Two days until my birthday, I can feel the Fear creeping in around the edges of my vision. Flames of chaos just beginning to lick at the outside edges of reality.
They are restless, the llamas, and they call to me.
And then, almost a year ago today, this:
(The Llama Chronicles II, That Llama Boogaloo)
At the stroke of midnight on my 44th birthday, I slumbered peacefully.
The Girl had returned to her place, my tiny bed cave was cool and soft and dreamy, the colored Xmas lights overhead my only illumination, the hum of the air conditioner my only lullabye. I dreamt the most tranquil of dreams.
Then there was a noise, a rubbery, slobbery, disturbing noise. A gurgly, nasty, sucky noise, a noise to dread and fear. About six inches from my head. A creeping blizzard of terror swept over me as I opened one eye to see a huge beast, knelt down on all four knees, staring at me with bloodshot eyes.
The Llama winked at me.
"Happy Birthday, my little precious princess pants." he whispered through his moist llama lips, "Now get the fuck up. We are needed. Again."
And so, it began.
What the fuck?
How had I gotten here? Was I wearing pants? I checked again, thankfully my black jeans were still firmly secured to my legs. Around me the party raged. People kept handing me beers, and is my wont to do in polite company, I obliged by consuming them. They slammed and danced around me, resplendent in their leather and spikes and crazy colored hair. Punks, all of them, on fire with damn the man.
How I had gone from slumber to post-apocalyptic-anarchist-party was beyond me. The Llama was doing something to time, I thought, or maybe it was the liquor. He wouldn’t tell me yet why we were here, he just kept drinking Red Bulls and chewing Gatorade energy gum and talking to people. I tried to keep up but the whole fucking scene had me a bit overwhelmed, to tell the truth.
Somebody’s local band was destroying the stage in this dilapidated old house while a huge man, naked except for combat boots and a purple mohawk, systematically cut through the walls of the house with a big chainsaw. He would stop every now and then, either shouting over the music that he was doing this for the government, or just screaming obscenities.
"WE HAVE TO SEE THE GIMP BLEAT," the Llama shouted at me over the riot, "HE’S THE ONLY ONE THAT CAN BLEAT GET US TO THE DESERT TONIGHT."
I, of course, had no fucking clue what he was going on about but still found myself in a basement room with heavy set leather-clad men as he got into heavy negotiations with a black mask-wearing stranger. It didn’t seem to be going well.
"I remember you, you fucker," the Gimp snarled at my companion, "Last time you were here you bit off two of Barry’s fingers. I ought to sell you to the furry boys out back, let them treat you good and proper."
"Hey, hey, now," the Llama said, "Barry had it coming and now he’s got a good bleat story and some scars to show the boys in the club. But we got to get to the desert tonight, man. We got to, that’s all, bleat."
"Why the fuck should I help you?"
"Because the Green Lady said you would, bleat."
The Gimp gasped, his eyes widening. The name had an effect. All around me, big husky leather clad hairy bear motherfuckers, hard men with hard eyes and probably hard other things, well… they dropped their eyes with a collective sigh. I saw one or two of the more religious cross themselves. Altar boys, no doubt.
I said nothing, just downed my beer. I had a bad feeling things were about to get weird.
After a minute of silence, puntuated only by the sporadic music from upstairs and the drone of the chainsaw chewing through wall studs in its quest for justice, the Gimp spoke.
"Alright, you bastard, alright. You invoke the Green Lady, you know what that means. I can take you to the desert, but you got to run the Gauntlet first. You know the rules."
The Llama grinned a sloppy evil llama grin, “I know the rules. And I choose my proxy, my champion, my boy here, right here. Bleat.” He gestured at me with a hoof.
"This skinny fucker?" The Gimp sneered at me through his zippered mouth-hole and a chuckle ran around the room, "You must not want to go real bad."
And for reasons unknown to me which I can only blame on the beer and general crankiness, I reacged out and kicked the nearest hairy leather bear in the balls as hard as I could.
Above me, the creaking cracking groans told me that the chainsaw madman had completed his quest.
Darkness descended in crashing roof beams and guitar riffs.
Damn the man, indeed.
I came to with country music floating around my head. Good stuff, the indomitable Willie Nelson’s “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys.” But I could barely make it out, I realized, over the whine of the engines and the roar of the wind from the open door.
