Wednesday, November 21, 2012

NaNoWriMo Day 21

And so it was, on this November evening, Rutger Hauer blasting away at some nameless super soldiers, fulfilling some nebulous quest, the plot lost to The Colonel as he teetered on the edge of the switch to Mr. Belligerent, that a sweet smell assailed his nostrils. It smelled like flowers and perfume, old lady perfume. It reminded The Colonel of a nursing home or a funeral parlor, both locations often within close proximity of the other.

"What the fuck is that?" The Colonel sniffed the air and rose up, sitting on the edge of his seat. "Ah, shit. I gotta piss anyhow. May as well find out where the hell this smell is coming from."

The Colonel rose with a groan and stepped out into the hall, where the smell was even stronger, and then across the hall from his room, into the bathroom, where he took a long, luxuriant piss, singing a few warbly refrains from "Purple Haze." "Whatever it is, that girl done put a smell on me..." The Colonel sang, and then let out a raspy chuckle and coughed at his play on words.

As the Colonel descended the stairway to the kitchen basement, the smell grew ever stronger. When he got into the kitchen, someone he didn't know had his back turned to him. A large pot, the same The Colonel used to make chili, was on the stove. On the counter were arrayed at least 20 glass bottles, all empty. The Colonel stepped closer to read the label.

Before the stranger could turn around, The Colonel said, "Rose water? What the fuck is going on with all this rose water?" He recognized the bottles from the Mexican grocery store. This guy must have cleaned out their stock, The Colonel thought.

The stranger kept his back turned to The Colonel. He seemed to be busy chopping something. His unresponsiveness ired The Colonel.

"Hey!" The Colonel yelled. "Hey! What's the deal with this fucking rose water? You're stinking up the joint."

The man slowly turned around and looked at The Colonel with a wide, fixed grin on his face.

"Isn't it wonderful?" he asked.

"No. No, it's not," said The Colonel, wrinkling his nose. "It's overkill. I can smell this shit up in my room, and I don't like my room smelling like a dead grandma."

"Oh, yes, strong, yes," the stranger said. "Something strong is needed to drive away the evil spirits, you know."

A wave of realization came over The Colonel. "Hey!" he said. "You must be the new guy in room 12. No wonder you're talking all this shit about evil spirits. I've heard you, man. Talking about the devil and shit."

The man kept his wide grin, but said through gritted teeth. "I don't know what you're talking about."

"Yeah, right. Whatever." said The Colonel. "Hey, what gives with all this rose water? Are the ghosts in your room getting to be too much for you. Is this some kind of exorcism or something?"

"Something like that." the man said. "What's this you say about ghosts?"

"Some woman was murdered in your room back in the seventies, and rumor has it your room, the red room, is haunted," The Colonel said. "And ever since you moved in, we've been hearing all sorts of crazy sounds and shit coming from your room. Don't tell me that wasn't you, because that's some freaky shit going down in there."

The man turned his back again to The Colonel, resuming what he was doing at the chopping board. The Colonel stepped closer.

"C'mon, man. You gotta turn this shit down. I can't stand the perfume. It's giving me a fucking headache," he said.

"Without turning around, the man replied, "In due time. When the atmosphere is cleansed. This stuff is strong for a reason. It's got a job to do."

"Well, you better finish it up right away. I feel for you man. It would creep me out something fucking serious living in the red room. I don't know how you sleep at night."

"I get by," the man said.

"Hey, watcha chopping?" The Colonel asked, stepping closer. It was then that The Colonel noticed the smell of the man coming through, the odor of weeks of no bathing coming through the cloying smell of the boiling rose water.

"I'm making Kimchee. It's supposed to have purifying powers," the man said.

"Kimchee, eh?" The Colonel asked. "Ain't that some Korean bullshit. They treat it as some kind of condiment, like ketchup, don't they?"

"It's supposed to have cleansing properties, too," the man said.

The Colonel stepped back, lifting his sleeve to his nose. "I don't know which is worse, this Kimchee cabbage crap or the rose water. Damn rose water is giving me a headache."

"Maybe it's cleansing you, too," the man said.

"Fuck knows I need that. But it'd kill the buzz, right, eh?" The Colonel said. "Hey, man, do you, you know, like to toke up."

Without saying anything, keeping his back turned to The Colonel, not stopping his chopping, the man shook his head No.

"Do you drink? Want a beer? What's a beer between neighbors, right?"

The man shook his head again.

"Well, shit, what DO you do for fun, mister? You want a soady pop?"

Another head shake, very slight this time.

Now The Colonel was having fun. "Let me guess. You're a fucking Mormon? Oh, wait, no. A Jehovah's witness? Seventh Day Adventist? Pentecostal? That racket you've been making must be speaking in tongues. SheGotOnAHonda, right?"

Now the man was ignoring The Colonel completely.

"Well, well, well. Religious or no religion. If'n you don't stop boiling this rose water soon, I'm going to take that whole fucking pot and dump it outside. Like I said, the shit is giving me a headache."

"I wouldn't do that if I were you." the man said, his back still turned.

"And what the fuck are you going to do? You gonna try and stop me?"

The man turned around, still with the game show perma grin on his face, and said, with no other emotion on his face, but with the knife extended out, "I could do that, if need be."

The Colonel took a long look at the man, but the grin and the vacant eyes, and the knife, though not brandished threateningly, all had an effect. Some survival instinct inside told The Colonel that this stranger was not one to fuck with. If he kept up this play, if he asserted himself in his normal fashion, The Colonel knew he was likely to get hurt and, judging by the blank, creepy look on this stranger's face, possibly worse.

"Fuck you, man!" The Colonel said, and raised both middle fingers to the man. He backed up and raced upstairs to his room, making a clatter as he rummaged around in his closet for something.

The Colonel came back downstairs. The stranger continued chopping away, adding pieces of cabbage to a large bowl half filled with vinegar and spices, and didn't acknowledge The Colonel's presence as he moved about the room spraying a disinfectant spray in the air and alternately taking hits off his bowl and blowing them in the general direction of the stranger.

Hope the fucker gets a contact high, The Colonel thought. That oughta mellow his shit out. But as the spray ran out and the bowl emptied, The Colonel tired of the spectacle. The rose water continued to boil as he left the common area and went back to his room. It wasn't until he was back in his easy chair, resuming the Rutger Hauer carnage on tape, windows open to air out the room, that The Colonel realized he'd never even learned the stranger's name.

Kookball asshole, he thought. That's as good a name as any.

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