Late January 2044
The trailer-park Otis lived in was disintegrating into a plastic mudslide amidst a time-lapse landfill all around him. A rusty, fluoride-chlorine, bleachy, low-tide candle aroma with distant connotations of dog shit lingered.
Federal law declared Otis was a two out of ten and the computer chip embedded in his palm confirmed it. The thirty-six-year-old man had a very mild degenerative form of donohue syndrome, with pinched ears sunk halfway down his thin neck and a noticeable underbite; his disability was evident mostly by his physical appearance. Otis was biracial; his father was black and egyptian, his mother was Chinese; both recently deceased. Otis’ skin was darkened to varying and dispersed degrees as he was heavily freckled, the hair on his head was curly and grey and balding down the middle; and he had a bushy Ned Flanders mustache.
It was Otis’ night off from the distribution center he worked at; slumped on a bean bag chair, drinking a warm beer from a plastic bottle and watching pro wrestling on his 250-inch screen television, the most expensive thing in his ramshackle trailer. Maybe he’d play a video game; maybe he’d watch some porn. Otis was never married, he hadn’t even had sex since the late 20s. Otis had no children, nor brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles, or even cousins in the country…he didn’t even have a cat. Essentially, he was all alone. Aside from his coworkers, Otis really only ever talked to one of his neighbors, who was just coming over to see him.
“Where’s your bong?” his neighbor Greg said loud enough to be heard from outside.
Otis got up from his bag to greet his friend. Greg was in his mid-50s and had been living in this trailer park with his wife for over twenty-five years. Otis and Greg smoked a lot of weed together usually in the evening after work, Otis was always excited when Greg came over asking for the bong, it usually meant he got his hands on some premium nug and wanted to savor it by using the most smokey method.
“It’s out back in the shed!” He led Greg around the back of the trailer to the shed where they would often get high. Greg stepped into the shed and noticed a loose floorboard, sensing the floor vaguely falter. He pulled a big sandwich bag stuffed with pot out of his pocket and tossed it underhand to Otis who eyed and nosed the reefer in admiration.
“This is glorious. Did you get it from the dispensary?” giving the back bag to Greg along with his glass bong out from behind an old wicker bench. Greg placed the bong on a flat surface of a standing toolbox and began to pack it.
“I got it at work. A headshop in Goodyear took a bunch of my shirts on consignment a couple months ago. I went there today; the shirts were sold but the guy starts telling me he’s light on cash. I didn’t trip or anything, I was just, like, ‘what the fuck, man?’ and we get to talking, I say ‘man these sure are some nice bowls, makes me wish I had some weed to smoke’ the guy is like a 110 year old hippy, he says ‘I can give you some weeeed’. He had it out in his car, the guy gives me a couple hundred dollars-worth…still owes me some money, but I’m happy for now”. Greg hit the bong and passed it to Otis.
“That’s so cool, Greg, I wish my job was like that.” Otis said before ripping and bubbling the waterpipe.
Greg took a step to the side and felt the floorboards move again.
“Hey Otis, did you build this shed?”
“No, it’s been here since I moved in, fifteen years ago”.
“Is the foundation under this thing wood or concrete?”
“What do you mean? – I never thought about it before, why?”
“Nothing, guess I’m already really stoned”
“You been losing some weight?” Otis asked neighbor.
“You noticed, huh? Twenty pounds over a couple months. I’m around 205 pounds now.”
Twenty-four years earlier when Greg was a solid 300 pounds, he had a brush with cancer. He beat the disease and aside from smoking pot almost every day since, he lived a healthy life in honor of his wife and children. He had stopped eating double quarter pounder bacon barbeque deluxe cheeseburgers, eating instead: chicken, fruits and vegetables.
“I’m telling you Otis; your shed isn’t sitting right or something”
“I think that 100 something year old hippy has the good shit” Otis laughed. Greg exhaled, relaxed and let out a chuckle.
“Wow, you’re right…what the fuck am I saying?” Greg confidently planted his foot down on the floor of the shed. The walls shook, the floor dipped into the ground as the back half of the roof buckled and sunk like quicksand. Otis fell face first and chipped his front teeth on the floor and his bong. Greg tried to run up and away from the sink, plummeting and smashing his face on the window of the shed sinking into the ground, the glass shattered into Greg’s face, busting open one of his eyes.
Both men regrouped the best they could. They climbed vertically to the open exit of the shed. Otis’ trailer had sunken into the vortex of the hole obstructing the path to safety; the gas line from the kitchen connected to a propane take outside snapped, grinding metal ignited a blast that shot the aluminum cylinder missile full of Otis’ belongings harder into the ground with a scorching detonation of smoke and debris. Otis and Greg were pressed between the passage of the shed and the trailer. Otis managed to punch a window in, diving through the broken glass slicing his skin all over, he turned back to extend his arm, to pull his bleeding blinded neighbor up, but the weight distribution caused the earth around the back and bottom of the shed to crack and fill with dirt ,collapsing in wood and more of Otis’ shit and Greg was buried alive.
Otis’ world had literally turned upside down.
A ceiling fan in the mobile home detached falling from near the highest point on the sinking ship crashing down on the back of Otis’ head. For just a moment Otis considered going to sleep and calling it a life- existed. Surges of adrenaline stirred him to fight and get up, climbing his sort narrow hallway, grabbing onto cabinets and other fixture to the lip of table where he would eat breakfast. Around the corner was a side door, Otis climbed to the doorway as the trailer nosedived faster into the sinkhole. He charged the door, but it was weighed down by dirt, broken earth and chunks of shed and trailer. The front door to the mobile home peaked at ground level as it sunk further into the now massive landslide into hell. There was no high ground. A dehumidifier and two chairs bombarded Otis. Gravity pressed him up against a wall and pounded him.
The world went dark.
A ping of light exploded. A rope dropped down. Otis grabbed the rope and squeezed as his house sunk around him. Otis was pulled upward as dirt and wreckage filled the expanding pit. He had been buried up to his neck going through the front door. The residents of the desert trailer park ripped at the rope until they unearthed Otis like a giant turnup.
Greg’s wife, America screamed when she saw Otis, and dove into the sinkhole in a desperate attempt to dig her husband out from the bottom of the whole mess. One of the other neighbors tried to hold her back for her own safety, she raised her fist at him and punched him in the mouth. America kept trying to dig until the fire department and emts got there and pulled her away kicking and screaming. Otis vomited dirt and blood and bled from his knees to his battered bloody head with its oozing red orifices. He was hauled off on a stretcher, put into the ambulance and taken away while his homeland imploded behind him.
Otis slipped in and out of consciousness for the next hour and a half as he was handled by nurses and doctors at Phoenix General.
“What happened to this guy?”
“Buried alive in a sinkhole.”
“You don’t see that every day. Brain print?”
“Too much head trauma, we can’t synch with the RFID. The chip might have even been disengaged from blunt force.”
“Anything in his pockets?”
“Nothing. But they were calling him Otis at the trailer park.”
` “Otis from the trailer park, huh? What do you think? Three out of ten? Two? Process him as a three for now, he can’t be any higher.”
“Can we give him some pain meds then?”
“Sure. Get him comfortable, maybe it will help us get a read on his chip. If we find out he’s lower than three, make sure you get him on a garnishment plan before doing anything else”
Doctors and nurses medicated Otis, performed triage on him and pumped his stomach (there was a lot of dirt in him), before a nurse could give him a second IV bag of fluid Otis woke up. The hospital was unable to read Otis’ brain print.
They asked Otis for his social security number
He did not know it.
He told them he was Otis Chang-Hussain born in Arizona, he worked at the distribution center, and was a designated two.
The hospital notified him that they would take thousand-dollar intervals out of his paycheck for the next 218 months, and that was if he fucked off right then and there.
So, Otis did.
Otis didn’t even complain much about the day. THAT WAS OTIS…a true american; used to abuse. He still had dirt in his hair from being buried alive, was now homeless and billed 218 thousand dollars, but what mostly bothered him was Gregory being buried alive in his backyard sinkhole.
Otis had to walk home to the sinkhole from the hospital, taking him the better part of three hours. He was horrified to think Greg was buried in his back yard. He wondered what Greg’s family was going through.
Earlier That Day
Gregory Redford departed the headshop in Goodyear where he acquired marijuana in lieu of payment for his wares. His wife probably wouldn’t mind; she would most likely be excited. He didn’t really have a choice after all. The old man said he didn’t have any cash. What was Greg supposed to do? Rob him? Greg was going to spend money on weed anyways. The last baby boomer still owed cash after all; it wasn’t that bad of a transaction he thought.
Redford got into his run down 2020 model jeep and took the freeway back into Phoenix. The fifty-four-year-old cancer survivor smoked nicotine from his vape pen while driving 93 in a 70. Greg got off at an exit and pulled into a parking lot where his gym was.
