It was a bright, sun-shiny day, until it became night, and Larry was wandering the halls of a hospital. He didn’t know where he was going and his new leg was awkward and cumbersome, but he was now adamant about seeing his friend. “Um, excuse me,” he approached one of the nurses. She smiled.
“Do you know where they put–wait, how do you know my name,” Larry asked.
“Well,” the nurse replied, “I take it you don’t remember me.”
Larry looked at her, and finally said, “nope.” But then he felt bad for such a glib response. “Sorry…”
“Don’t worry, Larry. Not many people seem to remember me,” she said, still smiling the same smile. Larry was starting to get creeped out by this.
“Um, okay. Do you know where Carl is?”
“He was admitted not too long ago. In a coma. Wears a hat.”
“Oh, right. Right…” Silence.
“Oh, yes. Sorry, what did you need?”
“Where’s Carl? Where’s his room?”
“But, aren’t you going to ask who I am first?”
Larry squinted his eyes. “Are you…did we go to high school together?”
“Yes! So you remember!”
Larry did not remember.
“Yeah,” she remarked wistfully. “Where do the times go? Where do they go…?”
Larry nodded, but wasn’t sure why. “Um, so, um, can I–,” but before he could finish that thought he received an unsatisfying DING on his phone. “Sorry,” he said. He checked and noticed that he received what seemed to be a very important email:
It is me, your boss. Listen, Barry is out today. He said he has some family issues that need to be handled. He will be fired soon. However, this means that we will need someone to take care of the night shift tonight. Would you be able to accomplish this task? You won’t be paid extra.
Regional Assistant Manager
A-Store: Buy From Us!
P.S. Normally I would text, but didn’t.
Larry couldn’t believe it. But at the same time, he could. “Shit fuck,” he said half-quietly to himself.
“So, how do you like the new leg? That looks like one of the newer–”
“I’m sorry, I don’t have a lot of time. Do you know where Carl is, or not?”
The nurse’s smile disappeared. “Well,” she said. “He’s just in the room over to my shoulder here.”
“Really? This whole time? I mean…thanks,” and Larry brushed past her and stepped timidly inside the room. Meanwhile, the nurse simply walked away.
Larry peeked inside and saw Carl in his bed, hat on his head, his eyes closed, and the surrounding machines beeping in a slow, constant rhythm. He stepped closer, slowly. “Um,” Larry said. “H-how’s it going?” Carl didn’t respond. “So, um, I should have been here long before…now. And, I guess I shouldn’t have put you in that situation. Shit, now look at you.”
Larry stood there for about a minute, trying to find something else to say. Finally, he said, “Sorry. Sorry for this, and sorry for having to leave now. I have to be at work soon. Shit, hope you wake-up. Those cows won’t wrangle themselves,” he winced at this last statement, but he realized that such things were always awkward. He tried not to beat himself up too much.
He left the room in a semi-hurry; as he marched down the hall awkwardly (you know, due to his new leg,) a man wearing a dark suit, sunglasses, and a red tie appeared before him.
“Hello…Larry…” he said with a cool voice and devilish smirk.
“Um, no.” Larry tried to move around the man, but the man stopped him.
“Um, maybe you didn’t hear me. I said ‘Hello…Larry…’ then I made a smile like this. That means I have a proposition for you. And, trust me, it’s in yours, and Carl’s best interest.”
Larry sighed. “What? What is it? I’m tired.”
“Well, it’s simple really–”
“Let me guess. I have to perform a task and if I accomplish it, you will save Carl somehow. However, there’s going to be some fine-print bullshit right? Like he’s going to be a zombie, or I’m going to have to sell my soul, right?”
The man adjusted his tie nervously. “No…But, hear me out. All you have to do, and it’s real simple, is to kill the mayor.”
“Kill the mayor? Like assassinate him?”
“It doesn’t matter how you do it, but once he is dead then Carl will wake-up. A life for a life. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? After all, we all know you’re no fan of the mayor. Well, neither are we. Think about it, Larry…”
“Riiight.” Larry brushed past the man and continued down the hall.
“Think about it…think about it…” The man watched Larry turn a corner. The man then went over to Carl’s room. That’s when he saw a middle-aged woman sitting beside Carl.
“Hello sweetie, I got you a pudding cup.”
Carl’s eyes opened with delight. “Ah, thank you ma’am.”
His mother sat by his side. “Was that Larry?”
“Yes ma’am,” he said as he started to spoon the pudding with glee.
“So, did you say ‘hi’?”
“Nope. Pretended that I was still in a coma. Yeah, I didn’t right feel talking to him right now.”
“Well,” his mother said, “you do what feels best.”
