© 1999-2007 Vincent Truman-Mulvihill/Razor
THE THIN PINK LINE
a novel idea by Vincent Truman
© 2001 Vincent Truman-Mulvihill/Razor
All rights reserved.
When asked about her father's condition, Ismarelda LePoofe would reply with calm authority that he had suffered through a series of strokes. She had justified this auto-response in her own mind because, technically, it was correct. In fact, Pierre LePoofe (of the Butte LePoofes, a Montana crime family) had an involuntary habit for compulsory masturbation. Fortunately, he was presently employed as the head grip of an adult movie production house, so his habit was viewed as mere enthusiasm for his craft.
Ismarelda had recently returned to Phukaduk to care for her father after her mother's recent passing. Sarah LePoofe's last day on Earth was slightly over seven weeks ago, when she and Pierre were taking a road trip to Beafrayed, where Ismarelda worked as a floater at the local water reclamation plant. Somewhere on Route 71, Pierre had become overwhelmed with a need to strangle the snake, and promptly shot a load into Sarah's good eye, blinding her and sending the car careening into a ground-level billboard for E-Jack's E-Z Auto. If that wasn't bad enough, at the funeral, Pierre threw a lot more than dirt into his wife's gravesite. He was understandably devastated with guilt. Boxes of tissue were kept at the house because of Pierre's endless crying; many more boxes were kept nearby just in case. When Ismarelda moved back in with her father, she found her childhood home had been transformed into a wadded ocean of tissue two feet high - never before had she been so happy to be levitating above the floor.
However repulsed she was, Ismarelda went about the business of cleaning up the house, then focusing on helping her father face the future. The second morning she was there, she asked, "Dad, you want to go for a ride?"
Pierre shrugged. And shrugged. "I hate going outside." He shrugged.
"We could go to the park," offered Ismarelda, "drive by the river... buy some condoms, maybe. Doesn't that sound like fun?"
"I know you're trying to help," Pierre dourly retorted, "but I never get them on fast enough." He slumped forward over his eggs benedict and ran his extremely strong hand through his thinning hair. He eyed his daughter as she floated above the seat next to him. "It's not that I don't appreciate what you're trying to do, Izzy. Because I do. You've grown into a beautiful and intelligent woman. I'm proud that you're my daughter. It's just that going outside reminds me of your mother - in fact, everything reminds me of your mother - and I just don't feel like doing anything."
Ismarelda glided up and drifted to the sink. "Well, I guess I could do the dishes. Dad - what have you been eating? These plates are all sticky."
The gag reflex in Ismarelda's throat reverberated through her whole body. "Come on, Dad, we're taking a drive." Pierre looked over at his daughter and smiled the sad smile of a man who had spooged in his own wife's good eye.
"Alright," he said slowly, grabbing his shoes beneath the table and secretly hoping a third-person flashback would be introduced to illustrate the long and bumpy road of his and Izzy's relationship. As luck would have it, one did.
Pierre had not always been as proud of Ismarelda as he was now. In her younger years, Pierre had found some difficulties in understanding - or comprehending - his daughter's unique condition. Despite his attempts to make "Freak" and "Not Mine" playful nicknames for her, Pierre couldn't seem to find a connection. He had tried, of course, but even relatively easy tasks such as changing diapers were difficult to perform with a hoevering baby.
But Ismarelda, always wise beyond her years, eventually won over Pierre's heart, during one family vacation when she agreed to let him charge admission for the locals to see what he termed "The Amazing Floating Freak." Now, especially in light of the death of Pierre's wife and Ismarelda's mother, the two grew exceptionally close, especially during the drive they were about to take.
Contrary to popular thought, Ismarelda loved driving. Using safety belts, which held her to the seat, she found she was actually able to be "normal" for a while. Eventually, she installed safety belts at work and home, in bathrooms and kitchens. Whenever she was faced with an issue of any sizable magnitude, she would get in her car and drive. Sometime for hours.
Ismarelda and Pierre of course had numerous issues, not the least of which was getting to know each other again. This was Ismarelda's prime motivation in getting Pierre in the car. After the sixth straight day of driving, Pierre lost twenty pounds and, as luck would have it, ceased pleasuring himself after the second day. To be safe, Ismarelda.kept her goggles on until Day 4. However, during this excurision, the two of them talked about everything under the sun.
"I miss home," Pierre would moan, especially after it became apparent that Izzy wouldn't be stopping anytime soon.
"So do I," Ismarelda would reply, thinking of her small apartment in Beafrayde.
After their return home, Ismarelda still didn't think it was wise to return to Beafrayde. Things were still unresolved, she felt, despite fervent assurances from her father that he was fine - better than ever, in fact - and his suggestion that maybe she and her "infernal car" should leave town. But she stayed. She would suggest a drive now and again; Pierre would thank her and then promptly tell her whatever she wanted to hear until the idea of driving was quashed.
* * * * *
It was a pleasant Phukaduk January morning when Ismarelda decided to go for a glide through the woods behind Pierre's rustic home. At one point, she spied several gaping holes in the earth, large enough to stuff the roots of fairly large oak trees. She paused and tried to touch the exposed, churned soil but could not. She examined the snow sadly, wondering what would be like to walk on it or even make a snowball. She wept quietly to herself as she continued to skim the higher weeds that sprouted from the forest floor and managed to penetrate the snow cover.
