“Sooperflea and Me,” Episode 24
Amnesia-stricken Nicki’s memories suddenly come flooding back. During a visit with neurologist Dr. Alexandra C. Idnas and veggie meatball maven/therapist Ingabore Scriblig, AKA, “Grandma,” our protagonist recounts in vivid detail her traumatic, literally explosive first accidental trip to the otherworldly dimension of Perswayssick County.
As usual, Gneeecey manages to disrupt her session.
We thank Marysol Rodriguez, Sandi Solá, Sal Solá, Marcellina Ramirez, Rick “El Molestoso” Rivera, Diane L., and Toni Aponte, for being generous supporting members via BuyMeACoffee.com! We appreciate their sponsorship and support more than words can say!
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https://www.amazon.com/Vicki-Sola/e/B07J29RVMQ (Amazon Author Page, check out our Gneeecey/Nicki e-books and paperbacks!)
https://www.nfreads.com/interview-with-author-vicki-sola/ (Interview with Vicki Solá)
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Transcript / “Sooperflea and Me,” Episode 24, written by Vicki Solá.
All content © 2022 Perswayssick Radio: Unearthly Comedy.
Music/Intro: Hi there, I’m author and radio host Vicki Solá, welcoming you to Perswayssick Radio: Unearthly Comedy. I invite you to escape with me into the bizarre dimension of Perswayssick County, where wackiness rules! The laughs begin when I morph into my alter ego, radio DJ Nicki Rodriguez and clash with the zany, alien canine-humanoid Gneeecey!
As always, we want to thank Marysol Rodriguez, Sal Solá, Sandi Solá, Marcellina Ramirez, Rick “El Molestoso” Rivera, Diane L., and Toni Aponte for being generous supporting members of “Perswayssick Radio: Unearthly Comedy” through BuyMeACoffee.com.
Now, before I turn it over to my alter ego Nicki Rodriguez, I want to let you know about a new development concerning our protagonist—a real breakthrough.
As you may know, Nicki’s been trapped in the looney, unearthly dimension of Perswayssick County, forced to live with and work for its equally zany canine-humanoid control-freak director, also supposedly a doctor—the walking and talking, totally exasperating Jack Russell dog look-alike, Diroctor Bizzig Gneeecey. His friends just call him “Zig.”
Due to the severe dimension burn caused by her accidental travels between Earth and the otherworldly Perswayssick County, Nicki has been suffering from amnesia, only remembering things in bits and pieces—and not in any real order.
Well, the good news is that Nicki’s memories have come flooding back—in sequential order! We’re excited to bring them to you here, as they occur, from the very beginning! And more good news—the way we’ll be presenting these episodes, you can still listen in any order—without missing a beat! “Perswayssick Radio: Unearthly Comedy” will remain episodic!
SFX: [Audience Applause]
GNEEECEY: Thank you, thank you!
Uh, not time for you yet, Gneeecey….
Now, here’s Nicki, in the Perswayssick City offices of Doctor Alexandra C. Idnas and therapist Ingabore Scriblig, the latter preferring simply to be called “Grandma.” Nicki can finally tell them all about her traumatic, literally explosive first trip to Perswayssick County, in vivid detail. It’s all come back to her.
SFX: [Magic Spell]
NICKI RODRIGUEZ: The whole mess began one early, warm September Saturday. Fiery horns and blistering percussion—from my almost-boyfriend Carlos Santiago’s new salsa CD—worked overtime, keeping me awake as I sped toward a little white house down by the Jersey shore, one I hadn’t seen in five years. A vacation...finally….
DOCTOR ALEXANDRA C. IDNAS: Five years is a long time, Nicki.
N: Sure was, Doctor Idnas….
INGABORE SCRIBLIG aka “GRANDMA”: Yah, Nicki, a long time to go vitout a vacation!
N: Yep, Grandma. Guess that’s thanks to my workaholic ways….
DI: Please, Nicki, do go on vit vhat happened.
