Unused “Hallow” Rough Draft
Oscar bin Laden: Archives and discussion at http://www.greatsociety.org/forums/index.php?topic=1241.0
PICK YOUR 9/11 UPDATE!
Oscar and Nacho Discuss Semantics in this discarded rough draft.
I was staring at a blank page, wondering if it would be considered a literary masterpiece if I put my whiskey glass on the tilde key and walked away for five minutes, when I saw a bearded man in a dirty turban outside my window. I’m not usually concerned about such things, but it was the eve of 9/11 and I had signed up for my Suburban Neighborhood Watch program. Up till now, the only thing we Neighborhood Watch officers had to do was chase black people and suffragettes away. After some consideration, though, I figured Muslims were equally threatening for the property values. So I grabbed my sharpened broom handle and crept out into the backyard.
Almost immediately, I was tackled by a frantic Oscar bin Laden, infamous Texas Billionaire and longtime friend of Greatsociety.org. He was covered in filth and talking like a man on weird, exotic drugs, screaming something that sounded like, “By Allah’s brown back hair! Is Emeril Live on yet? I can’t miss it again! I need to exchange my Euros! I don’t have any Euros! Are these Euros!”
It was like some sort of modern interpretation of a Talking Heads song. I pushed him off of me and whacked him on the head with the blunt end of the broom handle. That seemed to calm him down.
Rubbing his forehead with the palm of his hand, he looked up with glazed eyes, “Oh, Nacho, thank Allah! I think that fucking hooker slipped me some angel dust.”
“Can I ask what you’re doing here?” I hissed.
“You can ask!” He said, laughing hysterically. I hit him again with the broom handle and he shut up as if I had flipped a switch. “Sorry, Nach. I figured I’d crash at your place, since the Hooker’s house is just down the street. I’m in no shape to drive.”
“There’s no hookers in this neighborhood,” I said, glancing around at the azaleas and the always-silent Japanese Maple.
“No, I was—” Oscar shook his head, “Anyway, there is one just down the street.”
“No hookers, no blacks, no suffragettes,” I aimed the sharp end of the broom handle at his chest, “And no bloody wogs.”
“What the hell’s the matter with you?”
I stood at attention, hand over my heart, “Drumelda Hills Neighborhood Watch! Officer 16, Nacho Sasha!”
Before I could take a breath, though, my legs were swept out from under me and I hit the ground hard. When I woke up, I was on a concrete floor, echoing water all around, a ceiling high above. Oscar stepped into view and looked down at me.
“Sorry about that, Nacho, but you were acting kooky.”
I sat up, confused but certainly with a clearer head. “What is this place?”
“A way station.”
“No, no. A way station.”
“Yes, that’s what I said.”
“No, no, you said ‘weigh.’”
“It’s way, not weigh.”
“Way, like away, not weigh like weight.”
“Oh. But it sounds the same.”
“No it doesn’t, there’s a slight difference.”
“No there’s not.”
“Look, Nacho, I have another reason for bringing you here. As you know, tomorrow is the second anniversary of September 11th. I thought, maybe, you and I could work on something.”
“No, I can’t write anymore. It dried up because of that stupid Livejournal account and my impossible and forbidden attraction to an insane Dr. Who fan in Scotland.”
Oscar shrugged, “All that aside, I want you to write for me. The first part is simple. I’ve been writing a song, and I need you to help with a verse. It goes like this: I could while away the hours/Conferrin’ with the flowers/Consultin’ with the rain./And my head I’d be scratchin’ /While my thoughts were busy hatchin’… So what should come after that?”
I blinked for a moment, not sure if he was having a go at me or not. “Um… How about ‘If I only had a brain’?”
“By Allah’s brown back hair!” he shouted, “You’re brilliant! And that rhymes with ‘rain,’ too!” He pulled out a worn notepad like you see cops in old movies use and scribbled the lyrics down, then he sighed contentedly and sat down next to me. “You’ll never lose that touch, Nacho. See how that just leapt into your head?” He snapped his fingers, “You’re a born literary giant. Now, about 9/11.”