The mysterious man saw all this. “Huh. Well…hm…” but then he shrugged and walked away.
Larry felt slightly better after finally seeing Carl. But, he didn’t seem to be in such a great place. Should we take up that mysterious man’s offer? Why did he want to kill the mayor? Larry knew killing was wrong, but so was leaving Carl to possibly die, especially now he had the power to do something about it. Larry tried not to think about it. He now had a different mission. He hurried as best he could to his room, passing by a custodian. He searched it, but couldn’t find his clothing. “Where the–” that’s when he noticed the custodian tossing his clothing in the trash barrel. “Whoa, whoa, whoa!”
The custodian raised his eyebrows. Not sure why he did that. “Yes?”
“Um, my clothes. You just threw them away!”
The custodian blinked at him. “OK.”
“…OK? Can I have them please?”
“Well, do you have proof?”
“You must be deaf. Do you have proof that these clothes are yours?”
“Yes! I was the patient in this room!”
“Well, do you have proof of that?”
“Um, well I’m wearing a hospital gown.”
The custodian wasn’t buying it.
“And why the hell would I be lying about this?”
The custodian smiled and shook his head. “Even if you were the owner of these garments, I would advise not donning them.”
“Well, I tossed them in this here trash receptacle. And, well, let’s just say your clothes aren’t the only things in this barrel,” he then smiled and continued down the hall with the trash.
“Well…fuck.” Larry now had to rush back home and put on some proper clothes. That’s when he heard another DING! He checked his phone:
Hello Again Larry,
It is me: your boss. You may not have received your previous email. Just in case you haven’t, we need you to be handling the store right now. If you don’t then there will be consequences.
Senior Regional Assistant Manager
A-Store: Buy From Us!
P.S. Hurry up now unless you want to end-up like Barry. Toodles.
“Well, fuck.” Larry hurried down the opposite side of the hall. Larry needed this job. He needed the money. He remembered the end of the first episode where his landlord threatened to evict him. Larry did not want to live on the streets. His apartment was bad enough.
Meanwhile, in another part of town, the mayor stumbled out of a bar, leading a group of other drunkards in business suits. “Yeah…yeah! I’m the king! I’m the king of this won! Take that, dad!”
“No, you’re the mayor!” One of the drunkards corrected with a sardonic grin.
The mayor pointed at him. “Yeah. That’s right. I’m the mayor. I’m the mayor! And I stopped Spetch! And the Exiled One! Boo-yah! Now watch me get on this horse.” The mayor wobbled towards a lonely horse that happened to be in the middle of the street, nibbling on some trash. It was, yes, Carl the Cowboy’s horse.
“Um, sir.” Leanne popped her head out from behind the crowd. “Sir, that’s not…why? Why are you doing this?” She asked, exasperated. But the mayor either did not hear this or did not care. He grabbed for the horse like a toddler reaching for an off-limits toy.
“Aw,” he said, sliding his hand along the horse’s side. “Such a gracious creature. Now stay still. I need to impress my friends still. Come on.” But the mayor had only been on the horse once, as a child, but that was many years ago and he didn’t have his father to help him on. As he was about halfway on the horse, the horse suddenly bolted off, flinging the mayor onto the ground. He got up and watched the horse race down the street.
Back at the hospital, Larry was searching for the stairs. He wandered the halls, tried to follow the confusing sign and directions, but there seemed to be no exit. Larry was getting frustrated. Muttering to himself, he pulled-out his phone and activated his GPS app. The battery was at 55%. Should be enough.
“In 20 feet, turn left,” his phone’s GPS suggested. Larry obliged. Suddenly, three dots appeared on his screen. “Recalibrating…”
“Make a U-Turn and turn right.”
“…What? That’s where I came from!”
“Technology, am I right,” a voice scoffed. Larry looked up and saw the janitor from before mopping up some floor nearby. “Back in my day, we didn’t even have phones.”
“Hey,” Larry snapped at the janitor. “I’ve got to get out of here! And I don’t need any snide remarks from some fucking custodian!” As soon as he said this, a wave of regret and shame washed over him. But the janitor was still just mopping the floor, not even acknowledging what was said. “…Sorry.”
“It’s alright. I’m used to it. People look down at the janitor. Think they’re better. But if it weren’t for the janitor, their world would be a mess. And not just because there will be piss and urine everywhere, but because they will realize that they have no one they can look down on. That’s when they have to confront their own insignificance. Or they find someone else to pick on. We’re just a bunch of simple, broken animals. You know–” The janitor finally looked up, but Larry was gone. But then he appeared again.
