The Dadaist Adventures of Kimchee and Rachel
This is a project I did with Megan where we had each person write a paragraph and send it back to us, then we emailed the last sentence of a story to the next person, then stitched the parts together into a hilarious whole. I’m amazed that it worked as well as it did, and I’ve always wanted to do it again, so maybe I will. The story itself is right after the break
The young woman uncurled and reached for the remote, freezing Army of Darkness and reluctantly picking up the phone.
“Rachel.” There was a pause on the other end, then a rush of words. “Listen, when I came to meet you at the bar last night, I saw you with somebody else. But I was thinking, I don’t even want an explanation. We’ve only gone on a couple dates, it’s not like you have any obligation to me. I just wanted to let you know, that’s why I didn’t show up. When I saw you with that other guy I freaked out and didn’t want to stick around.”
Rachel sighed and made a face at the phone. “Steven, that guy was my cousin. He was in town on business so we got together for a drink.”
“Your… cousin? I… oh. Gosh. Okay. I’m sorry,” he mumbled sheepishly.
As she opened her mouth, her reply was preempted by a loud voice from the bird cage next to the couch. “Gimme some sugar, baby!” commanded the African Gray parrot in the cage, as he tilted his head to peer at the phone.
The girl could not suppress a giggle.
“Uhh. Is that your cousin too?” asked Steven drily.
“No, that’s my parrot,” she replied.
“Your… right. Okay. Well listen, I have to get going. I’ll um, call you sometime.” Click.
Rachel stared at the handset in disbelief and then dropped the phone back on its cradle. She was silent for a moment before she turned her attention to the parrot. “Damnit, Kimchee! You’re supposed to be a fun companion, not a relationship saboteur.” She sighed and grabbed the remote. “Whatever, how can you not recognize Bruce Campbell when you hear him? I guess it never would’ve worked out between us anyway.”
“But wouldn’t it have been great?” She sighed, flipping aimlessly through the channels.
“Been great! Been great!” Kimchee parroted.
There was yet another crocodile show on Animal Planet. The Golden Girls was on Lifetime. They were playing commercials on MTV. She was captivated, though, by a Perfect Strangers rerun on the WB. Weird things were on TV at 3am. Rachel had always been a little proud of her ability to stay up and watch TV or read or dance or just about anything else for hours on end with seemingly no motivation and effectively no signs of fatigue and it was this skill she called upon now to relieve the boredom of insomnia. For the next nine hours she watched TV, catching bits and pieces of most of the major shows of the 80’s and 90’s on the 680 channels offered by her cable provider. Kimchee took turns sleeping and watching along with her-the bird was always good when the TV was on-yet further incentive to keep it on.
Noon rolled around as it tends to, though, and Rachel knew that it was time to get out and do something. She woke Kimchee and pulled a pair of jean shorts on over her aging thong (“Sooner or later, I really need to buy new underwear,” she thought, knowing that it’d be weeks before it actually happened) and slid her head into a faded “Quiet Storm” tee-shirt. Kimchee hopped up onto her shoulder as if on cue, and, slipping her feet into a pair of flip flops, Rachel stepped out of her bungalow onto the beach.
The sun was bright that afternoon and Kimchee didn’t like it. “Bright light! Bright light!” the bird cried.
“We watch too much Gremlins last night, Kimchee? Tonight we’ll get some real sleep, okay?”
With that, the parrot plopped stiffly off her shoulder. Rachel started, then realized she felt less like a pirate than usual. She paused, let out a great “Arrr!” and turned towards the dunes again. Wondering if she ought to stay out of the water lest she sprout baby Rachel spores, she headed in the direction of her favorite cabana. It was a lonely strand, and even though all the empty Scotch plaid tents provided no solace, she preferred being under their shelter to getting fried by that glaring glob under which the earth was turning far too slowly.
She was about to lie on the chaise when she realized the pirate feeling was still missing. Rachel swatted at her right shoulder, then her left, then yelped. Hurriedly she flipflopped back towards the building. Wondering if Kimchee could still fly, she scanned both sky and sand for the spritely grey until she spotted him on the ground tucked under a gyro wrapper. “You are sleeping, you do not want to believe,” he mimicked in his breathiest squawk.
“DubdubdubdotCreepydotcom” Rachel muttered as she scooped up the ‘chee and placed him back on her shoulder. “Much better. Now you stay there this time, bird, or I’ll make ye walk the plank, or some shit.”
