Going For a Drive
I can’t believe my medical electric scooter broke yesterday. Of course, my five year old son had to play around with it in the driveway, pretending it was a space shuttle. I was sitting at my kitchen table eating my organic bran flakes when a playful yelling came from the front of the house. I sluggishly got up and opened the front door. My son Ben was sitting on the pleather seat, his legs dangling above the four wheels. His short arms grasped the foam handles, causing his body to lean forward awkwardly. He made several spaceship noises with his mouth and rocked it back and forth until he knocked it over and the darn thing smashed against the pavement.
Thankfully, he got off with only a few bruises, but as my mom always used to say “if you break it, you buy it, and if you can’t buy it, get a substitute”. That substitute was my son’s mini Hummer that he drove around our small lawn.
I wasn’t sure if it would hold my weight at first. Ben’s small and skinny frame was nothing like my three hundred-pound-mass. This morning I stood in the garage hovering over the small vehicle nervously. Ben’s Hummer was small, but also much wider than my scooter. The small vehicle could’ve been mistaken for the actual car if it weren’t for its size.
The poor kid would probably kill me if I broke it, but I needed to get the groceries downtown while my wife was on a business trip. As I stood there scheming in the garage, her enthusiastic voice intruded my thoughts.
“You should really try shopping more often.”
“All that healthy stuff at those whole food stores still tastes amazing. You’d be surprised."
While I was hesitant about the idea at first, making weekly rounds to a whole foods turned out not too bad. Places with local groceries always smelled of fresh fruit, even the larger ones. Most of their health foods were quite good, though calling them health foods was debatable at times. I’m not the type to shop, but getting groceries could be a surprisingly calming slice of my day, especially when I could’ve spent it in front of my blaring TV. As my mind wandered back to my task, I hoped the Hummer’s seats wouldn’t be too uncomfortable.
When I sat down in the car, it heaved beneath my weight. By some miracle, it did not give out. Ben’s car is a hardy little machine. Despite it only being meant for twenty-minute long cruises across twenty-foot driveways, the thing had a solid metal frame under all that cheap beige plastic. Even the tires had a thick coat of rubber on them. I might even go as far as to say that they are of better quality than my scooter.
The car went much slower than it would go during Ben’s mini racing escapades, but it went fast enough so I could beat out a speed walker. It also felt good to think about cruising by those annoying people that always butted in front of me when entering the line to the deli. Even worse, they tower over me intimidatingly with their expensive yoga pants and spandex shirts.
As much as I’ve enjoyed eating organic fruit for the last few months, thanks to encouragement from my wife, whole food stores can be downright terrifying. I can’t help but feel horrendously out-of-place wearing triple extra large Packers t-shirts within a sea of stick-like aliens trying to sell me ginger kombucha. To add insult to injury, I’m always on a scooter, bringing out at least a dozen nasty looks whenever I visit. To add more insult to injury, I was going in my son’s toy Hummer. Lord knew if it would fit through the doors, and lord knew if they’d even allow me in if I made past them.
It took a bit of work to get the thing into the car. Thankfully, our 2006 Chrysler van still had a working ramp in its left side door and the back seats pushed down that allowed for an easier entry. That crappy old thing had about a dozen rusty dents in its back bumper from the Halloween incident six years prior. At the time, my older son, Sam, was in the back of the car, huddling from the cold in his Harry Potter costume. The plastic broom he had sitting on the ground went flying when I crashed into the Stevenson’s mailbox. I had been distracting myself by opening a nut roll out of Sam’s plastic pumpkin because he didn’t want them.
By some karmic force, the broom had hit me hard in the back of the head when the car bashed into the Purple Vikings mailbox, beheading it and sending it flying five feet back into the lawn. I found it all quite hilarious. I assure it wasn’t on purpose. By some miracle, the Stevenson’s weren’t home. Sam and I had ended up placing the mailbox next to its split pole. I’d almost thought of duct taping it back on, but ended up just leaving a roll from my car at the doorstep. They never found out it was me, which was probably for the best considering Vern Stevenson is the kind of guy who’s serious about burning foam cheeseheads in his backyard fire pit.
While driving down the freeway, I passed by a circus show stadium I took my boys to every July. I kept thinking about those crazy people who made tigers jump through flaming hoops. Every so often, they’d make it smaller till not even they know their large furry companion will pull it off. I wondered if those poor things ever felt embarrassed when their pelts were set aflame during the final act. Was all the attention worth it for their tasty meal of fresh steaks afterwards? Perhaps they didn’t do it for the meal in the first place. Maybe it was all for the high of an adrenaline thrill. I have no idea why tigers do the things they do. Maybe I would find out for myself. Going through a grocery store is no flaming hoop, but it sure seemed that way to me.
Getting the little car out into the grocery parking lot was a breeze. I don’t know why all those scooter engineers didn’t design their models after rideable toy cars. They wouldn’t go so slow and would look ten times more badass. Instead of looking like some unusually old and fat college student on an abnormally slow moped, I could look like an unusually old and fat man driving an abnormally small Hummer.
When I slowly cruised down the sidewalk, a couple of teenagers held their phones toward me. They were playing a game of soccer in the parking lot before I caught their eye. My best guess would be that they’d post the videos on Reddit. Not that I really cared. Getting a thousand upvotes and becoming internet famous for a week didn’t sound too bad to me. At least it wasn’t as bad as how the people inside would treat me when they saw me block the aisles with my big tires. Despite the whining and complaining that would ensue, they could suffer the twenty minutes. At least eighty percent of them practice meditation anyway.
