"Well, who's gonna make 'em?" Nate tends to shoot back because he knows it certainly won't be me.
Three jobs in two weeks is either worthy of note or derision. I can't say my girlfriend inclined to the former. She emptied our apartment of everything she and her new walking cock could carry. Thankfully, they left me a quart of tequila (tuhkillya) to help me get tomorrow started. Montezuma silver to pay for one more sunrise.
I said to Nate, "Maybe it won't be me, but my point stands firm. If scientists just got over society's bullshit morals they'd be able to finance themselves solid. All they gotta do is invent sex machines, real hooker bots, or genetic service freaks, and those things'll fucking pay for all the good stuff sciences really want to build like mechanical surgeons and whatever."
A typical round of brilliant intellectual discussion that only two a.m. on a Tuesday can inspire: let's get the scientific community working on true to life blowjob machines. All the cash they suck out of mankind could finance a glorious revolution. The future isn't cheap, but sex sells, so there's hope we can pay the toll. Buy the Cocksucker EZ-2000, and help feed Africa.
I don't know. At the time I simply didn't want to talk about what was really on my mind. Jobless, Sherry gone, tomorrow looking dimmer as I drained another sunrise, I was wondering what the fuck I really wanted out of life; and if it even mattered what I wanted -- there's only so much influence a grain of sand has on the universe.
Nate paid his tab. Patting me on the shoulder he reassured me tomorrow would be another chance to spin the wheel of fortune.
He said, "'By indignities, men come to dignities.'"
I asked if that was a Nate original or a quote. He said he didn't know.
On his way out the door he suggested perhaps I should head home as well. The shot goes out of focus as I turn to respond then I'm waking up with what feels like a broken skull. I thank god for letting me pass out indoors until I notice the clown.
I can tell by the layout I'm in a hotel room -- the semblance of home for X amount of dollars. However, I don't know about other people's homes, but none of mine ever had a fully costumed clown hanging from the ceiling. I fell asleep with my clothes on, so it isn't hard to determine the belt around the clown's neck isn't mine. Yet, that's a small comfort once I hear knocking on the door.
Even without the dead clown I'd've growled, "No."
Another round of insistent knocks.
"Come back later," I shout, widening the fracture in my skull.
Keys clatter in the lock. Stomach churning at even the thought of moving quickly, I do my best to lunge at the door. But I'm too late. A Polish woman looking like the first line of defense against the Blitzkrieg steps into my room. I've seen myself hung over, so it isn't hard for me to imagine the sight from her eyes. The vampirically pale me with cigar burns for eyes looking sick and bloodthirsty standing between her and a clown suicide.
The maid glances at me. She cocks her head to the side to get a better look at the hanging clown.
Sighing, she remarks, "I forgot. It's Thursday. I'll get someone to help with the dead," and leaves as if she simply forgot her bottle of suicide cleaner. Buy one get one free at the your local drugstore, and remember to stock up before the holidays. She tosses a few Spanish words down the hall, and is soon joined by a slender Hispanic girl. Removing a body bag from under her supply cart, the Polish maid directs the Hispanic girl. I step to the side so as not to get in the way, and I can't help marveling at the nonchalance with which they remove the body.
Still, it's best to keep in mind luck runs out. And never expect the bizarre to remain on your side for long, it's always acting unexpectedly. I gather everything that looks like it both fits in my pockets and doesn't seem to belong in the room. Peering out into the hall I see the maids struggling to stuff the body bag down a chute. Interestingly, a sign above them reads: Bodies.
I hear the familiar ping of an arriving elevator and hurry towards the sound. Riding down with a dwarf dressed in a zebra Fedora, purple suit, and tiger print trench coat, I do my best to seem forgettable. No sense in being memorable, not while fleeing from a night with a clown corpse.
Without so much as a glance the dwarf holds a card towards me. He says, "I'm a facilitator between relaxation artists and the general public."
I find people forget those who give in more readily than those who resist, so I took his card. It read, "Hieronymus P. Valentyn: Bitches, Bitches, and Fine Ladies." We arrive in the lobby, and Hieronymus struts out.
In the lobby I set my sights on the door. One font in front of the other, all the while imagining myself moving quicker than Hermes; and I am the invisible man -- no one witnesses me. Half way to the exit I make the mistake of thinking everything is going to be okay.
I ignore the voice coming from the front desk. Buddy could mean anybody, especially some named Buddy, and I'm not him. Just because I'm the only one in the lobby doesn't mean...
"Dead clown guy."
The specificity forces my acknowledgement. Perched behind a small desk, the clerk reminds me of a well fed vulture. He mutters something in Spanish into a cell phone as he flaps a bony wing, beckoning me over. Something about how bored he seems gives me hope.
"Yeah?" I say without getting any closer to the desk. Twenty feet to the door. I can make it if I run. I'll probably puke all over myself, but I can get away.
"You coming back, or you checking out?"
I say, "I was planning on checking out."
The clerk nods, "Okay. I'm only saying because if you want another day you're going to have to pay for it. The lady only paid for last night."
"The lady you two checked in with last night."
The missing days are still fragmentary, but the clerk mentioning a woman puts a few disconnected puzzle pieces in focus: twin anchors, whiskey, and ribs; setting sail on Lake Michigan; a winding road through a forest; "I think I love you. That's why I hate you." ; the laughter has to stop somewhere. Not much made sense, however, it was better than nothing.
"If I checkout, and there's still anyone in the room..." I trailed off, but the clerk understood.
"I was just on the phone with Lola. She said the room's empty."
I put a scribble in the guestbook, return the key I'd apparently pocketed, then say, "I know how this sounds, but fuck-all, where am I?"
The clerk smiles, "Don't sweat it. We get a lot of that here. You're in Beecher's Hollow."
That's when I knew I was really fucked.