“So I’m walking down West Silverlake Drive because like usual I have to park a fuckin’ mile from my place. I look across to that park on the corner and I see these fuckin’ tweaker kids chasing after this zombie bitch. And you would think the bitch is doing that zombie stroll they do, but she’s bookin’ it. And these kids are like 15 or 16 and you gotta think that they’re meth’d out, so when the zombie bitch gets ahead of ’em, you would think she’s free. But just as the bitch looks like she’s gonna get away, another tweaker pops out of nowhere and she has to change direction.
So I’m watching this shit go down and she starts running next to the street. And I’m 300 feet away so I’m like ‘This shit is real,’ ya know. And just when the guys are about to tackle her, this fuckin’ bitch cuts out into the street and this fuckin’ Ram, fuckin’ Dodge 4×4 truck smacks the hell out of her. And this fuckin’ bitch rolls across the hood of the truck and flies like 200 feet in the air.
And I’m standing there and I’m like ‘What the fuck,’ because this bitch is headed right for me and I don’t know if I should move left or right. But in the end I’m just frozen there and the fuckin’ bitch lands right on top of me and knocks my ass to the ground. And I’m like ‘What the fuck? What the fuck!’
And I’m looking right at her and she has an oozing wound on her forehead. And her face is all sunken in. And she’s all pale with those fuckin’ zombie dark circles under her eyes and she’s drooling. And I’m screaming, ‘Get the fuck off me! Get the fuck off of me!’
And I’m all shaking and squirming because this bitch is right on top of me. I mean her fuckin’ cooch is sitting on my nads, ya know. And I’m like ‘Get the fuck off me.’ And she’s like ‘Ahhh.’ I’m like ‘Ahhh!’ And she’s all squirmin’ and stuff.
But I finally push her off me and I get up to my feet. I look down at her – she looks fine by the way, because you know how these fuckin’ zombies are indestructible, right? – and I get right over her, look down and scream ‘What the fuck, bitch!’ And she looks up at me, smiles, points and says ‘Donavan.’
And I’m like ‘How does this fuckin’ zombie bitch know my name?’ So I scream at her ‘How the fuck you know my name, bitch?’ And she laughs and mumbles out ‘Bar Bar bathroom,’ and then laughs some more.
And just then I look up and this 16 year old tweaked-out mother fucker pulls back this fuckin’ axe and cuts the bitch’s fuckin’ head off. That fuckin’ head rolled like 20 feet. So I ran into the fuckin’ street and got down over the head and yelled again ‘How the fuck do you know my name, bitch?’ But the thing is finally fuckin’ dead and it still has a smile on its fuckin’ face.
So I check myself out for scratches and bite marks and I’m fine. And instead of goin’ home, I now walk my ass back to the fuckin’ car and drive my ass down to Bar Bar because I know this fuckin’ place. This is where me and my two boys used to trail for tail. And when I get there it isn’t fuckin’ open yet because it’s one of these places that don’t even open til, like, nine. But I know the manager so I get in.
I’m like ‘What up,’he’s like ‘What up,’ and tell him about this fuckin’ zombie bitch and he starts to smile. But it’s not one of those ‘ha ha’ smiles. It’s one of those ‘I know something that you fuckin’ don’t’ smiles. And the fucka couldn’t even look me in the eye after that. But he says go ahead and I check out the men’s bathroom. After I couldn’t find anything, I realize that the zombie bitch probably meant the woman’s bathroom.
So I go in and I look in the first stall and on the wall is this fuckin’ picture of me carved in the paint. And this is some fuckin’ Rembrandt shit because this fuckin’ thing looks exactly like me. Like, if I could take this home, I would hang it on my fuckin’ wall because it is like a fuckin’ picture. And underneath this fuckin’ picture are the words ‘For a really bad time in bed call…’ and it’s my fuckin’ phone number. Do you believe that shit?
So I scratch out ‘bad’ and put ‘mind-blowing’ and I leave with this shit stuck in my head. Do you believe that shit? Some bitch put that shit in the bathroom at my spot. But I start thinkin’ about this and the more I think about it, the more this shit is fuckin’ with my head. So I start to doubt myself. Because that is a whole lot of hate that it takes to sit in that fuckin’ stall for hours and carve that fuckin’ picture in paint. That fuck even shaded it in. I’m tellin’ you, fuckin’ Rembrandt!
So if that bitch could have so much hate in her to sit and do that, she must have been seriously pissed off at something that I did. And that’s not hard to believe because I have worked over some bitches in my day. But I started thinkin’, ‘I’m good in bed, right? Yeah I’m good in bed…’
But it plays on your head when you see shit like that. So I asked myself who would know for sure. So that’s why I called you. You had fun when we were doin’ it, right? I mean, it was good right?”
There was a long pause on the other end of the phone. Van raked his fingers through his dark brown wavy hair. His deeply tanned forehead shined with the sweat that formed on it. And his thick masculine chest twitched as the adrenaline coursed through him.
“Lucy?” Van asked, losing the nerve that the lather from his storytelling had allowed him.
Lucy sat dumbfounded on the other end. Her mouth hung open and her porcelain skin and red hair made her look like a blow up doll.
“Lucy?” Van asked again, wondering if she was still on the line. He pulled back his cell phone to make sure that the call hadn’t ended. “You still there?”
“So, ummm, when we were doin’ it, you had a good time, right?” Van asked again a little more scared at what the answer might be.
“Well, that was back in college. I really don’t remember much from back then.”
“I thought you said that I was your first?” Van asked not believing her answer.
“And you don’t remember your first guy? Come on. We did it for 3 straight years. We were like fuckin’ rabbits.”
“Oh yeah,” Lucy conceded with disappointment over her failed attempt to evade the question.
