I’m in some unfamiliar town—maybe it’s in Florida, or Virginia, and I’m staying at my friend’s parents’ house in the suburbs. It’s a great house and his parents cook great food. It’s summer outside, too, and I’m on tour, although it would appear that I have a day off to visit my friend (who is on tour with me)’s parents. It’s almost 5 PM, though, and I tell my friend that in order to get to Atlanta before too long, we’re going to have to leave soon. My friend, however, and his parents, insists that I take their family car and go to Atlanta myself. “It is only a five hour drive,” they say. “That’s not so bad to do by yourself.” I am a bit overwhelmed by their generosity. “We will meet you there tomorrow.” I cannot believe they would let me take their car without their son along with me. It keeps getting later and later and I worry that I might not make it to Atlanta before midnight.
When I finally get away from the house and on the road, Roby is with me. She wants to stop for food before we go. I am a little lost in a maze of rural side-streets but I locate an Asian restaurant called Buddha-something that looks like it might have some cute snacks. We park at a parking meter and walk towards the restaurant. We see a tall Asian guy in a yellow sweatsuit taking out the garbage. For some reason, he kicks this white business guy in the head two times, then in the ribs. The kick to the ribs seems to really devastate the business guy and he doubles over howling terribly. The dude in the yellow sweatsuit resumes taking out the trash. The kicking man and his kicking seem to arouse a feeling of déjà vu in me.
We go into the restaurant and a young Asian girl behind the counter politely informs us that they don’t seat people or server food for another fifteen minutes. I am in a hurry to get on the highway and I tell Roby that I am not comfortable with waiting fifteen minutes, and then spending more time here sitting down to eat—I think we should get on the road and stop for food later. She is disappointed. I offer that we could get some drinks to go and take them with us. By now, however, a bunch of other people have come in and are standing in line. We get in line, too. A man two or three places ahead of us in line receives the same kicks from the yellow sweatsuit-guy—we think he might have been rude to the girl.
When it comes our time to order, Roby goes to the bathroom and I lean over the counter to tell the girl I want two bubble teas. “We don’t have bubble tea,” she says. I point to the chalkboard behind her, which lists “Bubblesa” as one of the kinds of tea they have. She tries to explain to me that means “iced tea” and not the kind of “bubble tea” that I want. I make a very clever remark that I can no longer remember, and she becomes incensed and tells me that all I am good at is criticizing her and her brother. I can see that she is livid and I walk from the counter and grab Roby, who is just emerging from the bathroom. I take her outside and we go towards the car, which is initially a little hard to locate. We start running toward the car, thinking of the kicks.
When I’m almost to Atlanta, it’s a bright summer day outside and I’m inside a new rental car with Roby and my male friend and maybe one other person. We’re zipping down the highway and my friend is at the wheel. We turn off to use a left-side exit and find ourselves driving around a long, curving exit-ramp. I turn to Roby and say, “Did you see a car just coming the wrong direction towards us?” My male friend nonchalantly requests that I take the wheel from the back seat while he retrieves a CD from the console between the front two seats. He shifts his body around while he digs around in the console and it makes it quite hard for me to see the cars on the road from my awkward position. “I think all the cars are going the wrong direction!” Roby says, although she is not panicked. Cars start honking at me. I am confused because there are no wrong-way signs and I did not see or do anything which would make me think that I am the one going the wrong way. I try to pull some fancy maneuvers to get around the oncoming cars and nearly succeed, but just before I am able to reach the right-hand shoulder, a white sedan pops out from behind the cars in front of me and hits our car head-on. It doesn’t even dent our fender, but we watch this white car and it’s sole occupant bounce backwards into the grassy hill beyond the shoulder and come crashing down, which shatters the windshield. Everyone in my car falls silent. I am worried that maybe I killed somebody and will have to go to jail, but I am also wondering if I will escape all culpability because we’re paying an extra eleven dollars a day to the rental car company for the optional Loss-Damage Waiver.
So we’re in Atlanta, at some kind of weird coffee shop show space, sitting on a bed with a canopy that is against a wall and has a nearly see-through piece of fabric that hangs down from the canopy, like a privacy drape. I’m there with Roby, she is sad about the car accident. I tell her that it’s OK, she and the others should keep going with the tour, I would stay in Atlanta until things were sorted out. There is a movie being projected on a screen just outside the little drape, and I am trying to talk to Roby and also pull the drape back in order to see the movie. It’s a weird animation about a guy who tries to do a puppet show for some people but they keep stopping him from doing it and making him leave. I say to Roby, “Hey, watch this movie, it’s got puppets in it!” but she doesn’t seem to care much. I terminate the conversation and devote all my attention to trying to figure out the movie but I’ve missed too much and am frequently interrupted by people at this coffee shop.
I ask my uncle Mike if I can have another one of the pages of the paper, because the movie has become a comic and I am on a couch in my parents’ living room with my uncle Mike. Between us are a bunch of newspaper pages with the various parts of this story in it. It is a weird and sad story. My uncle starts telling me that it has many allusions to other movies, and I tell him I figured as much but am not very familiar with the films being alluded to. He begins to list them. The one which is of most interest to me is a movie from the 80s about a depressed artist who believes that he is supposed to do something great and important but who cannot find any support or interest in his artistic endeavors, and sinks deeper and deeper into depression with each successive failure. At the end of the movie, the artist is masturbating and his ejaculation becomes the San Francisco Bay. Most likely there is some sci-fi element involved--- my uncle does not explain how his ejaculation becomes the San Francisco Bay -- but the movie sounds really good and I make a mental note to rent it.
I grab the most recent newspaper in a final effort to understand this animated story but it has no pictures at all, just writing by the story’s eccentric author. I don’t feel like reading the writing. I look up at the TV and a tiny little ghoulish green face, covered with slime, is being cradled by a man’s hands. The little ghoul is whining, and soon his whines become coherent: “Blood! Blood” The little ghoul crawls along the man’s palm to the base of his thumb, where there is a pink tattoo of some weird geometric design. The ghoul-baby bites his skin and gets blood all over its face, then turns on its back and rubs the blood all over its face and body with tiny gross hands, crying happily, “Blood! Blood!” I turn to my dad, who is sitting on the fireplace hearth, and ask him if this is the movie called “Ghoulies.” My dad replies that it probably is. Then I look back into my own hands where I am holding a scaly, black purse with a couple of these ghoul-babies in it. I close it up and throw it on the floor. “We should probably burn this in a fire, right?” I say, rather calmly. Realizing that the babies might crawl out, I grab a poker from the fireplace and push down on the opening of the evil, scaly purse, to keep anything from pushing its way out.