Quondam

January 2013
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Smeared happy

Fiction, and if you are so inclined, the first part of the story is here.
If you are not so inclined?  Just know that Jesus speaks to David, but not religiously.

—–

Ellen picked him up at the arranged time. As he climbed into the car, she noticed that he was oddly glossy, but she decided not to enquire. They rode in silence, which surprised her.

Maybe Jesus was napping.

When they reached their destination, she parked the car and turned to her brother, “OK, so just the one store, and then we’ll get lunch.”

He spoke for the first time since getting in the car, his face weirdly shiny with displeasure, “I hate the mall.”

“OK, but you asked to come here. So just the one store, and then . . .”

“Hmmph. I want to go to the dollar store.”

“I don’t care. You know why we’re here. David, remember? Why are we here?”

He slumped crabbily in his seat, “To buy Mom a birthday present.”

“Right, and is the gift she asked for at the dollar store?”

“No, but oven mitts are.” He turned to explain, holding up his hands in mitten shapes, “They have these oven mitts with hippos printed on them, and they would be perfect. Mom loves hippos.”

“Mom loves hippos? Since when?”

“Since she went with me to the zoo, and I asked her what animal she wanted to visit, and she said hippos, and then she sat on a bench in front of the hippo enclosure for about an hour while I tried to tell her about my new apartment and she ignored every word I said.”

“And from this, you concluded that she loves hippos?”

“She was entranced, I tell you.”

“OK, well let’s make a deal. You come with me to buy the slippers she asked for, and then I will take you to the dollar store.”

He pretended to consider, “Do the slippers cost more than a dollar?”

“Obviously.”

“Then no deal.”

She sighed, “Let me get this straight. I already bought Mom a present — which cost more than a dollar, by the way — and then you said Mom told you she wanted slippers and you knew where to buy the slippers but they were too expensive, and then I agreed to split the cost of the slippers with you, and I drove you all the way over to the mall so that we could buy the slippers together because that’s what you said you wanted to do, and now . . . we’re sitting in the parking lot and you have changed your mind? So what? I’m supposed to buy the slippers as well as the present I already purchased and then you’re going to spend a dollar?”

He crossed his arms stubbornly, “It’s the thought that counts.”

She dug through her purse and came up with a half-empty box of Tic-Tacs. She shook a few candies into his outstretched palm and then tossed a few into her own mouth, “David, why can’t anything ever just be easy with you?”

“It is easy. Buy her the slippers and then take me to the dollar store.”

“Nope. I’ll buy one slipper, and that one slipper only makes sense if it is paired with its mate. If you’re not buying the other slipper, then fuck the whole slipper plan.”

“Ellen, I don’t believe they sell slippers individually.”

“David, are you buying a slipper or not?”

He shook his head, “No.”

“Fine. What the fuck ever. Let’s just sit here in the mall parking lot for a few minutes until I’m done being pissed at you.” She chomped down hard on the small minty candies, and the car filled with the scent of their yielding. She flipped down the visor mirror and stared at her reflection as she spoke, “So fucking annoying. I take time out of my day to do something nice, and it goes wrong. Every time. Every damn time. Why do I never learn?”

“Are you done being angry?”

She glared into the mirror, “No.”

After a few seconds, he asked again, “Are you done being angry now?”

Ellen took a deep breath, “No, but there’s no point in just sitting here. Where’s the dollar store?”

He pointed out the front window toward the freeway, “Over there, I think.”

“You don’t know where it is?”

“It should be easy to find. It’s got a big chicken on the roof.”

“A chicken?”

“Yeah . . . everything’s a bwawk.”

She looked at him, “You want to buy Mom’s present at a chicken-topped dollar store where everything’s a bwawk?”

“Get it?” He giggled, “Because chickens bwawk and bwawk sounds like buck and buck is a dollar and . . .”

“I get it.”

David leaned way back in his seat to slide a hand into his pants pocket and withdraw a tube of Chapstick. She shook a few more candies into her mouth as she watched him rub the lipstick-sized balm over his forearms, elbows, and hands. Realization dawned — that’s why he was so oddly glossy. He leaned his head back to run the waxy stick of ointment over his neck as well, and she finally gave in to curiosity, “What are you doing?”

“Treating my emphysema.”

“You mean eczema?”

He ran the Chapstick along his hairline, considering, “Which one’s fatal?”

“That would be emphysema.”

“OK, then I have eczema. Chapstick cures it.”

She laughed, “OK, first? You do not have eczema. And second? If your skin is dry, why not just use lotion?”

“I’m allergic to lotion, and anyway, I don’t need lotion. Chapstick is the cure.”

“All kinds? You’re allergic to all kinds of lotion?”

“Slipperiness on my skin makes me vomit.”

She laughed again, “Slipperiness makes you vomit, but a waxy gleaming . . . that works for you?”