“Well, you had fun, right?”
“Yeah. Wait, what?” Van asked with the sweat once again beading on his caramel colored face.
“It was my first time, and I’m sure it was your first time…”
“It wasn’t my first time,” Van interrupted, confused how she could make that mistake.
“It wasn’t your first time?”
“I just… never mind. Look the deal is that it was a long time ago. And my self-esteem is a lot higher than it was back then. And neither of us knew what we were doing, so I’m sure that you learned a lot since then.”
“Well of course. But I’m sayin’ that it wasn’t bad, right? I mean, you wouldn’t describe all of the times that we did it as bad, right?”
“No… not all of it. I’m sure that if you gave me some time I could think of some times that –”
“If I gave you some time?” Van repeated with surprise.
“What I’m saying is that I’m sure that you’ve gotten better. And I’m sure that you don’t do the barking thing anymore. Hey look, you should call a woman that you have been with more recently than us because Don, before this call we hadn’t spoken in 10 years. In fact, how did you get my number?”
Van pulled the phone away from his face. He had a look of genuine surprise because he definitely hadn’t seen this coming. Certainly he had not always engaged in the ancient art of foreplay. But he always considered it something that pussy boys did. And Van was no pussy boy.
And certainly he didn’t always go all night. Not to say that he couldn’t go all night, it was just that when a man operated at 10 pumps per second, he tended not to last very long. But the way Van always looked at it was that if instead of measuring absolute lengths of time, you instead measured pumps per orgasm, he got in more pumps than anyone. Van had once gotten it up to 1000 pumps. When he was done he immediately got up and scrolled through the Guinness World Book of Records online. Unfortunately, at that time pumps per orgasm didn’t exist as a category.
Hanging up the phone, Van next called Hillary. And with the sweat once again glistening on his face he mentioned the true reason for his call. “So when we were together, you thought I was good in bed, right?”
Hillary was a blasian (black/Asian) woman whom he’d met while working at Kinko’s. It was his first job out of college. Back then Hillary was a little heavier than the fit girl who now spoke to Van from the other end of the phone.
“Ok, the first thing that you should know is that my self-esteem is a lot higher than it was back then,” Hillary began. “So if you really wanna know, I’m gonna to tell you the truth. Do you want me to tell you the truth?”
With fear, Van spoke. “Maybe you should just stick to generalities.”
“Ok. So, what was up with the barking?”
Hillary’s response was similar to Lucy’s response; which, it turned out, was similar to Vanessa’s response; which was similar to Candy’s response. Fortunately, all of the women had somehow gained a lot more self-esteem than they had while dating Van. It was almost as if being with Van was a reason to improve a woman’s self-image.
“Do you know how Cocker spaniels are all over the place?” Rose began.
“Yeah, why?” Van asked.
“You know how they can’t focus on anything for too long and they drool all over the place?” Rose continued.
“Uh huh,” Van replied, not liking where Rose was going.
“Well I think you should find a woman who really likes Cocker spaniels. Because they would probably be into what you do.”
“What do you mean by that?” Van asked, devastated that even Rose, his china doll, would be so mean.
“Well, first of all,” Rose began again, “you only did it doggy style and you humped me so fast that I thought that you were going for some type of record.”
Van couldn’t disagree with that because he had been going for a record. A true athlete never takes a day off.
“And then after you raced to the finish line you would stand up on the bed, bark a couple of times so the neighbors could hear, and then yell, ‘I’m the big dog now!’”
“Yeah, that was my thing,” Van said meekly.
“But that’s not all. Then you would get out of bed, stand in front of the full-length mirror, grab onto an imaginary waist and simulate whatever you did to me while watching yourself in the mirror. What was up with that?”
Van didn’t answer.
“And the thing is that you would keep doing it until your ding-dong got so soft that your man juice would fling across the room. I would have to spend the first 10 minutes after you left cleaning up the walls, the carpet… Do you know that Mr. Fluffy Bunny still looks like he has a lazy eye from one of my nights with you?”
“Was Mr. Fluffy Bunny that pink stuffed rabbit you had?” Van asked doing his best to make it sound like she was weird for having a stuffed rabbit at her age.
“Yes, Mr. Fluffy Bunny was the stuffed rabbit that my mom gave to me when I was six. You know, the one that she gave me before she died?” Rose said, raising her voice a little but still not angrily.
‘Ouch,’ Van thought.
“But you know, there is someone out there for everyone,” Rose added, trying to focus on the positive as her self-esteem classes had suggested. “I think that if you could find a woman that’s really into Cocker spaniels, she might like that whole thing you do.”
Van had taken just about as much as he could handle in a day. But there was only one more person on his list entitled ‘Bitchez I’ve Banged’ so he figured he’d push through.
“Well, you have some nerve calling me again,” Margo said.
That response surprised Van because he didn’t remember their encounter ending badly. Sure he banged her and then never called again, but it was a woman he met at Bar Bar just before last call – their time together was clearly going to be a bang-bang (the first bang was the sound of his balls hitting her clit; the second bang was the sound of the door closing on his way out). Propositions offered at 1:58 am just after the lights at the bar turned on could never be anything more. So yes, Van said that he would call her as he was leaving, but he was also sure that this wasn’t her first rodeo.
“What? What did I do to you? What could I have possibly done to you?” Van said feeling the lump that developed in his throat whenever he felt like he was going to be humiliated.
“What did you do to me?” Margo asked, with a shocked irate tone. “Well, let’s see. You were the most inconsiderate fuck that I have ever had. First off, there was no foreplay. Second, you didn’t cuddle afterwards. And, oh yeah, you ate my fuckin’ brains!”