A few chuckles and suppressed grins assaulted me when I went through the doors. Thankfully, the toy Hummer fit, but just barely. No staff stopped me at the door. Instead, they laughed with the others and took a few pictures with their phones.
“Nice ride man!” said a nearby cashier.
I lifted my hand and made a peace sign as I drove past. My action was followed by a few enthusiastic whoops and light applause. I didn’t engage in conversation. My goal was the deli. I fumbled in my pocket and took out a list. Unfortunately for today, I could only get a few things from it as my small ride didn’t afford much room. I got the last chuckle when I passed a few people before they could go in front of me in line. I bought a large fillet of smoked salmon and continued with my shopping. By this point, the shoppers divided into two factions: the ones who found my actions quite childish and the ones who found my presence downright hilarious. As expected, the glares I received were exponentially worse than my usual cruises. To that, I say, if you attach two large barbells to your shoulders and can still walk twenty feet without having to rest, then we can talk. As much as the typical customer sees my actions as the equivalent of a vegetarian who smokes a pack of cigarettes per day, I take more steps around the store week by week. That would be the final act of today’s show. Today, I would walk through three isles to the produce section. I’d done two last time.
The only difference in today’s routine was that I had nowhere to put a large bag of apples. The hummer had a trunk, but that was only for show. In reality, it was nothing but part of the plastic covering that went all the way around the tiny vehicle. When I got near the produce section, I stopped the car and slowly got out. This was probably for the best considering it was smelling like an electrical fire. I was still holding my bag of smoked fish from the deli. I might have to tough it out and carry everything in my lap when I left the store.
It seemed to take a millennium for my stumpy legs to waddle to my destination. I put as many apples in a bag as there were people standing around me when I got out. Four people had looked in my direction, humored and confused when my large figure unstuck itself from the tiny car. Two of them were an older couple in golfer attire. They asked me where I’d gotten it from. The other two were joggers in expensive yoga pants and spandex tank tops. They asked how the car managed to run for so long. I answered all their questions by simply saying that I didn’t know and laughed heartily. I grasped the bag of apples as I came back to the car. Every one of those granny smith’s would be especially tasty as I ate them throughout the week.
I waddled back to the Hummer and sat down. My feet were already hurting from being sandwiched between the floor and the rest of my weight. Despite my pain, I was somewhat proud of putting in that mileage. While my mind was preoccupied with thoughts about nails pushing into my calves, I was proud that I even got this far. The accomplishment gave me a generous boost of confidence.
Unfortunately, the concerning electrical smell hadn’t gone away. It would be only a matter of time before the others would notice, and they would kick me out. When I went up to the cash register, I realized my absurd side show wasn’t over. The cashier looked down at my Hummer, very concerned as it sputtered and spewed out some smoke. Ben’s car was electric, and I had probably driven it too hard. Before anyone asked questions, I moved to the doors.
“Hey, you forgot your receipt!” joked the cashier behind me. Smoke billowed out from behind. If anyone were snapping pictures at this moment, it would have looked like I was farting grey fumes. The smoke became a large, musty cloud around the vicinity, causing nearby shoppers to fan the air or cough. I drove out the doors as the grey cloud thickened. A car abruptly stopped in front of me as I tottered past it. It was a police van with two confused officers looking out from their front windshield. To my horror, I realized I still hadn’t entirely escaped from my daring stunt. A small red flame flickered out from behind me. As my car moved painfully slow across the road, I could see one of the officers mouthing “what the fuck” from their car. Once I had past them, the cop car drove forward. They turned into the next parking lane. While I didn’t want to believe it, they were likely trying to park near me.
I was only a couple of feet away from my car. If only I had something to douse the fire. I didn’t have time to take out my ramp either. If I couldn’t figure something out in the next two minutes, the Hummer was going to burn. The groceries I had placed on the ground next to it might go up as well. The assholes behind me would probably charge me with reckless endangerment or some other stupid bullshit. I could only hope the packed parking lot would buy me some time.
A couple of young voices caught my attention. The same two kids who snapped pictures of me when I first entered the store appeared from behind my car.
“Hey, you need some help?” one of them said. The one who spoke was a teenage girl holding a handheld fire extinguisher, and the other was a teenage boy standing next to her. He was still holding his phone and snapping a few more pictures.
“Yes, that would be great. Thanks a million, you guys.” I said. I got out of the Hummer. I didn’t want them to go near the flames, but the girl walked over and doused them out anyway. Within seconds, the hummer looked like it had gone through a severe blizzard. The only difference was that this snow bubbled to the ground.
“You should have seen yourself come out!” giggled the girl. “Thank God, my mom has an emergency kit in her car.” I thanked them again and hastily opened the side door. To my surprise, the teens pushed the burned and doused hummer up the ramp into my car.
“You better get out of here,” whispered the teenage boy. With the Hummer stashed, I closed the doors.
I had placed the apples and fish on the pavement, picked them up again, and put them in the passenger seat.
“That was so awesome!” chimed the girl. “Come back again.”
I let out a chuckle and opened the driver’s door.
“Well, we’ll see about that,” I replied. “I might need a different strategy next time.”
I waved goodbye and drove off. Thankfully, the cops did not follow me when I left, though I saw their annoyed expressions in my rearview mirror as they got out of their car and saw me drive away. As I moved out onto the freeway, a big smile took over my face. If I weren’t driving down a fifty-five mile an hour road, I would have put my arms over the steering wheel and died laughing. Instead, I fumbled around in the passenger seat. My hand wrapped around a plump granny smith. I took it and munched on it as I continued to drive.