Greg went into the gym. He had workout clothes stashed in a locker. He got dressed, stretched, slugged on a punching bag for a half an hour, curled some dumbbells for a little bit, then ran for five miles on a treadmill before taking a shower, and leaving to drive back home in his old beat up jeep.
Gregory pulled into a drive-through liquor store. He requested a bottle of red wine and a shooter of gin. The clerk asked Greg for his palm.
“I’m not chipped, man. I have cash”
“I’ll take it today, but we’ll probably stop taking cash this year.” the shopkeeper warned before he took the money and forked over the hooch.
Greg slammed the miniature gin in the automobile before driving home to the trailer park. He took the wine and pot inside. His wife America was in the art studio painting. The studio was a free room that both her son and daughter occupied as bedrooms at different times. The kids were all grown now and leading successful lives.
Greg held the pot up in one hand, and bottle of wine in the other. America bit her lip, shrugged, and pointed at the bottle of wine. The Latina artist in her late forties had been living in this trailer park with her husband for over twenty-five years through the good times and the bad.
“Did the old man pay?”
“Sort of” Greg said motioning to the pot. America laughed; it was just the type of thing her husband would do. “He still owes us money; this is just a down payment.”
“Just don’t go smoking it all with Chang-Hussain next door before I can have some” America said as she took the wine bottle to the kitchen to pour some into a coffee mug.
“Poetry called a couple hours ago.”
Poetry was Greg and America’s twenty-four-year-old daughter. She went to New Mexico State University and majored in coding. Her sophomore year, her final project ended up making billions of dollars for top capitalists. Poetry was producing a few new offshoot endeavors. Growing up Poetry loved reading books and playing video games. She developed software that enhanced the visual realism perceived in RFID virtual gaming and sold the algorithm to nintendo for six figures to avoid a court case she couldn’t afford and dropped out of college.
“How is our baby?”
“She was saying that she wanted us to live with her in New Mexico again.” America said.
“That sounds really nice. I just don’t want to burden her. I’m proud of her, she’s making moves, I don’t want to weigh her down at this time in her life”
“I know what you mean. She told Nehemiah the same shit, to move to New Mexico with Mary and the boys. Could you imagine if they did?”
Nehemiah was America’s son, and Greg’s stepson, now in his early thirties; he grew up tall and hefty, working at the junkyard when he was sixteen and the size of a pro defensive back. He held that job for over fifteen years and raised up the ranks to the yard manager for day shift. Nehemiah was married to his on again, off again since middle school, Mary Murry, a blonde former stripper who gave him two sons, 8 and 10. If Nehemiah and Mary and the grandkids moved to New Mexico, Greg and America would be even more tempted to move there as well.
“We should drive up and surprise her with a visit next weekend” Greg suggested.
“Okay, the drive will be fun” America agreed. “So, you going to go get Chang Hussain high with his bong?”
“Poor guy, yeah, I think the world owes him at least that much… I’ll get him nice and toasty.”
“I was going for a jog this morning; I saw him walking around in the lot at the park picking up roaches”
“Classic Otis” retorted Greg.
“Your best friend” America joked.
“No. You are.” Greg said. The husband and wife kissed. Greg squeezed America’s breasts and butt cheeks. America bit Greg’s neck, and they had sex in the kitchen. They exchanged “I love you” s, America picked up her mug of wine and took it back into the art studio as Greg went next door to get Otis Chang-Hussain high.
Unchipped America put her virtually obsolete air pods into her ears and started her Bob Marley playlist as she sipped her wine from her world’s best mom mug and visualized a nocturnal desert landscape on a blank canvas. America was annoyed by non-Bob songs sneaking into her Bob playlist; songs like don’t worry be happy and red red wine, even a Beef Dog song made it into the shuffle; it was 2044 and people on the internet were still citing Bob Marley for these songs; idiots.
America started to paint. She thought for a second that she could hear metal scratching but ignored it. A sudden explosion outside filled the air, the blast shook the Redford-Rodriguez mobile home and a bright flash came through the windows momentarily lighting the darkened interior. America ran to the window.
“Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck” America ran outside “GREG!” She couldn’t believe it. Otis Chang Hussain’s house was sinking into the ground. Residents of the trailer park congressed to gawk. America ran to the family jeep and retrieved a twenty-four-foot coiled up rope that Greg bought at a yard sale five years earlier and never used. She barged through the gathering rubberneckers to ground zero. Otis Chang Hussain’s house was almost sunken all the way into the ground. America heaved the coil through the exposed front door while holding onto an end. She instructed her neighbors to make a line. America felt a tug. She and seven of the neighbors reeled in the big fish. Team trailer park ripped Otis Chang-Hussain out of the ground like a stubborn tree root. America screamed when she comprehended that it was Otis and not her husband holding the rope. She ran to the edge of the filled in sinkhole and started digging with her hands. Loose dirt funneled downward. A neighbor tried to restrain America for her safety, she socked him in the face and kept on digging until police officers had to tackle her into the dirt. America’s elbow brushed up against a cop’s shoulder, so they arrested her for resisting.
Cuffed in the back of the cruiser, America went into shock. She bunched herself into a semi fetal position and disassociated as the cops questioned her about the status of her citizenship.
At the police station America refused to talk to the police Interrogators implied that America’s lack of RFID chip was suspect on its own. Nehemiah saved the day, as a somewhat prominent member of the neighborhood community, he was able to charm his mother’s way to freedom under the condition that she did not go near the sinkhole again. Nehemiah drove his mother home in his pickup truck. “I told Poe already. She’s fucking devastated, she’s on her way to Phoenix. Mom, I’m so sorry”
“I can’t handle him being in the ground next to my house. What if he’s still alive down there? Nobody’s doing anything” America said
“Dad was the comeback king, but I saw the wreckage, he’s gone…” Nehemiah’s words sounded like something Greg would say to America. “Mom, I can’t lose you too, don’t go near that the sinkhole.”
A yellow caution tape surrounded the perimeter of Otis’ imploded lot. America and Nehemiah went into the trailer to pack a bag for her to take to her son’s house. She ended up revisiting the bottle of wine Greg brought her earlier. She drank the bottle and asked her son to go out and get her some bourbon. Nehemiah called his wife and told him he might not be home for some hours.
Back at the trailer mother and son drank and cried for hours. Poetry pulled in a rental car just after midnight; makeup running down her face, eyes puffy, her entire body quivering.
“What are you guys still doing here? This fucking trailer park is sinking into the ground” Poetry said to her drunken mother and older brother who got up to meet her with a family group hug. “I rented a few townhouses in Scottsdale for the next week. I can’t be here right now. I’m not drunk like you guys. Can we all just go to Scottsdale? Nehemiah bring Mary and the kids. Please”. The family agreed. America packed a bag and they went outside to drive off.
The family noticed Otis poking around outside the yellow tape at ground zero. He looked disappointed.
“Otis! You, fucking loser!” America shouted at her neighbor.
“Mom! Be nice to Otis. He’s disabled and was dad’s friend, and his house just sunk into the ground. It wasn’t his fault” Poetry pleaded with her drunk, grieving mother.
“I’m just fucking with him, Poe.” Otis walked up to the family clumsily.
“Thank you for saving my ass, America…I am so sorry about Greg; he was a good man”
“Otis, how far down the hole do you think his body is?” Nehemiah asked.
“He’s all the way down the bottom in the tool shed. I tried to pull him through the window, but the walls gave, and it filled with dirt. Then the whole trailer just frackin’ slammed down on. Greg’s way down.”
“Otis, I’m going to Scottsdale. You can house sit my trailer for me. Try not to sink it into the fucking ground. I’m coming back here for my jeep tomorrow. You can drive it until then” America said.
“Really? Wow, thanks America, I was going to sleep on top of the sinkhole.”
“Don’t do that, the cops are being cunts about going near it, just sleep in the trailer, Chang.”
“No!” Poetry objected. “Otis can come with us to Scottsdale. This whole trailer park is sinking into that hole like molasses. I’m telling you guys; the ground here isn’t sitting right or something” Poetry pleaded. She was not drunk like her mother and brother, but she did smoke a sad blunt on her drive over.
“No. I do not want to see Otis Chang-Hussain any more today, or fucking ever, really. Fuck you, Otis. You’re not coming with us. You can stay here. If you fall into another sinkhole, that just means god just wants you dead”
“Really, thanks so much for pulling me out of the hole and giving me a place to crash. You’re a saint, America Redford-Rodriguez.
“Blow it out your ass, you’re a fucking hobgoblin” America handed over her house and car keys to Otis.
“Peace Otis, I’ll be back for my truck tomorrow” said Nehemiah.
“My dad loved you Otis. You were a good friend. Stay safe” said Poetry.
“Eat a dick, Chang” America shouted out the window as the family drove away.
Otis went inside the trailer. He was friends with Greg for the better part of a decade, but this was his first time stepping into his late friend’s home. Otis found a blue sports drink in the refrigerator; he relished the hydration. He drew a bath in the Redford-Rodriguez’s bathroom. The water turned black as Otis washed off his unearthing. He drained all the dirty water and refilled and soaked for a little while. He thought he could feel Greg’s energy robustly.
