Archive for June, 2007

Leeland Lee continues working at the Unique Eats café after his wife, Lori, dies. During breakfast and lunch Leeland is always busy with his hands, breading chicken to be deep-fried and wiping the mayonnaise off the counter for the next burger. The customers compliment Leeland’s timely and delicious meals, but his boss, a middle-aged woman from Ohio, begins acting vaguely sour towards him. At first she just mumbles as the day progresses into the afternoon, but eventually she tells Leeland he spends too much time listening to the radio during evenings. Agreeing to focus more on his work, Leeland remembers hearing a news story about how dentists have the highest suicide rate out of any professional occupation.
Besides stealing individual ketchup packets from the supply room, Leeland spends his lunch breaks hoping that his oldest son will find a way to bring in a decent sum of money. At home, Leeland’s son sleeps on a thin foam mattress in the garage. Occasionally Leeland believes that his son is high on marijuana when he comes in late, eyebrows clenched nervously as he steps off his motorcycle. Leeland never questions him directly and his son never explains how he found his girlfriend in a sleeping bag with another girl who was their mutual friend. While his son lives in the garage he feels his sexual confidence diminishing. He offsets his insecurities by losing himself in motorcycle repair jobs that bring in enough money to pay for Leeland’s electricity bills.
Eventually Leeland and the middle-aged woman start arguing loudly with each other at work until some customers start to complain. Leeland is fired one Saturday afternoon without ceremony. Later that day, as he drives his truck home, he hears on the news that a fire destroyed the roof of a llama ranch in Thermopolis.
Leeland’s oldest son saves up enough money from his repair jobs to open up his own motorcycle shop and steakhouse. After initially shying away from the idea—for unknown reasons—Leeland’s son asks his Dad to be the head chef of the steak house. Leeland accepts the offer and begins working on a menu. All of the entrees he chooses are different cuts of steak, except for his signature “Leeland burger”: a regular hamburger with bacon on top of everything else.
Word came from Billings, Montana that Leeland’s oldest daughter was pregnant with another child and his other son was recovering from the loss of his mother. Although he is quiet and hard to classify, he excels in math and reassures his sister that he is not depressed. Leeland wonders if his boys will all have houses in Unique someday.
Some of the customers who were locals at the café where Leeland first worked as a cook migrate to the steakhouse and repair shop. When people order by just saying “I’ll have a burger” Leeland corrects them calmly by repeating: “one Leeland burger, coming right up.”


Jack Ass

Advertisement jingles. Slogans digested and regurgitated at appropriate times. James Maxon spewing the funniest line from last week’s South Park, Simpsons, or Family Guy episode, and if those were all re-runs, a phrase from Dumb and Dumber or There’s Something About Mary.
Quotes shot rapid fire at parties, when everybody’s drunk. James’s parents out of town, everyone crowded in the garage between the twin Hummers. Labels facing out on cans of Coors like some kind of commercial, James thinks.
End of the party and James is worn out from repeating dialogue from television to his girlfriend, Jen. Jen laughs when James pauses for a reaction but is secretly pining over the cheap beer she is drinking. She doesn’t want to ruin the month long progress of her bitter tasting teeth-whitening treatment.
The next day James, hung over in bed, sees a preview for a new show that will be airing on MTV. The show is called “Jack Ass.” Clips from the pilot show a man being electrocuted with a taser gun, another man being hit by a car and another running away from an alligator’s snapping jaws.
After staying up to watch the show and feeling unimpressed, James is surprised to hear nothing but rave reviews from his friends at school the following day. Instead of the usual circle of people shooting quotes at each other, everyone does impressions with their bodies. They imitate the face of the guy who rode his bike into the side of a porta-potty and the moves of the guy who wore a thong, dancing in a department store.
James asks his parents for a video camera. His Mom agrees and they take one of the Hummers to Circuit City. Whistling the tune of a Coke ad, James picks out a camera that looks shinier than the rest and has features he doesn’t even try to comprehend.
Standing at the top of the tall grass hill behind his house, James has Jen turn on his camera for the first time to film him ride down in a small wagon. Flying headlong into a bush, James tumbles through the branches and looks back to see Jen flashing him a thumbs up.
James’ parents go out of town again. They set up the camera stationary to film a beer chugging contest followed by a group vomit session.
Jen finds the Jack Ass theme song on Napster just like James asked her. They edit a short, six-minute video with the song looped twice over James and his friends imitating stunts they saw on T.V.
Instant respect granted at school. For a while, people stop quoting and repeating lines. They gather around James and do impressions of his own stunts, the vexed facial expressions when he forced himself to vomit on his side-yard, the dazed look after he crashed a shopping cart into some shrubs. James watched their mirrored gestures with his arms crossed in front of him, smiling, but not knowing where to go from there.


Amazon wish list…admit it. you want to buy this stuff for me.