As always, the editors disavow any foreknowledge of the following events.
I awoke to a foul taste in my mouth, as if I’d been tea bagged in my sleep by Dirty Dick and his merry band of draft dodgers.
I moved. In retrospect this was an obvious mistake. My head strobed with sudden, stabbing pain and my skull was filled to bursting with a grinding irregular mechanical cacophony not unlike the sound of Dirty Dick Cheney’s black clockwork heart. Ka-thump, wheeze, ka-thump, ka-thump, tick tick wheeeeeeze.
A foul stench filled the air. A piquant bouquet you tasted with the roof of your mouth instead of smelling with your nose. Mexican flavored flatulas, reminiscent of a Tijuana donkey show. The stench made me think of John Edwards for some reason. After a moment, I realized it was me…and I then vaguely recalled green chili and refried bean burritos somewhere in the recent past. And tequila. Lots and lots of tequila. For some reason I kept hearing a voice say, “Uno mas, Señor Bartender!” The voice was eerily familiar, it could have been mine. This stench seemed like the natural result of such things and it might have killed a less practiced man.
Well, this awakening was certainly an unpleasant turn of events.
It took a minute to figure out why.
And then it hit me: I was sober. It had been a while, a long while in fact, and I didn’t immediately recognize the condition. I hadn’t been sober since the Swirly Incident, and now I remember why I gave it up. Frankly, I don’t recommend it.
Fortunately, reality is a situation easily corrected.
I crawled into the den in search of orange juice and something to thin it out with – uno mas tess-sqeala aqui, Señor, uno mas tequila para mi!
We were out of tequila.
Oh, sweet buttered baby illegal aliens. No. No no no!
We were also out of the Irish.
We were out of bourbon, and rye, and the emergency jug of Tip O’Neil Special Edition ThunderKidney Gin I keep under the sink next to the drain cleaner, the spare shotgun shells, and my backup copies of The Cannibal Cookbook and The USMC Survival Manual.
We were out of mixers and spritzers and the sparkling wines I keep for Friday night poker games - in case Ted Haggard and his special date stops by (I try not to judge).
Bloody hell, it appeared as though we were out of beer – and what then would I put on my breakfast Fruit Loops and use to brush my teeth? I eyed the drain cleaner…no, I’m saving that in case Anne Coulter ever drops in for cocktails, that and the shotgun shells.
There was no hope for it then, I’d have to either go out or face the world unadulterated.
The Hell. I thought about tucking my Charlton Heston “Big Ten Commandments” Model 10 Moses .50 into the waistband of my boat shorts (just in case those fascist bastards at the liquor store wanted to argue about being open at 5AM like the last time) and then thought better of it. I was sober. Who knows? I might hit what I was aiming at. Instead I found my car keys.
You know the problem with Alaska?
The sun is up at 5AM – which is why I generally remain in a Jose Cuervo fueled state of hibernation until after dinner time (which also has the added side benefit of allowing me to miss the Glenn Beck Gong Show – never say I’m not a multitasker). The glare stabbed me straight the eyes and I lurched blindly around the parking lot waving my arms and screaming a steady string of vile profanity like Michele Bachman finding out Obama had diverted her family Federal farm subsidies to poor black people for low cost pre-natal care and sex education. Eventually I found the car by feel and sheer luck, and crawled inside. Thankfully I had forced myself to memorize the route to the nearest Brown Jug long ago and could do it by feel. I aimed the Dart towards Wasilla, cranked up some vintage Airplane, screwed my eyes closed, and pressed the accelerator to the floor boards…
And I’d have made it too…if it wasn’t for those Tea Party bastards.
I heard the screaming and pried open my eyes to a wall of blue hair, “Don’t Tread On Me” T-Shirts, and waving signs that said, “No Government Takeover of my Medicare!” Holy Canadian medicine, Batman! Where in the hell did these geezers come from? It’s not like there aren’t enough assholes in Wasilla, now they were bussing conventions of them in? I wrenched the wheel to the left, but just then I hit a patch of slick glossy Lifer tracts and the Dart fishtailed right and skidded out of control in a cloud of bible verses and pictures of aborted fetuses. I felt a leaf spring break as the Dodge plowed sideways through a booth selling Chuck Norris action figures, tiny snarling bearded faces pelted the windshield with their little kung-fu grip fists clenched in perpetual rage. I noticed they had the middle finger of one plastic hand upraised in a patriotic gesture, up your ass liberal scum! With Neocons it’s hard to tell if that gesture is an offer, or an irony. I pondered the question as I rotated past and into a phalanx of chanting militia in camouflage. I hit the Minuteman formation dead center but instead of a strike I split the seven and ten - then the bumper came around and with a twist of the wheel I managed to pick up the spare. The tires bit in and the Dart’s boxy rear end swayed ponderously left and right on the broken suspension like Joe Lieberman switching political allegiances, the left rear bumper knocked over a giant plywood crucifix and the right bumper sent a table of Commemorative Bill O’Reilly Kachina dolls flying. I stood on the brakes and the car smoked to a stop in front of a brand new building.