Sometimes Rachel tired of this pirate nonsense, but Kimchee’s first owner insisted that he would never survive if she didn’t keep it up. Just then she realized that she hadn’t been peglegging it, and wondered if that’s why Kimchee hadn’t made it to the cabana with her. She figured she had better go back in and fix them both a stiff Cuba Libra. Before continuing her drinking spree, though, Rachel remembered the movie again and reminded herself three times not to feed the ‘chee after midnight.
The night was hot and humid. Rachel’s hair clung to her damp neck as she hurried past neon signs and maneuvered around crowded doorways spilling intoxicated vacationers onto the noisy street.”Damn bird,” she muttered. “He’s so sensitive. Why didn’t I notice he wasn’t with me before?” She shook her head in disgust. “What a waste of time.”
Reaching her doorway, she climbed the flight of stairs to her door and began fumbling with her keys. As she started to fit the key into the lock, the door swung open. “What the!?” Cautiously she stepped inside. “Kimchee?” she called hesitantly.
“Miss you,” came a voice from the bedroom, a voice very much like Rachel’s.
“Oh, Kimchee!” Rachel hurried into the bedroom. “Sorry I left you.” She went over and ran a finger down its chest.
“Miss you,” it repeated.
“Obviously, I missed you, too or I wouldn’t have come back. I was having a pretty great time down at the cabana, ya’ know. Ya’ want a Cuba Libra?”
“God, I’m famished!” the grey wailed.
“No way, ‘Chee. It’s after midnight. Not doin’ that again.”
“Occupational hazard.” Pierce Brosnan’s voice emanated from the African Grey.
Rachel laughed. “You’re so cool. How could I leave you behind? Come on, Kimchee, we’re going back down to the cabana – some neat people there. You’ll like ’em.” Deftly, Rachel placed her left hand under the parrot’s feet and swung it up to her right shoulder. “Some guy named, ummmm, Tom, I think.”
“Tom Riddle,” the parrot said. “I am Tom Riddle.”
“Sure do like going to movies with you, ‘Chee. You remember more than I do.”
Rachel hesitated as she neared the front door. “Ya’ know,” she said stroking the parrot, “I must ‘a forgotten to lock the door before. Guess I’ve been known to do that after a Cuba Libra or two.”
“I’ve been known,” the bird squawked, “to keep my tip up.”
Rachel was surprised to see a droll man at the door wearing a black tuxedo that looked like the Crypt Keeper’s and sporting a six-inch, waxed, handlebar mustache. Adorned with a crooked (and odoriferous) top hat and a cape that must have been stolen from a seven-year-old’s Batman Halloween costume, the man was the bizarro-world version of P.T. Barnum. Rachel recognized him immediately.
“Dr. Mysterion,” she slurred, buzzed from the Cuba Libras, “whatever are you doing here??”
Dr. Mysterion waved his hand in front of Rachel’s eyes and uttered softly, “Broccoli.”
At once Rachel’s eyes glazed over and her pupils refused to dilate. “Broccoli,” she said in a dull, listless voice aimed at nobody.
Rachel turned and marched into the kitchen, turning the flame jet on her range on high and opening the refrigerator door in what looked like one swift, rehearsed move. Madly she searched through her crisper, throwing out the miserable peppers, lettuce, and yams that deliberately impeded her desperate investigation.
Finally she emerged from the crisper on her knees and held the verdant, fluffy broccoli to her chest the way a mother would hold a long-lost child. Throwing it in a skillet and dousing it with soy, she rushed to the range and began to cook.
“You’ve gone loony, you nutty broad!” Kimchee chirped frantically.
Rachel couldn’t wait. She stuffed the broccoli in her mouth whole, hardly even tasting it, until she heard the door in the other room slam shut.
Her trance broke immediately.
Subsequently Rachel discovered that the $500,000 she had hidden under her xylophone from the bank job in Kuala Lumpur was gone, and in its place was the top hat worn by the hypnotist she saw at the circus yesterday.
And why the hell was there broccoli protruding from her lips?
Rachel pried her tightened jaw from around the broccoli brunch and threw it. She felt sick. Her stomach turned and she wretched onto the floor in front of her. A key! An old-fashioned key. She grabbed a t-shirt from the laundrey pile and removed the key from among the waste, cleaning it off enough to study it without becoming ill again.
“Strange,” she thought aloud, “I wonder…”
The top hat began to twitch. It tipped to the left, straightened, and jumped. It seemed to be moving closer to where Rachel sat, petrified. It was getting to be too strange a day. In her rather off-balance mind-set, Rachel quickly hid the key in the inseam of her bra, lest the top hat should be coming to claim it. She fought to gain composure. Her head was throbbing and the bank job cash was gone. Kimchee seemed to have vanished and the hat seemed determined to animate itself against her will.
