The Mayonnaise Murders, Chapter 7, Scene 2

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Dude, I’m telling you it was all the way too strange what happened next, and this is coming from me, all right? You get what I’m telling you? This shit is coming from me. When was the last time you ever heard me say anything was too fucking weird for me all right? You follow?

So like I was saying, it was way too hot inside that place. Never should have done the show. Look, I was doing these trailer park weeds a favor, all right? A favor! You figure the least they could do was find me someplace to play with a normal temperature. Not some damned blast furnace. I don’t give a damn if it was August in that little desert spitbowl, it was still way too hot inside that place for any show.

Anyway, I’m walking back to the dressing room and everybody’s kinda like backing away from me because I’m yellin and sayin all these really ugly things about this little town, which is way outta character for me, you know? I know I can be a pain in the ass, but usually I try to be  a nicer guy than that, but I was pissed! So there I am, walkin real fast toward my dressing room with my hands waving all in the air, I’m almost there, my hand reaching out to snatch the doorknob, when I hear this funny-sounding voice calling out my name. Sounded like somebody tryin to talk through his nose. I looked over to my right, and there’s this goofy kid standing there with these bent-up teeth, green plaid pants that came down around six inches above his ankles, I kid you not, and a reddish-brown button-up shirt that would make you think your eyes were starting to go bad if you stared at it too long.

Seein all this at one time? Dude, you know I had to stop. Everything I’d been spoutin off about just left my head like steam out a tea kettle, man. I’m serious. Suddenly it seemed like everything had gone quiet – I mean quiet like how you imagine it would be in space – and it’s just me and this kid looking at each other.

I asked him how he got past security, knowing that wasn’t the question I really wanted to get to. What I wanted to get to was who in the hell was this freak?

He gives me this spooky grin, then folds his arms across that scrawny chest of his. What he said next? Twisted my head up like a pretzel.

“The question, my dear friend, is not how and which way did I manage to befuddle those to whom you have entrusted your…security? No, no. The question, it would seem to me at this particular moment, is whether you do indeed feel secure? Yes, this is what I do believe I would be asking myself if I were you, which, regrettably, I am not. For if I were you then I would be asking myself the appropriate questions about my life at the appropriate time – that time being now – and I would also have the great fortune of being a rock star! How wonderful! And so, indeed, you do see how regrettable it is that I cannot be you – at least during this temporarily unbalanced point in time? Ah well. But we, all of us, must play the hand we are dealt in this life, yes? And I was not dealt your hand, nor you mine. So.”

And that’s when my security, the two guys who were supposed to be guarding the one and only entrance this guy could have come through? Yeah, that’s when they decide to show up, breathin all hard.  Man, I’m telling you, if this were a comedy, the timing couldn’t have been better.

“Boss, why don’t you go on in your dressing room? We can handle this clown from here,” Rufus tells me. “Gotta be a clown dressed like that, right, Boss?”

What happened then was probably what convinced me more than anything else that this kid – what kinda kid talks like that? – had something special. And it was something special I needed.  Dude, the kid started laughing, right? And I mean doubled over laughing like somebody had just told him the funniest joke he had ever heard in his life. Here he is, this scrawny pencil-necked nerd with bad teeth who dressed so bad he probably shoulda gotten a ticket and a fine, and he’s laughin in the face of these two no-neck pitbull security guards who could have stomped his geeky ass into a puddle. That kinda shit takes guts, man, you know? It either takes guts or crazy, but whichever one it was it was working.

“They are PRECIOUS!” he said after finally managing to catch his breath, pointing at my two guards as if they were a couple of cute poodles on display in a pet store window. “Where did you find them?”

My security guards were starting to growl.

“Boss? We got this, right, boss?”

The kid started laughing all over again, which got the security guards growling even louder. Nobody else knew what the hell to do without anybody telling them do this, do that, so they just stood in place waiting for somebody to spell them out a clue. Me? I was starting to feel calm for the first time since I could remember, and it felt good.

“Boss! We got…”

“Yo! If  you had  this? All right? If you had this? Then we wouldn’t even be having this conversation right about now because Norman the Nerd here wouldn’t be standing outside my dressing room BACKSTAGE makin fun of you two assholes! Right? So this says to me you guys ain’t got shit!  And that includes your jobs, starting right now. Now get outta my face!”

