anitas-working-deadThe limo sat idling for nearly twenty minutes. Black exhaust caused the evening stars on a rare, clear Hollywood night to disappear.

 Denny Joyce, a rock drummer for a band called The Love Muscle, watched as the old car gave forth its last rattling breath and after a long pause, the chauffeur, Grieves, struggled with the it’s heavy door. He unfolded his long frame and very slowly stepped out into the street. Grieves wore an old-fashioned chauffeur’s outfit and cap. He adjusted the brim to avoid the light and keep his face hidden in shadow.  

Grieves was weak, barely able to keep his balance.

Denny’s watched the rail-thin man and thought of his eighty-pound crackhead buddy Jeff, who looked more alive than this loser. Denny was more than upset with Jeff who, the night before, had sold Denny a baggy full of catnip that was supposed to be marijuana. The only effect the catnip had on Denny was a disturbing dream about how man’s purpose on Earth was to feed and shelter cats. It was  a vivid dream that left Denny afraid to go back to bed.  

Grieves stepped slowly around the vehicle and opened the back door of the bus-sized limo that faced the hotel. Two large muddy brown shoes appeared out of the darkness of the open door. A tall, rotund, white-haired gentleman dressed in a dusty, ragged tuxedo stepped out onto the sidewalk with great difficulty.

Behind the big guy, but remaining in the limo, Denny glimpsed, a ghostly platinum-haired woman illuminated beneath the street light. She wore sunglasses and a white stole over her shoulders. 

The portly old man swayed weakly on the sidewalk and shielded his dark eyes from the faint glare of the flickering street light above his head.

Perhaps, the weak lamp post still burned brightly in another dimension. 

The Grieves held the bigger gent’s elbow and with some effort, steadied them both. Humming a slow dirge, he escorted the larger man up the walkway. Grieves let go of his large, lumbering passenger who continued on his own.

The big man’s gloved hands carried a long posterboard. Leaving his chauffeur behind as he shambled toward the curious Denny who stood in the doorway of Room #21.

Denny did not look at the man’s face at first, but at the cardboard poster that he held in his filthy white gloved hands: a two-foot by five-foot-long humungous check made out to Mr. Denny Joyce. Dated two weeks ago and signed by Charles “scribble scribble” from the Publisher’s Clearing House. The amount written on the check was for “One Million Dollars.” 

The thing at the door coughed out a mouthful of dust and uttered a rasping “HEY HO!” 

Denny looked up at the maggot-filled mouth that omitted the unearthly sound. The face was slack and it looked slightly decomposed with its teeth drawn back and bits of skull showing beneath the thick white hair and cracked glasses. 

The corpse spoke to Denny through creaking jaws, with a voice and breath that could only have risen from the rotting bowels of …well, almost anywhere east of Lincoln Boulevard.

“Denny Joyce! You’ve just won the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes! You’re now a millllllllllionnnnnnnnaire!”

After his initial shock of both seeing the walking corpse of the twenty-years-extinct Ed McMahon and hearing that he had suddenly became a millionaire, all propelled by a blast of fetid (you-call-that) breath?… all Denny Joyce could say was, “Aren’t you… Ed McM… Mc—”

“Hey Ho!” said the corpse. “Dennyyyyyyyyy it’s yourrrrrrrr luckkkkky dayyyyyy.”

Denny felt his bladder threaten to “let go” and he began to feel dizzy.

Something deep down in his fried brain, perhaps a little angel, warned him: 

“Don’t ever invite them in.”

“My family’s sick, man… sorry,” Denny explained through the screen door. “This is crazy! Is… is that check for real?” He threw up a digested stomach full of Cheetos upon his own shirt and all over the battered screen. The yellowed screen was the only thing that separated the living from the dead. 

Pausing, then wiping his mouth with his t-shirt, Denny looked up and asked, “Is… is there anything that I have to do?” Cough, cough. “And just curious pal… are you, like, dead?”

“Yes, Denny. Hey Hooooooohhhh! The last time I looked, yeah! I was very dehhhhhd. The check is reeeeeeeeeal. You are a millionaire! Can I come in? Can we talk?”

Don’t let them in. Never let them in Denny, said the imaginary little angel, now on his right shoulder.

Denny wiped his eyes in disbelief. All of them zeros…. “Uh no, not yet.” As he knew from a previous druggy dream, this was part of “God’s plan.”

“There, of course, is one little catch Mr. Joyce,” said dead Ed. “I need to eat someone’s brains and I need them now! By the way you’re a mess, son, you’ve ruined your shirt.”

“Oh sorry man, er Mr., uh, Mr. McMahon. You gave me quite a start. I’m a smart guy. I knew that there would be some sort of ‘a catch.’ How about my wife Ruby, pal? She has some brains.”

(Ruby used to have a good brain, before she married a crack pipe.) 

“Come here, Honey,” Called Denny. “There’s someone I want you to meet. Ed McMahon. Remember Ed McMahon?”

“Whah da fuck?” his wife slurred from the bed. “Who’s there?” She crawled over to the door.

“Holy shid!” she said looking at him through the Cheeto gauze on the screen, and from three different angles in the dim light. “Hey! You used to be the fat guy from the Tonight Show!”

“Hey Hoooooooo! You are correct, sir! I mean Mrs. Joyce! I am Ed McMahhhhhhhon, and you, my lovely woman, and the man that you are married to, are now millionaires!”

