Thursday, October 25, 2012

Big Fish Part 1


Well – I’m currently out of stories.  I really am not interested in the stupid crap I’ve been putting down over the past few months.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy it and may pick up on some of it at a later time, but right now, I’m really not in the mood.  

You know who’s not out of stories though?  My dad.  Well actually, he’s pretty much out of stories.  No problem though.  He’ll just tell them over again.  And then he will tell them over again.  Then you know what he will do? 

When I started thinking about this, I realized there’s a lot of ground to cover on my dad so I’d better get cracking.  These stories of his aren’t going to write themselves.  And since they are meant to be told over and over and over and over and over again before they are brought out and told a few dozen more times, I’ll just repost them from time to time to time when, like tonight, I have little to nothing to say. 

When I was making up the character Jack Hughes to be the rent-a-pig that harasses Boomer and me at “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” I said Officer Hughes loved to tell stories.  Actually, all of that was about my dad.   

If you’ve never heard my dad tell you about the time he was down at the Trocadero Bar, and some guy started messing with him; Or the time he was at the Broken Rail and there was a bunch of UP guys down there who started some shit; Or the time he was over at the Garden Bar and his buddy Larrick pissed these bikers off; well then You sir, have never met my dad.

Dad does however, have the courtesy to verify that you haven’t heard the story before.  “Did I ever tell you about the time …” He always begins.  Then no matter what you say or do, he tells you the story.  The best thing to do is to roll with it.  If he thinks he has a captive audience, and there’s enough humor in the story, you may get him laughing hard enough to send himself into a coughing fit.  Always my personal goal.  So while others are rolling their eyes, clicking their tongues, gouging their eardrums with scratch awls, saying things like “Oh god pleeease no.  Not again. Make it stop, please. Et c.” I make sure to have a slightly puzzled look on my face, trying so hard to recall if somehow perchance I’ve heard this gallant tale.   Of course none of that shit matters in the least.  Once Dad says, “Did I ever tell you about the time …” you are going to hear that fucking story.  Go ahead.  Get in your car and drive away.  That will be your cell phone ringing.  Ignore the call.  He’ll call back.  You are hearing that story is what I’m trying to say.   

But don’t think that all you have to do is listen to the story.  You also have responsibility here.  For instance, you are required to believe the story, as told, is exactly as it happened.  Dad does everything in his power to provide you with the tools you need to verify some of the more fantastic bits of the yarn, including where to go for eyewitness accounts.  People who will no doubt corroborate every last detail.  Mostly because they’ve heard the story more than you have, so.

So a sample of the middle of one of dad’s stories might go something like this, “We was sitting there eating our Bronco burgers when this big, I mean he was big,” Then shouting into the kitchen, “Carol, wasn’t that guy at Bronco’s big?”, to no response, “Well ask your mom if you don’t believe me.”  Of course at no time had I expressed any doubt that the guy was big.  I wasn’t even sure why that wouldn’t be believable.  I was picturing a big guy back when dad was setting the scene with, “Did I ever to you about the time I got into that fight with that big guy at the Bronco’s?”

Anyway, I’m just going to try to tell my favorite of my dad’s stories.  I haven’t heard this one more than 4 or 5 times, so ironically enough, some of the details are a bit fuzzy.  I seriously doubt I have the talent to get it across, but I’ll give it a go.  I will say that I have no idea where any of the bars he talks about are except that they’re probably in North Omaha, where he was raised (like a wolf).  I’m placing this story in a bar called “The 4 Seas,” but it could be “The 4 C’s” or “The Four Seasons” which would make more sense.  The story might have happened elsewhere.  Ok, so I’m not actually telling it very well at all.