I'm from the small town of Waunakee, one of the most forgettable places on planet earth. The place is so forgettable, that I'm ninety five percent convinced that there are at least several unrelated towns with the same name. No, I've never looked it up. When I first toured a big college, my mom told me to say we're from Madison if anyone asked. If I said where we're really from, I'd have to answer many questions. And those questions would lead to a detailed disscussion about how most country folks in the midwest are used to smelling cow manure every week of the summer and how most of us only become aware of it when a non midwesterner brings it up. Everyone in a diary state is tough when considering our resilence to horrible smelling elements. The only thing we can't stand is the stench of nutrient digesters, that brings even the most hardened native citizens to puking.
Hopefully, I'll never be asked about the scenery. Whenever I think of the scenic elements of the town, I think of the deer. They're the only local alternate to beef. They bound graciously across the hayfields, pulling up their cute white tails when you pass them in your car and taste amazing. They also have chonic wasting disease. A couple years ago I went on a field trip to a testing station for the conditon. Several men where dissecting deer carcasses, slicing off their heads to take brain samples. One of them took his bloodly glove and rubbed it against his nose. The cuddly creatures were reduced to nothing but miscellaneous quarters of flesh and severed heads spread out in trays across a concrete room.
This is where I'm from. Waunakee. A quaint wasteland.
No one stole the sacred parking spot of the legendary Rudsey Paul. The man shook his fist with five rings that gleamed against the streetlight.
“Aww, come on!” He grumbled.
As the sky melted into a deep orange, the shiny texture of his black leather jacket, slightly reflected its tint. He continued to cuss and mutter to himself as a red convertible parallel parked in front of him, putting the right curb to maximum capacity.
“They had to be right in front of me!” he muttered
“Right in front of me!”
It was no use, he’d have to go down a block and walk back up to the spot. In the passenger seat, a small creature wriggled inside what looked like a fancy meshed handbag meant for small dogs. The creature stuck out his small grey nose and sniffed at Rudsey.
“Looks like we’ll need to walk a ways lil bud.” said Rudsey.
He put his foot on the gas and slowly drove up the road. His dark blue Jaguar reflected the harsh whites of the streetlights that gracefully slid off its slim body. What was left of the setting sun glowed across the windshield. Rudsey had to drive two blocks before finding another spot. He disgruntledly parked his car at another curb strewn with paper bags and cigarettes that flowed into the storm drain. As he unzipped the bag from the passenger seat, a set of curious beady eyes stared up at him. Rudsey grabbed the mid-sized porcupine and placed him on his shoulder.
The creature sniffed around at his new surroundings as Rudsey exited the car, locked it, and put his keys in the pocket of his expensive leather pants. Heavy evening humidity wafted against him the second he left the air conditioning of his Jaguar. Rudsey reopened the door and threw his leather jacket in the backseat, relocking his car again. Underneath, Rudsey wore a vintage Aerosmith shirt tucked into his pants, its smooth red lettering as vibrant as it was in its prime years.
“Let’s hope I don’t get hounded by a bunch of idiots again, isn’t that right Rudsey Jr?”
Rudsey Jr turned his head to his owner’s voice, attempting to climb his hair, which was a curly brown cascading to his shoulders. Despite his aging, Rudsey’s hair remained thick, thick enough for a teenage porcupine to burrow within it.
“Now don’t get too carried away there fella?” joked Rudsey.
“I have enough piercings as it is, if you know what I mean?”
Rudsey carefully unravelled Rudsey Jr out of his hair, revealing the multiple silver studs dangling from his ear. Rudsey Jr’s long quills lightly brushed against Rudsey’s neck as the small creature squirmed in his hands.
“Now calm down, we have a ways to go.”
Rudsey’s pupils dilated as he stared down at the pet in his hands. The acid was definitely kicking in. Rudsey Jr morphed into a spikey neon yellow ball in his hands, looking like a stolen comet as he continued to squirm.
“Wow, Rudso, your lookin bright enough to light a back porch tonight.”
Rudsey Jr crawled up Rudsey’s arm and hugged his shoulder.
“Alright, have it your way.” said Rudsey.
“But don’t come complaining to me when you get lost in your own hair house.”
Rudsey walked down the beer soaked sidewalk. Images of Rudsey Jr drinking tea out of a hair teacup while sitting in a hair chair in a hair kitchen invaded his mind. Rudsey Jr would go to the hair fridge and take out hair noodles that he put in the hair microwave. He’d then take a hair fork with his tiny paws and shovel the hair noodles into his mouth that were made of...hair.
The filamentous illusions dissipated as Rudsey’s eyes averted to the sidewalk. Golden stars appeared beneath his cowboy boots. Beneath them was black space. He hopped across them like stepping stones, making sure he didn’t misstep into the abyss. This continued until he reached the other block.
“Almost there Jr. Just a few more jumps.”
A few confused onlookers watched Rudsey as he cautiously crouched down in the middle of each Hollywood star before making a leap to the other one. His game of hopscotch ended once he reached a club, which, to his relief, wasn’t packed to the outside.
Underneath his feet was the last star he’d jumped to. The black space solidified to pavement. He sighed in relief and went a few paces back so that he now faced the star. Rudsey Jr continued to cling to his hair, staring blankly at the ground.