Van shook his head to reprocess what he had just heard. “What did you say?” Van asked feeling his day’s humiliations redirecting themselves.
“You heard me you fuck wad. You ate my fuckin’ brains,” Margo repeated at full volume and clarity.
“Don’t you ever fuckin’ say that again. Don’t you ever fuckin’ say that again!” Van yelled standing up on his side of the phone.
“What, that you ate my fuckin’ brains, you fuckin’ zombie ass piece of shit,” Margo said in a cool unintimidated voice.
Van felt his rage surface. And Van knew that after the rage, would come the blind rage. “If you say that again, I will come over there and I will fuckin’ tear your head off. You hear me? I will fuckin’ rip your head off and shit in your neck. Is that what you want? I know where you live you psycho bitch.”
Van’s anger might have been misdirected, but it was justified. Accusing someone of being a zombie was the biggest insult that anyone could call another person and Margo knew it. But more than that, all throughout Los Angeles – and especially in Silverlake – there were punk-ass vigilantes that prided themselves of ridding the world of zombies. And when any of the vigilantes started hearing rumors that someone was eating brains, they would show up at their house in the middle of the night with an axe or something and end the rumor by relocating the rumored zombie’s head from their body.
Van didn’t disagree with what they were doing. In fact, he liked it. On a day-to-day basis though, as long as zombies didn’t fuck with him, he wouldn’t fuck with them. But like most people, Van thought the world would be better off if there weren’t any zombies in it.
The mindset in Los Angeles was a lot different than it was in the Midwest and the South. For the most part, people in L.A. were still arrested when it wasn’t a clear case of zombie panic. In other words, the zombified victim had to be foaming at the mouth for the cops to simply walk away. In cases where the victim wasn’t showing clear physical signs like the distinct circles under their eyes, the cops would ask a lot of questions. You still had a good chance of being released but you had to have a really good story to support the evidence.
Silverlake, though, was considered the zombie ghetto. So if a person had a real problem with zombies, he simply moved. But even with Silverlake’s zombie status, housing prices were still outrageously expensive. It wasn’t really families with children moving in any more. It was more often zombies and inter-zombie couples. Inter-zombie couples had a very hard time renting and buying homes in communities with a lot of kids. But in Silverlake they were just like everyone else.
On average, there were 10 zombie attacks every day in Silverlake, usually at night. Some occurred after a zombie would get really drunk at a bar and start making out with someone. In that case, flirting often turned into kissing which then could turn into a bathroom stall encounter where the victim learned that they weren’t the one that was going to bite off more than they could chew. But in these cases the zombies should be forgiven. After all, who hasn’t gotten really drunk and done something regrettable that wouldn’t have happened if not for that fourth glass of ‘Adios Mother-Fucker?’
The attacks that were most hated and most likely to get the zombie’s head cut off, happened on dark sidewalks and alleys. In Silverlake there were a lot of alleyways. These alleys fed the garages of all the pastel-colored, mix-matched, 1930s avant garde homes. Those zombies who had plans of satisfying their cravings often lurked in the shadows in those unlit alleyways. Any vehicle returning home offered a zombie access to the dark garage. Often times the attacks could be avoided if the driver was paying attention. But around 2am when the bars closed, people made bad decisions. As if they needed it, this was another reason that ‘Mother’s Against Drunk Drivers’ gave for not drinking and driving.
If a zombie was able to sneak up to an unsuspecting driver, the result was often quite horrific. A zombie feeding wasn’t a pretty sight. Zombies are often characterized as being slow, but anyone who has seen a zombie attack would reconsider his assessment.
Once a zombie was within 5 feet of a mark, the attack was inevitable. And even for a drunk person, a hungry zombie standing 5 feet away was impossible to miss. Zombies breathed harder when they were about to attack. It had something to do with a rush of adrenaline that made them purposefully hyperventilate. The hyperventilation supposedly over-oxygenated their blood which allowed them to chew for a long time without taking a breath. So when a person heard that breathing, that hollow, haunting, blood curdling breathing, they knew that their time had come.
Some people couldn’t help but spin around and see the wide almost glowing eyes of the attacking zombie. In this case the victim had time to scream because the zombie had to grab you by the ears and work you to the ground while you flopped around like a helpless rag doll. But in other cases the breathing was all the person had to hear to know that there was no point in struggling. In these cases the person just closed their eyes and tried to think about a nice place as the zombie grabbed their skull and forced them down onto their knees.
The first bite was often a painful one, but if the person could just hang on a little longer, she knew that in another second that zombie would bite in far enough that the feeling of sweet release would come. The human body was designed to pass out during such pain. And once out, the zombie let the body fall to the ground for the real feeding.
The brain isn’t a blood-rich environment but there was more when the zombie sucked on it. Blood is like the marrow of the brain – the delectable part. And after the victim passed out, the zombie suckling began.
If this was the only thing that occurred, the victim could survive the attack. They would have a scar and a craving for brains, but because of the unique traits of the virus, no matter how deep the zombie bit, all of their mental faculties of the victim would remained intact.
Unfortunately though, sometimes a simple attack became a zombie feeding orgy. In an orgy, zombies came from all around to feed and then do other things to the body that most people wouldn’t want to recover from. It wasn’t unheard of for a group of zombies to penetrate the victim. Sometimes they would use the openings provided by nature. Other times they would make their own openings. Brain matter was an incredibly satisfying material to stick things into, but it took a special type of zombie to do something like that.
Zombie cravings were an interesting thing. Yes, the craving was centered on feeding. But what it sometimes meant to a zombie was psychological release – release from the constraints they had to live with on a daily basis. So, if the zombie became shunned after the 3 years it took for the physical symptoms of the disease to take effect, if they became one of the untouchables that the healthy didn’t even look in the eye, then another feeling came with the craving to feed: a craving to be acknowledged. What came was a craving to be considered. And what followed then was a craving to dominate. And what better way to dominate someone than to literally fuck their brains out?
