Chapter 9 read by xxx
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-Children... ¡That’s it! -Dr. Berger exclaimed. He was rapidly losing it, moving quickly from stopping to smell the roses in his bright red frock, to screaming that Lee Iacocca was invading his brain.

The cab driving terrier took a hard right and they were all in for a raucous awakening. Margaret fell against her father and her eyes couldn’t fathom the horror that had been heaped upon her. She stared into her father’s eyes and tried not to scream. His eyes looked like broccoli salad without the salad.

Margaret slapped the side of her head when she realized that what she was seeing was actually what was out there.

-¡That’s fucking it, kids! -Dr. Berger exclaimed again, his face an inch away from Margaret’s.

-But Dad, your head -Charlie tried to create a palindrome, but, there’s no pet so tragic as a cigar to step on.

Margaret was sick again. This time, everything the media’d ever said, written, or vomited made her want to... well... vomit.

-I’m going to sell you two -Their father said suavely, taking both of their heads, lovingly, in each of his hands and banging them together like cocoanuts-. I’m selling you to the highest bidder, and then I’ll be the talk of all the mad scientists. I’m calling your mom tomorrow to tell her. And I’m sure that she’ll thank me for all my hard work.

-Your head... ¡It’s completely green -Charlie didn’t make a palindrome, but he finally made sense.

-I know that -Said the surreal voice of Dr. Berger.

They stared at each other as the cab driving terrier pulled into their garage and set the meter to “CESSPOOL”.

-I suppose you all think the old man’s finally vaulted on over into “mad scientist” territory, ¿right?

He then stared into Margaret’s eyes. She was twitching nervously, like a komodo dragon’s tongue sensing boiling missionary.

The cab driving terrier took another hard right (despite the narrator having placed them in the Berger garage with the meter set to “STUN”) and Margaret found her self again eye to eye with old man Berger.

-Margaret, you haven’t said a word -Her father said as he stretched his right hand toward his daughter’s throat-. ¿What do you want to say? ¿What do you have to tell me? ¿What words of wisdom do you have for me?

Margaret sighed and realized that she was tired of pretending nothing was wrong with Nutzo-Dad.

-Okay, I’ll bite -She said-. ¿Why do you look like you’ve been impaled by a broccoli spear?

It felt like talking to a lab rat.

-It’s a secondary effect -He responded without moving his hand from near Margaret’s throat-. It’s also, hopefully, temporary. I’ve replaced my recombinant DNA with Miss Clairol.

-But, ¿why would you do something that stupid? -Charlie asked, figuring that even Gore Vidal could take on Dad at this stage in his transmogrification.

-Confucius say: “He who sit on toilet is not destined for greatness” -Dr. Berger said, but even Charlie knew that his dad was being a maniacal, racist revisionist-. He also said: “He - or she - who fucks with my experiments doesn’t have much time left to live on earth”.

-¡Confucius said none of that shit! -Margaret corrected.

-I’m sorry -Her dad said, lowering his eyes-. Really, I am. But this work is not only hard on me, ¡it’s addicting!

-¿Just coming up with some asshole variety of plant? -Charlie said, cruising for an eviscerating.

-No. Not “some asshole plant variety”, as you put it, Charlie. I’m building a completely fucking new type of plant, not a hybrid.

-¿How? -Charlie asked.

-¿Remember that time you brought some of your DNA to school for “Show and Tell”? -His father asked. Charlie shook his head “no”-. Well, it doesn’t matter, it’s a bit complicated. And it’s hard to explain to idiots -And he started juggling whatever it was he had in his hands-. Suppose that we have a person with a very high intelligence, a high funk entelechy, if you will. An enormous funk entelechy.

-Like me -Charlie interrupted.

-Chill, Charlie -Margaret was pigeon-nervous.

-A genius, yes. Like Charlie -And the good doctor tried a smile, but didn’t quite make it-. And suppose that this genius could align molecules like they were toilet paper display at Wal-Mart? Or genes. Or genes. Or genes. Suppose that we have a person with a very high intelligence, so high that he didn’t know when he was repeating words just to hear his own genius a few more times.

-We’re supposed to... -Charlie started.

-Suppose that this genius could create a brain where a brain should not or could not be created. The funk entelechy’d genius could then pour his funky genius into generation after generation of Funketeers.

Charlie and Margaret looked at each other, and simultaneously silently mouthed the word “¿Funketeer?”.

-And -Dr. Berger continued- many great things come to those geniuses with high funk entelechies. ¿Understand?

He looked first at Charlie and then at his sister... whatsername.

-Yes -Margaret responded confidently-. If, by “understand” you mean “¿Am I out of my mind?” So, you’re a genius. And you have bats Fed-Ex’d in. And you name one Cooloocoo. This all adds up to... ¿what? ¿Super genius? And, ¿we’re supposed to believe this because we’re your kids and kids believe everything their parents tell them?

