PARENTAL ADVISORY: Sharp things are dangerous.
the fantastic life and suicide
of mister mary holiday


-- March 14th, 1996 --
``Mary's Room."


"Somebody should seriously sandblast that man's ass," Mary growled as he stormed out of the room. The bunny was right on his heels.
áááááááááááá "The Admiral's just trying to do his job!" he tried.
áááááááááááá "So was Hitler. Get off my heels!"
áááááááááááá "I don't think that's a very ..."
áááááááááááá "Oh, stuff a cow up your nose."
ááááááááááá The bunny pulled at his tie uncomfortably.
áááááááááááá "Why don't you just try the psychiatrist?" he said. "Just once?"
áááááááááááá Mary spun around.
áááááááááááá "No," he said and then pulled the bunny's hat down to his elbows. Later he would have to soak in warm water for quite some time to regain some of the feeling in the upper bits of his ears.
áááááááááááá Mary had disappeared by the time the bunny pried the hat off.
áááááááááááá He sagged a little and leaned against the wall with a sigh. He really didn't think he deserved this sort of thing. He had always been a good officer. Honest, well-behaved, courteous and usually exceptionally neat. He had been doing this for as long as it could remember and the pressure was really more than he could handle sometimes. He sighed again and sat cross-legged on the black marble floor, back to the wall, ridiculously stretched hat hanging down over his eyes.
áááááááááááá The bunny knew he could find Mary if he wanted to. You didn't work with someone for so long without getting to know them inside out. And that was one of his jobs. But he also knew Mary's delicate balance of moods well, and figured that applying any extra pressure while he was in this one was not a very good idea at all.
áááááááááááá He looked around the long hallway, making sure no one was around, and then reached into his expensive black jacket and pulled out a worn packet of cigarettes. He shook one out, stuck it in his mouth and lit it. He inhaled deeply, leaning back against the cool metallic wall, letting the smoke drain slowly out of his body and tried to relax.
áááááááááááá Sometimes you just needed to get away, he thought.