“You see that Rudsey? That’s you! That’s your name!”
Rudsey took Rudsey Jr off his shoulder, placing him in the middle of the star which read Rudsey Paul in thick gold letters. Like the rest of the sidewalk, grime and small bits of litter caked the star. Rudsey Jr found a piece of paper straw wrapping and pushed it around with his nose. Even in this high state, Rudsey’s nose crinkled to the stench of old trash wafting from the ground.
The rank conjured up unpleasant images of the stale and moldy hamburger buns he’d removed from his pantry the day prior. That mold was now climbing up his boots, turning them a sick light green.
“Argh get off... Stupid mold!”
Rudsey scraped his boots against the sidewalk. A voice came beside him.
“Giving prickly fido his daily afternoon stroll?” it said.
Rudsey turned his head towards the club. Sitting in the darkness against the wall was a homeless man, likely about the same age as Rudsey. The man slumped against a stuffed hikers backpack and had a blue felt blanket spread out beneath him. As Rudsey evaluated him closer, he noticed the backpack was slightly open at the top. Rudsey Jr faced the man, giving him a few sniffs from afar.
“Yep, just giving him some air.” said Rudsey.
“You could’ve done better than the walk of fame. It’s pretty rank out here these days,” said the man.
Rudsey got to his knees and stroked Rudsey Jr.
“I usually take him out to the backyard. I’ve got a big house. He’s such a trouble maker though. For whatever reason, he makes it a mission to get lost in my zen garden and will practically try to take a swim in my pool when I attempt to usher him back to the house,” said Rudsey.
The man stared at Rudsey inquisitively, making Rudsey a little uncomfortable, but he continued speaking.
“Try to imagine this guy tottering around a diving board, about to jump to his doom like a lemming before I come up behind him, guiding him back to solid ground with a handful of lettuce. That bugger always runs off the second my eyes are off of him.”
“So what brings you here?” asked the man.
Rudsey pointed to the star, scanning his finger over the letters.
“I had to show him my landmark.” said Rudsey
He took his hand and wiped off some of the trash from the star. The man continued to look up at Rudsey with a face of slight mischief, as if he was in on some joke.
“Ah, I see. Showing him the mark of the great shredder Rudsey Paul.” he said.
The man averted his eyes towards the porcupine.
“What a shame it is that the little guy doesn’t realize he’s a foot away from a rock god.”
Rudsey beamed and held some lettuce out to Rudsey Jr that he’d taken from his pocket, trying to distract himself from the homeless man’s strange tone. For a few seconds, he puzzled in his acid-addled brain if the last line he’d said was sarcastic. Rudsey was quick to brush it off and continued with his babbling.
“You wouldn’t believe where I got this guy,” he said.
“I have a manager who once worked as a breeder for exotic pets and he hooked me up with a porcupine.”
The porcupine started transforming again into a glowing, spiked orb as it trotted around. Rudsey paused, remaining transfixed with the rotating spiked mass a few seconds before he started speaking again.
“And I tell you, this guy had literally everything dude. And I mean everything: bengal tigers, lions, Burmese pythons, crocodiles, porcupines, you name it.”
“Surprised you settled with the porcupine,” said the man.
Rudsey chuckled and picked up Rudsey Jr in his hands. The creature continued to glow and morph as a flexible, spiked blob.
“Oh, I was thinking about getting a croc, but I’m too squeamish about feeding something raw meat all the time. Porcupines are still cool though, they actually grow to be huge. They also turn into this weird glowing orb thing whenever I’m high. Or at least Rudsey Jr does. I think these guys have magical powers or something.”
The man lit a smoke from a lighter in his pocket, his hand shaking as he did it, trying to stifle a laugh.
“You named your pet porcupine, Rudsey Jr?” he chuckled.
“He’s not any porcupine, he’s a magic porcupine,” said Rudsey.
He jerked back as the glowing orb of Rudsey Jr expanded in size.
“I think you should have him for a minute. Looks like he’s about to explode or something,” said Rudsey.
The man turned to his backpack, pulling apart the drawstrings to create a wider opening. A few sets of eyes peeped out of the dark interior before scuttling out into the light. The eyes belonged to a dozen white rats that piled onto the sidewalk.
“If you think your pet is magic, check out these guys.” said the man.
He placed his hand on the ground in front of the rats. Within a few seconds, they formed themselves in a neat line in front of the hand. The first rat ran towards it, jumping over it. The others repeated the action, who ran back around to rejoin the end of the line. Rudsey watched on in wonderment as he pressed Rudsey Jr up to his chest. The rats reminded him of watching hurdles back in high school, running and jumping gracefully non stop.
Rudsey was now one of them, charging full speed to the next bar. As he made his leap, a giant rat came over his head, engulfing him in shadow. Enormous rats filled the entire track, who skittered past him to the finish line, their giant feet pounding against the ground.
“Does your porcupine know any tricks?” asked the man.
Rudsey snapped out from his waking dream. Rudsey Jr was still glowing in his hands and continued growing. The sight gave Rudsey sweaty palms. He slowly got to his knees and placed Rudsey Jr back on the ground and looked at the homeless man to better register his face. As he processed the prior conversation in his addled mind, something in his voice seemed familiar to Rudsey.
“No, no tricks. Unless you count profuse lettuce eating.” said Rudsey.
