What with the problems plaguing us today - war, violence, famine, strife, poverty - what we all desperately need is a newer, better line of skin care products.
I was converted to the proper way of regarding such things some time after my sister acquired her very own copy of "1001 Ways to Shaft the Public" and a badge proclaiming that she was an official Sales Representative for No-Skin. I suppose I should have suspected something was amiss when, at four in the morning, I was woken by the rumbling engine and grating sirens of a large truck backing into my driveway. Overcome with curiosity, I threw on my housecoat and went to look.
After pressing my face into the window for a while, I realized that the only way I would see anything would be to go outside. I shuffled back to my bedroom, and threw a quilt over my shoulders. Luke Skywalkers' Epic battle to defeat the powers of evil could be seen walking down the hall towards the front door.
Opening the door, I stumbled over something very big and very not-supposed-to-be-there. I fell face first into my mothers tulips just in time to see the truck pull around the corner and disappear in a cloud of diesel fumes. I sat up in the top soil, idly snorting the stuff out of my nasal passages as I examined the thing that had so obviously wanted to see me planted in my mothers prize winning petunias.
There were three of them. They sat, glaring evilly, surrounded in a dense orange vapour. Under the collection of large white X's and skulls, there was a large, stencilled caption proclaiming "Property of Moammar Khaddafi."
"Ooooh, Goody! My supplies are here!!" My sisters bubbly voice screeched as she hurtled out the door, knocking me back into the soil with my new found friends - the petunias.
* * *
Several days had passed, my sister had locked herself into her bedroom with the evil looking drums with an even worse smile pasted on her face. I was sitting at the table eating a plate of "too hot even for Ghandi" nachos and guzzling several of my fathers special beer supply. I belched loudly, a large sheet of flame shooting out of my mouth. I smiled as my mother rushed into the kitchen to extinguish the fire in the bird cage, or more accurately, on the bird. She put the fire out with a few quick bursts of white foam, threw the extinguisher on the floor and cradled the rather crisp budgie in her hands.
"Look what you've done!" She wailed, her face gesticulating wildly. "Bastards!" She screamed and ran out of the room, clutching the burnt bird to her bosom.
My sister, Buffy, rushed down the stairs, arms laden with all manners of jars, bottles, snifters and tubes. She deposited them on the table in front of me, turned directly towards me and flashed a sweet little smile, salesperson badge fastened firmly to one lapel. My spine began to cave in on itself as my brain sent emergency signals out to all parts of my body.
"Nope! No way!" I said, purposely turning on the tube and making like I was interested in watching a re-run of "I Love Larry".
"But, it's not JUST for women." She cooed, smiling sweetly again, mentally turning up the heat.
I could feel her mentally shifting gears as she wound into her feverish sales pitch.
"In fact," She exclaimed, spitting the word out like it was actually true or something, "50% of our customers are men! That's almost half." She added conspiratorially.
"Ferget it!" I muttered, waiting for her to leave so I could change the channel to "I love Genie - The Expurgated Version".
Changing up to third gear, the engine gunned up to 8000 and fired the needle way past the legal limit.
"...And if you buy right NOW, you get it at WHOLESALE!!!!"
She threw it up into fourth, gunning the gas as the clutch rocketed out from the floor.
"...Free STEAK KNIVES with every purchase. Limited time only."
FIFTH GEAR! The needle dropped off the end of the scale. The tachometer needle venturing dangerously far into red- line territory.
"...It will improve your social life. No! It'll make you rich and famous...NO! You'll get laid every night of your life!!!"
The pitch came to a startling crescendo, screaming past safe limits. Something popped and hissed as the pitch started to fade and die. Steam and smoke of the expelled energy fluttered around the quickly dying sales pitch. It rolled to a crushing halt, seemingly unable to change the customers mind.
She collected her samples in her arms, shrugged in a small motion as if to say "next time, pardner" and bolted up to her room. I heard the dull bang as her door slammed into its hinges. I smiled and changed the channel.
That night I fell asleep, uneasy about the days events. Buffy hadn't been seen since the incident in the kitchen. My paranoid mind could only manage to draw terrible conclusions from that. Somehow, I envisioned her stealthily leaping down the stairs, mudpack in hand, ready to do battle to the death. I pushed my chair under the handle of the door, carefully tying one end of the only thing I could find - dental floss - to the chair. I pulled and the floss spooled out of the container smoothly. I hung the cowbell on the other end, watching with pleasure as the bell swung idly with the breeze coming from the open window.
