The Luggage: A Re-Tale
I stepped on a flower on the crooked road to work. The blue lights that hang low in the basement office buzz like cicadas. Everybody has dandruff. Lurch sits near the coffee machine with the curdled creamers. Mr. Wahoo Watooh sits behind his big desk. He’s on his read phone screaming at Lenny. I sit in the file room by myself while DeeDee sneezes into a box of kleenexes nextdoor in the bright light.
I take out my rotating music box desk lamp to ease the pain of the buzzing lights. Wahoo immediately bursts in and tells me to lose the lamp. “I got a headache,” I tell him. “Every day lately. I don’t feel good.”
Wahoo says, “nobody feels good. After childhood, it’s a facts from life.” Then Wahoo tells me to get rid of my freakin’ lamp for real this time.
I go to my doctor. He tells me I got a bad disease. He says they wouldn’t have even found it had I not insisted on so many visits, but they did spot it. “Brain Cloud,” Doc says. “Right down the middle of your brain, a cloud of grey smoke. Very rare.” Then he drops the truth: “you have six months to live.” I knew it. I mean, I didn’t know it. But I knew it. Freakin’ Brain Cloud. I leave the doctor’s office and hug a big dog and then I hug the big dog’s small owner.
I go to work and quit. I tell Wahoo the coffee stinks. I tell him the lights are suckin’ the friggin’ life out of everybody. Then I tell Wahoo he’s a joke, and that this life is no life. I tell him this ain’t living. Then I tell him we should get him fitted for a funeral suit, ‘cause he’s basically dead already. Then I ask DeeDee on a date, because her smell is the only reason this place isn’t hell on earth.
Me and DeeDee go on a date. We talk about life’s big mysteries and eat lobster. I feel good. DeeDee tells me I never feel good. And she’s right! I never do. I wiggle my hands over my glands. We laugh at this, like kids, like teens, then we have a hot make. She comes back to my place and I tell her, I’m gonna die. She hates this news and leaves immediately. I feel a little silly for telling her, but I was honest, so there’s that.
Some geezer knocks on my door in the morning with a duck billed umbrella. He asks if I got whiskey. I tell him “it’s nine am, buddy.” He pulls peanuts out of a magic jacket pocket and offers me one, then says, “not a nice place you got here Jurr.” Then he pummels the duck-head of his umbrella through my wall. This old buzzard looks at me after and says, “I’m trying to see the hero in there.”
I say, “Mister?”
He says, “I find it totes amaze-maze you haven’t demanded my name.”
I shrug my shoulders. He lights his pipe in my living room and says, I wants to hire you, Jurr Burnks, to jump into a volcano.”
“What do you want me to do?” I ask.
He tells me about a island with some orange soda loving freaks who need me to jump into their volcano in exchange for some boobooroo, which is some stuff the old guy needs for his superconductors. Then he tells me he’ll pay for anything I’d ever want in my life for the next six months until I take the plunge.
So I tell him, “K, I’ll do it.”
I get picked up in a limo by a fella who’s super smooth. He asks me, “where to?”
I say, “Need to buy some clothes.”
He says, “Mister, you hinting around ‘bout clothes. Clothes make the man, I believe that.”
I say, “sure.”
He says, “Asking ‘bout clothes is like asking me who you are. I’ve worked my whole life to figure out who I am, and I am tired.” He looks back at me and sees I need help. Then he says, “I’m coming back.”
He says his name is Marsh-marsh and asks, “What kind of clothes you got?”
I say, “The clothes I’m wearing.”
Marsh-marsh says, “So you got no clothes.” Dang.
He drives me all over the city. He calls this fancy hair dresser and we go tuxedo shopping and I say I’ll only buy a tux if he lets me buy him a tux. So we both get tuxes, ‘cause Marsh-marsh’s giving me all kinds of free advice and is super sweet and is also my best friend. Then he takes me to the luggage store.
