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Authors: Lance Carbuncle

Sloughing Off the Rot

Lance Carbuncle

John the Revelator awakens in a cave with no memory of his prior life. Guided along El Camino de la Muerte by a demented madman and a philosophical giant, John sets out on a quest to fill in his blank slate and slough off the rot of his soul. Part dark comedy road trip, part spiritual quest, and part horror story, Sloughing Off the Rot is literary alchemy about John’s transformation from repugnant wretch to reluctant hero.


Copyright © 2012 by Lance Carbuncle


ISBN: 978-0-9822800-4-1 (paperback)
ISBN: 978-0-9822800-5-8 (ebook)


Vicious Galoot Books, Co.
412 East Madison Street, Suite 1111
Tampa, Florida 33602


All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. For information, address Vicious Galoot Books, Co., 412 East Madison Street, Suite 1111, Tampa, Florida 33602.


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.




“Once again, Uncle Lance has asked us to pull his finger. But this time it doesn’t go the way we think. Carbuncle is still the cunning linguist we love and loathe, using blood and body fluid with a painter’s precision. This time around, however, his canvas is rich with biblical allusions, dark satire and one unreal road trip. To read Sloughing Off the Rot is to watch of one of America’s most original humorists growing up, kicking and armpit-farting the whole way.”

—Patrick Wensink, author of
Broken Piano for President



—Idjit Galoot,
fictional basset hound


“Carbuncle is a writer who gets you in the gut. He writes with a raw energy that tells it like it is, warts and all. In
Sloughing Off the Rot
, Carbuncle has conjured a fascinating vision, an epic, Biblical quest for identity and meaning. His books are obsessed with our physical, bodily nature, but here he’s managed to fuse the physical with the spiritual, seeking out answers to the big questions. His journey is worth taking.”

—David David Katzman, author of
Death By Zamboni
A Greater Monster


“I don’t get it. Is this supposed to be funny or something?”

—Uncle Hank,
octogenarian curmudgeon


“Carbuncle’s writing has always infused the grotesque underbelly of our world with an inherent beauty only a careful eye can perceive, and while Sloughing Off the Rot continues this trend, giving us more of what we’ve come to know and love in his previous works, Carbuncle turns over a new leaf in his latest, a tale of self-discovery rich with metaphor in the vein of Frank L. Baum & Lewis Carroll . . . then he bursts that vein, infecting the reader with his own unique brand of fantasy. This is not to be missed!”

—Kirk Jones, author of
Uncle Sam’s Carnival of Copulating Inanimals


“I’m not a real strong reader, but those are real pretty words you wrote there. It’s a good thing that you done that, Son. It’s a real good thing that you wrote that book.”

—Enid Carbuncle,
mother of the author


“Another masterful and shocking story. Lance Carbuncle is a genius. Lance Carbuncle could write about rubber band ligation of hemorrhoids and it would put all other written works to shame. Lance Carbuncle could train monkeys in the deadly art of Krav Maga. Lance Carbuncle is the King of All Authors. I want to ride him, rim him, and give him a reach around with both hands, all at the same time. I love this brilliant man.”

—Lance Carbuncle, author of
Sloughing Off the Rot


“Lance Carbuncle channels the Book of Revelation, Carlos Castaneda, Cormac McCarthy and Fat Elvis in his rudest, weirdest, richest book yet.”

Mykle Hansen, author of
Help! A Bear is Eating Me!
Rampaging Fuckers of Everything on the Crazy Shitting Planet of the Vomit Atmosphere


And that night John went to bed without eating his dinner. Zonked on zolpidem and single malt scotch, wrapped tightly in his super-special 1,000 thread count sheets and nestled comfortably on his newfangled memory foam-reclining- adjustable king-sized bed, John blacked out just after lying down. Peaceful nothingness swirled around him, tossing off flecks of gold and strands of cool blue. The ten thousand things fled and left in their place a cozy void.

And that night a screeching horn section from below jarred John from his warm nothingness. Dissonant, jagged saxophone, rending the night and prematurely tearing the morning from its belly. Screaming brass devil, like the Demon Zorn ass-raping Kenny G with a chainsaw. Raw blistering giggle-jazz.

And that night John heard a voice, as a trumpet in his head. And the voice commanded: “You shall henceforth be known as John the Revelator. And you shall walk 500 miles. And when you wake up, you’re gonna be the man that wakes up next to me.”

“Who are you? What are you?” asked John.

“I am the alpha and the omega, the first and last.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I am you as you are me as you are he and we are all together.”

“What is that even supposed to mean?”

“Enough of your questions and your havering. There is important business before us,” the voice demanded.

And that morning, when John received his walking orders, he asked no questions. He did as he was bade by the commanding disembodied presence that he assumed to be the God he never really believed in. Surveying his surroundings, John realized that his room was no longer a room, but instead a craggy cave. His bed was now indiscernible from the dusty ground, his memory foam pillow now a rock. And beside the spot where he awoke was a hole five cubits in diameter. John peered into the pit but saw no bottom. He dropped a rock but the sound of it hitting bottom never came to him. At the edge of the pit were claw marks in the sand and a trail that dragged itself to the spot where John awoke.

