Chapter 18 read by Peter Ryan
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-¡Look! -Margaret exclaimed. Her heart, at last, had started beating again, and it quickly filled with hatred. She hated every thing and every one, starting with those motherfucking MAM’s... and pretty much ending there... ¡And Charlie!
There were more doors in this house than her equilibrium could handle.
-I don’t bee-leeeve it! -Charlie quickly Victor Meldrew’d-. First flesh-eating plants, then parking-violating Martians, then fucking MAM, beheadings... ¿What’s next?
It’s something the plants hadn’t thought about.
¿Did the plants think?
The plants were constantly being bombarded with tungsten lighting, Dr. Berger’s incessant prattle, video game noise, and Charlie’s raspy sassiness. And they were getting edgy. Where once they were shiny and active, now they were sullen and dull, mirroring their human siblings, Margaret and Charlie.
-¡Look again! -Charlie reared back and tolchocked his sister-. ¡You have a bra!
-¡Oh, for fuck’s sake, Charlie! -Margaret knew she couldn’t leave any part of her bra showing when she was around Charlie. He was at that age. He was tall and frond-like, robust, and yet, he had no bust. It pissed him off.
-¡Hey! -Charlie said-. ¿Do you wanna wrestle?
Margaret’s eyes reconvened behind their sockets, debating the type of glare they would give Charlie. One part horror and one part Marlboro advertisement, they decided, and shot a stare that had a certain Ragu-laden humanity. Then her mouth decided to spit a brazenly green loogie. Her arms decided to do the three-finger sloth salute with one hand, and then Hulk Hogan Charlie with the other.
Margaret lunged and Charlie went crashing to the ground. The dentist would seem like a trip to the candy store after this. Charlie would beg the dentist to clean his teeth before he’d ask for another sloth salute beat-down. But the cap was off, the toothpaste was oozing out, and any salient points to be made in this paragraph had run out of room.
Other plants - lesser plants - would’ve turned leaf and run, but not these motherfuckers, oh, no. These plants - being part human - were dabbling in the occult, betting on the races, playing video games, smoking and drinking.
-¡Look at this shit! -Charlie screamed, appalled, and still looking meekly at Margaret’s right hand as he glanced around the maniacal menagerie-. ¡Hey! ¡That’s my “Halo”!
The plants were playing “Halo” and smoking “American Spirit”, even though “Halo” depicts graphic violence and “American Spirit” contains carbon monoxide. Their green hands and dexterous tendrils smoked and played with alacrity usually reserved for world-class athletes. ¡And they were smoking like freaking chimneys!
-¡Holy fuck! -Margaret exclaimed, coughing, and then slapping Charlie’s hand away from her bra strap-. ¡Charlie! ¿¡What the fuck?!
Lunch wasn’t far from their minds, despite the looming presence of dental appointments and chain-smoking, flesh-eating plants. Distracted by nicotine and flashing images of violence, the plants were not a threat to anyone. They had effectively been converted to meat puppets.
Margaret advanced cautiously, teeth in her hand. The meat puppets, she noticed, weren’t paying attention to her.
-Margaret, ¡get the Sandy Pearlman over here! -Charlie implored.
-No. ¡Look! They don’t know I fucking exist -His sister salivated-. They think I’m a nicotine-addled gamer.
-They don’t think I’m a person, they think I’m a plant -Margaret said. She had run way past reason and was fondling madness.
-¿Que? I mean... ¿What?
-One person, one plant -Margaret said. She was a brave little toaster set to “STUN”.
-¡Margaret! To quote you: ¿What the fuck?
-I had an exclamation point in there.
-Okay, to paraphrase you...
-I’ll tell you “what the fuck” -Margaret responded.
But she was immediately entranced and embalmed by video game noise, detritus, and second hand smoke. She sat down next to a game-playing plant elbowing it out of the way and grabbing its video game controller. She had decided if you can’t beat the motherfuckers (literally), then ¡motherfucking join ‘em!
-¡Daddy! -Charlie called out.
Their father gagged in response, shooting a snot rocket onto the floor. He was clothed now, all decked-out in black Spandex.
-Oh... Margaret... -Charlie was at his ladder’s end-. ¡Oh, fuck!
Their father was contemplative, inserting the word “epoch” randomly into his musings.
-¡Mmmmmmm! ¡Epoch! -He screamed, intending to lecture plant and animal on the evils of substituting random nonsense for reasoned nonsense.
Margaret said nothing, but immediately began to salivate.
-¡No... don’t go “Dead Alive” on me! -Charlie screamed and started slapping his sister like she was a piñata filled with noxious gas.
-Charlie, ¿you want something to do? -Margaret exclaimed gleefully-. ¡Suck my tit! ¡Oh!... Dad...
-¿¡You don’t recognize your own dad to not fucking be rude in front of him?! -Charlie responded, as if the subject had been “Lunatic Fringes” for 200-. Dad’s at the airport, jackass.
After that statement, the plants started playing video games in unison, in horrible unison. And, as they played, Old Man Berger was busting a gut, writhing on the floor.
-¡Mmmmmmm! -Their father said, as if he was lunching on roasted lion sautéed in nicotine patch.
-Give me the S.A.T. answers -Margaret said to her brother-. ¡Suck my tit!
-¡No! -Charlie insisted-. Margaret, ¡get your fucking head on straight!
Margaret started shaking her head like it was on fire. Like her head had been ripped from its moorings. As she lunged around the room, her brain started racing: green and Martian cowboys, death stars for cutie...
