By Ari Daniel, Freshman College Student
Let me tell you, that is the last time I ever spend winter break back home with my parents. I am staying on campus for every break from here on out, no matter what. Honestly, it’s not even the drive back to the sickening monotony of the suburbs my parents live in that bothers me, it’s just having to hear them open their dumb mouths about things they don’t even understand. I just spent a semester in a political science class taught by a man with glasses and a scarf, so who the fuck are they to open their mouths to me about anything happening in the world?
It all started over Christmas dinner, when I was back at my parents house for a week after my first semester at Rhode Island School of Design. My mother spent the whole day cooking, completely oblivious to the fact that our entire political system is a farce being perpetrated on a massive scale. My dad, in typical fashion, spent the afternoon watching football, a new age blood sport which I look upon with disdain for it’s promotion of blind patriotism and it’s history of gay persecution. Can you even imagine that I have had to live with these people my entire life? Lemmings.
You can probably imagine that come dinner time I was already quite annoyed with the passive acceptance of this fraud that is the “American dream”. Turkey and sports are just a distraction given to us by the government with one hand so they can rob us blind and spy on us with the other. Where is the dissent?! Not in my house, not with my dad, not with my family. No, they all lazed about like swine, completely unaware of their situation.
So now hopefully you will understand why I reacted the way I did when my father asked me to do a simple chore.
“Son,” he asked, “after dinner would you mind taking the trash cans down while your mother and I clean up?”
“What, like BUSH TOOK DOWN THE TOWERS?! IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT?!” I screeched at him, slamming my laptop shut and shooting a hateful gaze his way.
Needless to say, sheeple like my father aren’t ready to hear the truth, and as my poly-sci professor Dr. Matthews always tells us, “people are always upset when you wake them from their stupid dreams”. My dad was pretty pissed, not only at my sudden outburst, but also at the fact that I had asserted something he was politically offended by. Well deal with it dad, I’ve been to college now, and I’m a fuckin’ genius compared to you.
“Ari you were five years old when 9/11 happened, you don’t know what you’re talking about!” he shouted at me after a few minutes of intense debate.
“Google the melting point of steel DAD! Maybe you should take that fuckin’ Moody Blues record off the stereo and listen to Immortal Technique so you can get a clue! You might be 60 years old, a homeowner, a successful businessman, husband, and father, but you don’t know shit about anything!”
This is when my mom decided to get involved, which I won’t even bother going into. You think my mom knows what’s going on in the world? The woman who has spent 28 years of her life working for Kaiser Permanente a.k.a. Barack Hussein O-Bummer’s classist hit squad? Yea right, she just believes what the media tells her, like everyone else.
The fact that my parents can even go to work every day in this totalitarian oligarchy and ignore the fact that our freedoms are slowly being stripped away one by one by an ever growing power machine with no regard for the principles of our founding father’s sickens me, man.
Look, I’m not exactly saying that Bush took down the twin towers, I’m merely suggesting that the government, in cooperation with Israel, organized a series of controlled demolitions to coincide with the hi-jacking of American planes by ATF agents dressed as Muslims in order to confuse and mislead the American people for a reason I have yet to figure out.
If you don’t agree with that, then you, in my book, are an ignorant sheeple piece of shit, and you need to turn off FOX News and CNN. You should check out some alternative new sources, like conspiracy message boards full of anonymous strangers posting unfounded theories and then citing each other. Now that’s real news, and if you don’t read it, well here’s the church, here’s the steeple, fuck you buddy because you are a sheeple.
Since I’ve been back at school I have devised several ways to combat the misinformation spread by the government and the mainstream media. For one, I have sewn the American flag upside down onto my backpack to express my dissatisfaction with the federal government and telegraph to people that I believe this whole crazy country has “gone upside down”. Take that, Dad.
The other thing I have done is get together with a pair of alternative artists named Katherine and Meg, (who just happen to be a lesbian couple, deal with it America) to begin work on a series of politically minded posters we intend to hang around the San Francisco Bay Area. One of them features a dollar bill with George Bush’s head on it. His eyes are red, he has fangs, and the serial number on the bill is “666USA666”, which we all agreed was pretty clever.
Another poster we came up features Imperial Murder Czar Barack Obama with his full erect member out his pants, ejaculating a cluster of NSA drones onto a sobbing Lady Liberty’s face. Is that provocative or what? Our third idea is simply a stencil of the United States Constitution, but the top is labeled “Constipation of the United States of America” and then “We the Sheeple”. The rest of the text has been changed to Rage Against the Machine lyrics.
Meg is part of an alt art collective in Berkeley and she says can get us in touch with Banksy. We’re hoping we can convince him to help us put these up all over Rhode Island, and maybe even the world. Can you imagine that? We could be at the forefront of something huge!
Sometimes it’s hard for me, at 19, halfway into my first year of college, to know that I alone have figured out the way the whole world works. All of these doctors, politicians, lawyers, teachers, and scientists are just idiots who are blind to the obvious realities that I, Ari Daniel, have so deftly and cleverly figured out using the tools learned in my first 5 months living away from home.
My mission is clear. I must make myself heard. From now on I will leave long conspiratorial diatribes, in all caps, on every YouTube video, news article, and Facebook post I come across. If somebody expresses happiness with their job, I will remind them that they are a slave to a masterfully orchestrated socioeconomic charade from which they will never escape. If somebody has a baby and shows a picture of it on Facebook, I will respond with pictures of children murdered by drones in Pakistan. If 9/11 is mentioned around me, I will scoff and act incredulous like the person talking is an idiot and can’t possibly know the whole story like I do.
Wish me luck, I’m gonna change the whole fucking world.
By Jan Michael Vincent, television star
They says the craziest thing that can happen to a man is to become a famous TV celebrity. Well I’m here to tell you that ain’t even close to the truth. Take it from me, I was one ma’self for a few years way back in the mid 80s. I had a TV show called Airwolf, where I played a helicopter pilot, or a werewolf or some shit… I don’t rightly remember because I’ve spent 40 years wettin’ my brain on grain alcohol and cheap beer. But boy has it been a party. Or at least I think it was.
I been on the skids for about 2 decades now. Been in and out of jail a few times, mostly for cleanin’ a girlfriend’s clock here or there… ya know, like ya do when they won’t shut up. When times got real bad after Airwolf was off the air, I wound up living in an alleyway in Santa Monica. I guess you could say them was some good years, I didn’t mind living on the streets.
Only things that really bothered me was them damn frigid nights and all the seagulls that I had to compete with for food. For the most part I didn’t get along with the gulls, they can be some real nasty bastards. You try rootin’ around in a garbage can for a snack and before you know it there’s a whole flock of the fuckers just waiting to steal your findings. Worst part about seagulls is ya can’t even fuck with one of em cuz if you do the whole goddamn bunch of ’em will jump in. Despite all this, some of the other guys livin’ on the skids down there could get along just fine with the gulls, but never me.
Which is why I suppose it’s ironic that best thing that ever happened to me in Santa Monica was making friends with a seagull named Steven. I met him one afternoon fighting over the last drops of beer out of a crumpled can I found in the sand. He was a real pushy son of a bitch, Steven Seagull was, but in the end we made friends. To tell ya the truth I don’t even rightly remember who got the rest of them suds outta that can, but I do remember that by the end of the day me and Steven was sharing some bread crumbs and a Bud Ice watchin’ the sun go down on the beach.
Steven spent most of that time talking about girl’s butt’s as they’d walk by us. At one point he saw this blonde trot by with with a real nice ass, and he looked at me and said “I’d eat her turd a mile long just to see where it came from”. That’s when I knew I had myself a new best friend.
Well, my days in Santa Monica living on the streets turned out to be numbered, lookin’ back on it. Ya see, there are certain “things” most folk who have houses don’t know about that happen after dark. There are creatures – unnatural ones- that come out on nights when there ain’t no moon to prey upon the weak. In my case, I was drunk and fast asleep by a dumpster when I was first bitten by a Tranpire named Graftobel.
I’m sure you’re wonderin’ to yerself “what the hell is a Tranpire”, right? Well, you’ve heard of a vampire right? One bites you, you turn into another vampire, the cycle continues, we all know the story. Well, a Tranpire is kind of like that, except there’s only 3 of them in the whole Universe- Graftobel, Roderath, and Slizerdian- and if one of em bites you, you turn into a transexual a few nights out of every month and/or if you activate a certain magical trigger, which they assign to you. The trigger could be anything: when you see a certain dog bark, when you use a certain comb, when you say a certain word… it’s all up to the Tranpire that bites you. I heard Roderath gives the worst triggers, so I guess in a way I’m lucky I got bitten by Graftobel.
Anyways, back in these days Steven Seagull still lived in his nest up in a dried up old palm tree by the pier, and I slept alone behind a green dumpster a few blocks up on sixth street under some old asbestos I dragged out of an abandoned building. I had a nothin’ on me but my jean shorts and a couple empty michelada cans layin’ around my head when Graftobel arrived and bit me. I woke up just after the initial bite, and saw him there… a strange half man half woman with a big scarlet cape and pointy fangs, primpin’ hisself in a hand mirror covered in jewels.
“What the hell… who are you?” I asked the creature, putting my hand to my stinging neck and seeing blood upon my calloused fingers. “Damn mister, what’d you do to my neck?”
The Tranpire looked at me, and I realized he was no ordinary street tranny. He looked like some kind of royalty, and his skin gave off a soft orange glow in the night.
“Silence,” the creaturex replied sternly in a timbre which was not quite male and yet not quite female. “I am Graftobel – the Tranpire, one of the Unholy Triumvirate, and you have been bitten.”
“Huh?” I grunted, blinking up at him, still in a drunken stupor from all the micheladas I had drank before falling asleep. I’ll skip Graftobel’s speech, because he pretty much told me what I just told you a second ago. Ya know, how there’s three ageless Tranpires in the universe, and how now I gotta be a half woman sometimes, and there’s gonna be a trigger that turns me into a tran monster if I activate it, blah blah blah. I’ll just fast forward you to when he assigned me my girl parts and my tranny trigger.
“Tell me,” asked Graftobel, “would you rather be a beautiful woman from the waist up or from the waist down?”
“Do I get a pussy with the waist down?” I asked after a few moments of thought. Man I needed a smoke right about then, let me tell you, man. I started looking around for my menthols.
“What kind of a question-,” Graftobel began answering, rubbing the bridge of it’s nose in frustration, “of course you have a pussy if you’re a woman from the waist down, otherwise what’s the fucking difference? You’d just be… ok, you know what? Forget it. Look, is that your choice? Waist down woman?”
I burped into the still seaside air. “Sure thing, man. If I gotta become a girl sometimes, gimme a pussy I guess.”
“Then so be it,” whispered Graftobel.
“So uhh, how often does this have to go down?” I asked him.
Graftobel stared at me like an irritated teacher. “I already told you- on full moons and when you activate your trigger. Otherwise you will walk the Earth a man.”
“What’s my trigger?”
“It’s um… hmmm… what would be a good trigger for you…” the creature Graftobel pondered, running a dainty hand through golden hair and looking around the alley, it’s eyes finally settling on the empty michelada cans around me. “What are those cans which you use a pillow there? Is that beer?”
“Oh these?” I responded, picking one up and shaking it to see if there was any left. “These are micheladas. It’s like beer with tomato juice and spicy shit in it. I’d offer you one but I think I’m fresh out.”
Graftobel eyed me with disgust for a moment. “And you… enjoy these… ‘micheladas’?”
“Fuckin A, man.”
“Very well,” the Tranpire said resolutely after a moment. “Then they shall be your trigger. Henceforth, whenever the moon is full, or whenever you drink a michelada, you shall be transformed into a half woman for the length of 24 hours.”
“Cool man.” I replied.
“Are you not… bewildered? Upset? Has not this curse surprised you?” Graftobel asked, cocking his head curiously at me.
I leaned back on my elbows, my asbestos blanket covering my legs and nothing more. I had managed to dig out a menthol while he had been ranting, and put it in my mouth. “Uhh, no, sounds fine dude. Do you have a light?”
Graftobel seemed a little surprised, but was cool enough to light my cigarette and look at me with disgust. He turned to leave, but stopped suddenly as though he remembered something. Looking at me one more time, the Tranpire said “oh yes, I almost forgot. This deal isn’t all bad for you, Jan Michael… a Tranpire is required to grant one wish to whomever he bites. But take caution: for it is one wish only. You may summon me once more, and only once, by reciting the words “Turnblad Tussle”, and after that you shall never see me again. Do you understand?”
“Uhh… everything but how I’m supposed to remember them words,” I responded.
“It’s the names of the two main characters in ‘Hairspray, everyone knows that.” Graftobel said incredulously.
Graftobel rubbed one of his closed eyes in frustration, shaking his head, and then- poof- he vanished.
That was a few years ago. Once I got the curse of the Tranpire I couldn’t stay in Santa Monica too long. The only friend I could trust with my secret was Steven Seagull, and he suggested we beat feet over the hill where he knew a place we could live in peace for a while and make a new life together, just him and I.
The place, it turns out, was Van Nuys Airport, where Steven knew an old pilot that ran the historical aircraft department. Turns out Van Nuys has a huge collection of old World War 2 aircraft that hobbyists keep layin’ out there to fuck with once in a while. The man’s name was Julian and he agreed to let me live under an old broken P-51 Mustang as long as I kept to myself and got the fuck out of there through a hole in the chain link fence at dawn so as nobody saw me in the daytime.
Turned out to be not such a bad deal, really. Van Nuys is sunny and hot as fresh dog shit most of the year round, so sleepin’ under the wing of that old fighter plane was all the shelter I really needed. As for Steven, well he made a nice nest out of broken golf tees and bits of string up on an old power line on the property. That’s where we’ve been livin’ ever since. There’s an old pilot bar just outside the hole in the fence called “The Landing Strip”, most of the guys in there these days is just ordinary Mexicans but once in a while you still get some pilots coming in for a drink or two. Of course, you know me, it didn’t take too long for old Jan to figure out that they served a mean michelada in there, and before you know it I was using my new found ability to turn into a half woman to sell my body to the patrons after midnight under my P-51.
Usually I lure ’em back under the wing of my plane, drink a Michelada, and my bottom half turns slowly into a woman while I moan and drink more in the dim halogen glow of the lights. The whole process takes about 15 minutes. When it’s done, most of the fellas just put a paper bag, a cheeseburger wrapper, or whatever over my head (on account of it still being an old alcoholic man’s head) and just start fuckin’. Most of this I do for cigarettes and scraps of food, but sometimes I’ll get money too. Usually not, though.
One of my biggest problems with living in Van Nuys is having to be out of the airport all day on the street. It’s not like I get bored or anything, there’s plenty to do, but I have made some enemies that are hard to deal with. I had a run in early on with a pack of local stray dogs led by this asshole Doberman named Vincent that has escalated into an all out war over food. Steven and I usually crawl out of the hole in the fence early in the morning and start looking through dumpsters behind the local restaurants for some grub, usually Mexican fast food or old hot dogs from the 7/11.
There’s also the Van Nuys Golf Course across the street. It used to be you could get some some half eaten chili cheese fries outta them cans nine times out of ten. Of course, chili cheese fries to a seagull is like catnip to a tabby, and so we usually had to contend with a flock of them damn sea birds every time we went over there. Thankfully I had Steven on my side, and he would distract them fuckin’ sky varmint with his seagull stand up act while I packed as much of that chili garbage mess as I could into my sweatpants pockets.
