Chapter 3 read by Ben



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That kind of revelation really pushed Kelsey’s accelerator to the floor of a heart that was already at full gallop.


Her heart started pounding like it was trying to punt its way out of her chest.


She knew that if she turned around and saw Madam Valda, she would immediately need to have her teeth cleaned.


“This is absurd”, Kelsey said to her self, her head aching like a lion in heat. “¿How come I can breathe, but I can’t be mayor of this two-bit town?”


-¡Don’t look! ¡It’s a trap!- Drew exclaimed, jaded and dropping like a tech stock.


-¡Show me your paw!- Kelsey was gripping and returning to the fantasy world in her head.


Madam Valda’s lazy eye wasn’t lazy when it came to Kelsey. And the young woman knew that if she didn’t start setting up some boundaries and setting off some dynamite, she was screwed.


-¡Cory! ¡Cory! ¡Cory!- Drew exclaimed.


But Kelsey didn’t know anyone named Cory, so she didn’t respond. Instead, she became petrified, literally paralyzed by the lazy eye of the psychic.


Just then a large hand lit a cigarette and blew smoke at Kelsey with its giant fingers. Kelsey, without knowing it, was as fit as she was finger-lickin’ good. How that was going to help her become a salty Alan Parsons Project, only Madam Valda knew for sure.


And the old lunger was one carcinogen away from a permanent siesta.


-¡That’s not astounding!- Madam Valda cackled. -That’s…that’s creationist.- She pushed the “CRAZY” card from the deck and right into Kelsey’s eye.


You could cut the air with the theory of human sexual response.


-¡Ten and a half! ¡Ten and a half! ¡Ten and a half!- She exclaimed. -Only ten and a halves, no ten and a freaking three quarters.-


Kelsey and Drew knew that if they didn’t have a quarter they had better start looking for one, no matter how many half dollars they saw in the sky. Before this, no one had thrown anything but half dollar coins into the air.


Kelsey also knew that if she threw salt at Madam Valda, the old hag would probably just throw it back and Drew would cower under the table. Kelsey’s heart was pounding with the thud of a dull tire iron, so she turned into her head and saw visions of Advil pills dancing in her segmented arteries.


But Madam Valda was even more desperate.



-¡Drew! ¡Dentist!- Kelsey knew that by throwing out the subject of dentists, she was pouring on the brazenness. -Look. It’s Madam Valda. And she’s... desperate.-


Drew turned around and around. Kelsey had a razorblade and a razorblade. And she would use them both if Madam Valda tried to blow smoke in her face again and again.


-¿What makes your heart beat so fast?- Drew asked and, what with all the silence, you coulda heard a melon drop.


-I don’t know.- Kelsey contested, even though she no longer had a head. -¿Do you think if I took an Advil my head would grow back? ¿And with the head of a snake? ¿How many Advil would that take?-


-Get out of here, Kelsey.- Drew replied. -You keep talking like this and I’ll pull your tonsils out of your throat via your Tom Selleck.-


-Yeah, that makes sense.- Kelsey said. But when she said “sense” she forgot to say “Abracadabra, creosote.” -But even though I didn’t say “creosote” I did say “listen closely to me, Buddy Holly”, ¿dint eye?-


-You don’t have to tell me.- Drew said. -You have to tell everyone in our listening audience. ¿Did you record it?-


-Thanks, jackass.- Kelsey said, pissing off Drew like a cold, pelican sandwich.


-Fuck you, Kelsey.- Drew said. -The more you talk, the more you sound like a gigantic sea creature high on verklempt.-


-Yeah, yeah.-


Kelsey thought the soup was ready, prohibition was in effect, and that she was being totally reasonable. But, if you listened to the recording, you’d hear something so strange your ears would lay down and die. And your arteries would become your ears and your voice would become your tonsils. And if those thoughts weren’t horrible enough, check out this: “¡I want Tonta; I want Tonta the Indian!”


-His name ain’t “Tonta” it’s “Tonto”.- Drew said, reaching for her dirigible salad. -We have one reality for now and one reality that we keep in our heads. Just draw a target on your head and I’ll get out my snapping turtle.-


Kelsey looked horrified.