* * *
Around midnight, I began to have this terrible dream. I was battling the evil King of the slimy mud people of Averlon. I was locked in mortal combat with him, my arms clad in dangerous, stainless steel weaponry. He was likewise clad - as much as a person made from muddy slime had arms. We battled for seemingly hours. With a final muddy <squish> he fell on top of me, holding me in a death grasp. I tried to roll out from the body, failing, the evil King landing directly on my head and shoulders. I gagged with the awful smell and smothering muddiness of the evil King. He laughed maniacally as I tried to clear the mud from my face. I couldn't clear the smothering mud from my face, I felt it going down my throat, gagging me, cutting off my breath. I began to convulse as I realized that oxygen is somewhat necessary to survival. The weight of the evil King held me to the floor as I writhed and squirmed. I began to fade, my consciousness leaving me.
I awoke, small coloured globes of light swimming in front of my eyes. I couldn't help thinking how seeing stars would not have been more appropriate.
"Great! Another bloody dream!" I whispered, sitting up in bed. I put my hand to my face to reassure myself that it had been just a dream. I touched my cheek with a sickening <splifff>. Pulling my finger to where I could see it, I saw a glob of brown guck running down the side of my finger. I bolted up, instantly awake. Grabbing a towel from the collection on the floor, I wiped as much of the guck off my face as I could. I made a cursory check of my makeshift alarm system, seeing the dental floss untouched, I noticed the window wide open, curtains billowing with the wind. On the bed side table there was a small yellowish jar with the words "Mud Pack for Macho Men" written on a small white label. I picked it up, seeing almost all of the contents gone, I surmised I had just been treated with it. I tore the chair away from the door, ripped the dental floss from the handle and threw the door wide open. My sister stood there, clip board poised in one hand.
"So, howdya like it? How many would you like to ORDER?" She smiled triumphantly, seeing a last glob of mud fall with a wet splat on the carpet. I shoved her aside, bolting for the shower. After showering the mud from my face, I went over to the mirror. Clearing the steam from it, I looked deeply at my reflection. My face had taken on a sickly reddish tint, probably from having toxic waste rubbed into it and breaking down all the molecules in the first eighteen layers of skin. It didn't look too bad, and it had completely obliterated the pimple that had been starting to form on my chin. Unfortunately, it had also obliterated about two weeks worth of growth on my beard. I felt the baby soft smoothness of my cheeks, wondering if I would ever have five o'clock shadow again.
I regarded the securely locked bathroom door with interest. It looked innocent enough, complete with chipping off-white paint, plastic door knob and metal coat hook. But I knew better. There was something lurking behind that door, waiting for me to step ignorantly out of it. I could feel an evil presence looming on the other side of that door. The door stared at me smugly, knowing sooner or later, I would be forced to open it. Gathering my nerve, I reached forward and grabbed the offending knob. A sudden whoosh of reality accosted me, making me, for a split second, think that there was nothing to be afraid of - that the world was a generally nice place to live. Luckily, it went away almost immediately. I slowly turned the knob to the right, tensing my muscles, ready to spring. As I felt the latch clear its hole in the frame, I threw the door wide open, at the same time the muscles in my legs bunched and I threw myself out the door, rolled twice on the carpet and came up on the balls of my feet. My dog regarded me with interest, wagged its tail forlornly and went back to dreaming of milk bones and long stretches of unoccupied legs.
Swivelling on the balls of my feet, I checked out the corridor. It seemed empty, but I couldn't be sure. She could be lurking anywhere, cue cards and defoliant scrub at the ready. I idly picked at the crusted remains of the slime on my pyjamas, turning to walk down the stairs, nerves twisted as tight as a Scotsmans wallet. I went down the stairs to the kitchen, feeling that a midnight snack would calm my nerves and give me energy in case I had to make a quick escape. I violently opened the door of the refrigerator, seeing nothing of interest I tugged open the door to the freezer, only to have several litres of Pralines and Cream ice cream start puddling and congealing on the tiles.
I threw my hands up in the air in disgust. I turned the handle on the pantry door, pulling in one smooth motion. Suddenly my world exploded in a vision of olive-drab, khaki and aesthetically pleasing bottles. I landed on my back with a wet <sputz> in the puddle of congealed pralines. A tentative <splat> was heard as a partially dethawed pork chop fell on my head.