“Did I ever tell you about the time we was all down at the 4 Seas.  Me and my uncles Bob and Jack and a bunch of other guys was down there.  I was just 18, so I could drink legally, and these guys wanted to get me drunk.  We’d all been going in there for years, but we was celebrating now that I was old enough, you understand.  CAROL!! Didn’t those guys wanna get me drunk that time at the 4 Seas?  Anyway we’s all down there and this old fuckin nasty hag comes up, drunk as a skunk.  Smelt like one to.  Then she leans on our table right next to me and she shouts, ‘Hey.  Any of you big men wanna buy a lady a drink?  I mean to tell you, this bitch was old.  She had to be at least 80, and I’m  18 at the time.  And I’m not really drinking too much, see because I know these guys want to get me drunk and pull some shit like this.  So then Bob jumps up and grabs a chair and pushes it into her so she’s forced to flop down into it right next to me.  And boy, this old hag stinks, I’m telling you.  CAROL!! Remember how bad I told you that old bitch at the 4 Seas stunk?  Anyway, she sits down and now she can barely keep her head up, she’s so stoned (that’s what my dad sometimes calls drunk).  And these guys I’m with.  They’re just cracking up, because this old lady’s all over me.  Then she looks at me and she says, ‘Hey you’re a handsome boy, Aren’t you?  How about a little kiss,’  Well now I’m about ready to puke my guts out at the thought of it, because I can’t even stand the smell of this old bitty.  But the guys, they're falling out of their chairs bustin’ up laughing.  And I’m just sitting there getting mad about it.  I should have been laughing, but this old woman’s making me sick.  Then my uncle Bob, that prick, he says, “Yeah Freddy wants a hell of a lot more than a kiss, don’t ya loverboy!”,  Then I tell him, “You better shut the fuck up, Bob, or you're next,”  But then they’re laughing cause that old hag is grabbing my arm trying to feel my muscle.  Then she’s saying, “Oh sweetie, you’re so strong,” and she’s got her cigarette hanging out of her mouth and almost the whole thing is stained from her lipstick.  I pull my arm away and just start shaking my head.  That's when the old lady starts hollering something fierce.  OH SHIT!! She’s saying all of the sudden.  Then everybody stops laughing because it sounds serious.  Then she stands up and she’s yelling “SHIT, SHIT, SHIT!”  Then I see what’s wrong.  The chair she’s sitting in and her pants are all shit stained.  “I JUST SHIT MYSELF!!”  she yells.  Well that did it.  Now I’m finally laughing with everybody else as she runs to the bathroom.  I kick the shitty chair away from our table and Jack’s just shaking his head looking at Bob.  Then he says to Bob, “You gotta be the luckiest cocksucker on the planet,” and he hands Bob a dollar.  So we all says, “What?  Why?”  Then Jack says, “When that old bitch sat down, this mother fucker bet me a dollar she’d shit herself.”  So I said, “Bob.  Why would you even …” Then Bob just kind of shrugs.  He didn’t really understand it himself.  All he could say was, “She looked like a shitter.”  True Story.  Ain't that right, Carol.

Friday, October 19, 2012

What's new pussycat? Whoa-a-whoa-a-whoa-whoa


Arriving at the Oscar Mayer Slaughterhouse in Perry, the crew chief told us to sit tight while he went up to the office to check in.  We didn't really want to get out of the truck because of the smell, but since it was a hot summer day and the prick turned off the truck and took the keys with him, we didn't really have a choice.

Our distaste at the horrific smell did not go unnoticed by the array of manly man worker guys there.  It was almost like they had a job to do and that job was to stand around laughing at city folk who are so used to exhaust fumes, they think shit smells bad.  I was suddenly embarrassed by my clean clothes.  Newish work boots, jeans that had been recently washed.  Clean faded orange cotton T-Shirt, neatly torn down the front center from collar to roughly ¾ of the way down.  It looked how I imagine Tom Jones would look if he wore a T-Shirt.



We cut or tore our T-shirts because we were required to wear a shirt of some kind, but if there was nobody from the office around, we’d tuck our shirts in and wriggle out of the top of them through the enlarged neck hole, letting the shirt hang around our waists so we could soak up the sun for roughly 6 hours of the day, thus getting some superhero inducing levels of UV Radiation.  Sun screen?  What the hell is that?  Oh they used to sell stuff to put on if you were going out in the sun.  We never used it though.  And it was designed to promote tanning anyway - not block out the sun.  Crazy talk.  

Anyway, as much as I hated my boss, he let us go around essentially shirtless most of the day, so we could work on our “Savage Tans™”.  The only stipulation was that if we spotted Chuck's Big fat White Town Car hauling his big fat white ass to the work site, we had to cover up quicklike.  Dean hated Chuck as much as I hated Dean, so as the enemy of my farther up enemy, Dean was sort of a friend.  But I really hated him.  Have I mentioned that?  Some might say, "Cube.  Let it go."  And they'd be right.  But I would counter with "Fuck them, too."

