We Wish You`d Bury The Missus


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My boss sends me home because of all the dried blood on my pants, and I'm overjoyed. The hole punched through my cheek doesn't ever heal I'm going to work, and my punched-out eye sockets are two swollen-up black bagels around the little piss holes I have left to see through. Until today, it really pissed me off that I'd become the totally centered Zen Master and nobody had noticed. Still, I', doing the little FAX thing. I write little HAIKU things and FAX them around to everyone. When I pass people in the hall at the work, i get totally ZEN through everyone's hostile little FACE. Worker bees can leave Even drones can fly away The queen is their slave When you give up all your worldly possessions and your car and go live in a rented house in the toxic waste part of town where late at night, you can hear Marla and Tyler in his room, calling each other human butt wipe. Take it, human butt wipe. Do it, human butt wipe. Choke it down. Keep it down, baby. Just in contrast, this makes me the calm little center of the world. Me, with my punched-out eyes and dried blood in big black crusty stains on my pants, I'm saying HELLO to everybody at work. HELLO! Look at me. HELLO! I am so ZEN. This is BLOOD. This is NOTHING. Hello. Everything is nothing, and it's so cool to be ENLIGHTENED. Like me. Sigh. Look. Outside the Window. A bird. My boss asked if the blood was my blood. The bird flies downwind. I'm writing a little haiku in my head. Without just one nest A bird can call the world home Life is your career. I'm counting on my fingers; five, seven, five. The blood, is it mine? Yeah, I say. Some of it. This is a wrong answer. Like this is a big deal. I have two pair of black trousers. Six white shirts. Six pair of underwear. The bare minimum. I got to fight club. These things happen. "Go home," my boss says. "Get changed." I'm starting to wonder if Tyler and Marla are the same person. Except for the humping, every night in Marla's room. Doing it. Doing it. Doing it. Tyler and Marla are never in the same room. I never see them together. Still, you never see me and Zsa Zsa Gabor together, and this doesn't mean we're the same person. Tyler just doesn't come out when Marla's around. So I can wash the pants, Tyler has to show me how to make soap.Tyler's upstairs, and the kitchen is filled with the smell of cloves and burnt hair. Marla's at the kitchen table, burning the inside of her arm with a clove cigarette and calling herself human butt-wipe. "I embrace my own festering diseased corruption," Marla tells the cherry at the end of her cigarette. Marla twists the cigarette into the soft white belly of her arm. "Burn, witch, burn." Tyler's upstairs in my bedroom, looking at his teeth in my mirror, and says he got me a job as a banquet waiter, part time. "At the Pressman Hotel, if you can work in the evening," Tyler says. "The job will stoke your class hatred." Yeah, I say, whatever. "They make you wear a black bow tie," Tyler says. "All you need to work there is a white shirt and black trousers." Soap, Tyler. I say, we need soap. We need to make some soap. I need to wash my pants. I hold Tyler's feet while he does two hundred sit-ups. "To make soap, first we have to render fat." Tyler is full of useful information. Except for their humping, Marla and Tyler are never in the same room. If Tyler's around, Marla ignores him. This is familiar ground. This is exactly how my parents were invisible to each other. Then my father went off to start another franchise. My father always said, "Get married before the sex gets boring, or you'll never be married." My mother said, "Never buy anything with a nylon zipper." My parents never said anything you'd want to embroider on a cushion. Tyler does one hundred ninety-eight sit-ups. One ninety-nine. Two hundred. Tyler's wearing a sort of gummy flannel bathrobe and sweatpants. "Get Marla out of the house," Tyler says. "Send Marla to the store for a can of lye. The flake kind of lye. Not the crystal kind. Just get rid of her." Me, I'm six years old, again, and taking messages back and forth between my estranged parents. I hated this when i was six. I hate it now. Tyler starts doing leg lifts, and I go downstairs to tell Marla: the flakes kind of lye, I give her a ten-dollar bill ad my bus pass. While Marla is still sitting at the kitchen table, I take the clove cigarette from between her fingers. Nice and easy. With a dishcloth, I wipe the rusty spots on Marla's arm, where the burn scabs cracked and started to bleed. Then I wedge each of her feet into a high-heel shoe. Marla looks down at me doing my Prince Charming routine with her shoes and says, "I let myself in. I didn't think anyone was home. Your front door doesn't lock." I don't say anything. "You know, the condom is the glass slipper of our generation. You slip it on when you meet a stranger. You dance all night, then you throw it away. The condom, I mean. Not the stranger." I'm not talking to