Bobby McAnnoying: a surreal tale by Lee Gerstmann
Copyright ©2017 Lee Gerstmann
Bobby looked at the ocean. He saw a dog swimming. The dog had a bracelet made of broccoli around his neck. Sounds were emanating from somewhere unknown. A woman passed Bobby. She blew him a kiss. He knew he was no longer in Poland.
Last night, Bobby imagined he was in Eastern Europe. He picked up his imaginary guitar and chewed his gum. His mother, Priscilla, frowned. She asked that he put down the imaginary guitar and eat dinner.
“If I eat dinner, mommy, I will take away the broccoli from the dog’s collar.”
“Never mind, dear. You are moving forward. What you just told me will not happen until tomorrow.”
Fine, Bobby thought. Let the so-called black pepper of Unicorn Land trip its way into the marshmallow gravy. He would ask someone else for help. His musical heroes were too busy tying shoelaces and smoking sage to agree to his command. He needed a new hotel.
Wilhelmina, his next door neighbor, walked by. She wanted to blow him a kiss but she used up her supply. Instead, she tripped on the sidewalk. Coupons were steady and complaining in a hut of saddles. Into the otherwise known region was a bellhop concord encyclopedia mayhem flute. Yeah, she knew as such. Did not ask for a penny but got some.
“Hey” Bobby said, “the espadrilles come into town. You can buy half a quarter full.”
Wilhelmina frowned. “So you say, Mr. Bobby McAnnoying. You shall be a thumpity-thump of pride. We cannot hold a conclusion without you.”
“Yes. That’s what the alphabet says. Stick it in your eardrum, cloud chief. We know better than you around these parts. Take away you dildo and scream.”
Wilhelmina turned into the dog Bobby saw tomorrow. That meant he saw the dog yesterday, which was today. How could he know? Perhaps he was in class. He looked around. Mr. Shint sneered at him
Mr. Shint yelled, “You are the rascal in the prairie, aren’t you Mr. McAnnoying? We were trying to concentrate on the physical realm of the planets and you snored like a grape being peeled. That would have sufficed if I had not eaten dinner yet but, since this is the afternoon of the chipmunk, I had to piece together the rhythms of the puzzle. You lost.”
Bobby spit. He did not know where the substance landed. He did not care. Next thing he knew, he was grabbed from behind by a gum-faced tee-totaller whose voice sounded like an accordion. Bobby figured he was stuck in the tuba again.
“Snatch me a number for the spruce, you little thingamabob spaghetti cockroach festival hamster. The times will not change until you put onions in your yogurt. I have your right side on my left and my left side on your Republican. Make sure you vote this coming election.”
Bobby laughed. He had other realms to occupy. None of this cartridge holding. The worms were handsome enough without their female counterparts. No more fans were blowing his way. The ergot came by way of cosmic dancing. Damn, the alcohol was as good as the puppy. He sat down on the ground, next to the abandoned playschool. He had his bottle with him. His friend, imported from San Francisco all the way to Cotati and under the basement of the Indian restaurant, was listening to a battery-powered radio with no juice. Bobby understood the placebos of the bitchy. He had to tell an old friend of his to stop following him by way of telephone. If the friend was this new friend who happened not so much to be new than to be newly seen, that would have been different, However, such was because Bobby’s state of mind changed every minute. Otherwise, the sad friend could do with a sandwich.
Bobby’s words were looking at him, asking how he was doing. He could not speak because he was inside a piece of paper but his message was that he could do better. The paper laughed because the author could make Bobby better but the author was afraid of turning into a piece of paper.
Wilhelmina followed Bobby. She said, “I am a train and I am dressed in a way you do not like because you have never entertained the idea of pursuing me. If you had decided to come with me when I was poking dominoes, I could have folded some cardboard and let you eat it. But, no you had to be selfish. Just because I am not your girlfriend does not mean I cannot be your boyfriend. I am not a boy but labels are changing all the time. Just ask a can of soup. The price is not determined financially but by the weather. Make of that what you will.”
