chapter9.jpg (14045 bytes)

 

Date:    Sun, Oct 6, 1996 2:30 PM EDT

From:   Bottlenekk

Subj:    CHAPTER NINE

To:        SecraTerri, FifiOToole, Edmundkaz

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

 

After wolfing down his 87th cold pancake in the church basement, Huge Tony felt one of his "spells" coming on.

It always happened exactly the same way. He'd be stuffing his face when he'd suddenly black out. And inexplicably, Huge Tony's mind would be transported into someone else's body.

It was like a "Twilight Zone" episode, starring Burgess Meredith. (Okay, that's redundant. ALL "Twilight Zone" episodes starred Burgess Meredith.) Huge Tony had no idea why or how this weird phenomenon took place. Maybe it was because he had always wished that he could occupy a normally proportioned body. He didn't know.

What he DID know is that he'd be cramming cheeseburgers in his cake-hole one minute, and he'd wake up inside somebody else's body the next minute.

The good thing was, it never lasted long.

The bad thing was, he was always transported into the body of someone who was in a life-threatening situation. Someone who needed Huge Tony's superior intellect and quick reflexes to get them out of their desperate situation. Fast.

Once he'd been gorging on barbecued pork rinds when he was suddenly transported into the body of a little boy who was trapped in an abandoned well.

Another time, he'd blacked out during a pie-eating contest, and awakened to find himself inside the body of a skydiver whose chute refused to open.

And back in the '70s, Huge Tony had found himself in the most terrifying situation of all - on at least a dozen occasions. He'd awaken in front of a live audience, wearing white bell-bottoms and platform shoes, as one of the Hudson Brothers.

And now it was happening again. Which meant only one thing. Someplace in the world, someone was in an enormous amount of trouble.

"I wonder who it could be?" Huge Tony thought, as he slid into that familiar black hole at the back of his brain.

*******

"DO SOMETHING!! DO ANYTHING!!!" Courtney screamed into Caspar's ear, trying to be heard against the shreik of the buzzsaw.

"Cool it, babe. I got an idea," Caspar said. And he flipped himself over Courtney, positioning his body between her and the buzz saw blade.

"WHAT THE HELL IS THAT GOING TO ACCOMPLISH?" Courtney yelled?

Caspar extended his head toward the whirling blade, exposing a scrawny white neck festooned with some sort of garish necklace. "This choker is made of pukka shells," he said. "They're more precious than diamonds. So there's a chance that they're also HARDER than diamonds, and I can use them to stop this sawblade."

"Oh, good," said Courtney. "For a minute there, I thought you were going to do something stupid.

 

******

"You find the knife yet?" Frank Peking asked, watching the minute hand move toward Judas's head. Funny. He'd never noticed before how much Judas resembled Warren Oates.

"Got it!" Wanda yelped.

And within seconds, they were racing out the door and piling into Peking's '61 Caddy convertible.

"Nice ride," Wanda purred, running her hand over the black-and-pink leather upholstery. "But how'd it get here? Didn't you leave this back in Baton Rouge?"

"I took the precaution of installing a remote starting device in it before I left," Peking explained. "You accidentally hit the start button when you were groping in my pants pocket earlier. The car immediately started in Baton Rouge and drove itself here, guided by the high-frequency homing device I have in my belt buckle."

"Hey, I'm as big a fan of 'suspension of disbelief' as the next chick, but do you think the readers are actually going to buy that shit?" Wanda asked.

"They all paid seven bucks a head to see 'Mission Impossible', didn't they?"

"Good point," Wanda nodded.

"What's that?" she said, pointing at the glowing rectangular screen in the dashboard of the Caddy.

"That's a digital map of Trailer Town," Peking replied. "And that little blinking light shows where Caspar is located right now."

Wanda raised an eyebrow.

"We buy our belts at the same store," Peking explaind.

*********

Two grim-faced women raced across the streets of Trailer Town in their Army surplus jeep.

"How much longer 'til we get to Camp Trenchfoot, Mardeen?" MenoDabo asked.

"For chrissakes! That's the third time you've asked, and we haven't even crossed the city limits yet!" Hairnet snarled.