Otis was not bitter. Otis was thankful that he wound up with a place to sleep on for the night. He felt terribly for: America, for Poetry, and for Nehemiah. He mourned his good friend; but Otis managed to feel no resentment towards anybody, or system, it was just a byproduct of his disability.
Shit just happens Otis supposed.
Otis made his way into Greg and America’s bedroom, and got into his neighbor’s bed. He was exhausted from smoking weed, being buried alive, given drugs at the hospital, and walking back to the trailer park. Otis fell into a deep sleep. His muscles melted into the mattress and a voice started talking in his head.
“This is my neighbor Otis. What the fuck is he doing in my bed?… Hey, you said I can defy earthly physics here now, right? Watch this is going to be hilarious.”
Otis suddenly felt an electric cold and windy slap across his face. He opened his eyes and saw Gregory hovering over him, head on fire and bleeding out of every orifice. “You killed me Otis! You Killed ME!”
Otis shrieked like a terrified adolescent. He swung his arms around, and just like that Greg vanished. Was it a dream? Was he still dreaming? Otis pinched his nut sack. No, he was awake; he was awake the whole time. Otis rubbed the skin on his temple where his malfunctioning RFID chip was embedded. He left the master bedroom and decided to sleep the rest of the night on the couch.
The Next Morning
America and Nehemiah got their vehicles early, and never bothered to go back into the Redford-Rodriguez mobile home. Otis had a car but couldn’t start it. It stayed parked next to the landfill. He couldn’t start the car with his RFID implant because it was malfunctioning, and he could not start it with the key, because the key was in the sinkhole with the rest of his stuff. Otis tried to hotwire his car, but was no expert in the matter, and he had no luck there. Becca Branch, the property manager of the trailer park arrived. Becca only ever came around to collect from those who were renting, and to ransack abandoned lots to sell the loot at auction. The trailerlord used her royalties from the park to live quite well. She bought herself a round pair of triple c cups and doublewide buttcheek implants. Becca was always very rude to Otis, but all he could ever notice was her figure. Perhaps, Otis was even turned on by the fact that she was so mean to him.
“Hey, Chang-Hussain! I’ve been trying to reach you! What the fuck happened here!” Becca shouted.
Otis got out of his car to get a look at her. She was wearing a low-cut top and some high cut spanx. In her early forties, she had botox tight tan skin and bottle blonde hair. Otis’ eyes wandered all around Becca’s middle to lower parts as he spoke to her.
“I have no idea what happened. It almost killed me. It killed Greg.”
“Redford died?!” Becca yelled.
“His body is still down there!”
“Otis, this is on you! You need to get your shit cleaned up and move out! This shit you’re trying to pull, saying that the sinkhole almost killed you, it’s bullshit okay? You’re paying for the damage to the lot too, and if you even think about taking this to court it’s going to cost you a lot more. Stop looking at my tits.” Said the wicked trailer-lord
“Okay, that’s fair, it’s my fault. Sorry Becca… You look beautiful, you always do”
“Clean your shit and fuck off!”
Becca got back into her ride and left Otis in a cloud of trailer dust. He had no way of checking to see what was going to happen with the sinkhole, so he decided to try to follow Becca’s orders and get his stuff cleaned up. Otis crossed the yellow tape and wandered to the brink of the sinkhole. A jagged chunk of metal that was the front of Otis’ house bulged out of the ground. He crouched down in an attempt to unearth the portion and find a pocket somewhere into the home. The idea was completely stupid, and for better or worse, it was interrupted by Phoenix police. An underqualified rookie with an itchy finger approached the pit.
“Exit the restricted area… With your hands behind your head…. And your fingers interlocked…. Walk backwards… heal-toe, and count to four alternating on your left foot and pivot.” The cop instructed
“Exit the restricted area with your hands behind your head and your fingers interlocked while walking in a CALM steady pace walk backwards, heal-toe, and count to four alternating on your left foot and pivot OR I WILL SHOOT YOU” berated the cop.
“Okay, officer. Before my mother passed away, she told me that if I ever got into a situation like this, I should let you know that I have donohue syndrome, your instructions are confusing, but I’m in no way resisting!” Otis informed.
“Get the fuck over here!”
Otis understood these instructions. He started to walk toward the cop, who in return unholstered his stun gun electroshocking Otis to the ground. The cop kicked him in the head for good measure and handcuffed him.
“Sir, this is a big misunderstanding. That’s my house in the ground.”
“Oh yeah smart guy. What does that yellow tape you crossed say?”
“It says caution, sir.”
“It says caution, which obviously means, YOU do not cross, or YOU WILL get arrested. But you thought you were above that. I’m taking you in, and that’s just me doing my job” said the cop as he threw Otis into his cruiser.
“…Okay, that’s fair” Otis responded.
The cop took Otis to the county jail where he was thrown into a small cell with three other black men, who were ones and twos like him. Otis was on the bottom bunk on the left side of the cell. He used his one phone call to tell the distribution center that he’d miss some work, so they fired him. Otis was sent back to his cell. His roommates asked him what he was in for.
“My house sunk into a hole”
The guy on the bottom bunk across from Otis got up and walked over to the passage of the cell and called out to the c.o. asking if he could have some water.
“Not now, inmate. Don’t worry you won’t dry out that fast.”
“Fuck. Okay” said the inmate.
“Did you just tell me to go fuck myself?” queried the guard.
“Yeah, I think you fucking did!”
The triggered guard and three of his co-workers stormed the cell. The guard smashed the inmate’s head into the wall eight times, a couple feet in front of Otis. Otis Chang-Hussain lost is breath for a moment and curled up into a defensive position and began to cry. This distracted the guards, putting a halt to the beating they were dealing out to his cellmate.
“What the fuck is your problem!?” One other c.o. shouted at Otis.
When his world was sinking into the ground one day earlier and it was fight or flight, Otis was able to fight via flight. Now, there was no flight, and Otis did not like fights. He had an anxious meltdown in the cell seeing his roomie’s face smashed into the wall. A couple of his teeth got bashed in. The guards buzz was harshened by Otis going post traumatic, so they dragged the man away to the infirmary.
“Relax my dude, is this your first-time being black or something?” an older man taking up the bunk above asked Otis.
Otis never saw his identity in heritage or skin color. Otis found comfort in routine and structure. Sometimes people would treat Otis poorly; but the concept that everybody following structure would be unable to harm Otis physically, or subject him to extreme mental abuse was something that Otis took providence in. Otis didn’t understand what he did wrong. He was starting to think maybe the system was unfair.
Three weeks after being buried alive in a freak sinkhole, Gregory Redford’s body was finally being extracted by the city of Phoenix. Greg’s family, along with some of his friends from the area, and the residents of the trailer park gathered around as the backhoe dug into the earth and began ungrounding pieces of Otis Chang Hussain’s home. Workers with shovels followed up on the heavy machineries initial efforts. After a couple of hours, Greg’s corpse was found, almost twenty feet into the planet together with worms and maggots feasting on his macabre decaying head and extremities.
America and Poetry held each other tight and cried as Greg was dragged out of the hole with a lever and pully. Nehemiah hugged onto his wife and children. The big junk yard manager was taken back by the sight of his father figure’s dirty, chomped corpse. America got the nerve to walk over to her husband. The tips of his fingers were eroded down to bone. She held his grotesque hand.
A police officer on sight warned America. “Ma’am you need to step away from the sinkhole improvement area. We will arrest you, just like Chang-Hussain. We’re going to get all of this cleaned up; your husband’s body is evidence as of now. We’re going to return him to you to do what you will with his remains when the time comes, but for now you need to step away, Mrs. Redford-Rodriguez”.
America kissed Greg on his dead mouth, to which all the nosey onlookers sporadically jeered in mild revulsion.
“I comply with your shitty directives, cop” the middle aged, latina widow said half buzzed.
“I love you daddy! Thank you for my life! Our souls will meet in another.” said Poetry.
“I love you dad” said Nehemiah. The family watched as Phoenix police loaded Greg into a body bag and turned him over to a coroner.
“Wait! did that cop say Otis is in jail?” Poetry investigated.
“Let it go, Poe. I don’t want to see Chang-Hussain anymore anyhow” America said.
“Why are you being so mean to him? He was dad’s best friend, and his whole life just fell apart!”
“His stupid fucking sinkhole killed him!” America snapped.
“It wasn’t Otis’ sinkhole, and nobody made dad smoke pot in there with him. This trailerpark is sooo 2019. It’s ancient; and literally buckling under its own weight.” Poetry argued.
“Smartass. So, what are you going to do?”
“I want to rent the townhouses for another few weeks or until we can have a good funeral for daddy, and I’m going to try to bail Otis’ goofy ass out of jail. When this is all over New Mexico will be the Redford-Rodriguez clan’s genesis. I have an office, and a studio where you can run the shirt company, and that mountain air is so fresh mommy…everything is going to be okay.”
