A Milwaukee Carol, Part Two


To Seth Simons, "no" means "yes"
Patrick stood to his feet and followed the soft glow of PCJ's Force Ghost as he navigated his way through the cemetery. His eyes were so fixated upon PCJ, using him as a compass, that he failed to notice how the thick, opaque dark of the night seemed to slowly envelop them until suddenly, Patrick could see nothing at all except for PCJ's faint glow. PCJ made a slight waving motion with his hand, and suddenly a smooth surfaced mirror, or perhaps a screen, appeared between them, suspended in the darkness.

Patrick cleared his throat before asking, "What is this, child?"

PCJ answered without looking, motioning towards the screen. "I want to show you some things about my daughter, Annabelle".

Patrick grunted his interruption, "Nyum nyum nyum you sound like you have ectoplasm in your mouth, child. I think that you meant to say MY daughter Annabelle."

PCJ looked at Patrick with a wry, bemused look. "Oh? Why's that - because your pathetic, remedial swimmers brought her into this world? Let me ask you something using your logic, Patrick. Look at your little V6 Mustang. Ford created it, manufactured it and brought it to your life. You then signed the paperwork, made the down payment, and agreed to be responsible for it. So let me ask you - who then owns your V6? You, or Ford? Shinklebout it".

Patrick glared at him, dumbfounded, but his brow furrowed in protest. All he could muster was a mere, "Bzzzt. Wrong", but PCJ ignored it, focusing his attention instead on the screen, which now came to life with a flurry of motion, sound, and even scents.

"I am pulling up a random date - let's go with Christmas, 2018. Here was Christmas at my house."

The screen was awash in warm, welcoming colors as a scene slowly came to life. Patrick's nose was filled with the titillating scents of cinnamon, bread and coffee, as he saw PCJ and Annabelle snuggling together on a couch, clad in matching holiday Pajamas, sipping mugs of coffee sleepily as they watched their kids shred open their presents, tossing discarded wrapping paper over their shoulders as faint Christmas music played softly in the background. PCJ smiled wistfully.

"There she is ... my little Annabelle."

Patrick narrowed his eyes, studying the moving figures on the screen before nodding. "Huh. Yeah, there she is. Wow, she looks just like Adrienne."

PCJ looked over at Patrick with disbelief, then smacked him in the back of the head. "That IS Adrienne, you dolt. THAT'S Annabelle there, see?".

Right on cue, a chubby checked little girl with chestnut hair cascading onto her forehead in an all-too-familiar tuft jumped onto the couch, right between PCJ and Ade, clutching her newly acquired dolly close to her chest. "This is the best Christmas EVER! I love you, mommy! I love you, daddy!".

PCJ leaned down and kissed her forehead. "I love you too, sweepea. Merry Christmas".

Next to Patrick, PCJ sniffled, a ghostly tear navigating the tricky terrain down his bearded cheek. His gaze lingered on his family a moment longer, before he composed himself. "OK. Now then, let's check out YOUR Christmas 2018".

The screen seemingly filled momentarily with static, then a swirling of colors that slowly began to form new images. There Patrick beheld himself, passed out on his couch with his pink blanket pulled up to his chest, all but obscuring his Slurm shirt. 7 Corona bottles lay emptied on the table beside him. His mouth hung open absent mindedly as his pudgy fingers pecked at his phone screen, scrolling through his Twitter feed. His phone showed the time - 11:28 AM. No tree or gifts were visible.

The scene was interrupted by the sounds of a rhythmic pounding closeby. "Hmm... what's this?", PCJ asked, changing the perspective of the unseen camera with a slight move of his hand. The view was now of the Tomlinson bedroom, where Niki was atop the bed, buck naked on her hands and knees. Before her lay the naked form of Jen Huber, her delectably thick thighs spread eagled, with Niki's face buried in her crotch, licking and slurping away noisily. Behind Niki was an anonymous young black male, his hands gripping Niki by her hips, holding her in place as he violently thrust in and out of her from behind. Niki moaned with ecstasy as the black man snorted and said through his gritted teeth, "I'm bout to fart in both you bitches' boxes!".

PCJ chortled merrily at this. "Looks like she got a little coal in her stocking that year, huh?". Patrick said nothing, so PCJ shrugged. "OK then, let's take a look at both of our homes right now."

The picture pixelated and reformed again, this time showing Ade on the same couch as before, this time all 3 kids in her lap, as they all turned the page of an oversized photo album, studying the myriad of pictures. Ade sniffed, her eyes reddened with tears, yet her face adorned with a smile as she hugged her children close. "This here was our first Thanksgiving together. There's you, Annabelle baby ... look at how tiny you were." Ade stroked the hair of Annabelle tenderly, as they studied the pictures together; a chronology of a life filled with love. Though the scene was filled with melancholy and loss, it was softened by a palpable sense of great love and adoration, which carried with it the promise of eventual healing. PCJ's voice cracked as he said softly, "ok then. Let's take a look at your house".

Once again the screen showed Niki, naked and on her hands and knees, devouring Jen Huber's womanhood as the unnamed black man plowed her from behind. Patrick stamped his feet angrily. "Little. Baby. Spectral. CHILD. You made a mistake and showed me Christmas 2018 again. Fuck, you're stupid."

PCJ pursed his lips, savoring the moment. "Actually, Patrick, no I didn't. Check Niki's phone". PCJ altered the view of the camera and it plainly showed the time - 11:46 PM, of that very day. Patrick said nothing, crossing his arms angrily.

