Chapter 8 read by Jeremy Scott
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Margaret tried to spit. It sent shivers down the back of her coccyx, until she couldn’t think straight. For relief she tried looking at the classified section of the newspaper that was always spread out on the kitchen table.
She saw ads for “Sultans Wife Wanted” and “Rest Home Colostomy Bagger”, but her eyes stopped on “MANIACAL PLANTS PROCESSOR NEEDED”. It had a strange name, “Contact Mike Hunt”, but a familiar phone number - theirs.
Margaret felt sick. It was not time to be sick, but she felt sick anyway. ¿What could her father be thinking? And, ¿”Mike Hunt”?
So, the motherfucker doesn’t eat, She observed. ¿How can he not eat?
¿Because it’s not necessary?
¿Because he’s above all that?
“He probably eats experimental plants as part of his experimental nature”, She told her self and then her Pixie friends. “But, ¿what kind of experimental plants? And, ¿do they taste like chicken?”
Margaret felt the continent moving, and she wasn’t on acid - just a little plant fertilizer Charlie had found when he tore out of the bathroom. She held her right arm straight out in front of her.
“Steady as a rock”, She said to her self. “If that rock is rolling violently down a mountain”.
She tried to clear her mind, to think of nothing. But the nothing she imagined came complete with saber-toothed Salukis and equally repulsive raconteur blabberflappers.
It made her sick again.
¿Why couldn’t her father have been a horribly disfigured, aqualung’d Uzbek instead?
She would just have to contend with her father as he was: an agoraphobic, anorexic, Bolshevik nutcase with delusions, not only of grandeur, but just plain delusions. That and he never took out the trash. Oh, and also, he will not answer “Knock-Knock” jokes with “¿Who’s there?” Instead, he replies, “¿Kolkhoz?” - which was a collective farm in the former Soviet Union.
And if you try to trip him up by saying “¿Kolkhoz who?”, he’ll reply, “Kolkhoz nothing - ¡the Soviet Union doesn’t fucking exist!”
And, of course, if you’re a child, he won’t reply at all.
Margaret was thinking some heavy and whimsical shit when she felt a cold, clammy hand on the back of her neck.
She screamed in horror and turned around:
-I’m “In the house, homie” -He said, slapping one of her outstretched hands-. ¿Who died and dealt you a bum hand?
Much later, after Margaret finally had made him a sandwich, Charlie updated Margaret “on the hap’s”.
But Charlie didn’t know his rear end from the parts of his body that weren’t his rear end.
-No lie -He said like the child he was-. Our father, who art in the bathroom, is not of this earth.
Margaret prepared to rip Charlie a bright and shiny new ass. She hated it when he prefaced a lie with his “no lie” bull crap.
But, instead she grabbed the sandwich from him just as he was set to take his first bite.
-¡I’m sorry! -She said unsorrily-. But this sandwich was meant for an earthling. ¡That was horrible! ¿How could you say that about our daddy?
-¿Let me see? -Charlie sarcasted-. ¿Murderous plants that tried to kill me? Check. ¿Thinly-veiled death threats from the man his self? Check-a-roony. No wonder you never passed math.
-¡Math is different! -Margaret replied-. Now, let’s commence with the ass-kicking. ¿Have you made out your last will and testament?
Before Charlie could respond, Margaret pounced, kicking Charlie right in the Malpighian corpuscle.
-¿Did I miss your ass? -Margaret snarled-. Let me try again. ¿You know why Mom fled?
-¿She couldn’t find a decent notary in Southern California?
-She fled because Dad would rather spend his time ¡locked in the bathroom with those fucking plants than with her!
-And because she had some documents...
-¡You simpering, posh wanker! ¡You stupid pea brain!
Margaret continued with insult after insult until she was foaming at the mouth and mispronouncing words. Never before had she called her brother a mug-hunter. Nor had she ever called him a Princess Whore.
