Friday, June 11, 2010

Nothing Left But the Cockroaches

Here is a satirical piece that I am working on...

My name is Cameron “Candy” Prince.

I am a cockroach.

I’m not insulting myself and I don’t mean it in that Franz Kafka kind of way, either. To really understand how I got this roachy bod, I suppose we need to go back to the year 2016.


I used to live at my Mom and Dad’s house in Indiana back then. Even now I can smell the chlorine of the swimming pool and the magnolias around the tennis court. Yeah, my Dad was loaded. Mitt Prince II made a killing with hedge funds in the first decade of the century and then went into defense contracting. With his hard-earned profits he built our family a palatial estate to the north of Indianapolis, complete with an entryway that was lined with 12 gold crosses. Sometimes on summer nights we’d all sit on the back patio and watch the light of sunset turn funny colors in the smoke of Dad’s LandDroneTM and ROV plants.

My Mom, Elizabeth Grosselin-Prince, was a true beauty queen. No, really. She was once a Miss Indiana and before that she was a Miss Pork Queen. And she kept her looks. I’d keep getting older but she’d still look the same with that bronze skin and sunshine blonde hair. Every now and then I’d hear Daddy thanking Jesus for stuff like liposuction and Botox.

I grew up a happy kid. When I was little I smiled all the time. That’s why the family gave me the nickname “Candy.” “Aw, ‘eez sweet as candy!” someone like my aunt or grandma would say. “If ya’ll don’t look out, I’m a gonna steal all ‘eez sugar!” And then they’d run their noses all over me while making pig noises. The nickname stuck with me, mostly because I really am a heckuva nice guy.

It’s not like I didn’t have to take a bit of ribbing for it from other kids. “Candy” is after all, usually a name for a girl. I don’t know how many times I’d get “do you melt in the mouth or in the hand?” or “heard you got a girl pregnant and she’s gonna have a Baby Ruth.” But all that was nothing compared to the accusations that I wasn’t my Mom’s son. Some miscreant got it in his head that I was really born to Penelope, our maid from Tijuana, Mexico. Sure, my skin’s always been a bit on the olive side, neither one of my parents have black hair like I do, and every once in a while I crave chicken mole like you wouldn’t believe, but that’s got nothin’ to do with nothin’.

One day I went to a NASCAR race with a few other kids. They wouldn’t let up on the entire Penelope thing so when we got back I finally asked our family Pastor if my Daddy would ever do such a thing. Pastor Longson stuttered in shock. “Not really,” he told me, just before he said he had to go tap a keg of Pabst Blue Ribbon. That what was good enough for me, in fact I think I freaked poor Pastor Longson out just by making him think of my Dad with any woman besides my Mom.

Like any good ol’ American boy, my love was always the girl next door. Or the next mansion over, anyway. My dear Jennifer Lynn Kane. I held so many dreams in my head for us. Getting married and taking her name so I could be “Candy Kane,” a house of our own bought with my Daddy’s money, going to hear Tobey Keith belt out “Let’s Bomb Europe” every time he played the Jasper County Fair, and the peaceful, easy feeling of falling asleep together every night to Fox News. But we had the whole deck stacked against us it seemed.

You see, Jen demanded to be called “Razor.” She put a ring in her nose, wore a spiked dog collar, and colored her spiky hair half pink and half purple. Often times she’d get citations from the police as she violated the Public Appearance Law, running up quite a tab for her folks. They even had her committed at one point, but word round the campfire was that she scared the psychologists so much that she was summarily released. Once back in public, well… that just meant more PAL violation fines for Ma and Pa Kane.

Hang on. I probably need to back up. Bear with me as I digress and explain that last bit via a series of twists and turns. First off, I was homeschooled. My parents kept me out of the public school system because they wanted “a quality education” for me. I asked my Dad once why I got to stay home with a private tutor while every kid I knew slogged off to crumbling buildings and to watch movies on how to select the right bubble on standardized tests. “Son, those kids have parents who just don’t work hard enough,” Daddy told me. “If they did, they’d be getting what you’re getting.”

My live-in private tutor was a brilliant man named Dr. Richard von Schweenson. He was the one who taught me that in America, “we live in the best of all possible worlds. America is a nation of strength unparalleled in human history. And not since the halcyon days of Gerald Ford has our economy been so strong.” He also taught me to “always make my words about America sweet, else they become the bitter seeds of treason” and that “taxes were born of copulation between Satan and Lenin.” “Every American is born with an inalienable right to everything under the sun, but under no obligation to pay for it with taxes,” he furthered.

Not only was he good with words but he was also a brilliant guy to boot. I absorbed all I could from my conservative master. I was Neo to his Morpheus. His knowledge of history and philosophy inspired me at one point to want to study Humanities.

“Like hell you will!” my Dad told me like he just found me humping a fish.

Anyway, I was lucky to have Dr. von Schweenson around to explain everything to me when the Great Compromise, Part Deux came about.

There was great political turmoil during my late teens. Dr. von Schweenson explained that society decided that we could no longer continue until the divide between the Red and Blue States was healed. Unable to come up with a vaccine, they went for a tourniquet. State governments were given greater leeway to govern as to how they believed their constituents demanded, even if it conflicted with that old Constitution from time to time. “Imagine a couple who know their marriage is a candle drowned in its own wax, sleep in separate rooms, but stay married for the kids,” was how the great Doctor put it. “It’s win/win.”

So that’s how we got things like the Public Appearance Law (“your PAL!” as the social marketing campaign went) in Indiana. “Razor,” with her short and multicolored hair and her combat boots, kept getting into trouble under the “promoting lesbianism” provisions of the law, even though I knew she couldn’t really be one.

