Dead Tree Version — Chapters 2 and 3

Dead Tree Version — Chapters 2 and 3

Chapter 2: Porn Star Dies Of Syphilis, Film At 11

When Our Hero returned to his apartment after lunch with his dear friend Carrie, he found the rest of Liz’s things were gone. He was not happy. He already missed her, but it didn’t matter. He went back to his office and began typing Rachel Tatum’s mantra, which he’d transmogrified into a novel, occasionally interspersing it with intentional misspellings, vulgarities, profanities, and at one point, the lyrics to My Way. The publisher he had in mind was going to love it. He’d decided that blowing off work for the swine flu wasn’t good enough. He just wasn’t going to show up, and see how long it would take before the USDA stopped direct-depositing his paychecks into his account [G-d’s note: 4 pay cycles]. He didn’t know why he was writing that dreck, or rather, typing that dreck, but he was, and he had a feeling he was going to make a lot of money and suddenly be rather famous.

He decided, after typing about four thousand words, he’d be best off asleep on the couch, as his now-former girlfriend had taken her sheets and he didn’t feel like digging his out. The TV was on. Our Hero liked Televangelists, but he didn’t know why. This one was particularly interesting to him. The man actually believed that angels were going to American nuclear missile silos and disarming the warheads, presumably to prevent Armageddon from happening before Jesus was ready to return. Apparently, according to this particular Primitive Baptist’s theology, human beings can make an end-run around God’s will when it comes to the eschatological tour-de-force to which certain kinds of evangelicals so look forward.

When Our Hero drifted to sleep, he dreamed that he met God that night, in the form of Burt Huguenot, one of the greatest literary science fiction authors of all time. Burt was well known for his experiences as a POW in Korea. God-Burt told him that he needed to take this collection of words he deigned to call a novel and shove it up his ass, because it wasn’t any good—parody or not—and he was actually about to destroy what was left of Western Civilization because nobody would get the joke and the ignorant masses would definitely mistake this repetitious string of meaninglessness he called a novel for real literature.

Our Hero’s response was, of course, rather defiant, and he told God—Burt—where to shove his literary criticism. Burt then morphed into a giant robot, like something from a weeaboo’s wet dream, and went on a rampage in Des Moines. Why Des Moines, no one knew, but at the same time everyone knew: God-Burt had to rampage. It was in the stars. Des Moines had nothing to offer the world, whereas Tokyo had overpriced electronics, New York had Wall-Street, self-important novelists, and well, self-important people in general, and nobody went on rampages in L.A. because…well…being L.A., it’s too spread out for a proper rampage (however, if God-Burt had to be involved in a police chase, it would have been the only option.) Thus, Des Moines it was.

The dream continued. Our Hero published the novel, raked in millions of dollars, appeared on American Public Radio, Public Television of America, and SocialNet.gov, a new website which attempted to bring the joys of APR and PTA to the heathen internet masses through social networking, irrelevant memes, and viral videos (which were just as infectious as anything one would expect from creative talent so incompetent they must rely on government grants to create any sort of art). Meanwhile, the people of Des Moines mounted a resistance and, with the help of the Iowa National Guard, brought down Burt HugueBot (as he was now called, thanks to the aforementioned heathen internet masses and an aging media trying to be hip), who morphed back into his former self. Burt then wrote a series of articles which he then read on APR and PTA, which lambasted Our Hero’s epic story of “I Don’t Belong Here” as “dull and uninspired” and “clearly a poor attempt at writing something I might have written in my callow youth, you know, if I didn’t have any talent when I was young.”

Burt’s articles were well received, and Our Hero’s publicity waned. Then Carrie appeared in his dream, out of nowhere, wearing nothing but a trench coat and wielding a machete. Just as things were about to get interesting (because a giant ant-monster crawled up over a hill), Our Hero woke up. It was about seven in the morning.

His cell-phone had two new text messages, both from Carrie the night before.

Carrie, 11:35PM RAN IN2 UR BITCH. SKANK WAS WITH A DUDE.

Carrie, 12:03AM You should meet me at Chez Apollo tomorrow night. Sorry about the last one, it was her brother. She was actually pretty upset when I confronted her (hey, I’m a girl, I’m allowed to confront!) I was shocked. DARWIN!!! Lay off the vodka.

