There's a funny thing about being chased by a giant pig. Okay, well, actually, there are a whole lot of funny things about being chased by a giant pig. Most of them, I am sure, will be much funnier later, after the pig is gone and I have had some citrus-juice-enhanced vodka and possibly some psychotherapy.
Anyway, one of the more prominent funny things, and the first one which occurs to me, is that not only am I concerned that this might be the way that I die, but as that concern is crossing my mind I also realize that all things considered, that might not be completely awful (well, living through it will, I can't imagine that dying at the hands of a giant pig is going to meet with my personal-death standards of "peaceful" and "painless") because at least people will be giggling uncontrollably at my funeral. I always hoped that people'd enjoy themselves at my wake, in one way or another.
Of course, I would much rather not have a funeral, pig-induced or otherwise, so when the pig turns my way and charges, I head the other way, back toward the kitchen. Sensing that I'm not going to make it before the pig gets there, I grab one of the dining room chairs and turn around--Jeebus FUCK how did it catch up so fast?--and brandish it like a lion-tamer. I think I might be making one of those involuntary high-pitched girl noises that usually accompanies the sudden appearance of a mouse, as well. (I'm not even afraid of mice, but I make that noise anyway when one appears unexpectedly. It pisses the cats off. I think it's genetic.)
The pig knocks the chair away with a toss of its nose, breaking it--the chair, not its nose--in the process, and I keep backpedaling for a few steps before it becomes clear that I'm going to be overrun and jump onto the dining table instead. The pig alters its course to catch me, knocking several more chairs over. I stand up, and whack my head on the light fixture, a painful blow that sends me right back to my knees in the middle of the table. One of the globes pops loose and shatters on the table next to me.
Dr. Teeth charges out of the living room and jumps on the pig's back, throwing his arms around its neck. This is weird, but not nearly as weird as the fact that he's shouting the lyrics to "Battle Flag" by the Lo-Fidelity Allstars. Maybe he's trying to psych the pig out? Maybe that's Dr. Teeth's equivalent of a girl-noise and he's unaware that he's doing it. In any case, whatever the reason he's yelling "Tell me is it time to get down, on your motherfuckin' knees!" and the pig takes off running, shaking its head back and forth and sliding on the tile as it careens into the kitchen. It tumbles over on its side but Dr. Teeth holds on while it rights itself and starts running again. I slide off the table so I can see into the kitchen, looking for a weapon.
I don't find one, but I'm in time to see the pig coming back. It's trying to buck Dr. Teeth off. Who knew pigs could buck? The whole house shakes with the pig's efforts to dislodge the DJ slash drug dealer clinging to its back. Then it sees me again, and seems to get a sense of purpose again, charging toward me.
The chair didn't work before, so I jump back onto the table. This time the pig isn't deterred, and it just runs into the table like it wasn't even there, shattering chairs and knocking the whole table akilter. The table actually splits down the middle; I bail off of it at the far end and tear ass into the foyer where we came in. The pig is still coming, and the collision with the table has peeled Dr. Teeth off of its back. I have a flashbulb image of the pig storming out of a cloud of destruction in the living room and then I turn and devote my attention to running and possibly finding something to hide behind. Or inside of. I jump over the chair Dr. Teeth overturned and head for the next doorway I see, which leads into a hall. Behind me, I hear the chair go flying, and try not to think about that. The hallway is bright and upscale and boring and there are a few doorways to choose from, as well as voices coming from somewhere. They're surprised-sounding voices. They're presently joined by surprised-looking faces, one belonging to Ascher, one belonging to a guy who looks like an Olkahoman Crocodile Dundee, and the third is a woman who'd be typecast as a slutty secretary if she were an actress.
They look surprised to see me, especially Ascher. Really, though, I don't have time to savor their surprise, for obvious reasons. "Demon pig!" I scream at them. Their eyes go over my shoulder and I can see their surprise transform into something more profound as they process what's behind me.
Unfortunately that profundity doesn't translate into getting out of the damn way. I don't slow down, so there's a sudden confusion of cloth and flesh and grunts of surprise and an elbow or two and I'm on the floor with someone underneath me and someone next to me. Some instinct makes me roll to my feet and spin, ninja-like, to slam the door closed before the pig gets through it. The motion is probably not graceful, and it sets my shoulder to hurting almost immediately, but it is ultimately successful.
Now that I am safe from the pig, at least until it decides to smash through the door, I can take stock of my situation. The secretary is on her back in front of the door rubbing her face. Apparently I ran right over her, and knocked her into Ascher, who's just getting up from lying on his side. The Crocodile Dundee guy is gone entirely; either I hallucinated him or, more likely, he got left in the hall with the pig. Since there are no sounds of horrific death and eating from the other side of the door, I'm going to assume that this is not a significant problem.
I am angry enough to want to kick Ascher in the face while he's trying to get up, but I'm too damn nice to actually do it, a fact which disappoints me on many levels. I look quickly around the room, which is a bedroom that's so clean and perfectly decorated it doesn't look like anyone has ever actually slept in it. It does have the requisite bedside table with a lamp, though. I grab that, fling the shade off and snatch the plug out of the wall, and hold it up like a mace. Ascher stops getting to his feet, and sits back down.
"Miss me?" I ask him.
He's too confused to be glib. "What, what are you doing here?"
"It's your fault. You invoked me. The giant house pig was a surprise, though." The secretary starts to get to her feet, and I point the lamp at her. She sits on the floor next to Ascher, who puts his hand on her forearm in a reassuring way.