Mary again thanked himself for having a wide range of secret passageways installed in the hat. When he first became a Mad Hatter he couldn't bear always having to deal with that stupid bunny. It was well-meaning and all, but it refused to fuck off when it was told and Mary naturally had a problem with that type of personality.
áááááááááááá Therapy? Fuck that, he thought. No way. He'd unwillingly gone to a few shrinks before, back when he still had at least a tiny shred of faith left in the "unshakable" worldly foundations on which society had been carefully balanced. Such as science and the sky and suicide. But they had caused him far more trouble than they were worth. As had the psychiatrists.
áááááááááááá It was damp and cold and it smelled lonely down here. These were the barren tunnels at what Mary understood to be the very base of the hat. He had to hunch over to keep from hitting his head on the low ceiling as he trudged along. They weren't actually tunnels, but converted vents. What they were originally for Mary hadn't been told. It sure as hell wasn't air, he thought bitterly.
áááááááááááá His feet made a very satisfying scuffing sound against the thin metallic floor as he walked. It was the sort of thing you had a primal urge to share with someone, but aesthetic pleasantries are almost always impossible to describe properly to other human beings. And Mary knew that nobody in the hat would appreciate it anyhow.
áááááááááááá He'd been hiding down here with his depression a lot more often lately. There weren't many other ways for him to escape. Not that they hadn't tried their best, though. The designers had put a lot of care into providing a nearly unlimited variety of entertainment possibilities, guaranteed to keep you happy and having fun until the grizzly and senseless death of time. They even offered to build whatever he wanted, should he for some reason find the facilities unsatisfactory. Thousands and thousands of levels, all unique in design, all fully automated. All specifically designed to meet Mary's entertainment needs. They were therefore very surprised when he asked for a dank tunnel system that had a ceiling just low enough to be annoying. And oh, he had said, could it lead to a squalid little room please.
áááááááááááá He had also asked for rats, worms, bats and perhaps a juicy car wreck or two. Just to add a bit of realism to the place. Liven it up a little. Make it feel a bit more like home.
áááááááááááá But they said they couldn't do that, for whatever reasons and whatever excuses. Mary really hadn't been paying any attention at that point. He remembered being very preoccupied with trying to figure out how hard he would have to slam a very sharp pencil into Admiral Ted's face to give him a frontal lobotomy. Ultimately he had decided it would have to be very hard. He had also decided that maybe it would have to be something much bigger than a pencil. Like a car, or a jet airplane for instance.
áááááááááááá The nice metal shuffling sound turned into a slightly less pleasing wooden one and Mary was able to stand up straight again. The vents led to this small, nasty little room with dirty red brick walls and a large pile of books in the middle. An old-fashioned desk lurked in the corner, and beside it a crooked wooden ladder stretched awkwardly up to the ceiling.
áááááááááááá Sitting down at the desk, Mary ran his hands over it wistfully. No dust. He tended to notice the little things when he got the most homesick. He may not have appreciated it then, but at least it was simple. At least he could understand how he was being traumatized and take some small satisfaction in knowing that he was clever enough to stop it if he really wanted to - which he usually didn't; but that was life.
áááááááááááá He lit the candle on the desk and wished the smoke would spiral softly into the air. He missed those sorts of things. He stared and stared at the flame, watching it flicker and shine a brilliant sharp orange colour. It danced fantastically when he blew on it.
áááááááááááá He went over to the book pile and started to dig through it. In the very back of his mind, he hoped there would be spiders in it that would scurry away, terrified and devastated as he moved the books and tore their beautiful silken homes apart.
áááááááááááá But there weren't any spiders. Just books. Were there any books about spiders? No, he decided after digging a bit more. There weren't any on spiders, and there weren't any he felt deserved to be read again. Most were textbooks and obscure religious material. Fiction had lost its appeal somewhere around the same time he lost his faith in science and the sky and suicide.
áááááááááááá Then a deep throbbing rumble poured into the room. Huge waves of it made the walls pulse and the floor heave.
áááááááááááá Mary sighed and blew out the candle.
áááááááááááá The hat was moving again and he felt a very familiar and ill combination of duty, monotony and anxiety creeping up his spine.
áááááááááááá He sat in the darkness, tapping his cane idly against the floor. It wasn't so much that he didn't enjoy his work, he thought. Sometimes he did. Sometimes he still could. There were still interesting bits here and there, but they became more and more difficult to separate from the endless drudgery as time wore on. When an assignment was finished he'd come back to the hat, and then another would come in and it would repeat over and over and over again. Nothing would change. And everything stayed the same. Because nothing ever changed.
áááááááááááá It was sort of like knowing the ending of a mildly entertaining book, he thought. Sure there might be some decent stuff in the middle, but why bother? Or would you start reading a book if you knew it would never have an ending? Mary agreed with himself that he definitely wouldn't bother. And he was sure he'd figured out the ending of this story too many years ago to even begin counting. There was no real rush. It was just an ending. It wasn't even very good, he felt. It lacked class and substance and "erudite wit."
áááááááááááá Even though he knew he didn't have to, he stood up. He could just sit here forever if he wanted. He'd tried it before. Sat there at that desk completely still and silent for nearly eight months. Got leg cramps you wouldn't believe.
áááááááááááá The ladder creaked loudly as he climbed it, and he melted right through the ceiling. More climbing and dark noises. The deep rumbling heightened as Mary slipped down a few more well- traveled passages. Through another wall, up some rickety steps, and then he was crawling towards a spooky blue light.

