BY SAM McPHEETERS
box of Man Is the Bastard CDs named Dennis was riding a bicycle down the street. At the intersection, he ran into his old friend, a stainless-steel industrial sink named Hans. “Well, fancy meeting you here,” said Hans.
“Howdy do,” said Dennis.
“Finally taking a day off from work?”
“Well, it’s just such a beautiful morning,” Dennis the box of Man Is the Bastard CDs said. “I woke up and thought, ‘If only I could take a personal day, and just go enjoy life, for once,’ you know? And then I realized, Jesus, ‘Why
I take a personal day and enjoy life and go down to the beach?’ You know, ‘Live a little!’ So here I am.”
He was right about that—it was a glorious day, all sunshiny and breezy blue. Clouds drifted lazily in the sky like leaves in a creek.
“Well, you couldn’t have picked a better day to go to the beach,” said Hans, who, as I’ve previously mentioned, was a stainless-steel industrial sink. “I’m actually just returning from my midmorning swim. I would spend the afternoon working on my tan, but unfortunately I’ve got to pick up my wife and nine children in an hour so we can go Christmas-tree shopping.”
“I just hope the beach isn’t too crowded by the time I get there,” said Dennis.
“Right, right,” laughed Hans. “Oh, speaking of the beach, you’ll never guess who I just ran into—it was Jimmy, remember him? That nice bottle of children’s aspirin?”
“JIMMY THE BOTTLE OF CHILDREN’S ASPIRIN?” Dennis the box of Man Is the Bastard CDs roared. “THAT MOTHERFUCKER OWES ME MONEY!!”
He raced down to the beach on his bicycle and screeched to a halt by a group of carrot cakes in the parking lot.
“Anybody seen Jimmy?” The carrot cakes shrugged nervously, detecting the rage in his voice.
“How about you,” he asked an antiabortion sign wearing a sombrero. “You seen Jimmy?”
The antiabortion sign wearing a sombrero gulped and said, “I think I mighta seen him at the hot-dog stand an hour ago…”
“An hour ago. Thanks, brainiac,
really helps,” he said, jumping off the bicycle.
“Anybody touches my bike is gonna have a nosebleed through their asshole when I get back,” he yelled over his shoulder.
The beach was packed: sunbathers, swimmers, Frisbee players. He realized he might never find one lone bottle of children’s aspirin in this crowd. Suddenly a voice called his name. He turned around to see a 2003 Toyota Highlander striding across the beach toward him.
“Where’s your boyfriend?” Dennis snarled.
“He’s not here,” Sheila the 2003 Toyota Highlander said. “Why can’t you leave him alone? He’ll pay you on Wednesday, when he gets his paycheck.”
“Zip it, girly,” he told her. “You better tell me where to find him today, right now, or you’re both gonna be eating food through a straw for the next month.”
“If you’re threatening me, I’m going to call the police,” she said firmly, reaching for a cell phone on the blanket closest to them.
“Wait a minute. This is your blanket?” Dennis said. “That means he was just here. And there’s only one place someone could hide on this beach.” She saw him glance over toward the municipal courthouse 30 feet away.
“No,” she pleaded. But he was already running across the sand. “No,” she screamed after him. “Don’t hurt him! He’s my entire world! NO!!”
He kicked open the door to the municipal courthouse. Jimmy was huddled in the corner. He was indeed a bottle of children’s aspirin, with comically skinny cartoon legs and arms.
“Well, well, well,” he said, grinning. “If it isn’t my old pal. How you doing, old pal? Staying out of the sun?”
“I was gonna pay you, man, honest, I was,” the bottle said. “I just need a little more time…”
“You know, I don’t mind that you don’t return my emails, and I don’t even mind that you got your girlfriend to cover your ass like the hidey-hole-hiding little bitch you are,” Dennis said, grabbing one of the aluminum baseball bats conveniently stacked by the front door.
“But you know what really burns me? It’s that everyone talks about how
you are. ‘He’s such a nice guy, that bottle of children’s aspirin.’ And I thought so too. I thought you were such a nice guy that I stuck my neck out and loaned you six bucks. And here it is a week later, and I have to search across the 12 continents to get my money back. That’s what really gets me.” He twirled the aluminum baseball bat. “Everyone thinks you’re the nicest guy in the history of nice guys, when I know the truth. You’re just a two-bit, no-good, needle-dick little welcher.”
“Aw jeez, no, for the lova Christ” the bottle of children’s aspirin pleaded. “I’m gonna be a father soon, please don’t hurt me.”
Dennis raised the bat. “I think it’s a little too late for…”
A shrill civil-defense siren wailed in the distance.
He reached down and switched on the transistor radio he kept with him at all times. A newscaster was talking.
“… scientists have confirmed that the Large Hadron Collider in western Europe has created a massive black hole that will engulf the very planet in a matter of minutes, if not seconds…”
Dennis laughed. Jimmy laughed. From very far away, a terrible sucking noise grew louder and louder.
“You know why I’m laughing?” Jimmy said.
“No.” Dennis said.
“I’m laughing because I’ve been bangin’ your wife for the last 40 years!”
Dennis was about to reply, but then the terrible black hole was upon them. .