AmazombiaJohn M. Kelly, Jr / Humor
by John M. Kelly Jr.
Text Copyright © 2012 John M. Kelly Jr.
All Rights Reserved
Dedicated to the memory of my father, John M. Kelly Sr. To my mother and brothers and sister, and especially to my son, thank you. And to all my friends who urged me on to write, well, here we are. More silliness to follow.
Table of Contents
About the Author
Zombie stories are the best. Do you like them? I do too. I like all the human drama. People boarding themselves up in houses. The bickering. The fighting. Who ate the last can of beans…and later, why it’s so obvious who ate the last of beans. Why the guy who ate the last can of beans gets thrown out the second story window. Fascinating stuff.
A delivery boy knocks on my hut entrance. He’s holding a squat white box. I hate packages. So I tell him.
“I hate packages,” I say.
“Then think of it as a parcel,” he says, all cheery like.
Now I hate him too.
I sign on the dotted line; he hands over the white box and goes on his merry way. The box has the size and weight of a pie. I will hold no punches from you, no surprises. I love zombie stories just as much as the next guy, but the surprises can be bothersome. Sure enough, it’s a pie. Boysenberry! No lattice crust, nothing fancy like that. Well, slightly fancy crust, it’s free of insects. Somewhere hidden in these gooey purple mushy innards is a note from my daughter, likely to be equally as mushy as the filling. There it is.
I read the message and chuckle to myself. Oh, if I’m chuckling to myself, I hate to tell you, but you can probably guess I’m not sharing the message with you…sorry about that. OK. OK Fine. You’re not getting any pie, though…
The message says, ‘Rumspringa yay!’ Whatever that means. (Just between you and me, I respond by sending out the Amazon East bird. He’s one of my faster messengers. I scribble ‘Rumspringa boo! Say hello to your mother for me.’) See, I am forbidden from contacting my daughter. Too long a story to get into, and this pie is just aching to be eaten. In other news, the pie is delicious!
I am slightly startled when an old man crawls into my office. He has bronze skin, hands like bear paws, and shoulders like bowling balls. He heaves himself heavily into the small chair across from my desk.
"Hola," he sighs slowly. It escapes from his mouth like a deflated balloon.
I am perturbed he didn't knock. In a zombie filled world, even the zombies knock before entering. I hide my embarrassment of being startled by busying myself with more pie. I scarf it down, don’t offer him any. I figure it would be rude to talk with my mouth full, so I just nod hello.
“Hrrmpf,” I mumble, boysenberry juice running down my chin. “It’s uh, not very tasty. Mmm. I was just, uh. I’d offer you some, but I have no spare plates.” Which is true, I don’t have spare plates. I don’t even have plates. I’m just eating the pie straight from the box. But if I did have plates, you can probably guess that I wouldn’t offer him one, particularly with pie on it, right?
“His OK, I just eat lunch,” he says. His accent is thick Mexican.
I shrug, lick my fingers clean. I start typing away on my cookbook. In my spare time, I write. See, I'm a pigeon handler for the "Big Man", the head honcho, the guy who pays me peanuts, literally, to jot down messages and send them off on one of my many birds. New age instant messages.
My boss is not nearly the size of the old Mexican across from me now, on the contrary. The boss is just smart, like that Wizard of Oz. He's big and imposing on the outside, but behind his curtain? I'd rather not say (he's short and stubby, like the used chewed yellow pencil I keep behind my left ear, even his fingers look like stubby little pink erasers, and just between you and me…inside parentheses, trust me, major Napoleon complex!)
“What can I do you for, chief?” I ask.
“I need a message sent. Have message say ‘I am on the job’ and send East. Amazon. Si?”
I ask the old guy, “By any chance, do you know what a Rumspringa is?”
He shakes his head. Oh well.
“Well, we got a bit of a problem. I just sent out my last Amazon East messenger. I won’t have another one in for…” I consult my log, “…for two more weeks. Is it urgent?”
He has pulled out a small leather pouch, and pulls a wispy wad of tobacco from it. His fingers are not like erasers, they are massive. His fingernails are like hard little clam shells, and filled with grime, dirt, and probably dried blood. He delicately rolls a small cigarette.
"Do you know who I am?" the Mexican asks.
"No," I say.
"No smoke?" he asks in broken English, his voice deep and gravelly.
