Sheen Life

@jan

I could be watching Turbo Kid with Theo and Ernie right now, but instead I’m doing a C2C with Uncle Martin at that Kaedo Cafe down the street from my parents’ apartment.

“I’m finally getting my act together!” he explains as we choose a table near the edge of the Kaedo parking lot (everything’s outdoor seating these days, thanks to DOSVID). “With the economy what it is, it’s no wonder I haven’t been able to find traditional work!” He sets down his carry bag and spray bottle, settles into his chair. “Dosequisvirus may have gotten the masses laid off, but self-made men like you and me, we’re the new entrepreneurs, forging our own path, making our own fortunes!”

I sigh and take a seat. Have you ever heard of the Kounicova Curse? My friends think it’s just me and Mom and Dad who’re broke all the time, but the Curse extends to the rest of my family as well, Uncle Martin included. I can’t say exactly why, except that every one of us has run (or tried to run) a failed or failing business. A Kounicova can get hired to sweep floors or clean up vomit for a belligerent swing manager like nobody’s business, but if we try to strike out on our own, we can’t seem to get the customers, sell the product, or make any profit at all, really.

That doesn’t mean we don’t still try. Uncle Martin’s plan to end the Kounicova Curse? Buying junk and re-selling it on Flipitty for twice the price. Tonight’s piece: a DSLR camera he found at the swap meet. I helped him set up the Flipitty page for it. We’re here to meet up with the buyer. Well, he’s here to meet up with the buyer. I’m here for a Zef Burger. Or maybe a Monkey Shake or Triple Taco platter. I haven’t decided.

Uncle Martin raises his hand and snaps his finger loudly. “Service!”

I grab his arm, lower it beneath the tabletop. “Um, they don’t do it like that here. You’re supposed to order at the register, and they serve you at the side door.” I point.

“Ah. Dosequisvirus, eh?” Uncle Martin nods, pulls two five-dollar bills and a handful of ones from his waist pouch, hands them to me. “Fetch me a coffee, neat, my boy, and whatever catches your fancy!”

Cash in hand, I leave the table, work my way across the parking lot, the patio lights strung above a twinkling canopy sparkling against the night. I wonder how much Kaedo’s evening power hours cost.

Inside the cafe, the register guy seems put off by my disposable surgical loincloth. He’s looking at me the same way he probably looks at homeless dudes when they ask to use the toilet. “Welcome to Kaedo Cafe. What can I get for you?”

“Pigsies in a Blanket and a coffee, neat,” I reply.

“Pigsies and a coffee, er…what now?”

That’s right—Uncle Martin’s oldschool Czech, so I’ll have to translate. “Black coffee in a small ceramic cup served on a saucer.” I think.

The register guy still looks confused. “I’ll, uh, see what I can do.” He rings me up, hands me my change and a receipt. I head back out and around to the side of the cafe, where the line for the pickup window is. Ignoring the naked fitness girl ahead of me as best as I can (why is it always the fit ones who choose the Fundoshi Mandate’s nude option?), I take out my phone, check my SuperMegaNet feed. There’s a text from Eva telling me to have a good night. More interesting, though, is Theo’s feed, in which Ernie, tears and snot streaming down his face, is vlogging The Blair Witch Project style. In the background, Theo frantically waves his toy dagger back and forth at some kind of weird glowing boner dude.

“Being attacked by neon goo rape zombies!” Ernie bawls into the camera. “And it’s all Theo’s fault! Little bugger made me watch this stupid movie with him, and now we’re going to die because of it! I love you Gramps, Grams! I’m so scared—somebody please fucking call Bruce Campbell!”

“Very funny, leviathan,” I say, and shake my head.

“Wait, food stamps, is that you—?”

I lower the volume on my phone, clip it back onto my waist.

Try my best to pretend I’m not totally staring at the fitness babe’s epic butt.

Eventually, I reach the pickup window. I take my tray from the server, and am only mildly surprised that Uncle Martin’s coffee sits proudly in a Styrofoam cup set on a napkin.

It’ll have to do.

When I get back to our table, there’s this tweaky-looking hippie dude in dreads and a tattered sarong sitting across from Uncle Martin—our Flipitty buyer, I’m guessing. I pull up a third chair, sit, slide Uncle Martin’s coffee toward him.

“Five-hundred, final offer,” he says to the dreadlocks hippie dude, and frowns at the Styrofoam. “So, do we have a deal, friend?”

I pop a Pigsy into my mouth—

—and that’s when the hippie pulls a small handgun from under his sarong and aims it subtly at Uncle Martin. “Don’t make a scene, friend—”

Which is exactly what Uncle Martin does, dropping his coffee and throwing his hands over his head. “Aaaagh! He’s got a gun!”

I freeze in mid-bite, and what happens next…well, I think the hippie’s plan was to exploit the fact that we’re sitting so close to the street and simply take the camera, make a quick, inconspicuous exit. And he kind of sort of does, minus the inconspicuous part. He grabs the camera, shoves his chair back, and jumps to his feet—losing his sarong in the process.

The people next to us gasp.

A woman at the other end of the parking lot screams.

Uncle Martin’s spilled coffee splashes loudly onto the asphalt below.

And you can see the oh, fuck! in the hippie’s eyes as he starts hopping around trying to use one of his feet to somehow dislodge the sarong from his chair and kick it up into his arms. Instead, he stubs his toe while knocking the chair over, accidentally fires his gun into the ground, drops the camera, bangs his head on the tabletop while bending over to pick it up again, and generally makes a spectacle of himself.

Long story short, to anyone near the corner of Main and Culver at about eight-thirty this evening, that’s why there’s a naked guy with a gun and a busted camera running awkwardly down the street.

Love is a little red pixel heart

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Dookie, a cheesy horror novel by Jesse Gordon

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Jesse Gordon

Geek. Writer. Supreme overlord of the SUPERMEGANET pseudoverse. Author of THE OATMEAL MAN, DOOKIE, and other such wasteful nonsense.