"Did you just check your email again?" asks Jeff. "No." I say. "I saw you." he shakes his head."You know, if he's got Stephen King it's going to take him months to read your shit. That motherfucker is prolific. He's too busy reading his shit." "Ugh," I put my head in my hands."Don't talk about Stephen King. You're making me sick." "I'm not even sure that you're right about that." he says."You're not very smart when it comes to the Interweb." "I read it online!" I tell him. "Hmmm. We'll see." Jeff pushes me aside and does his own google of the literary agents name. "He doesn't have Stephen King-it's his boss." he says. Oh thank God, I think with relief. "What do you do on here? Just look at one article and quit? Do you even know how to research something?" "I read it on someones blog and got spooked! Then I felt all guilty and stalkerish so I quit!" I cried. "Do you know what is stalkerish? Writing about this on your blog every day. You look like a lunatic." "I'm counting on him to think it's funny." "Hmmm." says Jeff. Although it's contradictory, most evidence points to a No on the dala Lama being my guys client. Jeff did, however, find an article about a man with the same name who is available for chat through Inmates.com. He is in the clink for breaking and entering, he had to be subdued by the police dogs. I don't think it's the same man, but I will of course be sure to ask the agent, just to be polite. They like it when you show interest in their lives outside of work, I am told,and if he is in jail then perhaps I could endear myself to him by sending him oranges injected with vodka-as we used to do for my Uncle Sonny when he had to spend Christmas in the State Pen.
After Jeffs more thorough fact finding mission, I am no longer worried about the Dalai Lama. In fact, now that Stephen King and the Dalai are out of the picture I feel relaxed, or as calm and relaxed as it's possible for someone like me to get on any given day-which is not much but definitely better than when i thought that the representative of a holy leader of an ancient people was reading my book.
In an effort to distract myself from my own curiosity I take Ruby to Luby's. As we wait in line, I realise that I've made a mistake. All of my patience has been used up waiting to see if this guy likes my book. There isn't a drop left for a hyperactive toddler jumping up and down like a psychotic chimpanzee demanding a balloon. "MOMMY! MOMMY! MOMMY!" "yes, Ruby? Be still." "MOMMY! MOMMY! I want a balloon!" "You have to wait until we get to the end of the line." "MOMMY! I want a balloon!" "Wait." "I want one now!" she whines. I think of my friend who is pregnant with her first child right now, unaware of what is coming for her. Ha, ha. We order our Louann platter. In front of us someone orders liver and onions. I didn't realise people still ate that. They love it, apparently, at the Luby's on 183 North of Austin. The man behind us orders it too. Horrible. Ruby insists on ordering an opaque, moss green mass that has been molded into a half moon and decorated with Cool Whip. "Honey," I ask her. "Are you sure you want to eat that? I'm not even sure it's food.' "Yeah, MOMMY! I want that! That! That!" she jumps up and down. I inspect it more closely. It has oranges and some kind of nut in it. There is also coconut, or maybe sawdust, something white.Plastic. Horrible. "It's your funeral" I tell her, prompting both Liver and Onions ahead of and behind me to look my way. What? I am teaching her sarcasm, a valuable life skill. After we sit down, and eat our fish( doesn't everyone get the fish? Who is getting the liver and onions, really, who are you people?)she takes a tiny bite of her monstrosity. "I don't like that!" she wails."I want red jello!" "Sorry dude,"I tell her."You should have picked that in the first place.You chose the gross dessert, now you have to eat it." "NOOOOO___OOOO!" she screams. "Okay," I tell her."Don't eat it. But no red jello." She screams for jello as I pay, each minute of her wailing further ensuring her status as a non-red jello owning individual. I hate the temper tantrums. At this point, only if the paramedics arrived and ordered an IV of red jello, STAT, to save her life would she actually ever see a cup of red jello. Just then a kind looking waitress brings over a carton of red jello, packaged in a Styrofoam cup-to go. "Here you go sweetheart" she eyes me as she hands it to Ruby, who looks up at me. Bitch! her face says to me, That's how I get shit DONE. Awesome. Lady, I was having a parenting moment here. I sigh. What can I do? The nice jello lady smiles at me."I just couldn't stand to hear her scream like that." she says. I resist the urge to be sarcastic and take a deep breath. What would the Dalai Lama do about the red jello? I think. "Thanks" I say, and think- Maybe it's your funeral.
