The Time of The Gun

The Attack Boy, naked as the day he was born (though less wet) is playing with some sort of wooden European toy, a huge thing on which hand-carved balls roll down a grooved track, hitting bells and weirdly oversized clown hands on their way… “It’s probably German” I complain to my Wife. “Even though I’m not Jewish, I still have a healthy distrust of the Germans”.

“Thats because you aren’t stupid,” she tells over her new wireless & waterproof hands-free throat-microphone, stepping out of the decontamination shower we’ve set up in the garage. “Are you watching me clean myself on the security cameras again?” I hastily flip the security monitor to a view of the street outside the Compound. “Of course not. The Boy is playing with his toy again.”

I can hear the elevator straining up the shaft. “Is that a euphemism?” The blast doors to the inner-sanctum hiss open and the Wife enters, pulling on a long lace dressing gown over her glowing flesh. “Oh, that toy, yeah I think Haba is German. Of course, so is Playmobil”.

I covered me ears and glared at her. She kept grinning at me past the pool table, covered in a Playmobil castle being overrun by barbarians and goblins (custom painted, Playmobil doesn’t make goblins…yet) so I hit the directional switch on the joystick and the Writing Chair swivelled away, facing the gun safe. That reminded me: I have to leave The Compound very shortly, for one more meeting on this terribly smart and funny Pitch we’ve been going out with. One more meeting, though this isn’t the end. Even if no one buys the fucking thing, the 2nd run meetings are still being set up.

We’ve passed by Midsummer, with little fanfare save a minor zombie uprising. Everything is back to normal now, mostly. “I crave rare roast beef more than I used to,” said Dr. Israel Hands as my Wife shot him up in between his toes. “Jesus Christ, that stings,” he complained. “Do you have to shoot up the antidote there?” My Wife shrugged. “Old habits die hard” she snapped. “I once knew a junkie whose only non-collapsed vein was in his pecker. That didn’t last long. HA! Long! Get it?!” We all had laughed, those weeks ago, enjoying a leisurely cookout on the roof of The Compound with old friends from every point of the compass.

But there are no cookouts these days, my friends. I’ve cleaned the Sig P229 and the elegent little leather Bianchi holster that goes above my right kidney and loaded three magazines with .357 Sig ammo: it’s an East Coast gun, very State Trooper. I slap in a mag and holster the weapon. I don’t chamber a round until it’s necessary. My belt holds a three-mag pouch, into two of which I slip the extra magazines, and into the third the collapsible baton. The Vector diving knife gets strapped to the outside of my left ankle, the 10oz “City of Villains” flask filled with Bushmills goes on the outside of my right. The ridiculously small .45 Semmerling fits into a little velcro holster that straps under my right armpit, over my undershirt but under the loose cotton luau shirt. A benchmade folding knife gets clipped to the inside of the right front pocket of my cargo pants. Wallet, bandana, Vespa keys go into various pockets, as does an index card with the address of where I’m going. On go the reinforced shitkicker cowboy boots (Tony Llama, natch). On go the SWAT surplus sunglasses. I don’t need a watch, since I can tell time internally ever since that incident in Cambodia.

Time to go sit across the table from a group of executives. Poor bastards aren’t going to know what hits them. They never expect much, a pitch from a smaller company entrusting one of their low-priority properties to a couple of baby-writers. Then they get The Story, and I watch their hair stand on end. My throat is raw from the voice work. We’ve had almost a dozen pitches thus far, and only one went sideways… but that is another story. Not for today, beloveds, I’m sorry. But I have a date with a pastrami sandwich and the Attack Boy needs some diapers cleaned after I’m done Pitchslinging.

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All you Zombies-

It has been a long day. The money-job is still terrible, and my energy was off kilter. “Mercury is in retroglide, man” said Dusty from the LA Phil. “Plus, I’m pretty sure there is lead poisoning in the drinking water from buckshot or something. I saw some really skanky lookin’ road dudes coming over the Cahuenga Pass, even more strung out than the usual crowd.” I nodded sagely, which I do a lot. But my mind wasn’t on the Phil, or the weird street people, or even going to the park with The Boy this morning. I kept thinking about the Seminary being shut down. “To rebuild”, they keep claiming. But you and I know better, amigo. Someone probably got their hand caught in the cookie jar.