“Turn left here,” his phone said as he stepped back into that same hallway. He stared back up from his phone and when he saw the janitor again, he let out a sigh.
“Really? This shit again,” he said. The janitor snickered at him as he continued cleaning the floor.
“This is serious. I could lose my job.”
“You know what’s more important than jobs? People.” Silence. And the janitor continued mopping the floor.
“Ok,” Larry said. “Thanks for that…” Larry stared down at his phone and then back at the janitor. He sighed. “Sorry, but…do you know where the stairs are? Or elevator?”
The janitor looked up at him and gave him a quizzical smile. “Trying to get out? Then why are you looking for the stairs? Or elevator?”
“You do realize you’re on the first floor, right?”
Larry scrunched his nose. “Er…no? I’m pretty sure I’m–”
“I’m just kidding you, pal. See, you have to have a sense of humor working in this hellhole. Haha.” The janitor shoved his mop against the linoleum.
“What? Oh. Right. The stairs. Well, I can tell you. But first, let me ask you something.”
“Why are you here?”
Larry cast his eyes downward. “I was visiting…a friend.”
“Well, isn’t that nice. How is he, or she?”
“I mean he’s in a hospital…so…okay, are you going to tell me how I can get out of here?”
“You know, they rolled-in someone not too long ago. I believe it was Carl the Cowboy. Is he your…friend?”
“You know, Carl does a lot of good for the community. Would be a shame to see him go. The cowboy thing is a little weird though.”
“…Okay. If you’re not going to tell me–”
“How did you come to know Carl? I take it you go way back. I bet you’re actually quite good friends, more than you like to admit.”
“Did you meet on the streets, battling crime? Or did you meet in high school. Did he rescue you from a couple of no-goods making fun of your piece-of-shit haircut and pockmarks?”
Larry glared at the custodian.
“Anyway, the stairs are just down the hallway here, but, just remember: if Carl dies, it will be your fault, and the community would be worse off as a result. You would be worse off. Goodnight!” And the janitor continued his work.
Larry opened the door to the stairwell and saw said stairwell. He was on the third level (not the first.) He hurried and made his descent, but when he reached the second level landing, a woman wearing a hospital gown and in a wheelchair was waiting there. He was about to brush past here when she said, “please, I need help.” Larry stopped and gave her a side-glare. “Please. Hurry, help me down before they find me.” She seemed worried and scared.
“Sorry, but I have to get to–”
“I’m being held against my will. They want–”
“Again, I’m sorry. It seems pretty bad. But I really have to get to work. I’m already behind.”
“Please…” She stared up at him with wide eyes. Larry glanced down the stairs then back at her.
“I…” Then he checked his phone.
“Alright, alright! Fuck! Jesus Christ!” He placed his hands around her and attempted to lift her from the wheelchair.
“Sorry, it’s just awkward!” Finally, Larry lifted her and tossed her over his shoulder. “Why the fuck am I doing this?” And he slowly stepped down towards the lower level. Taking it one step at a time. “You’re crushing…my shoulder…”
That’s when they heard a door opening.
“Oh no,” the woman screamed. A couple of police officers stomped out of the second level entryway and rushed towards Larry. Larry staggered down the stairs, trying his best to speed-up, but he swayed under the extra weight. It didn’t take long for the cops to catch-up.
“Okay, okay. You can have her.”
“Here,” Larry handed her to the two officers. “Sorry, but I just don’t ca–” Suddenly, electricity bolted through him, and he fell down the stairs.
“Dude, did you have to tase him?”
“Yes.” And the two police officers carried the woman off, leaving Larry at the bottom of the stairwell, his body on the ground, against the wall.
Meanwhile, the mayor and his group of buddies stumbled through the streets, tripping over trashcans and homeless people and laughing at the stars. Suddenly, the mayor had a great idea. “Hey, let’s dig up a grave!”
“Um, what,” Leanne asked. But it was too late. They were already in front of the cemetery. The mayor searched his pockets.
“Come on. Come on…Oh! Here ‘tis! HaHA!” The iron gate creaked open and the drunken group shambled among the headstones.
Larry’s eyes opened, facing some ceiling tiles. “Oh…” he groaned. He was back in his room. And the nurse from before was there.
“Hi!” She smiled widely. “It seems like you’re not quite used to your leg yet. Took quite the tumble! But no worries. We are here to help!” She then checked the clipboard. “You’re going to have to get out.”
“It seems like your insurance company is no longer covering the costs for your stay. Apparently they don’t cover gunshots. Nor do they cover leg-replacements. Soooo off with ya. Sorry,” but here smile remained.
“Fine. I just have to–” But as he was about to check his phone it went black. “You’ve got to be shitting me!”
