The scraping, however, continued.
He thought of slasher films, picturing in his mind the poor brunette trapped helplessly in the car or the closet, her fate altogether sealed the moment she stepped into frame with only a B-cup. Her Hello Kitty sweater couldn't save her now, not now that the music had receded and the deafening and defining calm of her mortality filled the audience's ears, now when all is quiet and the stillness of the theater hums with the electric anticipation of the impending attack, the cut, the kill.
The scraping grew nearer, and in that moment, Gordon knew precisely how the poor brunette felt when she realized that this, this, was it.
He figured he could run, but in planning his escape route, the vision of the woman sprouting ten thousand celadon tentacles from beneath her burgundy shaw stayed his feet. She would give chase and he would flee like the hare from the fox, but before he could reach the crosswalk, a slimy appendage would creep around his ankles and drag him to the pavement, the moist nexus of all her limbs winking and yawning and stretching to devour him whole, and oh god, the odor...
The old woman appeared from around the corner and snapped him out of his daydream. She looked up at him with a cross, frazzled glare before pressing on, the tiny orb of her form pushing with all her might, the sternness of age amazingly willing the cart to scrape forward.
He sighed and shook the hair out of his eyes. He checked left and right and - upon discovering no other pedestrians paying them any mind - took a ginger step forward.
"Fuck off," she rattled without turning around.
He swallowed and pressed her again. "Miss? Do you want a hand?"
She threw her hands in the air, the molted cart tumbling on its side with a crash. She turned to face Gordon, her eyes obsidian pebbles of furious hellfire. She spat when she talk, likely because all but one tooth had rotted from her gums.
"No, I don't want a fucking hand, you cocksucking Briton goatwhore. I ain't never in my life accepted help from a cocksucking Briton and I ain't never in my life starting today."
"Well, okay then." Gordon back-peddled until he was pressed against the brick of the building, but the tiny crone moved quick and closed the distance between them before he could get away.
She shook a crooked, knobby finger in his face, yellow spit spraying his face. "And now you have to pick up my cart, cocksucking Briton goatwhore."
Rather than agreeing, Gordon side-stepped her and approached the mangled apparatus. He reached for it, refusing to take his eyes off the old hag's feet - he refused to look her in the eye at this point for fear she might pluck his right out - and gently hoisted it to a standing position.
"Money?" she demanded when he was finished.
"Do you have any money? This is a robbery," she declared, pointing her forefinger and thumb at him menacingly.
"Shut your trap and hand over the goods, Charlie."
"My name's Gordon."
This startling development proved too much for the woman to bear. She plopped herself right down on the sidewalk and began to bawl at the top of her lungs. Twice she stomped her feet on the curb, her tiny fists balled and shaking at the heavens.
Gordon hated her, this he knew, but pangs of pity stole his heart and nearly brought him to tears to see the old bat so upset. He promptly planted himself next to her and folded his legs and waited for her tantrum to stop.
She wailed for another minute, catching more than a few curious and horrified expressions from the occasional passer-by, but at last she started to settle down. She studied Gordon with those tiny black pools, now almost concealed beneath the puffyness of her swollen red cheeks. A fine rivet of snot dangled from the tip of her nose and she sniffed twice.
After a moment, she said, "I'm sorry I robbed you."
"That's alright. What's your name?"
"That's a pretty name."
"It's a coin," she insisted.
Gordon nodded and made a noise of awe, which she seemed to appreciate.
"Where are you off to?" he asked her.
The expression she returned would have been entirely the same, had he inquired about geopolitical turmoil and its international ramifications in Malaysia. He decided to change the subject.
"Have you ever heard of the gay bomb?"
"My husband died of that," she nodded.
Gordon nodded too, then continued.
"Back in the nineties, the United States Air Force was researching all sorts of fucked up ways to fuck with the heads of their enemies. The Geneva Convention doesn't exactly apply when you're spraying troops with bee pheromones in a virtual minefield of beehives. They were trying out all sorts of things - bombs to make the enemy combatants stink to the high heavens or just plain out shit their pants. My favorite experiment, however, was the gay bomb.
The gay bomb was intended to be a tactical aphrodisiac cannon; drop it on an enemy bunker and laugh all the way to the treatise table while the good ol' boys are banging each others brains out uncontrollably. This thing would literally make enemy soldiers drop their weapons, drop trough too, and go to work on each other's backsides.
Of course, the project was unsuccessful. The research team determined that no aphrodisiac potent enough to overpower a man's will to not buttfuck his bunkmate was available. The project was abandoned, but not before it won a Nobel Fucking Peace Prize for 'instigating research and development on a chemical weapon'.
It's a small wonder Uncle Sam isn't letting the blue boys tie the knot; he's too busy making 'em plenty of dates."
To Gordon's astonishment, Penny seemed to be following his every word with acute interest. Problem was, she didn't seem to realize his tale was finished. She continued to stare, her chin in her hands, leaning forward as best she could on a bed of tummy fat and sour old coats.
"-- and then your husband died, because of the gay bomb," he offered.
She smiled and leaned back, seemingly satisfied.
"Was he in the war?" Gordon asked.
She appeared horrified a moment, then shook her head. "No, of course not. He was at Chuck E. Cheese."
"Your husband died of the gay bomb at Chuck E. Cheese?"
"Yes, of course," she snapped, not the least bit polite about how foolish she found his question.
"Oh, right. I remember," Gordon said sheepishly.
"Gordon!" came a voice from down the street. He turned and squinted against the sun. Half a block away, Parker was waving furiously in his direction, hanging out the window of a battered yellow taxi.
Gordon leapt to his feet. "Parker!" he called before he could stifled his own excitement. He could spend time later pondering why he was so happy at the sight of the runt, but at that moment he was running, the soles of his shoes slapping the sidewalk as he sprinted toward the cab.
"Gordon, oh my god, Gordon!" Casey greeted him when he approached the window from behind Parker.
The swell of excitement continued in rushed explanations and greetings, Gordon spiritedly shouting his recollection at them through the window while they in return shouted theirs to him. It came to a halt when Parker quite suddenly inquired, "Who's your friend?"
Gordon looked over to discover Penny peering up at them, smiling.
"Make some room!" she demanded to Parker. Parker began to protest, but she swatted at him through the window. He relented and pushed the door open, allowing her entry, his mouth agape and his stare fixed on Gordon.
"Gordon?" Casey said, pressing herself against her door to avoid contact with the tattered hag now squeezing between her and Parker.
"Guys, this is Penny."
Penny nodded and stuck a hand out to Casey. "Pleased to meetcha," she gummed.
"She's coming with us?" Parker asked in a tone thick with the sentiment that he hoped it was not so.
"I don't think--"
"Just until the next stop or two," Penny explained. "I need to see a man in Minnesota."
"But we're not going to Minnesota," Parker said. "Or, at least, we might not be going to Minnesota."
Penny stared at Parker for a moment before leaning over to Casey and inquiring, "Do you let this nigger talk to you this way?"
"Right then," Gordon conceded before climbing into the passenger seat, next to the very irate driver. "Penny's riding shotty for a while," he explained to the windshield, too afraid to look behind him.