This excerpt is from Dave Lundy’s new novel, “Zero F*cks Given” (still in development) — the prequel to the bestselling comedy “Squish the Fish: A Tale of Dating and Debauchery”.
Zabka pressed his heel between the naked trespasser’s shoulder-blades, keeping him prone on the floor. Bob and Magnum stood nearby, scratching their heads.
“Where the hell is Satan?!” Zabka yelled. “I want to know who this fucktard is!” He pushed his foot down harder. “Where in-the-fuck did you come from?!”
The deviant wriggled — his angry screams muffled by the soiled sock in his mouth.
“Goddamnit! Shut-the-fuck-up when I’m asking you a question!” Zabka kicked the guy in the spleen.
Magnum raised his hand. “I gotta question. Does this plastic-sex-doll-thing count as a woman in the house? It does, right? And like, shouldn’t we write this down somewhere official? For record-keeping purposes?”
Bob massaged his chin. “Yeaaah… so now sounds like a good time to lay down some contest ground-rules.” He leaned against the door entry. “The first rule — and probably the most important — is the woman must have a pulse. Sound reasonable?” He waited for them to nod in agreement. “The second rule is that someone else must be here to confirm it. I’m not sayin’ I don’t trust you fuckers, but I don’t trust you fuckers.”
Magnum raised his hand again. “Like, how strict are these rules? Take this hypothetical for examp… garrr…”
Two arms were wrapped around Magnum’s neck from behind. Panic shot from his eyes and a gargling scream rang from his throat. Compared to his tall stature, the tiny person on his back looked like a big baby. He buckled forward, twisting 180-degrees, and fell backward, squashing his choker on Zabka’s prisoner.
Magnum rolled over and saw that his assailant was, by his estimation, from China. He was wrong — the correct country was Thailand. “Who the fuck are you?!” he screamed while jumping up from the floor. Identifying the person’s gender wasn’t straightforward either, and Magnum felt it was a coin-flip as he watched him or her laying there sucking air and wheezing. The scene was odd, but in his mind, the oddest thing was that this Asian had red hair.
Zabka yelled at the newest intruder, “How many more of you maniacs are gonna jump outta the woodwork?!” He used his foot to keep both of the strangers down.
The gender-neutral Thai yelled, “You fucka! You no belong!”
Bob shook his head. “What a fuckin’ debacle. Are we sure we’re even in the right house? This is some messed-up shit.”
A faint noise came from above — like someone strumming an acoustic guitar. Instinctively, they looked up and followed the sound through the walls while it made its way down the rickety stairs. Slowly, as it got louder, they recognized the riff from “Locomotive Breath” — gin gin gin gin… gin, gin — being repeated over and over again.
Magnum anticipated a rumble, put up his dukes, and bounced around in circles like Bluto Blutarsky outside Dean Wormer’s office. He whispered, “Who’s next? Bring it.”
Bob was in red-alert-mode and thought to himself, This imbecile ain’t sneaking up on us. He grabbed the naked guy’s boombox and prepared to hurl it if needed. He moved backwards and bumped into a sink. Why the hell is a sink here?
Zabka applied additional pressure to the Thai’s sternum while making the shhh-signal.
Quietly, they waited.
A guy wearing only black boxers entered the room — his eyes as red as the devil’s, hair the color of a cherry, and skin as pale as a corpse. He saw the ambush awaiting him and, after a noticeably delayed reaction, ceased playing the riff. His skin turned pink.
Zabka, Bob, and Magnum lowered their guard.
Bob said, “What the fuck, Satan?! Who are these guys?! And why are they in our house?!”
Satan laughed like a snake, “Sss, sss, sss,” if it were possible for a snake to get stoned and laugh. Being from Chickasaw, Alabama, he spoke slowly in a southern drawl. “Oh, I see you’ve met our summer roommates.” He pointed at the genderless Asian. “That’s Narong Poon.”