"I think it's really funny that the Dalai lama is giving you anxiety attacks," this from Jeff, who took me out to dinner last night to distract me from thinking about whether or not famous-literary-agent-dude will like my book. Every few minutes he'd catch me staring out into space. "Stop thinking about the Dalai lama!" I started, guilty. "I wasn't thinking about it!" I told him."I was thinking about North Korea!" I AM actually thinking about North Korea a lot because I woke up in the middle of the night with this idea that I should go there. They just opened up tourism in 2010so as long as you are accompanied by two official tour guides you can now visit what I've decided is the weirdest country on earth. "It only costs 600 dollars for the tour!" I told Jeff. "What?" he asked groggily."I was sleeping!" "I have to go to North Korea and mock Kim Jong Il!" I told him. "It will not cost 600 dollars. There is airfare, and then there will be the legal fees when we have to get you out of jail. Go back to sleep." He turned over. He does not think I am serious. I wrote to my friend Mark who lives in South Korea to see if he will go with me.He has a phobia of flying, which is unfortunate since he has to fly back and forth from the US to South Korea since he took a job teaching English there. It's not just proximity that makes him my ideal Regime Vacation companion.He is also always getting into a pickle and the stories that result from his shenanigans make me laugh so hard I pee a little. Mark once faked a heart attack to get off an international flight. "I just had this feeling it was going to crash," he said. They agreed to let him off, even though they weren't at an international hub(there are rules-you can't get off international flights unless you are at an official 'international' airport) he was allowed to go as long as he was followed by a police escort to the hospital. Once there, he ditched. Perfect choice for a companion to the worlds strictest regime, the only other person I know who rivals my level of neurotic insanity. "They will put you in jail for chewing gum," said my friend Donna, who is still refusing to give me back my jacket."You can't fuck around if you go there." "I know! I'm not STUPID." I told her."I will only mock in my mind. And maybe I can whisper to Mark." "I could go with you, help you stay out of jail." she said. That might be smart, I realised. Donna is not only completely fearless, but she also has what Mark and I lack- common sense. "I wish I could wear my whore shoes." she said. "Jail, I think. They don't like whores over there." "Oh well, I will go anyway." "Can I have my jacket back for the trip?" I asked, hopeful. "No." So, as soon as i get some money I'm going to book the flight. Donna is dead serious and she has a million frequent flier miles, Mark may be a little trickier to convince but I'm sure once we are over there we can get him on board. If we have to, I have some Halcion left over from a dentists visit and we can drug him until he's across the border. That is how Jeffery Dahmer sedated his victims by the way. (In case my dentist is reading this-I am completely joking. I took the Halcion on my birthday.) That is also not true.I am saving that Halcion for my next victim. Another thing I am doing to not think about the Dalai Lama is making lists.
Here is a list of what is in my purse- cough syrup child's toy gun 31 receipts two lipsticks switchblade spongebob squarepants gummy candy 2 week old starbucks bag with fossilized doughnut Valium credit cards, ID Barbie shoe tiny plastic baby pony 3.89 in change flashlight sharpie bottle of embalming fluid rabbits tail pliers
Add that Halcion and I have the purse of a serial killer.
The bottle of embalming fluid isn't usually there, I'm taking it to show it to a friend. It's from the 1920's, I found it at the Goodwill Graveyard one day-my favorite thrift store where all of the thrift merchandise in the city goes to die. Everything is a quarter, but sometimes you have to fight homeless people to get the good stuff. I had to push the lady with the missing front tooth out of the way to grab it. She is always trying to grab what I want, it used to intimidate me but now I just growl and elbow her. She will back down if I act violent.
The bottle says-
FRIGID CAVITY KING a perfumed,powerful,penetrating, preserving, and disinfecting local fluid. Takes the Question Mark out of Embalming! It goes on to say that it's good for skin slip and dropsy, great for infant cases not embalmed aerially. "Treat all cases where circulation is destroyed or bodies mutilated, decomposed, diseased, crushed or dismembered, gangrene, cancer and ulcer cases. Also, floaters and general cavity use." Before I had this bottle, I worried a lot about what to do with my floaters.Now I know.
"You're going to have to clean your purse out before we go to North Korea." said Donna. "I think Kim Jong Il will appreciate my Frigid Cavity King. Besides we can fill it with gin and pretend to make Mark a cocktail out of it." "I think, if we do that, his heart attack won't be a fake one this time." "I want to email that agent and tell him about my North Korea plan." I told her. "Stop being compulsive and DETACH!" she yelled."Just try to be the Dalai Lama!"
Sunny Haralson was born in a house of ill repute. After acing the first grade, she ran away to join the circus. At night, while the elephants slept, she learned how to spin and sew from the spiders. She made whimsical creations for the trapeze artists, who needed their outfits to be both beautiful and comfortable. Magpies brought her shiny objects to embellish the costumes with, if they sometimes accidentally brought an eyeball they'd plucked from some unfortunate, she forgave them and quietly popped it into her mouth. The circus, for all it glorious adventure, was often low on dietary protein.
When she tired of circus life she retired and set out alone to the desert in a stolen hot air balloon.
It's there, in a tiny FEMA trailer, that she writes her tell-all memoir. She steals ideas from the coyotes and writes them down with needles made from the giant cactus that guards her doorway. The UPS man never sees her face.