Chapter 40

Now the best public toilets in the world are air conditioned and tastefully decorated. They are softly lit and impeccably clean and sweet-smelling. They have big clear mirrors over big shiny basins, and gleaming pipes and taps. They have spotless lavatory bowls with seats aromatically buffed up between sittings by efficient attendants. There's gentle music to make you all wistful and warm inside, and vases of flowers to put you in mind of the outdoors. All in all they are pretty pleasant places to pass a few minutes in, and one or two other things besides.

   The corrugated shed next to Slim's Roadside Diner wasn't one of the best public toilets in the world. It stank like crazy and had a piss-puddle floor and a single discoloured bowl topped with an old horseshoe-shaped wooden seat with a deep crack in which new life was stirring. The mechanism that operated the ancient overhead cistern had been vandalized eight months earlier, which meant that the man who ran the gas station and diner and did the cooking had to empty the toilet personally every few days. This he did with a small shovel called a shit shovel and a small pan called a shit pan, and he would have washed his hands before cracking open the eggs and dropping the burgers on the griddle, he really would, if it hadn't kept slipping his mind. As it was now four days since the toilet had been emptied, maybe five, the unflushable bowl was over half full of what looked like regurgitated moussaka. This was fine with the flies that were feasting on it. They knew what they liked.

   On closing the door of Slim's Can, George read a few lines from a review of a Stephen Sondheim revival on one of the ten inch squares of old New York Times jammed onto a bent nail in the wall, chuckled at the cartoon alongside it, then tugged his pants down to just below the knee. As he lowered himself onto the life-enhanced seat the flies below leapt skyward, eager to touch base with the latest set of light-reducing boulders. It was one of the great mysteries of the flies' universe that these boulders always came in twos – never in ones, never threes – but it wasn't possible to know everything. Reaching the latest twin-set, the flies flipped over so their feet could get a good grip among the forest of curly hairs, and strutted about upside down dipping into yesterday's smorgasbord, mouths watering in anticipation of the fresh course that experience told them was soon to come.

   And then – Spluk! Spluk! Spluk! – and down they went, pouncing upon the new consignment, sticking their little heads in it, rolling in it, yumming it happily. The general consensus was that this was one of the richest in weeks. Lots of terrific fatty substances to lard into the leg and body hairs for later snacking, and for sucking up in their probosces and disgorging and reswallowing over and over. (Meals always seemed to improve the third, fourth, fifth time around.) The flies tucked in gleefully, jumping out of the way every so often to make way for another portion, on which they jumped while it was still warm, carrying smidgens of it back up to the boulder forest from whence it came and buzzing contentedly together. It was a real extended family picnic.

   And the liquor, when it came, was a heck of a vintage.

When a bomb goes off under his bed, impoverished 23 year old philosophy graduate Samson O'Christ is blown out of his window above a Cambridge joke shop. Waking from a coma four weeks later in Washington DC, he's given a mission by his filthy-rich Trumpian father to travel into a rather backward part of rural America in his hospital wheelchair and buy off the blackmailing mother of a half brother he didn't know he had until now. Some way into his journey, Samson finds that he can get by without the wheelchair and ditches it in favour of a bus, intending to alight at the town of Orifice in Areola County. Unfortunately, he sleeps through his stop, and that's when things really start to go wrong.

See two short extracts below.

Chapter 43

It was Eurin Krapp's fault. Eurin Krapp was a big name country music star and George had just found him on the radio. George loved Krapp. What he loved about him was that he was a whining caterwauling self-pitying sonofabitch in a big stupid hat who sang about beatin' hearts and huggin' and reachin' out and canoodlin' with his baby at the Honeymoon Hotel, without ever actually mentioning what his songs were really about, which was fuckin'.

     Eurin Krapp, hailing originally from Flushing, New York, started his climb to stardom three years earlier when, with his backing combo The Eurinators (later renamed The Krapp Artists), he put out his first album, simply called Eurin Krapp. His second album, Eurin Krapp 2, picked up some good reviews in the country music press and fans of the genre started to sit up and take notice. When he brought out an album of self-penned numbers titled Pure Krapp, Eurin was made. It went straight to the top of the country charts and suddenly he was on the Grand Ole Opry every other weekend, showing his dazzling double deck of perfectly crowned teeth and slapping backs and swapping scripted cornball jokes and joshing with all the other tasselled, sparkly, stupid-hatted pluckers like he'd been born to it.

     And now his latest was being played everywhere. His latest was a live album, recorded on tour, entitled Krapp on the Road. It was one of the whining caterwauling self-pitying sonofabitching numbers from Krapp on the Road that George was singing along with as they approached the Areola County line. He hadn't heard this one before so he sang different words and a different tune, but he still thought it was great. As the six-hour fadeout began, George, not wanting to miss a single bum note or ya-hoo, took his eyes off the road to seek the volume button – a mistake, because the very moment he did this was the same very moment that the Chevy's unburst front tyre made contact with the broken bottle that had been sitting there all morning hoping some brainless cunt like George would come along and make its existence worthwhile.

   There was an unassuming little explosion and the car swerved one last time in order to smack into a blue dumpster crammed with cell phones and George took off vaguely skyward, leaving the stuntmobile to flip windshield over axle and land upside down in the field beside the road. Samson missed George's unscripted departure, being somewhat preoccupied by his own revised position, on his back beneath the vehicle, pinned by the dash panel that had come away, and further restrained by a loose brake cable round his ankle. The one part of him that he could move with grace was his head, so he turned it a little to the left to read the sign beside the dumpster the car had struck.





If there was one small mercy in all this it was that the country music station had stopped whining and bitching and feeling sorry for itself. How terrible, Samson thought, to survive a car wreck but be unable to reach the off button while a country music station played on, hour after hour, until your brain trickled out of your ears like repeatedly stabbed egg yolk. That made him pretty lucky, he decided.



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