What the hell was this? This wasn’t here before. Where in the hell was the liquor store? What vile alternate reality was this? It’s this kind of nonsense that just gets my goat. See, it’s their own fault, if these people would just leave me to my blissful intoxication we’d have no problems. But they’re always fiddling with things. They’d have no one to blame but themselves for what came next.
I rolled out of the door and turned to face the mob (I was going to say “angry mob,” but with Teabaggers that seemed redundant). I retreated until the building’s big glass door was against my back.
“Howdy, folks,” I said cheerfully, “Hyman Liberalowicz from the ACLU here to talk to you about your future. Say, have you people ever thought about Organizing?”
There was a moment of aghast stillness, and then the crowd howled in outrage.
I released a cloud of that bean burrito with sweet overtones of yesterday’s fermented blue agave fruit, and made a break for the door while their eyes were watering. I’m quick, but like I said I was handicapped by my hangover and I didn’t quite get through the door and get it locked behind me in time to avoid splatter from a thrown crockpot of what looked like moose chili - that angry old biddy in the George Washington powdered wig and Revolutionary War frockcoat had an arm, she should be pitching for the Patriots. Fortunately there was a pile of folded sweatshirts on a table near the entrance and I swapped my chili stained duds out for one of those. I looked around, this sure as hell wasn’t the Brown Jug, those Tea Party assholes had thrown me far off course.
The placed looked like your typical corporate lobby. Somebody was planning a reception. There were rows of folding chairs and tables with Styrofoam plates and napkins. Somewhere the sound system played a muted musak version of Lee Greenwood and I had to stifle the urge to reach for my lighter. Mmmm, promising. Promising. There might be something to drink.
“Excuse me,” said a voice. I jumped like a Conservative Senator caught in an airport bathroom sting. She’d snuck up on me without a sound, like one of the those secret provisions in the Patriot Act.
“Are you the man from the Network?”
“Network?” …why yes. Yes I am. “Sam Savagewood, from the American Patriot Channel Of America.” When in doubt, act like you belong – hell it works for Michael Steele.
“We’ve been expecting you! This is going to be such a great show! What do you think of the new studio?”
“The parking stinks.”
Studio. I looked around. Nice lobby, the polar bear skin rugs had thrown me off at first, but now I recognized it for what it was. The front end of a TV Studio. What in the hell had I gotten myself into this time? And since when was there a TV studio in Wasilla? The hair on my neck stood up and I heard Sean Connery’s voice in my head doing Henry Jones Sr. from The Last Crusade, “My son, we are pilgrims in an unholy land…” I’d heard rumors, but I thought it was a joke. Things didn’t seem so funny now (if I could just find some booze though, things would be uproarious. Alas).
On the other hand, TV people drink like Bill Clinton at an NOW fund raiser. There was bound to be a bar around here somewhere.
“I see you’ve already got yourself a sweatshirt. Nice, huh? We can’t make those fast enough!”
Sweatshirt? Oh, yes, that. I looked down and felt like Fred Phelps caught wearing a gay pride jumper when I realized who was looking back at me. Creepy. The eyes seemed to follow me. That good news was that the shirt appeared to be of the highest quality and made in America – the kind of workmanship you can only get from indentured underage Columbians chained to a sewing machine in a Chicago sweatshop.
“Right this way, Sir. You’re the first one here, that’ll give you time to review the material before She arrives.” The girl nodded towards my uncanny shirt. I began to itch uncontrollably. Pilgrims in an unholy land indeed.
“Would you like something to drink?” She asked.
“Hell yes! I’m not picky, so long as you can make a Bloody Mary with it….”
“In honor of the occasion, maybe a cup of Tea? We have Benjamin Franklin Lemon Zest, Chamomile Patriot, 911 Truth! and Bitter Birther.
“I’d prefer a Long Island.”
“I don’t think we have that,” she said frowning. “Besides, isn’t New York a,” she spat on the new tiles, “liberal state?”
“Just checking,” I said. “The American Patriotic Channel of American Patriots likes to make sure of these things. Don’t want any secret Hillary sympathizers and what in the hell is that smell? It’s like a zoo in here! Good Lord, it smells like Rush Limbaugh’s bedroom – or what I imagine Rush Limbaugh’s bedroom smells like.”
She sighed, “I can only imagine too aahhhh.” Her face got this dreamy expression, like John McCain caught contemplating his running mate’s backside. The hair stood up on the back of my neck and my skin tried to crawl right the hell out of there and back to the parking lot.
We entered the back stage area and suddenly I was thinking of those cages and pens under the old Roman Coliseum where they kept lions and slaves and gladiators – and where I’m pretty sure you could have gotten a goddamned drink. We who are about to die, salute you! But first, Tequila!
Here were cages of Alaskan wildlife. I counted an odd looking badger, a pack of wolves, a bull moose, two meth dealers, and various other large and angry wild life. Not all of which explained the circus tent smell.
“What the hell is this?”
“It’s for the pilot episode.”
“’The Governor Says Endangered Species Are Sissy Losers!’ didn’t you read the script? The teams will be making Common Sense wilderness stew. From scratch,” she nodded towards the cages.
“I thought that was a metaphor.”
She shook her head seriously and said, “No, that’s a polar bear.”
