By Nikola Jajic
Two plumes of smoke poured out of his leathery nostrils, as he rubbed his cigarette out on the bar. The man ordered another Glenlivet, and continued to wait. He was always waiting on that asshole, but at least he got to pick the place. It was the nature of their relationship.
The door creaked open as the other man entered. The second man stood in the doorway for a moment. His unkempt hair casting a strange shadow. He shook his head in disgust. The first man always chose empty shitholes. The second man sat down on a stool next to the first man. He ordered a Singapore Sling, before finally facing his counterpart.
“Long time, no see, butthorn.”
“I ain’t got time for your shit, Busey,” replied Nick Nolte, while gurgling imaginary gravel.
“You think I want to be here? Huh?!” Busey shot back. His eyes crossed and uncrossed. His tongue darted in and out, moistening his cracked lips. He let out a frustrated breath and continued.
“I could be in Thailand building sandcastles with ladyboys. I could be hunting pandas and playing my sax. I could be burning down the neighbor kid’s stupid fucking tree fort! But no, I’m here.”
Nolte swallowed the rest of his whiskey while simultaneously lighting up another cigarette.
“You wanna know the score, or not?” he asked.
“Yes, I do.”
“Shit. Not again. How?”
Nolte shrugged. “Same as always. The body couldn’t take it.”
The two men sat in silence. Busey wrapped his waxy lips around the straw of his Singapore Sling, and took a mighty pull. Nolte lit another cigarette with the remains of his last one.
In one continuous sip from his straw, Busey finished the rest of his drink. His eyes rolled around in his head like tiny pinwheels. The two men stared off for a very long moment. After all, time was indeed on their side. It had always been on their side. Since the beginning of it.
Gary Busey regarded his empty glass, before finally breaking the silence.
“You know what sober stands for?
“No… can’t say I do.”
“Son Of a Bitch Everything’s Real.”
“You know I hate acronyms,” muttered Nolte through the smoke.
“Hate. Having Anything To Eat.”
“That doesn’t even—” He let out an irritated sigh, and shook Busey’s words from his mind.
Nolte looked Busey hard in his wild eyes.
“You know what we have to do.”
Busey met his partner’s gaze, as he recited the holy text from memory.
“The ushers shall manbirth him into the world and the devouring will go bloop blop bloop blop bloop.”
“Exactly,” mumbled Nolte, and he lit another cigarette.
The Great Fall
The Halloween party was going great, until it wasn’t. There’s really no middle ground with a Halloween party.
Jim went as Wesley from The Princess Bride. A couple of the women in attendance had let out squeals of delight when he whispered “As you wish” and bowed before them. He had to hand it to himself, it was a pretty sweet move. But it was also his only move. And “moves” weren’t his strong suit. You couldn’t really top that with small talk. And sadly enough, Jim opened with it every time, so there was really nowhere to go from there.
After that, things got bad.
He drank a bit with a Jedi, whom he couldn’t quite place, and, as is often the case when alcohol and fake swords are involved, the two began to playfully fence one another on the balcony of Martin’s second floor apartment. Some would say Jim was getting a bit carried away, Jim might say he was suffering from acute costume inspiration.
Unfortunately, he also suffered from a lack of aptitude, and as he attempted to spin and counter the unknown Jedi’s attack, he tipped over the railing and fell into the bushes, one floor below.
It was a large balcony, and many people had gathered onto it (most of whom Jim did not know) to watch the silly duel play out. Now, it may or may not be common knowledge (but it’s true nonetheless) that, if you are over the age of 24 (Jim was 28) and you fall down in front of a group of strangers, it will haunt you for the rest of your life.
There’s a reason why so many old people die from falling. It’s because they haven’t the time to start a new life, somewhere far away, where no one knows them. After a certain age, you just cannot live down that sort of embarrassment.
Jim, tangled in the bush, gazed up at the partygoers, who, to his horror, were all looking down at him. Most laughed uncontrollably, a few yelled down, asking if he was alright, others cheered and high-fived.
Jim climbed out of the bush, and quickly got to his feet. For a brief instance all of the partygoers were quiet as they stared down at him and Jim up at them. Then, Jim ran away.
He had sprinted four blocks before stopping to catch his breath. Jim was now aware of just how royally fucked he was. What was he supposed to do on Monday? Everyone at work will have heard by then.
He would have to quit his job.
The other problem was Jim lived in the same apartment building as Martin. Where the hell was he going to go now? Maybe he could move back in with his parents.