The Llama grinned at me while dark shapes wrangled around him, wrestling with packs and straps which I slowly realized were parachutes.
"Welcome back, sunshine, bleat," he said to me, as I came fully into consciousness feeling my bruises and the steady droning thrum of the airplane and realized, once again, that I was probably going to die. The dark shapes moved in on me, stuffing my limbs unwilling through canvas restraints and harnesses.
"Gods." I whispered, hoping that maybe some of them, any of them, were listening, "When will this end?"
"When it ends!" the Llama cried, and he leapt into the darkness with a whoop.
And having no other choice at the time, and hard hands a-shoving me, I followed suit.
Staked out naked in the desert with the sun slowly rising over my nether regions was just no way to go through life, I thought.
Near me, the Llama frantically grappled with tiny wire cutters that were never designed with hooves in mind. In front of him was a green footlocker filled to the brim with electronics and explosives and an LED counter steadily ticking away the last few seconds of our lives.
"BLEAT I DON’T KNOW WHAT WIRE TO CUT BLEAT!" he yelled at me.
"The blue wire, it’s always the blue wire," I said, trying to remain calm.
"THEY’RE ALL BLEATING BLUE GODDAMMIT BLEAT!"
"Just try the two wires between the primary ignition and the detonation fuse, that should get it."
The Llama hummed nervously as his hooves fumbled the cutters again. The LEDs ticked down. I sighed and tried to shift my junk slightly out of the hot rays of our nearest star.
Why does this shit keep happening to me?
I was breathing heavily, sweat and blood running down my face. The crowd around us chanted for more. I could see the Llama, breath steaming in the cool night desert air, struggle against the chains that bound him, but to no avail. Before me lay the body of the most recent challenger, unmoving.
The Green Lady frowned atop her metal throne, a hundred feet in the air. Her voice echoed down to us, amplified by a thousand tiny speakers built into it.
"Round one of this freestyle dance competition, Lorthos. Round two, nineties style. Challenger! Approach!"
The next wild dancer stepped into the circle. All ebony muscle and slick skin, he looked like a goddamned JCrew model. Silver studs, implanted in the skin of his knuckles and forearms, gleamed in the light of the moon.
Fuck, that was going to hurt.
"Music!" the Green Lady cried, “Lights!"
Around me the wild ones screamed as everything ramped up again. Tunes blasted from speakers. She raised her hands high, blood red nails clawing the dark sky. The Llama tried to yell at me through his ball gag, but I couldn’t hear him over the music.
I took a deep breath, caught the rhythm of the night.
House of Pain?
I got this.
"DANCE!" the Green Lady screamed.
The wild dancer jumped at me, and I began to move…
As the two Llamas rolled in the dust of the cave floor, kicking and biting and spitting at one another, I grabbed a pistol from the lifeless body of the nearest guard. It was heavy in my hand, large letters on the side announced “.44 Magnum.” I knew it would do the job, but as I pointed it at the furry violent mass of camelids, I couldn’t for the life of me tell which was my Llama and which was the clone.
Doctor Jones had done good work.
One savagely headbutted the other and rolled free. Staggering upright, the Llama yelled, “Quick! Shoot him! Do it now, dammit!”
I pointed the hand cannon at the downed llama, then swung its sights to rest on the creature standing and staring wild-eyed at me.
“You forgot to bleat.” I said.
The recoil shook the room.
The mohawked punk shook me awake in the back of the truck. I had dozed off somewhere in Texas. Damn boring state to ride through anyway, and I was exhausted.
Beside me, the Green Lady stirred, returning to consciousness in an intricate unfolding of long limbs and complicated costumery. I sat up and assessed the back of the big U-haul in which we were rolling over the Tennessee state line. They had rigged a giant hammock for the Llama and he lolled there, bandaged and patched up. I dug a pack of clove cigarettes out of my jeans and lit one with my beat up old silver lighter. He caught my eye in the flare of the flame.
"You look like shit." I told him, and he laughed then, a wheezing bleating noise. Damn, Doctor Jones’ crazed ninja-llama-goons had really done a number on him.
"Haha, bleat." he snorted at me, “Look at you, big mister hero badass, half naked in a pile of crust punks with the freaking Queen of the Damned all up on your business. Whoopty freaking doo."
