I work for David Lynch.
Like faith in God or the existence of UFO’s, I believe this to be true despite the lack of any evidence.
Let me describe my work week to you.
I come in and sit down to work. No one else is in my department except my co-worker James. We begin to gab, probably about movies, when a chair rolls across the floor.
On its own.
Now, this wasn’t an Amityville Horror roll. The chair didn’t scoot fifteen feet and crash into the wall. It just rolled a few inches. Weird, sure, but on its own it means little. I’m convinced we had a small earthquake (live in California long enough and earthquakes become like tiny breezes; you stop noticing them). James thinks we have rats. Either way, it’s explained away.
We joke about ghosts moving the chair when Rudy walks in. Rudy is from Indonesia and no one knows what his schedule is. Some days he comes in at 11am, other days he doesn’t arrive until 7pm. Our department head doesn’t know his schedule. Hell, I don’t think Rudy knows his schedule.
“Hey, Rudy,” I say. “You got any creepy ghost stories from Indonesia? Urban legends or that kind of thing?”
He laughs. This is Rudy’s response to about any question. “Rudy, what time you coming in tomorrow?” Laugh. “Rudy, why didn’t you finish that job last night?” Laugh. “Rudy, what’s with this bloody tarp in your trunk?” Laugh.
I explain what we’re talking about. He thinks for a moment before answering in his soft, high-pitched, broken English. “You know, when little, house in Indonesia, in backyard there was baby cemetery.”
“I’m sorry. Baby cemetery?”
“In your backyard?”
“Baby cemetery. All these baby graves up and down hill. Lots of babies.”
“Babies die. Have to be buried.”
“But why your backyard?”
“Because it baby cemetery.”
The back wall in our department is a window, tinted on the outside so no one can see in. It looks onto the parking lot of a Sizzler and the back of a rundown apartment building.
A horn honks. Not a car horn, but a squeaky little thing. A clown’s nose, it sounds like.
Then the bike zooms by. Flames painted down the side, cards in the spokes, a fifty-year-old man wearing black cargo shorts and a neon-green painter’s cap sitting atop it.
After he’s gone, a large redheaded woman around the same age waddles down to the parking lot. She looks around, nervous, and drops a purse into the dumpster. She waddles back inside.
James laughs. “What the fuck was that?”
“I think it’s a drug drop.”
Here comes the bike again. He pulls up to the dumpster and hops off. A canvass 7-Up bag hangs from his handlebars and he unzips it. Pulls out a Go-Gurt. Sucks it down. Throws the trash away.
He sucks down five more of these disgusting tubes of yogurt which, in SoCal in June, have to be the temperature of lava. He throws them all away before untying the bandana around his throat.
There’s a black and silver valve in his throat.
He’s had a tracheotomy.
He fiddles with it before lighting a cigarette.
“This guy’s hardcore,” James says. “There’s nothing going to keep him from smoking.”
Tracheotomy Guy pulls a roll of toilet paper from the pocket of his cargo shorts. Someone observes that he’s wearing Krocs with tall, brown socks. He rips off a piece of tissue and blows his nose.
A long string of green disgustingness hangs three or four inches down from his nostril.
We all groan and turn away.
When we turn back his nose is clean, but he’s got his finger jammed up it. He pulls his finger out and wipes it on the apartment gate.
Now that our stomachs are thoroughly roiling, he opens the dumpster, snags the purse, and rides off.
Andrew’s wife is pregnant and has been due any day now. They’ve tried doing all the little tricks to induce labor, jumping in a pool, long walks, etc.
“Try ‘The Salad,'” someone says.
“Yeah. There’s a salad at this place down the street that induces labor.”
“Yeah. It’s been sending women into labor for ten years.”
He buys his wife a salad for lunch. She does indeed go into labor.
This is true. It seems this restaurant discovered this side effect to The Salad on accident some years ago. No one knows why or how it works, but its track record is impeccable.
As we debate how this could happen, Rudy walks up.
Rudy: “You ever hear of, um, Hitler?”
“Yeah, Rudy. I’m familiar with his work. Why?”
“You know, he not die. He escape Germany and go to Indonesia.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Yeah. Cousin, he has Hitler’s passport. Hitler change name. Call himself ‘Dr. Potz.'”
We can’t help but laugh.
“Look it up,” he says with a sly grin. “It on Google.”
“He’s back,” Greg says and we all rush to the window.
Tracheotomy Guy pulls up to the dumpster. This time he’s wearing a shirt that says “Relax, it’s just sex” on the back.
“This is a guy you can trust,” James says. “You can let him watch your pets, babysit, whatever. You can trust him with your kids.”
