Wednesday, October 31, 2001

He, Birdgirl and Faceless Larry

     It was a typically nice sunny day in California.  The type all of the natives don’t appreciate any more.  Frank was one of those natives.  He’d seen it all before.  He had big troubles rumbling through his head like the violence of a juxtaposed thunderstorm against all of this bright sunniness bullshit.  He had chosen to eat inside the taqueria.  In the back.  It was his one meal a day (he seemed to be limiting himself to that nowadays, waiting to eat until he just couldn’t stand it anymore, or the dizziness and shaking begin to set in).  His whole happiness system was embedded in the half-eaten burrito that sat before him.  He was shoving huge chunks of food into his mouth and not bothering to wipe his face.  Sour cream and salsa lined his mouth.  Even the employees had begun to take notice.  They probably thought him a junkie of some type, what with his gaunt frame and greasy bed-headed hairdo.  Frank did not give a fuck what they thought.  “What do they have to do with my burrito?” He thought to himself. “Sure, they made the thing, but they are over there whereas my burrito is right here in front of me.”  Frank was becoming a junkie of some sort; a junkie of food indulgence, a junkie of the way that food to a starving man could simplify a whole goddamn swirling hell world into “mefoodeatnow”.
A burning need and its obvious solution dancing through his body. But just then someone stepped into his temple that broke his trance mid-chew.

It was Larry Terry.

Larry Terry, oh perhaps number one on the list of fellows that Frank really did not want to run into.  And here he was, with his long blonde-dyed black hair and young taut face with that perpetual half-condescending grin, cutting a dull old blade right through Frank’s last simple pleasure, his worship of food.  Larry Terry was a local musician, just like him, but the fact that he wasn’t successful either had never seemed to bother him somehow.  Quite the contrary, Larry seemed to wear his failure like a badge on his shoulder.  He had slighted Frank on many occasions, too many to name, always with the off-hand pseudo-offensive remarks about his art, mannerisms, hair, always with the evil grin of self confidence.

And to make it worse, by his side was her.

Frank didn’t know her name, but he goddamn sure knew her looks.  The small shocks of jet black hair across her white forehead, her angular youngish body juxtaposed against her 6 foot tallness, she was even wearing the same dress she had been on that night, a tantalizing black number, of course, black, everything that wasn’t perfect angel wing white on this girl had to be dark raven wing black. And she was shaped like some beautiful bird as well, an egret perhaps with her long graceful neck.  Frank had nicknamed her Birdgirl in his mind.

Yes, he had spent a few hours about a month ago unable to stop gorging on the sight of this would-be young goth starlet at a local nightclub where one of his favorite local bands was playing.  He had even known the girl she was sitting next to and had sat dumbly down hoping to be introduced, but no such luck.  The girl he already knew just started having some stupid conversation with him having NOTHING to do with the beautiful girl that he OBVIOUSLY couldn’t stop staring at.  And stare on he did, she was like an impossible fiction to him........

..and still was.  And of course, here she was spending her time with our young representative of Satan, Larry Terry.  Even his name pissed off Frank.  Larry Terry.  Of course, being the pretentious little gothboy that he was, he had made up a new name for himself, Ulysses S. Mayle or something, but it never stuck.  At least not to Frank, to him he would always be Larry Terry, the guy with two first names and the perpetual evil grin.
Larry of course ignored Frank for as long as he possibly could, and Frank followed suit, diving back into his burrito, albeit in a little more civilized manner due to the presence of the beautiful Birdgirl.

The next time Frank looked up Birdgirl was gone, probably in the bathroom, and Larry was ordering for the both of them.  After placing his order Larry pretended to suddenly notice Frank.

“....” he said.

He of course said nothing.  Just the sneer with a slight grain of recognition curling in his thick black eyebrows.  It would be of course necessary for Frank to say the first words.  He tried to hold back, to turn the responsibility on Larry, but it was no use, Frank, although the moody depressed type, had little control over the spasms of human social practices.

“Ah yeah.  Burrito time.”  he said lamely, hating the words as soon as they left his mouth.

