A Midsummer’s Nightmare Part 1 of 3 by spider hacksaw

A Midsummer’s Nightmare

Copyright 2008 by spider hacksaw


(Like the obfuscation of a ubiquitous umbra)
Dillon Race opens his eyes. His chest rises and falls as he breathes slowly. He is holding a photograph to his chest. A photograph which he currently uses as his bookmark. A photograph which he now looks at.
The back of it reads: I fucking love you always.
Dillon slides his feet off the bed and sits up slowly. He is surprised at how tired he had been, and how enthusiastically he’d paid visit to what his grandmother called the land of nod. (Thinking of his Grandmother, Dillon knows that he needs to give her a call.)
His dorm room is dark except for the glow of his bedside lamp. Dillon looks around, letting the heavy slumber disperse from his skull. He notices the current reading material for his psychology class laying on the floor by the door. He’d been reading it before falling asleep and now it is laying across the room. He wonders if he’d flung it there at some point during his little nap? He must have, but he doesn’t remember doing it.
Dillon stands up and walks over to the door.
The book: Man and his Symbols, by Carl Jung.
Dillon picks it up. He walks back over to his bed and places the book and the photograph on his nightstand. His mind still feels socked in by the grog of his evening snooze. It is lessening though, becoming more like a lady’s nylon stocking pulled over his head rather than the heavy burlap sack of drowse.
What had he been dreaming? Had it already gotten away from him? Its complete form is no longer graspable, just the feeling remains. The dream residue.
All dreams have residue, or dream goo, as Dillon likes to refer to it. But all he is getting from this dream goo is a lingering uneasiness, even as it burns off. It feels sort of like he has missed an important traffic sign, and he can’t get back around to see what it reads. Dillon knows that his dreams sometimes goof around and play games with him. But he has some tricks of his own beneath his sleeve when it comes to dealing with difficult aberrations. Sometimes his tricks work. Sometimes they don’t.
One of the ways he turns the tables is by doing what he is attempting to do now, as he endeavors to sneak back up on the dream with his conscious thought, while outwardly pretending to no longer be interested in recalling what it had been about. He glances at his desk, at his schoolwork, at his bills. He is hoping that the back of his mind will catch the slightest glimpse or hint of this retreating harbinger as it loiters vaguely between the here and gone in the slack of his mental stream. All he needs is just enough of its tail so that he can grab and hold on to a bit of it….
But it’s too smart for that. It has squirreled away and burrowed itself deep into the catacombs of his unconsciousness where he can not travel with rational observation.
Dillon gives up. He has a big day tomorrow, places to go, people to see. All sorts of wild and crazy fun starts…”Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you tomorrow,” Dillon sings under his breath. But tonight he has more studying to do.
Bizee, bizee, bizee!
Dillon hears the voice of the villain, Professor Hinkle, from the Frosty the Snowman Christmas Special spouting off in his head. He has no idea why he hears this guy’s voice at this time specifically, since Christmas is six months off in either direction, but he does. There is always a voice to be heard when he just shuts his yap and listens. Dillon knows that this is just one of the many voices he hears in his head. His theory on this is that all the television shows, music, movies, and books he has ever seen, heard, or read, are living in his psyche, and in the psyches of others. These voices are part of the internal dialogue of modern humans now. And these voices of popular, and unpopular culture alike, are bound to make social and antisocial commentary on a sporadic basis, and probably always will. At least in his mind. Besides, he actually enjoys their company. Most of the time.
Dillon turns away from his desk. He’ll make himself go back to bed in a few hours, and maybe the same dream will return, giving him another chance at hooking and holding onto at least part of it. Because for some reason this dream had felt like it was more pressing than some of his more regular fare. Like it had something to tell him, maybe even warn him about. In fact, Dillon is still retaining the impression of a traffic sign that gave caution or warning. But there is no clarity as to what the admonition might have been regarding. Train crossing? Slippery when wet? Falling rocks?
But wait…on second thought now, Dillon is thinking that this dream has left him with something after all, and in doing so, it has suddenly reversed the chase, causing the fisherman to become the fish. (Whatever that means. He’s still waking up.) Because something is still there. Lurking and sinister. Subtly warning him from the mucky deep.
Dillon yawns violently, he realizes his thoughts are circling around in a holding pattern in his head as his mind tries to determine if he is going to continuing flying or land. These games with his dreams were endless. Yes, some of these night films projected upon his eyelids were more forthcoming and easier to remember, but those were never the juiciest ones. The best dreams were always elusive, they didn’t want to be known. In fact they seemed to relish an endless game of cat and mouse. Or mouse and cat. Even when he did catch a choice bit of one, it was still never unhampered or distinguished enough to be easily understood. When he did manage to piece something together, the dream itself was always another mystery, obscure in its ambiguous symbolism. And when he did remember a cream of the crop type dream or nightmare, he would immediately upon waking have to write it down as quickly as possible before it evaporated. This was like trying to hold water in a bowl of holes. Dillon would get as much of it as he could scribbled out on paper, then he would have to try to put together a purpose or a meaning with the parts he had managed to jot down.
Bizee! Bizee! Bizee!
The close attention paid to his dreams had always been Dillon’s crux. Believing that something lay hidden in that vast fantastic realm was a notion that had been with him since his early childhood. He had always been fascinated by dreams, feeling that the secrets to the universe existed somewhere in the sleeping, dreaming skulls of all mankind. And not just mankind, but animal kind, plant kind and even inanimate objects, like rocks, had connection to this mysterious current streaming beneath conscious thought. Dillon knows that others have also believed this throughout history, but he is going to be the one that finds proof. Proof that there is something greater than this physical world. Something that everything is a part of.
This is the outline of the paper he is trying to finish tonight so that he can turn it in to his professor tomorrow morning before heading for the hills. It is the beginning of the homework that he plans to spend the rest of his life working on.
Dillon walks over to the open window. A tender thunder grumbles like the guts of a nervous God, and a moist breeze parts the curtains, entreating him to be witness to the newborn night. He accepts its delicate petition and looks out at the campus grounds painted in dark. Dillon loves taking classes in the summer because the world seems much less crowded.
The almost full moon and the stars bleed light from their perches overhead. They puppeteer shadows and give amorphous life to the twisted patterns and disjointed figures that weave themselves throughout the obsidian blanket laying across the campus square before him.
It is hard for Dillon to imagine anything more perfect than this. This world that he exists in. He is glad to be here, and he is glad to be alive.
No matter what dreams or nightmares may come.

G.I. Jesus and a one armed Ronald McDonald are doing one hundred and eighty-five miles an hour in the Batmobile. They are in high speed pursuit of two super villains that have just escaped from The Happy House–a maximum security hospital for the criminally insane. The two escaped psychopaths, known as Gumby the Kid and Lego Larry are in front of them, driving their super charged turbo hearse. This turbo hearse runs on rocket fuel and it runs over any pedestrian that gets in its way, even going out of its way to hit pedestrians that are trying to stay clear of it.
The Batmobile rams into the back of the turbo hearse causing it to swerve and loose control. It flips over, high into the air in slow motion. It can not come to a stop in time, and goes into a skid as the turbo hearse comes down on it, just catching its back end with enough force to cause the Batmobile to pop up into the air, flip over backward and come crashing into the turbo hearse, sending them both over the cliff, falling in slow motion to the tile floor below.
Billy Webber sits back, itching his eyebrow with his thumb and admiring the drama he has
created with his action figures and toy cars. What a wicked-cool, seat-of-your-butt, life and death thrill ride, he thinks. This is the kind of stuff movies are made of. Billy is ten years old and short for his age, but he is very smart and the doctors tell his parents that his height will catch up with his brains.
Billy takes the squeeze bottle of ketchup that he has setting nearby and dots small amounts of red onto the faces and bodies of G.I. Jesus and the one armed Ronald McDonald. He rubs it around on them and their vehicles, painting the scene in sticky blood. Then he smothers Gumby the Kid in ketchup and bends and twists him up into a slippery mangled mess. Lego Larry is all broken up into pieces. He will not survive this driving altercation. Billy isn’t certain of the meaning of the word altercation, but he knows it has something to do with fighting. His mom teaches him a new word every week.
“This guy is still alive,” Billy says, creating the deep voice of Max the Gorilla, an eye witness at the scene. “Better get an ambulance here, muy pronto.”
“What about that guy over there?” Peter the Penguin asks with his high pitched voice as he dances around the car wreck.
“Too late. He’s dead,” Max the Gorilla says. “See his guts. Better get the medics here before it’s too late for the others.”
Billy glances around for his ambulance. It’s nowhere in sight. He ponders for a moment and then groans as the search light of his memory shines upon its probable location. He gets up and goes into the living room to get his mother.
Mary Ann Webber sits hunkered down into her favorite corner of the couch, reading her latest romance novel. The room is dark except for the soft lamplight etching itself around her motionless form. She is completely absorbed in her book. Her heart and her mind are in the world created on its pages. Only her body remains in this world.
“Mom, I need my ambulance!” Billy blurts into the silence.
Mary Ann doesn’t hear him.
“Mother,” Billy says sternly. “There was a horrible car wreck and I need my ambulance before the sole survivor dies from getting his head busted open and half his brains are hanging out.”
“Make sure you boys clean that up before he goes home,” Mary Ann says absently.
“Mom, you’re not even listening to me,” Billy moans.
“Mother is reading, William.”
“Will you turn on the basement light so I can get my ambulance and get this guy to the hospital or not?” Billy demands to know.
“Honey,” Mary Ann begins in a gentle tone as she tries to keep one mental foot in her book and explain the situation to her son. “Amber is about to leave on a nine month amnesty mission, and if Franco doesn’t get there in time, she will never know it is her that he loves and not Gabriella.”
“But mom.”
“But son.”
Billy stands there.
Mary Ann looks over the top of her reading glasses at her only child. The child she spent nine hours in labor to deliver. The only child she will ever have.
“Let me finish the last few pages of this chapter, then I will make you some pudding with grapes in it for a bedtime snack,” Mary Ann promises. “How does that sound?”
Billy immediately realizes the error he has made. Of course he would love pudding with grapes in it. It’s his favorite snack. But these grapes might as well be sand burrs. Because with one word Billy has been condemned to death. The most horrible seven letter word in the world has been spoken.
His mother might have gone on reading for another hour or more, had he not disturbed her. But now she is aware of the time, and that time is almost Billy’s bedtime. Ten o’clock on a summer week night.
Billy turns away quickly and quietly and goes back into the kitchen. Dead Man Walking, he thinks. The line was from a movie he had seen at his friend, Tommy Kern’s house. They were supposed to have gone to bed but were laying at the top of the stairs peeking down into the living room as Tommy’s parents watched the movie. Part of the television was blocked by the couch and Mr. and Mrs. Kern’s fat heads but Billy had been able to discern that Dead Man Walking was not a zombie movie as he and Tommy had hoped but was a movie about a man that was going to be killed for being bad. It meant that there was no hope. Billy and Tommy now used the phrase whenever they or anyone they knew got in trouble for something. Especially at school when someone got called to the principles office. That was always a Dead Man Walking.
Maybe she’ll get back to reading her stupid book and forget about what time it is. And if his father stays upstairs in his workroom staring at his computer, Billy might get another hour of life.
Dead man stops walking.
But, pudding with grapes sounded very tempting right now. Billy considers his options for a moment. Deal or no deal? Sorry, No deal! Bedtime was too high of a price to pay, even for pudding with grapes in it. Bedtime was too high of a price to pay for anything–ever. Billy didn’t like to go to sleep. All that calming down and settling in was a horrible torture. Probably a lot like being executed, he thought.
Dead man walking again.
In the kitchen Billy goes to the junk drawer and gets out the flashlight. He goes to the basement door and opens it, shining the flashlight down the dark stairs. He doesn’t even look at the light switch on the wall. He knows he can not reach it. It was installed at an abnormal height. His father said the contractor must have been a giraffe. Billy could have reached it by standing on his tippy toes and stretching out with the yardstick from the pantry but he wasn’t allowed to do that. He tried that once and almost broke his neck. His mom and dad had punished him with solitary confinement for an hour and then lectured him for a week, saying: If you need that light on, you come and get one of us to turn it on. Do not ever let us catch you trying another stunt like that again, mister. So now he always went and asked them to turn on the basement light when he needed it done, but his dad was always upstairs looking over taxes, or bank accounts on the computer, which really meant gambling online, and his mother was always just finishing the last few pages of a chapter in one of her yucky love books.
So, Billy had learned quickly that he had to either do without whatever it was he thought he needed, or he had to do what he was doing now—preparing himself for a rescue attempt into the butt hole of darkness. Billy understands that he isn’t supposed to say bad things like butt hole, but he also knows he can think them and not be punished.
Billy starts down the wooden steps. The hand rail in one hand, the flashlight in the other, he steps quickly but carefully, aware that lives are at stake upstairs. Billy knows there are no such things as monsters. He has had that discussion with his mother and father. There is a logical explanation for everything. He knows this very well. And he believes it. In the daylight. But somehow everything changes after the sun goes down.
Billy leaves the bottom step and places his foot onto the smooth surface of the cement floor. The musty smell of the basement fills his nostrils. His worst enemy is a voice inside his own head named Fraidy Mouse. Billy preemptively crushes the squeaky little voice of Fraidy Mouse before it can say anything. He does this by screaming at it inside his head: THERE ARE NO SUCH THINGS AS MONSTERS! And with that warning shot fired, the squeaky voice of Fraidy Mouse is silenced and he doesn’t show even a hint of his twitchy little nose.
Billy follows the flashlight deeper into the dank basement. If his friend Tommy were spending the night, this adventure might actually be fun, because they would be pretending that they were in a massive cave, hunting for a rare albino rat or something. But pretending things by yourself in the darkness was not the same good time.
The beam of flashlight passes over stacks of boxes and old furniture covered by dusty white sheets. Sheets that make deformed ghost shapes because of the things they cover and hide. The light stops on one of the few objects not covered by ghost skin. It stands taller than Billy. It looms as a giant monstrosity before him, with a big misshapen face. Its dark hollow windows are like deep black eyes staring down upon him.
The dollhouse.
His mother’s dollhouse. A huge old dollhouse that her grandfather made for her when she was just a little girl. And blah blah blah…
Billy ignores it. He’s not here to pay any attention to that stupid old dollhouse anyway. His ambulance is parked right in front of it though. And that is not the spot where he remembered leaving it parked. But he must have. Billy knows that there are things he does in the daylight–like play in the basement, that he would never do after dark–like play in the basement.
Billy has no idea why he had forgotten his ambulance down here. He probably hadn’t been thinking that he would be using it tonight. It was like forgetting where he left his shoes when he took them off. It was a pain in the butt hole to have to try to think of everything and remember everything.
Billy steps up to his ambulance and bends over to pick it up.
What was that? Was that him? Did he squeak? It had sounded like the sole of a shoe catching against the concrete floor. But he was only wearing socks. Maybe he had tooted? Billy sniffs the air. He can’t smell a toot. But not all toots have smells. Nope, he was certain that he hadn’t squeaked a shoe or squeaked a toot.
Billy stares more intently at the monstrosity before him. The sound had seemed to come from inside his mother’s dollhouse. Like something had moved ever so slightly, as to not be heard. Except it had been heard. Billy had heard it. That’s what a good detective did after all. And what was he, if not a good detective? Billy could now hear the sound of something else. Something breathing. Or was that his own breathing? Billy holds his breath. He can still hear a sound like breathing. It’s coming from inside the dollhouse. Or behind the dollhouse. Which was how you actually got into the dollhouse if you wanted to. But he never did. Because he wasn’t allowed to play with it. (Except sometimes he did.) The sound of breathing is definitely there. Very very faint, but it is there. Maybe. Maybe not? It could just be his imagination. His mother was always saying that he had an overactive one. I’m not afraid of things that don’t exist, Billy reminds himself. He shines the flashlight at all the dark windows.
There is a little face staring out at him from one of them. It is one of his toys. A little doll. The only doll that Billy has ever played with. There were guys and there were dolls, and all of his action figures were guys, except for one. He kept her around to play the part of an unwanted mongoloid baby that had escaped from a laboratory where they did scientific experiments on babies that were given up for adoption. Her name was AUMB. Which of course stood for Angry Unwanted Mongoloid Baby. Billy thought he had lost her for good somewhere outside in the dirt because he hadn’t seen her around for several weeks. But now here she was. Like magic, she had returned from the Lost Place. Billy knows that sometimes things come back from the Lost Place, and sometimes they don’t.
The funny thing is, just like his ambulance being parked in front of the dollhouse, Billy doesn’t remember seeing AUMB standing in the doll house window earlier today. But maybe she had been there all along and he just hadn’t noticed her because his attention was on other things. His mother often swore that on top of his over active imagination he had Attention Deficit Disorder, even though the doctor said he did not.
AUMB stares out at him from the window of the dollhouse. The window of the laboratory where they had done scientific experiments on her and all the other unwanted babies. It was from here that she had escaped and come after Billy’s other guys, trying to kill them. That was how the story of Angry Unwanted Mongoloid Baby went. Billy knew there were a lot of unwanted babies in the world because his mother had told him about them. She said that he should always be happy because he was wanted and loved, while some children were not. So instead of pulling off AUMB’s head and trying to flush it down the toilet like he did with most dolls, Billy had decided to use her as a revenge-seeking freakazoid baby, getting bloody revenge for being unwanted and unloved, and for having experiments done on her. Billy thought that these were as good of reasons as any to want revenge on people.
He reaches to the window to remove Angry Unwanted Mongoloid Baby from her perch.
Fraidy Mouse squeaks. Don’t do it Billy! It’s a trick!
Shut up! Stupid Fraidy Mouse! Billy yells inside his head. His fingers wrap around AUMB and he slips her sideways out the window. He stares into her big, angry eyes.
“Don’t worry, AUMB,” Billy tells her. “I still want you.”
A black gloved hand bursts out through the dollhouse window and grabs him by the arm of his shirt. Billy’s eyes bloat in terror.
I told you! Fraidy Mouse squeaks. I told you! I told you! I told you!
Billy drops AUMB. He strikes at the grabbing hand with his flashlight as hard as he can. The hand yanks his shirt harder, trying to pull him into the dollhouse through the little window. Billy jerks himself free from the grip of the monster and falls to the ground, dropping the flashlight.
RUN! Fraidy Mouse squeaks. RUN!
This time Billy listens to Fraidy Mouse. He gets up and runs screaming from the basement in fast forward motion–through the darkness and up the stairs–toward the light of the kitchen.
As the door between the kitchen and the basement is slammed shut behind Billy upstairs, a dark figure crawls out from the back of the dollhouse and stands upright.
The flashlight lays on the cement floor, shining its beam across the face and the big raging eyes of Angry Unwanted Mongoloid Baby. The foot of someone wearing black boots steps down on the doll’s head, crunching it like a hard candy against the floor. After a moment the foot steps away. The flashlight remains laying on the cement floor, its beam shines over the flat broken face and big raging eyes of Angry Unwanted Mongoloid Baby. The only doll that Billy Webber ever played with.
Meanwhile…upstairs in the kitchen, Billy is standing with his back pressed against the door to the basement, and he is screaming.
Mary Ann enters the kitchen holding her romance novel in one hand and her forehead in the other. This forehead holding is an indication for Billy that his mother is at the end of her rope. Whenever she holds her forehead with one hand it is a warning, and if she puts both of her hands on her forehead, it is the last straw that broke the camels back. Whatever that means. Billy doesn’t care right now. There is a monster in the dollhouse, and this FAR outweighs any type of forehead holding, whatsoever.
They stare at each other as Billy continues to scream.
“Billy! Stop shrieking like a banshee!” Mary Ann says loudly. “What is wrong with you?”
Billy sucks in a huge gulp of air to blurt: “There’s a monster in the dollhouse!”
“William Martin Webber! You know you are not allowed to play with that dollhouse. It is very old and very valuable. You’re grandfather made that for me and….”
“I know that already!” Billy screams. “I was getting my ambulance because you wouldn’t get it and a monster grabbed me from inside.”
“There are no such things as monsters,” Mary Ann reminds her son in a stern, but loving voice. “There is a logical explanation for everything.”
“It grabbed me!” Billy insists at the top of his lungs.
“Ok. Let’s go look,” Mary Ann suggests as she steps up to the door and reaches around Billy to grab the doorknob.
“Nooooooooooo!” Billy hollers and runs away, around the corner and up the stairs.
Mary Ann is about to turn around and follow her son, when the doorknob clicks, and the basement door opens just a little. Just enough to let some darkness peek through.
Mary Ann is immediately angry at herself for the little blip of fear that lights up on her sonar screen. She grabs the doorknob and yanks the door open.
A man in a monster mask is standing right there at the top of the steps.
Mary Ann recognizes him immediately by the clothes he is wearing. The brown corduroy pants, the red and white checkered flannel shirt–both of which she had bought for him. She also notices what appears to be a ketchup stain on the breast pocket of the flannel shirt, and this, mixed with that blip of fear, infuriates her to the core.
“Damn it, Martin,” Mary Ann curses. “What has gotten into you lately? You’re going to traumatize your son for life.”
The man in the monster mask stands silent. He is hiding something behind his back.
Mary Ann reaches out and pulls the rubber mask off his head.
Martin Webber stands there, eyes blinking furiously at the bright kitchen light. His face is red and sweaty from having been under the mask for several hours. His wet hair sticks up oddly in the air. It almost looks like he has horns, Mary Ann thinks. Almost.
“Stop acting like a lunatic and play with your son like a normal father,” Mary Ann scolds, and turns her back on him to call after Billy.
Martin remains standing right behind her. He removes what he is hiding from behind his back.
“It’s ok, Billy! You can come back down now!” Mary Ann calls out in the direction her son had run. She takes a couple steps closer to the kitchen table, looking for something to mark her place in her book with. “It was just your daddy!”
Martin’s eyes blink rapidly as he looks down at the little hatchet in his gloved hands. Its blade is very sharp. He has spent several hours in the basement sharpening it against the cement floor.
“Did you hear me Billy!” Mary Ann shouts. “Your daddy is the monster!”
There is a hand written note laying on the kitchen table. Mary Ann picks it up.
The note: Dear Mary Ann, I am so sorry that I have to kill you and Billy. Please forgive me. Yours truly, Martin.
Martin raises the hatchet high above his head with super straight arms and steps up behind his wife. The floor squeaks like a frightened mouse beneath the shift of his weight. Run Mary Ann! It squeaks, RUN!
Mary Ann’s eyes rotate as far as they can inside their sockets, as if they might be able to see out the back of her head.
Martin’s face is twisted and tortured in a ghoulish fit. His eyes blink and blink at what feels like a billion times a second. He can feel his GERD coming on stronger than ever. He has to do it now before she turns around. He closes his eyes, swallowing back the upward gush of stomach acid, and brings the ax down as hard as he can. Darkness is all he sees. A wet crunch is all he hears.