Steven had some pretty good material back then, if I recall. Jokes like:
“A seagull goes in to see a doctor with an upset stomach. The doctor says ‘what seems to be the problem?’ The seagull says ‘Doc, I got an upset stomach.’ So the doctor says, ‘well that’s easy, take an alka-seltzer. What’s the last thing you ate, anyways?’. The seagull says, ‘that’s the problem doc, it WAS an alka seltzer!’ and then he explodes.” Steven would usually follow that one up with “that joke always kills… get it?” at which point the other gulls would erupt and laughter and applaud.
Some of his other hits were jokes like “What do you call a Seagull that lives in the San Francisco Bay? A bagel!” and “Why did the seagull extort the mom and pop water bottle business? He was just trying to wet his beak!” Steven really was clever back then, you could see why we got along.
That scheme worked for a long damn time too, until the Van Nuys golf course stopped servin’ snacks a few years back. Since then we’ve been contending almost every day with Vincent and his fuckin’ gang of strays. Almost every morning they find out what dumpster we’re eatin’ from and chase us off our catch like clockwork. It’s getting pretty damn hard to get a good meal with them hounds sniffin us out every where we go. I’ve heard it said before that a dog’s nose is the third most powerful force in nature after a hurricane and a moose’s kick… and let me tell you: I fuckin’ believe it. Them fuckers find us every chance they get.
In fact one of the only places Steven Seagull and I find any kind of sanctuary during the daytime is bars. Took us a while to figure out how to get Steven allowed in as most bars in Van Nuys ain’t too friendly to havin’ wild seagulls flappin’ around inside eatin’ the pretzels and such. Even after I offered to pay for all of Steven’s whiskey sours myself, most places still kicked us out. After about 6 months of this treatment by the local waterin’ holes, Steven and I finally figured out a plan to get him inside for good.
Remember how I told ya’lls about that pilot’s bar “The Landing Strip”? The one that’s right outside the hole in the fence to Van Nuys Airport where Steven and I live? Well, I figured maybe if I took a sharpie and drew on Steven Seagull like he was a model airplane, they might let me in. A long shot, I know, but we had to try- Steven was getting tired of waiting outside of bars lookin’ out for Vincent and the dogs while I copped a day buzz. One night under the wing of the P-51 Mustang, I drew a Delta logo on his tail feather and a bunch of little squares up and down each side of him like they was windows on a jet, and damn if he didn’t look just like one. He still needed some finishing touches, though, so I tied glued two bottle caps to his feet so they’d look like wheels. After that, there was no doubt about it: he was a dead ringer for a model airplane. No fuckin’ shit.
The next day around one in the afternoon we went next door to the Landing Strip, and standing upon the threshold of that dingy establishment, I told Steven to quit rufflin’ his feathers and act stiff like a model plane would.
“Stop bein’ a dildo Steven, don’t you wanna drink?”
“Of course,” Steven Seagull replied through his grit beak. “Stop moving your arm around so much, you’re making it tough to balance!”
“Alright, fine! Just sit still, we’re goin’ in,” I replied incredulously, walking through the door.
I entered the Landing Strip with Steven perched upon my hand, stiffening himself as best he could to appear as though he was a plastic model plane. There were 3 Mexican men at the bar, already day drunk, and the bartender Hernando looked up at me and squinted suspiciously.
“Wha de fuck is this?” he asked, chewing a toothpick and tilting his head at Steven.
“This is a model airplane,” I replied confidently (I have forgotten to mention that I had a Bud Light Limerita for breakfast, I was in the zone).
“A model… airplane?” Hernando asked slowly. Steven was still as he could be. Damn I loved that gull.
“Yep,” I replied quickly. “You like it? A pilot gave it to me as a present. You know I… hang around the planes a lot.”
“Si… si, so I’ve heard!” chuckled Hernando, who looked at the three men slumped at the bar. They also began laughing softly, their rounded backs bumping up and down in the dimly lit room.
“Well, I’d like to celebrate my new gift, with 2 whiskey sodas and 2 tall boys of Bud Ice,” I said slowly after their laughter had died down a bit.
Hernando stared at me for a moment, shifting his toothpick in his mouth while the giggling of the other patrons subsided. Finally, he spoke:
“Four drinks, Jan Michael Vincent? Two whiskeys and two beers all for you?”
“That’s right,” I said. “It’s a celebration.”
Hernando pursed his lips for a moment, and then looked down at the bar, knocking his fist gently upon it two times as though thinking of what his next words would be. Looking up after a moment, he said softly, “all of these drinks are for you, yes? You don’t have your… seagull with you, by any chance? Like outside, or something?”
“Of course not!” I replied quickly. “All I got here is my new damn model airplane and a thirst, you son of a bitch. Steven Seagull ain’t nowhere around here, I told him I need a day to myself. He’s probably out pecking through a trash can somewhere for all I know.”
Hernando looked at me intently, and then down at Steven Seagull, who remained motionless in my hand, his wings spread, decorated in sharpie like a plane. “Well,” Hernando began, “that is a pretty good model of a commercial jet you have, I guess I would want two drinks too if I had such a prize.” He smiled then, and I set Steven down in a dark booth and collected our booze from the bar.
“Thanks,” I said to Hernando.
“De nada,” he said back to me, spitting out his chewed up toothpick and putting in a fresh one. “But don’t let me catch you trying to bring that fucking seagull in here, ok?”
“Don’t insult me,” I mumbled as I walked away, taking the four drinks back to the darkened booth where Steven was waiting motionless. Hernando had not suspected a thing. Since that day, Steven and I have been able drink at the Landing Strip about twice a week, although we don’t dare go more than that just in case. The game is always the same: I dress him as a plane, he sits motionless until I get our drinks and then I place him in a dark corner and we party until the place gets too crowded.
You could say after a while we really made ourselves at home at the Van Nuys airport. Steven and I even learned some pretty important lessons living there that I doubt we ever would’ve learned living in Santa Monica. Real important stuff like “if you follow a cat long enough it’s bound to lead you to some water eventually” and “truck beds are a great way to take a night bath if there’s a quiet hose nearby”. Later on I would look back on these lessons and realize most of them could have been solved with a hose alone, but when you’re caught up in the moment, it’s tough to see the forest through the trees. Know what I mean?
Of course, as easy as most things got with time, one thing only got harder: Vincent the Doberman and his gang of strays. While humans can live a good long time and the lifespan of a seagull is 15-20 years, dogs multiply like fucking crazy, man. Within a few years Vincent’s gang of strays had grown from 7-8 dogs into about 25, and avoiding them became even harder. Still, Steven and I did a good job of keeping them hounds at bay and escaping them when they came around. Once in a while when I got enough money from drinking micheladas and turning into a woman at night to have sex with men, I would be able to afford pepper spray, which Steven and I would use to fight off the dogs while we scavenged food from the dumpsters of the local restaurants. This wasn’t enough to keep them away forever, but it did buy us some valuable time to bulk up on refuse.
Of course, all wars usually see small victories on both sides, and it wasn’t too long before Vincent and his gang struck back in the form of a gentleman caller named Billy Zanus. Billy showed up at The Landing Strip one night, looking for some fun. It was a Thursday, which is usually a slow night, and so Steven and I happened to be in the bar at 11 PM under our usual guise of “man and model airplane”, enjoying some tall cold ones. Billy was a stranger, and when he approached me that night to ask about my unusual gifts of transformation, I had no idea he was anyone out of the usual.
A tall, dark, balding man that bore an unmistakable resemblance to Billy Zane, he wasn’t shy with me about what he wanted.
“Hi, I hear you like micheladas,” he said to me, winking and then looking down, before up again into my eyes.
“Sometimes,” I replied. “But what’s in it for me?”
“Mmm…” he thought. “Four hundred bucks? And well, you get to fuck Billy Zanus.”
“Whose Billy Zanus?” I asked.
“Ever heard of Billy Zane?” he responded.
“The phantom? Or the shadow or whatever? The guy from Titanic?”
“Mmmhmmm,” hummed Billy Zanus. “And the Mummy too I think.”
I looked at him for a moment. He did look a lot like Billy Zane.
“Well… for 450 bucks, you can be whatever you want. You want to buy me and my model plane here a michelada?” I asked.
“Your model plane?” he began, looking down at Steven Seagull, who was now doing his best model airplane impression. “That looks like a bir…. ok, you know what? Whatever, sure”.
And so Billy bought the customary michelada, and I lead him behind the bar and through the hole in the fence, under the stale orange light of the halogen lights. I looked him in the face and told him what was going to happen:
“You know the drill, right? The bottom is going to become all girl, the top won’t change. Just put this over my head and do your thing man,” I said, handing him a Burger King bag. “Oh, and thanks for the money and michelada. After the last drop of this michelada is gone, it’s gonna be about 15 minutes. You can drink your beer and watch, smoke, I don’t care, but no pictures man. Especially if you want to come back. My buddy the seagull there is gonna remember you bro.”
Billy Zanus stared for a moment, then looked over his shoulder at the hole in the fence for a moment. As I drank the michelada, he looked back at me and nodded quickly with wide eyes. He seemed a little distracted and out of his element, and this should have been my first clue that something was wrong.
Slowly I began to transform, moaning under the shadow of the plane’s wing. My lower half began to smooth, and I laid down to make it easier. Billy Zanus looked on, horrified, and I realized all at once that he was not like the rest of my johns.
“Who are youu?” I moaned, my body supine now, twisting and transforming in the shadow of the Mustang.
Billy Zanus looked at me with wide eyes, and brought a trembling hand up towards the collar of his shirt. Slowly, he unbuttoned it’s top button, and revealed some sort of necklace. What was it? My eyes strained to see the small silver cylinder that hung around his neck as he groped for it. What was he doing? My mind began to race as I panicked- something had gone terribly wrong, and I was but a helpless spectator, transforming as I was into a halfling. Billy’s grotesque hand fumbled for what felt like an eternity as my heart beat out of control, until finally his fingers found traction upon their target, and raised the silver curiosity to his lips. He blew into it with ferocity, his cheeks puffing out as they strained… and yet not sound came.
A moment passed, and then horror overtook me.
“Oh no…” I gasped. “A dog whistle…”
I looked down at my legs, still in mid transformation, and helpless… I could not move, though every fiber of my being urged me to. I heard the barkin’ of them fuckin’ hounds in the distance and I knew instantly who he had called. Writhing on the ground, I looked up at Billy Zanus and began to shout, but my voice was hoarse and would not rise.
It seemed like only seconds before the dogs were through the hole in the fence and upon me, ready to tear my flesh apart. They stopped short however, and Vincent, the leader of the dogs came forward, grinning as only a doberman can.
“Well, well…” he began. “Long have we tolerated you and your seagull friend pilfering food from our garbage. Long have we chased you through the alleyways of Van Nuys, and ever do you come back… a pestilence, a curse upon us dogs.”
I looked again at my legs, transforming, useless… there was nowhere to run.
“And now it seems we have finally got you, “Airwolf”,” Vincent laughed. “Alone, under the wing of a pathetic vintage plane, in the middle of Van Nuys Airport… how pathetic,” the doberman smiled as he looked at the other dogs.
It was at this moment that two words I had not thought of in years came to me, like it was magic or some shit.
“Turnblad! Tussle!” I shouted.
A cloud of smoke appeared and choked us all for several moments in it’s embrace. I heard dogs barking, and Billy Zanus cried out loud. I closed my eyes, coughing, and when I opened them again, I saw it there, the creature, in all it’s glory: Graftobel. The Tranpire stood in it’s bright crimson cape, it’s golden blonde hair shimmering under the street lights of the airport. Several moments went by as the smoke cleared, and I continued to writhe under my new legs. The pack of dogs pawed the ground and backed up slowly, eyeing the Tranpire Graftobel with suspicioun, growling softly.
“What is the meaning of this?” Graftobel said slowly, looking around.
“Graftobel! I need your help! I’m transformin’ here, and them dogs found me!” I exclaimed.
“Dogs?” asked Graftobel, turning to face the pack.
“They ain’t just any dogs,” I cried, “they’s assholes!”
“What do you want from me?” asked Graftobel, looking back at me.
“I dunno, kill them or something!”I shouted.
“Hmm,” Graftobel thought. “Very well.”
The ancient Tranpire turned to the dogs, and as he raised one bony finger, they immediately fell silent, dropping dead where they stood. All was still for a moment, and then the trembling Billy Zanus spoke under his breath.
“Holy shit… what are you?”
The Tranpire turned to Billy Zanus and smiled slyly from one corner of his mouth. “And what to do with this one, I wonder?”
Steven Seagull croaked “well why don’t you turn him into a Tranpire, Graftobel?”
At this Graftobel cocked it’s head in thought for a moment, eyeballing the man. Billy Zanus trembled before him for what seemed like minutes, before finally Graftobel chuckled to itself.
“Yes… yes Steven that is quite an idea. How I’ve longed to be mortal for ages now. An eternity spent as a mischievous cross dressing wizard has left me tired and irritable. I yearn to be free, to feel, to have one gender… to be… human,” Grafotbel said, looking up to the sky and closing his eyes. Billy Zanus looked around nervously, fiddling with the dog whistle around his neck.
“Very well,” Graftobel continued. “But this will require a Tranporium with the others. To exchange Tranpirism requires the approval of all Tranpires. I hearby summon the ancients, Roderath… I beckon thee. Slizerdian… I beckon thee… come forth upon this mortal plane, there is business to tend to!”
And with a mighty crack of lightening in the sky, two more Tranpires appeared in a glowing light. The first was dressed all in black leather, with long, wet looking black hair and an excessive amount of eye shadow that contrasted with it’s lily white skin. It had stiletto heels on, and black lipstick that glistened in the light of the moon. All I could think was “damn that thing’s got some serious DSL.”
The next Tranpire appeared an instant after the first. It appeared to be a black man, or woman, but of course it was neither, simply a Tranpire. It was clothed in the finest, most expensive Italian designer apparel, and had penciled on eyebrows and pursed lips. It’s ass was remarkable, unholy in it’s proportions. The two newly arrived Tranpires looked at each other for a moment, and then at Graftobel.
“Roderath… it is good to see you,” said Graftobel after a moment, addressing the first one with all the leather.
“Graftobel, you old Queen… it has been too long. You look gorgeous,” Roderath replied. “And Slizerdian… my, my. Where did you get that outfit?”
“Milan,” replied Slizerdian nonchalantly, raising a penciled eyebrow and looking down to examine it’s well manicured nails. “Well, Graftobel? What gives?”
Graftobel looked at his compatriots for a moment, and then spoke.
“I… I am ready to relinquish my gift,” he began. The other two looked up in surprise, but said nothing. “Since time before time we have roamed between dimensions, genderless, preying upon and transforming whatever creatures we may find. I’m sick of it, to be honest. I’d like to do what no Tranpire has done since Darmewfus… I’d like to become mortal. I request your permission.”
“And who would take your place?” asked Roderath.
“He would,” said Graftobel, nodding in the direction of Billy Zanus. “He’s perfect.”
“Him?” scoffed Slizerdian. “He looks like shit, he doesn’t even have hair!”
“Oh please,” said Roderath. “Like that weave of yours is natural. You aren’t fooling anyone, you know.”
Slizerdian scowled for a moment, and then went back to looking at it’s nails. “You’d be surprised how many dudes think it’s real, dickhead,” it replied under it’s breath. “Hot dudes, too.”
Roderath sighed, and looked at Billy Zanus for a long moment. “Well,” he said finally, turning back to Graftobel, “if we were to accept this unusual request, what would become of you?”
Graftobel smiled and looked at the ground. “I guess… I guess I’d just like to become a guy named Dirk.”