“I am not waxy gleaming!” he protested.

“Yeah, you so are.”

“You’ll be sorry when I’m dead. You’ll regret this dismissive mocking when I die.”

She snorted, “That would be the death by non-existent eczema?” She started the car and backed out of the parking space, “Maybe they sell cigarettes at the dollar store! You can get started on the emphysema thing! Happy Birthday, Mom! I’m dying by degrees in your honor, and also I am a waxy gleaming motherfucking idiot and also I am a cheap-ass bastard who offers you the fact that I thought about buying you an actual gift . . . it’s the thought that counts, so I get as much credit as Ellen, who bought you an actual grown-up gift . . . and here! Hippo hot-pads I bought for a BWAWK!”

She swung the car out of the parking lot, “Guess what else, David? Mom does not cook. So those hot-pads are pretty much a genius thoughtful plan.”

“Ellen, they are decorative hot-pads. They’re not designed to handle heat.”

“Oh, for fuck’s sake.”

“Mom loves hippos, Ellen. You didn’t see how she just shut down in front of the hippos. It was like she wasn’t even aware of my existence. I think I know what hippo adoration looks like, Ellen. You didn’t see her glazed eyes.”

“Alright, David. Who am I to stand between Mom and hippos? Dollar store it is . . . which way on the freeway, you think?”

He thought, “It’s near the frozen yogurt place you took me to that one time after the movie with the aliens who shot fire from their nostrils and that actor who does the commercials for soup and the yogurt lady got mad because I ate marshmallows before I got my cup weighed.”

She searched her memory, “OK. South, then.”

David smiled, “Do you think they sell Chapstick for a bwawk, Ellen? I need a lot of Chapstick.” He ran the Chapstick over his arms and hands again, “Like . . . lots.”

She glanced over at her gleaming waxy brother, “You’re using it on your whole body, aren’t you?”

He didn’t answer her question, instead asking one of his own, “Have you heard their latest slogan?”

“No, what is it?”

He held up the Chapstick, “Apply Happy!”

She sighed.

He pulled his shirt up and smoothed lines of wax over his stomach, “Apply Happy . . . Isn’t that awesome?”

She sighed again, “Yeah. It really kind of is.”

He recapped the Chapstick and smiled, “Jesus is a fan of smeared happy.”

She bit her lower lip to keep from laughing, kept it pinned between her teeth as she struggled for control.

David leaned over in concern, “Your lips dry?”

She shook her head, unable to speak.

“OK, because I have Chapstick if you need some.”

She raised a hand to swipe at the corners of her eyes.

David pointed out the window, “I see the big chicken! Jesus loves a bargain!”

Blood.

She tasted blood.

    31 comments to Smeared happy

    • Happy is pretty much a cure-all.

      I have heard.

      Me

    • Mishelle

      Kris,

      I haven’t commented not because I didn’t like the story – it’s amazingly good but the problem is I’ve brought my past into your story. David reminds me, unfortunately, of my Grandmother during one particular stage of Alzheimer’s.

      I think you’ve done a great job of making David sound very content with himself and how quietly frustrated you can get around living with it in Ellen. The chap stick on the stomach part made me howl with laughter… but kinda sad too.

      I just wanted you to know why I hadn’t commented, I didn’t feel like stealing away after reading without explaining why I was walking away quietly.

      M

      • Mishelle?

        No need to explain yourself or ever apologize for not commenting, babe.

        You owe me nothing.

        I’m sorry this particular story brings up painful memories.

        Me

        • Also? I do find it funny that you came to apologize for not commenting, when in fact?

          You are the only commenter thus far.

          Hee hee.

          • Mishelle

            Well, as long as I am good for a giggle! :-)

            M

            • A short offering, then . . .

              Kallan got spacers put in between her teeth in preparation for the placement of braces this week. Chewing was causing her discomfort, and so she hit on the solution of swallowing her food without chewing. Because she is a genius.

              Which led to this exchange . . .

              Kallan, as she holds an apple: I wonder if I could swallow this apple whole? If I swallowed this apple whole, this would be a day to remember!

              Me: How about if we just remember it as the day you threatened to swallow an apple whole? Here, I’ll mark it on the calendar. We’ll always remember this day.

              Kallan, doubtfully: We’d remember it better if I actually went ahead with the apple dare. Think of the memory cues provided by the choking and the gagging and the failed attempts to do the Heimlich hug and the 911 call and the screaming and the ambulance ride with sirens and everything.

              Me: Staring at her.

              Kallan, nibbling tentatively at the apple skin: Your blog people miss me, I’m pretty sure.

              Me: Yes. Yes, I’m sure they do.

              • Mishelle

                Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!

                Oh geeze she’s good. And to think I almost went elsewhere with the apple comment but her ending was funnier!!

