Chapter 4: The Decline of Art in the Educational System

Further Tales of the Plumber #3 (the decline of art in the educational system)

by Vince D’Amato

Kodek loved the movies. In fact, he was thinking about one right that second as he stared through the drivers side window of the 2004 Mini Cooper that was speeding along the winding road with the cliff down the left side – which led to a beach, and eventually, the ocean… Which might bring to mind any number of cinematic tales, such as Jaws, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Blood Beach and Beach Blanket Bikini Wax and the like… But of course, Kodek was actually running the lines from the opening scene of Reservoir Dogs through his mind. And obviously, that was due to the fact that Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” was blasting from the car speakers courtesy of the Phillips tape-deck stereo Kodek had retro-fitted into the Cooper. That was a few seconds before the impact.

He had been in the car (driving, of course, and only slightly over the speed limit) for nearly forty-five minutes before he got T-boned, the back of the Cooper spinning and smashing into the stone barriers guarding the side of the road from the edge of the cliff…

Fuck. Kodek had a lightning flash second to reflect on the fact that the Morimoto corporation really needed people like him, the more artsy-types, types better psychologically designed to deal with sudden and extremely out-of-the-ordinary shit, the kind of shit that was seemingly being flung at him from all sides nearly everyday of his waking life. Corporate types such as Morimoto’s CEO, COO and corporate lawyer (all the same person) was so trained in the art of over-analysis that they became completely unable to cope with actual everyday events, because those events did not occur on predetermined time-tabled charts and graphs. In fact, it was Kodek’s opinion that it was the continual federal budget-cutting into the educational system, and the system’s own knee-jerk reaction to arts and music being the first (“unessential”) programs cut that started this epidemic of supposed corporate “leaders” possessing an utter, paralyzing, inability to cope or properly problem-solve day-to-day issues. Leadership had somehow now become some absurd outlet tool for narcissists, who would only fool other narcissists into believing they could be leaders in the first place. Oh, the cycle-

CRASH!

Kodek thought the Cooper might’ve spun completely around before the back/left side crashed into the stone barrier. That might hurt tomorrow, but for the immediate moment Kodek was trying to figure how he was going to exit the now-flaming vehicle with one side crushed against the stone cliff-barrier and the other side crumpled like a ball of aluminum foil. Ultimately, it was through the smashed windshield and over the flames licking through the cracks in the hood, and he was once again on terra firma — and he saw the woman coming at him when he remembered the box cutter in the glove box. Reaching into the smashed (and hence no longer there) passenger side window, Kodek flipped open the glove box and retrieved the box cutter single-handedly, all the while mindful that this was going to be a piss-poor weapon when it came to the oncoming showdown with the bazooka.

Somewhere in the back of his mind, Kodek seriously believed the slinky Latino woman was going to fire the bazooka she was now hoisting onto her shoulder into the smashed Mini Cooper. Of course, why else would one bring the bazooka along? Especially since her smashed yellow Ferrari hadn’t managed to send to Cooper over the cliff in spite of its 120-mph nose-crash into it. That stone barrier was something else. Meanwhile, Kodek had gone as far as to duck and roll out of the line of fire between the shouldered bazooka and his totaled Mini Cooper – but when he looked back at the woman, whose name he’d already surmised was Anna, due to the fact she was still absurdly wearing her nametag on the strap of her waitress’ uniform, which was obviously some kind of cover, and with his one scraped knee supporting him on the pavement, he was slightly dumbfounded to find that the bazooka had now changed its intended trajectory path away from the crumpled Cooper and over to HIM.

Somehow, he took little comfort in the fact that he’d managed to retrieve his sole weapon – the box cutter – from the clutches of the flaming Cooper. She fired the bazooka, clearly aiming straight at him, and yet he was filled with relief when the Mini Cooper exploded in a ball of furious orange flame and black smoke behind her. Most of the twisted metallic remnants made it over the cliff that time. But the relief quickly dissipated when Kodek realized that not only did Anna NOT shoot the Mini Cooper, that it had in fact exploded due to its own burning interiors, but that she had managed to fire the bazooka-weapon at him, and he was (not exploded into tiny pieces of crispy/bloody flesh) now covered in some kind of dark-beer-colored goo/slime that was somehow strangling him as if it had a mind of its own. Of course, this brought to mind yet another film: The Blob. Ah, Steve McQueen. At any rate, as the semi-transparent brown goo-flesh was wrapping itself around Kodek (who was now struggling on the pavement under the grinning face of Anna) when he finally found some appreciation for the box cutter gripped tightly in his sweaty hand. Using his thumb to slide the retractable blade out from the handle, he used the sharp edge of the thin steel to slice through the brown flesh-goo, and god damn it if it didn’t sound like the fucking blob was screaming all over his skin, turning it into a carpet of goosebumps. With his right hand (the blade was in his left) he pulled at the blob flesh and yanked, tearing it away from his skin, while his left hand was slicing through any piece he was able to stretch away from his skin and clothes. Sometimes he even cut too close, slicing through himself. Horrifyingly, as blood began to seep through the shirt and jacket at his arm, wrist, and the right side of his chest (and even a little from the upper part of his right cheek) it only served to lubricate the blob flesh, mixing with its own browny goo, and Kodek’s grip on the abominable Lovecraftian creature began to literally slip away.

