My Brief Time Undercover As Dan O'Brien (Among Others)
Ah, Santa Monica. The Big Monica. It's a beach town; you may have seen it going kablooie in Emmerich's latest silver screen shit-pile. On the Tuesday in question, it was the kind of town that made you wish you weren't chained to your desk, by way of a dead-end job writing copy for some online gag outfit and a penchant for the bottle that emptied your pockets as quickly as the bottle emptied your stomach. If you're me, that is.Name's Swaim. I'm an alcoholic that can't hold his liquor, and if you thought that was funny, you're going to love the one about go fuck yourself.But back to Santa. And also, Monica. It was aptly named: beautiful, magical, but with a sleazy side, like Santa Clause boning Monica from Friends, and maybe they're using handcuffs or whips or something. I filed the mental image away for later translation into an acoustic guitar ballad.Yes, the ol' S&M...it stretched out before me, glass buildings and cresting waves shining in black and white, all film noir-ishly. It was my town. I was me, there, in the town.But the town had not been kind, of late. Neither had The Town, which I'd found engaging, but ultimately a letdown considering the talent involved. I was broke, drunk, thus vomiting constantly, and spent my days holed up in my office when there was perfectly good beach-tail going to waste. I recoiled from the thought, and took another stroll down memory lane, a belt of rye my tour guide.Like a cassette tape worn thin, my brain cast itself by habit back to better days, Agents of Cracked days. I'm not sure if that's how cassettes work, so the simile might not hold, but you get the point. I missed the show. I missed
What's happening to me?I lurched around my office, seeking some kind of exit. I needed to get out, get help. All I could see was a door cryptically labeled "tixE ycnegremE," which I ignored both violently and forever. I felt a sickening wrenching sensation in my gut, like I'd eaten a sick wrench, but not the one I always feel right before vomiting. This was something new. Something different. You have to figure out what's happening to you, you think.Wait, "you?" Why are you saying "you?" Wait, are you...you? Oh, shit, Michael, not only have you transitioned from past tense to present, you've changed from a first-person to second-person narrator!
After taking a moment to absorb this shocking and intangible philosophical abstraction, you try to retrace your steps. What could have caused this? Then it hits you: The rye! You vomit violently. Then it hits you, but in the sense that you come to a realization: The rye!Taking the pint glass of rye very carefully from your inside coat pocket, you notice the tell-tale of powdered sediment at the bottom. For the fiftieth time that day, you regret not buying a new flask. Before you can regret it for the fifty-first time, you collapse under the weight of the drug, struggling to maintain your grip on reality. Someone has hooked the sun to a dimmer switch and is spinning it wildly. As you slide into a drug-fueled stupor of hallucination and full-body shakes, the last cogent part of your brain finally recognizes the nasty tang of the pill playing a pick-up game of basketball with your consciousness. It's acrid and thick, the smoke from a trash fire caught in the waxed tips of a bushy mustache.
Jack, you think, that bastard. It was one thing to slip a man a Mickey, but to slip your own writer a Brockway? The drug had been outlawed in all of the good states for years now.You need to find out what Jack's up to. But first, you need to get these drugs out of your system, or at the very least party hard enough that they don't go to waste. And above all else, you've still got a column to write.Right now, you're cheekbone-deep in a puddle of sick, and the good news is you're lying on your side, most likely because your legs seem to have swapped brains buddy comedy-style, and they're not quite sure what to make of these strange new leg-bodies. "Fuck you, legs," you encourage, but to no avail. You, Michael Swaim, who've made a career out of standing in various places, cannot now stand of your own accord. You're filled with the drunken rage and frustration of a thousand whiskey-dicked sophomores. Luckily, just then, a rainbow-feathered emurangutan appears."Are you a drug-induced hallucination?" you ask it."No," it says in every language to ever be spoken in the universe, all at once."Oh, okay."The creature scoops you off of the floor with its muscular orangutan arms and places you gently onto its curved emu-esque neck. It sprints forward, into a wormhole of pulsating light, and you wonder idly if rainbow-bird is a good eating meat. "Well," it quacks, picking lice from your hair, "where to?" That's when you notice the strange buttons embedded in its back.
I gained speed, going faster and faster until everything was as blurry as Amy Winehouse is dead and a drug addict. When I finally slowed, my surroundings had given way to a bleak hellscape. Looking down, I realized that I was now riding a broken and sagging mare, and that my first-person P.O.V., at least for the moment, had returned. "Oy," I said, pulling back on the reins and bringing the poor creature to a stop next to a gray stream. As it bent to drink, another horse approached and watered next to mine. It bore a rider, as slumped and weary-looking as the hero of the eponymous
You jam your fisty hand onto the button marked "MS," and immediately hear mechanical whirring inside the body of the beast beneath you."This isn't a sex thing, right?" you ask, already mentally preparing for either answer. Instead, the emurangutan stops abruptly in front of a door. The door is totally nondescript, the dictionary definition of the word "door" made manifest. The door is boring as shit.You sigh loudly, as if to say "hey, let's put a movie on, something." Your steed remains in place. The ethereal lights around you seem to focus on the doorway.Ignoring them, you nudge the bird with your heels. Nothing happens."So what, I go in the door?"The thing appears to no longer want to talk to you. Also, it now has the face of Ronald Reagan, so you decide to go ahead and scramble for the fucking door like a maniac. Finding that your legs work just fine under the dead-eyed gaze of the Gipper, you put hand to knob, make like a junior high handjob, and twist...