“Nonsense!” roared The Viking when we jawed last night about our alma mater’s doors being padlocked and I shared the above view. “Mr. E always covers his tracks! They could never catch Mr. E!” I reminded him that I wasn’t talking about his larceny, but rather the administrations. “Look, E. They were total bastards when we were students, why not even worse now? We were the last of the golden era, and the trust-fundies had to come in and piss all over everything we’d already pissed on,” I reminded him. “Nonsense!” screeched The Viking. “Mr. E never pissed anywhere but on the side of the Student Union! Hey, what is up with Mr. E’s wife being the only person you ever write about who doesn’t get a crazy title or nickname?” “She hates superlatives,” I reminded him as I hung up and went to bed, it was quite late.

And then came today. And now it is evening on the 13th, and the Wife and I are up on the roof. We’ve dragged the dedicated security monitor computer up with us, and we’re flipping around the different feeds, watching the carnage in the streets. “Bwahaha!” chortled the wife. “Moo-hoo-hoo-ha-ha!” I guffawed. “Let me in!” screeched Dr. Hands at the front gate. “I’m sooooooooo hungry!“. His hands were bound behind his back and his face had some sort of muzzle duct-taped to it. “He’s been like this since lunchtime,” said his roommate Professor Victory into the intercom. “Now please let us in! I’ll wire your keyboard to the ejector seat! The turbo button will make the words come out faster than you can think of them! I promise!”

I leaned back and let the wife refill my glass from the martini pitcher. Sometimes rioting and the end of the world is good for stocking the bar. “Should we let them in?” I asked the Wife who was taking potshots at the Mormons across the street. “Jesus, can you even tell if they have joined the enemy ranks?”

“No,” she said calmly reloading the Wetherby .380. “But if they raise a stink about it I can claim ignorance, what with the coming darkness and all that.”

I leaned over and patted her on the ass. “Did you ever read that Heinlein short story, the one I love so much?” I asked my wife. “No. But that never stops you from telling me the last paragraph every time you drink too much,” she snarled. She leaned the elegent hunting rifle down against the parapet and grabbed up a SOPMOD H&K MP5, slamming the bolt home. “Back on the clock, Flash. We’ve got incoming,” she grabbed onto the ladder leading back into The Compound inner keep and slid down. “I know where I come from, but where did all you zombies come from?” I quoted. I drained my glass, shrugged the load-bearing vest on and picked up the Benelli Super 90. I checked the chamber and grabbed the fast-rope, sliding down into the exterior yard.

Someone was struggling over the 13 foot outer wall, and falling into the yard. It looked like a tall scrawny man in a straight-jacket and muzzle. I keyed the mic on my shoulder: “Don’t turn on the pressure-mines, lover. I think our party-crashers are our friends.” My Montenegro-born bride said something unprintable, the cunt.

A long and shapeley leg came over the wall next, followed by two-more attached to Baby-J, Dr. Hands’ chauffeur and minder. The severed leg hit the ground with a thump. “He was already eating it, it’s not like I killed the bitch for him” she said, watching me laugh. Professor Victory came next and started huffing towards me. “Quick! We need to be inside! With guns! Lots of guns!” Suddenly there was a blur and something whipped out of the underbrush and grabbed onto his calf, knocking him onto his face. “Jesus! It has me! Save me! I’m too pretty to die like this!” Baby-J strode over and kicked the Professor in the small of the back. “Stop whining, it’s only The Attack Boy, he’s just marking you as his territory.” She gave me a quick kiss on the cheek. “Thanks, Reverend. It’s pretty crazy out there. We had to climb over your wall using a precarious stairway of empty beer kegs, don’t worry, we knocked it down. I don’t think the Hordes are smart enough to reproduce it.”

I walked over to my physician, who was writing in straightjacket and muzzle. “Has he bitten either of you?” I asked his lover and his roommate. “No,” “Not recently,” came the replies. The Boy had pissed on Victory’s shoe and crept back into the bushes, growling softly. I wrestled my oldest living friend, now my oldest living dead friend, into the containment cell my Wife locks me in when the DTs get bad.

“Is there a cure?” wept Baby-J, her hard-exterior melting as she was plied with a tall glass of tequila. “Who cares? As long as he still has Hands That Can Heal,” my Wife snarled. “All I know is, I’m not paying his half of the rent,” said Victory, winning my esteem by pouring a glass of whiskey from a bottle he brought with him and handing me the bottle. Just then, a Helicopter landed on the roof. A name was printed across the door: Deus-X M.A.C.H. 13.

“These are the birth-pains” I murmurred to myself. “and no flesh shall be spared.”
“Ruh!” grunted Dr. Israel Hands from inside the isolation chamber.

