Ambush Bug: The Big Schwab, Chapter 1: The Rug

by Starsky Hutch 76, adapted from The Big Lebowski, screenplay by Ethan Coen and Joel Coen

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It was late, and the supermarket was all but deserted. A scrawny man in Bermuda shorts and a Hawaiian shirt stood at the dairy case. Underneath his clothes he wore a full green body-suit that covered every inch of his skin. Over his head, he wore a full mask with a design on the face to resemble a bug. Two large antennae protruded from his head. If not for his otherwise-bizarre appearance, his rumpled look and relaxed manner suggested a man deeply devoted to being casual.

Ambush Bug felt a few quarts of milk for coldness and examined their expiration dates. He glanced furtively about and then opened a quart of milk. He stuck his nose in the spout and sniffed.

The checkout girl waited with her arms folded. A small black-and white TV next to her register showed Ronald Reagan on the White House lawn with helicopter rotors spinning behind him. He was pointing to his ears and back at the helicopters as the reporters tried to ask him questions.

Ambush Bug peeked over at her and scribbled something at the little customer’s lectern. Milk soaked the section of his mask above his mouth. He walked up to her with his Ralph’s Shopper’s Club card, she rang him up, and then he made out a check to Ralph’s for sixty-nine cents.

There were only two or three cars parked in the huge parking lot as Ambush Bug walked across the lot with a Pakistani carryout boy wearing a red apron and holding a small brown bag holding the quart of milk. The two men’s footsteps echoed in the still of the night as they moved toward Ambush Bug’s car. “It’s the LeBaron.”

Ambush Bug went up the walkway of a small bungalow court, holding the paper sack in one hand and a small leatherette satchel in the other. He awkwardly hugged the grocery bag against his chest as he turned a key in his door to enter his tiny bungalow.

Entering, Ambush Bug flicked on a light, and his head was suddenly grabbed from behind and tucked into an armpit. The unseen stranger rushed him through the living room, his arm holding the satchel flailing away from his body. Going into the bedroom, the stranger accidentally caught the satchel on a piece of door frame and wallboard and ripped through it, leaving a hole.

Ambush Bug was in shock, feeling far too stunned to even think to use his teleporting ability to get away. The unseen stranger propelled him across the bedroom and on into a small bathroom, the satchel once again taking away a piece of door frame. The Bug’s head was plunged into the toilet, and the paper bag hugged to his chest exploded milk as it hit the toilet rim, while the satchel pulverized tile as it crashed to the floor.

“We want that money, Schwab,” the unseen stranger said. “Bunny said you were good for it.”

Hands hauled Ambush Bug out of the toilet. He blubbered and gasped for air. “Where’s the money, Schwab?” the unseen stranger shouted as the Bug’s head was plunged back into the toilet. “Where’s the money, Schwab?”

The hands hauled him out again, dripping and gasping. “Where’s the #@$%ing money, $#&$head?!

“It’s, uh, it’s down there somewhere,” Ambush Bug sputtered. “I’m sure of it. Lemme take another look.” His head was plunged back in.

“Don’t mess with us. If your wife owes money to Jackie Treehorn, that means you owe money to Jackie Treehorn.” The inquisitor, a musclebound blond man, hauled Ambush Bug’s head out one last time and flopped him over so that he sat on the floor with his back against the toilet. The blond man ducked as Ambush Bug’s antennae sprung back and splashed a stream of toilet water in his general direction.

Beyond, in the living room, a young Chinese man unzipped his fly and walked over to an oriental rug. “Ever thus to deadbeats, Schwab.” He started peeing on the rug.

Gah! Don’t do that!” Ambush Bug said, wincing.

“You see what happens? You see what happens, Schwab?” the blond man said.

“Look, nobody calls me Schwab!” Ambush Bug exclaimed. “You got the wrong guy. I’m Ambush Bug!

“Your name is Schwab. Your wife is Bunny,” the blond man insisted.

Bunny?! Look, moron!” He held up his hands. “You see a wedding ring? Does this place look like I’m married? All my plants are dead!

The blond man stooped to unzip the satchel. He pulled out a bowling ball and examined it in the manner of a superstitious native. “What the hell is this?

Ambush Bug smirked at him. “Obviously, you’re not a golfer.”

The blond man dropped the ball, which pulverized more tile. “Woo?”

The Chinese man zipped his fly. “Yeah?”

“Wasn’t this guy supposed to be a millionaire?” the blond man said.

“Uhh…?” the Chinese man said with sick realization.