His waking dream rematerialized. He stood at the finish line of the track, hands on his knees. The rats had disappeared, replaced by a massive crowd on the bleachers beside him. After a few seconds of hard panting, he stood erect in his more youthful and skinny body. Two high school students in red and white tank tops with Dover High printed on them ushered him towards them. Young Rudsey, still panting, trudged to the bleachers. He got closer and froze. The student to the right was the homeless man, clean, young, and shaven. He sported a thick blond mullet and had a spiked bracelet on his left arm.
Rudsey shook his head and rubbed his eyes. The street was back, with the man leaning on his backpack. His rats crawled around Rudsey’s boots, sniffing them. They paid no mind to Rudsey Jr, who retreated behind Rudsey. The man made a clicking sound with his tongue and the rats returned to his blanket. This time he had a nearly empty roll of duct tape he held an inch above the ground. Like before, the rats lined up and jumped through the middle of the cardboard ring.
Rudsey took another close look at the man’s face. Unfortunately, the man had leaned into a shadow, making it hard to see. Could it be? Nah, just the acid.
“Have you ever had those guys race on a track?” asked Rudsey.
“Yeah I did, I had a tiny little rat football field in my Coronado beach apartment when I used to have one.”
Rudsey’s eyes brightened.
“You had an apartment in Coronado? Where?”
“Right along the beach. Would run past a few navy seals each morning before retiring to my studio,” said the man.
“Coronado! I can’t believe it. I just sold a mansion there three weeks ago. Was one of my favorites. My buddies would party there all night whenever I was off tour in the 80s. I need to know your story, man!”
The man’s smile widened, putting Rudsey more on edge.
“I’m sure it won’t interest a rockstar like you.” he said
Rudsey noted his slightly sarcastic tone. The man leaned back into the light, allowing Rudsey to take another close look at his face.
“You look familiar.” he said.
“How familiar?” said the man.
“Your name doesn’t happen to be Randy by any chance.” said Rudsey.
The man whooped and clapped his hands.
“Hey! Jackpot! You’ve won the prize. That’s me alright.” said Randy.
“Well, it’s good to see the drugs haven’t completely fried your brain after all these years.”
Rudsey Jr tottered in front of Rudsey. From his wide eyes, Rudsey could tell he was becoming increasingly stressed. Within a few minutes, he’d have to bring him to the car and away from all the city sounds.
“You were my first bass player in my band. Holy crap. I never thought I’d see you again,” said Rudsey.
Rudsey Jr pressed his prickly body against Rudsey’s leg, trying to climb to higher ground, but Rudsey ignored him.
“You had a studio in Coronado? I was thinking of leaving here before it got too dark, but I don’t know, man. I need to hear your story. What got you there and here?”
Randy’s rats had stopped there hurtling, now clustering at his feet. Randy took a handful of breadcrumbs out of his backpack that the rats gobbled frantically as he sprinkled them to the ground.
“Coronavirus brought me on some hard times, don’t really want to talk about it” said the man, looking down at his rats instead of Rudsey.
“These guys and my clothes are all I got left from the place.”
“Oh, come on, just tell me.” said Rudsey
“How did you get a house out there in the first place?”
A needle slightly dug into Rudsey’s leg. He stepped back in a yelp. Rudsey Jr had puffed out and leaned into Rudsey’s calf. The porcupine continued to glow and expand. Rudsey’s heart pounded in panic as the light overwhelmed him. He picked up Rudsey Jr and moved him aside, trying to make out his figure that was nothing but a spiked orb.
“Okay, I’m convinced this guy’s definitely going to explode.” said Rudsey.
In moving Rudsey Jr, he’d replaced his spot in the middle of the Hollywood star. His blood ran cold when the pavement dissipated into black space again. This time the rest of the stars dissolved until his own was the only one left. A golden island in a sea of black.
“Aww crap, now I’m stuck here.” he mumbled to himself.
As he stood there, looking down into the abyss, Randy stared at Rudsey’s right pocket. A bulge protruded from the leather where he had his keys. Randy picked up one of his rats and caressed it on the head. The creature pressed itself against his hand as it chewed on breadcrumbs.
The black space spread from the pavement, eating the clubs and bars until Rudsey was completely surrounded in space. Nothing but blackness remained except for Randy and his rats, who floated a few feet in front of him. Randy’s grizzled face and baggy clothes made him appear like an enlightened monk levitating in a dark void. The only thing keeping Rudsey standing was the golden star that undulated beneath him, sifting up and down, causing his stomach to churn. He picked up Rudsey Jr in fright, squinting against the light as he hugged him.
“Dammit Rudsey Jr, stop glowing, you’re really starting to freak me out.” said Rudsey.
“Well, you 're really as high as balls tonight, huh?” Randy mused.
“I’m really wacked dude, I think I’ve slipped into a black hole or something.” said Rudsey.
“Last time I tripped, I went into this alternate reality and switched brains with my cat sprinkles, who was sitting on the couch next to me. It was crazy.”
Randy gave his old friend a mischievous smile.
“Well, maybe you and your acid addled brain can travel to an alternate reality and get the answers to your questions.” joked Randy.
He looked down at his rats, and his eyes brightened. He whistled to them and they went towards Rudsey. When they reached him, they scuttled around him in a circle formation. In the dark, nothing but the star and a halo of white rats surrounded Rudsey.
“What the hell are you talking about.” said Rudsey, transfixed with the rats, keeping a tight circle in their ritualistic dance.
As the creatures continued their trick, their bodies melded into one until the entire formation became a glowing white ring.