Broke, confused and fighting hard to stay afloat, Rachel stared ahead of herself. The hat was sitting there, overlit, motionless but moving faster than her head could take. She sat still leaning against a wall trying to the best of her will to stop the continuous increase in the spinning of the area. The hat was in the center of all the motion.
Suddenly it sprung up hoping towards her in aggression. Rachel tensed up every muscle in her body in what she knew was an attack.
A few feet in front of her the hat took a great jump. Rachel crossed her arms in front of her as she shut her eyes. She started to screech but was cut short as the hat covered her head. Her ability to move stopped. The hat had taken control.
She stood up rigid staring with a blank face forward. Her right finger began to twitch, followed by her arm bending toward her shirt. In she reached, fingers going for the key she just hid. The moment before the tips of her fingers touched the key she stopped. Her brow began to cringe.
Her arm convulsed as an inner battle now took shape to the outside. Quickly her stiff posture began to curl and bend. Her left arm raised as it met her right, heading straight for the top hat.
Fingers now clenching, Rachel fought with all her might as she pushed the hat off. Teeth clenched, she threw off the mind control and flung the hat away. It spun to the ground. It didn’t move. Rachel was already in a stance awaiting a second attempt. Nothing.
She started to breathe in relief, than the hat started jerking. Fear returned.
Out of the shadows a man’s boot slammed down on the top hat.
Crushed was the top hat. Crushed,too, was the mind control unit that the hat had concealed.
Rachel, nearly paralyzed by fright, fought for control and hastily analyzed the situation. First, the boot was probably on a foot which was quite possibly attached to a whole body. (Nobody has ever accused Rachel of being gifted mentally. After all, she goes about constantly with a bird perched on her shoulder. How smart is that? And the bird has a 53% larger vocabulary than Rachel and a 21% higher IQ).
The body hidden by the darkness – friend or foe? Kimchee would know. He had a gift for recognizing dangerous situations and would squawk sage life-saving advice in Rachel’s ear in times like these. But he was long gone – disappeared at the exact moment that the damnable mind control unit was activated on Rachel. Whence had he flown?
Rachel stared into the inky blackness and imagined she could see the vague shape of a gigantic man, silently edging closer to her.
“Kimchee!”, Rachel screamed, “Come quick! I need you!” No answer. “Kimchee!” again, louder.
“Queeve-queeve,” came a hoarse answer from the top of a nearby oak.
“Queeve?” thought Rachel. “That’s not Kimchee…that’s a Queeve-bird.”
“Queeve-queeve-queeve” repeated insistently.
The shape in the darkness moved nearer and began to take shape in the half light of pre-dawn. Horrid! Rachel nearly fainted at the sight of the creature before her. She was completely losing control…but at that instant Kimchee swooped into the clearing and landed on her shoulder.
“Queeve” squawked the bird – but he could barely be heard. Kimchee could not help Rachel now no matter how clairvoyant he was. Whatever he felt – whatever he knew – he could not tell Rachel. Kimchee had laryngitis.
Beneath Kimchee’s talons, Rachel’s shoulder twitched spasmodically as the woman shook off the shock that threatened to wash away her consciousness. In desperation, he tightened his grip lest he fall from his suddenly sagging perch. With a gasp of pain, Rachel righted herself and shook her head as if to clear it, a trembling hand pressed to her forehead. Relaxing his grasp, Kimchee hunched down to avoid the tangled locks of his human’s tossing hair, resisting the urge to nip her earlobe soundly. The woman was frightened and surprised, and in truth he could not blame her, for what individual–avian or otherwise–would be able to gaze at what loomed before them now and not feel their sanity waver?
At first glance, it seemed as though some horrific interspecies breeding experiment had gone horribly awry. The hairy legs of a spider towered nearly ten feet above Rachel’s head, and its lion-like body was so wide, the ancient trees that bordered the clearing groaned and leaned aside in its passage. From the neck up, it had the face of a woman with dark sink and raven hair, and its eyes were a piercing blue. Its gaze unblinking, the creature craned its neck closer as its pink-lipped mouth opened. “You have come this far, but to pass beyond, you must answer.” Its voice was low, inhuman, and a blackish-purple tongue showed between its uneven, pointed teeth. “When I am not, then I am. Where I am not, there I am. Feasting on me, the poor gain not. Without me, the rich want not. I am above and in-between, below and around. I am, but am not. What am I?”
Beneath her breath, Rachel swore. “Why does it always have to be riddles?”
Still unable to speak, Kimchee could only silently agree.
