High-Tone Professional Classical Restaurant Harpist Introduces Inferior Bus Girl to Nauseating Family
The morning was spiffy with Utah sunshine. Just spiffy as the reflection off good Utahns’pearly white teeth when they’re smiling the fabled Mormon Smile. It never goes away. Not even when you spit in their faces. The vitamin D-enriched smile of folks who have Heavenly Father by the short-and-curlies, who know the Answer to all the Great Questions. You can’t pose them a problem that’ll befuddle them. The permanently creased Mormon Smile that in old age curls into a grimace, a rictus, everlasting as the mint-and-pastel Utah sun that grins down the back of your gritty neck in the morning. “Smile and smile and be a villain” as the man says.
Sam Edwine, the High-Tone Professional Restaurant Harpist Prick, was a redhead, therefore recoiled frowning from the ultraviolet end of the electromagnetic spectrum. When he and his little pet bus girl pulled into the white gravel parking lot of the Cowboyland Spaw (sic), he immediately noticed several familiar Winnebagos and trailers, and a few specific old Chevrolet sedans with garish souvenir decals from places depressing like Yosemite, Yellowstone and Yucca Flats. And a dread spread all inside Sam, from below his lungs oozing upward like sickly, cool syrup. He succumbed to his itching suspicion that the Deity perversely delights in disappointing and crushing hopes when certain ritualistic precautions are not taken, and he knocked on the wooden handle of the bus girl’s overnight case.
But then he heard the loud snorts and grunts and bellows echoing from out back by the pool, like a hundred donkeys and cows fucking and shitting and pissing. So he turned to Prissy Clyster (or whatever her name was) and he said, “Wanna come meet my relatives?”
“You mean you want me to meet…” Her voice cracked, and she could say no more. Sam didn’t bother to disabuse her of any stupid Doris Day notions she might have been entertaining at the moment. Instead he merely observed her with objectivity as she hurriedly pulled off her slept-in food services uniform and pulled on something from her overnight case she thought especially nice for the beautiful harpist’s family: one of those fuzzy shirts with moose and mallard ducks on it, looking like reclaimed sleeping bag lining. She kept glancing at him for approval.
Nowhere, outside of Pilgrim’s Progress and a junior high faculty room at lunch time, can you find a quainter, more picturesque array of figures than at a Latter-Day-Saints’ family reunion. Here is Aunt Gluttony, here Second-Cousin Sloth, there salivates Grampaw Lubriciousness. Or maybe, Sam chided himself inwardly, it was possible that he was just projecting his own feelings of personal unattractiveness upon his unfortunate relatives.
“Go gitcher hawrp, Gabe!” they trumpeted in unison from the deck of the pool, naked and sprawling all over each other like a walrus colony taking the healing waters. Even the regular Cowboyland habitues, the swinish locals, had backed away to the adjacent picnic area. They were now watching the show, casting looks of sullen amazement from behind their bags of Fritos.
“Who the good-looker ya got over thar, Sambo?” bellowed his family. Sam guffawed genially, prodding her along in front of him with his thumb between her buttocks, “is my new sidekick. Cleans up garbage down at the restaurant where I play my own transcriptions of dead Euro-trash composers. Go on, mix with them, Honey-Bunny.”
Sam couldn’t recall her name, so he used that endearment. Bus Girl was so humiliated and shy and disappointed that she could barely walk. So Sam prodded her, like a minor character in a Walt Disney cartoon, down into the midst of his bathing-suited, ravenous and buck-toothed clan.
Here, little Niece Bad Seed simmered sultrily in a padded bikini, while, at her elbow, Uncle “I am not a homosexual” Ely (or “The Eel”) sunned himself in similarly padded racing briefs.There, floating on their backs in the shallow end of the pool, actually taking in mouthfuls of the diarrhoea-colored water and expectorating at each other, were Aunt Rhubarb and her hubby, “Unker” Rusty, who’d devoted their adult lives to collecting bottle caps. Standing off to one side, wearing a distracted expression on his face and wiping Sea and Ski on his biceps, was Great Uncle Lou, the ex-basketball pro, who, as soon as he got old enough to start missing foul shots, bought adjacent burial plots for himself and his three (or four?) plural wives and became an adulterer.
Here was ex-Sister-in-Law Marjorie, a filthy fucking bitch, to be devastatingly frank. She was almost dislocating her neck in an effort to look askance at Nephew “Crazy” Pynn, who enjoyed dressing elegantly, if a bit meretriciously, and playing like he was Bela Lugosi. “I vant to bite your nack,” said “Crazy” Pynn to Bus Girl, making her jump.
And don’t forget Great Aunt Flo, who once had some, um, things removed (you mean your fallopian tubes and ovaries, Gr’Auntie?); who had felt so sorry about Sam’s mom’s most recent, um, hospitalization (in the locked ward! You know that! Say it, Gr’Auntie!). Not to mention Cousin “Grinning” Glenna, for whose skull God hadn’t vouchsafed enough skin, around whose feet flopped her brand-new, sweet, innocent baby, its head deformed horribly by the ineffective IUD preggers Glenna forgot (or didn’t know she was supposed) to remove. “Heav’nly Father give me this here child so’s he c’test muh faith.”
