|The Story||The Authors|
|Merideth was walking down telegraph ave thinking about geraniums. She loved geraniums. In fact she spent many of her waking hours thinking about plants. She loved her job at the nursery, watering flowers, tending to all the different perennials. Suddenly a dirty hand was thrust into her field of vision. "Spare a dollar for some beer?", said the person standing on the sidewalk. He was dressed in black leather and threadbare denim, with six peircings in his face, smoking a cigarette. She looked into his expectant eyes as she walked by. Every ten feet it was the same. Someone interrupting her thoughts to ask for change. She wondered to herself about the young people she saw asking for change for anything from PCP to tampons. It was always the same message. "Just give me some money." She was confused that able bodied people her own age and younger would stand on the sidewalk bugging people for change all day when everyother storefront had a "help wanted" sign in the window.|
|Merideth paused a moment before the very lazy and slightly odiferous young man. Some clean clothes, a clean shave and some lessons in personal hygiene and he was exactly the sort of man that Merideth would have had wild sexual fantasies about without ever revealing the nature of her true feelings to. Merideth was a bit repressed. She seemed to like it that way. Less messy. But she did like geraniums. She like geraniums a lot. Tall slender plants with great healthy bushy foliage. The large red or purple blooms arching back on their long stalks. The brightly colored flowerheads with all their little stamens and pistils swaying in a slight breeze aching for the arrival of a big fat bumblebee engorged on sweet nectar to come and rub against them and spread their eager pollen. The Bee returning to the buzzing hive throbbing with life to make more honey. Ever and ever more honey. The hungry geranium shooting out their long stiff roots deep into the moistened depths of the earth to suck all the nutrients they need and desire from within the well of the dark damp soil. "More, more, more" the geraniums cry, "more water, fill us with all that you have. satisfy our hunger. Our need." Merideth looked the man over with a practiced eye before reaching in and opening her fastidious brown vinyl purse. The unkempt youth before her smacked his eager lips making his cigarette stub dance a bit between his full lips. With well practiced efficiency Merideth did precisely what she always did when confronted by some handsome musky young ruffian who solicited her on the street. she maced him.|
|The sprayed youth fell to the sidewalk in a livid, screaming blush, tears streaming down his face, jaws gnashing in a manner befitting certain Biblical recipients of the Lord's mighty wrath, and as he lay there twitching and thrashing, deeper and richer pockets of body odor were disturbed and released into the immediate vicinity. Returning the can of Mace to her purse and hurrying away, poor Meredith thought she was going to be sick, and as she turned around for one final view of the felled beggar, she saw several pedestrians, caught unawares in his foul scent-field, turn ghost-white with the malodorousness of it before leaning over and spontaneously vomiting directly onto the boy. That'll teach you, she thought to herself, waggling an inward finger and chuckling merrily to herself.|
|It was the simple things in life that brought joy to Merideths otherwise humdrum existence. A warm Spring afternoon, a long hot bath with her rubber bath toys, a nice cup of tea and the unwarrented macing of a malodorous panhandling sex maniac were just the thing to perk up her spirits on a dreary day like today. As she bustled along the sidewalk to catch her bus to the nusery a droll little spring crept into her gait. It might be a good day for her after all she felt. Maybe she should buy a little tin of sardines to share with her obese white Persian, Tickles (so named because she loved to be tickled) inorder to spread her new found feeling of well being.|
|Of course, the last time Meredith bought Tickles a can of sardines, she had had some difficulty removing the fishy smell from her rug. In fact, it had really become almost another member of the household, an independent, obnoxious entity. Perhaps the cat might like some chicken instead. The bus arrived. Meredith stepped on, and suddenly realized that she had forgotten her pass. As she fumbled in her pocket for her fare, she noticed something odd about the driver.|
|She was disheveled woman with a large lump in the front of her neck and the fingers that gripped the steering wheel were made of metal. The driver yelled something at Meredith but she couldn't understand it because it seemed to be in morse code. "Get to the back of the bus and don't make a sound!" a frantic looking woman who was sitting behind the driver snapped at Meredith. "But my pass-" Meredith started. "Shut up and sit down!" shouted a third woman who sat opposite of the second. Meredith quickly made her way to the back of the bus and sat next to the window. Clutching her purse to her breast, Meredith decided it might not be such a good day after all.|
|As the bus slowly pulled over, Meredith wondered if this was one of those hijacking cases where the driver wasn't a driver at all, but rather an insane schitzophrenic escaped mental patient seeking revenge on the cruel world which institutionalized her in the first place. All this was running through Meredith's mind and she was beginning to feel beads of sweat pop out on her forehead, when the bus driver stood up and bellowed through the loudspeaker in a sarcastically cheery voice. "You are all about to be the first human being to be the control in an inoculation expirement!" Meredith had read her share of Sci-Fi and began to wish she had taken the subway instead. The two other women on the bus were cowering in their seats trying to be as brave as possible while the deranged bus driver stalked through the aisle clutching a hypodermic needle and shifting her eyes wildly from person to person. Meredith now knew there was no escape and any moment now, the bus driver would begin to restrain and inject the other hapless passengers...|
