Cosmic Vomit
by Don Cheney
A multi-media project by Max Cheney
Chapter 6 read by Jerm
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I had shoes that were drenched from laces to laces with pie dreck.


And one of my shoes had so much... well, a sponge would’ve died trying to even imagine how to clean off the dreck.


-It’s not my fault that I feel strange -I murmured.


I couldn’t believe that I had put on my shoes when they were so full of pie dreck. But now is when I usually start feeling stupid, I thought. And, along with the sensation of feeling stupid, and the sensation that my shoes were sloshy, there was the sensation that I’d never look at a pie in the same way.


-¿When are you going to start divesting your funds, Al? -Michelle pinched me, but didn’t pass the hot sauce.


-Fuck you, Michelle -Dad said-. Your brother doesn’t know an IRA from a vest and two pairs of pants...


-That’s ‘cause he’s ten years old -That mofo Michelle said.


-¿Isn’t he twelve? -Dad asked.


-If you ask Al what’s the difference between winter and summer, he’ll tell you it’s the same as the struggle of class against class -Michelle said, and then insisted that someone ask a question.


-¿What if I ask Chester how much a whole lotta 9’s are? -Dad asked, changing tenses as fast as Michelle changed boyfriends.


Michelle was known to spend days blabbing on her cat listserve.


Chester was known to pass the days stuffing himself with chalupas.


-Come here, Chester -Michelle called out-. Daddy won’t put you to sleep for a few more months. ¿Why don’t you give him another year, Dad?


Chester froze.


-I’m going to have to agree to disagree and go out to eat with your cat -Dad said-. That’s how hard I’ve been thinking about this.


Dadn’t hadn’t hadn’t a thoughtn’t since that run-in with that’nt electrical cord.


-Let’s go, Chester -He said, rightly thinking that Chester was a cat-. I’ll pour new salt on some old wounds.


Chester still wasn’t moving.


-He’s smarter than he looks, but looks... aren’t everything -Michelle was a tad preoccupied.


-He’s probably just startled -Dad said, thinking “tranquilized”.


It was possible that he wasn’t startled, but it was also possible that he was a side order of bacon. He was startled all right, he was just late in shaking it off.


It was possible that there was hair in his soup, and that that had turned him into the feline toaster crouching before us. Or he was as mad as the Man of La Mancha because no one had opened the door for him to go out.


-See ya -We all told him.


We lived two shakes of a manzanita bush from Shadyside College. It ends right where our alley begins and we can always hear people studying. One girl, who studies with a red pillow and a sharp razorblade, is always on the escalator in front of me.


-¡Hey, Al!


And again, I grit my teeth.


I’m Albert, thank you, and you can’t call me Al. And don’t call me late for meandering, and don’t call me by my middle name. This year everyone’s going to call me by my secret agent name, which is Curses Foiled Again.


-¿Do you know when Louis Pasteur invented nachos? -I asked her.


-In 1822 -She told me without adding “dude”-. ¿Do you know what he said after he invented compost and water?


She said this with a straight face that went right over my head, and then:


-Pass the butter and the marmalade, on the left-hand side.


She was right out.


-¿What are you? ¿Blitzed? -I asked her-. Do not fuck with my clarity.


-¿Is she boring you? -Alix asked, walking into the fray with not a little mucous-. Good thing we’re equipped with glands. None of you would be able to breathe.


We thanked him for passing out rhymes, but not for passing the butter when someone was screaming like a son of a bitch for it.


-Come on, Alvin. Shake a leg, or three -I suspected that that was Eric Rice.


That jackass calls me Alvin because he thinks he can fuck with me. He’s an idiot. But he’s also the only person who’s ever talked to me about sex. He told me that sex was like jumping out of a plane. If you don’t have a parachute, you’re fucked.


-¿Who’s giving the lecture here? -I asked Miss Scott, our teacher.


All of the boys were in love with Miss Scott. Even Eric. One time he had tried to give her a hickey, even though he didn’t know what a hickey was.


I also was in love. After me, everyone had to take a number or I wouldn’t even let them look at her.


-¿Who knows what the capital of Peru is? -Miss Scott asked, passing my question on to the rest of the class.


I always knew. I raised my hand first, and looked around to make sure no one else raised theirs. But that lame-ass Sappho had his hand up, and Miss Scott saw it. Nothing I could write could approach describing what a pud-puller this guy was. It was like he was equipped to converse, but he didn’t know all hundred state capitals, like Alix and I.


A mouse poked its head out from under my desk. It was foaming at the mouth, and mouthing the words, “use your head instead of your index finger”.


