Archive for July, 2011

The Walrus


William Currens Devol

Josh only had the attic to clean out before he could put the house on the market.

The “Old Man” had had the courtesy to die in the late fall when Josh wouldn’t bake or freeze while he worked to clean the crap out of his father’s attic. All-in-all, the Old Man had been pretty considerate with his dying.

The mortgage was paid off. The taxes were current. The second wife had died the year before. The Old Man had rewritten his will leaving everything to Josh…everything but enough money to send his two ancient cats to a retirement home.

Josh laughed out loud when the will was read. His Dad had donated 2000 dollars to a cat shelter so his cats could live out their lives in plush surroundings. His Dad was such a pussy…his Dad had been a pussy, Josh reminded himself.

The Old Man had even gone fast. The neighbor across the street said the Old Man had been cutting the grass in front of the house and just sort of slumped to the ground. No wasting away in the hospital spending Josh’s inheritance…a massive coronary at 80 and…POOF!

Josh opened the door to the attic expecting an avalanche of dust bunnies and the smell of heat-baked wood and insulation. He encountered neither. From what Josh could see at the top of the steep, and now carpeted stairs, the Old Man had finished the attic. There was a newish vinyl window in a solid wall and there was a real ceiling.

The last time Josh had been in the attic…Christ, was it 25 years ago…the Old Man would have been 55 the summer Josh moved out for good…on Father’s Day that was…Happy fucking Father’s Day, Old Man.

Back then, boxes and totes had been piled high on the unfinished outer walls and furniture had been huddled together under blankets and sheets in the open spaces fore and aft of the chimney.

Hell, when was the last time Josh had seen his Dad alive, for that matter. It was probably at Josh’s Mom’s funeral nearly 10 years earlier. Josh thought it weird that the Old Man went to his ex-wife’s funeral. Josh had two ex-wives and he couldn’t imagine going to their funerals except maybe to make sure they were dead.

Josh flipped the light switch and headed up the stairs.

The attic space was now a white room with storage cupboards low along both sides. The chimney was gone and two large ceiling fans stirred the air under the lights suspended from the peak of the ceiling. The floor was polished hardwood, and a huge white sofa took up most of the available space on the far wall.

“Wally Fucking Walrus,” Josh said.

Josh stared at a big, brown stuffed toy walrus sitting on the middle cushion of the couch. Its big, sparkly blue plastic eyes stared right back at Josh.

Wally Walrus was actually a plush puppet from way back in Josh’s childhood when his parents were still together. Josh used to check a puppet just like Wally out of the Burton Library when he was a kid. The head librarian had told Josh’s Mom where she could buy him his very own Walrus puppet, so Josh got Wally Walrus for Christmas when he was five.

For four years, Josh and Wally were “best friends.” The Old Man would make the puppet talk and tell jokes and make Josh fell like a big shot by pretending to interview him on the Wally Walrus Talk Show. Wally would interview the big league ball player Josh or the famous explorer Josh or the famous actor Josh.

The Old Man gave the puppet a tough guy personality which was pretty funny when you thought about what a pussy the Old Man really was. It had been Josh’s favorite times with his Dad until his Dad just up and moved out on Josh and his Mom.

After that, Josh couldn’t stand to look at the fat puppet with two hollow rubber tusks coming out of a thick black moustache. The Old Man had been really pleased to find Wally in Josh’s stuff when Josh had to move in with him when his Mom moved in with a guy without any spare bedrooms.

The Old Man had wanted Josh to play the Wally Walrus Talk Show Game right then and there. As if a 15-year-old man was going to play dolls with anyone, let alone the guy that ruined his life.

To top everything off, the Old Man had moved Josh in with him and that woman. Shelly had pussy whipped the Old Man into making Josh’s life a real shit pile. All that woman cared about was keeping the house clean. Josh would be damned if he was going to kiss that woman’s ass by helping keep the Old Man’s hovel clean and in good working order.

Josh walked over to the puppet and punched it right in the mouth. The puppet flipped once and landed on the floor behind the huge couch.