More than anyone else these were the zombies that had to be destroyed. So when a vigilante watched an orgy of this magnitude, it was the ‘fucking’ zombie that the vigilante chose to follow home. After feeding, what usually followed for the zombie was a sharp feeling of regret. This meant that the zombie wasn’t as careful getting home as they were finding their victim. Often times the zombies didn’t bother to check if they were followed. So when the zombie arrived home, unless in a gated building, it was easy for the zombie hunter to sneak in behind them.
The zombie hunter knew that he had to be patient, often waiting for the zombie to fall asleep. Brain, like turkey, was a sleep-inducing food. After a good feeding, all a zombie could do was unbutton his pants and fall asleep. That was when the zombie hunter snuck into the room and made his move.
Van rolled over in bed with the airy feeling that there was someone else in the room. Still partially asleep he looked down his bed at the door. In a sleepy haze he saw the silhouette of a man carrying what looked to be a samurai sword. The man’s silhouette hinted at a lust for death.
Van immediately rolled over and dove for the lights.
Van grabbed onto the chain that hung from his nightstand lamp and gave it a pull. In the moment that it took Van to light the room, the silhouetted man didn’t move. And when the image became lit, Van recognized him.
The swordsman measured only about 5 feet 6 inches tall. He was wider than he was fat but the hand gripping the shiny samurai sword included what looked like hairy hotdogs. His slightly protruding forehead prominently displayed bushy, Greek eyebrows and a short mop of dark hair on top. His hairy body and light Mediterranean complexion shone past his polo shirt and casual clothing. And everything about the swordsman was familiar to Van.
Van lay frozen in his bed. It took 4 or 5 rapid heartbeats for the recognition of who it was to reach his brain. “Kofi?” Van finally asked. “Kofi!” Van lowered his head after answering his own question. “Holy fuck!” Van yelled. “Fuckin’ Christ! What the fuck, Kofi! Jesus Christ.”
Van fell back into a relaxed position facing the ceiling, trying to regain his calm. “Fuck. I thought you were one of those fuckin’ zombie hunters. This crazy-ass bitch called me a zombie today and I thought that you were some fuckin’ zombie hunter comin’ to get me.”
Van stretched his arm out behind him on the bed and pushed off of the wall sliding his body further into the sheets. Van was hoping that the feeling of the sheets against his bare back would reduce the goose pimples that now covered his entire body. “Fuuuck,” Van let out like a leaky tire.
After a second, Van flung himself up with a scared look on his face. Van lifted up the sheet and looked down at his crotch. After a few seconds he slowly lowered it down looking at Kofi as he did. “You made me pee my pants.” Van let out a congratulatory smile. “You mother fucker, you made me pee my pants. Oh that’s fuckin’ classic. That’s fuckin’ classic,” Van said to Kofi, who still hadn’t moved a muscle.
Van got out of bed to reveal his tighty-whities with a big pee stain on them. As comfortable as if he were alone, Van laughed as he pulled back the sheet to see if any of his pee had made it to the mattress. “Classic.” When he found none he examined the top sheet. Nothing there.
Van walked to his dresser which was also across the room from Kofi and the door. Still laughing an almost resentful chuckle, he reached for another pair of underwear and then turned into the bathroom. “So what the fuck are you doing here at fuckin’…,” Van poked his head out of the bathroom to look at the clock on his nightstand, “at 3 o’clock in the morning?”
The water turned on in the sink and Van could be heard rinsing something out.
“And more importantly, where the fuck have you been for the last 8 months?” Van finished with the sink and a smack could be heard as he threw his tighty-whities onto the shower rod. “Huh? Where have you been for the last 8 months? I called you like a million times. I even stopped by your place and you were never there. You don’t even work at that law firm that you were at. You and Kieran basically just dropped off the face of the fuckin’ earth.”
Van walked out of the bathroom wearing a pair of black underwear and faced Kofi. Kofi didn’t speak. Van took a closer look at his friend. Kofi’s jaw was clenched and that made Van check Kofi’s hand. Van was right, the tension in Kofi’s jaw traveled straight down Kofi’s arm to the sword. Kofi had a death grip on it.
Van looked back up into Kofi’s eyes. Kofi still had his head faced toward Van’s bed, but his eyes were now intensely focused on Van’s new position. That gave Kofi a crazed look. Van had only seen that look once before, and it worried Van that after such a long absence, this was the look that now greeted him.
The first time Van ever noticed Kofi was when they were both pledging SAE, their fraternity at university. Van had chosen SAE because it had the reputation for throwing the best parties. The reason for that was clear when you considered its brothers. All of the members of SAE were good looking and came from rich families. Good looking guys from rich families tend to attract the hottest girls on campus. And once the hottest girls arrived, the best party had already begun.
Van’s pledge year was unique because the previous year’s pledging had been marred when the grandson of one of the university’s trustees got alcohol poisoning during a hazing. That occurrence led the university to outlaw hazing from fraternity activities. So starting with Van’s year, fraternities had to think of more creative ways to make their pledges throw up in front of their potential brothers.
What SAE had come up with was a hotdog eating contest. In this contest, the pledge was paired with an SAE brother and the pledge had to consume as many hotdogs as possible without throwing up. The brother was just there to encourage the pledge by calling him derogatory names and to take the praise if his pledge won. By the end of that year’s contest, there were only 3 pairs left. The pledge in each of those pairs were Kieran, Kofi and Van.
