|The Story||The Authors|
|"Do you need to get a life? Are you tired of sitting at home doing nothing?
Do you have no direction, no purpose?"
The false voice of a man with sparkling white teeth, bright blue eyes and thick head of blonde hair greeted him as he turned on the TV.
"Well, we have something for you!"
Hinkle smiled, this was exactly what he needed. He leapt off the couch with a bound, and picked up his phone.
Unfortunately, though it was only two o'clock in the afternoon, Matthew Hickey
had just finished his thirty-ninth beer of the day. Some results of this were:
dulled reflexes, a highly impaired sense of balance, and handicapped reasoning
and observing powers. And thus it was that he failed to grokk the
presence of the roller-skate (his sole relic of Felicity... how she had
cherished those rusty old skates, and never would evolve up to rollerblades...
sigh...) directly in his path as he reached for the phone and dialed even as
his foot came down on the skate, whose wheels did what wheel are supposed to
do, causing Matthew's legs to fly out from underneath him, even as the call
went through, and on its other end commenced to ring, while Matthew's body hung
in horizontal suspension in the air for an unnoted nanosecond before succumbing
to gravity and landing, with all its recent beer-acquired weight, directly on
the sensitive small of its back on the cheap formica coffee table, which
responded by folding unto itself beneath him, so that both of them, Matthew and
the coffee-table, lay collapsed and broken on the floor even as the call was
picked up on its nether end and a bold voice, full of pride and gumption and
good ol' American DIY pluck, rang out in Matthew's ear like the fabled trumpets
of Jericho --
"Brother Matthew!" it said in an impossible breakneck staccatto, seeming triply to inquire, bear witness, and concur all at the same time. "Brother Matthew I want you to tell all our listeners and viewers out there if you are ready to accept the word of God as the Truth the Whole Truth and Nothingbutthetruth as translated annotated abridged and channelled fifth-hand through the gorgeous body of my assistant Miss June Jean Jine will you look at the size of those hooters bet ya couldn't eat just one or my name ain't Bob Barker in the name of the FatherSonandHolyGhost my brethren I implore thee to open up your hearts and pray with me: Matthew Hickey! come! on! down! -- You're the next contestant on The Price Is Right!"
On the TV and in the phone receiver the audience went hogwild.
|On the floor, Hickey clenched his jaw in agony at the pain in his lower back as he shifted on the floor to better be able to see the TV screen, and was somehow able to reach the cooler next to the sofa and retrieve another ice-cold tallboy of Incipient Flatulence Lager.|
Gulping down the beer simply to take his mind off the immobilizing pain
radiating upwards and out from his coccyx, Hickey watched in horror at the
scene which was unfolding on the screen while the telephone upon which his ear
rested very nearly burst an eardrum as the line suddenly switched from cheering
crowd to overloud dial-tone.
"Matthew Hickey -- Come on dowwwwwwwwwwwn! You're the next contestant on The Prrrrrrrice Is Riiiiiiiight!" announced The Rev. Robert "Bob" Barker, an actual, honest-goodness-gracious, a real halo floating over his bald spot like an anti-gravity neon yarmulke, an unseen angelic choir backing his every utterance with medievel plainsong, the stigmata in his palms plainly weeping tears of real blood as he held them up in welcome to the man who rose from the milling throng of the audience, a man whose bearded physiognomy and bearish frame were all too familiar to Matthew Hickey as...
" Will ya take out the trash Matthew? " screamed his wife Melinda.
Hickey shook his head, he was sick and tired of Melinda always nagging him. He crushed the last remaining beer can with his hand.
" Melinda, I'm going to the watering hole, don't wait up for me!" He yelled.
Melinda grunted, " That figures, after three years of marriage you'd think you'd learn not to push my buttons."
Hickey stopped in front of the hallways mirror. He was tall, tan, brown hair, and blue eyes, a real charming man. He was still a ladies man. Hickey thought to himself, " Maybe if I get rid of her..."
Melinda rush to him.
"Dont forget to pick something up for Joeys birthday. it is your sister!"
"Do I have to? I dont give a fuck about her anyway."
"Hickey! Just do it!"
"Yeah yeah yeah."