But rattling the cage wasn’t something I wanted to mess with. Learned that the hard way. Once I went out coon hunting with one of my Dad’s AK-47s. I didn’t bag any critters that day, but what I did find in the woods was a worn out copy of Penthouse. I snuck it back to the house under my camo field jacket.

Just as I was working my way through a layout of Ann Coulter (who still looked pretty good for 54), I heard my door open and my Mom scream.

My parents came at me like a pair of wild howler monkeys on crank.

“Do you have any idea what this is?” my Daddy hollered, waving the nudey book at me. “This is illegal in the state of Indiana! You could go to jail! Our family name would be ruined!”

He dragged me into the basement. To administer corporal punishment, I presumed. Like a man to the gallows I went to down the stairs. “Don’t kill him, Mitt,” my Mom bawled in the kitchen behind us. Just when I thought Dad was reaching for the same baseball bat he used on me in grade school, he flipped a switch. The basement wall slid away, revealing a pair of metal elevator doors. Daddy ushered me in.

We went down into a level of the basement that I never knew we had. I about fell from a heart attack when I saw the vault, all shiny like a gun barrel of chromium steel. Dad opened the door to it and I looked upon rows and rows of DVDs with titles like Beaver Patrol and Indepanties Day. What was more, a 21st Century Real DollTM leaned up against a corner, all decked out like Sarah Palin…right down to the glasses, the rifle, and the moose head. Daddy tossed a box of Kleenex at me.

“You’re welcome down here any time,” he said. “But don’t say a word about this room to your Mom.”

My Dad was a brilliant man. Surpassed only perhaps by Dr. von Schweenson.

Anyway, that was all a bit like hitching up an RV trailer to your Hummer just to drive from Brook to Monon, but at least you know why Razor caused such a din. Didn’t matter to me. My heart still did flips the day she stumbled into our yard.

It was November and the weather had already turned colder than Hillary Clinton’s nethers. I went round the back acres of the house, looking for Dr.von Schweenson. He was late for our game of “Name That Conservative” and I was concerned. The eaves of the house moaned as the wind picked up, howling like coyotes at a dead moon. Or at least that’s what I thought the moaning was. I mean it was windy, but…

When I found Dr. von Schweenson, he was in the tool shed with Penelope. They were… “engaged in an act of love” would be the best way to put it for mixed company (and I feel I need to because, heck, I don’t know who’s reading this. It’s called “loss of primacy” in writing.) But that wasn’t what shocked me. It was the fact they chose the tool shed on such a cold day. Also shocking was the funny, warm feeling I got watching them despite the chill.

As if on cue, I saw Razor come stumbling down the slope to the backyard. She wore black tights that ended in combat boots and nothing but a fastened leather vest for a top. By that point in life, I’d been to enough Amish barn raisings to know a drunk when I saw one and in my heart I already knew the cause. She’d been to church and got a little greedy with the wine once the Spirit got into her. I asked Razor what she was doing and she just laughed. Then she made a beeline for me and wrapped those tattooed arms around my shoulders. Her heavenly aroma of Wild Turkey tickled my nose hairs.

“You know what, you dumb boy?” Razor said with a hiccup. “You’ll do.”

She kissed me and my entire mind, body, and soul came to life. I returned her kiss with unchained lust. The spike in her nosering stabbed my cheek, but I pressed on undaunted. My hands wandered across her body and somewhere I heard the angels sing.

Then all hell broke loose.

Ice pelted us from the sky. The wind gusted and I heard the crack of tree limbs. Dr. von Schweenson darted out of the tool shed, still pulling up his pants. He demanded an explanation. I threw up my hands and was about to mutter a “darned if I know,” but I didn’t get a chance. The ice kept coming. Each pellet a bullet sting to the cheeks.

All of us raced for the house. The asphalt path was already a sheet of ice. Many times I stopped to recover the fallen Penelope or the tripped and cackling Razor while Dr. von Schweenson led the way far before us. He reached the house first and found the patio door sealed from the ice and cold. After I yanked the handle a few times, each under the wise direction and encouragement of the Doctor, the door snapped free and we got inside.

Reports from the Weather Service warned of winds up to 100 mph. Sparks of light came from outside along with the sounds of loud cracks. The computer went dead and all the lights went black. Daddy yelled out that the power lines were down from the ice. A massive blast of wind hit and our entire manor shook. We could hear the roof tiles tearing off above us and then watched them slam dance in the gale.

In time the ice turned to snow. At the rate of three inches per hour it came. All around us turned to white. The wind showed no intention of lightening up either as I watched it drive enormous snowdrifts swarming down the country lane to our house. Shaken from the fear, I asked an unholy question.

“Is this from Global Warming?”

“Get behind me, Satan!” Dr. von Schweenson snapped back. “I told you there is no such thing. This is the very wrath of God sent down upon us for your having kissed a lesbian!”

Everyone in the room turned to look at Razor. She was on the floor in a corner, rolling back and forth singing, “Coo-coo-ca-choo, Mrs. Robinson.” My Dad clenched both his jaw and his fists as hellfire burned in his eyes. I panicked.

“I caught Dr. von Schweenson messing around with Penelope!” I blurted out.

“I was giving her a lesson on techno erotic paganism!” he protested.

A stomach-turning squeak and rasp came from the ceiling. Weakened by wind and ice, the roof could no longer support the weighty pile of snow now upon it. I watched in horror as it collapsed, sending a hail of wood, drywall, snow, and fancy crown molding down upon us. We were going to die. And my last acts were to let down my family, insult my beloved teacher, and lose Razor forever.

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