Intro: Here's my shitty book that no one is ever going to read. It's about an asshole, me, and a fucked-up world, this one. I shouldn't write when depressed, but when better? Don't listen to me. Replace all negative with twice positive.
"I'm The Pretty Pie Girl. I'm The Pretty Pie Girl." her chipmunk voice sings as she waltzes and twirls with a chocolate cookie. The TV is blaring, "You're my Ookie Ookie Cookie." She has the head of an adorable girl and the body of a pie, with one slice missing at the bottom. Her computer generated smile is happier than humanly possible. Her tiny arms have gloves and cute legs have boots. She sways and sirens, "You're my Ookie Ookie Cookie."
"I'm your Ookie Ookie Cookie," the dark cube croons in lowest bass.
I select a box from the cupboard, The Hexachocolator, a six sided cake with six kinds of chocolate. In bright yellow letters it proclaims, "Zero Grams Trans Fat." That's good.
Now she's going down a slide, "Capsulsgrave Confections are Deeeeee-licious." I crack two eggs. Look at all the subliminal sexual cues. This borders on child porn. Anything to sell as much poison as possible. I measure the oil. I use olive oil not grease. The box says one cup, but I'm gonna use half. One cup, that's crazy.
I beat the mix with a wooden spoon.
The "real" children, one tenth as cartoonish, are banging their spoons to the musical on their breakfast table chanting, "Ookie Ookie Cookie." How many impressionable minds are watching this whorescrappening? I pour the batter into a ring pan and bake at 367.
I go upstairs and get the logic puzzle magazine I bought with my allowance. I make a logic chart in a bent spiral notebook with a blue pen low on ink. The system I have makes it too easy. That's enough of that.
I head down, and as I look at my coat hanging at the bottom of the winding bannister, I see Burt in the pocket taking a cigarette. I go to the office and tell Diane. She has a perfect face and body. No chance she would ever want me. Besides staff can't date residents. But even if she could, she wouldn't. She tells me not to leave things out. That's what they say? That's the official West House policy? Anything left out is up for grabs.
I take from my coat the application for the Office of Disabled Services and sit on one of the couches in the TV room to fill it out, so I can get a good job and get out of this institution as soon as possible.
Pat sits on the other couch smoking. Every so often, she turns her head to the side, then back, like a chicken.
Oh boy, here we go, first question: ETHNIC GROUP. They don't even ask name first. Two boxes-one for white, one for black. I opt to fill in my own answer- 1/16 Light, 1/16 Dark, 1/16 Medium, 1/16 Medium Dark, 1/16 Medium Light, 1/16 Kiss, 1/16 My, 1/16 Sweet, 1/16 Fat, and 1/16 Ass.
Pat is snoring with a cigarette burning in her mouth.
I say, "PAT."
"Thank you." She taps off her ash, turns her head, and goes back to smoking.
Second question: Age. I write,"40," quickly and legibly.
Third question: Describe how your disability prevents you from working? I think about it. You're asking me? Ask the doctor. The hospital has a file cabinet full of my records. Why are you asking me? It's hard to put into words. I think and think. I crumple the paper into a ball and throw it in the basket. Nice shot. JORDAN!
I step out for some air. Davey is squatting against the side of the house. Only a skinny person can sit like that. Both my legs would snap off. A rollie burning between his blackened fingers, he spits mucus on the blacktop between his legs. Doesn't that disgust him? Spit to the side. He doesn't care. Davey has a boyish face and manner. He doesn't care about shaving, but he does when Vivian kicks him in the butt. He's forty, but sounds younger, "God bless you, Fox."
"How are you, Dave?"
"Oh, fine. Fine. Fine." His voice is pleasant and rhythmic.
"What you up to?"
"Trimmed Miss Martha's bushes yesterday." His face brightens, "Oh, Miss Martha is a pretty girl." He giggles and mumbles unintelligeable syllables as he brings his face into my face. I back up. Oh excuse me, do you mind not spitting in my mouth?
"She gave me five dollars."
"I hope you invested it wisely."
"I got these and a pop."
"So, what are your plans for today?"
"Oh, Nuthin. Nuthin."
Why does everyone keeps saying that?
"What ya doin?"
He smokes more than anyone would possibly need to. I shouldn't criticize. The things I'm not supposed to do come naturally. The fingers closest to the cigarette are stained the darkest. Same pattern on his teeth. I've got to quit smoking. His father nagged him to quit for years, then died from lung cancer. You could say it matters, you could say it doesn't. Is one death better than another? Why live at all?
Loucarla, another super hot girl, comes out and announces dinner. So pretty. Petite. Skinny legs. She's got the Snowchester farm girl look. Blue jeans. A curly mane with bangs. She's got the accent. Pronounces Snowchester in one syllable, "Snochstr." I have no chance with her either.
There's twenty of us eating at the long antique table. This house was a mansion in the twenties. The frames of the windows and walls have fancy carving. The ceilings have ornate ridges too. We get to live where rich people used to live. Of course when they had it everything was new. This mansion was all for just one family. We have twenty people living spaciously.
You see the same pattern on the street, a mansion every couple of blocks, with ten normal houses in between. What used to be one rich person's estate is now split into fifty normal sized yards.
I'm sitting next to Pretty Tony. He looks across the table to Loucarla and whispers, "I tapped that in the phone room." He smiles big. "I went right up to her in the phone room and pulled her pants down." We chuckle. He's not serious.
I say, "Loucarla, this tuna is really good."
She answers, "Thank you. The trick is fresh garlic. . . These hot dogs have half the fat."