“.....” said Larry.  Then, “oh, Frank!  Hey man, haven’t seen you in a while.  Hey, ya got something right here” he said while running his fingers all around the circumference of his mouth.  Frank, of course embarrassed, reached for a napkin, but all of them were thoroughly soaked with burrito juice.  The napkin dispenser was of course right next to Larry, and of course he wasn’t going to give him one, and of course Frank certainly wasn’t going to ask anything of Larry, so the moment just sat between them.  Frank could see that Larry was eating this whole thing up, just another rich cruel delicacy in the plentiful buffet of his life. Just then the main course walks up to him and kisses him on the cheek, ignoring Frank of course, who was busy wiping the burrito mess on his forearm in a panic.  One more grin from Larry and then the happy new couple went giggling to a table, the only one behind Frank’s.

‘The restaurant is almost entirely empty, but still they have to sit there!’ thought Frank in a rage.  It seemed as if they wanted to avoid even having to gaze upon the hideous visage of Franklin Chambers.  When Frank had wiped his face he had remembered the fact that he hadn’t shaven in three days.  Plus of course he had been sporting what were essentially his pajamas, i.e. sweatpants and a t-shirt that said “Reno” with dancing pretzels on it.  This, along with the mess he was making of his meal had probably been quite a humorous sight to Larry and his new girlfriend, and was probably the source of their continuing giggling right behind his back.

Frank thought himself lucky to only have one bite left of his burrito and finished it before carefully getting up and walking to the napkin dispenser.  He kept his back turned to the twittering couple while wiping his whiskery face.  He then raced for the door in as controlled a manner as he could muster.  Just before he could open the door, Larry had to clear his throat and say “see ya Frank!” with a little laugh shooting off after the “k”.  Of course Frank had to look back and wave, a hokey gesture it seemed, causing Larry to full on laugh with the beautiful Birdgirl playfully punching him in the ribs to stop, even though it was perfectly obvious that it was probably this sort of behavior that caused all the beautiful girls to flock to guys like Larry in the first place.  Women.  They all secretly want the cruel trickster, the manipulator, the condescending prick, even if it’s a secret that they keep from themselves.

Even in this thorough moment of embarrassment and hatred, Frank still managed to get hung up in the stellar swanness of Birdgirl.  He had never seen a girl with a body that at once appeared so lithe and yet so strong.  And did her skin even have pores?  Then his gaze went to Larry, who in response to Frank's obvious mental fondling of his new chick put his arm around her slender waist and teasedly pretended to tackle her.  This was of course very funny to Birdgirl, and her laughter mixed with the door chime as Frank finally pushed through the door to the outside sunny happy bullshit California parking lot landscape.

Frank walked over to his car, a dirty, white ‘65 Dodge Dart two-door, and got inside.  He sat there and just brooded for a long time.  He had been doing a lot of that recently.  He had big problems on his hands, on his mind, the details of which we won’t get into here.  But suffice it to say they were big. Huge. Large. Humongous enough to end up with Frank quitting his job, quitting his band and breaking up with his long-time unsympathetic girl friend.  Yes, Frank was down to nothing, and the problems weren’t going away either.  They were actually getting worse and Frank had no idea what to do about them anymore. So, he ended up doing a lot of sitting around.  He couldn’t write, he couldn’t play, and he definitely couldn’t relax.  He was quickly becoming the mental cartoon of himself he had always dangled in front of his mind; a burned-out lowlife musician who never moved out of his hometown.  He could barely get the energy up to go to the bar and get drunk.  It had taken a huge amount of mental self-flagellation to get him to his car to end his daily fast at the burrito shop there in the shopping mall across town from his apartment.

He sat there for what seemed like a long time, but of course everything in his life seemed to take a long time to him nowadays, so he looked at his clock which of course was no longer working which of course meant that the stupid alternator was shorting out somehow again, so he couldn’t leave the parking lot without fiddling around with the fuse box again.