“Don’t worry.” She grabbed his phone and placed it to a charging pad on the side of his new, robotic leg. “Isn’t that something? Say, you want to go out sometime?”
“Um…sorry, I have to go. I’m late for work. If you don’t mind, can you take me to an elevator?”
“Oh sure! It’s not like I’m busy or anything, after all I’m just a nurse!”
They stood in front of the elevator. Larry waited and waited for the elevator to get to their floor. “So…” the nurse said. Larry gulped. “I don’t believe I got an answer…”
“You know…I know a nice place. They serve spaghetti.”
“Uh…but you would have to pay…”
She chuckled at this. “So, is that a yes?”
“Um…what the fuck?” That’s when Larry noticed that the lights indicated that the elevator was now going back down. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
Back at the cemetery, the mayor and his cohorts were making good progress on a grave they had randomly selected. “This was such a great idea,” one of the yes-men declared.
“I’m glad you agree, Steve,” the mayor said. “After all, I am America’s MayorTM.”
Leanne was standing just outside of the group holding a lamp. “Um, isn’t that Rudy Giuliani?”
“Rudy Giuliani,” the mayor sneered. “Last I saw him was at the mayors’ convention. What a tool!”
“Say,” Steve said, “whose grave is this anyway?”
“Hm. I don’t know,” the mayor turned his head and squinted at the tombstone. “Oh, it’s my dad! Huh. What a coincidence!” He proceeded digging while the others exchanged glances.
Finally, Larry exited the hospital, the cold air swiping at his gown and stabbing into his buttcrack. But, he was not deterred from his mission. He hurried down the street and in the distance saw a bus slowing down at a stop. “Wait,” he cried out. He shuffled as quickly as he could, but his new leg was not quite broken-in yet. “Wait! WAIT!” But the bus sputtered away. Larry stopped, gasping for breath. DING! He pulled-out his phone off the charging station on the side of his new leg (pretty cool, huh?). The email:
You are fired.
Just kidding. You are not fired. But you are on the precipice of having to search for new employment. If you are not at the store in 15 minutes then we will have to decouple our working relationship. Thank you.
You piece of shit.
Chief Regional Assistant Manager
A-Store: Buy From Us!
P.S. Are you coming to my promotion party on Saturday?
As soon as Larry placed the phone to the side of his leg, he felt it go slack. “Huh?” Suddenly, the leg stopped glowing. He tried moving it, but nothing. “Really? Are you fucking kidding me?” Checking his phone, “it’s not even fully charged!” He looked around. Not a soul in sight. It was dark except for a couple of flickering streetlights. And it was horribly cold. Larry proceeded to drag his lifeless leg.
A couple of blocks and he stopped. Even though he lived here all his life he had no idea how to get around. His sense of direction was abysmal. “Well, at least the phone is at 35%.” The GPS guided him down the block and turning down a dark and dirty alleyway.
“Hey youse!” Larry pulled his eyes up from his phone. Homeless people were surrounding him. Their claws reaching out towards him. “That’s a pretty snazzy leg! Could get a pretty penny fors it! So…how much for it?” They snickered, their teeth drawn.
“Um…” Larry wiped the sweat from his brow. “It’s…not for sale…”
The homeless folks looked at each other then cast their gazes downward. “Ahhhh. Well, let us know once it’s on the market…” and they slinked off into the darkness. Larry continued down the alleyway, because the GPS told him to.
After a couple of minutes, he realized his phone was now at 5%. “Oh shit!” Then it died. “What? There was still some power! Fuck!” He placed it back on his leg, but remembered that his leg was dead. He looked around. He was on an anonymous street corner. It was cold. And dark. Because it was still night.
“Excuse me sir, would you like some Atomic Sponge?”
Larry turned and saw a middle-aged man wearing a business suit. “I’m sorry, I have to go.”
“Or maybe you would be more interested in some Stinger. We’re having a clearance sale currently.”
“No thanks…I have to get home.”
“Home, eh? Well, can’t help you there, but I still have some Black Tar Heroin left. It won’t get you home, but it will get you close.”
Larry didn’t know what that meant. “Actually, I can’t go home. I have to get to work right away. I don’t have any time to dress…”
“Hm. A working man. Or should I say, a wage-slave,” the business man opined. “You see, son. Ever since the banks went under in this town, I realized I could no longer be subservient to the wills and tribulations of others. That’s why I went into business for myself. Now, how about some Black Tar Heroin?”