|"Damn Those Body Shop Bastards! Damn Them To Hell!" She Thought To Herself. "If They Hadn't Campaigned Against Animal Testing These Secret Control Tests Would Never Have Been Given The Green Light!". She Wondered Which Particular Corporation Was Funding This Little Excursion.. She Had A Feeling It Was Pepsi.|
|Suddenly the bus door opened and in stepped a woman of formidable presence. She was tall and thin but muscular. She was decked out in a hot pink leather mini dress and her hair was teased and sprayed and piled up into an incredible 3 foot high strawberry blonde beehive. "Vashondra Du Lunchenette!" Bitzy and Tiki cried from their seats. "Thank the Goddess you're here!" continued Bitzy. "Janice has lost her mind and she's about to inject us with some kind of virus!" Tiki added. Meredith couldn't believe what she was seeing. It was like something out of a bad horror film and she pinched herself to make sure this wasn't a nightmare. It wasn't a nightmare. Janice turned on her heel and ran at Vashondra with the hypodermic needle. Vashondra grabbed Janice by the wrists and threw her out of the bus. She jumped into the driver's seat and closed the bus door. Meredith could feel a panic attack coming on.|
|And Meredith didn't like feeling nervous. So she pushed the cuckoo bus driver out of the way and took over at the wheel. She'd only driven small compacts, a ford escort and then a taurus when she got a raise at work. But this was different. She turned the wheel as hard and fast as her thin short arms would go. The bus flipped over immediately, throwing everyone into the air, out the windows, and against the ground.|
|"I'm going to be late for work. I'm going to be late for work..." panted Meredith like a sacred mantra. She'd always been so proud of her punctuality. Most days she was even as much as ten minutes early. She had always been able to calculate possible impediments to her arriving punctually. Roadwork, bad traffic, the number of stoplights between her and a given destination, She'd always been able to account for but not a hijacked bus and an accident. "Oh my! " she thought to herself with a rising panic,"an accident! I'll be late. I'll have to stay and wait for the police and tell them all about it. I may even get home late and Mr.Tickles will get his dinner late and he'll sulk for days and hide behind the couch. Oh my. oh my oh my oh my!" This was the most upsetting thing that had ever happened to her. If she had known something like this were going to happen she would've worn more sensible shoes for it.|
|The bus skidded on it's side, crashed into a telephone pole and burst into flames. Tiki, Bitzy and Vashondra, all of whom had been thrown from the bus, escaped unharmed. Meredith was roasted to a crisp and no longer had to worry about being late for work. Poor Mr. Tickles on the other hand would never get his dinner.|
|Meanwhile,the onlookers stood transfixed by the buses slowly spinning wheels--like rubber doughnuts in a cosmic Dunkin' Donuts shop they spun. Bitzy said to Tiki, "I knew I should have taken the #44!"|
|Poor Meredith. She was always trying to challenge herself to try new things and not be afraid by what she didn't know. But driving a bus was her undoing. Little did Vashondra know that her and Meredith were actually distant cousins.|
|It wouldn't be long before Meredith's coworkers reported Meredith's uncharacteristic absence and figured out the pieces of this senseless tragedy. Suzy from the flower shop would stop by and look after Mr. Tickles until news of Meredith arrived to crush them in mourning. Of course, Suzy was a bit of a looky lew and couldn't resist looking through Meredith's things while she was alone in Meredith's flat with no one but Mr. Tickles looking on. Once she heard of Meredith's death however she would feel terribly guilty at the violation that had no victim except her own conscience.|
|Meanwhile while the emergency crews attended to the injured and to the lone victim, Vashondra whipped up a demon vat of her legendary martinis which Bitsy and Tiki provided to all of those in need. The tranquil trio was back together again, the world would be a better place for stuffed animals and formica. However, first there would have to be a book deal.|
|"We've got a pulse!" cried the emergency technician. The burn unit was just arriving. Meredith had been extracted from the smoking charred remains of the bus and was being placed on a stretcher. Vashondra, in one of those quiet moments that visited her all too rarely, looked over from her portable shaker and vat of olives and thought, "ok, like, why did she throw me out of the seat if she didn't, like, know how to drive the bus herself? I'm sure."|
|At that moment a she lost her mind and melted like the Wicked Witch of the West.|
Slumping to the ground, she recalled the Cabeza de Vaca's immortal words of 1542:|
A few days after these four Christians had left, the weather became so cold and tempestuous that the Indians could no longer pull roots, and the canebrake in which they used to fish yielded nothing more. As the lodges afforded so little shelter, people began to die, and five Christians, quartered on the coast, were driven to such an extremity that they ate each other up until but one remained, who being left alone, there was nobody to eat him. Their names are: Sierra, Diego, Lopez, Corral, Palacios and Gonzalo Ruiz. At this the Indians were so startled, and there was such an uproar among them, that I verily believe if they had seen this at the beginning they would have killed them, and we all would have been in great danger.
