Tag Archives: Myrtle Beach

The Pumpkin Cult Clerk

For Pumpkin Cult Clerk.

Jehovah Pumpkin worked in an oceanside souvenir shop in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. His job title was that of clerk and his basic duties consisted of stocking merchandise, helping customers, and operating the cash register. He liked the job but hated the people that came in and complained about the most mundane things. He also liked the job because he could come to work looking like a beach bum and no one really cared. He was part of the “atmosphere,” his boss had said, and so it was okay if he resembled a hippie surfer dude who was high on more than just life.

But the one thing that Jehovah Pumpkin always got heat for was his name. There were a great many people who upon looking at his nametag emblazoned with JEHOVAH became very accusatory in the sense that Jehovah Pumpkin was somehow making light of the name of God, or worse yet, impersonating the good Lord. His persecutors — and wasn’t that strange, persecution for the persecuted — said words like “Sacrilegious,” and “Blasphemous,” and “Scandalous,” and “How dare you,” and “You should be shot, and then shot again.”

Jehovah Pumpkin would try to explain, if they would listen, and some did, that he had no choice in what his name was because he was raised in a cult that lived in a pumpkin patch in Colorado and that their Prophet had bestowed all names upon the newly born, for it was his law. Jehovah would always add, “And I have a brother named Yahweh.”

Many of the people he told this to would just scoff and shake their heads in disgust. Some would spit on him after purchasing big towels or beach balls or plastic pails and shovels and molds for sand to build sandcastles with.

It was his crazy mother, Ruth the Baptist, that decided to stay with the cult while his father, Roger Hemingway, (Hemingway being the secular surname he returned to) had escaped to a semi-normal life in Denver when Jehovah and Yahweh Pumpkin were just young gourds (or boys). There had been much fighting and hot-headed quarreling between the mother and the father, especially when Roger Hemingway discovered that the Prophet had taken his wife as his own… Without even asking first.

And seeing that Ruth the Baptist had no intention of protesting the arrangement, in fact, it seemed she was quite in love with the Prophet, Roger Hemingway could no longer take life there in the pumpkin patch. He decided it was time that he left the compound, to leave behind the bland adobe buildings, cell blocks really, and metal fences, and wild dogs, and bizarre rules and rituals, and so he packed one bag and stole off into the night without even saying goodbye.


Jehovah Pumpkin was haphazardly rocked by Parrot Bay rum as he looked out at the ocean and the clouds above that were like purple haze marshmallows. He was sitting out on the deck of his beach bungalow, it needed fresh paint, and he was listening to the waves crash as he rearranged his mind with the strong drink. The sliding glass door was open and music from the radio inside was filtering out through the screen, something from the Yield album by Pearl Jam. He had recently cleaned the kitchen and the dishwasher was running and so he heard that, too, the machinery and the water. It was somehow soothing and satisfactory to him as it mixed with the mainstream rock licks.

The wind blew his hair around and there were people running and playing down in the sand. Someone was flying a kite. He could hear the distant sounds of people laughing and speaking inaudible words to each other. He reached for the binoculars on his patio table and zoomed in. There was a woman who had taken off her top and her oversized breasts were jiggling almost grossly. It was unsatisfying to him. The tourists clot the cream, he thought.

He set aside the binoculars and bemoaned the fact that he was too drunk to just run out to the sand and feel the grains between his toes and the softness on the soles of his soul and jump out into the ocean like a madman to jungle dance and eat jellyfish sandwiches as a windsock screamed a scalding warning about a coming storm called IGNORANT MAN… So it said on a banner trailing from a small plane in the sky.

The phone rang. Jehovah Pumpkin clumsily got up and drunkenly shuffled inside to answer it. It was his boss from the oceanside souvenir shop wanting to know if he could come in and cover the evening shift, 4 to 9 p.m.

“No. I can’t do that.”

His boss got a little upset and wanted to know why.

“I have to go to my uncle’s funeral.”

His boss wasn’t convinced and wanted to know when his uncle died.

“A few days ago,” Jehovah Pumpkin answered. “His heart exploded.”

His boss wanted to know why he hadn’t mentioned it before now.

“I was to upset… And I didn’t want to place any unnecessary emotional burden upon my co-workers, dude.”

His boss sighed and asked him to call tomorrow with an update on the status of him being able to work.