Anyway, that’s what I said to ‘em, and then I told the nerd to come on in the dressing room with me. I figured wasn’t any kinda way a kid looking this funny could be any kinda threat, not to me. I didn’t care if he did give my guys the slip, I just couldn’t let myself  get nervous about anybody who looked and talked like Cluck did, you know? So after my two ex-security guards disappeared down the hallway – it was kinda funny ‘cause both of ‘em were wavin’ me the bird over their shoulders – then I stepped in ahead of him and told him to follow and to close the door behind him. He did that. Dude. My big mistake? Me thinking I was gonna get a chance to actually say something in my own dressing room. I didn’t get to say a damned thing for the first ten minutes he was in there. Soon as he closed the door he launches into this all-out tirade, and I mean the switch in Cluck’s mood was just that quick. Like somebody flipped a switch. Starts going off on a tangent about chickens being in danger, waving his skinny little nerd arms in the air, and right there I’m thinking this guy really is crazier than he looks, and that is not easy.  I mean, who gets that fuckin worked up over chickens?

Still, for some reason, a whole half hour goes by and I’m still listening to this guy. One of my roadies poked his head in the door to tell me it was about time to get back on the bus, but I just threw a boot at him. Told Cluck to go ahead.  For a minute he gives me this funny look like he wasn’t sure he saw what he just saw, so I nodded at him, lettin’ him know, you know, that it was cool. He gives me this wacked-out grin like some girl just gave him  a quickie hand job under the table, then goes back to his story. I’m not believing a word he’s sayin, but it doesn’t matter. I like listening to him, and I like a good story. You might not know this, dude, but not a whole lotta folks can tell a story. This guy? Oh yeah. Tell a fuckin story like you would not believe.  Told me all about how he and his super chickens had become friends, how they were the only friends he ever really had, how they became super chickens, the whole spiel. Craziest shit I ever heard in my life – and I was lovin’ it.

Then all of a sudden there was this silence.

“That’s it?” I asked.

But Cluck just stood there lookin’ at me. Eyes? Not even blinkin. Totally givin me the stare. One minute he’s got his mouth runnin’ on overdrive, arms flappin all over the place while he’s tryin to explain this crazy life story of his, then, just like that, his arms drop to his sides and he doesn’t have a thing to say. Nothin. It’s like he all of a sudden didn’t recognize me and just froze up.

“Yo, I asked you a question, Chief. Is that it?”

A few more moments go by without a sound. Nobody’s movin, not me, not him. Then, real slow, and I do mean real slow, Cluck starts to grin. Not a full-faced grin. Naw, nothing like that. Wouldn’t have been in character if he had, even though I didn’t know that at the time. Naw, Cluck, he just lets the left side of his lip stretch up. Little higher…little higher…hold.

“Quite impressive, even I must confess,” he says finally. “Naturally the question to be asked here by me of you is what? If anything might have been the reaction of  a star-spangled leader of the masses such as thine own self had you been forced to endure the Silence of the Cluck for what? Oh, about a skinny little minute longer.  Perhaps two. Could you? Would you? Perhaps we will never know. Perhaps we do not care which, upon reflection, I do suspect is considerably closer to the truth we seek. The truth. Ah yes. Hmmm…”

He kept goin on and on about truth for at least another four or five minutes, rambling on and on about all these things he said the truth taught him, you know, about himself and life and all that cosmic bullshit. Whatever. But then he put on the brakes again, turned the conversation on a dime and locked those funny-lookin eyes on me like he was tryin to pull off one of those comic book maneuvers and suck out my brain through my forehead. This guy, man…

“Because you already know.”

“Huh? What…? Already…”

“That indeed, my dear Jonathan Beardy, it is you.”

“Jonathan? Jonathan? Man, nobody calls me…”

He waved his hands in front of me all crazy like he was conducting some kinda orchestra.

“Irrelevant and immaterial, my prince. No time, no time! Thou art chosen. Life is a whirlwind, not a breeze, young Beardmore. It snatches you into the moment whether or not that moment is indeed you. Everything happens at the right time, ‘tis only a question of ready. Or not. I believe you see my point.”

“No. And it’s Beardy. Not Beardmore. Beardy, dude.”

“Quite right, Mr. Beardy dude. Quite right. But I must, however, impress upon you that we are presently at the ravenous mercy of the hourglass, which means that I must request you refrain from being quite so dense, if indeed that is not asking too much. Innocent lives are at stake, Mr. Beardy dude, and it is only you who possesses the ability to stand in the fiery breech between those precious lives and that horrid stake.”

