by Pedro Salinas
Read Part One here…
Phase 4: Summit
My close personal friend Armando Balenciaga is dead. I trudge listlessly through the days and weeks following the killing. Joy, sadness, passion, and anger are but distant alien shapes, dimly perceptible beyond the damp grey horizon of my grief, faint as sunlight to a wrecked ship at the bottom of the sea.
Once in a while a certain sound or smell brings Armando back to me with walloping force — the slap and squelch of wet working class bodies pounding each other in my nightly sex feasts on the patio; the stench of the excrement and seminal fluid left over in the morning — and I am beset by torment, choking down my sobs and running to the master bathroom so I can lash myself with bitter recriminations while I stare at myself and my perfectly sculpted pectoral and abdominal muscles in the gilded golden mirror.
My stand-up performances, now held in football stadiums, devolve into incoherence and madness. In my joyless new material I forswear entertainment value altogether, plunging the depths of my blackened heart, dredging up what slimy substance I can grasp, and glooping it down contemptuously in front of my horrible fans, who call themselves the Pedrophiles, and eagerly gobble up the slop. At the beginning of each show they immediately swarm each other, forming a violent mosh pit that eventually swirls to overwhelm the entire venue, dragging in ushers, sound technicians, ticket takers, and parking lot attendants.
The persistent mayhem provokes a moral panic. Responsible news outlets and cultural commentators warn against the danger posed by my comedy and its bestial adherents. Of course this only quadruples my ticket sales. The only venues that can contain me are military airfields. The Pedrophiles begin wearing gas masks for some reason.
I am the highest-earning performer in the history of the world. My wealth surpasses that of industry tycoons, emperors, pharaohs. I have achieved all of my dreams and it means nothing. There is nothing left to get. There is nothing left to want. I crave release.
One night after a show, I arrive at the Castle and notice that the Pedrophiles have followed me home. They are at the bottom of the hill outside the gates, emitting a thick cloud of fruity nicotine vapor.
My head of security peers down at the cretinous mass with concern.
“Want me to get rid of them?”
They are eerily, reverently quiet. I realize what they are here for. They know what I want and they are going to give it to me.
“No,” I reply. “Open the gate.”
Phase 5: Descent
“Welcome to the Bret Michaels Presents Drivin In Sin DMV Party Lounge Presented By Bacardi. Can I get you folks started with something?” Roaches and fleas crawl over the waiter’s eyeballs and in and out of his ears and nostrils as he holds his notepad and awaits our order. Around the dining area where we sit, throngs of miserable families wait in line and cough on each other, holding loose documents. No one seems to be working at any of the counters where the humble folk wait to be attended.
Cristobal Balenciaga, Armando’s great-grandfather who passed away in 1972, politely gestures to me so that I may order first.
I look back down at the menu, which is the size of the complete Oxford English Dictionary, and is on fire.
“I’ll start with the shards of glass and goose excrement dip, and then I’ll have the used condom oysters.”
Cristobal nods with approval. “And I’ll just have a leaky trash juice. Neat.”
“Great. I’ll go put that in. It’ll be around fifteen to twenty years. By the way we’re out of used condoms.” The waiter turns around, trips on a bump in the carpet, and is eaten by a Komodo dragon. Cristobal and I are alone and free to converse. I dread what comes next.
Cristobal leans back. “So. I’ve heard a lot about you.”
“You are the one who killed my great-grandson Armando.”
Before I can answer the DMV’s screeching intercom cuts on. “Attention, Number D-684, Number D-684, D-684, Number D-684, you are instructed to go fuck yourself to the back of the line.”
Cristobal regards me, the fingers of his fine hands intertwined on the table between us.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Balenciaga. Armando wanted me to.”
“And you simply did whatever he told you? Even if this meant taking his life?”
“He was hard to say no to.”
Cristobal sighs. “Especially for those he loved. And he loved you. Which is why I’ve brought you here today. I need you to do something for me.”
Cristobal explains. As in the earthly realm, the Balenciagas are quite a prominent family here in the underworld. There are people to meet and deals to make. Armando, in all his beauty and splendor, could be quite useful to this end. Yet he has neglected his familial duty. Instead, he has embedded himself with the commoners down at the lake, where all the world’s sewage pours in. They are tasked with digging up what filthy dregs they can find in the wet sucking banks of the water, separating them and sending them up to be served to customers of the Bret Michaels Presents Drivin In Sin DMV Party Lounge Presented By Bacardi.
I am to go find him and bring him to Cristobal.
I don’t know if I’m up to the task, but I tell Cristobal I’ll try. I can see where Armando got it from. You don’t say no to a Balenciaga.
Two tables over from us there is an old man and a young woman holding hands and whispering to each other affectionately.
“Who is that over there?” I ask Cristobal. “She looks familiar.”
“That is Natalie Wood.”
“Wow. She’s down here?”
“Yes. And so is her companion, Elie Wiesel.”
“But he won the Nobel Peace Prize!”
“He also masturbated quite frequently.”
“What about Natalie? What’d she do?”
“Well, she played Maria in West Side Story. That role really should have gone to a person of color.”
Read Part 3 here