Copyright Ken Brady. No reproduction without express permission from the author.
(Originally published in DAILY CABAL, 2010)
So the Michelin Man, Mr. Clean, and the Quaker Oats Pilgrim finally get kicked out of the Luscious Lady Roadside Trip and Strip and literally stumble down the steps to the dusty Nevada parking lot.
Pilgrim falls and lands in gravel. At his age, it shouldn’t be funny, but he gets to his knees, laughing, and puts his dirty hat on backward.
“Did you see the sidewalls on that blond?” Bibendum, the Michelin Man, shakes his head. “Unbelievable.” He leans his white treads against Pilgrim’s Mustang and takes a swig of beer. “Cheers. Now is the time to drink!”
“Hey, Veritably,” Pilgrim says, “did I do anything I shouldn’t have?”
“Of course,” Clean says. “And some things even I wouldn’t.”
Pilgrim, hurt, says, “I have my image to uphold.”
“Didn’t you experiment on kids?” Bib drops his empty, lights up a joint. He takes a drag.
“I had nothing to do with that.”
Clean says, “You paid for the Willy Wonka movie, so I forgive you.”
“And your oatmeal rocks,” Bib says.
“True, Bibelobis,” Clean says. “You’re looking good. Company must be rocking.”
“Company, sure,” Bib says. “But me? I mean, look at me.”
“You look awesome,” Clean says.
“Stopped smoking decades ago.” He takes another drag. “Cigars, I mean. Started running, trimmed down. Got a puppy.”
“I like the puppy,” Pilgrim says.
“Fuck the puppy. Wasn’t my idea. None of that was my idea, you get it? I used to be mean, smart, erudite. They used to know me for my ‘wit without vulgarity.’ You fucking believe that shit?”
“Times change, man,” Clean says.
“Easy for you to say.”
“Me? I’ve got an earring, everyone thinks I’m a pirate. Or a genie. I’m a goddamn sailor from Pensacola. Yeah, I hate dirt, but who am I? A mysterious man to MILFs? Most people think I’m gay.”
“Are you?” Bib says.
“If you’re made of tires, why aren’t you black?”
“I hate that question,” Bib says. “Touché. I used to be a ladies’ man, now I help stranded families and give them parts of my body. I have to keep my hands in sight at all times in public after that Disney groping lawsuit. That ain’t right.”
Pilgrim shrugs. “Wear this get up for 130 years and see how you like it.”
“I’m made of fucking tires. I’ll trade you.”
“Let’s just go,” Clean says.
“Fine, I’ll drive,” Bib says.
“No way,” Pilgrim says. “It’s my car, and I’m going to drive it. End of discussion.”
“My ass,” says the Michelin Man. He pulls a revolver and pumps two rounds into the car’s right front tire. “I ever tell you how much is riding on your tires? No one ever fucking listens to the fat guy.”
He puts the pistol back between two low profiles and stalks off toward Vegas.
Pilgrim slumps against the car. “I’ll get the jack and the spare.”
“Jack?” Clean says. “Who needs a jack? I’m Mr. Clean!” He tries to lift the front bumper of the car. “Yeah, get the jack.”
They look down the road but Bib is already gone.
“He’ll be back,” Clean says. “With a champagne goblet full of nails and broken glass, grabbing tits, smoking weed, living life as only he can.”
“Guess you’re right,” Pilgrim says.
“Times change,” Clean says. “For some of us.