Chapter 4 read by Max
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-ÁCarly! ÁImbecile!


The stupid dumb-ass known also as my sister was in the middle of the kitchen with a stethoscope in her hand. I was in the middle of the kitchen gulping down the #10 plate: chicken testicles con guava.


I looked at the plate and wished I would never hear anything again.


-ĀWhat the freaking hell is this?


I tried to keep my voice low. I wanted everyone to think it was Dad.


Carly wasnÕt fooled. She hit me right in the Áay carumba!


-Look, you poor excuse for an idiot. This house has enough fairies.


Carly was right. We also had our fair share of podiatrists. And we had more than our share of stupid brothers.


-ThatÕs for sure, except IÕm the only authentic idiot and IÕm standing here staring at a #10 plate of chi-chi balls in a peanut sauce -I said.


I watched as the cold goo turned blue. Now what I was gulping was a palpable desert plant. I stopped using my fingers and started using my toes.


-You sure have a way with saying nothing, but suggesting desperation, Dad -I told him-. IÕm sure you believe that ghosts are coming to take you away. And IÕm sure you pour salt on every munchkin you come upon. ĀCan you imagine what would happen if we sent you to scrub floors where the sun donÕt shine?


For a time it looked like Carly was going to rip off her vest. Then who knows what would happen.


-I donÕt know what would happen -I confessed-. And IÕm one of the smartest assholes around here.


-Great, but that donÕt matter shit to me -ŌMeĶ was cruisinÕ for a bruisinÕ. Ō was looking at my self because I couldnÕt see Dad, and ŌMomĶ wasnÕt talking to me unless it was about decapitation.


IÕm supposed to know which way to the tennis courts. And, for a time, I did, but then my sister started kicking my ass on a regular basis, and IÕd start to cry because no one would pass me the ball.


-ĀWhasssup, Mickey? ĀStill dabbling in medieval cowboy fezzes that arenÕt up or down?


-Look whoÕs talking, hat-head. YouÕre the one who thinks the universe is atrophying, ĀarenÕt you? -THIS-IS-A-RECORDING-. ÁOh! ÁSucker! ÁSucker!


Now I was imitating the voice of a female Gouda.


-Great, now IÕm really not paying attention -Carly said. I was still trying to peel the echo off that one when she continued-. You are the creepiest creature in the entire armada.


-Great, Āand who died and laid you out like an egg on fire? -I asked her-. ĀWould you rather chase cowboy ghosts or move the world one inch at a time?


-Come on. Bring it on -Carly said-. You donÕt think I know everything, Āright? You donÕt believe that the ghost armada has pulled into port and you donÕt believe nothing, Ādo you?


-I know the average wing speed of the American Kestrel.


Carly hissed when what she shouldÕve been doing was conjuring up visions of some ghostly armada. But I knew that she knew that fondue was not new.


But I did not know what was not known.



-Come on -She talked, walked and absconded with the talk-. Come on, IÕll kick your ass in a heartbeat.


I went into the kitchen and doubled over in laughter at how large my penis was. It was so large that I couldnÕt feel it unless there was quiet and I could concentrate.


It wasnÕt what I wanted to hear my self saying or thinking. But the Museum of Misery and Hysteria can scare the motherfucking pants off of your arms.


When the light of the silvery moon turned on again, I closed the window, shut down my sobriety and started pounding back black and tans. And if that wasnÕt enough, I poured everything down my gullet, put a lampshade on my head, a different planet for each day on my underwear, and then I ceased to exist.


And then I heard a churro. That I had heard a churro meant that I was just one pizza from passing out. It was fifth and twenty - and time to punt.


I had taken a detour from rudeness right into a cesspool of Canadian League footballers.


And I only had my self to blame. Big surprise.


I had it made and didnÕt know it. Everyone had it made. For example, the museum never, ever runs out of churros. That is, in practice, they never run out. In theory, theyÕre serving up churros as old as Donald Trump.


Except at night. When night is mirroring day and the sun is where the houses donÕt shine thatÕs when we have company over to the museum, or at least my sister does. And then she uses it for an elaborate game of Ōhide me under the misery and set me on fireĶ.


We all went to the kitchen where DadÕs ant collection was hung. Everyone liked the objects except for the one central to DadÕs collection. A little piece called, ŌĀWhat The Fucking Shit Happened Here?Ķ


Every day I swear IÕm gonna take out my Lugar and just start shooting...


And every night...


Every night I hear tiny gremlins playing in the kitchen. After I call 9-1-1, I count to eleven and turn on my other side. I go into CarlyÕs room where I start hissing until she says something nice about me, but usually I settle for ŌÁGet the fuck out of my room, dirt bag!Ķ


But this night Carly wouldnÕt say a word. And, for as long as weÕve sponged off our parents in this house, this was a first. This night she gently took me by the hand and rudely threw a marshmallow pie in my face.