When Chuck came to visit us, He usually had some rolled up poster looking pieces of paper with him.  He was wearing a hardhat, A crisp white dress shirt and tie, etc.  He’d step out into the heat and point for a while.  If he saw a crew man without a shirt on, there’d be hell to pay.

By the middle of summer, I was as dark as I was going to get.  More of a "Golden" than brown, but it was still the best tan I ever had.  Boomer and everyone else who worked outside had great tans.  At least from the waist up.  The ill effect of all of this was that the legs got absolutely no sun.  

Normally, my legs looked really really white.  But contrasted with my new deep tan and sunbleached hair, my legs now looked ridiculously pale.  We're talking “slight purple hue”.  In the off hours, Boomer and I hung out at Peony Park.  It was a small amusement park in Omaha with a swimming pool built to look like a beach.  A small, smelly, dirty beach next to greenish brownish water.  This was the great place to show off our tans.  We'd stand in the waist high water and yell to all the girls, "What's new pussycats?", which was  the 1980's equivalent of "How YOU doin'?'"

Unfortunately, my legs glowed even through the murky waters of Peony Park's pool, so nobody was fooled into thinking I had the "Savage Tan™" the "Tanning Oil" sellers touted.

There was another cool thing about Peony Park.  Well, gross actually.  Since it was designed to look like a tiny lake, the bottom of the pool was coated with sand.  Underneath the sand was a particularly rough concrete.  If you were swimming along and your foot scraped the sand, it would instantly get torn up on the concrete.  Due to the disgusting array of disease and muck in Peony Park's water, you could count on this injury not healing.  Ever.  I still check the top of my foot each day.  I tell myself, “Yeah, the festering looks less festery today.  It’s going to be a good day!”

But I’m kidding myself.  When they say some wounds never heal, they’re talking about wounds that happened in the Peony Park pool. 

"Don't worry boys," one friendly old stereotypical country boy encouraged, shaking me out of my flashback and back to the present smelly pigsty situation, "You'll get used to the smell in a while."

"Why would I not worry about that," I asked, "It can't be good for you to get used to."

"C'mon let me show you around while the enlightened ones decide what to do,"  Said our cowboy friend, referring to Our beloved Crew chief and his boss.  His sarcasm was not lost on us.

“An ally,” Boomer and I thought.  It was apparent he had the same disdain for those indoor assholes as we did. 

Detecting our lowering suspicion levels, shitkicker nodded his Iowa Hawkeyes Ball cap toward the big building full of bacon, "This way boys"

Well, it wasn’t quite bacon yet.  It was currently a big pavilion full of the worst smelling shit covered beasts I’d ever seen. 

I enjoy ham, bacon, etc. so if it seems like this next part is some sort of liberal tree-hugging rant about the cruelty of slaughterhouses, that's just not true.  I was sickened by what I saw.  Not because it was inhumane, so much as "Ewww, that's what we eat?"

Since I don't really have a grasp on what a "Healthy pig" looks like, I can't say that they weren't having just the time of their lives.  But I don't think they were.

"An' that there's the pen, boys," explained farmer Gus or whatever his name was, proudly waving an arm in the direction of the big huge square area where there were hundreds of pigs.  But they weren't all pink and bright and shiny, standing around squealing.  It looked more like the end of a great battle in "Braveheart,"  where the soldiers were played by pigs.  They were lying around eating and drinking. Slurping up whatever that brown/yellow liquid was that covered the mud/shit/slop floor of the pen.  There was the occasional grunt or cough from a pig here and there.  There was one pig, who I can only assume was a general or something.  He was up on his hind legs, solemnly placing playing cards on certain pigs as they lay motionless in the muck.

"Sight like 'at changes a man," Gus said, causing Boomer and me to try to shake the image away. 

“What’s that on the ground they’re eating,” Boomer asked.

“Surely you’ve seen it before,” Gus answered with a grin.

“I mean, I know what it looks like.  It looks like shit.”  Boomer said.

“Well sure it does.  But the marketing term for it is ‘Hot Dogs’” Gus said.

“Ew,” Boomer and I agreed.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

No Hot Dogs Today Thanks.


“Hungry?”  Boomer asked.

“KFC,” Cube wasn’t a big fan, but they had this lunch deal that was pretty decent.

“Perfect,” Boomer said as he turned his dad’s Buick LeSabre into the KFC lot.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

I thought I saw a zombie this morning on my way to get an oil change

I drive a 2002 Honda Accord 4 Door Sedan.  I know.  Boring.  Predictable.  I imagine the actuarial guys playing little games about typical people like me.

