Chapter 13 read by Morgan
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The cascade from the pie explosion consisted of arms and legs and salamanders raining down in a desperate critique of technology.


They sailed red through the air like the Spanish Armada sailing through the Red Sea.


And despite all of this, the wine was flowing.


Sir ThomasÕs pet crayon even poked its head out of its box.


Excuse me, his hand-picked pet crayon.


Later, he would crush his crayon and use it as Brasivolª.


The Quixotic One and his metallic rooster were quite the pair. Imagine a badly-coiffed cowboy and a tam-wearing aileron and youÕve pretty much got the picture. The only thing better would be if the Contras all suicided.


The only thing more horrible than the Contras - and you can quote my crotch on this - would be ambient music.


And cowboys who have been converted into molten lava metal.


We all know that thereÕs a spectrum of human flotsam floating around society like so many Frankenstein retrospectives.


I tapped my self on the neck, just to make sure that my blood was still circulating. It actually sounded like the levee of my circulatory system had suicided instead of the Contras. Well, at least when I cut my self shaving, air doesnÕt sail out instead of blood. All I need is the blood that I breathe and to lounge around like the bosun on the Spanish Armada.


ItÕs a desperate plan, I know. But this time I wonÕt be shooting off any reconstituted cannons.


-No reconstituted cannons. ÁNo reconstituted cannons! ÁWay to go, Conway, now youÕre talking to your self about not making a cannon from a metallic rooster! -I was getting a tad emotional, and my life was being char-broiled in front of my eyes. My mom had pressed me to go into ballet, as if being a teenager wasnÕt pushing enough on the vault of humility-. ÁIÕm one authentic maggot!


Then I heard another voice. But this one was on land, not in my head.


-ÁYouÕre not a maggot, youÕre a putz! You canÕt make a reconstituted cannon. YouÕre nothing. Actually, Àyou know that ÒnothingÓ? ÁYouÕre not even that!


I was petrified - with a side order of picante sauce. The voice was so sonorous that I thought it came straight from the living jaded. It resonated over everything like it was the permanent-vernacular. The windows were even trembling. ÁI couldnÕt believe that vernacular could cause all of this! They were swaying like a banjo-player juggling pies. Everything was fucked-up and that was not only word, that was an extreme and hellacious form of hissing.


My insides were quickly divesting they selves of me. And I was looking for Providence to come down and speak in its own altered voice of doom.


-ÁYou fucking, stupid kid! ÀDid you think that sir Thomas was the only magical thing around these parts?

-It was the rude and processed voice of Old Man Spellman.


This could only mean one thing: ÁAudit!


That fucking tax-accountant had always had it in for the Museum of Misery and Hysteria.


I was right and my fingers knew it. They ran their way through my reconstituted hair and herbicidal bald spot.


I was so right that my righteousness came with bib overalls and a visitorÕs pass. I was so right that garden gnomes and lawn jockeys bowed before me.


The voice had teeth and those teeth had been punted downfield and then penalized. The kind of penalty you give a tired rooster for their cock-and-bull stories about getting up at the break of dawn. Or the drake of blawn.


So, here am I, in the middle of this page-turner, wondering what the LaDainian Tomlinson is going on. And, I donÕt bee-leeve it. ItÕs my so-called friend.


-ÀMr. Spellman?


Old Man Spellman grabbed his own hands. And when he did that there was a sinister hiss-s-s-s-s that plopped into my already revised recognition of reality. Instantly, my blood started pumping through my body. Spellman was good for something other than being an annoying, old creep, after all. But as the blood careened through my body, I started evolving into a curly fry.


-ÁDonÕt call me a poor, ridiculous dumb-fuck, boy! -Boy, Old Man Spellman sure was a rude boy-. Call me Mardren, the fifth brother on Bonanza, and Lorne GreeneÕs favorite. And now, you tiny insect, ÁIÕm going to catch a cold!


Lately, Old Man Spellman was having trouble even lifting his arm. A cold would wipe his fat ass from this planet. He was even having trouble cutting his own fingernails, which were now shaped like serpents. And the serpents had eyes the color purple, as if Steve Spielberg had painted them orange himself.