N: Well, I remember, I’d managed to cram in a whole three hours of shut-eye before hitting the highway. Checking the rearview mirror, I’d caught sight of my red-rimmed eyes, framed by windblown blond hair—and a couple inches of dark roots. My so-called career in radio—working at two different New York stations—wasn’t nearly as glamorous as most people imagined. What with seventy-hour weeks, plus the freelance production I did on the side, I had no life. I have to admit, though, it had been my choice.
SFX: [Door Open]
GNEEECEY: See? I told ya—your life ain’t my stinkin’ fault, ya Ig!
DI: Diroctor Gneeecey, dis is not your session!
IS: Yah! Vhat are you doing here?
N: Yeah, what are you doing here? This is my session!
DI: Vee must reqvest dat you leave immediately!
G: I caaaan’t, Doctor Idnas! The lousy Ig brung me here wit’ her! My stinkin’ session’s next! I ain’t goin’ all the way back home! Youse can’t make me!
IS: Vell den, vee must reqvest dat you go back in dee vaiting room until it’s your turn.
DI: Yah! Vee vill call you in vhen it’s time for your appointment. I tink dat is a reasonable reqvest.
G: Okay. An’ Ig, take your time, but hurry up!
DI: And her name is Nicki, not ‘Ig’! And she ees not lousy!
IS: Yah! And she vill take as much time as she needs.
SFX: [Door Slam]
DI: Now, please continue, Nicki. It is very good dat you state dat you take responsibility for yourself and your decisions—
IS: Yah, unlike somevun else vee know!
SFX: [Door Open]
G: Hey, I stinkin’ heard that! Youse talkin’ ’bout meee, the Grate One?
IS: Diroctor Gneeecey, please go back to dee vaiting room immediately, as vee told you.
DI: Yes, Diroctor, or you vill forfeit your own session today!
N: Or freaking pay for mine!
G: Gotta go! Heh hah, heh haah! SFX: [Door Slam]
DI: Alright, Nicki, you vere saying dat your life situation stems from dee choices you made.
N: Yes, Doctor Idnas. Long ago, I had decided that I didn’t wanna live an ordinary life—a decision I grew to hate.
IS: And later vee vill get to vhy you regret dat decision. So, you’re back in dee car, on your vay to your first vacation in five years. Please do tell us more.
N: Yes, Grandma, I remember hitting the gas harder. As miles of hot, black pavement flew under my tires and parkway exit numbers grew smaller, I swore I could smell the sea. Traffic was light. Glancing at my watch, I shouted some numbers and a color that I dare not repeat now because saying them out loud would cause me to dimension jump again and most likely not survive—and also put you both, plus this whole building, and anyone else nearby in jeopardy!
IS: Yah, dat vould not be too good.
DI: Yah, Nicki, please do continue telling us your story. Safely.
N: And, so, I shouted that—that phrase. With the numbers and the color. That split second, something—it sounded like a bomb—detonated overhead. SFX: [Explosion] It slammed my ’64-and-a-half Mustang—my late dad’s last gift to me—into a wild spin. Deafened by the blast, blinded by a fluorescent flash, I dug my fingernails into the cushioned steering wheel cover and struggled to regain control of my bucking red bronco. A nightmarish squeal sliced through the sulfur-laced air. SFX: [Screeching Brakes] I finally managed, bearing down with all the force of my one-hundred-ten-pound frame, to floor the brakes with both my feet.
Eyelids squeezed shut, I braced myself and waited. Then, it was over. The maniacal maelstrom had run its course, leaving behind a vacuum of silence, save for some stray buzzing between my ears. My body crumpled down into the bucket seat. Dazed and drenched, tears crisscrossing my face, I sat motionless as my heart hammered my ribs like a machine gun and forced gallons of blood through my veins. Thought I was gonna blow up. Only when my head stopped spinning did I dare open my eyes.
Things looked pretty routine. No signs of mass destruction, no evidence of calamity—no raging fires, blackened terrain, or scorched craters. Not even a fallen tree. Traffic, although sparse, seemed to flow in an orderly fashion. When my legs stopped shaking, I got out and checked the car. I remember thinking, how odd. Not a scratch.
DI: You must have been very frightened.
IS: Yah, and very confused.