"Well, there's no time to waste," MenoDabo snapped back. "We've got to locate The Exhaulted Leader and figure out how to stop this Tori Spelling Cloning Plot before the entire town is overtaken with oversexed bimbos!"

"Nice subtle job of plot advancement," Hairnet said dryly.

 

************

A cruel sneel flitted across Cale's face.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Brokenjaw," he said slowly. "But Trini Lopez is not the name I was looking for. So I guess I'll have to kill you now."

And Cale pulled out a pistol that was not quite as large as a bone-in ham, and aimed it directly at Brokenjaw's forehead.

Brokenjaw stood proudly, refusing to show fear. "Before you kiyy me, wiyy you at yeast teyy me why you have been hoyding me here for so yong?"

And Cale dropped his gun and began to weep.

 

************

Courtney turned her head to shield her eyes from the shower of sparks that was flying off the pukka shell necklace.

The sawblade had bitten into the choker like a pitbull into a mailman's ass. But that was five minutes ago, and the necklace was still holding. And, incredibly, the buzzsaw motor was beginning to smoke. Caspar's head was bucking with the strain of holding the necklace against the wickedly sharp steel, but Courtney could swear that the whine of the blade had decreased a decible or two.

"Jesus H. Christ on a conveyor belt," she whispered. "It's actually going to WORK!"

 

**************

"Honey," MaryPhill whined. "The guests are going to be here any minute. And the meatloaf STILL isn't ready. What are we going to do?? FOR THE LOVE OF CHRIST, WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO????"

"I'm trying to THINK, Mary! Just give me minute!" her husband shouted.

**************

"Okay, explain something to me," Wanda said, as the Caddy flew past the Trailer Town Casa Loma Motel. "I've just spent enough time with my hand in your pocket to convince me that I'd like to get to know you better. And we've both just escaped with our lives. So why's it so important that we find Caspar right this second?"

"Because he may be in trouble," Peking said. "Because the case isn't closed until the mystery is solved. Because this is the sort of honorable, high-road shit that detectives always do. And because the longer I watch the wind blow through your hair and tug at the buttons on your blouse, the hotter I get for you."

"Drive faster," Wanda said.

***************

"Drive faster!" MenoDabo yelled.

****************

Smoke was now pouring out of the buzzsaw motor and Caspar's head was bobbing furiously.

It won't be long now, Courtney thought.

Then it happened.

The necklace gave way, scattering pukka shells across the floor. It all happened so fast that Courtney didn't notice for a second that two other rather significant things had also occurred.

Thing One: The sawblade rolled to a complete stop, just as it nicked open the ropes that bound her hands behind her.

Thing Two: Caspar's head was missing.

"Courtney! Over here!"

Courtney spun around, and there it was. Caspar's head lay in a pile of pukka shells, grinning stupidly at her.

"HOLY SHIT!" she screamed.

"Courtney! Get a grip on yourself!" Caspar's head commanded. "Grab my body over there, and get me to a hospital immediately! There may still be time to put me back together!"

Courtney acted quickly, throwing the polyester-clad body over her left shoulder and cradling the head in her right arm like a football. Okay, a football that reeked of Hai Karate and had four greasy hairs streaming from it, but a football nonetheless.

"But there's no blood!" she said incredulously. "Why isn't there any blood?"

"Most of my blood supply was....uh....diverted elsewhere while you were trying to find my knife," Caspar's head leered. "And it's still there."

Courtney kicked open the door of the old factory, trying not to think about what it might be on Caspar's torso that was digging into her shoulder, and ran into the street to flag down a car.

A red Miata immediately skidded to a stop, and the blonde driver peered over the top of her designer sunglasses. "Do we have a problem?"

"We need to get to a hospital, fast!" Courtney yelled.

"I know just the place," said the driver. "But I don't want that guy dripping on my upholstery."

Courtney flopped Caspar's inert body onto the trunk lid, then looked at the head. Hmmmmm. Where to put it? Caspar's right eye winked at her. And his lips, glistening with saliva, puckered at her. Gawd.

