Chapter 3 read by Greg
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Carly grew tired of her own brazenness and of saying that I sucked. I knew she was really just a wuss with a heart of red. Dad and Old Man Spellman started throwing up every time we mentioned the Pope - that and they ran around like two disparate parts of the same torn-apart whole.
-ĮTranquilizers! ĮStat! -Dad screamed.
-ĮDepressants! ĮGive me depressants! -That was a gimme from Old Man Spellman.
Everyone I knew was crazy. And that included God and all his penis-heads... Excuse me, angels.
Dad was tiring of CarlyÕs brazenness also. He had one metal finger on his right hand and it had been corroding ever since Carly was born.
-ĮGod fucking dammit! ĮLook at this! -Dad said. I knew he was pissed. His metal finger had rusted to the point where it looked like the Baja Marimba Band.
-I canÕt feel my own pulse -Dad announced. That shut up Carly. But sheÕd be back to disingenuous in a moment-. I have one metal finger and Carly wants to sack me like IÕm a pocket full of spuds.
Both his hand and his brain were metallic. Kinda like a crayon denture embedded in a mouthful of sorbet.
-Stupid motherfucker -Carly grunted. I knew that she knew what she knew wasnÕt meant to be known. That, or I didnÕt want to have another frosty one.
I looked at everyone - especially Old Man Spellman. His eyes were white and so was his blanket. And then he started hissing.
And then Dad slapped me upside the head. It felt like I had been hit by a knight in shining armor.
-Watch this -He said.
I was right when I had said that Dad was a sack of shit. The last rays of the sun were ponying down to earth, shining off of DadÕs metallic finger and reflecting back as red as the sun - if the sun was asleep. Or if the sun was on an ass-free diet.
What I was talking about I didnÕt know. And I didnÕt know how I was going to segue into anything without breathing very heavily and screaming:
-ĮGod! ĮFucking dammit!
Then Dad passed out the cat sauce. I couldnÕt fishing believe it. And it was cold cat sauce. And it tasted metallicy. More like fish sauce. Except this fish sauce Įhad a guitar in it!
A shiver ran up and down my bald spot. Dad grabbed a sack of cat sauce - the kind where the protagonist parts the Red Sea with a fishing knife - like it was coffee - and downs it. It might as wellÕve been a sack of carp for all the peace it brought.
DadÕs eyes opened wide. His metal hand looked like a mountain of tires made of paper m‰chˇ as he grabbed another piece of cat gut.
-This is new. A new opportunity for fame and fortune. ItÕs time that we saw our cat sauce as a major piece of the USA pie. WeÕll take it from County Fairs to World Expos to Local Freak Shows. We wonÕt live on any Fear Street in Any Town, Bumfuck, USA. WeÕre going to sell this shit like thereÕs a party and itÕs 1999...
His words refused to turn around and go back into his mouth. ĄWho did he think he was? ĄAl Franken, Sr.? His collar was the wrong color and so was his nose. After he moved his hands in front of his nose it stayed the same corrugated color. Good thing Dad was fond of coffee.
-ĄCoffee, anyone? -Dad said as he sucked down the brew. His hands were brilliant and lustrous. The strange object rounding his head wasnÕt collagen, but a large, dilapidated credenza.
Then it hit me like a gigantic bolt to the jugular - but there was an even stranger aspect to this tale than getting hit by imaginary lightning.
ĮMy teeth were on fire!
It was some species of human flame that spiraled and smoldered in my mouth.
Blue smoke. Blue flame. Blue clam sauce. It all poured from my mouth, leaping into the human condition like a teeny tiny furnace fire.
I put my hand in my mouth.
And so did Carly.
And so did Old Man Spellman.
But I was the first to scream.
-ĮSon of a fucking bitch, get your hands OUT! -I thought I had said, but it sounded more like ŅĮOON AM EW LO NAH CUN DOH YAH TEN!Ó when it came out. I sounded a lot like my sour puss Uncle Basil-. Take all of your hands out so that I can take this opportunity to throw up. You donÕt want cold goo all over you, it would be a bad contrast to your nice, white shirts.
Dad commiserated with me, Carly beat on her tambourine. I donÕt know what Old Man Spellman was doing. He was probably kissing his own cold goo because he liked me so much.
Oh, Old Man Spellman was taking out his dentures and passing them around.
-If you want my opinion -He said without teeth-, what we have here is a failure to lactate.
-ĄWho axed you, old man? -I cracked.
Another failure to lactate.
It was high time that I went to New York because Dad would never go to New York - unless they were passing out free mannequins.
Everybody could see that Dad was going to die of caffeine poisoning. The reason he drank so much coffee was the same reason he never entered a kitchen: his metal finger.
Old Man Spellman and I threw pizzas at him. Pizza after pizza, until there was a mountain of pizzas that even Sir Thomas of New York couldnÕt move.
Carly would ladle niceties on Dad, or throw cigarettes at him. She knew that he had a hard time smoking with his metal finger. And he could never handle a compliment.
When Dad dies and they pass around the plate, thereÕll be enough dimes to wash all of our clothes and to dry them. For at least a year. That will be his legacy.
