Nagoya Writes

November 29, 2007

The Old Cracked Hill by J. Agguner

Filed under: Agguner,Issue: May 2006,Prose — usbengoshi @ 4:13 pm
Tags: ,

“You have no soul,” muttered Hot Daryl as he threw a boot at the dusty old television. He was known only to himself (and now also to us), as “Hot Daryl”. He lived alone at the top of what was called “The Old Cracked Hill” by the people in the town below. The television fell off the workbench it had been sitting on, the weight of the thrown boot too much for it to handle. Oily, mean, drunk, and profound, Hot Daryl knew the world only through that small, cheap TV, which was older than his old high-school jacket, which hung in the closet. It got worn only on occasions that were special to no one else but Hot Daryl, all alone, except for a dog (which doesn’t count), at the top of The Old Cracked Hill.

The television, having rolled with a crash across the floor, its case cracked and littering powdery bits of glass resembling snow across the floor, was now resting partially in a large dog dish filled with bits of old ham and the leftover bread of Hot Daryl’s dinner.

The dog, now sniffing at Daryl’s television and licking mayonnaise off the remnants of screen, was named Peaches by a woman who once fancied Hot Daryl for an entire summer before suddenly bolting from a hamburger shop (and from Hot Daryl) without a word. She hitchhiked all the way to the Atlantic, found her way across its expanse, and started a new life overseas with a famous and highly cultured German painter and his dog, neither of whose names I can recall. The woman’s nickname, if it matters, was Skinny Kelly, a moniker she managed, over time, to outgrow. What did matter to Skinny Kelly was that her new life was far away from Hot Daryl. That summer that they had spent together had Skinny Kelly referring to Daryl as “Crazy Daryl” and sometimes “Old Dumb Daryl” for various well-earned reasons. What also mattered to Skinny Kelly was that the famous and highly cultured German painter’s dog was a purebred. It was a German shepherd, of course. If Kelly only knew, even she, who fled Crazy Daryl across an ocean, would be surprised at the horrible plight of Peaches while under his care.

Peaches is a mixed breed that resembles a Collie and was given to the then skinny Kelly by a man who happened to be giving away new puppies in front of the supermarket. He dispensed of his four-legged wares from out of the back of a rusted green van. She’d said ‘no thank you’ at first, but Peaches was such a darling little puppy and the man, who was very persistent, liked Skinny Kelly and was happy to keep their conversation going. Later, Skinny Kelly and the dog man would end up sleeping together two and a half times, according to some widely accepted accounting methods. Luckily, Hot, Crazy, and Old Dumb Daryl never found out.

The corner of the workbench where the old TV used to be looks naked now. It’s the only part of the house that isn’t covered in junk. The wallpaper in this room really doesn’t look too bad, which is what Daryl is thinking as he drifts in and out of consciousness. Then, staring at the corner of the workbench where the TV used to be, his imagination begins to fill in the void left by the now broken TV.

The old TV was to be the TV that he and Kelly would have to watch until they ‘saved up’ for something bigger. to look at. They had been at that young age when love came first and anything could be ‘saved up’ for. Soon enough Kelly realized that if love for them was anything like saving up, then love be damned, and that bastard at the bank could go to hell, too.

The exact moment at which a person drifts off to heaven is a hard one to determine, is what Daryl is thinking. He looks over at the clock and tries to remember whether it’s a couple of minutes fast or a couple of minutes slow, and in that position, falls asleep, in his chair, in his house, at the top of The Old Cracked Hill…

There’s a program on TV, one with a lot of comedians and people who look like doctors. That famous robot that can climb steps is standing next to two smiling girls in bikinis, and a Japanese man in a suit cuts a large ribbon with a pair of huge golden scissors. He then shakes hands with two other men who look at each other and smile largely. One is wearing a blue suit, the other is a doctor, or at least dressed like one, and he is holding a cute, white rabbit by the ears. With large frozen smiles, the three of them pose stiffly for a few minutes while the rabbit kicks and photographers take pictures of them in front of even more rabbits. One of the comedians makes a joke while holding tightly onto his squirming rabbit.