“Yea, Dirk. I’d like to wear Bugle Boy jeans with paint stains on them, piss in my backyard instead of the toilet, and drink myself to death in Arizona. I want to black out every night in front of a TV with cable I steal from my neighbor and have a truck with a tarp in the bed that I never use. I just want to live, don’t you see? Can’t you understand? We’ve been doing this for so, so long… I’m tired. Please, Roderath, Slizerdian, do me this final service. Let me give Billy Zanus the gift, and fade away the way that I choose,” Graftobel said passionately, looking between his fellow Tranpires.
Roderath and Silzerdian looked at eachother, and after a moment, nodded their heads in silence, looking to the ground.
“Very well, Graftobel. You have served the triumvirate well, you may go in peace,” said Slizerdian, and with that, Graftobel looked to the sky and a light enveloped him slowly. He closed his eyes and slowly faded into the ether.
I popped a Miller Lite and took a swig, clinking my can with Steven’s. “Shit’s crazy man. You ever think you’d ever see some shit like this?” I asked him.
“I’m a seagull,” said Steven.
With Graftobel gone, the other two Tranpires looked at Billy Zanus, who was backing away slowly, shaking nervously and looking between them.
“What’s… what’s gonna happen to me?” he squeaked as Roderath and Slizerdian descended upon him.
“You’re going to be… fabulous…” whispered Slizerdian, taking hold of Billy’s wrist. “Just as beautiful as you can be.”
And with that, they were gone, leaving me and Steven Seagull alone to bury all them dead dogs in a patch of dirt by the runway. Took us all fuckin’ night, too, but it don’t really matter, because things got better after that. There wasn’t anymore competition by the garbage cans, and me and Steven ate like kings. Having to live outside the airport all day wasn’t as scary as it used to be without all them dogs chasin’ us around anymore. For some reason, the bars got nicer too, and some of ’em even started lettin Steven hang out on the patio to drink with me. It’s almost like somebody told em to give us a break or somethin’. Shit, I dunno.
Life’s crazy like that, I guess. Lord knows I’ve been everything from an airwolf to a hairwolf to a transexual prostitute and everything in between. I seen more shit between 1991 and now than I reckon most people see in their whole lives, and it still ain’t over. In fact, just a few days ago, I stopped in the Landing Strip to get myself a nice beer or two after eating rancid meat out of a garbage can and panhandling a few bucks by the freeway offramp. When I walked inside, Hernando waved me over to him. I thought it was gonna be some shit about Steven being in the parking lot makin’ noise and shittin on cars, but it wasn’t.
No, instead Hernando said he had something to show me. He reached under the bar and handed me an envelope, sayin’ it came for me, but didn’t have no return address on it. I looked down at the greasy paper envelope and back up to Hernando.
“You don’t think it’s a bomb or nothin’, do ya?” I asked him.
“Nobody gives a fuck about you, my friend,” he said with his classic Latin snark.
“Ain’t that the truth,” I mumbled back, opening it up. There was just a single piece of paper inside, and I pulled it out and unfolded it under the light of the bar. It read:
“Dear Jan Michael Vincent,I hope this letter finds it’s way to you in good time and intact. I just wanted to say thank you for giving me the opportunity to live as I have always wanted. I am currently in house in one of Arizona’s worst neighborhoods, covered in dried paint drippings from my job as a handyman, and on my 8th beer of the night. I write this to you seated in a recliner I found on the street, watching America’s Got Talent on an anolog television. This is the life I always dreamed for myself. I guess I just wanted to say I am sorry that I bit you, all those years ago, and if there was a way I could change it or help out, I would, although I don’t see what I can do now. If you or anyone you know in greater western Arizona is in need of a handyman that just kind of makes his own hours, please refer them to me. Maybe one day our paths will cross again.
Take care, and say hi to Steven for me.– Dirk Toomey
PS – I found this coupon for micheladas at 7/11. Hope they don’t expire before this gets to you.”
I looked under the paper, and in the envelope again, but there wasn’t no damn coupon. I guess that old son-of-a-bitch just got so drunk he forgot to include it. I folded up the envelope and put it in my pocket, and leaned onto the bar.
“Who was it from?” asked Hernando, who stood cleaning a glass with a toothpick in his mouth.
“Oh,” I said, pausing for a minute. “Just an old friend.”
“Old friend, huh? He write you a letter to say hello? Life is funny like that sometimes, I guess.”
I looked up at Hernando for a moment, and I had to smile. “Sure is, man, sure is. Say… how about a michelada?”
I’m not even sure what the big deal about this place is. Seems like just a bunch of dumb trees and boring shit everywhere. I mean I’ve been to the Rainforest Cafe before and I guess that was kind of cool, this is pretty much just the same thing except I can’t like… leave. Which sucks because I’m almost out of cigarettes and for real it’s like impossible to get a WiFi signal here to watch HBOGO.
Wait, did you hear that noise? What was that? Is that supposed to be a monkey, or like a bird or something? That’s lame. I’m not trying to be a hater, I’ve just heard better jungle noises before. That’s the thing with this place. It’s just kind of like, boring and it’s kind of “been done”, ya know? Like, oh a jungle, big deal, who cares anymore. Everyone’s always like “ohhh Aaron you have to go see the Amazon it’s so breathtaking and it’s an experience you’ll never forget”. Psh, doubt it. I saw Danzig at Starbucks once, I’ll probably never forget that, but this is just like a bunch of green shit and bugs.
So like, I’m not sure where my tour went? I guess I was trying to instagram a picture of this lizard I saw on a tree, and after spending 20 minutes trying to figure out which filter I wanted to use, I turned around and realized everybody was gone. They were probably in a hurry to go look at some more dumb trees or whatever. So I did what I’m pretty sure Bear Grylls always says you’re supposed to do and just kind of like, started walking into the woods. I guess the theory is you’re bound to run into somebody at some point? Or maybe some Mexican with a bandana will follow my footprints and like, rescue me or something. Honestly at this point I don’t know, all I really know is that I’m starting to get pissed and it’s really hot.
Wait, what’s that over there hanging on that tree branch? Is that… is that supposed to be a snake? Ugh, this place is just one disappointment after another. Look at that thing hanging there all limp like some guy’s dick. It’s pathetic. Honestly I’ve seen better snakes on TV, and probably even in a pet store. Am I supposed to be impressed by that thing? You see what I mean, here? This place just sucks.
Hold on… sorry…. I’m not ignoring you, I’m just trying to send a text…
Buttttt of course, no bars again. Fuck this place.
This reminds me of the time my parents dragged me to see the Pyramids when I was a teenager. They kept saying “Ohh Aaron this is one of the most important historical sites in the world, these monuments are 4,000 years old, you’re going to be so impressed”. Then we get there and I’m like “what am I looking at here? A bunch of triangles and a weird statue of a guy with a cat body lying down? Gay.”
At least I didn’t get lost in Egypt, which I guess is cool compared to this. I swear to god though, if I miss the Crystal Antlers show Thursday because I’m stuck in this dump I’m going to tweet the F word like 4 times in a row.
Honestly… this river is overrated too. I mean I’m not trying to hate but I’m just saying. It’s dirty, it’s filled with like bugs and fish, it’s pretty much got nothing cool about it. Yesterday I’m pretty sure I saw a heron take a dump in it, which is like… ugh. Like really, you’re just gonna crap in the river, you tall ass bird?
You know what else is weird about this place? Everybody just eats bananas all the time. And there are like 50 different kinds, too, and they all look gross. There’s these little brown ones that look like somebody’s finger, and all these people just eat shit tons of them. Then there’s this huge ones that are brown on the outside and green on this inside and people don’t even seem to care, they just eat those right up too. To be honest though, I would kill for one of those right now, I haven’t eaten in a while.
Over the last three days I’ve been living basically off of this gluten free trail mix I bought at the duty free store on the way in here. It’s pretty much gone now, so my tum tum is starting to rumble in a pretty major way, and all I see around here is just a bunch of leaves and shit. There’s no way I’m eating that.
I guess all I can do is keep walking. I’m not really sure how big this dump is, but it can’t be that big. I mean like, seriously, somebody is gonna find me, right? In time for the Crystal Antlers show? I don’t see how they couldn’t. I’ve been walking around here just taking random turns every which way for the past couple of days, I’m sure I’m bound to run into somebody. Anyways, peace dude, I should probably get going. Follow me on Instagram.
Sup flock? Glad to see like, so many congregants in here on this beautiful Sunday. Anybody see the surf report today? Six foot swells out at Mar Clemente, supposed to get even better by mid day. Wish I could get out there, but today is God’s day, and I’m happy to see you all here this morning to ride the ultimate wave- His word.
I see some faces in the audience I don’t recognize, which is pretty cool. Let me introduce myself to you new comers- my name is Father Parnassus, but you guys can just call me Rusty if you want. My church is a little different than most churches, as I’m sure you probably noticed from the margarita and chips I substituted for the wine and bread during communion. My motto here is basically just chill out, you know, worship but like, don’t kill yourself doin’ it. Shoes are optional too, so you do whatever you want there.
I have two passions in life – preaching the message of His forgiveness, and scouring the globe in search of the ultimate curl. If I can get some sand beneath my feet and hunt down a killer fish taco in the process, well, chuuhh, I ain’t mad at that. I believe that god wants us to be happy, and if that means you have to break up with your common law wife to fly to Australia because you heard a rumor on the internet that swells might reach 16 feet this September, well, I think the lord is probably just gonna say “right on bro”.
My story starts back in the summer of 1995, when I was but a lost lamb trying to shred mother Gaia with all my free time, and working at a surf shop in Laguna and living off of mahi-mahi burgers from the beach shack. My worst enemies were seagulls and my best friend the ocean, and I spent all my time waxing my board and running my hands through my long golden-red locks. You guys could probably guess why they call me Rusty, huh? HAHAHA RIGHT ON
Anyways, I really thought I had my shit together back then. Slayin’ blonde puss by the life guard tower and showing off for my friends. We used to make home videos and call them “dome videos”- we would film each other getting sucked on by fat titty bitches under the lifeguard tower without the babe knowing. For example if my man Curl-J was getting his hog licked I would get the super 8 camera and duck behind the hot metal trash can where all the bees used to hang out and film it. Sure, it was grainy, and all you could hear was me laughing and talkin’ bout how scared I was of them bees, but those videos were fun anyways.
We used to get up in the morning- Curl-J, Fat Eric, and myself, and puff down a baseball bat joint before walking the 2 blocks from the hostel to the beach. With the sun barely peeking over the edge of the earth, we would zip up our wetsuits and get into the roiling ocean. We did this every day, communing with the Life Giver, surviving on what She gave to us- beach fries, dank waves, and endless beach babes that rained like mana upon us.
Sometimes at night, we would have bonfires and smash brews like nobody’s biz. Curl-J loved to play his acoustic guitar, pretty much exclusively Marley covers, although eventually he did write his own song called “She Cumz in Waves”. It had a double meaning.
With the bonfire like, crackling’ and whatever, we would usually throw whatever free food we scrounged up on some coat hangers and cook it over the flame. It was a pretty cool dinner most of the time, although once Fat Eric speared a styrofoam ramen cup and tried to cook it whole, and that didn’t turn out too well. He ate it anyways and didn’t feel like surfing the next day, but he was fine by the weekend. Fuckin’ Fat Eric, dude.
Anyways, I thought these times would go on forever, but let me tell you, flock, that they did not. You see, even though I had been living the life of a beachside puss annihilator and baseball bat joint toker, I was denying God. But we are all His children, and he cares about us even when we deny him. So, what does like, a pissed off dad dude when his children deny him? He teaches them a lesson to remind them why he’s important, guys. Duh.
My lesson came to me one day when I decided to swim out too far into a rip curl in pursuit of a super dank swell. I was most arrogant, but I really thought my relationship with Mother Gaia was good enough that if she saw ol’ Rusty Parnassus swimming’ into danger she’d be like “aww, like… nahhh dude… he’s cool, let him through, he’s just trying’ to get some time in the green room”. Turns out mother Gaia has nothing on the real god of the sea – Jesus C. Christ. He’s for real guys, and the only way you’re going to impress him is to ask for salvation, not free chili cheese fries and a 3 minute wave.
Well, before I knew it, I was caught up in the ocean current, and there wasn’t much I could do about it. I struggled and tried to escape using my swim skills, which I always imagined to be superior (I even have “Aqua Rat” tatted on my collar bone), but it was all to no avail. The Father of All things had chosen to seriously fuck with me that day, and that was that. As I flailed, the sea got angrier and more violent, and I found my self getting sucked down and thrown out of the water repeatedly by the churning tides. This went on for what seemed like forever, until one final time, I was sucked down and tossed out again, dashed upon the jagged rocks of a sea cliff, and then dragged, my consciousness fading, back below the surface of the ocean. As my vision grew cloudily, I realized that this was the end, I was going to drown in Mother Gaia’s cold, black embrace. I began to hear the Stone Temple Pilots play as I slowly sank to the bottom and blacked out.
Imagine my surprise when I slowly came to, washed up on the sand, my board next to me. My vision was hazy, and it took great effort just to lift my head a few inches off of the ground. “Am I dead?” I wondered to myself as my eyes adjusted to the light. As my vision came into focus, I saw right before my face the sign that would change my life forever. Two cigarette butts laying in the sand, one laid perpendicular on top of the other – the sign of the cross, bros.
I heard a voice from above me.
“You ok, bro?”
I looked about beyond the cigarette cross in the sand and saw two sandaled feet.
“… is that you Jesus?” I gasped.
“Dude are you ok?” replied the deep voice.
“Uhhh, yea…” I replied, not wanting to look like a pussy in front of Jesus.
“Word,” replied the son of man, and the sandaled feet turned and left me. I briefly slipped back into unconsciousness, and only awoke later at night when a beach stray was urinating on me. This time, I had my strength back, and was able to drag myself home.
Since that day, I live my life for Him, you guys. I owe it all to Jesus, man. I mean sure, Father Rusty still surfs on the reg and chows down on beach burritos, and I’d be lying if I said I don’t still appreciate the company of a babe, but at the end of the day, after a few Pacificos, I get down on my goddamn knees and I thank the lord for the blessing he has given me. I have also devoted all my non-surf time to spreading the word of salvation, which I do to you now.
The message is you can still blow loads on the beach and give it up to god at the end of the day. He doesn’t care if you piss in the water, or spend every morning in the pipe, or even if you sometimes don’t pay for Corona at the Board Bar. He just wants you bros and bretts to accept his love, ya know?
Whatever it is that brought you to my ministry today, I thank you for coming to share the Word. After service there will be a make your own burrito bar outside by my Volkswagon van, and I encourage you to donate whatever you can to the ministry and partake in a righteous meal. I accept foreign currency as well as coupons, gift cards, and scratchers.
Alright, let me lead you all in a prayer so we can get to those burritos.
Dear heaven dad, who is most dank and understanding
Give us this day a tide most righteous, so that we may ride upon it
Forgive us for sometimes not paying for Corona, and for peeing in the ocean
Lead us straight to baja tacos, and let us not be ticketed for sleeping on the beach
Fill our beaches with only the fattest hooter bitches, but let the other chicks know they can dome us if they please
Thank you for our blessings, for 9 foot swells, for powder sand and late sunsets in summer
Thank you for letting seagulls take care of the rest of my fries
And thank you for your love and understanding, dear, sweet, loving father
Whose hand toucheth upon me in my time of need
Whose fingers runneth through my wet red hair when I wake up in the morning and say “whaaat” before smoking my bubbler
Thank you from the bottom of my heart, my dear congregants. Let us now like, get to those burritos, and then maybe hit the beach.
