“Hellbound 17 ½”
The eyes were staring straight ahead just like he wanted them to – riddles are abound today. The claws were menacing just like he wanted them to be – safe as milk. The face was grinning, blood dripping from the stalactites and stalagmites of the crescent-moon mouth just like he wanted it to – kind of blue. Chick didn’t know what kind of wood he was carving his gargoyle out of, but it was dense – he wouldn’t be surprised if it were half-petrified. He was enjoying this beautiful spring afternoon in the quiet isolation of his yard. He was in the company of his dogs; an all-white boxer named Carlis, and a miniature dachshund named Sarge. Chick didn’t find too much tranquility at this point in the school year – so close to graduation – but right now time seemed to be moving at a leisurely pace, as it did twelve years ago when he played with his older brother. Chick turned off his dad’s chainsaw and stepped back to observe his progress. He chimed in a high pitch, “This is gonna kick some ayuss!” A familiar song, “Too Many Puppies”, suddenly interrupted chick’s work; his cell phone was ringing. After looking at the front screen he saw that it was Becky. He answered, “Hey”.
“Hey babe, just wonderin’ what you’re up to. I tried calling you a couple of times already.”
“Oh, I started carving this gargoyle out of a tree my dad fell yesterday for firewood – the chainsaw is pretty loud you know.”
“Oh, right. Well, do you want to do something tonight? I already bribed my brother to watch over my ant farm, but my other plans fell through – Chancy and Krista have a track meet tomorrow.”
“Um, yeah that’s cool, I’m gonna clean up this gargoyle for a bit longer though. I’ll just call you back in another hour when I’m ready to leave.”
“Make sure you clean yourself up too.”
“I kind of like being dirty… no but seriously, I’ll make sure to roll around in Sarge’s shit before I come over,” Chick closed his cell phone.
“???” said Becky.
“CARLIS, GET OVER HERE!” Chick hollered. Sarge was lying in a patch of warm dirt at a safe distance from the chainsaw. “What a fucker,” he said under his breath. “Sarge, I love you man, and I love Carlis, but he’s a dumbass.” Chick’s dad bought Carlis as a puppy two years ago. For some reason he was inclined to bite things like Chick’s skateboard and bicycle wheels. It’s because of this, Chick thinks, that Carlis was hit by a car when he was six months old. One of his hind legs was now limp. Chick whistled for Carlis to return to his kennel – if he were furless he would resemble Smeagel – and locked both dogs up. When Chick started to walk back to the house to clean himself up, he noticed a sparrow bouncing to and fro. He asked the sparrow if it was looking for worms. It didn’t say anything. It hopped at a spot, dug its beak in the Earth for a worm, failed, and repeated this process in search of more. Then the voice inside Chick’s head began to romanticize, “To think what a bird thinks. To use your wings and soar ever higher…” for awhile he was in a trance, holding a slight grin of amusement, while envying the sparrow – who didn’t stop to acknowledge Chick’s question, or even seem to notice his presence for that matter. Chick bit his tongue. After a couple of minutes he went inside.
Chick carried his CD/radio into the bathroom, where there indeed was no bath but there was a shower. He put in Zabriskie Point, a movie soundtrack by one of his favorite rock bands, Pink Floyd. The mood of that music weaved into his showering routine seamlessly, and he began to float through a muse. At some point in his mind Becky became subject. She was speaking to him, but her lips weren’t moving. The words exuded from her entire being; telepathically. She was lying beside him on a cloud, floating over the Amazon Jungle. Her body was that of a lion, she was an Amazonian Sphinxess – thee Amazonian Sphinxess – the one that brought love and wisdom to the chaos inside the jungle. “What is it that you desire?” She inquired.
“I wish to be knowledgeable of the afterlife,” Chick answered.
“No one can know everything. You were created, as you are, by God; you are perpetually being created, as you are, by God; and there is nothing that you can change. Your ultimate ignorance lies in the belief of free will, that which is embedded in your human nature – but it is this ignorance, which essentially rules Mankind’s destiny, by the hand of God. I am not permitted to reveal the truth to you – you must find your own meaning in this life. That meaning can only be reached, ironically, through self-understanding. Then you will know the way of the world, which is you. It cannot be taught to you, but it can be learn-ed. Do not give into astonishment, for you must always be disturbed by the truth. Use what discipline you have been taught, and what self-control you have gained, to become humbled…” “Pffffff” Chick farted,” “…and let your life be rid of worries, for I have released a drop of faith on your tongue, and have replenished your thirst for direction in life. . . and don’t ask me about who God is.” Then Chick noticed a microscopic Chinese man on the cloud, who had been watching them. The man said, “Life is a jungle. Grow it.” Then he disappeared. Everything disappeared.