The Green Lady favored him with an upright finger before stealing my smoke and taking a long drag.
"You never change, Llama. But really, fuck you my friend," she said, “We’re almost there." I noticed when she wasn’t screaming through an amplifier, her voice was lightly accented, maybe Russian.
We sat there in reflective silence for a while before the truck rattled to a stop. One of the punks raised the rolling metal door from the outside and I recognized the street.
"Well, this is me." I carefully stepped off the back of the truck, “You kids going to be alright now?"
The Llama snorted and the Green Lady replied, “Yes. We take him to the mountains now, we have private cabins there, will not be disturbed. He will heal. You stay safe, my tiny dancer. The world is safe for now, yes, but these things…”
The punks were already securing the vehicle, getting ready to roll on out, when I caught her last words just as the brightly colored door came down.
As they slowly pulled back onto the main road, I realized the bitch had stolen my lighter. No help for that, I supposed. Stretching in the light of the morning, I went inside my house for a beer.
Another year, another fucking crisis. Maybe next time the world will save itself.
But I doubt it.
Two days until my birthday, I can feel the Fear creeping in around the edges of my vision. Flames of chaos just beginning to lick at the outside edges of reality.
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.
Birthday in one week. Someone recently asked what I was doing to celebrate and I replied, “You have NO idea how many llamas that involves.”
They were confused, but soon, yes, soon, all will become clear.
Dudeism meditation of the day:
Sometimes you try to make the simplest littlest itty-bittiest changes and are met with staunch resistance at all levels. That’s just how it is, man, human nature is to maintain the old status quo. Some folks want to see everything as a line in the sand, as aggression that will not stand.
There are some people who, if they were on fire, and you politely suggested putting the fire out, would shout, “NO I’VE ALWAYS BEEN ON FIRE I LIKE IT THAT WAY ARGH.” I’m sort of ad-libbing the ARGH, but you get my point right? Humanity fears change, always has, or we never would have invented so many weapons.
I sometimes get uptight about it and when I do I find it pays to take a moment to step back, chill out, indulge in a libation (or whatever works for you to take the edge off), and remember that this too shall pass. Like water creeping through rocks and digging rivers and canyons over centuries, some change is gonna happen anyway. And hey, water puts out fires too, hmm. I think my metaphor got confused in there, but basically what I’m trying to say is this:
"Fuck it dude, let’s go bowling."
9h 16m of sleep logged
It took 5m to fall asleep
Fell asleep July 10, 2014 at 4:38AM
Restless 21 times
Awoken 2 times
Awoke at July 10, 2014 at 2:41PM
I am envious of Warren Ellis’s ability to sleep.
Also his ability to craft well written and meaningful stories that entertain as well as enlighten.
But mostly the sleep thing.
Blue Velvet (1986)
"Wanna go for a ride, neighbor?"
I think this says it all.
me: opens a beer and his mind, and begins to speak,
“So, um… this is awkward but your damn song ‘Turn Down for What’ has been stuck in my head for days, and I can’t help but wonder…”
“Yeah, exactly. What. What are we supposed to turn down for?”
“Yes. That’s what I’m asking, for what are we turning down?”
“Dammit Lil Jon, I know this is your thing man, but come on here, I can’t get your stupid song out of my head, and that other guy, DJ Snake? Whatever, I can’t talk to snakes. So it’s just you and me man, and I have all these ideas about metaphors for your song, especially since I saw the video and it looks like you are talking about the conditioning of society to accept language as a viral transmission that goes on to infect larger sections of society, especially among minorities who are more prone to utilize slang as a method of semi-encrypted speech…”
“That’s what I’m saying goddammit. What is the point of it all? What does it mean man? WHAT ARE WE TURNING DOWN FOR?”
“Okay, you know what, fuck you then, I don’t care. I’m just gonna listen to it on repeat until my brain bleeds out of my head.”
me: sighs heavily, and keeps drinking.
I know when I have to write
because the music makes it hard
to breath and my hands hurt
unless they are touching
That moment when
people ask me why
I write such awful poetry
and I respond
because fuck you
I woke up to a cat staring at
me sideways as cats will do some days
I was paralyzed and small and it was awful tall
and as I lay there weak it began to speak
"I have seen the rise of kings,"
it said, “and other things.”
