Saturday, January 17, 2009

Caught Grease Handed

Boy howdy, fightin robot ninjas every day is harder'n wrestlin gators, which is the part time job I had just after I gradjiated high school and lit out for the territories, as it were. I found myself, after some thumbin and train jumpin, down in Louisiana, broker than a dropped record on a cold day. I was out in the middle of nowhere with no one comin to pick me up and with the sun fadin fast into the swamp. Now, you don't want to be caught in them Louisiana swamps at night because they've got that musk ape down there that'll come out and rip your arms off if you can't answer his three riddles. If you ever find yourself in that position, the answer to his first riddle is "barking spiders". My uncle Ted told me that when I was young and I never forgot it. He never did tell me what the riddle was, though, so if you lose your arms because of that, don't blame me for tryin to be a good Samaritan. I wasn't intent on losin my arms, either, cause I figured my arms had come in handy up to that point and I might be needin them for things later in life, kinda like a swiss army knife that you somehow manage to find a use for every day. Sure enough, the day you're without either you're gonna find somethin you need it for. You leave your knife at home, you know you're gonna have to open a box or punch a hole in a piece of leather. You lose your arms to a musk ape, you're probably gonna need them for somethin the next day like liftin a box or scratchin your nose or standin up outta bed. I started walkin down the highway a bit and, just as the last sliver of sun was dippin below the horizon, I stumbled upon one of them roadside zoos. It smelt like they was raisin a whole family of musk apes by feedin 'em burnin tires ala skunk, but it was shelter. There was a little tar-paper shack just inside the gate, so I knocked at the door, told the owner, Jim Bob, about my predicament and asked if I could sleep there for the night. He said that was all right by him, but if I wanted to eat anything, I'd have to work for it. So started my career at the roadside zoo. In the 6 months I was there, I learned to slop tiger cages, milk a two-headed snake and wrestle alligators. That last one is the most exhausting of the three. You gotta jump on the alligator, hang on while he's thrashin around and get his eyes covered as quick as you can. After that, though, it ain't too hard because alligators don't have very strong muscles to open their jaws. The real exciting part is when you jump off again. Sometimes, they get mad at havin lost, alligators are poor sports, after all, and they try to flip around and bite you. On a side note, I ended up leavin that job because the star attraction, the two-tailed albino gator ran off in the night. I thought she was taken by the musk ape, but Jim Bob said they'd probably eloped. Up to this past week, that was the most tirin thing I'd done, but, as I said, fightin robot ninjas is more tiring.

Yesterday's ninja ambushed me with a stick when I went to pour out the donut oil. I was carryin a 50 pound drum of oil, on a dolly to save my back, and this guy just jumps out of the bushes with no sorta preamble or conversation or anything. Well, I just holler and jump back, lettin the dolly go so I could block my face. Now, I never got hit in the face with a big ol' stick, but I don't need to touch a fire to know it's hot, if you know what I mean. So, there I am tryin to ward off the attack when, out of the corner of my eye I see the barrel reach the apex of it's arc and slowly tip over.

Now we got oil all over everywhere and we're slidin all over the place. I got no idea how to get inside the range of his stick so I can punch him or somethin and I start thinkin I'm gonna need a shield of some kind. I'm desperately lookin around for somethin, anything to help me while gettin my arms pretty banged up when I see this camper shell for a pickup sittin over by the wall. I'm tryin to slide my way over there, windmillin my arms with every step when, by some miracle of physics or somethin, I manage to grab the stick while it's in mid-swing. Now, I may have goofed around in school thinkin about girls and whatnot, but I paid enough attention to still remember my Newton to this day, so I gave that stick a shove, sent the ninja out of range and propelled myself towards the camper shell. I picked it up and held it in front of me while I walked towards the ninja, hopin to back him up against the dumpster. He kept swingin that stick and punched a couple of holes in the fiberglass, but he didn't land anything on me, which was a definite improvement. I finally got him backed up to where I could do somethin when I started to smell smoke. I looked down and saw that the ninja's foot was on fire and, me bein wet to he waist with donut grease, I turned and ran as fast as I could. When I felt like I was a safe distance away, a couple hundred feet or so, I turned to see that ninja goin up like 4th of July, Chinese New Year, Chernobyl, the heart of the sun and Richard Pryor combined. I never saw nothin go from normal to pile of ash quicker, even in them cartoons with that martian that's always tryin to blow up the earth. You know, that one that fights that rabbit and the rabbit always turns the laser back on the martian and he's like Lot's wife, only he gets made into ask instead of salt. This ninja was just like that, minus the rabbit, laser and bein a martian. Also, it wasn't drawn and he wasn't a person-shaped pile of ash, just a regular pile. And he was covered in donut grease. Other than that, it was exactly the same.

