The thing that surprised me most about the Saturday Night Live 40th anniversary reunion was the sheer number of house centipedes living in 30 Rock. The building is old, of course, but still, they were everywhere, swarming particularly thick in the 45th floor janitor's closet where I hid myself after Security began hunting me in earnest. The good news is that house centipedes are voraciously carnivorous in habit, and a healthy population of the invasive little bastards almost certainly means that the GE Building is free of other verminous infestations.
I snuck into the reunion using Victoria Jackson's ticket, stolen from her home mailbox while she attended Wednesday night Church services; the sale of her "+1" ticket to a Greek dealer in Curiosities funded my travel to the Big Apple, although it did not leave me enough funds to afford any food during my visit. As such, it was with considerable relief that I watched the catering vans begin to unload around six in the evening. My lack of liquidity had similarly left me bereft of shelter, and so I had crafted a crude lean-to in one of the evergreen topiaries enlivening Rockefeller Plaza, allowing me to observe the logistics of the evening's festivities.
From the boughs of my shelter, I spied an NBC Page who appeared to be roughly my size and shape. Blissfully unobservant and shamefully unschooled in hand-to-hand combat, he soon provided me with the tuxedo I needed to blend in, although his feet were surprisingly small and I found the shoes somewhat chafing. After hiding his unconscious form and attiring myself appropriately, I found that the press had arrived, the red carpet had been unfurled, and the Stars were out. I scrambled to take my place among them.
Ahead of me on the red carpet was none other than Tom Hanks, wearing a cartoonish approximation of a stereotypical Lost Generation poet, complete with a very Gatsbyesque pair of two-toned oxford sport shoes, a tattered scarf, and a pocketwatch. With him was a slab-faced Peyton Manning, whose head is easily twice the size of my own. The two were locked in a very tense discussion regarding the editorial practices of the New Yorker's Fiction department and whether or not Peyton should submit some of his original poems to them (Mr. Hank's advice: "go for it").
So engrossed was I in my eavesdropping that I failed to follow procedure and overstepped the photographers mark, running right into Mike Meyers, posing for the cameras with his old chum Dana Carvey. I apologized profusely, gripping tightly the self-immolation device I had in my pocket, fearing that he would turn his "Celebrity's Ire" fully on my person. However, I needn't have worried, for Mike Meyers was a true gentleman, smiling and nodding and telling me to "forget about it, man," in the voice of his character from the Love Guru. As he turned and walked up the carpet away from me I saw that, from behind, he was completely hollow, like a canoe or trough carved from a single log, not unlike the Woodwives of Germanic or Scandinavian folklore. So that's one rumor settled, folks!
I hustled passed the photographers, fearing, as all right thinking men do, their devil's boxes that steal one's image and with it our souls, and made my way to the door. I had worried that, as I made a very unconvincing "Victoria Jackson", I would be challenged at the threshold, but all my fears proved empty when I saw that the ticket-taker was a lifeless automaton, crafted from clay and animated by powerful magic from the Dawn of Time. I handed my ticket to the grim simulacrum which, according to its eldritch programming, simply marked the name off of its list and waved me inside.
By this time I was absolutely famished, and so I quickly made my way through the crowd of glad-handlers and cheerful celebrities towards the food: two poker tables pushed together and heaped high with pile of un-sauced, dry beef ribs. I looked around for plates, napkins, anything, but saw none. Bill Hader, witnessing my confusion, came over and explained, a black tarry substance running from his nose and ears as he spoke.
"Flesh to flesh," he said, "unsullied by the imposition of boundaries." I nodded politely, understanding him to mean that there were no plates.
"Digestion, they say, begins with the act of ingestion, of chewing," he continued, following me around the table, "but this is a lie. Why does the masticating individual indicate the beginning of the assimilation process? Have humans not impacted the meat at even earlier stages? Does not the slaughter of the animal, the rendering of its vital tissues into a mere commodity, bought and sold, does not that make as much sense for the beginning of digestion? Or the breeding, the unnatural selection of traits and genes and phenotypes that produce stock animals, is that not the beginning of digestion, for is not their fate as surely decided there as it is in the slaughterhouse, in the supermarket, on your plate, in your stomach?" As he spoke, the tar flowing from his nose entered his mouth, choking him. While he worked to clear his throat, I slipped away.
My celebrity watching was soon interrupted by a subauditory thrumming that, from the way it made my molars vibrate, must have been somewhere in the 8 Hz range. This was apparently the signal that it was time for the magic to begin! Two lines formed, one leading into the theater, and one leading into a side passage obscured by a curtain and flanked with security. It was this second door that aroused my interest, a hidden portal into which the most famous cast members were heading. However, it quickly became evident that the guards were checking not only names but faces too, comparing them to a binder full of headshots. I slipped into the coat room to try and think up a strategy where, as luck would have it, I found one of Jim Belushi's shed skins piled in the corner, still warm! I donned my disguise, and got in line directly behind funnyman Will Ferrell, who was reciting some of the more scatological passages from the Liber Ivonis.