“Nonsense!” shrieked a diminutive Viking, exiting the Blackhawk. “We heard that a Zombie Apocalypse was breaking out in Angel City and had to be here! Party at Ground Zero!” Mr. E and his wife climbed down from the landing pad on the roof of The Compound. “I bring supplies from Zabar and Dean & DeLuca!” shouted his super(lativeless)b bride.

“You have less money than we,” began my Wife. “Angelenos!” laughed Mr. E heartily. “They think they invented looting!”

Ho-ho-ho! How we all laughed! Even the Boy charged from the underbrush to laugh. We all lifted a glass, and were about to toast Miss Twist and those others from the Honor Roster who could not be with us at the time… when a shambling creature emerged from the patio doors, the ones leading into the wet-bar and billiard room. An even dozen weapons were pointed at the Zombie as it roared towards Nova. Then the monster stopped, and its rictus grin was replaced by a more natural one, as we watched the Zombie’s face seemed to change back into that of…

“The Trained Actor!” we all exclaimed. “Yes, it is I!” ejaculated the same in a booming stage-voice. “The Trained Actor! I come bringing homebrew, and we shall all sit out the Apocalypse in style!” And there was much rejoicing. “how does he always sound like he’s exclaiming?” asked Nova quietly. I shook my head: there is too much that I don’t know.

Ah yes, it’s true. I know where I come from. But where did all you zombies come from?

A Sunday Sermon

“Beloved family! Gather around and feast your eyes on the bounty I have brung!” I carefully place the black MilSpec courier’s bag on the table, unsnapping it’s side-fasteners and ripping back the velcro.

On Sundays I often trek into Hollywood for the Farmer’s Market on Ivar. Many fresh and beautiful things await my grubby money there. “You don’t need to wash it before eating it,” the Peach-Peddler tells a Little Old Lady. “Unless you can’t handle a little dirt. It’s totally pesticide and hormone free.” The Little Old Lady hands the Peddler a quarter and takes a big bite. “I can handle a little dirt, methinks.”

I nod sagely, these are Good and True human beings, helpful and honest. But my moment of Peace with mankind is destroyed when a nearby OverBearingMother snatches a grape from her small child in order to swab it quickly with a handi-wype. I howl and smack the stunned woman at the base of her skull, causing her to gibber wildly and look around, eyes rolling back in Extreme Fear. “Keep up that sort of behavior, you bovine creature, and your child will have No immune system by the time it reaches High School. She’ll drop dead of a common cold the first time she gets a tongue slipped to her under the bleachers,” The OBM has recovered from disequilibrium and snarls at me: “How dare you call me a cow? I’m fucking skinny, pal”. The Little Old Lady moves in quickly, handing a piece of fresh fruit to the OBM’s child, who is unconcerned by all the ruckus and happily playing with a piece of corn husk laying on the ground. “It’s the eyes, you dumb beast” I inform the OBM. “Not the waistline, that makes a Cow.”

“Take it, dear,” croaks the old biddy. “Have a taste. It’s organic.” The child happily complies, clutching the corn husk in the other hand. “Ah, Savannah, no! That is dirty!” shrieks the OBM, forgetting me as she snatches at the corn husk with a manicured hand. The Peach-Peddler steps in between them, holding out an armful of fruit to the OBM. “Hey c’mon, sister. It’s not like she’s picking up an empty Jack In The Box container, or a used condom. You’re a good Mom, we can all tell. What the Reverend is trying to tell you is that Kids get dirty. They learn from experiencing, not from being shielded. You’re trying to do the right thing, but you’re overdoing it.” The Woman turns her wide eyes to me, and I nod. I take her in my arms and hold her, like a confused child.

“There, there,” I murmur. “It’s OK. We’re like the little ones, sometimes: we learn by experiencing. Grow with your daughter, don’t stagnate the both of you,” She starts to weep, leaning into me. “I just… I keep trying, but I’m So Tired! And the Bubble I had her in is so hard to get out of the house!” The Woman collapses, tears soaking my shirt. I pat her on the back a few times and hand her off to the Biddy and the Peddler. “Thanks, RevDoc” says the Old Biddy. “I think you’ve made a difference. Again.”

I nod, trying for wise, probably failing. “It’s what I do, Old Mother,” I begin. I can feel a long-winded schpiel coming on. The Voice is filling my chest. I begin to climb up on an apple-barrel: it’s time to cut loose on the Farmer’s Market!

“Old? Fuck you, Syn. I’m 39. I’ve never been liposuctioned, padded, injected, or eaten a single non-organic food. I’m preservative free, and not ashamed to look natural.” I climb back down from the apple barrel, ashamed and guilty. I climb back on my Tin Pony and kick it’s leaf-blower moter into unenthusiastic action. I motor home to The Compound and embrace my Family with open arms.

