At the Gaithersburg Book Festival, on a panel about comedy writing with Jimmie Walker. Click on the picture for the video.
With a gun that rotated pointing at my face and then my forehead as they took me down a short flight of stairs that stopped at a landing, then they forced me to slide down the banister. Even as a kid I was never a banister boy, so I couldn’t stop myself and flew off onto a bookcase filled with heads. One fell but I was able to stop it from hitting the ground by catching an ear with my teeth. Before I could spit it out (my tongue got hung up on an ear ring) the Horse tore it away from me. Before adding my head to the collection, I was hoping they would wait for a new book case from Ikea. Somehow, I didn’t feel that was in their plans.
“What do you want from me?” I yelled, figuring I knew the answer.
“You’re head, but we going to experiment with a less bloody method.” Peanuts said in FDR’s voice.
“Why me?” I asked, hoping to stall them.
“Because when we got rid of the body, your window was open. Everyone else on the street had air conditioning,” the former horse answered.
“Cheap bastard,” FDR answered.
“Why kill the shrink?” I stalled some more.
“Because he was no longer holding therapy groups for people in animal outfits. He was just like all the other animal cross-dresser haters. He never appreciated my Manatee suit. Okay, so the wheel chair killed the illusion, but a shrink should understand those things,” FDR’s Snoopy’s eyes grew moist.
“So you cut off his head!” I shouted from the top of my bottom lip or was it the bottom of my top lip.
“We prefer to think of it as cutting off his body.” With that they all laughed.
“What about Agnes?” I asked hoping I just didn’t move up the schedule.
“What about her? She’s not headless, yet.” Lioness Boy asked.
“She’ll be back soon and she’ll bring the cops. You’ll all go to jail.” That was an idiotic way to try and slow things down.
“Oh, she may be back, hopefully not wearing that stupid bunny outfit, but she won’t bring the cops. She hates authority figures in uniform, especially vampires.” FDR said this like he was absolutely positive I was going to believe him. “You see, she brought you to us.”
“Why would she do that?” I phrased without a trace of wit.
“Not purposely, but no one ever believed she was carrying around a real head, except you. She’s also been diagnosed a schizophrenic with missing head delusions.” FDR waved his hands like a conductor and they all started singing, “Schizophrenic with missing head delusions.” And then went into a zydeco version of “Ava Maria.”
The Snoopy part of FDR tossed a noose over a pipe. And his pals The Horseman and the Lion Queen picked me up and stood me on top of a rocking chair, but they had a difficult time putting the rope around my head. Finally, they figured it was easier if I wasn’t standing on my head. They flipped me over and after some debate settled on standing me on an elephant fetus hassock (definitely not something found at Ikea).
Then they started shaving me, which I thought was stupid timing since the noose kept getting in the way. While they lathered me up, and found some new blades, FDR/Snoopy tied my hands behind my back.
“This time we’re going to hang you till your dead. I love dead, especially clean shaven dead. And they we’ll cut off your head.”
“I bet you love head, too. Giving it would be my guess,” I spit out, proud of retort, but not so happy with my circumstances.
Snoopy rolled closer to me and pulled down on the rope, jerking my head up. FDR spoke. “This way when your heart stops beating the blood won’t pump out so it won’t be too messy. It’s the maid’s day off.”
“Like that matters.” The Lioness said. “You should fire her and get someone who’ll do blood on windows,” she cackled.
“Why don’t you just put a bib on me?” I hoped they’d see my cooperation as a reason to let me go and pay for my cab home.
“Good idea, it’s an expensive garment. I could wear it when we could go out to celebrate your beheading, after we dispose of your body. And although I wouldn’t get caught dead in your pants, you will. ” FDR laughed.
Snoopy announced in his best Roosevelt, “There’s nothing to fear, but fear itself!” Some how, that didn’t alleviate my anxiety, although it was a riveting impression. He immediately started into a fire side chat, but Mr. Horse nudged him, and pointed to a pocket watch strung above the ears and around a face so it was stuck in the middle of decapitated head like a third ticking eye. FDR, stopped talking, and nodded, realizing they had an appointment; hopefully it wasn’t finding a window to throw my leftovers through.
The Lioness tilted the elephant fetus on its edge, so I had to keep it balanced to stay alive. “We’ll say goodbye now, in case you’re dead when we return.” Lion lady-lad said.
FDR interrupted her. “Think positive.”
“You mean when he’s dead?”
They started up the stairs and I began to see my life flash before one of my eyes, the other one had a speck of dust and was blinking into the over head light, making half my final vision feel like it had been recorded in a disco. As clumsy as I am (I could trip over a shadow), I have very good balance. I figured that how long I could stay like this depended solely on how long I could actually stay like this.