I was finally asleep amid the nonsense.


Then his toenails came to life as cobras. I was rubbing my eyes and yawning. HeÕd have to do better than that.


The serpent toes started swirling and swirling and, wellÉ swirling, until they formed a tornado. This got my attention, and I raised my hand to ask a question. I was going to ask if lunch was served on this flight, or was I going to have to depend on the magic beans in my pocket for sustenance.


The serpent head stopped swirling for a second. I knew I was dizzy, then I saw giant mandibles raised over a floppy comb-over and I knew that the curveball this primordial pissant was about to throw would be wicked.


I pulled at my crotch, scratched my ass, and waited.


Old Man Spellman went back to agitating his snake-hands. The snakes did a little shuffle and then transformed into luminous rays that brought to mind the Yemen Arab Republic in spring. The rays crept up on me and I was already sunburned. I didnÕt need a tan, I needed a tannic acid bath.


ÁAgamemnon be damned! Because I was freaking tired and I was going to get some sleep.




I woke up and I felt like chum soaked in Tabasco sauce. My head felt like it had been crowned. IÕd call a cab, but the coronation would be all warm and queasy.


ÁI donÕt bee-leeve it! Old Man Spellman. My buddy. He mustÕve gained about ten pounds and three serpents. And I hadnÕt gained shit.


Unless you count gaining a pain in the neck. I knew there was something creepy about the fucker.


First of all, his eyes were a little too bright. And the only red thing about him, besides his cowboy hat, was his bloodshot eyes. And when heÕd show up at our door you could count the things he didnÕt bring: no wine, no french fries, no geldings, and no churros.


I began running through a list of Spellman transgressions in my head, this serpent shit just being the latest-greatest. And, despite the serpents, the lack of churros, and the Amarillo hue of his face, I couldnÕt help but hate Old Man Spellman. He was a penny-pinching piece of shit, with a crushing Sacco-Vanzetti complex.


Oh well, at least the little eunuch had put on an interesting snake show. Wait a minute - no, he didnÕt. ÁHe fucking put me to sleep with his large tonsils and prehensile toes!


And... ÁHeÕs crouching in the corner, living large and salivating even larger. And heÕs salivating barbed wire like it was rum cakes. Barbed rum cakes, what a revolting conundrum, thatÕs not for sure. ThatÕs for censure.


He lifted his hand for what seemed like days and there eventually appeared a very large plate which he held in his right hand.



Soon... Okay, eventually, the plate started moving like some kind of spinning-plate carnival trick.


ÁOne! ÁTwo! ÁThree plates!


Spellman was busy keeping the plates spinning at great speeds. So busy that he completely forgot how bored I could get. I was turning purple with boredom. ÁFucking purple!


I was so bored that I was ready to kill my self. Instead, I put on a large, purple tunic and just danced around like a complete jackass. I was about to put on a purple bowtie and leap into the air when I actually realized what I was doing and knew what I also needed: Áa big purple sombrero and matching purple pantyhose!


This was so symbolic and so brilliant... of what and why, I donÕt know. But think about it: me dancing around in purple tights and purple tunic and purple cap, in front of a giant, evil, plate-spinning jackass. It was extra donkey meat for everyone, thatÕs what it was. No strange forms to fill out or extraterrestrial territories to explore. Just donkey meat. For everyone.


And now the spinning plates were making me see big, blue circles. And there were big LucyÕs in the sky, with diamonds insulating their tiaras.


-ÁMy cold goo! -I looked and that fuckstick Spellman was wearing my exact same tunic, with the same cold goo symbol right in the middle. That bastard was in for it now. Nobody fucks with my cold goo.


But this cold goo was emitting a sound like royalty planning to behead some poor sod.


-Mike, Mike, Mike -Old Man Spellman... I mean, Mardren, seemed to be saying. I had to pinch my self when I thought of that name - Mardren. ÀWhat kind of evil genius would come up with a sourpuss name like that? Arguably, the worst evil genius name in the history of evility.


-You think youÕre hot shit, Àhuh, Mike?