America was proud of how her children grew up. Poetry drove down to the county lockup to see what the hell was going on with Otis Chang-Hussain; on the ride over she thought to herself “How is dad’s body evidence, and why did they arrest this guy for digging through his own shit? If anybody is to blame for this mess, it’s that thot Becca Branch with those big fake boobies. Take care of your property like you focus how much plastic you pump into yourself, plug-fugly slumlord… I’m so mean today.”
Poetry got to the jail, and the plucky twenty-five-year-old asked the jailer what she could ascertain about Otis Chang-Hussain. It turned out; he was being held on bail. $644 Otis Chang Hussain could have paid a courthouse bondsman to free him, had his RFID implant chip containing access to all his finances not glitched out when he got his skull hammered by rubble as he escaped the sinkhole.
Poetry paid Otis’ bail.
An hour later he was released to her. Otis looked rundown, clammy, and unwell; but he managed a smile when he recognized his mystery emancipator.
“Poetry Red, you are a little saint” Otis praised. “I promise I’m gonna pay you back for my bail as soon as I can get my chip working again or get my ID from the sinkhole”.
“Don’t worry about it, man. How was it in there? You don’t look good.”
“I think I caught a sort of corona virus in there. I’m all kinds of sick.”
“That sucks. Man, you’re having a shitty bunch of weeks, huh?”
“Yeah, but I know it’s been even harder for you, Poetry. I am so sorry for your loss.”
“Let’s get out of here, Otis. They threw a bunch of your shit in a pile near the sinkhole when they dug him out. Maybe you’ll get lucky and find your ID. I’ll give you a ride.”
Otis and Poetry exited the jail and got into Poe’s car. She put Otis’ window down thinking he looked ill enough to puke at any moment.
“I was going to pass this back and forth with you before I knew you were sick, but I can just rip it in half for us just the same. It should help with your nausea.”
Poetry removed a blunt rolled tight with a nice mellow indica/sativa hybrid inside. Poetry ripped the one blunt into two so they could smoke up without sharing a corona.
“A little saint” Otis laughed and repeated and inhaled savoring the flowery cannabis.
“My dad liked you a lot, I wouldn’t feel right not trying to help you out.”
“Your dad was a good man, Poe. A lot of people tease me for not being the smartest guy. Greg never did that, he was kind, like you are.”
“He was a good man. Now he’s gone. He outlived his parents by a year. They both died of old age in 2042 and 43.”
“I remember. First your grandmother then your grandfather. After the second funeral he and your momma came over with a blunt the size of a red bull, a half-gallon of rum, and a big ass sheet of sympathy fudge. I can’t believe that was only a year ago. Damn. I recently lost my parents too.”
“Otis, you can keep on crashing at my mom and dad’s old place until you get your ID and find a new place, or until my mom sells it or whatever, but I would try to do that as soon as possible. That trailerpark is doomed to cave in on itself entirely”.
Poetry drove Otis Chang-Hussain back to the trailerpark. Nehemiah could be seen lounging on some plastic furniture on the front porch of his childhood home, drinking a beer.
“Free at last, free at last” Nehemiah called out to Otis. “Damn Chang, you look like humid shit. Are you feeling alright?”
“Hi Nehemiah. I caught some kind of bug in jail” Otis said.
Poetry looked over to her brother.
“Where is everybody?” she asked.
“Mary and the boys went back to the townhouses with Mom.”
“What are you doing here?”
“Drinking beer and thinking about Dad”
“Well, can you help us find Otis’ ID? His implant is on the fritz and he’s all jammed up by bureaucracy.”
For the next hour Otis, Nehemiah, and Poetry hunted the extraction site, scrutinizing dirty and broken junk in an attempt to find Otis’ identification. Once again Phoenix PD arrived.
“What is wrong with you people?! What is your obsession with this sinkhole?!” the cop shouted.
“This sinkhole was my fucking home. Can’t I have one day to try and get my damn life together without being harassed by the cops?!” Otis complained. His sudden assertiveness surprised Poetry, Nehemiah, and the cop. The corona was rendering him extraordinarily nauseated, and he was at wit’s end.
“That’s it Hussain, I’m taking you back in!” said the young cop who unfastened his cuffs and started making his way over to Otis. Nehemiah stepped forward putting himself between Otis and the cop.
“Enough of this. Just let him find his damn ID, Ernie.”
“Where do I know you from?” the cop asked Nehemiah.
“From work… at the junkyard”
He suspected for some time that his boss (the owner of the scrapyard) and the local PD were in cahoots in some way. His theory was that some of the troopers were on the take in some kind of chop scam, but his theory was formed only by seeing cruisers parked in the yard and off duty cops walking around the yard acting suspiciously. Officer Ernie didn’t seem to want to rock that particular boat.
“Fine. Find it and fuck off.” Officer Ernie huffed.
Poetry was annoyed by the bullying being done by the cops to poor Otis Chang.
“So, officer Ernie, what is the phoenix pd’s obsession with this ugly hole in the ground? Why go through so much to patrol it?”
“It’s a liability issue. Do you know how expensive it would be if one of you got hurt in the hole?”
“My Dad was fucking buried alive in it!”
“We know, m’am”
“So, when you decided to be a cop, did you know that you’d be harassing and persecuting peaceful taxpayers for the interests of insurance companies?”
“Yes” said officer Ernie before he spit into the dirt and got back into his cruiser to drive away. Otis Chang-Hussain vomited into the dirt, and they all went back to searching.
Shortly before nightfall Nehemiah unearthed a drawer that was dislodged from a dresser. In that drawer was Otis Chang Hussain’s wallet containing his Arizona ID, and the keys to his car.
“Winner, Winner Chicken-Dinner.” Nehemiah decreed as he handed Otis his assets.
Otis Chang-Hussain was thankful, even though he was sopping in clammy perspiration with vice grip tight congestion jamming his sinuses, and enduring harsh abdominal cramps.
Otis drove to the ATM and withdrew enough cash to pay Poetry back for his bail and pick up a quarter of sativa from the dispensary. He went back to the trailerpark, handed off the cash, and thanked the brother and sister for their help once again. Poetry and Nehemiah recommended Otis get some rest, beat his corona, and then start looking for a new job and home once he was recovered. They drove off to the Scottsdale townhouses and leaving Otis to himself.
Otis went inside, sprayed diarrhea into the toilet, and vomited. He drew another bath and made the water hot enough to temporarily melt calcified sinuses. Otis could hear the air in his head squeak like a balloon being tactically deflated in a high pitch. Mucus dripped down his throat and out of this mouth and nose, sliming his mustache and causing him to vomit some more into his bathwater. Otis stood up and showered himself clean, then got out of the tub. He went into Greg and America’s bedroom and found one of their homemade t-shirts in his size (Jesus and the Buddha hotboxing a car), and a pair of Greg’s pants. Otis got dressed in his neighbor’s clothes and then went to the living room where he smoked a blunt and fell asleep for the next twelve hours.
The Next Day
Otis Chang-Hussain awoke at 11.11 AM; sinuses packed, temples pounding, cold sweat, feeling like he could barf. He got in his 2033 tesla and drove himself to the only superstore in town. Chang-Hussain listened to FM radio on the drive over. His favorite rapper Beef Dog was playing on the old school rap station. A duo of DJs made bad jokes about the influx of sinkholes forming in the usa. Otis drove the speed limit and obeyed all the signs and signals of the road. A drug addict in the parking lot of the superstore offered to wash Otis’ windows for a dollar. His squeegee was filthy as himself. Otis gave the man $12 and a nugget of sativa.
Otis went into the superstore. He was compulsive about which shopping cart he chose; it took him a few moments to find one with four satisfactory wheels. He bought himself some cold medicine, toiletries, t-shirts, underwear, sweatpants, ten tv dinners, and an old-time cellular telephone. Ever since RFID took off, cellphones were made practically obsolete. In 2044 you could do everything you could do on a phone, inside your own head. The superstore still sold cell phones mostly for generation x, who did generally consent to chipping as the new normal but were stubborn to disengage from the warm feeling they got from glowing screens.
As Otis paid for his wares, he collected a job application. He drove back to the trailer to drink some cold medicine and use his new burner smartphone to access the internet. He went to youtube and searched “DIY RFID chip repair surgery”. 61,112 found videos matching the description, Otis clicked on the top thumbnail.
“hi there, its your old pal Jerry Rig, and in today’s video I am going to show you how to reboot a malfunctioning RFID implant. DISCLAIMER: Jerry Rig is not responsible for any potential injuries or fatalities occurred during a viewer’s DIY RFID reboot. The safest way to take care of your malfunctioning implant is to see your primary care physician and have them refer you to a specialist. This instructional video is made for the purposes of harm reduction.
So, you’re going to need a sharp scalpel, a four-inch length of thick copper wire, a lighter, some ice cubes, a mirror, paper towels, and gauze; finally, some pain medication if you have it.