-In a nutshell -Dr. Berger responded, and for the first time in his life, maybe, he broke into a smile-. It’s much more botanical than that, obviously. I’m trying to suck elements from the world that would allow me to create a colony of plant people. And also some Fruit Roll-Ups people, but I’m still working on that. And, speaking of, I’m trying to raise my poor, dear Cooloocoo from the dead. I think what the world needs now is plant people. That and they need to eat more fruit, grains and vegetables.

-¿And this is why we can’t use our own bathroom? -Charlie axed-. ¿Because the world needs to eat its vegetables?

-Not exactly -His father said, now plucking a banjo-. That just comes part and parcel with my crank habit. But, really, I don’t want to get into the details right now. I do want to say that the plants with hands that you saw do not exist and also they’ve never existed. And... they do exist. Right now I’m trying to make a being that is one part man and one part ocean.

Charlie and Margaret we’re both in a complete state of shock. Margaret snapped out of it first:

-¿Have you ever thought of attaching wheels to a tomato so they’d be easier to transfer from the farm to the store to your home?

Dr. Berger nodded.

-And, really, I don’t want to talk about this shit with you two. You understand nothing, except third world debt repayment and what you can crib from your idiot friends.

He watched for Margaret’s reaction, and then Charlie studied her reaction.

-¿¡Why are you two staring at me?! -Margaret said, looking like she’d seen a duck-. ¿And what was all that shit about Charlie’s DNA?

-I’m trying to tell you -Dr. Berger resplieded-. But it’s like trying to explain long division to an electrolyte. Now, listen: I have two cabinets of vitriol connected to the middle of my congenital ponderosa... ¿Are you getting all of this?

Charlie and Margaret were both writing furiously.

-Connected to the millstone of my floss, which was last seen when, ex post facto, my knee-jerk scoliosis raised its ugly...

The two were still writing.

-Raised its infested, irksome ibex in an amaranthine gesture... ¿Did you get all that?

-Almost all of it -Charlie said.

-¿Which part didn’t you get?

-The part after “I have two cabinets full of Viagra” -Margaret said, consulting her notes.

-Yeah -Charlie said, and then read from his notes-: “A pair of cabinets chock-full of Cialis”.

They both looked up at their father.

-Yes... well... one of the cabinets is the emissary, and the other cabinet is the ambassador -He explained patiently-. Like a DNA envoy, where Kofi Annan buys corrective shoes and peeks into one cabinet and then the ambassador. It’s very delicate work.

-And, ¿which one is the consigliere? -Margaret asked.

-He’s the one who very nearly took Charlie’s head off -Dr. Berger said, kinda longingly. He longed for only about a second, hoping Charlie didn’t notice. Then, while looking pensive, a Key Lime pie suddenly appeared in his right hand-. Now, ¿who wants to make fun of my vital, life’s work? -He said, threatening a quid pro pie-. You’re not so talkative now...

-But Daddy -Margaret pleaded, and when he turned his head toward her, Charlie grabbed the pie from him-. ¡Psych! ¡You fucking horse’s ass! ¡You fell for it like the fascist you are!

Dr. Berger was one pissed-off madman.

-There is no need to curse -He said sacrilegiously-. It only reflects on your poor upbringing -Dr. Berger adjusted his belt and belched-. I won’t always be green, but I will always be a suckagenarian.

He pissed himself and walked into the house.


Charlie felt pretty good about the lame explanation he had offered up to his father about being in the bathroom.

-Dad is trying really hard to be important -He said in the voice of the serial-clueless.

Margaret, serially-clueless herself, had actually counted the number of words her father had spoken.

-A buck twenty three -She said to no one in particular.

And that was about a buck twenty seven more than he usually uttered.

She closed the door and sat back in the resulting calm to think. Her father hadn’t explicitly said that he was Loony Tunes, because that would’ve brought back all the holistic healers and the trips to the notary public. “Like a toilet paper display at Wal-Mart” - that didn’t explain much.

¿Why a toilet paper display? ¿Why not one of those synchronized umbrella displays? ¿Or the stacks of Cheerios boxes?

It was obvious he didn’t want the kids to discover what he had discovered: that when you press down repeatedly on someone’s esophagus after they’ve talked about the bathroom “like someone talking about a Wal-Mart toilet paper display” they wouldn’t be talking about Kofi Annan and his corrective shoes for long.

Margaret got sick every time she thought that.

“¿Who had sent him here?” Brilliant green thoughts broke into the porous, rose-colored glasses in Margaret’s brain.

“¡Ugh! If only my thoughts produced something better than picking my nose and wiping snot on wax paper”.

She had had nightmares about snot on wax paper.

She had taken almonds and lab rats and wiped them all over wax paper, and then taken the smeared wax paper and wiped it all over her self.

