Rumbullion

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Chapter 8

The lone working floodlight hung by a wire off the back eave and under the blue tiled roof of Jack Pirtle’s Fried Chicken. Its beam blasted down onto a tan and white mound of cigarette butts where the kitchen workers would step out the back door for their smoke treats. Weary kitchen workers. The kitchen door slammed and Emile checked his rear view mirror but he didn’t say anything because he didn’t want to seem too concerned. But he was. Deeply.

He looked down to the large bucket of chicken on the transmission ridge between him and Lungsee. Thirty minutes ago, the bucket was full. Now there was one drumstick. Lungsee grabbed it, held it up for inspection, then offered it to Emile.

Emile made an open-palmed stop gesture at the fried meaty treat. It was golden brown, a hundred shades of brown, and damp with grease. Lungsee torpedoed it into his mouth and moved it around like it was water and then the slick naked grey bone spit out of his puckered lips.

He pinched it with his forefinger and thumb and dropped it out his window. Damn fine fowl, he said. Stomach feeling better?

Fuck it. Does it matter? Emile said. He was impatient and disgusted and he slapped and grabbed the yellow sheet of paper off the dash and set it on the flecks of chicken skin that dotted the rim of the cardboard bucket. On the paper was a child-like scrawl of a diagram of sorts that may or may not have resembled a house. Emile pointed to the paper and said, I think that little scribble mark’s a K and I assume that means kitchen, and this right here must be the kitchen door, so I’m thinking…

Lungsee palmed the sheet of paper, scrunched it up into a wad and popped it in his mouth and chewed politely for a few moments and then swallowed it with a hard gulp as if it were an elegant existential desert after a pathetic meal of an over-planned life.

Uh, Lungsee…

To break the rules, you must first know the rules, Lungsee said. He then sucked both his thumbs at once. Just like The King, he said. Shag up top.

But those weren’t rules.

Weren’t they?

No, they weren’t. And that was our only aid. That was the layout of where the damn thing is.

Aid is for people who need aid, he said. He wiped his mouth with a ball of tiny napkins and all this cleaning action accomplished was to further embed the chicken skin flakes deeper into his face and beard. He picked up the mammoth Styrofoam cup of Coke between his legs and emptied it in two sucks. Regard! Improv, baby, he said. Just like Delly. Got to hand it to him. He saw his chance and did not hesitate. Lungsee whistled and shot his finger forward. As we do now, he said.

Well, pardon me for not wanting to congratulate Delly, but all things considered, I don’t want to be here either, said Emile. He tore the keys out of the ignition. Well, shall we?!

Lungsee smiled, opened his door and the big long Cadillac dipped, creaked and then rose as he got out. He craned to look up at the trees. They were not sending code tonight. He knew they knew when to back off, and this gave him deep solace. A steady stiff breeze brought them a solid lean and Lungsee thought they were maybe receiving input. Gathering input to decode, organize and eventually transmit. At their leisure, of course.

He’d always marveled at the trillions of messages he’d missed but he damn well knew that he always got what he needed. And then in a strange moment of unconscious self-consciousness, he registered Emile’s presence and countered this with a bold thought of not being one of those paranoid guys who thinks all transmissions are about him. Referential dementia it’s not, he thought. More like allowing the full scope of the possible into the realm of the definite. Pragmatic delusions...

Pragmatic delusions? Emile said. What the fuck are you talking about? Lets just do this. He walked to the front of his car and looked into a thicket of skinny trees and prickly scrub. Lots of trees in there. Hope you don’t get your signals mixed up, he said. The breeze stopped for a moment, and then picked back up.

Lungsee pulled out a dark bottle, held it up like it was a prize chicken. Look what I got, he said. He raised high the engraved corkless bottle and brought it down fast, smashing its neck over the top of the open car door. He then hoisted the gnarled jagged bottle and tilted it over his open mouth. His splayed out tongue was moss green, like a camel’s, and it covered his entire chin. He poured the rum straight down his throat. No swallowing about it. He smiled, looked around and then held it out for Emile.

Emile darted around the hood, seized the bottle with both hands and chugged like starved baby chimp on the teat. The dangerous glass quivered an inch from his steady lips. He too swallowed without so much as a swallow. All he knew was the liquid velvet easing into and filling his cells with rightness and thrift because the world was a damn pity. The rum ruled again. Lungsee quit pouring and said, There, there...