“Ping pong ding dong, what?” Magnum asked.
“It’s Narong.” Satan then pointed at the naked guy underneath him. “And the dude you tied up — very creatively I might add — is Darren Parlay.”
Bob queried, “And when exactly were you planning to share this information with us?”
“When the time was right… which I guess just happened.”
Zabka took his foot off of the captives and said, “These fuckers are damn lucky I didn’t send ’em to the emergency room.”
Narong sprung to his feet.
Magnum pointed his chin at Narong. “Is this one, a dude or a chick… or a combo-deal? I don’t even know what’s going on here.” He waved his hands around. “And how does it have red hair? It’s oriental. Can someone please explain this midget clown?”
Narong got on his toes and still fell way short of getting in Magnum’s face. “I man! What you, fucka?!” He spat a loogie that nailed Magnum between the eyes.
In shock, Magnum wiped off the sticky saliva and punched Narong in the mouth. “Take that, Ronald McFuckhead!” He shook his hand in pain as his knuckles began to bleed.
Bob scolded Magnum, “Hey, you can’t go around punching dwarfs in the fucking face.”
“Why the fuck not?!” Magnum was steaming hot.
Bob shrugged. He then looked at Satan and asked, “So what are you doin’ with the rent you’re collecting from them? I assume you’re collecting rent, right? We’ve all been paying our share this summer even though we’re not up here.”
Satan took off his acoustic guitar and set it down. “Don’t worry, fellas. I’ve been putting Darren’s money into an account that I’ll use for our utilities until it runs out. That work?”
“Darren’s?” Bob asked. “Why not Narong’s?”
“Because Narong is our roommate.” Satan laughed again like a stoned snake. “He’s a theater major from Chiang Mai, Thailand.”
“What the fuck?” dropped out of Zabka’s mouth. “Our roommate?”
Magnum stood tall. “Wait a second, I got issues with that. I knew you had someone lined up, but this guy? Asian-Rick-Astley? Really? This fucker attacked me and spit in my face, and now he’s living with us?!”
“Hey, he’s either our roommate or everyone pays more rent.” Satan waited for a response.
“Well, there’s no way I can afford that,” Bob was quick to admit. He raised his shoulders and put his palms up. “So I guess he’s our fucking roommate.”
“Yeah, I’m kinda in the same boat,” Zabka added. “And by that I mean, I spent alotta money riding around on boats down in Hilton Head, so I’m a little strapped for cash.”
“So we gotta live with two gingers?!” Magnum’s eyes bulged. “What the fuck?!”
Everyone else nodded their heads.
“Fine.” Magnum was exasperated. “I don’t approve, but fine.” He jabbed his finger at Narong. “You best not jump on me again.”
Satan shrugged as though to tell him, “No guarantees,” before he returned to his original question. “So, are you guys cool with using Darren’s rent money toward utilities?”
His official housemates gave affirmation.
Zabka said, “As long as, in essence, we’re getting paid outta this — I’m good.”
“Yeah, I look at it as much-needed beer-money,” Bob added.
Zabka took the sock out of Darren’s mouth then slapped his bed twice. “This is my mattress… I better not find any jizz on it.”
Darren, still hogtied, lifted his chin off the floor and looked up. “No, no, you won’t. There’s none, I swear.” He worked a few sock fibers to the tip of his tongue and blew them out. “Now can you please untie me?”
“I’m sicka lookin’ at ya — so yeah, I can do that. And then you’re gonna take all your shit outta here and move into Jimmy the Italian’s room upstairs. You understand me?”
“Loud and clear.”
“Good.” Zabka grabbed Darren’s bound wrists and ankles and untied him.
Darren quickly grabbed his belongings and left.
Bob pulled Magnum outside the room and said to him, “Hey, all that shit was crazy, but I really need to talk to you about something — in private. It’s kinda important.”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Zabka said to them. ‘Where do you guys think you’re going?” He took a scrap of paper out of his wallet.