Our Hero replied with: Sorry she’s upset. Her deal, not mine. I’m not drinking. BTW, Apollo is a gay bar, you’re not trying to get me laid THERE are you? >_> <_<

Carrie responded immediately: Ya I no wut u mean. Sry, hangover & drving. Yes, I know this GREAT GUY u should tlk 2. He’s hotttttttttt, and he’s about to have the operation! j/k 😉 XOXO

Our Hero then texted back: Uhhhhhh. I like it when you text in English.

Carrie replied: FOOKING PRICK! HOW DARE YOU CRITICIZE MY HUNGOVER WHILE DRIVING AND TEXTING WAYS?ssgjdfhgiurhgurdnfngdfud;fibgi;odfbgi;dfn

Our Hero contributed to his future case of “texter’s thumb” by responding with: Dear God, deliver me from Carrie, Amen.

Carrie then replied: Y R WE TXTING? LET’S GO TO THE AWFUL WAFFLE! I NEED CHOCL8 CHIP WAFFLES! HANGOVER BREAKFAST FTW! ILU, Darwin!

Our Hero agreed to the terms with the simple line: SEE YOU SOON

He went and took a shower, and wondered why he wanted a cigarette. Oh, right, his bad-influence-of-a-friend Carrie. He’d bum one off her, he thought, at the Awful Waffle. Our Hero got dressed—it was an outmoded rock-band t-shirt kind of day—and combed his generous hair (he trained it so well, he no longer required product.) He almost shaved but decided it was a stubble day, too, and set forth on his six-block-walk to eat the Breakfast of Truckers.

Carrie was already there, smoking—in every possible way—which bothered Our Hero slightly. But he did score a cigarette.

[G-d’s note: It’s unfair to you, readers, for Carrie to be described with vagaries like “pretty” and “smoking.” Unfortunately, the narrator is neglectful about describing people, so I’ll do it for him: Carrie looks like that actress who was making out with that other actress in that movie whose title you can’t remember but you thought it was hot (or–if you’re a fundamentalist–disgustinghot) when you saw it, while inebriated, that first time in someone’s dorm-room in your sophomore year of college. The dorm-room was that of the guy who always did your homework for you. In his teenage career, he was a pimpled basement-dweller. In college, he was a pimpled freshman going into physics or computer science, but definitely too practical to be a math major. You should also recall that he boasted openly about how many times he’d watched that scene, and, less likely but possibly, about his autoerotic habits while doing the same. You know the movie, and the actress. In other words, she was my finest creation. Wait, I didn’t really describe Carrie…early twenties, brunette, green eyes, extremely fit, short, no tits to speak of but it wouldn’t matter because she’s not into you anyway.]

The pair went inside after giving themselves cancer, and Carrie began talking about the night she’d had. “So I saw Liz.”

“I don’t want to hear about it. How’s she doing?” Our Hero caught his own contradiction and made note of it in “lines to use in a poem about exes,” which is to say, he’d remember it on his death bed and kick himself for never writing it.

“She’s Liz.”

“Yep.”

“I dunno. Something didn’t seem right. Either way, how are you? I’m hungover.”

“I can tell. It’s the sunglasses you’re still wearing. When did you get those awful bug-eye glasses, anyway? Who the hell are you to buy into fashion trends?” Our Hero asked.

“Some dumb bitch left them at Nostrum. I requisitioned them for official use thereafter.” Carrie smiled.

“I approve of this behavior,” Our Hero said, removing his own glasses and rubbing his eyes. He was still not caffeinated for the morning, and as soon as the waitress arrived, he politely demanded coffee and a massive plate of bacon for the pair. By massive, he meant, “Oh, probably about four orders’ worth. It is the king of meats, after all.”

Carrie laughed. “Bacon? I thought you’d sworn off eating pork.”

“I quit my job.” Our Hero replied. “As of this morning, the Congress of Darwinia has lifted the stomach-pork embargo.”

“You quit? You haven’t even gone in today. Or did you call in?”

“No, I’m just quitting-by-default. Not showing up for work. I’m going to see how long it takes for them to realize that I am no longer there writing reports with titles such as ‘Pork Consumption Trends in Nebraska’ or ‘Slaughter Statistics in Tennessee.’ I’m hoping they’ll keep paying me despite my absence. Hey, is Nostrum hiring?”

Carrie laughed. “If I quit, sure. Guess what shift I’m working today?”

“What?”

“I get noon to eleven and no overtime because George called in. The Boss called me while I was driving. He also said he had some purp if anyone needs it.”

“Purp?”

Good weed,” Carrie explained, as if to her grandfather. She drank her coffee straight. The bacon arrived. The two did not say anything until the waitress was away.