Driving and dialing. Dillon puts his cell phone to his ear as he watches the road ahead. The familiar voice on the other end politely requests that he leave a message at this time and promises to return the call. Dillon is expecting this and does as the message asks.
“Hey, I know you’re probably somewhere enjoying yourself without your cell phone right now, since I’m not around to make you keep it with you. So I forgive you, but don’t forget, I won’t have a phone this weekend either, since like you, my friend Jake is also a cell phone hater. I doubt that there’s any reception up there anyway. So I’ll call you when I get back Monday and we can talk about all the things we thought about during our time apart. A.k.a. our ‘time out’ as you dubbed it. Anyway, I just called to say I already miss you and your beautiful face and your sexy body, and most of all, Iflya. A.k.a. I fucking love you always. This is Ripley, last survivor of the Nostromo, signing off.”
Dillon turns off his phone and sticks it into the glove compartment. There is a slight pang of anxiety as he lets his phone go, knowing it will be at least three days before they are reunited. But Dillon has a way of soothing his discomfort. He pulls a CD from its case and pops it into the CD player. Loud Static X immediately rages from the speakers and Dillon scream-sings along with it as he gazes out at the beauty before him.
The results of a collision that took place millions of years ago between converging tectonic plates lays before him on the horizon. Such a magnificent beauty had been born from such profound violence and destruction. The entire universe existed in a dance of violence and beauty. Destruction into creation and creation out of destruction. Like every other opposite, Dillon thinks, they are ultimately the same thing.
This concept that everything eventually equaled its opposite is an idea that had come to Dillon in a dream. One of those slippery dream tails he had managed to grab and hold onto, even as the rest of the dream scuttled away, leaving just that abandoned stub behind. Dillon knew it would grow another one. Dreams and nightmares always grew new tails. Sometimes Dillon thought this tail sloughing was intentional, giving up just enough of itself to keep him interested in the continued pursuit. But never enough to reveal the deepest truths of existence.
So it is that tail and its inspired notion that all opposites taken to their furthest extent become one another that Dillon is planning to write a paper on, and to tie into his conscious versus unconscious ideas. His, dreams versus consensual reality theory.
But enough about all that right now, gosh fuck it! Dillon tips his head from side to side as if being slapped across the face. He is tired of thinking. He is on a three day stress killing spree, murdering all his worries away and allowing himself time to play, have fun, and be pronounced brain dead at the scene of the crime. At least for a few daze anywaze.
Dillon notices he is only doing seventy-five miles an hour and speeds up to eighty just as a huge bug plunks the windshield and splatters itself into a green and yellow fist sized blot, obnoxiously obscuring his view.
“Whoa, dude,” Dillon says in his best Keanu Reeves voice. He turns on the windshield wipers, but of course there is no wiper fluid and the bug’s guts smear all over the glass. “Yummy, dude.”
At that moment the CD starts to skip in the player. Fuck, dude. Dillon pops the CD out, looking it over. He sees a tiny spot and licks at it with his tongue. He looks at it again then licks the spot harder and wipes it off on his shoulder. More yummy, dude. He is about to pop the disc back into the player when the biggest mother fucking bumblebee on the planet buzzes through the window and lands on his neck. Dillon lets go of the steering wheel and flicks it away with his hand. The Jurassic killer buzzes angrily and flies around inside the vehicle as Dillon frantically rolls his window all the way down and quickly leans over trying to roll down the passenger window as well.
“Shit dude,” Dillon attempts to watch the road through all the smeared bug cheese on his front windshield as he dodges the crazed mega bee inside. He can barely see a massive semi tractor trailer truck coming down the road toward him in the opposite lane as the wipers keep dry-wiping the windshield, making a horrible, rubber stubbing glass noise. The bumble-beast buzzes near his ear again and lands on his shirt. What the fuck, dude? Dillon jambs the CD back into the player to free up one hand and the music starts to scream-skip again. He frantically attempts to shoo the monster bee away as it climbs behind the passenger sun visor. Maybe the splattered bug had been this fiends boyfriend or girlfriend and they had been flying along, merrily in love when—Splat! One had hit the windshield and the other one–this one, had immediately dodged flank and entered Dillon’s vehicle to solicit revenge. Dillon glances back up at the road just in time to see that the oncoming truck is on the wrong side of the road now and headed directly for him. (Or maybe he is on the wrong side of the road?)
Dillon swerves into the opposite lane and off the road, sending a cloud of dirt flying up behind him everywhere. He swerves back up onto the highway and over into his proper lane again. The bug’s guts have now taken on a coat of dust, making it almost impossible to see through. Dillon grabs his water bottle from the drink holder and leans forward, he reaches out the window, squirting all contents out onto the windshield, then he sits back, letting the wipers whack. After a moment most of the bug gut and dust batter have been wiped to the far corners of the earth and Dillon can see the road clearly again.
The lord of the bees circles around his head a couple times and then vanishes out the window as quickly as it had appeared. Dillon looks in the rearview mirror. Through the dissolving haze of dirt behind him, he can see the truck that almost splattered his flesh across its windshield, as it speeds off over the hill and out of sight.
At that same moment, like a divine earmark, the disc in the CD player stops skipping and Static X starts to shout and rage like normal.
Dillon can’t help but give an ill fitting grin. “Sobering prodigious whoa, dude,” he says in his Keanu voice. And then in his own voice agrees with sincerity: “Hell fuck and shit fire, yes!”
He is all ramped up from the adrenalin now coursing through his body. That was one heck of a wicked ass voodoo spot in the road, he thinks to himself. Someone should put up a sign. Dillon realizes that he had not thought of using his break pedal even once during the event that had just taken place. Bizzee, bizzee, bizzee.
Maybe that’s what had saved him from the buzzee, buzzee, buzzee? Maybe his reckless pursuit of a record breaking E.T.A. had subconsciously kept him from hitting the breaks and losing control of his vehicle, thereby keeping him alive and on schedule. Dillon starts to scream-sing along with the music again in an attempt to neutralize some of his internal propulsion. He continues to speed down the two lane highway toward the ancient collision of tectonic plates, that lay waiting for him on the horizon.

Sadie Benton is standing at the foot of the bed when she wakes up. It only takes her a moment to realize she is staring down at her naked, ‘”on again off again” boyfriend, Rad, as he lays face down and spread eagle on his Harley Davidson bed sheets. The bed sheets that were not covered in filth, only because Sadie threw them in the wash machine for him every weekend. Otherwise they would surely be stiff and sticky with God only knew what type of stains and gore.
His name is Radcliff Aimes, but he of course went by Rad. Only his psycho bitch mother called him Radcliff to his face. Sadie does not allow herself to be comforted by the sweet stale smell of beer sweat that emanates from his pores and fills the room. This is a smell that reminds Sadie of her father and grandfather. Rad almost always reeked of discount beer and cigarettes, she reminds herself, it’s nothing new. In fact there was never anything new about him. Nothing new to say. Nothing new to do. No new ways to chew his food, no new ways to screw. Rad only changed his socks and underwear whenever Sadie managed to get them off of him for sex. Then she would hide them or put them in the wash after he fell asleep, with all the other pairs she’d been hiding for weeks. He would actually leave his underwear and socks on during sex if she allowed it. That’s how lazy he was.
Why is she here? How many times a month did she ask herself that? She felt sorry for him– reason one. He was sweet to her. Or at least he was sweet to her when he was stoned and drunk, which he always was, when not at work–reason two. He had a good job delivering mail for the United States Postal Service–reason three. They had fun riding around on his motorcycle, playing darts and pool at the bar with his buddies, and playing cards with his other buddies. All of which could be considered–reason four and five. But the main reason they are even together at all, is because he had been there for her twelve months ago, after she broke up with her last boyfriend–reason six—The Pharmacist.
That prick had had impeccable manners, a BMW, and access to pain killers. And Sadie had been in love with him from the word “refill.” His name was Brad, and other then the fact that their short names rhymed and both of their mothers were psychotic cunts, Radcliff and Bradford were worlds apart from each other in every way. And that is the way, uh-huh uh-huh, Sadie likes it, uh-huh uh-huh. She is well aware of her tendency to go from one extreme to the other, in her endless quest to avoid Mr. Right.
Sadie thinks about going into the kitchen and filling up a pitcher with ice water, walking back in here and dumping it on this lazy pothead’s backside before leaving. She always likes to make it crystal clear when the relationship is over. Maybe she’d do something different this time. Like drag the yard hose in through the house and give him a good morning and a good riddance douching. Sadie is one hundred percent positive that Rad would not wake up before she secured the hose and got outside where she could crank on the water from the safe distance of the front porch, then hop into her car and be gone before he had a clue as to what was transpiring.
First, he will think that he pissed the bed, which he sometimes did. Then he’ll think he punctured his waterbed, which he sometimes did. Then he’d stagger out of the room, grunting Sadie’s name and scratching his balls, which he always did. And finally, he’d trip and fall over the yard hose before realizing what was actually going on. That would be a classic goodbye kick in the nuts. Because nothing said “I hate your guts” like an ice cold enema.
Sadie starts to get dressed. She has a weekend planned with friends. Her friend Daffnie had invited her to go camping with her and her hot boyfriend, Jake, and some other friends of theirs, on their annual camping trip. Daffnie confessed to Sadie that she hated camping but she had to go because Jake loved it so much. She also confessed that she was inviting Sadie for no better reason than the simple fact that misery liked company.
Daffnie had invited Sadie to join them last year, just after Sadie started working as a teller at the bank with Daffnie, but Sadie had declined because she’d just started dating Rad and he wanted her to go with him, on what turned out to be a treacherous motorcycle road trip with some Manson Family wannabes. This year, Daffnie told Sadie to bring Rad along, even after all the horrible stories Sadie had shared with her about him. But that was just Daffnie being Little Miss Proper.
Daffnie knew that Sadie was on the hunt for some fresh meat. She also knew that Radcliff had basically been a rebound from her fall off the Brad cliff. In truth, the majority of Sadie’s boyfriends were rebounds. Her typical vicious cycle was to go screaming and running from one guy, into the arms of a guy she actually liked, then destroy that relationship out of fear of losing it, only to rebound with someone she would quickly loathe and despise and go screaming and running away from. And on and on and over and over it went, like God taking a shit through an hour glass, so were the days of her hell.
It had only been after Daffnie mentioned that there might be one or two eligible bachelors joining them this year that Sadie had decided to go. That, and because Sadie enjoyed Daffnie and Jake’s company. She enjoyed Daffnie’s company and she enjoyed looking at Jake. He was beautiful. Actually, so was Daffnie. They were a perfect couple. Both of them were very attractive. Their kids would either have the looks of inbred royalty or they would look like movie stars, Sadie imagined. She supposed, if nothing else came of this weekend, she would probably get to see Jake with his shirt off, at least. Or maybe she would get to hear Daffnie and Jake have sex. Better yet, she might even get to witness them having sex. Sadie had a fascination with watching other people have sex. Not pornography, but real life. It had started when she was a little girl, just seven or eight years old, when her and her cousin would secretly watch her Aunt and Uncle having sex from a hiding place he had made in their closet. Oddly enough he had called it “camping” as Sadie now recalls.
Sadie pulls her shirt on over her head and down over her breasts, smoothing it into a nice tight fit. She picks off a lint ball and flicks it at Rad. She stares down at Mr. Wrong. Mr. Rad Wrong. He is Mr. Wrong number twenty four or so. Sadie isn’t exactly sure of the count, since she had started dating at the age of ten and had long since lost track. Her record was nine guys the year she turned sixteen. That had been almost one per month.
Rad mumbles something in his sleep. He is twenty years older than her, but he is still hot for a guy in his forties. His legs are incredible. Probably from all the walking he did delivering the mail. Reason number seven. He’s got legs. And he knows how to use them.
Why is she here? Sadie asks herself again, for the four millionth time.
He has beautiful eyes. Reason number eight.
So what! His toenails are like pig hoofs.
Yes, they are. And for every reason she has to stay with him, she had ten more reasons to dump cold water on his ass and run.
Sadie watches him sleep for a few more moments. She is staring at the tattoo of Foghorn Leghorn on his left butt cheek. He loved Foghorn Leghorn. She can’t decide if this falls into the reason to leave him, or the reason to stay with him category. She decides to pass on the ice water and the yard hose for now. Not because of any compassion for him, but just in case neither of her possible options for this weekend pan out. It’s too early to break up with Rad when she hasn’t even met the fresh meat yet. That would be like selling your car before having another one to drive. After all, she wants to have somebody to be with next weekend if she gets lonely or horny. And Sadie knows how that goes. She always gets lonely or horny. After all, she’s just a lonely-horny gal. And of all the colors in her crayon box, lonely-horny is by far her all time favorite.

Someone has taken a bite out of the Holland Red Gouda.
Gouda rhymes with Buddha, Daffnie thinks, as she looks closely at the hunk of cheese in her hand. Yes, she can definitely see the imprints of teeth. She had started to go to school to become a dental hygienist, but stopped after realizing that people’s mouths were not her cup of tea, and that she preferred working with the materials that gave dental hygienists their jobs instead. Namely food. So she was back working full time as a bank teller and saving money to go to culinary school, starting in the fall. But she did not need an education in any field to know that someone had taken a bite out of the chunk of Gouda in her hand, and had then placed it right back on the shelf with all the other cheeses.
People can be disgusting sometimes, Daffnie thinks as she looks around for someone to inform and hand the cheese over to. But of course there is absolutely no store sales associate in sight. This is why people can walk around taking bites out of anything they want and then put them right back on the shelf for someone to accidentally purchase. Because there are no employees working the sales floors of retail stores anymore, and if you do find someone, they won’t speak English or they will only help you if you sign up for one of their store’s credit cards. That’s why Daffnie prides herself on trying to purchase everything she can online. Food for this weekend however didn’t happen to be one of those things she could shop for online. So here she is, living the everyday nightmare of the American retail shopping experience.
Daffnie sees a roll of plastic bags meant to be used for fruit and vegetables and she pulls one free. She puts the cheese into the bag and lays it in the child seat portion of her shopping cart, which is the only area not filled to the brim with groceries. (Mostly alcohol for the weekend.) She will give the cheese to the cashier at the check out.
Daffnie turns back to the cheeses. What if they think you took the bite? She ponders. If they accuse her of taking the bite she’ll just blow her breath in their faces and they’ll be able to smell that she has not eaten any cheese. Or she’ll demand that they give her a cheese-alyzer breath test. Daffnie laughs at this idea. That would be funny if they checked peoples breath to determine if they had been grazing while they were shopping. It would also just be another way to punish the poor people, who already found it difficult to afford the price of quality food. Homeless people probably came in and took bites out of things like the Holland Red Gouda just to survive. Daffnie couldn’t blame them. She would do the same if she were starving. Or if her child were starving. Maybe a mother had come into the store and taken a bite out of the Gouda, then gone back outside and spit it out and fed it to her hungry kid. Sort of like birds did when they regurgitated to their babies. Some arrogant snobs might say that it was disgusting, but Daffnie thought it was heroic.
Maybe they will smell the marijuana on your breath, a voice whispers in Daffnie’s head.
She had stopped by her sister’s house and only taken a few hits off the joint her brother-in-law was smoking but it had managed to ditz her up pretty good. She had needed it to round off all the sharp edges she’d woken up with “on her mind” this morning. Of course Jake would not be happy with her if he knew, but he wouldn’t know. She’d be fine by the time she got back home. A little marijuana made shopping more tolerable. Unfortunately it also made her a little more sensitive to things like homelessness and the clubbing of baby seals. If she got too high she would just start crying. And shopping and crying were not a good combination. It had happened once before when she was stoned with her sister and saw a boy staring at a puppy through a pet store window. She had started crying uncontrollably and couldn’t stop. Homeless people, children, and animals were her Achilles toes. And they were easily stubbed when she was stoned.
Even as a young girl, Daffnie had been troubled and depressed by the suffering that some people had to endure in life. So she had decided to turn her greatest weakness into her greatest strength. She donated food and money and her time to a homeless shelter once every month. The idea that every little bit helped and her determination to do something, even if it wasn’t a lot, had started after she’d seen the movie Monster. It had truly brought her attention to the horrible lives of the less fortunate. One day she hoped to produce her own show for MTV and call it: Lives of the Poor and Homeless, and use it to really bring an awareness to how people in poverty lived and how they had gotten there.
Daffnie had also become a huge fan of Charlize Theron, who had made herself so realistically unattractive for that film, and had given such a brilliant and sympathetic performance as an emotionally and mentally ill woman. It was Monster and Charlize’s character that had finally made Daffnie realize that for some people it was absolutely impossible to lift themselves up out of the gutters by their bootstraps, as so many hand-me-down well-to-dos, like her parents, insisted they could do. Sometimes it took a Monster to make people get up off their butts and do something about their own life or the lives of others.
Daffnie had realized that if life pooped all over you right from the start and you had absolutely nobody that loved you or gave even the slightest concern for your well being–no family, no friends, no positive mentors to guide you, no one at all–then how could you ever be expected to contribute to society in a favorable way? On top of that, many of them suffered severe mental problems. That movie had shown her how truly impossible it could be for some people to improve their lives, and how those fortunate enough to be better off needed to reach a hand out to those poor people and help them. They were caught like rats in an endless cycle of the ugliest existence that life had to offer.
After those realizations Daffnie had decided to do her part. She’d set a course to finish culinary school, open her own restaurant and make enough money to start a homeless shelter. Jake had told her it was a good idea and he would support her all the way in achieving her goal.
Daffnie stares at the Gouda. If it had been a homeless person that took the bite out of the cheese, they certainly had good taste. Daffnie considered Red Holland Gouda to be her favorite cheese. It went best with a semi-dry Riesling. Daffnie wonders if the homeless “cheese biter” was an alcoholic, and if so, was a semi-dry Riesling also their favorite drink of choice?
Maybe this homeless person is a young woman much like myself, Daffnie thinks. Maybe she just needs a good friend and some emotional support. Maybe she had run away from home because her mother was abusive or she was alone because her parents were killed in a car wreck and she had no other family. There were a million reasons why a person might be homeless, and most of them were not by choice.
Daffnie glances around the store for cameras. Maybe the store manager would search back on the camera recordings for her and see who took the bite out of the cheese. There are no cameras visibly eyeballing her, but Daffnie knows they are there. That’s why the stores don’t need any employees for customer service anymore, because they just have a security guard sitting in a dark room watching everyone, making sure they don’t steal. Then if anyone stuffs anything in their purse or down their pants, the security guard can just press a button and the store swat team will drop down from the rafters and attack. Because in the modern nightmare that is the American retail shopping experience, customers do not need to be helped, they just need to be watched like hawks and then arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, because they are all really just thieves. That is the attitude all stores seemed to have these days. But for Daffnie, that dark period is over. It had been an ugly speck on her otherwise pristine adolescence, but now, her shoplifting compulsion, which had been induced by the messy divorce of her parents, was all but forgotten.
Maybe they had caught the cheese biter? Daffnie thinks, and have record of her in their arrest files. Maybe Daffnie could get the name of the unfortunate, homeless, young woman, and go visit her in jail. Once the girl got off the street and received some emotional support and got cleaned up, she could have a whole new life. She might even be as beautiful as Charlize Theron under all the poop that life had dumped on her. Sometimes that was all it took. Wash away the poo and buried beneath it was an incredible beauty. Just like Daffnie’s favorite Disney story: Beauty and the Beast. But sometimes, just beauty wasn’t strong enough by itself to conquer the beast. Sometimes beauty needed help to get the poop off. Something strong enough, but also gentle and kind in its approach.
Toilet paper! Daffnie remembers suddenly. She needs to get toilet paper. Thank goodness she didn’t forget. There would be hell to pay had they gone up to the mountains with everything but toilet paper. She knew there was something she had been forgetting all this time, because there was that vague empty feeling in her head. The grocery list that she and Jake had compiled last night only consisted of the materials it took to create poop, like hotdogs and hamburgers, and their respective buns. And of course liquid substances to help the materials that created poop enter the poop creating machines, like beer and wine. Both of which she has plenty of in her grocery cart, including the semi-dry Riesling. Which is to go with the Holland Red Gouda that rhymes with Buddha and is sitting in the refrigerated display case in front of her.
Daffnie realizes now why her last several minutes of thinking had compulsively been about poop. Because it was not something she thought about on an abnormal basis after all. It was because she was stoned and because her subconscious had been warning her, trying to tell her that she was about to forget toilet paper. So it latched itself onto her thoughts about the homeless and life dumping all over some folks and brought her attention to where it needed to be. What an amazing thing the mind is, Daffnie thinks and smiles.
Oh My Sweet Holy Moses! She suddenly catches herself. How long have I been standing here staring at this cheese? I have so much to do and here I am daydreaming like a baked potato. Everyone is going to be waiting for me. This is why she isn’t supposed to “inhale” when she has chores to accomplish. Daffnie grabs two hunks of Holland Red Gouda from the chilled shelf, quickly inspecting them for homeless people bite marks, then drops them into her grocery cart and hurries off to get toilet paper. She hopes the line at the check out isn’t too long. She doesn’t have any line time.

