Chapter 10 read by Rabbit
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ÀGratuitous? ÀWith a rack like Carmen Miranda?


That was impossible.


And that meant I was catapult fodder. ÀDo I look like Carmen Miranda?


My penis and my brazenness - they donÕt. But the way my body is formed in strange angles - that does.


I also have a tendency to look like dead celebrities. I look for shrunken heads and then I put them in a vise, but sometimes I eat them with rice and beans.


And just in case any of my pets are watching, I say an enormous ablution.


The ablution that I say is one of inestimable desperation. And inspired profundity. ItÕs the kind of ablution that, the first time you say it, you feel like youÕve been saying it for hours.


I see pies in front of me, on the table, in the kitchen and on my grave. And each one has a feather in it. And each one has been set on its side.


A cardboard rock is no match for a cardboard cowboy in a suit of armor.


But IÕve got it made.


ÁIÕve got an avenging force of ghosts on my side!


-ÁYes! ÁGreat! -My voice sounded like a cartoon character on nitrous oxide-. IÕve got muscle. IÕve got bravado. IÕm Mike Conway, no relation to Tim -And I announced this in a sports announcerÕs voice.


-ÀMike? -My dad axed as if he had just passed out. He came into the kitchen with Carly-. ÀWhat are you doing here? ÀWhy arenÕt you in Pacoima?


Before I could think of a single word in reply, Dad turned on the light.


I felt like I was suffocating. Everything turned white. I didnÕt know what, where or why, but I did know how. And I did know how to open a door.


So welcome to the terrordome.


Come on down.


Sir Thomas didnÕt know what was going on. But everything indicated that something was. And that there was a lot to gain, and even more to gainfully employ.


-Michael Conway. ÀDonÕt you answer when a mannequin like your father axes you something?


-Just a minute, Dad. IÕm not ready to talk.


-HeÕs the Han Solo of the Mujah Hadin -Carly intervened. She was what the expression Òya gotta hate herÓ was all about. She was cruel and brazen-. IÕve talked until all of the mercuryÕs rushed to my face, Dad. Mike has just as much mercury, but it probably all rushes to his butt and then disbands there. Kinda like an arms dealer.


-Shut up, Carly. ÀWho fucking axed you? -I said and turned to my father-. It was Sir Thomas, Dad-. I was intent on explaining this-. He came in here and said he was going to throw a party. I told him to sod off. ThatÕs when he plastered me to the floor and threw spaghetti sauce everywhere-. I was talking a mile a minute, but no one was listening. No one was sure what the hockey puck was going on, let alone understand what the Aki Berg I was saying-. And then he...


Dad didnÕt want to hear any of this. He didnÕt even like listening to his own voice, or to the voices in his head.


-ÀA dead cowboy... did all of this? -Dad could get as aggressive as any man. Especially when he was simultaneously talking and sucking air-. ÀWhich side of the bed do you think I threw up on this morning?


I nodded furiously, but the poor fin couldnÕt hear me.


-This is just great -Dad said.


-No, Dad. Really, I didnÕt do it.


-ÀAre you telling me that this pack of lies is true? -I knew that Dad couldnÕt see Sir Thomas. Nobody could. Dad was getting agitated so I stayed near the door. Then he started jumping up and down in the air-. IÕm giving you notice. IÕm giving you ALL notice. Now, children, Àwhat did I just say?


My pulse stopped beating and my skin started crawling.



-Dad, listen. The cowboy armor isnÕt the only thing around here that smells like horse shit. This guy is dangerous. He might be a cowboy, but he has a coterie of a million tree frogs. He intends to...


It was just like talking to one of your parents.


Dad didnÕt listen to one word. He did what he did best - interrupted.


-This is great. This is just great. A ghostly cowboy in armor has taken over the kitchen.


-And the bathroom -I added, but he didnÕt hear me.


-Carly, Mike -Dad turned on us-. Everyone looks at me as the Mad Genius of Fear Street. Not as some hare-brain with a wallet. Not as a...


DadÕs segues could last for days. And when he did get to the point, it usually reeked of some dead animal.


-ÀDo you think this cowboy has come from the depths of Hell, Mike? -He axed me-. ÀA cannibal? ÀThat eats Alpoª?


-Yes, a cannibal. Yes, blah, blah, blah –I always regretted talking to Dad as soon as I started-. And when heÕs not eating Alpoª, heÕs eating condensed milk.


I could never get a leg up on my father. It wasnÕt permitted. But this was an emergency.


I figured heÕd listen to me for two seconds.


Then heÕd go eat some mango and bat grease.


-Dad, that ghostly cowboy is here, right now. HeÕs bad, heÕs a cad and he wants to kick us in our nads. When heÕs not shining his armor, heÕs eating condensed milk. ÁÀDoesnÕt that creep you out?!


Dad knew I was right, even though technically his segue hadnÕt ended. Whenever I axed him what he thought, he tapped his fingers on his head and said that he was seeing green spots.


This was because he had Brilloª pads for eyes and he was always frothing at the mouth.


-First of all, I thought I told you to get your tentacles over to the museum. I have some clients over there who, unlike you, IÕm obliged to talk to.


-But, Dad... Dad, I...


Dad simultaneously hit me upside the head with one hand, and threatened Carly with the other. He couldnÕt hit both of us at the same time, because of our union contract.


-IÕm not done with my segue -He said-. Now get your asses over to the museum. IÕm sure I can thank your dead Uncle Basil for all this talk about ghosts and cowboys.


Dad wasnÕt the one who wanted an escalator in the kitchen – it had been our dear old Uncle Basil.


-Okay -Dad said-. I think that our emotions have been played with enough for one night. ÀOr would you like me to call your little ghost friend on the telephone?


I knew he was right, but he was still a horseÕs ass. And I knew that whining was the only way IÕd ever get justice from this poor excuse for a father.


I fired up the light in the kitchen. Dad hadnÕt turned it into a museum... yet. He and Carly were walking in circles, Dad talking a mile a minute.


-ItÕs a media world. And itÕs what we need. We need to talk to invisible ion charges on TV tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow. And we need diaries. And we need to prepare for massive grain alcohol consumption. More grain alcohol, more cowboys in culottes, and more Tae-Bo outfits. This summer the tourists wonÕt be able to tell their colas from their kilometers, from the corny bull crap right in front of their eyes.


I could hear Dad even though he was talking out of his ass. And I could hear Carly even though I tried not to. And then I heard the door open, and the sound of the end of the world trickling in.


ThereÕs a time to be alone and thereÕs a time to be a piss-drinking, walking-talking inferiority complex. And now was those times. I had to piss and I was really thirsty. But I didnÕt have a cup to piss in or to drink from.


And then I remembered that I was incontinent.


And that I wouldnÕt be able to sing my way out of this one.


And that I was a bit too preoccupied with singing anyway.


And that I couldnÕt know the cost when I donÕt own the camel.


And that I donÕt even know an escalator when I hear one coming. Although I do know pressed wood from air freshener. At least when I listen closely.


And I always listen closely. ItÕs just that IÕm not always standing when I do.


The Velcro© on my shoes was telling me IÕd be a pussy to punt.


I recognized the rudeness in that.


I had had a special rudeness-recognizing chip clipped into my carcass when I was circumcised.

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