Chapter 3: Where Are My Waders?
Janet pounded on the Benson's door to no avail. "Rob!" she shouted. "It's Janet! Please! Let me in! Hello? Hello! Ben! I brought you some breakfast, Ben!" Janet glimpsed a pair of hollow eyes peering around the living room window frame. She lowered her voice substantially. "Ben?" she asked softly. "Hello? Maybe I'll just come back later. I'll just go see Bill. I'm going now. Bye."
Janet got hastily into her car and drove away.
When she arrived at Bill's house, Kim's car was slewed across Bill's driveway and the front door was ajar. Janet knocked, called, and then let herself in. "Hello? Bill? Kim? Are you OK?"
Janet turned the corner toward Bill's room and nearly collided with Bill himself. He was crouched in front of the bathroom door with his ear pressed against the wood.
"Bill? Are you all right?"
"Shhhhh," Bill whispered. "Come here. I'm listening to Kim go to the bathroom. It's musical, like little bells."
"Bill? You what? That's - "
"Hush! She's done! She'll be mad if she finds out. I think she's a little upset. I told her I was going to listen to the radio while she cleaned up. But I'm not. Hahahaha. I'm listening to her go the bathroom. Come on in my room."
Janet followed Bill into his room. What, she wondered, had been going on here while she was away? Had everyone gone mad? Listening to Kim go to the bathroom? And who was that in Benson's house? Her mind shied away from the image of the hollow eyes and she felt a cold breeze on the back of her neck. She hurried after Bill.
Bill put a CD into the player and "Classic Girl" began to play as Kim entered the room, still wrapped in her coat. Her normally pale face was a dead blue-gray and her coat was stained and torn. Her hair hung lankly over her eyes, and she looked the very picture of a rape victim.
Janet crossed quickly to her. "Kim!" she exclaimed. "My dear! Are you all right?"
Kim spoke in a dead voice. "They're crazy," she said bloodlessly. "I was at Ben's. There were some other girls. Some of them went with John to the hotel. I stayed with Ben. He really does have a twelve-inch penis. He bit my nipple off. See? Right there? He spit it on that big pile of garbage. He never even took off his headphones. I thought he loved me. So I went to John. He made me suck his cock. He had a gun. A real gun. I thought he was going to shoot me. He didn't shoot me, though. I got him hard. No one else could get him hard. I thought he loved me, too. But it's all lies, a big circle of lies and I stabbed him in the side with a steak knife for good measure. No one loves me but Bill."
Janet nodded. Bill rummaged obliviously through the papers on his bedroom floor. Janet glanced at him, but Bill ignored them both.
Kim threw herself into Bill's arms. He deflected her casually onto his bed and continued to read one of the papers he had found.
"Bill. Will you rub my feet?"
Bill took one of Kim's feet in his free hand and patted it idly. "Kim," he said calmly. "I have to talk to Janet now. Maybe you should get someone to look at that bite. A human bite is as deadly as a gila monster's, you know. It'd be a shame if it got infected. Maybe you should go to the hospital."
Kim began to cry.
"Or maybe you should just go home. You look pretty upset. Janet and I need some time alone. I'll call you. Bye."
Kim padded despondently out the door. Her sobs were audible through the open window as she walked down the driveway. She backed her car into a tree with a resounding crunch and then sped down the street.
"Bill, she seems so upset. How could you just send her away? I thought she was the love of your life. You could at least have offered to drive her home?"
"She'll be OK. She's had a hard day, but she's tough. She's small, but she's strong."
"I don't understand any of this. Ben bit her nipple off? John has a gun? He's been stabbed!? You send Kim away in tears? I feel like I've stumbled into the wrong movie. What's going on here?"
"I don't know. Who cares? I'm going to Canada with John. Maybe he had the gun to shoot geese or something. I need to pack my waders."
"Wait a minute. When I left, they were all in Ben's basement getting ready to write some new songs. Rikki Rockett had been demystified and everyone was back on track. You were there, right? You and I were both there. Now I come home and everything is upside down. Awful things are happening. What am I missing here?"
"I have to call Kim. She said she'd be at Ben's house. Do you think she loves me?"
Janet stared in disbelief as Bill picked up the phone and dialed Ben's number.
"Hello!" Bill shouted into the receiver. In the background Janet could hear cheerful music.
"Hello? Hello! Rob? You fag! Is Kim there?"
"Bill? Bill, she was just here. Kim just left here. You sent her home. How could she be there?"
Bill handed the phone to Janet. "I think he wants to talk to you," he said.
"Who? Who wants to talk to me?"