Mardren actually moved his lips when he talked, which surprised me. I was expecting something like the pterodactyl from ÒPee WeeÕs PlayhouseÓ.


-You really look ridiculous, all gussied-up like a cheap hooker –He continued, despite my objections-. You have no magic powers, no matter how goofy you dress. The magicÕs all mine. Your powers are limited to turning lights on and off at the light switch. Whereas, I can destroy metal just by looking at it. IÕm barely mortal, whereas you...


-Yeah, yeah, I get the picture.


Mardren was still spinning his very large plates like they had been sealed in Armor All¨. He wanted to punt downfield, but he tripped on his purple bowtie just as God was asking Sir Thomas to go to the Heavenª Costco¨ with Him. ThatÕs right, God is male as sure as Sir ThomasÕs head is rolling around here somewhere.


Mardren offered up his version of the Last Ritesª:


-Every few hundred years, Sir Thomas and I have to fight to the death -He explained-. It amuses us and keeps the number of creeps in the neighborhood down. Really, ghosts are the biggest drama queens. Taking out your teeth to scare people is so old. YouÕd think that these jackasses would come up with some new material. If you ask me... -Mardren looked around to see that no one was listening, let alone asking, and, in a rare moment of self-realization, continued-. Well, no oneÕs asking me, Àare they? But what I mean is that that chattering teeth thing is hundreds - if not thousands - of years old. It predates the whoopee cushion.


I was listening, but I had forgotten to hit the RECORD button. So I didnÕt remember a word Marsden Hartley had just philosophized. I think he was wearing a purple hat, though. And he had seen action in ÔNam, but in the form of a dragon spewing agent orange down on the masses. He had literally set the world on fire.


-YouÕre right, I was a napalm-breathing dragon in ÔNam -ÁThat bastard Mardren could read my mind! Not only that, Áhe wouldnÕt shut the fuck up!-. Sir Thomas is awash in a sea of equivocation... -Oh, Áshut the fuck up!- He thought that I had become a goddamn, punk kid. -ÁShut up!- A tiny, little, defenseless kid, like you. -Nooooo!- But, unlike you, I had a plan or two. -ÁAggghhh!- Well, three plans to be exact. ÁStop it! ÁShut up!- But functionally, really, four plans. -ÁShut your mouth!- ÀWhy do you think that you could possibly diagnose my condition when you could never know what condition my condition is in?


This guy may be ÒmagicÓ but heÕs a red door and blue light special right to the vernacular. Push on his door and you donÕt get magic. Push on his door and you get a pain in the ass.


-With my powers...-. ÁHere we go again!-, I knew that Sir Thomas would leg it here like a tadpole to a flame. I knew this before I e-mailed him, ccÕing his uncle Basil, who lives in a casket in Dreadbury and who sees Aquaman in the tap water. And he hates Sir Thomas as much as I do.


The truth was Mardren was ferociously staring at my cold goo. And, if I hadnÕt fallen asleep I wouldÕve been staring at his. But I was snoring. The guy put me right to sleep – and I was standing up.


-YouÕre a pedestal of cold goo and you donÕt even know it, impertinent child -I guess he couldnÕt hear my snoring-. The day has arrived and I will now use my magics to turn you into a fiery piece of toast. I will baste you and then put you into my mouth. And IÕve made up a nice, cold goo powder to compliment it. And, Àdid I tell you? I couldnÕt stop playing the guitar for days. No matter what I was doing, I was also playing the guitar. That was, until Sir Thomas came along in his shiny pants and mandolin. Well, IÕll tell you...


ÁJesus Christ! Wake me when the sun super-novaÕs into Antarctica. This guy isnÕt content to be just a bigot. No, he has to be a boring-ass bigot. IÕm sure heÕs gonna go on and on for years about Sir ThomasÕs trousers. And his beautiful eyes.


-Sir Thomas is occupied being dead now, ÀisnÕt he? He canÕt play tennis, he canÕt eat fried clams-. ÁHere we go!-. He canÕt shoot pelicans. If I had a nickel for every pelican... -Mardren mustÕve been dipping into the hair tonic. The moon and the stars turned to me for an answer-. ÀAre you talking to the stars now, my boy? YouÕd better stay with fan mail to Roy Rogers. No stars will help you.