I was about to start seeing my life pass before me a second time, this time backwards and with subtitles, when I heard a door bell, which rang to the theme of “The Commish”. A few seconds the door upstairs shattered, and there were gun shots, screams, and shouts for a time out! The refrigerator was opened, drinks poured, music played and there was dancing. Three minutes later silence, then glasses gathered and water ran in the sink. A piercing yell of, “Dry them yourself. This is your house!” The water stopped running. A few minutes after that there was more gun fire, screams, calls for extra dish washing liquid and then for another time out and replies, “you have none left!” More gunfire, screams, and bodies landing on the floor.
I could feel one of my feet fall asleep;it was only a matter of minutes, maybe seconds, or maybe I was dead already, and my hell would be living out my life just long enough to pay my bills.
Just as my foot was about to slip off the tilted elephant fetus there was another shot and a dead body rolled and bounced down the stairs crashing into the giant fetus, knocking it away, and before I could choke to death. I got lucky. The dead man was FDR and his wheel chair landed under my feet.
Agnes slid down the banister, followed by the gift bag mobster (who broke the banister under his weight). She untied my hands and then started to lift the noose off my head and said, “I think you looked better with it on.” She made me keep it there until she could take a picture with her cell phone.
The Mobster, noticed all the heads on the shelf and scattered around the cement floor like a bad break on a pool table, and said “A collection like this should be cared for and put on the shelves and rearranged according to size, age, race, eye color, ear size, earth sign, nasal capacity and then cross referenced by the dates stamped on their chins.”
As he started picking them up and rearranging them, I turned to Agnes who was trying to find her dead shrink’s noggin, but had stopped to comb a few heads and said, “How did you guys get together?”
“I drove by your house on the way to my health club.”
“Yeah, I figured you were dead and a good work out gets the endorphins going and makes my antidepressants work better. Besides this was the last day I could use my visitor’s pass,” she said as she smoothed out a guys eyebrows.
“You were just going to leave me here to die?” I swatted back at her.
“I was too upset to think about that. I was in pain. I had just lost my shrink’s head and his body, even though I hated his tattoo of Freud in a hula skirt nursing on Adler’s mother’s surgically enhanced breasts. A good work out, a steam, fresh wheat grass and a couple of games of canasta calms me down and helps me think,” she spoke while sticking a blue tongue back in a mouth.
I looked at the giant mobster.
He said, “I was waiting for you on your porch with a bag of Kopi Luwak coffee beans, the most expensive coffee in the world that just happened to fall off a truck. These are even more expensive than the beans that are digested by the ordinary Asian Palm Civet,” Looking at Agnes. “To you laymen, Toddy Cats.” Then the big guy turned back to me. “These were passed through Albino Asian Palm Civets with severe acid reflux and kidney failure, thus giving a unique even more complex slightly acidic flavor,” my new thug friend said, still rearranging heads.
When I saw Sedgwick,” Agnes squat thrust in, as she was doing squat thrusts.
“Sedgwick?” I asked.
“Yeah, Sedgwick, that’s my name. Sedgwick Galileo Robestelliano.” He started to pull his gun out, but stopped when he matched a broken tooth with the right mouth.
“I told him what had just happened and he offered his help, and gave me a week’s visitor’s pass to his health club,” she said, as she spotted her beloved shrink’s head. “There you are sweet cheeks!” She picked up the head, kissed it and then gave it a hickey on what was left of the neck.
“Apparently, this crew has been cutting off people’s heads for years, using only the finest silverware.” He said holding up glistening carving knife and head.” Like my old capo here who’s been missing for months. “What do you say we get out here?” the gunshots might have attracted some attention.
“Okay, I could really use a cup of coffee that was thrown up by Asian cats.”
“Defecated by Albino Asian Civets with acid reflux, week kidneys… and possibly a limp,” he corrected me, while he bagged his old capo’s head.
“Whatever, as long as it’s not decaffeinated,” I joked, then drop kicked FDR’s head through the basement window as I started for the stairs.
“Sounds good to me.” Agnes turned to her ex shrink and hopefully ex lover. “How about you Rudolf? She asked demurely. Then she shook his head up and down indicating “yes.” We all laughed, side-stepped a few skin and hair trophies and climbed the stairs, talking about drinking the most expensive coffee in the world.
“You just gave me an idea. We could put his head on Ebay.”
“I think we’ll get more for it if it’s shrunk or we can leave it like it as is and charge them more if they want it shrunk,” she said as she brushed his teeth.