"I was first into the light,
humans lit at night.”
"Long before stupid dogs,
I laid dead frogs
at the timid feet
of humans meek.”
"I have been revered
among those most feared
and kept so secret
among those of Egypt.”
Its eyes grew large and pinned me hard
to the bed with a terrible voice in my head
"I have supped at baby’s breath
I have walked along with Death,
I have flown with the witch,
I have seen life’s last twitch.”
"I see all this and more,
I see through your core,
to your fears internal
for I AM CAT.
It leapt at me claws bared and free.
I confess I screamed as sharp teeth gleamed
In the fading light and…
I woke up to a cat that was staring at
me sideways as cats will do some days
And I thought,
"Cats are just too fucking spooky,
I should get a dog.”
Last night as I walked home, a bat swooped over my head. Big sucker too, by the sound of it. Its wings made a noise like an industrial fan as they buzzed through the humid air. It circled overhead, loudly squeaking and occasionally diving, and as I ambled along my path I began to notice it seemed to be following me.
It could have been coincidence of course, as the street lights and warm weather had brought out the tasty bugs. However, as I am not one to take chances, I curtly informed the giant bat that I was tired and didn’t have time for any of its vampire fuckery, and that if it tried to break the fourth-wall of reality by pulling any of that Count Dracula transformation bullshit on me, I would break the fourth-wall with its face.
Shortly afterwards, it fled the area, and I continued in peace to home.
Today I wake up and find that apparently Morrissey was in concert here in Memphis last night.
Now it all makes sense.
If you see that emo bastard, you tell him to stay the hell off my street.
So I’ve had an idea, something that honestly has been percolating in my brain for some time now, a few years at least:
ROBOT DANCE PARTY 2000.
Hmm, not sure if I can pull it off in time for the convention season, may require more engineering knowledge than I currently have, but I do know some engineers, and if I do it right, it might be wholly fucking epic.
Imagine a self-contained mobile robot DJ, complete with lights and video projection, set to activate different programs depending on the number of “dancers” present in a given location. Basically a wandering, ever-escalating Nerd Party at a convention…
"One Dancer: ROBOT DANCE PARTY LEVEL 1 UNLOCKED"
“Three Dancers: ROBOT DANCE PARTY LIGHTS LEVEL 2 UNLOCKED”
“Five Dancers: ROBOT DANCE PARTY LEVEL 3 DJ DEPLOYMENT UNLOCKED”
“Ten Dancers: ROBOT DANCE PARTY LEVEL 4 UNLOCKED, VIDEO PROJECTOR UNLOCKED, NERD PLAYLIST ACTIVATED, FORM VOLTRON SWORD MOTHERFUCKERS DANCE.”
I think this is possible with currently tech at a very reasonable cost, using Ipods, speakers, light wire, various small batteries, portable video projectors and maybe a basic knowledge of electronics plus maybe an engineer friend or two. Yeah.
What do you say?
When this guy grabbed his chest and passed out at the bar. I immediately leapt into action. He wasn’t breathing, but I knew what to do.
"Stand back!" I shouted, "I know CPR!"
And I hit him in the penis as hard as I could.
The collected onlookers gasped. One yelled at me, “Jesus Christ man, what are you doing?”
"CPR!" I said enthusiastically, and hit the guy again. The mob fell on me and pulled me away from the victim, but not before I got several more hard thwacks to his groin area.
"That’s not how you do CPR!" they screamed. I looked at them puzzled.
"No? I thought it stood for Cock Punch Resuscitation." I said.
On the ground, the man took in a ragged breath. The crowd turned as one in shock. He was alive!
"Please," he croaked, voice weak, "Please stop hitting me in the dick."
"Success!" I cried.
The courts, unfortunately, did not see it that way and sentenced me to prison. But I know what I did was right, and I am unbowed.
Sometimes you have to cockpunch someone to save their life.
It is the only way.
It’s closing time
you don’t have go home
but get the fuck out of the bar
it’s closing time people
stop drunk talking to each other
and just go and fuck in your car
so gather up your bullshit
don’t forget to tip your waitress
and get the fuck out of our place
yes, you’re our favorite regular
but we’re all really tired here
and we just want to get shit faced