They both look around. “Crap.”

“What do you think, Woo?” the blond man asked the Chinese man.

“He looks like a freakin’ loser,” Woo said.

“At least I’m housebroken!” Ambush Bug yelled.

The two men looked at each other. They turned to leave. “@#$&’ waste of time.” The blond man turned testily at the door. “Thanks a lot, @$$hole.”

***

The bowling alley was filled with the sounds of pins flying, bowlers hoisting balls, balls gliding down lanes, sliding bowling shoe-clad feet, graceful releases, ball returns as they spun up a ball, and loud conversations. Music boomed from a nearby jukebox.

A lanky blond man with stringy hair tied back in a ponytail turned from the strike to walk back to the bench. “Hot damn! I’m throwin’ rocks tonight. Mark it, Bug.” Next to Ambush Bug sat a large, bare-chested man in black leather pants and a fearsome red leather mask that covered his whole head. He nursed a large plastic cup of Bud. A giant sword was sheathed in the scar tissue on his back. This was Scabbard. He squinted through the smoke from his own cigarette as he addressed Ambush Bug at the scoring table.

“This was a valued rug,” the big man said, elaborately clearing his throat. “This was, uh…”

“Yeah, Scabbard, it really tied the room together,” said Ambush Bug, also holding a large plastic cup of Bud and wearing some of its foam on the upper lip of his mask.

“This was a valued, uh…”

Donny, the strike-scoring bowler, entered and sat next to Walter. “What tied the room together, Bug?”

“Were you listening to the story, Donny?” Scabbard said, annoyed.

“What?”

“Were you listening to the Bug’s story?” Scabbard asked in a lecturing tone.

“I was bowling,” Donny said.

“So you have no frame of reference, Donny,” Scabbard said with a dramatic wave of his hands. “You’re like a child who wanders in the middle of a movie and wants to know.”

“What’s your point, Scabbard?” Ambush Bug asked.

“There’s no #$%&ing reason,” Scabbard said, exasperated. “Here’s my point, Bug — there’s no #$%&king reason.”

“Yeah Scabbard, what’s your point?” Donny asked.

“Huh?”

“What’s the point of — we all know who was at fault, so what the heck are you talking about?” Ambush Bug said.

“Huh? No!” Scabbard exclaimed. “What the #$^& are you talking — I’m not — we’re talking about unchecked aggression here–”

“What the heck is he talking about?” Donny asked.

“My rug,” Ambush Bug said.

“Forget it, Donny. You’re out of your element,” Scabbard said.

“This China man who peed on my rug — I can’t go give him a bill, so what the heck are you talking about?” Ambush Bug said.

“What the $#%& are you talking about?!” Scabbard said. “This China man is not the issue! I’m talking about drawing a line in the sand, Bug. Across this line you do not, uh — and also, Bug, China man is not the preferred, uh… Asian-American. Please.”

“Scabbard, this is not a guy who built the railroads, here!” Ambush Bug exclaimed. “This is a guy who peed on my rug!

“What the #$%^ are you–?” Scabbard sputtered.

“Scabbard, he peed on my rug,” Ambush Bug sighed.

“He peed on the Bug’s rug, Scabbard,” Donny echoed.

“You’re out of your element!” Scabbard bellowed at Donny before turning back to Ambush Bug. “This China man is not the issue, Bug.”

“So who is?”

“Irwin Schwab,” Scabbard said. “Come on. This other Irwin Schwab. The millionaire. He’s gonna be easier to find, anyway, than these two, uh… these two… And he has the wealth, uh, the resources, obviously, and there is no reason, no #$%^ing reason, why his wife should go out and owe money, and they pee on your rug. Am I wrong?

“No, but–” Ambush Bug said, thinking.

“Am I wrong?!” Scabbard said.

“Yeah, but–”

“OK. That, uh…” Scabbard said, elaborately clearing his throat. “That rug really tied the room together, did it not?”

“Yer damn right it did,” Ambush Bug said angrily.

“And this guy peed on it,” Donny said, shaking his head.

“Donny! Please!” Scabbard snapped.

“Yeah, I could find this Schwab guy,” Ambush Bug said.

“His name is Schwab? That’s your name, Bug!” Donny said, amazed.

“Yeah, this is the guy,” said Ambush Bug. “This guy should compensate me for the rug. I mean, his wife goes out and owes money, and they pee on my rug.”

Thaaat’s right, Bug. They pee on your #$%&ing rug,” Scabbard said.

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