by Alex S. Johnson
Durwood peered down, his toes itching, the rash spreading across his choirboy features like the trail of a strawberry torch. He gasped. Grandpa was in the sidewalk once again. How did he get there? What perfidious psychopaths had made him stand still for the bucket, the anointment with grey, wet stuff, and his face and hands reaching out from the pavement in agony like a fucking bas relief sculpture?
He shook Grandpa’s right hand, which shuddered with overwhelming revulsion at his touch.
“Don’t you love me any more, Gramps?” he asked. The tears began to run down his cheeks, burning like bites from a battalion of army ants.
“Subject to the Silent Treatment,” responded Grandpa after a period of silence. The communication was telepathic and Durwood realized this only too late, as his lips sealed over into a moue of webbed horror.
“Why my lips?” asked Durwood via telepathy after he had adjusted his brain/mind map to the process.
“Shh….they’re listening in. Change the frequency, Kenneth.”
“But my name’s not…”
Durwood’s head came off at the shoulders, rolled down the sidewalk and fell beneath the wheels of an oncoming bus.
“Dammit, Kenneth!” shouted the bus driver as Durwood’s head was reduced to shivering pulp.
Bodiless, Durwood’s head worked its jaws, which squeaked on rusty hinges. The bus’s passengers had evaporated, leaving a strange, stale scent in the air mingled with overtones of copper and magnesium.
“Hop on in and I’ll explain it all for ya,” said the bus driver, assuming a kindlier tone.
“Fucking hell, mate, you’ll have to do it for me. I can’t go far on foot, not without a body to support me. Need the legs, ya know?”
The driver tumbled out of the bus, reduced to a torso. His head was otherwise occupied with Venusian snatch.
“Well, if you’re going to be a wimp about it, I guess I could scramble up a carry. There’s no need to be rude.” The driver’s hands fumbled for Durwood’s head, which he transplanted on his own neck stump. “Now to initiate the remote control,” opined the driver’s head, which had replaced Kenneth’s on the asphalt.
“What about my muff ride?” screamed the Venusian whore.
The driver’s head spit out a tangle of green pubic hair. “Sorry, love, I’ve got some business to attend to.”
The Venusian disappeared in a mass of static, replaced with several large TV monitors that played The Karpathians in loop relays, spliced with footage of William S. Burroughs interrupting a frantic report from Interzone, looped with a cop bar on the seedy side of Forth Worth, murked up with ice cream sandwiches from the world’s most evil soda fountain located somewhere on the outskirts of Hell, Norway.
“I’ll give you a guess what happened to the passengers,” said the driver’s head, “but first you need to swap our heads back. This is bloody unnerving.”
Confusion had made its monsterpiece. After some microsurgical adjustments, Durwood settled himself near the driver’s seat and leaned forward.
“Okay, what’s the frequency on Kenneth? And what happened to Grandpa? Enquiring minds want to know the truthout dot org.”
“Avast ye with thy conspiracy theories, worm.” The driver had donned a pirate hat and pulled a rusty blade from a scabbard located near the central control mechanism.
“Let me get up to speed here,” said Durwood/Kenneth. “I was pondering the ins and outs of this here self-deconstructing flash dereliction when a little bird perched on my shoulder, shit on it, chirped some long-ass dragged out story about soft birds he said were the new avian technology, flogged me with a tiny whip. I was having none of it. Hitched my ass down some creaking stairs—they really do a number on the poor—and batted out the rotten pieces of door standing between me and the sidewalk. Hit the sidewalk. Bounced off, saw Grandpa, learned about the silent treatment via telepathy, or, wait, the telepathy came afterwards. Then my brain was introjected into your dumb ass and next thing I knew the Venusian whore I’d been dallying with went up in a blizzard of William S. Burroughs cutups, Trak Trak Trak…is any of this making sense?”
The driver clutched the wheel with mottled, flaking fingers. “The trouble with you characters is you make too damn much sense. I should bury you in snatch sideways so’s the muff monsters can eat you alive, slowly, with green acidic juices. Or hang you up by your toes, flash frozen over Grandpa’s deadalive corpse forevermore so you can appreciate the gravity of what you’ve done.”
“But what did I do?”
“The name’s Quentin, by the way.”
“Oh, I get it. We’re a pair. You’ve got the brains and I’ve got the body, together we can make lots of money. Or should.”
“Get thee to a bunnery, slough of Hades!”
“Easier said.” Durwood took a peek through the window of the bus which had reached escape velocity and saw the blurred outlines of a bakery. “You want I should just go yeast?”
Quentin opened the doors. “Normally they won’t operate while the bus is in motion, but I’ll make an exception for you. Never darken my doors again, the front or the back. And say hello to Grandma for me.”
Durwood made some quick mental calculations. “We’re twins?”
“Soul brothers under the skin, brother. Different dads, but the basic equation holds. You want a cabbage to chew on while you’re waiting for the man?”
“I assume you mean a cabbage dribbled through the black acid.”
The driver threw him the cabbage. “Taste it and see for yourself.”
Hoisting the cabbage over his shoulder, Durwood flew off the bus and found himself badly smeared beneath the soft, wet, grey stuff. Grandpa reached out for him with rotten hands, whispering the thousand names of Bog. “Down here, the torments are insane,” he said.
“Yup. Little switcheroo. But you should be used to that shit by now. My dear grandson, you have just been nominated to the elect, a legend of the cement, to hide and hold and smother till Johnny Depp do us part.”
“How does Johnny figure into this?”
“Don’t be a damn fool, son. Just move with it. Groove with it. Eat a cabbage like a good boy.”
But it was far too late. Kenneth had now resumed his original identity and raged inside, so fiercely that his head sprang up on a bit of coiled wire and jutted five feet above the sidewalk. He sensed some squirming activity next to him.
“I’m kicking the dust of this fucking popsicle stand off my feet and getting back to work, you can keep your transsexual logic, if it works for you. “
The remainder of the story was cooked in effigy by Saurian tourists who misspelled the last, fatal syllable of Bog’s name. The ruptures in timespace that followed would make a dead man come to Momma.
Alex S. Johnson is the author of two novels, Bad Sunset and Jason X IV: Death Moon, the collections Wicked Candy and Doctor Flesh: Director’s Cut, the co-author of Fucked Up Shit! with Berti Walker, as well as numerous Bizarro, horror, science fiction and experimental literary stories, including works published in Full-Metal Orgasm, Bizarro Central, Gone Lawn, Ugly Babies Volume 2, Master/slave, Noirotica III, Cthulhu Sex, The Surreal Grotesque, Cease, Cows, and many other venues. He is the creator/editor of the Axes of Evil heavy metal horror anthology series He has also been a music journalist for such magazines as Metal Hammer, Metal Maniacs and Zero Tolerance and a college and university English professor. Johnson currently lives in Sacramento, California.
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