Mr. Mary Holiday's room was one of considerable artistic value. It was a perfect hexagon. Scattered around the floor were a lot of broken toys and blank-faced dolls. He liked to carve the faces himself whenever he felt the need.
áááááááááááá Butchered guitars hung out of the ceilings and walls, the strings sticking out all jagged and scraggly. A crumpled sitar sat in a heap in the corner. It had an awful lot of knives stuck in it.
áááááááááááá The dresser Mary had been issued had what looked like a twisted mess of body parts hanging out of the drawers. Hands and feet mostly, all crushed and bent and smeared red. The mirror had been destroyed exactly seven years ago and replaced with a large gaudy painting of that Jesus Christ person. His eyes had been cut out and replaced with big round cartoon ones, a cigarette was crudely staple-gunned onto his mouth and a strange angular top hat was painted on his head. The entire painting sparkled with glitter in the thin blue light.
áááááááááááá White hands strained out from under a large creepy bed and Mary pulled himself forward, groaning loudly. The bed was a huge open-mouthed skull with wide oval eyes and a manic smile that made most people not want to sleep in its mouth at all. Mary wasn't sure why he kept it around other than to make crawling out of secret passageways more annoying. It wasn't like he ever slept in the damn thing.
áááááááááááá He dragged himself out onto his cluttered floor and breathed heavily. His room was extraordinarily messy, as he had never allowed any of the previous cleaning crews in here either. He pulled himself to his feet and sighed. It made him nervous to have other people go through his things. His toys and his artwork.
áááááááááááá A dark and very scratched glitter-green electric guitar rested against the wall. Mary scowled uncommitally at it and let himself fall lazily backwards onto the skull's mattress tongue.
áááááááááááá He felt the layers of gloom sinking in even further.
áááááááááááá "Captain Holiday?"
áááááááááááá Mary blinked slowly several times, rolled over on to his side and stared blankly at the wall.
áááááááááááá "Captain?"
áááááááááááá It had scratchy black crayon scrawled all over it in an erratic kind of childish pattern. He couldn't even remember when he drew it, though it must have been some time ago.
áááááááááááá "Sir?"
áááááááááááá "What?" Mary said sharply.
áááááááááááá "We've arrived at the next mission location," said the hat. "And Admiral Holden has ordered an inspection and subsequent investigation into the cleaning crew's mass-suicide."
áááááááááááá "Ah," said Mary. He closed his eyes and thought about spiders.
áááááááááááá "Captain?"
áááááááááááá Silence.
áááááááááááá "Captain?"
áááááááááááá Silence.
áááááááááááá "Captain?"
áááááááááááá "WHAT?"
áááááááááááá "Are you feeling alright?"
áááááááááááá "Go away."
áááááááááááá Mary clenched up his toes and tried to listen to his moods swing. He knew it was just going to get worse if he stayed here. He made himself sit up and walk into the bathroom.
áááááááááááá Splashing cold water on his face, he stared at the black wall where the mirror used to be. In its place was a sign. It read:
áááááááááááá
``I'm in my own eyes now.''

áááááááááááá "Deep," he mumbled, and then he quietly made his way to the control room.

This time going through the floor was a sharper blue than usual.

6:22 pm, March 12, 1993.