"One last thing, Patrick. I want to show you how Annabelle's future looks raised by me, and how it would have looked had she been raised by you."

A new image formulated on the screen, showing an adult Annabelle, in her early 20's. Her hair clung to her forehead, matted by sweat, as she fell back onto the hospital bed, panting. An unseen voice announced, "Here you go, Annabelle ... it's a healthy, beautiful baby boy". A pair of arms handed the exhausted Annabelle a small, wet baby, crying and howling, clad in blankets. A good looking, well dressed young man hovered close to her side, kissing her cheek. "He's absolutely beautiful, Annie baby ... what should we name him?".

Annabelle looked down at her newborn son, her cheeks radiating her love and joy. "Jon ... I want to name him Jon ...".

PCJ seemed overcome by this, his eyes glistening and his lip quivering, quickly making another motion of his hand. "OK let's see her future with you."

A new image filled the screen, a nightmarish visage of a portly Annabelle, of at least what was once Annabelle. Her hair was close cropped and colored blue, and her bulbous double chin was covered in a patchy beard. She was dressed in the manner of a man, and she waddled her way through Patrick's half house. "She's beautiful..." Patrick cooed. Annabelle put her phone down on the counter, alongside a stack of bills that said "OVERDUE - ATTENTION ANDY BELLE TOMLINSON". Patrick corrected himself. "I mean, uh ... he's beautiful.".Andy Belle grabbed a small step ladder, moving it to the center of the living room. Patrick beamed with pride. "Ha! Looky there - crafty with home repairs, just like her - I mean, HIS old man!". Together, they watched as Andy Belle ascended the wobbly ladder, pulling out a rope tied into a noose. She put the noose around her neck, and affixed the other end around the beam overhead, securing it. Assured it would hold, she jumped off the ladder, but underestimated the state of disrepair of the duplex. The beam broke beneath the strain of her weight, and she fell onto the floor. "Huh. Well, he'll be all right", Patrick reasoned. As if in response, the entire house then creaked, before slowly imploding onto her prone form. Shaking his head, PCJ waved his hand, and the screen disappeared.

Patrick lowered his head, mulling over everything he had seen. PCJ studied him for a moment in contemplation before chiding him. "Do you see, Rick? You are a destructive force. Removing your presence from her life assured her a future filled with the same sense of love and comfort with which she was raised. Had she been with you, she would have been passed between Paul Weimer and Dominic Franchetti, leading to an adolescence filled with gender confusion and self loathing, leading to her self destruction at a young age. Even your own wife numbs herself with alcohol and wanton sex to distract herself from your toxic presence. You are a cancer, and everything you touch dies. You can blame stalkers, Republicans, Elon Musk or any other bogeyman you want, but it's YOU. YOU are the destructive force in your own life".

Patrick opened his mouth as if to say something in response, but no words came. His eyes dimmed as the words slowly began to take root, finding purchase in the soft, smooth alcohol rich soil of his brain. The truth of these words began to weigh upon him. PCJ slowly turned as if to leave. "And it didn't have to be this way ... if only you had learned the most important thing".

Patrick's eyes widened at this prospect - perhaps it didn't have to be this way! Perhaps there was one more chance for him! Perhaps he wasn't damned to a future filled with misery, depression and loneliness, where viral tweets were his only legacy. "Mos - most important thing? What's that? What is that, child? Please!".

PCJ paused, sighing. He looked back over his shoulder at Patrick. "If I tell you, do you promise to listen? And actually apply it to your life, no matter how difficult it might be?".

Patrick fell to his knees, clutching at PCJ's robes. "Yes, I promise! Anything! Give me one more chance! Help me turn this around - please!".

PCJ sighed again, turning around to face Patrick. "Stand up, Rick", he said. Patrick complied, and stood up, trying to compose himself as he sniffled. PCJ put his hands on Patrick's shoulders, and looked deeply into his eyes. "I need you to listen to me very carefully, do you understand me?"

Patrick nodded vigorously, wiping the snot away from his upturned nose. PCJ said, with a deep, bellowing voice :

"Rich Vos will be performing at the Punch Line Philly in Philadelphia July 21st".

With that, he slowly turned around and began to walk away, his glow getting fainter. He stopped, and looked back over his shoulder at Patrick.

"AND the 22nd".

Suddenly, PCJ was gone, and Patrick was surrounded in nothing but darkness. Out of nowhere came the sound of loud, obnoxious, novelty music, punctuated with a baritone voice singing nonsensical lyrics - "AWWWW, HUMMANUMMA HICKABOO HOO DOO NOW, HUMMANUMMA TRIPPA RUBBA DUBBA DUBBA!"

And just as soon as it began, the music ended, and Patrick was left alone in the darkness and the silence. "H-hello...?", he said, his voice echoing back in return before returning to silence. After several moments - it could have been minutes, it could have been hours - Patrick wrapped his arms around himself, and he began to slowly rock himself back and forth, intoning the same words over and over again until his voice became little more than a hushed whisper..

"You are mentally ill, atalker. You have been instructed to cease contacting this phone. Failure to do so constitutes felony telephone harassment. You are mentally ill, atalker. You have been instructed to cease contacting this phone. Failure to do so constitutes felony telephone harassment. Youarementallyillstalkeryouhavebeeninstructedtoceasecontactingthisphonefailuretodosoconstitutesfelonytelephoneharrasdment...."