“So Bob, My buddy ‘Fred’”, Joe starts the game, feet up on his desk, bouncing a little red rubber ball off the near wall.

“Please Joe, could you at least come up with a more realistic name,” Bob pleads.  Bob works for Joe.  Bob is the brightest stats man Joe has seen in his 40 years of generalizing people.  Bob has the cocksure attitude that comes with the lethal combination of youth and genius.

“Kid’s got no fear.  He whips out correct statistical answers to my scenarios like nobody I seen.  Kind of reminds me of a young me.  Sniff,” Joe  would often say.  Joe knew painfully well how costly a mistake could be.  That’s why he insisted on these scenarios, “You can never be too sharp, kid,”

“More realistic name?  You mean like ‘Bob or ‘Joe’” Joe countered.  So the old man still had it after all.

“Touche.  Continue,” Bob submitted.

“Job Title,” Joe wasn’t wasting any time this morning.

“Software Engin … Wait.  How old is he?” Bob quickly realized his near mistake.

“Careful Bob.  You don’t want to lose this easy.  He’s 47.  Turns 48 at the end of this month.”

“Ok, Senior Software Engineer,” Bob answered with a bit of a suppressed fake yawn, digging at his thumbnail with a fingernail.

“Car,” If Bob missed an answer there were no more questions.  It would be time for him to go hit the books and see where he went wrong.

“Did The New Numbers come in?”  Bob asked nonchalantly as if changing the subject.

“Wouldn’t you like to know,” came Joe’s smug response.

“ Doesn't matter to me at all.  2002 Honda Accord.  Silver,” said Bob taking off a loafer to rub the arch of his left foot. 

It just seems so effortless, Joe thought.  I think that’s the most amazing part.  His presentation.  Let’s see how he deals with my little surprise.

“The New Numbers,” they were talking about was an electronic document that was published every 4 weeks or so.  It contained any changes to any demographic imaginable.  Companies like Bob and Joe’s would integrate this information into their systems for all of their important calculations and business related things and stuff.  It was really professional.

Every once in a while, something strange would show up.  Maybe 2 or 3 times a year, one item would seem so off base that it had to be a mistake.  It usually was.  This time, however, Joe had received “The New Numbers” and personally verified the accuracy one of the strangest tidbits he’d seen in the whole of his 40 years as a big time hotshot actuarial guy.

“Shop or Dealer,” Joe knew these were too easy.  He was baiting the kid.  He noticed thankfully that the kid was getting suspicious.

“Come on Joe.  It’s me.  Bob,” Bob said, only to get a blank stare from Joe.

“Stalling?”  Attaboy Joe.  Accuse him of not being able to answer the easy ones. 

With an exasperated sigh, Bob answered Joe’s pedantic question, “Shop.  Exclusive Honda Repair of Omaha.  Scheduled maintenance at the change of the season,  blah blah blah.  C’mon Joe.  What is this?”

“Zombies?”, there it is kid.  Take that one.

The blood ran from Bob’s face.  Bob had a way of memorizing facts that was similar to a filing system.  When he was asked any of these questions he would simply visualize going to the appropriate drawer and retrieving the information he was asked.  Years of doing this, and it appeared as magic to the untrained eye.  But now, he was at a loss.  He did not understand the question.  In the split second from the time Joe said the word ‘Zombies’ to when Bob dropped his loafer, he had imagined going to a file drawer called ‘Zombie’.  There wasn’t one though.  He truly needed more information.

“I’m afraid I don’t …” Bob started.

Pretending his patience was being tried, Joe calmly restated his obscure question, “Does ‘Fred’ believe in zombies?”

What kind of trick is this?  The old man’s got something.  Think.  He’s been baiting me.  What is it?  The Auto Shop?  Zombies?  Oh well.  Whatever.  I’m tired of this game, “No, Of course not.  No Zombies.  That doesn't even make any sense.  He also doesn't believe in Vampires despite all of the blogging evidence to the contrary.  Nor does he believe in the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus for that matter.  Where you going with this, Joe?”  Bob was having a difficult time coping with this new feeling.  He was able to identify it in a mental file cabinet called ‘Disoriented’.