The gasoline is still on his fingers. Jacob Rydel can smell it under the Fresh Scent of the wet wipes he had used to clean his hands off with. He’d used at least ten of the them and he had wiped really hard, but he can still smell the gasoline. There existed nothing that lingered like the stink of gasoline. It made him ill to breathe its toxic fumes. His stomach got queasy and he became dizzy when he inhaled it for too long. Jake imagined it was similar to what Superman went through with Kryptonite. Gasoline had always ranked second on Jake’s list of most hated odors, after cigarette smoke. Both of them ran neck and neck for first place with their monumentally appalling stenches and their underlying base odors, which were equivalent to breathing rotten meat sautéed in pig shit. Rotten meat and pig feces being in the third and forth positions on Jake’s list of most hated odors. It is a list that he had started to compile about ten years ago, as a child with a very sensitive snout.
Jake has pumped the horrendous amount of petrol it takes to fill up the tank on his dad’s thirty-one foot Diamond Jack Motor Home and he now reeks of gasoline. It isn’t just the gas that has spittled out onto his fingers, but also the insidious vapor particles that have squirmed their horrid little entities in between the fibers of his clothing and the shafts of his hair. It wasn’t so bad when he filled up his car because he always kept the tank topped off, which made it a quick ordeal, like getting a penicillin shot in the ass as a kid. But this was like fueling up a dinosaur. He’ll just have to take a nice long hot shower when he gets home and lather and scrub himself up squeaky clean with the new Acqua Di Gio body gel that Daffnie had bought online for him. There would be no more showers until they got back Monday and Jake preferred to go into the weekend as clean as possible. Maybe he’d even talk Daff into jumping into the shower with him for a little fun-ication.
Yeah, fat chance, Captain Romance.
That was not going to happen. Daffnie would have too much on her mind to indulge in pleasures of the flesh today. Besides, they had gotten in a good two hours of radical, pagan, lovemaking last night. And Jake is certain that Daffnie is expecting him to make that bout of sex last him through the weekend. Sex was always out of the question when they went camping because Daff was too tense. She loathed the mountains as much if not more than Jake loathed the smells of his list. This was because she had gotten lost in the mountains as a little girl while camping with her Girl Scout Troop. So the mountains were not an aphrodisiac for her, at all. In fact, they cinched her up tighter than a Constrictor Knot. He’d be lucky to get her to flash one of her boobs at him. She also hated ticks and mosquitoes. And lions and tigers and bears–oh my. While the opposite was true for himself. Jake got so horny in the mountains with all the fresh air and wild nature that he could probably fuck a tree if he found one with a hole soft and tight enough.
That was a joke.
Yeah, right. Tree fucker.
Jake is plotting to try and change Daffnie’s phobia of nature this weekend. He knows that she hates the mountains because of her fear of getting lost. She had a terrible association that he needed to counter with a good experience. So he had been planning on asking Daff to marry him since Christmas and he’d been looking for the perfect time and perfect place, when it had finally dawned on him, why not the mountains? What better way to unite his two greatest loves? He wanted someplace beautiful and romantic, and not crowded with a bunch of people. Someplace where they could be alone. And there was this beautiful spot that they had found while hiking during their camping trip last year and Daffnie had loved it, despite the fact that it was in the mountains. So Jake had decided to hike up there with her again this year and propose to her with some of the greatest beauty Mother Earth had to offer surrounding them.
Jake hoped this would give Daffnie something positive to relate to with regards to the mountains. And he wouldn’t have to feel like such an ass for making her go camping with him every year. Besides, he also wanted to take their children camping, when they had children, and he wanted them all to have a good relationship with nature. It was something his parents had done for him and his sisters. He believed it was healthy for them and it was healthy for the earth to have people know it and respect it. Not just out of fear for its more dangerous aspects but out of appreciation for its magnificence and beauty as well.
So here he is, on this gorgeous Friday, lumbering along behind the wheel of his daddy’s thirty-one foot camping monstrosity, heading for Shelbys Jewelers to pick up his honey pie’s twinkle stone, so that he can pop the question to her tomorrow, on a mountainside overlooking the earth.
But first–he needs to find a place to park this brontosaurus on wheels so he can hop out and run in and pick up the ring. Parking was eternally a hassle in life, but parking this behemoth was a big fat dick in the eye every time. Jake has always said: If parking had a smell it would be worse than pig shit, rotten meat, gasoline, and cigarette smoke all in one hairy rat hole pie. But parking was the only negative to his father’s RV. Everything else was “Super fine tits,” as he liked to say.
This bad ass mother scratcher of a camper was not the same one his parents had owned and taken him and his sisters camping in when they were little shits. This one was bigger, badder, and faster. It was almost bionic. It was a nice, new, modern, mamma jamma, with all the fixings and all the trimmings, as well as all the bling and all the blang, and all the bells and all the whistles. And sweet Mississippi River in December if Jake couldn’t catch himself a ten inch boner just thinkin’ about her.
Jake liked to recite in his mind all that the camper had to offer. It was comforting to him. Just like reading the ingredients on a Zipp health bar while he ate it was comforting to him. Sometimes he even got Daffnie to read the ingredients out loud to him while he ate the Zipp bar. And it wasn’t just the ingredients of Zipp health bars that he found comfort in reciting. Jake found it soothing to read the ingredients of all sorts of things. For some reason, lists were comforting to him. Probably because he liked things to be neat and orderly and lists were just an extension of that.
As Jake looks for a place to park, he subconsciously goes through his mental list of what makes up the magic bus he is driving: V-10 engine, automatic transfer power breaks and steering, AM/FM radio with CD player, air conditioning, cruise control, high back seats, a kitchen with a three burner stove and oven, microwave, a sink with automatic water pump, a two way fridge with freezer, power converter, furnace, and a toilette and shower. It is three hundred and forty-three inches long, ninety-nine inches wide, one hundred and forty-four inches high outside, eighty inches high inside. It sleeps six to eight people with a bed over the cab, a dinette and a sofa that converted into beds, and a bed in the back which had its own door for privacy. It has a thirty gallon fresh water tank, a fifty-five gallon waste tank, and a sixty-five gallon hot water tank. Everything you could need, absolutely every fucking thing you could need and more, for a two day, three night weekend in the middle of nowhere. Automatic, systematic, hydromatic, greased lightening.
Jake parks the motor home, and turns off the ignition. He jumps out and hurries into Shelbys, to be greeted by the loving embrace of air conditioning and the smiles of a friendly sales staff.
Reggie, the guy that sold him the ring, is off today, but Abbey, whom he had spoken to over the phone earlier, knows he’s in a hurry and is ready to help. She takes his info and goes to the back to get the ring. Jake smiles. There is nothing better than good customer service.
He has learned so much about diamond rings over the past few months. Something he would never have had to learn about if he were not going to get married. Jewelry is something he’d never cared about or worn himself. Accoutrements were something women gave a hoot about. Women and pirates.
Jake hated the perception that the more expensive the engagement ring was, the more you loved your soul mate. That was dog piss. He knew there had to be a middle ground between being a cheap ass bastard and bankruptcy. And sure enough he had found it.
Jake had learned about the four C’s: Carat, Cut, Clarity and Color. The theory of spending two months salary on a engagement ring was standard practice. There were things to consider like the size of your soul mates fingers. Smaller diamonds looked larger on slender fingers. Luckily for Daffnie, she didn’t have to buy a diamond engagement ring for Jake, since his fingers were big, while luckily for Jake, Daff’s fingers were slender. Too big of a diamond would look gaudy and snobbish on her finger, and that was not Daff’s style. Therefore it had been wiser for Jake to put more money into the cut, the clarity and the color, and to not be so concerned about the carats. If a woman wanted to blind her friends when showing them her wedding ring, she shouldn’t concern herself with carat so much as she should with the color and clarity, and especially the cut. Not the shape, but the cut. So, Jake had chosen a modest carat, with a round shape, a color rating of F, eye clean clarity, and an ideal cut, for his true love. It was a beautiful ring, for the most beautiful and amazing woman that had ever walked the planet. The woman that Jake planned to spend the rest of his life with.
Abbey brings the ring to him and tells him how exquisite and original it looks. Jake thanks her kindly and leaves. On his way across the parking lot to the motor home he is thinking about a safe place to stash it for the next twenty-four hours. He knows he can’t keep it on his person because he’ll lose it or she’ll see its case bulging in his pocket and have to investigate or…Jake stops. Something is bothering him. He sniffs his fingers. My goddamn Kryptonite. It’s still there. Still lingering. Fucking gasoline will be the death of me, Jake thinks, as he gets into the motor home.

Rhonda Smith has a big fat secret. She is watching a live gay web cam feed on her laptop and she is addicted. She is standing at the kitchen table folding a load of clothes and occasionally glancing away from the computer screen to look and see if her boyfriend’s truck has pulled up outside. She doesn’t want him to catch her partaking in her secret addiction of watching guy on guy sex. She’d been doing quite well and had actually not watched any gay stuff, including porn, porn-lite, or even gay drama or comedy for almost a month now, but she had had an over the top, stressful week at work and desperately needed something to relieve the insane pressure that was building up inside her. And unless her boyfriend, Mike, had accomplished his mission on his way home from work, she doubted that they would be rolling in the sheets before they headed to the mountains.
Mike always talked like he was in the mood for sex and Rhonni knew he thought about sex all the live long day, but when it came down to actually getting his dick dirty, Mike was “MIA” much of the time. Lately anyway. She knew that this was due to his own big fat secret. His erection problem. They were working on it though. Together and with the help of a qualified professional, and some not so qualified professionals. But until Mike got better, Rhonni would have to engage in a little, live gay bromance, to get herself over the hump. No pun intended. (Rhonni never intended puns. They were out of her grasp, like irony and its slippery meaning. But she could recognize a pun. Just usually after the fact.)
Rhonni’s job at the assisted living center, taking care of the dying elderly, had its rewards, but it also had its “dewards,” as she called them. Old folks were a very needy group of people. They needed lots of medications, bedding and clothing changes, help going to the bathroom–including butt wiping for some, help taking baths, stretching, and lots of walking and talking. Lots and lots of talking and talking and not really saying anything so much as lamenting and trying to recall memories out loud. Rhonni enjoyed her work but it could be more demanding and heartbreaking than it was rewarding. It was somewhat like taking care of infants, she imagined. Maybe this was preparing her for motherhood.
It wasn’t Rhonni’s intention to continue working with old folks forever. She wanted to finish up her nursing education and get a job with a plastic surgeon. She’d heard that those nurses could rake in some ridiculously large sums of cash and she wanted a bite of that action. Because money was the best way to relieve stress. So until she got to splish around in that splash, she would have to reduce her stress the way she knew best. And that was sex. And if she wasn’t actually able to have sex, the next best thing would have to do, which for her was homo porn.
Of course, she would never admit such an addiction to a living soul, because all addictions were a sign of weakness. If people found out about her gay porn habit, they would obviously question Mike’s sexuality and discover his erectile dysfunction. That issue would then turn their attention back to Rhonni, indicating to them that Mike couldn’t get hard because she was lacking in her feminine abilities. So, it all had to remain a big fat secret.
Rhonni’s current infatuation is with the live webcam feed called Adam and Steve. They were both twenty years old and they were boyfriends. They were both medical students, and the live webcam that they allowed to film them twenty-four hours a day, paid for their rent and schooling. They had both been disowned by their families after telling their parents they were gay. Adam had been kicked out of the house when he was sixteen and Steve had run away when he was sixteen. They had met each other and fallen in love. This is what their bios said on the intro to their website. Rhonni felt good as a regular viewer because she was actually doing charity work by making a monthy payment to receive full access to the site, thus contributing to the education of two men who were studying to be doctors. It was far superior to just watching porn, which was essentially like watching two slabs of meat grinding against each other and grunting. Especially straight porn, with the fat breasted, dumb, girl slab of meat, getting rammed and reamed every which way by a hideously ugly and hairy, fat-guy slab of meat. This way, Rhonni actually got to watch two men that loved each other, as they made love to each other, and get her own philanthropic jollies off at the same time.
Rhonni was positive that this was just a passing interest, and once she had completed her own education and was making beaucoup bucks helping filthy rich people look better than they did naturally, she would no longer need adam&steveinlove.com. Rhonni also curtailed her guilt by knowing that she didn’t just watch them for the sex. She also tuned in because they were both handsome, well built guys, and Rhonni could watch them and listen to them as they lived the Gays of Their Lives. It was like watching a soap opera, she had concluded. The guys spent most of the time in their apartment in scantly clad states of dress. Usually they were naked or just wearing tighty whities as they went about their routines, studying, fixing meals, eating, and exercising. They had sex on average, three to five times a day, breakfast, lunch and dinner, and in betweens, depending on when they were out of the apartment for classes. If one of them wasn’t home then the other one would masterbate, keeping the regularly set sex schedule for viewers that wanted to tune in specifically for that. Rhonni realized that all the sex was probably the main part of their business agreement and the reason they were getting paid. Otherwise she doubted if they would have sex as often as they did. Probably not, was her guess. Sometimes she could tell they were just going through the motions, faking it, not for each other, but for the paying customers like herself. She applauded their valiant effort on their road to the glory of becoming doctors. It almost brought tears to her eyes. Squirt. Squirt. (Another pun there? Rhonni isn’t certain.)
Right now, as Rhonni is folding her own boyfriends underwear, Adam is changing out light bulbs throughout the apartment in his own very tight underwear. He is standing on his tippy toes, stretching up to the ceiling as he unscrews and removes the old light bulb from the socket and screws in the new, environmentally friendly, spiral one.
Meanwhile, Steve has just gotten home from his morning classes and has snuck into the apartment without Adam knowing it. Adam has some loud music playing, so he doesn’t hear the front door open. Steve has first gone into the bathroom and pissed in the toilet, all on camera. Rhonni recently started paying extra for the bathroom cam. You could pay separately for each room or you could pay a lump sum to view the whole apartment, but the bathroom was always extra. A big plus because you got to watch them shower.
Steve is filling up one of the big water rifles that they keep in the bathroom for when they have their naked water gun fights, hunting and squirting each other throughout the apartment. Now Steve is sneaking down the hall and into the room where Adam is still trying to switch out several light bulbs in the ceiling fixtures. It would be so much easier and so much quicker if he just used a chair to stand on, but it would not be anywhere near as sexy as watching him stretch on the tips of his toes in his butt and cock hugging undies to reach the light bulb sockets.
Steve shoots Adam in the ass with the water rifle. Then he runs around in a circle continuing to open fire, drenching Adam and leaving him standing there in his wet underwear. Beautiful, Rhonni thinks, simply beautiful. All the tightness in her chest from a weeks worth of wiping ass in hell is floating away into the ether. Adam is holding up his hands in surrender as Steve steps up to him.
“So they put down their guns and their floppy cocks became hard swords of love,” Rhonni says, stuffing some banana chips into her mouth. It was the same way her mother had talked to her soap operas when Rhonni was little. “And they lived gaily ever after.”
Rhonni knows what is next on the itinerary. Yes, it is lunch time sex. She glances outside, crossing her fingers that Mike will not pull up before the boys are done. She knows that if Mike did ever catch her she would simply take the opportunity to ask him if he would be interested in allowing another guy to join them for an evening in bed. Of course she knew that he would decline in so many words, but she liked to fantasize about it nonetheless. Nothing else relieved her stress like these thoughts, or watching Adam and Steve go at it, all for the higher good of becoming doctors. Hell, maybe one day she’d actually be one of their nurses. She wasn’t much older than they were.
These two young men are having sex for the benefit of all mankind, Rhonni thinks, and that is a beautiful thing, no matter what her parents might influence her to believe. Sex didn’t always have to be nasty and selfish as her mother professed. It could actually be beautiful and giving. No matter what anyone else said, Rhonni knew that she would always prefer to watch two guys making love with each other, rather than two guys killing each other. Sword fighting with their cocks, rather than with swords. Shooting each other with their ejaculant, rather than bullets. Rhonni looks at the cucumber she had left laying on the kitchen counter. There isn’t any time for that, she tells herself.
Rhonni has finished folding the last of the clothes, Mike’s underwear and her panties. Or her underwear and Mike’s panties, as she sometimes encouraged them to be. She liked to wear Mike’s silk boxers. And sometimes she would get him to wear her panties. Her ass was big enough and his was small enough that they weren’t too tight on him. Actually they fit him quite nicely. She liked the way they hugged his junk. Rhonni felt that Mike was opening up more and more to her unusual sexual suggestions because he hoped that it would fix his impotence problem. He wasn’t finding himself stimulated by the old missionary position enough to keep his dick from being lazy. So, getting him to occasionally wear her panties was just one of the first steps in her big fat secret agenda, to get Mike to let her penetrate his ass with a strap on. It was sort of a power trip thing for her. She wanted to know what it felt like to wear the pants in the family, and in the bed, so to speak. (Pun? Or irony?) But it wasn’t just for her. Because, what was good for the goose, was also good for the gander.
Rhonni had been doing some reading on stimulation of the male prostate, and how it could reverse the waning of penile function and get it back to waxing, by being rubbed, like a magic lantern, giving rise to the genie inside. Rhonni wanted to test the theory out on Mike, and even though he might hesitate, ultimately he would thank her with hours of stress relieving sex. Just like the old days when they were sixteen. If? that is, this prostrate rubbing theory proved to make his erection be all that at it could be.
In her quest for answers, Rhonni had found a device online that she could strap on and into herself, that was held firm and secure around her waist and at the cleft of her pudendum, while also extending into her vagina and touching her clitoris. It was meant to stimulate her clitoris and his prostrate. It also had a battery pack which of course allowed for vibration and additional stimulation for both partners, if desired. She wasn’t sure it would work but for 19.95 she was willing to give it a go. Mike might balk at first, but he would warm up to the idea. Because anything was better than not being able to have sex.
Rhonni glances out the window and then back to her laptop.
Steve has pulled down Adam’s sopping wet underwear and he now has Adam bent over the kitchen table, as he reaches down to loosen and drop his own pants and boxers, then kiss his way back up the length of Adam’s spine, to the back of Adam’s neck and.…
Rhonni can’t help but feel a strand of anger and jealousy toward them. It didn’t seem fair that the gays got to be so happy in their sexuality and relationships while she sat here starving for attention. Rhonni sighs and smiles anyway, absorbing the glimmer from a shard of shattered heaven as she releases the stress and tension of another week worked in Hades from her body. She can feel her own dampness in the pair of Mike’s silk boxer shorts she is wearing.
As the World Burns, she thinks.
Rhonni knows one thing for certain, this is not her mother’s soap opera.