“Oh. Back in my day, all we knew was that Devon Snyder was selling joints for ten bucks a pop. He was eighteen and wouldn’t rat us out to our parents.”

“I forget you’re so old. We’re so much more sophisticated now, even in high school.” She smirked. “A few years changes a lot, doesn’t it?”

“I don’t think about it.” Our Hero said, it was a stock answer he had. He had no idea why she brought it up. To her credit, she didn’t either—she was just talking.

Carrie started in on the bacon, and Our Hero did the same. It was at that point the waitress apologized for not taking their order sooner. It was also at that point that they both realized she spoke with a slight Southern twang. “Chocolate chip waffles, and he’s having the t-bone.” Carrie said. The waitress began writing it down. Our Hero glowered at Carrie.

Our Hero mustered his most condescending tone: “Carrie, you know that The Awful Waffle is not where you go for steak. The Steak Barn is where you go for steak, or Esther’s–if you’re of means.” Our Hero shook his head and wagged his finger and said “For shame, for shame.”

The waitress agreed. “I was going to have y’all committed if you ordered our steak, hon. What can I get for you, sir?”

“Can I ask a question, first?” Our Hero asked.

“Sure thing, baby.” She kept glancing at her order book, as if a cop about to take a statement.

“Why do waitresses in chain waffle-establishments always speak with slight Southern accents?” Our Hero asked.

“‘Cause I’m from Savannah, hon, but I ain’t stupid. Y’all are just stereotypin’ me based on what y’all have seen on TV.” She crossed her arms and looked indignant.

“I know, and I don’t mean to offend. I spent plenty of time down in Memphis when I was younger. Love me the South. May y’all rise again. Might actually fix some things in this country.”

“Oh boy,” Carrie cautioned. “You’re digging it deeper.”

“No, I’m serious,” Our Hero said. “Think about it. If Western Civilization were to come to an end, say, tomorrow—who would survive?”

“Who?”

“Southerners. We Chicagoans are dead meat. And New York? Boston? Any of those major cities…three weeks, tops. Southerners have guns. We can’t even look at guns without getting arrested, well, unless you’re a gangbanger–they’ll survive too. Southerners and gangbangers. And anyway, how are you going to kill animals for food without guns? Nobody can shoot a fucking bow and arrow anymore.”

“You’re right, and I’m flattered,” the waitress said. “I won’t spit too much on your waffle, honey.”

“How’d you know I was ordering waffles?”

“And hash-browns. I knew because you were just explainin’ to your pretty lady-friend here that you go to The Awful Waffle for…y’know…Waffles. And I expect a nice tip, so’s I can get my bus ticket back before civilization collapses.” The waitress winked.

As soon as she was out of earshot and shouting the order, Carrie spoke: “I’m not sure if I should be afraid or not.”

“She was kidding. Remember, I spent time in Memphis.”

“You say that like it was prison.” Carrie remarked. “So, the collapse of Western Civilization, eh? What brought that to mind?”

“Dream I had last night. Burt Huguenot appeared—as God—and went on a murderous rampage in Des Moines after transforming into a giant robot. But before that, he told me that my novel would destroy Western Civilization, as no one would realize it’s a parody.”

“Burt Huguenot as God,” she cackled. “Nice! So, are you going to finish the novel? I mean, I assume you’re just typing the same thing over and over and interspersing it with random words and quotes.”

“Yeah, I think I’m going to actually start on a real story. I think I can’t type ‘I don’t belong here’ for another fifteen chapters, and I’m not willing to go the cheating-route and copy-paste it in the computer.”

“So, what, four chapters of utter nonsense followed by a story? Interesting. Any idea what the plot is?”

Our Hero downed the rest of his coffee and ate more bacon. He wasn’t ignoring the question, but he’d entered “deep thought mode,” and Carrie respected his minute of silence.  He broke the silence with “I don’t effin’ know.”

“I don’t either,” Carrie said. “Hey, maybe it could be about our adventures. Remember our adventures?”

“Our adventures consisted of us getting plastered and waking up in random parts of Chicago. You were underage at the time, you damn liar. Chinatown was the best one, though.” Our Hero replied.

“Exactly! Throw in some sage wisdom, and bam! Novel. Remember the homeless guy who tried to shank you near the Art Museum?”

“Yeah, I’d rather not, though.”

