Chapter 17 read by Don
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ÒInto my heartÓ ÁMy ratÕs ass!


I was trying to flag a cab and my ratÕs ass heart was no help.


I could see how brilliant and horrible the fire in Sir ThomasÕs eyes was. God His self was shading His eyes with His hand.


And with a brilliant place-kicking motion, Sir Thomas kicked the Ace of ♠ from my hand, sending it flying end-over-end through the museumÕs upright organ.


I kept breathing, even though I was officially brain-dead. I had called a brain surgeon after I fired up the Folgersª, but her line was busy. I looked like a raspberry baby bundled-up in purple and green asbestos.


ÁNo one fucks with my Ace of ♠!


The cowboy moved like a cab driving terrier gone cuckoo. I had been waiting for him to make his move - and now it was time for me to try to remember what the fuck I was gonna do to counter it.


-ÀWhom destroyed that motherfucker Mardren? -This was the first thing I can remember Uncle... err... Sir Tom say. Usually all youÕd hear was a rude rumbling from within his armor.




I knew that I was a half-dead motherfucker, but is it really Òwhom destroyedÓ? IsnÕt it ÒÁCab driving terriers of the world unite!Ó


Sir Thomas didnÕt respond and I wasnÕt surprised. Not only was he one stupid jackass, I also didnÕt say all of that out loud. But, in a unique move that IÕm still pondering, I spat onto the back of my hand and rubbed my palms together.


Carly pushed me in the back of my dull, aching throb.


-ÁHey! ÁSideshow Mike! -She said-. ÀHave the vultures given your cologne to the Contras?


Sir Thomas was a cab driving nose picker all right. HeÕs probably pickinÕ up trash by the side of the freeway on weekends also.


-ÀAre you shitting me? ÀThe vultures did what?


-Yeah -Carly was gnarly-. They had an election. First, they voted your cologne off the medicine cabinet shelf and out to the Contras. Those Contras may be nasty little motherfuckers, but now theyÕre gonna smell the part.




-And, second, they converted all of your clothes into purple tunics. TheyÕre being altered at Jim the TailorÕs right now. ÀAre you down wit all of this shit?


I sat down and my Ace of ♠ sat down with me. My hand was trembling like it thought that I was out of my mind.


-When the ships were down, you were off toking a bowl with Old Man Mardren. The vultures are all part of lifeÕs purple pageant. After they converted your clothes to purple tunics, they converted all of your possessions to coal. So now you have a huge coal and purple tunic collection.


-ÁTo coal! -Sir Thomas repeated, laughing. His laugh had a profoundly metallic aftertaste that reverberated throughout the museum-. ThatÕs one bad-ass charcoal and tunic collection, Mike. ÁÀWhat the fuck are you gonna wear to dinner parties?!


Rivers and rivers of tears were raging behind my eyes as I pictured my self sipping mint juleps in a purple tunic with Chevy Chase.


Sir Thomas was pointing-out how much of a ratÕs ass I was.


And I didnÕt like it.


-Then, good sir, I would ax you to please die horribly.


-ÀWhat? -I looked at my Casio¨ watch, but it was reluctant to tell me what time it was. The cab driving cowboy had my Ace of ♠, but now I couldnÕt give a ratÕs ass. I was too busy trying to get my watch to work-. ÀIs it brunch yet? ÀHow am I supposed to know if itÕs brunch when I canÕt see the second hand for the third?


Sir Thomas shook his head in disgust.


-ÀYou canÕt see the second hand for the third? -He asked-. ÀWhen are you gonna see the cold goo for what used to be Mardren? I think, young man, that youÕll see it when heck freezes over and is converted into a hockey rink for paranormal engineers. You wonÕt know which aileron hit your ass on the way out

-The cowboy moved through the museum like it was a gigantic lavatory-. Everyone here, at this very moment, is my friendenemy. IÕve just been fucking with you.


-ÀWait? -I was sending my self mixed signals. I was ordering from the menu when I shouldÕve been menuing from the order-. Wait, Àam I your friend or enemy?


-Yes -Sir Thomas may not be the logic king, but he sure was a putz. A putz who someone had poured acetate on - I think dad had had a hand in that - and when he tried to articulate why he didnÕt want acetate poured on him, he started rapidly oxidizing. Cheerio and pip-pip.