“Aww shit, the rats are glowing too.” said Rudsey.
Randy sat there for a few seconds, silent as he looked on at Rudsey’s frightened expression contemplatively.
“I mean that we should change heads in order to understand each other.” said Randy.
Rudsey stared down at the rats with Rudsey Junior grasped between his hands.
“Nonsense, that was only a one-time thing with Sprinkles. How am I supposed to do that with you?” said Rudsey.
Randy pointed at the rats.
“You see those guys. They’re not just any rats, they’re magic rats.”
He pointed to Rudsey Jr.
“And he’s glowing too, which means he’s a magic porcupine.”
Randy got to his feet and made a wide gesture with his hands, as if he was reaching to the stars.
“Together they’ll bring you to the alternate reality. You’ll be me and I’ll be you”
“Hey, I never said I wanted to actually do that.” he scolded.
“It’s too late now, the spell has already begun.” said Randy
Rudsey Jr became so bright, that his entire radiance engulfed Rudsey’s body.
“Oh man! What have you done!” said Rudsey.
The rats in their tight halo expanded into another swath of light that surrounded Rudsey until he could see nothing but white.
“Ahhhh! It’s happening, help!”
A few onlookers watched in slight amusement at the paranoid man yelling in the middle of the sidewalk, holding a porcupine in front of him like a hot potato, and surrounded by rats.
Randy couldn’t stop laughing.
“You're now traveling to another dimension.” he said in a comically ominous voice.
Rudsey stood there, frozen in pure fright. Randy whistled. A rat nearest to Rudsey’s leg climbed up his pants to the pocket. Rudsey, still petrified, didn’t notice it fishing around and taking out his keys before running back down to the sidewalk towards Randy. Randy snickered as he grabbed them from the rat and hastily walked down the street in the direction that Rudsey had walked. The rats stopped their running around Rudsey and followed him, climbing up his leg and jumping into his backpack.
Rudsey remained staring blankly at the ground. His body shivered as flying colors replaced the white light. Grotesque faces of red-eyed rats snapped at his face. Rudsey Jr squirmed when Rudey hugged him tighter and fell from his arms. A whistle followed a light thud, but this time it wasn’t Randy. Seven brown quills embedded into Rudsey’s face. He gave out an ear-piercing shriek and stumbled backwards, smacking his head into the light pole behind him. Rudsey was out cold. From an onlookers perspective, nothing was out of the ordinary, just a man laying dazed, strewn out on drugs, with quills protruding from his face. Rudsey Jr darted into an alleyway and burrowed himself underneath a dumpster.
A spike of pain shot down Rudsey’s head as he slowly opened his eyes. The bright street lamp shined directly into them, causing his forehead to burn. As he rubbed his hands through his hair, a thick lump passed through his fingers near his nape. Grumbling, he slowly got to his knees and surveyed his surroundings.
The sidewalk was mostly barren except for several homeless men lying against the buildings. None of them were Randy. A pang of panic came over him as he frantically scanned the dimly lit streets. Rudsey Jr was gone. Rudsey snapped to his feet, his head throbbing mercilessly to the sudden movement.
“Rudsey Jr! Hey, where are you?”
Winding shapes obscured his vision, and the sidewalk undulated. The acid was still flowing through his synapses and toying with his injured brain. Rudsey hobbled down the sidewalk, continuing to call for Rudsey Jr. A few homeless men followed Rudsey with their gaze. A stoned man with long quills stuck to his face was a sight to behold, even considering the eccentric characters they often encountered amongst their ranks.
No one attempted to approach Rudsey, as his presence was too entertaining to interfere with. Rudsey continued down the sidewalk until he brushed his hand against his pocket.
He darted back to the light pole where he fell and frantically scanned the ground. Nothing. Another wave of pain shot through his head. Rudsey groaned and looked along the street. He did so for a few minutes before walking back to the direction of where he’d parked his car. He looked to the ground, concentrating on his slow steps. The sounds they made as they hit the pavement boomed like bird cannon as his feet moved in slow motion. A loud rumble interrupted this ritualistic drumming, the rumble of his jaguar.
A set of intense lights glowed behind him, radiating the dim sidewalk and its gold stars. When Rudsey turned around, he wasn’t sure what he was seeing was reality or a trip. Pulling up next to him was his Jaguar, with Randy sitting in the driver’s seat. He was wearing Rudsey’s leather jacket, and he gave Rudsey a mischievous smile. Metal music blared from the speakers. The dozen rats sat on top of the dashboard, basking sullenly in the streetlight. Randy lifted his legs and put them against the dash, putting his hands behind his back, still smiling. He pulled down the driver’s window.
“Hey get your dirty shoes off of my car man.” said Rudsey.
“Your car? You mean my car?”
“So glad we switched places. I could ride around in this baby all night.” said Randy.
Rudsey’s blood-shot eyes widened as they scanned the leather jacket. Randy’s face slowly morphed into his own.
“Oh crap! It really happened!” said Rudsey.
Rudsey looked down at his hands, then looked at his reflection through the shiny body of the car. While he couldn’t see the fine details of his face, his haggard appearance was enough to make his stomach drop. The quills in his face made him look like a character in a slasher film.
“Jeese! Looks like Rudsey Jr really exploded,” joked Randy.
Rudsey caressed his face, wincing as his fingers contacted the embedded spines.
“Where the hell is he? Did you take him?” he asked
Randy looked behind Rudsey to the sidewalk. He leaned to the passenger seat, which had his backpack, and took out a few breadcrumbs.
