(NOTE: The following is a continuation of my debut book from Eraserhead Press, Muscle Memory, picking up the storyline on the day after the first book ended. If you read the book, then I hope you enjoy more of this story, which I will post on this site for free over the next four weeks. If you haven’t read the book but want to get in on this fun, you can find it on Amazon.com: CLICK HERE. Thanks – Steve)
Part IV – Well, That Didn’t Work (READ IT HERE)
Part V – Roadtrip! (READ IT HERE)
Matt Lauer, Muthafucka!
I wake up with a start. Musta passed out as soon as we hit the road, because I don’t remember shit about the drive. Tucker’s gently shaking me.
“Hey dude, we’re here. Let’s go.”
“Holy shit, how long have I been sleeping?”
“About a half hour. Traffic was a little hairy around the stadium where the Today Show is filming, but Joey found a good spot in the back lot. Flashed his G-Man badge and pulled some heavy shit on the rent-a-cop attendant.”
“Cool. Now what do we do?”
We pile out of the van and look around and I know exactly where we are.
“Oh, shit, Heinz Field!” We’re on the outside, gawking up at exterior of the huge stadium, home of America’s real football team, fuck the Cowboys. I’d be more excited if we weren’t here to kidnap a quarterback.
There’s a couple big-ass truck trailers with satellite dishes bolted to the roofs and long snakes of cable running out from them. They’re parked outside a huge gate that leads to a long tunnel. On the other end of the tunnel is a metal frame work on top of the greenest grass, and the distant sound of amplified voices. They must have the stage set up on the field for the Today Show. The rest of the area is cordoned off, and luckily, there’s no one milling around back here at the moment.
To the right of the satellite trucks sits a dirty trailer. Yellowed curtains are pulled over the windows so we can’t see in, but I can hear the faintest strains of some sort of country music.
Tucker points to the trailer. “I betcha he’s in that one.”
I say, “How can you possibly know that? We haven’t seen anyone back here yet.”
“I’m telling you, that’s our boy in yonder trailer. Terry Bradshaw is diva as fuck.”
Rico says, “Diva!”
“Tuck, seriously, stop cussing,” Julia says. “This baby is already gonna grow up warped as hell from all this nonsense, you don’t have to make it worse.”
“Sorry, babe. Can’t help it sometimes.”
We all look around but it’s strangely quiet. I’m getting a bad feeling. If we’re gonna do this, we better hop to it. “Hate to interrupt you two, but we need to shit or get off the pot here before somebody sees us.”
Edgar edges forward and looks around the corner of one of the satellite trucks. “Mister baby is right,” he says. “The coast is clear. I say we make like Young MC and bust a move.”
Joey slips into the open, walking casually, but swiftly, with purpose. Edgar trots right out behind him, then Tucker with Rico on his back, and Julia with me in her arms. We look like a family of carnies.
Joey gives a quick look behind the dirty old trailer and steps around to the front. We all follow. The door’s down at the opposite end of the trailer, and there’s twangy country music coming from inside. I’m pretty sure I can hear someone singing that he’s so lonesome he could cry. That’s definitely our boy.
Halfway to the door, a booming voice echoing from the stadium tunnel stops us all cold.
“You needs to tell dat bitch if she put cinnamon in my brew again, I’m a slap the taste out her mouth.”
We all look at Joey, but he’s as frozen as the rest of us. We can’t go forward, because it sounds like somebody’s huge bodyguard is coming, but we can’t go back because whoever it is will see us trying to beat a retreat back to the shadows. One way or another, we’re fucked. And here he comes around the corner.
“I’m about sick of this muthafuckin’ shit up in this fucked up…”
It’s worse than a bodyguard, or security.
It’s Matt Lauer.
He cocks his head at us and says, “What the fuck is this shit?”
What shit? Don’t know what you’re talking about. Just going for a little stroll.
Nobody responds, we just gape at him.
Little Rico says, “Fuck retard!”
“Yeah, I guess so.” Matt Lauer steps closer, anger and violence emanating from his fantastically expensive looking suit and caked-on makeup. “It’s a closed set up in dis bitch. How the fuck you shitbags get in here?”
Joey snaps out of it and comes to our rescue. “Mr. Lauer, this is the Gillespie family from, um, up north. They’re the winners of the VIP backstage tour contest we ran last month.”