“I don’t want to sell it at all,” I said, handing her floss.
“I hate to just throw the damn thing out, after all he’s been through a lot to get like this,’ she shouted as she turned his head upside down and put her keys in it.
“We’re not going to toss it either. We’ll take a picture of his head, put if up for sale on Ebay and if people bid on it, one of them could be the killer.”
“I bet if we take it to a tanning parlor we could get more for it. How much do you think it’ll go for?” she asked, catching her keys that fell out his nose.
“I don’t know…what do you think it’s worth?”
“I’m not sure, but I know we could over charge for shipping and handling, they always do that.” She picked up her keys, and then balanced his head on her head. “Now I’m a head taller than myself,” she joked.
“What am I thinking? We’ll just put it out there and let the market decide. All we need is a couple of bids and maybe we’ll find his killer.”
She nodded her head, and his head fell off of hers. Fortunately I was able to catch it before she could punt it.
After several poses, hair styles, back drops, and lighting changes we had a picture we liked and posted it on Ebay and then waited. It wasn’t long before we had our first bid, which was just a nickel over our twenty dollar reserve. A few minutes later we had another bid that beat out the first bid by over a buck.
Using the doctor’s computer, Agnes put in counter bids driving the price up. The second bidder kept upping his price. When his bid reached four hundred we decided to stop bidding and take his offer. Using Pay Pal we made the deal and he gave us an address to send the head.
We were pretty sure he was the killer not only did he live nearby, but who else would have paid the extra dough for over night delivery? I had a friend who collected mail delivery service outfits and mail vans. I borrowed both and with Agnes hiding in the back in a large box surrounded in bubble wrap we were going to make this delivery extra special.
At eleven that morning, dressed like a man in a perfect fitting overnight delivery service outfit–matching socks and all, I knocked on the door, holding a square box with the Doc’s head in it. There wasn’t any answer. While I debated if I should leave it with out getting a signature, the door opened and two people dressed as a horse emerged.
“Delivery for Kevin Aldridge,” I said with authority.
“This is him,” said a voice from inside the horse, pretty sure it was from the front end.
“You need to sign for this,” I insisted.
“Okay, give me a minute.” He lifted his left hand out of the front hoof and signed for the box.
Good thing I’d had plenty of experience with people dressing as horses before, (I worked in costume store, (Equus Caballus being my specialty) because I was ready with a response. “I’ll need to see some I.D.”
“Okay, give me a minute. I left my wallet in my donkey outfit,” he said, as they galloped back into house. A few minutes later a vapor of man who looked better as a horse floated to the door, and with his hand shaking flipped open his wallet and the driver’s license skidded into view. It was him alright, but he didn’t look like the kind of man who dresses in a horse’s outfit, cuts off someone’s head and then tosses the body through a window, but nowadays who does? Then again, looks can be deceiving, especially when you’re licking a sugar cube.
I handed him the box.
Not even waiting for me to turn or leave, he tore off the ribbon, started to rip the cardboard apart, then after shaking the pop corn filler of its face, he spun it around a few times, before dribbling through a toothy smile. “Oh, yeah, this baby will look good on my resume,” he squealed.
“Resume?” Agnes shouted all the way from the truck.
“What’s with the head I asked? Who is it?” I said, hoping he’d trap himself.
“Who cares? It’s perfect. Perfect. Perfect. Perfect.”
“Perfect. Perfect. Perfect for what?” I said, hoping to get an answer I could understand.
“Does it matter? Does it really matter? We’re all here for such a short time. ” He looked at me like I had answered the same true and false question wrong twice.
By now Agnes, still trying to unwind the bubble wrap that was covering her face, stood next to me. “Did you kill him?” she asked subtly.
“No, I was flossing, but I know who did,” he said innocently as he scooped up a handful of sugar cubes from his girlfriend who just arrived, dressed like a male lion impersonator.
Maybe it was instinct, but I had a feeling something strange was going on here that somehow seemed familiar. Before I could express my inner confusion, I found a gun pointed at my head.
“Inside,” the voice said without asking us to wipe our feet. It wasn’t the horse guy or his female male lion friend that was doing the talking. No, this guy was a bit strange. From above the waist he was dressed like Snoopy, below that he was all FDR, wheelchair with out arm rests and all.
“Step inside. Our casa is your casa, as long as we don’t have to blow your brains out with a nebulizer. You know I was never fond of Truman, he never once mentioned Peanuts during his 1948 campaign.”