He went out and closed the door as he tougth:
With a terrified grunt Matthew turned the channel back the The Price Is
Right. It wasn't any good it seemed. He was on all the channels at once. At
least he stood a chance of watching himself win something good on this one.
Bob Barker was grinning malevolently over his cue cards at the quartet of contestants in front of him. His grey suit shimmering under the studio lights like a mirage. Matthew had turned the channel just in time to hear Bob in the middle of saying "...and you could win THIS!! dramatically turning to reveal a large cardboard box edged in gold as it lay on a display table gently shaded under the prominent bosom of the buxom woman who's job it was to stand next to such things and wave her hands in front of.
With a well practiced wholesome smile the GameShow Assistant gently lifted the
lid of the box. Almost immediately a rather pungent odor of musty decay seemed
to pour out and into Contestant's Row. Bob Barker spread his grin and the
lights verily sparkled off of the prominent caps of his canine teeth. "Show the
studio audience what you've got, Brandi" Brandi leaned forward and carefully
tilted the gilt edged box causually revealing a long enticing line of cleavage
that arrested Matthew's attention for a looooooooong moment before he
could tear himself away to peer at the contents. It was a large beetle.
A scarab, more exactly. An immense fist-sized Dung Beetle blindly and in an almost panic stricken manner rolling a tremendous ball of excrement helplessly around and around in the bottom of the box. It clicked horribly to itself trying for all its worth to escape from its confinement with its meager treasure.
"Well contestants, how much do you bid on Matthew J. Hickey's immortal soul? Matthew?"
Hickey blanched visibly. He gurgled. He stuttered. He searched wildly around the deepest recesses of his mind for an answer. How could he be expected to answer a question like that? This was His immortal soul they were talking about.
"....ah, um,....aba homina...uh, oh shit, uh....uh..."
"Watch the language there, kid, there may be children watching," cracked Bob to the immense amusement of the studio audience,"We need a dollar value.
"...uh, uh, One, ah, ah One Billion Dollars!!" he finally blurted out.
Bob Barker turned a jaded look to the camera and casually raised an eyebrow before turning to the contestant on Matthew's left. "How about you, Irwin.?"
To his left, Irwin Bartlebee looked gave Matthew a quick scrutiny. Figuring that if anyone would have a good idea of the approximate value of their immortal soul, Matthew would, he tried to outfox him. "One billion and one dollars, there Bob." Again the raised eyebrow, and he turned to Matthew's left. "Tamera, remember the closest one to the actual retail value without going over wins the prize. Your bid"
Tamera Julius leaned over the mike and giggled. Turned back to the audience. Behind her rose a cacaphony of voices shreiking out seemingly random numbers. She turned back to Bob. Leaned over the mike again and stamped her feet, afraid of committing to a number. "Bob, I bid..(hehehe)I bid..(turn to family in twentieth row) Bob I bid...Three,(hehehee)(little nervous stamping)Three hundred million dollars." Bob sighed and made a mock comic shrug of resignation and turned at to the last contestant, Myrtle Spunkherder of Waukeshau, Wisconsin.
"Now Myrtle, Your bid."
Myrtle leaned her bulk over the microphone and intoned with a nasal Midwestern twang of smugness that caused her hammy jowls to shudder convulsivly, "Bob, I bid ONEdollar."
Bob Barker smiled and triumphantly raised the cue card. "And the actual retail Value IS...a dramatic pause Thirty Seven Dollars and Sixty Five Cents! Myrtle Spunkherder YOU are our next contestant!!"
The bells rang and the audience cheered and Matthew watched helplessly as the obese asthmatic bulk of Myrtle Spunkherder waddled up the three steps to the stage to play the next round.
Bob Barker suddenly fainted! Myrtle gasped.
"I was going to get fifty thounsand million dollars!" Myrtle gasped again. Three people in the audiance stood up.
"What the hell are you doing? Sit down!" The usher yelled. The oldest girl turned around.
"Shut up!" The girl was in her thirties or fourties. She had brown hair pulled tightly into a bun, and she was wearing a pink t-shirt and jeans. A younger boy and girl was with her. The girl was about sixteen or seventeen. She had reddish-brown hair pulled into a high ponytail. She had these bright green eyes and she was wearing a blue t-shirt with overalls. The boy was about ten or eleven and he had messy blond hair. He had freckles spilled all over his face and a Yankee's t-shirt and a pair of jeans.
