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The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad
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The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad

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Author: Minister Faust
Publisher: Del Rey, 2004
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Book Type: Novel
Genre: Science-Fiction
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Synopsis

Hamza and Yehat are The Coyote Kings best friends, one a disgruntled dishwasher and the other a video store clerk, but each brilliant in his own right. Yehat builds prototypes of space-age inventions in his spare time, while Hamza, a former English honors student who was kicked out of the university, writes lush, lyrical poems when he's not blockedwhich, these days, is nearly always.

When the gorgeous, mysterious Sherem shows up in E-Town decked out in desert finery, Hamza's creative spark is ignited. Who is this sophisticated woman that speaks arcane African tongues, quotes from obscure comics and Star Wars movies, yet seems somehow too ethereal for the world Hamza inhabits? And what is the lost artifact that she and a cast of coiffed collectors and criminal cultists so desperately seek? As Hamza falls blindly in love with Sherem, little does he know that he and Yehat play the biggest part of all in the recovery of the ancient relic and in the future of all living beings....


Excerpt

Chapter 1

I Wash Dishes for Scumbags

You will never find a more wretched

hive of scum and villainy.

-B. Kenobi, failed tour guide

Cue theme music: "Fe Fe Naa Efe" by Fela Anikulapo Kuti. Badass Nigerian horns and Afrobeat drumming funk-James Brown's Jurassic DNA blasted balls first into the future. That's my song, damnit, and I pity the fool who forgets it.

It's Wednesday night again, which it always is after Wednesday afternoon, which it always is after Wednesday morning.

Wenzzday.

This is what my life has become as I stand in front of this stinking sink in the colostomy zone of the Brightest-Lil-Preppy-Joint-in-Town, called ShabbadabbaDoo's. Can you believe that name? Temple of freaking jerks. Here's a haiku for you:

ShabbadabbaDoo's:

Frolicking fashion fascists

Wealthy swines dining

Yes, while mentally composing happy poems just to keep my soul from falling into the deep fryer, I get both to scrape AND wash the crud off of the shingles they slide in front of a bunch of rich kids' maws night after succulent night in this Tex-Mex-Cali-cocktail cesspit, before, during, and after they drain pitcher after pitcher of Can't Believe It's Not Urine!

Why pick on Wednesday? Wednesday is the day that says it all. See, in Norse mythology that'd've been Woden's Day, or Odin's Day. Odin was the supreme god, kind of like Zeus but with one eye and icicles hanging off his ass (the eye wasn't hanging off his ass-I mean he had only one eye, which you knew what I meant anyway).

And what day gets named after him? The middle of the freaking week. As in, week's not young enough for freshness and vitality, and week's not old enough for the hopeful release of the weekend.

I work Mondays to Fridays here at Castle Scumulus, way down in the kitchen, the lower intestine, if you will, scraping and swearing and stacking and dreaming of leaving for Star Fleet Academy, and the day that gets me worst is always Wednesday.

Mondays I can actually take, which is because of an aggressive policy of Weekendventurism that gives me some holdover. Tuesdays I'm okay cuz if I work during the day I might catch a flick on account of it being cheapskate night. Thursday is practically Friday and Friday is Friday. But W-

Don't make me say the name again.

There's this one zitsack here, a freaking blond puffball who looks like a sissy-sized Ken doll with really, really, really tiny teeth (I swear, they look like someone glued rows of white corn niblets into a denture), who for some bizarre reason unknown to me doesn't like me. The little bastard.

Anyway, every time this busboy-DID I MENTION HE'S A BUSBOY?-drops off stuff for us to wash, if he sees me at the sinks, he always arranges to take a big pot or frying pan from one of the cooks and slams it in my sink to splash me sudsy, so my goatee looks like an ice-cream bar hanging off my chin.

I warned him that if he wanted his gonads to remain in their handy travel pouch, he'd better back off, but every night he keeps coming back with more kitchen meteors.

Now this busboy aspect is significant because the pecking order here is vicious. Out on the deck you got all the hostesses and managers and waitstaff who're mid-twenties, usually blond, and therefore White. The cooks are usually cooking-college Whites, with the prep cooks uneducated Whites or Browns. The dishwashers are all Brown. Most of these poor freaks don't speak much English and none of them has an education.

Except me. Honors BA in English literature.

Well.

Okay.

Actually I'm missing one course.

Actually I'm not likely to get that course.

Actually I'll never be allowed back to do that course.

I don't wanna talk about it.

So I'm here in this freaking swinetopia taking orders from a bunch of spray-ons in rayon. Sometimes I try to liven it up a bit here in the dish pit, put on some music the boys'll like. I've brought CDs by the great oud player Hamza El Din, my namesake and fellow Nubian (although he's Egyptian and my dad's Sudanese), and of course Fela Anikulapo Kuti, king of Afrobeat. Sometimes I've slammed in some Nusrat remixes by Bally Sagoo and Massive Attack, or some Apache Indian or Hot Hindi Hits for my boys, here-

You know... two weeks ago I brought in Public Enemy's latest album, Muse Sick-N-Hour Mess Age. Angry, super bad, and a Brother's best pain relief in this freaking joint.