“Well, just have him be, I don’t know, like Yoda or something. He’ll be our friend in the novel. And he’ll always spout some sort of nonsense old-timey wisdom at inappropriate moments.” Carrie was growing visibly excited as she came up with ideas. She was not a writer, but she loved to play muse. But Our Hero already had her beat:

“No, the homeless guy is a former philosophy professor or U of C who went batshit crazy, and now mixes up philosophical maxims, self-help pop-psych bullshit, and old-timey wisdom into sayings that the reader himself must decipher. Actually, that sounds like my old philosophy prof. But yes, he finds us late at night—rescues us from a band of small hobos with knives—and an entire chapter is devoted to us learning from him, and then the rest of the novel is the result of our taking his insane ramblings to heart and living by them.”

“What can you do with that?”

“I’ll figure that out. Either way, the story will remain meaningless. But now it will be meaningless and hilarious, and everyone who reads it will appreciate the absolute absurdity therein.”

Carrie suddenly lowered her voice to that of a phone-sex operator: “Darwin, it isn’t my cell-phone this time.”

Darwin laughed. “Oh god…”

“No. I love it when you talk like a writer.”

“You’re the worst kind of tease, you know that, right?”

“Oh, I’m going to hell.”

“According to Burt Huguenot, I’ll be waiting.”

Breakfast arrived thereafter—saliva free and scrumptious.

 

 

Chapter 3: Scopolamine Poisoning


Advice To You From Neville’s Butler,

Upon Overhearing A Disastrous Telephone Call With One Certain Johannes Wu

by David Arnaud

Poet Laureate of the United States of America

(Neville’s Call)

“Hello there!
…You don’t care?
Then why call?
…He’s here, but I’m not Paul.
What the Devil?
This is Neville!
Who are you?
Oh! Johannes Wu!”

(Paul Chants)

German-Chinese,
Mr. Wu–at home, at ease,
easy to please
with plates of
spicy Cantonese.

(The Butler Replies to Paul)

Wu is fat
but where it’s at!
Wu is thin,
and he kens
things beyond all
understanding, Paul.

(Paul and Neville Chant)

German-Chinese,
Mr. Wu–at home, at ease,
easy to please
with plates of
spicy Cantonese.

(The Butler Turns to You)

Paul is pissed,
he won’t be missed.
Neville is confused
so he refused
Wu’s invitation
to the celebration
of World Peace
because Wu made cease
all infighting
with his lightning
kung-fu moves.
So it behooves
you at least to show up to
the royal party–at 2.


(Paul and Neville Chant)

German-Chinese,
Mr. Wu–at home, at ease,
easy to please
with plates of
spicy Cantonese.

(You Ask)

Johannes Wu,
who are you?
The Antichrist?
An anarchist?
A player?
A hater?

(Paul, Neville, and the Butler Chant)

German-Chinese,
Mr. Wu–at home, at ease,
easy to please
with plates of
spicy Cantonese.

(The Butler Speaks Once More)

Mr. Wu just came to,
and he loves you
even though he’s
very cross–no peas, please.
He’s mad at Neville
for saying “the Devil”
for like he, Mr. Wu will make you
richer than Croesus, too,
if only you give him what he wants.
And for your sake, I’ll be blunt:

(The Butler, Speaking Plainly)

German-Chinese,
Mr. Wu–at home, at ease,
easy to please
with plates of
spicy Cantonese.

(Neville Interjects)

And your soul,
of course.

(You All Chant, Now Entranced)

German-Chinese,
Mr. Wu–at home, at ease,
easy to please
with plates of
spicy Cantonese.

 

 

Dead Tree Version, 2nd Ed. Copyright ©2018 Ian McLeod

Reprinted with permission.

About The Author

Ian McLeod

Ian McLeod writes from the humid depths of Dixie. You can buy his books from https://amzn.to/2ByQi0j

3 Comments

  1. Come the first, I’m buying this book. Good times!

    Reply
    • It is one of the best books of the last 40 years, hands down. In fact, I highly recommend all three of the books in the series, and there will be another coming (I think Ian has said it will be broken into two books). I can’t wait for those, as well.

      Reply
    • Wait ’til the 2nd Edition is finished! Otherwise you’ll scratch your head through the rest of the series with some of the corrections I’ve had to make to clean up some continuity errors.

      But enjoy reading it free here as I upload it–I’m trying to do 1 chapter a week.

      There are currently two more books in the series (CURRENTLY UNTITLED, THE DARWIN DELUSION), and as Theophrastus mentioned, the final two (a novella and a novel) later this year.

      Reply

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