And a short while later in a deserted parking lot, just off the main street of a bustling town, Mary's shiny black top hat blinked suddenly into existence and waited quietly on the cool paved ground.
áááááááááááá It was still for several minutes before it began to shake and throb a little bit. Slow at first, but building steadily.
áááááááááááá Some distant tinny rock music faded in and out as the hat rattled around violently. Blurry edges of multi-coloured lights were visible just under the brim, flashing and changing, faster and faster and brighter and brighter.
áááááááááááá And then it began to spin.
áááááááááááá It swirled newspapers and garbage all around the parking lot. A writhing cyclone of random dirt and debris twisted right above it as the hat slowly rose into the air.
áááááááááááá Lifting like a curtain, it pulled up, revealing Mary's black- clad body as it went. When it reached the top of his head the hat stopped spinning and hung there limply on his tangled black hair in a tired, cramped and thoroughly unsatisfied sort of way.
áááááááááááá Mary stared into the evening sky while the air calmed down and the dust cleared. Then he stepped out to join the busy streets.
áááááááááááá Among the masses of people, he felt distinctly odd. But he usually did. He made and broke eye-contact like an Eskimo on PCP would igloos. He kept his head low and stalked forward, the crowd seemed to clear a path for him as he went.
áááááááááááá "It should be right up here somewhere," said the hat.
áááááááááááá "What should be?" said Mary.
áááááááááááá Up the sidewalk on a huge stone bridge, Mary went with the crowd. It was a nice cool evening out, all the streetlights were glowing, but the people made it cramped and hurried. He wished they weren't there.
áááááááááááá "A red truck," said the hat. "It should be pursuing a..."
áááááááááááá "I see it," said Mary.
áááááááááááá About four blocks down the street, a big red pick-up truck squealed its tires obnoxiously and jerked around before it sped off down a side-street.
áááááááááááá "It's heading towards the river," said the hat. "Take your first right and you can cut them off."
áááááááááááá Mary broke off from the crowd and walked a little faster down the first street on his right. It was quiet and darkening and the dirty pavement made crunching noises under his shoes. There weren't any lights here except the blurred ones that streamed out of windows.
áááááááááááá "They'll be coming down your second left, following a seventeen year old male."
áááááááááááá Across a street and behind a row of houses, he saw the next right.
áááááááááááá "I'm there," said Mary quietly. He could hear them. "They're coming."
áááááááááááá "When they go by, just follow. No matter what, do not become noticed until you're instructed."
áááááááááááá The boy ran by first. He was desperate and out of breath, lunging into every step with everything he had - which didn't seem to be much at this point. He looked very scared and very very tired. Mary thought faintly that it was too bad his mission probably wasn't to save him.
áááááááááááá A second later the red truck blew by, smoke spewing out the back of it. Mary heard cheers and yells from inside it. He looked quickly around the corner, and then walked hurriedly after them.
áááááááááááá The truck had skidded to a halt where the road ended. The boy was shaking and edged up against a low concrete wall. Mary could see the river over it and the bridge off in the distance covered with people. He approached cautiously.
áááááááááááá Three very big men climbed out of the truck and then there was a lot of yelling. Mary moved a little faster, but not much.
áááááááááááá "When you get to them," said the hat, "just give the boy a banana."
áááááááááááá "Where do I get the ..."
áááááááááááá "It's in your pocket."
áááááááááááá "Oh."
áááááááááááá One of the men was waving a bat around.
áááááááááááá "Okay, you little freak," he said. "You're gonna get yours!"
áááááááááááá "I don't..."
áááááááááááá "Shut up, faggot-boy. Time for talkin's over ..."
áááááááááááá "Give him the banana!" urged the hat.
áááááááááááá Mary calmly stepped through the three jocks, walked up to the boy and handed him the banana he'd found in his pocket.
áááááááááááá "Who's your little friend here Tommy?"
áááááááááááá Mary turned around.
áááááááááááá "Don't say anything," whispered the hat. "Just walk away."
áááááááááááá "I-I don't k-k-know ..." the boy tried.
áááááááááááá "Holiday," said Mary. "Mary Holiday."
áááááááááááá "Mary Holiday? That's a wuss name."
áááááááááááá Mary frowned and tried to think of a comeback.
áááááááááááá "Shut up," he said.
áááááááááááá The group's leader looked surprised, he traded looks with his friends.
áááááááááááá "Did he just tell me to shut up?" he said. "Did he just say 'shut... up?'"
áááááááááááá "Don't get involved!" whispered the hat. "Please!"
áááááááááááá "Yeah," said Mary, taking a deep breath. "Now get out of my way, you red truck driving, wrestling believing, beer drinking, club hopping, date raping, gay bashing, freak beating, stereotype adhering, crop circle making, cow tipping, ass- jacking jack-asses."
áááááááááááá The men looked at each other with raised eyebrows.
áááááááááááá "Listen, you pansy," said the man with the bat, turning again towards Mary. "I'm gonna give you till the count of three to run and then ..."
áááááááááááá Mary crossed his arms.
áááááááááááá "I don't like running," he said.
áááááááááááá The man thought about this.
áááááááááááá "Time's up!" he yelled, and lunged forward.
áááááááááááá Mary leaned back just in time for the swinging bat to narrowly miss his face, spinning the man around awkwardly. His cane then twirled, gently wound up and then slammed against the man's very, very hard head.
áááááááááááá Then Mary turned to throw him back at the truck, to sprawl him impressively across the hood, but the man bit his arm.
áááááááááááá Ah well, Mary thought grimly. Fuck him.
áááááááááááá He grabbed him by the back of the head and threw him over the concrete wall. A shrill scream quickly faded out.
áááááááááááá He turned to the others.
áááááááááááá "I'd just like to announce that I hate all you worthless motherfuckers and I hope you die," he said.
áááááááá áááá He bowed and then seemed to be swallowed by his hat.

