robots are kicking goals my man and you'd pat him on the back and you'd tell him to stand still while you did a line off his shoulder.

* * *

Your busy little world builders had been kicking so many goals that in fact your fifty-years was cut down to more like five, and now you'd given a nation busting at the seams an entire planet to effectively call their own. To decide who stays and who joins them on this Higher Earth.

While you were free to walk the streets and make a pretty penny milking psychoactive river toads with the urchin ladyboys (as you often did), you were still unofficially considered property of the Indian government, and it was not easy for a Chinese consul to meet with you, but as he stressed, grabbing your wrist in a very undelicate manner, he'd been assured he could promise you your old life back. You weren't entirely sure the consul knew what that entailed but any variation of it that wasn't this seemed good enough at the time.

After faking your death using the seaborne headless cadavar of a much smaller Chinese man (executed in his country for trafficking cattle whose stomach's had been genetically renovated to harbour schools of an illicitly synthesised lifeform known as Peruvian Mullet (a.k.a. "The Pale Rider"). Physiologically resembling and behaving like a fish, this "mullet" is biologically composed of ninety-five percent pure cocaine, with impurities present only in the lips, eyes and genitals), which your consul buddy had assured you would "bloat out in ocean; he fit you suit, real nice", you were given safe passage to the Isles of New Pakistan (formerly the United Kingdom), where you reunited with your troupe of research colleagues having the pleasure of informing them that if you didn't put your heads together for one last coke-addled-space-craft-slash-colonisation-drone-engineering-(arguably-for-the-good-of-mankind)-nine-month-house-party, that you would (every one of you) be temporarily knocked down with blow darts and wake up secured to a dentist chair sharing two hundred square metres of abandoned hangar with an old dude wearing OR scrubs and someone's daughter as a pair of pants fumbling around with an arc welder.

* * *

Your work with the Chinese ran perfectly to schedule, and this you always knew, was a sign of bad news to come. The world waited those three agonising months, for what was being touted the Democratization of Mars. But really it was more of a joint dictatorship, if anything. And it wasn't even that.

All the positive footage India had provided the world of their terraforming expedition was fake. Slave-labour CGI artists worked twenty-one hours a day rendering out dramatisations of how things were, and in honest truth they never even had the technology to communicate with any space craft so far from Earth. At the time they assured it was totally cool though.

Whatever you'd sent to the Red Planet was only truly revealed to the world when the craft you had built for the Chinese was close enough to observe and relay back to us; it was certainly some kind of big fucking mess, though at the time no one fully knew the extent of it.

Flipping through the channels with a powdered nose and your ex-wife curled up napping beside you on the sofa, you saw the news feed: Mars In Ruins. From what they had so far captured, the planet was being dissected into millions of tiny pieces, and ejected from the planet's gravitational pull to float freely in space. They estimated one third of the land mass to have already been sectioned and released and it was being labelled a cosmic eco-disaster beyond compare. For the past six years your creation had been tearing apart every hope our species ever had of exploring beyond the confines of our measly planet, and here you were sending another little space ship of nano-terrorists to help finish off the job.

Then when there was time for a break from the shocking footage of what was unfolding in space, they finally had a moment to put your face up there. The blame so easily planted; they had found you fast. You swallowed a mouthful of vomit and stood up to get a glass of water. This was your ex-wife's house, no-one knew you would be here, no-one would suspect, not for a while anyway. There was nothing yet on the news about rewarding your capture, just that you were being sought by authorities for questioning. Your fone had been switched off; no doubt they'd been calling it.

Your ex woke to find you no longer on the couch but now hunched over by the livingroom window with the curtains drawn peeking out through the crack of light in the middle. She was asking you something, she was saying honey in a soft voice, but you did not hear the other words as separate, only as a fog and you did not turn to her as she spoke.

* * *

Months later the observable remains of Mars resembled nothing of its preceding five-billon year history. Stripping away thousands of square kilometres of this planet left behind an annexing of alien geology and artificially evolved technology, as though the machines had latched onto some kind of mysterious life force at Mars’ core, an awe-inspiring beauty reminiscent of something dreamed up from ancient mythology. There could be no doubt that it was, whatever it was, aware of itself, but more terrifyingly the way it was observed to be re-positioning and aligning itself with Earth, made it very likely that it was aware of us too.

It moved through space as a gelatinous shapeless mass of platinum sheen, living metal, with the rear in constant displacement to become the front and front waiting in the middle for its turn at the back, in sluglike strokes at a frequency well beyond that of the naked human eye. At its greatest stretch it spanned more than five-hundred kilometres.

