Home > Doomed (Damned #2)(7)

Doomed (Damned #2)(7)
Chuck Palahniuk

In jarring contrast, everyone’s beaming. You’ve never seen so many people so happy. The guests, the concierges, the doormen, they wear the faces of joyous potty-mouthed children. As they glance at one another, theirs are the guileless, loving eyes of Renaissance cherubs gazing in adoration upon the Christ child. The desk clerk greets us with a smile so broad it suggests she’s paid by the tooth. Her eyes shine with genuine rapture as she says, “How was your butt-fucking, dick-sucking stay, Mr. City?”

Crescent returns the rapturous smile, saying, “Fucking great, f*ck you, you cunt lapper.”

The clerk confirms that his room is being billed to Camille and Antonio Spencer. She accepts his room key and pleasantly asks, “It looks like your shit-eating car and jungle-bunny driver are waiting. Can I help you with any bullshit fu**ing, queer-bait thing else?”

“No, thank you,” says Crescent. He shoves a hand into the front pocket of his tattered jeans and drags out some paper money. Between his drug-trembling fingers is a hundred-dollar bill. He folds this under his nose and blows it full of snot as if it were a tissue. Crescent hands this revolting cash across the desk to the clerk, telling her, “Why don’t you finger this up your backside?”

Her smile couldn’t be brighter as the clerk accepts the money and says, “I’ll see you in Heaven, shit-for-brains.”

“Kike,” Crescent says gaily as he turns to leave.

Her voice trilling like a bird, the clerk calls after him, “Have a nice day, you butt-sucking turd.”

A smiling bellman holds open the street door, tipping his cap smartly and bidding us, “Suck it, you stinking crap sandwich.”

Crescent City palms the kid another snot-smeared C-note.

At the curb, a uniformed chauffeur holds open the door of a gleaming Town Car and asks, “To the airport, Mr. Jizz Guzzler?” The chauffeur is, as the desk clerk mentioned, of African descent. They shake hands amiably.

Settling himself in the backseat, Crescent says, “Yes, the domestic terminal, please, my porch-monkey friend.”

Their bubbly, laughing conversation continues in this wretched vein all the way to the curb at the airport. No one takes offense. No slur seems to be off-limits. Even the people we drive past, walking on the sidewalks, seated in other cars, they all smile blissfully, as if immune to insults. If they catch Crescent’s eye they smile and flip him a middle finger. The honking horns are deafening. The toothy smiles are blinding. Everyone is gloriously Heaven-bound, but only if they swear sufficiently.

Behind the wheel, the driver sneaks out a cloud of intestinal foulness, instantly filling the car with the fetid reek of his stagnant entrails.

“Good one!” Crescent City says, inhaling deeply. “The angel Madison must really love you.”

“It’s the smell of salvation, brother,” replies the driver. “Breathe it up!”

In the airport terminal we pass a newsstand. The headline on the cover of Newsweek says, “A Rude Religious Revolution: The Boorists Have Arrived!” Time magazine announces: “The %&!?//$ Road to Redemption.” On a television monitor mounted near the ceiling of the concourse a CNN news presenter says, “Boorists now claim their messiah has been resurrected.…”

As we walk toward our gate of departure, my chubby ham-hock legs hurry to keep pace with his long, zombie stride. Loping along, of course he can’t hear me, not while he’s sober, but he maintains a steady patter. To everyone in the airport he must look like an untreated schizophrenic, his not-clean shirt flapping open and untucked. Not that anyone seems upset by the sight of a lunatic dressed in rags yammering to himself. No, now that humanity is assured a permanent seat at the right hand of God, they’re grinning with glee. Their eyes are misted with righteousness.

“Your timing, little dead girl, could not have been better,” says Crescent. “We have bullshit laws about driving sober and laws about always wearing shoes and not owning giant boa constrictors, only we didn’t have laws about the most important stuff: getting saved.” He says, “People were starving to know those rules.”

This new religion, Boorism, makes death look like an all-expenses-paid luxury vacation that lasts until the end of time.

“You created world peace! Nobody’s a g*y anymore, or a Jew or a person from Africa,” he rants, forging ahead. “Look at us! We’re all ‘Boors’!”

