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Quinn: the Mighty
Chapter 1: the Exploding Orifice of Doom

by chad    Jan 28, 2002


The sky hung a foreboding dishwater grey over Dynamite Discount Books. It was Monday, Dirty Monday. Quinn walked to work, as was often his custom. Through the fog, the Square appeared closer to a cemetery than a busy business district. The mannequins in Anders Department Store were the hell-hounds, the defenders of the dead.

"Back into the depths, hounds of Satan!" Quinn seethed from behind his scarf. A couple of nifty Bruce Lee moves put them in their place. Quinn could smell their fear.

"I really don't know what time it was. Woe-hoe-hoe!" Quinn wailed. He stopped his Zeppelin tirade at that and acknowledged how much he, in fact, wailed.

With a swipe of his left hand, he cleared the dew from his well-worn leather jacket. He had never owned a motorcycle, but as far as Quinn was concerned, it was all about attitude. He didn't have any tattoos, either, but attitude, son, we're talking attitude. Quinn strolled across the sidewalk in front of the courthouse, the nexus of this small, quaint, utterly sickening southern town. It made him gag. Or at least want to gag, but the funny thing was, Quinn hadn't ever been able to leave this place. And he was already an old man, nearly pushing 28.

Quinn stopped and stood in wonder under the monument to the Confederate dead. The figure at the top peered south from under his left hand.

"I hope you ain't lookin' for reinforcements, buddy. They ain't comin'." Quinn said, staring inquisitively at the cement Anglo-nose.

Bong!

"Jesusfuckingchrist!" Quinn jumped from beside the monument. He had half-expected a retort from the Rebel of Stone, but instead it was only the courthouse bell, tolling the hour.

Quinn figured, as the bell rang it's ninth and final time, that perhaps he should get to work, since he was supposed to start at nine. He pulled a pack of Camel Ultra-Lights from his inside coat pocket and lit it with his ZOSO Zippo.

"Fucking Monday, Dirty Monday," he whispered, taking a slow, deep drag. He couldn't possibly face work without sucking down at least half this mother. The sky in the eastern distance held the sun, which seemed determined to push the fog from sight. After five more drags, Quinn felt the right frame of mind come over him, and he started towards the store.

He passed the glass windows, mountained with display, finished his butt, and tossed it into the street. He scoffed at the logo of a stack of dynamite, ready to explode. He only wished. He threw open the door with an overly dramatic flourish, as was his custom.

"The king has returned!" Quinn exclaimed.

Morty, the owner/manager, briefly glanced up from his New York Times and honey cream cheese danish.

"All hail the mighty Eskimo," he mumbled, returning to his want ads and superfluous calories.

Quinn quickened his pace to the counter, thrusting his face inches from the dark-bearded one.

"I told you never to fucking call me that, asslicker!" he spat.

"Whatever. You're late. Again," Morty sighed.

"Dude. It's all relative," Quinn returned.

"Says who?" Morty inquired, not able to pry his eyes from an exceptional piece about rampaging urban decay.

"Einstein, motherfucker. And he was a friggin' geen-ee-us," Quinn said.

"Just like Jimmy Page. Only smarter and not as rockin'."

"Uh-huh," Morty said, unimpressed. "Get to work."

"These feeble walls can not contain one as powerful as Quinn the Munificent! He can not be contained!"

"Well, Morty the Manager and Bearer of the Payroll says they can."

"Jesus, Mort. Wife didn't put out last night, or what?"

"Get to work," Morty replied, rubbing his weary eyes.

"All right. You win this time, comparable adversary, but you have not heard the last of me."

Quinn paused.

"You got my coffee?"

"Yeah," Morty said, producing a cardboard Starbucks cup.

"Lots of sugar?" Quinn asked.

"Yes, your Munificence."

Quinn sipped his mochaccino as he paced passed the islands of bookstacks. He could see Hunter, amidst mountains of ready-to-be-received books, swathing a path through the mighty book jungle.

"Yo, already at it, brown-noser?" Quinn snipped.

"Some of us can actually show up on time, and don't mind doing our jobs," Hunter replied.

