Excerpt from THE COYOTE KINGS OF THE SPACE-AGE BACHELOR PAD

Chapter Five:

The Fanboys and the Lord of the Inferno

Punch him in the throat! Kick him in the nards!

–Children’s chant

Perhaps a lesser man would be perspiring now, gentle reader, but allow me to assure you that I, delightfully, am not. I’d estimate tonight’s temperature at a more than balmy twenty-six degrees Celsius, even with the breeze high atop this Rice Howard Way downtown sky-scraping parkade.

Yet my brow is dry and my underarm regions are models of Saharan decorum. My clothes are humble, yet defiantly gentlemanly in this age of trend-driven “grooviness” and “hipness.” I remain what I have always been.

Civilised.

A tie, a jacket, a clean white shirt, and a handkerchief. Ah, the decline of both the handkerchief and even the pronunciation of the word itself (“hangk’rchiff”… good heavens, what is a “chiff,” and why does it hanker?”) seems a strong metaphor for what is wrong with this world.

My colleagues, on the other palm, are of a decidedly different species. It’s hard for me to believe, at times, that we’re all the same age, plus or minus a year or two.

The mid-twenties have not been equally kind to our clan, least of all in the Bureau of Maturity and Cultivation. As my fellow merry men dance and strut atop this concrete aerie, billowing their chests with clouds of high-octane cannabis smoke and reptilian-brain testosterone vapour, the night-time distant scents of gasoline and eleven different brands of high-speed hamburger “food products” whirl about us and mingle with downtown tower lights.

We are face-to-knee with titans. And I sigh, realising that such a fact means that we are merely gnats.

Were I to start a file folder (not that I have need; my memory is nigh… dare I say… holographic?) of my young comrades, I suppose the title bar would read BIZARRELY GROOMED YOUNG MEN. At the edge of the wall, beyond which lies six storeys of air and the abyss, is our vehicle, lovingly named the FanVan.

Did I mention that my shag-tag team, my Magnificent Mollochs, my Fantastic Five, is called the FanBoys? Perhaps that would better justify our vessel’s nimble moniker (or our nimble vessel’s moniker).

They are arguing, again, as they do incessantly. Mr. Alpha Cat is wearing his absurd giant shiny red gauchos and absurd giant shiny red shirt, with his absurd fuzzy red hat turned absurdly backward and declaring the word “Kangol” to any who would look. He looks like a gigantic little boy.

Mr. Cat is as pale as a subterranean cave-crab, yet for whatever reason has chosen to ape the “style” and even the dialect of the West Indian negroes. It is his portable stereo, roughly the size of a Navy refrigerator, that is blaring the collected “Mr. Loverman” arias of one Mr. S. Ranks to the moon and the stars; my ear drums ceased their agonies some time ago, having finally shattered.

Yet somehow I manage to hear his argument with Mr. Zenko.

“…all mi sayin, all mi sayin, is yu don’introduce an den SOLVE di main charAKter’s mos’imPOtant CRISis in di damn PIlot, an expec fi geneREETE an entire SERIAL’s wort’ of epiSODES afta dat. DAT’S why Dyeep Speece Nine is raas….”

Why they continue to descant upon this topic exceeds my comprehension and my patience. Mr. Zenko, after all, is a dyed-in-the-rayon Next-Generation Trekker, who will defend any Paramount product until the end of our galaxy, and is very much the foe of Alpha Cat’s defection to the very much newer and as-yet unproven Babylon 5.

Of all the FanBoys, Mr. Zenko is the only one whose sartorial imperatives even approximate mine; he too wears crisp white shirts, although he contents himself with a white t-shirt underneath rather than a tie above; his dress slacks boast pleats sharp enough to lathe wood; his shoes are always polished enough to reflect laser light with only minimal refraction.

And zounds! his hair–it’s so lovingly coifed it seems carved by Michelangelo.