N: I felt like a little kid, alone and scared. I drove off the dirt shoulder and headed for South Seaside Park, y’know, in New Jersey. Earth’s New Jersey, not the one here in Perswayssick County. Anyway, a couple boring miles later, this enormous green sign appeared. Hung from a nondescript overpass, it proclaimed in bold white letters that I was enjoying my trip on the recently resurfaced Perswayssick Thruway. “Perswayssick Thruway!” I shouted, squinting. As I freaked, the six-lane highway dissolved unceremoniously into an unpaved ramp leading onto the Perswayssick River Bridge, a structure that didn’t simply cross the zigzagging river—dull and narrow, it spanned its entire length.
DI: Yah, dat vould be our Persvayssick River Bridge. Radder aesthetically displeasing, don’t you agree, Ingabore?
IS: Yah, Alexandra, I do. Radder stupid design! Now, please continue, Nicki. I tink it is very important and a very good sign dat you are suddenly recalling so much, in such detail!
DI: A real breakthrough!
N: Yeah. And I recall seeing my new wristwatch twinkling on the seat beside me, its sterling band snapped. The cracked face read—well, like before, I’m not even gonna say that dangerous number out loud. I jammed the broken timepiece into the pocket of my jeans and peered down at the murky river, surprised by scores of luminous, cobalt-blue ovals splashing about. As I gazed, amazed, a muddy mist rose, obliterating the blobs—and everything else.
In seconds, the dank vapors—accompanied by an unfamiliar, gut-wrenching stench—painted my windshield green. Heart thumping up in my ears, I steered toward what I hoped was the road’s edge and eased to a stop. Before I could close my windows, Carlos’s CD ejected itself, disintegrating as it whizzed past my nose, and these shrill words shot out from all four speakers like snipers’ bullets.
“We’ll be comin’ right back at’cha wit’ ‘The Line to Your Heart’s Always busy,’” shrilled this dentist’s drill of a voice. “It’s been number one for six months! Okay, peeps, it’s five p.m.! Your radio dial’s mutated to 1780 AM, WGAS, part of the GAS Broadcast Network!”
DI: Ya, vee all know who dat voice belongs to—a certain vhite-and-black canine-humanoid! And by dee vay, dat’s a pretty good imitation, Nicki!
IS: Yah! Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha!
N: Yep, I know now, all too well! [Nicki, Doctor Idnas, and Grandma laugh]
SFX: [Door Open] [Belch]
G: Heh, heh, ’scuze me for burpin’ an’ ’scuze me for interrupticatin’, but you’re stinkin’ talkin’ ’bout meee again!
DI: Diroctor Bizzig Gneeecey! Do I repeatedly have to remind you dat deese sessions are confidential and dat dis vun is not yours?
IS: But it could be, for a price! I vill write out a bill right now! Vee vill be charging dee good diroctor for Nicki’s session! [Dr. Idnas, Grandma and Nicki laugh]
SFX: [Boing] [Duck Horn]
G: Ow! Youse made me fall on my lousy bimbus! I’m so stinkin’ outta here! SFX: [Door Slam]
N: Good! Be gone! Now, I remember gasping as that, uh, voice continued exploding out of my speakers. “Our live mierk cams show we’re havin’ a inversion! Yeehaw, as them Earth people say! I love inversions! Out there on the bridge, your visibility’s a big fat zilch—an’ so’s your mother’s!” My jaw dropped. “Let’s hope,” continued the screechy piece of chalk, “this inversion sticks ’round for our Annual Mierk Fest next weekend!” “
“Y’know,” the voice continued, “I love this plaaanet—even though I miss mine.” Acid rose into my throat, burning my tonsils as the voice continued. “The river’s overflowin’ an’ the goonafish are jumpin’! Whatta soooper Snatturday!”
At least, I thought, it was still Saturday. Maybe….
“Now, here’s the toppa the charts for youse!” A tone-deaf cowboy, accompanied by twangy, out-of-tune guitars, began caterwauling, “The line to your heart’s always busy, I call it all da-a-a-a-a-y long. . . .”