"It's not mine," he says.
"Why would you borrow a giant pig?"
"To find you!"
I can feel a frown of incredulity melt over my face. "What?"
"Travis. The hunter. He uses Clarice to find--"
"Travis is--wait, the pig's name is Clarice?" I shout, putting things together because Ascher talks too slowly. I don't know why it enrages me that the pig's named Clarice, but it does. Maybe I'm just full of adrenaline and it's making me a little bit crazy. Not the good kind of crazy, either. "Clarice?" I yell again, and I suddenly find that I've thrown the lamp across the room and smashed the full-length mirror on the closet door. The secretary shrieks and hides her head. I am aware that I've thrown away my weapon, but neither Ascher nor the secretary seems inclined to capitalize on this, probably because I imagine that my eyes are glowing red and my hair is standing on end.
The bedroom door flies open, and the Crocodile Hunter--Travis--is there, with Clarice's bulk looming behind him.
"If you send that fucking pig in here I will punch it to death and have bacon sandwiches until 2017! " I yell at him. He stops at the threshold, perhaps sensing that I am not a well woman. I turn back to Ascher on the floor. "Where the fuck is Larry, you pus-gargling bowerbird?"
"I told you--"
"I don't care what you told me, you were fucking lying!" Somewhere in the middle of this, I grabbed something else and threw it at him. I'm not sure what it was, but it breaks when it hits the floor next to him, and flies off in a couple of different directions. It might have been some kind of little sculpture. Guess it doesn't matter now.
"Okay, okay. Calm down. Can you calm down?"
"No, I will not calm down, you blue-footed booby. If you understood the week I have had so far, you would realize that I am no longer capable of calm. I want to find my friend so that I can go home and make myself a bowl of popcorn and watch a Guy Ritchie movie, and if you can't do that, I'm going to bury whatever I pick up next in your head." Holy crap, am I mad. This is the kind of sick-of-this-shit mad that makes celebrities drive their SUVs into crowds of paparazzi. I need to stop thinking about it, because if I start to intellectualize my anger I'm going to calm down, and that's the last thing I need right now, not with everyone conveniently afraid of my crazy. Behind Travis and the pig in the hallway, I can see Dr. Teeth, now. He's also got some kind of weapon, and Travis puts his hands up. Clarice grunts.
Ascher's got both his hands up in front of him. "Okay," he says, "okay. I can get an address for you, all right?"
"Do that," I say. He nods to the secretary, who gets up somewhat shakily and starts toward the door. "And don't do anything stupid like calling the police, because I have no qualms about telling them what you've been up to, hiring bounty hunters to chase me and suchforth. Are you the one who hired Calla?"
"The woman from Michigan? Yes. She called me yesterday and told me what you did."
"That is the price of fuckin' with me."
"I'm beginning to understand that."
"Shut up. I don't talk to people who send Craigslist bounty hunters after me. And take the pig away, Croc. I don't like the way she's looking at me." Travis tips his hat at me and complies. What's with bounty hunters all being cocky? "You'd better not be planning on paying him," I tell Ascher. "I came here of my free will. Does he actually use that pig to catch people?"
"That's what he was saying."
"Like I said, don't pay him. I'm serious. I'm sure Clarice is a lovely pig, but I can't abide the thought that she earned a payday when I walked into your house." I shake my head, then look down at Ascher and get annoyed all over again. "If I had a gun, I would pistol-whip you right now," I tell him.
"Saying that would make me do it twice."
He considers this for a moment. "I see. I hope that finding your friend will make you feel better," he says.
I don't like the tone in his voice; it says that Ascher knows something that I don't. "Are you willing to stand by that statement if I tell you that I'll be coming right back here if I don't like what I find and am convinced that it's your fault?"
"I am," he says. I'm willing to accept this; it means that Larry is probably not nailed upside down to a wall somewhere with all of his blood in a bowl. Or, if he is, then there are lots of evil priests whom Ascher no doubt thinks will take care of me and Dr. Teeth long before we can become a threat to him again.
Of course, he's probably wrong about that. But hopefully there are no priests. Before I have time to devote much more brainpower to that, the secretary returns with a card on which she's written an address. "Neighborly of you," I tell her, but she doesn't meet my eyes, perhaps understandably so. I look at the address on the card and almost roll my eyes.
Dr. Teeth jerks his head in a way that distinctly communicates time to go, and I follow him out of the room. Neither Ascher nor the secretary offers any pursuit. There's no sign of Travis or Clarice on the way out.
He doesn't speak until we're outside. "Nice work in there."
"Thanks. It's interesting how that backward nod is universal club body-language for 'let's go,' isn't it? Normally gestures can be kind of vague, but I knew exactly what you meant. Do you think Clarice rides in the back of that Oldsmobile? I doubt it--that's a secretary's car. I wonder if Travis parked around back?" I open Spellbound's door.
"You having a moment?" he asks as he drops into the car.
"Yes, I'm noticing all of the details at once, and doing it without drugs, thank you very much."
"If that does it for you," he says. "What's the address?"
I hand it to him. "Look familiar?"
He squints at the card. "Larry's Las Vegas address."
"I have a feeling we're going to be headed right back to Ascher's house in a few minutes. Think he's going to have the police waiting?"
"What the fuck do I know? Man had a pig in his house. You can't predict what a man with a pig in his house is going to do."
I can't help but nod. "That's very profound, Dr. Teeth." I try not to squeal the tires on my way out of the driveway, but it happens anyway.