A man in the luggage store brings me into a secret room. There are painted blue sky ceilings. Angels sing overhead. The man is very well dressed. He looks me up and down and says, “Luggage is the central preoccupation of my life.” And I look him up and down and am like, “I got no response to that.”
Luggage man wheels out their premiere steamer trunk. Says, “This is our premiere steamer trunk.” This thing’s got all kinds of drawers and compartments. It’s watertight. I love it. I tell him I’ll take four. He says, “may you live to see a thousand lives, sir.” I don’t have the heart to tell him I’m on my way to jump in the fire pit, so I say, sure thing and off I go.
I say goodbye to my best friend Marsh-marsh and jump on a plane to Lala where this flibberdeegibit picks me up. I feel like I’ve seen her before. She’s got bright red frizz hair and the same face as DeeDee, but I can’t remember this in the moment. This is the old buzzard who hired me’s daughter. She wears neon yellow and doesn’t hear anything I’m saying. She says, “You Jurr Burnks?” And I’m like, “sure.” And she’s like, “let’s ride.”
She drives me through the hills and talks about how Lala smells bad but she loves it. We eat crab monsters that she likes to smash up plenty with a wood mallet. Her artwork hangs all over the restaurant. It’s her dad’s restaurant. I guess that guy owns all sorts of things. We sit on a cliff and talk about death. I tell her don’t kill yourself ‘cause life’s too short. Then she says this conversation is totes typical, and it’s totes typical to be open and share feelings. I tell her I don’t know her, that I don’t pretend to know anything, then I say I’m tired and she drives me home.
The next morning I dress in a safari outfit. Then the flibberdeegibit drives me to the ocean where her half sister is waiting to take me across the sea to the island with the lava monster. Her half sister and her have the same faces, but way different looks. She stands in high-waisted shorts and crosses her arms and says, “Hello, Frangelica.”
“Hello, Trish-tricia,” says the flibberdeegibit.
“What’s with those clothes, Felix,” says Trish-tricia.
“I’m Jurr Burnks,” I tell her.
“That outfit’s wearing you, Felix,” she says.
“You can call me Jurrsurp, or JURR,” I yell from the docks.
“OK Felix,” she says. “I’ll call you Jurr.”
This is a weird way to start.
So I jump on this tiny sailboat with Trish-tricia, some fishmongers and a german spy named Dagmar. It’s a nice boat, it fits all my luggage. We sit under the stars at night and talk about the world working.
“Sorry I was rude to you,” says Tricia, “back at the docks. You work for my dad, and I don’t like my dad no more.”
“It’s cool,” I tell her.
“I don’t know where we’re going or what we’re doing, only that we’re going to an orange soda slurper island in the middle of the friggin’ ocean.”
“Look,” I say, “the world is an incredible freaking place, and we’re sitting under the stars, and I’d never even been to Lala before a couple days ago. You live on this boat, that situation is incredible to me. Them stars is incredible to me. Boats, are incredible to me.” Then I ask her if she believes in the big guy.
“I believe in myself,” she says. Pretty tough lady.
She shows me my bunk and cabin. And says I’m gonna dream in crazy aways. Then she says, “I sold out and didn’t listen to David Byrne. I took money and this boat instead of standing up to my dad and I’m soul sick on a tiny boat for who knows how long.”
I’m like damn, tomorrow’s gonna be a better day. But I don’t say nothing.
Um, tomorrow is a way friggin’ better day. We eat hot dogs off a grill. We fish off the back of the boat. I catch in this order: a sweet freaking boot, a garbage bag full of seaweed, and a friggin’ hammerhead shark that tries to eat the crew. It’s super friggin’ sweet, freeze frame!
That night the ocean grumbles and we sleep until the morning when the whole friggin’ world is neon green.
Trisch-tricia is like, “Ever been in a friggin’ storm before?”
I’m all, “No.”
She’s like, “buckle up Jurr, you’re in for a ride.”