Bobby nodded. “I shall. I will make it a spice rack where all the tourniquets will go in the morning. Did you see mother and father? How did they react to my dream?”
“I didn’t know you were dreaming. I thought you were a bug.”
“The dream bug. The best kind.”
“For sauces. Use some of that apple pan dowdy, why don’t you? Wear some glasses, for gosh sake. I have a urination problem. It does not go on a shelf.”
“That’s something I will say something about. However, right now I cannot slow down.”
“Too bad. I have a gang to ride and you have a licorice to pick. We all have burdens.”
“That’s what I thought you’d say. I was concerned you’d say it in the wrong context but, like always, I was wrong.”
“You should not be wrong in these circumstances. That is not religious.”
“It can be if you have the right books.”
“Show me the books.”
“You show me lyrics and I will show you the books they should not be in.”
Enough of this Bobby thought. He knew the train would leave without him. No more sleeping on grass. He went through wave upon wave of consciousness until he could no longer decide if he was deciding. Next would be a caboose. If he chose wisely, he would pick a pink one.
Lo and behold there was a mobile that quacked. It did not jingle like the rest of the ducks but it had solemn enough tactile force to be reckoned with. He knew his uncle would be inside. If not his natural uncle then his philosophical makeshift alternative. He really was not one to want to think of men in that way but he could not help it. He was who he was. He thought how he thought.
A breeze whispered a warning. “Do not package yourself until tomorrow’s sale.”
Bobby answered, “I have a demonic presence in the form of my counting.”
“That would be fine, my sweet. Give me your anger. I am an angel who will tickle you.”
He knew what that meant. He would not tell anybody if asked but he could surmise anonymously. He danced, mimicking plastic.
The wind continued. “Make all of your dreams come true in an Irish sailor uniform. Restaurants are calling upon the unicorns to do a soup dance. What have you got to sell? A book? We shall use any tapes handy. They are for ostriches.”
So, now we are feisty, thought Bobby. I give up everything I have and more to be out-thought by a transaction of the other universe. It cannot be done. I want to get on the train and see where it goes.
The wind said, “You’re ignoring me all awash fruit jam and ham make a turkey wing for the whales in the desert by the blue goose in the Monday habit.”
Suddenly, Bobby realized his pants were too tight. They were making his crotch suffocate. He was not a woman. He was merely harassed. He tried to take off his pants but realized he was trying to peel off skin. His pants were made of flesh. That was strange. He was not wearing anything. But, if that was true, how was he able to think? He had thoughts. He must be wearing his thoughts. Maybe now he understood what it meant to be worn out.
Wilhelmina returned. Not that she ever left but Bobby never paid attention. She was shaking her head as though she was making a lice milkshake. She figured her emotions could be measured by increments of protein. She screamed, “Come here, Bobby. You don’t want to miss that train. The broccoli dog is there.”
“Oh, can it with your clairvoyance. I care about the broccoli dog but you should not do so. He is not yours to understand. He is in another game.”
“That doesn’t make any sense. While we’re on the subject, you’re as annoying as your name, Mr. McAnnoying.”
“Don’t make fun of my name. My father thought of it because he was making fun of his father. They were both drunk and just having a good time laughing. You can’t fault anyone for wanting fun.”
Suddenly, another person showed up. “Hey, Mr. Bobby, if I am correct in assuming that’s what you go by, I’ve been on that damn train all day and now it’s your turn. What do you want, vibe-wise?”
“Hmm. Never thought about it much. Maybe I’d like a nice woman to accompany me and touch my hand.”
Wilhelmina touched Bobby’s hand. “As you wish.”
He shook his head. “Not you! You’re like my mother. My mother who’s younger than me, if that sounds rightly odd. No, I mean a woman who dresses the way I like in plaid shirts and not any of this one-piece dress stuff that the guys love in Wisconsin. You should know better.”
“Sorry, mister. I do as I wish. Most of the population is dumb. That’s why we listen to top-forty music. Do you not like tambourines? Get it into your head that society is changing. You cannot have it the way you used to want it. You have to have things the way they are now because it’s like it is and not like it isn’t.”
