Rude Craig

Rancho Fanesta, one of the most exclusive communities in the western world, had started out as a cluster of horse ranches and citrus groves, then progressed to a vacation getaway for the wealthy, and then had finally become a permanent home for the wealthy.  At first those with inherited wealth formed a majority of the “town,” but with the advent of air travel, nouveau riches came from all around the world.  Some of them had gotten to the top through shady if not criminal dealings, but through that social magic that personal fortune brings, they had become simply "entrepreneurs". 

Wealth is fabulous indeed, but anyone lucky (or determined) enough to ascend to the heights discovers that they have more money than they know what to do with, and that can be a cause for consternation, on those lonely wine-tasting afternoons when one longs for something new to buy. Their imagination has run dry, in fact,  they have become bereft of ideas.  Among the most greatly afflicted of this group are the children of the noveau riches, simply because they’ve always been able to buy anything, and they’d run out of new possibilities very early, and face a life sentence of  miserable ennui.

But then, in many other places, in university philosophy departments and seminaries, there are those who have a seemingly infinite supply of ideas, but never enough money to carry them out.

Such imbalances in the universe always seek out their point of equilibrium, as the “supply and demand” paradigm of classic economics so commonly illustrates.  In an almost mystical fashion, the abundance flows toward that which seeks it out,  like a wide are network of prayer and answer. 

The Rice family of Rancho Fanesta were technically not nouveau  riches,  but the latest generation – the teenagers – were deep in accounts and shallow in culture.  The latter attribute was the result of parents who were so busy with the maintenance of the former that Suki and Robbie were allowed to run amok much of the time, only checking into decorum on an ephemeral basis.   Naturally, there were those episodes of parental indignation and feigned shock where the malicious children hear the script of authority and reply with the script of rebellion, as if there is a C-rate director from Burbank standing off camera:

“Listen here, young lady…you are not going out with Craig Schlauser tonight again!”

“Mother!   It wouldn’t matter if I went out with him once in a million years because you just hate him no matter what he does…”

“Exactly…there you go, Suki…what he does!  He doesn’t do anything…he drives around in that old jalopy of his with I’m sure some coolers of liquor and God-knows-what-else in the trunk…

“That, Mother is a classic car…he’s working on fixing it up…and when it’s done everybody…

“There you are again, my dear daughter…when, when, when…when he gets around to doing something, which is about the time hell will freeze over!”

“You just want to run my life and set me up with some guy with warts for nipples…”

“You know, you know…you are just a disrespectful, dirty little thing, aren’t you…

“Mother, I’m leaving, and you can’t stop me…”

“I’m just tired of trying…go ahead, go ahead and ruin your own life and see if I care…but don’t come crying to me when your little tummy starts to stick out and none of the losers you associate with want to have anything to do with you…”

“Fine,  mother,  fine!”

And mother, despite excessive time spent at wine tastings and other posh affairs, was an accurate judge of Craig’s character – not that anybody is really good for nothing, but just incredibly close to it.  Craig – or as he was popularly and somewhat contemptuously known – Rude Craig --  was a  beefy young man with  a limited but standardized lexicon. His phrase book contained, but was not limited to, the following:

That’s Unacceptable !
That kind of talk will get you fired with me!
(Pointing his index finger to his temple):  Mindfuck !
(Interrupting): Do you want me to wipe your dumb ass, while you’re at it?
(After the rejection of a romantic overture): Don’t ask me anymore, I already gave at the sperm bank !

Rude Craig (RC) was indeed beefy, mouthy and onerous. Off in a book closet, someplace in an esteemed European institute for the sciences, sat an intellectuel proposing a significant direct correlation between testosterone levels and pre-mature baldness, unaware that the empirical data caroused along the American Riviera.   RC was barely twenty-one, and his hair loss made him all the more angry.  But, as some of the guys and gals insisted, this guy is really funny, i.e., the life of the party, keg monkey,  owner of the biggest bong (constructed in the shape of, you guessed it),  inventor of the “Molotov Cocktail,” which contained that vile liquid of The Levant,  Arak,  Procurer General of the pharmacopia of the United States of Mexico. So Suki Rice, bored to exhaustion with the coffee table world of her parents, had found what she thought was its opposite.

