They were three weird men, living their fever dreams out in the fever dreams of another weird man. Here, I’ll introduce you:
The Reverend had a roundish face, just beginning to thicken about the chin from twenty-odd years. His grin was pointed like a dilemma. There were many people he hated, none more so than himself, and his haircut was proof of this. He was a loudmouth know-it-all unlike any other to share the title.
The Archdeacon smiled easily and often, but struck many as being uncomfortable, like he was wearing a burlap sweater. He and the Reverend clashed often, like brothers and, like brothers, shared a love as fraternal as their mutual hatred for their fellow men. He smoked Parliament Lights.
The Archbishop was a handsome devil. He carried a briefcase with a broken clasp that he had to hold shut with one finger while carrying. He spoke seldom. He was the youngest of the three and, of the three, the one whose parents worried about him the most.
See, it’s like this: boys become men. In order to do so, there are certain rites of passage. You learn teamwork from organized sports, social graces from school dances, character and integrity from your father. Unless you’re a weird boy. You become a weird man, and your rites of passage are equally weird. Your organized sports are Excitebike and Gyromite. Your school dances are porn flicks absconded from older brothers’ stashes. And your father has the character of Mark David Chapman and the integrity of single-ply toilet paper. You read too many comic books; you watch too many kung fu movies. You never feel as if you’ve done enough. You’re a fuckin’ weirdo.
“This is stupid.”
“Archdeacon,” the Reverend said, “your opinion has been duly noted and recorded.”
“Has it also been duly noted and recorded that you’re an asshole?”
The Archbishop withdrew a small spiral notebook from his inner jacket pocket and consulted it. “Yes,” he said, “Yes, it has.”
“You see, Archdeacon? All is well.” The Reverend held up his hands to calm an invisible mob. “All is well!” (Animal House, 1978)
“Yes, very fitting.” The Archdeacon lit a cigarette.
“Here we are, boys,” the Reverend said. The music thudded out of the house at them. The cars passing by on College Avenue blew dirty wind in their faces.
You’ve been to parties before, right? Big ones, with lots of people you don’t know? Good, so yeah, picture one of those, but with Greek letters over the door. Any Greek letters; it doesn’t matter.
“Jesus,” the Archdeacon said.
“I know, I know!” the Reverend said, “Man, Archdeacon, this is gonna be something, I’ll tell ya—oops, sorry, chief.”
The giant boy with Greek letters on his sweater looked down at the beer spilled on him. He was not weird, just huge. He punched the Reverend in the face. The people and music were so thick that the Reverend was no more than jostled, really. The giant boy lumbered off through the visible mob.
“See? See, Archdeacon, the time is ripe!”
“That guy just punched you in the face.”
“Yeah, and he punches like he takes it up the ass.” (Raging Bull, 1980)
“This...this is so stupid, words fail me. This is the stupidest idea you’ve ever had.”
“C’mon, really? No, I’ve had stupider ideas. What about the Jake Busey thing?”
The Jake Busey thing: Jake Busey, son of notorious actor, Gary Busey, and an actor himself, is the kind of guy that three weird men would think of as being just as much of a wild and crazy guy as his father. He was in Starship Troopers (1997), if you saw that. Or The Frighteners (1996), but that’s a little less known, I think. Anyways, so the thing was to drive up to L.A. and hit all the hot spots: the Key Club, the Viper Room, what’s it called, the Rainbow Room, I think? And ask people, “Hey, anybody seen the Buse around?” It was believed that eventually someone would go, “Oh, yeah, he’s over at—” blah blah Room or wherever. So off the weird men would go, and when they saw Jake Busey, they would walk up and go, “Hey, Buse, man, long time, no see, bro!” And Busey, or “The Buse” as the supposed nickname upon which this whole Jake Busey thing is predicated, will be hammered or stoned enough to go, “Uh, oh...oh! Hey, you guys! Siddown, have a drink!” And then they would party with The Buse and bang some of his leftovers.
I know, I know. Makes no sense at all.
“I dunno,” the Archdeacon said, “I thought that was a pretty good idea.”
“Yeah?” the Reverend said, “Well, then we oughtta—holy Mary, lookit the tits on this broad. Hi, how are you?”
“Nice bow tie, dork.”
“Did you see the way she was lookin’ at me?” (Strange Brew, 1983)
The Archdeacon lit a cigarette. “Certainly, you can’t be serious.”
“I am serious,” the Reverend said, “And don’t call me ‘Shirley.’” (Airplane!, 1980)
“I didn’t, I called you ‘Certainly.’”