-¡I’m fucking losing my head, my mind, and my visitation rights! -She responded in the guise of the enormous baby she had become-. This must be a secondary effect of living with two mealy-mouthed motherfuckers, and a mom who’s always off notarizing shit -She leaned back and started sautéing the roasted lion with her nicotine patch.
-No, no, no. You’re just a jackass -Charlie insisted.
-That’s nice, that’s real nice -Margaret said-. Except, I quit acting like you a long time ago. ¡Ha - ha - ha - ha - ha - ha - ha!
She leaned back and rinsed off the lion with fake, plastic ice cubes she had bought off her dad.
-¡Children! -Dr. Berger screamed-. ¡You’re both fucking jackasses if you want the truth! ¡Now get me off this fucking floor, my nicotine patch is wearing off!
-¿What did lame-ass just say? -Charlie axed in front of everyone, his hands contemplating schizophrenia-. ¿Do we have to go to the airport to get the rest of him?
-No. I’ll go -Dr. Berger said-. Just pump me with fluids, point me in the general direction, and give me three days worth of supplies.
-¡What! -It wasn’t even a question, and, of course, it was Charlie.
-But we watched you leave for the airport. ¿How...? -Margaret began the bidding on idiotic questions.
-That wasn’t me, that was my plant clone -The good doctor “explained”-. It’s fatter than I am...
-Hate to tell ya, Dad -Charlie interrupted-. It looks exactly like your fat ass. But, ¿¡what the fuck!?
-Please. Even though I’ve just told you that my fat ass has an even fatter assed plant clone, I don’t have time to explain -Their father said, impatiently expressing his impatience-. ¡I’m only one man!
-¡I thought you were two!
-The dad who’s been fucking with our heads and treating us like shit all of our lives... ¿That was... a plant?
-¡Yes, of course it was, you stupid fucks! ¡I’m only one man, and I have needs! But one of those needs is not putting up with my whiny, needy, DNA-replicate kids.
Margaret started lying in the lion sauce.
-¡No! -Charlie interjected into the idiocy-. ¿How can you say that you put up with us?
-I can say whatever the fuck I want -Dr. Berger ballyhoo’d-. I growed up.
-No, you can’t say whatever the fuck you want -Charlie said, newly brazen.
-That’s okay. It’s okay, Charlie -Margaret said-. I really don’t want to die. Not today, and not like this.
She leaned back and rinsed the plastic curly fries off her dad’s back.
-¡Kids! -Dr. Berger said-. I’m just fucking with your heads. I’m not going to kill you today.
-¿Did you say “today”? -Charlie asked from above his dad, with his hands wrapped around his neck, contemplating the history of patricide-. Because “today” you were supposed to be at the fucking airport.
-No, I wasn’t -Dr. Berger said-. Actually, I was supposed to be interred at Forest Lawn.
-¿What? -Charlie let go of his father’s esophagus.
-But, hey, I’m still alive...
-No you’re not. You’re a plant -Dr. Berger - another Dr. Berger - said-. You’re my clone.
-Daddy... -Charlie said to the new dad and then-: Umm, ¿excuse me? ¿How do we know you’re our dad?
-¿Will you shut the fuck up and think?
-¡Daddy! -Margaret screamed-. ¡Our lives are in danger! ¡And Mr. Martinez says you’re a creep!
And as soon as she had said this, Margaret regretted it. Mr. Martinez had told her his creepy thoughts about her dad in confidence and right after he had told the tempestuous teen that he loved her.
-¡That motherfucking worm! -Her father exclaimed-. ¡I’ll pick-axe him! ¡To death!
During all this tumult, the plants kept on playing video games and wringing their tendrils.
Margaret spat at the plants like she was yummy “Sopranos” actress extraordinaire, Jamie Lynn something or other.
-¡Look it up on IMDB! -Charlie shouted to the narrator, who wasn’t at liberty to listen, or to look up anything on a computer.
His father sighed egregiously. Charlie, the mad gamer, was angrier than a young Malcolm Little.
Finally, the narrative got back on track: the roasted lions disappeared, and Dr. Berger started punching each of the siblings. He extended his arms, he ducked and he weaved, flexing his arms after each blow landed, and flashing his rodent teeth.
-¡If you even dream of beating me you’d better wake up and apologize! -He screamed at Margaret and Charlie.
-Daddy, ¿don’t you want to kick Mr. Martinez’s ass? He’s the one who called you “a goofy fuck”.
And, without printing out a written warning, Dr. Berger turned, opened the door, and sailed out like an Alsatian on fire.
-¡Daddy, for fuck’s sake! ¡¿Now where are you going?!
-I say, “¡Let God sort him out!” -Charlie insisted, and then he and his sister started playing “Halo” with the plants, ignoring their father’s behavior.
-¡Get ‘em! ¡Get that fucker!
The kids played with an insanity that Dr. Berger would’ve been proud of, had he not fled with his ass in his hands and piles of plants and video games in his bathroom.
Margaret and Charlie were making beelines to be the top scorers.
But they were confronted with the gruesome realization that their merely mortal fingers were no match for essentially evil tendrils. With all of their determination congealed into their playing, they looked up and did not see their names in the top ten scores - just some houseplant named “Randy”.
1. RANDY .......... 1,763,414,677,312, 8
2. RANDY .......... 1,673,144,767,123, 8
3. RANDY .......... 1,376,441,776,231, 8
4. RANDY .......... 1,637,144, 677,132, 8
5. RANDY .......... 1,736,144,677,321, 8
-¡Daddy! -Margaret cried out-. ¡¿What the fuck?!
-- on to chapter 19 or back to the Bathroom --