It’s simple, explains Crescent City. My parents staged a massive publicity campaign to announce that their dead daughter had contacted them from beyond the grave. They told the world that I was now an angel in Heaven, rubbing elbows with the Kennedy brothers and Amy Winehouse, and I had bestowed upon them a fail-safe, surefire blueprint for attaining salvation. They issued a blitz of press releases to blab that I was within the pearly gates, riding a cloud and strumming a harp. Ridiculous as this sounds, this is the milieu of Camille and Antonio.

“Boorism isn’t the real name for our faith,” Crescent says. “That’s just a phony label the media vultures invented to pigeonhole us. Officially we refer to ourselves as apostles of Madlantis.”

Realistically I can’t slight my folks for getting so excited. Their previous theology of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” must’ve offered scant emotional comfort in the face of their only child being killed on her birthday. Yes, I expired on my birthday in an erotic-asphyxiation scenario that shames me to revisit here.

This is the death of angst. Forget Nietzsche. Forget Sartre. Existentialism is dead. God has been resurrected, and people have a road map for attaining glorious immortality. In Boorism, everyone who’d abandoned religion now has a path by which to return to God, and that feels … great. Just look at their strolling, patient gaits. In light of this new salvation, mortal life feels like the final day of school.

It’s not the threat of Hell or jail or societal shunning that’s brought this bliss. It’s the complete assurance of paradise. It makes the inevitability of death shine like a final cosmic Friday preceding an infinite party weekend in Mazatlán.

As we wait in the jetway, Crescent says, “In Heaven the first thing I’m getting myself is a new liver. And a new body, and hair like I used to have.” Clutching his boarding pass, he says, “I swear, once I’m in Heaven I’m never touching drugs. Never again.”

“Amen,” a voice says. It’s a woman standing behind us in line. She’s shouldering a tote bag and thumbing the buttons of a PDA as she says, “In Heaven I’m eating steak and fries for every meal, and I’m still never weighing more than one hundred fifteen, maximum.”

“Amen,” says another voice waiting in line.

“In Heaven,” says another voice, farther back in the jetway, “I’m going to reestablish contact with my kids and give them the kind of father those good kids deserve.”

“Hallelujah!” someone shouts. Several “Praise bes” echo in the narrow jetway space. With that, everyone in line volunteers his or her aspirations for eternity.

“After I go to be with God, I’m going to finish high school.”

“My car in Heaven is going to be bigger than anything you’ve ever seen.”

“When I die, I’m asking for a dick bigger than your car!” someone spits.

Aboard the plane, in the first-class section, Crescent City finds our seats. He says, “You want the window or the aisle? I bought two tickets.” He waits as if for me to choose. “I’ll be right back,” he says, and goes up to the toilet.

I take the window. The flight attendant makes an announcement. “As we prepare for takeoff, please fasten your fu**ing seat belts and make sure your cocksucking seat backs are in the full upright and locked position.…” The passengers laugh and applaud. Before the flight crew has finished its safety announcement, the familiar translucent form of Crescent City’s spirit comes walking back down the airplane aisle and takes the aisle seat next to mine. His body must be near overdosed on ketamine, still occupying the locked toilet cubicle.

Watery, clear like a prism, but suggesting every color in the spectrum, the ghost smiles at me and says, “I can’t wait to be an angel like you.” At the front of the cabin, the flight crew is knocking, soon pounding at the locked bathroom door. Oblivious, Crescent’s ghost asks me, “So, what was Heaven really like?”

DECEMBER 21, 8:43 A.M. EST

An Abomination Is Born

Posted by [email protected]

And what became of the latex thing-baby abandoned in the storm? In the account given by Solon, the Egyptian priests sang that the miniature idol will gradually come to be alive. Smeared with lipstick and chocolate, its body will circulate with the cooled seed expressed by a stranger.

And not for long does our soiled harbinger baby linger on the pink star beside Hollywood Boulevard, for the wind catches it and bears it a distance. The Greek statesman writes that the foul waters in the gutter collect and carry the babe. The tiny graven image, bloated with breath, faceless, it’s borne along in the company of drowned rats and bloated strays. These the gutters of Hollywood channel underground. And the subterranean sewers of Los Angeles guide the little idol and introduce it to wayward bleach bottles and spent ketchup bottles. The storm-water tunnels and the weirs manage this flood of plastic discards, this downward migration of polystyrene. And the thing-baby ventures forth on the flood, not in a basket woven of rushes, but attended to by legions of used syringes. And swaddled in dry-cleaning bags it journeys among this flotsam of toothless combs and escaped tennis balls. They all flock together, routed through buried pipes and sunless catch basins. Swimming here are the mysterious ghost shapes of blister-packaged objects, those plastic cauls of products long ago given birth by consumers. And thus becomes the fate of all worldly treasures. And in due time the little thing-baby and all these earthly rewards, the immortal leavings of mortal humans, these are poured into the ditch of the Los Angeles River.

