I can feel the walls closing in, feel their primitive technologies driving them to invade my personal space, sharpening their death-inducing spikes, weeping over my nuclear microwave and emotion-suppressing spike I throw into a pit of ravenous gators, shoot a grappling hook at the ceiling and knock a hole into it with a puncher, lift myself to the next floor...young, clean, community college, fedora-wearing, telemarketing investment banker type banana helps me up. I am evidently its idea of a lucrative financial opportunity.
The amateur archeologist wants to come on hip...Talks about "golden idols," and getting high off curses now and then, and keeps some around to offer the fast racecar driver types.
"Thanks, chiquita," I say, "I can see you're one of us." Its peel lights up like a self-immolating monk.
"Never liked walls much. Always getting in my way. The ones down there are due for a metamucil shot.
"Ever see a metamucil shot, chiquita? I saw The Tarzan Kid catch one in Liberia. We trapped him in the monkey house and charged a pouch of Hannukah gelt to watch it. Cut with metamucil and the junk is too gooey to be cooked with anything but a nuclear microwave. That's why I like to carry one on my head. The Tarzan Kid didn't have the financial means. Tried to shoot up the goo but his rig looked like a sticky foot. His veins weren't having it. Had to vacuum the china white with his nose. Stopped to pick the goobers out every two seconds. The zoo visitors pointed and laughed at the disgusting habit. He shot diarrhea out of his sinuses for two weeks. Passed the time by carrying a monkey on his back and trying to suicide himself with vines. Only succeeded at swinging back and forth across the enclosure. Probably cursed the day he aaaaa-aaaa-aaaa-aaa-ed into my ear wishing he was "high" enough to know better.
"Recollect when I am traveling with Complainer, worst fella to get stuck with in the galaxy. We is working the artifacts at a Mayan ruin. One night he turns to me and says: 'I can feel the walls closing in, feel their primitive technologies driving them to invade my personal space...Hated that the first time I read it. But the only other stories I could get my mitts on made my brain drip in ennui. So I read it again. And again. And again. Still hated it. But there was something about it. Something that kept me coming back. To give it another chance. Twenty times in and I loved it. Felt like it was written especially for me. Was nonsense before but it made more sense than any other story. Over ten years later and I read it again. Felt like I was reading it for the first time. Felt like I was our pal The Rube. Like the I can feel the walls closing in guy was pulling a con. I yanked the wool out of my eyes. Smelled like it hadn't been washed in a decade plus.'
"So I says: 'Since when you concerned with personal hygiene?'
"He just looks at me and says: 'Fill your hand stranger' and yanks a rocket launcher out of his anus and I hightailed it out of there, rockets decimating the walls of history. And he goes to a cafe and sends his meal back forty-seven times before the fuzz nail him. I mean the Complainer earned his moniker.
"Ever notice how much slang carries over from archeologists to women's studies professors? Like 'boopiting,' letting someone inject your eye yolk into their iris.
"Stomp on him!
"Stomp the Lethological Kid giving that mark the scalp shine.
"Smooth Operator whittling him down to the skull.
"The Cherubic Kid say: 'Once I swiped The Screecher's commemorative spoonful and threw it in a pot of boiling water. He didn't want to waste the shot. Gave his spike a helping of the boiling water. Only thing it did was turn his insides al dente. Went back for seconds. And thirds. Kept sending the plunger down towards his veins over the next couple o' months. Water level in the pot went down slowly. Organs turned to rancid pasta. Got bored with his arm and gave his foot a turn. Hit something vital to his walking capabilities. Had to hobble on one leg to the stove. Didn't even realize he was junk sick the whole time. Called it my spaghetti cure. Sold it to Doctor Benway. Walked in while he was shredding evidence. Made him jumpy. Accidentally cut a few strips outta his patient's brain. Interested in what would happen if he stitched them back in the wrong place. Patient woke up thinking he was a panda ice cream spatula. A life altering experience that.'
"Well," I said, tapping the hieroglyphics, "duty calls. As one loathsome specimen said to another: 'Don't do anything I wouldn't do except repeat my advice over and over again til it loses all meaning.'
I hear a rumble and shimmy to the side of the chamber. A giant boulder makes pancake out of the banana as the fruit pretends hideous laughter.
Swell. One less ripe imposter to get between me and my prize: a ceramic pot. The swellest ceramic pot on this scorched planet. I'm always telling Igor at the hock shop: 'Don't pay me in money. I can't shoot money.' If the legends are true, I'll never have to see his pox-ridden face again. They say the temple's ceramic pot contains a limitless supply of H. I could give up thieving and live it up in Morocco. Maybe settle down with an Arab boy named Kiki. Sell a bundle or two to pay for a white picket fence.
Goddam. Wish I hadn't stepped on that stone. Goddam. Bug-eyed creature pops outta a basket: "It's a trap!" Watch the stone descend, looking like a primitive elevator for holy rats. Makes a sound like polished slabs of concrete scrapping against each other. I hear it in my nightmares. A Mugwump statue shoots a legion of arrows into my chest. Hope I can find the ceramic pot before I need to scream... nope.
Bradley Sands wrote a novel called It Came from Below the Belt. He edits a literary journal called Bust Down the Door and Eat All the Chickens. He maintains a website called www.bradleysands.com.