God damn, Emile exhaled. He had every intention of asking how and when Lungsee nabbed the bottle but the words never came. It didn’t matter. He knew. Lungsee poured the rest into his canteen and screwed the little metal cap tight. Now, I refuse to shan’t, said Lungsee.

He marched off and they entered the thicket by the overflowing dumpster and the smell of rotten chicken blasted them good before the cool sweetness of the trees welcomed them in. Lungsee looked aloft; his cape lifeless but kicking on his calves. He never knew when a walk through trees would happen and the surprise factor always stoked his receptors, sometimes to the point of false positives. Lungsee simply adored the idea of false positives. Glorious, cosmic opportunities.

Emile followed in the big guy’s wake, sucked in by circumstance and hope and more rum. Slapped and slashed at by sticker branches, he felt the rum do its thing as he muttered about the blackmail, threat, extortion Lou had perpetrated. He thought of Ty and Nazis and Shepard Hall. That Grayson is no doctor. The jumbled thoughts swirled. Flecks of blood appeared on his face. But here he was. It had all started when he walked into… wait a minute… a guy walks in… to… a... Really? What the…? How the…? Is this a fucking…?

How the hell did Lungsee get that bottle? What the fuck is in those bottles? Screw it. Big picture. Ty’s okay. He’s wandering. Not lost. On his path. I’m on mine. Ours will meet. Jesus. Maybe the trees really are transmitting. If life’s a joke, what does that say about… Uniquely identical. Fuck, yeah, Emile said with a winning grin.

Company… halt, whispered Lungsee holding up a fist and stopping dead. He pointed ahead and through the last fifty feet of branches could be seen lights. Lights, he whispered. He looked around and then he led them on until the side of the famed mansion came clear. They stopped at the tree line. Lungsee wheezed and scanned the area and then looked to Emile and said, Grace fucking land.

This is a bad fucking idea, man, said Emile.

It’s not an idea. It’s an axiologicalism.

It’s a joke, is what it is.

Are you laughing?

No.

Well, then. There you go…

It’s still a joke.

No shit. I’ve never laughed so hard in my life, Lungsee said. They looked into each other’s eyes for a long moment. Lungsee looked down to a stick. He picked it up and pointed with it. See that sweet Fleetwood? That is staging ground zero. Follow me and stay low. If you get hit, sing out. Lungsee ran out of the woods like a bear in baggy pants. And a cape.

He made it to the four-door flesh-toned Fleetwood and strained to get down on a knee. Had anyone inside the mansion looked out, they’d have clearly seen his huge hairy head looking like an unshrunken Haitian head hood ornament. Emile duck-walked up and crouched by the driver’s door.

That door right there is the kitchen. And it’s unlocked, Lungsee whispered.

How do you know? What if someone’s in there? But all Emile could do was watch as Lungsee threw his pointing stick high into the air over Graceland’s roof. Silence as it flipped and spun, tumbled, end over end over end.

Delly’s simple twist of phrase, ’a cry to help, boss,’ had caught everyone off guard and that was when the stupidly hypothetical became the inevitably inescapable. Lou was vindictive, enraged and cranky, and thus the plan, and consequence of failure, was clear, succinct and persuasive: in exchange for their freedom, Emile and Lungsee were to break into Graceland, nab the bottle of rum Lou had gifted his brother Elvis and ‘torch the hillbilly palace to the ground.’ And to dispel any notions of weaseling out, driving to the panhandle to blend in and start over or any other possible ‘derelictions of duty’, Lou calmly flashed his honorary Shelby County Sheriff’s badge he had personally received from the Shelby County Sheriff upon gifting him a bottle of the rum. ‘It’s as easy for me to get you ten years as it is to get the critters at a cathouse,’ was the last thing Lou said to them.

The stick seemed a long time aloft, but the thud-donk finally came. Simple, logical and then brilliant the stick ploy became when the unseen people in the kitchen suddenly became seen and left the kitchen en masse, like frantic steerage hustling to the high side of a listing boat.

Lungsee pounced. Emile followed. The door was not locked and they entered. The kitchen was to their right. Drinks and bottles and cans sat on the counters. Cigarettes curled up blue smoke from plates and bowls. Untouched food sat like diner displays.

Fridge, Lungsee said, jabbing his finger. Emile took this as an order and scampered with breathless steps to the brown-paneled Maytag side-by-side. Opening it, he found enough food to feed a hundred Lungsees. Not in it. Up top, Lungsee hissed as he tiptoed over to the door that the people piled out of.

