I am Chris Liveru^ux;;9*1ea-ux. Don’t try to pronounce it. It’s Belgian and can’t be spoken in English without special tongue prosthetics. Call me Chris Liver.
It was a place and time only solitary men and evanescent dreams exist; 3:15 a.m. in Peoria, Illinois. I was sitting alone in my car staking out a gentleman’s club, Hal’s Hooter Hut, waiting for Frankie Zamboni to come out. Zamboni was an enforcer for the Parcheesi family whose specialty was running his victims down with industrial machinery. I was hired by the Parcheesi rivals, the Peoria Council for the Arts, to take Zamboni out.
I was what some called a “fixer”. Others called me an “a big jerk” or “loser”. Either way I got paid.
The air was bitter that morning when Frankie finally emerged from the club. The big man was a hunch-front who walked bent over backward like the small letter “r” moving in reverse through the alphabet. His fat arms swung to and fro as he whistled The Banana Boat Song, his absurdly bent legs shuffling down the otherwise silent street.
Grabbing my weapon of choice, a harshly worded letter, I took off to get Frankie. Because of his condition, Zamboni was naturally looking up. Believing I had the element of surprise, I charged at him, unfolding my letter with a crisp snap. I hadn’t even read the salutation before he started to run.
Apparently Zamboni’s other senses made up for his awkward stance. He had smelled my Mardi Gras cologne and took off, but they didn’t call me an “arrogant butthead” for nothing. Matching Frankie’s wheezing waddle with a light trot, I attacked.
“Dear Mr. Zamboni,” I began. I saw Frankie’s upside down eyes glare at me as he spit out expletives. “The Peoria Council for the Arts object in the strongest terms to your continued murdering of our members.”
“You’re . . . dead . . . you . . . jerk,” Frankie gurgled at me, choking on his own saliva.
“If this wanton killing does not stop immediately,” I continued reading, “we will take legal action against you. We do not wish to impinge on the plying of your trade, however . . .”
“Stop . . . reading!” Frankie bellowed.
“However,” I shouted back. “We cannot continue to have meetings where bloody corpses are found in the men’s room.”
Zamboni started laughing. I looked up to see him climbing into the seat of a
2-ton backhoe. The engine roared to life. I had one chance and that was to keep reading. I found my place in the letter and yelled over the giant machine.
“The council is down to five members, now hidden in undisclosed locations.” The backhoe came at me, but I stood my ground.
“We will never stop trying to bring quality art and entertainment to downtown,” I screamed as heat from the engine blew into my lungs. “Our mission will always be one of pretentiousness, incomprehensibility and holier-than-thou snobbery.”
The backhoe crashed into my rib cage at 3 miles an hour, knocking me slightly off balance. I climbed on top of the bucket and stared into Zamboni’s hump.
“We are the Peoria Council for the Arts!” Zamboni lurched to the side as if I’d slapped him. “You can take away our grant money!” Frankie weaved the backhoe back and forth trying to shake me off, but I remained steadfast, holding on as he raised and lowered the bucket.
“You can ignore our poetry readings; you can protest our art exhibit of world leaders in animal costumes!” I shouted. The backhoe slowed to a stop. Zamboni’s breathing turned raspy.
“Stop . . . please! No . . . more . . . words.”
I climbed into the seat next to him. He looked at me, pleading, his eyes bulging out. Holding the letter up for Frankie to see, I finished reading.
“You can even force us to serve inferior domestic white wine at our fundraisers, but we will prevail. Peoria needs us. Illinois needs us. The world needs us.”
“So . . . vain . . . you . . . jerk,” Zamboni insulted me. I watched his hump rise and fall a last time. He was dead.
Once again I had pummeled a man to death with my bloviating. I hadn’t asked to be a “stain on humanity” or “that idiot who writes like a self-important playwright”. But in the fullness of time, we must accept who we are.