“Who’re you supposed to be,” a drunken blonde said to the Archbishop, “John Cusack or somethin’?”
“Yes,” the Archbishop said.
“See?” the Archdeacon said, “Mike thinks this is stupid, too.”
“Oh, hey, no names, no ‘Mike,’ whaddaya, nuts?”
“Yeah, I’m nuts,” the Archdeacon said.
“All right,” the Reverend said, “this story is getting lame—”
“Lamer,” the Archdeacon said.
“All right, this story is getting lamer. Let’s get to work, boys.”
Oops, broke the fourth wall back there, sorry.
“This door’s locked,” the Archdeacon said.
“That’s gotta be it then!” the Reverend said, “Stand back, boys!” The Reverend backed up a step and rammed his shoulder into the door. It didn’t budge. “Ah, fuck me!” the Reverend said, “Shit!”
I mean, I’ve never been to a frat party. Fever dreams and all that. How am I supposed to describe it? If you think I’m actually gonna go to one for the sake of some lame-ass short story, you’re outta your fuckin’ mind.
“Oh, wait, hold on,” the Archdeacon said, “It isn’t locked.” He opened the door. It was dark, no people in there. “I must have been thinking of another door.”
“Oh, that’s real funny, man,” the Reverend said, “Jeez. I coulda hurt myself. Man. Jeez. I mean, c’mon, Veronica, why are you pulling on my dick?” (Heathers, 1989)
So yeah, sorry, they’re upstairs now, and it’s a lot less crowded, but since the speakers are on the balcony all around the main room below, the music’s a lot louder up here. The three weird men had to scream at each other to be heard.
“I thought you said no names,” the Archdeacon said.
“Your name isn’t Veronica.”
“Yeah, but it’s a name, and you said no names.”
“How about no breaking my balls? Did I say that?”
The Archbishop consulted his notebook again. “Mmmm, nope. No, you didn’t.”
“Man,” the Reverend said, “I’m always forgetting something, huh?”
“Yeah,” the Archdeacon said.
“What about this door?” the Reverend said, “There’s a light on.” But there’s nothing in this room either, though, just a buncha dudes passing a joint around.
The Reverend said, “Oh, hey, you guys, is Dave around?”
“Um, no,” one of the dudes said, “Dave’s not here, man.”
The Archdeacon and the Archbishop actually cracked smiles. The Reverend said, “Oh, okay, thanks,” and closed the door. They all laughed out loud in the deafening bass.
“I can’t believe that actually worked,” the Archdeacon said.
“See, Archdeacon, o ye of little faith. Tonight’s gonna go off without a hitch.”
The next room down the hall was empty; the room after that just had a big, fat naked guy, snoring. The next room had three dudes gang-raping some chick.
All right, so, when they step in, the Reverend’s in front, the Archdeacon to his right, and the Archbishop to his left. The three dudes mirror them: the guy with his hat on backwards is in front of the Reverend, the other guy with his hat on backwards to his right, and the guy with no shirt on to his left. In front of First Backwards Hat is the chick, bent over the bed with her skirt up over her lower back and with First Backwards Hat raping her. Whether up the ass or just from behind, no one is really sure, including her. I guess she’d have to be pretty fucked up at this point in the night.
The Archbishop closed the door.
The Reverend said, “Heeere’s John—no, that’s too obvious.”
No Shirt said, “What the fuck are you—”
“Wait, shut up,” the Reverend said, “lemme think of a good one. Ooh, I got it! Hey, the Irishman’s here to take all you guineas’ money!” (GoodFellas, 1990)
No Shirt came towards them.
The Reverend took in a sharp breath, like a kid on Christmas morn. “Now, Archbishop!” he said.
They had practiced all day, but they still almost fucked it up. The Archbishop gripped both sides of the briefcase and flung it open, so the three guns inside sprang into the air. He dropped the briefcase, and he and the Archdeacon snagged their guns, but the Reverend’s hit him in the back of the hand and dropped to the floor, so he had to scramble for it. The Archdeacon shot No Shirt in the face.
The Reverend stood up. “Whoa, that was loud.” (The Man Who Knew Too Little, 1997)
“You owe me a beer,” the Archdeacon said.
The Reverend said to First Backwards Hat and Other Backwards Hat, “You guys don’t know GoodFellas?” But they were staring at No Shirt on the floor. First Backwards Hat still had his hands on the chick’s hips. “‘The Irishman’s here to’...no? Man, I woulda thought for sure—oh, hey, Archdeacon, I’ve got that on DVD now, if you want my old copy.”
