Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Part V The End

I really struggled with the ending. I actually wrote a different one before deciding on this ending. I hope you like it. I am frankly relieved to have this out of my system. Maybe I can get back to blogging about bicycles and riding again!

Firth came to with his head in the Axon Auto Medic ‘Guaranteed Soothing Or Your Money Back.’ He pushed it away and was greeted by the grinning face of Starth. “Hey hero. You finally awake?”

Firth jerked away and dropped to the floor. He scuttled into a corner and looked wildly around the room. “Where is he? Where the hell is he?”

Starth’s grin grew wider. “Relax man. He’s back in the bathroom sleeping like a baby. What’s the matter, you scared?”

Firth relaxed. Slightly. “You weren’t there. Or rather you were there, but you were passed out. You didn’t see. It was life and death man. If I hadn’t zapped him he’d have killed both of us.”

Starth’s smile wavered and was replaced by a hurt look. “Hey now, I didn’t pass out, I hit my head on something.”

“I hit my head on something” Firth shot back. “You just passed out.”

“Yeah, hit your head on the upper bulkhead when you practically jumped out of your skin” Starth teased.

Firth sniffed. “Screw you pal. I’m the one who saved us both from another one of your schemes gone bad. You laid there on the floor and left me to deal with the human so just piss off.”

“Now, now. Don’t get your panties in a wad. Who knows who’s head hit what and who’s didn’t. Besides, it doesn’t matter. I’ve got him locked up in the bathroom as just as soon as you ‘recover’ we can send him back and find someone else.”

Firth slumped into a control chair. “You’re a menace Starth. You know that don’t you? I mean, you have to at least suspect that you are in fact certifiable.”

Starth laughed. “That’s why I let you hang out with me Firth. You’re always such a ray of sunshine.”

Firth sighed in resignation. “What now?” he asked.

“Now we go back to where we picked the doofus up, drop him off and try again.”

“Did the brain ray work? I mean, I know I hit him with it but he acted kinda funny. Like it wasn’t working quite right or something.”

Starth’s smirk was back on full power. “Will you relax? You hit him with it didn’t you? He’s out isn’t he? What’s to worry? It worked and now all we have to do is put him back and go on our merry way. No one will ever know. Now go back to the controls for the zapper and get ready. Trust me”

Firth rose with yet another long sigh. ‘Man’ he thought ‘Will this day never end?’


Luster awoke on the ground next to his pickup, a half remembered dream fading away. ‘What the hail?’ He spent minutes scratching at his grease stained pate, willing the vision to return but without success. He looked around and took stock. He was stopped in the middle of the road, lights on and engine still running. He had no memory of why, when or even how. He saw the empty beer cans scattered around the ground and came to the logical conclusion. ‘Man, I shore musta tied one on las’ night.’ He filed it away as useless information. He levered himself off the ground, looking for all the world like a scarecrow rising for a new day. He looked around again, his face a moue of concentration. Something had happened but he just couldn’t put his finger on it. Something about a bathroom and some midgets poking him with sticks or…..or was it a dream? A stranger to introspection, Luster damned the dreams to whatever hell they were from, climbed back into the ancient truck and headed for home and perhaps a taste of the high life. Though he’d take what he could get.

But as he drove away, Luster kept returning to the half remembered dreams…


High overhead an argument was taking place.

“Maybe you’re on to something Firth. UFO groupie. Yeah, that’s the ticket.”

“I just want to go home Starth. I’ve had enough for one day. We’re already late as it is. Let’s just chalk all this up to experience and try again next year. Besides, I’m still worried. I can’t shake the feeling that there was something funny about that memory eraser. I don’t think it worked like it was supposed to.”

“Look man, it worked. Ok? We’re in the clear so stop with the whining. Now we’ve come this far and I’m not going home without scoring. That dude didn’t work out but somebody, somewhere on this miserable planet has got to have some beer. And we’re gonna get some.”


