Head on the Table

Sarcasm, satire and cartoons

RPMS&theBoQs Chapters 8 & 9

Written By: Sy - Feb• 19•11

Chapter 8

Hulking Harry’s Last Stand

Patrick was spending the evening at Mary’s house. Mary’s parents were out for the night and Mary wanted to impress Patrick with her cooking skills. Patrick sat in the living room watching TV while Mary bounced around the kitchen preparing food, humming and smiling as she went along.

Outside a thunderstorm was brewing and rain had begun to fall. Down the street Hulking Harry sat in his tiny, blue Ford Hovel, his eyes fixed on Patrick’s big, white,  Buick Grand Chalet which was parked in front of Mary’s house. Harry was waiting for Patrick to leave. He planned to follow and confront him. He was sure something was not right with this mysterious stranger and he was determined to, either find out what it was, or if he was wrong, succeed in looking like a complete fool. It didn’t really matter at this point; Harry was too distressed and depressed to think straight. These were the actions of a desperate man in an impossible situation. He just didn’t know what else to do.

The fact that Mary didn’t even know who he was was completely lost on him. Poor guy.

Harry sat, watching the house, for nearly five hours. He imagined himself inside with Mary, just as he had imagined numerous times before. Harry saw her round, squat frame cuddling next to him on the couch, her pudgy feet sticking out over the side.

Harry closed his eyes and embraced the steering wheel, as if it were Mary. Without thinking, he squeezed against it, until a sudden blast from the horn blew apart the fabric of his dream like a hard sneeze through tissue paper. Startled, Harry ducked down under the dashboard and hoped no one would come to investigate. No one did.

Minutes passed before Harry finally peeked back up over the dashboard, and when he did he saw Mary, standing on the front porch, kissing Patrick goodnight.  He watched Patrick get into his car and drive away. Harry followed.

Harry was surprised that Patrick did not head back towards the downtown area, but instead seemed to heading out of town, and not just out of town. He was headed south on Dense road, and the only place that Dense road led to was the treacherous Snake Bite Pass. The same road where the Johnson twins had crashed and burned years earlier.

“Only a fool would take the “Bite” at night.” Harry thought, “and only a suicidal fool would take it in the rain.” Patrick, now, knew one thing for certain. “This guy is definitely not from these parts.”

Snake Bite was a shortcut through the mountains south of Dipdrought. Two narrow lanes of well worn blacktop meandering through a series of seven rises, five of which sloped into treacherous curves. There were no roadside reflectors or road signs along the, roughly, two mile stretch of road. There were only two signs, one posted at each end of the pass, that read “If you can read this. TURN BACK NOW.”

What Harry didn’t know was that Patrick was on his way out of town for good. He had decided not to stay in Dipdrought after all. His hotel bill was paid two weeks ahead, so the hotel would think that he was still there, but  he  had left the keys on the bed and most of his belongings behind, taking only the money he had with him and few toiletries.  The only reason that he was taking the pass was because he needed to pick up the rest of his money. Patrick had hidden out in these woods while his surgical scars healed. He had secreted four million dollars near his campsite and had to collect it before leaving. He had driven the pass several times before and was sure that he could negotiate it with no problem.

Patrick looked in his rear view mirror and saw another car behind him. He slowed to see if the other car would speed up and pass him, but it also slowed.

“Someone is following me. What if Airhardt has found me?” he thought. Patrick began to panic, then. calmed himself. “There is no way they can keep up with me once we reach the pass. I’ll lose them for sure.” Patrick eased the gas peddle towards the floorboard and accelerated toward the pass.

The rain was still, steadily, coming down  and the wheels on Harry’s Hovel were bald, but he wasn’t about to turn back. He sped up after the Chalet.

Patrick kept checking his rear view mirror and was becoming increasingly concerned about the car behind him. The distraction almost made him skid off the road at one point. What if he couldn’t shake the other car, what if they caught him, what if he misjudged a curve and lost control of his car?

Patrick hit the top of the next rise going so fast that his car flew a couple of inches off of the pavement. He had floored it because he knew that over this rise was a straight road leading to the highway. All he was concerned with now, was losing this car that was behind him. He would have to come back for the money later.

There are a number of words that could describe how Patrick felt when he realized that he was wrong, that somewhere along the way he had miscounted the turns. Horrified, shocked and terrified are a few. “I want my mommy”, is another, when he found himself headed into a 20 mph turn traveling at about 80 miles per hour.

He hit the brakes while still airborne and came down hard on the blacktop. His car went spinning into the curve like a pinwheel. Harry followed suit and ended up in the same predicament.

Round and round they spun, like two cars on a Tilt-a-Whirl track, until they both flew off onto opposite sides of the road, each car hitting a tree, bursting into flames and ejecting its occupant. Harry landed by Patrick’s car and Patrick landed by Harry’s car. Harry was the only survivor.

Harry awoke in the hospital, days later, his head and face wrapped in bandages and an excited Mary was standing over him. ”

Thank God you finally woke up,” she said,  but she was calling him “Patrick”. ”The doctors said it was a miracle, that you even survived.”

