I Saw Two Good Houses Over There NEXT TO Death
by Don Cheney
A multi-media project by Max Cheney
Chapter 8 read by Morgan P.
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A man took me by my manhood.


Okay, I suppose I meant "girlhood."


Or "Josh."


-I'm not going to eat a banana if I can't leave my peel.- He said.


-¡Josh! ¡Please!- I looked like I knew what I meant but what I wanted to look like was a girl about to piss any second now.


That sentence sent a shiver right down my carport. My penis trembled against me and my aggression passed right through my girlhood.


-¡Dad! ¡Look! ¡Please!-


Josh knew without alluding to uncle.


-¡But I'm not nice never!- Josh gritted.


-No. You're not your self.- I said and called out "¡TIME!" to Dad.


-Amanda, you're either a toy or a Kewpie doll.- Dad, who appeared like a pie from "The Great Race," said with the fire of love that was installed in him like marbles in a salad.


-Dad, I can see you're gone.- I was a genie. -But, ¡Jesus H. Christ!- I sneezed. -¡I'm a girl!-


-Hey, do me a favor, Amanda.- The mucous responded and then questioned: -¿Do you know how much it costs to be me, you shitheel? ¿Do you have a freaking clue what kind of house you'd be living in if I didn't pony up my quarter of the money? And how many times do I have to rant like this...-


-¿Would you rant on your knees?- Josh asked enthusiastically. -I'd love to see that, Dad. ¿Would ya?-


-Dad doesn't have the imagination.- I said. That voice didn't know me from my brabra. And whenever I have a profound thought like that I could never find a crayon to write it down.


-Amanda, ¿what do you make of God?- Dad said contemplating the punch-line. -¿A vest?-


Segue to a mirage: I had been piling up rope but what that really meant was I’d be taking a cab instead of his AMC Pacer.


-You're simply pretending that it's rope.- Dad said with impatience.


Nope, I'm pretending that I’m a nine-gun ninja turtle.- I said. -It is rope.-


-Pardon me.- I said in a low voice. -¿Could you repeat the part where I get on the escalator?-


¡Pardon me, my ass!


But I knew I couldn't send in my apparition without it causing confusion.


And a sense of ¡TADA!


¿Why am I always thinking that I'm a pile of rope that's been converted into a pile of Yago Sangria?


I guess nothing's possible.


I'm not crazy. I'm very good.


¿Then why is everything suddenly happening in tons and short paragraphs?


I had opened the door to my heart, lit a candle and watched my left ventricle pumping blood to my heart.


-¡Uh, oh! ¡Chongo!-


I opened a window and lay down counter-clockwise.


¿Who was throwing those pies?


Mom. I suppose it was Mom.


The air called out to me and hummed so I plopped down and poured out a quart of sky. I knew that I looked greasy and pensive, alive and lovely.


I'd be astute another time. Right now I wanted to look calm. Everyone except me tended to do the rope-a-dope. But my jeans were old and my shirt was old and the pies just kept coming.


¿Who the Coolacoo was throwing those pies? ¿Mom?


I was awesome at the door and called out:


-¡MOM! ¿Would you teach me to rope-a-dope?-


I heard what I was saying all right but I couldn't understand if what I meant was what I had decided or what I had said was what I had heard.


-¡Calm your ass, Amanda!- Mom nested me. -¡Just calm it! For the love of pesto, can't you understand that your mom is being pushed into the ropes? ¿Who’s going to teach me?-



A pie hit the door and the sound echoed and rose, reprimanding everyone who wasn't the door to get into the closet.




-¿What's happening to you?- I gritted my teeth like a Pullman salmon. I crawled to the closet like I was looking for dog fur and then opened the door using all of my teeth.


Phonetically separated: the rope - the cold goo. But I didn't have either.


“¿Rat ones?”, I thought.


Dad had always thought the saran wrap was talking to him.


-I have to sally out of here.- I said in an altered voice.


I wasn't counting but ¼ of me was ready to light Mom on fire. No, more like ALL OF ME was ready to light ¼ of her on fire but the rest of me was for getting shit-faced. My imagination runs from the tentative to the Cosa Nostra.


And it's not like everyone in my family is loaded down with logical explanations. It's more like: no one. Meanwhile, I ponied into my jeans every morning and repeated the word "logical" into the mirror. Mentally I felt like a matador who had yelled at the bull one too many times and the bull was starting to understand.


¡Calm it up, Amanda! ¡Calm it up!


Breathe through your feet. Count until you die.




-¡Josh! ¿You don't have a cigarette do you?- I asked him. -I have some but they taste like a garden gnome.-


I know it's disgusting that I want to smoke my brother's cigarette but it's not like reality has ever been revealed to me in a Mickey Mouse voice.


-¡Get outta here!- Josh said, looking through his eyes to the door. -¡Don't make me bust a cap in your produce ass! I can be as cold as a french fry.-


-¿¡A fucking french fry?!- I exclaimed. -¿What’s got a hold of your ass?-


I started talking like a goof... but then I detourned. I was as vague as a tour bus Band-Aid.


-Or a John Woo movie.- Josh murmured.


-No. Dig it.- I insisted. -¿What looks like a bus and is a bus, but it talks?-


Josh believed that God was a matador with a codpiece molded in Paris.


Finally, he said:


-Tonight has been sleepily horrible. I look into my corneas and I see an iguana talking about Dad's bald spot.-


-¿Sleepily horrible?- I said. -You sound like my propped-up pedantry.-


-Yeah. I've got two boys in my heart and they're both evil.-


-¿What did I do run run?- I asked Josh.


-I remember the gnome.- Josh said, evidently looking me in the eyes. -But then again I only remember what my Jesus tire iron tells me.-


-And ¿what about your tire iron pesto sauce?- I asked, looking dumb and particularly mean, kinda like a centipede with a sunburn.


-¡I'm desperate!- He said. -Later, I'll be aggressive--but right now: ¡Leave me alone!-


-¿Why do boys talk like they're missing teeth?- I asked.


-No. No cream.- Josh said. -Only cereal.-


-¿Only cereal?- I countered, pen at attention


-Yeah, cereal and a hoagie sandwich with raisins. But I don't want to talk about food anymore.-


I started pulsating nervousness. -¿Are we going to see if you can pass the stupid test or what?-


-Yeah, but I'm starting to list.- He said. -Stop centipeding me and stop trying to convince me that I'm just a shadow of my reflection.-


¡Yeah, and you stop spreading mononucleosis to Montana!


I segued through the hall. I passed a pile of rope, thinking that nine was one better than visiting Allah. And then thinking about the mismatched boy in the window and then I started legging it faster and faster and then there were two boys and one was that son of a bitch Josh.


The only thing that I could conclude was that Josh and I were so nervous that we believed that the U.S. had become a nut house full of guns and drugs. Mom and Dad would say that we were loco, that Bob Dole was a demigod and that if we thought that our country was fucked up we weren’t using enough of our collective imaginations.


And I had quite an imagination.


Yeah, but I also had quite a case of poodle sores.


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