“Beloved family! Gather around and feast your eyes on the bounty I have brung!” I carefully place the black MilSpec courier’s bag on the table, unsnapping it’s side-fasteners and ripping back the velcro.

I leave them to deal with the spoils of my trip and head over to the ridiculously hi-tech Writing Station. I strap myself into the ejection seat Prof Victory is supposed to install into the system some time, and flip back the safety-cap on the firing trigger. I lower my blast goggles and hear the system humming to life. “Better stand back, Boy” I tell my son. “I feel a sermon coming on.” And while he dances to The Irish Ceili Band, I begin to type…

Midnight, chillin’ at AM/PM.

“the first thing we need to do…” hissed Miss Twist as she stabbed out her cigarette in the middle of an egg yolk, “is streamline your expenses. You can’t really expense things like Thai Massage and Gin. Believe me, I’ve tried. Fought back and lost. Learn from my mistakes: just like The Bible.”

Miss Twist is a remarkably elegant woman, she manages to carry off blue and white pinstripe better than anyone I’ve ever seen, apart from Takeshi Kitano. We’re supposed to be huddling in a booth in the Pacific Dining Car at six in the morning, and Miss Twist is very irritated with us, because we aren’t. But PDC is just not affordable. We can’t even afford to get a cup of coffee, a martini, and a grapefruit juice there… which is what we would be drinking if my Wife, Financial Advisor, and Myself were seated in one of the leather-upholstered booths on the edge of Downtown at six in the morning. Please cue up Ice-T’s Midnight everytime I type Six In The Morning. Fortunately, the Pacific Dining Car is a good place, it Knows Miss Twist, and it extends Credit to those with truly heavy class.

“It’s like weathering a storm. Money clouds are looming on the horizon and the wind is flat. You just have to batten down the hatches and prepare for the long dark night of the late rent-check and scavenged 32oz bottles of cheap Mexican beer… not to mention the creditors. Speaking of those poor fucktards, did you hear about the one they found over on the nickel-” my Wife interrupts Miss Twist by jabbing her index and middle finger in the air inches from Miss Twist’s nose. “None of that nonsense about Storms and Shitrain and brown paper bags full of filthy lucre now, Twist. We need to Move Forward, at Once! The Boy has started finding the weapons caches all over The Compound. This morning he was playing with the muzzle-loading boarding pistol Tubercular Venter gave RevDoc back in Seminary! He nearly blew his fathers kneecaps off, it the treacherous thing had been loaded. We should write a straight-to-video pirate movie or something.”

“Pirates all fucked dogs” sneered Miss Twist, glancing at her watch. “Hmmm. It’s six in the morning. Your actual ‘Managers’, who might give two tugs of my terrible tits about your stupid DTV ideas, are probably sleeping. So why don’t you save this inane drivel for them? I don’t care about your writing career. It’s maintaining The Compound that worries me. As chief Financial Advisor to Team Banzai, I think-”

I yawned, loudly. It interrupted the moment and startled the Boy, whose mouth shot off my Wife’s breast like a cork from a pop-gun, with a loud burst of air displacement. I kept yawning, hearing bones and cartilage shifting in my jaw. Miss Twist glared at me some more until I finished.

“Fuck you, I’m sick,” I reminded her. “And I’m not sure about this Team Banzai thing. I love the Team motiff, but I’m no Peter Weller. And you’re no Jeff Goldblum.”

Miss Twist laughed and slapped me upside the head. “Can it, shiteyes. You don’t get to make any more rules around here. I’m taking over.”
I gasped, my Wife nodded and muttered: “About time, too.”

“Beast Iscariot!” I spat. “You’ll never…” Miss Twist grabbed me by the hair and bounced my head off the table while I goggled like an idiot. “You’re going to Jail, Syn. The fat boys are going to mess your shit up. Ah, fuck it. Why even send you to Jail? You wouldn’t last six months on the inside. No, this way is better: a mercy killing,” I shook my head, bleeding on my plate, while Miss Twist lit up another cigarette.

“Tommy! Shoot this piece of shit.” The waiter grinned at me and I realized that I recognized him: it was Perfect Tommy, Miss Twist’s Fixer/Husband/Gunsel, and a Glock 19 was in each of his hands as he dropped the tray, aiming down at me.