Mary was telling him how lucky he was that he had been the one survivor in the crash and the other man had been burned beyond recognition.

It didn’t take Patrick long to figure out what had happened. He was being mistaken for the “Bag of Quarters”.  Should he say something? He was sure that when the bandages came off everyone would realize their mistake, but then maybe not. Patrick had only been in town a week or so, no one really knew anything about him. All Harry had to do was feign amnesia and hope for the best. Besides if Mary knew that he wasn’t really Patrick, she would lose interest and probably go into another depression. He wasn’t about to let that happen to her again.

The day finally came when Harry’s surgeon announced it was time to remove the bandages, but he didn’t come to the room alone. Virtually every doctor in the hospital came in with him for unveiling. There was standing room only.

Harry took measured breaths to control his nervousness.

Not a sound was made as the dressing was unwrapped. When the doctor was finished he held up a mirror for Harry to see the results.  Harry was dumbfounded, he was no longer Harry. He now was Patrick. The doctors had reconstructed his face to resemble the “Bag of Quarters,”  the person who they thought he was.

A cheer went up in the room. Congratulations were passed around and then someone went out into the hall to get Mary. Mary had been too nervous to come in for the ungauzing, but now she stood there beaming with adoration at Harry. It was all the dreams Harry had ever had in his entire life coming true at the same moment. It was overwhelming. He was speechless. His head was swimming.

“I think we’ll leave the two of you alone.” The head surgeon said, turning to Mary. The staff began filing out of the room, casting backward glances at Harry. He heard words being muttered, like “amazing”, “unbelievable”, “luckiest man in the world.” Harry couldn’t have agreed more.

Mary went up to the hospital bed and fell forward into Harry’s arms. “My darling, my darling.” She said over and over.

Harry didn’t know what was softer, Mary’s skin or the blubber underneath. Oh, and that smell! What was that smell?  Then it struck him, it was that smell that comes off your belly button lint. “It’s all those rolls of fat.” He thought. “I guess it’s not possible to get them all clean, all of the time.” What an unexpected bonus.”

Harry told himself that all he had to do now was just go along for the ride. He was sure that from here on in only good things would happen for him.

“Come on.” Mary said. “Let’s get you checked out of here. I brought some clothes that were hanging up in your hotel room. You’re so absent minded you even forgot your keys on the bed.”

On the way out of the hospital, several of the nurses giggled and smiled at Harry. Out on the street he caught more women giving him appreciative glances. By the time Mary dropped Harry off at the Coat and Arms, he had come to an unexpected change of mind. “Heck, I can do better than her.” He thought, barely even looking back at Mary, as he exited the car.

“I’ll be back around sevenish.” Mary called out to Harry, but he just walked into the hotel without even responding.

Once Harry was in Patrick’s room he started looking for personal information. He went through the dresser drawers, under the bed and through the closet. In the closet he found a charred, locked, blue suitcase. Obviously it had been in Patrick’s car at the time of the accident. He looked in the pockets of the clothes in the closet for a key. He looked under the drawers in the dresser. He finally found the key in the bag of belongings he had been given when he checked out of the hospital

“Now we’ll find out who you are,” Harry exclaimed to himself, but when he opened the case there were no documents, no clothes, no clues. All he found was money, a lot of money.

Harry counted the cash. It totaled over nine hundred thousand dollars. Harry saw that a corner of the lining in the suitcase was coming apart. Behind the lining he found a piece of paper. On the paper a map was scribbled. Harry recognized the area. It was a backwoods location beyond the fifth southbound curve of “Snake Bite Pass.”

Harry phoned the front desk for a rental car. He wanted to find out what was out there. He still had a couple of hours of daylight and didn’t want to wait. He packed the money back into the suitcase, and just as he closed the lock he was startled by a knock at the door.

“Housekeeping, Mr. Hatrick, can we come in and clean your room?”

“Sure, come on in, I was just going out anyway.”

Chapter 9

Daddyhood, Emitts Change of Heart

Becoming a parent changes people, well, generally it does, there are, of course, exceptions. Emitt was not one of these exceptions. The birth of his child brought about profound differences in his way of thinking. He had left the hospital a few hours earlier and was now at his mansion. The birth of his child had been one of those “good news”, “bad news”, “ambivalent news” situations.

Emitt sat down in his living room and turned on his Bang & Olafson 3D Surreal Holographic  TV. The TVs projection device was mounted in the ceiling and projected the 3D images of the movie in the middle of room. He turned the size adjustment to 1/4 of  actual size and watched a scene from one of his favorite action movies.  He poured himself a chilled shot of 1921 Tequila and sipped at it, savoring the taste, rolling it around in his mouth before swallowing.

Quite a lot had happened during the last several months. Events that Emitt had never, ever envisioned occurring in his life, and only, now, was much of it beginning to congeal in his mind. He was like the man who looked at his wife on her fortieth birthday and told her how he’d always been aware that at forty she wouldn’t look the same as she had at twenty.