“Take that, you shit,” Josh said to the puppet. “As a matter of fact, I think I may rip you apart one seam at a time. Come back here.”

Josh knelt on the couch and reached over the back. He reached down and saw that Wally had landed with on his head with the armhole pointed straight up. Josh reached out and slid his right arm into the puppet.

Every muscle in Josh’s arm went into a violent, painful spasm then the pain was replaced by a numbing cold. The Walrus puppet started swinging right an then left with more and more power until it spun Josh around so he ended up sitting normally on the couch with the fucking puppet right in front of his face.

Josh could no longer feel his arm, but he could see it shoot out to his right and he could feel its motion pull on the rest of his body as it slammed the puppet full force into the bridge of his own nose.

Josh felt his nose break. He felt the substantial flow of hot blood gush down his lips and spray off of his chin like a waterfall. “Fucking Christ,” Josh sputtered as he put his left hand up to his already swelling nose. That’s when he felt his lips start to move.

“Well, if it ain’t that ungrateful little fuck, Josh Donovan. How the fuck are they hangin’, you little shit”

Josh froze. That was the Old Man’s voice coming out of his mouth…well, that was the voice the Old man gave that Christing puppet back in the day.

“Hey,” Josh shouted in Wally’s voice as the puppet’s mouth opened and closed matching the voice coming out of Josh’s mouth. “I’m talking to you. Look at me when I’m talking to you.”

At that, Josh’s right arm snapped forward again and the puppet smashed into Josh’s left hand.

Josh howled in fresh pain. The blow, while not as hard as the one that broke his nose, was in the exact spot where it would produce maximum pain. Josh’s vision was glazed over by a white flash he both saw and felt just behind his eyes. When his vision cleared, he looked at the puppet.

The unblinking eyes stared at him with a dumb malevolence. Blood spattered the bottle brush moustache and beaded on the plastic bristles that were the Walrus’ whiskers. Blood had run down both rubber tusks and dripped from the ends and landed between Josh’s legs.

“What are you lookin’ at you punk,” Wally/Josh said in a low, menacing voice.

“Nothing,” Josh answered.

“Oh, so I’m nothing am I,” Wally/Josh said. When Josh’s mouth opened to pronounce that last syllable, the puppet leaped forward and up to deliver an upper cut that snapped Josh’s teeth together.

Josh felt something snap in his mouth and he chased a suddenly free chunk of something around his mouth with his tongue. He spat the crown that used to be on one of his front teeth into his blood-caked left palm. The tooth bounced once, hit the floor, and skittered under the couch.

“Well, Josh,” Wally/Josh said. “The last time I saw you, you barely had any hair on your pecker. How’s life been treating you?

Josh started to answer, but Wally cut him off.

“Never mind,” Wally/Josh said. “I really don’t give a fuck how life has been treating you. What I give a fuck about is your Dad being dead and you being alive. He and I talked about you all the fucking time. He said you were a good kid and you’d come around some day and you’d realize he was a decent Dad. I told him you were an ungrateful little shit that was more worried about himself than about how miserable he and your mother were together.”

“That Little Mary Sunshine you had as a father believed you’d snap out of it one of these days. I told him you were a twerp that didn’t have one grateful bone in your fucking body. How you ended up caring so much about that bitch of an ex-wife of his and so little about him is beyond me. How’s that nose; is it starting to feel any better?”

“Why do you care,” Josh said.

“I don’t,” Wally/Josh said as Josh’s right wrist snapped the puppet around and smacked Josh in the nose with the puppet’s big tail.

“Fuck,” Josh screamed. “That’s enough of that.”

Josh grabbed a dark brown top knot of hair on Wally’s head and yanked hard hoping to rip the puppet off of his arm. All he accomplished was sending a bolt of white hot pain up his right arm and up into the junction of jaw bone and skull. It felt like someone was burning his arm and jamming a screwdriver into his right ear at the same time.