People need to die, Mike Parsons thinks. That would make the world a better place. The more people that died the better off the world would be, because too many people were like too much of anything–it depleted the net worth. Life was less valuable when there was so much of it to go around. Besides that, there was the fact that the earth couldn’t hold so many people. Just like an elevator or anything else, it had a maximum load capacity. If mankind didn’t take responsibility for itself, then Mother Nature would be forced to step in and thin out the population, and she didn’t care who you were. Just like those shooters at Columbine or any of the of other schools where kids went crazy from being picked on and abused, Mother Nature didn’t rip out just the weeds, she killed everyone, good and bad. So even the innocent were going to die in her revenge for the abuse that humankind continued to perpetrate upon her. It is sad but true. The recyclers and hybrid drivers will die just as horribly as those ignorant slobs, throwing their fast food trash from their windows as they drive around, burning holes in the blue sky with their big fat sport utility vehicles. Yes, one fine day soon, Mother Nature is going to come around like a high school student on a shooting rampage and start rectifying. Only she won’t be using guns and ammunition. Instead, she’ll come deploying storms of mass destruction the likes of which no Farmer’s Almanac has ever predicted.
Mike had spent the first part of his morning interviewing for a new job. He’d taken the day off from work so that he could do that and then get an early start on the weekend. Of course his current employer didn’t know about the interview. They just thought he was going camping for four days. The interview had gone smoothly and now Mike was on his way home so that he could finish packing, if Rhonni hadn’t already done so, and then get on the road so that they could be half way up the mountainside before the Friday traffic started. Mike didn’t want to listen to Rhonni bitching about the traffic all the way up the mountain. God knew how she could bitch about the traffic. But first things were first, Mike reminds himself and smiles, as four young ladies converge upon his pickup truck.
They are wearing thong bikini bottoms and short white t-shirts that allow just the smooth round bottom portions of their perfect breasts to be seen. Mike tries to let himself relax behind the wheel of his pickup as Jennifer pulls a hose between her legs and aims it at him, releasing a powerful gush of water all over his windshield. Let yourself relax, Mike tells himself gently, you don’t have to be anywhere, you don’t have to do anything. Just fucking relax. Deep down to your dog bone. Just let it all go.
Once the truck is thoroughly presoaked, the ladies move in with their buckets and sponges. They go to work, splishing and splashing soap suds all over Mike’s truck. Mandy is scrubbing his hood and she is the only one not wearing a small tight t-shirt. Instead she is wearing a super teeny bikini top that can barely keep her enormous tits from breaking free and attacking him, as she leans over the hood, scrubbing and scrubbing, like there is no tomorrow. These are all biodegradable soap suds, Mike reminds himself, they can not harm the environment. Not like oil! Fucking oil. If that country bumpkin, Supreme Court coup d’etat appointed, queen of farts, Destroyer of the United States, had put all the money he’d spent on his war into the development of alternative fuels, Americans would be washing their hands clean of foreign oil right now, instead of offering up their soldiers as sacrifice to the gods of greed and stupidity. In fact, all Neo-cons, Republi-cunts, and all those so called Patri-idiots, blinded by their own self righteousness and greed are the only reason America continued to suck on the oil spurting cock of Osama Bin Ladin and his merry men of murder and mayhem.
But people needed to die didn’t they?
Stop! Do not think about the morons running America into the ground. Do not shed one thought for them right now. Just settle down and relax. This is not the time, nor the place for those kinds of thoughts. This is the time and place to allow yourself to feel and to experience Bambi, as she rubs you with all the elbow grease she has to offer. You are your truck. Become your truck. They are washing you. The truck is your body. Feel these ladies washing your body, rubbing your body with their firm, tight, flesh, pressing against yours. Rubbing against yours.
Lacey is scrubbing the backend passenger side of the truck and Cherry is scrubbing the backend driver’s side of the truck. He can look in either of his side view mirrors and see them both bending over, rubbing hard at the tires and bumper, their asses are full and perfect, only the thin thong string, wedged between their ass cheeks, keeps him from seeing into their holy holies. Mike’s pornographic thoughts are intentional as he lets his eyes take it all in. He has a goal to achieve here. He is not ashamed to be here. Rhonni has encouraged him to do things like this in an attempt to reinvigorate his dormant south pole.
Mike had seen a doctor and the doctor had told him that there was no physical reason for his impotence issue. Therefore it was mental. It was something he and Rhonni just had to keep working at. Mike had started to think that maybe environmental poisoning was the reason for his problem, since his job was down in a pit changing vehicle oil all day. But the doctor had nixed that idea as well, continuing to insist it was a mental and not a physical issue. Then he had gone to a head shrink a few times and she was the one that had told him to start using sexual or even pornographic words in his thought patterns whenever he viewed something provocative, and to verbalize it when he could. To say his sexual thoughts out loud was the part Mike found most difficult, and because it was the most difficult part, the therapist said it would probably be the most beneficial. So that is what his trip to the Bikini Car Wash once a week was all about. Erecting his monument of love.
Jennifer is in the bed of his truck now, scrubbing the roof. All Mike can see of her is from her belly button to the lower part of her smooth bronze thighs. The front of her bikini is wet and covered in suds as she thrusts and rubs herself against his back window.
“I feel her smooth bronze thighs rubbing against the back of my head,” Mike mumbles.
Lacey and Cherry are now at his side windows. Mike has no idea if these are their real names, or if they are even close to their real names, but they are the names he has given them for the past month that he has been coming here. For all he knows their names are Blanch, Edna, Gladys and Myrtle. It doesn’t really matter. He isn’t here to meet them or get friendly with them. He is just here trying to use them as a launching pad for his rocket. Rhonni had actually been the one who’d seen this place and told him about it. It was really nice to know that she trusted him enough and was confident enough to allow him to do things like this. The truth is, he was no good to her if he was cheating on her with another chick or if he had a lazy dick. Another chick. A lazy dick. Different side of the same coin. It was all the same. It meant no dick for Rhonni, and Rhonni needed dick like she needed air.
Lacey and Cherry are now reaching up and scrubbing at the roof of his truck, and Jennifer is still behind him, muff buffing his back window. Lacey and Cherry stare at Mike and smile, their well tanned breasts are lathered in soap suds and water, their hard nipples are peek-a-booing out from under their soggy wet tank-tops and squeaking as they rub against the glass, rubbing and scrubbing at the windows of his pickup truck. Trying to get in. They’re hungry for him. Those hungry tits want to wrap themselves around his head and neck. They want eat his face and drown him in tit milk.
“Squeaky tits at my glass,” Mike talks quietly to himself. “Hungry hungry tits fighting for my cock cream. Let them in. Let them in. Or they will huff and puff and blow the glass in.”
Lots of tits, but not much butt action, Mike thinks. It would be nice to see them scrub his truck with their asses for once. It is Mike’s inclination to be a butt man. A pair of really big tits were almost as good as a nice firm ass, but not quite. A really juicy set of tits squeezed tightly together almost resembled a fine ass. Of course looking like ass cheeks with nipples on them was the only problem. Mike isn’t quite sure when or how he’d started to favor a lady’s ass over her tits, but at some point in his formative years this proclivity had taken the lead and made Mike the butt man he is today. It had been a close race throughout his teen years, but the ass had finally won him over. Tits felt good and tasted good, but they had no muscle, whereas the ass felt great, tasted great, and had some strong muscle to it. It was more earthy and grounded. Mike usually started up front with the headlights, getting the high beams to light up nice and bright, but he always finished up in the rear. Luckily Rhonni enjoyed what he enjoyed. For the most part.
The ladies of the Bikini Car Wash finish with him, and they back away from his truck, smiling and waving with their, y’all come back now smiles. Jennifer is the last to go, finishing him up as she always does, spraying him off with her fluid gushing from the hose between her legs, cooling him off and blowing the thick, white, soapy lather into oblivion. When Jennifer is all done, Mike rolls down the window and gives her forty dollars. The erectile dysfunction monster did not die cheaply.
“Keep the change,” he winks.
Jennifer takes the money and somehow manages to give him an even bigger version of her already super size smile. He wants her to turn around and walk away from him so he can get a goodbye look at her ass, but she doesn’t. None of them do. They stand there waving, with their big tits and their big smiles, waiting for him to go so they can wash the vehicle of the next impotent pervert.
Mike can’t help but be a little let down and a little angry. Not with these lovely ladies, but with himself, because he hasn’t felt the slightest twitch in his dick. Forty bucks, and not even a dick twitch.
As he starts up his truck and pulls slowly away, Mike wonders how much it would cost to get one of these girls to go home with him and partake in a threesome with he and Rhonni. Rhonni was at a point where she seemed to want to do anything it took to help him alleviate his faltering erection. He had mentioned a threesome to her several times in jest and she had never said yes, but she had never said no either.
Mike is pulling out of the car wash and onto the street. He recalls a dream he had recently about coming home from work to find Rhonni waiting for him in a white satin nurses outfit, with an oddly large thermometer for checking temperatures, and most importantly, she had one of her hot girlfriends from nursing school there, also wearing a white satin nurses outfit, and they were spanking each other’s asses with their big rubber thermometers, and jumping up and down on the bed.
Mike feels his penis move.
Houston, we have a twitch.
Mike almost slams on his breaks but stops himself, instead pushing the gas pedal down harder. He has to get home. What had it been? Which part of the nurses in white satin, wielding rubber thermometers, made his dick move? He continues the dream on his own, creating it as he goes. He imagines himself there now and verbalizes it just as his doctor had told him to do.
“He gets on the bed with them and they are both jumping up and down. He is looking at them and now neither of them are Rhonni. Instead, Rhonni is sitting on a rocking horse, she has the big rubber thermometer held sideways between her teeth, she is riding the horse hard, as if she were in danger, but it is not danger she is in. It’s heat. She’s in heat and in hot pursuit of me. The force with which she rides the rocking horse is insane sexual desire. And it is all for me. She removes the rubber thermometer from her mouth and whips the rocking horse’s hind end with it, trying to make it go faster. Then I let myself fall to the bed on my back and one of the nurses in white satin sits down on my dick and the other one sits down on my face. They ride me like the wild stallion I am.”
His dick is hard. It’s a full throttle Cock of Gibraltar! Just like Rhonni likes it. Hey Mikey, she likes it! How many days has it been? He feels like the born again Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas morning.
Sweet holy Moses, he has dick! He can feel it pushing against the teeth of his zipper, trying to get out. Trying to get air. Thank you, sweet imagination! He has to get home! He needs to be home! He has to share his hard dick with Rhonni before it goes away again.
Mike turns the corner onto Dixie Way and there, laying in the middle of the street, is a bunch of fast food trash.
“Fucking hell!” He curses and hits the breaks.
A car horn honks behind him and the car swerves, just missing his rear end. It drives around his truck and the passenger flips him off as they pass by.
“Yeah, that’s it!” Mike shouts. “Just drive on by. Ignore the defilement of our mother!”
Mike pulls his truck over to the side of the street and reaches under the passenger seat. He pulls out one of the black trash bags that he keeps there and jumps out of the truck. He picks up all the fast food trash and is stuffing it into the trash bag when he notices some more trash stuck in a bush on the side of the street. Wonderful, Mike thinks, let’s decorate the bushes with trash. That must be how they did it in those Neanderthal pig countries. To celebrate one of their pig worshipping holidays, they decorate a bush with trash and fuck a donkey in its honor. Very nice.
“Filthy, fucking, illegal immigrants,” Mike grumbles under his breath. He knows it is illegal immigrants throwing trash everywhere because he has seen them. This is because they come from countries that don’t have any laws, let alone laws against littering. These are also the same filthy pigs that he witnesses leaving public bathrooms without washing their hands after taking loud atomic shits. And worse than these pickle fuckers were actual American citizens that did this kind of stuff, because they should fucking know better than anyone. There was no amount of suffering that could equal what they deserved.
All Mike knows at this moment, is that he needs a beer. And several more beers after that. As he walks toward the bush to remove the trash from it, he realizes that his erection is gone.
Yes, people need to die, he thinks. Die and make the world a better place.

There is a fly on the tip of Kellie’s nose.
Alan Trist watches it from where he is sitting on the floor in the corner of the bedroom. Kellie’s bedroom.
The fly crawls around and disappears up inside one of Kellie’s nostrils.
Alan watches and waits for it to come back out. What goes in, must come out.
Meanwhile, another fly has landed on one of her eyeballs. It just sits there shuffling its wings and rubbing its stick legs together.
They sure show up quick, Alan thinks, much quicker than the police. Not that he had called the police, or even an ambulance for that matter. He hadn’t called for anyone. If he had called the police however, he is certain that the flies would still have beaten them to the punch. But he definitely had not called them. Alan assures himself of this. Instead he had just quietly stepped backward until his back was against the wall, and then he’d slid down to where he is now sitting, in the corner of the bedroom.
Kellie’s bedroom.
Yes, we have established whose room we are in.
Flies know exactly what their jobs are, and they do it. The police on the other hand, they don’t have a clue. Eat donuts? Fight crime? Eat donuts? Fight crime?
Speaking of donuts, Alan looks at his right hand. It feels like a donut. His knuckles are all red and swollen. They match perfectly to the left side of Kellie’s face. Why is that, you ask?
Because he had hit her.
Punched her actually.
And he had broken her neck.
But he hadn’t meant to break her neck. If, he had broken her neck, that is. He is assuming he had broken her neck because he had no idea what else might have caused her to drop to the floor and lay there with her head twisted oddly to one side, her eyes open and dull, and not a single breath entering or leaving her lungs for almost two hours now.
Alan knows how long Kellie has been laying there and how long he has been sitting here because he can see the alarm clock on the nightstand by her bed. Kellie’s alarm clock. The alarm clock that will never wake her up again, no matter how loud or how long it goes off. She has gone to a place that is beyond the reach of her alarm clock. She is far beyond the reach of anyone’s alarm clock. But maybe somewhere, in some third world country, in a little mud hut, there resides a raggedy old witch doctor with a demon possessed alarm clock, made from rat bones and frog skin, that might wake her up from the sleep of death, all for the inexpensive price of Alan’s soul.
Alan had punched her accidentally. He had done it without even thinking about doing it. He had just meant to slap her but his fingers never uncurled. His arm had just shot out and connected his fist to her head like a lightening bolt. Just like that, and she was dead. He had never intended to even hurt her, let alone kill her.
It just happened. Alan remembers it like a whirlwind in his brain.
They had been talking. He had been doing most of the talking. Kellie had been listening, making her bed as Alan spoke to her. He was trying to figure out why she had really broken up with him. Was it because he didn’t have a great job? Was his car so much of a piece of crap that she didn’t want to be seen in it? Did he ejaculate too quickly for her? Did his breath smell like duck shit? What was the real god damn reason? That’s all he wanted to know! Even though he already knew. He wanted her to say it to his face. And he was being polite and calm, not raising his voice, not getting in her face at all about it. Then suddenly she was telling him what he wanted to hear, while also telling him what he didn’t want to hear. She’d started saying mean things, like she sometimes did. Suddenly she wouldn’t shut up. She was saying stupid things, like she sometimes did. And she wasn’t even looking at him as she went on and on, blathering up some nasty storm clouds.
Alan didn’t like it when she didn’t look at him. It made him feel invisible.
He’d reached out for her and she’d pulled away and told him to get out. He shouldn’t be there. She shouldn’t have let him in. And blah and de and blah and blah. Then he was just trying to apologize, he would leave, but he didn’t understand what he’d done. What had he done? They had been so happy together. But she wasn’t really happy was she? She’d been faking her happiness. Faking her smiles. Faking the twinkle in her eyes. Faking the fire between her thighs. Faking everything. Faking.
Alan had reached out for her again. He touched her, just to get her to look at him. He needed her to look at him, to see him, to see how much he loved her, to see what she was doing to him. He needed her to know. Then he would go.
So he grabbed her arms and she pulled away and slapped him, like a bolt of lightening, hard across the face. Just like that.
And Alan punched her. Because his fingers didn’t uncurl like they were supposed to.
He punched her hard in the face.
Just like that.
Harder than he thought he had.
Something snapped in him and something snapped in her neck.
He heard it.
He was still hearing it. All of it. Her voice. His own voice. Then….
Just like that.
Like those breakfast cereal fairies.
Only these were their evil cousins. The Scaries. And their names were, Slap, Punch, and Snap.
The fly on Kellie’s eye is still there. It looks like her pupil, and it looks like she is looking over at him with one, out of whack eyeball. Then the fly crawls to the other side of Kellie’s eyeball and it looks like she is looking away, refusing to look at him again. This time Alan doesn’t care. He doesn’t want her to look at him. It’s not nice to stare. And it’s really not nice to stare when you’re dead.
My life is over, Alan thinks.
And why is that young man?
Because I refuse to go to prison.
Alan knows what evil lurks behind the walls of prisons, and he isn’t going to go there and be party raped every night by a bunch of neo nazis and gang bangers. He’d rather die.
Kellie’s pupil crawls over her eyebrow, up her forehead, and gets lost in her mass of red hair. Her beautiful red hair.
The police always suspect the husband first. Alan knows this from all the crime shows he’s watched. The husband, the boyfriend, the ex boyfriend, and the butler, respectively. And Kellie had all those suspects numbers in her cell phone. Except for the butler. She didn’t have a butler. Alan thinks that some part of his brain threw that into the equation to try and cheer him up. Oh, a wise guy, huh. Why I oughta….
But it won’t work. How could it? When his life is over. And Kellie’s life is over.
So, we have her ex husband, her new boyfriend, and Alan. Those are the people they would come looking for.
The ex husband lives in another state, so that might rule him out. But the new boyfriend? Maybe they will think he did it. If no one had seen Alan come over here. And, if no one sees him leave.
It is almost lunch time now, and people will be at work until then, until they break for lunch. Just like he would have been at work, had he not asked for the day off five weeks ago, so that he and Kellie could go camping with some of his friends. But Kellie had dumped him thirteen days ago, so he had cancelled out on the camping trip, while retaining the day off.
Since then he had sort of been stalking her. Not like a crazy stalker, but like a friendly stalker. He was keeping an eye on her, making sure she was safe with this new guy. Alan didn’t know much about him but he’d heard rumor that the guy was married and had kids. If that were true, it could possibly help to point the finger at him instead of Alan. They might think he killed her because she threatened to tell his wife about their affair. Maybe she was black mailing him? There were all sorts of possibilities.
Dan is his name. His name is Dan.
That is the only other thing Alan knows about him. His name is Dan and he had a plan. A plan to take Alan’s baby away.
Alan realizes that the fly that had crawled into Kellie’s nose, still has not come out. He knows what it’s doing up there. He isn’t as stupid as she tries to make him feel sometimes. Just because he’s twenty-two and she’s thirty-one. The fly is up there, inside Kellie’s skull, probably in her brains, laying the eggs that will become the maggots, that will dissolve her flesh and return her back to the earth. Our bodies return to mother nature, and our souls return to father universe, me thinks me knows.
Alan had loved biology as a kid. Not just the part about sex organs either. He’d loved it all. Like he’d loved her. She had reminded him of one of his science teachers in the tenth grade.
Speaking of biology, Alan thinks this situation could be turned into something positive, where an entire class of tenth grade biology students could come and watch, as sexy Kellie became smelly jelly. He doesn’t imagine that explaining a rotting woman as a science project would get him off the murder hook. Because murder, even accidental murder, was a bitch of a hook to get off of once you got yourself on it.
Alan had just come by to see how she was doing. He hadn’t planned her any harm, he is certain of this. He has searched every crack and cranny of his mind and found no hidden intention of harm lurking anywhere. He had just been driving by out of habit and had noticed that Dan the man with a plan’s car was parked out front. Alan had gone to the bank and come back by on his way home and Dan’s car was gone. But Kellie’s car was still there.
Why wasn’t she at work? Alan had wondered.
So he had parked his car two blocks away and walked through the alleyway to her house. He just wanted to look in on her because it was strange that she wasn’t at work. He was also thinking, that maybe she would go to lunch with him.
Alan had knocked on her back door and Kellie had answered and invited him in. She was cordial but distant. She wasn’t the same Kellie he had dated for thirteen months. She was still beautiful with her gorgeous red hair and green eyes. She still smelled like an ocean of roses. But she wasn’t the same Kellie. She wasn’t Alan’s Kellie. She was Dan’s Kellie. Dan the man with the plan’s Kellie. Dan the married man’s Kellie.
So, altruistic Alan had followed cordial Kellie into the house. Then into the bedroom. Kellie’s bedroom. The same bedroom he’d followed her into the first night they made love. This time however she’d led Alan into her room so that she could rub Dan in his face. She did this in her usual passive aggressive fashion by making him watch her make the bed that the two of them had just spent the night fucking in.
They chatted. Kellie had a migraine and that’s why she hadn’t gone to her summer job, teaching English to new American citizens. Had she been fighting with Dan? Alan had crossed his fingers in his pockets, where he had been trying to keep his hands since entering the house. Because for some reason, his hands had been sweating and itching like crazy. Everything had being going fine and dandy and then it had suddenly gone all wrong.
Just like that.
But maybe not. Maybe not just like that. What if instead…?
Kellie never answered the door.
What if the door is open when Alan arrives? What if he had found the door open and when he knocked, no one answered? Kellie’s car was out front, which was why Alan became concerned and went inside. He found her, but he didn’t call the police like he should have, because his emotions overcame him. Instead, he freaked out and took off. He left the house and went home.
That would be his story if it went that far. If some neighbor had seen him and ended up telling the police. Or what if maybe, he had come by and knocked, but Kellie had never answered, so he left, and that was why he had never called the police? Except that wouldn’t work time frame wise. Especially not if the nosey neighbor saw him come and go. So?
So so suck you’re toe, all the way to Mexico.
Alan stands up scratching at his forehead. His brain itches. He wonders if that is possible. You can get brain freeze after all, so why not brain itch. He had quit taking his meds after he and Kellie broke up because he thought they were making it difficult for him to ejaculate. But maybe they had been keeping his brain from getting itchy. And keeping him from accidentally reacting violently to people that provoked him. Or maybe the medication was still in his system and had caused him to slap Kellie with his fingers not uncurled. He doesn’t know. All he knows is that he needs to do something quick.
Mexico? That might be where he has to go. Or Canada.
Or maybe he will go camping this weekend after all. He was supposed to bring the purple marshmallows after all. Whatever he is going to do he needs to do it quick. He needs to get out of this house first though. Should he cover his head? No, that will just draw attention to him as badly as Kellie is drawing flies. He just needs to slip out the back Jack, make a new plan Dan, and stroll his nearly-nailed-to-the-cross ass, right back through the little alleyway between the neighbor’s fences, then walk two blocks over and get inside his clunker and drive himself home, pack his black backpack and grab the purple marshmallows, then jump on his ten speed and bike over to Jake and Daffnie’s house. Maybe he would make himself wipe out on the way over and really fuck up his hand on the street, just to hide any possible trace of evidence that he had punched Kellie. Alan looks at his hand again. It hurts quite a bit and has really swollen up. Maybe he’d broken it? Maybe he’d broken her head with his hand and she’d broken his hand with her head. Fair trade? Me thinks not. But who is doing all the suffering now, huh? Not her. Not his dead, sweet Kellio.
Kellio. That had been her nick name. She was Kellio and he was Alanette. They had been, Alanette and Kellio. It was their reverse version of Romeo and Juliet. Something he had made up, thinking she would enjoy it because she taught high school literature. And she had enjoyed it. And Alan knew she had enjoyed him. He knew that he had meant something to her. Just not enough.
Anyway, broken hand or not, a good spill on his bike was the perfect way to cover up any possible connection between his fist and Kellie’s face. He has to think about himself now. He needs to be selfish. Kellie is gone. It was an accident and he is sorry. He knows he will suffer for this for the rest of his life. Even if he gets away with it. She will haunt him in his dreams. Guilt will ride on his back like a monkey the size of King Kong, until the day he dies. He will live in fear of new evidence that might put the police on his front door step. He will probably become an alcoholic and destroy his liver by the time he is thirty one years old. He will suffer and then die at the same age she died at. Kellie will see to that.
But Alan doesn’t care. At least he’ll be alive until then. And he won’t be in prison getting an incurable disease injected into his asshole every night from the drippy dick of some potato faced goombah named Gepetto Corleone. Or whom the fuck ever.
Yes, Dan may be the man, Alan thinks, but Alan has the plan. He can’t believe how pumped he is suddenly. When only moments ago he had been a goner. Now he sees a huge shining light of survival at the end of this dark tunnel. And just in case things take a turn for the worse, he’ll toss his roommate’s gun into his backpack as a precaution, and if his doom becomes eminent, he’ll do whatever needs to be done. Even kill more people if he needs to and go out in a hazy blaze of gory glory.
Where had that thought come from? His brain is soooooooo fucking itchy right now. But maybe a little more killing will stop all the itchy and scratchy in his goddamn brain.
Alan is digging at his head again, so much so that it starts to bleed. But it doesn’t matter right now, because he needs to get out of here. His brain is really starting to itch like a mother fucker though. Alan looks at the blood and little shreds of skin on his fingertips. A fly buzzes around his head and lands on his nose. He swings at it violently, hitting himself in the face. Owe! Goddamn disgusting, fucking flies! He despises flies. He despises how they will land on a steaming hot pile of dog shit in the front yard, then fly right over and land on your food, tracking canine feces onto your hotdog bun as you cram it into your mouth. Flies are one of Mother Natures most foul creations.
Where had it gone? Fucking fly anyway!
Alan’s nose itches. He scratches it. It tickles inside. And it itches. The inside of his nose tickles and itches all the way up into his sinus cavity, under his forehead, and into his brain.
Had it flown up his nose? Had it gone up his nose like the fly that crawled up Kellie’s nose? Maybe it was the same fly? Maybe it crawled out of Kellie’s nose while he wasn’t looking and flew straight for his face, buzzing—BONSAI! BONSAI!—right up his nostril! Maybe it had been up in her brain, squirting out digestive enzymes and laying baby maggots, and now it was up in his brain doing the same thing. That’s why his forehead was so itchy. Because his brain was itchy. Because there was a fly crawling around in his head, doing Mother Nature’s dirty business. He needs his roommates gun. If he had that nosy asshole’s gun, he’d put it to his head and blow that fucking fly right out of its mind.
Get a grip on yourself, Alan. Just get out of this fucking bedroom. Kellie’s bedroom. The longer you stay here the worse your odds for survival will get. So get a grip and get out.
But I can still feel it crawling around in there, rubbing its little stick legs together. Rewiring my
That’s just your imagination, buzzed the fly.
Alan hits himself in the head.
Fuck, that hurts!
Now you know how Katie felt.
Katie? Who the fuck is Katie!
Kellie, you idiot, not Katie.
He’s losing his mind now.
Who’s losing his mind?
I’m losing his mind?
No, you’re losing my mind.
Get out!
Yes, that is a good idea.
Forget the fly. Forget Kellie and go.
Get out.
Go home.
Get gun.
Go camping.
Those were his four G’s. Get out. Go home. Get gun. Go camping. The four G’s he needed to accomplish.
But there is one other G for today. And it is the hardest G of all.
Alan looks down at Kellie. Beautiful sexy Kellie, rotting into jelly. I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean for
this to happen. It was an accident. Just a horrible, horrible accident.
Not all accidents are accidents, they say.
And so, my hardest G today,