“In answer to one of your earlier questions Bob, yes, ‘The New Numbers’ came in,” Joe said with a touch of a grin.  He was really getting a kick out of this.  Then he reached over to push the button on his archaic intercom thing and said into it, “Marilyn, would you show Renaud in, please …”

~~~

From time to time, under certain conditions and for the briefest of scary moments, I might be tricked into believing I’m seeing a Zombie uprising before reason has a chance to intervene.  I know this because that's what happened this morning as I pulled into a parking space at Exclusive Honda Repair.  

On Tuesday, I called the shop and explained that I needed to bring my car in for an oil change and to talk about some things including whether or not it’s worth making certain costly repairs.  I plan on trading the car in for a new one in a few months and wanted to know if Mabel (My Car’s name that I gave it just now) could get by for a few months without doing any of the maintenance.

“Yeah sure, we can check it out for you.  How’s Thursday Morning work,” the nice Honda repairman asked.

“Thursday’s perfect,” I cheerfully shot back.  Those Exclusive Honda guys always put me in a good mood.  But something seemed different as the phone call continued.

“Brains?” Said the Repairman, whose name is Jim.

“Hmm?  What?”  I said.  Totally confused.

“Name?” repeated the repairman/potential Zombie.

“Oh, huh huh.  Cube.  Fred Cube.  I thought you said …”

“Will you be waiting here or dropping the car off,” Asked Jim.
  
“I’ll just wait, if that’s ok.  I won’t have any work done Thursday, I just want advice on what I should do.”  I explained.

“Okey – dokey, see you brains,” finished Jim as the phone went dead.

The shop opens promptly at 7AM.  If you get there a little earlier than that, there’s usually somebody there to get started on your car.  You can be out of there by 7:15 on most days.  But this is October.  The evilest of all the months portrayed in the yearly issue of “The Calendar”.

I timed this morning perfectly.  I left the house at 6:34 and went up to QT to get a cup of coffee and make sure my oil level was not low.  I know.  It makes no sense.  If it was a quart low or something, I would have added a quart and taken it directly to Exclusive to have it drained and replaced.  I guess if I do that, I can be all like “Don’t you just hate those guys who never check their oil.”  Yeah – joshing around with the mechanics.  Just one more thing that will never come naturally to me.

Taking the left turn across Leavenworth Street into The Exclusive Honda Repair Parking Lot, I noticed it was completely dark.  No lights inside.  No parking lot lights.  No cars in the lot other than mine.  This was odd.  Normally, there’s at least 7 or 8 Honda/Acuras in the lot.  Oh well.  Better parking for me!

As I pulled into a parking spot closest to the south garage door on the west side of the lot, the beams from my headlights swept across the guardrail that demarks the perimeter of the lot.  It took a moment to register, but I had momentarily lit upon a hand reaching up to the guardrail from outside the lot.  It was now dark over there, but I could see a shadowy figure seemingly pulling itself out of the ground and into the Exclusive Honda Repair Parking lot.  EEK!  In my confusion, I realized it was obviously a Zombie.  Bald head.  Dirty Grey Coveralls.  That’s definitely standard Zombie issue.

Because I behave like some idiot in a Zombie movie, I did not throw the car into reverse and screech out of the parking lot to save my soul.  I just sat there like some movie victim and watched this – this, THING emerge.  This Bald headed, coverall wearing – Zombie with a lunch pail?

That’s when I realized something was going on that was only slightly less weird than a zombie uprising. 

Beyond the parking lot is not ground.  I could not see that because it was dark.  I’ve never noticed before because normally all of the parking spaces are filled with Hondas or Acuras, but there is a dropoff of about 10 or 12 feet at the edge of the parking lot.  At the bottom of the dropoff is what I now know to be “Employee parking.”  The weird part is that instead of walking around to Leavenworth Street and going to work like normal people, The Exclusive Honda Repair Guys/Zombies have affixed an aluminum ladder to the guardrail via bungee cord.  Each morning, they lock their Hondas/Acuras and literally climb the company ladder.  True story.   


Monday, October 08, 2012

I saw Brady's bike while riding yesterday