My fingers never reached the dial. SFX: [Bang] [Wood Demolition Bang] A thundering wallop from behind slammed me back against my seat and blasted my Mustang through the guardrail. Airborne, I tumbled through pea soup, praying that my dad was watching over me. Then, a sharp tilt forward smashed my head into something hard, and I found myself floating.
From above, I stared as my vehicle hurtled through the lifting fog. Below, on the mucky riverbank, this red-caped black dog stumbled upright on paddle-shaped feet. Arms extended, he took a giant, clumsy leap into the sky. His pendulous ears whipped in the wind. My doomed automobile continued its slow-motion descent, listing to the right, bags and books streaming out of the passenger windows in a hideous arc. Old magazines and my flat spare spilled from the open trunk. As each item splashed into the foul waters, the blue things sprang up, annoyed.
Meanwhile, the caped canine zoomed underneath my car moments before impact with solid ground and hoisted it back into the air. Then, I remember, gravity began to tug at me. I felt leaden, and the pain returned. SFX: [Scary Ambience] From the corners of my consciousness, gleaming clusters of disembodied eyeballs glared my way, then vanished into the returning haze.
Shivering, agony replaced by dull throbbing, it’s like my consciousness itself was drifting through damp dreariness. Then, the Mustang began to rock gently. When I finally came to, I noticed the protruding peepers of a panting black hound plastered to me. Atop what looked like a whipped cream-splattered snout sat a shiny wet nose. A shiny, wet running nose. Microscopic dots obscured my vision as I pushed the door open and stepped out. Swaying, I collapsed upon the creature.
He spoke English. “Here, sit down,” he suggested, guiding me toward a flat rock that sat in the middle of a muddy gully.
“Th—thanks. . .” I stuttered.
“A pleasure, Nicki.”
“I—I don’t recall telling you my name,” I replied, freaked.
My eyes remained fixed on him. “No.”
“I’m Sooperflea, at your service.” He pointed to the triangle-enclosed backward “S” embroidered on his navy shirt. The canine-humanoid’s voice boinged like a rusty spring. SFX [Boing] He was just about my height—when I sat. “Real name’s Fleaglossity,” he continued, wiping his schnozz on his sleeve. “Fleaglossity Floppinsplodge. But you can call me Flea. All my friends do.”
“I’m Nicki—as you already seem to know,” I replied, gazing into his concerned cocoa eyes. “Nicki Rodriguez.”
He extended a furry, four-fingered hand. “Pleased to meet’cha.”
“Likewise,” I replied, catching a glimpse of my own lavender-tinged hand.
“Don’t worry, that’ll go away,” Flea assured me. “Your face, too.”
“The purple, I mean—y’know, your dimension burn.”
“You’re only twenty-four,” he continued. “You’ll heal fast.”
“How’d you know—”
“You’re lucky. I was jus’ passin’ through on my way into the city, to meet a buddy.”
“City? What city?”
“Perswayssick City,” he answered matter-of-factly.
Silly me, I thought to myself, I should’ve guessed.
He shook his oversized head. “Nah. No way ya coulda guessed.” My mouth opened wide. “Come wit’ me—ya need a good meal.” I forced a smile. “Zig will take care of ya. He’s my best friend—we grew up together. C’mon.”
My eyes wandered down to Flea’s gargantuan high-tops. Circled X’s decorated each ankle. The superhero studied his red sneakers self-consciously. And I pondered my fate—silently. Where the hell was I, and how could I get back home?
“Don’t worry,” said Flea, “we’ll answer all your questions before ya leave.”
Leave. Just what I wanted to hear. A hurt expression crossed his face. He stumbled face-first into the dirt, mumbling. His shoes are too big, I thought.
“Nah—they fit jus’ fine,” he insisted. Astonished, I watched him stagger to his feet. As we trudged toward my car, a lump rose in my throat. My vintage Mustang sat dented and gashed.
“Don’t worry, Nicki, they can be banged out an’ painted over.”
Just get me back to the parkway, I thought to myself, blinking back tears.
