A year ago, yes…
The black car screeched to a halt beside me and a gray furry head poked out the driver’s window.
Fuck. It was a llama. Maybe an alpaca.
“No time to explain bleat!” it yelled at me in flawless English, “Get in the car!”
And I did, and thus my three day weekend was begun. I’ll let you know how it turns out, stay tuned.
Llamas are TERRIBLE drivers.
The llama drove fast, like a NASCAR driver, but way more furry and way more dangerous. He kept popping sticks of caffeinated gum into his mouth, after unwrapping them in an intricate and delicate display of hoof-dexterity, all the while driving with his elbows and knees. He charged in and out of traffic, winding always toward the interstate, towards a route that would take us gods know where. After a period of silence, one blood-shot eyeball rotated toward me and he began to talk.
“Dolphins,” he said, “the problem is the dolphins.”
I nodded, terrified.
“DOLPHINS GODDAMMIT!” he screamed at me, spastically jerking and causing the car to swerve all about the road. An enormous 18-wheeler emblazoned with the McDonald’s logo honked at us loudly and angrily.
“Fuck you! Bleaaaat bleat bleaaat!” he yelled almost incoherently. My fingers dug white knuckled into the dashboard and I tried to reason with him, as best one can with a jacked up camelid.
“Good god man, slow down! I don’t understand, here! What the fuck are you driving at?”
He settled down somewhat, slowing the car and two-hoofing a large plastic coffee cup from the center console, slurping noisily.
“Dolphins.” he said quietly, foam upon his lips, “It’s the dolphins. You have to help us find them.”
He dropped the empty cup to the floorboard and sighed deeply, rubbing his terrible eyes with one foreleg, and continued.
“They’ve gone missing.”
I awoke badly.
No quiet rise from slumber for me, no slow drift upwards into soft lights and music and comfort and warm, beautiful naked girls holding gently chilled shots of fine whiskey.
I jerked violently, shuddering with cold, suddenly conscious and nude in a cracked porcelain bathtub. There was blood smeared around, some of it mine. The buzzing fluorescent lights that stabbed my eyes lit an awful scene, a dirty cheap motel bathroom littered with clothes, broken beer bottles, and half empty Chinese takeout containers.
I was checking to make sure I still had my kidneys when a loud electronic bleating sound made me lift my terrible throbbing head up and over the side of the thing, to witness my smartphone lit up and vibrating about on the tile floor, scrolling brightly colored messages across it’s cracked face.
“HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” it told me, “COME BY HOOTERS FOR YOUR FREE BIRTHDAY SONG AND SPECIAL GIFT! (Brought to you by Hooters, Inc. and the I Heart Hooters App, purchase now and remove ads for just $1.99).”
Gods. My birthday today? What has happened here? Where is here? What has this fucking llama done to me? I groaned softly, wallowed in self pity for a moment and then, as there was no other way to do it, hauled myself upright and staggered out.
Breakfast, I thought, a massive breakfast will fix this.
Breakfast and drugs.
I plowed my way through three platefuls of food and two newspapers at the local greasy spoon diner. Slowly but steadily, reason returned to my brain, helped along by large quantities of caffeine and orange juice and ibuprofen. Still not sure where I was, but at least I would be lost on a full stomach. Archaic newspapers rustled around my breakfast. Nothing but bad news in the news, everything sucks, all the world is corrupt or on fire, and the only good things left are rapidly being sold off to other countries. No help for it, I mused, life just won’t get any easier. I shook my head and took another bite of steak.
Then a flashback of memory lit up my brain like a hundred strobe lights.
Strobe lights. Flickering off and on in the background of a darkness punctuated by lasers, smoke machines, and the earnest techno-angst of Goth-Punk music. Shadows moved around me, dancing with each other as I swayed drunkenly in the back corner of a tiny club in Memphis. Beside me, the Llama, his face smeared with black eyeliner and his ears festooned with metal pins, was arguing violently with a tiny black-clad goth girl about the price of drugs and transportation.
“Dammit Moon! We have to get to the coast, woman! Bleat! The Dolphins!” He snorted loudly.
“Not my fucking problem.” Moon sneered up at him. “Four-fifty for the whole package and you can have the keys to my Nissan Stanza. It’s a piece of shit, but it will get you there.” She was attractive, I thought blurrily, until you saw the angle to her jaw, the slightly jutting teeth, little almost-points to her ears. Then you realized she’s at least half goblin, lethal as a bathtub full of alligators. They eat their mates after breeding, or so the rumor goes. Still, I was fucked on hard liquor beyond all sanity and the Llama was getting nowhere and then my pants made a suggestion so I leaned over into her face.
“You’re a cute little thing,” I said, “I tell you what. How about we go double or nothing on a bet? A bareknuckle fight, just you and me. If you can kill me and eat me before I fuck you into unconsciousness, he’s gonna pay you double the price.”
The Llama recoiled with a look of horror on his face. She smiled at me, showed me all her teeth. About twice as many as a human, some of them serrated. The smile was the last I saw of her as she melted slowly into the dark crowd and disappeared.
“OH YOU DUMB FUCKER WHAT HAVE YOU DONE BLEAT?” the Llama shrieked at me as the music took on a harder tone and the circle of shadowy dancers closed in on us. “We are proper fucked now, you bastard.”
And I readied myself, because I’d never had to fight my way out of a Goth rave, but I was about to try…
“You need anything else, honey?”
The waitress’ voice broke the terrible spell and I shook my head no. She smiled nervously at me and moved along. No wonder. Here I am, bruised all over, with bite marks on my ass and a lip still swollen and puffy, clothes stained and wrinkled, muttering to myself. Got to go, before someone decides I’m a bad trip and calls in the local cops. I dug through my pockets for crumpled bills and laid a handful on the table.
It was time to find that goddamn Llama, he had much to answer for.
I stood there, hip deep in the Gulf of Mexico, and lit a cigarette as the tide slowly began to wash away the remains of General Dolphissimo and his mad band of murderous dolphin-men. It was blood and twisted wreckage as far as the eye could see. The fires on the water danced slowly along, slipping into darkness one by one.
Beside me, the Llama sighed.
"I tell you, I’m almost fifteen years old, and by now I thought I’d seen everything. But nothing like this, man, nothing like this.”
I nodded, handed him the smoke. He took a long drag and let it out slowly, seeming smaller now, tired, more fragile than when I’d first laid eyes on him.
Then he shook himself with a snort, “I’m getting too old for this shit. Bleat. Come on kid, let’s go home.”
We drove the Nissan Stanza back to Memphis without talking. I stared into the night outside the window and wondered about the last few days. How many of these things would I remember? How much of it was real? Would anyone believe this mad tale of drugs and debauchery and llamas and crazy mutant dolphin things with dreams of ruling the world?
The night, as usual, offered me no answers.
As the sun crept upon the horizon, the Llama dropped me off at my doorstep. We just nodded to each other as I got out of the car, there was nothing more to say. I watched him drive away until the cracked red taillights disappeared down the street. I felt the warm rays of dawn on my face.
And I smiled.
Then went inside my house and slept for a week.