Wednesday, August 04, 2004

The Man Who Refused to Take his Gorilla Mask Off (First Installment of New Weekly Serial)

"Tupac Shakur was my dad," the greasy little white kid says at the Halloween party. "My stepdad doesn't let me talk about him anymore."
"Who's your stepdad?" Steve asks through the mouthhole in his gorilla mask.
The kid points to the deli tray table, where a short man with glasses is heaping salami and cheddar cheese onto a paper plate. He takes a closer look at the kid. There's a strong resemblance.
"Was Tupac Shakur really your dad?" Steve asks, giving him a chance to come clean.
"Yeah," the kid says.
"Really?" Steve asks.
"Yeah," he says again.
Steve backs up a few feet, sprints toward the kid, and delivers a devastating kick that connects with the youngster's groin. He doubles over in pain, tears and snot streaming down his face.
"Lying is a bad thing to do," Steve says through the mouthhole. "Be true to yourself."

Steve pushes a slice of Camembert cheese through his ape slit and gets another beer from the keg. The man from the deli tray table walks over with the greasy little kid, a teary, dried snotcake on his face.
"That gorilla kicked me in the nuts for no reason," the kid says.
"Did you kick my son?" the man says.
"He said Tupac was his dad," Steve says. "I had to teach him a lesson."
"Who's Tupac?" the man asks.
"A black rap artist," Steve says.
"Erm," the man says, sweating. "Glug ach fwerp."
"What?" Steve asks.
"Nothing," the man says.

When Steve returns home at party's end, he removes his shoes, socks, shirt, and pants. He leaves on his boxer shorts and the gorilla mask.
"I'm an apeman," Steve says. Then he untucks the sheets and slides into bed. The mask feels like a warm cocoon for his human head. He falls asleep quickly and wakes up happy, the fake gorilla head still covering him. In the shower, Steve keeps his head away from the water's spray and concentrates on scrubbing his lower extremities with peppermint soap.
"Mmm, tingly," Steve says. He thinks about what he needs to do today. It's a Saturday and Steve usually gets groceries on Saturday. After drying off, he looks at his closet and decides on a buttoned shirt. It may be too hard to slip a t-shirt on over the mask. He finishes dressing, enters his kitchen, and opens the refrigerator and cupboards to see what he needs to buy.
"Out of milk, tomatoes, tortillas, and snack cakes," he says. His face under the mask begins to sweat, but he can't bear to take the mask off. "Let's go to the store, everybody," he says to himself.

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