A Harmless Little Visitor (Part 2)
Turning around was a mistake. I didn’t crash the car, but I skidded into the railing with a nasty shriek of metal and plastic and (probably) more metal. Plus the driver in the Prius behind me started tooting her little horn at me.
I pulled back into the lane, took a deep breath, imagined myself in my “happy place” — which happens to be a beach on Tahiti surrounded by all of this year’s Miss America contestants, all completely nude and vying with each other for my attention — and tried not to imagine the body damage the railing must have done to my beautiful, beautiful car.
“You should pay more attention to the road,” he said.
“And you should hop your little bunny ass up here to the front seat so that doesn’t happen again!” I said. “And change into something else, I feel silly talking to a rabbit.”
“Oh, don’t act like you didn’t enjoy it. Hitting that rail sure did get the blood pumping, now dinnit?”
“… maybe. Get up here, though.”
He waited till I got stuck behind a Corolla at the stoplight before turning right onto National Turnpike, then hopped between the seats with all the vigor of an anthropomorphized cartoon bunny off to steal sugar-enriched breakfast cereal from a multi-ethnic group of children.
As soon as he settled into his seat I added, “And can you please turn into something else? Seriously, I feel like Alice in Wonderland here.”
He sighed. “You think you’ve got problems, kid? I feel like a Robin Williams character. Look at me, getting bossed around by the likes of you! And you didn’t even rub my lamp.”
(Although secretly I enjoyed the comparison, even though the fact that I enjoyed the comparison gave me terrible anxiety because it made me think maybe he’d made the comparison because he knew I’d enjoy it and I hated the thought of being so transparent and also I worried what he might want from me because he definitely wasn’t trying to please me just for my own sake. I mean, obviously he wanted to drag my soul down into eternal damnation, but what if he wanted something else too…?)
My sphincter tightened at the thought.
“Anyway,” he said. “What is your whim, o master? What should I turn into?”
“Oh, hell, I dunno. Just something a little more dignified than the Energizer Bunny.”
“As you wish. Now please avert your gaze, for this transformation is a thing that cannot be witnessed by mere mortals without incurring the maddest of madnesses.”
He sighed. “No… it’s just I look kinda silly when I do it, and I don’t want you to see me because I’m afraid you won’t respect me anymore.”
“What makes you think I ever respected you?”
“Seriously, just look out the window. See if you can spot the decline of Western civilization as it goes by.”
I looked out the window, staring down Southside Drive. A couple blocks down I could just about make out the Rice Box. Nice little place — I think it was converted from an old Taco Bell building, or maybe a Wendy’s. At any rate, definitely repurposed from one of the big franchises, which had happened to fail at that particular location. Almost enough to give you a little hope for the future of small business in this country, seeing this little family move in.
Plus there’s a nice lady there who always smiles at me when I come in. And I hope it’s a real smile and not just a business smile or — even worse — a smile because she’s nervous since she’s a newcomer to this country she traveled halfway across the globe to get to and she doesn’t feel quite at home here even though it’s home now.
Or maybe that’s just me projecting. I’ve lived here my whole life and never really felt at home.
When he transformed, he emitted a squelching sound like macaroni being mixed in a pot. It made my fingers go tingly and also made me want to wash my hands.
(Granted, life usually makes me want to wash my hands, but the sound made me want to wash my hands more than usual.)
“Done,” he said.
As you’d imagine, he’d turned himself into Miss Illinois 2019, dressed in a barely-there hot pink bikini — and with a noticeable bulge at the crotch.
“Tasteful,” I said.
“Well, I did ask you what you wanted. You have nothing to complain about now. Anyway, make the best of it. Let’s hope somebody you know sees you driving me around.”
“That’s stupid,” I said.
But I rolled the windows down and put the sunroof back.
Just because it was a nice day.
As the Corolla finally went through the intersection and I made my right turn, I said, “So you still haven’t told me what the hell you’re doing here.”
“I did tell you.”
I grunted and tugged at his smooth dark hair. He giggled and said, “Seriously, I told you I’m here to spice up your life. You’re so bored and you want to die so now you’re hallucinating just to give yourself something halfway interesting to occupy your mind.”
“Really, if life is so unbearable to you, you ought to kill yourself or find a way to make it interesting.”
“You’re just trying to get my soul.”
“Obviously, I’m just trying to get your soul. Or I would be, if I were real.”
“Souls aren’t real. Anyway, I love my life.”
He laughed. A gorgeous, feminine laugh with an edge of cruelty.
(Scratch that. “With an edge of cruelty” was redundant.)
“Name one thing you love about your pathetic excuse of a life.”