I Saw Two Good Houses Over There NEXT TO Death
by Don Cheney
A multi-media project by Max Cheney
Chapter 14 read by Greg
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And then, like a subtitle, a light interrupted the obscurity. The lumbering light was coming from Ray. It was a blank light that lit up everything like bologna.


-¿Wha’ happen?- Josh asked. His voice was so annoying that it went straight to my nervous system. -¡Amanda, god damn it! ¿What happened?-


Ray gritted his teeth, showing all 40 of his cavities.


-¡You’re a pig! ¡You’re a pig! ¡You’re a pig!-


Ray gritted his teeth again and six of them exploded. His voice knew I could hear it coming and for the twentieth time it traveled down that Roto-Rooter of life.


Josh saved his most brilliant statement until the light was right in Ray’s face.


-¿What happened? ¿What in the Hector “Macho” Camacho happened?-


I wanted to breathe. I wanted to breathe and I wanted someone to turn off the lights so that no one would see me breathing.


Ray took off his hands and threw them at the light. But it was this side of Quasimodo too late. Lunch had been served and everyone was sucking down ICEES. The light from the Hilary moon was masking us as irrepressible as the infamous Jack Lord line:


“¡Sick ‘em, Danno!”



The peel that peeled-out was part CIA and part Department of Rat’s Asses. All in all, I had never seen anything more human - ¿or was in “humaniliating”? - except for that time I had broken my clavicle in 4 different places.


It looked like I was circling the drain. It looked like I was incapable of seeing the big picture. Meanwhile, the peel that Ray was peeling out was full of phlegm and candy-asses from that dumb D.O.R.A.


The older my cranium got the more it looked like a cube. My eyes were getting rounder and my cue-cards were getting smaller or at least the print seemed to be getting ruder.


Josh looked at me horizontally without even moving his retarded little head. And both of us were contemplating, I’m sure, what it would look like if each of us picked up a big black crate and, with the sunrise behind one of us, cracked it over the other’s dome.


-¡Ouch!- I gritted my teeth at the thought and then Ray said that I had been standing behind the door when God passed out brains…


But then, right in the middle of my thought and Ray’s hurtful suggestion, every thing came to a STOP.


And at that very moment all I could think was to get out a crayon and write “ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY LADLE” all over anything. I knew I couldn’t escape this grip of horror when suddenly my cranium started spitting out sacraments like it was God with a two-week’s deposit on the Contras to win with marmalade and the knowledge that when in Rome you should




do as the Romanians and put your pants on one…


-¡Hey!- Josh gritted. -¡Hey, Amanda! ¡You make me sick!-


pant at a time.


I tore out his manhood and handed it to him with a side of fries. But I couldn’t stop looking and what I couldn’t stop looking at was Ray, so I started counting and when I got to hewsauce I pulled out my teeth and piled rope around them. But none of this stopped Josh’s nagging.


-¡Amanda! ¡Vomit on us!-


Before I could count to darmay I cracked Josh across the back with a ladder. Then I counted to a hundred and cracked him again, this time right in his Vida Blues. When we all stopped laughing we all started running the direction of the street. The light from Josh’s crayon was lumbering and then tumbling toward us. It didn’t look like it was going to create any serious mojo, it was basically all air, but then it tried to grab the night by the tibia and suffocate it.


-We have what Mom and Dad already have: ¡TOTAL control over you!- I exclaimed. -We also have what those two don’t: ¡A gun!-


-Yeah… yeah… but you don’t have a van to creep around in.- Josh said. -We can run down the street but then we get tired and have to stop. Our feet get tired, we have to take a piss, or we just fall to the pavement. And when I fall ¡I do not cry!-


My brother was getting aggro.


-¡We don’t have anything to creep around in!- I told him. -If we did we wouldn’t be scared that rats were infesting our homes!-


White light doesn’t mean the absence of light, it means that every single color has gone crazy, running through the Negro streets in silence. White light doesn’t have a single pheromone. It doesn’t put a light in the windows of its house. Nothing illuminates a street quite like a can of spaghetti sauce. Nothing.


¡What a very obscure world we inhabit!


Speaking of habits, I was legging it, once again, in a direction long since abandoned and long since tied into knots.