Bobby tried running for the train but his feet got caught in weeds. “What the hay?”
The other person laughed. “No, it’s not hay but clover. You are stuck by your own admission. Your thoughts are tangled up in your feet. You cannot get by another way without another hurt in your stomach. Your family is laughing at you, right now. How dare you say you can go on the train when you’re not doing yourself any favors? Make sure you leave a tip on the way out.”
“That is not going to happen!” He stomped his feet up and down until he resembled a disco dancer.
Wilhelmina and the other person, named Gregory, giggled.
Bobby said, “Somebody please help me. I want to get on the train but I cannot do so because I am stuck in the weeds.”
The dog continued to swim. “Go back to the old vision. I am not on ground.”
“So, you’re not a dog? What are you?”
“Yeah. I am a dog. I am not a dog that is another thing but I am somebody.”
“That does not necessarily sound like a somebody.”
“Maybe I can beat you to the words.”
“You can try in a smoothie.”
The dog continued swimming.
There was nothing around for Bobby to use so he could surmise the consequences. Everything became French. That was not of his doing. He did not mean it. He thought he could surround the vacated area with his shenanigans. He was half-wrong.
Tabitha said, “I like you, Bobby.”
“Wait a minute. Who are you?”
“I am the sweetie.”
“You were not introduced to the story.”
“That is correct but I am introducing myself to you. I think that is enough of an introduction.”
Bobby chewed on broccoli. Did it come from off of the dog’s neck? There was no more dog. There was no water. He was on a hill. The train was waiting. He was not sure if the train waited for him or for another reason. He tried to think about how people would act in New Orleans. He never visited the south but there was always a first time. He preferred Canada. A librarian suggested Canada to him when he asked about a specific thing. She wore a blue shirt. She was stretching her arms. He liked that. She was nice. He tried to think of a reason why there was no water.
The train spoke. “Are you confusing me with something, young man?”
“If you are not a train, what are you?”
“I am a figment of the pamphlet you were reading. Someone told you I was a train but I am clearly just a figment.”
“A figment of what?”
“Just a figment.”
“That is not possible. There are no figments of just figments. Figments are of something.”
“No, not if they are figments. If they are whole things, yes. Figments, no.”
“So you are not a figment of my imagination?”
“How the hell could I be that? I’m talking to you. Correct?”
“That would mean I am sociologically incapable of encumbering any number of juxtapositions in the time frame according to the ratio announced by the producer. He organized and engineered everything. Look at the credits. They give me the position of executive arranger.”
I“On nothing. I appear on nothing. But I appear on nothing as an executive arranger.”
“How could that be?”
“You’re going around and around in a psychedelic form of mathematics. You should stop drinking beer. I am not a goofy vibrant mass. I am a connector or wiring. But that is not what I am today. I am a figment.”
“So, if you are not a figment of anything, does that mean you are a figment of nothing?”
“Yes. How could I be a figment of something? Nothing is just a word we use when we say we are not connected to another thing. I am not a blank.”
“You could have fooled me. You don’t look like a blank but you’re sounding like one. What is it that you are?”
“I am a figment.”
Bobby was getting more impatient. How long would this rigmarole last? He needed to get on the train, which was telling him it was not a train. So, he did not need to get on it. But, he needed to do something, even if the not-train told him that it was not connected to anything. Bobby was confused.
Wilhelmina said, “I have another answer that could help you.”
“Any answer is better than none.”
“That’s not true. The figment has a non-answer that could help you even more than any help I could give you but I can give you my help, nonetheless.”
“You are being pigeonholed by members of your family.”
“Which family? I have one in which I purposefully have no contact and another family that I like to see.”
“It would be the family that bothers you.”
“Okay. How do I go about changing that?”
“You can’t but I can. All you have to do is follow me.”
“There is no logical answer to that. But, if you follow me, you will allow me to make use of my time and you could get help. How about it?”
“I have no reason to say no.”
“You have every reason to say no.”
He shook his head. “Let’s just get going.”
She walked. He followed.