A few thousand kilometres short of our Moon, the entity took pause, and remained orbiting the planet for the next decade, blocking from every angle our access to sunlight. The man who shot you through the brain during those initial months of global night, when looting and street anarchy erupted to its peak before drizzling into a desperate clawing of anything, didn’t know who you were and even if he did the pursuit of any kind of reward or recognition at that point was about useful as all that solar powered crap we’d finally gotten right and were so proud of that, in those days, it was good enough to run anything.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

You died cleaning out Ricky Werner's son's refrigerator

What was left of those trunks-of-the-Hudson sculling arms, hollowed out by seventeen years of filterless cigarettes and pork rinds and whatever the most disarming thing was on free telly, had been scrubbing the absolute life out of the shit sprayed hard onto porcelain, the kind of working one gives food dried to dishes, or a tooth you were curious at getting to the root of. He called your name, Mr. Sendonanza did, minutes after you had that bowl as sleek as a prism, from that very shitter that he was now repopulating with the dead of a battle between Overhalt and intestine; Ballantyne and bowel. What a shame he had not drunk himself to death this time. How you would've loved to have kicked his whiney gaze-fucked shitzu through the ribcage on the way out of pretending to have never found his body.

"You know my pal Ricky?"

You fluttered down the hall to stand within earshot of your bellowing employer who was mid way through relieving himself. You could already smell your hard work wasting away to Mr Sendonanza's second movement of the day.

"Ricky Werner? You know, tall guy, talks like a--hey I don't know what you put in the plug-in this time but it smells fuckofaload better than the shit you put in last time. Oriental Springtime my ass." Your employer punctuated his sentence by breaking wind so hard it carried across the room--in and out of the bowl--to where you were standing. You were by now used to them being many many times more unbearable than any other smell you had smelt from any other man. And you had certainly been with some odorous sorts in your time.

"Ricky's son is a real fuckin piece of work so far as fucked up pieces-a work go." Your employer said between folding the newspaper and letting it glide down to the parquet floor in front of him.

"Washes clothes for retarded people or somethin' I dunno. Motherfucker can't even pay all his rent but old Ricky's come to expect that shit I mean," your employer shifts weight to his left side and breaks wind again which is louder than the previous time though does not noticeably make contact with your olfactory system "it's a fuckin miracle kid's out on his own without the adult diapers anymore I guess."

You acknowledged that you were understanding him so far and without anymore audible flatulence your employer proposed the following:

"Look, I told him I'd send ya over there, like you could just bill the hours to me and I'd get the money from him and whatever, right. But he's a lonely kid, and Ricky's startin' to get worried so ya know, I said maybe you know you'd just pull him off on the sofa or somethin' and then like go clean his fridge."

You stood for a moment, wondering if you'd heard correctly.

"I mean I don't mean to pile too much onda ya, but from what Ricky's sayin', that fridge is a fuckin' nasty ass piece of somethin'. Could be years old pizza or jars of piss or fuckknowswhat. Kid's a head case."

Your employer spat a thick inch of saliva at the basin across the way and missed hitting the door carved out of some ancient oak suggested to his wife by the decorator she was at the time fucking and who made the case to your employer that he (the decorator) wasn't by coming off as an absolute tartan belt five-hundred-on-the-hair scented candle scented faggot--the loogie dripping down across the gold foil handles linked to yet another tale of infidelity your employer's bowels were beginning to give a fuck about. He groaned and pushed his weight back on the right. You stood silent still. He let another drop.

"Look our deal still stands, and as you know I'm not a monster. Look, three more months, I'll be in Caracas, you'll get back your passport and we terminate the contract. Kid's not even a mess to look at far as I remember. Maybe I'm even doing you a favor. Sure the young guys aren't throwing themselves at ya like they used to."

You told him you remembered Ricky. The one that slapped your ass every beer you brought him and who you unbuttoned a few notches on your blouse for on account of that little chat with your employer in the kitchen at half time. You told him you liked Ricky. Your boss reached into his pocket for a business card, at the same time with the other hand he was mid-wipe.

"Oh hah--shit. I just had one of those...you know when you keep the wrapper and throw out the chocolate moments." What he meant by that was that he'd dropped the card with Ricky Werner's son's number written on the back into the toilet and thrown his used ball of toilet paper squares out the door at you. Without query you pinched the scrunched tissue between your index finger and thumb, ran it to the downstairs bathroom and disposed of it appropriately.

