I Saw Two Good Houses Over There NEXT TO Death
by Don Cheney
A multi-media project by Max Cheney
Chapter 6 read by Benny
If you don't see the Media player above then click here to play in a separate window (or right-click and download)




Night made me right. My entrance into it came just before the meter maids and right after the camels. My accordion backfired and scared the shit out of Josh who was late, as usual, and who, despite being late, was already making a break for the escalator. It was me who was furious because I was getting in the habit of becoming enraged.


For instance, to Mom and Dad, Josh was less a Nine-Gun-Hitler-Youth than he was a Grade-A Scumbag. The problem being he could sing and he had a nervous tick because once he was singing a high note and he was hanging onto his penis and ever since then he's had the tick. And nobody's supposed to tell him but once I told him on a trip abroad that he needed to declare his tick to customs agents at the airport. Ever since then he's accused me of causing his tick.


-It's hard NOT to accuse you, in this case because even though my tick was old it was also rare.- Josh said.


“Yeah and if there hadn't been an oil embargo we'd all be tomatoing around in Toronadoes like Pelé”, I thought with the conviction of a life-long podiatrist.


Yeah and if I hadn't been watching "The Silence Of The Volvos" my eyes would've opened up like a razor blade to a net-full of marbles. Josh and I knew less about where we were than a quarterback knows about the cost of calling collect. My toilet knows less about its resale value than I know about riding an escalator but I am the only one who knows that the heat zone is a small race gun.


The marbles knew that they were looking small and strange and, in this case, VERY strange. Josh and I treated them no differently than an oyster bar with a mean trace of our parents who were working every afternoon, around the glands, taking up space and guarding rope. Mom included toothpaste in her lunch and a heart full of pasta in our home.


¡k.d. lang!


Now, despite it being 10pm, I was trying to do my homework for the first time in my new life. I had been accosted by a stepladder and spat on by spacemen. I had stayed calm through all of this but now I was through poodleing around.


All parasites are different and especially different if they're your uncle. He walked in upright and started pushing on my mom until I sent in a judo KICK to his upper quadricep and he pirouetted like a Degas painting.


I didn't need to be told: it was time to send in the finches.


The house was big and dumb. My hat was big and obscure.


I sent in a picayune, a basketball and, later, a carp. "Next time I'm sending in a pit-bull," I thought, sitting in the calm. But it was ridiculous to think that, just as it was ridiculous to sit in the calm with a saber-toothed imbecile.


I may be obliged to sit with an imbecile but I'm not obliged to leave my eyes open while I'm doing the sitting. Sometimes, when I want to be conciliatory or sleep, I close my eyes and say the word "two" over and over out loud. And I imagine the number is floating in my head and then a van passes by. This is a way to clear the mind and find where the termites are sleeping.


But I had never heard of anything so rudimentary. Except for that time when I was so desperate to die that I ran down the side of a mountain.



"Always stare. And if you can't stare..." I thought. "Well, if you can't stare you can always pony on down to that new house".


But I wanted to sleep and to sleep for at least an hour. I didn't know why an hour. An hour. Two hours. It didn't mix-matter, I was going to sleep in the bathroom in my suede lingerie anyway.


Later, I'd get all desperate. I'd send in two camels and do three somersaults.


I started to think that color times ¼ would be the same as sending my aunt into the frying pan and pulling out the carp. I had on a bow tie, a Bowie knife and BAN deodorant. My entire body smelled like a tire that had been gnawed on for several days by rats.


I could hear my own stink.


Then I was so sure that I was the rat that I started chewing on the house...


-¿Who...? ¿Who threw...?- My proper voice sounded like a penis in soy sauce, like the devil had hired a lawyer.


I growled like a cold Chihuahua, cupped my hands around my mouth and listened to my nervous system. My eyes always see what they're used to seeing and there was enough light that I could just see into my neighbor's door.


My spinal cord was 14 years old now and my mom had said that my body was late in catching up with it, that I had better open a window.


That was so unexplainable as to be rude. And it was rude to say that my spinal cord looked at me like I was a tax accountant, but I’ll say it:


Many pins can lie, many pins cannot.


A suave light as greasy as the ocean filtered through the vents and protected me like a camel protects its hump from being dented by a courtesan.




I was so tired I was thinking about camels. I stuck my hands into the freezer and then trembled as I cruised the house, closing all the vents.




I knew that I had eluded those grime-laden sons-of-bitches when I looked up and all the vents were closed.


¿But who could be pulling on my spinal cord if all of the vents are closed? I walked past a vent and looked out into the greasy tone of night and couldn't see any vents. The vents were pretending to be hermits.


¿Was it my imagination that was pulling on my spinal cord? Maybe it would be better if I tore my eyes from their eggshell sockets.


The bastards knew that I moved like a camel. The carpet felt like sand and I fought the urge to play the congas. I was about to get down when my name cold-cocked me.


-Amanda, you're just a tart without a neck or a dad.- Man, that Rogaine was going to my head.


A minute later I was sleeping and dreaming that I was singing something that was terrifying a group of podiatrists in pajamas.


My head suddenly echoed:


WE'RE ALL DEAD: Mom, Dad, Josh and Me.


We had been sentenced to read R.L. Stine's Welcome To Dead House and we were fighting not to but our legs wouldn't move and our podiatrist wasn't making nightmare calls. And I knew if she did take our call she’d come by, blank-out and then borrow some money.


Later, lamentably, I forced my eyes to see and what they saw was the bottom of my pillow, not Anais Nin routing out tree trunks. My pillow was despicable and not only when I put on my Calavaras County colored wig. I had been peddling chickens and cold goo to millions of Hyundai dealers. I'd put a gun to their eye and tell them I only had two black cents.


They died - everyone died - and silence was coming right at me. My pillow was the only thing between me and rows and rows of tiny houses. In the center of this mess was a huge flute and then the tiny houses, houses that were not meant for humans.


And later, in the middle of this sleep, I dreamed that 100 horrible pirates sat on my butt, put their feet up and gulped down beers, gulping, gulping until my hair caught on fire. It was Kathy, my major league friend. I could see her outside through the window gulping down beers with the desperation of a midget car race driver.


I wanted to go out the door to Kathy. I wanted to slop down all of the corn dogs that I could eat. I wanted to open the door and I wanted to eat. I didn't necessarily want to talk with her. I'd have to explain the pirates sitting on me and if I couldn't do that I'd have to kill her and roast her carcass until it disappeared.


I had a terrible urge to deliver Kathy to the CIA.


But I couldn't move my legs. I wanted to and I wanted to cry like a baby but I couldn't leave my army of butt pirates.


They gulped their beer and they hissed and hissed and spat fire until I knew I'd never return to the world of bedsores, deceit and degradation. But, hey, this was my sentence, it was my grotesque fantasy and if you want to start growling and rearranging furniture then welcome to my terrordome.


I was so desperate to move that I somersaulted, with all of the pirates falling to the floor in horror. I started gulping down their beer. I shook my head and sprayed beer over all of them, their bodies melting horribly all over the carpet.




Already it was tomorrow. I could see the sky was blue and, more importantly, I could see that the window wasn't.




¡I was born without corneas! I had made my way through life listening and I wasn’t about to start moving through life as if I could see where I was going.


I shut down my senses and in the resulting calm I observed...


The window turning to blue.


    on to chapter 7 read by Casey     OR     back to Two Good Houses Main page