Chapter 11 read by Jo
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All day became all night and the house became a prison that only served warm salad and cold goo. I was getting tired of hanging out in the kitchen, but I was also rapidly becoming hungrier and hungrier. I usually get hungry right after going to the museum, usually when IÕm looking for Old Man Spellman. Dad never listens to me, but sometimes Old Man Spellman will.


I encountered what the working poor would call Sir Thomas. I saw the armor, at one point I saw the pizza. I was tired and everything looked large and sweaty and soaked in carburetor fluid. Old Man SpellmanÕs seconal was kicking in. I knew because he was wearing a sable Brilloª pad, instead of his usual fig leaf merkin.


I turned around and around and I was face to face with the corroded end of Old Man Spellman.


-ÀYa wanna take a pitcha, Mike? ItÕll save you the cold goo -He said.


-Old... Mr. Spellman, fancy finding your ass here. Dad usually doesnÕt let anything that festers into the kitchen. But rules are made to be prevented.


Old Man Spellman turned his fat ass like he was going to run.


PreventedÓ, Àreally?


I was game.


-ÁThe armor! ÁItÕs come alive! Come on, history is about to have its self repeated.


I was game.


This is what you want me to tell your dad? -He nodded his head-. ÀThis and the fact that the plane has landed before it even sat down to take off?


-No -I had it made in the suede. I shook my head no-. I want you to tell him that I donÕt know my ass from the dot on an ÒiÓ.


-ÀYou want me to tell him what? ÀHave you permanently clocked-out, boy? -Old Man Spellman knew I was a suede-junkie. He was just being cruel, like he was to most varmints and rodents.


I breathed out as if I enjoyed the process. I was so hyped-up I could hear everything. And everything included Sir ThomasÕs ghostly salivating.


Until then, I wasnÕt sure that the grass was greener, or that it was just the other side of DadÕs imagination.


And there, set out in suede, was the Count de Olde Man Spellman, grinning like a hyena, like he was the principal at a Finnish girls school. His eyes were a shade of lunatic rarely seen this side of Vapaudenkatu. But donÕt blame me. I just interrupt Ôem as I see Ôem.


When itÕs time to die, Old Man Spellman wonÕt know his right hand from mine or CarlyÕs. HeÕll get a little emotional and then just flop over.


HeÕll be LIMITLESS, but his mind will be a blank, just like every other stiff. At least he wonÕt be a tired, old bigot. He wonÕt have to think. And he can take a cab and get the dead manÕs rate. IÕll offer him my hand in greeting and the upstart wonÕt take it.


-Never send an orangutan to do an old manÕs work -Old Man Spellman told me-. His lunch was starting to coagulate. And so was his carotid artery. He was falling apart and recanting everything he had ever said or done.


-ÀAre you crying? -I axed him- ÀAnd what if Sir Thomas sees you? ÀAnd what if this is an episode of ÒLifeÕs Most Antiquated Moments?Ó


-Hmmm -Old Man Spellman was a bigot and tiresome-. I donÕt know, Mike. I was under the impression that fire ants would take over and rid the world of all evil -Old Man Spellman looked like he was on the lamb without being a sheep-. Now thatÕs not so bad, Àis it?


I also looked like I was on the lamb. IÕd whisper at night and the only light would come from Sir ThomasÕs fire-red dentures and state-sponsored terrorism. But at this moment, in the light of the sun, we were like a pair of inoffensive CIA agents.


There was a reason I was axing Spellman all these questions. Frankly, he was turning into a piss-poor version of a crybaby.


But then I remembered DadÕs grand plans.


All the magazines.


All the tourists.


Everything except the ghost.


-ÀBut what am I thinking? If you donÕt have a ghost, you donÕt have a ghostÕs chance at the Voionmaa School For Girls.


-ÀYou know what? YouÕre right. –He could be a rascal, but he lacks a thinking brain-. You are a disgrace to your dad, whoÕs invited every magazine on Earth to this side order of shit.


Every magazine? -I like repetition.


-Television, radio, the funnies - everyone -Old Man Spellman said with his ass in the air-. They ainÕt buying shit if they donÕt see no ghosts -He stopped breathing.


And I stopped bleating.


-Yes, theyÕd go buy everything abroad -I said.


Old Man Spellman turned around like he thought I was going to ask to borrow money.


-DonÕt ax me how many decades old I am.


-ÀHow many?


-Okay, I think IÕll tell you. ÀWhat is black and white and read all over a zebra? In calculus, no one knows when you fall, but if a ghost appears... Well, go read about it in a magazine -He said this as if he knew how to read-. Or go to a museum and look at the books there, Àokay?


-Suppose I do that. ItÕs supernatural.


-ÀWhy donÕt we go bother your dad and listen to him complain? -Old Man Spellman continued in his bad-ass voice-. And, who knows, maybe Sir Thomas will appear just in time to leave a snail-trail notice to appear.


I sighed.


-ThatÕs a serious and unconscionable thing to spit out.


