In this classic piece of Gutter fiction, culled from the archives for your twisted pleasure, CS DeWildt regales us with a tale of dead lovers (one anyway), Ronald McDonald, and heroin. Down here we call that a balanced diet.
McRib Therapy Alleviates Seasonal Depression by CS DeWildt
Shiftless? I been called that. I been called worse, but that label gets to me. Sure, I got some problems, just like everyone else. My problems are worse than some, less so than others. I’m not sitting pretty anywhere, but I’m not an African baby with a bloated belly and malaria neither. So, there you go. I think about that disparity, how some people have it so good and some people have it so bad and how the one thing that binds them is that they’re never satisfied. Maybe if you got the lord or somethin, you can maybe fool yourself until you die, but then what? A wasted life behind you, did nothing for yourself except deny the funk you been in since you fell out your mama’s cooch. Ask the girl underneath me about her problems. I’m no necro, but this girl was just too pretty. Too pretty to stop just because she quit breathing.
Where I am is the basement of the duplex Vern Saddler rents out on Fifty-Fourth Avenue, past the cornfields where the church sets up the haunted house every year. Duplex sits alone, nothing to bother it for miles and miles, just a few old farm houses. Vern’s place was the first of many that were to go up, but the deal went bad. Some bastard developer was left with a single lot and a duplex. See what I’m saying? We all got problems. Some it’s real estate, some it’s their health. What I got is a dead girl next to me holding a snatchful of my seed.
I put my hand on her skin, she’s cooling. I light one of her cigarettes and put the pack in my pocket. Smoke spirals through the light, a mix of black light and strobe that fills the basement night and day. Upstairs, people are moving, drinking, smoking, shooting. Someone’s waiting at the top of the stairs for their turn. The noise sounds like what you hear when someone screams with a hand over their mouth, screaming for help that won’t come. I feel the girl’s skin again. Yeah, she’s getting cold. Problems, dig?
There’s a statue of Ronald McDonald leaning up in the corner. He’s got glow-in-the-dark stars pasted over his eyes. He’s missing his right foot, which is still bolted to the concrete base he was liberated from. His disappearance was a problem big enough to make the local news, but now he’s free, free to watch a shiftless son of a bitch like me fuck a dying then dead runaway prostitute who may or may not be old enough to drive. That’s freedom, Ron. That’s fucking life.
“Hey,” Ron says.
“Can I get one of those smokes?”
I light it up and he takes it, holds it between his painted red lips and sucks hard.
“Thanks,” Ron says. “You fucked her good, huh?”
Ron blows smoke and smiles. “Think she’s got any more of that horse?”
“Horse, Ron? You mean heroin? No one calls it horse anymore.”
“They should. Ride the white pony and all that? You should do it.”
“Lot of good it did her.”
“She took too much. Who shot her up?”
“That asshole is always fucking shit up. You see what he did to my foot? Come on. Let’s shoot some horse, baby.”
“You peer pressuring me, Ron?”
“Ha. We peers? You a clown? You got a foot busted off? You forced to live in this basement, near seizure from these fucking lights, watching people fuck? I don’t even have a dick, so how’s that for a fucking life?” He shakes his head. “Super-Sizing was the unforgivable sin and this is Hell.”
I put my cigarette out on his chest. “Everybody’s got problems, Ron. We all do.”
“Maybe,” Ron says. He drops the cigarette on the carpet and clams up. He doesn’t want to talk to me anymore, that’s fine. I grab his cigarette from the burning carpet, put my dick away and kiss the girl on the cheek.
I give Ron one more look. He’s smiling, stars over his eyes. I loved that girl for a time and now she’s gone. It’s not Ron’s fault, but I throw my hand anyway and crack his face right down the middle. I keep going, swinging my arm, putting it to its only good use. Ron’s face splits open wide and he loses half of it, his neck cracks and I take what’s left of the head clear off.
“What now, Ron?” I pant. “You still want to get high, Ron? You want to get loose, baby? Ha! No more problems now, Ron. You fuck!”
I hear footsteps on the stairs and I’m out the window, disappeared. I watch from the dark, watch one of Vern’s boys eyeball the room.
“Vern!” he says. “Vern!”
The boy runs back up the stairs and he’s back quick, him and Vern and another. Vern throws up and nearly collapses but for his boys holding him.
They go to the girl and pull the blanket off her, leave her naked on the soiled mattress. They roll Ron and the pieces of him onto the blanket, wrap him snug and carry him up the stairs.
Six of them bring Ron outside with the rest of the party in tow. No one makes a sound. They build a pyre of wet wood and old hustlers and gasoline. They lay Ron on top of the flames, and whatever he’s made of gives off thick smoke that burns everyone’s eyes. They move in close to the fire, watch the clown bubble and melt. They take his smoky soul into their lungs and choke on it. Vern weeps.
I’m in a void between the heat of the fire and the heat of the house. I climb back in the window and fall for her again.