Jim continued walking in the opposite direction of the apartment building he would never step foot in again.
Jim’s breathing was laboured, he had been walking for hours and wasn’t sure how much further he could go. A door opened up the block. Two shadowy figures stepped out into the night.
Nolte spit on the ground. He stared at his phlegm. It pleased him. Busey stood next to him, stretching. He twisted his arms together behind his back and hummed a tune under his breath.
They noticed a man walking in their direction. A masked man. A man who suddenly slowed his pace. Busey and Nolte exchanged a look. Both men’s eyebrows raised. They smiled giant yellow grins, and turned to face the man.
Busey waved at him. “Hey buddy! Come here for a sec!”
Jim stopped walking. It was very late and very dark, and those two weird dudes were walking toward him. He sincerely hoped they didn’t already hear about his fall.
Nolte and Busey calmly strolled toward him. Every step was one closer to what they had worked so hard for. A step closer to their end game. Hundreds of thousands of years, and they were so close now. Just a bit longer, and then the two men could finally rest. They stood in front of the man, a boy really.
Jim took a cautious step back. These guys were bad news, he knew that much. Maybe they had heard about his fall, and these were the type of sociopaths that liked to re-enact traumatic experiences with the victims. He had heard about this on the news. Jim debated whether or not to run, although who was he kidding, his legs couldn’t take him another 20 feet.
“What’s up? Wh-what do you want?” Jim stammered.
“Easy, kid. You’re the one wearing a mask,” Nolte said, as he pulled a flask from his jacket, unscrewed it, and took a swig. He offered it to the boy.
“No thanks, man. Now if you’ll excuse me, I gotta go,” Jim tried to step around the two men.
Busey and Nolte put a hand on each of the boy’s shoulders.
“You’re not going anywhere.”
“It’s tickle time, pony boy,” Busey added, excitedly.
Jim struggled wearily, but the two men were far stronger, almost inhumanly so. They pushed him against a lamppost and held him there. The light beamed down on their faces.
“Wait… Oh my god. I know you guys!”
“Nobody really knows anybody,” growled a philosophical Nolte.
Jim struggled again to break their grip, but it was no use. The men quietly observed him, like a demented child would an ant, before the heat from the magnifying glass melted it.
“Help!” Jim screamed. In a flash of motion, Busey slapped the boy hard across the face, knocking him unconscious. Jim’s body sagged, but they held him up effortlessly. Nolte and Busey both smiled then.
“He really is perfect,” Busey whispered, as he licked the boy’s blood from his fingers. Nolte nodded in agreement.
“The nothingness gave us this gift to use. I say we fill it up, and make it right. Let’s manbirth this sonofabitch.”
The men joined their free hands together, and looked up at the night sky. Dark clouds began to swirl. An audible static emanating from them. The men chanted their dark prayer in a language long dead. The veins in their temples began to swell.
Soon, their foreheads began to inflate and deflate, rapidly pulsating to the rhythm of their unholy words. Their eyes bulged out of their sockets as they screamed to the sky. The swirling clouds were now a dark tornado of unknowable evil, and they were positioned directly over Jim.
Nolte and Busey opened their mouths, loudly moaning as they did so. Jim came to, just as each of the men’s jaws dislocated and opened even wider. Jim’s eyes went wide with terror as the duo spewed their gray vomit onto his now conscious, and disgusted, face. He would have screamed, but the swirling tornado smashed down onto him before he ever got the chance.
For a long moment there was nothing. No movement. No sound. No light. No dark. Just nothing. Then the world was once more. And the rain came. Nolte and Busey had composed themselves. They were leaning against Nolte’s old, sky-blue Cadillac convertible, silently passing the flask back and forth. Their hair even more impossibly tangled than before.
Jim slowly rose from the pavement. But it wasn’t Jim any longer.
It was Nicolas Cage.
And Nicolas Cage smiled at Nick Nolte and Gary Busey. At his manbirthing ushers. He smiled at this world that he was now a part of. He smiled at the melting ice caps, and at the dying sun. He smiled at all of the Elvis records, and at all of the dinosaur bones. He smiled at an unknown future. And then his smile faded.
There was still work to be done.
And the rain went bloop blop bloop blop bloop.
Nikola (Nik) Jajic is a writer from Chicagoland. He has written three graphic novels: The Big Bad Book, Loosely Based, and Devil’s Island. Every now and again, he’ll write an article or film review for those magazines kind enough to have him. Mostly, he thinks about sandwiches.