Obviously, it was a Tough Dream to wake up from the morning at six in the morning. Some asshole outside was listening to some Chicano rap that had sampled the Ice-T song from the early 90s…. Jesus. What a weird nightmare. Horrible, horrible stuff. We will never be at the PDC until we have money, they’d rather hire me to wipe down the sommelier’s shoes than extend us credit, or any of the creatures we roll with. Miss Twist is still far up North, where it always Rains. And she is on Our Side, she is on The Team, a Charter Member along with Mr. E and his wife, and Dr. Hands… no, it was just random Angst manifesting itself at six in the morning. It certainly wasn’t Fear! Oh no, none of that. It was Guilt, for sure.

The evil Money-Guilt, not guilt of overindulgence or rapine or theft or bloodshed. No, but Money-Guilt. Terrible stuff, that. This “less than 60 dollars a week” thing is wearing down heavily on my living tastes… sure, I’m losing weight and my Liver is regenerating, but that doesn’t mean I have to like giving up things like rare beef and cold gin. The Wife is handling it even worse. She keeps filling up an empty wine bottle with water and carrying it around the house like a pacifier. The Boy could care less, he’s too busy unearthing the weapons caches around the house and playing with various lethal instruments to notice.

There are cysts and pustules on my arm, and weird strips of dried skin keep peeling off my scalp. Whenever I press the eject button on this ridiculously hi-tech keyboard, a strange whining sound occurs deep within the console. So I just throw the throttle forward, which makes the letters appear a 10th of a second before I type them…
These are interesting times, for sure.

“you call him Reverend Doctor Syn, lady”

-well, maybe that’s not quite what Short-Round said, but still…

The Boy is trying to jam a wooden block into my Wife’s coffee. I’m sitting hunched over this ridiculously complicated three-piece ergonomic keyboard, complete with seperate axis controls and pedals. It used to be the controller system to some Mecha game for the X-Box system, but Professor Victory has helped jerry-rig it to the Writing Station. Despite being sensible luddites, we need all of these hi-tech components to keep The Compound running smoothly. I think there are an easy dozen computers running at any given moment, half that while we sleep, just to keep the life-support going…

Sleep. Jesus. It’s gotten difficult lately, what with the Creditors, and the Boy; and this horrible, grotesque lurching feeling I get everytime I close my eyes. The physician thinks it’s a dietary problem, or maybe some sort of hideous parasite I picked up in a Central American swamp… or hell, maybe it’s low frequency resonence causing me to spasm and lurch? Who can say?

The Boy doesn’t believe in sleeping like a human anymore, so we have been contemplating putting his crib up on the roof-top porch. “It’s not like he’s afraid of the bats,” my Wife points out. “He keeps catching them and doing strange things to them… unless he’s doing it because he’s afraid…”

She pretends that she never confessed to the Bat Murder herself, and I let it slide, not feeling like ducking coffee on a Monday.

“Nonsense!” I shout. “The Syn family cannot feel fear, it’s genetically impossible. At least for the West Coast branch.”

But the fact remains, the Boy is making sleep very difficult. For one thing, there is the kidney kicks and throat punching. Then there are the Creditors and their Night Creatures…

It was very early when I awoke, foggy-brained & frozen muscled. It’s a horrible time of the morning to be awake, it’s not quite 4am. I’m barely able to move: they say the KGB used to grab people at this hour, the human body’s biorhythm is at it’s lowest and they are at their most succeptible to Fear and paralyzation. My Wife has one leg tossed into the open-sided crib semi-flush against the round bed… drunk nights are hard, as we often end up facing in opposite directions, and the Boy will often kick off one of us to find the other, like the kids in the Battle Room… I’ve come awake with that half-dangerous sense that something is Wrong, that something isn’t Right, and that I should be Armed.

“Excuse me, am I addressing Mr. Doctor Sine?” asks the shadow looming at what might be the bottom of the bed. I can barely make out the insect-like profile of a man wearing NVGs through the mosquito netting. He has a thick accent, probably from Pakistan: it’s an out-sourced bill collector’s accent.

“Fuck you, I’m sick,” I hazily inform him. “There is no such person at this domicile, and you are intruding on my beauty sleep.”

“Hello, Mr. Sine, my name is Peter Samson, I am sorry to bother you, but it is very important that you are aware of the overdue balance on your World Bank Black Credit Card ending in the numbers 0666-” said the gargoyle in that sing-song voice.

“It is very important that you listen to me…” I began, but like all of his ilk, he kept talking over me. “-it is very easy for you to come back into the good standings, at this time, Mr. Sine, if you will only-”

“It is very important that you listen to me, rude fucker, because there is a feral Baby crouching behind you, and my Wife has a M84 Grenade under her pillow,” I finished.