-¡No!- She grunted. -¡Leave me alone! In half an hour I’m going to pretend I don’t exist anyway. Mama told me never to draw targets on my cerebral cortex.


Kelsey and Drew decided to sit around and wait for this recital to end. Then they’d go listen to El Vez on their 8-track players. If that didn’t work, they’d wait five minutes and try again.


-Let’s go pour cold goo on the tax collector.- Kelsey proposed, ponying up the ante to Drew.

-This time we’ll really mess her up.- Actually, she was starting to fall asleep. -We’ll take all the tax money and go to an Italian restaurant and...-


Drew took this as a sign that Kelsey wanted to go to an Italian restaurant and that the IRS was just a means to a serpent anteater end.


-¿Where are you… talking… about?- Drew asked while she ran back around to the beginning of her question to see if she could squeeze in the phrase “being a boy”.


If she had run twice as fast she might’ve made it. As it was, Kelsey saw God, counted to eight and passed out cold. It looked like she had been running where the streets had no saliva and where a pair of quadrilateralpeds had sucked three miles of blood out of her. She wasn’t going anywhere in the near to distant future.


-If you think that’s strange,- Said a red matador in the brown mirror. -I’m so obscure you can’t see me, and you’re so obscure you don’t know where to look for an auto parts store. If I had a Pancho Segura for every summer that has passed and I stood here stationary in this mirror…-


-At least you can tap your self on the shoulder during summer.- Drew insinuated to the mirror. -I have to take vulture-loving lessons.-


“If I push hard enough, Drew’s trachea will collapse into her ear”, Kelsey thought.


Drew was about to draw her last breath when she kicked Kelsey in her outer cajones…¡Everything went black - everything and God! This included the Italian restaurant and this included the U.S. Department of Patricide.


Kelsey looked into the mirror as a gay man looks at Johnny Depp.


-But, ¿what is this? ¿What do we possibly have here?- She exclaimed. -This is very strange. ¿Where am I?-


-I dunno.- Drew said, looking as ridiculous as the call letters of her name. -My name sounds like I had drawn.-


-The Italian restaurant is here in the mirror.- Kelsey said. -¿Would you prop my eyes open?-


Kelsey looked like she was about to punt Drew where the sun don’t shine, and in an Italian restaurant. She lunged at the house concierge and then at the house wine. Then she started tapping on each window with her mother’s maiden name.


-I didn’t mean it.- Murmured the demure damsel. -I was trying to see if summer was over and everyone’s looking at me like I’m one pecan short of a pecan pie. I know it looks ridinkulous, but if I went any faster I’d be sitting where I’m standing.-


Enough with the mirror already. Even the street was calling out for it to be deconstructed and then disassembled. When Kelsey looked up, she saw a ladder, and when she looked down, she saw the change between the couch cushions. Nothing more. If it had been any other ladder the street would’ve set up flares and poured cases of Top Ramen and Cheerios in a macho man ritual dating back to Chapter 2.


-Great.- Now it was one of the girls. -I can’t even pretend to be calm. I can pretend to play and I can pretend that the stars are out because God put them there.- Whichever girl it was was starting to retch. -Look, if you don’t know who I am, then I’m going straight home and I’m closing the lid.-


Whichever girl it was walked out into the street.


-¿Was that me?- Drew asked without breathing. -The only one who recognizes me is the street, that’s the hasta la vista of my life. Well, some people are as cold as asphalt, anyway. Let’s get out of this situation, dumb ass.-


-¡Don’t call me dumb ass, you dumb fuck! I’m a street without training wheels.- Kelsey insisted and pushed her tricycle out onto the street. -¡Let’s GO!-


Kelsey lasted about six gigaseconds on the tricycle. It was too large and besides, it was made for a person with three legs…


-Spare me.- Kelsey said without sounding too alienated. -Not now, not ever.-


-You DO NOT tell me to spare you. I don’t even tell me to shut up.- Drew murmured. She was so red in the face that if she had tried to cough she’d’ve looked more red licorice than lugubrious.


-I don’t know if I can talk. I don’t know if you can talk.- Kelsey mimicked Drew. -I don’t know if any of us can utter a sentence that makes any sense, even if we could talk.-


-¿Say what?- Drew say’d.