“I said I’d get’cha back to your parkway—later.” He smacked my trunk shut. I stopped in my tracks. But Flea kept walking and tripped right into the driver’s seat. He could just about see over the dashboard. Consoled by the presence of my handbag, its strap tangled around an inner door handle, I took a shallow breath and flopped into the passenger seat. Breathing hurt.
“Now lessee, how do ya start this thing? Oh, yeah.” He grasped the gear shifter. “Hmmm, kinda like prindle, but on the floor. Wow, I can just about reach these pedals. The long one on the right makes it stop. . .this shorter, sideways one makes it go—”
“No!” I yelled.
Flea tapped the gas, then hit the brakes full force. SFX: [Brakes Screech] Smash went my head on the dash. Curiously, he had no problem finding the clutch. He chuckled. “It’s just the opposite on my planet.”
“An’ where I come from, Prndl is a girl’s name.”
“I’ll drive!” I yelled, coming to my senses.
“Nah—you’re in no shape.”
“It’s my car!” I began blacking out as I reached for the wheel. He shot me a “told-you-so” look and clicked the radio on. “Better put on that seatbelt. We gotta backtrack a few miles to get onto the bridge.” We lurched forward. That same flat voice droned, “the line to your heart’s always busy.” Flea hummed along as he hit every pothole and curb in sight. He had to be the worst driver on any planet, I thought to myself.
“I am not the worst driver,” he protested. “Just a little—whaddayacallit—rusted.”
“Who said you were a poor driver?”
“You thought it—an’ you thought worst, not poor!”
“An’ stop wonderin’ where the parkway is!”
I tried not to think aloud. When that corny, twangy “line to your heart” song ended, a familiar, grating voice began to pitch an ad: “An’ now, an important message from us here at GAS Radio! My kingdom for a horse! My corporation for a brief! Ah, the age-old lament of the busy, squirmin’ executive! Whaaat could be worse than ill-fittin’ underwear?
“I’m Doctor Bizzig Gneeecey—soon to be a diroctor, ’cause I’m a doctor an’ I jus’ got elected Grate Gizzygalumpaggis, y’know, director of this here county—an’ I wanna talk to youse ’bout somethin’ personal! It’s sad but true—eighty percent of corporate blunders are produced by ‘executive squeeze’—the torment of ill-fittin’ underwear! There’s no tellin’ how many financial tragedies can be attributated to chafin’ an’ itchin’! Well, I’ve done somethin’ ’bout it! I’ve invented an amazin’ new revoovolutionary formula! Jus’ one apooplication of clinically proven Bend-a-Britch, an’ I unconditionally quarantine that your very personal undergarments will conform to you! Even works on tail holes! Call itchy butts today, that’s I-T-C-H-Y-B-U-T-T-S, to find out more! Remember, youse heard it here, on 1780 AM, GAS Radio!”
Flea smiled. I hoped it was just a bad dream. “I’m changing the station.”
“It’s your car,” he snapped. “But, y’know, that underwear stuff’s pretty good. An’ no—you’re not dreamin’.” I slapped the button to FM. That same high, nerdy voice babbled on. “Bad afternoon, everyone! It’s a soooper Snatturday here on 109.3 FM, GAS Radio! Yeehaw!”
I punched one of the knobs so hard that it popped off into my hand. SFX: [Boing] Grunting, I chucked it over my shoulder.
“Flyin’ objects can be dangerous,” Flea admonished me as he sped onto the bridge.
My eyes rolled upward. Suddenly, he jammed on the brakes, and his bulbous nose struck the steering wheel and honked like a horn. SFX: [Brakes Screech] [Duck Horn] We skidded hundreds of yards, trailing stinky clouds of burning rubber. Splattered on the passenger side windshield was one of those luminous blobs from the river.
“Aw, I tried not to hit him,” cried Flea. “Poor goonafish. Little guys are really jumpin’ this time of year.”
My neck had locked, forcing me to stare at the roadkill. The globby thing was actually a fish, strange and two-tailed, with no apparent head. “Ugh—can’t move,” I moaned. The superhero reached over and grabbed me by my shoulders. After a rapid succession of twists, pulls, and yanks, I was able to turn from the grisly mess. “Th—thanks, Flea!”