He sucks down his Go-Gurt and lights up again. He fiddles with a padlock on one of the garage doors. He opens the door. The garage is packed with junk.
TG whips out a brown paper sack. He slowly, methodically, fills the sack with small pieces of junk. He’s very intense, pausing and examining things before sliding them into the bag.
“What’s he doing?”
“Making crack,” James says.
TG climbs into the back of the garage.
“I’m gonna get a closer look while he’s back there.” I rush out the door, sprint around back, and sneak over to the bag. I can hear him rummaging around in the back of his garage, things clanking and clinging. Inching over, I keep an eye on his shadow as it slips behind a dresser.
There, on top of the bag, is a small box with Gumby and Pokey on the cover and a Tony Robbins motivational CD.
A wooden plank drops. TG comes barrelling toward the door.
I sprint off.
Back at the window, we watch him fill his paper bag. He places the paper bag inside of a black garbage bag and ties it. Then he picks up a chainsaw and starts it. He nods, satisfied that it runs, and switches it off.
He places the chainsaw next to the bag with the tenderness of a mother placing her newborn in a crib. Then he lowers the door and locks it. He rides off, leaving his weird bag behind that door.
We find this entire ordeal both hilarious and horrifying.
“I like her ass.” He points to Courtney Cox on his monitor. “You see what receptionist wear today?”
“No, Rudy. What’s she wearing?”
He laughs. “Nice dress. Mmmmm. Very nice.”
“Oh, yeah?” James asks. “I gotta see this.” He heads to the front desk.
Later, James tells me that the receptionist was wearing a baggy dress that came up to her neck and went down to her ankles.
“I don’t know why he thought that was hot,” he says.
“Maybe he actually just liked the dress.”
Rudy walks up again. “Look at this video.” He thrusts his Blackberry at us.
A home video of a couple driving through what looks like the plains of Africa pops up. A monkey runs and jumps on the hood of their car.
A baboon follows it. The baboon begins to fuck the monkey.
Rudy cackles. “It funny cause they on hood.”
“I can see that, Rudy.”
He then shows us a home video of a man being mauled by a lion while his children watch from inside of a car. He thinks this is equally funny.
“You think Rudy is Indonesia’s version of Jack the Ripper?” James asks.
“I don’t know. It would explain why he has two passports.”
Rudy has an American passport and an Indonesian passport. He also has a buddy in customs in Jakarta that waves him through without his bags being checked and, sometimes, he gets detained for weeks at a time by the Chinese government if his flights connect in Hong Kong. He will not explain any of this to us though, if prompted, will talk about how Chinese hookers call your hotel room at night and offer you foot massages.
“Do not get the five dollar foot massage though,” he’ll say with a smile. “It leave you itchy.”
“What your favorite song?”
This is out of the blue. We were not having a conversation. He just sits down beside me and fires an opening salvo.
“Um… I don’t know. ‘American Pie’ by Don McLean.” Only the Don McLean, by the way. I’m convinced that, if there’s a Hell, the fifth circle involves blasting Madonna’s cover version.
“Hmmm… ‘American Pie.’ Listen to this.” He hands me his iPod and walks away.
It’s Peter Cetera.
You’re the mea-ning in my life
You’re the inspira-tion
When he comes back he asks what I thought. I don’t want to hurt his feelings, so I say it was great.
“Kind of like Richard Marx,” I say.
He scowls at me and snatches his iPod back.
Later that evening, when the setting sun has painted the sky purple and a hint of stars dot the sky, Rudy shows us a sex video on his phone. It shows a thin Indonesian man laying on top of a thin Indonesian girl. Neither seem to be moving, though they do make the occasional moan and grunt. Is this what sex tapes have sunk to?
“Who are they, Rudy?”
He giggles. “That two famous stars. That one like Indonesian Brittney Spears. That one like Indonesian…uh… Jon Bon Jovi.”
We rush to the window.
TG has pulled up to the apartment building, but his tire has gone flat. He hops from his bike and gives it the same look Clint Eastwood gave Tuco in “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.”
The Redhead waddles down. She stops halfway down the stairs. They lock eyes.
She runs back inside and slams the door.
TG turns and pushes his bike from the alley.
In the distance, soft jazz music plays while a dwarf dances.
Brad C. Hodson is a writer living in Los Angeles. His stories have appeared in anthologies alongside Neil Gaiman, Chuck Palahniuk, George RR Martin, and many more of his literary heroes. For a listing of his literary and film work, please check out his Bibliography at https://brad-hodson.com/bibliography/