Younger brother Robbie often like to taunt Suki about the “relationship” in less-than-diplomatic asides such as “he bone you yet?”

“You’re a perv, Robbie!”

“Hey, everybody’s a perv, ‘cept they try to hide it until the long arm of the cyber tube catches their crotch…you know it, you do it…”

“Speak for yourself, brat…”

“C’mon, I’ve get more important things to do…deadlines and shit..bye…”

My little brother Robbie can’t decide whether he wants to be a hippie or a cyborg.  Problem is, he can’t concentrate long enough to make up his mind (giggles all around).

Suki had been mingling RC and his associates for about two years now.  He was three years older than Suki, and had accomplished buggerall since graduating, with an undisguished academic record, from high school.  Suki had managed to stay just above B’s, certainly enough to get her into Maralpo Community College.  She was now in her senior year at Las Flores High, and mother was insistent that she continue her education, and not  follow in the reckless trail of her brazen friend. Mother had even tried to remember and recite the Lutheran prayers of her childhood in an attempt to re-route what appeared to be a looming white trash destiny for her daughter.

 Mother, you just hate him because he’s not from The Ranch.
No, Suki…I hate him because he’s useless.

Two years of parental frustration had come to its maximum dramaturgy, with even father getting involved on occasion, delivering uncomfortable speeches about the way guys were when he was that age,  full of piss and otherwise, ready to snap at the slightest sign of female willingness,  etc.  And of course, the classic:

You just wait ten years and it will begin to dawn on you: your parents weren’t so stupid after all!

Some children of the class-unconscious proletariat would later bristle at this piece of folk wisdom.  Watch them now, in front of seventy-two inches of high definition,  coming to a different conclusion:

My parents were no more stupid than people in general.

It was at a breaking point that really was no breaking point at all than a miracle with its accompanist, schadenfreude, took to the stage. Oh, isn’t it terrible to rejoice in the misfortunes of others, even if they somehow deserve it?  Mother could barely stifle her glee when she found out, at yet another wine tasting (this time, the fabulous Shirazes of South Australia), that Rude Craig, the vile corrupter of her daughter,  had gotten himself soused,  revved on white powder,  and had caused an international incident involving a giant tortilla press. RC would have to be in Skaggs Hospital for weeks, maybe months.

--That’s terrible !
--Well,  that boy was bound to get into trouble.

Suki went to visit RC in the hospital, and she was so horrified at his reformed countenance that she reported back to mother with great haste, “Oh my God, mother, he has a schnauzer face now! It’s so gross !”

Lutheran prayers,  indeed.

After having been discharged from the hospital, abandoned by Suki Rice, Rude Craig, his re-constructed face still bandaged, lay propped up in his dilapidated beach bungalow watching television.  A balmy breeze blew sand across the tile.  He could hear the cackles and hoots of the merry-makers in the distance.  He wasn’t feeling very well.

"This is shit… Shitty Piss Shit Fuck”

He groaned it again:

Shitty Piss Shit Fuck

It was the oration that RC had landed on, decided on.  It had a nice rhythm to it, like the clickety-clack of an old freight train, or the clip-clop of a horse.  He began saying it many times, almost like a profane mantra-- if there could be such a thing. But he knew that when he started saying it too many times,  there was one and only one course of action to be taken:  Drugs.

Fortunately for RC -- and let us not forget that his recent life had been one bad fortune cookie – yes, the kind of fortune that the unlimited and plenteous universe gives one in their hour of need –  he had both his prescriptions, of course, and easy access to all the illicit substances he wanted.  After all, he was at the beach!  So there,  beside his bed, on a TV dinner cart on rollers,  rested the following items:

   A) A magazine of an unmentionable title, devoted to the excesses of the accomplished libertine.

   B)  A vial of tablets:  Vicodin.

   C)  Another vial of tablets:  Codeine with a sprinkle of Tylenol.

   D)  A small can containing a few “Turkish” joints – i.e., cannabis and tobacco mixed together.