Jehovah Pumpkin hung up without saying another word. He looked out the sliding glass door and saw that storm clouds were beginning to develop. He was happy about that because he liked a good rain, he enjoyed the sound of it as the drops hit the world and discolored it. He was suddenly hungry for pizza. He dug through a small pile of paper coupons and found one for a good deal at Volt’s.

“Volt’s… Shockingly good pizza,” Jehovah Pumpkin said aloud with a laugh. “Hell, man. I like that. That’s a billion-dollar idea.”

He dialed the number and ordered a large sausage, pepperoni, and pineapple pie to be delivered. They told him it would be about 45 minutes.

“Dude, time has no meaning to me. Just bring it when you can,” he told the young man on the other end of the line.

He hung up and walked outside. The wind had picked up and the temperature dropped, and he thought that was strange. “Maybe it will snow,” he said to the clouds.

A while later there was a knock at the door and Jehovah Pumpkin nearly fell on his way to the door. He pulled it open hoping to see the pizza delivery guy holding a big white box and a pleasing smile. But his heart quickly sunk when he saw the Prophet from the pumpkin patch in Colorado standing there, looking much older than he remembered, but it was definitely the Prophet. There was a large man standing on either side of him, big muscular arms folded across their torsos, squinting scowls upon their faces.

Jehovah Pumpkin poked his head out a bit and looked around. “What the hell… Have you seen the pizza guy?”

One of the large men quickly put a cloth sack over Jehovah Pumpkin’s head while the other grabbed him up and carried him to a waiting white van with the side door open. He was thrown inside, and the door was quickly slid shut with force. The van sped off.

Just as the van had completely disappeared, the pizza delivery person from Volt’s Pizza arrived and knocked on the halfway open door of Jehovah Pumpkin’s beach bungalow. “Hello… Pizza delivery,” she called out. She waited. “Hello,” she repeated. “I have your Volt’s Pizza order.” She waited a little longer. “God damn it,” she mumbled, and she went back to her car, tossed the white pizza box through the open window and onto the front passenger seat. She went around and got in on the other side and drove off with a bucket full of anger in her guts.

The pizza delivery girl, her name being Emmanuelle, stopped at a convenience store and bought herself a lemon-lime soda in a plastic bottle. She drove to a park overlooking the ocean and watched a thunderstorm give birth far out over the Atlantic. She ate Jehovah Pumpkin’s pizza and drank the lemon-lime soda. When she was done, she put her hand down her pants and touched herself for a while. Then the rain came in thick sheets, and she felt it pool in her heart for the rest of the day.

END


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Italian Mexican Food

After 37 beers and a carton of Strikes, down there below those swirling, curling lights of the Piccadilly-like carnival on the inlaid pier, I gotten a sudden hankering for a bit of the ol’ south of the border chow — but there I was stuck in a sea of neon beach shops and surfer boutiques — head throbbing like mad and steaming ’cause I had to wait for the maintenance man to come fix my tub in my sixth floor room of the South Seas Lodge — that ghetto, oceanfront property with the metal doors with rusting scratchings of so-and-so loves so-and-so — and my room number was written on the door with a black marker, others were simply slips of paper with the room number scribbled upon it and then neatly stuck to the door with masking tape — high quality joint, yeah, but the view from the room was worth the 49.99 — those slamming waves crashing into the beach right below my balcony — after 37 beers and a carton of Strikes, it all looked pretty good through my grinning fog.

But there I was at dusk, wobbling down the steaming street that stretched on for miles in either direction, hotels, motels and bungalows all lined up, bumping each other shoulder to shoulder and I thought about how we have come to commercialize even nature, and how three-hundred years ago or so, those waves were still out there slapping at the shore, still rolling like white thunder, rolling and dropping their white and foamy fists against the land, pounding it hard like a drunk spring break boy does to some weekend Snow Off White, probably in the very same bed in which I slept upon, the one with the parrots and toucan’s brightly decorating the bedspread alongside the stains of lust and claw marks of a troubled head.

And I was stumbling along, the streets filled with people in skimpy clothes laughing and falling all over each other; the young, the old, everyone connected in their far-from-home fears and I felt like the only solitary being rushing along the waves of this pulse and so ducked into a beach shop for some sandals and found some ones made in China and they hurt my feet because they were too small, so I kicked them off when I walked the beach and watched them roll back out to sea, back home to China where a 9 is probably more like a 4 to us — because they are made by the small children — and I had asked the clerkie where a good place to eat was and he recommended a Mexican place that he liked to frequent, I said thanks and wandered out the door trying to remember the directions he gave me at the same time trying to not get run over by a car… but then again, I could be on Mars.