* * *

You arrived at Ricky Werner's son's place at about three forty-five in the afternoon because you'd been told that the kid doesn't wake up until three and he would spend the first twenty minutes of his highly productive day shitting out last night's carton. The space around his apartment building was two metres of gravel in every direction occupied by dogs because the kids that always waited for that one guy that looked like Robin Williams to come out of his home so they could let him know how much of a gaybo butthole stink-fingering pedophile he was, would tip bins in the meanwhile. A small stone went into your white flat soled shoe and you pressed down hard with your heel and you did not wince.

There was an almost immediate groan that accompanied you ringing the doorbell like maybe Ricky Werner's son was just lying by the door just waiting for the chance to complain about anyone wanting to spring the fucker in business hours. There was silence until you decided to introduce yourself through the door. That you were there to clean the fridge, and uh--

"Cup size." He slurred back through the door like that was how this type of thing always went. Get with it and spare everybody your fucking life story. You went along with it and told him. This was followed by a slurry of dissociative groaning, kind of like disapproval you assumed at what you had said, and you were for a moment glimpsing the relief of his rejection and you going home to survive another day to get you closer to that passport without having to just straight up murder your employer, Mr. Sendonanza. Because you totally you weren't about murders and shit. Unfortunate for you, there was then the sound of a man clawing his way up to the handle and eventually the door coming unlocked and open.

You knocked again just for safety's sake and "Yeah yeah fucking just hurry up get in and close it behind you forfucks" came from the naked body back facing you headed toward the kitchen, dark hair coating him from shoulders to achilles.

You approached the fridge and reached out to the handle. He turned to you, gently placing his hand over yours, his eyes signaling it was not yet time. His other hand pulled open a drawer full of mixed junk from where he took one of those disposable painter's masks and strapped it onto his face. He nodded to you that it was OK now. Ricky Werner's son then went over to the couch of cracked green faux leather and sat down to commence his afternoon fix of pornography on the hi-def LCD he'd got his daddy to get him.

* * *

It was not a matter of the intensity of stench. In your profession you'd had it all, but in most cases, even in the most chronic instances, there was generally a sense of knowing what you were dealing with. Ricky Werner's son's refrigerator had the unique quality of not smelling like anything in particular, because it had so much intensity streaming from so many different sources. You couldn't even narrow it down to the homogeneous odor of putrefied food product; there were still more layers. Dense, complicated layers.

Over your shoulder, your employer's acquaintance's son was lazily, like he could hardly be bothered today, rubbing at his crotch area to the tune of Burnin Rubber Mommas blaring at him in full five-point-one, where one of the title's ladies was shaking a loose-fitting bikini-bottomed ass around the face of a young man built out of steroids and orange tanning solution posing extreme facial gestures like he was about to embark on some four-wheel-drive skateboarding or some mountain bike riding off of a cliff that would end on a jet ski punching some angry wide-bodied latino women in the tits as they bobbed up and down in a path for him howling in Espanol for him to keep his dumbfuck hands off of their pristine daughters. As Ricky Werner's son's afternoon onanism grew audible you began to panic with confusion about your role in this whole thing.

Your employer had never had you perform lewd acts for him in the past, but you'd known that something like this was a long time coming. That this would be the doorway to the slippery slide, those last three months of your employer pimping you out to his friends--as you came to the very back of the compartment above the vegetable crisper, past the thick shake containers that had fused together in the puddles of congealed pig fat, and the shopping bags filled with used tissues disposed of in the fridge for no other conceivable reason other than it was closer than going downstairs to the sulo bins, right there against the back wall was a matchbox you assumed either to still contain matches, or to be empty. But it had some weight to it. As you removed it you noticed that the sides of the box had been taped over with electrical tape sealing it shut. You removed the tape, jiggled it open to find a naked, blue, and very dead Ricky Werner with a look of absolute horror left on what was once his tiny face. He'd been soaking in a pile of his own piss and shit, leaking through into the palm of your hand.

* * *

You did not flinch. Instead you very carefully placed the matchbox among the piles of other rotting debris and for a moment remained very still. But right then Ricky Werner's son knew.

"What you think you were fucking gonna take me out just like that?" He muffled at you through the mask concealing enough of his face to emphasize his ocular malice. "Come clean my fridge like some dumbshit like I wasn't even on to youse from the start?" Now standing his penis in full erection with preseminal fluid flicking onto the television screen as he threw his weight around. He had already shocked you into paralysis with the tazer gun hidden between the sofa cushions before you could make a run for it off the balcony.