“Oh, no,” Wally/Josh said. “I don’t leave until I’m ready. You could, of course, go fire up your Dad’s table saw and cut my head off, but your hand would come off with my head. It might be worth it to be rid of me, you little fuck.”

“Like I was saying, your Mom took alimony and child support from your Dad while he was unemployed, and then she left you and two cats stranded in that big old wreck of a house while she took the money and moved in with her boyfriend. You didn’t even tell your Dad she left you alone for days at a time until you got hauled into court for not going to school. Your Dad took you in and made you go to school and kept you out of jail and gave you and the cats a place to stay by buying a house he could barely afford while half his salary at his new job went for alimony, child support, and to pay back the alimony and child support he owed from when he was unemployed.”

“In return, you ungrateful little whiner, you did everything you could to come between him and Shelly. When you didn’t come to their wedding, she was relieved and he was heartbroken. I told him to call you up and to tell you to go fuck yourself, but he wouldn’t hear of it. Would it have killed you to send him a card when Shelly died? She was all he had for the last 25 years of his life, you asshole.”

With that, Josh’s arm warmed back to room temperature, and he could feel his fingers again. He yanked Wally Walrus off of his right arm and held it up to his face by the top knot.

“Fuck you,” Josh screamed in his own voice and he stomped down out of the attic with Wally in his left fist. He stopped in the bathroom and washed the blood off of his face. He filled the sink with cold water and stripped to his underwear and put his clothes in the sink to soak.

Josh found a pair of gym shorts and a tee shirt in a bag of clothes he was going to put out with the trash before he left. The Old Man’s clothes were too big, but he knotted a corner of the gym shorts so they would stay up.

On the stairs, Josh tried to drop kick Wally, but the puppet twisted in his hands and leaped to his right thigh where it sank suddenly solid and very sharp tusks deep into the muscle. The surprise and pain made Josh forget he was on a set of stairs. He pitched forward into space and tried to catch himself with his right arm when he crashed to the carpet. The fire that shot up his arm this time came from a broken wrist.

Josh knew his wrist was broken because the back of his right hand was resting on the top of his right wrist, and he could see slivers of bone sticking through the skin where the heel of his hand became the bottom of his wrist. There was that and the grinding pain that made him scream like a little girl.

The gnawing at his thigh muscle finally got his mind off of his ruined wrist. At first, Josh thought the puppet was trying to eat his leg, but he soon realized that the puppet was trying to free himself from under Josh’s leg. The pain from the tusks yanking back and forth in his thigh caused him to flip over on his back. Wally’s tusks came free with a sickening pop.

Josh could feel a pool of blood spreading under his ass as the thigh wound bled steadily but didn’t spurt.

“At least the fucking walrus missed the femoral artery,” Josh thought.

“Daddy wouldn’t let me smoke in the house, whaaaa,” Wally said directly into Josh’s left ear.

The fucking thing had moved right up next to Josh’s head.

“Daddy wanted me to cut the grass, whaaa,” Wally said.

“Shut up,” Josh croaked.

“Daddy sided with Shelly when she told him I should clean out the shower after I took one, whaaa,” Wally said.

“Shut the fuck up,” Josh croaked, this time weaker.

“Daddy didn’t love my Mommy enough to take her crap and let me get away with bloody murder, whaaa,” Wally said.

Josh didn’t answer; he was passed out from loss of blood.

Josh woke in a world of light. His right wrist hurt like a mad bastard, and his right thigh felt hot and swollen. Someone noticed he was stirring, and cool fingers lifted his right eye lid and shined a pen light right into his pupil. Josh winced at the bright light.

“Mr. Donovan,” a soft female voice said. “Mr. Donovan, I’m Dr. Kelly Wright. Do you know where you are?”

“Hospital,” Josh mumbled through dry lips. It came out sounding like, “hosspull.”

“That’s right,” said Dr. Wright. “Do you remember how you got here?”

“It was that fucking walrus,” Josh said. It came out sounding like, “E wuss thfushing walrich.”