Marla. She can horn in on the support groups and Tyler, but there's no way she can be my friend. "I've been waiting her all morning for you." Flowers bloom and die Wind brings butterflies or snow A stone won't notice Marla gets up from the kitchen table, and she's wearing a sleevel3ess blue-colored dress made of some shiny material. Marla pinches the edge of the skirt and turns it up for me to see little dots of stitching on the inside. She's not wearing any underwear. And she winks. "I wanted to show you my new dress," Marla says. "It's a bridesmaid dress and it's all hand sewn. Do you like it? The Goodwill thrift sold it for one dollar. Somebody did all these tiny stitches jut to make this ugly, ugly dress," Marla says. "Can you believe it?" The skirt is longer on one side than on the other, and the waist of the dress orbits low around Marla's hips. Before she leaves for the store, Marla lifts her skirt with her fingertips and sort of dances around me and the kitchen table, her ass flying around inside her skirt. What Marla loves, she says, is all the things that people love intensely and then dump an hour or a day after. The way a Christmas tree is the center of attention, then, after Christmas you see those dead Christmas trees with the tinsel still on them, dumped alongside the highway. You see those trees and think of road kill animals or sex crime victims wearing their underwear inside out and bound with black electrical tape. I just want her out of here. "The Animal Control place is the best place to go," Marla says. "Where all the animals, the little doggies and kitties that people loved and then dumped, even the old animals, dance and jump around for your attention because after three days, they get an overdose shot of sodium phenobarbital, and then into the big pet oven. "The big sleep, 'Valley of the Dogs' style. "Where even if someone loves you enough to save your life, they still castrate you." Marla looks at me as if I'm the one humping her and ays, "I can't win with you, can I?" Marla goes out the back door singing that creepy "Valley of the Dolls" song. I just stare at her going. There's one, two, three minutes of silence until all of Marla is gone from the room. I turn around, and Tyler's appeared. Tyler says, "Did you get rid of her?" Not a sound, not a smell, Tyler's just appeared. "First," Tyler says and jumps from the kitchen doorway to digging in the freezer. "First, we need to render some fat." About my boss, Tyler tells me, if I'm really angry I should go to the post office and fill out a change-of-address card and have his mail forwarded to Rugby, North Dakota. Tyler starts pulling out sandwich bags of frozen white stuff and dropping them in the sink. Me, I'm supposed to put a big pan on the stove and fill it most of the way with water. Too little water, and the fat will darken as it separates into tallow. "This fat," Tyler says, "it has a lot of salt so the more water, the better." Put the fat in the water, and get the water boiling. Tyler squeezes the white mess from each sandwich bag into the water, and then Tyler buries the empty bags all the way at the bottom of the trash. Tyler says, "Use a little imagination. Remember all that pioneer shit they taught you Boy Scouts. Remember your high school chemistry." It's hard to imagine Tyler in Boy Scouts. Another thing I could do, Tyler tells me, is I could drive to my boss's house some night and hook a hose up to another outdoor spigot. Hook the chain hose to the hand pump, and I could inject the house plumbing with a charge of industrial dye. Red or blue or green, and wait to see how my boss looks the next day. Or, I could just sit in the bushes and pump the hand pump until the plumbing was superpressurized to 110 psi. This way, when someone goes to flush the toilet, the toilet tank will explode. At 150 psi, if someone turns on the shower, the water pressure will blow off the shower head, stripe the threats, blam, the shower head turns into a mortar shell. Tyler only says this to make me feel better. The truth is I like my boss. Besides, I'm enlightened now. You know, only Buddha-style behavior. Spider chrysanthemums. The Diamond Sutra and the Blue Cliff Record. Hari Rama, you know, Krishna, Krishna. You know, Enlightened. "Sticking feathers up your butt," Tyler says, "Does not make you a chicken." As the fat renders, tallow will float to the surface of the boiling water. Oh, I say, so I'm sticking feathers up my butt. As if Tyler with the cigarette burns marching up his arm such an evolved soul. Mister and Missus Human Butt Wipe. I calm my face down and turn into one of those Hindu cow people going to slaughter on the airplane procedure card. Turn down the heat under the pan. I stir the boiling water. More and more tallow will rise until the water is skinned over with a rainbow of mother-of-pearl layer. Use a big spoon to skim th elayer off and set this layer aside. So, I say, how is Marla? Tyler says, "At least Marla's trying to hit bottom." I stir the boiling water. Keep skimming