“I agree. You go first. I don’t care that you walk ahead of me like a chauvinist abolitionist pig, especially if you get bitten.”
I might have misinterpreted her remarks as insults if I let my imagination run loose, but I was using all my cognitive brain to stay off the zombie menu.
Outside the diner the streets were quieter than I anticipated. No zombies. Knowing you can turn into a creature that will eat strangers (who may be stuffed with juicy tumors), friends, family, or even yourself if you chew faster than it takes for you to completely die, you grow introspective. You look at the choices you made in life, or the hand you were dealt. That’s when Laura Lee started telling me about her life.
“My father was a mad scientist who raised me and my sister from embryos in leak proof plastic Baggies. Later on, when we grew, he kept us in 36 gallon trash bags until we were able to stand on our own, which was difficult because of the 7-inch spiked high heels he made us wear, and the leash he attached to a ceiling fan. Thus we had terrible balance and little sense of direction and had the tendency to stand on our toes and revolve around each other. Once we were able to walk, well we didn’t so much as walk, but rolled on the ground, he put us in old sewer pipes, which he spun every hour to make us feel at home. For a while we were both under-nourished because he fed us nothing but condiments until he taught us how to chew, by making my sister and I rip open the packets of ketchup and mustard with our teeth. We eventually escaped when our dad, after a few too many drinks, rolled the sewer pipe on himself.” By now she was crying. “I can’t go on with the story, I’m becoming a little too sentimental.”
I’d heard enough, I had seen the documentary about her family on the Cruelty to Children’s Channel, which had been renamed The Tic-Toxic Family Station, to draw a wider audience and had recently been bought out by the producers of America’s Abused Have Talent and The Platonic Pet World, with their partner, the creators of the controversial hit, Father Knows Incest Best, and changed the stations name to The Rumba Network.
Sure her story was true, but she didn’t mention the human trafficking of girls hidden in department store dummies by her mom. She was almost caught when a dummy's arm fell off and a tattooed arm of the leader of the lesbian garden gang of freedom fighters hung out., She also didn’t mention the Sunday dog fights that ended when the losing dog chased its tail and chewed itself to death. It was a sad time in Paris, once the city of love, and now the city of canine savagery, lesbian loyalists (with weed whackers) and roaming hordes of Cuban National hookers forcing people to have their bodies waxed and their gall bladders removed for safe keeping. Or was that part of a different documentary about how adopted children cope with being raised by washed-up singer song writers, or maybe it was all of the above. It didn’t matter, because that combined craziness was just a prelude to what was about to happen to our world.
As we carefully walked the deserted streets our conversation revolved around the use of incorrect grammar, especially the use of mixed metaphors in pastry recipes. That’s when we heard them. It sounded just like the start of the Newark Gimpy Leg three-and-five-eighths quarter Marathon, but we knew it wasn’t that, wrong time of the year, wrong city, and marathoners--even the ones who trip over their own lame feet and land face first in the gutter--don’t groan, not that loud and at that pitch,—a pitch that reminded me of a slowed down, loudly played, badly warped vinyl Tom Waits album.
We had just turned the corner and if it weren’t for me turning too soon and bumping into the wall we may have been their next meal. Laura Lee pointed to a dumpster and I got the message and dove in headfirst. Of course, she meant for me to hide behind it, but I wasn’t taking any chances. Besides, I’ve always loved the inside of dumpsters, the smell of decaying scraps of food and the touch of oily paper products and plastic garbage bags brought back memories. I spent much of my youth in dumpsters searching for shopping lists. We grew up poor and I always fantasized about buying things from an actual store rather than leftovers that richer family members faxed pictures of to us.