The voice inside Josh’s head sounded loud and clear, “You bet your sweet ash e wuss thfushing walrich. It’s always going to be e fhushing walrich from now on.’

Dr. Wright had no choice other than to heavily sedate Josh when he began to scream and thrash. He was posing a danger to himself. She made a notation on Josh’s chart that he needed a psych eval, stat.


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By William Currens Devol

Copyright 2011

Michael reached across the table and grabbed one of our unlimited breadsticks. He took a bite, chewed, swallowed, sipped his beer, and then assumed his deep-thinking pose.

He stroked his beard with his head tipped back and his jaw jutted forward. “Why do more people see the image of Jesus Christ on a slice of toast than on a communion wafer?”

“There’s more surface area on a slice of toast,” I said. “Your mind gets more detail to play with.”

Andy swallowed a big mouthful of Chicken Marsala and wiped his mouth with his napkin before he put his two cents in, “Hell, more people eat toast than go to church; it’s a much bigger pool of idiots.”

Michael and I both laughed. That encouraged Andy to continue.

“If you think about it,” he said, “People see Jesus on toast, pancakes, and tortillas. These things are all made from flour, so I propose that Jesus visions are carbohydrate-induced hallucinations. I wouldn’t be surprised if the two of you didn’t start seeing Jesus because of all the bread sticks you’ve been packing away. Come to think of it, poor people eat a lot of carbs and Napoleon once said something about religion being invented to keep the poor from killing the rich, so I also suggest that the rich make sure the poor keep eating high carb diets as a way of promoting religion and keeping the poor more worried about the next life than the one they are living.”

“As conspiracy theories go,” I said. “That’s pretty good, but I am the fattest of us all and I’ve never seen Jesus after carb loading a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter.”

“Yes, but,” Andy said. “You are a heathen atheist liberal socialist who would be more predisposed to see Satan or Karl Marx than Jesus. Now, Michael here, he comes from a very religious family, so I’d expect he’d be the one to start seeing Jesus.”

Michael grinned from ear to ear. “Damn, Andy, you’re right. I think I see Jesus in the Marsala sauce left on your plate.”

Andy grabbed his fork a made a couple of quick passes through the congealing sauce. “Ta-DA,” Andy said. “It’s Jesus.”

With those few strokes, Andy had created what could be construed as two eyes, a nose, and a beard in the sauce on his plate. He we all chuckling when the waitress stepped up to the table to ask us if we wanted more of anything.

“Dios, Mios,” she shrieked. She dropped to both knees crossing herself and praying feverishly and loudly in Spanish. “It is Jesus.”

Just that quickly, the plump but cute waitress that I thought was flirting with Michael when we first sat down, was consumed with religious ecstasy in the middle of a chain Italian restaurant in Mentor, Ohio.

“No,” Andy said. “I drew that; no, please, I’m sorry.”

The girl paid no attention to Andy. She began crying and saying “Ave Maria, Madre de Dios” over and over again.

This attracted two bus boys clearing a near-by table. They both stepped over to see what the girl was screaming and crying about. They both fell to their knees and began making the sign of the cross and adding to the religious din.

A middle-aged woman with bleached blonde hair wearing a blue dress was the next to fall to her knees. She produced a rosary from her purse and began praying an fingering the beads quickly with a practiced movement.

Other patrons left their tables for a quick peek, more than half fell to their knees. Some began reciting the Lord’s Prayer. Some began speaking in tongues.

A group of African American women began clutching at their chests with one hand and waving their other arm back and forth in the air above their heads. They went from table to table testifying about the miracle of Jesus in the Marsala sauce.

When the kitchen staff pushed their way into the knot of people that crowded around what had been our dinner table, Michael, Andy, and I started backing toward the front doors.

The last thing we heard before we backed out of the restaurant was, “Look, that pasta is the crown of thorns.”

The doors of the restaurant closed on a new chorus of religious exclamation.

We stared at each other for a time. No one said a word, which was unusual for our crowd. After what seemed like 30 minutes, Andy spoke up, “Who knew we were having supper in the deep end of the pool.”

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