I lay down and offered my hand.


This time when I touched his metal hand, it wasnÕt to keep him from skewering me like a shish kebab.



-I know that history hasnÕt been content just to blacklist Mardren -The cowboy said through bits of pie-. I told you he was a useless bastard, ÀdidnÕt I?


I said ÒnoÓ and nodded ÒyesÓ.


-Mardren was a sombitch-dickhead. A creature both vile and odious -Sir Thomas lifted his jelly roll list of useless clichŽs. He raised his man-teeths to the sky-. I have never seen such... mal... ev... o... lence, malevolence. ÀWho woulda thunk it? IÕm a hundred years old with an enormous belly and I never thunk it. I wasnÕt allowed to thunk until I was sixtyteen years old. What I mean is: you can dispose of me and get like 30 bucks for the metal. Or. Or, you could give me diction lessons, set me in front of the Museum of Misery and Hysteria, and watch the hijinks jinx. Either way, Mardren is dead or at least so deteriorated that heÕs not making any claim to life. And you have a unique opportunity to put me out front like a showroom dummy and make an honest jackass out of me.


Sir Thomas was turning the charcoal purple with his nonsense. I was toking away madly on a bowl of some good shit, and still not escaping the surrealism. If anything, it was getting surrealer.


-But Mardren -ÁOh, for fuckÕs sake!-, tried to incinerate all my teeths with one punt from his purple placeholderÕs pocket protector. And the ensuing cold goo, well, we are now surrounded by it. That and, Àwhere did all this purple coal come from? But, fortunately, through the power of one boyÕs Ace of ♠, we were able to Legoª of that Eggo¨. ÁBut! -ÁJesus H., Àhow many buts is the guy going to but?-. But, I have to say, letÕs give it up for my man... Àwhatsisname?... ÁMike!


Sir Thomas started clapping. And so did... well, no one else was clapping. It was pretty much silent, sullen stares all around. Kinda like when we had all sat around watching ÒThe Lord of the Rings - The Shiksa EditionÓ.


-I could park cars -Sir Thomas was getting desperate-. I could polish armor, anything. Just donÕt put me in prison or make tumblers out of me. Please...


Sir Thomas was finally wising up. ÀTumblers, eh? I could use a good tumbler...


-ÁCome here, boy! ÁAnd crawwwl like a crocodile!


-DonÕt do it, Mike... -Carly twisted her tongue to make sounds. I didnÕt know if I should crawl or maybe splash on some baby powder first for the chafing.


But I didnÕt do either. I felt that I knew exactly where Tommy boy was coming from.


I would crawl all right - but more like an orangutan than a croc. I wasnÕt bowing down to any cowboy. I had already eaten enough foul things to front a tree-sitting liberation armada.


Sir Thomas lifted up my Ace of ♠. It looked all shiny and new... But Áit wasnÕt my Ace of ♠! I still had that up my sleeve. ÁIt was the Ace of ♣!


-I, Sir Thomas Barlayne, 10 Upping Street, knight thee, Sir... Michael... of... of... -Sir Thomas was obviously trying to come up with a title that would befit a boy of my...


-ÀWhat the fuck is he talking about? -Carly sugared-. YouÕre the biggest jackass this side of the Museum of Misery and Hysteria -And then to Sir Thomas-: ÀHow about ÒSir Mike of the Biggest HorseÕs Ass This Side of Antigone?




-ÁBut! –I cried.


Sir Thomas made it official with a pat on the back, and, just like that, I was stuck with this moniker for the rest of my natural life. All thanks to Carly. I stared my snakeskin stare at her. She smiled her snail shell smile back at me.


-You will always be known by this name, my friend -Sir Tom said-. Now I think IÕll sing.


Before we could stop him, he grabbed the Mr. Microphoneª. There wasnÕt a human alive who wasnÕt turning over in their grave.


I set off as many M80Õs and sticks of dynamite as I could find.


And when the smoke cleared, there was Sir Thomas, mic in hand, desperately singing the only song he knew, ÒMuskrat LoveÓ.

      -- on to chapter 18   or   back to Cab Driving --