Dillon is getting gas at the Mom and Pop convenience store. He stretches and yawns to get his blood flowing again. He looks around while waiting for his car to finish filling up. He does some Tae-kwon-do kicks to the air to get his guts functioning and notices the man pumping gas on the opposite side of the gas pumps. The man has a tan sedan and he looks just a little bit on the frazzled side of life. Like he might have tried to sober up from a nasty drinking binge with a few too many Red Bulls. He might even still be drunk. And now he is probably flying on the Red Bulls and still crawling from the booze. Which would put him upright and roaming the earth like some restless zombie in hell. Dillon has been there before himself but he isn’t a Med-Grad and therefore is hesitant to offer the man any remedies. Besides, the guy could just be in love. It had similar side effects. Whatever the actual ailment, Dillon thinks this fellow should probably not be behind the steering wheel of a car.

Martin Webber is filling his tank up with gas. He knows there is something in the backseat of his car, and it is waiting for him. It wants him to hurry up. It has places to go. People to kill. No one else can see it, but Martin can. He can see it right now. He can see just a glint of its big grin in the reflection of his drivers side mirror. It’s watching him. It won’t let him run away. Martin knows he can never get away from it. There is no escaping its reach, now or ever. And he knows he better hurry up or there will be hell to pay. More hell then he can afford.
Martin catches some young punk gawking at him, and he gawks back. The young man smiles politely like an idiot and Martin stares him down until the little queer turns away. That’s right, Martin thinks. Just look away. Just mind your own beeswax, you high-falutin fancy pants, in your Honda Civic. It’s probably your mothers car anyway. Because you’re just a mamma’s boy liberal Nancy in fancy pants. His mama probably picked out those pants for him and even put them on him and zipped them up and buttoned them and wiped his ass and kissed his sad puppy eyed head and pushed him out the door and told him to get a fucking job or not come home. Right! Martin feels a sudden urge to go over and scream in the shit turds face. There is no way this punk kid has any idea what it is like to love a woman, marry that woman, have a child with that woman. And then kill them both.
Martin pulls the gas nozzle out of the tank and goes to the back of his car. He slips his keys out of his pocket and unlocks the trunk. He looks around, making sure no one is watching, then he opens the trunk lid. Martin stares down in horror at what is there. His head vibrates and twitches on his neck as if trying to turn away, but unable. A high pitched squeal attempts to escape between his lips but he zips them together tightly and swallows the shriek back down into his lungs, where it bulges and bloats beneath his ribcage. I’m finding out things I didn’t know about myself, Martin thinks. I’m finding out things I didn’t even know I could do. Bad things. Terrible horrible things. I’m finding out things. I’m finding things out. I’m thinging out finds. I’m….
Martin squirts gasoline into the trunk and slams the lid shut. That will hide the smell for awhile. He looks around nervously. He is suddenly overcome by paranoia. But the only one around is the young punk liberal Nancy, Lord Fancy Pants. And he is cleaning his front windshield, not paying any attention to Martin.
Or he’s pretending to not pay any attention to me, Martin thinks.

Dillon is removing the last of the bug guts from the edges of his windshield. He is thinking about how this insect’s guts had almost played a part in his untimely demise, and how he had played a part in the insect’s untimely demise. He wondered if the bug had a family. Maybe it had been suicidal because it didn’t have any family. Or maybe it had been suicidal because it had family. Yes, that sometimes was the reason.
The crazy frazzled guy is suddenly poking his demented face around the side of the gas pump.
“You better watch where you’re going Mr. Fancy Pants,” The man slurs at Dillon, as he puts the gas nozzle back into its cradle. “It was an accident. That’s all it was! She ran into me! She did this to me! To me or not to me! That is the connection. The conjunction and the function. She did this. Not me! Not I! Said the man to the intruding fancy pants spy. Stupid woman driver.”
The man moves back around to the driver’s side door, fumbling his keys into the lock. “You’re one of those Fancy Pants, aren’t you? You liberal Nancy. But you have no fucking idea! Sister Fancy Pants. Do you! You have no idea what it’s like! You fucking liberal cunt face fag.”
The crazed man’s eyes throb wild and berserk as he gets into his car and starts it up, cursing under his breath.
“Stupid fancy pants always thinking your shit smells good!” He shouts and revs the engine and honks the horn. “I hate your stinking guts!”
He stares out through the front windshield with bulbous, blinking eyes, filled with horror and pain. “I hate you!” He screams in a rage and shakes his head violently, stretching his mouth open wide while sticking his tongue out at Dillon.
Martin puts his foot against the gas pedal, the tires squeal and the tan sedan speeds out of the lot and down the street.
Dillon smiles and waves so long with his middle finger.

Martin is flying down the road. He is driving, jut-eyed and insane, with his tongue hanging out the side of his mouth like a panting dog. He is laughing and crying, and tottering achingly on the verge of consummate hysteria.
“She did it!” Martin screams. His eyes glance into the rearview mirror at something in the back seat. “She hit me! It was all her fault! Not mine. She caused this. Not me! Not I! Stupid woman driver! It’s not my fault! Not me! Not mine! I was fine! I, me, mine. I was a good driver! Please don’t make me do this. I don’t want to do this anymore. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid woman driver! Stupid! Stupid woman driver! Stupid woman driver! Stupid woman driver! Stupid woman driver! It’s going to be a bumpy night. It’s going to be a bumpy ride from here to eternity! Stupid killers on the road. Stupid killers. Stupid bumpy killers. Welcome to crazy town, fuck stick. I hope you packed. I hope you packed. I hope you packed. Welcome to crazy town, kid. Welcome to crazy town, kid. Welcome to crazy fucking town kid. Welcome. I hope you packed. I hope you packed you, I, me, mine. You, I, me, mine. You, I, me, mine. Stupid woman driver. Stupid killer, you I me mine. You I me mine killer. You stupid stupid I me mine. Killer…killer…killer….”

Sadie is trying to find a specific plastic lid to fit a specific plastic container from the cupboard over the kitchen sink.
Dillon steps up behind her and reaches around putting his hands over her breasts. “Peek-a-boo.”
Sadie turns around.
Dillon has absolutely no idea who she is. His face turns baboon-ass red.
“Hi,” Sadie says and extends a hand. “My name is Sadie Benton.”
“I am so sorry,” Dillon says. “I thought you were…,” he takes her hand and shakes it. “Dillon Race,” He lets go of her hand. “I mean I’m Dillon Race. I thought you were Daff……”
“Dill!” Daffnie squeals loudly from behind him as she enters the kitchen.
Dillon turns around, “Daff!”
Daffnie gives him a big hug. “I thought you weren’t coming,” Daffnie says. She is obviously surprised and happy to see him. “Jake said you weren’t coming.”
“He lied,” Dillon says. “He’s a liar.”
“I’ll have to spank his buttocks,” Daffnie says, doing her best Forrest Gump voice.
Sadie raises her hand as she swallows a sip from her glass of iced tea. “Can I watch?”
Daffnie ignores the question because she suddenly remembers that Dillon and Sadie have never met. “Sadie,” Daffnie starts the introductions. “This is Jake’s best friend and my very good friend, Dillon Race. He is a Pisces and he is a Psychology major, English minor. He’s also a writer and he is truly a good person.”
“Aspiring, good person,” Dillon says.
“Aren’t we all,” Sadie says.
Dillon smiles, thinking about the crazy guy he had just seen at the gas station.
“You’re a writer?” Sadie says, confirming what Daffnie had said only moments ago.
“Aren’t we all,” Dillon winks.
“Dillon, this is Sadie,” Daffnie continues. “She is a Scorpio. And she is a somnambulist. Did I say it correctly?” she asks, still looking at Dillon.
“Yes you did, and yes I am,” Sadie raises her hand again, this time in confession. “I walk in my sleep and I sleep in the nude.”
“Very nice to meet you,” Dillon says.
“Jake says you’re dating a girl from Israel?” Daffnie begins the interrogation of Dillon.
“Something like that,” Dillon answers.
“She went back home for a week?” Daffnie continues.
“Something like that,” Dillon repeats.
“Holy smokes, you’re always so vague about your love life,” Daffnie says, doing her best Jewish mother impression. “As if I were the national inquisition and you were some big fancy pants.”
Dillon laughs at this. “You are the second person to call me fancy pants today. That’s so fucking funny. I don’t think I have been called fancy pants my entire life and now twice in one day. And these pants are actually from the Goodwill. So they aren’t really fancy at all.”
“That is funny,” Sadie agrees, sipping her drink. “Would you like to try some scrumptious iced sun tea that Daffnie brewed?”
Daffnie smiles at Sadie’s compliment of her sun tea because it’s one of her own special designs. (She uses three types of tea and two types of juice, but the recipe is a secret, so don’t even ask.)
There is a knock at the back door and Alan comes in lugging his backpack and sleeping bag into the kitchen. He stands there catching his breath.
“Oh, Alan,” Daffnie is surprised. “Jake said that Mike said that you weren’t coming.”
“I kind of changed my mind at the last minute,” Alan huffs. “I hope that’s not a problem.”
“No, that’s great. I am so glad you did. The more the merrier,” Daffnie notices what appears to be dried blood on Alan’s forehead and how red his eyes are. Probably from allergies she tells herself. Or marijuana. She chooses to ignore the blood on his forehead for the moment and get the introductions out of the way. “This is Dillon. Jake’s best friend since they were five.”
“Four and a half actually,” Dillon extends his hand for the shaking.
Alan holds up his own hand showing his bruised and bloody knuckles.
“What happened?” Daffnie asks with genuine concern.
“Long story made short by just saying long story,” Alan says.
“I’d hate to see what the other person looks like,” Sadie says.
“Actually I wiped out on my bike on the way over,” Alan explains. “But my ego suffered the greatest injury.”
“You’re a rider?” Sadie asks.
“And this is Sadie,” Daffnie says.
“Single Sadie,” Sadie adds.
“Do you ride?” Alan asks.
“No, but Dillon is a writer,” Sadie says. “And I just thought that it was cute. Rider. Writer.”
“So that explains the dried blood on your head,” Daffnie says and decides to add something nice to make Alan feel better. “I was worried that maybe you killed someone with those blue eyes and that smile of yours.”
Alan feels his brain furrow and for a moment he contemplates pulling out his nosy roommates gun and shooting everyone in the face, but instead he says: “It’s nice to meet you both,” then he turns to Daffnie and asks: “Could I use your potty chamber?”
Daffnie looks puzzled for a moment then says: “Oh, you mean the bathroom. Of course you can. Jake should be out of the shower by now,” Daffnie crosses her fingers so everyone can see. “Let me get you a towel for your head and your hand.”
Daffnie leads the way and Alan follows her. He leaves his sleeping bag behind but takes his backpack with him.
Dillon and Sadie stand there in awkward silence for a moment.
“Alan’s girlfriend just broke up with him, per Daffnie,” Sadie informs. “He’s a good friend of Jake’s friend, Mike. Mike and Rhonni. Have you met them?”
“I don’t think so,” Dillon says.
“I guess the break up really messed him up.”
“I can see that,” Dillon says.
“Can you?” Sadie gets excited. “I felt that too. Are you psychic?”
“No,” Dillon confesses. “You?”
“I have my moments,” Sadie admits.
Daffnie comes back into the kitchen. She has the new digital camera that she bought online with her. It does video and still shots.
“No pictures please,” Sadie implores.
“What are you two gossiping about?” Daffnie asks. She opens the refrigerator, removing a tinfoil covered dish and sets it on the kitchen table. “Sadie loves to gossip, Dillon. I’ll warn you now.”
“Oh my god, is that the dip?” Sadie asks and lifts the tinfoil to peak beneath it. “You did make the dip, you little sneaker.”
“It’s for the weekend. You can have some, but don’t eat all of it,” Daffnie says and aims her camera at Sadie. “Now, say cheese.”
Sadie completely removes the tinfoil from the dip and grabs a nearby bag of corn chips. She opens the bag and sinks one into the dip and into her mouth. She does a little happy dance.
Daffnie starts filming Sadie as she partakes in the chips and dip.
“This dip is to kill for,” Sadie says and turns to Dillon. “You have got to taste it. It doesn’t matter what kind of chip you use, it’s all about the dip. Have you ever tried it?”
“I’ve heard rumor of it’s existence,” Dillon says. “But like Big Foot and the RioYeti I have never tasted it….”
Sadie sticks a dip covered chip in Dillon’s mouth.
“Don’t eat all of it,” Daffnie reminds them. “It’s for this weekend.” She continues to film them as they delight in her dip
Dillon chews up the dip covered chip and swallows. His eyes get real big. He smiles and says: “The Nobel prize for dips.”
“Be serious,” Daffnie says. “I’m thinking of selling it.”
“I am serious,” Dillon says. “It’s like something fell down from heaven and landed in my mouth.”
“That could make a great advert,” Sadie says. “Unless it makes people think a bird shit in your mouth.”
“Say cheese, Dillon,” Daffnie tells him.
“Cheese Dillon,” Dillon says.
Daffnie snaps a still shot of Dillon.
“Damn you paparazzi!” Sadie says as she stuffs another dip covered chip into her mouth and shakes her fist.
“Not so much dip per chip,” Daffnie tells them for the third time.
Dillon and Sadie look at each other with their mouths full of chip and dip. “It’s for this weekend,” They both mumble in unison as Sadie re-covers the dip with the tinfoil.
“Knock knock!” Someone says at the back door.
“Come in!” Daffnie yells and turns the camera in that direction.
The screen door opens and Rhonni enters. “Hello, hello.”
Mike is right behind her. “We stuck our camp in the cramper. I mean our crap in the camper.”
“It’s about time you two got here,” Daffnie says, training her camera on them. “Say cheese, please.”
“Rhonni had diarrhea,” Mike says as he sets a twelve pack of beer on the table. He opens one of the bottles and immediately starts drinking.
“Shut up, Michael. I did not have diarrhea,” Rhonni corrects. “I thought I felt a lump in my breast.”
Daffnie stops filming them and looks at Rhonni with serious concern. “Are you alright?”
“I thought I felt one,” Rhonni repeats. “But then I couldn’t find it again.”
Mike pulls out another beer and twists off the cap, handing it to Rhonni. “She thought she found a way to get me to play with her tits before I ate my Crunchy Puff-o-saurs,” he confides and pulls out two more beers, offering them over to Sadie and Dillon. Sadie takes one.
“Who’s driving?” Dillon asks Daffnie as he cautiously reaches for his beer.
“Jake’s dad won’t let anyone but Jake drive that motor home,” Daffnie reports. “So you guys can drink all you want.”
“That’s all I needed to know,” Dillon takes the beer, twists off the cap, and drinks.
Mike offers Daffnie a beer but she refuses.
“Welter weight,” he calls her.
“I’ll wait until tonight,” Daffnie says.
Mike sniffs the air. “Do I smell Daffnie’s dip?” He asks as he removes the tinfoil covering the pan.
“You made your dip!” Rhonni almost shouts. “I thought you said you lost the recipe.”
Mike and Rhonni immediately get chips from the bag and start eating the dip.
Daffnie realizes that not everyone has met each other. “I’m sorry you guys. This is Jake’s friend, Dillon. They grew up together,” Daffnie takes a step back and snaps a picture of them all attacking her dip like crazed vultures. She loves it.
“Nice to meet you, Jake’s friend Dillon,” Mike shakes Dillon’s hand. “I’m Mike, Jake’s coworker by day and his getting mucked up buddy by weekend.”
“And I am Jake’s getting mucked up buddy’s better half,” Rhonni says, using her hand to cover her mouth as she talks with her mouth full. “But call me Rhonni.”
“Notice I didn’t say fucked up buddy, I said mucked up buddy,” Mike points out to Dillon. “That’s because I don’t like to use the word fuck right off the bat, when I first meet someone. At least not within the first thirteen seconds. That’s just an example of some of the fine manners my crazy mother taught me.”
“Very impressive,” Dillon says. “Thanks for the beer by the way.”
“Your fucking welcome by the way,” Mike says.
“And Rhonni and Mike have both already met Sadie, am I right?” Daffnie asks.
“Yes, we have,” Rhonni proclaims. “At Jason Veet’s barbecue last summer, but you didn’t come camping with us because you had to be a bridesmaid for your…sister? Cousin. Your cousin.”
“Bingo,” Sadie says, lying and smiling.
“Where’s Alan?” Mike asks. “I saw his bike outside and that watermelon fucker owes me some money.”
Jake, still dripping water and wearing only a wet towel around his waist sneaks up behind Dillon. He wraps one arm around Dillon’s arms, pinning them, then clamps a hand over Dillon’s mouth and sticks his tongue into Dillon’s ear. The scream is muffled under Jake’s hand.
“Wet Willy!” Sadie shouts.
Dillon tries to break away but Jake gets him in a headlock and takes him to the floor.
“No, that was a Wet Winkie,” Daffnie tells her. “He gives them to me all the time.”
Daffnie films Jake and Dillon wrestling on the floor.
“No, a Wet Winkie is a penis in your ear,” Mike explains with a mouthful of food. “A wet finger is a Wet Willy. And a tongue is a Wet Wally.”
“Wow,” Sadie says.
“I know all the names for wet things being stuck into people’s ears,” Mike brags.
“What about a wet toe?” Sadie asks.
“That is a Wet Weewoo,” Mike says.
“Shut up, Virginia,” Rhonni tells Mike.
Mike sticks his dip and chip covered tongue out at Rhonni.
Dillon breaks free from Jake and stands up. “Ahhhgggg! Butt hole!” Dillon tilts his head to the side, shaking it and rubbing his ear. “You’re a fucking cheese dripper!”
“Je suis desole!” Jake kisses his index and middle finger and holds them up in a peace sign to Dillon, smiling: “Let’s be friends.”
“You my friend, are a cheese dripper,” Dillon repeats.
Sadie raises her hand. “What’s a cheese dripper?”
Jake notices that everyone is eating chips and dip and he realizes that it is Daffnie’s special dip that they are enjoying so voraciously. “Daffnie, my love, what have you done!” Jake yells. “You didn’t tell me you made the dip! Someone give me a chip, please!”
“I can make it for you any time,” Daffnie reminds him.
“But you don’t,” Jake snags the corn chip bag out of Mike’s hands. “That’s the problem. That, my love, is the rub. You only make it on special secret surprise occasions.”
Dillon grabs the dip tray and scoops the last of the dip out with his hand.
Jake stares at him in disbelief.
Dillon glares back at Jake in grand defiance. “Cheese dripper,” he says and shovels the gob of dip into his mouth, choking it down and smiling.
Daffnie is still recording them on her camera. “This would be such a great commercial for my dip.”
Jake stands there with a corn chip in his hand and an expression of horror on his face. He clenches his hand into a fist, crushing the chip into crumbs.
“First blood,” Mike says. “I saw it. Dillon drew it.”
“Say hello to my little friends,” Jake says and blows the crushed corn chip bits in his palm at Dillon.
“You’re cleaning that up Jacob Rufus Rydel,” Daffnie informs him.
“Yeah, Rufus,” Dillon mumbles through a mouth full of dip.
“All I see is an Atreides I want to kill,” Jake says.
“Pay backs are a bitch, bitch,” Dillon manages to say with his mouth still half full of dip. “So go float your bad ass buh-bye Baron Harkonnen.”
“Actually it was Feyd-Rautha,” Jake informs Dillon.
“Wow, you are the Kwisatz Haderach,” Dillon says.
“Nerd alert,” Rhonni declares like a fog horn. “Nerd A-lert!”
Sadie’s hand is still raised. “What’s a cheese dripper?”
“Jake, go get dressed please,” Daffnie pleads as she films him.
“I’m dressed for success, baby,” Jake opens his bath towel and flashes her.
Daffnie snaps another still shot of Jake. “I’ll send that one to your mother.”
“Some salami for his mommy,” Mike says.
“I have a good mind to give little Dillon here a Wet Winkie for old times sake,” Jake says.
“You boys are so queer for each other,” Rhonni says. “Why don’t you suck each others dicks and break all the homo tension.”
“We did that in the fifth grade,” Jake admits.
“That is so hot,” Sadie says.
“They were just kids, Sadie,” Daffnie points out.
“It’s disgusting. Like Michael Jackson,” Rhonni says.
“Do not start bad mouthing Michael Jackson, woman,” Mike warns.
“When we were twelve years old we jerked each other off in Dillon’s mom’s garage once or twice,” Jake says. “But I don’t think there was any dick sucking involved as I recall.”
“Jake,” Daffnie says. “Why do you have to say stuff like that?”
“It was harmless,” Jake says. “Kids do it all the time. It’s just healthy experimentation. It doesn’t mean I don’t love you. Because I do love you. I love you so much. Too much. You’re my little puddin’ pants,” Jake wraps his arm around Daffnie and sticks his tongue into her ear. Daffnie tries to scream but Jake clamps his hand over her mouth, shushing her softly. Then he looks at Dillon. “How about you Dill? Do you recall any fellatio between the two of us when we were trying to form our garage band?”
“I think you promised that I could be the lead singer if I sucked your dick,” Dillon says. “But then my mom came out and said we had to clean up the mess we made in the basement before we made one in the garage. So we went back downstairs and started playing video games. That’s all I recall.”
“Gay gay gay,” Rhonni says. “That’s all I hear about anymore. Ever since that movie where the two cowboys screw each other instead of the sheep.”
“Everyone has gay potential,” Jake says. “Even Jesus.”
“Uh-oh,” Sadie crosses herself. “I love Jesus.”
“And Jesus loves you, Virginia,” Mike promises.
“I hope no Christians heard you say Jesus is gay,” Sadie tells Jake. “We could get in trouble.”
“This is America,” Jake reminds them. “It’s not like I said Mohamed is gay.”
“Oh great, there goes the weekend,” Mike throws his hands up. “Now were all doomed. Radical Islamic extremists and Fundamental Nazi Christian hoards will be descending upon us like flies. We’re all doomed I tell you. Doomed. This weekend is now destined to be one of those, Friday the Thirteenth meets Deliverance type weekends.”
“You better start squealing like a pig then, Mikey,” Jake says.
“Boy, you shut that perty mouth of yours,” Mike says and opens himself another beer and flicks the bottle cap at Jake’s head.
“You shouldn’t speak so freely,” Sadie says with a smile. “You could upset the wrong people.”
Dillon puts the palms of his hands together and chants. “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.”
“What does that mean?” Sadie asks.
“It’s my new Buddhist chant,” Dillon says. “I just learned it, but I think it will destroy any bad karma that Rufus might have just stirred up. If I said it correctly that is.”
“Only pussies are afraid of being gay,” Jake states.
“I don’t know about you all, but I am zero gay. I am a one hundred percent, grade A, straight, American pie,” Rhonni testifies. “I’m a chick and I love dick. That would be my chant.”
“She sure does,” Mike confirms.
Sadie raises her hand higher. “What is a cheese dripper?”
“I’ll tell you later,” Dillon promises.
“Ok, time to go,” Rhonni says. “I do not want to set in traffic.”
“Where’s Alan?” Mike asks. “He was supposed to bring the stuff.”
“What stuff?” Sadie asks. “Is it for my birthday?”
“It’s not your birthday.” Dillon says.
“I’m sixteen smelly bean,” Sadie jokes.
“The stuff, man,” Mike says. “You know.”
Jake winks at Mike.
“No firecrackers, Jake,” Daffnie says. “You promised.”
“What?” Jake asks. “Who said anything about firecrackers?”
“We saw you wink at Mike,” Rhonni informs him.
“I was just winking,” Jake explains in a Goodfella’s accent. “What, a guy can’t wink at another guy for fear of upsetting some religious cult now. I had something in my eye, for Christ’s sake.”
“He was just flushing out an eye booger that’s all,” Mike adlibs, also in a Goodfella’s accent. “Cut the guy some slack.”
“Yeah, so before you concern yourselves with the eye booger in mine eye, remove the big fat pile of eye shit from out of thine own eye,” Jake says. “Now there’s a bible quotation for you to suck on.”
“We’re talking about the m-a-r-s-h-m-e-l-l-o-w-s,” Mike says, misspelling the word marshmallows.
“Oh yes,” Sadie gets excited and sings the letters. “The m-a-r-s-h-m-a-l-l-o-w-s.”
“But no firecrackers,” Daffnie repeats.
“And no movie quotes,” Rhonni adds. “I don’t want to listen to you nerds quoting movies all weekend like jackasses.”
“Anything else?” Mike asks. “Anymore fun we need to destroy before it happens?”
“Is Alan gay?” Daffnie asks Mike.
“And no more gay stuff,” Rhonni says. “I don’t want to hear anything else about the gays. Keep it in the closet.”
“It was just a question,” Daffnie explains.
“Don’t ask, don’t tell.” Rhonni says.
“What do you mean exactly?” Mike asks Daffnie.
“Sadie asked if Alan was gay,” Daffnie explains.
“You bitch,” Sadie says. “I did not.”
“Did anybody hear what I just said?” Rhonni asks.
“Do you mean gay gay or gay gay?” Mike asks.
“Just gay,” Daffnie says.
“He had anal sex with his girl fiend,” Mike says.
“How would you know that?” Rhonni asks.
“I know things,” Mike says. “I google.”
Alan steps into the room.
Everyone is suddenly silent.
Daffnie raises her camera. “Say cheese, Alan.”
Alan holds his hand up in front of his face as Daffnie takes a picture.
“What were you doing in there, laying eggs?” Mike asks Alan.
“I lost one of my contact lenses,” Alan says.
“Did you find it?” Daffnie asks. “I don’t want to step on it.”
“You don’t even wear contact lenses,” Mike says.
Alan shows Mike his busted up hand. It’s all wrapped up in a bandage now.
“What did you do?” Mike asks.
Alan shrugs. “I wiped out on my bike riding over here. I took some pills for it. So I don’t feel anything.”
“How about you give me some of those pills, you selfish mother fucker,” Mike suggests. “Besides you owe me money don’t you? And what’s with the band-aids on your head? I suppose a woodpecker attacked you.”
“Sweet fucking Christmas, the traffic is going to be horrible,” Rhonni groans. “I’m leaving. I’ll be waiting for you fags in the motor homo.” Rhonni exits the kitchen through the back door.
“And no cell phones!” Jake yells after her. He looks around the group. “Did everyone put their cell phone in the basket?”
“I only have a banana phone,” Dillon says and puts a banana from the kitchen counter up to his ear. “Jello.”
“You are such a dork,” Sadie tells Dillon.
“Remember!” Jake says loudly. “This is a no cell phone weekend, you mother scratchers. Just like our parents used to have before cell phones were invented. So leave your Razrs and your Chocolates, and your i-fucking-phones and your banana phones in the basket on the table. Because if I hear one cell phone ring this weekend, I will go Dahmer on you and kill you and eat you. And then fuck what I do not eat.”
“Could you kill me before you fuck me?” Mike asks.
“That’s what I said,” Jake says.
“I thought Dahmer killed then fucked and Gacy fucked then killed,” Dillon says.
“Whatever the order,” Jake says. “No cell phones.”
A horn starts blaring outside.
“That would be my darling, Rhonda,” Mike says.