“Fuck you talkin’ about? I ain’t authorized no muthafuckin’ VIP tours on my closed muthafuckin’ set. Fuck’s wrong with you?”
Shit. Nice try, dude.
“Wait just a fuckin’ minute here.” Matt Lauer flings his coffee cup against the side of Bradshaw’s trailer.
“I know what the shit this is.” He calls back over his shoulder without taking his eyes off us, “Leroy! Get yo dumb ass over here. We got us some Scientologist fence jumpin’ muthafuckas up in this bitch!”
Tucker chokes on a laugh. “Scientologists? Dude, are you high?”
Lauer takes a menacing step toward Tucker. Rico reaches out a hand and playfully tries to grab the talk show host’s red silk tie. Rico loves him some silk.
“Did Cruise send you?”
Joey edges between Lauer and Tucker and tries to take control of the situation. “Now, Mr. Lauer, please calm down, I assure you that no one sent us here to-”
“You best step yo skinny, pale ass the fuck off me, bitch.” Lauer’s hand moves toward his jacket and I notice the bulge there for the first time. Dude’s packin’ on the set of the Today Show.
“This here my set, and I make the muthafuckin’ rules, not some punk ass white boy and his band of merry muthafuckas, you feel me dog?”
“Yeah, yeah, I feel you, but you-”
“I nothin’, bitch. You need to go back to Cruise and tell that glib punk ass that the Lauer ain’t playin’ this shit no more. Bitch wants a fight, he needs to bring his little five-foot-two ass and a stool so he can step the fuck up.”
Lauer reaches further into his jacket and it’s becoming apparent that we’re about to have a gangland shootout on the back lot of the Today Show set. (Live from Pittsburgh!) Joey’s hand is in his coat now and the both of them are twitching. Somebody’s going to draw. Agent Joey is about to cap Matt Lauer. I’m about to shit myself again.
Before the lead flies, Edgar charges. “Fuck you Matt Lauer!”
He lets out this weird, garbled war cry and drives right at Lauer. I don’t think the dude knows what the hell is coming at him at first because he just gives Edgar this puzzled, ‘Did that goat just talk’ sort of look. Then he’s drawing on Edgar, but Joey steps in. My tiny baby brain can hardly keep up. There’s a flurry of suit-coated arms and slack-covered legs and flying wool.
When the tussle ends, Joey’s kneeling on the pavement next to Lauer, whose body is twitching and quivering. A trail of foamy saliva runs down his cheek. Joey removes the stun gun from Lauer’s neck and replaces it inside his jacket. He checks Lauer’s vitals and grimaces at the growing dark stain in Lauer’s expensively tailored crotch. Then he looks up at us.
“Let’s get Bradshaw and get the hell out of here.”
From behind us, the trailer door swings open and a huge, bald mountain of a man in a smoking jacket appears in the doorway.
“What in tarnation is goin’ on out here?”
* * *
Terry Bradshaw is foaming at the mouth and he’s got his own dark circle of piss expanding from his crotch.
“Joey, you need to put that damn thing away.” Julia pushes past him into the trailer, wary of the stun gun in his hand, and kneels next to the greatest quarterback in Steelers’ history. (Fuck Ben Roethlisberger’s rapey ass.)
We all crowd around Bradshaw and look at him. I can’t get over how huge he is in real life.
Tucker says, “How the hell do we get him out of here and back to the van?”
Nobody’s got an answer for him. He says, “One thing’s for damn sure, I ain’t carrying him.”
Joey leans down and grabs Bradshaw’s right arm. “At least help me get him off the floor.”
They heave and heft and finally get him thrown over Joey’s shoulder. Bradshaw has to outweigh Agent Joey by at least a hundred pounds. His skinny Agent-Tim legs wobble under the weight and his face is bright red. “Let’s go before I pass out,” he says.
“Wait.” Julia spins around the room, looking. “We should probably disguise him somehow. We can’t just go running around with an unconscious Terry Bradshaw over your shoulder in the middle of Pittsburgh. We’ll be stoned to death.”
I point to the little table that comprises the trailer’s kitchen/dining room area. My little baby finger wobbles uncontrollably. Julia turns and looks at what I’m pointing at. A metal helmet from a knight’s suit of armor. The entire dining room area is filled with odd garments, like Terry Bradshaw got a little clepto over in wardrobe.
“Dude,” Tucker says. “Just like in your dream, right?”