The voice, now speaking in a gentler tone, said, “You have not been true to me, nor to yourself. But, you are a good soul. Now is your chance for redemption. Before your journey, it will be necessary to polish thy rod and salve it with balms and ointments. Do this and your seed will find purchase, thus populating this desolate land. Be true with the stroke on your sanctified rod and your issue will increase exponentially and be fruitful.”

On the floor at his feet sat earthen jars filled with aromatic balms and ointments. The perfumed scents of frankincense, and myrrh and patchouli wafted from the containers. John’s member stood erect against his stomach when he bent and he noticed his nakedness for the first time. Inexplicable shame first gripped him but was quickly dashed by his arousal. Glancing around the cave, John confirmed that he was alone and dipped his hand in one of the clay pots. The golden goo from the pot warmed his hand and pleasured him greatly as he rubbed it on his loins.

With each slow stroke of his hand John brought himself to ecstasy, and his loins issued great spouts of crimson spuz, like a massive bloody font. And a gory puddle formed at and around John’s feet, like the blood-soaked floor of a slaughterhouse. From the rippling surface of the blood-puddle, small unrecognizable forms dragged themselves, clawing madly at the ground, grimacing and pulling themselves through the dust, growing in power and size while leaving behind them rust-colored trails and torn membranes as evidence of their birth. And their screams, their wonderful horrible screams, gasped from newly formed throats. New jagged teeth cut through fresh pink gums. Some of the creatures stretched, morphing into muscular serpents, and slithered from the cave. Others took on three legs, four legs, five legs, more. Thick pelts of fur coated some while others were pale and wrinkled and unfinished in appearance. Horns and tusks sprouted from their faces and heads. Incipient bipeds, visibly growing and drunkenly stumbling away on awkward and uncoordinated spindles, instinctively sensed their superiority. A two-legged being fell on a small, bushy-tailed creature and beat at it, discovering the destructive power of the balled fists that had just formed at the ends of its arms. The biped, triumphant over the smaller creature, tested his pointy teeth and tore at the creature’s flesh, devouring it, fur and bones and all. Other two-legged creatures, some simian, some hominid, tore at the smaller creatures, rending their forms. And as the lesser creatures were destroyed, torn at, and stomped out, they reverted to bloody puddles, and new, different forms crawled from the pools and grew and moved out of the cave.

Spent from onanism and birthing, John collapsed in a corner of the cave, and watched in both horror and fascination at the genesis of some creatures, and the death and rebirth of others. When the last of the beings slithered, slunk, scrambled, walked and crawled away, and the bloody puddle of mess was nothing more than a stinking brown taint on the ground, John wrapped his arms tightly around his knees and wept until all feelings deserted him. And he relapsed to the swirling nothingness of the void left in the absence of the ten thousand things.

In a space of time that stretched out infinitely, but also contracted into a sliver of a moment, John wept away his fears and trepidations. And he rose and stepped wide around the rusty blot on the floor. And the commandment that he begin his journey rang in his head. And that morning, before dawn broke, John dressed in the white robe and breeches of fine twisted linen that were left for him. He slipped on leather sandals, exited the cave, and started walking.


The red brick road snaked before him, a loopy serpent slinking its lazy way toward the horizon. John knew not the country around him and marveled at the alien landscape. Rust-colored rock formations presented with arches carved out of them by time and wind and water. The barrel cacti, in full bloom, birthed blood red flowers. The black and twisted skeletons of dead juniper trees silhouetted against the red sky. It all looked as arid and dusty as John’s throat felt.

And as he walked along the road, the clanging tone and drone of an out of tune guitar tweaked John’s ears, the hint of a melody drawing him in while, at the same time, the slightly out of tune chords setting him ill at ease. An intermittently off-key twang of a voice crooned about garbage dumps and their previously unsung benefits. The grating voice finished the song with “and that sums it up in one big lump,” as the high E string snapped with the last strum.

“Ah, it will be fair weather, my brother, for the sky is red.” The voice, with forty grit coarseness and dry as the red sand around them, issued from a slight figure with a crusty tangle of a beard and the mystical bearing of a holy man. With merely a girdle of skin about his loins and a leather pouch hanging from his neck, and holding a weather-beaten guitar close to his chest, the bearded man sat atop a balanced rock and bored into John with bulging, unblinking eyes.

“Who are you?” asked John. “Where am I? What the hell is going on?”

“I’m the son of man, son.” The man went silent and his face contorted, cycling through and miming random emotions. All the while, his intense unblinking eyes stayed locked on John. The face emoted confusion, switched to astonishment, followed by sorrow, glee, horror, amazement, anger, and settled finally on contentment. “I am nobody. I’m a tramp, a bum, a hobo. I’m a boxcar and a jug of wine. And I’m a straight razor if you get too close to me. I go by many names. Santiago. El Diablo. Jerry. Whatever you want to call me, I’m sure I’ve been called worse. Santiago will be just fine for our purposes.”