“Heeeyyyy” came the familiar feminine salutation, echoing off the tiles in the little boys’ room. Instantly, Greg was depressed. Here he was, 8 years old, alone, peeing in the school bathroom, when his least favorite person in the world should happen to stroll through the door; no doubt to talk about something disgusting as he always did.
Daniel Brown, the primping, overweight, prematurely sexualized deviant that was the specter of fear for every boy at school, sidled up to the urinal next to Greg. He calmly brushed his dirty black hair to side and looked down at Greg’s peener.
“Stop it, Daniel!” Greg angrily protested, he was sick of this sort of thing happening all the time, as all the boys in 3rd grade were. Daniel ignored him, biting his lip and staring. He slowly extended his hand into Greg’s warm stream of urine, shuddering.
“Daniel! Get away from me! I’m telling!” Greg screamed as he pulled his pants up and ran out of the bathroom. Daniel put his urine soaked hand in his mouth and coughed, looking in the mirror. He knew Greg wouldn’t tell, Greg never told.
Greg didn’t tell the time Daniel forced his pants down from behind and hissed like a cat. He didn’t tell the time Daniel showed him the naked pictures of grown ups he found in his grandfather’s shed, either. Daniel spent a couple more minutes in the bathroom, mostly looking in the toilet bowls for messes and pulling up his shirt to expose his stomach when other kids walked in.
As he headed back into class, Daniel saw Greg across the room, working on a Father’s Day card for his dad. Greg briefly looked up and blushed, quickly averting his gaze. He hadn’t told teacher a single word, the whole experience was too uncomfortable. All he could think about was how much he hated Daniel Brown.
Daniel silently farted as he sat down at his table, which was shared with three other students. There was Molly, an obnoxious, chubby redhead who loved jokes, Natalie, a pretty and studious girl who was class president, and Manny, who barely spoke English and was the child of two hard working immigrant parents from Honduras. Daniel sat down in his seat next to Manny, who instinctively turned away.
“Pssstttt… Manny,” Daniel whispered.
“What?” replied a reluctant Manny.
“…I saw this movie in my parents room last night on TV while my Dad was crying in his car. A man and a woman took each other’s clothes off and licked one another’s bodies. Then they got in a silk bed and had… s-e-x… all over the place. It was passionate.”
Manny felt awful, he could barely comprehend what Daniel was talking about but usually grasped just enough to know that it always involved nudity and moisture. He decided to play the foreigner card.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he lied.
At recess Daniel usually had nobody to hang out with. His mind rarely strayed from sex, nudity, bodily fluids, kissing, silk sheets, waterbeds, grunting ladies, and lewd films; which made all of the other kids uncomfortable since none of them really knew what the hell he was talking about when he spoke on such subjects. This recess, however, he had a really fun plan.
“Manny, I have a game for us. We’re going to make a pretend video called ‘Bang Bus’, it’s a show I saw on my dad’s work computer when he was crying in the pool talking to grandma on the phone.”
“Ok,” Manny agreed reluctantly. He saw no avenue of escape.
“The goal is to get people in this little red wagon and then we have a naked party and you pretend to film us,” Daniel whispered. He was tingling all over, knowing this was the recess he had dreamed about so many times.
“Danmal, who ees goink to a-pull the wagon?” asked Manny, as he seated himself at the front.
Daniel thought quickly, “Let’s get that big kid Chris Jones that never speaks to do it!”
The pair found Chris, the tall, girthy boy who spent most of his time alone walking around the playground in circles, standing under the bleachers watching a kickball game through the gaps in the stairs.
“Oh Chrissy,” whispered Daniel. A wave of terror swept over Chris as he turned around, mortified to have been discovered in his safe place. His heart sank as he realized it was that nasty kid who was habitually touching the other children’s butts in the hallway, Daniel Brown. For some reason though, Daniel didn’t seem threatening at the moment. Chris cautiously followed him out from under the bleachers, intrigued that somebody wanted to talk to him about something. Maybe – just maybe – today would be the day he made a friend.
A few minutes later a wagon containing a shirtless Daniel Brown and Manny, who was pretending to film him, rolled to a stop in front of Greg and his friends, towed by the hulking loner Chris Jones.
“Hey Greg, wanna get in the Bang Bus and make a movie?” asked Daniel, draping his fat kid stomach over the side of the wagon.
“…Daniel I’m going to tell on you if you don’t leave me alone,” answered Greg angrily as he assembled another Lunchables cracker.
“Dude he’s so gay!” shouted one of Greg’s friends.
“What’s your problem Daniel?” jeered another, throwing some Cheetos at the wagon in protest. The other boys followed suit, throwing crackers, lunch meat, and empty juice boxes, yelling defamations that are only heard on schoolyards.
Daniel ducked as a slice of turkey flew past his face, then stuck out his tongue and licked his lower lip in a profane display of unsolicited affection. He began rubbing his hairless chest and chubby stomach with his sticky little kid hands as the wagon rolled away. They could hate him all they wanted, but he thrived on the attention.
“Looks like we need to find a different crowd, Manny,” Daniel said into the pretend camera held by Manny, imagining he was hosting his own gonzo porn film. Manny was beginning to get uncomfortable, but he reasoned that he really had nothing better to do anyways, so he played along, rationalizing that his Roman Catholic family would never discover the pretend tape of Daniel’s antics anyways.
The wagon crept up to a shady area of the playground where Raymond Nguyen, the Vietnamese student who always wore a red sweatsuit, was sitting under a tree digging a hole with a stick, as his ancestors had always done.
“Hey Raymond,” began Daniel, “wanna get in the bang bus and have S-E-X?”
Raymond looked up at Daniel, shrugged, politely removed his shoes as he had always been taught, and entered the wagon. The wagon slowly started rolling again.
“So, Raymond, wanna take off your shirt too?” asked Daniel. Raymond shrugged and removed his shirt. “Let’s rub chests,” breathed Daniel heavily. Manny was beginning to think about his mother and father, and grew uncomfortable.
“Keep filming Manny!” snorted Daniel, as he grew more and more aggressive with Raymond. “Mmmmm,” he continued, rubbing his fat body against Raymond’s bare chest.
Chris Jones, still pulling the wagon, was wondering why all milk wasn’t chocolate. It was really no wonder he had such a weight problem. He blinked into the sun and smiled, he was so happy just to be pulling the wagon.
Mrs. Chandler was spending recess in her classroom by the window, grading art projects the children had completed earlier in the week.
“I need to talk to Greg’s parents,” she thought to herself as she got to his painting. All of Greg’s art this last semester had taken a dark turn. Most of the children drew pictures of animals and family members, but Greg seemed to have a predilection for drawing himself alone in rooms with people sneaking up behind him, often lifting up their shirts. Mrs. Chandler was beginning to suspect some sort of sexual abuse was taking place.
Mrs. Chandler began jotting a note on her pad to schedule a meeting with Greg’s mom, when she heard the high-pitched squeal of a child in distress. Looking out the window, she gasped and fell backwards in her chair.
About 20 yards off across the playground, an almost nude Daniel Brown was restraining little Raymond Nguyen, pulling his hair and giving him a hickey, trapping Raymond under his girth. Even stranger, they were in a wagon being pulled by that nice boy Chris Jones. Mrs. Chandler leapt to her feet and sprang out the door to action.
“DANIEL BROWN!” she wailed as she pulled the tubby pervert off of Raymond. “Just what the hell do you think you’re doing?!”
Daniel blushed and wiggled his butt so that his loose sweats fell down.
“Ohh noo!” he feigned, “I’m so humiliated in public! Oh I hope nobody is watching, my privates are showing!!”
Mrs. Chandler drew a deep breath in preparation of the mighty screaming she was about to do when she happened to catch Manny out of the corner of her eye, still seated in the wagon.
“Manny? Manny? Are you… pretending to film us right now?” she asked in disbelief and shock.
“Um… yes,” came his slow reply. “Please a-step back into the frame.”
“Ok,” Mrs. Chandler collected herself for a moment, “both of you are coming with me to Principal Pinks office right now .”
Sitting in front of the school principal, Mr. Pinks, was a place Daniel Brown often found himself. He was perfectly oblivious to the angry, hostile stare that now met Manny and him from across the desk.
“Daniel, would you like to explain to me what happened on the playground today, and why you were touching poor Raymond’s privates?” asked Mr. Pinks angrily.
“We were playing Bang Bus,” replied Daniel. “You pick up people and have S-E-X with them then kick them out and take their purse. Busty Raymond was dripping wet and on his way to the mall when we found him by the side of the-”
“WHAT?!” interrupted Mr. Pinks, “Watch your mouth young man! Where did you learn this kind of behavior? Did you teach him about this Manny? Manny! What the hell are you doing with your hands? Do you think this is a joke?” he snapped at the child, who was too busy operating his pretend camera to be paying attention.
“I am tapingk chooooo,” replied Manny. He was beginning to think he had found his calling.
“Stop that at once! You’re confusing me!” bellowed Mr. Pinks, “listen you two, you both obviously have very disturbing things taking place at home. I am going call your parents to pick you up! When they get here, I am going to speak to them and get to the bottom of this… mess. In the mean time, both of you are to go sit in the nurse’s office until your folks get here. Go on, now.”
Ms. Lemond, the school nurse, sat staring at the lockbox of Ritalin and Welbutrin she spent her days handing out to children with so called “learning disabilities”. She often daydreamed of poisoning the children instead, they were the bane of her existence.
“Fuckin’ turds,” she muttered under her breath, just as two new little turds were entering the room. “Uh oh, looks like you two are in trouble! Did Mr. Pinks send you here?” she said to Daniel and Manny, who were surprisingly unphased by the principal’s talking to.
Daniel and Manny sat down in the waiting chairs. “Yes,” said Daniel matter of factly, “he sent us here because he is sexually repressed.”
Ms. Lemond had heard children say a lot of things in her 35 years on earth, but this was a new one. “Excuse me?” she stuttered, “you shouldn’t say things like that about adults, Daniel, do you even know what that means?”
“Take a wild guess,” said Daniel, pulling up his shirt to reveal a gelatinous stomach and winking. He put a finger in his belly button and shuddered.
“Daniel put down your shirt before I write you up again,” said Ms. Lemond calmly. She was used to being disrespected by little turds, but this one had something unsettling about him. She tried to remember if she had ever had to give him any sort of pill during lunch break for some learning disability, but she couldn’t recall. “All of these little liars start to run together after a few years,” she thought to herself.
Carol Brown, Daniel’s mother, parked her decade old Celica with the dented door in the handicapped space outside of the school’s administration building. She struggled to release her seat belt, and with great effort managed to hoist her elephantine figure out of the bucket seat and into the hot San Fernando Valley sun. Her floral muumuu stuck to her large, doughy thighs as she struggled to squeeze between her Celica and the adjacent car out onto the sidewalk.
Mr. Pinks was in the middle of an article in the Daily News about a town in Washington that had recently elected the nation’s first transgendered Mayor.
“Jesus fucking Christ,” he thought to himself, “I hate this world”.
A gentle tapping came upon his door, and he peeked over the top of his paper to see his assistant ushering Carol Brown into his office, huffing and puffing as she shuffled towards him.
“Ah, hello! You must be Daniel Brown’s mother,” Mr. Pinks said politely, standing up from his desk to shake her sweaty paw. Pinks marveled at the resemblance she bore to her ill-behaved progeny. They shared the same poor complexion, greasy black hair, and alarmingly heavy build. He noticed that she was missing two of her bottom teeth and wore no makeup; but Mr. Pinks was a seasoned veteran of school administration, and he had seen worse.
“Call me Carol,” Mrs. Brown said curtly, looking around for a chair she could confidently sit in without destroying it, as she had done in so many job interviews and doctor’s office visits in the past. Spotting a love seat directly behind her, she carefully maneuvered her unwieldy bottom into it, flopping her purse down next to her.
“I apologize for calling you away from work to come here today,” began Mr. Pinks. Carol briefly wondered whether or not she should interrupt him to say that she didn’t actually work, but decided that having to leave her TV was just as much of an inconvenience as being pulled away from any sort of real job, and decided to let the man continue.
“Daniel had a little incident on the playground today, you see, and when I spoke to him about it he said some rather disturbing things that I thought maybe you should know about,” Pinks continued.
“Oh dear,” huffed Carol, “what has he done now?” She could only imagine. After all, Daniel did have easy access to his father’s rifle cabinet, her depression medication, and all of the pornography in his grandfather’s tool shed. Several bizarre scenarios ran through her head.
“Well, Mrs. Brown, he was caught rubbing his private parts against another boy’s, whom he was pinning down. They were inside one of the wagons on the playground. When I asked him to tell me what happened, he told me he was playing a game he called ‘Bang Bus’, which he said entailed putting other children in the wagon, sexually assaulting them, and stealing an article of clothing before throwing them out. Another boy was pretending to videotape it.”
“Oh god fucking dammit,” Carol sputtered. Mr. Pinks was taken aback by this sudden outburst; he could tell Carol was livid. She angrily remembered how many times she had come home to catch her good for nothing husband home from the unemployment office early, masturbating to that disgusting website about the van where obscene men had sex with women picked up from the street. The phrase “Bang Bus” was all too familiar in her household.
“Well I can apologize for that Mr. Pinks,” said Carol ashamedly, “I can pretty much promise you he found out all about that from his fuckin’ Dad’s fuckin’ computer.”
Mr. Pinks, himself secretly a subscriber to the Bang Bus website, played dumb. “What exactly do you mean, Mrs. Brown? Is this some sort of pornographic film?”
“Well, unfortunately yes. His goddamn father has a horrible addiction, I’m afraid, and he’s too fuckin’ stupid to put a password on his computer. Look, Mr. Pinks, I am so incredibly sorry for all of this trouble. I understand if you want to suspend him, and I promise I’m gonna punish the shit out of him when he gets home, you bet your bottom dollar on that,” groveled Carol, completely ashamed at this exposition of her family’s degeneracy, although frankly it was news to nobody.
Mr. Pinks was silent for a moment, then, folding his hands and placing them on his desk, a serious look came over his face.
“I have an idea, Carol. I think Daniel would benefit from a weekly counseling session with our school therapist, Ms. Sawyer. She can be extremely helpful in these situations. Many of our students that have been in trouble have benefitted both academically and behaviorally from seeing her.”
“Is it gonna cost me money? We don’t have the best health insurance , seeing as Daniel’s father is self employed,” said Carol. She was ashamed to tell Mr. Pinks that her husband wasn’t just self employed, but was actually in the process of building his own puppy mill in their back yard.
“No m’am,” Mr. Pinks continued, “Ms. Sawyer works for the school, there is no cost. Daniel will simply be taken out of class for an hour twice a week to go meet with her and talk. It really is a wonderful program. A few minor transgressions from a student are of course no big deal, but the nature of Daniel’s misbehavior tends to be a bit more… disturbing… than your usual incident.”
“I know what you mean, Mr. Pinks, and I’m sorry. He comes by it honestly, though, that fuckin’ father of his never could just settle down and be good neither. I suppose the apple don’t fall too far from the tree,” sighed Carol. She was pleased that this therapist was not going to cut into her food and alcohol budget. Money was tough enough as it was, what with paying to feed all of the pregnant pit bulls her husband Ed kept laying around the back yard. She resented the attention he gave those dogs.
Mr. Pinks could sense that Carol’s mind was elsewhere. It made no difference, he felt the matter had been resolved to his satisfaction. The boy needed therapy, it was clear. Hopefully with a few weeks worth of sessions Daniel would be put right, and Mr. Pinks would never have to jeopardize the springs of his expensive love seat with the incredible burden of Mrs. Jones’ ass ever again.