Mardren sure had a god-complex. They could bottle him and sell him as an aid to sleeping.


But then the boring bastard shot a ray of light right at my goyishe punim, and then right at my garlicky penis.


The cold goo went through me like Desinex¨ through teeth, and I responded by calling Mardren every name in the book – well, every name except ÒMardrenÓ. I was just so fucking tired of listening to him.


-You have quite a bit of impertinence, Little Sheba -ÀWho the fuck uses the word ÒimpertinenceÓ? ÀOnly evil trolls? When Mardren talks, people bolt for the freaking doors.


-And now I am the one with the cold goo -Mardren said-. And even Sir Thomas got his utilities turned on. And, Àdo you know why? Because my magics have augmented my already substantial powers and... well, now heÕs dead, so, he wouldnÕt be able to even call the utility company to have anything turned on. And thatÕs one of the things about death... ÁAt least you donÕt have to worry about gas and electric! ÁNot to mention water! Oh, just a minute, yes you do. But then you have evil creeps like me to handle shit like thatÉ


This guy will not shut up. IÕm beginning to think that Sir Thomas wasnÕt killed, he suicided. And now MardrenÕs head was glowing like a Chernobyl peacock.


Mardren boomed-out another of his brainless and pen-less missives.


-This time IÕm not going to be tender with you, IÕm going to torture you. I canÕt allow you to revel in knowing my goofy secret, Àmmm-kay? NowÉ ÀHow would you like to die?


Now, not only was he boring, he was fucking morbid. No labia-inferiority complex for him, I think. I also think that he wants to kill me.


I tried to spit, but my throat was dry. I tried to sell him on just scalding me badly, but he wasnÕt budging. He was intent on killing me. I guess. I really wasnÕt listening.


-ÁYou werenÕt listening! -This mind-reading shit was dope- ÀDo I have to go over this all again?


-ÁNo! -I blurted-. ÁNo! ÁNo! ÁNo! ÁKill me first!


-ÁThatÕs it! ÁThatÕs exactly it! ÁIÕm going to weave you into a rattan chair and then sit on your ass! IÕm going to...-. ÁOh, for GodÕs sake!- slice you up like a tomato. IÕm going to parade your dead carcass around the city. No, IÕm going to let the cats have their way with your limp and beaten body.


ÁTalk about conspiracy theorists! This guy was one pud-pulling man of theory. ItÕs all theory - he hasnÕt done a fucking thing.


My trembling was the last thing I wanted him to see. HeÕd no doubt start rambling on and on about it.


ÁBingo! Mardren saw me trembling. Brilliant. Now IÕm gonna have to listen to his slow and bulky hissing. I still had a hangover form his last speech.


-Now you stay quiet, fastidious child -All right, thatÕs it. ÀWhat fucking evil creep uses the word ÒfastidiousÓ?-. IÕm going to recite the magic words three times-. ÁGreat! ÁThree times!- When the moon hits the balcony I will convert you into a rattan chair and have you shipped Third Class to Boca Raton. IÕll then have lunch on the balcony, maybe find another kid to turn into furniture...


-ÁStop all of this talk of furniture! -Another voice intoned.


Mardren suddenly realized that it wasnÕt he that was talking (for once).


The voice then started listing the names of all the dentists in the area and then it started ladling out the vernacular. It was a profound and autumnal voice that packed the power of several lagers.


I was jotting down dentist names when I saw a sad and brazen form appear. It literally ÒappearedÓ, like a ghostly appetizer. Like a pissing contest with a donkey. Like a clueless dad.


And it was encased... in metal.


And it had an anchor for a pet.


And, in case there was any free space, it also had a croquet set.


The metal cowboy moved like, well, a cowboy encased in metal. It looked at Mardren. Its voice returned.


-ÀÁWhat the Hubert Horatio Humphrey is going on!? ÁIÕm not voting for any of you bastards!


    -- on to chapter 14   or   back to Cab Driving --