After about three miles the band members and Iranian singing group started to tire, so we rotated them (and our tires) and tried to think of songs that we could convince ourselves they were performing. It was while I was imagining them playing a loud, drum and bugle core version of a Bach string quartet accompanied by a troupe of eunuch parrots, that it happened – a live radio broadcast. Many who’ve never gone on a blind date and had it turn into a zombie nightmare, with a woman who hates your guts at first sight, might not have realized what the broadcast meant. It was a man’s voice and he was definitely live, not a recording, since he stuttered and stammered and said he was live, also gave us the time and an accurate three-day local weather report. He asked if any survivors out there wanted home delivery of the New York Times. Sure it might be a few days late and have several of the pages chewed out and there wouldn’t be a sports or entertainment section, but we’d get the latest on who was eaten and if the chewing was done by a dead relative. And best off all we’d save 50% off the first four weeks delivery. Like I said it didn’t sound like much, in fact the guy sounded out of his mind, but he gave an address, a phone number, which didn’t do us any good since there was no cell power, and then he put a group of assistants on to sing a jingle. “You’re family may be eaten, but it doesn’t mean you’re beaten. So get the Times delivered to your door before you are never ---never more.” It was a horrible jingle sung out of tune, and I thought I heard a back ground chorus of “Chew-Wop, Chew-Wop,” but it was people--live, tone deaf people. Enough to put out a newspaper and stupid enough to deliver it, but hell, stupid is much better than dead, smelly, and lusting after your tasty flesh.
Believe it or not, our GPS actually worked, and we were only a few miles from the only remaining home of the New York Times. I kept wondering if now was a good time to ask them if they would review my novel. It was a science fiction/ brush fire cookbook/ historical novel about a Cinnamon breath mint empire. I know it’s not a new idea, but I figured by including a gumball trade show, a fructose for Finland marketing convention, and a bulimic eating and throwing up competition to the story it might put a new slant on an old genre.
We could make it to the Times building, all we had to do was keep the band and the singers alive and playing for another few miles. Skim Milk had an idea that just might save our lives. We’d ask the guys and gals carrying the heavier instruments to come into the vehicle for a rest, and then we’d toss them out to the zombies—keeping them off us, as our band, thinned out and our ululation gals ran out of energy. At first it looked as if the plan wouldn’t work when Klaus, our half-breed, tried to bite the bass drummer’s head off causing the other band members to back away. Skim Milk, had her wits about her and shouted, “April Fools,” instantly squelching their fears, while we pulled Klaus away. As the band climbed in and we selectively starting feeding members to the zombies, Dr. Bliffover explained Klaus’s reaction. He had lost his family to a base drummer high on animal tranquilizers laced with silly putty. The guy beat to death his wife and then tried to bounce his kids off the walls and tile floor in the bathroom. The drummer himself took his own life by diving out the window, six floors, then three floors and then two floors to his death.
About a mile into our final lap one of the ululation divas, who called herself Snara with a Snar, told us that they’d run out of songs and they never ever repeated themselves. I said, “Snara—“
She quickly corrected me. “Call me Snara with a Snar.”
“Ok, Snara with a Snar, can’t you just do this once, after all, to us all your songs sound alike!”
“That’s it. We quit! I will not stand here and be insulted. Next you’ll want to know why we all only have one wisdom tooth,” Snara with a Snar shouted.
Before I could say Snara with a S--- Skim Milk tossed her out the window and then proudly exposed her own celestial breasts. Maria, not to be out done, pushed her aside and double mooned the zombies that had just started to eat Snara with a Snar. Snara was about to sing, but before she had a chance to scare them away her vocal chords were chewed out. A few zombies looked up at our exhibitionists, but at the moment preferred to join in on the feast
The other singers, who were outside marching with the band began singing what could have been an ululation version of “Jingle Bells” or “Whiter Shade of Pale,” or “I Did It My Way,” or quite possibly an up tempo “Lady of Spain.” All I know is that Skim Milk’s deadly trick had worked. The band did their best to match whatever the hell the girls were screeching, which scattered any zombies that dared approach our vehicle.
Another mile and half and we would arrive at the New York Times building and maybe from the home of the best newspaper in the country we’d start a new better read civilization that featured home delivery.
First one of the girls lost her voice and made the mistake of trying to reach our vehicle. I held the door open, grabbed her hand and did my best to pull her in, she had just got one foot inside when a mob of zombies pulled her to the ground, and ravage her to the bone. I don’t know what she looked like, because of that Arabian beekeeper’s stage outfit (or maybe it was just a Arabic prom gown possibly for bee keepers), that she wore. I imagined she was cute—a women I’d probably easily be rejected by—one who would laugh in my face, make her tongue sound like a cop’s siren being played sideways and then call her brother over to cut off my head. In spite of my good old red blooded American male thoughts, I still managed to feel bad for her, even a rooster with vocal chords made from broken banjo strings deserved better. I was lost in thoughts of the shriek of Arabia when an older zombie in a hotel bathrobe, which wouldn’t be a pleasant sight even before his private parts were rotting, reached in and grabbed my shirt collar. My leg was caught under the seat as his face came kissing close, his breath smelled like rubber being burned in a vat of Medieval sewage—a scent that would later be bottled and sold on the black market. His jaws widened, ready to break his five minute fast. I slugged him in the side of his face, but he didn’t take notice. When his teeth started their final decent Jo shot him, not dead, but just enough to knock out most of his choppers and a decaying bridge and crown. He gummed my shoulder like a red neck giving a hickey. No skin was broken, not until Jo’s next shot which tore his head apart like a Piñata full of tripe parmesan. I quickly slammed the door shut –- I can take a hint.
“Thanks, Jo.” I said, although I also felt compelled to ask what his hat size was.
“Any time, by the way I wear a size seven and half hat,” in case you were wondering.” In the heat of battle sometimes men can finish each other’s thoughts.
We were now only about a half mile away. The band’s rhythm was somewhere between a waltz and the hum of an old refrigerator. The girl’s voices were now only slightly more annoying than a great accordion player. We had a real dilemma. Do we just run over the band and singers and hope that the SUV can plow through the remaining zombies or do we stay with the status quo and hope enough live to get us to the New York Times Building? The decision would have been made easier if someone in the band hadn’t stopped muting his trombone with a duck caller. That would have been motivation for me to throw the car into overdrive and make the musicians one with their instruments.
We decided to weigh our options, which didn’t work because we couldn’t agree on an appropriate rating system, so we tried to write down the positives and negatives, but that was even harder without a pen and pencil. After three tries we finally figured out that odd finger doesn’t work well with over three people. We didn’t have dice or cards, so we used our old standby and played a game of charades. The driver, who at the moment wasn’t me, didn’t have to participate. Movie titles we found too easy, the names of presidents too hard, so we settled on popular surgeries. We were all stumped on pubic hair transplants, even Laura Lee, who was good enough to go pro, but by that time we were just a block away and decided to let the exhausted band play on until eaten. I know it sounded cold-hearted, but these musicians weren’t in a union yet, and why wait till they tried to organize?
When we got close to the building the band members stuffed the plume from their hats in the mouths of ululation vocalists and then tossed them at the zombies and ran for the entrance. We had driven the car to the only available parking space, about ten yards from the home of the New York Times and dumped some coins in the meter. I wasn’t taking chances—who knows what parking fines might mean in these days of deadly choices. With the zombies only a few yards behinds us, the doors of the Time’s building flew open and a gang of Times’ workers started knocking off our stalkers. They’re aim was amazing, zombies fell prey to flying rolls of daily newspapers and the ones that managed to move closer got flattened by thick stacks of the Sunday edition.