until no more tallow rises. This is tallow we're skimming off the water. Good clean tallow. Tyler says I'm nowhere near hitting bottom, yet. And if I don't fall all the way, I can't be saved. Jesus did it with his crucifixion thing. I shouldn't just abandon money and property and knowledge. This isn't just a weekend retreat. I should run from self-improvement, and I should be running toward disaster. I can't play it safe anymore. This isn't a seminar. "If you lose your never before you hit the bottom," Tyler says, "you'll never really succeed." Only after disaster can we be resurrected. "It's only after you've lost everything," Tyler says, "that you're free to do anything." What I'm feeling is premature enlightenment. "And keep stirring," Tyler says. When the fat's boiled enough that no more tallow rises, throw out the boiling water. Was the pot and fill it with clean water. I ask, am I anywhere near hitting bottom? "Where you're at, now, "Tyler says, "you can't ever imagine what the bottom will be like." Repeat the process with the skimmed tallow. Boil the tallow in the water. Skim and keep skimming. "The fat we're using has a lot of salt in it," Tyler says. "Too much salt and your soap won't get solid." Boil and skim. Boil and skim. Marla is back. The second Marla opens the door, Tyler is gone, vanished, ran out of the room, disappeared. Tyler's gone upstairs, or Tyler's one down to the basement. Poof. Marla comes in the back door with a canister of lye flakes. "At the store, they have one-hundred-percent recycled toilet paper," Marla says. "The worst job in the whole world must be recycling toilet paper." I take the canister of lye and put it on the table. I don't say anything. "Can I stay over, tonight?" Marla says. I don't answer. I count in my head: five syllables, seven, five. A tiger can smile A snake will say it loves you Lies make us evil Marla says, "What are you cooking." I am Joe's Boiling Point. I say, go, just go, just get out. Okay? Don't you have a big enough chunk of my life, yet? Marla grabs my sleeve and holds me in one place for the second it takes to kiss my cheek. "Please call me," she says. "Please. We need to talk.' I say, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. The moment Marla is out the door, Tyler appears back in the room. Fast as a magic trick. My parents did this magic act for five years. I boil and skim while Tyler makes room in the fridge. Steam layers the air and water drops from the kitchen ceiling. The forty-watt bulb hidden in the back of the fridge, something bright I can't see behind the empty ketchup bottles and jars of pickle brine or mayonnaise, some tiny light from inside the fridge edges Tyler's profile bright. Boil and skim. Boil and skim. Put the skimmed tallow into milk cartons with the tops opened all the way. With a chair pulled up to the fridge, Tyler watches the tallow cool. In the heat of the kitchen, clouds of cold fog waterfall out from the bottom of the fridge and pool around Tyler's feet. As I fill the the milk cartons with tallow, Tyler puts them in the fridge. I go to kneel beside Tyler in front of the fridge, and Tyler takes my hands and shows them to me. The life line. The love line. The mounds of Venus and Mars. The cold fog pooling around us, the dim bright light in our faces. "I need you to do me another favor," Tyler says. This is about Marla isn't it? "Don't ever talk to her about me. Don't talk about me behind my back, you promise?" Tyler says. I promise. Tyler says, "If you ever mention me to her, you'll never see me again." I promise. "Promise?" I promise. Tyler says, "Now remember, that was three times that you promised." A layer of something thick and clear is collecting on the top of the tallow in the fridge. The tallow, I say, it's separating. "Don't worry," Tyler says. "The clear layer is glycerin. You can mix the glycerin back in when you make soap. Or, you can skim the glycerin off." Tyler licks his lips, and turns my hands palm-down on his thigh, on the gummy flannel lap of his bathrobe. "You can always mix the glycerin with nitric acid to make nitroglycerin," Tyler says. I breath with my mouth open and say, nitroglycerin. Tyler licks his lips wet and shining and kisses the back of my hand. "You can mix the nitroglycerin with sodium nitrate and sawdust to make dynamite," Tyler says. The kiss shines wet on the back of my hand. Tyler pries the lid off the can of lye. "You can blow up bridges," Tyler says. "You can mix the nitroglycerin with more nitric acid and paraffin and make gelatin explosives," Tyler says. "You could blow up a building, easy," Tyler says. Tyler tilt the can of lye an inch above the shining wet kiss on the back of my hand. "This is a chemical burn," Tyler says, "and it will hurt worse than you've ever been burned. Worse than a hundred cigarettes." The kiss shines on the back of my hand. "You'll have a scar," Tyler says. "Without enough soap," Tyler says, "you could blow up the whole world. Now remember your promise." And Tyler pours the lye.