Sir ThomasÕs armor looked more like my favorite professional wrestler, Hulk Hooligan. That guy ate anchovies made from full metal jackets. The penile area was round and solid. There was also a tree trunk growing out of the armor. And if you pet the armor three times youÕd have no problems.
I couldnÕt believe that with all the histories in all the books in all the worlds, I still believed in ghosts and goblins.
-ĮFan-fucking-tastic! -I pronounced the word even with the fire in my mouth still smoldering.
-ĄYou know an aspect of all of this thatÕs fantastic? ĄIs that what youÕre saying? -Old Man Spellman tried to palm my bald spot.
Dad started snoring.
-Now the unique aspect we can take from all of this is that God is Great. If we behave ourselves weÕll all go to that big metal mountain in the sky, and, as hard as this is for me to believe, weÕll all be peeling potatoes.
The telephone rang and Dad thankfully stopped snoring. Old Man Spellman also stopped whatever it was he was doing. He said that he was Ņmusing on creationÓ. When I asked her, Carly said that we were created to pony-up money to the millionaires.
-ĄDo you believe that, Mickey? -Dad always showed off his poor memory by calling me Mickey-. ĄHow astute can anyone be Įwho DOESNÕT HAVE TO WALK AROUND WITH A METAL FINGER!?
-ĮHey! ĮIÕm as astute as the next asswipe! -The girl with the Rapunzel hair said in her soft, nonsensical tone.
I was going to the kitchen, and I was NOT going to take the escalator.
I was smoking, but I was not going to smoke a cigar. I knew exactly what was going to happen: IÕd have some macaroons with cheese, watch a comedy and then listen to Carly until I was nauseous.
Carly was already starting to limp. She tried to tell me that no one ate macaroons with cheese on them unless they were in a kitchen with a serial killer. From this side, Carly was just frothing at the mouth like a frog in a pagoda who was way too fond of Jean-Paul Sartre. Come to think of it, we had fun, fun, fun until our pagoda was put up for auction on eBayØ.
We had to work our selves sober in those days because we were preparing for college. And we had to read our selves to sleep because we had insomnia. At the time, my favorite TV show was Monster Chiller Horror Theater, which I would wake up for at 9.
There was a lot of debris on TV, but nothing like Monster Chiller Horror Theater. It came with a side order of tremendous emotion and tremendous agitation. In fact, both the emotion and the agitation were tremendous.
I washed my teeth, took my pulse, put on my pajamas, and got ready for a night of ŅDolemiteÓ and ŅThe MackÓ.
But I had forgotten cologne. I got out of bed, washed my hands and feet and then my car. Then I watched a little of ŅDolemiteÓ and then I was transfixed by the light of the silvery moon, so I turned off the record player and got back into bed.
Then I felt a strange sensation that told me I had forgotten to worry about religious cults kidnapping me in the night. That and cologne. Oh well, it was more important to worry. I was so intent on worrying that I could see a circle of people circling me. One was Oral Roberts. He wanted to know where his 35¢ was. But I didnÕt know. Another person wanted to know where my soul was, but I didnÕt even know where that was either.
Without a ticket, you canÕt claim your soul and, without a soul, you canÕt go to sleep.
I was snoring before I hit the pillow. I dreamed that God had a recording studio and that She was doing impressions of famous polar bears. Polar bears with beautiful blue eyes. And hats of armor.
I heard Ņdum dumÓ again.
This time I opened my eyes to listen.
It was definitely Ņdum dumÓ or Ņdumb dumbÓ. ĮWait a minute! ĄWhat part of Ņdumb dumbÓ has to do with sleeping?
I listened to my body and I listened to my breathing.
Now it was really pissing me off.
Just because I forgot my bedtime cologne, and just because I forgot to worry about my... stuff... It doesnÕt mean that people can fuck with my head, no matter which way it is inclined. Okay, IÕm listening again.
It hadnÕt occurred to me that maybe the Museum of Race Rioting and Aquaman was behind this. It was a fucking rude museum.
Oh well, all things being rude, IÕll just go to sleep.
This time I got up. This time I was a little nervous.
The Museum of Race Rioting and Aquaman wasnÕt the only thing that could be rude.
So could the Spanish Inquisition.
I tried to take a breath and I tried to take the escalator to the kitchen, but the museumÕs kitchen stepped in my way as if this were its house. When I told it to get the fuck out of my way it told me to step the fuck off.
I screamed and you screamed and we all screamed because I screamed. I was getting agitated, but a humiditous, palpable, blue mist was air-raiding my sinuses.
I was going to go to the museum to look for the sound. But first I had to find my way out of the kitchen. It reminded me of the time in gym class when Mr. Sirk, our professor of physical education, didnÕt know a hole in the ground from his ass.
ĮNow that was an occasion! I had the opportunity to see a true fuck-up in action. I had the opportunity to see what itÕs like to be an authentic enchilada.
I couldnÕt breathe out. I could only open the kitchen door.
I had to get past my insecurities about breathing if I was ever going to amount to the hill of beans I aspired to.
I opened my eyes to see I was shrouded in obscurity. And I was alive.
It was horrorable.
I couldnÕt even light my own fire. Jesus H. Christ.