I later figured out that the plexiglass windows on the camper top, bein curved, concentrated the sunlight into a small point, like a magnifyin glass will do over an ant hill, if you're a young man and disposed to that kinda thing, which I am not, but I've heard about it from some people I used to know.

After defeatin the ninja with help from my friend, the sun, I turned around to go change my pants and who was standin behind me tryin to catch flies in his open mouth but Jared. He was just gapin, lookin back and forth from me to the pile of ash and the still burnin donut grease, his jaw just flappin up and down like a bass that's just been caught. Finally, he squeaked out a little, "!"

Well, I just didn't know what to say, so I just told him, "Don't worry, that fire'll burn itself out." And then I walked back in the shop, mutterin "Durn it all! Consarnit! Flippin Flapjacks!" Under my breath. I'm sorry for the foul language, but I figure y'all can handle it after bein exposed to whatever else on the internets.

I didn't tell no one about what had happened, because I didn't know what to say. I thought I'd just blown the whole operation. I was pretty jumpy there for a couple hours. Then Jared's mom called. I went to high school with Brenda. She's a couple years younger than me, and we didn't run in the same circles or anything, but we see each other at potlucks and cake walks every now and then, but I doubted she was callin me to buy a raffle ticket this time.

She began, "Hello, Pat, this is Brenda."

I decided to play it cool. "Hi Brenda, it's been a long time. To what do I owe this pleasure? Is it Girl Scout Cookie season again?"

"Actually, Pat," she wasn't havin any nonsense, "I'm calling about Jared. I've heard some disturbing things this afternoon."

"Is this about those extra bear claws?" I asked. "Because I gave those to him."

"No, Pat, it's not about that." She took a deep breath. "Look," she sighed, "I know we don't know each other that well, but I'm worried about Jared. He spends all his time in his room playin them video games of his and I think it's starting to harm him." Her voice went all shaky and I think she started to cry. "I think the divorce has been really hard on him. I mean, he used to be such a sweet kid and now he's always wearin black everywhere and he's listenin to this music that sounds like people are hittin their guitars with cats. And then today, he comes home and says he saw you fight a man with a stick and then BURN him to death."

My mind went blank. "Well, uh, Brenda," I stammered, "I, um, don't...uh"

She interrupted me, "I know, Pat. It's ridiculous. I think those video games got into his head and now he's hallucinating or something. Maybe, I don't know, maybe he's on the drugs or something."

Then I heard Jared in the background yellin, "Mooooooooooooaaaaamm! I'm not making it up! Jeez! Why can't you believe me?!"

She covered the phone with her hand, but I heard, muffled, "Jared, I am on the phone!" She said this last stucatto, like all moms know how to do when they're angry. Then, she returned to me. "I'm at wit's end here, Pat. So, I was wonderin, could you sit him down and talk to him or something?"

I don't know what came over me, but I agreed to talk to him. He's comin in tomorrow morning at 7. I don't know what I'm going to say, but I'm sure I'll let you know.

1 comment:

gandy said...

I can't believe she didn't believe Jared. It's so plausible, after all.