News & opinion on Greater China and the even Greater Beyond: by Biff Cappuccino.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Shitbird (another practice session in third person narrative)

Verne Wedeatter looked around his room, wondering if things had improved with the move. He was all set, but lonesome.

The pad they’d given him was three floors, fully furnished. But it was cheap-jack playschool furnishings in mini-sizes most of it. He’d already replaced the day-glo banana vinyl sofa that stuck to a sweaty back like a leech and made a sucking slurpy noise as you got to get up. It had had these acrylic tables that looked alien, outer space, like the Jetsons or Captain Kirk. And the concrete wept in the top floor when it rained, the paint peeled in the stairwell, rebar was bloating like a rust sponge and pushing out of all the walls like tree roots. Darg Yotsfah, his construction engineer buddy blamed it on salt in the concrete. “Like dressing salt into a wet wound, ain’t going to come to no good.” He’d said.

At times like these, a-wondering and a-whimpering to himself, he farted in defense. Something to build his confidence. To set him right again and put his old world back in order. A gush of greasy gastric essence was getting pumped into the cushions of his new cloth and cushion love seat to mingle and ferment with the clusterfuck of flatulence he’d injected into all the seated furniture around the room. An inoculation of sorts was how he thought of it, one that kept ratbags and uppity vermin at bay. And if a man had gas, well he might as well put a talent like that to good use.

He picked up the phone and hit a button, angling with his thumb to get it right. Boink!

“Yar?” someone drawled lazily. “That you Bass?”

“Don’t call me that no more. Shit dude!” in his best attempt to be firm.

Verne wasn’t a fun name, so his friends did the next best thing and started calling him Weed Eater or W E and still did when he got something right. The rest of the time it was Big Ass Shit Sucker, a walking-talking four on the floor verbal testimonial to his God-given endowment. It was Bass for short. Weed Eater thought they were dissing him, but actually they were hiding their envy behind mockery. W E (pronounced ‘Double E’) didn’t go for low-class stuff like firing up butt-farts with a lighter. He had discipline. Timing. Panache. He was a class act and they knew it. Double E was lonesome and jonesing for pals today so he went back to whimpering, “So what up? You boys doing what for this afternoon?”

“Bass, yo, like I don’t know. Whatever. Like, I’m still on the job. Got some slopes out on the wire, hooking up some high tension cable. They’re up in the basket. I got no time to think. I got jaundiced baboons making my life a mother, you know what I’m saying? I got my hands full as it is. I’m too tired to think about what to do when I get off.”

“Your brain’s tired? It sure don’t take much.”

“Yeah.” He wheezed. “How about you, Bass? You sound like your hair’s gone and git tired again. Or what can I do for you boy?”

“I don’t know. I don’t got me no more teaching for today. Just bored I guess.”

“You need a woman. You know that?”

“You ain’t saying nothing that I don’t already know.”

“Yeah, alright. Well, you still teaching at that cow town college? What kind of shit for brains is they hiring that they take you under their wing? Sympathy for the devil.”

“The foreign devil. Yeah you said it. But I don’t mind. Money’s good. Easy.”

“They even speak English there?”

“Yeah. Not bad. I was worried they might even learn me a few things and get wise. But so far so good. Riding the China gravy train baby.”



Later that afternoon, having whacked off to what pitiable soft porn he could find this side of the Great Firewall of China he found himself exhausted. Pin-ups needed imagining to work and imagining wasn’t one of his strengths, not part of his job requirement. He was five-finger shagged and fagged and not getting no satisfaction.

He wiped himself up, the smell of yellow-bean oil making him nauseous. There was something wrong about the smell of fried food dripping off your pecker and trying to get off. Couldn’t figure that one out.

He meandered in the direction of the shower, cold feet on colder tiles, naked and trying not to drip nor put his polluted hands on anything. The moist air of this crazy place wrapped him like a blanket, like one of them punky diseased blankets they gave the injuns to wipe ‘em out. Sympathy made him think he could use some firewater himself right about now, but first he had a damn itch to scratch. Dang it all! But if he didn’t break out in the itchy-scratchies when he went and whacked a good one. A good one being a couple of hours searching around for today’s just-right hottie with a familiar sort of face, down on her knees looking at a loving meat machine with shock and awe. He peered south and saw that he had hives around the base of his tool, but he could feel his butt-crack going for broke too, and the skin between his baby toe and the camper next door was just ripe with heat. He pulled them apart and looked closer and beside the skin peeling like surgical gloves he saw a welt rising out like a red flower, round like a Mickey Mao good luck coin and the color of one of his momma’s Christmas poinsettias. Shoot dog! Not again! “I gotta give this shit up,” he muttered as he turned the hot water on and reached for the carbolic soap. “Owe!” he whined as he rubbed it in.