“Well thank you for coming down, Carol, again I apologize for pulling you away from your work. I think everything will work out just fine,” said the principal, smiling and extending his hand.
“No, no, not a problem. I’m sorry he had to waste your time with this fuckin’ bullshit today. Thank you for helping, I’m just so embarrassed,” Carol said as she shook his hand.
“Nothing to be embarrassed about, kids all see that kind of stuff at home and it comes up in school all the time. It’s normal, really,” lied Mr. Pinks. “Take care now”.
As Mrs. Brown huffed out of the room, Mr. Pinks reached for his Purell.
Inside of a poorly kept house with a dirt lawn sat Eddie Brown, Daniel’s father. Ed was 43 years old, balding in front but with long greasy hair flowing down the back of his weathered neck. He had done some time, and you could tell by the look of him. He seemed to always have dirt under his nails, and his beer belly gave away the fact that he had given up on himself long ago. Eddie had been drunk for several hours now as he sat on the computer looking at pictures of pit bulls.
“That’s a good lookin’ blue pitty right there,” he slurred, throwing his head back and guzzling from his can of Thunderbird. “Nice big jaw. See that… that there… that’s what you want in a dog. Bite a fuckin truck tire in half with a jaw like that,” he belched.
Daniel was standing behind his dad, listening attentively. He liked when his father paid attention to him, though this usually only happened when he was extremely inebriated. Luckily for Daniel, this was every day starting around three o’clock when his father would crack his first can of malt liquor.
“Soon as I get the ol’ dog mill up out back we’re gonna have a couple a those fuckers runnin’ around the neighborhood here too. Nice big dogs. Nice big jaws. Nothin’s as tough as a pitty, Daniel. Nothin.” Ed laid back in his chair and pounded the rest of his Thunderbird. “Time for a fuckin’ smoke”.
Ed pushed back his chair and walked out back, lighting his cigarette on the way. Daniel lept up into the chair to take his place as his father closed the sliding glass door behind him. In the yard were about 30 dogs, some sleeping, some dead and undiscovered, some running and playing. A few started barking in the back, fighting over a rope toy.
“You shut the fuck up back there!” yelled Eddie as he looked around him for something to throw at them. Another voice came loudly from the neighboring yard:
“Shut those goddamn fucking strays up Eddie, or I’m callin’ animal control again you sum-a-bitch!”. It was Eddie’s neighbor Vick, who in the day time was his drinking buddy. By nightfall, however, the two usually grew so drunk and testy that they called the police on each other, damaged on another’s property, and got into fistfights. It was a typical working class neighborhood.
“Why don’t you come over here and make me asshole? Go back inside and watch TV with yer fuckin’ welfare queen of a wife and mind yer own goddamn business!” Eddie shouted back, stumbling and then catching himself on a nearby dog kennel.
“Don’t you talk about Lily that way you drunk fuckin’ jailbird!” came the slurred and furious reply.
Vick had now poked his head over the fence, standing on a stack of empty diaper boxes and dangling his arms over into the Brown’s yard so that he could point at Ed while he shouted. “That woman is a goddamn saint, better n’ you can say for that pug faced cow you call a wife! Sittin’ around all day in there waitin’ fer you to put yer pecker ‘tween the gap in them yellow teeth… my woman got a job at Chili’s, she’s a productive member of society!”
“Only thing that skinny ass thing productin’ is a miscarriage and you know it!” Eddie hollered back, poking his toe at a nearby dog to see if it was sleeping or dead. “Why don’t you get your freckly ass arms out of my yard before I have one a’ my dogs tear ’em off!”
“You can’t control these shit-hounds Eddie! These dogs are as feral as your goddamn kid, they don’t listen to nobody!”
As the two extremely drunk men argued outside, Daniel decided he had seen enough for today. He silently opened a new tab in the computer’s internet browser and searched for the words “silk sheets tongue kissing”.
The next day at school Daniel was pulled out of art class, where he was making a glue and macaroni project depicting a man’s abdomen, to go to his first therapy session with Ms. Sawyer. He came into her office on his tip-toes, smiling, and breathily said “Hello Ms. Sawyer! You look so pretty today!”
Ms. Sawyer, a 31 year old certified Marriage and Family Counselor, thought this was a bit odd.
“Why, thank you, Daniel. Would you like to have a seat?” she replied, folding one leg over the other and motioning to a sofa on the other side of her desk.
“I’d be delighted to,” replied Daniel, in a voice that Ms. Sawyer could’ve sworn might be a Katherine Hepburn impression.
“No,” she thought to herself. “There’s no way he knows who that is, he’s 8.”
Daniel sprawled himself across the sofa with his arms laid out behind him dramatically, like he was posing for a romantic painting. He turned his head slowly to look at Ms. Sawyer, and then batted his eyelids twice and pouted his lip.
“Well?” he said suggestively.
“Well Daniel, um, glad you are comfortable,” said the incredibly uncomfortable Ms. Sawyer. “Tell you what, let’s just do something simple today, get to know each other a little bit, shall we? I have a ton of games on my shelf over there we can play. Let’s just pick one and we’ll play and chat a little bit, sound fun?”
“Sounds delightful,” said Daniel, winking and stroking the back on the couch with a delicate caress that bordered on inappropriate.
“Umm… hmm… okay Daniel, well, let’s see what we have here, shall we? There’s games for all tastes. I have Candyland, Hungry Hungry Hippos, Uno, Dominos, we could play blocks, I have Play-Doh, I have Chutes and Ladders, I have-”
“Twister?” Daniel interrupted, sitting more upright and placing a hand with flourish upon his hip.
“Do you have the game ‘Twister’?” Daniel asked again.
“Um,” Ms. Sawyer stuttered, “we… do not have Twister Daniel, no. How do you even know about that game? It’s a little inappropriate for an 8 year old.”
“Do you have truth or dare?” Daniel immediately replied, ignoring the woman’s question. Ms. Sawyer looked at him for a minute. A smile slowly crept over his little face and he whispered “my favorite is dare.”
Ms. Sawyer cocked her head at Daniel for a moment and pondered this odd boy. This child had a disturbing sexuality about himself for an 8 year old boy, clearly this was the issue. But why?
“Tell you what,” she began after a moment, “why don’t we both just make some Play-Doh sculptures while we talk, how’s that sound?”
Daniel was casually looking down his nose at the splayed fingers of his right hand, examining his nails. “Fine,” he said.
Ms. Sawyer brought out some Play-Doh and gave it it to Daniel, who began kneading it thoughtlessly. She took a portion for herself too, and began making a sculpture. “So tell me what your house is like, Daniel,” she said gently.
Daniel began breaking off chunks of the Play-Doh and mashing them back together again. “Oh,” he began, “it’s just a house, you know. My bedroom has glow in the dark stars on the ceiling, our kitchen has food sometimes, and my mom’s big TV gets all the HBO kinda channels.”
“Oh?” said Ms. Sawyer softly, looking at Daniel. “Do your parents watch a lot of TV?”
“My mom does,” he replied. “All day long. She goes in her room and watches it all day and sleeps.”
At this, Ms. Sawyer looked up at Daniel. “… yea? What does your dad do?”
“He doesn’t like TV so much,” replied the child, and he began to form the dough into something at last.
“Well then what does he like?” pushed Ms. Sawyer, feeling like she might be onto something.
“Dogs? Like, walking them? Showing them? Petting them?”
“Yea some of that, but mostly makin’ em have S-E-X so he can sell the babies,” lisped Daniel, his little hands now furiously working the dough.
“S-E-X? You mean he mates them? He’s a breeder?” Ms. Sawyer inquired, her eyes looking down at the sculpture taking shape in Daniel’s hands.
“Somethin’ like that. He’s got like a hundred in the yard,” said Daniel.
“One hundred dogs?” Ms. Sawyer gasped.
“Something like that, yep,” came the little lisping voice of Daniel. “Pit bulls. Sometimes when it’s hot outside they kill each other and we have to go at night to the lake to get rid of them. I don’t like those dogs too much.”
Ms. Sawyer sat in her chair silently for a moment, horrified at what she had just heard. Her training told her not to react too strongly to this shocking news, so as not to alarm Daniel. He had said it pretty matter of factly, and likely had no idea that what he just described was an atrocity. Ms. Sawyer slowly began working with her Play-Dog again and continued her line of questioning.
“Well, that’s interesting,” she began. “When your daddy takes the dogs to the lake, what does he do with them?”
Daniel looked up at her from his Play-Doh. “Well, usually he’ll shove rocks in their throat til they wont fit anymore and then tie cinder blocks to their paws and neck and throw them in the water,” he said nonchalantly. “Other times we drive to a poor neighborhood really early when the poor people are sleeping and just leave them on the sidewalk. Dad says nobody asks questions about a dead pit bull in those neighborhoods.”
Ms. Sawyer gulped slowly trying to conceal her shock. “I see,” she said. This news was going to have to go straight to principal Pinks, and probably even to the Child Protection Services. She had heard a lot of weird things working as a children’s therapist, but this was definitely one of the more bizarre tales she had heard come from the mouth of a little boy. Then again, she was young.
“Well,” Ms. Sawyer said slowly, trying to steer the conversation back to a lighter place. “What are you making with your Play-Doh there, Daniel?”
“Yea. Silk sheets, where people can have, well, you know, S-E-…”
Mr. Pinks was sitting at his desk, engrossed in a magazine article he was reading about how a man in Minnesota had invented a latex vagina for his Gateway Computer so that he could have intercourse with it. Mr. Pinks’ brow furrowed in disgust as he read, and he muttered “Jesus, it’s like every day the world just get more fucked up. This ain’t what I fought those little motherfuckers in Vietnam for. Bet your ass nobody over in that muddy hellhole fuckin’ a damn computer, damn…”
His thoughts were interrupted by a stern knocking at his door, which prompted the Principal to look up and remove his feet from the desk. He cleared his throat as he put the magazine back into a drawer. “Come in,” Mr. Pinks coughed.
Ms. Sawyer charged in the room, looking flustered, and stood with her hands on her hips in front of his desk, Pinks looked up and stared at her.
“You look like you just saw a snuff film or something, Trish. What’s up?”
Ms. Sawyer kept one hand on her hip and pointed the other back towards his door. “Do you know what I just heard Daniel Brown tell me in a session?”
“Well, whatever it is, it can’t be as fucked up as the shit I just read. There’s a guy in the great lakes having sex with a goddamn Windows 95,” smirked Mr. Pinks.
“This isn’t a goddamn joke, Malcom!” Ms. Sawyer swore, wild eyed. “Daniel told me his father is running some sort of illegal dog farm out of their home, and the dogs are dying and he’s dumping the bodies in poor neighborhoods and city parks… it’s… it’s a horror story!”
“Hmm,” Mr. Pinks thought for a moment, clasping his hands together and bringing them to his lips in contemplation. He thought for a moment, and then responded. “Any clue as to what his deal is with this, you know, pervy stuff he’s up to?”
“Really? That’s what you’re concerned about? He’s living in a canine horror house and you want to know if he’s, what- gay or something? He’s only eight years old! I think whatever his issues are might stem from the fact that he’s driving around at night helping his fucking father tie bricks to dog carcasses and sink them in lakes! He said that! He told me that! We have to do something!” Ms. Sawyer snapped incredulously.
Mr. Pinks couldn’t care less about puppy mills, or the well being of dogs in general. He was chiefly concerned with what he considered to be the moral corruption of his student body by one rogue child with a penchant for unwholesome activities and a growing list of incidents that personally disgusted him. He thought about it for a moment though, and realized this could be a way to get Daniel out of his school. If indeed what the boy had told Ms. Sawyer turned out to be true, well, it would be quite easy for Child Protective Services to remove Daniel from his home and place him in foster care, which would almost guarantee he would have to switch schools.
“Hmm, yes, I see your point Ms Sawyer,” Mr. Pinks replied slowly. “Those… poor dogs. To think of what poor young Daniel must have endured. What kind of home is this for a boy? I think we need to call CPS, what do you think?”
“Well of course! How could we not?”
“Yes, very well. Please contact them immediately and we’ll draft a report. This information is most disturbing. Poor… ahem… Daniel,” Mr. Pinks tried hard to choke back his excitement.
“Well, duh,” replied Ms. Sawyer. “I’m glad you get it. I’ll get on the phone right now, in a case like this I would imagine they can have somebody over there, who knows, tonight if we’re lucky!”
With this, Ms. Sawyer turned on her heel and huffed out of Mr. Pinks’ office down the hall, leaving the door open behind her. Mr. Pinks craned his head to check out her taut rump as she walked furiously away.
“Damn girl…” he muttered under his breath as he took in the view, “bitch got cakes.”
Around the same time as Ms. Sawyer and Mr. Pinks were having their conversation, Daniel Brown slipped back into class and sat next to Greg, who sighed unhappily and scooted his chair a few inches away from Daniel.
“I’m back, Greggers,” Daniel whispered to Greg, batting his eyelashes.
“Yea, I see that.” said Greg flatly, not looking up from his work.
Their teacher Mrs. Chandler was prattling on up by the chalkboard, teaching the children how to write in cursive, an art that they would never use again.
Daniel slowly slithered his hand over onto Greg’s thigh. Greg looked at him angrily, putting down his pen with a loud snap.
“Are you nervous?” asked Daniel in a heavy whisper, looking at Greg with his big brown eyes.
Greg slapped Daniel’s hand away violently and scowled at him. “No, I’m just pissed. Cut it out, Daniel.”
Daniel slipped his tongue out from between his lips and cupped it.
From across the room, Chris Jones, the heavy boy who had towed the Bang Bus, witnessed this and blushed. Looking back down towards his work, he realized that nobody had ever cupped their tongue like that at him, and he didn’t know how exactly to feel about that.
That night at the Brown household, the family was gathered around a dinner procured from KFC by Ed earlier that day, when he woke up hung over and craving a biscuit covered in honey. Carol, Ed, and their son Daniel sat around the stained wooden dinner table and passed the greasy bucket of fried chicken while ten or fifteen pit bulls circled around them bayed and woofed, putting their heads in the laps of their masters, begging for a taste of the bounty.
“Git! Git yer goddamn head outta here,” shouted the toothless Carol, nudging a persistent dog away from her lap with her enormous thigh. “Yalls got no business with this chicken, this is momma’s chicken, gwon now and get,” she breathed.
Daniel took the greasy paper bucket from his mother, who held it high above the table to stop the jumping dogs from reaching it. A large pouch of lard dangled from under her arm as she swung the food towards her young effeminate offspring.
“Thanks mom,” said Daniel as he took his dinner. He shoveled a breast and two drumsticks onto his plate as a pregnant dog salivated onto his thigh under the table. “Calm down there, Missy, you’ll get the bones,” he reassured it.
Ed Brown nibbled on his chicken as the sea of hounds watched on, leaving naught but bone on his plate, and picking every scrap from between his tangled yellow teeth. As he did so, a knock came on the door.
“Burrr,” grunted Carol, her mouth full of chicken and her lips covered in grease. “You expectin’ someone Eddie?”
Eddie squinted at the door. “No, must be fuckin’ Vick again. I swear I’m gonna kick his fuckin’ ass,” he said as he pushed himself away for the table and went to the door.
When Ed opened it, though, it wasn’t Vick at all. Rather, it was a small Hispanic woman with a clipboard.
“Uhh, hey?” said a confused Mr. Brown.