Bob turned his head to him and said, “I need to talk to Magnum about something.”
Zabka shook his head and waved his hand no. “Yeah, that can wait. I’m gonna call Rebecca. Magnum, go get a sheet of paper and mark her down. Put her on the board right now. This is as good as done.”
“I’m not getting a sheet of paper,” Magnum replied.
“You know what? Even better.” Zabka picked up his house phone. “You need to watch this.” He punched in the digits and began to pace the room. “Listen and learn.” The curly cord stretched away from the phone base.
The phone rang a couple of times before a female voice answered, “Hello.”
“Hey, Rebecca! How are ya?”
There was a pause. “Zabka?” she asked.
“Yeah, of course it’s me. Who else would it be?”
“I haven’t heard from you in month. Not once.”
There was heat coming from the anger in her voice and he could feel it. “I, I’ve been very busy… come to think of it, for like a month. I was traveling. I told you, right? That I was going on road trip.”
“No, you never mentioned it,” she replied.
“No, yeah, I told you. Something’s wrong with your memory. Well, the good news is — I’m back! I’m back in Buffalo and can’t wait to see you!”
“Yeah, that’s not how this works.”
Bob elbowed Magnum and they laughed. They could tell this wasn’t going well.
Zabka felt his chances of playing with her enormous fun-bags slipping away. “Listen, I can tell you’re not happy, so how about letting me make it up to you?” For Zabka, this was desperation-mode. “How about you grab one of your Penthouse Letters and bring it over here? Remember how much fun we had the last time? I sure as hell do. This time you pick the story, and I’ll do it to you. Whaddya say?”
The silence on the other end of the phone seemed like an eternity. “Don’t call me.” Click.
Zabka pulled the phone away from his ear and stared at it. “What the fuck?”
“Should I go get that paper now?” Magnum asked. “Mark it down?”
Bob chimed in, “What exactly did we watch and learn here? How not to get a chick over here?”
“She doesn’t get it.” Zabka tossed the phone on his bed. “She’s a bit of a spitfire, so this’ll take a couple of days, maybe, to clear up and help her understand the error of her ways.”
“Sure, Zabka. Sure it will. So, what was she upset about?” Bob asked.
“Oh, I don’t know, something about not calling her for a month…” Zabka rolled his eyes. “Blah, blah, blah… women can be so irrational. They can turn anything into a major event.”
“Can I ask, why you didn’t call?”
“Listen, I was on the road, very busy, lots going on, no real time to have a phone conversation. Lots going on. You know what I mean?”
“No I don’t,” Bob replied. “What’s the real reason?”
Zabka huffed. “Fine. If I called her, then there would be expectations of more calls, which would mean more of my time… and then, who knows, maybe there’d be other expectations. It could just snowball. To be honest, I don’t need the hassle.”
“I see.” Bob stroked his chin. “Thanks for letting me inside your mind. Now it’s crystal-clear to me how you think.”
“Enlightening, right?” Zabka asked rhetorically. “Hey, maybe I should invite her to Earl’s bash tomorrow.”
“No, no, no.” Bob shook his head. “That’s not a good idea — unless your intention is to really piss her off. Hell, even Magnum knows you don’t invite a woman to a formal event at the last minute.”
Magnum had a stunned look on his face, as though he’d been hit in the head with a brick.
“Shifting gears,” Bob said to Zabka. “What I’m really interested in is what that Penthouse Letters thing was all about.”
“Oh, yeah, that’s a good one. So, Rebecca has a subscription, and one day I came over and she was reading it.” Zabka’s smile projected that he was delighted with himself. “She read some story about a girl who put ice in her mouth and gave this guy a BJ. Anyway, we reenacted it, and it was fucking awesome.”
The phone started to make an annoying quick-tone that kept repeating, and Zabka hung it up.
