Guy Psycho and the Ziggurat of Shame By John King
220 pages – Amazon
“Guy, cease!” Lulu yelled.
“Is he possessed?” she thought. “How can he keep this up?” She twisted around to look behind her, and the rest of them were spread out like a race, Sybil tottering as she yanked off her diamond-encrusted pumps.
And then Guy was not in front of her, nor had he turned right, towards the ziggurat. The bloody footprints instead went—
Trudy and Simone bumped her.
“That way!” Trudy said.
There the Man was zooming down a street to the left, away from the ziggurat. “What the—” said Lulu, but then was dashing after Trudy and Simone. There was a crash behind them. Archibald was leaping over Philippe, who had collided into a gourd of wine, and Concetta’s blue patent boots clicked allegro, the toes barely scraping the ground. Lulu turned forward and could barely see Guy, his overlarge fists churning.
Lulu remembered, in a single flash, a time when her face was mashing her nose down against a tabletop, her sweaty, auburn hair crawling with sickly airs, in some murmuring necropolis of a bar in the underside of Tangiers. She had traveled to the tip of the African continent to chase down her college boyfriend, who spit in her face in the lobby of the El Minzah Hotel, and, when she tried to hold him, threw her onto the henna-colored tiles. Three hours later she was slumped in the darkest brasserie, where she drank two bottles of raki, and was trying not to slur her words in rejecting the solicitations of the male patrons. She couldn’t understand their words, but their pinched smiles and squints told her enough about what threatened her there. She wanted to leave, but didn’t have the strength in her legs, and worried that she might fall asleep and never return home safely, not that she had a home to go to.
And then this man, straight out of a D.T. hallucination, with darkened eyes and lips, his neck oddly wrapped up, walked over to her, looming enormously, and spoke in English:
“I am all for drinking,” he said, “but drinking [a]lone makes me melancholy. Will you join me?”
Lulu thought, since the table was hers, that he in fact was joining her, but all her mouth could manage was “yes.”
“C[api]tol,” he said, and sat across from her, holding some nuclear concoction that illumined his face with a phosphorescent green glow.
“Who are you?” she managed, after two cacophonous songs had come and gone on the p.a.
“Call [me] Guy.”
“What—is that thing—your voice keeps doing.”
“It’s a long story.”
“I have forever.”
“That wasn’t a long story.”
“No, I guess not.”
“I’m sorry.” She reached out a hand to his. It must have been the raki.
“Thank [you],” he said. “And now, why not [tell] me your life [stor]y?”
Instantaneously, Lulu convulsed with tears. She told him all about Thomas, how he had been her boyfriend for two years at the University of Chicago, how he had ditched her at graduation, how he claimed to want to travel to discover himself, and revealed how much he loathed her.
“Some people [are] quite empty,” Guy said, “and think they can f[ill] that empt[i]ness with the world. All that does is spread the [emp]tiness around.”
Lulu stared vaguely ahead.
“Thomas doesn’t loathe [you]. He loathes his incapacity [to] feel love for one [of] the loveliest nymphs [ev]er deposited on this sphere.”
Guy never let go of her hand. She looked at him, but, oddly, this gothic weirdo wasn’t mocking her. She wiped her cheek, and could feel the oiliness of her running mascara, could feel the sweat and grime and spittle in her hair, could sense the hardened lavender lipstick upon her lips as she tried not to smile, or grimace.
“Are you making a play on me?”
“Tell me [the re]st of your story.”
And so Lulu told him about her vastly lonely childhood, her mother’s deteriorating sanity, her father’s monomaniacal absorption into his archeological work, his pathological need to do all in his power to scientifically inhabit a different world than the one he lived in. After he died, she commenced on the path of a party girl, fully yielding to her Dionysian impulses to dance whenever and wherever the 1990s would let her; but she also fully yielded to the Apollonian impulse to follow in her father’s scholarly footsteps, studying archeology and impressing her professors, even in light of her considerable pedigree. Only Thomas had seemed to understand her need to be both these women, to understand that she was these two women, not even her few friends understood—but now she had to face the fact that what seemed like his understanding might simply have been the blindness of mutual solipsism. He never objected to her conflicted aspirations because he never really knew she had any aspirations, and she never knew that he never knew. And here she was, an unthinkably far distance from home, a cipher in a ledger that no one would ever read, an empty egg cracking in the back of the fridge.
“Home,” said Guy, “is wherever you lay [your] hat.”
Lulu held his hand, and looked with anguish into those dark-lidded eyes.
“Mister, what am I going to do?”
“Would you [like] a job?” he said.
“How do you know I can dance?”
“Your gams tell [me] so.”
“How do you know I can sing?”
“I’ve heard you cry. The [real ques]tion is, do you want the job? [Do] you want the life?”
 Apologetic editorial note: the occasional synthetic inflections of Guy’s vocalizer shall be punctuated by brackets.