This is a story about a young man who doesn’t seem to know that he’s a zombie. The weird thing about it is, no one else seems to realize he’s a zombie, either. They think he’s just another bum. After all, thre are always plenty of those walking around Asheville, right? And they all have a tendency towards drunken stumbling, don’t they? So why not?
He stumbles into a bunch of people this way.
When he stumbles into Lee Stevens when he’s on his date with Leigh Stephens, Lee finds himself helping his new fiancée fend off this smelly attacker and, faced with her heaving bosom in the aftermath, promptly proposes to her.
When he stumbles into the shop run part-time by Frank Keppler, he finds Frank abjectly defending himself against Otis Ratson and the two hold a brief truce to chase away the smelly intruder, but afterwards Otis promptly turns on Frank again to accuse him of letting riffraff into his shop.
Some people do think there’s something rather odd about the man, like Hannah Andersen, whose mother, upon detecting the smelly miscreant, tried to distract her away and told her not to stare at the nice man.
Hubert Poste, while walking his usual mail-route, noticed the smelly bumbler, but only as an obstacle to be avoided on his way around the bend, so didn’t take note of him.
But Paul Ericsson sure thought it was peculiar. He was driving the hearse back from the crematorium when the smelly jaywalker stumbled out right in front of his car. As he watched it pass without looking at him, Paul muttered absently “Dead people ought to stay in the ground!”
In the middle of town, next to the phallic symbol known as the Vance monument, the Reverend Toby Richards pro-claimed and de-claimed at the top of his lungs how we should re-claim our faith in the cross of Our Lord and the smelly attendant no doubt fascinated by this wondrous display of limb-tossing, stood rapt before him, the only traveler to do so. Therefore Rev. Richards did take a passing interest in the boy. He was, after all, clearly of the faith.
But after some time, Rev. Richards observed that others who might very well join his new smelly acolyte were discouraged from doing so, no doubt by his ill-favored look. So, he took the young man around the shoulders and, ignoring how the mouth seemed to edge towards his throat, whispered surreptitiously, that his faith was clearly strong enough, he should go find his own flock.
Elizabeth Keppler, meanwhile, was walking around with her boyfriend, George D’Arcy, and, upon seeing the smelly traveler approaching, used him as a metaphor for the decrepit nature of their own relationship.
When the smelly subject of so much–and yet so litte–controversy passed by in front of the Flying Frog, he caught the eye of Professor Blackford Appleton-Mecklenburg III, a local Anthropologist, who likewise used him as a metaphor, but he rather preferred to apply him to the decay of modern society as he sat conversing with a star pupil of his.
As inevitably must happen in a fairly small town like Asheville, though, he did finally run into someone he knew. Johnny Carnage had met the smelly young party-goer at a private event some months before and recognized him, but didn’t remember his name.
“Yo, dude,” he said, but received no response. “Hey, shit-face, weren’t you at that thing? Hey, man, you got any weed?”
But the smelly young junkie just stumbled on unabated and Johnny Carnage realized that he was probably too smashed to function.
That was when it occurred to him that he didn’t want to be that way, he didn’t want to be That guy who didn’t answer when you called because he was too blitzed, so he left with this enlightenment and had forgotten it by the time he arrived at his dealer’s house, whither he had been bound.
Finally, though, having been unable to feed himself all day and thus consumed with hunger, the young man who still did not fully realize his condition, partly because he lacked the brain to realize, fell to the ground, panting, at which point Zoe Harding walked out of Rosetta’s Kitchen and saw her boyfriend on the sidewalk. “Zack?” she cried. “Oh, my God, Zack, are you OK?”
“Awarangragar,” moaned Zack.
“Oh my God, look at you. What happened to you?” She knelt down to inspect him and saw the open wound still flowing with a trickle of blood from his wrist. “Oh my God,” she repeated herself. “We’ve got to get you to a hospital, come on!”
“Arrawa!” said Zack, and Zoe lifted him up, but no sooner had she cast his arm over her neck that Zack found his mouth pressed against the side of it and in a blinding flash of insight, the smelly dead man finally understood why he was walking. At first, Zoe probably thought he was playfully nuzzling. But then he broke the skin.
And then there were two to stumble and be smelly.