Unfortunately, all Rachel could think about was giraffes, which can’t even answer riddles, but do have purple tongues. This had always seemed so cool when other people were doing it in books. “Um, olly-olly-oxen free?” she ventured, not so helpfully.
The creature emitted a soft hiss, and Rachel began to suspect that it had not known the joys of hide and seek as a creaturelet.
“Credit? No, wait, taxes.” Rachel had just received her W-2 and was worried about tax season since she had done a little migrant farm work that had managed to slip through the cracks. She wondered to herself what giraffes worried about and then what Kimchee worried about. If he was smart, which he was, he would worry about her taxes, too. He still sat, seemingly unmoved by her storybook plight. She began to feel utterly ridiculous.
“I don’t so much care, I’m sorry to say. Shadows, sleep, night, dreams, memories, death, and your lap. Those are all the answers I know. What does this have to do with anything anyway?” Rachel was clearly frustrated.
Beneath his feathers, Kimchee quaked. He hid it as well as he could, but seldom had parrotdom endured such passion. He had loved her since he decided to move in with her, but it all seemed particularly unbearable at this moment. It’s true, what his father used to say: Girls are hot when they’re pissed off. He couldn’t hide his feelings any longer, not while she was all pouty, and in mortal danger besides. She had used up all her guesses and then some, he was sure. It was time for the parrots to represent. She would see that real love had nothing to do with whiskey and Marines. Kimchee stretched his wings, and took off.
Rachel clutched the right side of her abdomen and winced the way she did when she was 12. For most people, lactose intolerance was not a disease capable of causing death, but Rachel was not most people.
Kimchee turned his bloody beak 180 degrees to watch her in the waning distance. For an instant, he conjured her pain – it was almost as vivid as his own! and for a moment, parrot and man were one species. He flew on, knowing full well that the fate of his master lay upon the back of his cold-blooded body.
“I’m not afraid of the inevitable,” Rachel eked out, “I’m just afraid of the next five minutes.”
Upon the speaking of the ‘s’ in minutes, Rachel’s knees buckled beneath her, she attempted to prop her body weight with her right wrist, but after a while, that gave way too.
Max Moose, “The Largest Man in Show Business,” was on the other side of the lake when he noticed Kimchee overhead.
“That silly parrot,” he thought to himself, “Is gonna get hisself kilt. Don’t he know that they’s poachahs in dis heah area?”
Just then a bullet tore across the blue expanse above narrowly missing the blue and gold of the parrot’s right wing! Another – and another – and yet another. The source of the bullet was the golden gun of Dr. Sorrid McFlackhammar, poacher to the stars! standing 100 feet from Rachel’s limp and dying body.
Kimchee was in the top left quadrant of Dr. McFlackhammar’s crosshairs, his normally steady hand swaying slightly from the excitement of an African Gray in tact and in flight – and in his sights.
Rachel lay in a pile of herself 100 feet away from the Doctor! An empty gallon of milk the only clue to her impending demise! she watched from her glazed left eye as Kimchee’s left wing was pierced and he began his rapid descent toward the ground!
The Doctor watched in horror as Rachel began to writhe in her own vomit. She gripped her throat, struggling to free herself from the cold and strangling scaly hands. The Doctor lunged at the creature, knocking over the milk jug, and landed face first in Rachel’s lap. With vein-popping struggle, the Doctor managed to free Rachel of Wretched Creature’s grip, only to find that it had mysteriously disappeared. She looked up to see the Doctor punching at air – the creature had vanished.
“My god! Wretched Creature has escaped!” shouted the Doctor as he tugged at his thinning hair.
Puzzled, the threesome began to search the lagoon for clues. They examined Kimchee and realized he had been shot with a popcorn kernel during his flight south. Only Kimchee knew the mission he had undertaken to deliver an important message. In spite of his injury he was as helpful as he could be while the discouraged trio walked for miles searching for Wretched Creature. The mysterious beauty of the ancient lagoon was beginning to make them sluggish and their minds were weary. Nonetheless, Rachel and the Doctor managed to find a very rare plant that they used to mend Kimchee’s wing. Kimchee responded with a muddled, “Ponha isto no leite.” Rachel and the Doctor looked confused, but luckily the Doctor had brought along his Portuguese dictionary. As he translated the phrase his eyes grew wide. He grabbed Rachel’s shoulders and shouted, “IT HAS BEGUN!”
“It has?” asked Rachel, wriggling out of the Doctor’s grip. Her eyebrows furrowed with skepticism as the Doctor let go of her shoulders and looked to the heavens. He stared for almost a minute, humming a nonsensical tune.