-Yes, it is -Old Man Spellman affirmed, like the sad jackass he was.


-I suppose youÕre right -I said-. I mean, I suppose youÕre right to agree with me.


-No, I suppose IÕm right because IÕm in dire need of a diuretic -Old Man Spellman said coincidentally.


I nodded.



-But IÕm always looking out for Sir Thomas.


-Me too -Old Man Spellman told me with a palm in his hand-. But now I have a tray following me. ÀWould you rather be haunted by a headless Sir Thomas, or by a tray?


I got up, listening to the voices in my head. This morning they wanted to get their hands on some Bolsa Chica.


-Great, yes, itÕs great for me -I taunted my self-. But I still have to study for a fucking math test.


Old man Spellman knew I was right.


-Hey, Mike. Ask me what time it is.


I looked at him like the guinea pig looks at the sandwich.




That night I couldnÕt sleep. I think it was the reconstituted salami I had eaten, along with the blue and cold goo. And that just increased my preoccupation.


I was preoccupied with Sir Thomas making a guest appearance. It would be embarrassing for everyone in the museum and not embarrassing for anyone who had had their toes pureed.


After I began my preoccupation with Sir Thomas I started seeing ghosts and desperados. It was like I had drank a Fresca¨. And then the house began to rear up like a Volvo quesadilla.


I was so preoccupied that I couldnÕt hear the house scream.


Pum. Pum.


That was either my heart or the sequel to this book, ÒThe Revenge of the Prestone Anti-Freeze Colonic.


Pum. Pum.


-Oh my Buddha, Carly. -Now the house was talking to me. -ÀDo you think IÕm stupid?


I went to go to the bathroom but the sound was so intense, and there was no segue. Just a hastily contrived kitchen.


-ÀA kitchen? ÀAnother kitchen? -I shook my head like the sorry-ass ambassador to brouhaha that I was. Carly just didnÕt have much imagination.


No one touched me as I lit a torch, walking past the museum until I got to the kitchen.


Pum. Pum.


I heard it. This time I really didnÕt hear it. But I did hear Carly was nine parts short of an eight-part mini-series.


And part two of her mini-series was complete silence. She wasnÕt even breathing during it. She didnÕt move a muscle.


That was until part three started, in all its brazenness.


It was like watching a boil being lanced or a penguin being salted.


-Sit down, Mike.


ÁOld man Spellman! It didnÕt help that he looked like a transvestite in menÕs clothing. But there was no time for that. There was all the time that was in the world.


Old man Spellman lifted a finger to his labia.


-YouÕre not very astute -He was so sure-. I work my ass off selling quesadillas and all I hear is ÒMommy was rude to me.Ó ÀWhat the fuck is that?


-Probably Carly. She has the subtle sense of humor of a retro-rocket misfire.


Old man Spellman had opened the door to idiom. And now it was echoing all over the house.


-I had to come here. ÀDid you have to come here? ÀWhat do you think weÕre looking for?


I tried to spit on him but hit my shoe instead. It felt like I had just tongued my self, like I had just gotten to second base with a used-car salesman.


-Poor Mr. Spellman -I started-. YouÕre such a...


Old man Spellman stopped me dead in my obsequiously soup-like antagonism.


-You donÕt understand, Mike. We have much in common. I believe that I am armed to the teeth in enchiladas. And you believe that a ghost in a bad v-neck sweater named ÒSir ThomasÓ makes tea with old drywall nails. ThatÕs not something IÕm down with.


What an asshole. But, IÕm sure that the world would be a much ruder place without old man Spellman.

Or, to use the vernacular, at least it would seem like a ruder place.


I moved to the door and the rudeness moved with me.



Mr. Spellman looked like he was doing his best just to maintain during his bad drug high. All I needed now was for the pies to start exploding.


I saw Sir Thomas in his goofy cowboy outfit. His head looked like it was about to take the A Train to Asshole Town. This thing had guts.


-So, tell me about your self - your hobbies, perhaps -Old man Spellman came in Sensurround¨. That and a strange, olive glow. -IÕll get the final results back to you when youÕre not a hideous ghost.


Mr. Spellman then started gyrating all over the house. Yo. It was tight.


And then, just as quickly, he passed out. Then all the silliness that had been passing as comedy in front of me went straight for my cerebral cortex. And I couldnÕt blame that shithead Spellman – he was passed out.


I watched as Spellman pointed blankly at the lights.


And as he sullenly stared, there was an enormous explosion.


-ÁThe pies! ÁFuck!


There were flecks of large, green cocoanut pieces everywhere. It was like mariachis or Contras had come strolling through the house murdering and raping everyone in sight. The flecks became mountains with huge hands wielding machetes. But my soup was boiling and I would have to deal with the flecks and the machetes at another time.


The flecks were in the balance. Hanging.


The balance of... a cowboy called Sir Knight.


And now, both Old Man Spellman and I were gyrating.


And, right on cue, Sir Thomas was getting his singing voice ready.

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