Chapter 25 – Night Moves, Fixing Cherubs
So as many of my faithful readers know, I have been working nights for a long time. One of the guys I work with is a short, dark-complected fellow we all call Zapata because he has this awesome handlebar moustache. Oddly enough, his real name is Jules Fornier and he is born-and-bred ‘Murican who only speaks English. Everyone who does not know him immediately assumes he’s Spanish, which can be hilarious for the rest of us. But it drives him bugshit crazy because his ancestry is mostly French with a hint of Italian thrown in for good measure.
Anyway, as luck would have it, Zapata wound up in a situation where his landlord abandoned the property he’s living in, the city came in and condemned the place, and Zapata and a bunch of other people suddenly found themselves in need of housing rather suddenly. The house next door just coincidentally had the downstairs vacated by an old couple retiring to Florida (how cliché can you get? As cliché as an old couple retiring to Florida, apparently) so I tipped off Zapata that the place was available and he was able to snatch it up.
Unfortunately for Zapata, it is downstairs from Methusela. Now, don’t get me wrong, she is not a noisy person; nosy, absofuckinglutely. Noisy? Not a chance. But she can be… well, not too easy to get along with if she takes a dislike to you. So I warned Zap that he had to be very cautious when he first meets her. She is big on first impressions and forms a concrete opinion of you right off. No matter what happens after that, either she likes you or you’re the enemy.
Now, if you’ve ever had a pet cat, you know that once they’ve established their domain it’s difficult to introduce a new cat – and the best way to do it is to let them encounter each other naturally and just work it out. Well, I’ve never owned more than one cat, so naturally, I go over to see if I can smooth the way for him and take him up to Methusela’s door for introductions.
I realize my error when Methusela opens the door, takes one look at Zap standing next to me, and immediately says, “Hey pussy boy, didn’t that orange asshole build that wall yet? What the hell possessed you to go all gringo?”
Zap has this ‘WTF?’ look on his face and I just kind of nudge him to remind him of the talk we had before.
“Doris, sweetie, this is my buddy, Zapata.” And I instantly regret using his nickname.
“Oh. Well, Buenos tardes. Comprende ingles? Llamar immigracion?”
“Doris, he’s one of us. Really. Zapata is his nickname, his real name is Jules.” And instantly regret that as well.
“Jules? He your partner now?”
“No, nothing like that, not that there’s anything wrong with that. He’s your new downstairs neighbor. I work with Jules.”
She immediately gives him the up-and-down, maybe doing a quick cross-reference to all the pictures she’s seen at the post office.
“So, are you a pussy like your friend here? Him and his homo goat-fucking dog? Yeah, you probably are. So listen, keep the noise down and don’t get in my way when I have to go shopping. And if you have any wild parties, I’ll come downstairs with my cane and bust your ass for you. And don’t go cooking any of that nasty-smelling ethnic food. It makes the whole place stink.”
Zap just nodded, painfully smiled, and said, “Nice to meet you, ma’am.”
“MA’AM? I am not your fucking grandma, sonny. Call me Misses… no, on second thought, call me Doris. It’s easier that way. And I will call you Pussy Boy Two.”
“Ah, ok – nice to meet you, D…”
“Now get outta here and let me go back to my stories.”
With that, she closed the door in our faces.
Zap looked at me, and I smiled.
“Relax, dude. She didn’t hit you with her cane, and she told you to call her Doris. So you’ve been accepted.”
So Zap was accepted by the first neighborhood character, and probably the most important one. He has not yet met the neighbors on the other side of me, nor has he met Lawrence and Gary, Suddha, Sanji or Homeless Bob. But there is a time and place for everything. And in this neighborhood, best to meet the denizens one at a time or you might not stay.
The very next day, Zap got his baptism with the Crimson Jesus folks. I took him for a stroll around the neighborhood, intending to introduce him to Lawrence and Gary’s establishment, but we never made it off the block. As we exited the property and headed for the corner, we could hear some incredibly strange noises from next door. Heavy breathing, an occasional ‘CLUNK!’ followed by mutterings which sounded decidedly inappropriate for mixed company, then the cycle was repeated. As we cleared the hedges, I saw Morticia over by the fountain. In one hand was a common household hammer and in the other was a common butter knife. She was placing the butter knife on the birdbath in a strategic location and then whacking the handle with the hammer. The knife was just skittering off the stone and not so much as leaving a mark in its wake. Which was probably why she was cursing under her breath.