Thinking quickly, she attached Caspar's head firmly to the windshield of the Miata by sticking the puckered lips against the glass. It took Courtney only a second to determine that the Caspar Head would not soon replace the Suction-Cup Garfield as a popular automotive ornament.

She jumped in the passenger seat and looked curiously at the driver as they sped off down the street.

"You look awfully familiar," Courtney said. "Aren't you Tori Spelling?"

***************

"I kidnapped you," Kyle sniffed. "Because I LOVE you."

"Reayyy?" Brokenjaw said.

"Yes," Kyle said. "See, I never had a dad. And you seemed so kind on TV every night, and you had that cute little lisp and everything, and well, I just couldn't help myself. I had to have you for my own. Can you ever forgive me?"

"I'd yike to try," Brokenjaw whispered, yicking his yips.

*****************

"Faster!" Wanda yelled.

*****************

"Faster!" MenoDabo yelled.

*****************

"Faster!" Courtney yelled.

******************

"My MEATLOAF!!" MaryPhill screamed.

At at that moment, three cars collided outside Mary's house and Huge Tony's spirit entered the body of MaryPhill's husband.

"My Miata is ruined!" Tori screamed.

"My hairnet is ruined!" Hairnet screamed.

"Mmmmmphhhh!" Caspar's head tried to scream, but it was still stuck tight to the windshield.

Peking took control, quickly transferring Courtney, Tori and Caspar to the Caddy.

"Just follow my directions to the medical center, and drive fast!" Tori yelled to him.

"Honey, all we have to do is add some cumin, some cilantro, a little garlic, and some crushed corn chips," said MrPhill/Huge Tony. "And this meatloaf be spectacular."

As the Caddy sped off down the street and the Phills busied themselves with the meatloaf, MenoDabo and Hairnet sat dazed in their jeep.

"Hey, Mardeen, look," said MenoDabo, pointing across the street. "They forgot something."

Hairnet saw what Meno was pointing at, and began to smile.

*************

"This doesn't look like any regular hospital to me," Peking said.

Hundreds of women were walking up and down the pristine white hallways, and every one of them looked exactly like Tori Spelling.

"Did you have to go to detective school to hone those amazing powers of observation, or does it just come naturally?" Tori asked.

"Jesus, she's a bitch in real life, too" Wanda said.

"Yeah, well right now we have a slightly larger problem," Caspar's head sputtered. "Like, for example, the tiny, insignificant fact that we misplaced my body in that fender-bender back there."

"There's no time to go search for it now," said the Incredibly Handsome Surgeon in the Green Scrubs. "If this head is going to live, we're going to have to IMPROVISE."

"Are you married?" said Courtney.

***********

"So THAT'S where the cloning operation has been hidden all this time!" MenoDabo hissed.

"How can you be so sure?" Hairnet asked.

"Three reasons," MenoDabo replied. "First, we just saw Peking and the others go in there with one of the clones. Second, all the employees and all the customers in there look like Tori Spelling. And third, look at what that truck is getting ready to unload."

Hairnet turned to see the huge stainless steel tanker truck backing up to the rear of the KFC. The lettering on the tank read: CLONING JUICE.

"Are you thinking what I'm thinking, Mardeen?"

Hairnet shifted the weight of Caspar's body to her other shoulder. "Damn straight."

****************

"This is the best damn meatloaf I ever tasted!" said 23 dinner guests in unison. "Did you ever think of starting a restaurant chain?"

Mr. Phill/Huge Tony smiled.

*****************

"Will you marry me?" Cale asked.

"I wiyy," Brokenjaw said softly.

******************

Peking and Wanda stood in Caspar's hospital room, looking at him in horror. He was sitting up in bed, eating banana pudding. A new pukka shell choker masked the angry red seam where his head had been attached to his new body.

"Caspar, listen," Peking said. "I know it may seem like the end of the world right now. But at least you're ALIVE, right? The doctors didn't really have any choice. I mean, the only bodies they had in stock here were the Tori Spelling bodies."

"Why do you keep trying to cheer me up?" Caspar asked. "I think I'm going to get along just fine with this body."