“Eh, I’ll just pick up the DVD sometime.”
“Yeah, all right. Y’know, though,” the Reverend said, gesturing with his gun at the other two, “this’d be a lot easier if I could somehow footnote these movie references of mine.” He turned to Other Backwards Hat. “Whaddaya gonna do, huh?”
The Archdeacon lit a cigarette. “I gotta cut down.”
“Okay, I’ll think of an easy one here,” the Reverend said, “Not, like, an entrance one, we already did that. Okay, hm. Okay, you guys have been running your asses off, meetin’ and greetin’ every schizo in the five boroughs that’s claimed to have had a paranormal experience, what have you seen?” He pointed his gun at First Backwards Hat. The chick just laid there.
Other Backwards Hat said, “Wait, wait, I know that one.” The Reverend looked at him, smiled. “That’s, uh, that’s from Ghostbusters, right?”
“Yeah, 1984, right.” The Reverend shot First Backwards Hat in the chest. First Backwards Hat bounced off the window behind him, disturbing the blinds, and fell. He died as he lived: with his dick in his hands.
Other Backwards Hat crouched down with a whine, scattered into the corner.
“Hey, where you goin’, chief?” The Reverend followed him, his gun at the ready. “God, that was easy,” he said as he looked down at Other Backwards Hat, “Especially since I did two Bill Murrays in a row.”
“What do you want!” Other Backwards Hat said, his arms in front of his face, “What do you want, you fuck! You—you shot them, you—”
“God, not even a thank you. Archdeacon, you believe this? I mean, could I make this shit any easier?”
“Well, y’know, he might not’a known the first one. That wasn’t one of Murray’s more popular ones.”
“Yeah, that’s true. But I’m—”
Other Backwards Hat grabbed the Reverend’s leg. “You fuckin’ psycho! You killed them! You sick fuck!” His voice was so high and scratched, they could barely understand him.
“Whoa, hey!” The Reverend carefully placed the gun against the inside of Other Backwards Hat’s elbow and pulled the trigger. Other Backwards Hat’s scream was reluctant, but it eventually burst from him, like a howl at the moon.
Yeah, I know, that’s a lame simile.
“What’s the fuckin’ matter with you?” the Reverend said to him, “Very few men take that tone with me. A few Caucasians. No Negroes at all.” (Charley Varrick, 1973)
“What!” the Archdeacon said, “He’s not even black! That doesn’t make any sense!”
“Well, you try keeping this up all night, you’re so smart.”
Other Backwards Hat had been reduced to whimpers. His arm below the elbow hung at an unhealthy angle.
“I’m sorry, sunshine,” the Reverend said, leaning down, “What was that?”
“Don’t kill me,” Other Backwards Hat whimpered, “Don’t kill me, man, don’t kill me.”
“Oh, I’m not gonna choot you, Mel. Manolo, choot this piece of chit.” (Scarface, 1983)
The Archbishop took a step forward and raised his gun.
“Whoa, Jesus, Mike!” the Reverend said, “Wait until I’m outta the way, man. Christ.”
The Archbishop shot Other Backwards Hat a couple times. He stopped whimpering.
“Well,” the Reverend said, “Done and done.”
“Wait,” the Archdeacon said, “What about her?”
“Ha, shit, y’know, I’d forgotten all about her.” The Reverend knelt in front of the girl. She was still face down on the bed, her brown hair stuck to her brow and covering her face. “Hello?” the Reverend said, “Hello, brighteyes!” (Planet of the Apes, 1967)
The Archbishop stepped forward and put her skirt back down over her naked butt. “She’s crying,” he said.
“Oh, she is, huh,” the Reverend said, “Man, my ears are ringing like Pete Townshend’s.” He wriggled a finger in his ear. “Hey, it’s okay, sweets,” he said to the girl, “Those guys won’t bother you no more.”
The Archdeacon said, “Maybe she’s crying because of us.”
“Hey, yeah, you think that’s it? Hey, are you crying because we shot those guys or because that guy was raping your asshole?”
“Or just from behind,” the Archdeacon said.
“Or just from behind, right.”
She didn’t answer. The Reverend turned to the others and shook his head. “I can’t believe I quoted a Joe Don Baker movie.”
“Charley Varrick’s a Walter Matthau movie,” the Archdeacon said, “I thought you liked Joe Don Baker anyway.”
“No, yeah, I do,” the Reverend said, “It’s just...I dunno.”
Yeah, well, who does. That’s it. The end.