“I knew you’d have some grey hairs. I knew your skin would begin to sag and that you’d probably have put on some pounds and lost a couple of teeth”, He told her, “But, you know, until this moment I just never really put it all together.”

Originally told as a joke, it had now become a serious toast.

Emitt thought about the road that had led society to the present state of affairs.  The “Women’s Rights” movement, the “Civil Rights” movement, the “Gay Rights” movement.  All of the political correctness in and out of the workplace. The handicap anti-discrimination laws. Yes, good intentions aimed at creating an accepting and forward thinking environment in which all people, no matter how different, could enjoy lives unhindered by the prejudices and disproval of others. In fact the goal had been to eradicate prejudice and disproval of anyone’s inherent state of being.

Bold, unprecedented steps were taken toward this end. So many disenfranchised groups were included in new affirmative action policies, that very few people outside of these guidelines could even find employment. This led to an eventual and dramatic shift of power, political and corporate.

Government contracts were influenced by these policies. New, faces began showing up in boardrooms across the country. New groups of people came into wealth and power.

There was the Lobster People Dynasty and the Elephant People Conglomerate among others.

Emitt remembered the businessmen who had tried to install Mongoloids as puppet figureheads. They hoped that the Mongoloid’s presence would improve their companies standing in the business community while enabling them to maintain complete control. What a disaster that had turned into. The ruse was so transparent that the company was shamed out of business.

All of these good intentions had accomplished nothing. Well nothing of substance, nothing of value. People were still focused on the physical and low minded end of existence as much as they had ever been. The only difference now was that opposite groups of people were espousing that we were all the same on the inside and that appearance and preferences weren’t important. It was ridiculous, because the last thing we all are is the same on the inside, that’s why we need laws in the first place.

Emitt decided that he had had enough. He regretted what he had done to his child. His “child” was all he could call it.  At this point noone was sure if it even had a gender. Dr. Pinprick had succeeded impressively. That was the “good news” that now had become the “bad news”. The “ambivalent news” was that Emitt’s wife, Chunky, had died during childbirth.

Emitt thought about the beverage line he had started so that his child could inherit it when he grew up. The potato juice cocktail had been the first product and it was a huge success.

Now he was disgusted with himself. As brilliant and successful as he was, he had allowed himself to be manipulated by the ill-formed opinions of others.  All that this change in society had proven is that when left to their own devices, nobody wants equality. Everybody, instead, still vies for supremacy.

All that people should be entitled to, is to be treated fairly according to their own conduct and that’s precisely what the previous laws had always strived to do.  Besides that, just show compassion for the ones with physical and mental limitations. It was time for this aberrant condition to end. Emitt did not begrudge anyone a legitimate claim to success, but he would no longer be a party to this moral guilt trip.

Paraphrasing, Emitt recalled a quote he had once read. Something about how people’s weaknesses so often override what they consider to be their strengths. Sometimes that line is blurred. Even now, as he sat and thought about the changes he intended to make, he wasn’t absolutely sure that he wasn’t giving into his weaknesses. Was he merely considering acts of retaliation, meant to put his tormenters in their place, or was he really looking to right what he saw to be wrongs?

In one case, Emitt was definitely righting a wrong, he thought, or maybe he wasn’t. O.K. he wasn’t, but then maybe he was. Oh, whatever! The situation he was thinking about had to do with the vial he had given to Dr. Pinprick.

The vial contained the DNA of one of the pizza faces who had stolen his food-on-a-stick formula. Heck, pizza faces weren’t even a disadvantaged group. They were always trying to make something more out of their condition then there was. It was just acne for christ’s sake. Go buy some oxy. He thought he could trust them, he was wrong, and now he was going to return the “favor”.

Originally the DNA was introduced into Emitt’s son’s embryo as insurance, in case Dr. Pinprick had not delivered on his promise. In that case, Emitt would demand a DNA test be performed and then disown the child when the foreign DNA was discovered. He would accuse his wife of cheating on him, divorce her and be rid of her and the child and get a measure of revenge at the same time. Now he would use the same ploy to rid himself of the child, but for the opposite reason. The lawyers would work it out. As far as he was concerned it was a dead issue.

That problem dealt with, Emitt could now turn his attention toward more important matters, like changes he intended to make at his company, starting with the spokespersons. He would look for people with classical good looks to replace his current line-up of disfigured and disabled models.

A chilly breeze began blowing through the open french doors on the patio. Emitt got up to close them. He crossed the room and walked through the holographic movie scene that was playing out on the floor. He paused for moment and looked down at the miniature figures running around, shooting at each other. “Cool,”  He said aloud, momentarily distracted from his other thoughts.

Emitt closed the doors, then returned to his chair. Yes, he  had a lot of thinking to do, he took another sip of the 1921 tequila then laid back, comfortably, in his easy chair. More comfortably then he had in quite a while.

Tomorrow Chapter 10:Mary, Mary, Quite Inconsolable, the final chapter.

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