                M

                ps- spacers? Al got braces but I didn’t hear anything about spacers..

                • Spacers are small strips of rubber pushed into the not-quite big enough spaces between her molars . . . they shove the teeth apart just enough to allow for the insertion of braces into the resultant gaps.

                  FUN!

                  Hee hee.

                  • Mishelle

                    Well damn. I am so glad I didn’t have braces. Will she have those long? How long is she stuck with braces?

                    M

                    • Braces go on this week, and then stay for two years, give or take.

                      As I said . . . big fun ahead!

                      Hee hee.

                      • Mishelle

                        Al’s were on for 2 years and 2 months and the changes it made to her jaw line and soft palate were HUGE. Not to forget her speaking voice (became clearer) changed as well.

                        I wish her good luck and no pain! You as well..

                        Tell her to eat all the gum she can before they go on, my daughter missed gum and soft tacos desperately.

                        M

              • Jacqui

                Hahahaha!!! Kallan is gold!

                • Hee hee. She so is.

                  She has told me several times to “beware the uprising.”

                  She imagines hordes of Pretty All True fans (and specifically Kallan fans) will riot in the streets calling for her return.

                  “Mom, I’m the source of all your funniest material. You better hope for hordes, because otherwise? It’s just you.”

                  Kallan is all supportive like that.

                  HA!

                  Also? Ack.

                  Me

    • In what country is Chapstick made? “Apply Happy?” Really?

    • BethRD

      These stories are great. David seems both genuinely mentally ill and also a real person and you can feel the love between the siblings.

    • I was happy to see Ellen and David again. I may be growing a small crush on David. Of course the waxy thing could be problematic. All slidey smeary.

      Where can I find a dollar store with a chicken?

      • Don’t you think there must be such a dollar store somewhere?

        “Everything for a BWAWK!”

        OK, I do make myself giggle.

        I wonder if there is such a store.

        Me

    • Jessica

      Ellen is such a nice sister! Taking him to the dollar store even though he refused to do what he agreed to do. Even if she mocked him the entire way, it’s still nice of her.

      I have a handicapped sister. She is my favorite person in the whole world, but I won’t take her to the dollar store. She gets to do that while she’s out with her community group. She LOVES the dollar store. And Walmart. I won’t take her there either.

      She also hates lotion, she flinches if you mention that she might need some on her dry, dry skin. Chapstick you say? She would totally be into that. Maybe I should’ve gotten her a case of that for Christmas instead of a Furby. Valentines?

      • Sisters and brothers tend to love one another and also give one another untold amounts of shit, at least in my experience.

        That’s what I tried to communicate here. David is not defenseless.

        As for your sister?

        Chapstick! Yes . . . because who couldn’t use an application of happy? Nobody, that’s who.

        I think your sister will love it.

        Me

    • a snowsprite

      Aw, now I am shuddering at the thought of Furby. I knew I should’ve just commented and come back to read the other comments later.
      Um, can there be a dollar store with a chicken for real somewhere? Please?
      hee hee

      • Hee hee to your shuddering.

        As for the dollar store with the chicken and the items for a bwawk?

        Entering the relevant terms into Google only gets you this post (which is fucking AWESOME, if you ask me).

        But there still may be such a place somewhere, outside of the reach of the internet.

        I like to think there is.

        Yes.

        Me

        • a snowsprite

          They are scary little toys … seriously! If I still remembered how to sleep, I would have nightmares.
          Also, that this post comes up for that google search is awesome! it makes me want to start clucking at everyone now. If they have to ask, I am totally directing them here. bwahahahaha!

    • You could also have called the store “Antlers” (where everything’s a buck) or “Hesitations” (balk) or “Lighters” (bic) or “Quantities” (bulk) but the giant chicken has more visual appeal.

      I always have a chapstick in my pocket. Not the brand-name, they made them softer so they wouldn’t last as long and folks would buy them more often but they now pretty much melt at body heat and turn to yuck in your pocket. I buy the off-brands which closely resemble the original chapstick. The outer plastic wears off after a few weeks and it becomes just a generic looking white chapstick only it doesn’t stay white, it gradually gets more nasty looking. I almost never use my chapstick but it’s always in my pocket, except for the two to three weeks between the time it gets so nasty looking I throw it out and the time I finally remember to buy a new one, during which time my lips normally become extremely chapped.

      • Your suggestions, while fabulous, fall away when compared to the fabulousness of a giant chicken offering deals for a BWAWK, in my humble opinion.

        As for the Chapstick story? Stuff like this is why I love you so.

        Exactly that.

        Me

    • Jacqui

      So many feelings are conjured up for me in this story – love, frustration, uncomfortableness and of course laughter. Wonderful as always.

    • liz

      I’m currently trying to round up a hoard….while i enjoy all of your writing immensely, i def miss reading about the maj and baby k!