“Hello, My name is Mrs. Perroz, I’m from child protective services, I’m here to talk to, um,” the woman looked down at her clipboard, and back up at Ed again, “Edward and Carol Brown?”
“Well, I’m Eddie, my wife Carol’s inside. You from the what? Child Protector Service?”
“Child Protective Services,” she replied. “Hillcrest Elementary called me. May I speak to you and your wife? It won’t take long.”
Eddie scratched his five o’clock shadow and looked perplexed. To his credit, he had a pretty good buzz going. Carol’s voice came bellowing from the other room.
“Who is it? Vick if that’s you again I swear to god we’re havin’ dinner right now, if you two wanna go body you better wait til Eddie’s finished with his chicken,” she shouted.
“Nah, Carol,” Ed shouted back at his wife over his shoulder. “This here is uh,” he looked back at the woman standing before him. “What’s your name again sweetheart, I’m sorry?”
“Nadine Perroz,” she replied, clinching her clipboard.
“This is uh, Mrs. Nadine Perroz from the Child Protectors, she wants to talk to us about Daniel. I guess the school sent her over on account of Daniel or somethin,” Ed shouted back over his shoulder. “Sorry mam, you come on in.”
Nadine nodded a thank you and crossed over the threshold into the Brown family home. Carol shouted again from the dining room.
“Well let her in then ya ingrate!”
“Fuckin’ hell Carol I already did, what the hell do you think I am? Christ, woman…”
Mrs. Perroz looked sheepishly at Ed, who rolled his eyes and nodded his head towards the dining room, spinning his index finger around by his temple to indicate that yes, the owner of that voice was crazy. Mr. Perroz took in her surroundings, several dogs were now rushing up to greet them at the front door and jumping on her, licking their lips happily and barking, some just walking in circles as though they were idiots, barking and howling with reckless abandon.
“This is a, uh,” she began, looking at the crooked pictures on the wall and the torn up carpets covered in dog hair, “… lovely home.”
“Aw fuck, no it ain’t,” burped Ed as he lead her back to the dining room. “Dogs are runnin’ this place these days, you probably noticed. Say, you want a beer or anything? We got plenty,” he offered.
“No, thank you, I’m ok,” Mrs. Perroz quietly replied.
They two of them walked into the dining room, followed by the ever present pack of dogs that circled and howled around their legs. Carol was still in her place, chicken grease upon her lips, and Daniel was daintily peeling the skin off of a breast.
“So who this is?” Carol asked, looking like a fat tick about to burst. She wiped her hands on her enormous purple shirt.
“I am Nadine Perroz, from Child Protective Services,” Mrs. Perroz began. “May I have a seat?”
“Yea, sit all you want. You want some KFC?” Carol responded, briefly sidetracked by a piece of chicken skin stuck to her shirt. She pulled the fabric out tight and flicked at it a few times before it finally released itself to the floor, where several of the dogs began to skirmish over it. “Oh hush!” she scolded them. “Goddamn dogs.”
Ed beckoned for Mrs. Perroz to take the free chair at the table, which she did, and he resumed his own at the other side of the table. Mrs. Perroz was seated now next to Daniel, who looked at her and smiled.
“You must be Daniel, am I right?” she asked the little black haired boy.
Daniel bit his lower lip and his hand moved towards his crotch. Mrs. Perroz was taken aback, and looked to Carol, who seemed to be half asleep after her meal. A dog was vigorously licking the grease she had wiped on her enormous side.
“Well,” said Ed, lighting a cigarette, “what brings ya this way?”
Mrs. Perroz looked around nervously. “I’m sorry to disturb your dinner,” she began. “I guess we should just get right to it. As I mentioned, I work for child protective services, and, well, this afternoon I received a call from the administration at Hillcrest Elementary. To put it bluntly, Mr. Brown, they expressed concern that the environment in your home might be unsuitable for Daniel to be living in.”
“Ha… hahaha,” Ed laughed drunkenly, plumes of smoke coming out of his nose. He ran his hand through his hair and took a long drag of his cigarette. “Well, that’s clearly nonsense, I mean yer here now, right? Everything’s fine.”
Mrs. Perroz looked back at Daniel, who was now wriggling in his chair pawing at his crotch, and back up to his mother, upon whom dogs were still feverishly licking. She looked over Ed’s shoulder, to a glass sliding door where countless more pit bulls beyond the dozen inside of the house were sniffing and pawing at the door, leaving streaks of snot and mud from their paws.
Focusing herself back on the man of the house, Mrs. Perroz began, “can I ask you, Mr. Brown, what do you do for a living?”
“Do you want a cigrit? Or a beer?” asked Ed, forgetting he had already offer her a drink.
“Um, no thank you,” she responded.
Ed shifted in his chair, ashing his cigarette. “Well, I currently am, uh, between official jobs, but I am more or less in business for myself, sellin’ dogs. Pits, mostly, as you can see. They’s god’s gift ya know. See how sweet they is?”
Mrs. Perroz looked down as a large pregnant pit bull blew it’s nose on her leg.
“They’re wonderful, yes. Do you have any kind of, you know, license? For selling animals, I mean?” she asked.
Ed laughed again. “Oh c’mon now, nobody bothers with that. Look miss, this is a lovin’ home, I don’t quite see what your problem is here…”
“Let me put it bluntly,” Mrs. Perroz said in a suddenly sharp tone. “Your son told the school therapist that you take him on midnight drives to dump the bodies of dead dogs into lakes and poor neighborhoods. Do you see how maybe this would be a concern for the school? From the looks of it, you are running a puppy mill.”
Ed looked at Mrs. Perroz incredulously, and put his cigarette out frustratedly. Shaking his head and widening his eyes in disbelief, he drew a new one from his pack and lit it.
“Listen,” he said, “sometimes, dogs die. That’s all I gotta say, really. When you love dogs like me, and you have such a big group, it’s just part of it, alright? Pits are sweet, but ya know… the summer heat kicks up, they are liable to get a little aggressive, it’s just they’s nature, alright? Now I ain’t saying they ever kill each other or nothing, but even if they did, it’s none of the school’s damn business what a man does with the bodies. None of it’s business.”
Mrs. Perroz scribbled a note on her clipboard, and looked hard at Ed. “Well,” she began, “it’s the business of the government if your son is living in unsafe conditions.”
“I think that sounds like a load of shit,” said Ed, exhaling a cloud of smoke that hung in the cool fluorescent light of the living room. “And I think you should leave.”
“Are you sure that’s what you want? That’s all?” asked Mrs. Perroz.
“That is definitely all,” said Daniel’s father, staring the woman in the face.
Mrs. Perroz grabbed her things and went for the door. She took one final glance of the dogs circling Daniel’s enormous mother, and made up her mind. This boy would need a new home.
END OF PART 1, TO BE CONTINUED…
Oh shet, girls, can’t believe it’s been a full on week since my last blog update (the one with the Latin guy who spit in my face and made me call him El Gallo during sex). Well, since I last updated “Life of a Complicated City Girl”, I have gained over 200 more Citygurl Followers (C.F.s), which is a huge achievement for my little blog :P
I’ve also received numerous letters from girls all over the country saying that they identify with my crazy city lifestyle, mostly my stories about making consistently poor sexual choices with numerous men night after night and wondering why I can’t seem to find the right one 4 me. And so the chronicle of my metropolitan lifestyle must continue, but luckily my betches here understand. One day my prince will come, and until he does, I will blow, sleep with, and extensively blog about every man that is nice to me when I’m drunk. Such is the life of a Complicated City Girl.
As you know girls, I work as an assistant editor in Manhattan for an important fashion magazine, which is basically one of the most important jobs in one of the most important industries in the world. While fashion is my passion, men are my real theng, and I know I’m not the only girl here who spends most of her working hours thenking about deck and perusing Tinder for some hotties. Between that and shopping online for ludicrously expensive shoes that my pig hooves could never squeeze into anyways, it’s a wonder I get any work done at all.
Friday night was a particularly slow one on Tinder, there were no hot guys looking to hook up and maybe be the love of my life, so me and Becca and Kirsten decided we were gonna go out and have a friggin gurl’s night. After spending two hours meticulously doing my makeup and hair so that it would look good for the first 30 seconds I was going to be in the humid club we were going to, I left my apartment to meet my gurls.
You should’ve seen how sexy we looked, clopping down the freezing street in skirts and 6 inch heels, our legs wobbling unsteadily as we grabbed one another’s arms for support and clutched our comically small handbags. It felt like we were on the red carpet, and we knew all the boys were looking.
When we got into the club, I immediately started drenking, and so did Becca and Kirsten. We stood around in our heels, chatting to each other, daintily guzzling our drinks by the glassful and trying not to fall over in our heels. We scoped around the room, looking for hotties, silently waiting for one of these strange men to come over and buy us more drenks.
Well it wasn’t long before some really cute ethnic guy in a buttoned up shirt with significantly gelled hair came and started telling Becca she was beautiful and asked her to dance. I couldn’t believe he would choose Becca first, that Italian pig can barely do her own makeup. I flipped my hair and shot a cold stare one way and then the other and sipped my cosmotini, raising my eyebrows with an attitude to show everyone that I didn’t even like, care. Seriously, fuck Becca, that betch. When she went to go dance with the guy, Kirsten and I looked at each other and rolled our eyes.
“Can you believe she’s even dancing with that slob?” Kirsten said to me.
“I knnneeoowww,” I said back, making a pukey face. “That girl’s never had taste. He looks like he, like, works for a bus, or like maybe he is a bus,” I joked. Kirsten reached over and playfully slapped me on the hand.
“You’re baaaad!” she said laughing. “But seriouslur, she’s a slut.”
“Such a slut,” I agreed.
Kirsten and I stood around for a few more minutes, knees knocking together from being on our tiptoes in ridiculous shoes as we sipped our cosmotinis. Then a big, handsome European man came up to us, and I knew this guy was all 4 me, so I signified that I liked him by being a complete cunt when he approached.
“Can we like, help you or something?” I sneered at him, looking him up and down like he was the lowest piece of shit on earth. God I wanted him to take me in those big arms of his.
“Um, yes,” he replied in some accent I like, didn’t even understand. Then he turned to Kirsten and said she looked really good, and asked to buy her a drink. Kirsten giggled, and they went off to the bar.
“What a slut,” I thought to myself. “Fuckin’ betch will let anything fuck her, seriouslur. He’s gross anyways, all big and European, like eww. Probably not even a citizen, how nursty is that? And I bet his deck has like one of those dirty flesh socks on the end of it, I think they all do over there in like, Europe”.
I stood there, looking around, but nobody came up to try to buy me a drink. So I did what no gurl should ever have to do and bought my own, or more like 7 of them. I tried to talk to the bartender but he was really busy, so I started checking and re-checking Facebook on my phone to look busy. Before I knew it, I was feeling pretty drunk, and my hair was all over my face.
At some point, towards the end of the night, I took my heels off because seriouslur I couldn’t even stand up in them anymore. I was holding them in one hand and drinking with the other when some guy finally came up to talk to me. I couldn’t really tell what he looked like because I had so much to drenk, but he seemed middle eastern or something because he had long hair and a big thick beard covering most of his face.
He was pretty charming and started licking the inside of my almost empty cosmo glass, and then like my chest, and then like all on my face and mouth. I thought it was actuallur pretty hot, so I started kissing him back. B4 u know it we were like purple all over that club, like major PDA and I’m not talking about that gay thing my dad used to wear on his hip in 2002. As is my habit, I asked this hirsuit stranger like, back to my place, and he licked me on the inside of my mouth which I took as a yes. So naturallur we got in a cab and beat feet back to my apartment.
Luckily, when we got there my room mate wasn’t home, she was probably off hunting some deck of her own because she’s a stupid slut and doesn’t know how to like, be a lady. Speaking of which, I sat the guy on my bed and went to the freezer to get out a bottle of Silver Goose (it’s like Grey Goose but it comes with a Diddy CD and you can only buy it in Manhattan, it’s a citygurl thang). I made us both drenks and then straddled his lap and started grinding on his hairy legs. He started licking my neck with his long pink tongue and it was fuckin hawt, I couldn’t wait to see what else he could do with that tongue, if you gurls get my drift (I wanted to see if he could eat me out).
Well I don’t remember much of the rest of the night, except a few explicit flashes of being licked in all kinds of places and eventually mounted from behind, all the while drenking and wondering what it was going 2 be like when I actually got to meet my prince charming in the morning when I was lucid. Maybe this would turn out 2 be a boyfriend or something, and if not, meh, whatever, at least I got some tongue and some deck, right? Enough to blog explicitly about for all of my other city gurls and my eventual children to read.
Well, imagine my horror when I woke up the next morning feeling ravaged (and extremely thirsty) and turned over to find a fucking anteater in my bed! At first I thought it was a collie or something, but the more I looked at it, I realized that it wasn’t a dog at all. Those claws, that snout, the long course hair… it was easy to see how I might mistake it for a middle eastern man while drunk, but no, it was fucking anteater! I squealed in shock and it rolled over to look at me and flicked it’s tongue out once like a snake, which almost made me vomers 4 real.
I sprang up and ran to the kitchen to grab a broom, which I promptly used to hit it on the face and back and shoo it out of the apartment and into the hallway. Then I collapsed against the door and began crying, I couldn’t believe this happened to me again. I mean like, fer sure it’s never been an anteater, but trust me, I’ve had some weird men in here. I tried to convince myself that this sort of thing just comes with the territory when you live the life of a New York libertine that nobody back home in Raleigh could ever understand, but it didn’t console me.
The only thing I figured I could do was what I do every other time I have sex with somebody, blog about it and post the link on Facebook for everyone to see how cultured and urbane I am in my dating life. Well, that and I probably shouldn’t drenk for like at least another week, which is going to be super hard. I’ve tried it b4 but it always make it tough to meet guys on Tinder, cuz they always want to go to bars.
I don’t know, I feel like I should probably teck a breck from getting so boozy especially when my two best friends who I love Becca and Kirsten aren’t around 2 like, support me and shet. At least a couple of days off, to like, center myself would be good. I know 4 sure I need to be back out next weekend.
Oh! And how could I forget to tell you gurls, – he actually had the nerve to text me later that night! It was just some random number and it said “I’m confused about what happened, did I do something wrong?”
I was like, “who is this”?
He was like “it’s the anteater from last night, I’m just a little confused right now.”
I said “eww, lose my number you dirty hairball, don’t you know you’re an anteater?”
He replied “… does that make u a ant lol?”
I fuckin’ lost it and threw my phone across the room. Seriously where do these guys get the nerve to even think we deserve to have like, that conversation? Like hello, dumbass, I shooed you out of my apartment with a broom this morning, get the message. Go back to like, your anthill or wherever you guys live. Like Africa or Brazil or Spain or whatever. He left me alone after that, like finally.
But here’s the twist gurls, on my way into the office this morning where I had a long day of messaging hotties on Tinder and shopping online, I saw the anteater on a billboard in Times Fucking Square. Apparently he’s starring in a new sitcom on Fox called “Three Guys, a Treehouse, and… an Anteater?!”, it’s going to be part of their Monday night line up. So I totally like, slept with a celeb and didn’t even know it! Now I feel like maybe I rushed 2 judgement on him just based on his like, race or species or whatever, and maybe I should’ve been a little more understanding.
Maybe I should call him… I dunno gurls. I feel like maybe he thinks I was a real judgmental bitch… but don’t guys like, love that? Isn’t that what sexy is? Being a complete and total cunt to everyone you meet and then getting in fights with your friends and calling them names behind their back but kissing them on the cheek and taking selfies with each other constantly when they’re around? I thought that’s what guys wanted? I dunno, maybe I’ve still got a chance… or should I say “ch-ants” ;)
Guess we’ll find out next week, huh gurls?!
