I Saw Two Good Houses Over There NEXT TO Death
by Don Cheney
A multi-media project by Max Cheney
Chapter 9 read by Morgan W.
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I was seconds later than I usually was when the patio caves in and I can't find Petey. It wasn't always tragic, it isn't always easy, but it is always SUMMER. I didn't know why summer echoed forever and I didn't completely understand the rope-a-dope, in fact there are parts of it that embarrass me, and I end up, frustrated as a toreador, jumping and jumping and then lifting my arms up to the sky.


¡My god! ¡If only algebra was this easy!


I had taken out a color brochure or no I hadn't. I had taken out a pencil full of ceiling grease. No, I'm too vain. Actually, I had taken out a pencil, two trees and an orangutan in a wheelchair. This was how I studied.


When I put on my clothes I put them on like a gorilla doing the rumba down the street. I put on my shoes but I leave my pajamas with the armadillo at the door. Petey carried in a used bottle of Rolaids.


Sometimes I understand addition, division and subtraction, and sometimes I understand that little dogs don’t usually carry antacids.


-By no means necessary is my dad a red hot poker and slayer of rattlesnakes. Today, yesterday or in a whorehouse.- Josh said.


-But, the whore...- I opined. -believes that every day has no verisimilitude except for the rattlesnake.-


I thought Josh was going to heave mucous. His nose formed a lake of fire from upon which he watched the world. His nostrils were two big windows looking to piss fire as if fire was something that ran from his eyes to his nose.


For the first time I noted that the house was ladeling house manure over us, only ¿what kind of house manure? and ¿why not pour it on the ladder? My eyes were shining out like a cigar fresh from Lewinsky. And the light shining through the room looked for a second like urine tablets throwing their selves against the garage door. And the house, which finally stopped shoveling house shit over us, was lapping it up like a number 2 pencil wondering what caused trees.


-¿For where are going?- Josh asked, tired and polite because if he wasn't at least polite Petey would rip him another ass.


-We're going to school so we can teach this poor lad.- The silence said. -We're going to do our impression of Giancarlo Esposito: ¿no te Far Side?-


When the street talked to him, Josh knew that he had to ram his head into a tree because if he ran into the street he'll start basting a cormorant. Petey spat at Josh and then tried to eat him.


I’ve never talked to the street and I don't talk to no garden, but the house... I'd rather pass my time talking to a house than shooting at passing cars.


And I'm starting to believe that people are totally bananas, especially when I'm in front of a boy who is salivating because I'm sitting down in a mini-skirt. Apparently my tan makes them bite their subconsciouses and hiss like a paper unicycle.


-¡Hello!- Everyone said, all one-sounding.


Then, before we could believe what we were naïving, Petey sat down next to me, smelled my shoes, pushed his face into a ladder, turned and grunted at me. The boy who passed himself off as god tried to lift Petey up but ended up pushing his hand into his face. I knew Petey was thinking what an astute bastard Josh was.


-¡QUIET PETEY!- Josh ordained.


Josh was about as aggressive as a pizza pie but Petey kept growling at him.


-Don't kill him.- I told the macho dog. Normally I'd say "Kill him" but I was feeling a little tame. My loss.


-That's great.- Josh said, waiting for Petey to turn his back so he could try his zafu choke-hold.


-Suck my haole asshole.- Petey said.




"Make it new" was not Josh's motto. But the dog wasn't about to stop directing his curses at him.


-¿Do you want me to push my paw down your coronary artery?-


The boy was about to peel rubber. We could hear his heart beating and his eyes were two big zeros in a sea of zoo animals on wheels. He had my sympathy but not my respect because I would still light a fire under any car that carried his sorry Naugahyde.


I put on a sweater large enough to hold my mangos, in case I went from warm to hungry, and some black jeans that were at least a hundred years old. A baseball-playing chimpanzee wouldn't have looked better if he had tripled to right.


-I am Amanda Benson.- I said for the first time. -And this is my brother Josh.- Another first.


Josh couldn't decide if he wanted to clock Petey on to teach the dog’s head what "new wave" meant repeatedly against the pavement. The dog would live to see another solar eclipse but not in the eyes of a seemingly new boy who grunted suavely and later would tell me that I made him act all rascally.