"Brownie, man, THAT'S why we don't see eye-to-eye," Quinn said, setting his coffee on the back counter. "I'm an artist. I feel the need to create. I need to leave something for the posterity, dude. A living monument and testament that a life was lived! What can you say when you die? That some old Bettys were able to find their fucking Harlequin romance novels."

"I'm a musician. I just do this to get by," Hunter said.

"Right. I know. But playing keyboards in an improvisational funk band is not what I call earth-shattering art. When your gig is done at the end of the night, whaddya got? Nothing. Air. That's it. You guys've never cut a record."

"It's not about records. It's about the moment."

"Hold that thought," Quinn grunted. "I've got to drop anchor."

"Huh?"

"Dump. I've gotta dump. This coffee. It's good. But it gets me every time."

Quinn took a sharp about-face towards the latrine. The door slammed behind him.

Several minutes passed. Hunter wouldn't have known what exactly had happened to Quinn, if not for the occasional snatches of "D'yer Mak'er" echoing from the depths of the company bathroom. Snatches only, since Quinn was mostly preoccupied with a rather interesting article in a back-issue of Cosmopolitan analyzing some women's addiction to well-endowed gentlemen.

Good thing I've got a solid eight inches, thought Quinn. Actually, it was more like seven, but Quinn wasn't self-conscious enough to measure. A knock echoed from the door. Quinn ignored it, flipping around for some decent pics of fashion models. The knock was repeated.

"Christ, Hunter!" Quinn snapped and returned to his magazine.

Knockknockknock.

"Sonofa ..."

"Excuse me."

The voice was not not Hunter's. It was deeper. More urgent.

"Excuse me," the voice said again. "Will you be done soon?"

Quinn was bewildered. He was not usually approached for conversation in this state.

"Just a sec."

Quinn thought he would stop, for now. He could always finish later. Between smoke breaks and crap breaks, it was a decent way to divvy up the work day. He opened the door and a giant stood in front of him. Quinn had never considered himself a short man, but this guy had to be 6-5, easy.

"Holy," Quinn breathed.

The man was doing a little dance, much like little children when they really need to pee-pee.

"Sorry," the man said, storming passed Quinn into the restroom, shutting the door firmly behind.

"I guess." Quinn looked for Hunter. He was not in the back of the store. Quinn walked over to the receiving counter, paused, and briefly considered doing some work. Suddenly, an inhumanly groan emanated behind him. He snapped around, expecting to see a dying soldier, gaping gunshot wounds exploding from his chest. There was no soldier. Another brink-of-death groan rang out. Quinn realized it was the man in the can.

"What the hell?" Quinn queried. He looked towards the front of the store. Hunter was checking out an elderly lady. She was fumbling in her purse for exact change. Another unearthly groan. Quinn bounded towards them.

"Dude--"

"Thanks for shopping with us. Y'all come back soon," Hunter said to the old lady. She returned a gracious smile, braced herself against the weight of her purchase, and left.

Hunter turned to Quinn.

"Where have you been?" Hunter asked.

"In the can. I told you. I've got the need to create. I was creating," Quinn said.

"That's hardly what I'd call art."

"It's not the point. I was producing, while you we're just greasing the huge capitalist machine's wheels."

"Everybody's got to make a living."

"You might as well be dying. Anyway, it doesn't matter. Did you tell that Neanderthal he could use the bathroom?"

"Yeah. Why?"

"Man, I thought we weren't going to let the customers use that toilet. You know how it is, backing up all the damn time."

"I know, but this guy looked like he was going to die," Hunter said.

"Yeah, well, he's dying all over our bathroom as we speak," Quinn returned.

"I'm sure it's not that bad."

"I'm sure it is." Suddenly, through a haze of stench, the tall man appeared from the rear. He was moving quickly, anxiously. Quinn and Hunter pretended to be working, trying not to look the man in the eye, trying not to smell the unmistakable odor. The man hurried through the front door and disappeared into the morning fog.

Quinn gave a knowing glance to Hunter.

"Don't say it," Hunter snapped.

"Hunt, I don't have to."

They both cautiously crossed the store. The putrid stench of decay and human waste intensified with every step. Soon, they were standing close to the lair's opening.

"Um, I can't go in there," Hunter coughed. They shielded their mouths with their hands and nearby books.