-Look who’s calling the pea pea brained... ¡Pea brain! -Charlie said, thinking he had just created a comedy sandwich.
-¡I knew it! -Margaret said impatiently-. You think you just made a comedy sandwich, ¿don’t’cha?
-¿What are you talking about? -Charlie asked-. ¿Does or doesn’t Dad deal in diabolical dickweed? ¿Has or hasn’t he gone completely insane?
-No, no, no, yes, yes, and no -Margaret responded with a flurry of answers-. The truth is, I think that he’s from another planet.
-¿He’s a plant? ¡Ha-ha! That’s...
But Charlie still wasn’t hearing or having any of this. He liked the idea that his dad was really a plant himself, and he danced around the kitchen as he imagined a plant-person would.
-¡I am Imbecile Plant Man! -He exclaimed and then treated the room to a wet and sonorous burp.
-Nice -Margaret said, waiting for Charlie to stand still so she could slug him.
-¡But Imbecile Plant Man need Loco Weed Woman!
-Nice -Margaret repeated.
When Charlie finally stopped dancing, Margaret delivered a quick left-right to the poor boy’s Paul Masson.
-I have no mercy -Margaret said.
-¡Insane Plant Man has been attacked! -Charlie exclaimed, falling to the ground, clutching his clavicle even though he’d been hit in the Paul Masson.
-¡Charlie, stop it! -Margaret couldn’t take any more-. ¡Stop it, this pessimist.. it!
-That’s good. That’s rich -Charlie said, laughing and then he pretended he was on the phone-: ¡Calling Dr. Freud! ¡Calling Dr. Sigmund Freud!
-¡Cor! -Margaret said, impressed-. ¿You know Freud’s first name?
-And his dog’s name.
-Make me another sandwich -Charlie said-. And then sit down.
It was now Monday afternoon, after school, and Margaret, Charlie and Diana were jerking a Frisbee around in Diana’s garden. It was a warm and brisk day, the sky leaning on the miniscule, white kids.
Diana suddenly leaned over and shot the Frisbee out of the air with a shotgun.
It was like getting circumcised on a dare. Margaret and Charlie jumped at the noise, the sky undulating, miniscule white corpuscles raining down everywhere.
Diana got out another Frisbee, reloaded, and told Charlie to hold the Frisbee on his head. Instead, Charlie ran home and wasn’t heard from for a couple of paragraphs.
There was ambient music playing somewhere (¿Eno? ¿Marilyn Manson?), but Margaret and Diana couldn’t hear it.
Charlie, back from the dead, chucked a Frisbee at Margaret’s head. And this time:
Diana shot that Frisbee out of the air. The kids jumped, the sky with them, and, suddenly, Diana turned reflective:
-¿How come you guys get the mad scientist for a father?
-¿Says who? -Margaret asked, but regretted asking when she thought Diana might answer.
Instead, Charlie kicked it:
-Note who isn’t being quiet. ¡Banzai! -Charlie screamed and then ran into the garage, probably for a few more paragraphs.
Margaret gazed in wonder as Frisbee parts flew off in every direction and her brother ran screaming to the garage. It didn’t get any more surreal.
-They make him work on weird experiments that don’t have any scientific significance, won’t get him tenure, and basically drive him mad -Margaret responded, in a Rae Armantrout moment of clarity.
-Weirdo, that’s the word -Diana said, and then turned on her Oprah Winfrey concerned expression-. ¿How do you get any sleep, thinking of those horrible plants in your bathroom? It gives me the creeps worse than an Arena League football.
-Lose the Barbara Walters concerned...
-That was my Oprah.
-Lose the Oprah insincerity -Margaret said sincerely-. Both those chicks give me nightmares.
-¡I’mmmmm back! -Charlie exclaimed. He had a disco ball under one arm, and...
...and Diana blew it into 1976 with one shot.
“Mad scientist”, Margaret thought. “Mad scientist. Mad scientist.”