I’m willing to give most guys a break, but this group was taking weird to the limit and testing my knowledge of presidential politics. While I was thinking that we were into something that wasn’t going to turn out well, I was also wondering what row in Ford’s theater Lincoln sat in and if it was up front, was he wearing his hat. Agnes was able to distract the bad beings by popping some of the plastic bubbles. She ran out of the house, into the van and barely made it away while she tried to attach her hands’ free phone cord to her cell.
End Part 5
She was back in less than five minutes, holding a bloody head that would make a mirror question its value. Whoever the dead guy was he had more hair than he deserved but not long enough to cover a face that would make Picasso look like a realist. This broad had nerve, lots of nerve, to be walking down the street not even bothering to cover that mug in a bag. She was a brave broad probably with a stomach strong enough to make love to me with the lights on and one of her eyes open (okay maybe if it was covered by a patch).
“How did you know I had the matching body?” I said.
“I double parked and was running into Starbucks when I grabbed the head instead of my purse which is quite easy to mix up since the bag’s sides are made of long horse hair. I ordered a double cappuccino, dropped a couple bucks on the counter and then reached into my bag for some change. When I realized that I pulled the metal plate out of his head I knew I made a mistake. Before I could turn to run outside some big guy who was claiming that the coffee he just had was much better than the crap they sold here, tossed some coins on the counter and said, “I got it.” Then he told me about you and the headless body. He’s right about your coffee.
“Thanks, who was this dead guy? And why did one of his ends end up in my house?” I was proud of my play on words, but she didn’t notice.
“He’s….well he was my…–“
She hesitated so I finished her question.” Boyfriend?”
“No… he was my –“
“No…he was –“
“No…he was my –“
She looked at me strange like it was my head she was holding. “No.”
“Than who the hell was he?”
“He was my shrink.”
I had an image of her holding a shrunken shrink’s head and almost started to laugh, lucky I had the cup of coffee to hide my smile. “How did you end up with your shrink’s head? You didn’t kill him?”
“Of course not, I wouldn’t never cut off his head, I looked up to him. Although now he would be shorter than me, especially without my heels.
“Sounds like he was more than your shrink?”
“Yes, besides, tiling my bathroom, he showed me how to stand on my head and still determine which was my upper lip, sometimes he’d even trap flies in my nostrils, moths too.”
“You sure that’s all he did?
“Okay, and small birds.”
I kept silent, knowing she was just trying to make her shrink look impressive to me.
“And rodents when he stuffed cheese in one nostril.”
I knew there was something else. “You slept with him didn’t you?”
“Of course he neutered my cat twice. I’m pretty sure he found out about us, me and him. I should have never taken off my blouse, my bra, my skirt, my thong and told him to go out and buy condoms. And I never should have yelled out, ’Your time’s up big boy!’” He immediately asked me for a hundred and twenty-five bucks, told me to make the bed and demanded I come back next week. Then he went back to sleep.
“I guess he nodded off before his head was cut off.” I blurted trying to hide my “I gotcha bitch grin” behind my coffee cup.
She gave me a look dirtier that any thought I could have had about her and three women sleeping together on a bed of women. “A few days later I went to his office. His door was open so I went in. I looked around and didn’t see anyone. Then I realized it was strange that he’d leave his door open, that’s when I looked and saw that the bottom corner of the door had his mouth around it and his head was being used as a doorstop. I panicked, grabbed the head and ran out the door.”
“Why didn’t you call the cops, or just leave his head there.”
“Because my name was written on the back of his door and he was cute. Besides I like seeing my name in red.”
“What was your name written in? Was it in blood?” I asked.
“It didn’t taste like blood.”
“You tasted it?”
“Why not, I hadn’t eaten all day and my own blood sugar was low. I was getting light headed,” she said, not realizing she had set me up for a bad joke.
“Not as light as your shrink’s,” I said. This time I was unable to hold back my laughter.”
She gave me a look that made me wish I didn’t have a head to see it. “Actually, I’m positive it wasn’t blood, it was too peppery definitely some kind of Tex Mex mix. And when I compared it to the color of the blood lying next to Rudolph’s head, it had an orange tint that matched my shoes.”
“So what did you do afterwards?”
“Well, I wasn’t going to pay for the complete hour, I had only been there for ten minutes. I left $35. I think that was plenty. I took Rudolph’s head, combed his hair and left. I’d seen his body naked, so I thought I might spot it somewhere. I went to all his usual haunts.”
I almost laughed at her unintentional ghost reference but killed it with a slug of java. “Did you carry the head around with you?”
“Duh! Of course, but I kept it covered, unless I had to ask someone if they’d seen this guy around. Then I’d pull it out and show them.”