After a very short time, out of eighty men who had come there in our two parties only fifteen remained alive.
Then the natives fell sick from the stomach, so that one-half of them died also, and they, believing we had killed them, and holding it to be certain, they agreed among themselves to kill those of us who survived. But when they came to execute it an Indian who kept me told them not to believe we were the cause of their dying, for if we had so much power we would not have suffered so many of our own people to perish without being able to remedy it ourselves. He also told them there remained but very few of us, and none of them did any harm or injury, so that the best was to let us alone. It pleased Our Lord they should listen to his advice and counsel and give up their idea.
The irony of it all was the last coherent thought she would experience for twenty years. By that time, the World would be a very different place, and any vestigial need for coherent thought it yet possessed wwas certain to be handled by the Bureau of Coherent Thought.
|Vashondra wasn’t surprised at all to see the paramedic melt, "like the Wicked Witch of the West. Slumping to the ground". Clearly the poor thing wasn’t used to a properly mixed martini. Too bad there wasn’t time to provide Meredith with a beaker or two. She looked to be in bad shape and nearly fell off the stretcher when the paramedic "melted" into the ground. Still, the flashing lights of the ambulance added a sense of excitement to the impromptu gathering.|
|"Hang in there, Meredith, old girl! Just give me minute to shake you up a martini." Vashondra's nimble hands went immediately to work. She pulled all the ingredients out of her superhuman do and poured her famous mixture into a chilled cocktail glass and last but not least, she dropped in a garlic stuffed olive. "I think this will do the trick for you, my dear." Vashondra gently cradled Meredith's head in her arms carefully poured the drink into her mouth and it trickled down her throat. The doctors were never able to explain Meredith's miraculous recovery. By all laws of physics and medicine, she should have been dead. She had been burned over 90% of her body! But that night she walked out of the hospital with Tiki, Bitzy and her cousin Vashondra with not a trace of a burn scar.|
|Vashondra was a noted habitué of late night cosmetic and hair removal infomercials. As perfect as Meredith appeared on the surface beneath the layers of "moisturizing macro-biotic body plaster cream" she was like a crispy chicken strip. Vashondra’s miracles were of the worldly kind.|
Vashondra looked at the camera, and beamed a smile not even Mr. Jenkins could get away with as she raised fresh martini in a toast, sipped liberally from it, and gave a suggestive wink as the camera drew forward until her whole countenance filled it. "I work my voodoo with Headbanger Vodka," she cooed. "Without Headbanger, where would a poor lil' witch like me be?"|
CUT TO: Piles of straw heaped round the feet of three staked Salem witches being lit. Their screams, fading out.
CUT TO: Headbanger Vodka logo.
VOICE OVER: "Headbanger Vodka -- It'll burn you alive!"
|If only she could escape the portent of these ruminations, she knew she would never again eat rumcake sprinkled with parmesan cheese. But, alas, it was too late a resolution for this moment! The best Meredith could expect was to make some sense out of it all come daybreak and the inevitable waking from slumber. So she decided to settle back and let the images massage her subconcious psyche, content in the knowledge that the sun would come up tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there'd be sun.....|