“Rudsey? Ruddddseeey!” he yelled.
A rustling came from the nearest alley, and a dark round figure came trotting into the light. Rudsey Jr came bounding towards Randy’s voice, his beady eyes fixated on the crumbs in the man’s outstretched hand. Rudsey outstretched his arms towards his pet, but Rudsey Jr continued his beeline to the car. Randy opened the door and Rudsey Jr climbed inside.
“Aw come on Rudsey Jr, you 're hanging with him now?” said Rudsey
Randy took his feet off the steering wheel and bent over to give Rudsey Jr his snack. The porcupine climbed up the backpack and onto the dash to join the rats.
“Looks like Rudsey Jr wants to hang with the cool kids.” said Randy.
With that, he closed the window and sped off. Rudsey ran out onto the street in pursuit of the car. Waving his arms and yelling like a madman.
“Hey come back here. You need to bring me back. You need to bring me back!”
Any remaining homeless folk watched the scene in awe, not sure whether to laugh or gasp at the disheveled running man with quills protruding from his face.
An old Toyota minivan parked near the docks. Randy and Max looked out from the windshield and into the fierce Florida sunlight. Several ships slightly swayed to the gentle waves that refracted against the rocky shore. A white box plastered with blue labels perched precariously on the cupholder between their skinny teenage figures.
“We got a big one today,” said Randy, picking up the box and shaking it while putting it to his ear.
“Bet it’s some sort of electronic. Rich neighborhoods are always tech product heaven,” said Max.
Randy took a pocketknife from the glove compartment. The thin layer of beige packaging tape split in a quick movement of his wrist.
“I hope that house didn’t have a nest cam,” said Max.
“Stop worrying about that. I told you I checked.” said Randy.
He strained his arms and ripped open the top of the box. Packaging peanuts and newspaper exploded onto his lap.
“Well, it’s definitely not an electronic. There would’ve been a box,” said Max.
Randy stuffed his small spindly hand into the package. When he reached back out, a long and narrow white sack was in his hand.
“What on earth is that?” exclaimed Max.
“Maybe it’s a dildo,” joked Randy.
“Shut up Randy!”
The sack wriggled as Randy put it in his lap and opened the drawstring at the top. His hand went in. A sudden yelp followed. Randy pulled his hand out of the bag. In it held a small monitor lizard. The tiny creature flicked its long, forked tongue. Its fierce eyes glared at Randy.
“Whoa cool.” he said.
The lizard wriggled in his hands, pressing against them with its legs that were powerful despite its size. Its long back claws scraped Randy’s skin.
“Wow, those guys literally ordered a lizard! I didn’t know they even came in packages!” exclaimed Max.
Randy took a hand off of the lizard and chucked the box into the back seats. He opened the door and exited the car.
“Hey! Were you going?” asked Max.
Randy walked out onto the nearest dock and sat down, the monitor wriggling in his hand.
“I think these guys can swim, I got to check it out.”
Max got out of the car, walked to Randy, and sat down next to him.
“They can swim?” he asked.
“Their supposed to slither in the water like a snake. I’ve seen it on animal planet. It looks really cool,” said Randy.
He got on his stomach, both of his hands and the reptile hanging over the dock. The lizard broke free of his grasp and slithered through the clear, brackish water. Randy grabbed it before it swam too far. It desperately tried to slither forward as he restrained it.
“This guy could’ve escaped and practically live out here.” said Max
He put his hand in the water and stroked the monitor’s head. The monitor snapped around its head and sank its teeth into Max’s hand. Max hollered and yanked his hand up from the water, the monitor not letting go. Randy released his grip from the lizard and it hanged from the meat of Max’s palm. Max continued to yell in pain until the lizard opened its jaws and scampered down the dock.
Randy ran after it. Once he’d scooped it into his hands, he clasped it tightly so it could not move their head close enough to bite him. Max sat on the dock, holding his hand, moaning.
“Oh crap, this looks really deep!” he cried.
“These guys are supposed to get super aggressive when they’re older. I heard some even have saliva that turn your flesh into jello.” said Randy.
“Some monitors have deadly saliva. I think a single bite can even bring down a wildebeest.”
Max looked to Randy wide eyed, then rushed past him to the car.
“Hey, what’s the rush?” asked Randy.
“I’m not letting myself turn into jello!” cried Max.
“We need to go back to the house and see if that thing is venomous.”
“Oh, come on, you’re overreacting. I’m pretty sure the bad ones only live in Africa or something,” said Randy.
“And how do we know it’s not from Africa!”
Randy sighed and walked back towards the car.
“We’re not going back to that house. I don’t want to get in trouble. Let’s just find what it’s labeled as on the box and look it up on our phones.”
Max slid into the car and grabbed the box. He dumped the peanuts and newspaper, fishing for a label. He then picked up the box and scanned it from every angle.
Randy grumbled and entered the car.
“Fine, well go back. But if anyone asks whose idea it was to steal a live monitor lizard, it was your idea.”
He put the key into the ignition and sped off.