The way turtle hatchlings are baited by the moon’s light, and each generation of salmon is compelled to find their destiny … so, too, will our thing-baby and its soiled host of man-made fragments be lured. A receding tide compels this entire generation of shapeless, useless castoffs to venture forth into the Pacific Ocean.

DECEMBER 21, 8:44 A.M. EST

A Sexual Predator in the Animal Kingdom

Posted by [email protected]

Gentle Tweeter,

Not to boast, but no adult mind could ever be as depraved, as perverted as that of an innocent eleven-year-old virgin. Before one absorbs the boring facts about reproductive anatomy, while still free of tact and mechanical knowledge, children can envision sexual goings-on with sea urchins … zebras … flamingos.

As a predead girl I dreamed of giving birth to babies with wings. I would seduce a porpoise and our offspring would swim across oceans. Puberty enticed me with the possibility that my own children could roar with the huge heads of lions or run on hoofed feet. Why no one had done this before, who knew? I couldn’t wait.

Inspired by my stuffed menagerie, my diary grew fat with such carnal hijinks. Needless to say these adventures, they were all fictional. I’d only invented them and carefully put pen to paper in meticulous handwriting for my mother’s inevitable consumption. “Dear Diary,” I’d write, “today I daubed hallucinogenic jellyfish toxin on my exposed woo-woo.…”

In response to CanuckAIDSemily, yes, I could’ve started a blog, but my plan would be effective only if my parents believed I was hiding the details of my sordid vices. “Dear Diary,” I’d write, “Mother must never know, but today I sipped the most divine absinthe using a dried monkey dingus as a drinking straw.…” I’d shelved the imaginative diary among the Regency potboilers on my crammed bookshelves, and not a week after my initial entry my parents began their hostile spying.

Not that they announced their campaign. I merely guessed as much because, apropos of nothing, during breakfast conversation my mother mentioned that sucking on monkey ding-dings was an excellent high-risk practice for contracting HIV.

“Really?” I asked, nibbling my toast, secretly thrilled to know she’d taken my bait. “Does that go for all monkey ding-dings?” I licked the butter from my stubby fingertips, asking, “Does that include the Saimiri sciureus?”

My father sputtered his coffee. “The what?”

“The adorable squirrel monkey,” I said. My eyelashes fluttered. A coquettish blush suffused my cheeks.

My father said, “Why do you ask?”

And in response I shrugged. “No reason.” At that age I was so obsessed with monkeys that I wanted to marry one. College would come first, of course, but after I graduated with my degree in comparative postmodern marginalized gender studies I wanted to become mommy to a cuddly monkey baby.

My parents exchanged pained looks.

“What about the enticingly thick ding-ding of the Callithrix pygmaea?” I asked. I spread the buttered fingers of one hand and counted them off as if remembering past trysts. “The pygmy marmoset?”

My mother gave a long sigh and asked my father, “Antonio?”

one eyebrow arched as if to demand, What went on at the Tiergarten, mister? They were both loath to impose restrictions on my behavior, but clearly some acts needed to be declared off-limits. Nevertheless, after all the free-love ideology they’d thrown at me, the most they could counsel was that I engage only in safer-sex practices, no matter what the species. Smiling wanly, my mom asked, “Would you like a Xanax, sweetheart?”

“What about …,” I asked, pretending anxiety, “Chloropithecus aethiops?” Indeed, my father had taken me to the Berlin Zoo the previous month, and the outing had made for an excellent research opportunity.

The curdled expression semidistorting my mom’s Botox-saturated features was the exact one she made at the Oscars when Tom Cruise was given a Lifetime Achievement Award, just moments before she leaned over and upchucked into Goldie Hawn’s A-list swag bag, ruining a small fortune in pricey chocolates and Gucci sunglasses.

At best they could gift me with a multispecies set of variously sized disposable condoms and deliver a lecture about demanding respect from my simian sex partners.

From that point I knew they would never fess up to reading my diary. However, now that I was exposed as an eleven-year-old sexual sociopath they would always be forced to read it. They couldn’t risk not reading my diary, and through my calculated faux-confessions I could manipulate them. They were my slaves.

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