Chapter 5 read by Mat
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-ŃMike! -Carly’s voice actually had a tremble to it-. ņWhere am I? ņWhere the fuck am I?


I knew where she was, but I wasn’t telling her. I knew who she was and I still wasn’t telling.


-ņWhy do you care where you are? -I asked her.


-Yes -Carly was drooling now-. The Army is moving in. They want me to sing “Don’t Cry For Me, Desi Arnaz”.


-Sure they do, Carly. As sure as history -I was so sure-. The ghost of Sir Thomas was the only army she’d ever see. And the only ghost too. If you can call a monumental dumb-ass a ghost.


-I can call a monumental dumb-ass a ghost -Carly growled, like a stupid dumb-ass who didn’t know whether to piss or to stop standing there like a jackass-. I can call you a pissoir and this house a Moammar Kadafi.


Why she couldn’t call the house a pissoir I’ll never understand. That and the nagging feeling I have that I didn’t drain the hats.


-I don’t think I drained the hats -I told Carly-. And they’re huge, bastard hats. I think I should go back and drain them. Lemme go look.


-ņHow stupid are you? -Carly asked me. Her voice still had a tremble in it-. I know: you’re so stupid you think Salem is the capitol of Marlboro Country.


-Carly, please. We’re talking draining hats here.


The subject of draining hats was kinda like the subject of ghosts. If you knew who Sir Thomas was you’d know that nowadays he’s a ghost and he lives at home with his mommy. He doesn’t even know what the word “attitude” means. He’s like a mirage, he’s dense and stupid and wears a hat in the kitchen, but give him a bastard large and un-drained hat and a little salt and he’ll take on God Its Self.


-I’m gonna look for hats to drain in the Serial Killer Museum.


-ŃNot if I loosen your bolts! -Carly, who hated the Serial Killer Museum, reached for her squid-. It’s clear that you just want to get me in the Serial Killer Museum.


-No. No. No. No. No. No. No.... Yes -I hissed, paused and thought, ņWhy isn’t Carly afraid of ghosts?-. Hey, ņwhy are you so afraid of ghosts?


Before Carly could think, I called her stupid, lifted my leg and peed. Dad had the theory that I was a different species of human - human vegetable. He explained that because he was on vacation almost every other day as I grew up, I had grown into a giant tomato, parading my crystal tentacles around in an extreme bid for parental attention. The soil around our house grew all kinds of plants, even me.


Dad’s penis wasn’t versed in the vernacular and it wasn’t bragging about being exposed in a museum.


We opened the museum door and walked in. The horrible light of the silvery moon shone through the skylight, like a crystal parade invading God’s ball sack.


We advanced into the museum so slowly, so completely unprepared, that, despite the nachos we had eaten, the banjos we were playing, and the tropical plants that Dad had thought about donating, the museum still looked like a Mommy & Daddy Exposition. It looked like someone had walked all over it in great, big hoo-hahs, spreading cold goo everywhere, albeit a cold goo that emitted dust particles.


ņWhat if the light of the silvery moon was so horrible that it soaked up everybody’s arms, disabling them?


I pointed a dead finger at my dome which told Carly that when I killed her I was going to do it silently. Everyone started pointing at their hats and jumping out of trees. A telephone rang so someone cut it up with a knife. I wasn’t expecting any calls anyway.


Sir Thomas. I was expecting a call from him.


I was expecting him to call me a fucking tomato-head, in the vernacular of ghosts. Instead he called me a crystal snow-pop for trying to wake him from the dead.




For an instant, I was prepared to move.


Then I went back to “Well, ŃPARDON ME!”


Then I went back to passing out hate literature.


-ŃGet your hate literature here! -My voice resonated in the enormous, habituated vacancy.



Just as I was about to take a cab to the escalator, everything changed. The escalator metamorphosized into Dad, who told me to write a seventy-page paper exposing the pie industry.


-ņŃWhat?! You’ve got to be shitting me, ņor have you lost your freaking mind? -I was conscious that there was a thin line between being sure and being so sure, I just wasn’t so sure where it was-. Give me a break. ņWhy don’t you and Old Man Spellman write it? You could try and try and all you’d get would be an expose on water parks claiming they’re harsh on dentures.


I waited for the fallout to come tumbling all around me, like the World Trade Center. While I waited, I looked at all the medieval armor. It was quite a collection. It actually looked like some kind of surreal liquor cabinet that some cowboy had lassoed and dunked in lacquer. And then cut it in two, exposing the spleen and the entrails and the metal screws.


I reflected on my own, rinky-dink life. It was a lot like Dad’s dentures. The outside was comprised of musty odors and the inside was comprised of details from a Thomas Kincaid painting. Truthfully, my insides were much more like discarded Legos®. But I certainly had salt in me and the dolphins were swimming and singing “California Here I Come”.


To me, I was as normal as any air-breathing imitation of a mammal. But now that I had everyone’s attention, I could see that they were preparing to act.


-Wake me up when you guys try to move something other than your bowels -I said.


What... did you say?


-ņWhat did I say? -The question was typical of Carly-. What I did say was “Here I sit, brokenhearted, tried to move my bowels but instead I had the opportunity to point out to my friends that the ghost of that cowboy, Sir Thomas, is about to peel-off the eyelids of his enemies.