“Well, this whole thing was educational and definitely worth our time…” Bob said, “but I really need to talk to Magnum. So, we’re gonna go now.”
Bob and Magnum moved to the living room in the front of the house and sat on a couch that was older than they were. They had become really good friends when they played on the high school baseball team together.
Bob took a deep breath, blew out fluttering his lips, and cut to the chase. “As you already know, the last few years have been pretty shitty for me. After my parent’s divorce and having to leave Union College because of money issues related to that. Then transferring here… well, I’ve pretty much been on my own. Paying tuition, rent, for my car, for food — basically everything with loans and crappy jobs here and there.”
“I’m sorry, buddy. I didn’t realize that.”
“Thanks. Yeah, I haven’t really told anyone.” Bob hung his head. “Sorry to drop all this on you, but I just need… I hate to ask this…” He looked up. “I just need a little help with rent for the next few months until the loans come in. Would you…”
“Done,” Magnum replied before he finished asking. “I got you covered.”
“Thank you. I really appreciate it.”
“Don’t think anything of it. Okay, let’s go put our bags away and set up our rooms.”
At the end of the previous school year, they haphazardly moved their belongings from their house on West Northrup to this house. So, their bedrooms were basically used as storage units and left unorganized.
They got off the couch to head up to their rooms. The staircase was a bit unusual because of the two separate flights that went up to a landing halfway-up. They took the flight closer to the living room — the other was toward the kitchen in the back. The landing had windows looking outside and, in the other direction between the two separate flights down, stairs up to a large, square, hallway-type room in the center of the second floor. Off of that were two bedrooms in the front, two bedrooms in the back, a bathroom on one side, and a doorway to an attic stairwell on the other side.
Bob and Magnum had left their luggage in this antechamber when they heard the commotion coming from Zabka’s room. They picked up their bags and went to their rooms — Bob’s in a back corner, and Magnum’s in the opposite corner in the front.
Magnum swung open the door to his room and found Narong, combing his ginger hair, in front of a makeup mirror. It’s an understatement to say Magnum wasn’t happy. “Chinaman!” he screamed. “What the hell are you doing in here?!”
Bob turned around and came their way. “Hey, he’s from Thailand, remember? Let’s try not to be offensive.”
Magnum replied, “You think I give a shit?! This is ridiculous!” He noticed that Narong had set up a loft and put a poster of the Cats musical on the wall. “What the fuck?! You stole my room?!”
Narong put his brush down. “I like room, I take room.”
“NO! This is my fucking room!” Magnum’s head looked like a pus-and-blood filled pimple. “What’d you do with my shit?!”
“Satan and me move stuff in attic.” Narong pointed at the ceiling. “You go up. Nice and warm up there.”
“You know what? Fuck this shit! You’ve been livin’ here,” Magnum waved his hands around, “I don’t want this room anymore.” He stormed out.
Bob asked, “So, you’re gonna take a room in the attic?”
“Yeah, why not?” Magnum had calmed down. “I bet I’ll like it up there. I can escape the shenanigans.”
Bob laughed. “Yeah, good luck escaping! I have a feeling that’ll be damn-near-impossible this year.” He stopped at the door to his room. “Can you hold on a second? In case I need backup? Lord knows what’s behind this door.”
“If I were a betting man, I’d guess a donkey show. But only one way to find out.”
Bob held his breath and opened his door with trepidation. After surveying his room, he said, “Coast is clear. No squatters and, most importantly, no donkey show.”
Magnum turned and grinned. He grabbed his luggage and took it up to the attic. At the top, there were two doors. The one to his new bedroom was open, and the other was padlocked shut and had a sign taped to it. The sign was written in chicken-scratch with a green crayon and looked like the work of a five-year-old. It said, “Entry prohibited! Darkroom. Photo development.”
Magnum noticed a bright light coming out from under the door and lowered himself to the floor. He tilted his head and peered through the crack. Befuddled, he stood back up and yelled, “Satan!”