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By Dave Shulman
First published in L.A. Weekly, June 16, 2005.
Well, the Cadillac, it pulled out of the graveyard,
Pulled up to me, all they said was “Get in.”
Then the Cadillac, it puttered back into the graveyard,
And me, I got out again.
—Tom Verlaine, “Marquee Moon”
The asshole was two months late with the rent and down to his last 20 bucks, most of which would be gone in about 10 minutes, as soon as the asshole reached the stimulant emporium to buy one last pound of the devil’s beans. At the stop sign across from the school, the asshole idled, brake lights glowing, turn signal flashing, waiting for the ancient geezer and the little shits in the crosswalk to reach the curb.
A thick shadow fell upon the asshole’s car from behind. In his mirrors, the asshole could make out familiar human heads laughing into small silver telephones in a big black Range Rover, and a familiar dog head jutting out the driver’s side, drooling freely onto the hot asphalt below.
The cunt and the dick lived in the asshole’s neighborhood. The cunt, a beige and wealthy man, and his wife, the dick, shared a spotless tract mansion and a small herd of SUVs just up the hill. The asshole had never met the cunt or the dick, but he’d seen them around, driving double the speed limit or pausing on an evening stroll to watch Cheney, their Irish setter, construct precious sculptures on the asshole’s front lawn.
Not that they noticed whose front lawn it was, or even that it was a lawn at all. In fact, the cunt and the dick never noticed much of anything, even if it was directly in their path.
For the cunt and the dick, things were not to be noticed but to be owned. The cunt at the wheel did not understand turn signals or stop signs or crosswalks any more than he understood assholes, little shits or geezers. He observed the geezer and the little shits in the crosswalk, but knew not why the asshole was waiting for them. So the cunt pulled out into the left lane and made a harsh right turn around the asshole, figuring that the little shits and the geezer knew enough to get out of the way of such an expensive vehicle; or if they didn’t, they’d learn now.
“What the fuck?” the asshole mumbled. He honked to warn the geezer and the little shits to flee for their lives, and they did. And the cunt and the dick in the big black box roared onward.
The geezer and the little shits survived and regrouped on the sidewalk. The asshole’s ears glowed bright red. Steam shot out of his nose, and a caustic sweat of rage burst through his brow. The asshole mashed the accelerator, caught up to the cunt and the dick a half-block away, pulled in front of them, parked, got out and yelled.
“What the fuck?” the asshole inquired. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?”
“Settle down, there, asshole,” the cunt replied. “What’s your beef?”
“Beef?!” said the asshole. “You almost killed those people back there, cunt!”
“You must be mistaken, asshole,” the dick chimed in, singsong, with a robotic grin. “There wasn’t anyone in the crosswalk, except for the little shits and the old geezer. Now, please get out of our way and let us go shopping, or my husband will shoot you and/or call the police.”
The asshole looked beyond the cunt and the dick, to where the little shits and the geezer now stood watching the proceedings, waiting for more serious developments.
Not worth it. The asshole shook his head, muttered something, climbed back into his car and drove forward. The cunt and the dick followed menacingly for a quarter-mile or so, then plowed ahead and disappeared.
The rest of the asshole’s short journey passed without incident. He even lucked into a parking space with time on the meter. Inside the stimulant emporium, the air was delicious and the line was short. The asshole scanned the room for signs of the cunt and the dick, just in case.
“Next asshole in line,” called the motherfucker from behind the counter.
The asshole stepped forward.
“Good morning, motherfucker,” the asshole said.
“Good afternoon, asshole.”
The asshole ordered a pound of French Roast and parted with his last 20. The motherfucker offered the asshole a complimentary cup of coffee — company policy, with the purchase of a pound of beans — which the asshole gratefully accepted.
“You’re welcome, asshole. Now piss off, and I’ll have your beans ready in a minute.”
The motherfucker also gave the asshole $7.16 in change. The asshole dropped $2.16 in the tip jar, pocketed the 5 and took his free high to the back of the store, to get wired among the faux-exotic gift sets and conical burr-grinders.
The asshole breathed deeply and sipped at the wicked brew that had tamed him, been his undoing, enslaved him to stimulation for all these years. The trimethylxanthine coursed through well-worn paths to the asshole’s brain; peptides danced with receptors; blood pounded; the blue skies roared; somewhere, green grass reached for the sun.
Everything was good again. Sure, the asshole would soon expire of complications from poverty, but he wouldn’t die groggy.
The cunt and the dick entered the stimulant emporium, already carrying a half-dozen shopping bags and with the slobbery Cheney at their side. The line was longer now, so they bypassed it and set their bags down at the counter.
“Two double decaffeinated lattes with nonfat milk, motherfucker,” said the cunt.
“Sorry, cunt,” said the motherfucker. “The end of the line’s over there. And you’ll have to leave your dog outside.”
“Oh. Two double decaffeinated lattes with nonfat milk,” the cunt repeated and held out a 20.
“The line starts back there,” the motherfucker advised again. “And I can’t serve you with that dog.”
“I beg your pardon, motherfucker,” said the dick. “My husband and I own things.”
The line grew restless.
The motherfucker rolled up his sleeves.
The asshole watched. He hadn’t felt this good in months.