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Bucket Head
Rabbit Jack: Motherboard #1. B
© 2023 James LaFond
MAR/31/24
Lonely was he. There was a woman once, a woman that cried, a woman with a face he could not forget, but a name that he could not remember no matter how he tried.
Dazedly he crutched around a mail box post—it had once been such a post. But the elbow-high post with the birdhouse box upon the top was tastelessly decorated with skulls, cleaned, human skulls, wired to the post or so hung from the bird house. Only the peaked roof of the tiny house was not so violated.
‘Oh, what the hell. This is not the place. I never passed such a horrid sight coming home from her house—I had a home?’
Staring, slack-jawed and drooling through his one eye, he crutched around the post, looking at the six skulls there, not wanting to turn his back on such a sad sight, for fear that the wights down below lost to these skulls might take affront and haunt him.
A chill touched him as he circled around, then turned and crutched upward, ever upward on a low grade, along the shattered concrete, wrecked and abandoned and gutted vehicles, their tires all gone, the innards turned into great rat nests, the ravenous rodents having risen from the sewers of their yesteryore to nest upon the very concourses where men had once so haughty drove—where a broken thing, more haunted by the world in its previous form than worldly informed, crookedly strove.
The houses looming above the piled wreckage to his left—south he knew in his gyroscopic soul—had their roofs all removed as if by a tornado that liked brick not but loved roof shingles. There many a murder of crows roosted, hungrily regarding him, he knew, upon the jagged broken walls of those once grand houses.
To his right, he knew was the way. The beautiful brick and stone houses with great swept foyers, before and beneath the sweep of roof loomed on the hill above the northward alley...that alley was blocked with a great steel trash truck flipped on its back, the only dead vehicle to retain its tires.
The houses themselves, that smiled so vividly in his memory soul, grimaced now under the weight of a plane that had crash-landed among them to clothe its burned frame in brick and stone. Small maple trees were sprouting from the ruin, trees that must be about ten years old. Upon the wreckage roosted turkey vultures, no longer enjoying the majesty of their power poles, all felled by some heavenly force.
‘How do I know about trees?’ mused he as he crutched along woodenly.
“Nest to Buzzard, Nest to Buzzard,” sounded a wondrous cute girl of voice from his arm, no, the back of his right wrist, where the watch was. Below the hour, minute and second hands, that told the time as 8:43, which he knew to be in the morning, smiled the face of a pretty girl. He looked longingly down into that face, “A Buzzard I am, I suppose. My, you’re a pretty thing.”
The small face smiled, “Well thank you, Poppy. You like the new eye lids?” and her pretty eyes fluttered under the pile of red hair.
“Nice,” he observed.
Knowing that he knew this woman, and that she seemed a daughter or niece or some such, and embarrassed that he could not recall who she was or her name, he stalled, and self consciously touched the bleed above and behind his left eye.
“Awe!” she cooed, lovingly, “Guiallo Girl will patch you up, Poppy. At your current rate, you will be in the nest at 9:10. Did you get the juice?”
He felt stupid, and recalling the woman who cried when he left liking lemon juice, but knowing most preferred orange, he asked, “Lemon or orange?”
She smiled widely and giggled, though her eyes sparkled darkly. Your rucksack, hold your wrist up over your head, pointed down and back, so I can see it.”
He did so and her voice peeped, “Cool beans! You did it. This is such a big day!”
Wanting to see her smile of approval he pulled his right hand down, his crutch dangling from it as he leaned on the left, it seeming that his right leg was entirely lame and looked into that tiny screen to see her pretty smile of approval turn into a frown of concern. She chirped, “Danger, danger Will Robinson—big fooker at nine o’clock!”
He put down his right crutch and turned, just in time to see a very large black man with an afro popping out from under the orange 5-gallon bucket he wore for a hat. This man was sneak-limping towards him, intent it seemed on steeling his crutches.