First, you are going to squeeze an ice cube in your hand containing your interface scrolling implant for an hour and until it feels numb. Next you are going use your scalpel to make a precise cut, two centimeters into your temple, exposing your RFID implant. Use paper towels you wipe up the blood. Then, looking into a mirror you take your copper wire and you push an end into the incision. You are going to poke around in there until the tip of your wire fits into a little notch, and when it gets in there you WILL feel a little zap, be prepared. Push the copper wire through the notch until a bright flash of light flashes in front of your face, and then roll the wire clockwise for 90 seconds. Pull the wire out of the chip and bandage your temple. Next, you care going to use the scalpel to cut open your palm, right down the center, then peel the skin off to the left, control the bleeding, and you should see the digital interface. Look closely and you see a very small toggle. Use the copper wire to simply flip the switch on and off. If the operation was a success, then you should be able to access all your implant’s functions immediately.
Thanks for watching. Good luck with your DIY reboot. I’m Jerry Rig, don’t forget to like and subscribe”.
Otis managed to scrounge up all the materials needed to try what he saw on the internet in his neighbor’s home. Otis Chang-Hussain tactically cut and electroshocked himself until his RFIID implant rebooted successfully. Otis was online: he checked his finances to find he had 373 dollars left to his name until his last paycheck from the distribution center came in. He checked his facebook and saw a new message from Nehemiah
“Hey Chang-Hussain. My Dad’s funeral will be in three days. We hope you can make it”. Attached to the message was instructions to the cemetery.
Otis iced his self-inflicted wounds and nursed his own corona symptoms for the rest of the day as he watched pro wrestling and amateur porn on his newly repaired RFID implant.
Otis microwaved one of his tv dinners. The reefer let him eat half of the small tray before the corona started to make him feel extreme revulsion. He wanted to hold the meal down but ended up vomiting some more. He took another bath, where he smoked another blunt and soaked in the hot water for over an hour.
Just after nightfall Otis’ bath was disrupted when he overheard somebody moving about in the mobile home. He figured it was America or one of her kids.
“Hello?!” Chang-Hussain called out.
“… Is that Otis in there!?” a recognizable voice returned. It was the park manager, Becca Branch. Otis wrapped himself in a towel and stuck his head through a crack in the bathroom door.
“What are you doing here, Becca?”
“This is an abandoned domicile on my lot. You’re in my bathroom, Otis.”
“This place ain’t abandoned. America is just over in Scottsdale with her family. She’s only been gone for a month.”
“Shut up, like you know anything, Otis… make yourself useful and help me carry this machine out to my SUV.”
“No, you can’t take America’s t-shirt press! I’m house-sitting for her; you can’t take anything without talking to her first!”
Otis stormed out of the bathroom, still wrapped in a towel. Becca was in white heels and a black skintight cocktail dress. He looked into Becca’s eyes and saw a demon out having a good time that night.
“This is my trailer park, and I will take whatever I want” said Becca just before she yanked Otis’ towel. “Not bad, Chang” she said after looking at his erecting penis. She dropped down to her knees and put Otis Chang-Hussain in her mouth. He couldn’t believe it was happening. Otis had dreamed of the day; he couldn’t believe it was actually coming true. Otis and Becca fucked on the living room floor. During sex Otis sneezed up into Becca’s face, and a cut on his hand from his rfid reboot opened up and blood got on her, to which she gave him a disgusted look, but just kept on doing her thing with him.
Otis finished inside of Becca.
She went to the bathroom to push him out into the toilet.
“Are you sick or something?” she called out from the bathroom.
“Yeah, I think I caught some sort of corona in jail” he returned
“yuck, you’re fucking nasty Chang. I can’t believe I had sex with you. I swear if I wasn’t limewiring so hard right now I’d have never touched you. Know that much.”
“You’re so lame. What are you, like 50?” she asked, as she came out the bathroom.
“I’m 36, probably about the same as you…seriously, what’s limewiring?”
Becca took a breath and sighed.
“Back in the early-early two-thousands people used these peer-to-peer file sharing app-thingies to get all of their music onto home computers. One of the most popular sites was called LimeWire. You can download a Russian app into your RFID that allows you to run LimeWire. “
“And a lot of the torrents on LimeWire host a type of malware that gets you fucked to the up when you download them into your chip” Becca explained.
“Are you serious?”
“See for yourself, donkey-dick.” The landlord convinced Otis to download LimeWire. “By the way, what’s up with the cuts? You reboot your own chip?
“Yeah, worked like a charm too” Otis bragged noticing that LimeWire was loading quickly.
“Christ, Otis. You’re really a special guy” Becca said, almost impressed.
“It’s loaded. What now?”
“Search ‘limp bizkit: break stuff” said Becca
“Eww, limp bizkit?”
“Trust me. Download all of the hits on the first few pages. Especially the ones that look corrupt”
“All right” said Otis as he followed Becca’s instruction. 90 files in the que started downloading into Chang-Hussain five at a time.
“Do I have to listen to the song?”
“Good”. Otis started feeling a head change after the first page loaded. By the time the second page was half loaded Otis developed intense cotton mouth and cold sweats. His mind started to disassociate into primal patterns. By the start of the third page Otis and Becca were fucking again. He finished on her big fake backside like he had imagined doing for years.
Otis rolled another joint.
“This is something else. Ho-Ho-holy shit I am rolling stoned right now, woman”
“Don’t call me woman, douchebag. You take three sheets of limp bizkit and suddenly Otis Chang-Hussain is a fuckboy. Piece of shit…
“Play it one time.”
“It’s just one of those days when you don’t wanna wake up. Everybody fucks everyone you suck!” Otis laughed and played the song out loud via a Bluetooth speaker in the mobile home and noticed that he was not feeling corona-like anymore.
“This is amazing, I feel great!” Otis Chang-Hussain exclaimed.
The Next Morning
He was beginning to peak, not unlike the sunrise over the mountainous skyline of Phoenix. Otis and Becca were dancing to 30’s club mixes and old school hip hop. They got into Becca’s SUV and she drove them off into the desert where they took turns blowing donuts in the sand, flooring the gas pedal to take the vehicle past 150 mph, going airborne off sand dunes, running over cacti, and preforming oral sex on each other.
By late afternoon they were both still high as hell, but cottonmouth and thirst were starting to make themselves known. In their glitchy haze they had not the foresight to pack more hydration than a half-drunk bottle of cotton candy mad dog 20/20 under the driver’s seat. They drove back into the outskirts of Phoenix at the first gas station which happened to have a carwash in back. Becca parked at pump 1 and sent Otis inside to buy gasoline, water, and a carwash. He felt ten feet off the ground walking through the parking lot. When he entered the store the tint and hue in his eye’s mind became saturated with vibrant waves of environmental color.
The clerk laser scanned Otis’ palm with the store credit-gun. She smiled and told him to have a nice day, even though: his face was all cut up, his pupils were dilated to the size of two wet nickels, covered in sand, sweating copiously, reeking of reefer, and grinding his teeth.
Becca was already pumping the gas when he got back outside. A car full of teenage males whistled and catcalled Becca’s voluminous figure, to which she just shook her ass ever-so-slightly, and indifferently stuck her middle finger up.
They drove onto the track for the carwash and put the SUV in neutral. Otis felt a sudden shift in the mood of his ride.
“It’s felt like I’ve been rolling up to this point, but now it feels like I’m tripping”
“Yup, that’s how it works. Enjoy the show, Chang.”
“How long have you been limewiring for, Becca?”
“Over a week now. My last torrent downloaded a week ago, but this shit doesn’t leave your system until you fall asleep, even if your chip breaks; it keeps your ass up for daaays”
“It does?! I don’t want to be fucked up for daaays. Redford’s funeral is Saturday! I need to find a job!” Otis panicked.
“Relax Chang. I kind of know what you mean, there is a trick for that.” Becca assured. The suv exited the other side of the carwash. Becca drove onto the freeway, and into the West Phoenix Valley. She stopped outside of an apartment building in the hood.
“Okay Chang, transfer me $80.”
“You want to get straight? The best way down is to go over the top”.
Otis had no idea what that meant, but he felt implied to abide by his date and longtime crush. He transferred eighty dollars. She left Otis behind in the SUV when she went into the apartment complex.
The next hour for Otis felt like an eternity. He felt as if Becca’s SUV was a spaceship, and he was whirling around the universe through a wormhole into the thirty sixth dimension. Becca returned to her chariot looking handled and holding heroin.
“A healthy shot of gunpowder will help you fall asleep.”
Otis never shot heroin, and never intended to before that night. They drove back to the Redford-Rodriguez trailer and put on the radio, Otis overheard more talk about the freak influx of sinkholes, especially in america, canada, and jolly old england.
While leading Otis back into the trailer Becca flashed him her fake ass and clapped her buttcheeks. She sat him on the sofa and got on his lap. The landlord took off his belt and tied the belt around Chang-Hussain’s bicep. Becca Branch shot a heroic dose for a first timer like Otis. He smiled and drooled.