In some other part of town, the mayor was now alone in his grave-digging endeavour. Leanne was still there, but she hadn’t picked-up a shovel. “Sir,” she was starting to get concerned. “Sir? Come on. It’s getting late. Maybe you can pick this up tomorrow…”
“No! When you start something, you have to finish it! That’s what my dad always ta–oof! Sorry, just threw-up in my mouth. Anyway, you want to give me a hand? Wait, did you feel that?”
Leanne looked around. “Yeah, it was like…a chill?”
The mayor dropped his shovel.
“Sir? I think it’s just the wind.”
“No. No! Something’s not right. Get me up! GET ME UP!”
Leanne sighed and went to the edge of the hole and held out her hands. The mayor snatched for them. “Pull me up!”
Leanne struggled. “I’m trying!”
“Come on! Come on! It’s coming!”
“Oh my God!”
Back to Larry who was tired and moving slowly down the sidewalk. He was on the verge of giving-up until the sound of something caught him. What was it? It sounded like…that’s when he saw what appeared to be a horse slowly walking out of an alleyway. In the dimness of night, he was only barely able to recognize the creature.
“Isn’t that Carl the Cowboy’s horse?” Larry approached the horse carefully and gently stroked it. The horse snorted. “Oh God, please don’t be another dead end. Please actually be helpful.” When he said this, the horse laid down and waited for Larry to jump on the saddle. Larry started to tear-up. Larry got on and the horse started galloping down the street.
The cold air brushed past him, the lights blended in his peripherals. And in the distance, he saw the A-Store that he worked out, glowing. He was almost there. Almost there. But then, he heard screaming. “No, I can’t…I can’t lose my job!” But the screams continued, sharper and louder. The store was so close. Larry closed his eyes and shook his head. “No…” He opened them and directed the horse to make a sharp turn left, away from the store.
Moments later, they stopped in front of the cemetery. Screams perforated the air. Larry fell off the horse, landing on the ground. He brushed himself off and told the horse to stay-put. He entered the dark, spooky graveyard, moving closer and closer to the source of the terror. In the distance, he saw the glow of an electric lamp. Finally, he saw her. A woman standing over an open grave. He soon recognized her.
“Larry?” Leanne walked over to him. “Thank God you’re here. The mayor just started screaming. I think he’s having a panic-attack.” Larry’s eyes shifted over, peeking into the hole where he saw the source of the screaming.
The mayor looked-up at him and stopped screaming. “Oh, hello Larry,” then he went back to screaming.
That’s when Larry remembered about the proposition from before. And he remembered Carl. The guilt. The shame. And also what the janitor had told him. Then he thought about how if the mayor “disappeared” no one would really care, but if Carl passed-away, the town would certainly be worse off. Larry looked down at the mayor and then back at Carl’s horse which was still at the entrance of the graveyard. Larry grabbed a shovel and pointed the handle-end at the mayor. “Here,” he said. “Grab this.” The mayor squirmed in the dark hole. “Come on…come on!” Finally, the mayor snatched onto the shovel and Larry helped pull him out of the hole. Larry gazed upon the mayor’s pathetic body as it shivered next to the tombstone.
“Thank you, Larry,” Leanne said. She approached the mayor and brushed the dirt from him. “Your wife is going to be so worried.”
“Bah,” the mayor responded.
Larry stood there. Not knowing what to do. He then remembered the shovel that was still in his hand. He eyed it, his mind traveling down to the sharp spade.
The mayor up-chucked more of his stomach contents into the open grave. “Sorry…dad…” Leanne and the mayor started shuffling away. But Larry didn’t move. He then dropped the shovel. He couldn’t do it. He couldn’t articulate a reason why. There were just fragments of thoughts and images bombarding him.
“Fuck,” he said to himself. “I’m useless,” and watched as the two stepped into the darkness surrounding the lamp’s glow.
“Hey! There’s the horse,” the mayor noticed.
“No,” Leanne quickly responded.
Larry was about to leave as well, but was interrupted by a cawing of a crow. He looked and saw it hobbling onto the top of the headstone. He spotted a little, white paper rolled and tied to its leg. He immediately knew the message was from his boss. He grabbed it and the crow flew-off. Larry started to unfurl it, but stopped and dropped the paper, letting the air have its way with it.
“Well,” Larry said to himself as he started walking away, “what a day. What a fucking–” but before he could finish he slipped on the shovel’s handle and landed right into the hole, smacking himself on the coffin. He stared up at the rectangle of night sky hovering above him. It was peaceful with the stars staring back at him. For a moment he thought he would be okay, or not. It didn’t matter, he now knew.
Above, he saw the horse peering down into the hole. He turned away and returned with the shovel in its mouth. “Please don’t start burying me,” but the horse instead offered the dull side of the shovel. “Oh, thank God.”