6 Months Later

“Good evening America and welcome to the highest rated early morning radio show in the country. It’s Border to Border and I’m your host, Buck Bently.”

“Folks, have we got a show for you. First up is a man who’s had a near death experience, during which he says he was taken to Hell, tormented by small, gray demons and then rescued by God in a beam of pure light. So let’s get right to it. Luster, are you there my friend?”

“I shore am Buckster and it’s a downraht pleasure to be a speakin. To ya’ll tonight.”

“Luster, tell us about what Hell is like.”

“Well Buckster I ain’t never been so scart in all muh life. See, the entrance to Hail is really a bathroom. A white bathroom and……”

The End

Part IV

The story is now finished. Part V will be the last. I'll post it tomorrow.
I can't believe I actually finished this thing.

The poking ceased, the dreams faded and Luster clawed his painful way back to wakefulness. As he woke, Luster could hear a conversation between two people he couldn’t yet see. It was the same language he’d heard before. Maybe it was them ayrabs. Or the messicans. ‘Speak English you bastards.’ he thought. Crap, I knew I shoulda learned to hablo that espanishola’.

Luster sat up as the memory of where he was suddenly crashed down on him. He looked around him and again took stock. ‘Crapper. It’s a goldurned crapper! I knowed it.’ Then Luster spied something he’d forgotten about. There was a door. And it was open. Luster looked and through the portal he saw a strange being. It looked like the ‘angel’ he’d seen before and it was evidently arguing with someone else across the room.

Cowardice was Luster’s middle name and damn all his momma for that. Still, he did tend to live up to the sobriquet. About the only thing that’d bring out his brave side was sobriety or the specter of sobriety and Luster was looking that particular monster square in the face at the moment. It was enough to motivate a man. ‘Besides, twernt no angels atall, just someone a funnin’ me.’

The gangling Luster rose from the floor like a puppet with half its strings cut. ‘Cain’t nobody treat me like ‘is’ he thought. ‘I gots my rahts’. Luster gathered up his dander and stomped toward the door, ready to give someone ‘a dang good what fer’. Unfortunately, Luster’s indignant march from the room was cut short by a second trip to his back. Luster shook his head and peered at the door for an explanation. He fought his way back to his feet, ducked his emaciated six foot frame and crabbed his way through the 4 four high door. With all the wounded dignity of a Baptist preacher’s mother turning down a request for an unmentionable sex act, Luster approached the small, gray being, leaned in and delivered his memorable line.

The small gray man, Luster was now certain they were small gray men, jumped three feet off the floor, slamming its head into the low ceiling. The second small, gray man simply fell over, dropping a strange device to the floor as it did so. Both were out cold. “Dad gum” he muttered. “Dad gum midgets, that’s what they is. Now who the hail would be a settin’ the midgets on me?” he wondered. Luster dimly remember as how some do gooder down to the welfare office had told him they were ‘little people’ and how he was not to call them midgets but political correctness was never Luster’s strength. Luster briefly wondered if maybe this was ‘all them welfare peoples a doin’’ but the thought went as fast as it appeared. Thinking wasn’t Luster’s strength either.

Luster wasn’t fazed. He smiled in satisfaction. “Serves you sumbiches raht. Kidnap a man and take away his beer. It’s agin the constitution! I’ll see yore asses in jail fer this!” Luster aimed a kick at the nearest. The kick missed by the four or five feet separating the two supine gray men. Luster cursed and tried again. This time he managed to send the strange device rattling across the floor. Satisfied at having regained his lost dignity, Luster spit once and began to explore. Maybe they had some booze?

Luster took a good look around the room. It was small, unadorned. ‘Not even a picture of someone’s momma on the wall’ he thought. He walked around for a bit, poking into this and that. There was nothing he recognized and, even worse, no beer! Luster felt himself starting to shake. ‘Oh Lor’, please don’t let me get the DT’s. Not now.’ Luster was determined, now more than ever, to find the door, get back to his truck and put the two small gray men out of his mind and as far away from him as he could.