-A free pair of dice -Miss Scott said-. ¿Melanie?


-¿Liam Neeson? ¿¡Am I right?! ¿¡Am I right?!


-¿What the freaking hell question do you think I asked? -Maybe it was Miss Scott who was foaming at the mouth.


-I coulda swarm it was, “¿Who starred in The Great Race?” -Melanie said, basically admitting she was daydreaming.


You coulda heard a parakeet fall from its perch. My mouse went back into my desk and the classroom seemed like an enormous, barren desert. I was so happy to be part of the living jaded that my eyes darted from person to mouse.


-Good. At least you had a reason -Miss Scott said-. The capital of Peru is Lima.


-God FUCKING dammit -Eric screamed-. I thought it was San Diego.


¿Huh? I shouldn’t talk, though, because I thought the capital of Peru was Graceland.


-¿Eric? -Miss Scott asked-. ¿Do you want me to spank you?


-No, Miss Scott -Eric lied.


-All right then, tell me what the capital of Peru is, or we’re all doing push-ups.


There was a lugubrious pause. Everyone expected Eric to start crying.


Not me. Well, I expected him to start crying, I just didn’t look. I looked out the window, out to the patio where some kids were playing “Peel the Piñata”. I wanted to be playing “Peel the Piñata”.


-The capital of Peru, Eric -Miss Scott repeated-. ¿What is it?


-¿Now? -Eric asked-. ¿You want my answer now? ¿Is it an open-book question?


-Look, Eric, I’m counting to five -Miss Scott said-. Class, get ready to drop and give me 20.


Everyone in the class stood up.




Except Eric.




Eric was trying to think.




But now, I couldn’t tell what




Eric was doing.


-¡Please! ¡For the love of Jebus! ¡Let me look in the book! -Eric was pathetic.


-You’ve had seven minutes to memorize all of the South American capitals, ¿and all you’ve come up with is Virginia City?


-Well, yeah -Eric said-. ¡I can’t help it if I can’t memorize every fucking country! ¿Can I?


Everyone in class got on their knees.


-Eric, if you don’t study at least once this year, I’m going to have the entire class drawn and quartered -Miss Scott said.


-I’m really good at baseball -Eric said-. It’s not fair to make me do anything else.


Baseball’s just a game, a diversion, I thought. ¿I wonder what he likes more: playing “Peel the Piñata” or baseball?


-I like playing “Take and eat, this is the jock strap of my covenant”, as much as next grade school teacher -Miss Scott said-. I know it’s weird, but I’m not normal, Eric.


Fortunately, someone knocked on the door. It was Mr. Emerson Fittipaldi, the principal, holding an open umbrella over his head.


-With your kind permission -Miss Scott said to him-. I’m going to the dentist on a mule.


When Miss Scott shook hands with Mr. Emerson Fittipaldi, Eric got really mad.


-Great, Al. ¿Who IS this rat’s ass? -He asked in a not too quiet tone.


-¿What? ¿Which rat’s ass are you referring to? -I replied.


-The capital of Peru, imbecile -Eric said-. ¿Can’t you hear?


-¿Do you think if I had heard you I would’ve asked you anything about baseball? -I asked him.


-Don’t fuck with me, Sterner -Eric said, as if he was so sure-. ¿What is the fucking capital of Peru?


-Fuck you -I said, within a cough.


-¿What did you just say? -Eric axed me, trying to sound intimidating.


-I just thought that your pants weren’t rich enough for you to go to baseball camp in Peru. ¿What did you think I said? -I asked him.


-¡Tell me the fucking capital of Peru! ¡NOW! -Eric screamed, the veins in his forehead popping up.


-Umm, it’s Cleveland -I was hoping that Miss Scott would return at that exact moment and ask the question again.


-¿Eric? -Miss Scott entered on cue-. ¿What is the capital of Peru?


-Cleveland -Eric announced proudly.


The entire class looked like they had been collectively carjacked. That included Miss Scott, who was holding her breath, and silently counting to ten...


¿Cleveland?, I thought. ¿Why did I say Cleveland? I meant County Cork.


...but only got to seven.


-Eric -Miss Scott said-. Try thinking before you say something so stupid in front of the class. And try not just looking at your homework. Try actually reading it.


-¿Cleveland isn’t the capital of Peru? -Eric asked, and I almost felt sorry for the big lug.


-Cleveland is in Ohio -Miss Scott responded-. ¡And it’s not even the capital of that frigging state!


I tried not to look at Eric with my eyes.


-I’m going to punch your lights out, Sterner -He assured me-. They might throw me in jail, but I’m going to kill you.

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