Martin Webber is honking his horn, letting it blare as he screams along. He finally releases the horn and then punches it a couple more times. He wedges his forearm into his mouth to keep himself from screaming anymore. Then he just sits there. He is exhausted. His mind is clinging to some snippet of decomposing reason. A fly lands on his cheek and crawls around his eye. Martin doesn’t even notice it.
“Mary Ann!” Martin suddenly screams around his forearm. “Mary Ann! Can you come back? Please come back Mary Ann! Please come back to me. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry I killed you with that little hatchet. I’m sorry I killed you and Billy and chopped you into sections with that little hatchet from the shed. I’ve just been having some really rough days lately!”
“Drive,” Shadow whispers from the backseat.
Martin’s eyes shift slightly in their gooey sockets to look in the rearview mirror.
Darkness, resembling the shape of a man, sits in the backseat directly behind him. It flashes a strawberry red grin.
It makes Martin’s skin crawl. He throws the door open and jumps out. He wipes his hands all over his body in a frantic craze. It feels like his body is covered in billions of little bugs. After a moment he stops his freak out dance and stands still. The sun feels good. The sun helps. It burns the bugs away. The sunlight is his savoir.
For the time being.
But the sun will go down. The sun will leave him soon. It will go away and leave him alone in the slick black dark.
But not completely alone.
Because that thing will be with him. That thing in the backseat. That thing waiting for the night to come. Because it has places to go. Things to do.
No matter what he does he can not keep the sun from going down. Night will come. And with it the darkness. And the crawling skin. And his grinning shadow. The one that makes him do horrible things.
Martin looks around.
The tan sedan is parked in the middle of nowhere. A wide open field of dirt and weeds surround him in every direction. He notices an ant hill at his feet and he kicks it into oblivion.
“Leave me alone!” Martin screams. He starts pacing back and forth by the driver’s side door. “Don’t touch me. Don’t fucking touch me anymore. Don’t fucking put your hands on me. I was safe! I was a safe driver! I always wore my seat belt! I always looked both ways! I always used my blinker! Always. Not like those other people. They don’t use their blinkers. They just turn any direction they feel like turning. Right out of the blue. They just slam on their fucking breaks and turn. Like they don’t have a fucking clue. Like they have no idea where they’re fucking going. They’re just driving around making turns whenever they get the urge. But I’m careful. I’ve always been careful!”
Martin suddenly reaches through the open window and grabs the keys from the ignition. He hurries to the back of the car. The sun is actually starting to be a bit too much now. It’s actually starting to hurt. He can feel it burning his skin. Like birds pecking at him, eating his flesh. That’s how the sun feels now. Like pecking birds. So those are his options. Crawling bugs or pecking birds.
Martin sticks the key into the trunk lock and opens it. He stares down in sadness and horror. This is where he belongs.
The bloody body parts of Mary Ann and Billy lay on a plastic sheet in the trunk. Martin starts sobbing and laughing. He is completely sane in this moment as he climbs into the trunk with the remains of his wife and son. He starts screaming as he slowly pulls the lid closed on himself. This is where he belongs. With his family.

Jake is driving the motor home. Mike is in the passenger seat and the others are lounging around throughout the back, drinking beers and chatting.
The three girls are together around the table. They are giggling about something.
“What’s so funny back there?” Jake asks them.
“Why don’t you ask Michael,” Daffnie suggests.
Jake looks at Mike. “What’s so funny back there, Mikey?”
“Well, if there’s one thing I know about, it’s women,” Mike confesses loudly. “And women only laugh hysterically about two things. Either, one of them just ripped some guys heart out and wiped her ass with it, or…”
Mike glances at Alan who is staring blankly out the window at the passing world.
Mike continues: “Or one of them just farted.”
The girls boo and hiss and Rhonni throws a roll of toilet paper at Mike.
“Rhonni told Mike she was going to get her clitoris pierced,” Sadie says.
“And Mike thought she was using the medical term for earlobe,” Daffnie adds.
“I had been taking my first nursing course and using such terms,” Rhonni explains.
“That was a long time ago, Virginia,” Mike says.
“You were nineteen, Virginia,” Rhonni says.
“Mike asked her why she didn’t get them both pierced,” Sadie says and the women burst out laughing again.
“I wish I had two of them,” Rhonni says. “Maybe he’d bump into one occasionally.”
More gal laughter.
“Knowing the word does not a better lover make,” Mike declares and then immediately requests backup: “Am I right Fella’s?”
“Studies show that most woman prefer big words to big dicks,” Dillon says.
“She can get herself a vibrating dictionary then,” Mike tells Rhonni.
“Studies also indicate that men who use more illustrative verbal expression have bigger dicks,” Dillon adds.
“Studies show that you are a vagina,” Mike says and throws the roll of toilet paper at Dillon. “Virginia.”

Darkness. Sobbing. The stench of drying blood, rotting flesh, piss and gasoline.
The trunk lid is opened from the outside by an unseen force and the orange blue hue of fading daylight disrupts the darkness.
Martin whimpers and tries to squeeze himself further back in the trunk, behind the body parts of his wife and son.
The dark shape of Shadow reaches in and grabs Martin and drags him out by a leg. Martin is screaming like a baby being pulled into this world. Shadow lets him drop, and Martin hits the ground with a hard grunt. He rolls over and sits up, rubbing the top of his head. After a moment he starts to scream again.
Shadow sticks a bottle of wine into Martin’s hands and pushes it up to his face. “Drink me,” Shadow whispers and closes the trunk lid with a gentle click. “This is my blood.”
Martin holds the wine bottle in both hands, he puts it up to his lips and sucks like a baby sucking a bottle. He sucks and he sucks, numbing the pain, dulling the jagged edge of his horrible life.
Shadow grabs Martin by the back of his shirt and drags him to the drivers side door. He picks Martin up and stuffs him into the car, behind the wheel. The car door slams shut.
Martin looks in the rearview mirror.
Shadow is right behind him again, sitting in the backseat. A flash of that blurry red grin splits open in the darkness, like the Cheshire cat with a blood gorged smile.
Martin shivers. The bugs are crawling again. He has to drive. Driving settles them down. Driving makes them go away. Almost.
“Start the car,” Shadow whispers.
Martin rests the wine bottle between his legs and turns the key in the ignition. The engine chugs and chugs and turns over to life. Such a beautiful sound. The sound of a running engine. Martin gives it gas and the engine revs.
“Drive,” Shadow whispers.
Martin lets go of the brake and steps down hard on the gas pedal.

Dusk. The silver light of evening disperses as the darkness infests without a sound.
Everyone is piling out of the motor home and heading into the Gas and Get: Gas Station and Tackle Shop, except for Jake and Dillon. The fluorescent canopy lights hum above their heads.
Jake has a plastic zip-lock bag pulled over his hand to keep any possible gas spittle off of his fingers as he removes the gas nozzle from its cradle and flips the start lever. He uncaps the gas tank and sticks the gas nozzle in. He locks the nozzle into pump position and lets the motor home start to fill up.
Dillon has stayed behind at Jake’s discreet request (head nod and a wink), while the rest of the group has hurried inside for munchies and thirst quenchers. Dillon doesn’t even joke anymore about the sandwich bag over his friends hand because he is all too familiar with Jake’s aversion to the smell of gasoline. He has long ago mined all possible nuggets of humor from the scenario.
Jake smiles at Dillon with his big charmers grin. He looks around to make sure they’re alone and then reaches down the front of his pants with his left hand. “Check this out,” he says.
Dillon puts his hands up in the air as if someone were pulling a gun on him.
Jake pulls out something folded up in a tissue. “These underwear have a pocket in them for some reason, don’t ask me. Daffnie bought them on-line. You know how she is about buying things online. She’s an on-line shopping addict,” Jake holds the item out for Dillon to take. “This however was not bought on-line.”
Dillon drops his arms but hesitates to accept what Jake is offering him. “It’s not a used condom like you sent me for Christmas is it?” Dillon asks.
Jake laughs. “That was a joke. This is serious.”
“You know I still owe you for the shit filled underwear you sent me for my birthday,” Dillon reminds him.
“That was a melted candy bar,” Jake says. “You know that.”
“Yes. With peanuts in it. I ate it. And the condom had mayonnaise in it. I used it on a roast beef sandwich.”
“Disgusting,” Jake says. “You my friend are disgusting, with a capital dis and a capital gust.”
Dillon takes the object from Jake. “What about the ing? Is that not capitalized?’”
“Shush now and open it,” Jake says.
Dillon stares down at the wad of tissue in his hand. “I’m really excited to open this,” he tells Jake. “I’m guessing it’s a long wet string of phlegm. But really it’s not.”
“Just fucking open it already.”
Dillon unwraps the tissue. It’s a diamond ring.
“Wow. Is it legal for us to get married in this state?” Dillon asks.
“I’m going to ask her,” Jake says. He can barely contain his excitement. “This weekend. Tomorrow. I’m going to take her on a hike just the two of us. There is this beautiful spot that she loved last year with a view of the lake. I’m going to take her there around sunset and I’m going to ask her to marry me.”
Dillon gets a kink in the smile across his face. He is incredibly happy for his friend but he wants to blurt out his ideas with regards to his current feelings about marriage and what bullshit it is and how it was created for corpses and for the purposes of greed and power and that it had noting to do with real love and that his and Daffnie’s relationship should not be tied up with such a bullshit institution and….
“Will you hold it for me?” Jake asks him.
Dillon can’t stop smiling his corkscrew smile. He can imagine the look on Daffnie’s face when Jake asks her to marry him. He knows how incredibly filled with joy she will be. How beautiful she will look in that moment. But he knows that it’s an unnecessary illusion. They don’t need a pompous display put on to show and tell them how great and true their love is.
“I love her so much,” Jake confesses. “I can’t wait any longer. I mean, I know we’re still young and all but there’s nobody else for me. I was never a big ring guy but now that I’ve gone through the process of picking it out for her, it really means a lot more to me. I know it’s just a symbol, but it’s an important symbol. It’s a promise that I love her now and I will love her forever. That’s what it means to me. And I want her to know that. And I want her to wear that promise on her hand. So that she always knows and she never has to feel alone and she never has to be frightened. Because I will always be with her. No matter what happens.”
Dillon shakes his head, still smiling askew. “I do,” he says, as if he were accepting a marriage proposal from Jake. “I mean, of course I’ll hold it for you.”
“Just until tomorrow. I’m afraid I’m going to lose it or she’s going to find it. I don’t know where to hide it and I’m tired of keeping it in my underwear pocket. It keeps poking my huge cock.”
“Suppose I lose it?” Dillon asks.
“I’ll take the cost out of your ass,” Jake tells him.
“And Daffnie can wear my sphincter as her wedding ring,” Dillon laughs.
“You’re my best man. Right,” Jake asks. He gets down on one knee looking up at Dillon. “I mean, will you be my best man?”
Dillon looks around. He wishes some stranger was around to see this. But it’s just him and Jake of course. “Of course,” Dillon says. “You’ve been my best friend since third grade. How could I not be your damn best man. I am honored. Do I get a ring?”
“All the onion rings your little heart desires, Virginia.” Jake stands back up.
“Congratulations my friend,” Dillon says. “I’m truly happy for you. I know Daffnie is going to piss her pants.”
“Thanks,” Jake says. “How’s your thing going?”
Dillon smiles as he rewraps the ring back up in the tissue and sticks it into his front pocket. “It’s good. We’re taking the weekend off from each other. To think things over.”
“Is that good?” Jake asks.
“Hakuna matata,” Dillon smiles. Not wanting to mention that the topic of marriage was the reason they were taking the weekend off from each other.
“I’m glad,” Jake says. “You deserve someone great. So don’t fucking settle for anyone less. Do I get to be your best man?”
“Maybe a bridesmaid,” Dillon jokes. “Because the world needs to see Jake Rufus Rydel in a dress.”
“I’m not afraid. I’ll wear a dress,” Jake grins. “Only pussies are afraid to wear dresses.”
Dillon starts to back away in the direction of the store. “I’m going to go get something to eat for my future heart clog disease. You want anything?”
“Grab me something for my future, random rectal discharge disease,” Jake calls after him.
Dillon turns and hurries across the parking lot to the store. He’s about to go inside when he notices something on the ground and squats down. Some kind of small animal, probably a mouse, has been run over and completely smashed into the asphalt. The weight of every car that has pulled up here and parked, has helped to imbed its bones and fur into the asphalt. It almost looks like it’s part of the pavement, like it’s a design or a logo. Look for the symbol of the smashed mouse for all your asphalt needs. Or maybe it’s a warning. Beware the mark of the flat mouse! Sam and Ella are hiding in the Lemon Meringue pie!
Dillon wonders if there is someone that is supposed to go around and clean up things like this, since some parents might try to make a lawsuit out of it, saying their child saw it and needed therapy. Or some idiot somewhere might slip and fall and crack his head open in the blood and guts of some fresh road kill. Maybe this could be a career for someone; cleaning up dead animals killed by bad drivers. A song from Sesame Street comes to Dillon’s mind and he sings it: “Oh a person that picks up dead animal carcasses off the freeway is a person in my neighborhood, in my neighborhood, in my neighborhood.” Dillon stands up and bumps into an old man licking an ice cream cone and pulling a little red oxygen tank on wheels behind him. The old man gets some ice cream on his nose and wipes it off with a gloved hand.
“Seems we bumped into each other,” Emit Enihcam says and winks at Dillon. His eyes are brilliant blue. He is wearing baggy pants, a baggy jacket and a poor fitting baseball cap with an oddly large crown that reads: Free Dirt.
“I’m sorry,” Dillon says and starts into the store. He can feel the invitational chill of the air conditioning tugging at his flesh like billions of baby fish hooks.
Emit grabs Dillon’s arm and holds him back. “Not all accidents are accidents they say.”
Dillon looks at Emit’s latex gloved hand wrapped around his arm. “Yeah. I guess so,” he says.
“Accidents are living things you know,” Emit says. “And there are all sorts of accidents. Slips and trips, spills and flips.”
“You need some money or something?” Dillon asks. He notices there is still some ice cream on the oxygen tubes coming out of the old man’s nose.
Emit smiles and lets go of Dillon’s arm.
“I’m sorry,” Dillon says. “I didn’t mean to sound like a dick.”
“I was born in a particular kind of accident myself,” Emit confides. “My mother passed on, but I was born. She was cut in half just above her womb and I spilled out, all covered in her blood and guts and little bits of broken glass. Glass like shiny little jewels spilled all across the road. Like stars twinkling on an asphalt sky.”
Dillon looks deep into the old man’s moist blue eyes. “I’m sorry about that?”
My name is Emit Enihcam,” Emit smiles and extends his gloved hand to Dillon. “Pleased to meet you.”
Dillon looks at it for a moment. Then he looks at Emit. “Don’t take this personal but I don’t like to shake hands. A lot of people don’t wash up after they use the bathroom. I’m not saying that you don’t, but how am I to know. And I know you’re wearing latex gloves, for some reason, but it’s the principle. Also you’re not the first stranger I’ve run into at a convenience store today, so I’m kind of brimming with reluctance for this sort of thing right now, if you know what I mean? So it’s not you, it’s me. I have issues. But it was certainly nice to meet you all the same. You take care.” Dillon holds up his fingers in a peace sign and opens the door with his other hand. He nods to the old man and turns into the store.
“Happy trails,” Emit smiles. He licks his ice cream cone and shuffles off.

