It was May 13th and the Construction Crew at the edge of the universe had still not worked a day. They had gotten, yous knowses, bored of the old-ah construction worker routine. “I ain’t movin’ a goddamn muscle,” said one of the guys, flipping open his lunch pail, even though it wasn’t lunchtime, “I don’t care what the shirts over at the Architecture department have to say about it.” “You’re goddamn right, Tony, goddamn right.” Barney prattled each finger on the edge of the table like the legs of a lanky spider. “Not ‘til we get what’s rightfully ourses.” On May 13th, in Dallas, Texas, in a pond located in what neighbors referred to as an eccentric backyard of the property of a man whose driver's license reads Steve Aydt, a thin layer of long unnoticed algae became self-aware. On May 13th, Rick Santos found a small yellow envelope neatly placed on his pillow alongside a breath mint. “Rick, we can help you. Trust us. Meet us tonight at the Chili’s off of Shepherd at 12:34am.” He reviewed the note then flipped it over. “Also, eat the breath mint. Most of us didn’t brush our teeth while we were in hiding either. You need it, buddy.” Sick Rantos knawed on the inside of his cheek because he had already gone through all of his fingernails and his mind nervously ticked, Oh God. They’ve found me. Oh God. This is a trap. This is obviously a trap. I—I—I’m fucked! The streets stank of crime as Phillip Spade waded through the fumes. The smoke of his cigarette sliced through the stench like the windshield wiper of the law sweeping the dirt off the windshield called the city in the country of unabashed ethics. He walked into the gas station and locked the door behind him. Sometimes you had to work a little outside of the law. “You seen this guy?” He slipped a photograph into the cashier’s face. “Name’s Michael Billies.” On January 23rd, while Billy Michaels was in a deep psychedelic state and gazing directly into the Supreme Face of Being, really about to grok it all, a man rang his doorbell and offered him a card for his landscaping business because he noticed Billy’s unkempt lawn. Upon returning to the couch Billy had forgotten it all and never really got over what he considered to be the biggest once-over that the universe had ever pulled on him. Phillip Spade watched Michael Billies through the blinds of the washateria across the street from Mike’s office. “Sir. Sir! There is ah-no no smoking inna here!” Phillip Spade continued to smoke despite the urgent requests of the store owner. He just sat there, he had been sitting there for three days in a row. At the bequest of the washateria owner he had to continuously pay for a machine to be running the whole time he was inside. All of his clothing was now pristine. On this third day, in accordance to Spade’s Prescienceometer, Mike was leaving the office when he accidentally backed into a car behind him in the parking lot. He had just tapped it, really. As Spade peered through the blinds at him, Mike got out of his car and checked the front bumper of the car he had nudged before nervously driving off. What a piece of work, thought Spade, unbeknownst of the ethical lion pit Mike had just wrestled. As Mike drove down the road his mind kept him in constant dialogue. Shit, I do not have time for this to be a problem I have to deal with right now. Oh well—well it was just a tap. I literally just tapped him. Is there any other property that a human owns that I’m not allowed to tap, what about their backpacks, or coffee cups, or lawnmowers—yeah, there’s no other societal taboo on tapping anything else. Why should I have left a note? There was no need for this instance to even be known, nothing has changed about the state of that car. But, but maybe--maybe I should have left a note. To, you know, do the thing. But fuck, maybe he would’ve called the cops and then I’ll have to deal with this and I’m too broke for that. The glass bottle clinked against the table as Sal Manela finished pouring himself a drink. “You got anything this week Reid? I’m shit out of luck over here.” “Nah, nothin’, Sal. Nothins been as good as that chick getting crushed by that piano. Ratings are so down south that they’re wearing a cowboy hat.” Sal took a deep sip of his drink. “Sure do wish something would happen.” Sure enough, at that exact moment, Rick Santos found himself running from sirens as yells slid over his shoulders and police sirens filled the air. But before that: Rick Santos approached the Chili’s off of Shepherd. It was 12:33am. It’s closed, it’s fuckin closed. Why’d I come here. It’s the cops, it’s the fuckin’ cops. They know I dropped that piano, they know it was me. They’ve lured me here and I’m so stupid to— Before Rick could turn to leave, the back door to the kitchen opened before him and he saw a card table surrounded by a group of men. Every single one of the men was wearing a black ski-mask. The one at the end of the table stood and said, “Welcome, Sick Rantos, we’ve been expecting you.” And Rick Santos stood up, and he looked around the room, and he took it all in, and he thought about it all and then he paused for a moment and then he looked at the man and said, “Well, I guess you know my name is really Rick Santos and I was just was just using Si--” “Of course we know,” said another one of the men. He was sitting on the right side of the table, near its base, and wore a straw hat over his ski mask. The first man addressed Rick again and said, “You’ve done something that you regret recently, haven’t you?” Rick’s heart pounded, he grew faint, the edges of his vision became like felt tip markers covering a page. He began to try to think of something to say but the man in the sombrero said, “Look, we all have. Flashback three years. I’m the resident handyman of a stripclub in Pasadena. One day, the bartender says to me while I was sittin’ there, smoking a spliff with one of the girls, ‘We got a new stripper pole, Rau wants to turn the corner sitting area into an ‘Oriental Pleasure Garden’. Could you install this in the middle of the space I blocked off with painter’s tape?’ So I says, ‘Of course I can’. So I do, and then I sit down, and we re-light the spliff and everything is great. Until the next weekend, they have their unveiling party and one of the girls, Tessie Racked, she jumps on the pole and flips upside down to slither down on it, like a snake, you know, people love it when she does that. But then when she goes to do it, the fucking pole comes right off the ceiling and she eats shit and the pole comes down on the shoulder of some freckled faced suit wearin’ motherfucker who stands up and yells but Tessie is screaming that her leg feels like it’s snapped in half and guess fuckin’ what, it is snapped in half, you can see the bone comin’ right out, so I fuckin’ book it. I know they’re comin’ for me. I’m done. Turns out I forgot to screw in the top of the pole to the ceiling. I just bolted down the bottom to the floor and walked away like an idiot. So I went into hiding. I thought I was toast. I even started writing that novel about the potential for a future in which bio-mechanics influences the design of interstellar space craft that I’d always put off, saying, one day, before I die I’ll finish this. I thought I was done for sure.” “But then we found him,” said the first masked man. “Just like we found you. And how’s your life now, Antonio?” “Pretty goddamn great,” said Antonio, tipping his straw hat. We can make your life great too, Rick.” “Who are you people?” Rick asked, sweating. “We’re the League of Well Meaning Men Who Have Accidentally Caused a Catastrophe and we want to help you.” Right as this was happening Mike was flipping radio stations in his car, and for a brief moment, surfacing through the static, he could of swore that he heard, “Ya know Barney, we should just quit doin’ this.” ▲ TO BE CONTINUED ▲
Jet Propelled Insectivore is known in recondite circles the world over as an enemy of the conservative, a noteworthy amateur electrical engineer, and a local inhalant enthusiast. He is currently working on interactive art installations which urge the participant to ask questions such as, "Wait a minute, is this reality really real?" or "Do we really need the police?" Although this instance of his corporeal form was born in 1991, he is, in fact, older than time.