I used to have no opinion about snakes. Why would I? We rarely had any cause to interact. Early in my career I booked a gig where they put a snake on me for a vodka ad (or something, print ads are weird, you never know where the pictures end up) one of those pythons that guys with ponytails have. I don’t know why that’s a thing, putting a snake on a sexy lady, are there that many snake weirdoes out there for that to be a thing? Anyway, I didn’t mind that snake, I’ve had worse co-stars you know. AHEM Matthew Broderick.
That was before. Now I hate snakes. I hate them more than I hate the Valley. I wasn’t doing anything to that snake, why did it have to bite me? It’s unjust is what it is. And consider this, it seems that human beings are universally ugly and lumpy and dirty now (not that 95% of them weren’t uggos before) that being the case, my ass is most likely the best ass in the world. What happened to me would be like someone vandalizing the Mona Lisa in the olden times. Or something better than the Mona Lisa since the Mona Lisa kind of sucks. Have you ever seen it? It’s like the size of a postcard.
My ass shouldn’t be getting gnawed on by California mountain snakes, it should be getting rubbed with fine oils and liniments. Who had the best ass in the world before was debatable, but there’s no question now – my ass is a national treasure. Or it would be if nations still existed. To the people of this world my ass must be like an eclipse, so powerful and majestic that you need to look at it through a hole in a cardboard box. If and when they reinvent navigation, sailors will come to me and say “Ela, your butt is so round and perfect we need to use it to calibrate our nautical instruments – nothing else exists that is so precise.” And I’ll allow it, with due care and reverence, knowing full well that the man who undertakes this glorious task will afterwards gouge his eyes out because once you have seen such flawlessness you never want any other image to sully your vision again.
This is what I was thinking about when I was sitting by the side of the stinking lake of tar-water. Cantilevered more than sitting upright because of the aforementioned snakebite, leaning against what I initially thought was an ugly scraggy dying tree but I think might be a rock. That’s the world now, rocks and trees can’t be easily distinguished from each other. Martialla was eyeballing the creature wallowing in the muck trying to decide how best to kill it. I have to say that she’s adjusting pretty well. One day you’re picking up my dry cleaning and the next day you’re in the future trying to kill a walrus-bear-octopus-pig-lizard. That would plumb rattle some folks.
Although bizarre and large, the beast didn’t look all that dangerous to me. Of course, neither do hippos and back in my time they killed people constantly. Three sitting presidents were killed by hippos – one during their inauguration! I remember seeing that on TV when I was a kid, George Bush running for his life, hapless Secret Service agents being tossed aside as a brutal hippo charged POTUS with murderous eyes rolling like those of a shark. That’s not the kind of thing you forget. My dad was laughing like a crazy person. He voted for Dukakis. I remember one time I was in New York for a photo shoot and a hippo pod came out of the subway tunnel and into Times Square. What a mess. (Martialla’s note, this is all bullshit, hippos are dangerous but everything else here is lies) [Editor’s note, stay away from my journal Martialla!]
“Do you really think you can kill that thing with a handgun?”
Martialla half-shrugged “You can kill anything if you shoot it enough.”
“I don’t know if that’s true. Wasn’t there a story in the paper the other day about a zoo elephant going berserk and killing its trainer? I believe the police shot it more than a hundred times with their sidearms to no effect until the SWAT guys showed up with an RPG and took it down.”
She turned around to scowl at me “The LAPD did not kill an elephant with a rocket propelled grenade!”
I bit my lip in thought “Maybe it was an APC.”
Martialla scowled harder, that woman could scowl the bark off a tree (or a rock that looks like a tree) “That . . . that doesn’t even make sense.”
“Whatever it was the point I was trying to make is that small arms fire didn’t hurt it. Don’t you hear the same thing about alligators and bears and so forth? This thing seems to be a combination of all of them, plus some other stuff. I think there’s some garbage pail kid in there.”
“Weren’t you in the garbage pail kids movie?”
“No, that was Katie Barberi.”
Martialla nodded absently “Oh yeah.”
I watched her watching the motionless creature for a while “Even if you can kill this thing, is it worth the ammunition? I’m pretty sure you don’t know how to forge bullets and even if you did, I doubt there’s any gunpowder to be had. Shouldn’t we only use our guns as an absolute last resort?”
She let out a long breath “It does piss me off when the survivors in zombie movies shoot their guns into the air or just shoot at things to make a point. It’s horribly wasteful.”
“No one would watch a movie where the characters didn’t make bad decisions constantly. What are you trying to do, put me out of a job?”
Martialla smiled shortly “I hate to break it to you L, but I think you’re already out of a job.”
“Perhaps, perhaps not, I could travel around doing Shakespeare like in that movie the Postman.”
Martialla shook her head “That movie was awful. Could you do that? Do you have any of the works of Shakespeare memorized?”
“No, but what difference does it make? I can make up whatever I want and just tell people that it’s Shakespeare, everyone who knows better is dead. I could tell them George Bush was eaten by a hippo and they’d believe it.”
“Now there’s an idea for a movie, they unfreeze a caveman from a glacier and he’s a huge liar. All the historians and anthropologists come to talk to him and he tells them that in caveman times they had hot air balloons and thousand foot tall rollercoasters and they rode around on dinosaurs.”
I snorted “See, that right there is why there are no good parts for women in movies, why does it have to be a cave MAN, you traitor?”
“What about that movie where you played the CEO of an auto company who was also a superhero fighting aliens by night?”
“Okay, that was a good role. That movie got really screwed up in editing though.”
Martialla continued eyeing the creature with a mixture of apprehension and eagerness “It probably is a waste of ammunition but I think the bottom line is that I just really want to shoot something. I think it will make me feel better. You know, about the world being destroyed and my husband being long dead.”
“Well as long as you have a good reason. Do you think you can take it out with one shot? What if it charges us?”
She looked back at me with a look of pure condescension “It’s not going to charge us Ela.”