Sunday, November 20, 2011

210/365 --Playlist Story-- inspired by "Dollar Bill Rock" by Pop Levi

"What's he doing?" asked Jen, looking at her sister Viv with concern. "You didn't tell me he was wealthy!"

"I didn't know! I swear. I just thought he was a guy in a band. They never have any money."

Jen and Viv looked at the man writhing naked on the bed, sweating, and twisting his leg in the soiled sheet.

"I mean maybe he doesn't even have it--maybe it's something else, like a drug overdose or something."

"Did you give him something? Did he bring anything with him?" Jen shook Viv by the shoulders.

"No!" wailed Viv, beginning to cry. Jen slapped her face.

The man bolted upright in bed and held his arms out towards the sisters.

"Get my lawyer!" he screamed, before vomiting up frothing blood.

"Ahhhh!" screamed Jen. She slammed the door shut. "It's happening! It's definitely happening! He has it! He definitely has it!"

"Oh God, oh God, oh God--"

"Shut up!"

"What are we going to do?" Viv pulled on her sister's arm, much as they did when they were children. Viv always deferred to her sister's age and relative wisdom.

"We have to find out how much money he had. Maybe it won't be so bad. Do you have his wallet?"

"It's in there with him!" yelled Viv, slapping her palm against the door, her lips quivering. Jen pulled her hand away.

"Don't make so much noise!" she hissed. "You don't want to attract him."

A rattling groan emanated from the other side of the door. Jen and Viv turned to look at the grubby painted wood, as if they were trying to see through it with their ears. There were two thumps on the floor. The mattress creaked as it gave up its weight. Skin dragged against the wood floor.

"He's up!" whispered Viv frantically.

"We have to lock the door."

"It locks from the inside! Maybe a chair?"

"That would only work of the door opened out! Damnit! We'll have to run!" Jen put her hands in her hair and clutched her roots. Viv sobbed and suddenly hugged her sister.

"I'm sorry! I'm so sorry!"

"Oh God, it's not your fault, Viv!"

The doorknob started to turn, and Jen grabbed it, pulling back.


"Run Viv! Run!"

"I'm not going without you!"

"I'll be right behind you--this guy is strong--"

The door opened a few inches as if to prove her point. Jen screamed and Viv gasped. Jen pushed her foot up against the door jamb and the door slammed closed.


Viv ran down the hallway, her bare feet slipping on a throw rug. She rounded the corner to the staircase and jumped down the stairs three at a time. Jen let go of the door and bolted down, steadied on the floor with her sneakers, and caught up to Viv in the space of a few seconds.

The man tore the door open and stood tall in the frame, all of his muscles flexed and tight. His own blood covered the entire front of his body, and his lungs kept gurgling up more.

"Gaaarrrgguuuuuuuguuuuuguuuuug," he said.

Jen and Viv burst through the front door and into the autumn afternoon. Their street was very modest, with graffitied trash cans and many vehicles past a decade in age.

"We have one in here!" screamed Jen at the top of her lungs.

One of their neighbors, an elderly man who only enjoyed nature shows on television opened his front door and stared at them.

"Close the damn door then!" he yelled across the street to them.

Jen slammed the door and fumbled for her key. She got it inserted in the lock and turned just before something crashed down the staircase.

"I'll call the, uh, squad," said the neighbor.

Thanks, mister," said Jen.

"What are you wearing?" he added.

"What?" asked Jen.

"The other one!"

"Oh!" exclaimed Viv. She looked down. "Oh my God I don't have my pants! I just have my boyfriend's t-shirt! Oh my God, he's not my boyfriend anymore!" Viv moaned and crouched, trying to pulled the shirt further down over her thighs.

"Oh, if he was wealthy, he was probably never your boyfriend," said Jen.

"Don't say that! You're always so mean--"

"Gnnnnnuuuuguhhhhhhh!" The man's body slammed up against the frosted glass of the door.

Jen and Viv jumped back, clutching each other. The man's gaping dark mouth could be seen behind the glass. He pressed his lips up to it, and the dark space filled with red. He banged his forehead against it with increasing pressure.

"Ewww," said Viv.

"Get yourselves out of there, you idiots!" yelled the neighbor.

Jen and Viv ran across the street.

"Not here, not here!" said the neighbor. "I don't want to get that infection! I saved up all my life!"

He closed the door and locked it, then peered at the sisters through the curtain of the slender window adjacent to the door. Tires squealed on pavement and three vehicles came onto the street, stopping dramatically in front of the house. One was a police car, another was an ambulance, and a third was a van, hastily painted fluorescent yellow, specifically rigged to take care of the extreme cases. As soon as the vehicles stopped various men and women jumped out and started cordoning off the area. A police woman spotted Jen and Viv and ran over. She doffed her hat.

"How bad is it?" she asked.

"He's gone," said Viv.

"How gone?" asked the police woman. "How much money did he have?"

"I don't know!" wailed Viv. "I thought he was just a bass player."

"Oooh, a vanity band. Was he any good?"

"No, not really, to be honest, but what do I know about music?"

"I think he must have been at least a millionaire," said Jen. "He had the full on blood vomiting. His eyes were wild!"

"Sounds like he is gone then, if that's the case. Maybe he's just a trust fund baby."

"I don't know!" said Viv. "He was maybe twenty-five?"

"He called for his lawyer before he transitioned!" added Jen.

"Okay not a trust fund baby." The police woman clicked her radio. "Take him down with extreme caution boys. We won't need the ambulance."

They watched as the police and the people from the response van broke down the door then shot the man in a haze of smoke and bullets. Then man lay on the ground twitching. The response van people moved in with cattle prods. They electrocuted various parts of his body until his stopped twitching. Viv hid her face in her hands.

"I'm sorry. Were you close to him?" asked the policewoman perfunctorily.

"I only just met him last night. I thought he might be the one!"

"Oh God," sighed Jen. "Seriously? After what, twelve hours? You have got to grow up."

"I loved him," sobbed Viv. "I really did! Why'd he have to go so soon?"

"Well," said the police woman, looking to extract herself from the conversation, "we still don't know why this disease affects people in inverse porportion to their financial wealth. Until we do, I suggest you date only the poor and unemployed." She awkwardly patted Viv on the shoulder, then donned her hat and walked back to her police car.

"Thank you!" yelled Jen after her. Viv flopped her head on Jen's chest. Jen pulled her closer and smoothed her hair. "There, there. It'll be all right. We'll always have each other."

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