Max Cheney
  from "The 3 Imperfectionists"

‘You saved the butcher,’ precluded Hitchcock. The other side of the world didn’t know how to handle the sick display it just witnessed.

‘No, the butcher just knew how the robot felt about bratwurst.’

‘Nonsense. You’re out of your doppelganger on this one Alfred. You couldn’t tell the difference between an ice pick and a two-headed donkey loaded up on horse-tranquilizers.’

This horrible noise had been going on for hours now. Alfred had met Jorge a few nights back at a bar called ‘Suicide Squeeze.’ Jorge had been impressed by Alfred’s keen sense of direction and strange compulsion towards the unworldly.

Alfred and Jorge were certainly two peas in a barrel. They both loved to speak of things any respectable person might walk in on and say, ‘That’s the most perverse and odd thing that I’ve ever laid my middle ear on.’

After riling up the aficionados at the meat conference, Alfred and Jorge decided to retire to the open road. Amidst the chaos, the issue of horseback riding in Des Moines, Iowa came to the poker table--except there were no chips or cards here.

‘Iowa’-Jorge exclaimed as he peered at the camel crossing the fork in the road. ‘What the fuck is in Iowa?!’

‘Hell if I know. But something I do know is this...’ Alfred never finished his thought. He took his eyes off the road and placed them squarely on the skull of Jorge. He had this crazed look in his eyes.

Possibly it was the ketamine that he had snorted about an hour earlier. It was a rather exorbitant amount. They had picked it up from a guy named ‘Silver Louie’ who, along with a very real respect for salmon, always had a good supply of just about anything a half-crazed private investigator and car-salesman could need on a Friday night in Washington D.C.

Alfred continued...

‘I don’t know what to make of this gas gauge. It’s been on empty for about an hour now.’

Jorge didn’t seem to be paying attention to Alfred. He proved this suspicion correct by shouting, "What the cocksucker needs is a good orange-tree and blender reading ‘I slice and sure as hell dice!’"

Alfred looked at Jorge, who certainly now had the more crazed look of the two.

‘Which cocksucker are you referring to? I know of no such thing.’

--Silence followed--

The road to Iowa from D.C. was a long one. But Jorge and Alfred had this picture of horseback riding in their mind that kept them going. This thought was rather abstract, but chalk-full of euphoric pragmatism nevertheless.

--Radio blaring--

"--childhood shapes our personalities and ways of becoming attached to others, and that we often struggle with conflicts among our wishes, fears, and values. Furthermore--."

--Radio abruptly turned off--

Jorge had a puzzled look on his face. ‘That can’t be true! Then how do you explain man’s first walk on the moon?!’

Alfred didn’t know whether to panic or eat some of the mushrooms he had picked up earlier from Silver Louie.

‘I’ll tell you this right now Jorge--he paused to collect his thoughts--never in my life have I seen a wooden-framed picture of Marilyn Monroe’s evil twin totally attack a four-stringed guitar in that fashion.’

With that statement Alfred decided that maybe the mushrooms should wait. But then Alfred thought to himself, "Hey, why not?"

Jorge on the other foot was brooding over the thought of rationalizing obscure messages from God into manageable chunks that could possibly save him from going completely off the deep end of the martini-shaker.

But this was not apparent to Alfred on the surface. And it was only going to be buried deeper and deeper as his serotonin rapidly exceeded any rationally minded limit.

Jorge witnessed Alfred’s ingestion of the devil’s food, but did not acknowledge it. The prospect of the men on the moon finally bearing down on him and pulling the trigger was too much to handle.

‘I think we should stop off at that diner. It says it’s a mile down the road. We need to collect our energy.’

Jorge looked to Alfred for a response.

To Jorge his own hunger was very apparent, but Alfred’s rational interpretation of basic human instincts like thirst and hunger were becoming more and more trivial by the moment.

Jorge eyed the exit for the diner coming up. Peering over at Alfred, he noticed he was drenched in sweat, anachronistically chanting an ancient Indian hymn.

When the moment arose, Jorge jumped up and hit Alfred in the back of the head, temporarily stunning him. He grabbed the wheel and pulled off the side of the road. Alfred drowsily lifted his head up to see what had happened. Jorge hadn’t planned on how to stop the car.

Jorge awoke from this lucid nightmare, glad that his momentary freak-out hadn’t physically surfaced.

"Hey Alfred, I need something to eat man."

Alfred slowly took a piece of gum out of his shirt pocket. "Sound good Jorge. I’m feeling ripe to mingle with some humans."

Jorge was still half-crazy from his own past ingestion, but the vibe he picked up from Alfred at that moment was one of sheer insanity.

"So, those shrooms on top of you yet Al?"