“Been studyin’ to be a chiropractor—can’t keep this superhero stuff up forever.” He stepped out of the car, scraped the smooshed goonafish off the glass, and tossed it back into the Perswayssick River, giving it a proper burial at sea.
As our ride continued, I noticed that the bridge ran over dry land for the last mile or so. “Why does this bridge span the length of the river?” I asked Flea. “Why doesn’t it just cross over like a normal bridge? And why does this part go over land?”
“Jus’ the way it is,” Flea answered, stony-faced. He gunned the gas, and the Mustang flew down the ramp, smoke billowing from behind. “Don’t say it,” he warned, his fur-covered cheek muscles twitching.
“I didn’t,” I snarled through clenched teeth.
He glanced up at the rearview mirror. “Hmmm. . .blue exhaust. . . could mean engine trouble—”
I wondered to myself, did the creature ruin my engine?
“I didn’t ruin it. I merely observed that the smoke comin’ from your tailpipe is blue. Ya might be burnin’ oil. Remember, Nicole, if it wasn’t for me, ya wouldn’t even be here to give a deck of vlecks!”
“Sorry, Flea—I mean, I just—”
“I know what’cha meant. An’ I am not a creature!” He made a sloppy turn onto Street Road, an industrial thoroughfare neither scenic nor smooth. Never-green traffic lights adorned each corner. Each stop smacked my soggy gray matter up against the inside of my skull. The flop, flop, flop became a steady rhythm, a distraction of sorts. Almost made me forget his driving. Flea’s head whipped around. “Did’ja say somethin’?”
“No—not a word,” I replied, in the most convincing tone I could muster.
“Oh. Okay.” I decided I’d better think as quietly as possible. But wasn’t I entitled to the privacy of my own mind? Wasn’t that a most basic right? I faked a cough to cover those last couple thoughts.
“Ya oughtta get that checked,” advised Flea. “Sounds bad.”
Uncomfortable with my deception, I turned my attention to the world outside. Street Road, more country-like now, had been graced by an early autumn. A chaotic carpet of riotous hues crackled under our sporty tires.
“Perswayssick County’s so pretty this time of year,” proclaimed Flea, misty-eyed.
“Uh-huh.” Vision blurred by my own tears, I cradled my pounding head and cursed my luck. Since graduation two years before—still grappling with my dad’s death the summer after my freshman year—I’d been toiling away for pennies. Didn’t have time or strength to look for another “dream” job. My part-time gig at the left end of the FM dial, hosting and producing a noncommercial salsa show, wasn’t bad, although the pay was. Management gave me free rein pretty much, as long as I didn’t blow the place up. And local bands were grateful for the exposure I gave them. And I’d met Carlos. But I worked thankless twelve-hour shifts at the other end of the dial, at slick commercial station WUGG, where I yearned to lock myself inside a soundproof studio, stuff a rag in my mouth, and scream at the top of my lungs—during my twenty-minute lunch. Only thing stopping me was that my boss would probably be in there hiding with me, videotaping my meltdown. Freelance production augmented my slim earnings. Doing odd jobs for showbiz wannabes helped chip away at my student loans and my sanity. I’d just pulled an all-nighter, recording a client. Now, here I sat, nursing a migraine and talking to a driving dog. I coughed so loudly that Flea almost drove off the road.
I no longer had a working watch, but I knew it must’ve been getting late. The sinking sun shot glistening copper highlights across the acres of tall fields that surrounded us, making them shimmer and click, yep, I said click, in the cool breeze.
Enraptured, Flea pulled over and parked. “Ah, rindom, the source of life! It’s harvest time!” Clusters of raspy arrows protruded from each weapon-like plant. Bucolic calm shattered abruptly when a tornado of black feathers exploded up from the stalks, followed by an outraged raven, thrashing to free itself from the hostile crops’ clutches. SFX: [Crow] Finally, the bird sputtered into the sky, shrieking “Nevermore!” and set down atop a nearby billboard. “Mierk Fest on the Perswayssick!” advertised the sign, picturing a motley assortment of humans and canine-humanoids mingling happily. “Mierking, Goonafishing, & Picnicking! Fun for the Whole Family! Snatturday & Someday, Septober 16th & 17th!”