I am morally compelled to speak up, "And what about carcinogens? Do they have half the carginogens?"
The table gets quiet. Bingo.
Burt says, "Car-in-o-gen," slowing down on the difficult letters.
I hold up an imaginary package. "Hello. Carcinogens. . . Sodium Nitrite and Sodium Nitrate. I rest my case."
"Hot dogs don't cause cancer," says Hippo.
Pat says, "I think I'm going to be sick."
Burt says, "Say goo'night."
Rich says, "There's nothing wrong with the hotdogs. They're the best, Roscoe Mueller."
I say no more, not to make a scene, but I snear knowingly. Oh no. They wouldn't put anything bad in something people eat.
Loucarla says, "Do you go through this every time you eat?"
A noticeably attractive girl is talking to me and smiling. This has to be a set up. She cons me into thinking she likes me, and when we go back to her room, her boyfriend jumps me.
"Where do you think cancer comes from?" Why even get my hopes up? I'm sure she's not into fat guys. "Well not every time. Well pretty much, yea, every time. Well probably not EVERY time, but most times."
She is staring.
"There were probably a few times I didn't."
She says, "I'll take that as a yes."
"So pretty much everything causes cancer." She laughs.
"Hydrogenated oil is heart attacks, but pretty much. Hot dogs, cold cuts, fruits and vegetables with pesticides, anything that comes in a plastic packaging, and of course coffee stirrers."
"Well yeah, think about it, you're putting a thin little strip of plastic into piping hot coffee and you're swirling it around. Do you have any idea how many thousands of carcinogens leech into the coffee? A lot."
"They wouldn't make anything that touches food with harmful chemicals."
I get louder, "You would think that! Sounds like a good rule. Death, take me now! . . . Are you kidding me? Please tell me you're kidding. They don't care if they kill people. They only care about one thing"
She cuts me off, "Follow the money."
"That's right." I laugh. "They would sell rat poison and call it Ratty-O's."
Loucarla can't see Pretty Tony smiling at her, subtly grabbing and thrusting like Michael Jackson, suggesting sex. I look back skeptically. He laughs. Pretty crude table manners. No one else notices.
"The birds dropping. It's a pyramid scheme. The dollar bill, look, a pyramid. They're all in on it. Don't you see? Follow the money."
"Foxavier, do you want fries?" I shouldn't, but I take some. Why am I doing this evil thing? It tastes good. You'll feel sick after. I feel sick now. Try not to take too many.
Burt is pushing the mashed potatoes towards Ralph, "No you finish your ve-ta-ble."
Ralph is smiling. He's pushing it back, "Have some more potatoes. You're a growing boy."
Burt, "You-r a gro-ing bo-y. . . I don't want any more, Ralph. I had a whole bag of chi-ps." He's always got his big bag of tortilla chips with him. I look at Ralph. He could be a serial killer. It would be the perfect opportunity, a counselor in a group home. I have no evidence, just a feeling.
Sonny takes a bite of my cake and says, "Mondays at six." Talking about her painting class. She's painted hundreds of free portraits and given hundreds of free lessons. There is no expression on her face. She looks like she's going to sleep. Her body drops on the floor. Pat yells, "Oh!" Everyone gathers around and we call 911. The ambulance takes her away unconscious.
It couldn't be the cake. The box specifically said, "Zero grams trans fat." I'm positive. I get the box out of the trash. See, "Zero grams trans fat per serving." Per serving? Why is 'per serving' in small letters? I read the ingredients: Water, bromated flour, hydrogenated rapeseed oil! Hydrogenated rapeseed oil? Those sneaky bastards. It was the cake. I read the word "hydrogenated" one more time on the side of the box.
After dinner a bunch of us sneak out the bedroom window and sit on the roof. Dennis, the biggest, with the deepest voice, smiles and giggles, "Kiss it."
Pretty Tony states with confidence,"Pimps up. Ho's down." How do you even respond to that? I just shake my head. He laughs, "You're problem is you need some pussy." He's right, although I don't agree with his methods.
Nate chuckles deeply and passes the KOOL to Burt.
Burt takes a long drag, then coughs it out making a sour face. "I got... my gir'friend...in Can-ton O-hio." He smiles with his long sloppy handlebar moustache..
Dennis says, "Intercourse," and chuckles.
I'm nervous about getting caught. "I'm going back in." I climb back in the window.
Burt says, "Say goo'night."
I hear the guy downstairs announce with his heavy Indian accent, "MED-I-CA-TION!" I descend the staircase. I'm first.
Then Hippo comes up. "I was here first." He's so big, by comparison I look like a troll. I say nothing.
"That's my place," he says with his big dumb face.
He yells at maximum volume turning his whole head red,"I WAS HERE FIRST!"
Everybody looks at him. I let him go, just to be the bigger man. This isn't the frikkin money line, it's a medication line. I guess he needs his medication real bad. Obviously. Can you blame him for being born and raised a pig? My life is not so much a life as a series of awkwardnesses.
I take two green and yellow capsules, Noeffenwayazil. It was just featured on the front page of The New York Times with the headline, "The New Miracle Drug!"
I read the ingredients on the empty cake box again, "Water, Bromated Flour," How can water be the first ingredient? It's a dry mix? Hydrogenated rapeseed oil. Just another name for trans fat.
It's my fault for not having a microscope on me when I was reading the ingredients.
Rich makes an announcement, "Guys, I have some sad news to report. Sonny passed away."
Life is an ocean of sorrow and I don't have a paddle.
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