- Serious Musician
- Posts: 2194
- Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2007 1:43 am
- Gender: Male
My parents moved around a lot. We stayed in some towns a matter of hours. The longest we remained in one town was Willcox, Az. We stayed about nine months as I recall. Then my dad uprooted us to Salinas, California where we broke that record and stayed for nine years.
There was a “scene” at the Northridge Mall in the late 1970’s that has held a special place in my heart for nearly forty years. I’ve always felt there was a story to tell about that time and its inhabitants. It would take a multi-volume work to even begin to capture it accurately. This is just a slice of that memory.
That slice needed a dash of spice to knit the rest of the ingredients together and make them sweeter. And then, finally, bittersweeter.
It’s an Oprah/Doctor Phil world now where people go on talk shows and spill their insides about their pasts. Vent their spleens about every perceived childhood dysfunction that led them to being the complete fuck-ups they are now. Facebook has only added to that pathetic phenomenon. That is not my intention with Teenage Graceland. My intention first and foremost is to entertain. So, I hope I’ve written something that’s funny, scary, romantic and yes, sad.
It’s gonna cost you 2.99 to find out…
…but here’s a taste.
Rupert’s toupee was his crown. He kept leaning to his right and peeking in the rearview mirror. His grin looked like the bottom half of Charlie Brown’s head. “Ten years younger, Rupert old boy. Twenty, I dare say.” And the guy at Hair Trigger said the glue could withstand an F-5 tornado. Rupert had also been combing Grecian formula into his beard and moustache. Jessica loved his new look. And tonight she was gonna show it. Again. He had two hours to get to her apartment in Hollister and then back to Carmel before his wife got off work at McDonald’s. She’d always resented his success. She just couldn’t face the fact that his talents were…one more peek in the rearview…lookin’ suave, M’man…Christ, there’s a cop flashing his lights behind him.
Rupert glanced at the speedometer. Seventy-two. Seventeen miles an hour over the limit. Damn. If he gets a ticket he’ll have to explain what he was doing there. “Why, Isabelle, Sweetums…I wuz gonna pick up some perfume at the Emporium and the Grease soundtrack at Musicland. Our anniversary’s right around the corner.” “Three months is right around the corner, Pooh-Bear.” “Of course they have nicer shops in Carmel than Salinas. I just didn’t want any of your friends to see me buying them. You know how they talk…”
Rupert took a deep breath. She’ll buy it. She has to. He looked in the rearview again and the swirling red and blue lights eclipsed the rising moon. It floated above the CHiP car like an engorged mosquito…fat and full of blood. Pray God this cop isn’t Buford T. Justice. Whoa…more like Xaviera Hollander. A lady cop with an hourglass bod. Like that cop in The Gumball Rally. He checked his toupee and prepared to work some charm. He might not have to flash that fiver he kept near his license for just such an occasion. Hold on…why was she doubled over? Did she drop her pencil? She seems to be convulsing. Her silhouette is jerking wildly. Something is wrong with her face. He didn’t notice that shnozz before. Christ, that makes Streisand’s beak look like a shirt button. Rupert’s eyes were stitched to the rearview of his Dark blue ‘76 Nova. The lady cop’s uniform was ripped and seemed to hang off her body. Her gun belt snapped and fell to the asphalt. Then she stopped spasming and stood erect. Did she just grow a foot and a half? Wait, where’d she go? He looked to his left and saw a uniform hanging loosely from…a huge dog? It was standing before the driver’s door. Two hairy paws dangling at its side, each sporting five two inch claws that were in constant motion. A long snout came bursting through the window. Jaws full of ivory daggers gaped wide and seized Rupert’s throat. He looked into two dark, blank eyes and saw his loving wife of twenty-four years. He saw all her sacrifices, patience and devotion. The sickening crunch of his windpipe was barely heard over the months of poorly concocted lies and schemes running through his mind. His future sprayed in a lurid shower all over the steering wheel, dashboard and windshield. The beast backed up and dragged Rupert’s rag doll corpse through the window, ripping flesh and sinew on shards of glass. It dropped him on the asphalt and knelt to feed. Two headlights shone briefly in its eyes and continued heading north. The beast consumed Rupert’s viscera and genitals then started on his head. Rupert’s skull snapped and popped like a nightmarish bowl of Rice Kripsy’s. The beast threw its head back and gulped greedily. Then it began shaking its head wildly from side to side, choking and beating its chest. It leaned over and coughed out a sticky, mangled clump of hair. It stood erect once more and caught its breath. Bright lights shone on its bloody snout and a horn blared.
Ralph Ramirez was staring at the dotted lines on 101 but he was watching last night’s episode of Chico and the Man. It wasn’t as good without Freddie Prinze but it was still worth a few guffaws. Especially after an ice cold Bud or four. Holy SHIT...what is THAT?
Ralph hit the horn on his Freightliner a split second before it splatted into a large dog standing upright beside a red mound of….what? He stomped on the brake like it was a giant roach and steadied the wheel. The eighteen wheeler fish-tailed slightly but didn’t jack-knife. It stopped two hundred feet away in the right lane. Ralph looked in his left side view and saw a long, crooked streak of wetness glistening beneath his tail lights. Small pieces of cloth were stuck to the blacktop and they flapped in the light, westerly breeze. They formed a ghastly bread crumb trail back to a dark car parked in front of a CHiP cruiser with its lights tangoing on top. Santa Maria, how’d he miss that? He knew how.
Ralph opened the door slowly, looked out and hopped down. He spotted a call box about a quarter mile back on his side of the road. There were headlights approaching quickly. He jumped back up in the cab, reached behind the seat and pulled out several road flares. Ralph jogged to the rear of the trailer and set two flares about twenty feet behind it. The approaching cars slowed and began to pass around the truck in single file. Was that a paw twitching on a white dotted line? Jesus, those were long-ass claws. He set three flares along the side of the Freightliner, then climbed back in the cab. He grabbed a Burger King bag from the passenger floorboard, whipped a pen from his shirt pocket and scribbled on the bag. “Gone to call box ¼ mile north. Back in 10. Ralph Ramirez, driver.”
He jumped down and reflexively looked toward the paw. It was a human foot, now lying still. The toenails appeared to be painted red. Ralph rubbed his eyes and started jogging toward the call box. His mind raced and zig-zagged with confusion. “It couldn’t have been a paw. You can’t tell the cops it was. It’s only been a few hours since you popped that speed. They’ll find out. You’ll lose your job and your license. Back to sanitation. IF Chevio can get you your job back. And it’ll be graveyards. Ten to six up to your knees in shit till you retire. Or jam a gun in your mouth. And wasn’t that dog standing up? Don’t-say-a-word, Ralph you fuckin Pendejo.”
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Robert George 2/4/2017
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