Thursday, October 1, 2015


     She extends a fluorescent yellow frisbee across the low chain-link barrier. The frisbee is filthy, like it might have come from the tarmac of a gas station near a busy interstate exit ramp. Pat stands behind her, smiling with his puffy malformed eyes.

     "You toss the frisbee from your side and the other player tries to swat it into his can. If he succeeds, you lose your soul. But you get a free ice-cold beer."

     Daquiri stands firm on the other side of the barrier. He holds the handle of his briefcase in both hands. His thumbs are losing blood circulation, pressed against his belt buckle.

     "I'm not so sure. I've never been into cult sports. I like going straight home and reading until my mind short-circuits and plunges me into a deathlike slumber."

     Becks turns around and seems to stare at Pat for three seconds. There's no way we can ever be sure what she is communicating to him. Behind the two of them looms a piecemeal obelisk assembled from various deposits of bedrock from around the region. On either side of the obelisk are two black metal barrels, canted at worrying angles due to the uneven slope of the lawn.

     "You'll like it once you get started," Pat says. "Once you get your fingers under the rim and start practicing the ideal extension of your arm in the first release, it's like, you're in heaven."

     "I haven't seen a blood relative in almost three years because I haven't been able to stop," Becks says.

     She is pressed up against the barrier now. Her loose maroon dress swells out through the diamond-shaped openings created by the aluminum wires. She tries to undo one of the latches on Daquiri's briefcase.

     "You're obviously not a mechanical engineer; you're pressing the catch in the wrong direction."

     She doesn't stop smiling altogether, but something about the histrionic joy described by her crateresque dimples has diminished.

     "We're actually electrical engineers."

     "Oh, then that makes sense," says Daquiri. He has seen past a teenaged oak tree and found that the sign on the building behind the obelisk and the cultists does not begin with the word, "mechanical," as he had initially assumed.

     "Come on. One throw, and the rest of the Friday is yours to do with as you please," says Pat.

     "Fine. I'm a little bit interested now, anyway." And a little bit remorseful at his engineering faux pas. Daquiri will punish himself later for it.

     He swings a leg over the railing and pinions his nuts on it for a moment, then releases a subtle yelp that makes him sound like an aggressive muskrat. Neither of the cult members notices. He stands behind his can and Becks is handing the frisbee over to him. He catches a whiff of something wallowing below him.

     "That smells like gas-oh-leee--"

     Within the hull of the can, shrunken humanoid forms bathe in a turgid bath of brown liquid with whirling atolls of white foam clinging to their outlines.


     Pat is standing behind the opposing barrel. He smiles with such ferocity that his eyes are nearly shut under the pressure of his crenelated cheek flesh. Becks is standing just to the right of Daquiri, who is still holding his briefcase in one hand. I'm not sure, but I think she's caressing his wrist, and then toying with the latch again.

     "Why don't you put that thing down? You won't be able to throw for anything if you're holding it like that."

     "I can't put it down. We would all be in danger if I did that."

     "What do you have in there?"

     "A couple of books. Some forms. A manifesto. Pair of nail clippers."

     "Put it down. Get into this, man," Pat says.

     "No, I'll pass."

     Daquiri jabs Becks in the hip with his elbow and bends his knees. He extends his arm several times. Each time, the frisbee passes over his own barrel and he can hear screams like steel wool being squeezed in a vice grip, reflected off of the concave dish in its underside.

     He lets it fly.

     As he watches it hover over the leaf-strewn grass, he begins to think he can hear someone frying eggs on the fourth floor of a long brick building at his back. The oily popping noise reverberates between the hard bare walls of the room in which this hypothetical feast is being prepared before dancing through an open window and reaching his pierced ears. He slaps the back of his neck, thinking he has been scalded.

     Then the frisbee is over Pat's barrel. Pat swats it in, his hand drooping from the juncture of his wrist, without even having paid attention. I can hear the plastic plane of the frisbee splash through the surface of the brackish grog from where I am sitting, 500 miles away.

     "Alright, so do you win, or?"

     "You win. You successfully lost your soul."

     "I guess I wasn't sure of what you guys were talking about. You don't really have your shit together with this stupid-ass frisbee game."

     "Yeah, exactly. So do you want your free beer?"

     "When am I going to notice that my soul is gone?"

     "You like IPAs right?"

     "Pat, you've got to stop doing this. Nobody likes talking about their beer preferences in real life," Becks says.

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