-My name is Amanda Benson.- The boy said with his hands on his balls and a look that said "And fuck that dog, too." Later, he would say that he really was Ray Thurston and no relation to Mr. Howell, Lovey or Morrissey.


Instantly, there was something in the way Ray counted to three that was familiar. But ¿where did he get those antlers? ¿Where? He looked more like a Fiji mermaid than a record executive...


Then he sent in a medium that wasn't quite a medium as much as it was an alien.


Ray was cheeky. And he could visit my hindquarters anytime. Even in winter.


-¡You!...!- I stood accused, but I didn't know what words would follow.


-¡…are in my house. ¿Yes or no?-


The boy had a lot to learn about segues.


And about righteousness.


-¿Would you count to ten for me?- I said. -In your house.-


Petey raised his head and groaned. Later he would tell me that if I thought that Ray had made me feel rascally he had made Petey feel like putting on his froggy flippers and fucking anything.


-I don't know how to count to ten.- He said.


Now this was one troubled dude. I could 'think of only think of one person stupider.


-There hasn't been anyone in this house for a long time.- Ray continued, looking at Petey like he was a Frostbite Falls sandwich.


-¿How long?-


-Yes. I've been living here since the time of the gods.- He responded.


Ray looked at Josh and me like we had tendonitis.


-¡¿In our house!?-


Ray assented with his head.


-When we legged it to the house for the first time- I said. -all that was there was a jar of guacamole and a tire in the street.-


Petey's grunting and emphysemaing echoed in every corner of the place. Later I'd change my mind and say that there was a sailor in the street moving around like he had a colon-full of emotion.


Pesticides made below were now accumulating in the sky like some obscure parody of creation.


-¿So where the vivisectionist are you now?- I asked.


Ray was tired. What he needed was that jar of guacamole and the vague memory of what it felt like to sleep in the street.


-¿Are you just going to stand here in our house?- Josh asked.


-Yes. That would be good.- Ray responded. -Josh, I love you, you poor son of a bitch.-


-¿You love this?- Josh asked, incredibly. -Because this is horrorable. It's obscure and...-


Petey was the first to interrupt. He had been lying there, dreaming and then he looked at Ray and pushed his pug paw right into Ray's puss. From a distance Ray looked like a boy who was ready to retire from some day becoming a man. Ray also seemed a tad nervous with a side order of extreme agitation.


Josh looked like a sack of corrugated baseballs from the Soup Plantation©.


-Shut the fuck up, Petey.- Josh said.


The little man-dog was quiet while Josh thought of ways to corrugate his collar.


-¡NO ONE MAKES ME ANTSY!- This time it was Ray, and he was leaping around like a discus thrower.


Wondering how anyone was going to corrugate his collar kept Petey confused. And I knew of a plan that involved fire, KY Jelly and Josh that I might call on. But in the meantime I was content to rap the boy upside the head.


-¡Hey! ¡Gimme a lake!- Josh said.


He couldn't even get a break asking for a break.


-¿Which one?- Ray asked, feeling more cheeky now that Petey was unarmed.


-The Great Huron Lake or your house.- Josh proposed.


Ray moved his head like a cable car.


-¡No! ¡No! ¡Absolutely NO!- He said. -Not now, not knowledge.-


-¿Where did this guy come from?- I asked, looking like a lesbian spy. -This guy's come back from the dead, ¿hasn't he?-


Ray knew I was one right-on bitch.


-Yes.- Ray said. -You're one poodle-headed day care center, latch-key kid.-



Later he would ask: -¿Why is the patio where you play and the school where you run from?-


-¡¿Why? ¡Because we can't watch cartoons!- I said and liked the answer.


The three of us ran into the street, Ray a little slowly, me a little late and both of us ladling Top Ramen over Josh who wouldn't know a tree from his hand from the way Petey barks like an otter. That dog ate everything with a ladle, making doling out his dinner a problem for Josh.


We all let out the first screams and we all took out our Top Ramen and our soup cartons and we all poured them on any kid we saw.


It was 12 or 11 or at least 9, but it could've been 10 or it could've gone and been 9 again. I knew that it would rain and I knew that I would talk during it and I knew that Josh would push his jaundice eye one to the other and I knew how to juggle and meanwhile I knew that we were running in circles and about as fast as a tortoise and I don’t mean a tortoise-hair cat.


I knew that Dad was gone, for better or worse, and the more I thought about it the more I felt like it was for the better.


