Well kids, here we are. It’s a little early tonight, but it’s been a weird day, and I’m ready for nightfall. I always start out listening to “Leader of Men” by Nickelback, don’t ask me why. It’s a good song to listen to when you’re throwing back that first shot, shedding the shadows that follow you through the day, through the week.
I had the day off, believe it or not. It was an awkward day off, though, none of the footloose and fancy-free kind of attitude, I don’t know why. Probably because I’ve never been the type of guy to be footloose, and I don’t even know what the hell fancy-free means.
I didn’t get much done today, and spent entirely too much time thinking about things that didn’t make me happy. Ever have days like that? Where your mind seems to dwell on problems, no matter what you do to sidetrack it? I had one of those days.
So here’s a little story—it’s not interesting, but it is a story of woe, and it seems like people always like to hear those, just so their lives can seem better in comparison. It’s a story for all you subway people, so you can shake your head and go, “At least I don’t have to deal with that shit.”
My story begins, as so many do, with a gigantic ape that had escaped from the zoo. No, wait. Sorry, that’s a different story—one that doesn’t involve me in the least, no matter what the Feds are trying to pin on me.
My story actually begins with my car. His name’s Eddy. I’ve never named a car, except for a huge 1976 Cadillac I once owned. It’s name was Car. We bought Eddy when we moved down here last summer, and he’s a good car, for the most part. He gives me his share of crap, but who doesn’t?
One of the main problems with Eddy is that his front tires slowly leak air. It’s not a big deal, you just have to put a little air in them when you’re fueling up. We’ve been meaning to fix the tires for about seven months now, but haven’t gotten around to it—due mostly to shortages of money and time.
My princess finally decided to take care of the problem, and took Eddy down to Discount Tires to get the leaks sealed. Because she’s a first-time customer, the manager tells her that he will fix the tires for free. Good deal, right?
Two hours later, she’s calling me at work—the tire on the left side is completely flat. She’s called the guy at Discount Tire, but he says they’ve already closed, there’s no way to get the tire fixed until Monday, but he’ll come out and change the tire for her. Nice guy.
I tell her I’ll be home in a little bit, I’ll change the tire, we’ll figure it out from there.
By the time I get home, she’s talked to the guy again, he told her that he’ll make her some sort of a deal on a new tire, whatever. I change the tire, and we spend the weekend hanging around the apartment because I don’t feel too good about driving around on the donut.
Monday arrives, and my princess heads back to Discount Tires. They give her a brand new tire, can you believe it? They tell her how sorry they are that that happened, blah, blah, blah. Nice guys.
That was yesterday. She goes to work this morning, I’m still in bed because she has to go in at seven o’clock this week, and I try not to ever be up that early. I talk to her at lunch, she doesn’t seem to be happy. Come to find out, she had decided to run a couple of movies back to Blockbuster before work this morning. As she pulled into the space, her left tire—the brand new one from Discount Tires—grazed the handicap ramp. Not a big handicap ramp, either—it’s a slow upward slope that rises to about six inches. Ripped a three-inch gash out of the side of our brand new tire.
She went to a different tire place and bought a new tire.
Not a good story, by any means, and it’s sure not worth the hundred and twenty bucks it cost me to get it, but I had to vent.
I would be fine about things, but I have to get up at six something in the morning tomorrow to take her to work, plus I have to go to the bank and deal with transferring money from one place to another. I hate going to the bank. There isn’t a real reason for me to hate banks, I just do. Hate thinking about them, hate going inside them, hate the people look at me while I’m standing in line. So I have to do that on my lunch hour. Oh, yeah, and I have to go back to work, too.
I’m scheduled to work with the new girl, and last I heard, she wasn’t coming to work anymore. Nobody knows if she’s fired or what, but she hasn’t been showing up to work when she’s supposed to.
So, there’s my boring story, full of woe and self-pity. Just to make up for it, I’ll tell you another story.
This story begins, as so many do, with a gigantic ape that had escaped from the zoo. His name was Timmy, and he weighed nigh on eight hundred pounds. In nature, he would be a fierce animal, able to rip you apart without a second thought. But in the zoo, they dressed him up with pink ribbons and yellow bows, and he had no respect. They kept him in a big man-made crater, on a big man-made rock that was surrounded by a little moat that was usually full of paper cups and used condoms. There was a cave dug into the big rock island, and that is where Timmy slept at night, and that is where he hid himself from the world.
The other animals were mean to Timmy, you see. They laughed at him, they called him names. Timmy was unhappy.
Then one day, something happened. It happened on a Monday, when the zoo is closed and when all of the zookeepers come in late.
Timmy was sitting there on the big rock, being sad and trying to ignore the taunting from the penguins next door. He played with his feces a little bit, but even THAT didn’t cheer him up. I’m not sure how much you know about monkeys and apes and stuff, but let me tell you something: if playing with their own feces doesn’t cheer them up, practically nothing will.
He tossed the handful of nastiness over at the penguins, hoping maybe it would shut them up, but they just added “You throw shit like a girl, Timmy!” to their growing list of insults. The penguins, they always used bad language, even though it was uncalled for. They thought it made them seem tough.