I felt my way out of her room. Everyone was applauding and then suddenly stopped. Old Man Spellman had walked back into the house with his seeing-eye anteater and his hatful of heresy.


ĀWho gives a rats tablet about Spellman? For all we know, what we care about today we wonÕt give a rats ass about tomorrow.


What used to be the new way to ladle out the contents of a mannequin was now the old way to kill Dracula. What this had to do with getting from the CarlyÕs bedroom to the front door only I know - and IÕm not tellinÕ.


I will tell you that it has something to do with pouring the contents of a mannequin into Dracula.


But this is like trying to take care of a tennis shoe with asparagus. Sure, itÕll smell like Chivas, but it will leave tell-tale rings around your teeth...


A small submarine moved up and down my spine until I started singing like a boy band. And thatÕs when I really got depressed.


-YouÕre not so good a singer, Āare ya, Mickey? -That wasnÕt a Brahma bull talking, that was Carly. It was as if I had died and then confided in her that I couldnÕt say ŌnoĶ.


-Clearly not -ĀWhy was I talking but my lips not moving? Before I could figure that out, my voice was on again-: You canÕt knock me out with temerity. ÁJesus H. Christ! -I had said it, but it was more like I had digested it. Carly looked at me like I was from Brazil.


-ĀMike? ĀWhat? ĀWhat did you just say to me?


-I said: go pee on Old Man SpellmanÕs lap for all Arthur Rimbaud cares -I mightÕve wet my self.


-If youÕre trying to piss me off, take a number -I suspected she had said-. Otherwise, you can talk to me through Dad.


-ĀI canÕt speak straight to your fat ass?


My fat ass? Oh no, my friend, now youÕre starting to nauseate me -She replied.


-If you let your guard down for one second, IÕll kick the living shit out of you -I said at the tone.


She didnÕt have a segue and she didnÕt want a segue, but Carly made up for that by having a para-segue. This was done by turning anything anyone said around on them. And then thereÕd be complete silence. And silence can segue into anything.: sambas, tortoises, even some asshole who has a metallic finger.


-ĀWhich ocean is brown and white and red all over? ĀAnd who dares ax me...? -Carly said in a voice that sounded like Toblerone chocolate-. Come on, ĀyaÕall think youÕre not pansies just because I believe in ghosts? ĀOr do you want to punch me out until I look like Jimmy Durante late for the costume ball and dressed as the lunatic fringe?


Nobody was going to touch that. Principally because anyone whoÕs human believes in ghosts. That and malnutrition. What she really wanted was for everyone to act like Sir Thomas with too many kilometers on his red Dodge Pantsiera because the more miles, the more money, and the more money, the more life becomes like a museum full of pajamas.


Finally, we were able to get from the salad bar to the front yard and then back into the kitchen, where Dad was now passing out sacks of entrails to everyone, all the while humping a mannequin and measuring the square feet of the house. IÕd seen him humping the kitchen counter once, and IÕd seen him taking turns throwing pies at the neighborhood drug dealers and cannibals, but IÕd never seen him humping a mannequin.


It was as if Dad was trying to get a leg up on the entire world.



Then he was humping a mosquito. The way he reeked of cheap cologne, it was a miracle he could hump a dead milk snake, which he was also doing.


And in the middle of all this, I fell asleep, but my shoes kept walking circles around my self. At least I wasnÕt running circles around some show room dummy.


Throughout the night, Old Man Spellman was always showcasing his bad attitude. But fortunately he was also always mouthing-off also.


I could see that heÕd rather mouth-off at my dad than any golden rabbi. HeÕd rather mouth-off than talk to Charlie.


Charlie was my idea of a frenetic suck-up. He had the brazenly rigid and tired look of a dilettante. He had a hundred fingers and his eyes looked like an ocelotÕs. They looked directly at you without seeing.


He was rude and whenever he spat he never hit what he intended to hit.


-ÁYou fucking spit on my anti-pasta! -I said while holding CarlyÕs hand. I was going to kick his parsley ass, but I thought thereÕd be retribution. Dad would probably cold-cock me and my mom would just laugh.


The meat-sack known also as Carly was a kilometer from the window and I was just a detour from the open door when I panicked.


Finally my lunch came back to me. Me and my shadow.


-I could lend you some charcoal -I offered.


Carly didnÕt respond.


She looked like she was going to respond by calling me a ŌhomebrewĶ. And this while wearing a lab coat and imitating Marky Mark.


Instead she slapped me.


I looked all around but I didnÕt see her.


There was an empty space where she once was.


My hand habitually struck out at the air.

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