The three walked onstage.
"Hi, I'm Louisa. These are my children, Caity and Ben," the oldest said.
"Who really fucking cares!" a voice in the audiance rang out.
"Yeah, we want to watch the game show!" someone else yelled.
Caity rolled her eyes.
"You guys are too violent."
"Get out!"someone said. The three shrugged. They disappeared in a blink.
|Which was a very good thing because it saved Bob Barker from having to blow their brains out on national daytime television. Even though it would have sent the ratings through the roof, it probably would have ended his career or landed him a talk show.|
Meenwhile back @ the ranch Noir the cat was herding the birds Grey Wing and Tweety the cocateils and stampeding the parakeets.
Meanwhile back @ the ranch Noir the cat was herding
Grey Wing and Tweety the cockateils and
stampeding the parakeets.It was snowing feathers an hailing bird-dodo.
The cartoon version Matthew dressed in bright red hunting gear raced around the
barn with shotgun blazing willy-nilly. "I'll get you yet, you wascal, I will!"
he bellowed. Unfortunately, as he turned the corner the mischevious pair of
parakeets whacked him in theface with a cast iron skillet with a resounding
CLANG!!. His whole body quivered and his face retaining the shape of the
pan. Cartoon Matthew was infuriated. His face flushed bright red. Steam escaped
his ears with a roar like a noon whistle...
In his dank beer soaked living room the flesh and blood Matthew popped the top of another beer and switched the channel back. The game show was bad enough to watch, but at least it didn't involve being crushed into an accordian by falling anvils.
Not to mention boring weevils, crawling in and around from the hairline,
making a beeline for the ear horn, express route to the the cortical mass of
"yum-yum" breadfruit, just waiting to be sampled by anxious pincers. One in
the same though, really, if you were to start splitting hairs; the weevil
and the game show host; digging, digging, digging. One imagines the weevil
in it's larvae form, soft and white; maleable and unformed and then one
pictures the game show host in training attending "game show host" classes at
some prestigious institute of higher learning, like Emerson in Boston,
standing up and enunciating every syllable impecably, in order to cover up the
obvious lack of spine.
"Ariel Zalkind, COME ON DOWN! You've been selected to be our next contestant on "Break the Baby".
|Matthew shook his head violently, and groaned. The wicked brew had begun to give him halluncinations. He slowly pushed himself up from the floor and fell back onto the couch. Now what had he been going to do before he fell? Oh yes, it all came flooding back to him. He had been about to donate his body to science. He had nothing better to do, and it was a great cause. With renewed resolve he lunged for his phone and dialed the number. After mumbling the answers to a few simple questions and giving his address, he was informed that some one was coming to pick him up and bring him to his new home. Pleased, Matthew drained the last of his beer and fell into a coma-like state.|
|I leapt out of my chair, spraying gin and tonic across the carpet. I had had the horrid flash that I was not only stuck in a rut, but that I had been able to almost convince myself that I enjoyed the monotony. It was time to start over...with a new haircut! If putting your self into the hands of a trendy, none too bright student of cosmetology wasn't a way to jerk yourself back into a life of variation, then forget about it. You'll stay in that blasted chair for the rest of your life.|
|So thats what I did. I sat in that chair. The cushons all worn down, like my backside, it has been a while since I have gotten up.|
|I reached for the channel selector, but it was too far away.|
|So I called my girlfriend to go get it, but she only gave me a big fat nothin'? What is that all 'bout?|
|I mean... I support her for 5 years while she's getting over her "big tragedy", and the thanks I get is her to hang up on me? It's not like the goat and I were doing anything, we were just talking. Then, I go to her house to talk to her in person, and, get this, she had hired a body guard! At that rate, I was never going to get it back, so I had a small chat with her parents...|
|I was pretty surprised her mother hadn't kicked the bucket by now. She pretty much just gave me the same load of bullcrap she's been feeding everybody for the past twenty-five years- only this time she interjected more often with fits of hacking, coughing, shaking, wheezing, and more than her usual dose of curses and obsceneties placed at strategic points in the conversation. Her old man sat there the whole time and didn't hardly say a word. Yeah, after he finishes his breakfast cigarette he says (to no-one in particular), "I gotta get to work." grabs his tux and heads out the door. I had half a mind to follow him, but those security guys at that casino... they don't like me.|
And at just the point in the reoccuring nightmare where the giant Frosty
Penguin that is running the blackjack unzips the suit to reveal herself to be
Claudia Schiffer dressed entirely in orange marmalade and extends to Matthew a
long wooden spoon to spank her with for letting the Chiuhaha eat the dice
(which were it turns out just Mentos with spots on them), the whole casino
began to shake violently.