As soon as you do the thing you just did, you hear the whistling cry of an eerie wind, like a dog that is scared and with good lung capacity. A shadow blacker than night and colder than night falls over you, chilling your heart to the heart-core. You know, the cockles. Your mouth is filled with the taste of yogurt-covered raisins and death. "Who-who's there?" you ask, feeling that this would be an appropriate thing to ask at this point. Your only answer is the howl of the wind, and then the howl of a wolf, and then the howl of a lighting bolt striking. In the sudden light, you see that you've been transported into a castle keep, ancient and moss-lined. You're allergic to moss, so this is only getting scarier for you. A voice wafts out of a dark hallway and forces itself into your ear-hole, lubed with a spooky echo. "Whooo intruuudes upon these saaacred chaaambers?" "My name's Michael. I'm trying to write a column for my boss, but I can't because of the drugs my boss gave me," you say, but with stuttering, because of the fright. "I seeeee," comes the voice, "caaall me Aaadolf Hiiitlerrr." Oh no! It's then that you realize the castle you've apparated into is none other than that of the FÃ¼hrer himself! With a clack of boots clacking, Hitler steps into the room. He's got on his signature stovepipe hat with the swastika, so there's no mistaking it's him. You sneeze because of the moss. "Gesuuundheit," he says. He
You hop off the bird-thing, and the ground kindly reminds you of how little your legs work and what it feels like to try and dig a hole with your face. Spitting blood and chipped teeth, you kick wildly at the only creature that's shown you an ounce of kindness since this madness began. The bird-ape weeps a single sapphire tear, flaps its iridescent wings, and monkey-paws down the fire escape. Congratulations, you're even a prick when you're high. YOU LOSE. I don't even feel like finishing. Fuck you.
With a supreme effort, you drag your mutinous body to the edge of the escape and peer down at the two-story abyss below. The chemicals coursing through your every cell tell you that you're looking at a beautiful swimming pool full of chicks with drinks and self-esteem problems, but you know the grim truth: all that's down there are the office dumpsters, and the chicks you're imagining are probably just homeless people in bikinis. You make peace with the only God you've ever believed in - God - and list forward. But as you fall, your vision begins to change. Where once there was a pool, there's now a shimmering portal. Where once there were homeless chicks, there's now just more of the portal I mentioned. As you fall towards the magic hole in reality, you realize there's something odd about the light pulsing from the other side. Something...
THEY ARE DELICIOUS. END OF FUCKING STORY.
Tired of this madcap drugstravaganza, and very possibly this column, you decide to settle into the reassuringly stable life of a Staples employee. The months pass in relative calm.Though you manage the back-to-school section with ruthless Machiavellian tactics, Herbie continues to beat you out for Employee of the Month time and again. Finally, distraught, you make a deal with a spooky witch you know to curse him in such a way that he does less well at his Staples job.Herbie's ensuing fuckups at work ultimately lead to his dismissal from the Staples family, and he's found dead a week later, wrists slit in a bathtub full of floating "Easy" buttons. Overcome with remorse, you demand the witch set things right. Enraged by your questioning of her methodology, she raises her witch-wand with a flourish and blasts you with a spooky spell!
You die. You are dead. There's no link back to your previous place, because you've made a choice that can't be un-made (without hitting the back button on your browser). Blind monks burn your corpse on a moonless night next to an abattoir, so God can neither smell nor see the disgrace you've brought on your people. Also the column didn't get done, so I guess you're fired. And you're me? God, this was a confusing mess.THE END. YOU LOSE THIS GAME AND LIFE.
I bucked my horse with the fury of a thousand dreidels, sending Adze tumbling into the dirt. "Hey!" she screamed, clearly attracted to me because of my resemblances to her father. It's kind of sad, really, but I'm used to it by now.She said some other stuff, but I was already galloping away, farklempt in the knowledge that I'd brought a mitzvah upon this shikseh. And a mohel with shpilkes mishpocheh in the plotz-shmendrik, no less!YOU HAVE SUCCUMBED TO THE PURE EROTIC ALLURE OF YIDDISH. THE END.
We didn't do it for the recognition, Adze and I. Save the entire universe and all of the babies in it, I mean. No, we did it because we just couldn't feel right having sex unless we had. So we did it, by walking around and talking to people until eventually discovering the solution. After that, it was as simple as applying the solution to the obstacle we'd faced in the first place! As for our personal differences, hey, we got some counseling, I bought a Porsche, we got over it, I returned the Porsche, no big whoop. And now the universe's babies were safe, and we were free to frolic like it was prom night and we'd both had one too many Manischewitz-and-champagnes. I couldn't complain. Adze stroked my grizzled chin. We lay in a post-coital glow, listening to Velvet Underground records in the lean-to we'd set up as a summer vacation home for when the radiation levels were high in the East. "So, that's anal," I said. "I'm not going to lie; not that great." "Wow," Adze said. "Wow, sorry. I'm sorry that wasn't great for you. Sticking your penis painfully into my butt; I'm sorry that wasn't as awesome as you'd hoped." God, she was so funny and into me. We got tons of recognition, as well, which I should have mentioned. Before all was said and done with the universe-saving, Facebook had been converted into a religion centered around my updates. Lying there with Adze, I made a mental note to post something about how the anal hadn't been that good. Yes, I thought, my people would sleep well to know that. It would bring them a measure of peace in these troubled times. I had reached the peak of accomplishment, allure, power and influence, and my followers could take me anywhere I wanted to go. All I had to do was will it.
Where was I? Oh, that's right, passed out in a little spot the locals like to call Puddle Of Vomit, population: chunks. Of course, that was far from the worst P.O.V. I'd become acquainted with recently. Pulling my head back together like the pieces of an errant post-Gallagher cantaloupe, I found the spinning and insensible darkness had given way to a more moderate set of symptoms: intense pain and screaming. So I grooved on that for a while, then finally decided to go and wash the sun-caked vomit off of my face when the tremors died down enough to allow for locomotion. I strode into my private bathroom to find the medicine cabinet already open. Bad sign.