by Hugh Mungus

Everything shits until it dies.

- Charles Bukowski

Cuadrillas was high as fuck, as he dove into the Colorado River that brisk July evening. He didn't relish the idea of battling Great Whites, but what other recourse did he have?

ATF was closin' faster than a desperate real estate agent. He'd caught wind of their presence around Lake Mead, and had narrowly evaded 'em since.

Ditching the '73 Gremlin - that had run the past two years, despite not having a drop of oil within it - our hero was afraid it would come to this. Goin' the remainder of the way on foot was the only chance he had. His car was too high profile, and stood out like a piccolo solo in a death metal song.

As such, he'd been forced to abandon the rocket on wheels, and swim across the Colorado River from Laughlin to Bullhead City, in hopes of eluding his pursuers.

The near-freezing temperature of the water had reduced our protagonist's nuts to the size of gum balls. Hypothermia had been the least of his worries, though, since he knew the causeway was teeming with sharks. He'd seen their fins incising the waves earlier that week.

If he could just swim across to Ohio, there was a slim chance he'd survive the night.

Dirty plates piled around Cuadrillas in the dish pit of the dilapidated Boulder Highway casino. Outside, zombie hookers filled the streets. It was the early graveyard shift, and the dishwasher didn't give a fuck.

Watery mashed potatoes drained into chocolate chip ice cream, which coated the Reuben he'd pulled off one of the plates.

Bite marks torn into anything solid, everything was half-eaten.

His trip across the river would be a long one, and the slovenly stud would need plenty of energy to evade the Feds.

Devouring the "used" sandwich, he flipped the bird at the eyes in the sky, positioned at regular intervals along the ceiling. This place was a panopticon; a bevy of cameras that weren't even on, let alone attached to a video feed. Just empty threats to keep the subjugates scared - performing their slavery, without interruption.

Uncovering a bagel drenched in red wine, maple syrup, and either hot cereal or snot, Cuadrillas gorged in preparation for the long trek home. It normally took half an hour to jet back to his condo. Tonight, he'd be takin' the scenic route - hittin' a "Bible study group" along the way, and doin' his best to give the spooks the slip.

Snatching collins, highball, and pilsener glasses from the drainage canal before him, he chugged their contents. He knew half-finished cocktails contained alcohol, and it would take a dozen of these babies before he caught a buzz. Forty of the bastards, and he'd be annihilated like the population of Hiroshima, following the dropping of Little Boy.

Gin Rickeys, Mai Tais, Benedictine, Milk Punch and lager - it all blended together in his stomach.

Inebriation kept the dish pit dweller warm, as he gulped porters, AMFs and single barrels. Grindin' ice between teeth more chipped than a population under surgically-implanted RFID surveillance, he'd need as much of this stuff in his system as possible. How else could he withstand the frigid temperatures of the raging river?

The rapids were another thing, entirely. And the sharks. Jesus fuck, the sharks!

Poundin' a Paloma, he envisioned Quint devoured off the Orca's stern in Jaws.

And then, Bible study:

Everywhere Cuadrillas looked, he saw nothin' but flesh - pores and perspiration - amidst a landscape carpeted in crotch.

We were talkin' two suites, here, connected by a door. Out the massive bay windows of both rooms was a postcard picture of the Vegas Strip.

Beyond the plates of glass, forgotten comics - desperate to revive their "careers" - pumped the public full of corporate cum. Journey rolled onstage - high on stool softeners and bunion cream. Roy Horn opened a restaurant servin' nothin' but lion meat. More fake than the news comin' outta CNN, it was all Vegas.

From singers nobody knew were still breathin', to musicians who couldn't play an instrument. From a bogus Statue of Liberty, to a false Eiffel Tower. From the orgasms your wife swore you gave her last night, to your chicken nuggets, your happiness, and your freedom, none of it was real.

Cuadrillas had no idea the aforementioned was so. Like most others, he didn't examine his environment. He simply accepted his role as a wind-up toy - bouncing off countless walls, before running dry of juice.

All the dishwasher knew was that he'd found himself immersed in a 37 person orgy at a hotel on The Strip, and his erection had gone on strike. It was his turn to sing naked karaoke, and somebody had forgotten to plug in his microphone.

It wasn't a tragedy the magnitude of the fact Oprah will someday perish from this planet, but it still didn't make him feel good. It also was no need for panic; of this he knew, thanks to experience.

The goddess beneath Cuadrillas had "dollops," as he called 'em. Dollops were scoops of pecan ice cream - his favorite. The kind of boobs he'd fantasized about, since he was a kid, beatin' off in middle school, after the football team kicked the shit out of him.