“I was thinking of doing a Dickens thing.” I replied. “George Bush as Marley, you playing the Ghosts of 9/11 Past and Present, Ali and the Boys as the Ghosts of 9/11 Future.”
He nodded and pursed his lips, “It’s good.”
“But it wasn’t working.”
“What was wrong?”
I shrugged, “I wanted to watch Dr. Who episodes, play Freelancer, read a book, fuck around online. I just didn’t have the jazz. I was tired from work, feeling sinus yuck. Total monster distraction. I’ll be honest, I feel like I need a month away from writing.”
“Finish the novel?” Oscar laughed.
I made a disgusted sound and rolled my eyes.
“Yep. Burnout central. Total focus. Happens to me when I finish a novel. You need three weeks, no writing. So do it after 9/11, then. Take a breather. For now, back to the Dickens thing.”
I looked sideways at him, “You had a novel?”
He shrugged modestly, “Well, a few.”
“A few? Well, what’s the most recent?”
He shrugged again, “I’m Mary Higgins Clark.”
“Yeah, they thought it was a better name than Oscar bin Laden. Especially after the whole 76 Olympics thing.”
“That was you guys?”
He raised his hands defensively, “I’m just the idea man! I’ve told you that!”
“You all are a bunch of cunts.”
Oscar sighed, “Okay, if you were to casually say ‘Wouldn’t it be neat if someone blew up the FBI building’ and then it happened, would you be responsible?”
“If I was bankrolling the bomber, yeah.”
Oscar stood up, “You’re splitting hairs, Nacho. As always. Now look, the Dickens thing.”
I leaned back on the concrete floor and thought for a moment, “So after the Ghosts, I wake up on 9/11 and lean out the window. A boy is passing by and I call down to him, asking what day it is. He say’s it’s the eleventh, right? So I mutter to myself how great it is that I didn’t miss the day, then I flip the boy a billfold stuffed with hundred dollar bills and tell the boy to go to the market and get me the largest tank of jet fuel he can find.”
After about half a second, Oscar started laughing until tears burst from his eyes. He was on the floor again, gasping, before he could speak again, “You’re brilliant! That’s cutting edge!”
Smiling and, honestly, feeling pretty good about the idea, I leaned forward and grabbed Oscar’s arm, “And, and, there was this scene with the Ghosts of 9/11 Future where we go 25 years forward and they show me a newspaper, right? And there’s an article about me, right? So I grab the paper and do the old gag where I read a tiny unrelated article in the bottom corner, like, oh my God, laser eye surgery causes brain cancer—“
Oscar, still laughing, slapped his knee, “Brain cancer! Oh, perfect!”
“So then Future rips it out of my hand after this tirade about laser eye surgery and points at the headline, which is about how I was murdered by a lynch mob after I raped and torture-murdered an entire Boy Scout troop—“
Oscar abruptly stopped laughing, “Dude, that’s not funny.”
“Hey,” I said, putting my hands up, “I’m just the idea man.”
“Well,” Oscar said, “I think you should write it. I mean, except for the torture murder and the rape and…”
“No, no, raping little boys is sort of part of it.” I replied. “Oh, and there’s also this whole shtick in the future where this guard asks me for my ID and I say I left it on my dresser, and then he starts to ask something else and I keep repeating ‘I left it on the dresser’ and don’t let him get more than two words out for, like, an entire page. Then he finally gets upset and lets me go.”
Oscar thought about it, “I think I’d have to see it in print.”
I wrinkled my nose and shook my head, biting my lower lip, “No, huh? Think it might be too much.”
Oscar shrugged, “No, really, I need to see it.”
I sat silently with Oscar for a few minutes, running the 9/11 Dickens Remembrance Special through my head, then I sighed and tried not to think about falling asleep, “So, what was your idea?”
“I tell you, I can’t beat the Dickens thing.”
I nodded and stood up, then helped Oscar up. “So what are you doing tomorrow?”
“Me? I don’t know. Sears Tower, I guess.” He looked hard at me, then laughed, “There we go! Scared the Dickens out of you, right!”
“Ah-ha!” I wagged a finger at him.