That was exactly when he grabbed the gun out from under the passenger seat of the car.  He would have kept it under the driver’s seat, but that one had long ago collapsed into itself, creating a small canyon that Frank had to fill with pillows.  He looked at his shiny black gun thinking to himself that even the real ones don’t look real.  But it felt real, cool and heavy in his hands.  He read the inscription to himself and laughed.  “.38 SMITH & WESSON SPL.+ P JACKETED”.  It sounded so serious.  Nothing in this world was serious.

Nothing in this fucked up world made sense, how could anything be serious?

Frank exited his car.  He kept the gun low, but made no attempt to hide it.  He walked straight toward the taqueria.  His mind was empty and simple.  He felt calm for the first time in a while.  The sunniness of the parking lot seemed almost comforting to him.  His sneakers felt as if made for the hot asphalt as they escorted him toward the awaiting door of the restaurant.  He pushed through the door with his left hand, gun in his right. 

The new couple were seated right where he had left them, still giggling, now with a spread of food half eaten in front of them.  At the sound of the door chime Larry had looked up first, shooting the sneering grin at Frank’s form reentering the restaurant.  ‘What is this fool up to now?’ Larry seemed to be thinking.  He chuckled to himself but then a forest fire of movement overtook his taut young face, the perpetual sneer actually disappeared, first in his eyes, then finally in his mouth, as it dropped open.  Frank had never seen Larry like this, and he thought to himself, if only for a moment, that perhaps this wasn’t Larry Terry that he was about to shoot in the face.  Birdgirl, who had of course been watching Larry’s face this whole time, had definitely not seen Larry’s face look like this and let out a little yelp of terror at the mere sight of it.  Then of course she followed his gaze to Frank and his gun and let out an actual scream.

Meanwhile, that moment I mentioned earlier, the one in which Frank hesitated about the fact that Larry looked like an entirely different person, was still happening.  Frank wanted to kill Larry, not some new other version of Larry that he had never seen and thus had no reason to hate.  Birdgirl continued to scream and Frank to stand there pointing the gun.  Just then, the forest fire of transformation in Larry’s face reversed itself as the perpetual condescending grin returned as he decided this whole thing was probably some kind of joke.  He turned the grin lopsided a bit and let out a laugh before his whole face was blown off by Frank’s gun.

Blood splattered out all over the wall behind where the Larry with the face had been sitting.  Birdgirl leapt away in terror, bumping her elbow against the wall.  She staggered back into a corner screaming.  She had streaks of blood all over her white skin.  Just then the new faceless Larry, which had been somehow supporting itself up as if in disbelief that it had been shot slumped forward onto the table in a bloody plop.  Parts of Larry Terry and parts of unfinished tostada mixed together in a mess of fangoria that seemed the sick idea of some depraved special effects team.

In the movies when something like this happens the music stops and everything becomes frozen.  At first it had, with Franks hearing temporarily dropping away, deafened by the gun blast.  But it came back, and there, in real life, the music was still playing.  It was the local Hispanic station, playing the usual type of track with the jolly, slightly unpredictable, oomph oomph background with the warbling singer over it all in some heavy reverb.  This was music Frank had always associated with gorging himself with spicy food  The only difference since the gunshot was that the music was now naked, singing over the whole scene in a classic display of irony.

Just then Frank remembered that there were others in the restaurant beside faceless Larry Terry, Birdgirl and himself.  In a dramatic quick motion he pointed his now warm gun at all of them.  First it was three Mexican employees, the fattest with a phone in his hand already in the process of calling the police or perhaps taking a phone order?  Either way the phone dropped from his hand as if all behind the counter was a theme park shooting gallery, and he had just hit the fat Mexican’s target with the red laser of his gun and this was the comical result.  The two other employees, one a young girl, stood frozen in time.

Then Frank turned to a customer still sitting near the front.  He certainly hadn’t noticed her on his way in.  She was a middle-aged woman with a romance novel held open by some plastic mechanism so that she could eat and read at the same time.  She looked at him with the seriousness of a woman who has seen more than her share of true crime reenactments, yet Frank couldn’t quite see her jumping him from behind if he were to turn his back.