They were the same type of fuck pillows stuffed beneath the prom queen's underwire bra. Cuadrillas knew this because - even though he'd been the school loser - he'd fucked the prom queen...twice.

The first occasion was on a dare from her girlfriend. The second, because our hero had a huge cock, included not only the prom queen but her girlfriend.

Now, staring down at the pin-up model beneath him - and her heaving dollops - the dissolute dishwasher couldn't believe his typically turgid tadger was as soft as a Sumo wrestler's belly. Had he partaken in one too many dish pit Boilermakers?

Accessing his heart chakra, Cuadrillas snatched a used condom from atop the bed. With jagged teeth, he gnawed through the plastic casing, separating the tube from the elastic band. Tossing the pipette portion aside, he'd encircled the stretchable latex ring around the base of his balls and penis. In moments, he'd transformed an ordinary condom into the perfect, hacked cock ring.

Problem solved, our protagonist's prick rose to monumental heights, as he pleased yet another prurient princess. However, he'd be unable to elude the Great Whites amidst the murky depths of the mighty Colorado, later that evening, as he attempted to swim home.

It was The Perfect Storm, replete with 200 foot waves, and gale force winds! Record-breaking tsunamis towered over our hero! Gulpin' gallons of water, he knew he was goin' down! His heart sprinted for the finish line, desperate to end the race.

And then...the fins surfaced.

"Are you gettin' this?" Avery peered through Night Vision binoculars at the flailing swimmer in the calm waters of the Colorado River.

Beside him, Trent watched the same free show through his own field glasses.

Both men stood adjacent a shellshocked mobile home, where they were takin' a break from cookin' meth.

Sharin' pulls off a gallon jug of Carlo Rossi Blush, they could hear the flailing swimmer fighting for his life against invisible forces.

"Sharks!" Cuadrillas shrieked in the background. "Fuckin' sharks!!!"

"Whaddya' think he's on?" Avery asked.

Trent paused, prior to responding. "Whatever it is, it ain't ours. Guy's seein' sharks. That ain't cookin' from our kitchen."

In the background, Cuadrillas' motions became even more exaggerated.

The meth burners watched from the shore, neither man intervening, as doing so would expose their "illicit" operation.

Eventually, the dishwasher's desperate attempts to stem a nonexistent tide, and invisible sharks, were overcome, as he disappeared beneath waves that weren't even there...in two feet of water.

"What if this Universe is a fuck-up?" Eighteenth Century philosopher David Hume posed the question in his book Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion.

It's a legitimate query. Our species produces commodities all the time, and some don't pass quality control - lacking a specific part, or a victim of substandard craftsmanship. As a result, the items in question are categorized "rejects," and discarded.

What if such is the case with our Universe?

What if this cosmos is one of innumerable star systems produced on an assembly line? And what if our particular version of that product is a malfunction?

We just assume this Universe is a masterpiece. What if it sucks armadillo anus, in comparison to other Universes produced?

To what do we have to compare it?

As a species, our scope is so limited, we know only one Universe, and have almost no firsthand experience of that. We've barely been off this planet. For those who have, they haven't gone far. Hence, how can we comprehend what this Universe is, who or what built it, and why?

How can we know whether this Universe is a quality product, or defective?

Defective cars are produced constantly. If they don't pass quality control, they're scrapped.

Upon being classified harmful, certain children's toys are removed from the shelves.

When foods are tainted, or produced with dangerous ingredients, they're withdrawn from grocery stores. Unless they're GMOs, of course.

Hence, while we're praising the design of this cosmos, it may be a botched job - held together by mucus and Band-Aids.

Moreover, the architect, or architects, of this Universe may be poorly trained, or neophytes at the creation of Universes - this having been one of their first attempts, and thus ill-conceived in design.

What do the origins of this Universe have to do with Cuadrillas and his spastic delusions? Everything! We all bounce around this planet - or whatever this is we're callin' Earth - like metal balls in a gigantic pinball machine. None of us know a good goddamn about what we are, why we're here, if we even are here, or where here is!

Moreover, most of us never attempt to comprehend such. We simply react to our environment, and this results in some seriously strange shit!

I don't know what's going on, and I'm probably not smart enough to understand if somebody was to explain it to me. All I know is we're being tested somehow, by somebody or some thing a whole lot smarter than us, and all I can do is be friendly and keep calm, and try and have a nice time till it's over.

- Kurt Vonnegut

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