The Wife held up the grenade, pin already removed, and let the spoon flip off. The gargoyle started to finish by rote: “-all we need is a payment at this time, Mr. Sine, and you can-” FWHUMP!.

A flash-bang in an enclosed room can be pretty horrifying. The M84 Stun Grenade will produce a 1 million Candela flash, as well as a terrifying wave of sound. Even to someone who is expecting it, the results are disorienting. To someone wearing Night Vision Goggles, or using any other kind of light-amplification-device, it can theoretically cause permanent blindness and utterly fry the hardware of your extremely expensive equipment. The gargoyle lets out some sort of garbled screech and flings his arms up, wrenching off his headset. I had slammed my forearm across my eyes as my Wife detonated the device, so other than some head-ringing, I was fine… and I’m used to operating under uneven equilibrium.

I stretched out my left leg in a perfect thrust-kick, my calloused big toe slammed into the gargoyle’s chest. The armor-gel vest would keep him from any real damage, even a bruising blow would be absorbed by that stuff unless I used a shotgun. But the impact threw him just a little bit off-balance, and the giggling baby on hands and knees behind him did the rest… the gargoyle hit the ground hard, and I wrenched the single action revolver from the magnetic clamp along the I-beam.

“Hey, pal. Do I have your attention?” I cocked the weapon. “This is a .454 Magnum, okay? Do you savy ‘four times the impact of a .44 hollow-point’? Anyways, what is your name?”

The gargoyle blinked several times and opened and closed his mouth: pressure was returning to his head, like dropping too rapidly in an airplane. My wife jammed a stick of gum in her mouth and picked up the baby, heading down the hallway to find a quiet room that didn’t stink of gunpowder to go back to sleep in, no doubt.

“My name is… Peter Samson? Mr. Sine, it is important, regarding your credit card-”

I shrugged and stepped on his throat, silencing him with a squawk. “Sure, fine, Peter. You look like a Peter. Anyways, Peter, here is the thing: I’ve worked in telephone sales, and I’ve worked in customer service, and I’ve worked in direct action. And you were sloppy tonight, Peter. Very sloppy. For one thing: always listen to your customer. I know, I know: I’m just some deadbeat, right? Fuck their feelings, just get ’em to pay off the vig, am I right? Of course I am. But here is the thing: If you had listened to the customer, you wouldn’t be laying on your back right now with a hand-cannon aimed at your chest. And that armor-gel will absorb maybe half the blunt trauma, spread it out. It’ll sure as hell keep the round from penetrating your skin. But the other half of the blunt trauma won’t be spread out over your entire torso, the 2nd half will over-power the armor-gel’s capacity and crack your sternum in three or four places… the cartilage holding your ribs in place will seperate and snap… horrible, horrible pain, Peter. God only knows what will happen to all the organs behind all that. All could have been avoided if you would only listen. My name is not Sine. I am a Reverend Doctor of the Divine Miracles. My name is Syn. Pronounced like the thing what gets you sent to hell. Do you have hell in your country? A foolish side-question. What is important is that you understand why I am being lethally honest here. It is the lesson. Do you understand? What is the lesson here, Peter?”

“Mr… Sine… I am sorry to bother you, but this is involving your World Bank-”

Persistant fuckers, aren’t they? Bill collectors. I mean, shit. You miss a payment deadline by a week and they don’t give you any rest. They can’t deviate from their scripts because they don’t comprehend the language enough to do so. And then they get sent on a low-priority collection to some customer that probably should be red-flagged as High Risk, and end up in a dumpster East of Downtown on The Nickel with a shattered chest… half blind, with ringing ears, and then someone is beating on the side of the dumpster with a collapsible baton, making a horrible gong noise that doesn’t help with the after-effects of the Flash-Bang…

Yeah, someone is whanging that gong and screaming “Fresh meat! Come get some!” and suddenly all of those 5th Street Shanty-dwellers are pawing at your equipment belt and your high-speed cloths and your cab fare… they even steal your ID cards with your real name on them, “Peter Samson” my ass, and maybe gang-rape you or slow-roast you over an oil-drum fire for breakfast. Your bones will be used to make spears, for rat hunting in the kipple. Terrible, terrible job, bill collecting.

I hated doing it, I really did. But he gave me no choice. It’s very dangerous, to call a man by the wrong name in the wee hours. As soon as we get this pitch set up at a studio, or some other cash-cow dies, then we’ll see about paying off all those medical debts. It’s crippling. Infuriating, and you can’t eat too well on less than 60 dollars a week in LA. Plus, .454s are expensive rounds to keep in stock. Over-the-counter is around four dollars a bullet, and I don’t have the nerves to cast hand-loads.