I had no sense of smell until I started legging it to the house. I had listened at Josh’s door enough times to know a CIA wiretap when I saw one and I saw one or my name is Pavel Buhre. But I wasn’t Pavel and I wasn’t Nadia Comenic. I was about to light some one or some thing on fire in one simple motion. It was all I could do not to do it.


I was just about to dispense with the cold goo when some thing forced me to, instead, turn my head. I legged it back to my sender of gravity, like a gruesome moth-like object dancing around like a match on fire and just as I was about to get on the escalator out of there I was interrupted again and this time by the principal’s door.


Josh and I grimaced in unison:


-¡Mom! ¡Dad! ¿Are you queer?-


¡Please! ¡¿What is 4 + 10?! I was mentally popping Rogaine. My heart was one pall-bearer short of a funeral and a dollar short of a dollar two ninety eight - less ten.


¡Please! ¡¿What is 4 + 10?!


We all had registered when we walked into the house, but no one was gettin’ to steppin’.


-The party…- It was Josh’s recorded voice. -You can’t come to the party because it will not be televised.-


We were parading around, just like it was a party, all jaded and dumb. My pallor was turning a little gray. I had lit up the night but I still wasn’t allowed to eat sheep-dip salad or date a man under 80.


I looked at my watch but I wanted to be looking at chimichanga. It was two hours into tomorrow.


-¡I dare you to regress!- I said, my voice trembling like a rose.


-¿Where exactly do you want me to regress to? ¿Don’t you know that “jackass” isn’t a number on the telephone?- Josh said, meaning “Try to keep me out of the kitchen.”


For a segue, I lit up the night again. All lit up, the night looked like a libretto from a storm drain, except the storm drain was the kitchen where Mom and Dad were always playing Terminator X records.


¡Nah! The libretto is really invisible.


-¡We have to find something!- Josh’s griping was now Josh gripping. His unmentionables (his eyes) looked right into mine. -¡We have to get the Iroquois out of here!-


-¿What in the ding-dong ping-pong is going on?-


I wasn’t really asking, I had decided a long time ago what the ding-dong ping-pong was going on, but in order to control my temper I talked. I don’t know why I didn’t just shoot Josh. I guess it was either that or stab him. Later I’d learn that it would be better if I just thought about murder.


-¿Why don’t we call the pigs?- I asked. I had meant to just think about that but instead I thought of the sheep-dip salad that I couldn’t have and instead of opening a window and vomiting into the obscurity of the night, I spoke up.


-I dunno.- Josh said, looking like a bottle in front of me. And now I was shuddering like a rose from the vitriol and the cold. -I don’t know which end is up. I just want to know that I’m not here. ¿Why don’t you laxative into a horny toad and amuse all of us?-


-¿Why not a prize tarantula?- That actually wasn’t my voice but the voice of another girl, just like when my train of thought derails it’s not really my train or my rails.


I almost vomited out that window and for a moment I was all grime. Karen Somerset was there, her pie-hole was front and center like a sheep-dip salad, with all the brazenness of a cruise missile.


-¡But… you’re… DEAD! ¡Man, you’re too much!- That phrase kind of slid out of my mouth and then EXPLODED.


I was so right. I was so right that I started crying and then molting.


Later, a pair of CIA agents would run after me like I was two chickens with our heads cut off.


-¡Hey! ¡I have ten messages from the moon!- I said, checking my pager. -And one of them is from Karen.-


Later, another CIA agent, Jerry Franklin - otherwise known as “Death Warmed Over” - tried to ladle me into a chimney. And as he was souping me into the chimney I saw a girl in a black and red pants suit and she was visiting someone on an escalator, and I was sure that it was me, my face frowning like a Ford Cortina.


Everyone was awake, everyone’s eyes were a brilliant shade of 32, glowing but with no sign of life. There wasn’t even anyone circling the drain.


-¿What is it then that they want?- The grit was tall and frenzied and didn’t speak in a proper cadence. -¿What penis-head hath God wrought?-


-We live in this nonsense house.- Karen said.


So there you had it.


-¿What dice is this?- The grit’s latest.


-¡But everyone’s alive in your house!- George said.


-For now they’re alive. ¿Know what I mean?- Jerry said. -¡Now everyone in your house is dead!-


Everyone stood around like the escalator had frozen their jackass carcasses and then, taking turns, they each circled us and, taking turns, turned their nose up at us.

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