I was riding.  Brady's bike was on top of a car.  I didn't expect to see Brady's bike.  But I did.  On top of a car.  Presumably Brady's car.  I don't know why Brady was driving his bike around, but I have a few ideas.  I won't go into those ideas here because it's just not important.

I was riding to the keystone trail.  Originally, I was going to go north to the Fort, but WOWT insisted the wind was coming out of the south at about 6MPH and since there was a chill in the air, I decided to go into the wind to start.  So I went south.  Into the wind.  To Start.

The South part of my ride was marvelous.  The sun was bright and warm, which felt good, because there was chill in the air.  The wind was nice and warm too because it was coming out of the south at what seemed like about 6 MPH.  So it was a nice easy bright and shiny spin at about 24 MPH.   "Wow,"  thought I, "24 into a 6 MPH wind is not too shabby considering the easy spin I'm maintaining.  On your left, bitch!"

When I turned to go back North, I found out the reason the south wind was only 6 MPH.  It had to battle the 20 MPH chilly north wind.  "Where's Brady's bike now," thought I, "probably all cozy and warm in front of the roaring hearth of Brady's North Omaha cabin.  On your Left, douche!"

Thursday, October 04, 2012

If you have to die to smell better, you're probably bacon


“It’s good the old architectural firm gave us our old jobs back.  I’m mean look at this.  Did we ever take business trips when we worked at the cabinet shop,” I was trying to convince Boomer that we made the right move.  Of course he knew we did.  There was some sort of crazy shit going on over there at the cabinet shop.  In fact, it seemed like we were being followed to this day.

“Business trip?  We’re going to survey a slaughterhouse …”

“Please Boomer.  Slaughterhouse sounds so Je ne sais quoi.  How about ‘Abbattoir’?  Sounds French, n’est pas?”

"Oh yeah, I forgot.  We’re going to Perry.  Might as well brush up on the ol’ fran-say."

“Exactement!”

“Ferme la bouche!” 

~~

Boomer and I had both taken French in High School.  The school was in downtown Omaha.  It had been the Douglas County Courthouse before it became a school.  It was a very old building.  The walls of the classrooms were made of this concrete like material known as ‘Plaster’.  Running along the length of all the walls at about 4 feet from the wood floors was a trim made completely out of Oak or some other hard wood.  The wood was made harder by the fact that it was about 1000 years old.  The French teacher was a peculiar little fellow by the name of “Monsieur Throne”.  I don’t know if M. Throne liked Boomer or not.  I’m fairly certain that he spent his spare time thinking about how much he despised me.

Boomer and I sat in the very back of the room, about 2 or 3 rows from each other.  Leaning the desks back against the wall, the backs of our heads were even with the oak trim.  Boomer started it.

“Attention class.  Voulez vous , un deux trios, blah, blah blah …”  M. Throne was droning on about something in French.  Then, due to the acoustic qualities of the squarish plaster room, the source of the extraordinarily loud knocking sound that interrupted M. Throne was difficult to determine (unless you were right next to it like I was).

“Que’st que ce?” M. Throne asked.  Silence.  Then with a shrug, M. Throne continued, “Alors, Petit fours, Salle de bain, eau de toilette, blah blah blah …”

After a couple more minutes of the French talking teacher guy, another loud knock.  I had figured out what had happened.  Hitting the bone part of the back of your head against the trim made an unbelievably loud noise. 

“D’accord.  Maintenent qu’il fait la,” Pardon M. Throne’s French.  It was 30 years ago.  I didn’t really listen then and even if I had, I wouldn’t remember what he said, let alone the proper French grammar and everything.   For all of these reasons, M. Throne was forced to transform into Mr. Throne and speak English.   

“What is making that noise,” Came Mr. Throne’s high pitched nasally query.

“Um, excuzay mwa Misher Throne,”  I began.

“What is it, Cube?”

“I thought that high pitched nasally voice thing was just for when you speak French,” I said to the great satisfaction of much of the classroom, securing my spot at a local community college somewhere.

As I waited for Mr. Throne to finish deciding whether he was going to have a sense of humor or be a dick, Boomer saved me.  “Crack!” came another loud knock.  Since Mr. Throne was looking directly at me when it happened, he knew I had nothing to do with it, but he was now looking at Boomer suspiciously.  As he partially squinted his left eye and paced about the front of the classroom, glaring at Boomer, “Kaboom!”  I think I dented the wood on that one.  Giggles all around.  That’s right ladies, I’m here through Thursday.