Fluttering about, the Poe Crow fell off its perch. Flea giggled, then started the car, hit the wrong pedal, and climbed the curb. My jaw tightened.
He glanced my way. “My telepathy stopped workin’. ’Bout three miles ago.”
“It’s been kinda spotty,” he added, leaning closer, “like summa my other superhero powers. Some days, my ESP doesn’t even work at all. But I do know, your dad is lookin’ out for ya.”
Wow. Eyes stinging with tears, I gazed outside. Miniature clapboard houses, their arched doorways boarded up by knotted planks, dotted Boulevard Avenue’s hillsides. Paint peeled off the single-storied, windowless dwellings, and their half-shingled roofs resembled checkerboards. Between shacks, weeds towered over broken bottles and crushed cans, and crumpled bits of newsprint skimmed the ground, turning like pinwheels.
Up ahead, a lone, matted schnauzer—a tiny, regular dog—eyed us furtively, then ventured from its spot smack in our car’s path, dragging a brown paper bag. Flea leaned on the horn SFX: [Horn] and the animal became a dirty blur.
A couple miles later, we rolled past a tall cyclone fence that guarded an expansive yard heaped with overturned shopping carts, many missing wheels. “Shoppin’ Cart Orphanage,” volunteered Flea, bearing right, onto Murgatroyd Avenue—a main drag.
It took forever-and-a-half to pass a broken-windowed, smoke-vomiting refinery known as the Mierkolatory, an elephantine architectural disaster coated by centuries of soot. I wound my window up, and Flea stepped on the gas.
By the time I stopped retching, I found myself gaping at a semicircle of sleek, mirrored buildings, surrounded by twisted shrubbery clipped like kangaroos, giraffes, and anorexic hippos. “Freak O’Nature Foods’ Corporate headquarters,” Flea informed me. Gothic, three-headed hawks, their stone beaks gushing thin arcs of water, stood at each end of the central, dozen-doored entrance.
“A sign for the turnpike!” I exclaimed, bolting upright. “I could drop you off, then—”
“It’s not your turnpike,” snapped Flea.
A moment later, a sparkling city filled our windshield. SFX: [Magic Glitter] Everywhere, skyscrapers, appearing to be several hundred stories tall, rushed up into the night skies, their myriad lights indistinguishable from the stars.
I craned my neck to stare up at one particularly surreal edifice. “Why do they call it Seemingwhale Towers when there’s only one?”
“Uh... well, ya see,” stammered Flea, “they started buildin’ two, but, uh, had a recommendation to put one on top of the other—y’know, turn it into a single buildin’. They kept the original sign, though—it was easier than orderin’ a whole ’nother one.”
“Jus’ the way it is,” growled Flea. SFX: [Screeching Brakes] He screeched to a stop when a cluster of jaywalkers began a leisurely stroll. Perswayssick City’s pedestrians—and drivers—reflected the diverse mix represented on Street Road’s Mierk Fest billboard—canine-humanoids and humans. Of course, I’m used to that now.
Anyway, nearby, an elderly, tweed-jacketed Flea look-alike tripped, recovering his balance seconds before his ankle-high, leashed brown-and-white pet puppy could escape. Evidently, canine-humanoids kept tiny pet dogs. A group of denim-clad human teens howled. The superhero flashed them a dirty look. “That could be my grandfather,” Flea growled.
As the last stragglers sauntered past, the light turned red. Flea took the opportunity to point out a ritzy restaurant across the street. A scarlet carpet ran from door to curb, and its marquee’s thousands of micro-sized bulbs spelled out “Les Pantalons de Napoleon,” in elegant script.
“That’s a real high-class bistro,” explained Flea, “named after Napoleon’s pants. There’s a real pair of his trousers on display—in a locked case nexta the men’s room. Case even got an alarm!”
“His Waterloo pants,” Flea whispered, awe-stricken.
