It's a quiet morning here in pledge central. The switch-board is having a little snooze, and the floor-sweeping robot, Dennis, is back in his charger. I'm feeling reflective. I sat down at my desk to respond to some old e-mails from Michelle Obama (about Barak's gray hairs) (apparently the tough decisions he's making in Washington are too much for any hair coloring product to match)...and who rolled into my office but the man behind the plan, Mike Velasquez! That's a name that's probably unfamiliar to all of you, but it's a name you should know. See, Mike is behind this whole trip. You could call Mike The Engine of My Subaru, The Heart of Pledge Central, The Farming Blood that Roars through My Ventricles. Lemme fill you in.
|photo of a "rio" near Stan and Rose Mary's farm|
You are aboard a bus bound for the annual AWP (Association of Writing Programs) Conference, when your bus is hijacked by a handful of vegan terrorists with colorful names and assorted mental peculiarities. Your goal is to write your way to freedom in under 500 words.
Well, I knew that Mike Velasquez was the man for the job. My classmates had come to expect big things from Mike, had come to love his hilarious incarnations, and so I packed up Mike's duffel bag and bought him a bus ticket.
|one of Stan's garlic fields|
|Stan called this one "garlic harvest with brownies"|
Click the gas can, folks. Thank you. And enjoy Mike's little romp (below). yrs, Jono
First of all, I did not expect Mike Velasquez to be on the bus.
“Well if it isn’t Mister booney fuckin’ bone bone,” he said to me when I boarded.
“Yeah, I’m mister boney bone bone,” I said. “Now tell me, where can I get a drink around here?”
Mike made a sweeping gesture that included every square inch of the extraordinarily long bus we were on and said, “A drink? This isn’t Vegas, knucklehead. This is the A-W-P-Mobile”—and here, Mike copped a mammoth Spanish accent—“and we’re headed to Ciudad Ins-Pir-A-Cion!”
“Ciudad Inspiration,” I said, rolling my eyes. “Never heard of it.”
I took a look around. There were about two hundred poets and one hundred and seventy fiction writers aboard, and they all looked sweaty, irritated, and uninspired. People’s clothes were sticking to them in the most cliché ways. A shy poet unstuck his skinny purple jeans from this thighs and said, “ick.” A fiction writer wearing a straw hat recorded the action in a notebook and clapped his hands together. “Brilliant,” he said. “Kinda great,” someone else said.
I’d picked up the line at Bonaparte Junction, and I’d left my patience pills at home.
“Listen Mister Battery acid,” I said, “If you think I fell off the banana boat yesterday, you’ve got another thing coming to you.”
“Incorrect grammar!” somebody shouted.
“Incorrect, but achingly real!” another voice resounded through the bus. I turned back to Mike.
“It’s not about what you think,” Mike said, “it’s about what you don’t think.” The bus oohed and aahed at his words.
I was completely flummoxed.
“So you’re dishing out big-time philosophy now,” I said, holding my balance nicely as the bus jolted to a start. “Not bad for an intellectual munchkin who used to wet his pants.”
Mike was unimpressed. I found my seat and sat down.
In the back of the bus two ultra-young poets munched silently on a humongous bag of pretzels. I approached them.
“What are a couple of degenerate wordsmiths like you two doing with such a respectable looking bag of pretzels on a clap-trap bus like this?”
No answer. I repeated myself:
“I said, what are a couple of degenerate wordsmiths like you two doing on this bus?”
A fairly well-established young poet craned around in her seat and said to me through her bangs, “They’re dead. It’s a troubling zoo, this life. We’re leaving them with their pretzel memorial.”
This produced an inordinately loud “here here” from all the poets aboard. I couldn’t understand it.
“Well fuck that,” I said, “I’m fucking hungry.”
I took the pretzels and devoured them immediately. The bus screeeeched to a halt. I was knocked to the ground by a first edition, signed copy of The Bell Jar, and then knocked unconscious by a braile edition of Moby Dick. When I woke up, Raynbo was holding a wilted piece of asparagus across my throat, telling me that if I moved one muscle, he’d turn me into a tofu pup before I could say hegemonic, white male, corporate oppression eats a dick!
“Is this an execution or a potluck?” I said.
“YOU PIPE DOWN OVER THERE,” Jared shouted.
Kriisten was running around the bus, checking notebooks. Instead of a bone, she had her hair tied back with a rib of celery. If she found a poem with a mention of animal product, she threatened the poet with one hundred years of sexual dysfunction and chronic nightmares involving suffocation by Big Mac.
That’s when Velasquez stepped in. The radical vegans who were holding our bus hostage had thrown a twenty-four by twenty-four foot needlepoint representation of a moose in front of our bus, thereby broken its front axle, and foreced it to a dead stop.
“Listen up, vegetable heads,” Velasquez shouted. “If you think versification is antithetical to the peaceful cohabitation upon planet Earth of man, plant, animal and sponge”—and here Velasquez mounted the crest of a sweaty bus seat, tottering but keepin’ his balance—“then my name isn’t Mike Velasquez and I’m not a would-be poet.”
Raynbo loosed the asparagus from my neck. Jared popped a couple Aderol. Kriisten rapidly removed the celery rib from her coif, licked it, rapidly re-inserted it, and Mike continued:
“What I’m trying to say is that eco-hostages and eco-terrorists alike can live peacably together, that tofu pup can exist peaceably beside hot dog, that hamburger can tango with sunflower patty, and that if we really want it”—and here Mike really raised his voice—“that if we really want it, veganaise and mayonaise can lounge, cheek by jowel, towel by moist towelette, together beside the great uncheckered pool of humanity.”
“Puff!” Raynbo said.
“Puff!” Kriisten said.
“Plllgfump!” Jared said.
And then there was silence. Helicopters swirled all around above the bus. I was just resuming full consciousness. There were nine or ten poets on the bus that I badly wanted to have meaningless and indiscreet sexual intercourse with, but Mike was still holding the floor.
“This is not about cock-blocking,” he said, “this is about living together and together fighting the corporate oppression that turns each and every one of us—flexitarian, vegetarian, freegan, hard-core pork-o-phile, halal, kosher, weekend baconista, ovo-lacto-pesci mixatairan and die-hard carnivore alike—into do-or-die, mixed up, pseudo-religious, quasi-mother fuckers with deep down hatreds for all things corpo that burn in our hearts, incessant and eternal.” Mike was really killing it now, and no animals but the great animal of the English language were paying the price. I took the floor.
“I think I just shit my pants,” I said.
Ranybo bent down and sniffed my pants.
“Confirmed,” Ranybo said. “We have an incident over here.”
Just then all of our cellphones vibrated at exactly the same moment, bringing us the news.
Osama bin Laden was finally dead. They did the autopsy and determined that he had died from bad breath.