Kieran was a thin, good-looking guy with wavy sun-bleached blonde hair and a deep tan. He was six feet tall with a narrow Norwegian face and naturally hairless surfer’s body. Kieran smoked copious amounts of pot and had what girls referred to as bedroom eyes. And even though Kieran didn’t know it, he was sure to make it into this fraternity because Kieran’s father owned a record label and was worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
What was more than that, Kieran lived in an apartment over his father’s garage and had access to this dad’s Malibu beach house when his dad was at his even grander estate in the Bahamas. What the brothers knew was that Kieran’s father had a reputation for loving young women. And the brothers figured that if they stuck close to Kieran, a few of those hot young women would come their way.
Kieran, on the other hand, was never sure just how far his father’s influence would extend into his life. And because Kieran desperately needed the feeling of brotherhood, he kept eating.
Van too wasn’t sure if he would make it into the fraternity. Unlike Kieran, his family was barely successful. And the success that they did have wasn’t because of something glamorous like the music business. Van’s father had a company making nuts and bolts. But what made it possible for Van’s parents to both pay for UCLA and 5th row Lakers basketball tickets was that Van’s father had a military contract to supply the Department of Defense with fasteners i.e. nuts, bolts and washers. That contract made Van’s parents well-off, but that was barely the cost of admission for pledging SAE. It wasn’t going to get Van in.
The other factor that made Van nervous about his chances was his looks. Both of Van’s parents were considered black, but Van had turned out with caramel skin, a white person’s wavy hair and narrow features. Van had a strong jaw line and a tall, naturally athletic body that very much resembled that of a Spanish tennis player. He was dark enough for women to consider him exotic, with enough Caucasian features that he could be considered ‘very tanned’ by the girls who didn’t ‘dig the chocolate’. But because he felt he couldn’t be classified as classically good looking, he felt the need to eat as many hotdogs as he could.
Kofi on the other hand was from a very rich family. Kofi’s grandfather was a Greek immigrant who opened a small clothing manufacturer in New York during the 1920’s. Because it took a while for him to get established amongst all of his Jewish competitors, Kofi’s grandfather didn’t have Kofi’s dad and uncles until later in life.
There were only two rules in Kofi’s granddad’s household: 1) every moment that his children didn’t spend at school, had to be spent in the family business. And 2) all of his children had to become either doctors or lawyers.
Kofi’s father decided to become a lawyer and he was one of the best in New York. Kofi’s dad had long stopped charging his clients by the hour. He charged an estimated amount at the beginning of the case and no matter how long the case took, that was all the company would need to spend.
This flat fee motivated Kofi’s dad to settle his cases quickly. Bringing people to their knees in a short amount of time was his specialty. Once, an airline paid Kofi’s dad $2 million to represent them in a wrongful death suit that could potentially bring down the company. Kofi’s dad settled the case in 3 days, and the airline was more than happy to pay over $27,000 an hour for his services.
The thing that drove Kofi’s grandfather was the same thing that drove Kofi’s dad, which was the same thing that drove Kofi to make it into the fraternity: they all had an unquenchable need to prove their own self worth. For Kofi’s grandfather it was proving himself amongst the Jewish merchants. For Kofi’s dad, it was standing out amongst the pampered Wall Street lawyers with their cushy childhoods and martini lunches. And for Kofi, it was beating all of the pretty boys who always got the girls while he remained the gargoyle-looking kid standing in the corner.
Kofi felt like he had no shot at making this fraternity. He was aware that each year this fraternity would pledge someone as a joke. When Kofi looked around the room and saw how statuesque everyone else was, he knew that he was the joke. So for Kofi, this game of hotdog eating wasn’t just a simple hazing. This was something that Kofi had to win to prove his worth.
So when Kieran finally stuffed the last dog down his throat just to see it come right back up, and Van looked at the last 3 dogs on his plate and barfed into his pale, Kofi kept going. And not only did Kofi win, but he kept down every hotdog from his plate.
Brian, the president of the fraternity, took a look at Kofi who was woozy from all of the meat and bread. “Pledge, I’m going to make an exception which I have never made before. If you accept every member’s commitment upon you,” Brian looked back at his brothers, and they all chuckled, “you will be guaranteed to become a brother of this house. Do you want to receive a commitment from each of your soon to be brothers?”
Kofi looked up at Brian. Kofi felt so sick that he could barely think, but with brotherhood so close there was nothing that was going to stop him from accomplishing what would be the greatest achievement of his life up to this point. “I do,” Kofi blurted, closing his mouth quickly afterwards.
“Then Brother John, give your commitment to pledge Kofi,” President Brian said.
On Brian’s urging, Brother John, who had been standing behind Kofi calling him names as he ate, unzipped his pants. “To you pledge Kofi, I offer you my commitment. Do you accept it?”
Kofi slowly spun in his chair finding himself eye level with Brother John’s flaccid, hairy junk that hung less than an arm’s length away. Kofi hesitated when he saw what was before him. He then looked around the room at the drunk, laughing brothers and the horrified pledges. Nowhere in the room did he find a compassionate face. Nowhere did he see a reason to subject himself to this level of humiliation. Nowhere existed a friendly face until he looked over at Van.
Kofi had met Van on the first pledge night, but like everyone else there that night, Van had looked past him for a more interesting person. But now with a loaded prick pointed at his face, Kofi could see that there was something human in Van’s eyes.
The look was an unmistakable sign of compassion. And although that compassion might be buried deep within him, it still came out. That was more than Kofi could find in any of the other supposed humans in the room. And never having experienced such compassion from anyone before, befriending Van became the reason for Kofi to say, “Yes Brother John. I accept your commitment.”
With those words brother John let out a stream of urine that hit Kofi in the face. Kofi closed his eyes and imagined himself somewhere else.