I don’t know, between the Worries about Money, the Boy and so forth… well, sleep just isn’t an easy creature these days. Money. I don’t like it, but I like not having it even less. I resent it, to be honest. Almost as much as I resent the people who don’t give it to me for being a creative genius, and resentment is a weird trip to get heavily into, my friends. Very weird indeed.

But even Jesus Christ knew that you need a little scratch to keep the wolves at bay, which is why he was a very good businessman with his fishing racket. Sure, he had carpentry to fall back on, but nobody likes to just inherit the family business, except the terminally lazy or congenitally stupid. Yes, even Jesus knew, and Crom is strong in his mountain.

Once Upon A Time On 3rd Street

Driving along on any two-wheeled vehicle can be a real ego boost in a gridlocked town like LA. Unless it’s a Segway. Otherwise, you can make a high-speed run along that white line, weaving in and out between the massive SUVs and minivans, darting around the ancient Corolla dragging it’s muffler and packed to the tinted windows with dirty men who have been spending all day standing outside a Home Depot shuffling for day labor, zipping past the ridiculously coiffed Korean club-girl, simultaneously jabbering on her cell phone while applying lipstick and smoking an extra-long cigarette…

I know all about that sort of speed, my friends. It’s like sex done right. And by sex I don’t mean anything that you haven’t done, amigo! You, me, and even our dry-drunk President. But I like that kind of Speed, and can confess to it, unlike George. The adrenaline acts like the accelerator and your Ego just takes off. Sometimes I go so fast I have to pat down my mustache when I get to my destination.

These days my mustache is getting ridiculously long and taking a turn for the old school gunfighter… I look like Sam Elliot’s stunt double after a bender of cheeseburgers and beers, and before he applies the gray dye. This is important, partially because the mustache kept me from noticing a huge hairy wolf spider that had built a nest in it. The goddamn thing bit the holy hell out of my lip while I was combing the ‘stache the other week, and I still talk like Ted Levine as a result… it’s horrible, horrible. The puss that leaks out daily is truly remarkable; I should probably catch some in a vial and ship it to Vivian, who deals with truly toxic chemicals all the goddamned time.

But that is neither here nor there… the wolf spider can’t harm anyone else, thats for sure. And it’s mood has improved since we moved it’s nest, so I doubt we have anything to worry about. I’d bite too if I were to be evicted. Jesus! That’s a horrible thing to worry about, isn’t it? Something evil to dwell on… jackbooted lawyers strong-arming me and my brood out of The Compound? Surely not! Even if rent is due tomorrow, they wouldn’t evict me, would they? A twicely ordained minister and recent father? Husband to a D-list internet celebrity? Struggling screenwriter and highly regarded connoisseur of alcoholic beverages and firearms? Enthusiastic amateur geneticist and expert on the End Of Times?

No, no, I mustn’t dwell on such weird and off-putting thoughts. This is all because of the harpy in the Big Car, I just know it. That must be why I was thinking about driving through LA on two-wheels…

Many know that I drive a Vespa. Her name is Vera. She’s a remarkable little vehicle, with truly outrageous mileage and a simplistic parking strategy. I don’t look like, according to my high-profile friends, a Vespa rider. I somehow lack the hipster-slacker vibe and thrust viciously into some strange nether-realm betwixt cowboy surplus and deep desert survivalist/biker. No doubt. This is because, secretly, despite the extreme safety of driving a Vespa and it’s incredibly low need for repairs… secretly I want a motorcycle. Something with a ridiculously huge cubit engine, whatever that means, and a hair-tuned transmission that knows when I want to drop the hammer and watch the horizon bleed into my peripheral vision. And then East, into the great desert, the Big Nothing, until I hit the Rockies. There I might stop. Who can say? This is a long ways off, my friends. Mayhap after scripts are sold and Compound is safe and secure from jackbooted lawyers and the Wife can hire some foreigner to play with the Boy while she kills young fruit bats on the roof… Yes, yes.

But this is a long ways off, my friends.