So it's late night, I'm playing the music and washing pots, when the damn head cook comes in off his break-it's like one in the freaking morning and he's basically done anyway-and he tears my disc out of his box and in his ear-splittingest Australian accent yells at us (actually at me), "Keep yoh fakkin ands off moi radio!"

And to tell you the truth that mess is still burning up my guts.

(The sink-swamp in front of me is now completely aswim with filth, and I figure I'm gonna cut my hand against a sunken X-Wing if I don't drain it.)

I'm a grown man. And this Outbacks tool who probably hasn't read a book since the warden sent him a hygiene manual in solitary yells at me not to touch his stereo like I was infecting it or something.

Bad enough having to do this crummy job in the first place. Bad enough having to put up with the Zitsack. But getting sworn at? If my dad knew I was letting scumwads treat me like this, he would cry. I mean he would actually cry.

The sink's empty now-I got it washed out again, blasting it free of crud with the water jet. And now while I'm filling it up with scalding hot, the steam is billowing out of the depths like a spell from beyond time, a formula of hiding to keep me from going completely nuts in this stenchorium.

I'm wearing a Walkman-style belt jobby but without headphones.... My madman roommate, Yehat, who I'll be seeing in a couple of hours after I get off work-he's a genius with gadgets and whatnot-anyway, he rigged this baby up for me. An antidote to Captain Kangaroo's tirades and musical censorship. Got super-slim speakers sewn right onto my belt so I can play music for me and my South Asian dishwash posse.

I put in a Vangelis score, Opera Sauvage. It's for quiet times, melancholy, you know? And with the steam swirling around me and blanking out Dante's Ristorante, and Vangelis's lonesome strains chiming like death's bells . . .

...I'm suddenly on the cliff.

I don't know how long ago it was that I saw the cliff for the first time.

I guess it was way back maybe even before high school, before Yehat and me met. Might've even been the first time I heard this Vangelis piece, "Irlande," as in Ireland.

Hm. Never thought of that before. Ireland: the Angry Country.

Anyway, house was empty, which it basically always was by then, and me at all of fourteen years old listening to this gaunt, rib cage echo piece in the basement and probably, being the melodramatic kid I was, maybe even thinking about how lonely I felt and my eyes welling up with water. Poor little boy.

And suddenly I see myself on the side of a cliff, in a little carved-out portion, with the angry sea way below all cold and clutching, and me way too high up to climb to the top and walk to safety. No trees, not even the cries of seagulls.

And then... in this vision... I realize I'm not alone.

She's with me.

I don't know who she is, but her skin is like fired bronze, dark and glowing, and her hair is midnight and curly and wet-heavy, like soft, black chain mail draping round her shoulders. We're holding on to each other, and, I suddenly realize, we're both naked.

But it's not sexual. I don't know what it is, in the vision.... Maybe it's... survival.

With the swirling ocean mists cutting off the world and killing the skies, we're clutching each other for sweet life, like if we let go, the seas and rocks below will shred us apart like the teeth of some grim leviathan from those cold, cold waters.

I don't know her name. I can't even say for sure I see her face. But for more than a decade, whenever I see fog or overcast, or maybe just a wall of steam, I'm back on that cliff.

And the feeling it carries with it is of a loneliness and yet a sense of, well, completion, so intense it's like a mouthful of fresh blackberries, bitter and gritty-seeded and intensely, intensely there.

Ah, hell's bells, now you're thinking I'm pretentious and flowery and navel-gazing. Guess you want me to apologize.

Get used to it.

In two interminable hours I'm off. Until tomorrow. Until the next day.

Until the next Wednesday.

Maybe when we walk home Ye can pull me outta these Wednesday freaking mist gray blues.

I swear, I'm starting to feel so freaking trapped by the wrong stuff in my life and the right stuff being out of my life... so pinned down and pissed on and pissed off and pining for something, anything to tear me outta here.... I'm so damn desperate I sometimes feel like I should just find the cliff in my dreams and jump the hell off it.

CHARACTER DATA:

Yehat Bartholomew Gerbles

REAL NAME: Ulysses Hatori Bartholomew Gerbles.

STRENGTH: Unshatterable self-esteem.

WEAKNESS: Mule-ass stubbornness +22.

TECHNOLOGICAL INTELLIGENCE: +99 A-Team/MacGyver.

DOESN'T-GIVE-A-SHIT POINTS: +25.

COME-ONS, FREQUENCY/RANGE/SUCCESS: +32/unlimited/+1.

SOCIAL APPROPRIATENESS: -1.

AFRO: Close-clipped.

EYES: Four.

ARMOR TYPE: R-Mer, class-10 Gundamoid somatic unit.

SMIRK: Pronounced.

MECHANICAL, INVENT/IMPROVE: +89.

VENGEANCE: Unchartable.

ENCUMBRANCE: Spotswood Persimmon Gerbles, brother.

BLADDER/COLON CARRYING CAPACITY: Superior drought/superior famine.

TRIVIA DEXTERITY: Scientific +379, mote in neighbor's eye +100.

GENRE ALIGNMENT: Hard SF text (Clarke/Asimov +122), PKD +79.

AKA: Scotty, Tony Stark, Supreme Love Doctor, the Coyote King.

SLOGAN: "One day I...

Copyright © 2004 by Minister Faust


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