Repeating the words “Mad scientist” over and over, that was just like Caesar, when he went mental and chopped his dick off, ¿wasn’t it?
And shit like “mad scientists”, that only happens in the movies, ¿right?
-My dad was talking about you the other day -Diana commented, fingering pieces of demolished disco ball.
-He wasn’t talking about me, he was talking about our bathroom, ¿¡wasn’t he!? -Margaret circumlocuted.
-No -Diana replied, sucking all of the negative vibes from the room.
-Listen, bitch -Charlie said, reappearing, and piling on the negative vibes-. ¿How many lemons do you think are murdered right here in the U.S. every day? -Charlie didn’t have the sense that God gave the avocado.
-¿Why are we still talking to this Pre-Cambrian piece of shit? -Margaret said quickly, but not quickly enough to cut off Charlie’s lemon murder rant.
-¿Why are you still talking to this Toyota... Camryan... titmouse? -Charlie quickly and incomprehensibly said.
-My dad says that your dad is gonna get ridden outta the Polytechnic Institute on a pommel because his experiments are demonic peeks into a place we shouldn’t be peepin’ -This was Diana at her corrosive, cesspoolian best.
-¿What did you just say? -Margaret asked, raising her right eyebrow.
-The university’s pissed, the Illuminati’s pissed, and so is Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass. They all told him to a-bandon his experiments. They even talked to my dad to see if they could buy tickets to your dad’s execution.
Margaret couldn’t listen to any more of this hysteria. Well, she listened, but she probably shouldn’t’ve.
-Something terrible is bound to happen in that bathroom -Diana proselytized-. And the result will be heretical, or death, or... murder.
-That’s nah true -Margaret insisted-. We’re not entering the ice age any time soon.
-Oh, yes we are -Diana insisted back-. But my dad says that despite that, your dad should stop his experiments.
-Well... but... that kind of opinion doesn’t mean shit to a mad scientist -Margaret dumbly defended her dad. And she didn’t like it when people said the ice age wasn’t coming, because it sure as fuck was.
-I only know what I’m saying after I’ve heard it -Diana said, and, with an overly opinionated dad and a penchant for shooting things out of the air with a shotgun, she was lucky she understood her self then-. I don’t have my psychic Ken doll with me.
They tried to play together, but it was more like rats in a maze. Diana had changed teams and marked her territory in a manner that the siblings understood: she peed all around the perimeter of her garden and then peed on the siblings’ shoes. Then she started talking about school bull crap.
-¡Time to go! -Margaret quickly said to her brother-. Let’s go home and pull Frisbees out of cesspools and conduct inappropriate experiments on plants.
Diana shook her fist at the two tormenting titmice. Then Margaret and Charlie decided that they were too important to just leave.
-¡We need a limousine! -Charlie said, looking at his sister to help him out-. ¡A stretch limo!
-¡Oh, yeah! -Margaret said sardonically-. ¡It’s just what we need for the ½ block ride home! ¡That and more plants to experiment on!
They called a limo service and waited triumphantly for their chauffeur, and were shocked to see, instead, their father. He was dressed all in red and he was carefully examining the garden’s red roses.
-¡Hey, Dad! -Charlie exclaimed-. ¿You goin’ legit as a chauffeur? ¡Catch! -And he launched a Frisbee at his dad.
But Dr. Berger was more than a little slow. The Frisbee hit him in the forehead and then careened off like a gorilla trying to bat a baseball underwater. He immediately sat down and cried, head in his hands.
But it was no bastard good.
Charlie and Margaret hitched a ride on a riverboat queen.
Margaret had first thought that it was a green, Hawai’ian tornado being driven by a cab driving terrier.
But then she realized that the cab driving terrier dogging the green Hawai’ian tornado was real.
It was real inside her head.
And her head was the center of her reality - so connected as it was to her brain.
Along with cab driving terriers, Margaret was seeing the brilliant grey hues of Dr. Berger’s mind.
-- on to chapter 9 or back to the Bathroom --