Inside the convenience store, the air is chilled and filled with the sweet odor of everything that is unhealthy for you. Dillon stands there for a moment taking it all in. The atmosphere is somehow comforting to him. High fructose corn syrup flavored ice and everything nice, that’s what convenience stores are made of.
Mike is playing video games. The machine beeps and bleeps as Mike grunts and cheers and curses at an indifferent machine god. There is the sound of a horrible car collision from the game and Mike groans loudly as he tithes more quarters to his deity.
Daffnie and Rhonni are nowhere in sight. Probably in the ladies room, Dillon thinks. The clerk behind the counter is bagging all the junk food and drinks that the girls have piled on the counter while Sadie stands nearby with her face in a gossip magazine. Dillon steps up to them. He glances back outside, hoping the old man has shuffled his way over to Jake and introduced himself. No such luck. The old man is gone. Dillon had half expected to see him using his melted ice cream as a lubricant to hump a chunk of firewood. But that isn’t the case. That’s not even funny, Dillon tells himself. The poor old guy was a harmless soul. He was probably just lonely. His kids were all grown up and living in different cities. His wife had passed away and he was just lonely and looking for conversation. And now he is limping back home to sit in his rocking chair on the front porch and stare at the mailbox until midnight. Then he’ll pull his wife’s frozen corpse out of the freezer and lay beside her in the moonlight on the kitchen floor until morning comes. Then he’ll return her body to the freezer and drag his oxygen tank back down to the convenience store and attempt to strike up a conversation with another all-too-busy-to-bother college student, fuck head prick, just passing through, like Dillon. Yes, I am ashamed of my behavior, Dillon admits to himself. I promise to volunteer my assistance to an old folks home when I get back to town on Tuesday.
You are truly demented, Dillon tells himself. You should forget all your lofty aspirations of enlightening the world through interface with their dreams, sell out to write horror stories for the Bourgeoisie, and enlighten the masses by interfacing them with their nightmares instead. Because of course, the only difference between the two were the feelings they evoked. Good or evil were simply determined by the resulting emotion. The reason for a murdered baby could not be considered evil unless it made someone feel bad. And if a dead baby made someone feel good, well then, that also could be termed as evil. Or mentally ill. Which is where good and evil got fuzzy. Fuzzy. What a nifty word fuzzy was. Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn’t fuzzy was he? Or wuzee? Or whatever. Ok. Whatever. If a mentally stable person finds pleasure because a baby is dead, that would get the societal stamp of evil. But if they are mentally ill they can get the societal stamp of mentally ill. Which is still a bad stamp to get, but it’s not evil. Evil then, has to do with intention. Now what if the dead baby were Adolph Hilter? Ah-ha! Now Fuzzy Wuzee got a whittle fuzzy again, didn’t he. Or you can really fuzz things up by murdering and unborn baby. Only its mother and her doctor can get away with that. Or better yet, force and unwanted baby to be brought into this world and close your eyes to the fact that its step father beats it and rapes it every night or its foster mother feeds it a baby bottle of Vodka and milk and burns its legs with her cigarettes for fun. Or any other number of cruel tortures perpetuated upon unwanted children. You see, this is what college does to you. It makes you think. And thinking so much eventually drives you crazy. And dead babies get fuzzy.
Ah, Shatt up! A cartoon voice in Dillon’s head tells him. And he agrees. He needs to try to quit thinking and enjoy being. After all, if Anti-Condom crusading Christians can parade themselves around in their Pro Life crucifix shaped bumper stickers while hundreds of unwanted and unloved children were brought into this world everyday and preyed upon by society, well then, Dillon guessed he could get away from his studies for one weekend a year.
“Who’s got gas?” Danny the clerk suddenly clamors. “Do you have gas?” He asks and points an accusing, finger at Sadie.
“That’s a rude question,” Sadie replies and goes back to reading her gossip magazine.
Dillon steps between them. “I have the gas. How much is it?”
“Sixty-seven even,” Danny the clerk tells him.
Dillon gives the cashier seventy dollars. “Do you mean sixty-seven odd? Because sixty-seven is an odd number.”
“Like the shape of your head,” Danny suggests and hands Dillon his change.
Dillon notices the clerks fingers are stained orange, and there is an orange grit on the money that was handed back to him. The mark of a Cheeto addict. “I can see by the orange stains on your fingers that you’re addicted to Cheetos,” Dillon says in a just between you and me tone. Then goes into a salesman schtick: “Are your toes stained orange too? Because you can get help for all that, you know. If there’s a phone number on the wall in the men’s bathroom, I suggest you call it. You don’t have to suffer alone.”
“Thanks for the advise,” Danny says. “Allow me to return the favor by letting you know that your mother dresses you like a clown.”
Dillon laughs and says: “And you are so lucky that she put me in my fancy pants today.”
“Is that right? Well I am so Sorry, Mr. Capote,” Danny the clerk smirks, “My dance card is full. So you have yourself a fabulous day, somewhere else please, sir. Thank you.”
Dillon smiles, letting the insult ball drop. He is impressed with Danny the clerk’s volley however.
Rhonni and Daffnie return from the bathroom to join Dillon and Sadie at the counter.
Mike is still playing a video game in the corner. There is the sound of more screams from the game followed by a horrible car crash. Mike slaps the side of the machine and curses. “Fuck!”
“Mike!” Rhonni shouts at him.
“What!” Mike shouts back without looking.
“Get over here and help us carry all of this junk!” Rhonni demands.
“Where’s Alan?” Mike complains loudly.

Alan is in the bathroom. He stands in front of the mirror staring at his refection. He needs to wash his face. But he doesn’t have a face, because he doesn’t have a reflection. Because he’s a ghoul. And ghouls don’t have reflections. Because….
Alan has no idea why ghouls don’t have reflections. If he were at home he could Google ghoul reflections. But he’s not at home, he’s in hell.
He bares his teeth. His brain is scratchy and itchy. Accidentally killing someone can seriously fuck with your mental health. He slaps his own face several times, until it becomes stop-sign red. He wonders if Kellie is still laying there in her bedroom? He wonders how many more flies have found her? He wonders if the maggots have started to devour her brain, and cause it to itch. Of course she can not scratch that itch, being dead like she is. What if she can feel the itch but not scratch it? That would be horrible. That would be hell. An unscratchable itch for all eternity.
Alan bursts into tears. He can’t get his head around what has happened. He can’t believe what he has done. He stands there weeping in front of the mirror as his reflection glares back uncaringly. He has separated from his reflection. And that can only mean one thing. Alan isn’t sure what that one thing is, but he is certain that it’s not good.
His backpack is open and laying on the sink. He removes his nosy roommate’s gun from it and stares at it in his hand. His hand? His hand. He doesn’t even have a hand. He’s a handless ghoul. He puts the barrel of the gun into his mouth. He pushes it as far back as he can until it makes him gag. He pulls it out and presses it against the mirror. He presses it against the mirror as hard as he can until a thin crack forms. Not a large crack but a splinter crack. A crack that might feel like an itch if he were the mirror. But he is not the mirror. He is a ghoul. And a killer.
Alan spits into the sink. There is some god awful taste on his tongue. The demon of itchiness in his brain has spread from there to his tongue. What a hell that would be, to have a bad taste in your mouth for all eternity. He spits again, trying to get it out. He spits again. And again. And again.

It’s completely dark now. Night has covered everything once more. The surface of the earth is beginning to cool. Bright headlights strike the road.
Martin is drinking and driving and babbling into his cell phone. He is leaving a message for someone he knows. But he’s not sure who. Maybe his doctor. “Every full moon like a disease. Actually it wasn’t a full moon, it was a gibbous moon. It spreads itself like a virus on the gibbous moon. That’s when it blooms. The gibbous moon. I don’t know if it has to be in a waxing gibbous or a waning gibbous phase, but it is a gibbous phase nonetheless. And I have it now. It injects itself into reality through an act of intense violence. Supposedly accidental violence. But it’s in that moment of violent penetration that it fucks us, literally. I see it all so clearly now. I’m sure it won’t last though, my brain feels like a wet chicken. It won’t leave me alone. She gave it to me. Stupid woman driver! It was my turn. I was driving us home after bowling. I was the most sober. The guys were drunk, but I was quite sober because it was my night to drive. And she slammed into us on purpose. Almost head on. I saw her coming and I thought, what the fuck is this crazy bitch doing, and BLAM! She hit us. And I lost control and hit the guard rail. I was speeding. I’ll admit that. Jerry kept saying he had to piss. Hurry up, hurry up, I have to piss, whining like the liberal Nancy democrat he is. It made me nervous. They all died. Jerry, Eddie, and Val. It was horrible. All the blood and the bowling balls all over the road. It’s horrible what happens. I’ve been having nightmares ever since. And this thing is haunting me. It won’t leave me alone. It made me do it. It made me kill my Mary Ann. It made me kill my Billy. It wants me to help it. It wants me to spread it. I feel greasy when it touches me. It feels like butter, but it’s not, it’s a disease. Or maybe I’m just going crazy. I don’t know. When you get this message Dr. Clarkson, if this is Dr. Clarkson, please tell them. Tell them it wasn’t my fault. And remember the gibbous moon. That’s when it gets us. It travels at a dangerous speed and that’s when it plants its seed into our lives. And into our deaths.”
Martin glances into the rearview mirror.
A flash of headlights from a passing car and the shadows strawberry red grin is there in the backseat right behind him. And then it is gone.
“Whoever gets this message, tell them for me,” Martin says. “Tell Mary Ann and Billy I’m sorry. And tell them I love them. Because I don’t think I’m going to get to see them in heaven anymore.”
Lights on the road in the distance.
Martin rolls down the window and throws his cell phone out.
A flash of headlights from a passing car.
A shadow’s grin, like a deep scar.
And the darkness stretching
from near to far.