“¿How many other questions that Charlie and I have would he dance around?”, She asked her self. “Like, ¿are you having sex with these plants? ¿Why did the plants trap and try to bust a cap in Charlie? ¿What specific type of animal are you?”

Much, if not more, was packed inside of these questions.

Except there was no mention of what had made him such an evil, fucking bastard: ¿What kind of devout asshole takes plants to a comedy club?

No one axed that question. No one even knew that that was was a a question question that that could could be be axed axed.

Really, no one ever asked Dr. Berger what he was doing, or if he was losing his mind doing it. The kids were content to throw Frisbees into cesspools and watch their father slowly sinking into madness as he swam after them. He was like a fuse that was slowly ticking down until there was only a few seconds left on the Gnostic Gospels.

“His explanation was very credible”, Margaret thought, “in every respect except the parts that he actually said out loud. And it was good to know he was this close to realizing that he needed hair tonic and a trip to the notary public.

But, ¿what about the rest of the crap he’d said?

A thought is a terrible thing to chase down with wine: ¿Who could blame her father for drinking?

“No” -She decided-. “No. Daddy is not an alcoholic screwhead.

“It’s just that he has a lot of responsibilities and obligations and guns. And then we ax too many questions.”

When you think about it, with all the questions the kids ask, and how late in the night they ax them, despite severe warnings to the contrary...

Oh, ¡fuck! I forgot the point.

Well, despite they’re eating dinner at the time, Diana called on the telephone and started talking like an idiot on a cell phone. She was driving, listening to music, eating a submarine sandwich, drying her nails, talking to Margaret, and she was still totally clueless.

When Margaret heard the passion in her father’s voice about all of this plant experimentation, murder, and mayhem, she had made a mental note to cancel his “Better Homes & Gardens” subscription. She had listened to the passion as he talked about diverting water from the Colorado river directly to their bathroom. And how they should brush their teeth after every meal.

“I gotta question that last one”, She decided.

She looked at a clock and saw that the media would have her believe it was 2:30 in the morning.

But Margaret was a savvy son of a bitch, and she wasn’t buying the media’s liberal agenda.

“I think I’ll go ax the plants what time it is. Maybe that’s not such a good idea, maybe I’m going crazy. I think it all has to do with time. One time I imagined that a coven of rich and white men were conspiring to rule our free-will decisions, right down to what color our mandatory SUV would be.”

“But I have an explanation that makes more sinsemilla” She told her self, assaulting the silence. “I am going to explain this logically. And then I’m getting hammered.”

She was passing out from pomposity poisoning. She saw a ray of light poking out from the bottom of the bathroom door as if to say, “You go brush your teeth, young woman, and then ¡get me some goddamn Colorado river water!”

She listened to the light’s admonition and ran water over her tooth brush to fool it.

“It’s good to know how to fuck with people” She thought. “And it’s good to know that people are so easily fucked with”.

She stared at the ghostly triangle of light coming from under the bathroom door.

Her father was in there, probably washing his hands and brushing his teeths with peanut brittle. And Charlie’s goddamn shirt was in there. One of the plants was probably wearing it. Probably singing karaoke with her dad under the bathroom’s blinding lights.

Margaret was turning jaded.

The hours turned into green and gruesome iguanas.

There was no other explanation for their presence. It had to be time. And money. Those fucking rich, white punk-asses: they control time, money, SUV colors, and now: toe-sucking.

The narrator has gone sack of rototillers, Margaret noted.

¿Or not?

¿What the fuck was going on between this rich, white cartel and her father?

Meanwhile the plants continued breathing and sucking-up warm water that was decidedly not from the Colorado river. On further examination it looked like it was coming as treated water from Guantánamo Bay concentration camps.

Then it looked like Ford Cortina water that just wouldn’t run without sangria.

Margaret knew what it was, as she tried to focus her eyes. It was time.

It wasn’t sangria... ¿right?

It couldn’t be sangria-powered-Ford-Cortinas.. ¿Could it?

It wasn’t green or gruesome iguanas... ¿Was it?


¡It was time!

And time was emitting a sound like Dr. Spock had his tricorder out and was trying to determine if there was intelligent life in his baby book. He circled some crucial passage about babies and ear wax.

-¿Who was that? -Dr. Berger griped as Dr. Spock left the house-. ¿Margaret? ¿Charlie? -He called out-. ¿¡Who the fuck was that?! And, ¿why was he wearing that goofy outfit and the go-go boots?

But everyone was passed out, unconscious, or worse. Starting with Margaret, asleep in her bedroom.

“I see what’s going on -He thought, sitting down on the family’s stuffed camel-. Yes, I see what’s going on, and now I can only blame my self for having raised these idiots”.

      -- on to chapter 10   or   back to the Bathroom --