A couple of moments later…nodding out… Black.
The Next Morning
Flashes of light. A sudden jolt of energy. Another sunrise over the trailerpark. Otis could stay awake long enough see Becca ransacking the trailer. She had a pile of Greg and America’s stuff in the living room ready to be hauled off into her suv, and she was fumbling around with the t-shirt press, trying to get it out the door.
“What are you doing?”
(It started in that apartment in the hood, the night before. Becca took Otis’ eighty bucks and threw in a little bit of her own money to buy heroin, meth, and molly. She made out with the drug dealer and set up a date with him for later in the week. After she shot heroin into Otis’ arm, she shot some meth into her own arm and ate some molly. Once the landlord started to roll and Otis started to snore, she started stealing from the mobile home.)
Otis woke up sooner than expected.
“Otis… hey baby, can you please just help me get this thing out of here? For me?” the landlord pouted and leaned forward pressing her cleavage together.
“Becca, c’mon. I can’t let you do that; I’m housesitting…this family is friendly with me…please, just take up any issues with America, but do not take anything from this home before you talk to her first.”
“Otis, help me. You don’t want to know how this plays out if you don’t”
“What does that mean?”
“I will call the cops on you again. I will tell them, you’re a homeless man, doing drugs in an abandoned unit on my lot. You go to jail…AGAIN.”
“I called the cops on you the day you got arrested. Remember? I saw you in your car. I called right after I left and told them the man responsible for all the damage to my property was playing around in the garbage of it all, then the cops came and arrested you.”
“Maybe I call the cops on you” Otis said to his landlord.
“Go ahead. Who will they believe? Me or the black retard? By the way little bitch, one corrupted limp bizkit song off LimeWire will have you partying all weekend. Your stupid ass took three pages. A baker’s dozen of hits, at least. I just wanted to see what would happen to you Otis, to get off. You’re going to be spun the fuck out eating your own shit on a sidewalk in san fran.”
Becca’s words cut deep. He watched as she laughed and started toggling at the chip in her palm to make a phone call. Otis thought about his time in jail. He made a fist. He remembered watching that prison guard bashing his cellmate’s skull into the wall. Otis Chang-Hussain cocked back his elbow and lunged his knuckles forward shattering the landlady’s nosebones and teeth. Broken teeth drove upward into splintered cartilage.
Otis sat down on the sofa and looked down at Becca’s unconscious body for a moment. one tear rolled down his freckled cheek before he did what he did next. Taking a used syringe from the landlady’s purse, he shot the rest of the heroin, the rest of the molly, and the rest of the meth all into Becca’s arm. Otis Chang-Hussain kept his eyes on her until he saw drool coming out of her mouth.
Otis went outside and walked a skip across the trailer park to the sinkhole where he used to live. A shovel was left behind from the excavation. He calmly picked up the shovel and walked back into the Redford-Rodriguez residence. Becca’s body was not where he left it. Out of the kitchen with a belligerent thwacked out insane survival rage Becca Branch came charging Otis with a butcher knife; still holding the shovel, Otis did have time to ready his blunt melee weapon; he just thrusted the dull iron spade into Becca’s throat, her windpipe jagged into raw exposure.
She became disoriented, accidently stabbing herself in the chest with the knife before falling forward with the blade pushed all the way through by the handle on the linoleum floor.
Becca Branch bled all over.
Otis went into the back yard to dig a hole. While digging he turned up the skeleton of a chihuahua, he poked the skeleton with the shovel, and it barked a raspy high-pitched yip. Otis started to jump but a hand landed on his shoulder.
“America buried that dog here 25 years ago. If you bury trailerpark slumland barbie here, the cops are going to think America put her in the hole too” a specter embodying the late Gregory Redford advised.
“Why do you haunt me, Greg?” Otis implored.
“Really dude? I was just messing with you before. I was getting used to being fucking dead, and I didn’t get why you were in my house, so I was fucking with you… This shit in my living room now – dead landlady in my living room shit, Otis. How the fuck did that happen?”
“Redford, I’m so fucked.”
“Listen Otis. I will help you. But after I help you, I need for you to keep a promise. If you break that promise, Otis… If you break that promise I will haunt you into a padded white room.”
“Promise what Redford?”
“You stay away from my family” said the ghost.
“… Because I killed Becca, right?” Otis checked for clarification.
“It is indeed because you formed an emotional bond with a person in my house over a weekend, and then butchered her in the living room, Otis” Greg’s ghost assured him.
“Okay Greg. I’ll disappear. I promise.” That really was his endgame. To disappear.
“Good. Now listen up killer; you need to hide a body, and an SUV. So, first thing you’re going to do is move her into her own back seat.”
“Can you help me drag her?”
“No, I can’t help you drag her. My physical body is getting burned into ash as we speak.”
Otis did as the ghost said and dragged Becca’s dead body out of the trailer into the SUV. Luckily for Otis there were a lot of blankets in the back seat for him to cover her corpse up.
“Perfect. Now go back inside and clean the place. America keeps bleach and other cleaning shit under the kitchen sink. Mop’s somewhere in there too”.
Otis continued to obey his dead friend: bleaching and scrubbing and washing, until all the apparent evidence of murder seemed to be gone.
“Now what?” Otis asked.
“Hitch the front of your car to the back of the SUV and take both vehicles to South Mountain. You can find sketchy, narrow, half-beaten trails that go high enough to overlook the whole city. They close the opening path at eight pm, so get there now, stay unassuming, get high and narrow, then hideout until it’s late, wait until you see the last of the headlights driving down the main path, and wait another hour. Detach your car, put her in the driver’s seat, put the SUV in neutral, and push it off the side. Make you sure find some jagged rocks for the touchdown, eh?”
Otis did as he was told. The time it took him to drive Becca to and up the mountain, and the time he waited hidden with her totaled over four hours. He listened to talk radio. There was a lot of hysteria concerning reports of a sinkhole in kansas city that wouldn’t stop expanding, and was on route to sink all of missouri, all of kansas, all of ohio, colorado, and oklahoma. The usa was eating its own asshole. California was on fire, and florida was fixing to break off and float away.
When the time came to place Becca behind the steering wheel, he expected her ghost to scorn him. He wished her ghost would do something; say something; instead her dead bloody face just shimmered in the moonlight. Otis unhooked his car, he put Becca in neutral and pushed her off the side of a cliff. Jagged rocks, just as the ghost demanded. The engine exploded. Airbags out the ass. The wreckage wedged into bouldered red rock. A spinning tire popped out. They were far off the beaten path. If you got to where he pushed her, that one spot on the whole mountain, and you looked down for a split second, you might think that tire was a rock, and you would not have noticed anything else. If you looked a little longer, you’d see a tire, a little closer, you’d see the SUV with the dead landlady in it.
Otis got into his little car and drove down the mountain. The main exit was chained closed. Otis drove around, ran into another cactus and this time his little car took a shot from the dessert spiked flower. Otis managed to get his car back onto the road, and down the freeway. Away from South Mountain.
Otis drove out of phoenix, eastbound. He was going to drive to Florida before it broke off and floated away. While driving a thought crossed Otis’ mind. Limewiring had an extremely psychoactive effect on him. How much of his memories, even recent ones could be relied on as reality? Was this just Otis Chang-Hussain’s vision quest? What happened today? Yesterday? Otis tried to piece together what was real and what was fabricated in his mind. Shortly after passing the New Mexico state line Otis Chang-Hussain pulled off the highway when he saw a big truck stop.
Inside of the truck stop was a diner. Otis sat himself at a small booth in the corner. His waitress asked Otis if he was doing alright, and even went as far as to ask him if he knew where he was, and if there was anybody she could call. The older woman saw Otis’ cuts, the bloodstains, the disassociated stare off into oblivion. Otis faked a smile and told the waitress that he was an outlaw ruff riding. He ordered a cup of black coffee, some bacon and eggs and all the pancakes he could eat. He asked the waitress if he could pay with his chip and get cashback.
“I think you can still do that sir, I’ll ask the shift manager, honey. Bless your heart”. She came back with his coffee and told him he could get cash back.
“I think as much as you want… We’re going cashless soon, so we’re happy to trade it out.” Otis checked his balance. $244. The meal was forty dollars.
“Can I get $2oo?”
Otis tipped his waitress the last four bucks on his balance. He had a one final paycheck coming in from the distribution center. He thought about ripping out his chip after the money came in. He wondered if they found the SUV yet.
Otis was back on the highway by 3 AM. The terrain around the freeway was mountainous. Otis followed a map projected in his head by the chip. The map suddenly had him take an exit and go up another path, a bouncy vertical path.
Otis enjoyed the vacant scenic rocky route. Not another car for miles, brisk New Mexican mountain air came in through the windows. He could see a trillion stars in the sky.