"Well, I think so...either that or my whole life has mirrored the exploits of a repressed Hungarian shadow-puppet.’

Jorge was perplexed, and then resigned. He heard himself mumbling: "I’d say that’s a yes you crazy bastard."

Jorge had been uneasy at the notion of eating anything, let alone mushrooms with some fright-stricken dope fiend he’d met just 72 hours earlier. But his adventurous ignorance, along with his own fiendish predilections, allowed him to proceed and find a new awareness of spider monkeys in the process.

Alfred pulled off the road minutes later at the ‘Town Diner.’

Jorge was inclined to order the pasta with marinara sauce, but his better half told him that a man somewhere near Tallahassee had just broken a promise to George C. Scott, and that trouble certainly followed.

This realization was not pleasant for Jorge, who then uncharacteristically decided on the soup of the day.

Alfred on the other hand was contemplating something entirely irrelevant to the idea of food. No, he was burdening something on his mind that a speed-fed killer whale couldn’t touch.

Alfred looked to Jorge. "Doesn’t this place remind you of that diner that we just walked into 5 minutes ago?"

Alfred and Jorge ate their food quicker than a mangled jackrabbit, stunned over the realization of its inevitable demise into pop culture.

By this time Alfred has turned into a complete mess. He was sweating profusely. His eyes looked like some type of alien sea urchin had decided to take them and use them for their silly sea urchin games. He began jabbering about anything and nothing at all. At times he was very quiet, at others resembling Rodney Dangerfield after 3 bottles of Don Perignon laced with abstract of colored pencils.

Jorge was worried; images of horseback riding were fading fast--and new, more untamed images of Hitler, Himmler and Bob Saget were arriving even faster.

Suddenly, but not so unexpectedly, Alfred jumped up onto the table and maneuvered his way into a crouch--surveying the place. He had turned his napkin into an odd adaptation of a pirate’s bandana--it partially drooped over his eyes.

"I am a victim of the modern age!" He screamed with great ferocity.

Jorge interpreted Alfred’s helpless aggression as a misunderstood reaction to his temporary losses of vision from the bandana covering his eyes.

Regardless of Jorge’s quarries, the waiters and manager of the joint were already very disturbed--even before this ridiculously savage outburst. But now, they looked as if they had just been subjugated to a Chevy Chase movie.

At this point Jorge lost all hope for reconciliation, or for retaining his sanity, and decided to join in on the fun...

An hour later this was a distant memory. As Jorge and Alfred sat quietly in the car, with the noise of the road providing more than enough illusory brain candy that was necessary, they wondered if that bad scene at the diner had ever happened.

"Was it my mind playing tricks?" Alfred asked himself.

Jorge was pondering the same question in his own mind: "No. It must be real. My feeling of hunger is no longer apparent." Beneath this Jorge was puzzled why his inner-monologue took the form of an 18th century bourgeoisie intellectual.

Jorge and Alfred’s patience with each other was growing thinner by the minute. They were both god-fearing men. To be sure: they each feared that at any moment God was capable of jumping down from the sky, stopping their car dead in its tracks, and performing some sort archaic ceremony on them--culminating in sodomy.

"Jesus Christ No!" Jorge screamed in sinister fear.

Alfred had run into problems with God before. Once he was in a church for his sister Maria’s wedding, stoned out of his mind, and totally flipped out. When the reverend asked for everyone in attendance to say a prayer, Alfred began loudly ranting on and on about the apocalypse, the four horsemen, and Lionel Ritchie. He ran up onto the altar and took the prayer book from the preacher. He had somehow tricked himself into believing that his boyhood dream had come true: he was in the superbowl, and at this moment the reverend was his wide receiver.

He began to drop back and mumbled, "Go long man, for fuck’s sake."

When the stunned reverend didn’t move Alfred took it upon himself--"out of the way then". He headed for the end zone, which turned out to be down the aisle and into the parking lot. In the middle of his celebration the reality of the situation snapped back into place like a rubber chinchilla. But it was too late--Alfred had spiked the prayer book, and made a fool of himself. He blamed it on God then and still does now.

"Hey Jorge, did I ever tell you about the time that rat-bastard God of ours made me think I was Joe Namath at Maria’s wedding?"

Jorge was not listening. He was fairly straight and decided to pull out the map and find where they were. In relation to Iowa, or in relation to anything for that matter, Jorge had no idea where they were. But he still attempted to at least gain a vague understanding of their location for future reference.

"Maria’s wedding huh? Nope never heard that. Hey, let me drive--I think I know where we’re heading.

To Jorge’s surprise Alfred responsively answered, "Alright, I just saw that there’s a gas station six miles up the road."

This gas station was like no other. The vibrations emanating from it were perversely similar to what an earthworm feels when pondering its place in the world along with the horror it endured while Three’s Company was on primetime.