– Amber Baum, Complicated City Gurl 93
I wrote this story for school when I was 20 years old. The teacher didn’t know what to think, but she reluctantly gave me an A anyways.
“Katie, where are my car keys?”, asked old Mr. Muntz in desperation.
“Pop, you haven’t had a car in years… you’re confused again Grandpa. Have you taken your medication?”, Mr Muntz’s caretaker and granddaughter Katie replied.
Of course he had not taken his medication. A veteran of the Korean war, Mr. Muntz had always been a strong man with a sharp mind. At 82 years old, however, he was but a pathetic ghost of his former self. He found himself in rooms he did not remember entering, and made wild allegations that the birds that lived in his yard were extorting him for his pension. He frequently confused telemarketers with friends he hadn’t spoken to in 30 or 40 years, or family members that have long been dead. Mr. Muntz was, in a word, senile.
Sometimes Katie would return from the grocery store to find him sobbing in the kitchen, and when asked why he was crying he would say that his wife had run away with another man. In truth she had died 7 years earlier, faithful to her husband unto her dying breath. But Mr. Muntz seemed oblivious to that fact, and damned her for a whore and jezebel. This happened on a weekly basis.
“I need my keys, Katie!” the baffled old fool continued, “because the boys down at the racetrack need to meet with me about buying a horse”.
Katie had no idea where her grandfather had derived such a ridiculous notion, but she knew it wasn’t true. Most of his friends were in nursing homes or deceased, and he didn’t know the first thing about horse racing. She felt, however, that it would be wise to humor him as she always did so that he did not become violent.
“Oh I see, Dad. Let me take you in my car then,” she said.
So Katie and Mr. Muntz piled in her Rambler and set out for the “race track” (there wasn’t one within 50 miles). The pair drove around town for two hours while old Mr. Muntz gave directions that clearly were the conjurings of a fading mind. As time went by and they continuously drove in circles, Mr. Muntz became increasingly frustrated and eventually broke down in tears; confused, angry, and clearly losing his grip on reality.
Katie decided to do him a favor. Pulling into the swap meet parking lot, she chirped “here we are at the track, Pop!”. The old man stepped out of the car, looked around, wrung his hands together and said “I need to meet Tucker and Artie, we’re buying a horse”.
He wandered over to a merchant’s stall and stared at the display case full of iPod cases. Seemingly out of nowhere, he dropped his pants, stood up straight, and began defecating all over his legs and feet. As he did so he stared directly into the merchant’s eyes and tearfully bellowed at the man “Where’s my wife Kathleen you son of a bitch!? My blood her guts it’s all the same to you isn’t it, Eisenhower?”
The alarmed merchant immediately pepper sprayed Mr. Muntz’s cataract clouded eyes, causing him to yell in pain and crumple down into the pile of feces he had created only moments before. Mr. Muntz was curled up in a ball, screeching like a banshee, and covered in his own excrement when two Indian security guards came to drag him off the premesis.
As they struggled, Mr. Muntz inexplicably grew an erection, and the crowd of onlookers began to laugh uncontrollably at his humiliation. This once proud family man who had fought for his country so honorably was visibly aroused at being wrestled by two robust Indian men. Humiliated and broken, he urinated all over himself as his body lost all control. The embarassment was too much, and Mr. Muntz blacked out.
Katie arrived at the police station an hour later to pick up her grandfather. He was cursing the Asian policemen for “chink defectors who were lucky to wear a badge in this country” as they led him in, clawing, and gnashing his teeth like a wild animal.
“Kathleen get out of here, these pinko scumbags have captured me! They’ll be taking me straight to old Mao, I suppose, but I won’t tell him a damn thing!”
“Dad, it’s your granddaughter Katie. Your wife has been gone for 7 years. Why don’t you remember, Dad?” Katie cooed.
A slow realization dawned in Mr. Muntz’s eyes. As the reality of his wife’s death set in for the thousandth time since she passed away, he fell limp in the policeman’s arms and for the second time that day began urinating all over himself. He threw up in his own mouth, and began convulsing, making a sickening gurgling noise as he choked on his own acidic vomit. Thinking quickly, a nearby policeman laid him flat and performed CPR, saving the old man’s life.
“Sexual abuse!!!!” Mr. Muntz cried with his first new breath of life. He let out a deep, primal growl and began trying to bite the officer. Everyone present looked uncomfortable.
“Free to go, Mr. Muntz”, the officer said uneasily, turning him over to Katie.
They led him out to Katie’s car with an armed K-9 escort. “Filthy curs,” Mr. Muntz snarled at the dogs. He had to be physically stuffed into Katies car by the officer’s, as he was still kicking and clawing every bit of the way.
As the two drove off, Katie looked sadly at her grandfather and said “You really humiliated us today, grandpa! What’s come over you these past few years? Do you realize that I have been taking care of you for so long that I no longer have a life of my own? No man will want to be with me as long as you are around. And now, at 39 years old, I’m afraid it’s almost too late for me! I may never even get to have kids, grandpa, and it’s because of you! I’ve been taking care of you so long I lost my own life!”
Katie stared into her grandfather’s wet blue eyes, seemingly older than time itself, waiting for a response to her deeply heartfelt statement. Mr. Muntz seemed to understand, she could see a certain sorrow in the deep lines of his face. He opened his mouth, his lower lip quivering, and said:
“Kathleen, we need to get to the racetrack. Tucker and Artie are waitin’ on me to buy a horse! Old Kentucky 37 is his name, and I’ve got a fair clue he is a winner if there ever was one…”
I was at a camera store the other day with my mother, who is a photographer, helping her out with some things. As she was checking out a camera, the woman that worked at the store looked at me from behind the counter and asked “do you shoot as well?”
Before I could answer, my mother said “yes, and he has a wonderful eye,” which is not really true, I’m more or less as talented as any random person whose hands you could shove a camera into. I guess it’s better that she answered for me anyways, because I don’t really know how to answer a question like “do you shoot”. Don’t we all, sometimes? Who doesn’t have, at the very least, a camera phone that they occasionally use? If the question is, “do I sometimes snap a picture of a passed out bum or of particularly beautiful sunset”, then the answer is yes. In that regard, I guess I do shoot, kind of.
But I think what she meant was “do you own a $3,000 camera and invite models dressed in the fashions of today to your studio to light them and snap a couple hundred photographs?”. The answer to that would be no, definitely not. So I’m not sure, do I shoot? It didn’t matter, I figured, because the question had been answered for me. From now on in the conversation, as far as she was concerned, I shot.
“Oh, that’s great. Whats your subject?” the woman asked.
“You know, what do you like to shoot?” she clarified.
I was about to say “you in about a second if you don’t stop with the intrusive questions”, but my mother got to the answer before I could even open my mouth.
“He likes animals! You know, taking pictures of squirrels, birds, butterflies on flowers, that sort of thing,” she said.
“Oh how great!” the woman replied. “So mostly animals, then?”
Never have I been in a conversation with somebody where they learned so much about me without my ever even opening my mouth to speak. I too, was learning things from this conversation. Things like “I am a photographer”, and, apparently, my specialty is wildlife. While it’s true that I did once spend half of a day in Hawaii following a dog up and down a beach photographing it as it pissed on people’s sandals, I would hardly call myself an “animal photographer”.
This conversation was beginning to annoy me, so I did what I usually do when I’m annoyed: I just stood there and internalized it, knowing it would keep me awake later that night when I tried to go to sleep. How could I get any rest knowing there’s a woman out there somewhere in the world who thinks I am a wildlife photographer? We had gone too deep down the rabbit hole now, though, it would be more trouble than it was worth to try to set it right at this point.
In a way, I think I actually got off easy in that particular scenario, because usually when salespeople talk to me I actually have to do the answering myself. Now that I’ve cooled off, I realize that I don’t really give a shit if she thinks I work for National Geographic, she can think whatever she wants as long as I don’t have to engage her in conversation. My mom could have stood there and told her I take nude photographs of children and all I really had to do was smile and nod.
I oftentimes fantasize about living in another culture, one that is more respectful and courteous than Americans are. A place where people don’t ask what color your bedroom is painted or what kind of soap you use, where people understand that if you want them to know what your hobbies are, you will tell them on your own.
It seems like a very American thing to constantly have to make asinine small talk with everybody, which almost always comes down to asking personal questions. I find it hard to imagine a Japanese man walking into a Staples in Osaka to buy paper and having the fat woman in the red vest behind the register ask him what he plans to print on it.
One nice thing about Europe is that the waiters are disinterested in you and you don’t have to tip them anyways, a classic “win/win” if you ask me. They come over, never looking up from their iPhone, and mumble “what do you want you cunt?”. You order your food, and they walk away without even acknowledging that they heard you, but sure enough 15 minutes later your plate comes out. Then, afterwards, you don’t even have to do any math in your head, you just get up and leave.
In America the waiters are so nice it’s actually creepy. They are all forcing smiles and checking on you incessantly to make the meal hasn’t gone from good to bad in the 3 minutes since they last tapped you on the shoulder. Nothing is more obnoxious than having a mouth full of the food and being intruded upon by some cheerful redhead in an apron to ask if everything is okay. Yet, that is the American restaurant experience, and we actually tip for it.
At least the waiters are only interested in your food. They don’t usually want to know your cat’s name or what room of your house you like the most, like the goddamn salespeople do. Of all of the stores with salespeople, music stores have to be the worst.
I went into a Sam Ash the other day to buy a microphone, and got put through the ringer by a heavy blonde woman named “Liz” behind the counter. I came in knowing exactly the brand and model of microphone I wanted and still had to have an epic conversation with her, despite being the most unresponsive, disinterested prick I could manage to be. She was a real pro.
“Hey! Lookin’ for anything in particular?” Liz asked me second I walked through the door. I was caught off guard by this, my eyes had barely adjusted to the dim light and here I was suddenly in a conversation with somebody I couldn’t even see. It was a stupid question, too. Of course I was looking for something in particular, I didn’t drive here and pay a meter just to come stare at a wall of fucking guitar cables. The question was a trap, meant to lure me in and chat my ear off for 30 minutes. Or more, if she could get it.
“Uhhh… yea… I just want to buy a Shure 58 microphone real quick,” I said, hoping that she caught the “real quick” I had tagged onto the end. I don’t think she did. I could see the Sure 58s, she was standing directly in front of a bunch of them behind the counter.
“Oh yea? Well we got a couple of those,” she said. For a second I thought I might actually be able to just buy it and leave, but no, that’s not how the world works anymore, as much as I would like it to. “What kind of music do ya do?” Liz continued.
“Um, I actually don’t do any music. It’s just for recording voices,” I replied softly, trying as hard as I could to not engage and let this go any further.
“Oh yea?” said the perky Liz, “so like just acapella singing or what?”
“Actually no, just kind of like spoken word stuff, in a room, you know,” I said.
“Oh like, a poetry reading?” she continued to push.
I sighed heavily and thought about suicide. “No,” I breathed, reluctantly giving in. “It’s for a podcast. A couple of guys talking, I already have a couple of these mics, they work well, I just need one more and that’s all. I actually see them right there behind you, one of those would, uh, work perfectly.”
“Oh wow, a podcast!” Liz replied, pretending to be impressed. “What kind of podcast?”
At this point I was becoming irate. O.J. Simpson didn’t even have to answer this many questions after he stabbed his wife to death, and here I am getting reamed on why I need a microphone. It seemed so unfair.
“It’s like, just a comedy podcast I guess. Just funny stuff.” I said slowly, choosing my words carefully so as not to give her an opening for a further line of questioning. Despite my best efforts, it happened anyways.
“Oh that’s so cool,” Liz said. “So are you like a comedian or something?”
“No, I’m not,” I replied, basically admitting that I am just some loser who likes to record himself making dick jokes with his drunk buddies in the hope that one day somebody might care enough to listen.
I had to hand it to her, Liz had finally done it, she’d dragged it all out of me. Satisfied that she knew everything about me, it was time to actually sell me the microphone. She turned around, opened up the case with all of the microphones in it, and reached for a different one.
“A lot of people have been trying these new ones out instead of the Shure 58s,” she began. “I have a 58 at home myself, I’m a singer, mostly singer-songwriter stuff, ya know, vocal heavy. Anyways the rep for this new mic was in here the other day showing me these, they are pretty amazing. I myself am considering buying one.”
Not only did I have to divulge my entire personal life to Liz before I could buy a microphone, but she was also going to make me sit through a sales pitch too. At this point I began wondering how long it was going to be before Liz finally just pitched the time share to me and got this “music store” charade out of the way.
She took the microphone out of it’s box and pointed to the mesh ball at the top. “See this mesh here? Now this is some strong stuff. You can really beat the shit out of this mic, no joke, it’s reinforced. The rep that was in here was smacking it against that table right there, real hard too, like not playing around. And guess what? No dents. Try that with a 58!”
I imagined myself in my room, sitting in a chair, telling a dick joke into a microphone that was sitting on a stand while a few of my friends sat lazily and watched. Then I imagined Liz, holding an acoustic guitar in her own room, singing some song about drying clothes on a line or whatever dumb shit singer-songwriters write about. In neither of these scenarios did I see the need to bash the microphone repeatedly on a piece of wood.
“Well, I mean, look, does it sound okay?” I asked. At this point, I was ready to buy the microphone in her hand, because it was already on my side of the counter, and the way things were going so far, getting another one over here was going to take another 20 minutes and potentially a stool sample.
“Well let’s just go right over here to the P.A. system and you can try it out yourself!” Liz said enthusiastically, making a move to get out from behind the counter. I stepped to counter her, putting up my hand.
“No no,” I said quickly, “that’s okay. I’ll just take it.”
Liz was delighted by this news, and put the microphone back in it’s box and began to ring it up. I was foolish enough to believe that the questioning might be over, but oh how wrong I was.
“Hmm,” said Liz typing away on the cash register. “You know any purchase over 50 dollars means we send you a 10 dollar gift card! How cool is that? So why don’t you go ahead and give me your address so I can put that in here for you.”
I had forgotten that every music store always wants your address. They literally will not let you buy anything without it, because their real business isn’t actually selling musical equipment, it’s flooding your mailbox with catalogs. This gift card business was just a means to that end. But what was I going to do? I gave her my address.
“Oh!” Liz exclaimed. “You’re Sean! You’ve been here before!” she went on, telling me things I already knew. “Well that’s great, you’re already in the system!”
About 5 minutes of this and I finally had my microphone in a bag, ready to leave. As I got to the door, about 5 teenagers came in, and Liz shouted to me “have fun making your podcast with your friends Sean!”
One final humiliation in front of teenagers, one last exposé for all the world to see. I couldn’t just bring money to a store and buy a microphone, everyone in the whole fucking world had to know exactly what I intended to do with it. They should be this scrupulous at gun stores, not places that sell guitar picks. But alas, it is not the case.
I wonder if this kind of behavior is acceptable at sex shops? Something tells me even the place that sells anal beads probably has more courtesy than your common retail store in this day and age. Can you imagine being a woman and going through this experience trying to buy a dildo?
“So what’s it for?”
“That big enormous dildo you want to buy. You gonna put that thing up your pussy or are you thinkin’ also your asshole too? I myself prefer this new model here that you can run over with a car and have it still vibrate. Wanna give it a shot? Hey, what’s your dog’s name?”