The storm is a freakin’ power house. Waves the size of a mountain crash all over the place. Lightning lightnings throughout the sky. The fish must be like, oh fireworks, but we are all like, holy pajamas this is friggin’ scary biz. A lightning bolt hits the boat. Trisch-tricia tries to grab something and gets knocked in the head and off the boat by the mast. I learned all kinds of parts of a boat thing during the fish party. I dive in after my girl.
I’m all alone in the water and I find Trisch-tricia and swim her to the surface of the massive deep. I put her on a little life-saving tube and then the frigging sweetest thing in the whole world happens: out of the water pops, one, two, three, all four pieces of my matched airtight, freaking sweet luggage, the premiere steamer trunks. Boom!
I leave Trisch-tricia on her tube and I go swimming for my sweet luggage. I connect all four trunks together to make, probably, without a doubt the coolest raft on the planet and definitely in the water. I have access to all the cool stuff I bought before the trip. I throw Trisch-tricia up top, and have like several sweet days of deeply introspective partying.
Here’s what’s in my trunks: a perfectly in-tune ukulele, a champagne bar-kit hidden in a violin case, seven beach balls, one hand held radio, seventeen pairs of underwear, a tux, some sweet swimmers, a couple of ham sandwiches, a tube full of fruit snacks, a mini-tank set with little army men, two hats, one beach umbrella, and a frigging sweet mini-golf set with a putter, a green, and three balls.
I play mini-golf for two days while I feed my sweet friend Trisch-tricia water from a shot glass. I play cowboy songs on ukulele. I dance to some sweet tunes from the transistor radio channels I can pick up. I learn how to do one-handed pushups, splits, and tai-chi, and I also get pretty drunk and really sunburned. On like the sixth night I talk to the moon.
I say, “moon, and god, who’s name I don’t know, thank you for my life.” Then I pass out because I don’t know it, but I have sun poison.
Trisch-tricia wakes me up and asks if I saved any water for me. And then we here them, out in the distance, the freakin’ island people who love orange soda. They ride on sweet canoes to us and sing magic songs probably about soda, because they wear soda cans, and drink soda cans, and have skin the color of orange soda, and their friggin’ volcano is prolly orange soda too. They’re a jolly bunch, we go to meet the chief.
Chief says, “My people, they like this soda, so, we need a hero.”
I say, “Ok.”
Trisch-tricia, “says, wait what?”
I’m like, “yeah, I’m here to jump.”
Then we have a big getting ready party where everybody is bathed in flowers and I get punched by bats and they stick an octopus on my face. I put on my sweet freaking tux and Trisch-tricia gets dressed in a sweet dress and flowers and we walk up the volcano to have a jump-in party.
Trisch-tricia stops everything and says, “hold on a second! I love you.”
I’m like, “woah!”
“I’ve never been with love for other peoples.”
I say, “guess what, I love you too. But, timing stinks!”
She says, “Marry me!”
I’m like, “what?!”
She says, “you gotta honor me for like three seconds.”
I’m like, “true.”
The chief says, “You marry him, you marry her, boom, you’re married!”
We’re both super happy and I’m like, “K, gotta go.”
My new bride is like, “wait, why?”
I say, “Gotta be brave, gotta jump in!”
Then Trisch-tricia says, “I’m coming with you!”
I’m like, “no way.”
She’s like, “I’m self willed. And I’m jumping too.”
I say, “I walked my whole life on a crooked road to come here and find you.”
“We’ll jump in,” she says, “and we’ll see. So, take my hand.”
So me and my sweet wife jump into the orange soda volcano and boom, that thing pops us straight out like a rocket. We fly through the air and breathe in the sweet smell of the ocean and see the magic of the stars up close and then splash we land in the water.
The island sinks and we watch it sink and are sad for the orange soda lovers. Then like five minutes later like a sweet freaking machine of awesome partying one, two, three, four steamer trunks pop out of the water right in front of us. My friggin’ luggage is so sweet! Freeze frame!