(I’m a sucker for pizza. That’s how they got me in the door.)
I walk into the library conference room, pay the doorman, and mill around with scores of slack-faced, functionality-averse New-Agers. There’s a banner hanging over the small podium at the front of the room. It reads: “WELCOME ALLA YOUSE TO ENLIGHTENED SAL’S SUPREMO ENLIGHTENMENT CLUB.”
Everyone’s buzzing excitedly, talking about how vastly superior and wise the great Salvatore Moretti (or Enlightened Sal, as he’s more colloquially known) is. I pay them no mind; I’m by myself in the corner, maowing down slice after slice of free pizza.
Suddenly the room darkens, and some kind of disco strobe light starts spinning above us. Stupid-as-shit, upbeat eighties music begins assaulting my ears. The sheep around me squeal in delight and scramble into cheap, foldout chairs. I grudgingly set my pizza down and take a seat.
The music stops, the lights come back on, and a disgruntled looking dude in a track-suit shuffles out to the center of the stage. He plunks down in the comfy chair, burps, and scratches his five-o-clock shadow.
He says, “Welcome to Sal’s, you spiritual muddafuckas you. I’m Enlightened Sal. How you all doing?” In a tick, Noo Yawk accent.
A few people cry in joy. A few more roll their eyes up into their skulls, clutch at the air, and pretend like they’re having some kind of ecstatic seizure. One woman starts touching herself and moaning like a porn star.
(What. The FUCK.)
He waves dismissively, greasy light reflecting off the giant rings arrayed across his sausage-like fingers. “ ’Preciate it. ’Preciate it. Let’s get to work, shall we?” He claps his hands and rubs them briskly together. “Who’s first?”
A lady in front tremulously ventures, “How can I motivate myself to wake up earli—”
He slaps his leg and yells, “BAM! Psychic empowerment—now you’ll wake up on time for all of eternity, and you’ll shit nuthin’ but light and mandalas. That’ll be two grand.”
She manages to voice her gratitude while sniffling with joy, digs through her purse, and starts writing a check.
A dude in the back raises his hand. Sal lifts a thick, caterpillar-like eyebrow. “Speak.”
“Namaste, O Great Sal. I would like to be nicer to my wife. Is there any way you could—”
Sal slaps both his thighs. “Bam BAM! DOUBLE empowerment! You’re da nicest paizoni that’s walked the motherfuckin’ oith. Four Gs.” In between sobs of gratitude, the man starts digging through his pockets.
Sal goes through the room, getting people to mortgage their houses, pledge their first-borns, their anal virginity, or in the event that they don’t have enough money, he gives them a list of organ harvesters who’ll take a spleen or a liver for a decent chunk of change. Finally, he gets to me.
“You.” He leans forward. “What’s your name, friend?”
“Um…Kent. Kent Wayne.”
“And what do you need fixed?”
“Uh…I’m just here for the free pizza.”
Sal leans back, tents his fingers above his chest, and chuckles softly. “Well that pizza was psychically empowered, friend. You’ve just eaten about a hunnert grand worth a’ pie.”
“Not to worry buddy ol’ pal; we’ve got ways to address this.” He starts ticking off options on his fingers. “Your anal virginity is worth about $20k, and for every time after that…mmm…we’ll say ten bucks a pop. We can adjust the length of your indentured servitude depending on which organs you’re willing to give us. On top of that, we can—”
Fuck this! I bolt up from my seat and bum-rush the door. In a matter of seconds, Sal’s devotees have dog-piled me and pinned me to the floor. Over the cacophony, Sal yells, “SAVE HIS BUTT! SAVE HIS BUTT! I’VE GOT CUSTOMERS LINED UP FOR IT!”
No options left. I open my eReader to Echo, activating its reality distortion powers. Magic flash.
Squat racks, alarm clocks, low-carb meals, and all manner of ACTUAL solutions flood the room, drenching it in functionality. People begin wailing and howling, staggering drunkenly about, clutching at the air like butt-hurt Anakin after he first woke up in the dope-ass Darth Vader suit. Their eyes start bleeding, their faces start vibrating, and—
Their heads start exploding, showering the conference room with splatters of gore. I squint and cover my eyes as fresh rains of ichor coat my body and slather the walls. In the midst of the madness, I see Sal gather up his earnings into a dirty canvas sack and make a break for it. A few seconds later, I’m the only living attendee in Enlightened Sal’s Supremo Enlightenment Club.
Gimme some napkins! Imma get that leftover pizza! 😀
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