Willy Wonka was standing by the exit at Disneyland, selling cheap balloons and slightly melted Velvet Underground vinyls. I saw him from one of the lesser-used corners of my eye, bathed in late morning tracers, and I sent a fax to my extremities to get a closer look.
At about ten yards I could count the threads in his leisure suit and gauge the rollercoaster-like contours of his skull. He smelled like health food. I adjusted my belt, spat my gum and took three more steps. He looked straight at me, blinked, and spelled the word “COCKSUCKER” in perfect sign language (I didn’t learn this little detail until many years later).
“How much are the Velvet Underground records?” I inquired. He stared at me like I was a moron, and finally, after about thirty minutes, he replied, “Eight Disney dollars, except for this copy of White Light/White Heat, which is fourteen thousand Disney dollars.”
“Why does that one cost fourteen thousand Disney dollars?”
“Because it doesn’t work.”
“How much for a balloon?”
When I was a kid, I used to be fascinated by Willy Wonka’s glass elevator that could go sideways and diagonally and up the Pope’s ass and every other direction you can think of. I wondered how angry he would have been if Charlie Bucket had broken it. I mean, elevators break all the time. I broke three of them this morning.
Has Willy Wonka ever seen the inside of a discotheque?
“The balloons are not for sale.”
What if the elevator never stopped? What if it just kept going faster and faster, spinning out of control, the inside becoming ever more streaked and spattered with candy colored vomit?
I shoved him right in the thorax. His eyes disengaged and he fell over backwards, followed by a herd of afterimages. The records were all rolling and wobbling across the parking lot like hubcaps and the stupid balloons were halfway to heaven.
Is there music playing inside the elevator? I can only imagine what it must be like to have your flapjacks of terror drizzled with the Pet Shop Boys.
Now, I need to get “real” with you nice people for a second. My lawyer has instructed me to make it clear that I know essentially nothing about the Pet Shop Boys, so therefore I cannot quantify to any exact degree the amount by which the trauma of being hurtled to my inevitable death in Willy Wonka’s flying glass coffin would be exacerbated by any one of their songs.
My lawyer is now eating a large quantity of hot fudge.
An oompa loompa, identified by his name tag as Doug, had been observing the scene from a comfortable distance. I looked over at him and he quickly darted his eyes in a different direction.
“Yeah, that’s what I thought,” I yelled.
“You know why there’s a crack in the Liberty Bell?” he asked me, still looking away. “You know why there are thunder clouds?” He turned to look at me. “Because of jerks like you.”
Doug took one last drag from his cigarette, flicked it at Disneyland, and waddled away.
I offered Mr. Wonka a ride back to his house at the bottom of the Caspian Sea. On the way, he told me about a boat he used to own, and I pretended to believe him. Then he started to talk about Doug.
“Don’t you think Doug looks like the singer from the Pet Shop Boys?” asked Mr. Wonka.
I stomped on the brake of the stolen BMW and turned to glare at him. There were theta waves oozing from his nose and mouth. He smiled feebly.
“I’m an old man,” he said.
“Listen to this,” I retorted. “I don’t know Thing One about the Pet Shop Boys. Do not mention them again, or–”
I never wanted one of those balloons anyway. Fuck it, I’ll walk.