"No, no. Smoke away. I mean, I know who you are, just, we've never been formally introduced. You're uh. You're the bounty hunter, yes?"
"Si," he says.
The Mexican is a co-worker, of sorts. We both work for the boss.
He’s pensive, picking his words, "Si. The hunter of evil men."
He offers the finished cigarette to me, like he’s presenting a magician's illusion. His shiny calloused hand dwarfs the cigarette; it looks like a small joint. Yet it's nearly as big as a cigar as I take it from him.
"Gracias," I say in broken Spanish.
Evil men still exist in a zombie filled world. They're worse than the zombies. I puff on the unlit cigarette, feel sheepish for doing so, and look for his eyes. They are hidden under big, bushy eyebrows, and folds of tawny, wrinkled skin. His face is pock marked and has deep creases, filled with dust and caked with sweat. I can't find his eyes, and pretend not to stare at his face.
“Maybe he doesn't have eyes?" I think. A dirty red bandana wraps around his brow. Atop his head is an impeccable beaver skin Stetson, an "El patron saint", bright white.
I get a worn book of matches from my desk drawer and light my cigarette and begin to cough. I don't smoke, but when offered a cigarette from a hired killer, I figure the best bet is to come across suave. I try to cough suavely. It's not working, so I begin clacking away on my old Remington portable (that's the typewriter, not the gun. Same company. They only make guns now, but I don't own a gun. I'm not very suave, either). He begins making a new cigarette as I smoke mine, and we share an awkward silence as my coughing subsides. It’s only awkward from my end. He’s not awkward; he’s suave. The old Mexican has that uncanny ability to make himself belong in a room, like a piece of furniture. A really big piece of furniture, like a big oak hutch.
I shuffle through my notes for this, "How to Cook Zombies, a Low-Carb Diet"...only I don't care to write about cannibalism in the sense of the living eating the dead, who happen to eat the living...it's too cyclical in nature. Does nothing for me. I shuffle through my notes to make it seem like I'm not too interested in why the old Mexican is still here.
"Why else would he still be here?" I think. "To kill me? I'm the messenger, you can’t kill the messenger. I'm untouchable...or am I?"
The old Mexican sees through my ruse like a seasoned poker player, but he is in no rush to show me his hand. I sense he enjoys watching me fidget. My room, a small affair made of rusted corrugated steel and ragged blue tarps and dried old tar paper, is silent. Even the squeaky chair is zipping it.
"OK, hunter of evil men, you can see I'm a busy man, so let’s cut to the chase," I say. I stretch, and get up off my pillow covered milk crate (I use the milk crate because I only have one chair, and as I told you, it creaks too much for my liking), and look out the window. The window is nothing more than a hole where I ran out of corrugated metal. I don't make much, just peanuts. But I have a nice view of the step farmed hills of my master. Peasants meander to and fro under the hot sun slow, like they are walking under water.
The sole door to my room, well, it's not really a door, just a bigger hole where I ran out of metal, faces west. My window faces south, but in the southern hemisphere, where everything is backwards, the window isn't blasted with sunlight all day. That's what the northern wall of my office is for. That was the first wall I put up, so that way I don't have to look at the boss's huge stone house that sits up on the top of this silly hill I live on. It's a nice hill; don't get me wrong, totally zombie proof. Like I said, I have an open window and door.
I wish I could say, “I live in a hut with open windows and doors,” but I don't rate.
Anyhow, the marsh on the south end of the hill is covered on either side by deep thickets of barberries. Behind the hill is nothing but cliffs that stretch for miles. Beyond that, I don't know. Hills, and jungles, and cliffs I guess. I never left the hill since arriving here fifteen years ago. The marsh itself is the only way up the hill proper, and that stops any zombies dead in their tracks. Supplies need to come and go, a tractor on the hill side pulls a drawbridge made of ropes and planks taut whenever the peasants need to cross. Sometimes a zombie or two makes it on the bridge, but they're usually dispatched fairly quickly. I got my window facing south, to watch for any occasional action that might occur.
Sometimes a zombie gets caught in the muck. When he crawls close enough to dry land, a peasant will take a big wooden pike and jab the zombie in the head, like fishermen stabbing at fish. Then another couple of peasants will take two pikes with hooks on either side, gaff him, drag him over and burn him up. That burning smell gave me the idea for this cookbook, and it will sell really well on the black market, what with the food shortages and all. Zombie taste pretty good too, I've had it myself, you should try it.