Oddly shaped shadows like hunchbacks with octopus arms hide between the trees and the darkness beyond the trees and the darkness within that darkness that lays waiting there.
Campfire light glows orange and gold on their happy faces. Such happy faces. They are roasting marshmallows and hotdogs and drinking their beers and wines and talking about Youtube videos and work and Area 51 and everything else under the sun and moon.
“I think the space aliens will look like us,” Sadie says. “I think they are already here, walking among us like spies.”
“It smells like somebody butt burped,” Jake comments as he drinks his beer. He looks directly at Daffnie and asks her: “Baby, did you butt burp?”
“Ladies don’t butt burp,” Daffnie informs him. “Ladies only butt sneeze.”
Dillon laughs and does an impression of a butt sneeze. “Buttchoo!”
“”Ahhhh buttchooooo!” Jake follows with his impression of a butt sneeze.
“That sounds more like a Samurai warrior butt sneeze,” Sadie tells them. “Ladies are more delicate with their gastrointestinal expressiveness.”
“More like, buttchew.” Rhonni’s impression is much gentler.
“Boys are like boys,” Daffnie says.
Dillon and Jake laugh.
“Do we have another?” Jake asks Dillon. “Do we have another?”
“Ladies and gentleman, weeeee have another!” Dillon proclaims.
“Captivating insights,” Jake announces, “By Daffnie Day.”
“Boys are boys,” Dillon says, repeating what Daffnie had said, in a mock enlightened tone.
Daffnie can’t help but laugh at their making fun of her. “I said, ‘boys are such boys’.”
Mike returns from the motor home. He has a plastic container with him, which everyone notices as he stands there glaring at them. “What’s so frickin’ funny? Do I look like Joe Pesci to you?”
“No,” Rhonni tells him. “But you look like a clown with your zipper down.”
“So what,” Jake jumps in with the defense. “If a man can’t forget to zip up his pants when he’s camping, when the hell can he?”
“Never,” Daffnie suggests.
“Pants off to Alan,” Mike sits down in his lawn chair. “For supplying us with the special marshmallows again this year.”
Everyone raises their drinks in gratitude. “Thank you, Alan.”
Alan gives a wink and a tip of his beer.
Mike removes the lid from the plastic container. He reaches in and pulls out a purple Kool-aid soaked marshmallow and passes the container to Rhonni sitting next to him. “Take one and pass it around,” Mike tells them. “But do not indulge yet. We all blast off at the same time.”
The container quickly makes its way around the circle until everyone has taken a purple Kool-aid soaked marshmallow and Mike gets the container back. There is one marshmallow left.
“One left,” Mike looks around. “Did everybody get a special marshmallow?”
“Yes,” everyone answers.
“Perhaps you could make an offering to the Lady Wild,” Dillon suggests.
Mike stands up. “To her grand perfection, the Lady Wild. May she suckle us this weekend to her ever loving breasts,” he says and flings the extra marshmallow off into the darkness. He has imbibed enough beer and inhaled enough cannabis to not consider his action as littering. He knows something will eat the marshmallow sooner or later. If not an animal then bugs or birds. Sooner or later everything is eaten by something.
“Great,” Rhonni says. “Now some grizzly bear will eat it and go Texas Chainsaw on us.”
“Me thinks the lady doth protest to little to late,” Mike tells her and sits back down.
“Why would a grizzly bear need a chainsaw?” Sadie asks.
“The toast, Mikey. The toast,” Jake encourages him. They are all still holding their purple Kool-aid soaked marshmallows, which are becoming seriously difficult to hold on to.
“Actually, Alan has to give the toast,” Mike explains. “Because he brought the magic marshmallows.”
“I pass,” Alan says as he itches at his head and then stares at his fingers and sniffs them.
“Actually, Dillon has to give the toast,” Mike says. “Because he is a virgin to Happy Camping.”
“I’ll do it. I’m not afraid,” Dillon says and stands up. He looks around the circle. They all look back at him, waiting. “This is just a little something something my mates and I say back home. It’s like saying grace before drinking. So don’t take it personal. I mean, take it personal, but not in a bad way. I mean, I just met most of you for the first time today so….”
“Say it already! My marshmallow is losing his erection!” Rhonni shouts and immediately realizes her little slip. She glances at Mike to issue a silent apology, but he seems to not have noticed.
“Sorry,” Dillon says. “Here is to the beers. To the tears. To the fears. And above all else, to all the years, we have shared, and have yet to share. I love and hate you all.”
“Here here,” everyone says, putting their marshmallows into their mouths and quickly washing them down with their drinks.
“God fuck!” Jake gags. His face contorts into disgust. “That tastes like hot apple shit, right out of the hole.”
“The first step on the road to fun does not always taste great,” Mike explains and then gargles with beer.
“Let’s sing campfire songs,” Daffnie suggests.
“Noooooo!” Mike yells. “No cell phones and absolutely no fucking campfire songs. It was agreed upon last year. We all signed contracts. If you all get to sing around the campfire, then I get to butt burp around the campfire.”
Daffnie, Sadie, and Rhonni all lean in together. They harmonize as best they can and start to sing. “Let’s get naked together, lets get naked and free. Lets get naked together, under the last willow tree…”
Mike strains to fart but can’t. He turns to Alan. “Shoot me in the face please.”
“Later,” Alan winks and inhales off of a joint before passing it to Mike.
The girls are still singing: “… I want to get naked with you. You want to get naked with me. Lets get naked together, under the last willow tree.”
Mike howls like a dog. He looks to his buddies for help. Jake and Dillon start to howl with him.
The girls sing louder and the boys howl louder, until they are all howling and singing. This quickly descends into hooting and hollering before they all start laughing like idiots, and then spend the next five minutes competing to see who can fake the most obnoxious laugh, until finally relenting to exhaustion.
“Ok that was fun,” Daffnie says. “Let’s do it again.”
“There won’t be any grizzly bears with chairs bothering us after that racket,” Sadie reckons.
“You mean, there won’t be any grizzly bears with chainsaws bothering us after that,” Rhonni corrects.
“What did I say?” Sadie asks.
“You said grizzly bears in chairs,” Mike informs her. “Scary stuff.”
“Am I drunk?” Sadie asks.
“No. Not at all. There’s a bear right now, sitting over there in the darkness watching us,” Dillon points. Pretending to see a bear off in the darkness. “I think he’s got a directors chair. Or a beanbag chair, I can’t tell the difference.”
“No, it’s a highchair,” Jake jumps in. “Ohhhh, him’s just a baby gwizzly bear. Awe, him so cute.”
“Maybe it’s Fuzzy Wuzzy,” Dillon suggests.
“Fuzzy Wuzzy?” Mike joins the guys in making fun of Sadie. He stares out into the darkness pretending to look for a bear. “Wherezee?”
“Dork-a-thon!” Rhonni shouts.
“Ok,” Daffnie starts to say something.
“No no no. Ok. No,” Mike tells her. “Not ok. Ok? No mo. Nomo from yomo, Virginia.”
“Be quiet please, I’m trying to think,” Daffnie says.
“It hurts doesn’t it,” Mike says. He and all the guys laugh. Daffnie gives Jake a glare and Jake hides his face.
“Ok, I know. Lets do…,” Daffnie pauses for effect. “…row row row your boat gently down the stream, hallelujah. Mike will start and when he gets to boat, Rhonni starts, and we just keep going around the circle.”
“Howz’about…,” Mike pauses for effect. “we fuck, row row row your boat, and we sing, drive drive drive your car directly off the cliff, rolling rolling rolling, crash, Daffnie’s in the ditch.”
“And the next person starts when the person before them gets to car instead of boat,” Jake adds.
Daffnie gives Jake a sad face. Jake leans over and gives her a kiss.
Sadie raises her hand in the air, waving it wildly. “New idea,” she hollers. “Let’s tell ghost stories.”
Rhonni almost chokes on her beer as she starts to say something. “Better yet. Let’s get more personal and tell what our own worst childhood nightmare was.”
“Give me a hard on with all that crap!” Mike says. “I say we skinny dip. Or play nude moonlight leapfrog. Anything but ghost fucking stories or singing, or singing ghost stories.”
“Shut up, Virginia,” Rhonni tells him.
“Each of us will tell what our worst childhood nightmare was,” Daffnie explains. “And….”
“And…,” Sadie jumps in. “since Dillon is a psychology major he can tell us what the archetype represents to our psyches.”
Mike burps as loud as he can at Rhonni.
“Pig,” Rhonni calls him, and wipes at her eye. “You burped something into my eye, asshole.”
“I thought you liked me to burp into your asshole,” Mike says. “Aye!”
“Pig, I repeat,” Rhonni says.
“Ok, who’s first?” Sadie asks.
“Jake, you go first,” Daffnie says. “Because you look sleepy.”
Jake yawns and says: “Shitting the bed.”
“Wrong!” Rhonni blares like a fog horn.
“Why is that wrong?” Jake looks hurt.
“In form. Not action,” Sadie explains. “Like, what was your boogeyman?”
“Your monster,” Daffnie continues. “Like Dracula or Frankenstein.”
“Or the Pope,” Sadie adds. “One of my ex boyfriends had horrible nightmares when he was a kid about the Pope and his hat. Then he grew up to become a priest, imagine that.”
“Dillon’s the psycho major,” Jake says. “Ask him your Oprah questions.”
“I’ll go first,” Sadie volunteers. “What was the question? Oh yes. What’s your worst childhood nightmare? Drum roll please….”
Dillon makes some kind of trumpet blow sound instead of a drum roll.
“Mr. Tooth Fairy,” Sadie tells them. “ I had nightmares about him smashing in children’s faces with his shiny silver sledgehammer. Only it was more like a cane with a hammer on one end, like a sledge-cane. Then he would rip out their teeth with his shiny stainless steel pliers and collect them in his little purple satchel and leave their mouths a bloody hole. It was horrible. But he was a very good dancer.”
Mike raises his hand to ask a question. “Why did he put the teeth in his nut sack?”
Everybody laughs.
“What?” Mike asks. “She said he put them in his little purple satchel. A satchel is the medical term for nut sack. I read it in one of Rhonni’s nurse books.”
“Do you mean scrotum? Because a satchel is a purse,” Sadie explains. “He had a little purple purse.”
“I hate when my satchel gets all hot and sweaty,” Dillon says.
“Mikey, will you itch my satchel for me?” Jake asks.
“Like I said,” Mike says. “You say scrotum, I say satchel. You say clitoris, I say earlobe.”
“Silly Sadie,” Daffnie says. “Afwaid of da toof faywee.”
Sadie and Daffnie start pushing and pulling each other and fall over laughing.
“Lesbians,” Mike yells.
“I loved the Tooth Fairy,” Jake says. “He was my only source of income. I even prayed to him. Dear tooth fairy, I promise to give you all my teeth when they fall out if you could spot me some cash in advance.”
“Isn’t it interesting how one person’s nightmare can be another person’s god?” Dillon states. “One man’s Jesus can be another man’s Hilter.”
“Yeah, it’s nifty,” Mike says.
“Ok, Dr. Dillon,” Rhonni says. “What does it mean?”
“It’s obvious,” Mike jumps in. “She’s afraid of going to the dentist.” He holds up his hand for a high five and Jake puts a raw hotdog in it.
“Yeah, but she loves to get drilled,” Daffnie adds.
Sadie spits wine at Daffnie.
“Hussy,” Daffnie says and hisses at Sadie.
“She fears gossip,” Dillon says, matter-of-factly.
Everyone ponders this for a moment.
“That is so true,” Sadie agrees. “I fear gossip about myself but I love to gossip about others.”
“Like I said,” Mike says.
“Ok. It’s Daffnie Ducks turn,” Rhonni points her finger at Daffnie.
“Okey dokey, Rhonni Rabbit,” Daffnie points back. “My nightmare was Santa Claws. Spelt C-L-A-W-S. Because he had metal claws like gardening tools, instead of hands. And he would eat me alive.”
“Eat you out alive?” Mike asks. “Or just eat you alive?”
“Shut up, Mike,” Rhonni tells him.
“And Jake’s nightmare was Santa’s Elves,” Daffnie adds. “Is it elves or elfs? Anyway. That is how we met online when we were sixteen and knew that we were meant for each other.”
“How romantic,” Mike says.
“It’s the only thing we have in common,” Jake says.
“And dicks,” Sadie adds. “You both have dicks.”
“You wish,” Daffnie says.
“Mines bigger,” Jake proclaims.
“It certainly is,” Daffnie says and continues her story. “My Santa Claws nightmare was horrible. He had black warts around his mouth and he would puke sour milk and cookie chunks at me. In my mouth and hair. And I couldn’t move or get away from him or defend myself. He had an artificial voice box on the outside of his throat that he spoke through with this happy announcer type voice. And he would eat me. He didn’t have teeth though. Not his own teeth anyway. But he had false teeth. His elves would bring them to him in a jar. They were made of rusty jagged steel. Like a little bear trap for baby bears….”
“A fuzzy wuzzy twap,” Mike laughs.
Daffnie ignores him and continues: “They would clamp them into his mouth and then he would start to eat me. He would start with my feet while his evil elves cheered him on. All I could do was lay there and watch in horror until I woke up.”
“And Jake?” Sadie asks.
Jake pretends to get very serious as he recounts his story. “Santa’s elves would chase me and when they caught me they would start humping my legs and arms. They wore these strap-on dildos with spikes, like little dicks with barbed heads, that cut and poked me. I think the nightmare came from my Aunt Carla’s three horny Chihuahua dogs, because they would always try to hump my legs when we went to her house for the Holidays. They would hump my shoes and my coat if I left them laying around. And they humped my Christmas gifts and got the wrapping paper all sticky with Chihuahua jizz. It was always my stuff they humped, no one else’s. Sad times.”
“Game foul,” Rhonni declares. “Ten yard penalty. You have to go sit ten yards away from the rest of us.”
“Why?” Jake asks. “What did I do now?”
“You don’t explain the archetype,” Rhonni informs him. “Dillon does that.”
“Sorry,” Jake continues. “Then the elves would handcuff me and gag me, and roast me and eat me. Oh, and they had these puckered up, tight little brown mouths, that looked like a pig’s butt hole with shark teeth.”
“How do you know what a pigs butt hole looks like?” Mikes asks.
“I know things,” Jake says. “I Google.”
“Or like a little Chihuahua’s butt hole,” Dillon suggests.
“Oh wow,” Jake says. “That’s it. You figured it out. It was My Aunt Tammy’s Chihuahuas. Because they would also shit in my shoes. I was afraid of their little butt hole’s. Because they jizzed and shat on all my stuff. Thank you Dr. Dill, you saved my life.”
“See,” Daffnie says. “It’s destiny that we are together. We share similar nightmares.”
“You guys just made that shit up to sound interesting,” Mike tells them.
“No. We are interesting,” Jake says. “Because we both have dicks.”
“You wish,” Daffnie says to Jake. It is obvious that she is enjoying her altered state of mind. “You know I have a warm fuzzy, and it is beautiful.”
“Like cotton candy crème brulee,” Jake agrees. “Or rhubarb pie. Depending.”
“And you have a beautiful penis,” Daffnie tells him. “Like a Ball Park Frank. Or a gummy worm. Depending.”
“Thank you, my little pumpkin boots,” Jake says rubbing Daffnie’s nose with his nose.
“You’re welcome, my little poodle pants,” Daffnie says and kisses him.
“Get a dumpster!” Mike tells them.
Rhonni rolls her eyes. She turns to Dillon. “Ok, what does it really mean, Dr. Dill?”
“Well, as I see it,” Dillon begins. “When Daff was a wee bonnie lass, she feared being molested by her grandfather. And when Jacob was a young ne’er-do-well, he feared that when he got old, he would be molested by his grandchildren.”
“That’s some deep shite. But I want a second opinion on this one,” Mike turns to Alan and pretends he is doing a televised interview with his raw hotdog as a microphone. “What do you think, Alan?”
Alan stares blankly into the fire. He doesn’t respond.
“I think we lost the satellite link up to Alan,” Mike says. “Back to you, Virginia.”
“Ok,” Rhonni jumps in. “Mike’s turn.” A big smile spreads across her face.
“It’s about fucking time,” Mike groans. “Horn blow, please.”
Dillon imitates the sound of a drum roll instead.
“My childhood nightmare was…,” Mike hesitates for effect. “…black balloons.”
“Hey,” Rhonni complains.
“And Bobo. The Clown of War,” Mike adds.
Rhonni bursts out laughing. “I’m sorry, but this is so funny. His mother used to tell him bedtime horror stories.”
“Bobo the Clown of War was this three hundred pound clown. And she told me that he would sit on my head and fart until I passed out. Then, she said, he would set on my stomach and squeeze all my guts out through my mouth and ass, and then butt fuck me and mouth fuck me in the pile of my own guts.”
Rhonni can’t control herself as she laughs hysterically.
“And Bobo had all these black balloons,” Mike adds. “They were filled with the souls of all the bad children he had murdered. Of course she was drunk when she told me these things.”
“That’s horrible,” Daffnie says. “Rhonni, how can you laugh. He was just a little boy.”
“I’m sorry,” Rhonni apologizes, and tries to contain her laughter.
Mike adds: “And those black balloons, filled with the murdered souls of bad children, would float around, working as his spies, kind of like the flying monkeys in the Wizard of Oz. And they would report to him everything I did that was bad.”
“Why would a mother tell her child that?” Daffnie is appalled by the idea.
“Because I was a little hoodlum,” Mike explains. “It was the only way she could get me to behave, without a father around.”
“Oh my god, Mikey,” Rhonni is suddenly serious and horrified. She points behind him. “It’s him. He’s back there, in the dark, in those trees. He’s waiting for you. When you go take a piss he’s going to grab you and squeeze your guts out into the dirt and fuck you in them. Don’t look.”
Mike ignores her.
“Oh, he just disappeared,” Rhonni says. “But he’s still out there. Waiting for you to take a piss.”
“Shut up baby doll, before I set on your head and fart,” Mike warns and gives her the evil eye.
“Oh baby, you know I like it when you talk sexy to me,” Rhonni tells him.
“Alan’s turn,” Sadie suddenly blurts out.
Alan’s eyes are closed. Mike thumps him on the arm and Alan opens his eyes.
“Sorry,” Alan says. “I have to piss.” He gets up and leaves the campfire, disappearing into the night.
“Watch out for Bobo!” Sadie calls after him in a scary voice.
“Bobo can’t hurt him,” Rhonni tells her. “Because Bobo is Mikey’s nightmare.”
“Oh,” Sadie says and calls after Alan. “Never mind!”
“Poor Alan,” Daffnie comments.
“Car and girl trouble,” Rhonni tells them.
“That’s a nasty combination,” Jake admits.
“Like a Super Mean Bean Burrito on a first date,” Dillon says.
Sadie mouths the word “dork” at Dillon.
“Maybe someone should go talk to him,” Daffnie suggests.
“Just leave the guy alone,” Mike tells them. “He’ll be fine.”
“Who’s turn to burn?” Jake asks.
“Rhonni’s turns to burn,” Daffnie says.
“Ok, my turn to burn,” Rhonni starts. “My nightmare was the Easter Bunny from Hell. On steroids, I might add. He had huge bulging arms and legs. And his body was covered in baby oil like a body builder for some reason. He was all smooth and slippery. His head was this buck-tooth fanged rabbit with filthy matted fur and big pointed ears. And he would stuff Easter eggs up inside me. And the Easter eggs were black with little red Swastikas on them.”
“Inside you?” Jake asks.
“Yes. Up inside me,” Rhonni explains. “Up into my vagina. To hide them. And his eggs had spiders inside them. I would try to escape and he would hop after me and then jump up and down and tap dance on me to break the eggs open inside, so that the spiders would come out and lay more baby Easter eggs full of more spiders. And on and on it would go, until I woke up screaming. Oh yeah, and some of the spiders would make this ticking sound. They would tick tick tick and then they would explode like spider bombs and spray billions of little spiders all over the place. It was endless. There was no escape. Except to wake up.”
Everyone is silent.
“Now that is some funny ass shit,” Mike says. “But you don’t see me laughing at her nightmare.”
Rhonni bloats her cheeks out and widens her eyes, making clawed monster hands at Mike.
Mike ignores her and turns to Dillon to say: “Ok, Dr. Dill-pickle, what do it mean?”
“It means she is afraid of getting pregnant,” Dillon tells them.
“She sure doesn’t act like it,” Mike says.
“Dillon’s turn,” Sadie announces.
“I didn’t have nightmares,” Dillon tells them. “So, I’ll have to piss.” He starts to stand up to leave but Sadie grabs his belt loop and the others boo and hiss him. They all throw marshmallows and beer caps as Dillon sits back down. Mike throws his raw hotdog, which Dillon catches in his lap and pretends to smoke like a cigar.
Sadie grabs the hot dog from him. “Ok wait, wait, wait,” She stands up and puts it down the front of her pants. “Wait. This is just a teaser from my one woman, way off Broadway show,” She unzips her shorts and pulls the hotdog half way out pretending she has a penis. Dillon shines the beam of his flashlight onto her like a spotlight. Sadie sings in an imitation of a Sinatra song: “WOW! I feel POW-erful. I can piss on anything I want and I don’t even have to pull down my pants or squat. I can piss out the fire or I can pee on the Pope, I can piss down a slide or I can piss up a rope. And if I really really wanted to, I could piss all over all of you. Yeah, that’s what I can do, cuz I got a dick! And that’s what makes the whole tock tick! So this is what it’s like to be a man. Ok, who wants to suck my weiner? Don’t be shy, everybody can. Step right up, ladies and gentle-man, step right up and suck my ham! Suck it hard, suck long, suck it easy, but suck it now, cuz it’s going quick! Suck my…suck my…suck…my…dick!”
Daffnie grabs the hotdog from Sadie’s pants, she stands up and throws it as hard as she can off into the darkness and sits back down like nothing happened.
“Great,” Rhonni says. “Another invitation for the bears in wheelchairs parade to come and kill us in our sleep.”
“I hope Alan doesn’t slip on that wiener and split his head open,” Mike adds.
Sadie sits down, glaring with mock hatred at Daffnie for having taken her wiener away.
“See what you caused here, Dillon, by not telling us your nightmare,” Jake says. “Some truly horrifying, performance art.”
“Ok,” Dillon gives in. “ My worst childhood nightmare, by Dillon Race. Drum roll please.”
Sadie stands up again, all perky and ready to go. She does a little marching dance and pretends to play the flute, then sits back down.
Dillon continues. “Her name was Odessa Fingle, a.k.a. Auntie O, for short. She was my father’s great Aunt, and she came to live with us for awhile when I was ten or so. After she went silly and crackers, as they say. She had been an opera singer in Europe until her son Joey died in a car wreck and she started having mental problems. She was a full figured gal. She spent most of her time in her bed, drooling and chewing on her fingernails. One of the scariest things about her was her armpit hair. She had big mounds of white hair sticking out from under her huge flabby arms. As a child, it was so disturbing and freakish to me, to see a woman with hair under her arms. She was harmless, but I had bad dreams about her crawling through the house after dark. She would crawl into my bedroom and up under my blankets. She would try to suck the piss out of my dick and stick her tongue up my butt. And dig boogers out of my nose and eat them. It was just nightmares, but I always woke up with a bloody nose and a wet bed every morning after I had one of those dreams. Sometimes she would stick my face between her legs and hold me there until I passed out. Once, she stuck my whole head up inside her. After that particular nightmare I woke up in the hospital. My mother told me I had gotten my tonsils out, and that they had been causing my fevers and bad dreams. When I came home Auntie O was gone. I never asked about her, and my parents never mentioned her.”
Everyone is quiet for a moment.
“Wow,” Sadie says. “You just blew my fucking mind. I seriously have goose bumps.”
“That is some twisted business,” Mike says. “How do you know it was just dreams. Maybe it really happened.”
“You can tell the difference between nightmares and reality,” Dillon explains. “They feel different. Besides, I would always try to run away from her and I would always run into her closet and hide. And she would always come and get me in there. I was a smart enough kid to not hide in her lair every time she came after me. But I did. Thus, a nightmare.”
“Maybe that was the only place to hide. Maybe your parents kept those safety locks for kids on all the cabinets or something and the only place you had to run was her closet,” Mike suggests. “I only mention this because out of all our nightmares, yours is the only one based on a real human being.”
“Actually,” Dillon begins. “…dreams and nightmares hide things. They are symbolic. So the odds are greater that your nightmare about a clown of war is more representational of child molestation than mine. Mine would more likely be a childhood fear of something like war. Or nuclear holocaust.”
“Perhaps,” Mike says and opens another beer. “Perhaps not.”
Sadie raises her hand to ask a question like she’s in school.
Dillon points to her. “Yes, little Sadie Whitetrash. Do you have something to share?”
“Why do you think all of our nightmares have to do with vaginas and feces and urine and vomit and butts and all that funky jazz? Is it do to unhealthy attitudes about sex in the greater American culture, and how we are taught as children that our bodies and sexuality are sinful and dirty?”
“I will agree that America is one of the most sexually repressed countries in the world,” Dillon asserts. “And folks like Lady Gaga and James Franco and Angelina Jolie are the little pressure relief valves that release the steam for the collective sexuality. But I don’t think they are enough. And so… ”
“You’re a dork,” Sadie says and throws a marshmallow at him, which Dillon catches and pops into his mouth.
“Thanks for the gumball, Popeye,” Dillon tells her.
“So what does it mean?” Daffnie asks.
Dillon shrugs. “I can’t analyze myself, right?”
“I’ll give it a shot,” Rhonni says, eyeballing Dillon. “I think it suggests a fear of women and a possible latent homosexuality.”
“Ouch,” Mike says. “You better put some lotion on that burn.”
“Do people really talk like this?” Jake suddenly asks. “I mean do people really have conversations and say the kinds of things we’ve been saying for the past, however long we’ve been together today? I’m just curious.”
“It’s the drugs talking,” Sadie says.
“What drugs? I didn’t do any drugs,” Mike says. He turns to Rhonni. “Did you do drugs?”
“It just seems a little weird,” Jake continues. “I mean what do other people our age sit around and talk about?”
“The same things that uneducated people of all ages sit around and talk about,” Mike states. “Televised sports, talentless pop tarts, and pussy, or dick, depending on your preference. That, my friend, is civilization in a nutshell.”
“Don’t forget the weather,” Rhonni adds. “After a certain age it’s all about the weather.”
“I would suggest that we’re only talking like this because the writer wrote these words for us to say,” Dillon states. “This is just a movie and we’re just actors and these are the lines from the script that we have to say in order to get paid.”
“Oh wow,” Sadie says. “I get it. This is so freaky. God is the writer. We are the self directed actors. The entire universe is the movie set. And we’re making a movie for the aliens to watch from their seats in outer space. We are entertainment for aliens. Which are really just us watching ourselves from the future, in my book.”
“But this isn’t your book,” Mike informs her. “It’s my movie.”
“No, I’m saying that this is just a movie being filmed and we are just actors,” Dillon advocates. “And there’s the camera right over there and there’s a grip and there’s a best boy and there’s a script supervisor….”
“Your blowing my mind again,” Sadie looks around, outside the parameter of their circle. “I don’t see any of those people.”
“Where’s my goddamned fluffer,” Mike asks, looking out beyond their circle.
“So what kind of movie genre are we in?” Jake asks. “Romance? Action? Comedy? Or horror?”
“Or Porno?” Mike adds, rubbing his hands together.
“The genre can change throughout the movie,” Dillon explains, “To any one of the possible genres. But there is a predominant genre throughout, and all other sub genres ultimately serve the life of it. And each scene can have its own genre. And each scene is made up of moments, and each of those moments can have its own genre. A trip to the DMV could be a horror movie that turns into a comedy that turns into a romance that turns back into a horror movie. But this movie that were in now is a thought flick. And we’re not creating it, the audience is creating it as they watch. They are thinking the thoughts that will create what happens to each of us. There will be a predominance to what occurs, but each individual will walk away with their own version of the movie and what they saw by what they created with their own minds.”
“So if existence is a movie,” Daffie starts, “then are you saying that the key to life is to find out what our own genre is?”
“I have no clue what I’m saying,” Dillon admits. “I’m just saying things.”
“Ok, let’s say that we’re in a horror movie, because ninety percent of all horror movies take place in well-secluded mountain locations, such as this one. So…,” Jake begins, “…my question then becomes, which one of us is the main character? Because that is the one of us that will survive. And every good movie is about survival.”
“My first question would be, where is the killer?” Sadie says. “Is he out there in the darkness watching us now?”
“Maybe the darkness is not out there,” Dillon suggests. “Maybe it’s here with us. Inside our little circle. Inside one of us. Maybe one of us is the darkness.”
“This is making my brain itch,” Daffnie says, scratching her head. “And I have to pee.”
“This is making my butt itch,” Mike says, scratching his ass. “And I have to poop.”
“I still prefer the idea that we are entertainment for aliens watching ourselves from the moon,” Sadie repeats.
“Like I said,” Mike says. “It’s the drugs.”
“What drugs?” Rhonni imitates Mike with a dumb-ass voice. “I didn’t do any drugs,” she turns toward Daffnie. “Did you do any drugs?”
“Yes. And I want to wrap this up so we can all sing Puff the Magic Dragon,” Daffnie declares. “So, I think Dillon’s nightmare wins the blue ribbon. And I place my vote as that.”
“Not so fast,” Mike says and nods toward the darkness. “We have one more nightmare to go.”
Everyone turns to look.
Alan is standing just visible in the flickering fingers of campfire light, on the very edge of absolute darkness.
“Would you like to share your nightmare with us, Alan?” Mike asks him.
Alan is holding his nosy roommate’s gun, staring at it. He has been crying and digging at his forehead again. He raises his arm pointing the gun at them.
“I hope that’s not a squirt gun,” Rhonni says. “I am in no mood to get wet.”
Alan mutters under his breath: “Never has there been a tale of more woe, than that of Alanette and his Kellio.”
The firelight plays with his features and his form. The wind whispers its ancient secrets to the trees. Alan stares a the others for a moment longer. An ember pops loudly in the campfire.
“Alan,” Mike says in an Irish brogue. “Quit being a cunt and tell us your nightmare, for fuck sake!”
Alan mumbles something else to himself. Then he puts the gun to his temple and pulls the trigger.
The sound of the gun shot is fierce. It cracks like the sound of thunder, squeezed through the eye of a maggot. It punctures a hole through the mountain calm, and darkness begins to seep from the night.
No one moves. No one speaks. A magnificent silence screams around them. Into their ears. Into their eyes. Into their tight fisted throats. The firelight shifts, the shadows contort, and time sticks for a moment in eternity. Then immediately starts to move again.
For the next few hours of her life Daffnie will remember her first thought: A squirt gun does not sound like that.
“That wasn’t real,” Mike attempts to assure himself. “That wasn’t real.”
Alan stands there for a moment. And then his arm drops back down to his side. The gun falls from his hand and thumps against the ground. One of his knees begins to dip. His body leans forward as if to bow. The other knee buckles, slowly at first and then fast, and Alan collapses to the ground like a lawn chair.
One of the girls screams. Just once. But it is very loud and it startles the others into the realization that something very real and very bad has just occurred before their eyes.
Dillon is the first to move. He gets up and goes to Alan. Jake is right behind him. The others
stay back watching them. Mike feels his stomach trying to slip slide up his throat. He can’t make his body move. He looks at Rhonni for help, but Rhonni’s eyes are locked on Alan.
Dillon is checking Alan for a pulse. After a moment he looks at Jake. He holds up his hand showing Jake the blood covering his fingers. The blood from Alan’s head.
From the tree tops they all look much smaller. Almost like dolls. And from the moon, they can’t be seen at all.


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