“Wait…”

“NO! Have you not understood a single syllable I have uttered this entire evening? To wait implies the luxury of time, and time…”

“..is something we ain’t got a lot of. Yeah, yeah. I’m gettin’ that pretty loud and clear. But why me? I mean why did it have to be me you told all these wild-assed stories to? Not that it wasn’t entertainin’, but I mean damn. And more important, dude, why in the hell you figure it has to be me standing in the fiery britches between whatever and whatever? You need to explain this to me like I’m a first-grader.”

Right then, Cluck raised an eyebrow. And me feelin’ naked stupid with noplace to hide.

“OK, lemme rephrase.”

“Perhaps that might be advisable, yes.”

“OK. But. I mean, you gotta see what…”

“Life is a whirlwind. Not a breeze. I invite you to think on this for a moment. Or for however long it may take your constricted, congested mental capacity to absorb this critical detail.”

“OK, look. I let you in here when my bodyguards wanted to run you through a meatgrinder. I’ve been listening to you even though you haven’t made a single point yet. So OK, I’ll admit you know all about how to work the words, and I admire that. Congratulations on making it past the first grade, dude. But if you want to still be here talking to me 30 seconds from now with all your body parts attached to their original locations then you’d best believe I’m not gonna sit here and let you talk down to me on my own turf in my own dressing room. You got me, Cluck Fuck? Do you?”

So we stared at each other for a good long time, I think each of us sizing up just how much we had to worry about from the other. And how much we could actually trust each other since we had just met. Because it was funny, you know? It was funny because we had just met, but still we both kinda knew by that point that we were at one of those points in the road where we either had to be all in and commit to something we couldn’t even see the whole size of yet? Or move on forever, forget about each other forever, and never look back. Not even with a question.

“Point taken, Mr. Beardy dude. And quite right. Quite right indeed…”

Right then Cluck starts to smile, I mean actually smile, as in the way normal people smile. I know it was the first and, dude, I’m pretty damned sure it was the last time I ever saw Cluck twist those awful lips into anything that even looked like it was related to a smile. So naturally I had to smile at him back. And right then is when I knew – when we both knew – that the commitment was a done deal. We were all the way in the deep end learning to tread water.

“All right, now one more time; you tell me why I’m supposed to be this One, this Chosen One, you’re talking about. Because I need to understand this real good.”

“Actually, Mr. Beardy dude…”

“Beardy, dammit. Period. Beardy.”

“Fine. Mr. Beardy.”

“No! It’s just…fuck it. Looks like that’s the best I’m gonna get. Go ahead.”

“Fine. Quite simply put it is because you simply cannot climb any higher, dear sir. Am I not correct? You have reached the ceiling of the ceiling of the ceiling of SuperStar-dom, the outer limit of the outer limits. There is no more. You reach, yet your grasping fingers retrieve nothing for your sweat-stained efforts but a palm full of imaginings and whispers. You have arrived at the other side of the stars. Indeed, I say to you that…”

“So you’re sayin’ I’m bored. Is that it?”

Cluck nods, his face grave as a ditch digger.

“Quite. That and the unfortunate fact that no one else will listen to me.”

“So now you’re sayin’ I’m bored and you got me pegged to be your sucker. I didn’t duck quick enough. That about sketch it out?”

Cluck starts to sputter and stutter, as if I’d just sucker-punched him full in the gut. Except that I hadn’t flinched a muscle.

“My…my dear Mr. Beardy. Goodness….My dear…a sucker?? No. No. Nothing could be further from the truth. You are not a sucker. You are salvation. Please…do you understand? You are salvation, Mr. Beardy. The time has come for you to assume your rightful place within the pantheon of the immortal Gods and to cease your wanderings in the wilderness amidst the muck and mire of the common folk.”

He was talkin’ way over my head for the most part, but there was something about the way he was sayin’ whatever he was sayin’ that almost made my heart stop in my chest. It ain’t every day somebody comes up to you and calls you salvation. I mean, I’ve had panties thrown on stage and a whole lot else, and I’ve had just about every sensitive extremity sucked and licked and polished to nerve jangling perfection. And, you know, some might call that salvation. Matter of fact, until right up to that moment? Dude. You’d best believe that would have been my definition too.

But this thing about the ceiling of the ceiling…

Suddenly I became aware of something else. Not just something else, but something fucking ELSE. You know? I mean wow, it was like that once I was blind but now I can see kinda thing. Everything looked different.

“Let’s go,” I said.

“Indeed,” said Cluck.

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kaoblues
Writer and musician.

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