Up in the middle of nowhere on the shoulder of the road was a hitchhiker walking with his thumb out. The hitcher turned around, looked through Otis’ windshield, squinted against the bright headlights and shouted, “Pick me up Otis!”.
It was the ghost of Gregory Redford. Otis hit the brakes. He saw nobody in his rearview mirror but could hear footsteps scampering up to the vehicle. The door behind him opened. Otis could still see nothing change in the rearview mirror. The back door closed. Otis turned around to see his neighbor Greg Redford, and a native american indian, dressed indigenously, shirtless, barefoot, feathered headdress, over seven feet tall, weeping blood.
Otis looked back into the mirror, and once again noticed that Greg and the other ghost had no reflection. He turned back around to look at them. Greg gave a somewhat discomforted smirk and his indigenous friend snarled at Otis.
“Who’s this guy, Greg?” Otis asked as he kept on driving.
“This is my buddy, Tomahawk, we met him at the trailer park. He died at the exact same spot I was buried, hundreds of years earlier after being gunned down by cowboys.”
“He doesn’t seem to like me.”
“Balderdash, Tomahawk just has a different way of thinking, let’s not judge the guy, he’s a friend of mine, Otis” Greg vouched
Otis turned around again, and just as he expected from an indescribable feeling he had, Tomahawk was still snarling, crying blood, and staring at Otis.
“I know how we’re going to break the tension. Otis, Tomahawk has a special ability. He can pass objects back and forth from your world to ours.”
“What does that mean, Greg?”
Otis turned back and saw Tomahawk, still grilling him, but with his hand extended and holding a gift; it was the antler of an elk that was crafted into a pipe packed with some outdoorsy cannabis. When Otis hit the antler, it bubbled just like his old bong in the toolshed behind his trailer. Otis coughed up smoke and turned around to pass Tomahawk his pipe back. When he turned around the indigenous man’s headdress was removed, revealing the skin on the tip of his head had been scalped. Tomahawk refused to take it back, he just stared a hole through Otis’ face.
“I’ll take that” said Greg’s ghost before taking the antler and letting it rip. Otis turned forward to where he was driving.
“Greg, it was self-defense. Becca drugged me with lethal doses and robbed you and America’s trailer. That bitch was trying to kill me” He cried Otis.
Redford and Tomahawk laughed at his tears from the back seat.
“That is one way of looking at things here, okay Otis. You’re right, she was robbing the place. Did she make you ingest generation x’s malware??? She suggested it, maybe. You murdered her ass Otis. She wasn’t physically attacking you when you punched her in the face. You were not defending yourself when you shot her up on my floor and slayed her with my good shovel!” Greg shouted.
Tomahawk began to speak in a language that sounded like dolphin and steel drum arabic to Otis. Greg answered Tomahawk in plain English. “I had him roll her off a cliff.”
Tomahawk asked another question in his bleepy language. “
Yeah, she was a white lady.” Greg answered. Tomahawk laughed.
The ghosts haunted him for miles as he drove straight across New Mexico.
Later That Day
The Funeral of Greg Redford
Greg’s funeral was held in the very trailer park where he was buried alive, in his front yard. America made bacon wrapped hotdogs for the whole the park and Greg’s rando cast of friends from phoenix, a lot of marijuana enthusiasts along with t-shirt associates, and for her daughter Poetry, her son Nehemiah, and her grandchildren and daughter in law. 100 bacon-wrapped hot dogs.
Poetry and America each took half of Greg’s ashes. He told America many times that he wanted for his remains to be spread out. Poetry looked around at the attendance.
“Otis Chang Hussain is not here. Do you think he got arrested again?” Poetry asked her mother. America smiled at Poetry and spoke frankly
“Poe, please do me a favor. Leave Otis Chang-Hussain in the past. – and I know what you think. The truth is I don’t blame him for your father’s death… I’ve just always gotten a bad feeling from Otis. The feminine part of me recoils when I see him. I get the feeling that there’s something very off about him… That’s the best I can explain… Poetry, your father was a complicated man, but you hold all of his best qualities in your heart… and you got my better parts too… you got lucky, kid. You don’t need anybody else to remind you of your father. You are his Poetry.”
“Okay mom. If you say so; I’ll trust you on this one”
“I love you, Poe”
“I love you too. Mom… Do you think he’s at peace?”
“You’d laugh at me if I told you what I think” America told her daughter.
“Now you have to tell me.”
“Fine. I think your father is currently, very confused, he’s deliberately told me many times to spread him all over the place. He might be feeling trapped since we haven’t yet and probably haunting people on accident and running amuck in purgatory. But eventually, he’ll figure out what he’s supposed to do, and then will be at peace.”
“I’m not laughing at you, Mom. that’s insane but not funny. All the same, I’ll spread these ashes all the way to New Mexico. Please come with me.”
A new life awaited them.
The ghosts of Gregory Redford and the hulking indian being referred to as Tomahawk harassed Otis Chang-Hussain until he pulled off the interstate and into a truck stop. Redford’s ghost demanded Otis go to the fast food window and pick up some triple bacon cheeseburgers with barbeque sauce. Tomahawk made demands in his cyber-alien language. Greg translated “and Tomahawk wants some cigarettes”.
“If I get these things for you, will you go invisible and leave me alone?” Otis asked his late neighbor.
“That’s the idea Otis. Go on”.
Otis Chang walked into the truck stop to fetch his tormenters some cheeseburgers and a carton of smokes. Two police officers hanging out by the donuts grilled Otis as he moved around the place. He caught a sight of himself on a security monitor. Otis was turning greenish grey. He was all dried out and wrinkled. He was sliced up and shuffling around agitatedly. His clothes were torn up and dirty. Otis Chang-Hussain considered walking up to those cops, telling them he was seeing and hearing things that were not there, and that he killed somebody, and needed help. Otis then, thought back once again to his cellmate getting his skull hammered into that concrete wall. He bought the cheeseburgers, the cigarettes, and went back to his car which he left charging it’s electric engine with two angry ghosts in the back seat. Otis turned around from the driver’s seat to hand Redford his burgers.
Redford gave Otis a ghastly stink-eye.
“You eat it, Otis” Said Greg. Tomahawk added to the conversation in his alien language. Greg Redford’s ghost translated “and smoke”.
Otis objected “You said that Tomahawk could give and take things from our worlds! So why don’t you just eat and smoke this stuff yourselves?”
For the first time Tomahawk spoke in plain english. His voice was bass and raspy, “Smoke all the cigarettes, or I will take a knife from my world into yours and scalp you!” fire burned in Tomahawks eyes as he threatened Otis.
“Yeah bro, eat the fucking cheeseburgers too.” Don’t fuck with me” Redford’s ghost added quietly.
Otis Chang-Hussain sat in his little electric car at a truck stop in Texas cramming fast food burgers into his mouth, smoking three cigarettes at a time, and crying. Greg and Tomahawk laughed obnoxiously every time Otis would cry out; but nobody outside of the windows could see the ghosts, they just witnessed Otis crying. One concerned bystander called 911 to check on his wellbeing.
Redford’s ghost spoke up “Otis, eat and drive; somebody just called the cops, you saw two inside, didn’t you? They’ll be walking out any moment now”
Otis got out of that truck stop, the ghosts of Redford and Tomahawk vanished as Otis bolted back onto the interstate past three exits before jumping off and taking back roads. It was a relief of spirit to be alone in the car. Otis drove all day and night, chain smoking the cigarettes, believing that he was getting further away from Redford and his indigenous friend…
Later That Night
Mississippi National Forest
His corona symptoms made a light return. He could not stop sweating. Otis was still hallucinating a little bit when he found himself engulfed by trees and another wilderness. Otis felt far removed enough from Tomahawk and his knives to where he thought he could stop chain smoking.
Otis got out of his car in an attempt to clear his head with a short walk through the forest. His attempt, at first seemed to have merit, as he felt the warm vibrations radiating off the trees. Otis could hear an owl’s soothing coo somewhere above his head. He vomited into some brush. It was a healthy purge of a yack. Otis felt considerably healthier after ridding his gut of black residue and pink mucus. This was his final moment of any amount of peace, he would feel on earth, Otis Hussain-Chang felt.
He spoke out loud to himself as he noticed the shift “The ground here isn’t sitting right, or something.”
Treetops a hundred yards away started plummeting. The ground beneath Chang-Hussain’s feet veered downward. The crashing of the trees got closer and closer to Otis, he ran as fast as he could in the direction of his car, outrunning the unnatural disaster just short of where he parked as the sinkhole filled itself in with fallen forest.
“Piece of shit sinkholes!” Otis exclaimed while leaning up against his car in an attempt to catch his breath.