The crowd screamed with cheers as President Brian spoke again. “Brother Chris, give your commitment to pledge Kofi.”
“To you, pledge Kofi, I offer you my commitment. Do you accept it?” brother Chris said walking toward Kofi who sat at a picnic table covered in piss.
“Yes Brother Chris, I accept your commitment.”
One at a time each of the brothers approached Kofi and asked him if he wanted them to pee on him so that he could be a part of their group. Each time Kofi said yes. And as Kofi’s clothes became more soaked with pee, it became clear that the brothers had prepared for this moment. It was clear that each of them had spent the night before eating asparagus because the accumulated smell of urine and vomit in this basement was ungodly.
It would have been easy to miss, but Kofi noticed when all of his pledge brothers backed as far away from him as they could. But even with that distance, Kofi watched as one by one each of the pledges threw up into their pale again.
When each of the brothers had had their turn and Kofi sat unfazed and dripping with pee, Brian declared that the pledges were now standing in front of a new brother. Brian then ordered the pledges to get a towel and relieve their new brother of his clothes. And as Kieran ran upstairs, Van was the first one to help Kofi to his feet. The pools of pee that had formed in Kofi’s lap poured out onto Van. Kofi became embarrassed.
“Sorry,” Kofi said in a whisper to Van.
“Don’t,” Van replied with heart break
Van unbuttoned the first few buttons of his shirt before the other pledges joined in.
“When you’re done with him, clean up this fucking place until it smells human in here,” Brian said as the brothers headed upstairs. “And when you’re all cleaned up, and I mean all of that fucking asparagus smell is off of you,” the brother said with a drunken laugh, “you can join your brothers in the lounge.”
As the brothers left the room, Van couldn’t hold his question back anymore. He leaned in and whispered into Kofi’s ear which had little puddles of piss in it. “Was it worth it?” Van asked.
“Yeah,” was Kofi’s only response.
“Why?” Van replied looking into Kofi’s hardened eyes.
Kofi didn’t speak. He instead chose to look into the eyes of someone he was sure was going to become his first college friend. Kieran interrupted the two to wrap Kofi’s hairy, naked, thick body with a towel. And after Kofi stopped dripping pee, Kieran was the one to lead Kofi to the nearest shower. Van hadn’t gotten his answer, but Van decided to befriend Kofi so that one day he would find out.
After another month of walking around campus dressed as homeless people and prostitutes, of endless calisthenics and of hours of memorization, all three of them were brothers. Van befriended Kofi first and it was Kofi who one day said to him “I feel like getting my cock sucked. You ever hired one of those girls from the back of The Weekly?”
“What, you mean a hooker?” Van asked surprised but curious.
“Hey be respectful, they’re escorts. And I’m not talking about fuckin’ them. I just mean them suckin’ on our cocks for a little while,” Kofi said with a smile.
“That’s fucked up,” Van declared, almost dismissing the whole idea.
“Come on. I’ll even pay as long as you do it with me.”
“I don’t know, man. That’s fucked up,” Van said, not denying his interest.
“Come on, I’ll call. Should we bring her over here?”
“To the frat house? Fuck no,” Van retorted.
“I can’t have her come to my dorm, my roommate would flip.”
“There’s a bathroom on the third floor of Kerckhoff Hall. It locks.”
“So should I tell her go there?” Kofi said with a smile.
“I don’t know, man.”
“I’m gonna call.” Kofi picked up the phone and dialed. Looking back at Van for any sign of resistance, Kofi listened to the phone ring. “Yeah, I’m looking for someone that will offer me certain services.” Kofi paused while listening. “Does that time include a certain service?” Kofi paused again. “Kerckhoff Hall on the UCLA campus. Uh huh. Second door on the right on the third floor.” Kofi then looked away. “Four o’clock. Can you do that?” Kofi looked back at Van. “Ok, I’m looking forward to it.” Kofi hung up the phone.
“No you fuckin’ didn’t,” Van said, shocked.
“Yeah I fuckin’ did,” Kofi said with a huge grin.
“Four o’clock is in the middle of the fuckin’ day,” Van said, trying to comprehend everything that was going on.
“We’ll call it a nooner,” Kofi said still grinning.
“A nooner is sex during lunch, you fuck!”
“You’re complaining about what time of day it is that you’re going to get your cock sucked? Are you joking with me?” Kofi laughed.
“The sun is still out. And you didn’t tell her anything about me being there.”
“I’ll give her another hundred dollars to do both of us. What the fuck does she care? It’s more money,” Kofi said, turning more serious.
“I guess you’re right.”
“Yeah I’m right. Now I want to hear some fuckin’ thank yous for what will be the best four o’clock of your life.”
Van thought about it a little longer. “Yeah,” he said with a smile.
“No, fuck yeah,” Kofi corrected, throwing his arm around his friend.
As 4 o’clock approached, Van and Kofi made their way upstairs from the coffee shop and locked themselves into the third floor bathroom. Locked in the bathroom, Kofi wasn’t as confident as he was a few hours earlier.
“I don’t know if I can do this,” Kofi admitted, trying to hide the sweat marks under his arms.
“This was your idea,” Van said with angry disappointment.
“No, fuck yeah,” Van said mocking his friend.
“You go first.” Kofi looked over at the two stalls. “Ok, you go first and then afterwards I’ll come out and join you.”
Van looked at the shaken Kofi.
“No, this is good. I’m gonna be in here. Afterwards I’ll come out and then she’ll hop on my bald man.”
“Yeah, ok. What do I care?” Van said blinded by the piece of wood in his pants.
“Ok, it’s four. Unlock the door. Her name is Cat. She sounded very nice on the phone so be cool.”
“You be cool,” Van said as he unlocked the bathroom door.