Timmy decided to crawl back into his little cave and hide down there until the penguins got bored and went over to sweet-talk the ostriches. The penguins were always talking nasty to the ostriches, saying things like “Do those legs go all the way up?” and “Hey baby, how do you like your eggs in the morning? Scrambled or fertilized?” The penguins were pretty lame, but no one ever told them that because if you ever crossed them, they would come after you with long sections of chain and steel pipes. They’re a vicious lot, the penguins.
Just as Timmy began his descent, a shiny black space ship landed on top of his rock. The door hissed open and a tall figure stepped out.
“Timmy the ape?”
“Yes?” Timmy was afraid. Nothing like this had ever happened at the zoo before, unless you believed the seals. They claimed that men from space abducted them and performed all sorts of probes on them. Nobody believed the seals, though, because everyone knows that seals are just starved for attention.
“Come with me.” The figure was very tall—taller than Timmy by about two feet—and he was dressed in shiny black clothes that looked like plastic. He almost looked like a regular person, except for his head was that of a lion. And he had an eye-patch.
“What if I don’t want to come with you?” Timmy asked.
The figure pulled a long baton from a strap on his waist. The end of it crackled with electricity. “If you don’t come with me, I’ll shock you with this until you’re unconscious, then I’ll drag you into the ship by your balls.”
None of that seemed very appealing to Timmy. When he first arrived at the zoo, Timmy had been a very ferocious beast, able to fight with anyone or anything. But the zoo keepers, they had batons very similar to the one this strange new figure was holding, and they had not hesitated to use them. Timmy knew the pain that came along with electric shock, and it was something he wanted to avoid. He didn’t know about the pain associated with being drug around by your balls, and he decided it was probably better that way. He sighed a surrendering sigh, and went aboard the strange spaceship.
The stranger followed, and after a few seconds, the ship rocketed away from the zoo, leaving all of the other animals stunned with awe. After several minutes, the silence was broken: “Hey, sweet-ass, wantta take a ride on MY ‘Polar Express?’” Those penguins.
Timmy didn’t know what he should do. The strange creature that had abducted him was sitting at the controls, apparently flying the spaceship. The spaceship seemed to be just one big room. At the front of it was a giant windshield, and that’s where the stranger was sitting. Other than a small control panel and the chair that the stranger was sitting in, there was nothing else to see.
“What is it that you want from me?” Timmy asked.
“You’re a disgrace, Timmy. We’ve been watching you for a long time, and you’re an embarrassment. You’re supposed to be fierce, a terror among beasts. And since Mother Nature has dropped the ball and then pissed all over it, it’s my job to turn you into the ferocious killing machine that you should be.”
Timmy shifted uncomfortably from one foot to another. He didn’t like the idea of being ferocious, and he liked the idea of being a killing machine even less.
“Auto-pilot engaged,” a robotic voice said, and the stranger stood up.
“My name is Benjamin Hate. Nice to meet you.” He extended his hand, and Timmy shook it cautiously. “Now that we’ve been properly introduced, training begins.”
And so it did.
It is not my place to divulge the training methods of Benjamin Hate, but I WILL tell you that it was the hardest six months of Timmy’s life. Fortunately for him, one of the first things that Benjamin taught was how to ignore emotion, how to ignore need, and how to ignore the distress signals that your body sends you when something isn’t going as it should be. For if Timmy had not learned these things, he would have died from a broken heart within the first week. That, or malnutrition.
“You’re done with your training, Timmy. If I hadn’t spent years training myself not to feel emotion, I would be proud, I think.”
“And I suppose I would be honored,” Timmy said. He lit a cigarette, and looked around the spaceship. We all know that smoking is bad, it is harmful to yourself and to others. But Timmy no longer gave a fuck, flying or otherwise. Timmy was a new ape.
“So I’m depositing you back on your planet. Any place in particular you want to go?”
“Back to the zoo. I have some unfinished business there.” Timmy smiled, and it was not a happy-go-lucky smile that he had smiled before all the electric shocks from the zookeepers.
Benjamin Hate smiled, too. “Can do.”
There was a new ape on Timmy’s rock. His name was Hugh, and he wasn’t sure if he liked the zoo or not. He had only been there a few months, and they hadn’t started dressing him in pink ribbons and yellow bows. He was basking in the sun, playing with a little feces, feeling pretty good about the day, actually.
That’s when the spaceship landed on him. Hugh died instantly, with a smile on his face and a little mound of crap in his hand.
The door hissed open, and Timmy stepped out. Although he would have been able to kill over half the population of the planet with his bare hands, he preferred stepping out of the spaceship carrying to insanely huge machine guns, just for fear effect. A cigar hung from the corner of his mouth, and his left eye was covered by a patch.
“Hello, boys,” He said to the penguins, and then opened fire.
It was a Tuesday, and although the zoo is open on Tuesdays, there aren’t many visitors until later in the day. But the zookeepers are there, sweating off hangovers and scooping animal poop and using their electric devices to keep everyone in line.
Timmy went after them right after he finished off the penguins. He didn’t stay at the zoo, choosing the wild, instead. You get tons of bitches when you’re an ape that knows how to use a machine gun, and nobody ever fucks with you, either. Timmy had it made.
And he lived emotionlessly ever after.