Ed bent his creaky frame over toward Denny and then whispered through the screen toward Denny’s ear. “I bet that she did have a good brain ’til she met you and Mr. Dope, huh, Denny?'” said Ed with another putrid blast of his breath that sent Denny hurling away from the door. 

“Johnny! Mia! Come here, kids!” Ruby said. The two munchkins crawled off of the bed and shambled over toward the door while moaning. They had just started watching the Walking Dead on the Food Channel and were mimicking the zombies on TV

Only Mia was brave enough to come up to the door. Johnny stood back.

“Oh crap Dad! Mom!” said Mia. “This fucker’s a real zombie!”

“I’m only here to helllllp you sweeeeeetnesssss,” said dead Ed.

“Yeah, Mia, uh, we got us a real zombie,” said Denny.

“This is Mr. McMahon, kids,” Ruby said. “Mr. McMahon used to be on television, before he … went bankrupt… died … and rotted… and beetles started living in his ears.”

“Okay, Dad,” said Johnny who now stood behind his sister. “Tell him to go away. He smells like balls!”

“Johnny! Use your manners! Sorry, Mr. McMahon. Kids, huh? Mr. McMahon has got a pile of money for us, children. Be polite, you little shits.”

“If we eat stupid brains,” said Ed, “we just get stupider. No thannnnnnkssss. Can we seeeeeal the deeeeeal? Can I come in and—seeeeeeal the deal?”

Wow! That sounded too much like seal-a-meal to Denny. 

“Wait! N… no, not yet,” said Denny. “How about you just sliding the check under the door?”

“That’s not how we do things here in Hollywood, Denny, sir! We need to shake your hand and capture this wonderful event on video.” 

There was another walking corpse behind Ed, holding a moldy broken video camera. It was hard to see the cameraman, as the camera was supporting a blinding spotlight. The cameraman wore Ray-Ban sunglasses. The mysterious camera-guy also sported sideburns and emitted a truly horrible spoiled bacon smell from his a mold-covered black leather jacket.

“I always liked you Mr. McMahon. I don’t want to do this,” said the shaken Denny.

“Whaaaaat Dennyyyyy?”

“If I let you in… well… Okay, then. Let me think this over”

“Six zeros Denny!” said the little fire-engine-red devil on his left shoulder. 

“You can have that one,” said Denny. “Come here, Johnny! Meet Mr. Ed McMahon! Mr. McMahon! HERE’sssssssss JOHNNY!”

Ed hissed like a snake. “Hahhhhhh, hahhhhh, hilariousssssss. You’re a real charmer, Denny.” Looking at little Johnny with worm-filled eyes, Ed said, “Your old man’s a comedian, son. Did you know that you can’t say that, Denny?” 

“Say what?”

“You can’t say, ‘Here’ssssss Johnny!’ I’ve still got a trademark copyright on that phrase.”

“No way!”

“Waaaaaaay…. Oh, and that word ‘way’ belongs to Mike Meyers. US patent and trademark office, Denny. I can use ‘way’ because I’m a shambling undead fiend.”

“Gee, I wouldn’t have thought!” said little Johnny.

Ignoring the warning from the little fuck-head angel on his right shoulder, Denny said to the dead Ed, “Just to make it clear. Are you listening, Ed! ARE WE CLEAR ON THIS? I am NOT inviting you in! This is NOT an invitation. Right?”  

With that, Denny wrenched open the door, and grabbed onto the lapels of Ed’s threadbare tux. He then pulled the big smelly fat-ass zombie into the motel room. Denny’s wife and kids, all back upon the king-sized bed, just slid over to accommodate the big stiff, and continued to ignore the real horror show next to them.

Ed struggled and gurgled as Denny dragged him into the room. 

Ed McMahon, though over six-feet-tall, was nearly weightless: an empty shell, except for a few shreds of some poor souls whose brains he had feasted on within the last couple of weeks. 

A few feeble minds were the only things that had kept old Ed McMahon barely moving along with a very nice shamble these days.

Ed had only been feasting on the brains of the weak and greedy. At this moment, Ed who was very weak and very greedy for a “noggin nosh.” His scam was not working on the  hardened punk drummer, who moved quickly and gracefully. 

Denny threw the big lug onto the bed.

Hell! That was easy! thought Denny. Maybe I’ll be going out to look for the ex-Elvis and ex-Marilyn later.

“Thanks for the check, Ed,” said Denny. “Money is a good thing and I certainly thank you. You still have one very important thing that you’re going to give me tonight Mr. McMahon! You see, Mr. McMahon, it’s time to feed the kitty!”

* * * *

Denny whistled for Angel Puff (another name for Dave), while Ed McMahon snapped, squealed and squirmed beneath Denny’s weight, 

Denny told him, THIS is God’s plan. Don’t you know that Mr. McMahon? Angel Puff! Come here, Puff Ball!” (another name for Angel Puff).

Angel Puff had always hated his name, though it served him many fine souls. He licked his paws, got off of his furry butt and slowly walked over to the bed.

With his green eyes, orange fur and sparkly gold collar, the cat leapt upon the bed and sat himself squarely upon the trapped zombie’s chest. 

Angel Puff tossed back his handsome mane, focused his slitted emerald eyes upon his prey, and began to inhale his psychic meal. “Meowwwwww.” I’ll start with a little soul food—better than tuna. 

Ed, being a brainatarian, was a soul buffet! 

Inhale….

 The last thing Zombie Ed saw was Denny leaning close and whispering, “The world is full of hungry, fluffy, lovable kitties, Ed. We ONLY exist to feed our cats. Don’t you know that Mr. McMahon?”