“Yeah, basically,” says Mr. Zenko, “it’s better to just drag out the ‘mysteries’ for five years with aliens who can’t speak in sentences–”

“What, yu talkin bout Kosh? Kosh can speak, e juss doesn’NEED to–”

“Plus those sophomoric computer graphics? It’s basically friggin Intellivision, dude! It’s an embarrassment! You’re never gonna upstage model photography on a Roger Corman budget–”

Then dear Frosty Gorkovski ceases fondling his ever-precious Minolta to enter the fray, frayed shutterbug cyberthug that he is. You’ll note him for his hair, which he bleaches to a cocaine white, then gels stiff into upright icicles. Frankly, it’s quite striking, if you’re a Jotar frost giant from Norse mythology. But it’s his argot, though, that is most strikingly him.

“Fer fuck’s sakes, Zenk, man, Babylon 5 does NOT look like Intellivision, man! Now you’re just talkin outta your crap-chute. That’s the best goddam effects on TV, man–Caesar, back me up here, all right?”

At last my squadron of subcutaneous subcretins seeks out the sole voice of reason. I clear my throat from demure noblesse oblige, and begin.

“I’m… afraid, Mr. Zenko, I must, well, that is to say… agree… with Mr. Frosty, insofar as… that, ah… you’re a little, uh, too quick, to… DISMISS, what is, well, surely–”

Frosty throws up his hands as if he is nutcracker to the moon. For a moment I fear he is set upon hurtling down his Minolta to bash in my tender brains.

“Caesar, shit! I know you’re on my side and everything, but d’you think you could finish your sentence this millennium, ya lil creep-fuck beaver-bot?”

“C’MON, Frossee…” booms a Mack Truck engine retarder voice, “lee Caesar lone.”

No one turns to look. It is the final and furriest member of our band, a coelacanth of sorts, or perhaps that’s inaccurate. A sasquatch, then, the missing link between apes and even larger apes. He is an adequate driver and a surprisingly effective cook, but unfortunately, diction and enunciation were not among the components when he was sewn together in Dr. Frankenstein’s discount surgery sweatshop.

Despite my astonishing memory, even I cannot recall his real name. He is called what he apparently has always been. The Mugatu. He continues: “‘s jss tryin to HELP–”

“Moog, did anyone ask you?”

“Frossee, c’mon, Frossee–”

“Moog, that’s Frosty, Fros-TY, not ‘FROSS SEA.’ Where’dja learn ta speak, Caveman School?”

I must intercede. “Now, uh, Mr. Frosty, ah… my good fellow–”

“SHUT UP, anyway, the point is is that B5’s CGI makes DS9 effects look like dick grease. They got space-battles better’n Jedi! Whadda you got–freakin Star Trash: Voyager? I mean, what tha fuck is that?

“Loss in Speece,” lilts Alpha Cat.

“Lost in My Anus is closer. ‘Where’s the Federation?’” he whimpers. “‘I don’t know, let’s just fly in a straight line until we run into some writers–’”

“Heyyyy… don’put down VOY-JER–

“Or what?” begs Frosty. “You’ll eat me?

“Shuh DUP–”

“–you shut up, ya fuckin no-talkin man-ape–”

“–YOO SHUH DUP–”

Any fear that fisticuffs will erupt are shattered by the bone-snapping sound of a certain cardoor opening and slamming shut on a certain car, and certain footfalls approaching us.

The SUV has been there all along. Its pilot, however, has apparently lost patience with my compatriots’ behaviour.

The FanBoys shut up and stand down.

While not the equal of The Mugatu’s six-foot, seven-inch musclery, the stature of our patron is nonetheless not to be trifled with. Long ago he was once half-back teammate to one of our former premiers on the once-great Edmonton Eskimos. Arguably his own success, though, has been greater, if more secret. And more terrible.

He glowers at us from across the tarmac. I am suddenly aware of my testicles slinking inside my nether regions, like snails retreating into their shells from an avalanche of salt.

In one hand he holds his cellular telephone; in the other, a bottle of Tums. He rattles the bottle, and again. And again. His lips twist into a cosine-wave of revulsion as he uncaps the bottle, shakes out a handful of stomach-balms, lifts his pot-roast-sized paw to his maw and crunches them down. I have no idea how he does it, but the grinding of his teeth sounds distinctly like the pop a knee makes when it dislocates.

His expression is terrifying.

He must hate Tums.

He takes another step towards us. We all quiver, as if imagining our fingerbones in the killing floor of his mouth.

He clears his throat with a rifle-cocking clank. “I… am trying… to conduct… business, you hellish geeks–”

His eyes stab us each. I examine the quality of work in my shoes and the floor that supports them.