I’m beginning to suspect that it wasn’t a dream. More like a vision. The part that scares me, though, is that I never really got the ending of it.
* * *
I’m startled awake by the slam of a car door. God damn, every time I hit the car seat, I completely pass out. I don’t remember shit from the time we got Bradshaw off the set and back to the van.
“The hell’s going on?”
Julia picks me up out of the car seat. “We’re back at the mine. We have to get our butts moving, there’s helicopters everywhere.”
Bradshaw is up and walking, but he looks as groggy as I feel, stumbling along as we hightail it to the mine. Nobody says shit for the whole walk back, except for an occasional mumble from Bradshaw, muffled by the knight’s helmet on his head.
“No worries, Terry Bradshaw,” Tucker tells him. “Everything’s gonna be cool.”
We get to the other end of the mine and quickly realize that everything is, in fact, not cool. Dudes dressed in all black, with black helmets and big black automatic weapons aimed at us come streaming out from behind every tree and bush. A helicopter swoops overhead, blasting us with rotor wash that pushes all of us back into the mine a bit.
Julia turns to Agent Joey and says, “What the hell do we do now?”
Agent Joey tells her, “We’re fucked.”
The SWAT guys are screaming at us to get down on the ground, closing around us in a steady crouch, pressing in, a tightening, suffocating circle. Edgar is bouncing on his hooves and peeing uncontrollably. He shrugs off the pink backpack with the alien machine. Then he screams that weird, high-pitched war cry bleat again, and goes charging out of the mine. He darts to the left and takes off into the overgrown brush and several SWAT guys take off chasing him.
Tucker grabs Julia and pushes her behind him. I’m still in Julia’s arms and now I can hardly see shit. A gun goes off and a round hits the roof of the mine entrance about twenty feet above our heads, showering us with chunks of rock and dust. These guys aren’t fucking around. They want us to get down now. I think they’re going to shoot us.
Terry Bradshaw staggers out from behind Joey, who can’t grab his arm in time. He’s mumbling something incoherent from beneath the knight’s helmet, trying to pry it off his head. The SWAT guys drop to a knee and train their weapons on him. They have no clue he’s the greatest quarterback in Steelers’ history. They think he’s a body-switched nutjob wearing medieval headgear.
I hear Edgar bleating again in the distance and another round echoes in the mine entrance. Jesus, they shot Edgar! Julia peers around from behind Tucker and I see Bradshaw stumble another step sideways then drop to the ground. His right leg is turned a weird angle underneath his wide bulk. And there’s a distinct, smoking hole in the forehead of the knight’s helmet.
No, they didn’t shoot Edgar. They shot Terry Bradshaw.
I don’t feel bad at all about crapping myself this time.
The SWAT guys are shouting at each other to hold their fire. They back off a bit, clearly confused. Tucker is taking little choppy steps toward them, spitting and red-faced, but unable to speak through his rage. Joey is stunned and motionless. Little Rico is sitting on the ground, crying and holding Tina’s hands over her ears.
They just killed Terry Bradshaw.
Shot him in the fucking head.
We’re gonna die right here. They are definitely gonna shoot us all.
I look down on the ground in front of Julia’s feet. I try to think of a prayer. Something to say to God before they light us up, but I can’t think of anything. My mind is completely blank. I don’t feel fear, or anger, or regret, or sadness. Nothing. I’m empty.
I’m looking down at a backpack.
A Strawberry Shortcake backpack.
My mind ain’t blank no more.
I wiggle in her arms, but she’s looking at Tuck and the SWAT dudes.
Still nothing. I lean over and bite down as hard as I can on her tit.
“Ow!” She looks down at me.
“Julia, the backpack! The machine!”
She looks at the backpack. Her gears are turning, but I’m not getting through yet.
“The machine! Get the machine out and use it!”
The light bulb finally comes on. Now she’s got it. She bends down and unzips the backpack, pulls out the switcher machine. It’s not very complicated. There’s a switch on the side, a sort of lever, like it was harvested from an old adding machine.
I say, “Put me in Rico’s lap first!”
She sets me on Rico’s legs and he looks down at me. There’s a glint in his eyes, a spark of familiarity, like he recognizes who he’s looking at, and he stops crying.
Julia reaches out and grabs Tucker’s pant leg, closes her eyes, and throws the lever.
TO BE CONTINUED WITH THE FINAL INSTALLMENT NEXT WEEK…