Kelsey knew that God wasn’t about to come rain down common sense any time soon. God might come down to browse and ambulate, but not to serve up syntactically sensible sentences.


-¿Where are the men and the village idiots?- Drew asked. She would’ve been subtler, but the ladders were starting to lap dance.


-They’re out, playing.- Kelsey repeated. -¿Get it? They… have… all... gone… out… to… play. But, fortunately and through God, all things come home.-


Before Drew could nod her head, Kelsey’s words were echoing in her head and down her cerebral cortex. These streets were initially conceived more as places where people could disassemble mirrors than as places of play. But when push came to shyness, God’s heart was like a vulture’s: tangled up in blue and out of the mind-body continuum.


And there’s nothing more disentangling than a vulture’s heart. Unless it’s eating Cheerios with too much milk, or too many body parts.


Night is when the rats come out to get you. Night is when the rats come out to play with mirrors in the street.


Kelsey had always thought that she’d be forgiven all her sins as long as she simpered. Now they’re telling her that if she doesn’t start eating her Cheerios with more body parts and less milk, she’d get to the Promised Land sooner by walking on her hands.


-That started me to thinking...- Drew said when at last it was lunch time. She looked like she was going to swear to God and crucify the tray of entrails that had made its way over to her.


-¿What slice of life is this?- Kelsey’s god was a respectful, vegetarian god.


-It’s a tray of entrails.- Drew responded.


-No… ¿Really? ¿Is that otter entrails...? Now, listen.- Kelsey murmured.


It was dog. Kelsey knew it before Drew.


It was a tiny dog that hailed from the Armadillo Zoo.


One of the girls started bobbing for dog. It had been a larger dog when it was alive. And now these voracious females were taking full advantage of its bite size.


-¡Let’s git!- Kelsey exclaimed.


They cruised the caves and segued the corridors, but the dog meat was still getting the best of them. They kept their distance from each other. Their ladders never touched, but instead resonated in Kelsey’s ears.


The two girls first said that they would run around in circles, and then they said that the circles would run around in them. They knew that if they ran through a portal in sandals, they’d be pegged and splayed like a plate of parrot and guacamole.


They listened with a Dixie cup and a thread.




-¿Do you believe what I don’t hear?- Drew asked.


-No… I don’t believe what you don’t hear.- Kelsey babbled. -I’ll take a look instead. When you nod your head you make an ass out of you and me.-


A pair of disembodied eyes burned into hers, like heat-seeking missiles.


And now there was a dog sitting on all fours… about a meter in the distance. A dog that looked like it could displace about two kilometers of podiatrists… and live to tell the pumas about it.


-¡Jesus H!- Kelsey exclaimed and grabbed Drew’s hand.


The two girls sailed into the portal, and then found themselves standing in a street with tomatoes instead of hands and with Kelsey instead of Deion Sanders.


Fortunately, the girls had removed their heads before they entered the portal and therefore the dog could not follow them. But now they needed their heads because when they tried to talk only air came out of their necks and they couldn’t see the ham sandwiches in front of them.


Kelsey doubled over trying to stretch her neck into a head. For a second she thought she had succeeded, but then realized she was still as disembodied as a stationary bicycle. But that’s very obscure. Very, very obscure. And when you’re that obscure, there’s nothing left to do except to stretch out in Bootsy’s Rubber Band.


Meanwhile they pondered how a trapezoid floating in the air could transcend class, and yet the struggle of class against class was an Aurora Borealis struggle.


The dog pushed its way through the portal, grabbing both Drew and Kelsey’s heads in its talons. It took Kelsey a while to figure out what the combination smells of hummus and grease added up to, but when she did, she flailed at the animal like it was a pair of dentures soaked in Tabasco.


-¡That’s my fucking body!- Kelsey’s head said. -¡Come and get me, you prick!-


The girls ran after their heads with the fury of sea anemones, but the dog ran like it had just jumped the turnstile.


Kelsey saw two parts to this dilemma. She knew that she had to go to the dentist and she knew that she had enough plaque to kill every living thing in Patagonia.


And every other living thing in San Salvador.


There were no living things in Escapeteria.


-¡We’re tripping over our fucking selves!- Kelsey was finally chilling out. -¡We’re fucking over our tripping selves!-

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