    E)  A 32-ounce plastic tumbler and straw depicting The Flinstones and their pets.  There was Fred in his orange and black animal hide belting out Yabba Dabba Doo, driving his steamrollermobile with Barney Rubble on the passenger side. Wilma and Betty and the kids and pets were all waving goodbye to them as they took off for work.  What filled this scene almost to the brim was a clever concoction of  Wild Turkey and Dr. Pepper.

RC let out his mantra one more time.  He grabbed the Codeine, but then reconsidered.  Maybe this time, he should try the Vicodin.   He thought it was like choosing between different types of rice pilaf at Kabob Cabana up the street… yeah, that’s what it was like…”fucking exactly,” he thought to himself.

 “Screw it…take ‘em both.”

 RC popped one of each, and then Ahhhhhh, he drank mightily from that ancient well.

It wasn’t too long after that his “girlfriend” – (Dear Reader, I use this term advisedly, for the girl’s affections were both dynamic and wide-ranging) Salomaya entered the bungalow, and upon seeing RC’s choice of reading material and the sensory cornucopia beside him, made that classic face of revulsion.

"Ewwww…you are so fucking gross, Craig.  So fucking gross!”

“Hey, go out and get me a cheeseburger…make that double, fries with that” RC growled…and then laughed, very deeply and sickly.

“Go out and get me a cheeseburger…go out and get me a cheeseburger, like I’m your servant or something…”

“Hey, baby listen – there’s always something extra in it for ya, and I know you’ve been taking your own tips anyway.  And you know I got a pretty good case against them Mexicans.  My lawyer says it was an international incident.  An international incident.  So long story short,  and it needs no translation, is we got some money coming to us for what those beaners did to my face and all the pain and suffering…I’m talking a million bucks.  You in on this?”

 “Craig, you’ve been pouring quite a shitload of drugs into your system…you’re just fucking dreaming, Craig.  Fucking dreaming, like your whole life story.”

“Oh, baby, you’re so mean to me!  I mean, what if was you laying here, all bandaged up, can’t do nothing but watch TV and eat and drink and shit and piss. Can’t even go down to the water ‘cause the doctor says it will fuck up the job he’s done.  So all I’m asking is bear with me, while I recuperate, take whatever bucks you need, and stick with the man with the golden face…I mean, you want to go to Vegas in style, like fucking Donald Trump or somebody?  I’m telling you, we’re on the money train.”

"Craig, did it ever occur to you that you might have been high when that international incident happened?”

“Shit, someone has a little mood adjuster, and then some goons try to chop his head off.  It was all his fault because he was adjusted. Never mind the fucking maniacs that were going Islamic on him.”

“It’s no use…I’ll get you the damn cheeseburger.  You’re buying me a six-pack for this one…”

“Alright, whatever, take the money from the coffee can…”

 And off she went.

RC grabbed the remote control and turned the television on.  Basic cable didn’t offer much of a variety of programs, and at this time of the afternoon,  it mostly consisted of talk shows and soap operas. RC wandered around the TV dial for a good twenty minutes.  Or was it an hour?  After all, the drugs were starting to take effect.  For some reason, he suddenly became engrossed in a woodworking show. But wait! The Emergency Broadcasting System took over his TV set with a series of electronic buzzes and flashing back text on a bright red background.  A stentorian voice bellowed:

 “The U.S. Government has declared a national emergency.  I repeat:  The U.S. Government has declared a national emergency.  Leader Cheney will be addressing the nation shortly. Please stay tuned to this station and await further instructions.”

“Oh, man, this must be some kind of fucking joke” RC concluded, and changed the channel.

But it was no joke:  All the channels were the same, stuck on the Emergency Broadcasting Network.  He lit up a Turkish delight, took a long drag, and washed it down with some Yabba Dabba Doo juice.  As the smoke was cast red by the light of the television,  RC felt the golden gates of perception widening, slowly, in the way that the first few phrases of a prelude portend symphonic glory – yes, that magnificent ride was about to begin.  Those cheap curtains --- plastic, adorned with daisies – ruffled in the afternoon onshore breeze.  Reader, such a sweet reverie did RC engage that his heart became uplifted, yes,  I dare say transcendent !  Upon his own synaptic rainbow did he alight,  bounding within his own neuro-sonority!