My sister sat on my chest, knees digging into my ribs. She held a large plastic flip chart with pictures of her products being displayed by cartoon characters. She was dressed in battle fatigues, bandoliers stuffed with tubes of Noskin hung across her chest. A large camouflage bush hat sat on her head, a button proclaiming "(No) Skin a Friend Today!". I screamed in pain as she flipped to a picture of Merv the Marvelous Moisterizer Man. Summoning all my strength, I bucked like a bull on speed, throwing her off temporarily. She landed to one side, recovering quickly she took on a battle stance, one hand reaching for a tube of defoliant scrub. I feinted to one side, burst to the other, grabbing my keys off the counter behind her. I burst out the front door, pulling a cedar tree down behind me as I ran. She followed out the door not seeing the tree in her path. I laughed as I saw her plant her face in my friends, the petunias. I jumped on the back of my bike, thrust the key into the ignition and started it up. It burst into life with a low rumble, the mufflers not exactly legal. I jammed it into gear, letting the throttle out with a loud braakk-brakk-braaaak. I saw her running after me in my rear view, throwing small pots of noskin as I pulled away. I turned around the corner to what I assumed was safety.
I had driven for about fifteen minutes when I began to hear it. It was a loud, earth shaking rumble. It seemed to be coming from behind me somewhere, deafening even through my helmet. I looked around tentatively, slowing my Honda slightly. I dropped back into fourth gear, coasting along the empty highway, trying to focus on the source of the noise. I sped past a 3 way intersection, the roar getting steadily louder. As I flew past the side road, it grew louder then faded away as I left it behind. Suddenly, a blinding light caught the corner of my eye, reflected off my rear view mirror. A car burst out of the side road, sliding sideways, rear wheels spinning on the asphalt. It righted itself with a jerk and the roar grew louder as it began to accelerate towards me. It grew closer and closer. I dropped down another gear, gunning the throttle to gain a lead on whatever it was. I tugged on the throttle again as I changed up another gear. Still it neared, lights blindingly bright.
Taking my chances on a straight stretch of the highway, I turned my head enough to see my pursuer. A sense of doom overcame me as I recognized the car. It was a pink '78 Monte Carlo with a 426 supercharged plant, full headers, Holley carbs, mag wheels and a 4 gear auto shifter. A large "I'm a NOSKIN salesperson" sticker failed to completely cover the "Mary Kay Salesperson" sticker underneath it. I turned back to the road, realizing my only chance was to drive somewhere she couldn't. I gunned it again, shoving the gear shift into sixth gear. The engine leapt to the task, obediently pushing out its 100 Horses onto the road. The front wheel lifted from the road with the sudden transmission of power. I began to pull away from the pink car pursuing me.
Unfortunately, the Monte Carlos 400 horses were bigger than mine, and she quickly made up the distance. Her front bumper edged closer and closer to my rear wheel. Overcome with panic, I tugged on the throttle again, hoping for something more. Nothing came, the bikes power exhausted. Then I saw it. It was a farmers road, no more than four feet across. I turned my head, making a quick measurement. The path grew closer and closer as we sped down the highway. At the last possible second, I pushed on the handlebars and the bike dove off the road, skidded sideways on the hard packed dirt, found its purchase and bounced along the road. I heard the sound of a fully loaded Monte Carlo lock up all its wheels and slide sideways to a shuddering halt. The wheels screeched in agony as it slowed, then stopped. There was a pause, the gunning of an engine, then a screech and a strong odour of rubber filled the air.
I continued up the short path which got continually worse. I was hard pressed to avoid the large pot holes in the makeshift road. I was soon forced to drop down a gear and slow to only 120 kph. I looked into the rear view, seeing a large illumination come gunning up behind me. Streams of freshly harvested corn flew behind the Monte Carlo as the wheels cut a wider path. I gasped as I saw it approaching fast and knew I couldn't drive any faster on this road. I took a desperate gamble.
I dropped down a gear, shoved the bike off the path, and drove manically through the 6 foot tall stalks of corn. I heard the car bounce and screech as it followed. i turned to look back, turning back just in time to realize that I was no longer on my motorcycle. It lounged lazily in the dirt as I sped away from it, its front wheel firmly embedded in a hole, cleverly disguised by a large meadow muffin.
I fell in a heap, not liking the wet splat as I hit. My imagination did not have to work overtime to realize what I had landed in. I tried to get up to run, but realized I must have broken something when I had fallen. I saw her calmly get out of the car, clipboard in hand, and walk over.
"So, how many orders would you like?" She asked sweetly, stuffing a business card in my pajama pocket.
"Orders?" I groaned, wanting very much to be almost anywhere else in the world.
"Funny, I thought you wanted to make an order. Oh!" She added, mimicking a look of surprise. "Did you not WANT to order something? Sorry, I guess I'll leave then." She turned as if to go back to her car.
Despite the pain, I couldn't help but answer. "What's cheap and won't make me sterile?"
"Will that be cash or cheque?"
* * *
I think it was about this time that I blacked out. But, it was because of these events that I found out about this wonderful product. Didya know that it heals broken bones too?
Copyright - Craig I. Menzies 1990
AUTHOR: Craig I. Menzies
Used without permission