Chapter 2 read by xxx
If you don't see the Media player above, click here to play in a separate window (or right-click and download)


-¡Ooof! It’s hot as fuck in here.

As the escalator neared the bathroom, the air became dense, heavy and unsupportable.

-It is a bit humid -Diana said-. But that’s good for cable car operators and pie vendors.

-Both of which we ain’t -Charlie said-. Maybe Dad wants to see what it would be like to teach school in the tropics.

-Mmmmmm, tall, tropical boys -Margaret blathered.

“¿Why is our house so strange? ¿Why are we invading Dad’s kingdom? ¿Why aren’t we allowed in our own bathroom?”

They stopped when they reached the bathroom, and looked around in every direction. To the kids, the house was divided into two equal rectangles. First, and most importantly, was the half they played in. Second was the other half, which included the kitchen, the laundry room, and the bathroom.

They jimmied the bathroom door and a blindingly luminous light hit all of their eyeballs at once. The light came from several enormous halogen lamps hung from the bathroom’s ceiling.

-¡Oh! ¡Man! -Charlie said, as the light went into his eyes and out the back of his skull.

There were dozens of plants, some levitating in midair. They were all tall and beautiful. Some were gruesomely tall and beautiful. The whole scene looked like “Better Homes & Gardens” on acid.

-¡It’s “Come as your sick and twisted self” in here! -Margaret exclaimed, following her brother into el baño.

In effect, the plants were the Katzenjammer Kids, but without the cats and without the kids, but with plenty of jamming.

-Your freak dad put pants on this one -Diana said, looking at a pantalone’d plant-. ¿In what culture does a dad outfit his plants with pants?

-Yeah, well... I’ll tell you which culture -Margaret replied, thinking “¿Where’s Charlie and his tomatoes when you need him?”

-¡Ooooh! Let’s toke on this one -Diana said.

Margaret looked at her friend, who was foaming at the mouth. Her hand was on the plant and she was reaching into her pipe pocket.

-Diana, we can’t toke this shit. ¿Can we?

-I know, I know -Diana responded, cinching up her halter top-. But I was foaming at the mouth, so I thought I’d freak you out.

Margaret knew she had the Soviet Union’s chance in Afghanistan.

-I don’t know why you want to smoke everything you see -She said, as Diana examined an enormous plant, and not a fundamentalist Christian.

There were actual trees in the bathroom. Brilliantly white trees, gruesomely tall and spindly, with human hands and fingers that moved when you touched them, like arboreal-human sea anemones.

-This is demonically righteous -Charlie cackled. A tree was fingering his shirt and looking into his eyes.

-¡This is fucked-up! -Diana’s brainpan was brainsick and backpedaling.

Charlie’s brain was languid, like the tree was somehow feeding off of it. His langue d’oc choice was suddenly docility:


-Charlie, ¿have you seceded? -Margaret said, trying to corral the quirky condottierre .

-¡This...! -He said, and then broke into song-: ¡This thing is breathing!

-¡Uurrrpppp!-Diana burped.

But Margaret was hearing her brother, and she was hearing the trees breathing. Everyone thought Charlie was nuts, but Margaret finally understood the lad. Yeah. That was it. Charlie was sane. The trees had hands. And they were breathing - and not photosynthetically. More like: puff-puff-pass.

-¿What are you people doing? -Diana had suddenly turned redcoat on her friends.

-Charlie’s in love -Margaret whispered to her friend-. I’ve never seen him like this.

Diana lifted her eyes to the heavens.

-You people are reprobates. You people are hyenas without the cute, derisive laugh -Diana was crying out a river of vitriol and she wasn’t ready to stop-: I’m not saying another word.

Well, now she was ready.

-Wow -Margaret said finally-. I thought you’d never shut up.

-For your information -Diana was rolling again-. This is nothing special. This is atavaism...


-No. It’s true -Margaret was game-. Plants used to have hands, millions and billions of years ago.

-¡Oi! ¡Look at this! -Charlie was on to something new. It was a colossal, virtual, pie-making, time-traveling machine. It had a big mural of the Katzenjammer Kids, and... ¡Cable Television! The family didn’t have cable television in the living room, and this motherfucker had it as part and parcel of his bathroom barricade.

-¡Dad’s got fucking everything in here! -Charlie said.

-Yeah, except a toilet -Diana said.

Diana was right: a cable-tv setup with a 60” Plasma TV, empty and full Kahlúa bottles, soiled underwear. And in the middle of all of this was an electric generator that seemed to be connected to the earth’s core.

-¿Why does he need that? -Diana asked, inexplicably looking at Charlie.

-Don’t look at dork-face -Margaret was miffed, but she was also mesmerized by plants that breathed and TV that got cable.

And Charlie was more than mesmerized by the TV setup.

-All I want to know is, ¿how do you turn this bad-boy on?

He turned on the TV, and his eyes shot back into their sockets.

The TV started trembling. And then vibrating. His head felt like it was being slapped by the tiny paws of angry otters. His eyes gyrated like the eyes of someone being slapped around by otters.

-¡Help me! -He screamed, but Diana and Margaret were so creeped-out they couldn’t act. Charlie’s head shook violently-. ¡Helll - elp, Muh - muh - muh - muh - meeee! ¡I cannnn - tuhhhhhh - stahhhhhh - puppppp!

      -- on to chapter 4   or   back to the Bathroom --