When the blob creature started becoming inadvertently attracted to the crimson flow from Kodek’s self-inflicted slash-wounds, the strangling wrap-grip it had on Kodek began to ease up. But this only brought about another, and possibly more sever issue: The blob was now sucking the blood from Kodek at something of an alarming rate. It had only been a few split seconds (or so it had seemed to Kodek) but Kodek was already getting light-headed. Fucking vampire Lovecraftian bastard, Kodek thought with some ferocity. And where were the fangs, anyway? This whole situation was impossible!

He might’ve hit his head on the pavement, he wasn’t sure, but he was definitely horizontal now. His left arm still slashing, he could feel the blob slipping off of him, and some of his own strength was coming back in spite of his profuse bleeding. When he picked himself up off the road, his hands planted in puddles of semi-transparent brown slime, he came face-to-face with Anna, her bazooka discarded near the exploded pieces of Cooper. With the blob merely a dead puddle on the curving road now, it was Anna herself who was now holding Kodek in some kind of arm-wrapping bear-hug ninja death grip. As he was being squeezed, the though that ran through Kodek’s mind was: “How the fuck did Larry the Brain set this all up?”

Scratch that. “How the fuck did he set ME up?” Kodek was trying to put the pieces of this bizarre puzzle together in his overheating brain, and wondering just what, how, and why the blob-puddle now steaming on the cliff-side pavement had to do with all this. He’d have to try to remember to ask Larry the Brain all this next time they crossed paths, but right now Anna was shoving her tongue into Kodek’s mouth. A little stunned, but a little more turned on, he parted his lips and let her tongue probe. He could feel his penis harden against Anna’s grinding groin, her legs had parted and the gold skirt had ridden up enough so she could completely entangle her thighs around his. She pushed back from him, and when he focused his eyes on her she’d already ripped the dress off of her body, and then her hands were at his belt buckle. His pants undone and hanging around his knees, Anna launched her self onto him and he was down horizontal once again, the jacket on his back soaking up the liquifying dead blob on the road while Anna straddled his cock and ground her sex over him. His penis inside her, she leaned down, her nipples brushing over the wet crimson leaking though his shirt, and once again she probed his mouth with her feverishly whipping tongue. Kodek was rightly enjoying himself despite his deepening and nearly overwhelming confusion, when suddenly Anna’s tongue, inside his mouth, had somehow turned sharp. Sharp and stabbing, like her tongue had switchblade thorns that were now stabbing the inside of his cheeks. Pain erupted and he tried to push her off, his erection quickly subsiding when he realized that there was danger down there too. Anna had somehow managed to come all over his cock in those short few seconds of intercourse and her come was like acid burning through him. Reflexively (and without much skill at all) Kodek slashed out with his left hand. Anna’s face split open, and a mixture of crimson blood and semi-transparent brown blob good spilled out, falling into Kodek’s bleeding mouth and he gagged and was pretty sure he’d hit his head-

The blood on his clothes had dried up when he came to. His cock was on fire. And itchy. He was in the backseat of a car. A big car. Definitely not the Mini Cooper. The car was not, at that moment, moving.

Holy shit, he thought to himself. He looked over the headrest of the driver’s seat in front of him and saw the chauffeur’s hat on the driver’s head. He could see the side of the driver’s face and knew that he knew the guy from somewhere. What was his name? Thaddeus – Thad… something like that. At least something that rhymed with Thad or Chad or Brad… So, what did I learn form all this, he wondered? And what the fuck actually happened?

It’s for you,” Thad/Chad/Brad said, holding the car-phone receiver back for him.

Morimoto?” Kodek asked.

No.”

He took the phone anyway. It was Larry the Brain. “I never set you up,” Brain said immediately.

How did you know that’s what I was thinking?”

How, in fact, wouldn’t you be thinking that, under the circumstances?”

So what the fuck happened?”

We sent Thad out to save you. You were passed out, he grabbed you and got you into his car. The Mini Cooper’s a write-off, unfortunately.”

Who was the girl?” Kodek asked, his mouth scraping with scabs.

We’re looking into that.”

Looking into it?!” Kodek yelled into the phone, the immediately wished he hadn’t. His head was splitting. His face was splitting. He again glanced at all the dried blood splotches staining his clothes.

Settle down. Even when we figure it out, you’ll never know anyway,” Brain told him.

Yeah? Why not? She almost killed me, you know.”

Because it’s classified.”

Kodek grumbled at that. The car finally started moving. “So, if this is all classified, why’d you bother calling?”

Kodek,” Brain said, “we have to talk…”

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