Then Frank turned his weapon toward the only other table with customers in the place, a middle-aged bearded man with what appeared to be his full-grown son.  They had two half-finished bottles of Corona on their table and a basket of chips.  It appeared that they had not gotten their meal served to them yet.
Then Frank turned the gun on Birdgirl.  Somehow this finally stopped her screaming.  Frank walked up the Birdgirl with nothing but simplicity shooting through his brain.  Keeping his gun on her crouched form he walked up close enough to stare her right in the face.  Tears were streaked around her perfect high cheekbones.  Her usually lovely blue eyes were reddened with swollen capillaries.  Her elbow was skinned from her leap out of her chair and into the wall.  Her breath was quick and panicky, like a bird’s.

Frank pointed the gun at her face.  “Get up.” he said, quietly.  She did so, never taking her eyes off of Frank.  She was whimpering steadily now but the restaurant music threw a tacky Mexican blanket of sound over it.  He held the gun to the side of her beautiful head.  Frank held on to this moment for a while, the Birdgirl in front of him giving him her fullest attention.  She looked so gorgeous to him, the shocks of black hair still appearing unruffled against the perfect white tapestry of her forehead.  Her tiny dense cleavage seemed to be fighting to get out of her tight raven black dress, just like it had been that night at the bar.  And on a few other nights he had seen her as well.  It seemed this dress was a part of her, like it could never come off, like it was glued against her body by the same people that created Larry Terry and all his problems that wouldn’t go away.  ‘Well,’ he thought ‘there is only one way to find out’.

“Take off your dress.”  commanded  Frank in the same quiet voice as before.

“No!” shouted a voice from behind him.  It was the middle-aged man with the beard.  His son was now standing by the front door, not knowing what to do.  But his father was a man of honor, not the type to let some deranged lunatic molest an innocent woman without at least saying something.

“Fuck you motherfucker!”  exclaimed Frank as he unloaded two bullets into the man’s table, one hitting the target of a Corona bottle.  The rest of the people had gasped collectively at the shots, thinking of course that Frank had killed the man, but instead of blood all over the man it was beer foam and instead of falling onto the table he leaped up and joined his son.  They both stood there in the doorway, looking like they were in an earthquake drill.

Frank turned back to Birdgirl and repeated his command.  She looked desperately to the other patrons and employees and then back to Frank.  “Please....”

“Take it off!” were the first non-quiet words Frank had spoken to Birdgirl.  Then she looked over at her faceless boyfriend "face-down" in their meal and let out a low moan as she reached down and pulled the entire dress over her head.  Frank grabbed it and threw it to the side.  She stood before him in white panties and bra, but her skin was such a perfect white that it appeared to Frank that she was naked.  Frank pushed her against the wall violently, forcing a sob from her chest.  He kept the gun trained against her head as he pulled off the flimsy bra.  With his free hand he then undid his pants and pulled out his turgid erection with utmost efficiency.  With the tip of the gun still resting against Birdgirl’s head he in one motion pulled down her panties and entered her.  He thrust forward against her wiry body, pushing it up higher and higher against the wall, knocking down a clay Mexican gargoyle-looking head sculpture, which fell to the left of Birdgirl with a crash.  He continued thrusting, seeming to go deeper into her every time, holding her up by her arm while keeping the gun trained keenly on her head.

The entire contents of the restaurant disappeared from Frank’s mind.  It was just he and this perfect, albeit a bit blood spattered, vision of femininity.  In fact, it wasn’t even him.  He had ceased to exist, just like all of his problems.  All that there was was the devouring of this perfect meal before him.  He was back in his temple and things were finally simple, although hopeless, again just as they had been before Larry Terry had decided to show up and interrupt his meal.

Frank could feel muscles tightening up  in his body.  This meant that he was about to climax.  He increased the speed of his thrusts, while slowly moving the gun from the side of Birdgirl’s head to the side of his own.  Birdgirl, in an unexplainable moment of something impossible said “” just before the gun fired.