Emile looked and there was nothing on top of the fridge but Kroger hamburger buns. Ten bags at least. But on a shelf high above the bags to the right, he saw a few bottles standing atop a stack of cookbooks. He jumped. Yep. Bottles. Jumped again and eyeballed a promising one, and on the third jump, he reached and snagged a familiar dark unlabeled one, and he knew it was the one from the engraving alone. Got it! Emile whisper-screamed.

As he moved to the edge of the kitchen to show Lungsee, he realized the jungle room loomed low and dark and right in front of him. Lungsee’s words back at the bar returned with profound clarity. Emile sensed to look up, the chill in his soul increasing with each silent ticking moment of passing time. The truth integrated him before he could integrate it. He stood before the transcendent, the universal; a quantum fact lived and breathed before him. There it hung, like an inverted bed of fuzzy groomed stalactites – the shag rug on the ceiling.

Emile’s grip on the Rumbullion slipped, faltered. The impossible glassware began its descent, astride his right khaki pant leg, and then fully fell from his tender fingers lily-white. The bottle fell and fell with a slight wobble, like a rogue satellite, and Emile’s hand had almost reached the smooth capless head when it hit the floor.

Emile scrunched his face. The thoughts whizzed through his mind: a crazed, laughing Lou, laughing like Ernest Borgnine. Prison. Steel bars. Howls of the damned in constant yowl. Puke encrusted blueprints, the lumps spelling out Dianetics; Ulysses; Lungsee eats paper, sucks fingers, burps; the Perkins slap and Lupus pity. Lots and lots of cleavage; Doctor Grayson pissing on his audience while conducting a symphony of squawk, and the King’s funeral and cars and girls and loafers and kitchens and shag up top... can shag up top come off with a spatula? Emile closed his eyes and saw Ty. Ty Fournier. He’s why I’m here. He’s why I have made the worst one thousand decisions of my life in the last how many days? Weeks? What an asshole, and now I pity me more than him. How the fuck does that happen? The bottle will smash; Lou will turn us in; the Judge will ask, Son, what happened? and I will have to answer: Your Honor, I’d just rather not say.

But the bottle bounced. Elvis had carpeted his kitchen. It bounced right back up into Emile’s seizing fingers. And still he missed it. Down it went again, but the bottle’s integrity was never in doubt. Shag rug. Glorious fucking shag rug! Who shags their ceiling, their kitchen? The King, man, that’s who. Quickly and oddly, the next question came: and what else? TV? Books? Food?

Emile fumbled with the Rumbullion, got it into his hands and Lungsee said, Way to be, Sinclair! Emile smiled. But Lungsee continued on, no rest for the cockamamie. You got that lighter? Emile wasn’t sure about arson, about destroying the mansion, but he had to ask himself if anybody would really miss it. Especially after a few years. The King’s dead. He had no idea where Jimi Hendrix’s house was. Or Jim Morrison’s. So he set the bottle on the counter and patted himself down for the lighter. He couldn’t find it. Was this a sign? But before that question got answered, he saw the powdery pile of white on a blue Wedgewood platter plate with a single-edged razor and three tightly rolled bills as sides. No ordinary pile either. It was like a dome, a Super Dome for tiny fans in a sports fair diorama. Uhh, check it out, man…

Lighter! Lungsee whispered-yelled. Enchanted by the rank but sweet smelling cocaine, Emile absently dug into and rummaged about in all four pockets before finally producing the flimsy liquor-store lighter and tossed it to Lungsee who, kneeling, was ready to light the Jungle Room drapes.

Flick, flick. The lighter was empty. Flick. Flick. He shook it. Flick. He blew on it. Shook it. Give it up, you bastard, he demanded of the Bic, and right before the next flick could sound, people coming were heard. Lungsee reeled, his expression crazed, as if trying to see with his ears.

Emile stamped his foot and wagged his finger at the sounds. His other hand covered the entire lower half of his face. The kitchen party was coming back. Lungsee rocked, heaved up off his knees and bolted out of the shagged lair and pranced into the kitchen and disappeared into the very stairwell from which he long ago saw the nude King emerge in loafers. Emile, yet again sucked into Lungsee’s smelly wake, not only followed, but clung to it.

The stairwell was pitch dark and they waited, arranging themselves for both comfort and silence. Lungsee perched on the fifth step up and Emile on the third, between Lungsee’s legs. Lungsee fingered the side of his Emile’s head until he found the ear hole and then wheezed into it: You forgot the bottle.