“Hey, Ruth! What the hell are you doing?”
She stopped long enough to look over at us and give a curt reply.
“Emasculating these atrocities.”
Zap just looked stunned. I, of course, had to reply and keep the conversation alive.
“Wouldn’t it be easier if you got a rabbi to come over and help you?”
She looked at me as if I was nuts; me, just suggesting she could use some help when it is her trying to remove the stone penises of the cherubs with a butter knife. Seriously, if one of us is nuts I hardly think it’s me.
“It would be easier if I had the correct tools and less of an audience.”
“OK, but not for nothing I think it would be infinitely easier if you just returned the birdbath. Less effort on your part.”
She merely grunted and went back to her impossible task, Sisyphus’ sister working a little differently with her stone. I nudged Zap to continue walking, and we tried to get on with our tour.
Just as we rounded the corner, I heard a clattering behind us and a cry of frustration. If I had to guess, I’d say the butterknife was no match for the stone penis.
Our tour actually progressed without incident after that. Lawrence and Gary were warm and inviting, and we even ran into Sanji walking Doris the bulldog. Suddha was no where to be found, nor was Homeless Bob, but I figured Zap had met enough people for only his second day.
As we got back to the gate, I noticed the fountain contained the shattered remains of several butter knives. They were cleanly snapped where the blade joins the handle. The cherubs appeared to still have the genitalia intact, although they did look a bit chewed.
Who knew day three would be even more action-packed?
Zap and I wound up having to work the same shift this week, so we figured we’d carpool in, taking turns with the driving and maybe each saving a little gas money. I asked him if he wanted to come over early, and we’d maybe order some pizza or some Chinese food before work. Zap was cool with that, since it meant he’d also get to spend a few hours watching Kojak gnaw on one of his hot pink dildoes. Zap just cracks up whenever he sees that, and for him it’s cheaper than a comedy club entrance fee.
So I was a little surprised when I found him out of breath at my door around four o’clock.
“Dude, what’s up? You look like you tried to outrun a motorcycle.”
“You have to check this out, Quat. Come downstairs. This is so fucking unbelievable!”
So I went down with him to see what the fuss was. He points out the fountain, which now has something like fifteen busted knives in it. The cherubs had slightly mangled genitalia now, but it was still present.
We’re standing there admiring Morticia’s determination when Methusela comes down, and she’s wearing a brand new hat. It was, I discovered later thanks to Google, a cloche kind of reminiscent of the 1920s. And Methusela was smiling, which meant she was really enjoying the new hat.
“What the hell are you pussies doing? Don’t tell me that dumb bitch managed to finally knock those stone cocks off.”
I was about to answer when Ger came outside, ear buds in and probably rockin’ out to some lovely Christian tunes. He was heading straight for the fountain, completely unaware of Morticia’s unsuccessful attempts at emasculating the cherubs. He bent over, turned on the water, and just started walking away. Zap and I can easily see that there is absolutely no water coming out of the fountain.
Now, I was just beginning to put two and two together when we felt it rather than heard it; a rumble, almost like a train was coming through but was not close enough yet to be seen. Realization hit me, and I grab Zap and throw him down, yelling to Methusela, “GET DOWN, DORIS!”
She totally misunderstood me, and started doing this weird little dance with her cane.
And that was when the fountain exploded, throwing debris everywhere. When I got up, there were pieces of stone littered all over the yard, and Methusela was standing there hatless. The entire side of the hurch, and parts of my porch, were bristling with the broken blades of butter knives. Methusela’s cloche hat was pinned to a tree by a flying butter knife shard.
But most amusingly, the statues of Mary and Jesus that had flanked the fountain were actually intact, with one amusing addition: each one had a stone Cherub’s penis firmly embedded where the mouth should be.