As she cried, Ismarelda's eyes clenched tight, attempting to block out her mother's passing, the inability to touch or walk on the snow and the uncertain feeling she retained with respect to her relationship with Pierre. She had the uncanny feeling she was slowing down. The cool winter breeze on her face dissipated until she barely could sense it at all. Was she slowing down - or was her whole life slowing down? Her concern for what was happening superceded her feelings and she willed her crying to subside as she opened her eyes. She had floated over the Phukaduk River and was now somehow immobilized, poised directly over the very deepest part of the rushing waterway. Ismarelda looked at both shores - both equally out of reach - and her sadness was replaced with a deep panic. Her doctors frequently suggested she never try swimming; now she knew why. She was unable to move and began to feel a fear of drowning, even though she knew could not.
Another strange feeling came over Ismarelda: movement. But this was not movement of her own volition. Glancing back at the path she had been (not) taking, Ismarelda reasoned she was in fact moving.... downstream. A new panic erupted in the pit of her stomach, which edged up her throat until it exploded into the words "oh shit".
"Oh shit!" she yelled. If she was being pulled by the river and taken out of Phukaduk, it would be another seventy-five miles before she floated by another town. "Help me! Someone!!" Ismarelda screamed, kicking and punching at the air with all her might, but appearing like a puppet on a string.
* * * * *
Sgt. Elcamino hated the front desk of the Phukaduk Police Station. In his youth, he had fantacized about being Robert Blake's famous TV cop, Baretta, sans bird (he hated birds more than even the front desk). But years on the police force of a town of a few thousand had drained his ambition. There were only a handful of murders in Phukaduk through the years, and no car chases whatsoever. Most deaths in the town were natural and only a scant few were accidental. And, worse, there was no one in town who resembled Huggy Bear. And, worse still, even if there was, there would probably be no "word on the street." Anything that came close to "word on the street" was faithfully reproduced by Sylvia's Society Notes column in the Phukaduk Bugle.
Pierre LePoofe walked in wearing a trenchcoat, one of his hands firmly entrenched in his pocket, busily hunting for something. "Morning, Bob."
"Morning, Mr. LePoofe," replied Sgt. Elcamino. The two had not known each other until Elcamino was called onto the scene at that fateful accident that took Pierre's wife a few weeks back. "How are you?"
"Not good, not good," said Pierre. "I think I need to file a missing person's report."
Sgt. Elcamino involuntarily smiled - visions of being a private investigator infiltrated his brain - but he turned it externally into a smile of compassion. He sat up straight, squinting like James Garner in "The Rockford Files" and began chewing imaginary gum. "Who's missing?"
"Ismarelda, my daughter," said Pierre, his voice shaking at the thought of losing her, too.
"Didn't you say she lives in Beafrayde?"
"Did you check there?"
"Want to use my phone?"
Pierre stammered. "No, you idiot. She's been living with me for the last few weeks! Her car is still here. The last I saw she was floating away into the woods - and that was yesterday!!"
"Oh, I'm sorry," Sgt. Elcamino slumped back into desk jockey mode. "I didn't know, Pierre. We'll put an APB out on her right away."
"Don't you need a description or something? You only saw her once at the funeral." Pierre's eyes were wet.
Sgt. Elcamino shrugged. "Brunette girl with bangs. Pale skin. Pointy nose. Floats in mid-air. Should be pretty easy. Do you need some tissue?"
"In a minute."
Just then, a large muscle-bound man entered the police station in a rush. He stepped in front of Pierre and leaned on the front desk, cracking it slightly. He wheezed heavily. "Morning... Bob."
Hugo caught his breath. "There's a fire..."
Sgt. Elcamino calmly held up his hand and quickly produced a book entitled Emergency Situations and How To Deal With Them. He flipped a few pages, pausing momentarily to look at a few pictures of CPR training. "Ahh, here we are." He paused, jabbing a finger at the page. "Call the fire department."
Hugo thought about this, marvelling at Elcamino's acumen, then shook his head. "No, no," he said, "the firehouse is what is on fire!"
"Oh shit!" exclaimed Sgt. Elcamino.
Pierre groaned. "I could use that tissue now, Bob."
Sgt. Elcamino involuntarily gagged. Hugo's eyebrow twitched.
* * * * *
Lance had whiled away his post-Christmas depression by trying to get rid of all the crosses and crucifixes in the mission. However, each room he explored more and more religious symbols, as if they were secretly breeding when he slept. Lance did not know who, if anyone, the mission had given shelter to in years gone by, but he wondered if all they did was make stone crosses.
In one room on the second level, though, Lance found something fascinating: a huge bungee cord. Exactly how a bungee cord of all things would be in a mission, other than an obtuse narrative tool, was a complete and utter mystery to Lance, but it filled him with curiosity. He had never bungee-jumped before, although he remembered several instances when he had wanted to, but had chickened out.
Now, figured Lance, with my own bungee cord, I could practice with no one around. That way, fears would be overcome. This year will be the year everything turns around, he reasoned. Hoisting the black and yellow cord with its white harness onto his back, Lance exited the mission and hopped into his Pinto. This was ultimately a good thing, because otherwise this story would just kind of muddle along with no real purpose. Even the expert narration that is both poignant and humorous would not be able to save a story in which the protagonists don't take any chances. But I digress.
END OF CHAPTER TWO
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