Suave Bro-in-Law Geoffrey, the ex-SDS-agitator-turned-wealthy-golf-club-pro, all in white clothes, holding one eyebrow cocked higher than the other, approached and asked, “Hey, old man! And what might you be driving these days?”
“My psychotic mother’s Volvo,” said Sam.
Over by the diving board, Aunt Rhubarb caused her branch of the clan to break out their ukeleles and wallaby boards, and she began to conduct a group-sing with an iron hand: “Monkeys in the zoo. Do the monkey doodle doooo!”
A large upper-case W of sun-baked, leathery buttock fell out from under Aunt Rhubarb’s tennis skirt and panties. With redoubled vigor she continued to conduct and sing in her heavy vibrato, tapping her foot and glancing significantly back at whoever was behind her. Cuzzie Buns, with the eyes hard as blue glass, came over in her black rubber one-piece, bringing the bus girl a flimsy paper plate deliberately overloaded with potato salad.
“Hey you big pah-loo-kah!” bellowed Buns, feigning a grab for Sam’s groin. “Please to meetcha?” she asked the bus girl, staring her down. “And, speaking of which, honey, did you ever hear you could remove them unsightly wrinkles from your li’l face by wiping Preparation H on it?”
Gasps of skeptical wonder were heard to escape from the slackened mouths of the congregating relatives: “Naw, really?” and “The hell she don’t say?” and “I never heard a lick o’ that one afore!” and “Preparation Whom?”
“Only problem is,” continued Buns in an authoritative tone, “you go around the rest of the day looking like a real bum-hole.” She remained calm and straight-faced, staring deep into the bus girl’s eyes, while the Edwines screamed in shocked mirth for two or three minutes.
“Yew could of goed all dang day ‘thout sayin that!” somebody managed to gasp eventually. “Yeah, Bun,” coughed somebody else. “That was so ignernt.”
“No, hey. But seriously,” said Buns, in total control of this difficult audience. Everybody got serious, and silence reigned for the first and last time all day. But Buns expertly paused one extra second, then two, not unlike a professional fly fisher waiting for the right instant to yank back and hook that sucker. Then she raised both eyebrows and said, “Now why d’y’suppose in the hell’d anybody ever want to wipe Preparation H on their face? Preparation H?”
The Edwines howled like tormented demons some more. This time a good three or four minutes at least.
“Even I’m not that wacky and madcap,” said Buns, the family comedienne. “Although I did once accidentally brush my toofums with contraceptual foam!”
“Yew should of went on the dang TV, Bun!” sobbed someone, tears of appreciation flowing down his or her cheeks.
Bus Girl was blushing orange into the reunited Edwines’ howls for mercy when, suddenly, without warning or provocation, Sam reached out and slapped the plate of potato salad out of her hands. She looked up at him, startled out of her wits.
“Don’t just stand there,” he said. “You know what to do. Clean up the garbage. Show them the technique. Bend over and reach for the garbage.”
She glanced left and right, self-consciously, then did as she was told. Sam pressed his right hand down flat on her shoulders, held her in the bent-over position, and dug all four of his giant left fingers up through the seat of her dungarees, deep into her anus. He playfully goosed her, in other words. Buns shrieked for everybody to watch the little lady squirming to get free. More screams of jollity. Aunt Rhubarb came galloping over, screaming also.
The bus girl gasped and whimpered. When he finally let her up, she had real tears in her eyes. She looked down and fiddled with the frayed sleeve of her moose and mallard duck shirt, pulling it secretively down over her lobster claw, too fazed even to reach down and pull her pants out.
“Awwww, she’s blushin,” chuckled Aunt Rhubarb. “Ain’t that cute?”
It was small cause to wonder that Sam had flunked the Minnesota Multi-Phasic Personality Inventory four times, the test where they ask you thirty-nine different ways if you ever had a bowel movement that looked like tar. He actually had a wet, slippery hardon when he and Bus Girl sat down on deck chairs with his aunt. Rhubarb crossed her bare sunburned legs high in Sam’s face and began to bounce them rapidly up and down. She took a deep, fetid breath or two, and asked, “So when you gonna learn that ol’ Stevie Foster on yer hawrp? I’m dyin t’come sing at the resty-rawnt with you backin me up, Sambo.”
Sam paused and looked at his aunt’s face. It was huge and too long, like a horse’s face. And the skin on her cheeks was like a used grocery bag, so brown and crinkly and overexposed to salt-desert wind and sun. It was the same enormous face that had provided him with his very first and most intense exposure to pure loathing. It had sneered overhead in hissing, venomous reproach after she’d caught the three-year-old toddler Sammy seducing “Crazy” Pynn under a back-yard picnic table somewhere.