“What are our purposes?”

Setting his guitar beside him on the rock and cocking half of his bushy unibrow, Santiago smiled broadly and answered, “well for now it seems that our purpose is for you to toss questions at me as if I’m somehow obligated to give you all the answers. And then I’m supposed to spoon-feed you the meaning of life. Right, Johnny?”

“Why do you call me Johnny? Is that my name? How do you know it?”

“See, there you go again. All pushy with the questions. Yeah, your name’s Johnny, for our purposes. And how do I know? Shit, boy, I’ve been waiting for you twenty and five days and nights. I’ve been living on the desert jive, just stayin’ alive. You took long enough to leave the cave, didn’t ya?”

“You’ve been waiting for me?” said John. “But why?”

“I’ve been fasting. And waiting. And walking. I spent a little time on the mountain. I spent a little time on the hill. I knew you’d be here. I just didn’t know it would take you so damn long. I’m starving, Jack.” Santiago leapt from his rock, ratty guitar held to his chest, and stuck his landing right next to the pinyon pine several feet to John’s side.

“I don’t get it,” said John. “I don’t know who I am. I don’t remember anything. I woke up in a cave and I must have been hallucinating because I can’t believe the things I saw. And now you’re here, telling me that you’ve been waiting for me.”

“Right on,” said Santiago, cocking his eyebrow to the point that it looked painful.

“So tell me again, what are our purposes?”

“You’re going on a journey. Dig? A helluva trip. One big mind-fuck and I get to tag along.” Santiago accented his words with a fluttering hand and circled John. “Ain’t that a big kick in the nuggets?”

“A journey?” John rolled his eyes, threw back his head and sighed deeply, trying to get on top of the panic that was rising in him. “You’re telling me I’m going on a journey. I’m in no shape for this. Obviously I must have suffered a head injury or something. I need to get to a hospital. And you say I’m going on a journey. Says who?”

Santiago’s mouth snapped shut and a bland blankness washed over his face. Although his eyes lacked expression, Santiago’s fingers flew over the fretboard of his guitar while his right hand feverishly plucked strained strings, plinking away at a jangling staccato, ostinato arpeggio and ignoring John’s questions, circling John, dancing faster and faster as the tempo of his disharmonious notes quickened.

“Stop!” shouted John, reaching out and trying unsuccessfully to grab the nimble little man by his hair. “Stop now and answer me.”

Santiago danced and dodged and plucked the repetitive spastic notes, the strings going more and more out of tune and spitting out a warped, grating song. Born of his complete frustration, John mustered the speed and agility to finally grasp Santiago by his tangled hair and wrest the guitar away from him.

“Ahhhh!” screamed John. “Ahhhhh!” and he bashed the guitar against the balanced rock, reducing the instrument to jagged fragments and splinters. The guitar’s wooden body lay in horrid disrepair at John’s feet as he stood, hyperventilating and grasping the broken guitar neck in his hand. Pathetic metal strings dangled from the neck, as if trying to drop to the ground and take root.

“Oh. You wanna play rough, Johnny?” An almost joyful glint in his eyes, Santiago leapt back and dropped into a wrestling stance. His feet spread to shoulder width, one in front and the other lagging back, knees bent with elbows near the thighs, and hands held out in tensed claws as if to fend off any further attack. “I was just trying to play some music to help you calm down. And you attack me? I see how it’s gonna be. Well let’s roll then.”

Before John could say “no” or even brace himself for the attack, Santiago sprang and was on him, a maddened savage gripping John’s torso and sweeping his legs. Face down in the red dust and choking on a mouthful of earth, John swung his arm back behind himself in an effort to elbow the bushy-headed wild man off of him. Santiago effortlessly dodged the elbow and grabbed at the arm, twisting it high behind John’s back and dozing the red dirt with his face. With John’s arm still wrenched, Santiago mounted his back, wrapped his legs around and locked them on John’s inner thighs, rendering the larger man helpless.

“Say uncle, Johnny,” Santiago whispered into John’s ear, the stench from his rotten mouth making John’s eyes water.

“Get off of me.” John wriggled in Santiago’s hold but was unable to free himself. “Get the fuck off of me.”

“Just say uncle and I’ll let you up.”

“No!” John struggled and rolled but Santiago clung to his back, like a dog locked in coitus with a bitch.

“If you won’t say it, then you’re escalating this thing.” Santiago leaned in with brown stumps that used to be teeth and tore off the top of John’s ear. Blood dribbled down his chin as he chewed on the gristle of the ear and swallowed.

Blood rained from the remainder of John’s ear and soaked into the sand. “Owww! Fuck. Okay. Okay. Uncle. Get off of me.”

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