So that was the reason that Boomer and I were so good at French.  Shortly after we started back up at KMA, we were told we were going to spend the week surveying the grounds of a slaughterhouse near Des Moines, Iowa. 

“Des Moines?  Sounds French,” Boomer said.

“Of course it’s French.  It means ‘The Minuses’,” I thought it did anyway.  I only passed French class as part of an agreement I had with M. Throne to never take French again.   That is absolutely 100% true.

“We’ll be perfect for the mission, chief,” Boomer explained, “See Cube and I both took Fran-say in ‘lay – cole - oat’” 

“Well don’t sweat it, garcons,” You’re not going to Des Moines.  You’re going to Perry,” the boss said, 2 seconds before regretting it for the rest of his life (15 years, if you’re wondering how long the rest of his life was).

“Ah Magnifique!”, both Boomer and I exclaimed.  Paris is even better, we thought.

“J’ai jamias va a Paris,” I said in my nearly perfect French accent, complete with high pitched nasallyness.

“Whatever boys”, the boss said, “We leave tomorrow at 6.  Don’t be late or you don’t go.”

“A.M.?”, Boomer verified.

To us, there was only one way to be sure to not oversleep.  At 4:30 in the morning, Boomer asked if I wanted any more coffee.  I was getting kind of shaky, thinking maybe a better idea might have been to just set an alarm clock rather than the all-nighter route. “I don’t know, man.  You got any food or anything in here?”

“Do I have food?  Of course I have …,” Boomer started

“I mean anything besides Peanut-Butter/Apple-Butter sandwiches.”

“Oh.  Uh.  What's wrong with Peanut-Butter/Apple-Butter sandwiches?”

~~


“They no work here again still yet,” Renaud was explaining to Marilyn and Burt.

“Do you have any idea where they might have gone.  It is vitally important that we get in touch with them,” Burt said, hoping the Haitian could understand.

“They say they like Zombie Bar.  But Renaud not remember what name it,”

“Zombie bar,” Marilyn and Burt exchanged a confused glance.

“Not real zombies.  Renaud try to explain real zombies, but then break end before my story,”

Marilyn and Burt exchanged a confused glance.

“You see it all start when Renaud was a happy little boy in Haiti …” Renaud began, but when he said ‘Haiti’  It sounded like he was saying Hi-80.

Marilyn jumped in, “We really want to hear about your childhood in Haiti, Renaud.  But right now we have lost something and BoomCube can help us find it.  Is there anything else you can tell us?”

“Oh Renaud,” Renaud said, remembering the Plaque, “Sometimes you mindless like real Zombie.  Maybe because Renaud almost turned into zombie by uncle-he, Renaud’s brain slow sometimes.  Cube was working on something to give zombie bar owner, Chico.”

“Chico’s?  Of course.  We’ll find them at Chico’s.  Thanks Renaud.  We will come back some time for that childhood story.  We swear,” They lied as they bolted for Marilyn’s car.  Marilyn liked to drive her man around.  It pleased her to have full control while Burt enjoyed a bracing jigger of Gin.

~~

“Nasty, Boomer,” I was disgusted by the horrible smell engulfing the crew truck.

“It wasn’t me,” Boomer said all innocent-like.  But I knew better.  An all nighter of Coffee and PBAB sandwiches had done their dirty work.  I was sure of it.

“It sure as fuckin’ shit I smell was you, mother fucker,” I mean I was really irritable. Cubey needs his rest.

“Pipe down back there,” shouted the crew chief.  He was such an asshole.  “That ain’t Boomer you smell.  That’s Perry.”

“Don’t you hate Perry’s wife,” I said, quoting my favorite line from Arthur.

“It means we’re about 10 clicks out.  You don’t like the smell now?  Wait ‘til we get there.  Hahahahahahahahahaha,” I mean I really hated the crew chief.

“Yeah, that was me,” Boomer admitted to me in a whisper.  Then we both laughed uncontrollably because the smell just kept getting worse as we approached the plant.  Also, we were hallucinating from sleep deprivation.

“Hey you got ‘Burt’,” I asked Boomer.  I had lost my lighter and I thought maybe a smoke would cover the smell of the rancid pig shit still 10 miles away.  Boomer handed me his dad’s lighter and I saw the date on the bottom.  As an Elvis fan, I recognized it instantly.  “Hey, did you see this Boomer,” I asked.

“Yeah.  The King’s Birthday in like 400 years from now,” He said.

“What’s it mean?”  I asked.

“I dunno.  I asked dad, but he says it’s not his lighter.  Maybe Elvis didn’t die.  Maybe he just went into the future.”  Boomer theorized

“I can buy that,” I said, exhaling the relatively tasty tobacco from my pig shit odor riddled lungs.