When he came out he fired up a smoke. He liked his air filtered. The doorbell rang. He opened it to find Darg and Buddy Dorckbagg. Happy and Happier. He beckoned them in and walked back to his couch flatfooted. He dropped his towel to dry himself and said, “You two faggots aren’t going to get excited are you, or do I got to call the pole-lease.” He farted a tight one, squeezing it slowly to make it last, to make a good impression.

His two guests frowned, trying not to smile. Impressed yet again with Bass’s natural gift.

“Yeah like them crazed gorillas is going to do nothing.” said Buddy, swaggering with a sharp eye to make sure it was approved. “You remember what happened last time? Shit that was something.”

“Well yeah a-hole, it was something. ‘Cept you wuzn’t neven there.” He stared hard at Buddy from across the room. “You been telling my story ain’t you and lying to say it was yours, ain’t that right?”

“That aint true! You cain’t prove it! And even if you could, well…”

“Well what Dork?” asked Darg, getting a rise out of Buddy’s dumb-assed try at defending his-self. Dumb Ass.

“Well, a feller might as well get some extra mileage out of it. I’d share stories with you if I had any. Aint’ nothing wrong with that.” He was sheepish but friendly. Like a cuddly house pet he won them over. Just like he always did.

“So what was this story anyways?” asked Darg.

Bass had been drinking and driving, common enough and on a bicycle he wasn’t going to kill nothing more than time. But there he was and there they was, on the street corner waving him over with a beating wand, the pole-lease. Snatched him down rough and fetched him over rough to the station without so much as a please and thank you. The chief came to the door to see him in person, smiled sweetly and said “Hello American.” And then whipped out a pig sticker and whacked him a good one on the Thai kick boxer’s sweet spot, that nerve running down the outside of the thigh, dropping him faster than a cow-tipper dropping Holsteins on Halloween. Bass was begging for mercy and caterwauling for Jesus while the chief was hee-hawing to the high heavens. The chief put his mean stick back on his belt and pointed to a couple of his men to haul the fat foreigner inside.

But Bass got up on his own and released a foul burst, a gusher, silent but deadly. He felt better already. The cops had gripped him warmly but then getting a whiff thought better of it and pulled out their sticks and prodded him like a ripe bull into the chief’s office. There were the usual utility bureau and leather chairs, the cork-stoppered hot water bottles and jam jars with floating tea-leaves like trapped kelp, but there was also a ledge of sports trophies and a couple of American university pennants.

The chief spoke, “So my friend. My American friend. This illegal in America no?” His English was shockingly good for Guanxi, provincial backwater of the Chinese boondocks.

“Sorry?” Bass was standing.

“You beg my pardon?”

Cold-cocked by the question, he didn’t know what to do but agree with whatever the chief said, “Yes” he said, and bowed and flatulated a squeak.

The chief glanced in the direction of the lobby. Seeing nothing, he began again, “Okay. I tell you. Drunk driving is criminal offense. You no drunk drive in America. Why you drunk drive in China?”

“But I was on a bicycle,” he stammered

“You have no respect for China law! Behave! Insult China and we give you buggar all! You want buggar all?” asked the chief, coming closer and looking up into Bass’s eyes and screwing up his scariest smile.

Bass was about to wet himself when instead he parted with another blast of methane. The chief sniffed and asked, “You shit your pants, mister?” But this West wind seemed to knock the East wind out of the chief’s sails and he said, “American! My friend! You wait a minute.”

One of his compatriots said to the chief in Chinese, “I heard Westerners smell like shaggy dogs, but now I know it’s not true. He’s fat and white like a harvest pig but smells like a water buffalo.”

“This one is particularly foul. Too much red meat. Milk products. Freedom fries.”

“Didn’t the Japanese dwarves eat Western prisoners of war in the Great War for Emancipation? How did they stomach the rough smell?”

“Japs are a coarse crew of mad monkeys.” Patting his tummy, “Everyone knows that Chinese liver is the best. It’s written by the ancestors. In the old days, the cannibals hated the whites and blacks and loved the Chinese.”

Darg frowned, “You’re putting me on. They didn’t really say that?”

Pointing just his middle finger at his temple, Bass said, “Scouts honor. They didn’t know I speak the Chinese.”

“How good?”

“Near good as my English.”


“Hey! You got any beers around here?”


He met her teaching English, spelling out words on the blackboard that he’d just been practicing himself right before class started. He was up mashing a black ink marker against a white plastic board and she was seated in the back by her lonesome, an empty ring of seats about her like a wooden garden around a bronze statue. She was pretty, long dark tresses, clear skin, shapely, all packaged in a white outfit like a nurse’s uniform. She was a noisy one, kept asking questions, making him nervous.