“We’ve built a robot that can pet rabbits!” the man announces, and the two smiling girls in bikinis whoop and cheer and clap their hands stiffly as the new robot rises dramatically from a hole in the floor. It isn’t holding a rabbit. The comedians act surprised while still holding firmly onto their own rabbits. The robot is blue and has a torpedo-shaped head. Everyone is clapping and cheering, and the comedians make more jokes and hold more rabbits and dramatic music plays in the background.

Daryl is mesmerized by this sexy new vision of the future. His eyes follow the young bikini girls and comedians as they don protective goggles and huddle with a small group of engineers behind a sheet of protective glass. The press is advised to stand back, but of course they remain in their assigned seats. Instead, of protective glass, they hide behind clear, plastic sheets.

The camera pans to the faces of the comedians who look amazed because the robot is walking on its own toward the rabbits. The music builds as the thing advances on the cage, and the fluffy creatures look through the bars with wide pink eyes.

Daryl, who thinks he’s dying, is ecstatic. Peaches barks like mad because Daryl is convulsing in his chair, but Daryl is too wrapped up in his post-death celebration of sexy bikinis, suspense, and technology to pay attention. The robot is nearly at the cage, and the cuter bikini girl, the one Hot Daryl has decided to fancy, is on camera now introducing the ‘Pleasure Meter’ digital display that will measure the rabbit’s level of pleasure or discomfort as it is being petted, according to the sensors in the robot’s fingers.

Suddenly, still meters away from the cage, the robot’s thick arm shoots forward like a hydraulic piston with a loud hiss and metallic clunk, and the robot’s big blue fist shears the top off of the wooden pen, scattering a mess of wood and chicken wire over the clean, white stage. The rabbits, too frightened to attempt an escape, cower at the bottom of the cage under the shadow of the robot’ s groping hand.

Some moments pass while the rabbits move deftly around the thick, clumsy fingers. One of the engineers informs the audience and the press that the fingers on the hand, padded with fine, durable synthetic materials, are far superior to human fingers for the purpose of petting rabbits, especially cute white ones. One of the smiling bikini girls, the one Hot Daryl wouldn’t mind getting a bone together with, holds a toy robot key chain, made entirely of the same synthetic materials, and a comedian makes a really funny joke and kicks another comedian, who, in turn, grabs his bottom. The audience roars.

Finally, the robot grabs hold of one of the rabbits, a black one with gray spots. The smiling bikini girls complain that it isn’t cute enough. The comedian makes a joke, and the Pleasure Meter registers a reading of severe discomfort before the rabbit wriggles free and drops back into the cage.

Suddenly, the screen cuts to old clipped-together footage of robots climbing up stairs, robotic legs helping people walk, robot dogs, and robot soldiers, ninja robot movie actors and sexy sex robots for having sex with, and Daryl begins to roll over in his chair and moan while Peaches barks furiously. Daryl shakes spasmodically as sexy sex robots serve a drink to a man in a lounge chair who looks a lot like Daryl, who decides that he’d better start saving up for some robots. The robot with the long black hair and a maid’s uniform leads the drunken man who looks more and more like Daryl into the bedroom, which is cluttered with junk, just like Daryl’s.

The digital ‘Pleasure Meter’ display is jumping now, registering sheer unmitigated delight as the bunny rabbits chew on the fine synthetic materials of the robot’s still-groping fingers before an engineer shoos them away. A comedian makes a joke and begins punching his own head for the pleasure of the audience while another robot is shown climbing stairs in Hot Daryl’s old high school jacket.

The bikini girl that Hot Daryl has said that he wouldn’t kick out of bed joins the sexy sex robots in Daryl’s bedroom for some sexy hot sex, and whew… is it ever sexy and hot! Unfortunately, it ends in tears as all of the sex robots and bikini girls fade away until only Skinny Kelly is left.

The ‘Pleasure Meter’ suddenly crashes to a new low as Daryl gazes into her big green eyes.

“Did you ever do it with that guy with the dogs?” he asks, but before she can answer, Daryl wakes up to the smell of Peaches’ hot breath as the dog licks his face.

“Go on, git!” hisses Hot Daryl, as he shoos the dog away. He looks at the empty space on his workbench and decides to start saving up for a new TV. The first rays of the morning sun filter in through the yellow windows and fall on Hot Daryl, as, once again, he falls fast asleep in his chair, in his house, at the top of The Old Cracked Hill.

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