So you want to make a bet you say. Well here's my bet. A few months back I had the brilliant idea of creating a story about someone stranded on a remote island getting eaten by giant crabs. It was going to a classic survival tale. Man crashes plane. Man wakes up from the wreak injured but alive with the waves washing at his feet. Man sees giant claws prodding at his mangled legs. Man battles the beasts with all his strength, winning and cooking his opponents for in a great victory feast. Man realizes the smell of roast crabs only attracts more crabs and ends of getting eaten anyways. A story of surmounting the odds of mother nature only to die in one of the most embarrassing and strange ways possible. I'm going to write this story and try to have it win in a contest within a year from when this post was made. If I win, I get nothing. If I lose, I have to post a challenge here on Prose with a fifty dollar prize. Fifty dollars may not seem like a lot, but it's enough to get by ass in gear. Thanks for giving me a place to post my goal and wish me luck.
Are they Better?
I don’t know why everyone has this assumption that an alien race will be superior to us. Sure, those guys who fly giant pills over the ocean probably have some sweet aerospace technology that would make Elon Musk cum in his pants, but that doesn’t mean they know shit about anything else. To be honest, these aliens are probably not much different than us. Incredibly efficient at improving technology, but completely stupid when figuring out how to utilize it. Considering we now have electric razors specifically for shaving nutsacks, I can only imagine what dumb crap the aliens have created for themsleves. I bet they go over our strip malls in their flying saucers and look on depressively at all the pointless junk being fawned over, seeing our society as nothing but early stages of their own.
The aliens do have one thing however that humans don’t. That thing is the ability to mess up more than once. Since aliens can travel, they can probably go wherever they want if their home planet gets overrun with pollution, global warming, and whatnot. Is your planet being covered in toxic goo? Well nothing to fear. Just move to the next one over for a few years before that one gets overrun with giant man eating crabs and you can move to another one. I can see them now, silently observing our degrading planet in pity. A species unable to leave the living hell they have created. Aliens if you're hearing this, please do us a solid and teach us about interplanetary travel already. Humans can suck, but I promise we’re not all that bad.
1. I'm a master procrantinator. Want to research that true crime case to base a short story off of? How about watch five hours of completely unrelated creepy reddit posts. Did you know that geckos peel the dead skin off of themselves with their mouths. I didn't know that. I'm going to watch this playlist of weird gecko videos now.
2. I exel at spacing off. Any intruding thought that deviates from my main area of focus is guaranteed to dominate my head space for hours. If my brain was a rocket, it would be one of those rogue ones the shoots off to a ninety degree angle a few seconds after it launched. Whoa! Rocket explosions look cool. Look at that mushroom cloud. Sick!
3. Not paying attention is my greatest area of expertise... What was I talking about again?
4. Honestly, I just sat down a few hours after writing those first three points and don't remember where I was going with this. I went for a walk and made some muffins. I have nothing for skill number four so here's a picture of my muffins instead. https://edelsit.medium.com/muffin-time-18f167964db0
5. I didn't think I'd get far enough to list a fifth skill, but here I am. I can't believe I made it this far. Look at me, on the home stretch and almost done with this entry. It feels so great to finally finish. I've almost have filled out my entire limit of two hundred and fifty words.... Whoops!
If life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Just make sure you know how to make lemonade first.
When I look back on all that I’ve done for the last four years in college, I feel like I’ve learned so much and nothing at all. I’ve learned ecosystems, biomes, coding, genetics, and...nothing. To be more specific, most of my class material has gone in one ear and out the other by the end of the year, while I spend most of my time reminiscing the days I could go to concerts and farmers markers at the town plaza near my college. Whenever I think about my college days, the thing my mind conjures first is that one night I sat next to a stoned punk telling cheesy knock knock jokes and showing a picture of his cat that he named after GG Allin. The conversation came up when he saw my shirt and started spouting nonsense to the misfortune of confused bystanders.
College was and still is a strange time for me. While I’ve had a few friends, I tended to hop from group to group until I got bored and retired to a hermit lifestyle in my dorm. Friends have always been a doozy for me. I have a solid group of friends back from high school in the midwest. I tend to have trouble bonding, and possibly even trusting anyone else. I tried to befriend an interesting fellow that belonged to a Christian camp in my freshman year. He was a charismatic and outgoing guy: perfect cult leader material. The kind of guy who floats down a river on his back while making deep metaphors about the impermanent flow of life. Believe it or not he actually did this. He’d also engage in long conversations about slut shaming while walking to the local noodle house. All in all, an interesting guy.
Going downtown takes over most of the memories of my college experience. I’d always try to take my roommates down the main square often to no avail. There were two record shops around, a nice venue, and a large public park with a pond overrun with cormorants choking on old socks. Whenever I’d go down the old sidewalks I’d pass by an old etching on the pavement that said “be real”. The words always brought me a pang of happiness when I walked over them. It was a line into another world. A world without three page essays on deer population demographics and a space full of music and good smelling food to replace it. My college town always had great food. I went to a tamale place every other week. The owner always wore a red bandana and would apologize when he’d admit there were no vegan options on the menu. Not that I cared.
When I think of specific things I’ve learned in college, all I can think of is that new Aphex twin record and those delicious cornbread pancakes that an old grandpa would serve on the plaza. Nothing much else seems of much use to me when getting asked this question in the moment. Sure, I’ve learned many things, but learning cormorants can choke on dirty socks is strangely more fulfilling.
Apparently coconut crabs are capable of disassembling a corpse and eating it. Being around these bastards helpless and weak on a desert island is definitely not a situation you'd want to be in. It sounds like the perfect idea for a horrific survival story. Imagine being immobilized under the rubble of your crashed plane being slowly encircled by giant crabs prodding you with their sharp claws. At least if you become an afternoon snack to the crustaceans you'll have an interesting story to tell in the afterlife.