I… know.

Oh… kay.

Rapid and shrill swirled the female voices, spastic, jerky, nasal, harsh and twangy, all toying, flirting with ultimate, unequivocal vocal irritation in its purest form imaginable. The overlapping, cascading and interflowing cacophony at once signaled a complete breakdown and ultimate triumph of irreducible human communication.

Emile and Lungsee cowered on the steps, frozen like anthropologists in the wild terrified of their subjects. Then silence, followed by a tiny ticktickticktick, a few steel-on-porcelain scrapes and then the long, violent snort.

Oh, god damn, that’s it… the inhaler said.

Ooh, that was a big one…

Place gives me the creeps when the boys are gone.

Tell me about it. Fuckin’ ghosts or some shit…

You know how much I love you? Do you?

I do, girl, and I love you, too! Best friends for life! Huh?

Yes! Best friends for life! Hell, yes. All ya’ll!

Your turn?

Hell, yeah…

Ticktickticktick. Scrape.

Where’d this come from?

Who knows. Let’s drink it.

Ain’t got no cork. Dern thing’s all glass.

Day-um. Must be one of his special ones from Hawaii.... Maximum Semper Rumbullion...

Emile leaned back into Lungsee’s crotch, tilted his head so that his face was in Lungsee’s beard, Don’t worry, they can’t open it, he whispered. This was followed by glass smashing.

Get some glasses and let’s have some High-why-inn punch! The banging of cabinet doors and tinkling of glasses joined in with the scraping and snorting and Emile realized that this could be a while. Waiting on women. Always. Why is that? He thought of his girlfriend. She doesn’t read the paper but her mother does and she would have told her that she saw me at the funeral and now I’ll have to answer for that. Forget about answering to getting caught in here.

Don’t get no glass shards in mine, damn girl.

Oh, shut up and drink it.

Silence and then sips and slurps and more silence and then, in a unanimous decision, Oh, my, god…

That is not real.

What is this?

I ain’t never…

Jesus Christ, it’s like liquid satiny shit, or some shit…

Day-um, I think my throat’s gonna cum…

I think mine just did.

A long silence as both the girls and Emile and Lungsee contemplated just what the rum was capable of.

This is, is, better then… this is better then… ya’ll know what this is better then?

And few giggles and snickers and sniggers and then one girl burst out, Say it, Donna, say, say, say, say, say it, girl!

Buttfuckin’! Donna said. Oh, my god, ya’ll, I can’t believe I said that!

The feminine roar that was… stopped. On a dime. Ultra-silence reigned. The other girls looked to the floor. Their shoes. Are my jeans too short? God, I need a pedi. The ceiling. Wow, it’s bright in here. Holy crap, what a slut… Donna scoured the faces of her friends in the King’s kitchen for any sign, any flicker of camaraderie. There was none. Zero. Loyalty she now knew was paper-thin. She lost her breath for a moment and was thinking of something to say when it came out: Ya’ll! Just joking...

Silence gradually fell away as the murmurs came back, the relief and then the harsh tin clanging of the phone eased all tension. What had been said was now completely forgotten.

Aw, shit, I got it. I bet it’s them callin’… Hello? No, it’s Donna. Hey there, Jackie. Yeah, I know it’s you. Yep, all good here. Just settin’ around with the girls…gal talk… you know… Giggles. How you boys doin’ out there in La La land? Okay. Huh? No, President d’Etaing has not called yet… Hey listen, can you go over to the Fred Segal’s and get me some new huggers? I need a school-night pair… she said slapping her ass at the girls. Okay, okay, easy, Jackie. I didn’t mean nothing by it... No, Johnny Scaglinardi is not here. God, you are so damn paranoid… I love you too, baby. Tomorrow morning? Alright, see you then. Donna hung up the phone, silence reigned for a moment and then laughter exploded.

The dark in the stairwell somehow got darker and as Emile sat there on the shag rug that covered the steps, he could not resist the urge to run his fingers through the long kinky hair-like floor covering. The disembodied voices out of the kitchen highlighted something that was alien and shocking, and somehow the shag soothed him. If pity equals loyalty, then we have zero chance in this world, he thought. But where did this thought come from? He had never thought like this, he thought. Butt fucking by the racquetball court, Grayson’s piss, Lungsee’s insults, Ty’s withholdings and my loyalty to them all… Deception defined. But stories are harmless, right?

