Strove to find a way to punch people in the face by using the Internet.


I Will Bake You a Cake. And Fill It Full of Creamy Ice Cream.
A year or so after high school I was living in a semi-abandoned old house with two skinheads and my buddy Kalpesh. I say "semi-abandoned" because it technically had an owner — the University of Florida, in fact. We had kind of inherited the house from its previous renters, the family of Kalpesh's buddy Christian, after they moved away to put Christian in an asylum or something. Anyway, I think we paid rent once. We were kind of late with the second check and noticed that nobody came to fuck with us, so we just quit paying, and that was pretty much that.

It was a pretty surreal time, and me and Kalpesh and the skinheads made for a pretty surreal sight. Because this was the era of skinheads spouting goofy racist rhetoric on daytime talk shows, and Kalpesh had really long, curly hair, not to mention a pleasing dark brown color to his skin (something that, unlike the hair, he thankfully retains to this day). Seeing us all together confused people.

But we liked confusing people. And, sometimes, beating them up.

Since we resembled a cross between the Munsters and some kind of post-apocalyptic gang, this shitty old house suited us. It was ugly, decrepit and hidden from the surrounding neighborhood by a dense thatch of thick bushes and huge trees. It was also rumored to be haunted. Well, rumored by Christian, who told us he was occasionally possessed by its ghosts, one of whom made him shoot an arrow into his brother's back. But Christian also claimed to be a vampire, and frankly I suspect he might've been inclined to get his spectral presences and assorted supernatural hoo-hah all intermingled and confused, so take that for what it's worth.

I don't know if those stupid ghosts were ever hard-up enough to possess one of us, but fratricidal impulses aside it probably would've been an improvement, at least from the point of view of society. We were constantly fighting, drinking, taking awful drugs, blasting thrash-metal at ear-melting volumes, burning things, humping girls who really should've known better, kicking holes in the walls, and shooting out windows while all high out of our minds on LSD. The only time it was quiet was when we were hiding from police. We were terrible people, and thinking back today a malignant ghost seems like Mr. Rogers in comparison.

There were moments of tenderness, though. One freezing-ass cold night, this giant, grizzled, feral housecat crawled through one of the empty panes in my bedroom and befriended me. We named it Outside Kitty. Outside Kitty would sink its gnarly yellow claws into my shoulder and perch there for hours, riding around, baring its one huge fang and growling at anyone who came too close. I thought this was great — it made me feel like a pirate.

Yes, sociopathic tendencies aside we had a lot of fun there. Drugs, violence, Outside Kitty, sex, a guy who claimed to be the son of George Clinton sleeping on our couch for a week and barfing on the floor... There was even a movie made at the house, a delightful 20-minute film by the name of "I Spit On Your Chick," which featured Kalpesh as a pimp and our pal Bob Chicken as a prostitute named Queefy Butterfinger. The climactic scene, where me, the skinheads and Chuck From Hell took turns pretending to cornhole Bob Chicken — passed out for real and wearing a totally unconvincing drag get-up — on my hot-pink weight bench, was a real crowd-pleaser. (In lieu of a traditional porn-style money shot, we ended the scene by spitting all over Bob's bare ass, something he had no idea even took place until watching the film days later.)

Of course, thinking back today it's all fond memories of ass-spit bukkake and hitting each other over the head with pieces of PVC pipe, but it was even fun just doing nothing with those guys. Andy, who slept on my floor, was as friendly and jovial a skinhead as you'd ever want to meet, not that you'd really want to meet any skinheads. And, unlike the skinheads of the day you could see breaking Geraldo's nose on the television, Andy really liked black people.

In fact, at his rural Florida high school, Andy had been a part of what he called a "Negro shirt gang," something anyone who attended high school in north Florida or south Georgia in the early '80s will instantly recognize. This was when four or five black kids would go to the mall and get matching T-shirts with slogans like "Chill Dog Sagittarius - Fresh for 84" airbrushed or ironed on with those old-school felt letters. Negro shirt gangs were fucking cool, and Andy was the only white guy we had ever even heard of that had been invited to join a Negro shirt gang. Thus, he had a lot of credibility with us.

Occasionally, when I wanted to eat solid food, I'd go with Andy out to his mom's place, about an hour outside of Gainesville. This was usually pretty interesting.

Once, while staying over at Christmas, we were trying to sleep while Andy's older brother (who was housebound after being busted for DUI — he'd rigged his windshield-wiper fluid dispenser to squirt whiskey through a little hose in his dashboard, making it easy to freshen his drink without pulling over) kept babbling and mumbling crazy shit at us until Andy told him to shut up. "I can't," his brother slurred. "I, um, ate some speed." Andy just sighed.

Driving around his hometown, we'd pass some guy drinking a beer in his front yard, and Andy would wave and yell out, "Hey Barry!" Then he'd invariably say something like, "Barry stabbed his grandma in the face with a shish-kabob skewer, but they couldn't keep him in jail because his brother dropped a brick on him when he was a baby and he’s not right in the head. Plus his mother's cousin is the police chief." I got to hear hundreds of variations on this general theme. And if I was really lucky, I'd get to hear the story of how Andy's mom busted their next-door neighbor kid bare-ass naked on the front lawn at noon, down on all fours letting a dog fuck him up the butt.