Their eyes locked, him being as tall as the other, for the big man was down in the gutter, creeping between a Nissan rat nest and a flipped Mustang. His back leg was so broken and twisted that the man, near 7 feet tall if he were upright, stood no taller than the bent remnant of a man whose name was apparently Poppy. Poppy felt a sorrow in his heart and blurted, “You need help, Sir?”
The man snarled and lurched closer, great big hands incased in gauntlets made of bailing wire and tire treads clutching for Poppy’s crutches. Poppy crutched back around in a triangle pattern and weaved, a bit dizzy from what felt like a really slick move, like he had done it before. He then felt a sizzling in his right eye, at least where his eye would be if he had it, and he was now looking at two sights: his left eye saw Bucket Head dragging himself up over the weed-grown curb with murderous, or at least larcenous, intent. In his right eye, he saw what looked like Guiallo Girl in an old TV screen, complete with a fake city skyline backdrop from the 1970s NEWS at 11.
“Poppy,” she said, “your blood pressure is only 80 over 50. No more evasive action or you could end up under him.”
“Yes, Ma’am,” he slurred drunkenly.
Bucket Head, hearing those words, seemed to think he was insulting his masculinity, rose up like a great bear, exposing that each finger on his right hand under the tire tread gauntlet, had razor blades taped to them and that the fingers on the left hand bent nails and screws taped to them. He froze in wonder as the man dragged closer, looming over him, imbued with a sudden, nearly upright vitality.
To his rescue came who he could only consider his handler, sitting there all pretty and smiling, “I got this Poppy. Left jab!”
With that, Poppy put most of his weight on his right claw crutch, then made to push off that and lunge onto his left foot, jabbing the malefactor in the chest with that drill bit crutch—and to his amazement and the horror of his attacker, the re-bar that mounted the drill bit to the steel pipe screamed into rotational fury as Guiallo Girl sang, “Screw him!”
‘What a mess this is,’ he wondered as the 6 inch drill bit excavated the breast bone of the giant who sank nails into Poppy’s shoulder and slashed his jabbing arm and good leg with that razor hand.
Dizziness over came him as he drilled the giant with whom he was embraced in a crooked dance of the lame. Eventually the clawing and ripping stopped even as the drill ran out of juice and the darling in his right eye, cursed, “Stale crackers and cold soup!”
The weight of the man was great and Poppy was not well, feeling far and away south of strong. But his savior angel’s voice sounded in his right ear and pleaded with praying hands in his right eye, “Poppy, you can do this! The rats are coming, crows too—do it for Zipline Cline and the Tinman. They, need, us!”
“I juz wanna die, girl…” he moaned as the old, cold quit rose in him.
Her voice then soothed, “Fireball cut with Mount Gay 151, on ice—move your ass and I’m pouring the shots!”
With a grunting heave, Poppy realized that he possessed a gnome like beard, and could not tolerate the idea of it padding some rat’s nest. As the rats scurried forth from the nearest wrecked cars, he turned Bucket Hat into the gutter. Then, as the rats gathered in a semi-circle, as if according to some ancient truce, Poppy pulled out a meat cleaver from a sheathe on his left leg, hooked the bucket head with his right crutch, and hacked that head off.
As soon as he stood, and looked down as if by instinct to the mail box festooned with some number of skulls, he looked to the rats and nodded, and they ushered Bucket Head’s torso off to perpetual gloom one tiny bite at a time. Poppy, according to some instinct, limped back down to the mailbox, which he sensed was important to Guiallo Girl, and crowned that post with a magnificent head, wondering how many rats would take up residence in the bucket—a king and his harem perhaps?
The small screen in his right eye lit up with fireworks and gave way to a Dominican dancing girl of outrageous proportions wiggling about a pole, the voice of Guiallo Girl in the background cheering:
“Poppy does best,
Laying crimps to rest!”
He weaved, “Poppy don’t feel too good.”
The screen was now inhabited by his handler, even prettier and more Asiatic than usual in a white nursing outfit, as she raised a syringe and said, with a wry grin, “Adrenal 3—grind it out Poppy.”
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