“Aren’t those endangered?”
“Exactly, it’s not like Jesus isn’t killing them off anyway.”
We entered a studio under a banner that said, “Welcome to the Real Alaska!” and in smaller letters “We can see gobs of money from here.”
“You’ll want to review the script, there’s a copy on the table. Feel free to help yourself to a bowl of moose chili and the jerky bar.” She gestured towards a table with a couple of crock pots and plates full of dried meats that reminded me of John Boehner’s leathery countenance.
“The…jerky bar? Who does your craft service? Sportsman’s Warehouse?
“Yeah, Beluga Whale is my favorite. Listen, I’ve got to get back up front. They’ll be here any minute. I’ll make an announcement when She arrives, so you’ll have time to fill out the check. Remember, She likes lots of zeros.” I watched her walk away. She had a nice shape. Given her political affiliation, I figured she’d naturally be into abstinence – i.e. easy – but the thought of the giant black-light Karl Rove poster that was probably hanging over her bed gave me pause and frankly I’ve never had much use for the missionary position, it hurts my back. On the other hand, Republican girls aren’t supposed to enjoy it and they’re too embarrassed to talk afterward so it’s not like the act requires a lot of effort on your part – ninety seconds of friction and you’re out in the car smoking and singing to the BeeGees on the way home. Frankly, liberal chicks are a hell of a lot more work and the next day you’re often missing skin in unusual places.
The smell of bubbling chili beans and jerked flesh pulled me out of my daydream and I started looking for a way out. Enough of this nonsense.
Two things happened simultaneously.
The PA system chirped brightly, “She’s here! Oh She’s here!” Uh oh, party time is over…
…and a whisper hailed me from the direction of the animal cages, “Pssssssssssssst! Hey, Buddy!”
Now I admit that I first thought the polar bear was talking to me – oh right, like you’ve never had the DT’s – before I realized that it was one of the badgers. Whew. For a minute there…
“Hey, come ‘ere! Help a bro out, Dude!”
Wait a minute, Holy Shit! Levi Johnson in a badger suit? “What the hell are you doing here?”
“I got my own reality show, man.”
So, it was the delirium tremens after all. Damn it. Usually when I have these kinds of hallucinations I see Carrot Top dressed up as the shambling re-animated corpse of Ronald Reagan coming at me, wormy skull grinning, and bony hand waving. In a Speedo.
“Sure, Levi, sure. What’s the show called?”
“’Levi Johnson in a Badger Suit!’ Rawr, dude. Let me out of here, would you?”
Why not? It beat palling around with Zombie Reagan. In a Speedo.
“Quick, give me a hand with this would you? Before the Queen Bitch of the Universe shows up.”
“What’s the gimmick?”
“An oldie but a goodie - laxative in the moose chili, right before first episode kick-off,” Levi handed me a couple boxes of Newt Gringrich industrial strength Duco-Lax and we slipped back into the studio. “You know her show’s going out live, right?”
“Laxative in the… These are the best DT’s I’ve ever had.”
We stirred the little brown squares into the crock pots. “Hurry! I hear them coming!”
We fled the studio and hid behind the animal cages. The polar bear sniffed the air and sidled to the opposite side of his cage making an odd whining noise, sort of like that sound Michelle Malkin makes when she’s talking about immigration reform. I might have let slip a little of that bean burrito. Hey, it’s not like Jesus isn’t killing the damned bears off anyway.
Watching the big beast I almost missed the excited crowd who went past into the studio.
Peeking past the cage I could see them gathered around the craft table, scarfing down bowls of chili and gnawing on dried meat strips.
“That’s it, Dude,” Levi whispered, “Let’s get out of here before the shit hits the fan!”
We sprinted for the door.
Well, OK, Levi sprinted for the door.
Me? I snagged my brand new Sarah Palin commemorative sweatshirt on the polar bear cage door latch.
The cage door swung open.
The bear shambled out.
He looked at me. I looked at him. Time stood frozen.
Then a little more of that tequila flavored burrito leaked out – pweeeeeeeeeeeeeeee – in the silence it sounded like the GOP deflating after the Healthcare Reform vote.
The bear he snarled and wrinkled up his nose and backed away from me in the direction of the studio door where a crowd of people who smelled strongly of jerky and who had recently bolted down bowls of quick acting laxative laced chili were taking their places in front of the cameras.
The On Air light lit.
The announcer’s voiceover shouted, “Welcome to Alaska!”
The bear entered the studio.
There was a moment of pregnant silence…
Eventually the author and Levi found the liquor store. Unfortunately, the fascist bastards were closed, having all gone home to watch the premier of Sarah Palin’s Alaska. As premiers go, it was promising if somewhat gross – until the bear ate a cameraman and mauled the uninsured script girl. Rumors that the bear once worked for the CIA were never confirmed.
The author still has the sweatshirt and enjoys showing it off, though most people consider the “…we reload!” caption to be either poetic justice or deeply, deeply ironic.
- previous adventures of Hunter S(tonekettle) can be found here: Fear And Loathing At An Undisclosed Location
- previous adventures of Levi Johnson can be found here: Turkey Day!