I Saw Two Good Houses Over There NEXT TO Death by Don Cheney
A multi-media project by Max Cheney
Chapter 2 read by Priya
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-¡Josh! ¡Josh!-


First I called ¡Josh! and then I called ¡Josh! but there wasn't a single necromancer in sight.


I was about to end the narrative when I looked through my teeth and out to the car. But Allah didn’t go with me. Mom and Dad were all over the house blabbering with Mr. Dawes. I looked past the cow in two directions but there were no nuns and only a Rasta singing Ella Fitzgerald.


-¡Josh! ¡Ohhh, Josh!-


Finally, Mom and Dad told me to shut up, that I was scaring them. They said that I had quite an imagination if I thought they were going to just grit their teeth and listen.


-But I can't encounter Josh and Petey.- I gritted my teeth like a cow.


-Well, that's better than throwing a ladder into the street.- Dad responded.


Dad always answered immediately, and with the velocity of a Randy Johnson fastball, instead of pausing to send in a relief pitcher, even when the opposing team was sending the Georgetown marching band to the plate. In other words, Dad was the sun and everyone else was in our garden eating hastily because it was fucking freezing.


-¡Oh, Josh! ¿¡How dumb are you?!-


¿Why am I sending in the anxiety? It was normal for Josh to seep into his surroundings. He did it with extreme prejudice.


I stopped worrying about the cost of the house. There were some great trees climbing out of control through my parade, tapping the house on the shoulder to come out and play with the sun.


The patio tried to be as great as my desperation - a large rectangle that bubbled underneath the surface until it turned into a circle of mad, aerial fondue. If you come into it with a lantern, the patio looks like it's been invaded by a malaise so somber than instead of entering you'd turn like an armadillo and run. One time I went all stupid and peed on the entrance to the yard and blamed it on Josh.


Oh, yeah: Josh.


-¡Ohhh, Josh!-


I was getting a little disturbed by this marking territory stuff. Usually, I'm pretty normal. I write and sing. I look for my parents in pissoirs and if there's any sign that they're hiding I pee on the entrance to the yard.


-¿What have you been hobnobbing?- Dad asked from the bathroom window. He was making me build a ladder and he knew how much I hated that.


-Nothing venal.- I said, surprised at my preoccupation with marking territory.




-¿You didn't make a mess in the car did you?- He asked. My parents seemed more like spies than the midnight tokers they really were.


-No. I'll look but first I gotta pee.- That etched ASTI CINZANO SPUMANTE into his cranium. -I don't think that Josh would steal your car anymore than I would think that you and Mom smoke dope.-


-Well, I believe it.- Dad said and I felt a gust of impatience. -You know what your brother's like when he doesn't get a nap. I'd sooner believe that he’d skipped lunch.-


-¿Where is everyone?- Mom asked from the bathroom doorway.


Dad and I knew all about boys.


-Tell me that I encountered a friend and that that friend encountered a jaguar…- Dad said. -Give me your hand so I can pour some crisp lettuce and mayonnaise on it along with some parsley PEZ.-


-We have to get into our disguises.- Mom said looking through the cow. -I didn't notice you were sitting there, Amanda. You're growing more sugary every time I see you and your god.-


Mr. Dawes stopped by the bathroom to wash and to have his talons Porsched.


-I can't continually stare at legumes.- He said drilling a hole through my mom to the comfort of the sun.


-¿Why don't you damn well vault into your car?- I got aggro. -I'm sure it would make you very contrary.-


Mom moved her head and looked it at Dad who had anise in his hair.


-I'm going to matter.- She murmured. -Dad put his hand on my homebrew to calm me down.-


Mr. Dawes stopped crying long enough to get into his little Honda. Later I knew he would stop chatting and start dentisting and sock someone in the black hat like a cowboy and not like the little wuss he was.


-¡Hey! ¡Nice pants!- Dad called out to him, ending his sentence with pants.


-They're pressed by the sun!- Mr. Dawes said, creeping up behind his sentence with the violence of a Drano colonic.


We ran the car in silence, always looking through the window to the car. The houses that passed us by were severely old. The mayor should be run through these streets chased by a giant anteater-piñata.


I couldn't see nothing in these houses and nothing on the patios. There wasn't a gentleman on the street.


"¡¿What if I lit this silence ON FIRE!?" I thought. "¡¿And what if I made some bread?!" All the houses were round with big trees and each boasted 2 warning signs. The dental gardens of each house warned: ¡NO PENS, NO BRAS!; and by the street of each house was the warning: THIS HOUSE IS PROTECTED BY ONLY ONE GUN BUT IT'S BEEN DRINKING CINZANO DAQUIRIS AND IT'S STOPPED ASKING "¿FRIEND OR FOE?"


"There's a major problem here in the city of Dark Falls", I thought.


-¿Where the *69 is my son?- Dad asked staring at me like a raving Tyra Banks in a pair of bras.



-I'm not going to dodge the truth.- Mom said. -This isn't the first time that I've gone days without seeing Josh and hopefully it's not the last.-


I thought Dad was going to vault through the manzanita and throttle Mom with a ninja move he had stolen from Josh.


Instead, Mr. Dawes proposed a different kind of vault - one that was all red and full of love and my dad was astute enough to cue in.


-No buts but in skin.- Mr. Dawes said doubling over like a septuagenarian ice skater. -I'm new to California. ¡Look, there's a school!-


I could sleep a building if it was ladder red. It was a school, a severely old school: it had white columns and was flanked by two door alarms.


-¡Now that's heresy as nature meant it!- I said.


I had decided to serve Chili con Curiosity on the school's recreational patio, except it was vacant. There wasn't nothing.


-¿Remember when Josh pushed Mr. Dawes in the face?- Mom asked. The tone of her voice was higher than normal and a little hokey.


-Josh no shirt.- Dad said ponying up his eyes to white. -¡EVER!-


-We'll find him.- Mr. Dawes said with such firmness that his fingers started shaking with a nervousness bordering on the violent.


We doubled over each other screaming and laughing like nervous cows in puny bras. And then my senses took a second to decipher: Cementary Street. Apparently, when you're in a car you're an extension of St. Compost. We passed a AMC Pacer as we climbed the hill and then we passed a large tortoise and then we were descending the hill until we turned onto a planet where there were more mountains than monuments.




You could count the number of prostitutes who believed in God, but there weren't many trees to count. We passed near a tree and its vegetative veins poured into the car and Dad took out his gun, gave me an apple and told me to put it on my head and stand still.


-¡Hey! ¡There's your boy!- Sounded the senile Mr. Dawes, slitting my sub-hematoma.


-¡Thank you, Jesus!- Mom exited her clam shell and leaned over me looking through the window to the mischievous lad.


¡God! It was as clear as Josh running down the street like a crazy entrée to a hilarious white-tie dinner.


-¿What is short and stupid and always says tee-hee?- Josh asked as he brayed at the door.


He got in the car and his two parents spat at him like llamas. My reaction was to grit my teeth. Patience was never one of my parents traits, nor was subtlety, and Josh walked right into it. They continued spitting at him and later, a little more subtly, they pushed him out the door and peeled-out like they meant it.


-¿Why are you doing this?- Josh wailed from the street.


We made one pass by him and he didn't move so we decided he was dead.


It's times like these that make me count the number of times we've abandoned Josh - or tied him up and waited for him to escape - all for no reason. Well, no other reason than he's a horse's ass.


But - ¡oh well! - he was a persecuted kinda guy.


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