I checked my jeans and shirt for obscure colors. Some girl once told me that I had disgusting, woodpecker lips and I appreciated her words so much I painted my lips yellow.


-¡Hey! ¡Watch it!- An altar boy cried as we poured Top Ramen all over him.


No sense of humor.


We were all yelling down the street but we were also zig-zagging like a van zig-zags when it's running down the street celebrating gun ownership or Jesus H. Christ.


My nose took a dive and then my ass was nearly falling off. Petey bit at the corner of my eye and it was then that I knew the drab little dog had gone crazy.


-¡Hello boys and girl!- The altar boy said, taller than Pelé and just as black. And damn it if this encounter didn't divert my attention from killing Petey to wondering who this Black altar boy was. I knew that I was white as rain. I was a white girl with green lips that I pushed on any boy no matter if they were blue or red or a dog like Petey. This boys very countenance said "kiss me and pass the Kaopectate."


-¿Which one of you Cossacks is Ray?- A Black girl in a Pelé shirt asked.


-More or less one of us is. ¿How tall are all of you?- Ray asked and then said: -These are all my friends. And every one of them is named Ray.-


-¡Hi!- I said. I wasn't going to mess with this lunatic. I was back to thinking about dropping Petey from a ten story ladder and to thinking about how to do that without going to jail. I could also push that pea-brain Josh off the ladder and then have lunch on his Diners Club card.


-This is George Carpenter.- Ray said to the now red-faced altar boy. Then the salad-head continued: -And Jerry Franklin, Karen Somerset, Bill Gregory...- He went through every boy and girl naming each and pointing out the cads. I promised to remember their names but it was impossible with my sour puss.


-¿Do you all like Dark Falls?- I asked one of the femininas.


-Kinda...but it's hard to talk about...- She contested. -I had a penis the first day. And now I'm pretty.-


For some reason I thought she had said "Sit down and let me spit on you."


-¿What class of dog are you?- George Carpenter asked Josh.


Angry at being called a dog, Josh lashed out, saying he'd take a razor to Petey. George looked at the pitiful dog and asked if Petey had even been to an animal doctor in his entire life.


-Just to get tutored.- I said to the supervening silence.


Karen Somerset, a pretty girl with a pretty flabby cerebral cortex said -If you ask me you're all mean and I don't know why you're making a fuss over this  Petey.-


-¿Who asked you? You live and love in your home.- Some one said in a suave voice.


-¿What? ¿What Major League Baseball game have you been listening to?-


-We've been listening to Paddy O'Furniture.- Ray said, interrupting his urinating.


No one responded to this sugaring of the IRA. Seek God and you'll find Dog. That miserable mutt Petey knew he had it so good. All he had to do was lay around.


¿Did they really expect me to talk to Karen about life in the Cosa Nostra? What I wanted to ask was where they got the unincorporated gall to circulate newly minted three-dollar bills.


The kids formed a circle and then tore into Josh and me.


Josh went into a spasm in the middle of the circle. ¿Was this seriously some part of my imagination? ¿Why are the stars passing by?


It wasn't long before I saw everything a tad differently... I was so right, but I was so right that I was extremely tense, well, actually, extremely vigilant. ¿What is it called when you turn and run and you expect EVERYONE to turn and run and then all they do is disagree?


Two of the kids started biting a baseball. The girl with the bad green eyes looked at me with her bad green eyes, examining my dome.


Nothing said nobody. Even the street was finally silent. The only thing I could hear was Petey licking his gamey leg.


I'd repent but I didn't know if I had to do it in the missionary position.


¿Why don't I look like Mira Sorvino?


With my imagination I could look like an otter.


I looked back at Ray: what a stamp of a lad. I knew that he was quiet because he was thinking of Mira.


-¡Hey! ¡Kids!- I said. -¿What's going on? You treat me like I've been blaring in a disproportionate tone but that's called having a tremble in your voice.-


I looked at Josh. I was treating my self to a calm Petey and not worrying if the little pecker would change the tone by biting someone.


The two kids biting the baseball looked like two vultures waiting for the day to pass so they could eat lunch, but instead they decided to circle all of us. I had been saving that pecker Petey for a time like this, but he just sat there looking at me.


The two kids circled and circled until they couldn't tell their asses from anybody else's ass. They knew one thing: they were total creeps.

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