That red screen disappeared.  A reporter standing in front of silken blue drapes appeared.

“This is Kirk Rogers coming to you live from The Directorate of Information.  We are waiting for Leader Cheney to appear within a few moments from now.  From what we know, he will be addressing the nation regarding a national emergency, the nature of which we are uncertain…the press corps was called here suddenly, again, we don’t know that nature of this national emergency.  Certainly, our affiliates, nor those of other networks have any idea what this emergency might be.  There are no natural or man-made disaster of any size to report at this hour…ah, here comes Leader Cheney, surrounded by staffers and The Secret Service…let’s listen to what he has to say…”

Leader Cheney was puffed up in the chest, not from the latest Chuck Norris video, but from three layers of titanium-projectile-proof-padding and a cybernetic coronary control system the size of a mature pomelo.  His head was bloated and pasty, like a papier-mâché effigy from Carnaval.  His mouth moved around as if searching for the perfectly ominous word.  His nostrils flared a bit, and then he spoke:

“My fellow Americans, I come to you today with some rather grave news.  The Bureau of Persecution has just apprehended the nucleus of a international and interplanetary terrorist network that was planning a major incident in our homeland. These individuals were apprehended both here and abroad, and were part of a conspiracy to detonate weapons of mass hysteria from sea to shining sea…”

RC was feeling ripe.  Just when you think you’re at the top of the mountain, the trail winds around another bend, and there’s yet higher ground to surmount.

“Oh…oh…this guy’s funny as shit…heee…”

RC started cackling uncontrollably.  The more Leader Cheney talked, the more uncontrollable, until RC was crying hot tears of giddiness.  He was that chimp who bounds ten feet in the air.  He was the rubber man and the bearded lady spinning around like a whirling dervish in front of Signor Fellini.  He was free, part of the vibrational universe !

“Oh man…blah ha ha  ha ha !”

Suddenly, to the shock of all around him, Leader Cheney began to lose his puffiness:  a yellow foam the consistency of lemon chiffon pie, began oozing, first from his orifices, and then, with the tiny sound of a rip – that sound of someone splitting his pants – from his chest.  The malodorous smell of hot pus came through the television, and flamed RC’s own nostrils.

“Whewwww….smells like shit…hah!  Hah!”

Wouldn’t it be his luck that Salomey would come back with his double cheeseburger and fries just at the moment when Leader Cheney was stinking the place up so bad.

“O.K, Craig…double cheeseburger and fries for you, cheeseburger and onion rings for me, plus the six-pack that I deserve…hey…what’s with you?”

 “This guy is funny as shit,  stinks like shit, but he’s funny and shit…look at that yellow shit coming out of the side of his mouth…looks like fucking diarrhea after you had too bad  curry to eat…’

 RC imagined a brief exchange between a food inspector and the owner of a greasy spoon:

The restaurateur: -- No sir!  Kabob very good!  People like kabob!
The inspector:      -- No, Ahmed!  Kabob bad.  Bad Kabob.
The restaurateur: -- Then try the curry.  Golden curry – many piquant spices !
The inspector:  Blauaum (vomit)

 “Craig!  Jesus, it’s just some boring speech…you’re fucking wasted again !”

“Gimme my food, girl…”

“Here…I’m going in the kitchen to eat mine…you’re so disgusting…”

RC grabbed his double bongo burger with cheese and tore off a piece of hit with his teeth, in the manner of the ape men of 2001: A Space Odyssey.  He continued eating, drinking and cackling until Leader Cheney was no more than a balloon-skin likeness of his former exterior, and a pile of malodorous saffron-chiffon-pus pie.  RC soon began teleporting,  astrally projecting to all corners of the room.  This lasted for hours, until the beautiful dawn, when – to his great dismay, Leader Cheney, having been reconstituted by the finest herpetologists,  would attack him with giant knitting needles, as if he were a voodoo doll.