WELCOME TO HELLYWOOD CH.5 - DANCE OFF!
By CM Holst
Usher grabs your skinny adolescent arm and pulls you away from the screaming gaggle of girls approaching. You wince like a girly-boy and follow him to a back alley behind the coffee shop. A homeless man curled beneath a blanket shifts and chuckles while keeping a steady eye on you as you walk by in your stupid skinny jeans, and your stupid sneakers meant for a twelve year-old, and your stupid helmet hair.
“Where are you taking me?” you ask in your pubescent voice. Wondering if your testicles have descended, you take a peek down the front of your pants to make sure your junk is as it should be only to discover you have no junk at all. “What the fuck, Skin! Usher! Whoever the hell you are…what’s the meaning of this?” You point to your pelvic region.
He laughs. “I made you exactly in that little shit’s image.”
“What?” You take a step back, confused. “Are you telling me the real…” you swallow hard. You can’t bring yourself to say his name. “He doesn’t have anything? At all?”
“That’s right. Come on. This way.”
Usher walks up a flight of stairs and unlocks a door while you wait on the landing.
“What is it?” you ask, noticing the frightened look on Usher’s face. “What’s wrong?”
You slowly turn around and find yourself staring down the barrel of a gun being held by the homeless man you just passed.
“Get that thing out of my face, old man.” You swat at the cold steel and the homeless dude laughs, smiling a toothless grin.
“I wanna see you dance, boy,” he says, his voice deep and raspy.
“Go to hell,” you say.
“Uh, that’s probably not a good idea,” Usher finally pipes in.
“Fuck off! This is all your fault! If you didn’t make me look like this, we wouldn’t have this problem, now would we?”
The homeless man raises his gun and presses it hard against your forehead. “You don’t like the way you look, boy?”
You struggle to find your voice. “Not exactly. Why are you doing this?”
He laughs again. “I told you. I wanna see you dance.”
“Okay. Fine. I’ll fucking dance for you.” You snap your fingers and move your feet to a rhythm only you can hear.
“You suck, boy. Try harder!” The homeless man shouts.
Beads of sweat dot your brow as you shuffle your feet. “Maybe if I had some music,” you squeak.
“You’ll be hearin’ harps soon if you don’t start showin’ me some dancin’. Now move!”
You shuffle your feet faster and gravel crunches beneath your children’s size 5 shoes. Your heart pounds and your lungs struggle to pull in enough oxygen. “Usher,” you pant. “Usher, aren’t you going to help me?”
The homeless man watches with wide-eyed anticipation as your feet move faster, and faster still until they’re nothing but a blur.
“I don’t understand,” you beg. “Why are you doing this? What do you want?”
“It’s working,” the homeless man says, and laughs beneath his breath. “It’s working.”
“What’s working? What’s going on? I don’t understand. Jesus! God! I can’t stop dancing. Oh my God, I can’t stop dancing. Please, sir. Please. My feet. They’re…they’re burning!”
The smell of smoke wafts through the air and into your nostrils.
The homeless man’s shoulders bounce with laughter. “It’s working,” he yells at the top of his lungs. The old man stands up straight and tosses his dirt covered blanket to the ground. It’s Elvis.
Dark clouds cover the sky and between the peals of the old coot’s maniacal laughter, you hear a distant rumble of thunder.
“That’s it,” Elvis says. “Dance…dance…dance until you die!”
“Who the hell are you?” you demand as you gasp for air.
“You’re tellin’ me you don’t know how I am?” he asks. “What the fuck are parents teachin’ their kids these days if you don’t know who ELVIS-FUCKING-PRESLEY is?”
“I know who Elvis is you twit! I’m not who you think I am! Please, I don’t want to die,” you say as you gasp for air.
“Sucks to be you then, huh?”
“Nooooooo,” you cry out, but no one can hear your screams over the rolling thunder. The friction from your feet started a fire, and at once your entire body -- your young, fit, and junk-less body -- is engulfed in flames.