Just before Otis Chang-Hussain could get back into the car he was suddenly tackled by a figure the size of a big refrigerator. The ghost of Tomahawk returned, and Otis hadn’t been smoking. Tomahawk, in a haunting nicotine fit beat Otis’ face against the ground with his fists the size of bowling balls. The indigenous specter pulled a stone bladed knife sharp and dull in all the wrong places and began scalping Otis Chang-Hussain with it. Blood hemorrhaged and bone scoured. Otis shrieked in agony. Tomahawk grabbed all the hair he could grip onto the top Otis’ head, and tore a pelt from Otis, placing the bloody piece of human flesh on his own head. Tomahawk leaned down to bite down on an outside piece of Otis’ exposed brain tissue. He chewed on Otis’ brain and spit it out. Otis was in extreme distress but was now unable to feel any physical pain; his mouth muscles melted into an uncontrollably drooling frown. He could not speak, he could only grunt in gurgled and disappointed primal groans. Tomahawk got up off Otis and entered the car. Otis laid back, starry-eyed, bleeding and grunting. Tomahawk got a pack of cigarettes from the car. The indigenous ghost put a single smoke in Otis’ mouth and sparked it. Otis Chang-Hussain could not lift his left arm to tend to the burning cigarette, his right arm though was working just fine. Otis cried and smoked.
Tomahawk did not laugh at Otis’ tears this time, nor did he speak in an alien language any longer. He spoke for the second time with his intimidating voice in plain english “Redford’s family scattered his ashes all throughout the New Mexican mountains. His soul is at peace now. Isn’t that nice for him? What a simple man. Give him a cheeseburger, a woman who loves him, a shred of purpose, and he walks out of hell like a cocky motherfucker just because his wife had his body burned and his ashes dumped. Good for him. But it’s not so simple for men like you and me. Is it, cowboy?”
Otis wanted to tell Tomahawk that he was no cowboy, but could not say anything, only grunt. Tomahawk licked Otis’ blood off of the knife.
“Don’t stop smoking, cowboy” said Tomahawk just before he placed Otis’ car key in his hand.
Otis smoked nonstop while driving out the forest, back onto the highway. The missing chunk of Otis’ brain made his experiences begin to feel like nonreality; a dream of a movie played through his windshield as he smoked and drove instinctively. He kept no track of time and distance. Everything Otis did sans that 6% of exposed brain was done out of roughly zombified spontaneous action.
Otis drove through the night into a place and instance that he could not fathom; red and blue lights flashed in his rearview mirror. Is it a possible that he could have been driving erratically after being awake for over three days straight, having loaded enough party malware to feed an entire doomsday cult, shot heroin, and having been scalped and having a little bit of his brain eaten?
“Pull over the vehicle!” the cop shouted through his bullhorn.
Otis’ body obeyed. He pulled off to the side of the road. The cop drew his gun upon exiting his own vehicle, and slowly approached the driver’s side window of Otis’ car while trying to aim into the vehicle to have a shot ready. The cop was horrified when he saw Otis face down on the steering wheel, drenched in his own blood with an exposed brain and skull. The cop holstered his weapon and radioed for backup before trying to communicate with Otis directly.
“Sir, can you hear me? An ambulance is on the way. What the hell happened to you?” shouted the alabama statey. Otis grunted into his steering wheel. The cop opened Otis’ door in an attempt to understand him better. “What did you say? Who did this to you, sir?” The cop leaned in close.
Otis Chang-Hussain snapped his head up from his steering wheel. His eyes entirely white, and foaming at the mouth. The cop hollered, reached for his gun again, but before he could utilize it Otis grabbed the cop by his neck with his right hand and squeezed his windpipe with unhuman torque. Otis stomped downward onto the cop’s buckling knee, thus taking him to the ground where Otis continued to choke him, and bit into his cheek, then chewed his nose off of him, finally releasing his grasp on the cop’s throat just in time to bite down with a fatal series of hickies. Otis left the cop’s unrecognizable remains on the road; only taking the time to jack his gun. Witnesses to the mayhem sped past the scene in their cars in total shock of what they were seeing.
Otis got back into his car and took the next exit into downtown Coffee. He stalked the area in his tesla until he saw a couple out for a morning jog. He drove up onto a curb, trapping the joggers betwixt himself and a concrete wall. Eyes still while as milk, Otis Chang-Hussain fired on the young fitness enthusiasts. After gunning the couple down, Otis ran over their bodies and began to drive off the sidewalk and back onto the street right through an intersection where the back of his car was t-boned by a garbage truck.
The garbage man assumed that Otis Chang-Hussain was just a poor, or even inebriated motorist. He got out of his truck to berate Otis, who exited his now undrivable tesla and used his right arm to shoot the garbage man through his forehead with one problematically accurate pull of the trigger. Down the street a stone’s throw was a chick filet restaurant. Otis shot at the building three times. He then sat down in the middle of the road and reached up with his right arm to his exposed crown. Otis jammed his right thumb and index finger into a flap on skin near his temple and tried to pinch onto his RFID implant to pull it out of his head, but the son of a bitch was too damn slippery. Otis couldn’t get a sufficient grasp on the little devil.
From the insides of stores and hiding behind parked cars, and the corners of alleyways civilians used their own rfid technology to document Otis Chang-Hussain in real time, and to tip off the police about his location.
A couple dozen cop cars were already looking for him. They all arrived at the same time, in a big, angry, revenge on a cop killer convoy. The stampede charged the downtown street sirens blazing and cartoon reckless. Otis stood his ground in the middle of the road. He raised his stolen firearm and aimed it at the entity that issued it. They got much closer by the second. Otis spent all of the remaining bullets into the windshield of the cruiser leading the pack. Two cops on the inside, and the driver got hit twice, once in each tit. The cruiser winged another just behind it as the car veered off hard into a coffeeshop, smashing through the glass window and crushing three employees inside.
A cop riding passenger grabbed a shotgun and straddled his door and window, positioning himself to fire a shot. The force of the gunshot blew the overzealous officer off of his ambitious nest. The cop got ran over by twelve of the cruisers behind him, essentially turning him into a trail of roadkill; but the shot was accurate, Otis Chang-Hussain was sprayed across his chest, neck, and abdomen with bullets.
Otis Chang-Hussain’s body was run over and over and over and run over and run over and over and over all over again. His brain was banished from his skull and smashed into a grey paste on the road. His torso beyond mangled. Several of the cops got out of their cars and fired at Otis Chang-Hussain’s morbid remains for no less than eighty seconds straight; then one police officer approached Otis’ carcass, kneeled down on what looked like Otis’ back, found both of his arms and reattached them cuffing them together at the wrists… just to be safe.
The Next Day
One Month After the First Sinkhole
Good Morning USA, episode 6000 of the weekday morning news show aired. Anchorwoman Grace Kelly spoke to millions of americans streaming the broadcast behind their own eyelids.
“Good Morning U.S.A. Here are the morning’s top stories, we have no time to waste in getting to everything today. -First; the sinkhole emergency spreading across the US has reached over 1000 reported incidents, causing hundreds of millions of dollars of damage, and leaving many families homeless. Yesterday the president was asked by a reporter if he planned on acting against fracking and the industries responsible. The president denied any data that drew a link between fracking and sinkholes. The president was then asked what he thought was the trigger of the sinkhole crises. The president suggested a number of possible causes ranging from the word ‘god’ being removed from the pledge of allegiance last year, to adverse effects from windmills and solar panels. Oil powerhouse beyond petroleum donated a record ten billion dollars to the president’s reelection campaign last year.
Moving on to even more grim news unfolding out of coffee alabama with yesterday’s mass murder that took the lives of six civilians and five police officers, wounding another three; and also killing the gunman who has now been positively identified by the federal investigations bureau as Otis Chang-Hussain, a developmentally challenged thirty-six year old man from phoenix arizona who was rated two out of ten, recently arrested for criminal trespassing, and fired from his job at a distribution center. Just hours ago in a shocking turn of events, it was revealed via intercepted police chatter recorded and leaked online by an anonymous source that Otis Chang-Hussain is also a person of interest in the murder of his landlord Becca Branch, whose body was found in the wreckage of her SUV found in a rocky canyon off of phoenix’s south mountain earlier this week. Investigators are still trying to establish a motive.
International terrorism has not been ruled out.
In other news, it’s the dangerous new trend that is sweeping the nation’s college campuses and nightlife. It’s called limewiring. This form of singularity mutilation poisons the users braincells and central nervous system with a malware that originates from 40-year-old music piracy sites. Many users report feeling of euphoria and excitement while being infected by the contaminated music files. The fad has left over one hundred people hospitalized and has been implicated as the cause behind several suicides.
Don’t even think about using any of that dangerous and outdated technology if you’re one of the people waiting in line for the new apple seed thirty-six, the newest rfid implant from apple. The apple seed thirty-six reportedly operates two and a half times faster than the a.s thirty-five, runs apps that allow you see in night vision without glasses, increases your sense of smell by 81% (I’m not making this up), and amongst many other new features the most notable is the thousand diagnostic scans per second, which apple alleges can neutralize coronaviruses, and eliminate cancer before it can turn malignant. The apple seed thirty-six goes on sale to the public at midnight for $14,789 for a chip.