Rob's legendary composure had abandoned him. He sounded frantic. "Janet! Hello?!? Janet, this is Rob! Oh, God. Or Rikki Rockett! I don't know who I am! Please help me! He's holding me here against my will! I found my free will! Under here! I'm in prison! Something awful is happening! I can tell it's out of control! I don't know what to do! Please save me! I'm afraid. I thought I was a flower, I thought I had no desire, but I've realized that desire is a human trait, and that I am not a flower, I'm human! Only I'm not anymore! Please, help me!"
"Rob, slow down. What's happening?"
"You know me. You know about my philosophy. We're like soldiers together on the battlefield. I need you now. Now is the moment of truth."
"Yes, yes. Calm down. I'm on my way. Don't worry, I'm already halfway there. I won't let anything bad happen to you. But, Rob? Before I can go over there, I need to know something. I can't help you until you tell me this."
"You have to help me! You have to help me pull the splinter out of my finger! This music! It's so - I can't stand it! And he won't stop! I keep giving him ideas and he won't stop! Oh god help me! I can't kill him. I didn't kill her! He's always there, the beginning and the end! I can't stop it! He's bigger than me. Don't trust me. I'm just looking at it and it frightens me! The truth is now; the truth is right here; the truth is this minute; and this minute we exist!"
"All right, Rob. OK. Settle down. Just tell me where John is, and I'll be right there."
"John? John. Oh, yeah. John. Heh heh. He's at the No-Tell Motel, Room 666. Ha ha ha. Bye." He hung up.
"Where's my waders? Is my backpack still at your house? Did you look? I can't find it anywhere. I'm sure I left it at your house. Do you think I'll need my tweed hat? No, I'll take my tuque. Hahaha. John's so jealous of my tuque. It's the only thing I have that he doesn't."
Janet ignored these ravings and got the number for the No-Tell Motel. Hesitantly, she asked for Room 666. The phone rang six times and then she heard John's voice.
"Thank you for waiting. I'm right here. Hello."
"John! Thank heaven! Are you all right?"
"It's stuck, Janet. It used to work great. I used to be a sex artist. Now I'm boring and ordinary. My rod is useless. What's the point in going on? What am I talking about? Who cares? It's all vanity. Rob's right. At least I can still work my will on the minds of others. That's all that matters. I'm still productive. Kinda."
"John. Do you have a gun? I saw Kim. She said you had a gun."
"She saw it, too? Wow. I thought I imagined it. I guess I did. I don't see it now, though. It must be gone but I'm still bleeding. Kim got me pretty good."
"John, we need to talk. I'm very worried about you. I want you to promise me that you won't touch that gun."
"Right. I want you to promise me that you won't touch any gun until we talk."
"Good. I'll see you this evening, at Ben's."
"No! Nonono. Don't go back to Ben's. Something awful is going to happen, and soon, too."
"You don't want to go to Ben's?"
"OK. We could go there together. I mean, No! I can't go back to Ben's. I forget. He told me to remember. I remember now. I can't go back to Ben's. I'll meet you."
"All right, if that makes you feel better. Would you like to come to my house? Or I could pick you up somewhere."
"Meet me at the flagpole in front of the school at midnight."
"That's silly. Why don't I just pick you up at the motel? It's starting to rain. I don't like the idea of you driving around in your state of - that is - why don't I just pick you up?"
"No! I can't stay here! He's trying to make me stay here against my will." John read carefully the words he had copied onto his arm. "I'm afraid something awful is going to happen to me. Only you can save me, Janet. I can't go back to Ben's. Or go home either. I'm only safe with you, Janet. Please help me. Save me, Janet. No one understands me but you! In the name of our love affair between - wait, I can't read this - oh, here it is - in the name of our love affair between two minds. You're the only woman left. You're the one. Help me. Meet me at the flagpole at midnight and everything will be revealed. Everything will make sense, I promise. You'll see it all. Just do this one thing for me, Janet, and I'll never ask you for anything again, I swear."
"Yes, all right, twelve o'clock at the school."
"What time is it." John demanded.
"It's almost eleven. That gives you an hour. Are you sure you can get there in an hour?"
"Don't worry about me. I'll get there. First I need to prepare the way of the lord! I must prepare my face with Preparation-H!"
"Uh, ok... Please drive carefully. It looks like it's going to storm." Janet looked anxiously out the window at the gathering clouds occluding the moon.
"Oh, yes. Yes, it's going to storm."
Mrs. Benson, in her nightgown, poised uneasily at the top of the basement stairs. "I'm going to the store now," she called. "Can I get you boys anything?"
Rob mumbled something around Ben's enormous organ. He hawked and spat into the pile, then called upstairs, "We could sure use more Vaseline. One of those giant economy sized jars. Thanks alot!"
"My, you boys certainly use alot of Vaseline."
"Uh, yeah," said Rob. "We use it on the dials."
Rob took Ben back into his mouth.