It took several minutes of bumping into things before Luster noticed the second room. This one with a window. He shuffled over for a better look, fully expecting to see the familiar landscape of central Oklahoma and a way out of the cramped space. Instead he saw the prettiest thing he’d ever seen. It was blue and green and white all over. As Luster watched he saw a dark line approaching. Hidden in that shadow were points of light, like a thousand fireflies glued to black construction paper. He’d never even imagined anything so beautiful. He pressed his nose to the glass and whistled. A half remembered Sunday school lesson came to mind. “It’s Eden” he whispered. “The garden of Eden,”

Behind him, a small gray man stirred but Luster, enrapt, stared on.


Firth felt the black of unconsciousness lift. He woke to find himself lying on the deck, staring up at a hatch on the ceiling. He noticed it was a slightly different color than the rest of the ship. ‘Kinda off white’ he thought. ‘Maybe eggshell. Firth thought it extremely important but couldn’t say why. ‘I’m supposed to be doing something’ he thought. ‘But what?’ Firth thought and thought but the something stayed just out of reach. Tantalizingly close but beyond his touch. He rolled his head to his left and saw Starth, also lying on his back and facing the ceiling with unseeing eyes. He saw the Axon Memory Beam resting against the bulkhead wall where Luster had kicked it. He saw the pen door to the bathroom and it all came crashing down on him. ‘Oh yeah’ he thought. ‘I remember now.’

Firth took a surreptitious look around but didn’t see the human. Good. He tried to sit but his head felt like someone was trapped inside and desperate to get out. He slid across the deck to his friend. Firth took hold of thin arms and shook him as hard as he could. Starth barely moved.

“Starth. Starth. Come on man, wake up. Starth you rat bastard, this is all your fault now wake the hell up.” Nothing. ‘Now what?’ He spied the box again. ‘If I could just get to the brain ray we might still be able to get out of this.’ Firth didn’t dare stand so, taking another look for Luster; he started to crawl for the box.

Every pull with his arms and every push with his legs was an agony. His head was pounding now and he barely kept awake. Firth was sure he was about to die. ‘Great’ he thought. ‘I’ll never be able to leave my room again.’ Still, he had to try and salvage the situation. Slowly, inch, by painful inch, Firth made his way across the floor until at last, he reached his prize. He extended a hand and grasped his salvation with a cry of relief. He tugged at it to bring it to where ho could get to the controls. The thing was heavy and refused to budge. Firth, tiring quickly, gave one last pull with all the stringy muscle he had left and it suddenly shifted and sped toward him. Too late, he realized that it had come to rest partially on the floor and partially on the wall. When he pulled it away the back of the box, instead of sliding down, came crashing to the deck. The resounding noise sounded like a sonic boom to the now thoroughly scared youngster.

Fear galvanized Firth. His headache disappeared and he found new vigor as he scrambled at the controls. “Oh shit Oh shit Oh shit!” he screamed. “Work you stupid piece of junk!”

Luster’s reverie was broken by a soft sound. It was so faint that if he had not been standing quietly he’d have missed it. Still. “Mebbe them little fellers done woke up already.” Luster hitched up his faded and dirt encrusted jeans and started back. “Gonna have a little palaver with them boys.” Luster chortled. “Heh, heh. Little. I kill me.”

Firth was still madly slapping at switches when he heard the ponderous tread of Luster’s badly worn boots approaching. He was almost wild with terror. So much so that he missed the warning lights flashing out their messages of potential doom from the badly mishandled machine. As Luster rounded the wall, Firth pushed with all his might, lined the machine up in the general direction of the human as best he could and hit the transmit button.

Luster had time to see the small gray man huddled against the far wall, fiddling with the box. He opened his mouth to ‘commence the cussin’ but was struck short. A soft white light surrounded him and Luster began to relive his life.