This filled my muttonchops with a new respect for Sir Thomas, who finally spoke up.


-ņIs it me who’s hallucinating, or is it all of you?


Mounting his high, cowboy horse, Sir Thomas prepared to go to lunch. He had a large lunch bag in one hand and a Philly Cheese Steak in the other. His other hand held a cantaloupe rind. With this kind of a mind, he could talk about any subject.


The spectral light blanketing the moon was so bright you could see the reflection of Sir Thomas’s security blanket. It was brilliant - but so was my ass. It was two sizes too big, but, then again, so was my ass.


It was getting hard to read by the light of the blanketed moon. Fortunately, I liked reading by the light of fireflies. And the light qualities were very similar.


So similar, it wasn’t even funny.


-Hey, Mike, ņwhat’s so funny?


I could see that I wasn’t the man whom Carly had once poured aftershave on.


-I just think it’s funny that Dad has no sense of humor.


-Dad is not important.


Yeah, yeah, ņso who is important?, I heard my inner-voice voice. There were a lot of things that were important. There was being cast as Godzilla in the high-school play, something I’d have the rest of my life to describe with my tongue out and my armor up.


But my tongue won’t go out, I responded to my inner-me. I can only look like I’m sticking it out. I can only hear that someone said they had seen me stick it out. I have to be able to see where I’m sticking my tongue in order to stick it out. Dad knows this.




-You’re sober, ņright?


I didn’t know if Carly was deliberately trying to piss me off or not. But I did have an itchy trigger-finger.


All of the sudden I got the impulse to take my itchy trigger-finger and arm my self.


Now was very near. A large man in a tan hat walked up to me. He didn’t have much to say. Sir Thomas didn’t have much to say. He just hit him over the head with his platform shoes. I wanted to say “stop”, but it was too goddamn funny.


Okay, I didn’t say “stop”, but I also didn’t say “You wascalwy wabbit”, ņdid I? I did suggest that he get on an escalator and not get off until it stopped.


-Mike, iris sandals say...


The hissing you heard was mostly coming from Carly. But now the hissing was coming from everywhere. Everywhere except from that strange place called “the home of the brave”. The place that I call the “Hormel Chili of the Brave”.


At least I had called it that the last time I put the pedal to the escalator.


At least I had called it that the last time that I knew anything this side of nothing. The last time I remember taking a breath. The last time I had my exquisite floppily-doppillies pelted and cast about. The last time I included “abodabo” in a sentence. What surprises me is that Sir Thomas ever made it past the escalator and into battle.


I looked like I had been eviscerated. I looked like a cowboy had poured abodabo sauce over my head, and then had made me eat my words.


I looked like Phil Hendrie after he’d just been eviscerated by Bud Dickman. I looked like the space between what looks like a cowboy ghost and what passes for a Robin Ventura head-pounding.


And, as sure as the land of the brave is the home of the freaks, I hit the escalator walking. I leaned back and hocked a loogie over the side, my phlegm just missing Sir Thomas’s casket.


The casket started hissing even more intensely.


-ņWhat? ņIsn’t everyone preoccupied with their selves? -I looked like I was about to hiccup. Carly looked like she was about to step on me. Her eyes were coming out of plates and backing up over baby seals-. I sure as shit listen to any advice that my dentures have to give to me.


I was tiring of any and every thing having to do with poodles, especially poodles with metal paws who’re trying to look like the doggy-version of Sir Thomas. Lord have Brie cheese.


The Lord has visually spoken.


Not spoken like “come here, sit down and shut up” but spoken like “come here, give me a churro and be nice to me”.


Well, this churro ain’t buying vibrators for anyone. Not unless you give me one hundred dollarinos.


The escalator started to move. I started to regain my equilibrium.


Before I counted my dimes, I took care to take care of taking care.


I couldn’t see nothing. Nothing except the obscurity all around us. It was an obscurity as intense as the night isn’t day.


I became more and more inclined to look inside my self. Into the obscurity. Rinse and spit.


But when I looked inside, all I saw was algae, that and a monument to trash that someone had temporarily set up in a dilapidated estuary. And while they were setting up - dig this - they poked a hole in my colon.


I was starting to feel nauseated. And my colon was leaking.


After I realized that my colon had been punctured, I experienced a prolonged case of the Quesadilla Raskolnikovs. It was as if there was really a dilapidated estuary at the end of the long tunnel of my soul.


I was being ruder than I’d ever been in my life. I stood on my head and could hear the sound of my ears rushing to my head.


I took my Etch-A-Sketch and traced all of my feelings: from why I take an escalator, to why I put my pants on one tambourine at a time. I know why I take my pulse every gal-a-second, I just don’t know why I then pour it - the whole thing - into the carport.


It all had to do with movement. I move my teeth and out comes song. I move the accelerator and out comes a cab-driving terrier. I move my bowels and out comes black rhinoceri.


The games afoot and I’m hissing like a 1982 Mazda Intensity.


My arm was visibly trembling. And despite knowing better, I started moving to its rhythm.


With the grime of a Terrier, my heart congealed like a cab-ride straight through the Spanish Armada.


And right into my middle finger.

      -- on to chapter 6   or   back to Cab Driving --