He ran his fingers through the shag and his palm warmed and he thought that the individual strands were like little trees, and he came upon a small disc, a perfect round thing that was smooth with a ridged edge and he knew exactly what it was – a casino chip. He held it and flipped it around in his fingers like a steady bettor. He thought about this small hard round object, its worth, its use, its point. It’s as good as money, but only at one place. Did that matter to The King? Maybe he could use it. Maybe he could buy an RC Cola with it. A Cadillac. Pay his bills. Maybe The King really did live in a parallel universe, one that we gave him and that we all want to live in but don’t realize we can. The shag up top is for walking on the ceiling. Trees are for discussions. Brothers are of dispensation. May be. Just maybe.

Flick. Flick. Flick. And butane finally met spark. Emile and Lungsee looked at one another between the feeble flame. It works, whispered Lungsee.

I see, whispered Emile, looking into Lungsee’s hairy nostril.

I think we can wait ’em out.

Ok…

Who’s got smokes? I need a smoke, said Donna.

I got a pack, but they’re upstairs, in my purse.

Well, go get ’em, said Donna.

You go get ’em.

Hell, I’ll go get ’em, offered a third, who had a most dulcet tone.

Emile and Lungsee didn’t even bother thinking. They spun, rose and clamored up the steps like hungry monkeys vying for the branch at the top of the shag rug tree where the last banana dangled with a taunt. Lungsee’s heel smacked Emile’s chin, and Emile’s knees and palms flamed from the frantic scramble.

At the top of the stairs, Emile got to his feet and dashed the way he thought they should go, and Lungsee darted the way he thought they should go, and they both went and they bonked foreheads and staggered backwards. They shook off the collision and pivoted like toy soldiers with stiff legs and they each found a door.

Emile found a linen closet and Lungsee a coat closet with a vacuum cleaner - a Hoover Constellation. Hey, Emile, it’s a… but he didn’t finish because the stairwell light came on and lit the shag rug at the top of the stairs. It was Vermilion orange. Not being able to cross the light, they had only one way to go. And one door to pray for.

They both grabbed the knob that looked like an Elvis-sized diamond ring and opened the door and the King’s bathroom stretched out before them. They entered and slammed the door quietly. The nightlights glowed in low outlets along the perimeter and gave off a nice warm haze. The shag rug, the toilet, the lamp, the easy chair, the end table, the slippers and robe all seemed eerily in place while their owner was out.

The counter, with its endless array of grooming products, was under a mirror and this mirror flanked another mirror and it seemed like that mirror sidled another and it quickly became clear this was easily the largest bathroom in the universe. Or a regular-sized one with a lot of mirrors.

The foot stomps had made it to the top of the stairs and then they stopped. A terrifying pause. Then: In Pepper’s room?! said the dulcet voice from the hall right outside the bathroom door.

Emile and Lungsee froze for the answer. Then, with grave intuition guiding their eyes, they both turned and looked at the counter and under one of the long mirrors sat what sure looked like a woman’s purse.

No! Bathroom! rang Donna’s twang from downstairs.

The pause that followed this was breathtaking. Then… Greyhounds shot out of the gate. They elbowed each other across the floor; legs stride for stride, hands grasping at air and grabbing shirts and arms. They thundered to the cloudy slimy shower door, fingered the flimsy handle and squeezed side-by-side inside. Emile pulled the door shut from the exposed upper edge and there they stood, waiting, holding their breath and knowing damn well this would be the first place looked.

If she suspected. She walked in and flipped the bank of light switches up. The overhead lights, appropriately dim, came on. She stamped across the floor, her shadow eased across the shower door. Emile’s knees knocked like Irish spoons.

She fumbled with the big blue vinyl purse, rummaging the contents for a long time. She hummed but they could not decipher the tune. Lungsee wanted to know, so he looked to Emile with a furrowed brow to indicate he was trying to name that tune and then he started to hum along. Emile punched him in the stomach, momentarily losing his fist.

She stopped humming, the rustling stopped and the purse plopped back onto the counter. It made a flat thud sound and this was followed by the sound of a tire rapidly losing air. Then in spurts. Emile and Lungsee looked at one another. Then a few more spurts. Lungsee peered over the top of the door and saw her spraying her big hair. He ducked back down as she admired herself, approved and slammed the spray can down on the counter. The sound of a zipper broke the new silence; the rustle of jeans being wrestled. Lungsee moved his face closer to the glass to see, but he couldn’t. Only sounds: jeans being dragged down her thighs, her ass and hips probably being shaken and wiggled back and forth. They grinned at one another. She sighed and said, Ohh yeah… Liquid tinkled into liquid. Emile imagined her big hairy pussy, and Lungsee whispered, God damn, that gets me hard.