Why couldn’t they just be like kindergartners, not asking no nosy-parker questions except ‘can I go to the bathroom mister?’ Childrens learned fast. He taught them ‘mister’. He learned them ‘kids’, saying it ‘keeyids’ to make it down home and authentic. And when they came at him, squealing with feral joy and running headers at his balls, he was ready for them with a perfume that kept the little grifters at bay.

So he was surprised when she stayed behind after class to ask a few questions and in between his stammering discovered that she had an eau de toilette of her own. He felt safe now. He cut the cheese with a buzzing wheeze that fluttered his pants and she snapped out a hanky for him fast and proper, figuring he was suffering a nasal malfunction of some kind. It was a tender moment, one preserved in mental amber for the rest of their natural born lives. She said her name was Little Plum. He said his name was Weed Eater. Verne Weed Eater.

They wined and dined. He took her home.

She was a nurse after all. Working in the geriatric ward. That explained the ripe aroma. Bed pans and 24/7 rip-roaring wind gusting out of human pipes. Oily Chinese stir fry made flatulence stick like crazy glue to anything with pores in it. She couldn’t scrub it out her skin in less than 24 hours. Couldn’t rinse it out of her hair in less than three days. Clothes were best burned. He’d traveled twelve time zones and found someone else that smelled like shit. It was a miracle, a great day.

They moved in together. They made plans for the wedding. He invited the boys over.

He opened the door for Dork and Darg. Happiness and Ha-Penis. Dork asked, “So where’s the pretty lady?”

“Yeah. Where you hiding her, you devil dog?” followed Darg.

Bass motioned for them to sit down while he fell back into his loveseat. He said, “She’s getting dressed for work, boys. In a bit of a rush. My fiancĂ© is a working woman, don’t cha know.”

Dork nodded and said, “Well them Chinee is that way.” He was being respectful now. He’d arrived shaven, was sitting upright, on his best behavior.

She rushed out of the bedroom, saw the boys. She pulled, looking concerned. She said, “Hi. Heard lots about you.” She gave a little nod, a smidgen of a bow.

“Howdy m’ am,” Dork tipped a non-existent hat. Darg nodded at her and then cuffed him.

“Your friends are here early. I got to go soon.” She looked hesitant, needy.

“Sure honey.” Bass was wondering what was up and smiled blandly, getting comfy, pulling his newspaper off the table and to himself like a security blanket.

She looked at them and then dived under his newspaper and pulled it down behind her. She started snuffling about his private parts. She sucked and sucked, pulled and squeezed, coaxing his seed out of him. He gave it up willingly, huffing and puffing behind his newspaper, the boys across on the sofa, eyes popping, trying to keep still, to keep the evaporating sofa aromas, somewhere between raw liver and road kill, in their place.

Little Plum looked out from the bottom of the newspaper, like checking that the coast was clear. She came out fully now, wiping the back of her hand across her mouth. She went to kiss Bass, red and splotchy porky in the face. He met her with a peck on the cheek, the touch football of love. She grinned. He didn’t want the boys to think he was queer.

“See you later. Got to go. Nice to meet you.” And she was off, the Florence Nightingale of the crypt ward, the dead beat, the geriatric sayonara.

She skittered out the door, giving it an earthy slam that left their ears ringing.

Bass squinted and said, “I’m training her about that. She’s learning not to slam stuff.”

Darg barked, “What the hell else you been training her?”

Dork was incredulous, awed, “What in the great jeewillikers was that which I just seen?”

Bass patted his forehead with the newspaper, leaving a grey patch behind, but what he felt he really needed was a great body wipe in the shower. He said, “You know how the locals want jet black hair. Auburn means you is tainted. Maybe not pure blooded. I told her for her personal information that hair was mostly protein. A protein injection regular would give her the coal color she wanted.” He was nodding trying to get a nod reaction out of them.

Dork said while frowning, “You didn’t?”

Bass batted an eye and looked down modestly and put his hand up making the injun sign of How! and said “Don’t tell me I’m sly, ‘cause I did it out of the pure goodness of my heart. Just being helpful.”

“Landsakes alive! Hoodoggy! You devil you!” Darg burst out laughing. “This calls for a beer to celebrate. You got any beers? It’s damn drier than a West Texas Sunday.”

Bass got up and walked slowly, shaking the stickiness out of his butt cheeks, and the sound of a balloon maker swiveling high tension skinny rubber against itself came from somewhere in there. He was home. He had it made. And not lonesome no more.

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