Moments later, a white, fully-articulated stretch-limo slithered, snakelike, around the corner, each segment sliding smoothly from view. It appeared to have more than thirty doors on each side. “Grate 1,” spelled G – R – A – T – E, was the moniker engraved on its Jersey tags.
“We’re almost—hic—there—oh, no—this—hic—always happens—hic—whenever I’m comin’ here!” spluttered a hiccupping Flea.
“Hold your breath,” I suggested. I didn’t know Flea well enough to scare him.
A look of helplessness washed over the superhero’s fuzzy face. Equally pathetic were his attempts to park between two ambulances. He jerked back and forth for ten minutes, hitting a trash can. SFX: [Bang] Its contents spilled across the sidewalk. I groaned. “I think—hic—I’m finally gettin’ use’ta ‘prndl’,” he announced, ramming both emergency vehicles, incredibly, in a single stroke. SFX: [Crash]
Averting my gaze, I noticed that same ethereal white limo parked across the street. It took up an entire block. Hand-scrawled “out of order” signs covered each adjacent meter. Meanwhile, my measly Mustang cowered curbside, illuminated by orange-and-puke-pink neon, flashing the name “Gneeezle’s.” Purple calligraphy below read “Fine Family Dining Since 2005.” Filthy, half-drawn Venetian blinds languished behind the gaudy lighting.
Flea leaped out of the car, unaware that he’d caught his red superhero cape in the door.
“Flea!” I called out…too late. SFX: [Fabric Tear] [Duck Horn] Fabric ripped as Flea’s nose hit the pavement, blaring like a trumpet on steroids. He squirmed his way upright and whistling a carefree tune, hopped onto the sidewalk, only to stumble over the trunk of an uprooted tree.
My legs had gone numb, and my back felt stiffer than a petrified two-by-four. I staggered over to the superhero and helped him to his oar-shaped feet. Clutching onto each other, we hobbled toward the eatery.
“This is—hic—a real high-class joint,” Flea boasted from under my armpit.
Looked more like a high-class dump, I thought. My empty stomach rumbled.
SFX: [Fail Horn] [Magic Spell]
DI: Nicki, dis is such a critically important breakthrough, dat you are actually remembering vhat brought you here to Persvayssick County—from dee very beginning!
IS: Yah, Nicki! Vee can’t vait to hear vhat you have to tell us in our next session together!
N: You know, I do feel better…I feel somehow lighter…more hopeful…
SFX: [Door Open]
G: Is it finally stinkin’ time? Is it time for me? Hah? Sheeesh! Ya took long enough, ya Ig!
N: Well, I thought I felt better….
G: Guess youse all would say that the time youse enjoy wastin’ ain’t wasted time—
DI: Diroctor Gneeecey, somehow, I don’t tink Bertrand Russell vould approve of you qvoting him like dat.
IS: Yah, I don’t tink he vould consider dis session to have been a vaste of time!
SFX: [Fail Horn] [Magic Spell]
Nicki Rodriguez here again! Despite Gneeecey’s attitude problems—and he just can’t help being himself—I do feel better, now that my memory is improving! And I think I’m learning not to freak out over what I can’t control!
I really look forward to next week’s episode of “Perswayssick Radio: Unearthly Comedy” and continuing to tell you my story. Thanks so much for listening!
And please help us spread the word—please tell someone about us! We very much appreciate every single download! And again, thank you, Marysol Rodriguez, Sal Solá, Sandi Solá, Marcellina Ramirez, Rick “El Molestoso” Rivera, Diane L., and Toni Aponte, for being generous supporting members through BuyMeACoffee.com!
Time now to turn it back over to my alter ego, Vicki. Until next time, be well and stay safe!
SFX: [Magic Spell]
Music/Outro: Thanks, Nicki! Vicki here again. Thanks so much for tuning in to “Perswayssick Radio: Unearthly Comedy.” We hope you enjoyed traveling to this loopy dimension with us and that you’ll come along again! Our new episodes drop every Tuesday morning! Please make sure to subscribe and tell a friend! And keep on laughing!
Frank: It’s a Gneeecey thing! [SFX: Door Slam] ###