She muttered to herself: God, she takes it in the ass. And then she farted. All in her sweet little dulcet. She unspooled about six feet of toilet paper, scrubbed herself furiously, stood and wrangled her jeans back up. She zipped, flushed and walked out, leaving the lights on. They heard her thud back down the stairs.

Emile bent over and planted his palms on his knees. He took a few deep breaths and then got real still. His stomach jerked and heaved and a shots worth of viscid alkaline crawled up from his throat and stopped at his lips. He jutted his chin forward to help stop the vile punch, and he then quickly swallowed it. His eyes, wet and wild, looked to Lungsee to see if he saw.

Lungsee saw, but betrayed zero connection between his seeing and any relevance to anything. King’s a Breck girl, he said, nodding to the shampoo bottle in the shower caddy. I did not know that.

Emile looked and saw the Breck shampoo but he mainly appreciated Lungsee’s deflection of his fear and puke. We’re not supposed to know that, he said.

But we do, Lungsee said.

Maybe it’s not his.

Yeah… but more than likely, it is.

But we don’t know for sure. And I need you to admit it.

Admit what? said Lungsee.

Admit that we don’t know it’s his.

Ok. Why?

Because I don’t want to believe anything anymore. Anything that’s wrong.

Lungsee looked at Emile as if he were trying to find a flaw in his cornea.

Emile pushed open the shower door and stepped out into the bathroom. He crossed to the counter and turned on the cold water and stuck his mouth under the tap and filled his mouth. He sloshed the water a bit and then spit it into the sink. He splashed cold water on his face and neck and rubbed it in. Give me a hit, he said, and Lungsee offered up his canteen. They both drank. They both smiled.

Regard, Lungsee said as he pointed to an Alberto VO5 spray can and a pink lighter. It’s a sign. A lagniappe.

I’m not burning the place down, man.

Ok. Why not?

Tomorrow. Tomorrow’s news is today. I’m not going to be that guy, said Emile. I’m not going to be the guy who torched Graceland. I’m not going to be that guy in some story in the paper.

Don’t want to believe anything’s that wrong, huh?

That’s right. Because… and Emile picked up the black and gold Alberto can and the puce pink lighter and blasted a two-foot long chemical flame across the mirror and blackened it with a wet soot-like film. He set down the can and lighter and with his right index finger wrote in the film, ‘I’M NOT HIM’. … because I’m not him…

Not him, huh? said Lungsee.

That’s right. Not that guy.

So who are you?

Emile cracks a grin. You said the King died on the toilet?

That’s what Ann Margret told me at the funeral. If you can trust Ann Margaret at a funeral.

Yeah. Then that’s me, Emile said, pointing to the black American Standard.

Emile knelt and did his work. He thought of prayer, and he smiled as he could think of nothing stupider. He remembered he thought he’d seen Lou’s knees a bit bloody and wondered what god he was praying to when they got busted. Emile knelt in front of his obligations to society, culture, humanity. To agency. Work. Production. Being somebody. The toilet’s floor bolts needed to be removed, the water needed to be turn off and the damn thing needed to be pried up. And it all came to pass. Took him about ten minutes.

Lungsee held the toilet with one hand and slowly handed the black molded mass to Emile who was sitting way too far out on an oak branch that tickled the lip of the roof that was not far from The King Elvis’s bathroom window. You got it? Lungsee asked.

Fans down by the gates could be heard singing “Mystery Train”, their voices wafting up the vast front lawn, mournful and ghostly, like a family calling out for a loved, lost pet. The singing made Lungsee uneasy. You ready or what? he demanded.

Let’s do it, was Emile’s answer. Two steady grasping hands emerged from the leafy darkness, and Lungsee began the handoff. You got it? he said.

I got it.

Sure?

Yep.

Alright… said Lungsee.

But all was not right. The black night sucked and swallowed up the black toilet and it fell through the void, becoming briefly lit as it passed a glowing window, and it landed in some hard soft dirt with a deep shallow thud.

You said you had it.

I did until you let go, asshole.

Back through the thicket they trudged. The toilet their trophy. They emerged by the Jack Pirtle’s dumpster and Emile’s car was not there. Oh, son of a bitch…

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