“…which,” he resumes, “is very difficult when you are screaming, and yelling. It is now quiet time.”

Frosty jumps up, ever the school child too sadly devoid of impulse control.

“Yeah, but Mr. Allen, The Moog here–”

“WHAT PART of ‘SHUT UP’ did that Yugo brain of yours fail to PROCESS, ASS-PARTS?”

The Mugatu gloats; at least, I assume that is the reason for his smile; perhaps he has just consumed a hedgehog. Or perhaps he’s simply happy because the Master has just made another addition to his legendary “ass lexicon.”

Frosty leans against the railing, surrendered. Perhaps he realises that arguing is contra-indicated to preserving the structural integrity of his buttocks.

The Master turns back to his ambulatory telephone, and turns his back to us. “You sure it’s comin in tomorrow?” Pause. “You sure he doesn’t know we know?”

And far too quickly, my relatively quiet FanBoys forget their fear, teacher-out-of-the-room/junior-high-reprobates that they are. The Mugatu starts to snicker-laugh at Frosty, who in turn starts to “huck” refuse at him.

Alpha Cat whispers his plea, “Frosty, c’mon,” but is ignored as Mr. Zenko begins collaborating on ensuring our imminent punishment. “Zenk!” Alpha cat begs again.

There is a pause.

Then there is an explosion of throwing. I become aware of sudden blindness; there is, I believe, a day-old Tim Horton’s cherry-filled powdered doughnut lodged in the region of my face I usually employ for sight.

Sudden silence. I attempt to restore my dignity. As I scoop cherry jam from my eye-wells, like the blindman healed by Christ’s spittle-and-mud, Mr. Dulles Allen, our master, who has been dismissed pithily but unfairly as one-third Archie Bunker, one-third Oliver North, and one-third The Incredible Hulk, with his “Rush is Right” gold lapel pin reflecting light like a torch in the mines of Mordor, commands our attention.

“Alpha Cat.”

“Yessuh, Mistah Allen, suh!”

“You sure Digaestus Caesar saw what you said he said he saw?”

Alpha Cat looks at me, beaming pride. “Mi’d steek ‘is liyfe on it, suh.”

“Then it’s time to get your little crew of ass-tongs in gear. You got a job.”

Mr. Allen hands Alpha Cat a folded piece of paper, returns to his SUV, starts the engine.

Alpha Cat: “FaanBwoyys, assemble!”

Mr. Allen puts down his telephone, opens a briefcase on the passenger side. I am standing close enough to him to see his wedding ring glitter from reflected Scotia Place lights as he sorts through his equipment: vials, zippered plastic bags, spoons, razors. An iron attachment for his fist, featuring reverse shark-fins atop each of the knuckles. Pliers. A small icepick. A book whose title I cannot read in this light. A hand-held steel device I believe should be classified as a light cannon, or perhaps a rib remover.

While I dawdle dangerously, my comrades are obeying Alpha Cat’s command, clanking open their own equipment cases and arsenals. Their demeanour is transformed utterly; they are become a M*A*S*H unit of grand theft. What a splendid description, like a Victorian tea, or a tour of the Forbidden City: Grand theft. And when the time necessitates it, the object of such theft is life.

My only preparation is internal; the focussing of the mechanism of my mind. Me–the human spectroscope, the living MRI.

Mr. Allen beckons me with a grunt; I trot over, accept my biscuit.

“Buncha slacker sociopaths from hell,” he grumbles. “But at least you’re my sociopaths, ya lil shits.”

“Uh, yessir, ah, Mister, ah, Allen….”

I eat my biscuit.

My mouth releases a moan; I sigh as the chalkiness assaults my throat, shudder as my stomach accepts the agonising entrance. It is gastronomical rape.

When my REM finally stills and I’ve wiped the tears from my eyes and the drool from my chin, I see Mr. Allen staring at me, disgust as stark upon his face as a soak of urine upon a plush white carpet.

He closes his briefcase of pain.

I don’t think he is talking to me, but he states clearly as he starts his engine, “If that lousy fuck… thinks he can CHEAT ME… after all I’ve done for him… and all he’s done to me… then he’d better lick his nuts goodbye.”

He drives off.

We begin our mission for the night.