SHOCK TREATMENT 2000

Chapter Two: 1984


    Betty drove her leased car down the roadway, a worried look on her face.  She had been traveling all day, and 10 minutes ago, she noticed she was almost out of gas.  She looked along the roadside, and saw there were no businesses anywhere.  Not even a house.  It was late at night, probably 10 p.m., and very dark outside.
    "Come on," she said to herself, scanning the area, "Don't freak out.  There's gotta be someplace around here to get gas."  (Her stomach growled) "And maybe a little food."
    She rounded a bend in the road and saw what she was looking for: a 24 hour diner and gas station.  She smiled when she saw its neon lights flashing.
    She pulled alongside a gas pump, got out, and started filling her tank.  Minutes later, she went inside to pay the attendant, and grab a bite to eat.
    She was surprised to find the diner was empty, except for one man - a customer.  Where is the help?  The waitress? The cook?  She suddenly felt "creepy" as though this were a scene from a horror film, where the masked slasher killed the crew and customers and the "innocent" newcomer stumbled onto the crime scene moments after "cleaning up" the evidence.  Betty stared nervously at the single gentleman in the diner.
    "May I help you?" he asked her, smiling a perfect set of white teeth.
    "I..." Betty started, afraid to move any direction, "I just want to pay for my gas.  Maybe get a bite to eat."
    The attractive man stared at her, saying nothing.
    "Uh," Betty continued, "Is there someone around who works here?"
    To Betty's relief, the man called back to the kitchen area, "Yo! Linda!  You got a customer!"
    "I'll be right out, Tom," Linda called from the back.
    Tom walked towards Betty and noticed that she was suddenly a bit more relaxed.  "I'm sorry if I've frightened you, ma'am."
    "Betty..."
    Tom corrected himself, "Betty.  But seldom do we get customers this late at night.  Particular those as attractive as yourself."
    Betty blushed, and smiled shyly.  As seductive as she could, she slid into a booth seat, and batted her lashes.
    Just then the phone rang.  Linda called out, "I'll be right out! Hey Tom, can you get that?"
    Tom excused himself from Betty and went to the phone which sat on the counter.  He talked softly into the phone, and Betty could only hear mumbles.
    "Yeah, this is Tom," he said into the phone. "No, I don't have the money.  Give me a few more days.  ... Listen, what do you want me to do? Rob a bank? It's not like I got some rich broad on my arm that can bail me out of thi--"
    Suddenly he interrupted himself, staring at Betty.  She smiled and waved a few fingers in a polite "hello".  She giggled somewhat.
    To Tom, Betty might just be the answer he was looking for.  He wasn't sure if Betty was "loaded" with money or not, but it was worth a shot.  He owed Diamond Dave two thousand bucks, and needed the cash quickly.  If not, he needed a quick getaway out of town.  Either way, Betty was his girl.  And all he had to do was flirt with her.  What could it hurt?  His lucky star had arrived.  Perhaps his days of car theft have finally come to an end.
    He returned the wave to Betty, and then shouted to the kitchen, "Hey Linda! Get out her quick and give this lovely lady some coffee, why don't ya!"
    For some odd reason, Betty found Tom fascinating.  Sure he was a younger man, and he did call her attractive.  And those eyes!  They could melt ice!  Betty remembered a year ago when she left Oliver's side.  Her heart had been saddened, but over the last year, she realized she had to move on.
    "Tom," she said to him, "I hope you plan on joining me.  A girl like me could use some company."
    Tom returned the smile.