“Craaaaap” groaned Chick in mock-despair. The water was becoming cold. “Time to get out” he thought, and started up a post-shower chant: “Here I come, Con-stantin-ople, here I come, Con-stantin-ople, I am coming, Con-stantin-ople, HERE I COME!!!!” After getting dressed, he grabbed a few things to bring over to Becky’s house. While driving his mom’s Jeep he became overwhelmingly humbled by what Becky had told him, and he pondered the paradoxical message from the microscopic Chinese man, “Hmmm, if life is a jungle… why would I want to grow it? How would I grow it?” He accepted that the notion was impractical. Then he came to another realization, “But then again – rituals aside – mischief is one of the few things I am amused by. So I will do what the microscopic man asks of me, and flower chaos in this jungle. For chaos surely defines life”. Chick arrived at Becky’s.
The afternoon was still beautiful, and quiet. Chick knocked on the front door of Becky’s house. She lived on a dead-end street full of two-story houses. It was a very nice street, kind of like the Yellow Brick Road. It reminded him of an episode of The Twilight Zone that his brother showed him years ago: in which a man woke up one morning after what seemed a very vague night, to a parallel world: artificial and containing fake plastic trees and what-not. While Chick waited on the stoop for someone to answer the door, he looked beyond the neighboring houses and scanned the horizon. He saw a comfortable landscape, and noted for the two hundred and forty-seventh time that Midwestern nature could be beautiful and sedating. “Mother Nature,” he thought, “what a bitchcunt.” Chick heard a voice from inside the house, “Who is it?”
“It’s James Dean,” he answered.
“Oh Chick, you’re a funny…” Becky’s face appeared from behind the glass door, “…boy.”
Chick looked at the smile on Becky’s face – she didn’t consider herself innocent, but Chick knew she would be far less innocent if she had to battle his demons. Her ego was doing its job to protect her from a disturbing truth, something that had been tugging on Chick’s chest for the last year. She could never understand. He knew it was bullshit to let his own mind bring him down, and shook the ever-darkening energy out of focus. Becky opened the door for him to come in. “Whacha been doin since school?” he asked.
“Ummm, I laid around outside, in the sunshine, and then I watched part of this documentary on the History channel.”
“Nice! What was the documentary about?”
“It was called “I Got Ants In My Pants And I Need To Dance”. It’s about the funk band, Ant Colony.
“Cool, cool. Are there any good movies on?”
“Uhhhh, let’s check it out…there’sszzz…Bob and Judy, Christmas For Dummies, Office Space,”
“Office Space!” It’s one of my all-time favorites.”
“Ohhh, I just watched Office Space yesterday though…I’m sorrreee (frowny face). What about The Dark Knight?”
“What’s it about?”
“Oh my God you haven’t seen it? It’s the new batman movie – it came out like two weeks ago – it’s sooo good you’ll definitely like it, I promise.”
So Chick watched The Dark Knight with Becky. It was pretty good. The Joker reminded him of the microscopic Chinese man, and what he had told him; because the Joker was a crazy man who fought for what he believed in, creating chaos. He was a cunning businessman and a cunning linguist though – Chick had to give him that. Just then Chick remembered that he had brought a bottle of wine for the occasion. “I’ll be back soon, I’m gonna make some popcorn for us.”
Chick threw a bag of popcorn into the microwave and found some wine glasses. He didn’t want Becky to see him drink most of the bottle, so he drank two glasses while the popcorn kernels were busy becoming popped popcorn. Then he poured one more for himself and one for Becky and took everything back into the living room to continue watching the movie. He remained intrigued by the similarities between the Joker and the microscopic man. The notion was causing him to feel mischievous. “Damn, I usually only drink cheap beer in 40oz bottles, not cheap wine…” Chick thought, “this is making me buzzed already.” He looked over at Becky. ‘I’m fucked if I don’t one-up myself’ he thought, and began massaging her neck, and then her ear. He leaned over closer and Eskimo-kissed her cheek (Sarge seemed to like that anyways). Becky smiled and kept watching the movie. “I can wait, this movie doesn’t suck that bad,” Chick thought. He positioned himself upright once more, and knocked his wine glass off of its place on the coffee table and spilled it onto an expensive-looking rug. “OHHH, FUCK!” he shouted. Becky sat frozen with her mouth open, staring at the rug. Chick raced into the kitchen and grabbed a red rag to try and absorb some of the wine, but it didn’t work.
“You’re so stupid Chick!” Becky shouted. “I knew it was a bad idea to drink that in here. Now look what happened!”
All Chick managed to do was laugh; he laughed……… and laughed some more. He leaned onto the coffee table to support the convulsions, but only succeeded in knocking the bowl of popcorn all over the rug while falling over onto the rug himself. As a last-effort to stop himself from falling, Chick reached up onto the table, but only managed to spill Becky’s wine glass on a separate part of the rug. He sat up, still as a stone, with an empty expression on his face, half-drunk. He met the glare of Becky’s squinted eyes.
“Chick! Just leave; you need to leave now, before I do something terrible. Oh God, what’s wrong with you? Don’t you care about anything?” Chick just kept staring at Becky with an expressionless face. She stepped over to him, straddling his legs, and slapped him on the face four times and told him to ‘get the fuck out’. She led him forcibly towards the front door. There appeared to be “nobody home” in Chick’s upper-compartment. He finally found something to say. “You don’t understand anything Becky. You just don’t understand.” As he walked out the door Becky slammed it shut. The afternoon was still beautiful…