"Oh My God! It's an earthquake!",thought Matthew, as he reached forth to grab the tastiest morsels of the marmalade to stop their quivering. (They were making him kind of seasick)
The room spun, the floor heaved and he awoke to find himself sprawled on the floor in front of his La-Z boy, shirt front damp with drool and the hideous grin of Jeremy Crink leering at him. A carefully surgically gloved hand prodding him mercilessly into consciousness.
"Matty", he crooned, "Oh Matty, wake up sunshine I got a present for you. Oh Mattheunuch, uh...I mean, Matthew take a lookee-loo at what yer ole pal Crink's got for you." Matthew groaned and tried to shrug off the pestering hand. The acrid smell of rubber not helping settle his stomach.
"Fuck off, Jeremy"
"Is that any way to treat an old and dear friend who had naught but the best intentions? I brought you something, the very thing that you need most in this your hour of need. The hour you'd most rather spend wallowing in the bottomless depths of drunken self pity. Sinking into a morass of unfufillable desire and pining for those long lost days you weren't getting laid in either. Today, my slobbering emasculated pathetic friend, I bring you Purpose! The possible of what you are and what you CAN BE!!"
"Leave me alone. Crink, I don't feel good."
"But Ah, I say, AH-A! Feast your wide irised globes on this!" and from somewhere behind him Crink produced a large heavy book with Christian Cults From the Rennaissance To Today emblazoned on the cover over a photo of a primitively carved figure of a woman with a snake crawling out from between her legs and suckling one of her breasts.
Crink rapidly flipped it open to a predetermined page and thrust it under Matthew's bleary vision. The chapter heading at the top read "The Skoptzy"
In front of him lay a photo of a naked human. Ostensibly it appeared male. But then again...the features were peasant-like and soft. Large hands. The nude body itself looked more like that of a prepubescent girl with a small triangle of pubic fluff. But it was a man. And more importantly, something essential was missing in this picture. He had no dick.
"Oh god", Hickey started to blubber,"if I want to look at something like that I'll just go to a fucking mirror. Why the fuck do you want to show me something like that for, you bastard!"
"Why, me lad? Because this is your destiny. These folks believed that the only way to stay pure enough to get to Heaven was to lop of the naughty bits and pray a lot. And even with out dicks the Skoptzy managed to keep up a credible cult following in Russia through the 18C to the freakin' Thirties. Don't you see it yet?"
"See what, you sick piece of shit?"
"You're DESTINY The Divine Holy Order of The Golden Eunuch. A personal cult of your own."
Matthew turned to look at Crink with rheumy eyes. He was serious. Crink
actually seemed to believe in this. Hickey looked back at the photo of the
emasculated Skoptzy and back at Crink, he searched deeply in the other man's
face for even a glimmer of a smile. Nothing. Serious as a heart attack. Matthew
began to weep. Big salty tears spilled forth from the corners of his eyes like
scoops ofice cream from a toddler's cone. His life had come to this. He wept.
Crink for his part was not unnerved. He'd expected as much. Years of acting as Hickey's dark shadow had prepared him for a reaction like this. He knew that deep in the deepest most secret and child-like scabby recesses of Matthew's heart he still held out an unwhispered hope of returning to genital normalness. Crink was being hard on him, but it had to be this way. "Well, well there little man, best to be doing a sleep on it. Time's an essence we got plenty for now. And plenty work ahead too. Your destiny is there (indicating the book) if you want it. Or my pretty, pathetic blob or you can take Door #2 and lay around here getting so drunk and fat that your belly will droop and cover a multitude of sins. Your choice. And that's no choice at all" Jeremy placed the open book gently on the sticky coffee table in front of the sobbing form and quietly left.