Turk Kellerman wasn’t the most attractive guy. He wasn’t even the most attractive guy in his own house. That honor went to his roommate Kyle, who wasn’t really very attractive himself. But, to his credit, Turk was arguably the second best-looking guy in the house, even if there were just the two of them.
Turk had a bit of a body odor problem. But maybe body odor problem wasn’t accurate. A better way to describe it might be a lack of caring problem. Turk didn’t really give a shit about much of anything and found washing his ass to be too difficult a chore, so he simply lived life dirty, only showering a couple of times a month. Even then, he rarely used soap.
Turk was unemployed. He’d briefly had a job at Scooter Burger, but had ended up leaving over an argument with Todd, the assistant manager. Todd had asserted that Charles Bronson was a better actor than Steve McQueen. It wasn’t really the disagreement that sealed the deal with Turk’s leaving so much as it was his punching Todd in the throat. So Turk lost his job, but he was okay with it.
He’d be damned if he was gonna stand by and listen to someone bad-mouth Steve McQueen, the coolest cat ever to walk the earth.
(In Turk’s mind, this included Jesus Christ, because if Jesus was in fact a real person, there was no way he was pulling the kind of hot tail Steve McQueen had. And there was no chance he was as cool as McQueen. After all, in Turk’s mind, there was no way anyone could be as cool as Steve McQueen while wearing sandals. Sandals? Get out. Steve McQueen would have never worn sandals, because sandals were dumb.)
So now Turk spent his days sitting in front of the living room TV playing video games, shirtless and smelly, an ever-growing collection of empty Mountain Dew bottles piling up around him.
After a few months of this, things had gotten so bad that Turk no longer got up to take a piss. If he felt the urge, he would just whip out his dick and urinate into one of the empty bottles. As a result, there were a good half dozen piss-filled Mountain Dew bottles lying around the room.
One day Turk was in the middle of a first-person shooter game, talking smack to some 15-year-old Vietnamese kid through a headset, when Kyle came home. When Turk saw his roommate signaling for him to take off his headset, he did so begrudgingly.
“What’s up, man?” he asked, his eyes glued to the TV screen.
“I got you something,” said Kyle. “Against my better judgment, I found you something at the flea market.”
Now he was speaking Turk’s language. He looked at Kyle. “You got something for me?”
“What’s it for?”
“Thanksgiving, I guess.”
Turk stared at him in disbelief. “Who gives gifts for Thanksgiving?”
“I do, I guess,” Kyle said sheepishly.
“But Thanksgiving’s still over a month away.”
“No, dude, it’s this week.”
“Shit,” said Turk. “Time’s really flown by. I guess I haven’t been paying much attention lately. I’ve been busy here playing my game.”
“Yeah, I guess you have.”
“So what’d you get?” asked Turk, reaching his hand down into his sweatpants to scratch his balls. He pulled his hand back out to smell his fingers. As he did, Kyle reached into his duffel bag and pulled out a bottle. He handed it to Turk. Turk looked at it and saw that it was an Elvis decanter.
“Oh, shit,” said Turk. “These are cool. My dad’s friend Chuck used to have one of these in his trailer house. I always thought that was cool, because you know, the King was a cool dude. Not as cool as Steve McQueen mind you, but pretty damned cool.”
“What is it you like so much about Steve McQueen?” asked Kyle. “He was cool, sure, but was he really all that great? I mean, I can only name a few movies he made.” Kyle thought for a minute, looking away. “Let’s see… The Getaway…that one with Faye Dunaway where he does that heist… Then there was the one where he was in prison with that guy from The Graduate…”
“You’re not really a movie guy, and I get that,” said Turk, trying to be condescending. “But Steve McQueen was the greatest actor of all time. Not just the greatest actor, mind you, but also the coolest dude ever to walk on two legs.”
“What was so cool about him?”
Turk stared at him, wanting to slap him. “What kind of question is that? There are so many reasons why he was cool. Far too many to list. If I need to explain that to you, then you’re worthless. There’s no point in even talking to you.”
“I don’t get it,” said Kyle.
Turk stared at him again.
“Steve was a good-looking guy, could bed any chick he wanted to. If I could be him, in his prime, for a single day, I would sleep with all the girls.
And not just the ugly ones, the ones we usually get, but the really fine, really sexy ones with asses you can actually hold in your hand and don’t take two hands just to kind of get around.”
“Steve McQueen was bisexual,” said Kyle.
“Fuck you,” said Turk indignantly. He didn’t like when people said bad things about Steve McQueen.
“No, really, I read it in a book.”
“I know about that book,” said Turk. “I don’t believe it though. I don’t believe he was bisexual or whatever, but who cares? Good for him if he was. I mean, he was Steve McQueen. He could have anybody he wanted, male or female. So what? It ain’t gay when it’s like that.”
“Where you can literally have anyone you wanted.”
“If it’s guys, how is that not gay?”
“I dunno,” said Turk. “But it ain’t. It ain’t gay when it’s Steve McQueen. Look, if you’re gonna do something, then you do it all the way. So if you were gonna be gay, not that he was, but if you did, then you’d wanna do it like Steve McQueen.”
“What does that even mean?”
“It means if you’re Steve McQueen you fuck everybody; man, woman…whatever.”