Quinn removed the tattered flannel he had been wearing over his blue tie-dyed Zeppelin t-shirt, wrapped it around his face, covering his mouth, and inched toward the door.

"You so owe me. I can't even begin to tell how much."

Quinn flung the door wide. The stench hit him in waves. His eyes began to water. He flipped on the light.

"Oh man! He crapped all over the floor. I don't fucking believe this."

Hunter didn't hear him, though. He was out the back door on the loading dock, gagging. Hard.

After several cigarettes and the rest of his coffee, Quinn had calmed down enough to speak. Hunter had offered to take care of the customers, since he hadn't came so close to the filth. It WAS a Monday, Quinn thought, sucking down the last bit of his cigarette, finishing it with the final gulp of coffee. He peered out onto the vast parking lot behind the loading dock. The largest in town. He gazed at the vast sea of SUVs and BMWs with disgust and contempt. He thanked God he had not the money to be tempted into such a depravity.

"I thought I told you to do some work," Morty snipped.

"Aaaaah!"

Quinn jumped, dropping his lit butt.

"Christ O'Reilly, Morty! This morning is going bad enough. Last thing I need is a fucking heart attack."

"What happened?" Morty asked.

"Some guy, who Hunt let use the friggin' crapper, Hershey-squirted all over the floor. That's what happened. Couldn't you smell it?"

"Yeah. I just thought it was one of your masterpieces."

"You know I would've claimed it, but it had no concept of form, no structure," Quinn smirked.

"Well, it may not be yours, Picasso, but you've got cleanup duty," Morty said.

"No fucking way, Morty. NO FUCKING WAY. First of all, I didn't let the fecal freak in there. Second of all, I think I've had enough of that smell to last me a while. I'll let Keyboard Boy in there take care of it."

"First of all," Morty's mood hardened, "We don't have a serious policy about not letting customers use the bathroom. Second of all, you were late this morning. In fact, you've been late the last FEW mornings. I think it's your turn for bathroom patrol."

"Fuck," Quinn muttered under his breath.

"What?" Morty shot back. "Look. Just do it. I don't need the hassle."

With that, Morty went back into the store, back to his paperwork, back to the creditors and bills he couldn't pay.

Quinn lit another cigarette.

*****

Quinn spent a good thirty minutes gathering cleaning supplies. Besides, he thought, this gave him a good chance to let the room air out. He had rubber gloves. That was a must. He had a mop, a scrub-brush, and a large bucket. Quinn checked it three times for holes. You can never be too safe, he thought. He had a full bottle of industrial-strength cleaner/sanitizer. He'd need it all. He would've liked rubber boots, but usually they didn't have any need for them. Quinn entertained the idea of running to the hardware store for a good durable pair, even pay with his own money, but he decided against it. Only piss Morty off, he thought.

Quinn wrapped the flannel around his face and tied it tight behind his head. He slid the gloves on and cuffed the ends. He had learned this trick from his mom. She always said it prevents water from sliding into the gloves. That was the last thing Quinn wanted: foul shitwater dripping into his gloves. He filled the bucket with scalding water, while mixing in the cleaner. A potent concoction. It cleared Quinn's sinuses and slightly stung the tips of his goatee hairs. Hopefully, he'd still have some hair left after he was through.

And he cleaned. He mopped the floor. He scrubbed the sink. He scrubbed the walls. Lastly and hesitantly, he scrubbed the hell out of the toilet. He couldn't be too thorough, he decided. As much as he hated this foul labor, he knew that he would never be able to use this boudoir again if it wasn't, in fact, spotless. It needed to be. He didn't want to risk sitting in something he hadn't left there himself. Finally, he finished. Now, instead of stinking of waste, the room stank of ammonia, or was it alcohol? Quinn didn't know which. He only knew he was light-headed and tired. And it was only 11:15 a.m.

Quinn gently removed the now-putrid gloves and tossed them into the dumpster behind the store. He rubbed his eyes. They burned. He rubbed his neck. It ached. He rubbed his crotch. He needed to get laid. He stumbled out to the loading dock and lit another cigarette.

Although mid-November, the temperature was climbing near seventy. Quinn began to sweat. And he didn't like to sweat, which was odd for a good Mississippi boy.

End of Chapt. 1


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