This is when they met Neil. They actually tripped over him. He was smoking grass in a field of daffodils. Neil was a suburb cock. His tuft was awfully pale and withered, drooping bloodless on one side of his head and his tiny beady eyes looked even smaller spinning irregularly around their orbits as they were. He was flat on his back wrapped in garlands of light-grey smoke. This really infuriated Pigli. Cleo, herself, was intrigued.
‘What on earth is that?’, she asked in disbelief.
‘You see now, this is what I was talking about. This used to be a decent neighborhood without all of society’s burnouts and freaks hanging out here.’
‘Is he… dead? I mean, did he catch fire or something?’
‘It’s an addict, you dumb head!’ (I wonder, if he ODs will his flesh get any tenderer?, Pigli thought, but kept it to himself.)
‘An addict!!!!!’, Cleo cried in outrage and forgot to close her mouth again. ‘Oh my, how terrible! What’s he doing here?’
She was terrified of everything that might have interfered with her plans of greatness. She certainly wanted no addicts around when the press was there.
Pigli didn’t know and didn’t care. It only deepened his disgust with the current state of affairs. What’s the world coming to, he kept muttering. That was, as might be expected, not enough to quench Cleo’s thirst for knowledge and understanding of the universe; better said, her pathological curiosity and propensity for sticking her nose where it didn’t belong.
‘Hrm, hrmm…’, she politely cleared her throat as she drew closer. Nothing. She started coughing. She even attempted a sneeze. Still nothing.
‘Are you sure he isn’t dead?’, she asked again, looking to Pigli for reassurance. I wish…, he thought, as his bowels were beginning to stick to his vertebrae with hunger. ‘He ain’t dead. Yet.’, he said loudly and full of contempt.
‘Whaaat…? Hahaha… who’s deeeaad, dude!’, Neil croaked in a drawling squeaky voice, suddenly awakened. That scared the heck out of Cleo. ‘Am I dead, hahaha?’, he continued with hiccups.
‘Well, son, you sure are on the right path to that, if you know what I mean’, Cleo said and helped him up.
‘Pleasure to meet you. Name’s Neil’, he said, rotating around his axis a few times.
‘Well, I’m Cleo’, she said ‘and this here is the Boss. Boy, you sure made a mess of yourself.’
‘Life sucks’, Neil said, and burped. ‘Whoops, sorry ’bout that. The Boss of whom?’
‘The Boss – you said the Boss. The Boss of whom?’
‘Well, I don’t really know’, said Cleo. ‘Of the whole forest, I guess.’ Pigli was leaning against a tree, some distance down the track, bored to death, looking at his nails.
‘Peace, Boss, peace!’ Neil yelled and suddenly got another attack of dizziness. ‘Not so loud, dude!’ he reprimanded himself.
‘What are you doing here?’ Cleo was gradually getting back to her actual biggest concern.
‘I ran away, dude. Couldn’t take the sexual pressure anymore, you know?’
Cleo had no idea but she nodded yes.
‘Those chicks, all they wanted was sex. Sex, sex, sex. I’m an artist, dude, you know, I’m a poet. They were sexually harassing me. I just couldn’t cope anymore. I mean, I’m an artist, you know? Did I mention that?’ Cleo nodded hastily. She was beginning to lose her patience.
‘Yeah, dude, I play jazz. Do you think anybody likes jazz?’ Neil asked.
‘I suppose’, Cleo heard herself say politely. In fact, she had never heard the word before, but it sort of rhymed with pizzazz, so her imagination was busy at work.
‘Well nobody liked jazz in my yard. Not even the owner, dude. That really hurt, you know? I was so down, dude; I started getting high on hay. You know, you’d think you’d get some respect for waking somebody up with “It’s a beautiful life” every morning. You know what I got? A broom across the head, that’s what. I mean, I can’t expect the broads to like it, all they ever liked was sex – did I mention that?’ And Cleo found herself nodding again. ‘Yep, sex and soaps. All they ever talked about were the soaps. Who did what, who said what, bla bla bla, all day long. They would even stop laying eggs when the TV was on. It’s lucky we sometimes had power failures, or else, I swear, the stupid broads wouldn’t even eat, you know?’ Again, Cleo agreed not even knowing to what.
‘Yeah, but I mean the master, the owner, you’d expect a human being to recognize good music, you know?’ At this point Cleo decided to stop nodding no matter what, because she had already strained a muscle in her neck. ‘I have my art, you know, I have my pride, I wasn’t getting any respect over there.’
‘And so, that’s why you ran away’, Cleo summarized, eager to cut a long story short. This guy had talked her all out of her curiosity.
‘Yeah, dude. I wasn’t getting any respect.’ And when he started to croak one of his best jazz pieces, Cleo immediately knew why.
Pigli had almost buried himself on the other side of the tree, groping desperately for things he could stuff into his ears. Cleo endured the ordeal with dignity, knowing it’s always bad to discourage a young artist in the making, but found herself sympathizing with the owner and hoping it would be over soon. She even found it within her to clap and cheer, but only in order to make him stop.
‘Well, that was… ahm… interesting! Wasn’t it, Boss?’ But Pigli couldn’t hear her. He was still rolling and quaking and bashing his head from the torture.
‘You’re ok, dude’, Neil said to Cleo. Then he burped and passed out flat on his ass.
‘Well, actually, it’s dudess’, Cleo found the time to point out before she too collapsed, one hundred percent relieved.
(to be continued)