“Weren’t you worried about them calling the cops?”
“No, not at all, before I put the head in the bag, I made sure it was smiling. Besides it was dark in most of the places and they couldn’t tell if it was real. Some of the guys still hit on me. There was this one cute one, tall, dark hair, nice suit. He tried to give me his card. But I told him I had a boy friend and introduced him to Rudolph’s head. He laughed and then bought me and Rudolph a round of drinks. When I poured the drink into Rudolph’s mouth and it spilled out his neck, the bar tender kicked me out.”
“Do you know anyone who would want to kill Rudolph?”
“Yeah, probably everyone he’s ever met, except me, because I was sleeping with him and he was paying for my podiatry lessons and teaching me how to lasso. He was a disgusting human being without any redeemable characteristics who hated his sense of smell. He made most of his therapy money on people who he said needed to analyze why they would even come to him and then kept coming. So it could have been anyone. And there was a group who liked to dress up like animals, but he kicked them out for not going on the papers. I was in that group for a week but they tossed me out saying my playboy bunny outfit wasn’t at all like a real rabbit’s, even after I offered to have sex with all them if they dressed like gophers.”
“You shrink boy friend probably didn’t like that.”
“Are you kidding, he wanted to start an Xrated animal planet. Oh, he had a private animal look-a-like patient he threatened with a blow torch, but that guy left therapy before the flames reached his face. He wouldn’t tell me what kind of animal his patient dressed like, saying that was patient/doctor privilege although he did say the guy quacked him up. Rudolph was a riot when he drank pharmaceutical grade plasma and snorted lighter fluid.”
“Hmmm, uh, but is there anything unusual about Rudolph that you can remember?”
“He had eight-hundred and sixty-five age spots, spent seven years stuck in the lotus position and he slept in separate beds.”
“You mean, when you were over you slept separately?” I asked, looking her up and down again, trying to convince myself that I had heard correctly.
“No, he always slept separately.”
“The guy was a slob during the day but when he slept he was a cleanliness freak. He hated having to wake up to change his sheets, thus two beds. He only slept two nights a week or was it two months a year?”
“Okay, besides being a vile human being and completely off his rocker, he’s your average over-priced shrink, who got his head chopped off and his body thrown in my window. We still need to find his killer.” I felt like I’d blown the case just by being involved in it.”
“I don’t mean to be negative but if we don’t find his killer do you think it would be alright if I really shrunk his head? I might be able to sell it at a garage sale. I hate to just throw things out,” she asked while running Q-tips through both his ears.
End Part 4
I was cleaning my French press when the phone rang. This time I found it right away, the female voice on the other end said, “Do you want some head?”
I knew what she meant and I knew it wasn’t going to be what I hoped it would mean. “Yeah, sure. How much?”
“This isn’t about money. I’ll be over in about fifteen minutes. Make a pot of coffee. We got some things to talk about.”
“Make it fifteen minutes, I grind my beans fresh.” Before I could ask for a name she hung up on me. My caller I.D. said, private number, so I had a hunch she was calling from her cell phone.
The fifteen minutes passed quickly and just as I poured the hot water into the French press, my door bell rang. When I opened the door I was stunned by what stood in front of me. Her hair was parted down the middle, one side was white blonde the other side dirty blonde. The eye on the white blonde side was gray blue almost identical to my complexion (when I’ve gotten too much sun), and the other side was as dark as a pile of rat droppings in an attic corner. Her lipstick was one color, but it must have taken most of the stick to cover them both.
She didn’t say hello, instead she said, “I’ll take mine black, no sugar.”
“Just give it a minute or two to sit. So who are you and why are you here? I know it ain’t because you heard about my beans”
She looked me up and down, before I had a chance to get up, despite already standing. “My name is Agnes, say it softly and is sounds like Agnes, but quieter. Okay, let’s talk head.” Her words made some more of me stand so I had to sit the rest in order to avoid embarrassment.
I caught up to myself and replied, “Who was the guy? And where’s his head?”
“Damn, I left it in the car. I knew I forgot something.”
“The head, duh!”
I laughed and said, “I guess if it was attached to you, you wouldn’t have forgotten it.”
She wasn’t joking and didn’t find me funny so she didn’t laugh. Okay maybe my reply wasn’t that witty, but not so bad that she’d be this upset with herself. “It’s the antidepressants mixed with sparkling vitamin water. I can’t remember anything. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
“You don’t have to get it now.”
“I left it on the front seat. In this neighborhood they’d take it if it was still attached,” she said sarcastically.
She turned around, and my eyes got suicidal when she closed the door. I hoped she returned, head or no head.