    In Las Vegas, Nevada, things were not looking good for Rest Home Ricky.  His plans to become a dancer in Vegas were failing.  His wife, Ansalong, grew tired of his excuses as to why he hadn't found a job in the past 3 months.
    "Nag Nag Nag" Ricky said, staring at his beer bottle.
    The man next to Ricky looked over and asked, "Wife problems?"
    "Yep."
    "I understand... Got a wife of my own.  You see, that's the problem with marriage.  Men and women.  They just don't understand each other."
    "Amen," Ricky added, "It's like that old expression.  Women are from Venus and Men are from ... from ... well, from Earth, I guess.  Hell, I can't remember."  Ricky took another swig from his beer bottle.
    The man next to him began talking to Ricky as though they were best buddies, even though they had just met.  Ricky wasn't listening, though.  He was thinking of Ansalong.  He remembered their fight the night before.
    Ricky had came home drunk, as he frequently had in the past.  She accused him of this and that (more that than this) and then the arguing started.  Before too long, she was crying and yelling at the same time.  In a rage of drunken anger, he raised his hand high into the air and then hit her across the face.
    He regretted doing it afterwards.  He remembered how the room suddenly went quiet.  He saw her lying on the floor, sobbing, holding her hand against her cheek.  Slowly she stood up and went to the bedroom, shutting the door behind her.  He remembered calling her a name or something, and then walking to the fridge to see if there was another beer handy.  There wasn't.
    "And then, that's when I told her who's the boss," the man next to Ricky was saying.  Ricky turned to look at the man and said, "Excuse me, but I gotta get out of here."

    Macy Struthers walked down the street and smelled the air.  It was a beautiful morning.  The air smelt sweet, surprisingly.  Even though she was down to her last two dollars, and had slept in an apartment hallway the night before, she felt more awake -- more alive -- than ever before.  She smiled and continued walking.
    "Today is going to be my lucky day," she said to herself, "Today I'm going to find a job."
    But New York City was a crowded city, and she knew that finding a job might be easier said than done.  She stopped on a corner, waiting for the light to change so that she could cross, when suddenly she saw a man approaching her from the left.  She turned to look at him, and then paniced: It was FARLEY FLAVORS.
    Nervously, she stepped backwards and ducked into a doorframe, out of sight from Farley.  Out of all the frickin' cities!  What's he doing in New York?
    She watched as Farley walked past her, not even noticing her.  She thought about how she left him a year ago...
    What's he doing here?  Did he move here?  I thought he was a preacher or something.  He had a TV show.  Yeah, that's right.  He was an evangelist or something...
    Macy looked down at her feet and noticed a bum lying on the sidewalk.  He had today's newspaper laid across him like a blanket.  Much to Macy's surprise, Farley's picture stared at her from the front page.
    "TV Preacherman Moves His Program To NYC" read the headline.
    Macy lifted the paper, and read the article.  Yes, it was true.  Farley had managed to move to the same city she had moved to.
    "I'm not going to be afraid of you, Farley" she mumbled.  "I am strong."
    Her stomach growled, and she remembered her need to find a job.  Quickly she found the classified section of the newspaper, and scanned it for job possibilities.
    ACTRESS NEEDED.  One ad started. Room and board supplied for actress in adult -- yet tasteful -- films.  Apply within.
    Not ready to sleep in another apartment hallway, she raised her chin high in pride.  She mumbled to herself, "I can be an actress.  Just long enough to get on my feet."