"I was watching!" a shrill female voice yelled at Mary as he rose out of the floor.
áááááááááááá He looked around.
áááááááááááá "Uh ..."
áááááááááááá There now seemed to be a woman who looked suspiciously like a bureaucrat in the control room. She had a clipboard and a large red pen. Mary was instantly nervous.
áááááááááááá "Did you just KILL that man?!" she yelled at him.
áááááááááááá "No," Mary said slowly. "Why do you ask?"
áááááááááááá "You threw him off that bridge!"
áááááááááááá "I think I read somewhere that idiots float."
áááááááááááá "That is true," piped the hat. "But only after they're dead."
áááááááááááá Mary glared upwards.
áááááááááááá "I demand an explanation!" continued the woman.
áááááááááááá "Well, strictly speaking," said Mary, his eyes moving shiftily. "I didn't really kill him. The impact did."
áááááááááááá She raised a menacing finger at him. He didn't like that much.
áááááááááááá "You're sick," she said.
áááááááááááá "Achoo."
áááááááááááá "That's not what I meant."
áááááááááááá "Whatever," said Mary and looked up again. "Hat? Who the hell is this?"
áááááááááááá "She's ..."
áááááááááááá "I'm Inspector Maxine Readily," she said, straightening her white jacket. "And I'll have you know that murder of a living individual is prohibited by seven separate ..."
áááááááááááá "Okay, okay," said Mary, "I'm sorry. I didn't know."
áááááááááááá "You most certainly DID know!"
áááááááááááá Mary looked around, frustrated. He didn't appreciate being hassled upon re-entry. The least they could do was be polite and wait until he had a moment to adjust to the shift in reality.
áááááááááááá "Listen, lady, I don't mean to be crass, but shut up. Really. Just shut up."
áááááááááááá She glared fiercely at him and made some ticks on her clipboard as she approached.
áááááááááááá "I am not going to shut up! What you just did was a crime punishable by ..."
áááááááááááá "Here, inspect this closet for awhile," he said and spun her through an open door.
áááááááááááá "And give me that thing." He snatched the clipboard away from her and then slammed the door shut.
áááááááááááá "Jesus," he said, looking at the clipboard. "She works fast."
áááááááááááá He flipped through a couple of pages and then looked up.
áááááááááááá "How did she find the crawlspace so fast?"
áááááááááááá "Captain Holiday!"
áááááááááááá "Oh no, not you again."
áááááááááááá "Yes, sir," said the bunny, bustling into the room.
áááááááááááá "Hat!" Mary yelled. "From now on nobody boards or leaves without my approval. Got it?"
áááááááááááá "Understood," said the hat.
áááááááááááá "Okay. Now. How many hours left in this shift?"
áááááááááááá "Three and a half."
áááááááááááá "All right. I'm going away now. Everyone leave me alone."

"May the king of gloom be forever doomed."
- The Smashing Pumpkins

áááááááááá "But sir!"
áááááááááááá "Especially you!" Mary yelled as he went out the door.
áááááááááááá "And if you follow me," the bunny could hear him yelling from the hallway. "Just remember! Brick sandwiches! MY SPECIALTY! Morning, noon and NIGHT!"
áááááááááááá The door slid shut and the bunny slumped into the throne.

PREVIOUS NEXT


ęCopyright 1996, Brad Turcotte