“You were gonna say child.”
“No,” said Turk flatly. “I was not. Steve McQueen mighta screwed both men and women, I dunno, but I assure you he didn’t fuck kids.”
“How do you know?”
And Turk lost it. “Because he was Steve McQueen, goddammit!”
Kyle hook his head. “You’re ridiculous.”
“No, Steve had the world in his hands. He was the epitome of cool. He drove race cars and screwed models and actresses. He was rich. That guy could do anything he wanted, and probably did. If I had my choice and I could be anybody who ever lived, I’d be Steve McQueen.”
“Why not just make your own life better and be yourself?”
“That’s stupid,” said Turk. “I’d rather be the worst of Steve McQueen than the best of me any day.”
“It ain’t that I’m bad or anything, but it’s that Steve McQueen was a fuckin’ superman. He was the single greatest guy who ever existed. Seriously, think about it and you’ll see that I’m right.”
“You’re silly,” said Kyle. He stood up. “Do we got anymore Hot Pockets in the fridge? I’m hungry.”
“I think so,” said Turk. He was examining the Elvis decanter now. “This is pretty cool, man.”
Kyle said, “I’m glad you like it.”
“There anything in it?”
“I don’t think so.” He thought about this for a moment and then added, “Please don’t piss in it.”
Turk looked up angrily. “Why would I do that?”
Kyle stood there, looking down at the piss-filled Mountain Dew bottles strewn around the room. “I don’t know, Turk. Why the fuck would you?”
Turk opened the decanter. He was fiddling with it when tufts of smoke started billowing out from its mouth. “Whoa!” he said. “What’s this shit?” He looked at Kyle, who was standing there staring.
Kyle said, “I don’t know. I didn’t know that smoke was in there.”
They both watched the plumes billowing from the decanter, still in Turk’s hand. A moment later the smoke congregated in the center of the room between Turk and the television. It started to grow darker, all seeming to settle in the same area. Slowly it materialized into a figure without legs, floating there. As it formed before their eyes, it became apparent that it was a person, a man, and Indian dude, wearing some sort of ancient garb, all blue, and a matching silk hat.
The legless Indian man stared at Turk. “What do you want, master?”
Turk said, “Who are you?”
“I am Kimba.”
“Why are you here?”
“I am a genie. I live in the bottle, master, and you rubbed it, summoning me.”
“You’re a genie?” asked Turk.
“I am,” said Kimba.
“And you live inside an Elvis decanter?” asked Kyle.
The genie looked over at him, annoyed. “I do. So what?” Then he looked back at Turk. “So what would you like, master?”
“What do you mean?” asked Turk.
“You get one wish,” said Kimba. “Your wish is my command. Anything, master.”
Turk’s face lit up. “I get to make a wish?”
“Yes, master. One wish.”
“And you’ll grant it?”
The genie nodded. “Anything.”
Turk turned his head a bit, his eyes looking up at the ceiling, and then he immediately looked back at Kimba. “I know what I want.”
“So quickly?” asked Kimba, starting to grin. “You don’t wanna take more time?”
“I don’t need to. I’ve been wishing for the same thing for years.”
Kimba stared at him, his eyes twinkling. “Name it and it’s yours, master.”
“I wanna be Steve McQueen,” said Turk. “Do you know Steve McQueen? The actor. I wanna be Steve McQueen, the famous actor, and not some other dude with the same name. That would suck.”
“The guy from The Great Escape?” asked Kimba.
“Yeah, him,” said Turk.
“Why do you desire that?” Kimba asked.
“Because Steve McQueen was the coolest man who ever lived, and I wanna be just like him.”
Kimba nodded. “Then stand up and I shall grant you this wish.”
Turk lit up, looking as happy as ever. He stood up, wobbling a bit from the lack of standing he’d done recently. He looked at Kimba, and Kimba looked back.
“Alakazam, zamba zoom, bee baa bee baa, zippity zoo, now you are Steve McQueen!”
There was a flash of light before Turk and he transformed into a darkly decayed corpse, wavering there for a moment.
Kimba stared at him, laughing a loud belly-laugh. Kyle watched Turk standing there, swaying, and then he fell to the floor in a pile of death.
Kyle’s mouth hung open. He looked at Kimba. “What the fuck?”
“Steve McQueen is dead,” said Kimba, smirking.
“He wanted to be the young, living Steve McQueen.”
Kimba shrugged. “He didn’t say that though, did he?”
Kyle nodded. “No, I guess not.”
Kimba looked at him. “How about you? Would you like to make a wish?”
Kyle looked around the room and sighed. “Could you just get rid of Turk’s body?” He thought for a moment before adding, “And all these bottles of piss?”
The genie nodded. “Sure thing.”
“Then I’ll just be in the other room.”
“What are you doing?” asked Kimba.
“I’m gonna start working on an ad for tomorrow’s paper. It looks like I need a new roommate.”
“One thing, kid.”
“Can I give you some advice?”
“Go for it.”
“Find somebody clean this time,” said Kimba. “And less stupid.”
Kyle grinned, knowing the genie was right.
Andy Rausch is the author of more than 30 books, including the novels Elvis Presley: CIA Assassin, Mad World, and M-Company in the Axis of Evil (with David C. Hayes).