Andy had all kinds of good stories about murderers and perverts. One of our favorites besides the dog-fucker was Chef Henry. Chef Henry was an elderly pedophile who hung around downtown Gainesville, leering at kids and creeping everyone out. Andy would run afoul of Chef Henry while skateboarding around downtown, waiting for his mom to finish running errands or whatever, but it seems him and the other kids regarded Chef Henry as little more than a nuisance. He was old, squat and slow, both physically and mentally. And he couldn't see too well, as one of his eyes was all swoll up and gooey and rolled up back in his head. So he was pretty easy to evade.

Chef Henry even had a couple of catchphrases, which Andy would mimic in an exaggerated drawl: "Heeeey, little boy, c'mere. Ah'm gone bake you a cake, and fill it full uh creeeeeamy ice cream," or, "How'd you like a cake, little boy? Ah'll give yuh plenty uh creeeamy icing." Apparently these were Chef Henry's pick-up lines. Hence, "Chef."

Me and Kalpesh and the other skinhead liked it when Andy would do Chef Henry. "C'mere if you want some creeeamy ice cream," he’d say, and we'd run. "Noooo, Chef Henry, you won't get us! Yaaaaah!" we'd yell, laughing. Andy would roll his eyes up all funny and lurch around like Frankenstein. "Creeeeeeamy icing! Creeeeamy ice cream!" Sometimes he'd throw in a little of this one eerie dude who'd come through the line at the campus cafeteria where he worked: "Saaaalty biscuit. Soooo saaaaalty. That biscuit was the saaaaaaltiest thing I've had down my throat in months."

Yes, Andy worked. He was the only one out of us who had anything resembling a regular job. For a little while Kalpesh and I sold tickets over the phone for a ramshackle local community theater that pretended to put on plays for kids in burn wards and shit, but one day we decided didn't feel like going in. So we didn't. And that feeling just kind of... stuck. After that, when we were really desperate for cigarettes and beer groceries, we'd work the occasional odd job for Kalpesh's handyman buddy Roy.

Much like Kalpesh and the skinheads, Kalpesh and Roy made for an unlikely pairing. Roy was a 70-something old-timey, unreconstructed Florida cracker who worked on Kalpesh's car, a green, spectacularly raggedy 1970 Buick Wildcat the size of a battleship. In a typically odd twist, Roy's very real affection for Kalpesh led him to saying some obscenely racist stuff when I was around.

"Kalpesh, now, you watch out when you boys go fishing," I once heard him say. "You're dark, now, almost dark like the blacks, so you might have some of that smell on you that gets the alligators hungry."

"Dude, seriously, what the fuck?" I later asked Kalpesh. I mean, I've been exposed to all kinds of racist bullshit, both passive and overt, and I've heard old cracker types pontificate forth with all kinds of idiotic country homilies and lame folk wisdom, but that shit took the cake. But Kalpesh just grinned and shrugged. Roy meant well, I guess. And I suspect Kalpesh kind of liked hearing some of that crap, just because it was so goddamn weird to think that some people actually believed it.

Once Roy sent us over to a house in Gainesville's Duck Pond neighborhood. The Duck Pond is near downtown and is full of cool two-story houses that are all restored and historical and stuff. This nice old lady met us there and put us to work in the yard, spreading mulch and cleaning out the gutters and shit. I can't say for sure that at some point she brought us out a couple of cold glasses of old-fashioned homemade lemonade, but it was definitely that kind of scene.

After a little while we noticed some guy sitting on the porch, watching us. We figured it was the lady's husband. I looked over and nodded. He gave us a little wave and kind of... gurgled.

"Dude," I said to Kalpesh. "I think he's retarded."

He kept watching us as we worked. So much that it started giving me the heebie-jeebies. No matter where we were in the yard, he'd be sitting on a nearby porch or set of steps, just staring. I couldn't really tell, but it seemed like he might even be muttering to himself.

Kalpesh and I were up in this tree, ripping Spanish moss off the branches as per the lady's request, when she came outside to see how we were doing. She was standing under us giving us some directions when the guy on the porch made a weird noise, halfway between a laugh and a croak. Reflexively, I glanced over.

"Oh, don't you all mind Henry," she said. "He's a little slow, but he doesn't mean anyone any harm." Then she went back inside.

"Henry... Henry... Hmmm." For some reason this kind of bounced around in my mind. Then, slowly, a sick realization began to bloom… I looked over, and the guy gave me a big, toothless leer. For the first time I noticed one of his eyes was all fucked up and weepy, dripping some kind of macabre goo.

"Fuck!" I whispered to Kalpesh. "It's Chef Henry!"

"Whuh?" he said, looking over. "Chef Henry?"

Then it hit him. His eyes got very big.

"Oh! Oh! Chef Henry!" he whispered. "Shit! What do we do?!"

"We gotta get out of here!" I said. "Fuck!" We were seriously in a panic.

So we split. Didn't wait around to get paid or tell the lady or nuthin'. Just bailed. Jumped out of the tree, hauled ass to the Wildcat and tore out of there as fast as we could go. It just wasn't worth it. Shit, we were just relieved that we didn't get any of that creamy icing on us. Brrrr.

So, a close call.

Kids, you listen to me. I don't care how much you like creamy ice cream. You be like me and Kalpesh and keep the hell away from Chef Henry.


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