Actually, the two youngsters hadn’t really been fucking, but they did have their little pants down and were spanking each other with a willow switch and toying with each other’s wrinkly-winklies. Sex play, perfectly normal, except Rhubarb had never read Freud, nor even Spock. Nor anything else, for that matter.
And now, as he sat in front of Aunt Rhubarb, Sam had the lubricated, preseminal sort of chubby. He was thinking in baby-talk about bossing Bussy Girly: make her bend over some more, open her bare bottom, play like mean Dada, spanky-spankums up her poot-poot.
“Got a bit o’ that ‘tatah salad on yer nice shirt, didn’t ya?” Rhubarb asked her, lacing it with a nasal, mockingly sweet and rising inflection.
Sam heard himself say, “She shore did, ‘n that’s a fact.” He was starting, finally, to let go and talk like the Utah baby he was. Muscular release rushed through his insides, like that accompanying movement of the bowels. Family reunion really did reconnect you with your deep roots. He just let it spew and belch forth: “Y’d think a body that cleaned up garbage for a living ‘d know how to not get it all the way up to their elbow ‘n back ag’in. Ain’t that the Gawd’s honest truth, Auntie?”
“Yup,” said Rhubarb, “Crazy” Pynn’s secret personal tailor. “Ex-specially such a swell piece of clothing like that duckie shirt is there.”
They twitted her and, all the while, Bus Girl couldn’t seem to look up from picking at her cuffs. Sam’s act of goosing seemed to inspire the tribe to new heights of celebratory behavior. Somebody managed to get the dozens of clansmen synchronized to execute a choo-choo train impression. It began with a few of the older uncles hammering back the dregs of their creme sodas and rubbing the empty cans on the chain link fence around the pool in slowly accelerating unison. One of Sam’s red-haired nymphomaniac cousins clambered onto the diving board in her string bikini and began to shriek at irregular intervals like a train whistle.
Then, on cue, somebody’s fat wife or mom brayed, “All a-boa-a-ard!” and everybody jumped up and attacked the metal tables and lifeguard towers with folding chairs and ice chests, their buck-toothed mouths screaming choo-chugga-choo-choo noises, faster and faster, louder and louder. Sam gritted his teeth and curled back his lips until he thought his face would burst, a hundred thousand blackheads rocketing. He leaned close to his Aunt Rhubarb and spoke directly into her nauseating ear. He had no idea if she could hear what he said through all the chaos and compacted wax.
“Aunt Rhubarb! You are like a coarsened version of myself: where the line of my jaw is forceful, yours is unwieldy and hangs slack; where I am motivated by high aesthetic impulses and stuff like that, you are just a horny old cunt. Aunt Rhubarb! Everything you do is sexual, and you don’t even know it, like Doris Day. And, like Doris Day’s, your cheeks are disproportionately gargantuan, your eyes reptilian, your singing voice hideous and clammy as oleomargarine wiped on scratchy saltines in the morning when I have strep-throat from a solitary bath in this town’s culinary wa-wa supply.
“And, difficult as it will be for you to believe, I haven’t touched the fucking Stevie Foster. Aunt Rhubarb! If I die unrecorded and obscure, if I wind up having to take my demo tapes and bury them, Qumran-wise, in a jar in some salt-flat cavern not far from the door of your desolate mobile home, it’ll be because I share half the genes that produced you and these other filthy, greasy, enormous animals.
“Only take a whiff, Rhubarb: their collective bellowed breath is making this whole resort smell like fresh, human excrement. Even the local pig farmers are packing up to leave. See? Even they can’t stand it. In my depths I feel it now, in my deepest groin, up from the soles of my feet, I mean it. I am repelled, Rhubarb. I loathe the very air slurping through the pores gawking from these naked legs of yours.”
Suddenly, a high, trilling shriek brought Sam out of his entranced dithyrambs. He found himself, elbows mashed deep in his aunt’s lap, his incisors gritted into the crumbly metal of the miniature Eiffel Tower clamped on her left earlobe. She was giggle-howling in thrilled agony, for Sam had bitten the bauble clear through and had nearly pulled her catcher’s mitt-sized ear out by the roots. And she thought he was flirting, that her heretofore reserved nephew had finally blossomed, come out of his shell and become demonstrative at last. He was actually breathing in her ear! Eeew! An occasion to shriek! And to tighten her crossed thighs! And to bounce!
By this time, the other Edwines had grown tired of concentrating (stunted attention spans run in families), and had left off trying to sound like a train. Now they were just banging and screaming randomly, as each of them pleased. The bus girl, Prissy Clyster (or whatever her name was) turned to Sam, tremulously, and whispered up into his ear, “Are they making f-fun of m-me now?”
Scarcely had she gotten this out, when somebody ran up from behind, yanked one of her pigtails, and screamed “Ba-ooooh!” She was all ready and primed to consummate the initiation, her little spine tightened and locked in terror. So Sam left the bus girl in the capable hands of Rhubarb and repaired to Cowboyland Spaw’s private mineral bath shack for some health-bringing steam and privacy. He ascended to the cactus-covered knoll overlooking this inferno.