Luster remembered his childhood. His Ma and Pa. His sister Gertie and his brother Lemuel. He remembered graduating 8th grade and how proud they’d all been. First one in the family to go so far. He remembered sneaking kisses with Cousin Flora at the family reunion and the first time they’d gone ‘all the way’. He remembered his first drink and all the drinks after. Every beer. Every shot of rotgut. The still he’d built from pipe he’d salvaged out of that condemned building. How the Sheriff’d come out yelling about ‘lead poisonin’ you dumbshit hillbilly’ or some such blather and took it all away but not before he’d squirreled away a fair stash. The rubbing alcohol. The paint thinner. All of it. Luster’s brain latched onto those memories like a rabid dog onto a dead possum and refused to let go. Luster tried to think of something else but couldn’t. The memories played back over and over in his head until he thought he’d go insane.

Then, blissful nothingness.

Firth watched as Luster crumpled into a softly snoring ball and finally took a long delayed breath. His body shuddered and his hands shook. He slumped back against the wall and let his fear drain away. “I’m gonna kill Starth.”

Monday, January 25, 2010

Part III

The sense of despondency was palpable. The air was thick with the stench of failure. And the gastrointestinal passings of Luster of course. Firth lay sprawled on the control couch, contemplating the gently snoring human.

Starth squatted near Luster and poked him again with the long carbon pole he’d found in the emergency locker. As before, no response. “What now?”

Firth stared at him in growing anger. “How the hell would I know? This was all your idea. You think of something and do it quick. I can’t stand this smell.”

Starth poked again. “I’m thinking, I’m thinking. Don’t rush me.” Poke. Poke.

Suddenly, the human stirred and moaned. Starth screamed, dropped his poker and scrambled behind Firth’s couch. Firth snickered. “Don’t drop a load there Starth, smells bad enough in here already.”

Starth straightened and brushed away an imaginary speck of dust. “Screw you. I wasn’t scared, just startled a little.” He never took his eyes off the now quiescent human. “At least we know he’s still alive.”

Firth’s humor vanished as rapidly as it had occurred. “Oh he’s still alive alright but the main question still remains. What do we do now? Let’s brain ray this guy, dump him and go home. I’m sick of this planet and even sicker of you”

“Well, one thing’s for sure”, Starth quietly muttered, “We’re definitely not scoring off this guy.”


Starth grunted as he shifted the bulky device into place. In spite of miniaturization, the machine, an Axon Memory Beam, “Guaranteed Tumor Free Or Your Money Back!” was nearly as heavy as he. “How about a little help here?”

Firth didn’t even glance his way. He stood near Luster, the carbon rod in his hands, poised to strike, run or faint. As the situation called for. “Screw you Starth. I’m not taking my eyes off this guy.”

I’m not taking my eyes off this guy” Starth mocked. “He’s been out for ages. What’s he gonna do? Suddenly come back to life, go on a rampage and kill us both? Please. I’m going to zap this guy, send him back down to his vehicle and then you and I are gonna find a new pigeon and score.”

Firth felt a spike of anger. He turned on his friend, the carbon rod clenched in a bony, gray fist. “Score?” he screamed. “Score? Just shut up Starth. This is all your fault. It’s your fault I’m here, watching a human lie comatose on the floor, his every body emanation more vile than the last. It’s your fault we missed the opportunity to score with a UFO groupie. It’s your fault that Deputy Sheriff took a pot shot at us. It’s your fault this maniac may wake up at any moment and rip us limb from limb. Everything is your fault. Now please be so kind as to shut the hell up, bring that thing here and let’s just get this done and leave.”

Starth was silent for only moments. “Pussy.”

Firth started a retort that stopped as he saw his friend’s eyes go big, his mouth framing a silent scream. Then he heard a voice coming from directly behind him.

“Whut the hailfire’s a goin’ on here?”

Firth screamed. Starth screamed and everything went black.