    Harry Weiss entered his home and stared at his wife, Emily.  Not to his surprise, she was still sitting on the sofa in the livingroom, watching television.  It seemed that anymore she was ALWAYS watching television.  She was addicted to it.  Particularly game shows.  She goes absolutely nuts over that millionaire show.
    "Sweetie, I'm home," he said to her, somewhat sad in tone.
    She didn't answer.  She seemed fixated on the program.
    He continued, "I see you didn't make supper again...for the upteenth time this month."
    Still no answer.  A few seconds later, she jumped up and shouted to the television set: "It's Rushmore, you idiot!  The answer is Mt. Rushmore!"
    She sat back down and grabbed a potato chip.
    Harry sighed, and said, "My day was fine, thanks for asking.  What did I do?  Hmm, let's see.  This morning I got tired of the neighbor's dog barking at me whenever I go get the morning paper, so I ran over it with my car.  My boss pissed me off, so I shot him in the forehead.  And to make my horrible day turn around good, I went to a hotel room and fucked someone in the ass.  I didn't even think of you."
    Emily cheered at the television, "Yes! You sucker!  I told you!"
    Harry went upstairs to his bedroom, and sat on the bed.  Where has my marriage gone to?  Why was he resorting to telling her lies about his day's events?
    Only Harry knew good and well that not all of what he said to her was a lie.  The last part was true.  Harry had been having an affair.
    It started a couple weeks back.  In a bar (where Harry often went to escape his problems at home), he sat at a table drinking a gin and tonic.  He was getting good and wasted when suddenly he looked over near the back corner and seen someone he knew: Danny Slipstrini.
    Yes, it was that faggot boy of Hank's -- the one that moved to New York to better himself.  What in God's name was he doing back here in Denton, Harry wondered.  Then he remembered that Hank said his son was due back in town for a brief stay before heading back to New York.
    "Faggot," Harry said under his breath and then took another sip of his gin and tonic.
    Today -- sitting on his bedside, with his wife downstairs shouting at a television set, Harry could barely remember how he ended up that evening in Danny's bed.  He remembered Danny coming over to his table and talking to him.  He remembered asking Danny some personal questions like "How did you know? When did you know?"  Before the night was over, both Danny and Harry was plastered and laughing at everything.  Before the morning was over, Harry was in Danny's hotel bed.  The following morning, Harry regretted what he had done in a drunken state, but when Danny called him that next evening wanting to meet him for dinner, he found himself enjoying the idea of someone who gave him attention.
    Here it was, two weeks later, and he was feeling lonely.  Partially because his wife was down stairs, unaware that he had even made it home.  Partially because he'd rather be with Danny.
    The phone rang, and Harry reached over to the bedside to answer it.  It was Danny.
    "Harry?" he asked, "This is Danny."
    "Yes, I know that.  I thought you were about to catch a plane back to New York?"
    "I am.  But listen.  I was wondering ... no, I couldn't ask you..."
    "What is it, for crying out loud."
    Danny was hesitant, but finally the words came out: "Would you be interested in coming to New York with me?  You can move in with me."
    Harry heard Emily yell "Wa-hoo!" downstairs, followed by a quick round of hand clap.  Turning his attention back into the phone, he said, "Yeah, I'd love to.  I'm on my way."

    Around Halloween of 1984, during a fierce thunderstorm, something unusual happened in Denton: Someone had stolen a body from the cemetary at the Denton Episcopal church.
    The police sergeant shined a flashlight on the empty casket, and then up to the name plate.  He recognized the name of the body that was stolen.  It was the drummer from that Band a few years back ... Oscar Drill and the Bits.  If memory served him correctly, he had been struck by a vehicle in a hit and run accident.
    Who would want to take his body? he asked himself.
    "Sarge" Vance Parker said, approaching.  Vance was holding something in his hand.  He handed the object to the sargent.  It was a matchbook.
    "I found it by the front gate.  Think it belonged to the guy who stole the body?"
    The sargent glanced at the matchbook and noticed the printed information on the front: Don's Donut Shop, New York City.
    "New York City?" he asked out loud, not intending to sound like (but it did) a famous television ad.

    The "Floor Manager" of the DTV studios had been thrown in jail for being an illegal alien.  He sat in his jail cell, remembering when the police arrived at his door, and escorted him away.  That had been almost a year before.  And now, here he was, in a jail cell somewhere in Texas, waiting to be sent back to his original country.
    Suddenly, a guard approached him, and unlocked the gate, urging him to stand up.
    "What's going on?" he asked, "Why are you letting me out?"
    "You're free.  You get to go home.  Back to Denton or wherever they arrested you."
    The floor manager seemed confused, "But how?  I'm an illegal alien."
    The guard laughed, "And pigs live in my ass.  Now get out of here."
    The floor manager stepped out, and said, "But I'm telling the truth.  There must be some mistake."
    "Look," the guard explained, "All I know is some woman showed up an hour ago claiming to be your wife.  She's an American and that makes you legal."
    The floor manager looked confused, "My wife?"  Then he thought, I don't have a wife!  What the hell is going on here?  Why would someone pretend to be my wife just to get me out of here?
    But he avoided sounding surprised.  This was his chance at freedom.
    ...Little did he realize, he was not heading back to Denton.  No, apparently someone (Farley's "boss") has plans for him, and has arranged for his freedom.  Instead of Denton, he was about to relocate: to New York City.


 
Who IS Farley's boss and what is their "plan"?  Why did they arrange for the floor manager to get free?  Was it a coincidence that Macy and Farley are in New York together? What's Betty's life going to be like with her new friend Tom? What will happen to Ricky and Ansalong? Find out more details in Chapter Three!

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