Today. I’m surfing up the white line, between the two rows of traffic, when I come to a red light. I’m next to a Big Car, and the driver cannot hear the tiny leaf-blower groan of the 50cc, 2-stroke engine as Vera glides to an elegant halt next to her. Part of this is because of the massive roar of the H2s v8, part of this is because she is blasting a song I recognize; Gold Lion by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs… and the driver is a truly lovely woman. French-Moroccan descent, no doubt. As I pull up, she stares at me and shows her teeth. Her eyes are smoldering behind her over-sized rose-tinted sunglasses. Her nostrils flare slightly. I know this look well; This is the traffic-light mating dance, and I am it’s target. I glare back. I’m stoic. To her I’m a hairy beast in a well-worn leather jacket and a flat-black crash helmet, obviously on two wheels and ready to rape my way through at least three gears while jamming in front of her once the light turns green, flare my brake-lights once or twice so she knows it’s all in good fun, and then lead her to some hellacious little biker dive bar somewhere East of here, on the edge of the desert… the kind of place that has Exile On Main Street on the jukebox and the bartender will sneer at anyone who orders anything that comes in a stemmed glass… you can read this woman’s sexual fantasies on her face and for a moment, maybe, I’m it.

Or maybe she’s truly twisted -who can say?-and is hoping to chance across a One-Percenter who will drag her to an abandoned quarry filled with smelly bikers and they’ll run a train on her… some sexual fantasies are too dirty to dip into, but we’ll never know, will we?

As soon as the light changed, and Vera jerked forward… I could feel her hot animal lust turn into ice-capped disdain, as filthy and grim as New York snow half an hour after it touches down. Her sexy sneer went sideways, like the rain does in Newcastle. It was a terrible, demeaning moment. I felt my spine shrivel and sag sideways and I drove on, horrified.

Sooner than I’d like, she is again besides me… furious, hideous in her disapointment. “You looked like a Walrus-Man, but you aren’! You aren’t even a Biker… you…. sissy!!” she hisses at me, the huge faux-Humvee weaving back and forth over the center line. I gaze over at her, still stoic. I’ve told no lies, I cannot help my radiant appearance. “Madame B don’t truck with no… no sissies” she eleborates. Her eyes are red-tinged with hate, I can see this even through her oversized novelty shades.

“You ought to try, Madam Bitchface, it might do you some good.” I told her as gently as possible while holding a steady course through Koreatown traffic. “Besides, just because you want a wild & hairy biker up your ass doesn’t make you a degenerate, I won’t pass judgement, I won’t turn you over to the cops. It isn’t like you are a Furry, or one of those creatures that writes underage slash-fiction on Livejournal.”

She shrieked suddenly, like Margaret Hamilton meeting a bucket of water, and wrenched the wheel of the Hsomething hard, trying to run me down like a cockroach… I hit the front brake, essentially hurling the entire Vespa up on the front wheel and twisting Vera and my body on the yoke, out of the way, like something out of The Matrix, as the oversized Civilian vehicle shot past me and SLAMMED into a panel truck filled with Pinatas. The foul bitch was covered with pieces of paper mache and fake fur was stuck in her teeth. Cheap candy was spread all over 3rd street, and the children had stopped traffic in their locust-like descent upon this scavanged bounty. My enemy shrieked again and I Knew I had discovered her secret. By the time the cops showed up, she was dry humping the empty carcass of one of the Pinatas while East Indian housewifes stood around pointing and jabbering, and little old Korean women walked over and prodded her with their clear plastic umbrellas.

I saw my young rookie friend, Officer Mason, reaching for his gun.

“No-no!” I shouted, holding up my hands as his blue-clad brethren began to throw down on me. “I am a minister! This woman is under a strange and evil influence! Don’t shoot!” Officer Mason recognized me, and holstered his pistol. “It’s all right, men” he assured them. “This is a Good Man, he is One of Ours.”

“You can’t arrest me!” shrieked the harridan. “I’ve never touched anyone who didn’t want me to touch them! I only write about Things Beyond your Understanding, like that disgusting creature who calls himself a minister! He writes about sex all the time! Beat on him!” Officer Mason shook his head. “He writes about the kind of sex our Presidents understand!” he winked at me. But something about the way the harpie was still writhing with the fake animal struck a chord with my rookie friend.

He yanked out his billy-club and went to work on the degenerate foreigner, still desperately trying to sate her weird and unfunny lust. I tried to pull him off, but got a face-full of pepper-spray and stumbled back to the Vespa, weeping. The bystanders laughed at me, and pelted me with pieces of cheap candy. I drove back to the Compound, and applied various medications.

“Let this be a lesson to you!” scorned my Wife, pulling a piece of Circus Peanut out of my ear. Indeed, it was. Never underestimate the weird power of a sexual degenerate, convinced of their own strength and power. She thought the law would be on her side, but she was Stupid and Wrong. Bad things happen to the Stupid and Wrong in todays LA, my friends. And the Cops don’t always worry about who gets hurt, as long as they look foreign and act like degenerates.

This is why I thank the Gods I can pass. Remember: he who fucks with a Wolf Spider, fucks with his own future.

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