As Alfred walked around the car images of Suzanne Somers crept up on him like a deranged clown in a coalminer’s nightmare. "She’s got a nice set of cans...Goddamn!" Alfred blurted out as he and Jorge took their seats.

Jorge didn’t know what to think of this strange exclamation. After all, he hadn’t interpreted the vibrations from the gas station having anything to do with Three’s Company. But at this moment Jorge saw the light for the first time in his life. He looked straight at it and said, "Good God! Pancho Villa would be proud if he saw me now!"


The communication between Alfred and Jorge had been hovering somewhere between non-existent and ridiculously insane for hours now. Some of the statements that the two had imposed on the each other in their short relationship could have been pulled straight out of the text of an Edgar Allen Poe rant on the practicality of communal kayaking. In medieval days the two of them would have been thrown in the stocks, castrated, and then labeled "peso-grubbing populists." There is no arguing this.

"You know Jorge, lately I’ve been questioning the meaning of all this."

"All of what?" Jorge replied with a hint of aggressiveness.

"Well, I just think that our government and big business are slowly mutating the way that we interact with each other. Eventually, we’ll all be equally worthless."

Jorge looked at Alfred in a way he never had before... "What the fuck are you talking about you crazy bastard?! I mean if the president wanted to repopulate condors into the environment all he’d have to do is talk to the right people, ya know what I’m saying?" Jorge then shook his head, muttering under his breath about opium and lizards. He turned back to the road.

Alfred’s brief collection of his own thoughts had been blasted to hell by Jorge’s gross misconception of the way fascism relates to the Milky Way. Beneath this, Alfred realized that he no longer felt the desire for horseback riding that he had once held. He didn’t want to tell Jorge though--for fear that he would completely lose it.

Few people had the capacity for insanity that Alfred and Jorge took for normal every day.

Cruising along the highway now at 60 mph, Alfred looked over at Jorge--partly to make sure that he actually existed.

"I’m bored Alfred," Jorge blurted out unemotionally.

"You’re telling me that you’re bored?! Jorge, if I had 5 arms I’d rest my chin on one of them in amazement!"

"Hey! Don’t shit on me Sherlock--you know how bad I want 5 arms!"

"Nonsense Jorge; let’s forget this rhetorical jabbering and get back to the task at hand. Now where the fuck are my pants?!"

"Pants?!" Jorge looked puzzled, reacting as if the word was boomed down from the sky by some unworldly force.

"Oh well," Alfred muttered under his muttering, "They’ll come back to me...they always do."

Nightfall dust-panned over the scene, causing a momentary panic in the two. This quickly passed, as the gradualness of the shift to darkness hadn’t really come all at once, comforting Alfred and Jorge.

"We need to find a place to stay," Jorge articulated to Alfred. Jorge looked to Alfred for a response.

But Alfred seemed to be unaware where the noise that Jorge just spewed had come from. He tilted his head back slowly and looked at the stars.

"Of course," he silently mouthed to himself, as if he had calculated the reason for the voice. His head continued to tilt and roll until it fell on Jorge..."Jesus God!!!" Alfred jumped up in his seat, deathly surprised for whatever twisted reason by the presence of Jorge sitting next to him.

The nature of this twisted reasoning is as confusing as it is inspiring.

Alfred looked around. The realization of his own insane place in the world was unsure. The recent addition of Jorge to his unique brand of living threw rationality into a dark basement somewhere.

Whatever fueled their motivations--their actions--came back to a sense of understanding and interacting with the world. And for Christ’s sake!--it’s a strange one that we’re subjected to.

"Objects: they really don’t do it for me. I suppose industrialization and militarization just go together like a cheap suit and a car wash."

Alfred’s proclamation was after 3 hours of stillness and silence. Jorge took this continuation of language-skewed thought as a sign of genuineness in Alfred.

"And not genuine in the leather sense!" Jorge screamed after finishing his thought.

Jorge was pleased with his statement, but unrealistic in assuming that Alfred would be able to relate to it.

Heading away from Iowa now, the two relied on each other for comfort the same way a telephone depends on ears.

"Where do we go from here Alfred?" Jorge glanced over to infer a reaction.

Alfred had been feelin’ fine for hours now. Memories and Christ and donuts from his childhood had brought a curious look to his face... "Jorge, if I knew what the hell you just said, I’d respond to it." Alfred’s tone was calm and sure; if there was any aggression sensed it certainly was not intended.

Speaking objectively about these two cards is difficult. More difficult than jello. Their somewhat sensationalized personalities held their actions to a strange negation. No longer would these two play by the rules--and if they did it would be to exclaim, "Bingo!"

Their trip was different.