In the end there’s really nothing to be done about these people. You could tell them to shut up and mind their own business, but they’ll just think you’re being a Grinch, or a Scrooge, or even just an asshole. In my head I imagine that most of us must feel as put upon by all this worthless small talk as I do, but I don’t really know for sure if anybody else minds. Certainly nobody seems to bring it up, anyways.
Which leaves me alone, to suffer silently. Having inane conversations with strangers, day in and day out, until long from now I will be old, and my grandchildren will pester me with questions like “what was it like when Adam Levine hosted The Voice? Were you excited?”, and I will think of Liz, and miss her dearly.
It’s funny what a first grader remembers, and you should probably take that into account if you’re one of those types who fancies pulling up alongside an elementary school and masturbating in your car for the children to see. “Their minds are like little sponges,” is what people always say, which in the context I’ve just presented it actually seems a little disgusting. You know what, let me start over: I remember a lot from being in first grade.
Thankfully nobody ever did pull up alongside me and masturbate in their car, sticking their tongue out and wagging it salaciously, although it did happen to a girl at my school. They announced it one day over the PA system in the morning, and looking back, I’m not really sure why. Did we all really need to be told that if a man in a dirty car rolls down the window and shows you his hard dick, it’s probably not a good idea to get in that car, and that you should run away and find an adult whose dick isn’t out to help you? Once again, I feel like people underestimate the minds of first graders.
The coolest thing I ever saw happen from my school yard in first grade was two drunk men stumble out of a bar across the street and get into a fist fight in the parking lot. All of the children ran to the wrought iron fence and began cheering and yelling as the men pummeled the living shit out of each other, one eventually pulling a knife just as the police arrived. This was 1991, but I remember it like… well more like maybe 1998. A little hazy, but ya know, the important bits are there. One of the men was a blond guy in a jean jacket with a mullet, who looked not unlike Todd the felon from “Beavis and Butthead”. The other was a shirtless drunk with a black mullet and a trucker hat. I don’t know what happened in that bar, but they had it out bad that day.
I’ll never know why those men came to blows for all of us kids to see, but I must say I am thankful that they did, because they gave us all a hell of a show. Sadly, that was probably the coolest thing that I ever saw in that school, the rest of it was pretty tedious and obnoxious, if I remember correctly. If I had been older, I might have been intrigued by the gossip that the pastor (this was a religious school) had slept with one of the female staff members, and was going through a divorce as a result.
I might also have taken interest in knowing that the mother of my first grade arch nemesis, we’ll call him Ryan Ferry, had slit her wrists in the bathtub in a failed suicide attempt. These are stories I wouldn’t learn from my mother until I was older, around 3rd grade, at which point I had left this religious school on the heels of 2 pink slips for misbehavior, a 3rd one meaning I would have been expelled. I would later be expelled from a school anyways, much to my parents dismay, but hey, at least they saved me from this one.
I remember Ryan Ferry’s parents as well as I remember Ryan himself. Ryan was a tall, gawky, socially awkward redhead who sparred with me daily on the playground. His dad was an enormous man with a beard and a lazy eye, which used to make me nervous because I could never tell who he was talking to. His mother was pale with short hair, and apparently, was not thrilled with her lot in life, hence the suicide attempt.
My friendship with Ryan happened at a time in life where relationships with other kids are so primitive that kids who are your enemy can also be, sometimes, your friend. Sure, we played together on the schoolyard often, but in actuality I really despised Ryan, and would never have called him my friend. We would constantly hit each other and call each other names, and then eventually just wind up playing hand ball together when we got tired of fighting.
A low point in my first grade career came when my parents, against my wishes, signed me up for Cub Scouts, which met after school. To my recollection, the scouting program was organized in a canine-centric ranking system: there was the Cub Scouts, which were the youngest boys. Then came the Wolf Scouts, which were slightly older, and then the Boy Scouts, which, in my opinion, were boys that were too old to be a part of a scouting organization in the first place.
Boy Scout membership started at about age 12, if I recall correctly, an age by which I had already smoked pot out of a crumpled soda can in the LA River with my friends and an old hobo, as well as having fingered an actual girl. The furthest thing from my mind at 12 years old was camping and learning about knots with my friend’s dads, so I shudder to imagine what kind of fucked up individual is completing the Boy Scouts at age 18, which is the upper end of the age spectrum.
If by some miracle of god someone is sheltered and weird enough to have made it through Boy Scouts at 18, they have the distinct privilege of becoming an Eagle Scout, which has got to be the weirdest, most cringe inducing title I can imagine a man of that age having. If you are 18 and enjoy the thrill of being disciplined by older men in the woods so that you may attain a patch to proudly wear upon a uniform, I have but four words for you: join the fucking army.
Why any 18-22 year old man would ever want to continue to camp with their friend’s dads and learn to tie knots and make fires out of animal shit and dry brush is beyond me. At least the military actually pays you to sleep in the mud, and you get a cool gun to play with as well. To think of anyone that has that many years of experience climbing, swimming, making nooses, and identifying obscure wildlife not joining the military just seems like a profound waste to me. But what do I know.
Anyways, being signed up for scouts was a major source of contention between my father and I. He insisted that it would be good for me, but for some reason he only really wanted to focus on the parts of it that sucked, like the “pinewood derby”; an activity where you carve a block of balsa wood into a shape and then put wheels on it and roll it down a ramp, racing other kid’s wood blocks.
I can’t tell you how much I did not give a fuck about this, but to my dad, it was a big deal, and we had to win. I can still vividly remember sitting in my living room watching TV while my dad struggled on a card table to glue wheels and a lead weight into the piece of wood that he had deftly carved into a wedge.
“Can’t beat a wedge,” I remember him saying. “It’s the most aerodynamic shape there is. We’re gonna smoke those other derby cars, just you wait and see.”
Why on earth my otherwise intelligent father thought that aerodynamics were that important to rolling a piece of wood the size of a chalk board eraser down a 4 foot ramp baffles me to this day. It seems to me it would be more about weight, but more importantly: who gives a shit.
I thought the day for me to finally care about scouts had come when our “den”, as the group was embarrassingly called (we were “cubs” after all) was asked to make carvings out of soap bars.
“I need a knife,” I told my father, who was now suddenly the reluctant scout.
“Well, you can just use a kitchen knife,” he offered me.
“No, the other kids all have Swiss Army knives, it’s part of the Cub Scout’s tool kit. I’m sure this won’t be the last time I need to carve something, let’s get me one,” I replied, although probably not that articulately.
After enough pestering, he finally gave in, and we were off to the mall to get me a knife. In my head, I imagined I would walk out with a Rambo style survival knife, but instead, I walked out with a key chain knife that also included a tooth pick and a pair of flimsy, fold out scissors. I was not thrilled. So unthrilled was I, in fact, that I don’t even remember what I used it to carve the soap into, which probably doesn’t matter because I was 8 and I’m sure it sucked anyways. I probably just made a wedge.
The whole operation ran on merit badges, which could be attained by doing anything from learning a new knot to helping an old person across the street. In my head, going into this, I imagined that I would be getting awards for sniping, or maybe making a nail bomb, but the tasks were so much more mundane that even my dad eventually lost interest. In fact, I think he began to hate scouting as much as me.
Some of the badges were clearly unattainable, especially given who my family was. Bugling, kayaking, fly fishing… we don’t do these sort of things. The only merit badges my dad would help me attain were the ones like “dog care” and “chess”, a game that no man in my family has ever been good at or enjoyed. Which is a good thing, if you think about. Who are the only people you ever see play chess? Jobless men in public parks, that’s who, and if you ask me they haven’t thought enough moves ahead in the real world to impress me at all, so what’s the point anyways?
Eventually, my father and I managed to cobble together enough shitty merit badges to qualify me for Wolf Scouts the next year. By this time, most of the other kids and their parents had given up, and they mercifully got to leave the scouts for good. In fact, the only other kid that made it through was Ryan motherfucking Ferry, whose father had been our Den Leader, a title that was now upgraded to “Pack leader” (because we were Wolves now, get it?). I was far from thrilled with this promotion.
I remember quite clearly the night we got our stupid patches and neckerchiefs that signified these cubs had grown into full fledged wolves. After the embarrassing ceremony, Ryan and I hung around outside in the schoolyard at dusk, and he gave me a breakdown of what, in his mind, it meant to be a Wolf Scout.
“Wolves must stick together,” he said.
“I guess they do,” I responded.
“Wolves must be loyal,” he continued.
“I feel like that’s the same thin-”
“Wolves must be thrifty, and smart,” he went on. Eventually, he howled for me, to demonstrate that he was a wolf, and flashed that big, redheaded smile that reminded me exactly why I fucking hated him. Even at 8 years old I did not suffer fools gladly.
The final activity that I was put through as a scout was when Ryan Ferry’s dad, the man whose wife had tried to commit suicide right around this time, had us try to build model rockets. It was a really intense process, and it took weeks. The only thing I can really compare it to is trying to build a bomb. We spent forever trying to construct electric detonators, or ignition switches, or whatever the hell you call them, before we even saw our rockets. It was, in a word, boring.
The thing I remember most about all of this is Ryan Ferry’s dad looking around the room with his lazy eye and telling us about the time a man caught on fire at the factory he worked at, but didn’t stop drop and roll, and how nobody was able to save him. This was intended as some twisted safety tale, delivered in order to get us to respect the rockets we were allegedly going to see at some point, but the only purpose it really served was to horrify us all and make us want to go home and play Nintendo.
As it happened, I never got to see my rocket launched anyways, because luckily for me, it was around this time that my father finally gave up on the scouts. I was finally allowed to bow out of the program, and went home with nothing but a useless detonator, which I later tried to use to ignite M-80s, with little success.
I never did learn what came of the Ferrys, but I suppose it was probably not that great. With a suicidal wife and a son who, looking back, I think was probably somewhere on the autism scale that a doctor would circle with a pen and say “hmm”, Mr. Ferry didn’t exactly have everything going for him. Then again, who knows. The man had a beard, and knew about rockets, and that must’ve counted for something in those days.
During this period of my life, which lasted from about 1990 to sometime shortly after the LA riots, I spent my after school hours with my Uncle Ken, and his wife Lee, who was from Belize. They had no children together, but Lee had two adult children of her own – Paul and Pat. Pat was never around much, but I do remember him being pretty cool. At the time, I thought Aunt Lee and her kids were just Mexicans, because I had no idea what or where Belize was, but it was all the same as Mexico to me. While Pat was off, living on his own and doing his thing, Paul was permanently stuck with Aunt Lee and my Uncle Ken because he was paralyzed from the neck down.
The story was that Paul had been goofing around with his friends as a teenager and dove into either an empty pool, or the shallow end of a pool, or the deep end of a pool that was only half filled up… I don’t remember exactly which one it was. Suffice to say, he dove into a pool, and it did not go very well. He lived in the back room of Uncle Ken and Aunt Lee’s house, confined to a bed, watching early 90s daytime television. I felt really bad for Paul, so bad in fact that I tried to avoid going into his room as much as I could, because as an 8 year old it really freaked me out. Sometimes, though, I would go hang out with him, although the only vivid memory I still retain is watching a Cheech and Chong movie and having no idea what it was about.
Lee’s other son, Pat, only really stars in one memory of mine, which is the time he showed me how to make a paper airplane that was markedly better than the one my dad had taught me to make. My dad’s paper airplane design had about three folds, and was the kind you might see the kids throwing around the high school class room in “Grease” before the teacher shows up.
Pat’s, on the other hand, looked like an F16, and could traverse an entire back yard in a single throw. It was like comparing the American Airforce to Morocco’s, and I really only remember this because I can recall how awful it felt to learn that somebody could do something so much better than my dad, who I thought had done a fantastic job of making paper airplanes up until this point.
My Uncle Ken was only there some of the time as well, but enough that I remember him. He was a big, fat guy that chain smoked like nobody’s business and had little respect for authority. My mom had hired him to work on a TV show when his family moved out to California, a decision she would later regret when he over mopped the floor of a set and caused the star’s girlfriend to slip and hurt herself, resulting in his firing. This didn’t go over well with Uncle Ken, who left the studio with a barrage of “serves the bitch right” and “fuck you guys”.
What I remember most about my time at that house, though, was Aunt Lee. She was a stern woman, whom I remind you I had mistaken for a Mexican, and her food tasted like shit to me.
“You want some papaya?” she would ask me daily, to which my answer would always be “ugh… I guess so.”
I didn’t want papaya. I hated papaya. I actually kind of hated Aunt Lee, come to think of it. Unfortunately, papaya was all she ever had for me to eat after school, and so that’s what I ate, watching re-runs of Zorro and commercials for 1-800-THE-LAW-2. Aunt Lee was constantly disciplining me, for this or for that, and never showing much in the way of affection. I remember going to her house once on Halloween, dressed as a ghoul or whatever I was, and instead of candy she gave me a yellow pear.
“Really?” I remember thinking. “This is some third world bullshit”.
That Halloween night, my parents left me there so that they could go to a party. Aunt Lee and Uncle Ken got drunk and left me to watch TV, where I saw a movie in which a burglar bit a man’s tongue off and spit it into a frying pan, which made me cry and gave me nightmares for several years to follow. Again I remind you: first graders remember more than you think they will, you dicks. To this day I’m not sure if being a bitch is just what an aunt from Belize is supposed to do or if that was just Aunt Lee’s spin on the role. Either way, she bummed me out tremendously, and to this day I cannot eat papaya because it reminds me of her.
The only thing I ever did that pleased Aunt Lee and Uncle Ken was a little act I performed during the Somalian conflict in 1991. As the image of a dead American soldier being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu was shown on the news, I sucked in my gut and ran around their house shouting “Look! I’m a starving Somalian!”. Aunt Lee thought that was absolutely hilarious, and made me do it for her over and over again. In retrospect, I can’t lie… I might’ve reacted the same way, and shockingly this is one of her most humanizing moments in my memory.
Eventually, Uncle Ken, Aunt Lee, and Paul just split town in the middle of the night, like the Colts did to Baltimore. They just completely vanished. We didn’t hear from them for years, but when we did, we learned that it was because Ken hadn’t paid his taxes in something like a decade. The IRS wanted his ass bad, but astonishingly, they never got him. Since 1992, when they left town, I only spoke to Uncle Ken once, and we didn’t really have much to say. I must have been 15 or 16, and was well aware of his legal and financial woes, because my mom always kept me in the loop on how everyone else in our family was a complete fucking idiot (which I appreciate, thanks mom).
“Sean?” said Ken as I put the phone to my ear.
“Hi, Uncle Ken,” I responded, feeling a bit weird.
“Hey put your mom back on the phone”.
That was the last I ever heard from him. Uncle Ken died last year, supposedly, although my mom never really believed it. Uncle Ken had always been a liar, and a cheater, and a general all around piece of shit, and when he called us to try and say goodbye, my mom essentially told him to go fuck himself. I’m still not entirely sure what he did that was so bad it earned a deathbed “go fuck yourself” from his own sister, but whatever it was, he seems like the kind of guy that might have deserved it.
As for Aunt Lee and Paul, well, I hope Paul is okay, and Aunt Lee will probably be fine as long as there is a good source of papaya somewhere, which doesn’t seem unrealistic, so I’m not too worried about her.
I suppose that sums up my first grade experience fairly well. The only things I’ve left out are the times I won 5th place in the hundred yard dash and the time a 4th grader named Lorenzo kicked me in the nuts, although that might have been in second grade so it may not even have business being included here at all.
If I could do first grade over again, would I? No, not for all the money in the world, but that’s not to say I don’t think it could have gone better, clearly it could have. I think I’ve just moved on. Then again, here I am, drinking bourbon, writing about it in great detail, so if you really think about it… have I?