He took another bite of banana pudding. "Whooooopsie! Looks like I spilled some pudding on one of my BREASTS AGAIN! Now HOWEVER will I get that OFF??"

"Get me out of here before that lowlife starts licking himself again," Wanda muttered to Peking.

****ONE YEAR LATER****

The two women sat on beach chairs on the remote, private island. A small army of men fanned the two women, served them drinks, and gave them pedicures. The men were tanned, buff and reasonably attractive. If you overlooked the fact that none of them had heads.

"We've created the perfect race of men," Hairnet said. "They can't look at other women, they can't watch football, they can't smoke cigars, and they can't turn up their noses at anything we do. And although they don't have heads, they DO have all the other essential equipment, right girlfriend?"

"Mardeen," said MenoDabo, trying to concentrate on her crossword puzzle, "How do you spell 'firewood'?"

*******************

Looking resplendent in his double-knit leisure suit, Huge Tony stepped to the microphone and adjusted a gold pinky ring that was only slightly smaller than a bowling ball.

I was BORN to be a franchisee, he thought to himself.

"Gentlemen," his voice boomed over the PA system of the grand ballroom of the Fon-du-Lac Holiday Inn, "This is our First Annual Mr. MeatLoaf Franchisee Meeting, and I would like to lead off by introducing our new marketing director. She has some great ideas, and when you see our new TV campaign, I think you'll agree with me that Bob Dylan was the perfect choice as Mr. MeatLoaf."

Thunderous applause filled the room as the woman stepped to the microphone. She was stunningly attractive, to be sure, but the franchisees were primarily applauding the incredible neck muscles that must have been required to support the Giant Condor Hat she was wearing.

"Hello, Shooooogahs," she said. And the applause erupted from the crowd again.

 

******************

"I'm soooooooooo glad we decided to honeymoon in Atlantic City," Courtney said. "That guy on stage is funny as hell, and not too bad looking, either. But he's not as cute as YOU, Sweetcakes."

The tuxedoed figure on stage bowed to the audience as they applauded again, then dropped Liv-a-Snaps into the mouths of his five basset hounds, also dressed in miniature tuxes.

"I don't think I've ever seen a comedy animal routine before," said the Incredibly Handsome Surgeon in the Green Scrubs. "What's the name of the act again?"

"Katz and Dogs," smiled Courtney.

********************

"I'm sooooooooooooooo glad we decided to honeymoon in SeaTac," said Cale. '

"It's not just a honeymoon, Snookums," said Brokenjaw, putting the rental car into Park in front of the Century 21 office. "I'm going to buy you our dream home here - as a wedding present!"

As they entered the office, they saw a stunningly attractive brunette behind a desk, with her head down. She appeared to be wrapping her feet in Ace bandages.

"Ahem," Brokenjaw cleared his throat loudly.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," the brunette said. "Can I help you and stuff?"

**********************

"I'm soooooooooooooooo glad we decided to honeymoon in Wichita," said Wanda. "And this little bistro is so CUTE! The little wooden hearts and the little wooden geese. And how many places have John Davidson on the jukebox!"

"Our waiter doesn't look too happy, though," Peking said.

"Which one's our waiter?"

"The one that looks like Gabby Hayes."

"Gabby Hayes? No way. Gabby was never that goddamn old."

The waiter walked slowly toward their table, pausing a moment to look at the jukebox and heave a heavy sigh.

"Hello. Welcome to Merl's," he said in a monotone. "Today's special is called the Chicky Spillane. It's a grilled breast of chicken, lightly marinted in raspberry viniagrette and garnished with alfalfa sprouts and watercress. It comes with pasta salad, of course. My name's Bottlenekk, and I'll be your goddamn server."

"I want to BUY this cute little place," Wanda said. "The whole thing. With every piece of furniture, every potpourri basket, and every single wall hanging."

"I'm sorry," the waiter said. "But the velvet painting of the dogs playing poker is absolutely not for sale."

 

 

FINIS

 

 

 

 

Oh, yeah. One more order of business. This novel needs a name.

Sec? That's your job.

(You didn't think you were going to weasel out of this without having write at least a couple more words, did you?)

* * * THE END * * *


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