Kofi locked himself into the stall furthest away from the window and Van went back to the other stall and waited. After about 10 minutes of silence Van spoke.
“Are you sure she’s coming?”
“She said she’d be here, alright.” Kofi said uncomfortably.
“I knew she wasn’t gonna come to a fuckin’ bathroom.”
“This was your fuckin’ idea, alright,” Kofi replied with anger before catching himself. “Just give it another minute. She’s gonna be here.”
Van got up and stared out the open window in front of his stall. It was an old window that slid upwards. The missing screen left a large enough gap that 2 people could sit side by side on the sill. And as Van made himself comfortable on the wall watching the people three stories below, he heard a hand push on the door.
Van felt a jolt of adrenaline shoot through his body. The truth was that he didn’t have much experience with sex. In fact, he had been pretty shy about the whole topic. But there was something about the feeling of power he got in this situation that aroused him.
As Van backed himself into the stall, he heard someone enter the bathroom. Exhilarated by it all, he slowly leaned his head past the door to see who had entered. When he looked out he didn’t find the petite nimble girl that the name Cat implied. He found the largest, bald, white guy that he had ever seen.
Van quickly tucked himself back into the stall, but it wasn’t quick enough because the giant had seen him.
“You looking for Cat?” the man said in what had to have been a 21-year-old’s voice.
Van again stuck his head out past the door. “Who are you?”
“I’m her driver. I came to collect the money.”
“Where’s Cat?” Van asked, pulled out of the adventure that he imagined for himself.
“She’s downstairs. You pay me and I’ll send her up,” the man said in an intimidating voice.
Van thought for a second. This wasn’t what he signed up for. He didn’t like the feeling he got from this man. And the way Van saw it, he was under no obligation to continue on.
“No that’s Ok. I’m not interested,” Van replied.
“You could see her or not. I don’t care. But you will pay her for coming all the way out here.”
“Fuck that! No, you can fuckin’ leave now,” Van said with more balls than actually lay in his pants.
“No, I fuckin’ can’t,” the man said as he moved himself in front of Van’s stall door. “Now, you’re either gonna give me the fuckin’ money, or I’m gonna take it out of the pocket of your fuckin’ corpse. Either way I’m getting it.”
Van was surprised how large the man was when he stood in front of the stall. The giant’s head barely made it under the metal bar that held the doors up and his body was much too wide to fit into the door head on. So when the monster reached his meat claws into the box, it was no surprise that it caught onto Van’s shirt and pulled him out.
Van was a strong guy. But when he found himself giving no resistance to the man’s pull, his heart raced.
“Are you gonna give me the money?” the giant said pulling Van to him like a doll.
“Let me the fuck go,” Van yelled struggling.
Just then Van’s heart stopped when he felt what seemed like a baseball mitt hitting his face. Van was stunned by the echoing sound of it.
“I didn’t say speak. I said give me the money. You wanna speak some more?” the man said looking down at Van with true anger in his eyes.
“I,” Van began before he felt another slap across the face that this time made his ears ring.
Van looked up again into his capturer’s eyes and a thought of horror washed through his mind. ‘I am helpless,’ Van thought. ‘I am a child in this man’s hands and there’s nothing that I can do about it.’
Van felt a slap again.
“Are you gonna give it to me?” the man asked before hitting him again, harder. “Are you gonna give it to me?”
Van was now disorientated. He had never been hit so hard before. The blows felt like they were rattling his brain. And after each of the succession of blows, Van lost more and more of who he was and what he was doing there.
The giant, on the other hand, didn’t register any of Van’s problems. He was getting lost in what he was doing. With each strike he was losing a part of himself too. But in the monster’s case, he liked it. In fact he loved it. He began to hit Van like a rag doll and after Van’s knees started to buckle, he cradled the back of Van’s head and began to pull him out of the stall. Van felt as light as a blow-up doll in the monster’s hands. And the monster was just about to royally fuck up his blow-up doll.
It was when the giant readjusted himself to pick Van up that he felt something unexpected on his left side. If it had happened a moment sooner or afterwards, the monster would have just shaken it off. But because it happened mid step, he fell to his side.
And because the blow came from such a low angle, the oaf couldn’t move his foot fast enough to regain his balance. And because he was standing beside the open window instead of a wall, when the menace stuck his arm out to catch himself, he instead grabbed air.
And because the bump wasn’t just a bounce but the force of someone pushing, the bald man let go of Van and missed the sill as it moved past his body. And because once a 350 pound body starts moving it is hard to stop, the man continued through the open bathroom window, traveled past two stories of windows and hit the ground below with a crack.
It was at that point that the dazed Van looked up from the stall to see the intense look on his friend’s face. It was a look of anger. It was a look that said ‘I could kill someone.’ It was a look that Van had hoped that he would never see in his friend again. As it happened then, he would only see it once more.
“What’s up Kofi?” Van said hoping to break the disturbing silence. “Ahhh, did you want to talk about something?” Van again looked into Kofi’s eyes. His friend was inside, he just wasn’t answering the door. “You know I was worrying a little bit when I couldn’t get a hold of you. Kieran too. I don’t get it. What was up with that?
That was one wild fuckin’ party. I don’t even remember half of it. I remember that Kieran hooked us up with those chicks. I remember mine was smokin’ and I fucked her brains out. But the next morning when I got up, you all were gone. Seriously, what was up with that?”
Kofi still didn’t answer, but with Van’s words, Kofi’s body loosened.
“Is that my sword, man?” Van asked looking at the shiny sword with the leather grip that he and Kofi had bought on a trip that the three friends had taken to Japan.
“You really don’t remember anything about that party?” Kofi said at last.
“A fuckin’ blank.” Van said glad to hear Kofi’s voice. “Is that my sword, man?”