“Doctor?” Rachel asked again.
“Jeopardy,” whispered the Doctor.
“Jeopardy?” Rachel was puzzled.
“Yes, Jeopardy. It started five minutes ago. But I just remembered that it’s college week, so I’m not sweating it.”
The Doctor and Rachel played a quick game of thumb wrestling. Rachel won.
“So what did Kimchee say?” asked Rachel.
“Oh, he said, ‘It puts this in milk,'” said the Doctor.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It was the answer to the Daily Double on Jeopardy last night, under the category of ‘The Starbucks Robot.'”
“Uh huh,” said Rachel. “So what was the question?”
“I don’t know,” said the Doctor, tears welling up in his eyes. “That’s when they came and stole my TV.”
Rachel’s cell phone began to ring.
“Hold on a second, the Doctor. My shit’s blowin’ up,” said Rachel. The Doctor pulled a deck of cards out of his back pocket and began playing Solitaire.
“Hello?” said Rachel.
“Seven days!” whispered a hoarse voice.
“Er, do you like scary movies? Do you like poop?” Hysterical giggling followed, and the caller hung up.
“Who was it?” asked the Doctor.
“Skeet Ulrich,” said Rachel. “I think that bastard has your TV!”
The Doctor stood up and puffed out his chest. “Then we need to get to the grocery store as soon as possible to buy supplies!”
“Alright,” said Rachel, gathering up the Doctor’s strewn Solitaire game.
“Oh my god!” said the Doctor. “Where’s Kimchee? He must have wandered off!”
“Oh, no,” said Rachel. “We have to find him before the others do!”
“Let’s go!” said the Doctor.
With that they headed towards the nearest appliance store where they expected to find the parrot staring at the display televisions in the window. Luckily, Kimchee was in the parking lot outside, frightening two children watching a portable television in their mom’s mini-van.
“Kimchee, quit clowning, come on!” Rachel yelled, and then, to the kids, “Sorry!”
“We’ll take my car.” said the Doctor, opening the doors on his Cadillac Esplanade with the remote control on his keychain.
“Roomy,” admired Rachel.
“Kawk, Cadillac!” added Kimchee.
“That’s nothing. Car, take us to the grocery store.” The Doctor seemed to have lost his mind, but to Rachel’s surprise the huge SUV roared to life and drove to the market for them.
“Right away, the Doctor. Would you like your usual afternoon cocktail?” the car asked.
“The Doctor, do you realize that your car speaks with the voice of Skeet Ulrich?!?” Rachel unbelievingly asked.
“Nonsense,” The Doctor said, “Car sounds like Car, not Skeet Ulrich, that bastard.”
“We’ve arrived,” Car said in Skeet Ulrich’s voice.
Shopping for any uncertain endeavor is confusing enough, with two persons splitting up to “get the job done quicker” it is chaos, but they wasted little time at the checkout thanks to the Doctor’s Platinum card.
At the airport, as the Monstrous vehicle unpacked for them, Rachel looked at their “supplies”.
“How on Earth are we going to get two of us, Kimchee, and all this stuff on any plane?” the young woman asked The Doctor.
“Are you forgetting that I’m a doctor? We get certain…perks,” the Doctor replied with what he thought was a sly wink.
“Yeah, perks,” Rachel said as the giant SUV drove off to park itself and the Doctor walked to the ticket counter with an armload of stuff.
“Kawk, money talks!” Kimchee chimed in.
“Money talks — and boooolshit walks!” Said the Mulleted Man as he broke free from the binds of the security guards and pulled a tommy gun from his leatherette motorcycle jacket.
“Krebsdorf! I knew it was you all along!” spoke Kimchee with a milquetoast accent. This not only drew looks of confusion from Rachel and the Doctor, but from the crowds of onlookers who had gathered in the past ten minutes as well…
Kimchee reached up with his left talon, farther than anyone would imagine a parrot could do. As he touched his tiny foot to his beak, a flash of light exuded from his head and the crowd was instantly blinded…
As he stood from his perch, a five foot three Northern Englishman, he shot a glance at Rachel… “I believe this is what you are looking for.”
He walked to the Mulleted man — sure of himself, rigid inside.
Mulleted Man looked on — though temporarily blind — as Kimchee touched his forehead and instantly dissolved his body, his DNA, his very being into molecules.
The Doctor fell to his knees and let out a scream that resonated throughout the air port. Tears streamed down Rachel’s cheeks. And Kimchee disappeared with a smile as wide as his face.
The crowd lurched forward — the ground swelled and shook — And the world spun on its axis once again…