I saw it after stopping to piss in some gas station, and there it was, across the busiest street in the place and I thought I’d never get across, but I darted when the headlights died down and made it to the joint. I was the only one solo, of course, but I got a nice heaping of chips and salsa, ordered a couple of beers, and watched some Survivor, Fear Factor rip-off where Kens and Barbies were playing stupid games and it really meant the world to them, like it REALLY was important, not just another heap of trash entertainment to babysit our collective lazy and enslaved American minds.

I ordered the No. 11; a taco, burrito, and enchilada, but when the waiter brought it out, it was like I was eating Manicotti, or Rigatoni with some spicy beef inside. The sauce was tomatoey, not like the red sauce or the green sauce I got back in the Land of Enchanto, no, as if I stepped into an upscale Taco Bell in Florence, Italy. But I was hungry and I ate it and it was decent and I slammed my beer and stuffed my face and I was fat and full when I paid my bill — wandered out back onto the street, hypnotized by the guiding lights of cars and booming shops selling surfboards and kief, and there it was in all its glory, a Krispy Kreme donut shop, and even as full as I was I went inside that heaven of baked goods and ordered up a six pack of gut-clogging sin — so I was making my way back to the South Seas Lodge, made my way past the carnival, the Ferris wheel was so high and lit up like an acid trip, I saw the people just dangling there in the night like branches of a Christmas tree, they were all weighed down with the heavy lights of the amusement park. I stood and waited for someone to jump – like the unloved Thanksgiving at Wendy’s.

I walked along slow now, weighed down with the Italian Mexican food in my gut and a box of Krispy Kreme donuts. I made it across the main thoroughfare, the traffic was dying down a bit, it was getting late — found a little boardwalk that led to the beach, the tide was a bit higher now and the waves seemed to be grabbing at my ankles a bit more forcefully now, and when my heavy limbs made it to the sand, I almost collapsed, the beach was sparse with people, when at the height of day it was crawling with all sorts — I stumbled along, my eyes now stinging from all the spotlights beaming down on me from the right, the waves kept crashing to my left, and it was getting hard to walk in the sand, but in time I made it back to the South Seas Lodge, took the elevator to the sixth floor, it groaned as it slowly carved its way through the shaft, the stairs were in disrepair, and I thought if there was a fire, I’d surely burn or die from the jump — but it didn’t burn and I made it back to my room, threw my stuff down on the bed and went straight to the balcony to watch the waves, all lit up from the hotel floodlights, crash into the shore, so perpetual, unlike the heart that someday soon shall cease to trouble her.

Where do you go?

Where do you go when the lamp switch flips in the direction of darkness?

When Romulus scratches from beneath the ruins, or flies down in a hollowed bulb of burn-stained glass, like those stinging eyes you hear, like those burning sounds you see, like the crickets in the thickets that just aren’t there, and the air is electrified with these Hong Kong highways of thoughts.

Pink paper lanterns and bullets in school hall walls. Parked beneath a banana tree in the summer wind, wasps red like thinking, my dreams tangled in the sheets… penning novels with glowing crayons and soul blood. Such grandiose ideas are but a symptom. Where do you go?

When the questions arise, to take a dive, in a dirty downtown Vegas dawn, before a thread-like walk to the golden palace of pools, to swim in burning light. I can smell her on the train — her viridescent geometric dress, her perfume, her coconut shampoo, her lip stain — the angel of that high light wheel set to spin in the glassy blues of some radical night on Earth. But where did you go?

We cannot find you beneath the lights or crashing waves. No one can find you in the circus night down by the ocean. It’s that loud place you don’t really like, there are no friends in that green parrot bar bathroom stall. Stop writing on the walls. You’ll get in trouble for that, and we know you are used to trouble. Everyone will know when you go, when you go to the cell at Mile Marker end of light and day and time.

And you sit there like innocent evil at the drive-in of life, twisting the tales in your head, the forceful wringing of a white towel in some place of loneliness, the balcony on level 11 on the shores of Myrtle, and would you just kiss me like you mean it before I fall. Down into the sandcastles, pacing the walls of the gritty dungeon. I’ll be so down and buried — you’ll never know, where did I go.