“Does it look like your fuckin’ sword?” Kofi said returning to a comfort level that reflected a visitor in a home.
“Why yes, yes the fuck it does.” Feeling comfortable, Van pushed past Kofi into the hallway and into the living room. Van looked around and saw his sword still sitting above his samurai shrine.
“Ok, so that’s not mine. But first, where the fuck have you been for the last 8 months? And why the fuck are you in my apartment at 3 o’clock in the morning?”
“Why are you walking around in your underwear?” Kofi asked as a counter.
“Because it’s my apartment and it’s fuckin’ 3 o’clock in the morning. If I knew you were coming, I would have baked you a cake or something. But break into my place in the middle of the night and you get the outline of my ball sack. That’s just how I run things.” Van replied with contempt.
“Listen, I need your help,” Kofi said turning back into Van’s best friend.
“What do you need?” Van replied without hesitation.
“I need you to help me kill some zombies,” Kofi said looking into Van’s eyes.
“Are you one of those fuckin’ zombie hunter vigilantes now?”
“I am now.”
“Hey, I’m gonna kill somebody tonight. And you fuckin’ owe me. Don’t make me say it again, but you fuckin’ owe me,” Kofi said with a dark look in his eyes.
Van knew that Kofi was right. He did owe Kofi. Kofi had pushed that man out of the third story window for him. And in all of the years that had passed between then and now, Kofi had never brought it up.
Even right after it happened Kofi didn’t say a word. He simply helped Van up and led him into the computer lab down the hall from the bathroom. No one was in the lab when they entered so Kofi pointed Van over to a computer and said “Write a paper.”
Van walked over and sat down, but he couldn’t write. Instead he stared at the screen thinking about what had just happened and how Kofi had just saved him by pushing someone out of a third story window.
“Write something,” Kofi said again before diving into a flurry of key strokes.
Van tried to write something but it was hard for him to get very far because everything he wrote he had to read three times to make sure he hadn’t written ‘Oh my fuckin’ god, Kofi just pushed someone out of the window.’ In the end Van had only written that phrase once.
After 45 minutes of silence, Kofi said, “I need to get a disc. This shit is good.” Neither man mentioned that they were expecting to hear screams or to be interrupted by the police. Neither man mentioned how strange it was that no one had walked by the computer lab door after a man was seen falling, or hopefully seen jumping, out of the bathroom window. But since both were pretending that it never happened, both carried on.
As Kofi and Van hit the ground floor, they exited the building on the far side from the bathroom. They immediately turned in the opposite direction from where the man had landed and walked away. They were both surprised that nothing was roped off. There were no cops on the scene and no ambulances. At the very least there should have been medics, but there were none.
Neither Van nor Kofi looked back. Both walked forward and neither of them ever said a word about it to each other. That is, no one said a word until Kofi brought it up this night.
“Don’t make me fuckin’ say it,” Kofi said, referring to the debt.
“No. What do you need me to do?” Van said turning away from the sword on the wall.
“I need you to put on some pants is number one.”
“And then I need you to take down that fuckin’ samurai sword and hunt some fuckin’ zombies with me.”
Van crossed back into his bedroom to put on some warm clothes. Zombie hunting was a young man’s sport. Van was pushing 35, so he didn’t know how his body would respond. He had heard all of the reports on the news about wannabe vigilantes being found dead around town. One had to assume that for every three zombies that a hunter killed, one vigilante met the same fate as those he hunted. That’s why Van thought zombie hunters were fuckin’ crazy.
And what’s more, Van always had a ‘live, let live’ policy with zombies. A zombie never accused him of fucking like an epileptic being tased – it was all of his girlfriends that had done that. Yet Van wasn’t getting dressed in the middle of the night to kill any of them.
No, Van was putting on his warm clothes to go out and back up a man who was going to use a samurai sword to cut off the head of another living creature. Sure the zombie probably deserved to die, but it still constituted a ‘whoa,-did-that-chick-just-stick-her-finger-in-my-ass’ sort of night.
“So what am I supposed to do?” Van said as he walked down the hallway to the living room.
He entered just in time to see Kofi putting his cell phone back into his pocket. Van thought that it was unusual that Kofi would be making a call at this time, but he let it go.
“I mean I follow you with a sword and check whoever you kill to make sure that they’re dead or something?” Van asked.
“Do you want to be the hook or the bait?” Kofi said in a calm, higher voice.
“The bait is the one that lures them there. The hook is what traps them,” Kofi explained.
“I don’t want to be the fuckin’ bait,” Van said, imaging the hunting going wrong.
“Ok, then we’re goin’ to the park. You’re gonna set yourself up in the shadows of a tree. I’m gonna walk in looking drunk. And then when a zombie gets between you and me, we both turn around and slay his fuckin’ ass. Ya got it?”
Van thought the plan was simple enough. All he had to do was keep the zombie pinned while Kofi killed it. And once that was done, he could come back home and never have to think about it again.
The walk to the park was quick and quiet. Van barely had the time to think about why Kofi had chosen this night. He didn’t have the time to consider why it was that Kofi showed up at 3 o’clock in the morning asking him to do this thing. Van even ignored the fact that something wasn’t right about his friend. And when that thought did pop into his consciousness, Van felt bad remembering that this was the friend that had once pushed a man out of a window to protect him. Van had long since decided that that act 15 years earlier had earned his eternal trust.
When both approached the park, Kofi turned to Van. “Ok, I want you to hide over there next to that tree.” Kofi pointed to one of the thick trees that was 25 feet away from a picnic bench. “I want you to wait there. I’m gonna circle around and come into the park through the clearing. That way if there is a zombie following me I’ll see ‘em.