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Michael K. White

 

 

Singularities and the Circle of Convergence

 

There was a knock at the front door of Apartment Number 9. Ace Quana tried to beat his wiener dog, Little Ace to the door, but he could not. For while Little Ace had stubby legs like wet cigar butts, he was fleet and determined, while Ace himself, was unsure and indecisive. There was another knock at the door and when Ace opened it up to the raspy growl of Little Ace, there was no one there. Ace Quana was having trouble with a poltergeist.

Ace enjoyed living in Apartment Number 9, despite his difficulty with the restless spirit of the dead. He knew that ghosts couldn’t hurt him because he’d seen it on "Arthur C. Clarke’s World Of The Weird" TV show and if a man like Arthur C. Clarke said that ghosts couldn’t hurt you then, fuckin-A, ghosts couldn’t hurt you.

But Ace knew he had a serious problem. Every night before he went to bed he had many tasks and rituals to perform in order to rest peacefully. One of these was making sure the toilet was flushed and the seat was in the "down" position. This was to discourage rats, who could slither up the drainpipe at night. Yet every morning, when he awoke, the toilet seat would be in the "up" position and floating in the toilet bowl, the inevitable great big giant turd.

Ace was positive that it wasn’t his and he was pretty sure that Little Ace could never reach the toilet rim with his stubby little legs, so logic dictated that the cause had to be supernatural. It was the only possible explanation.

Ace devised a series of tests and bobby traps, but none of them worked. He taped the toilet lid down with duct tape and who knows if that would have worked, but damn it Ace found he had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. It was sheer hell trying to tear the tape off the lid.

Next morning, turd.

Then Ace decided to get sophisticated. He used thread and fishing line and wove it haphazardly around the bathroom like a demented spider’s web. He also took into account his own needs and supplied himself with an empty tomato sauce can for emergencies.

He was awakened in the wee hours by the piteous howls of Little Ace, who had wandered into the bathroom looking for rats and had caught his leg in some thread. As the poor wiener dog frantically tried to escape his snare, the nylon thread cut into his little brown paw, nearly severing it.

Ace could not afford vet bills because the new STAR TREK DEEP SPACE NINE card set was coming out, so he just scrubbed Little Ace’s leg with toothpaste and bandaged it with his last good tube sock. Little Ace was so grateful that he licked his master’s face and tried to hump his leg.

Next morning, turd.

It got to the point where Ace couldn’t even enjoy NOVA because of his growing obsession with the occult disturbances. He sought to formulate a foolproof plan. Instead he decided to just stay up all night in the bathroom and wait.

In order to fortify himself for this ordeal, Ace went to CARL JRs for a friscoburger. Little Ace hobbled along, no longer even trying to use his injured front paw. Ace was concerned, but not too worried because Little Ace still tried to hump anything in sight, so Ace figured even if his paw was turning black; if he still wanted to hump he must be okay.

It was very hot, even for the middle of July. As Ace approached CARL JRs, just a few blocks away from the railroad tracks, it was over a hundred degrees.

Ace made sure Little Ace as secured outside of CARL JRs with an old shoelace tied to the bike rack. Ace ordered his friscoburger with extra mayonnaise and sat down with a day old newspaper.

Trips to CARL JRs were rare and Ace had been looking forward to this all day. He planned to enjoy every bite of the beloved friscoburger, and read every column inch of the day old newspaper. It was cool and calm in CARL JRs. Every surface exuded coolness and relief. Ace was so involved with his Friscoburger™ and extra mayonnaise that he did not notice that people there looking at him sideways, smirking and nudging.

Ace did not see himself as others saw him. He did not see that his clothes were dirty and old and his long, stringy gray hair was tied in a sloppy ponytail. He did not remember his old wire framed glasses were bent and taped and the lenses were so thick with oily fingerprints that they resembled cataracts.

Mayonnaise dripped from his long scraggly mustache and he greedily licked it in, savoring every speck. He really liked mayonnaise.

Suddenly there was a commotion. Little Ace had broken his bonds like Gulliver awakening in Lilliput and had dashed inside. He was delirious with the coolness and the sudden giddy proximity to hamburgers. He went wild on three legs, managing in his frenzy to leap and steal and wolf down a little girl’s chicken sandwich before Ace realized what was happening.

Amidst the commotion, Ace regretfully shoved the remainder of his friscoburger into his mouth, smearing more mayonnaise on his face. He collected Little Ace, whose tongue was lolling, a pink wiener dog boner between his stumpy legs. A table of teenage girls squealed and it finally dawned on Ace that people were laughing at him, AT HIM and he caught a reflection of himself in the window glass, dirty, old, mayonnaise-faced, holding a wiener dog with a huge cherry red erection and girls laughing, laughing at him.

Ace and Little Ace went outside. They were both hit by the heaviness of the heat. Little Ace panted and wheezed and was happy because the paw had finally stopped hurting. It didn’t feel like anything anymore.

Some melting mayonnaise dripped from Ace’s mustache onto Little Ace’s head. Ace looked around, full of hunger, and then quickly licked it off. It tasted sour.

When he got home, turd.

 

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