The guards gave Will a very thorough going over, shining a light in his eyes, taking his pulse, and running their hands through his hair. When it was my turn, I though the jig was up for sure, but the guards just nodded at me and said "Your dog's been looking for you, Mr. Belushi." I mumbled my thanks and stepped behind the curtain.
The tunnel was dark and humid, and I was sweating under my Belushisuit. Recordings of whale songs were being played over the PA system, and I stubbed my toes more than once against heavy objects on the floor that moaned in pain. A strange, pink light appeared in the distance, growing brighter as I approached it. Pushing aside some heavy plastic sheeting, I found myself in a vast hall, the roof rising to vanish in the darkness overhead, while beautiful, famous people orbited around a larger-than-life equestrian statue of Lorne Michaels. There was Eddie Murphy chatting with Chris Rock! Jane Curtain had cleared some space on the floor and was making sand art. Jim Breuer kept throwing a table cloth over Jimmy Fallon, sending him instantly to sleep in the middle of whatever he was saying, to the delight of Cheri Oteri.
I was about to join in a conga line being led by Tim Meadows when I felt a tug at my sleeve. A sleek, powerfully muscled German Shepard had bit delicately down on my tuxedo, his great black eyes staring soulfully up into mine. I gave him a pat him on the head, and he licked my hand.
"I've been looking all over for you Jim!" the dog said. "C'mon, let's take our seats, Lorne's about to introduce the Jongleur." I followed the dog over to a chair, apparently reserved for Jim Belushi, and sat down. A hush descended on the room as a black pyramid rose up from the floor, surmounted by an onyx alter at which stood Lorne Michaels himself. Speaking fluent Enochian, Lorne began to recount the secret history of Saturday Night Live, written in blood and fire under the workings of the thousand-faced moon.
He was just getting to a good story about a powerfully coked-up Chevy Chase, when I looked up and found myself staring into the pink, freshly exposed face of Jim Belushi. He was staring down at me, his mouth wide. In his fists he held two Slim Jims, plastic peeled back and a bite taken out of the top of each.
"Two Jim Belushis!?" he gasped around a mouthful of processed meat. His dog was quicker on the uptake, however.
"You idiot!" the dog said, lunging at my throat, "I've told you before to stop leaving your castings around!" I toppled backwards, spilling Ellen Cleghorne's martini but succeeding in kicking the dog off of me. I scrambled to my feet. Atop the pyramid, Lorne Michaels was emitting a weird, piercing ululation that was echoed by the rest of the cast, all of whom were closing in on me, their eyes bright, their teeth sharp. Tearing the Belushi mask off, I reached into my pocket for the self-immolator, twisting the knob and pushing the red button that began the countdown.
"Sinéad O'Connor sends her regards, you bastard!" I screamed, tossing the infernal device towards the pyramid. A column of flame engulfed the structure, but above the roar I clearly heard the mad, howling laughter of Lorne Michaels. Still, in the ensuing confusion, I was able to bowl over Adam Sandler and make my escape back up the damp tunnel.
I quickly overpowered the guards in the entryway, but the Golem from the front door proved too mighty; I beat a hasty retreat up the stairs, tore open an inoperative elevator shaft, and painfully climbed my way up to the darkened 45th Floor of the GE Building. Groping down the shadowy hall, I pushed open the first unlocked door I came to and dove inside. I knocked over a stack of mops, spilled some bleach from a jug onto the floor, and stuck my foot in a bucket. I eventually found the chain for the light and gave it a tug, lighting up the janitor's closet I had somehow found. Dozens of house centipedes, many well over five inches in length, watched me with the patience of a hunter from various perches in the room, their long, spindly legs pulsing with interest.
I stood in the middle of the closet, bulb flickering overhead, trying to gather my thoughts, when I heard the baying of hounds and the pounding of feet against institutional carpeting – the guards had found me. I turned off the light (only to hear the stealthy scuttling of centipede feet) and backed against the wall. As I stood there, trying to breathe as quietly as possible, I felt a breeze on the back of my neck. Turning, I saw a faint light, shining through a crack in the wall. Feeling blindly, I encountered a poster or a flier pasted up, and quietly tore it aside. There, before me, was a hole in the wall leading to a dingy, dimly lit crawlspace, packed with old beer cans, decades old pornography, and house centipedes.
The knob on the locked door of the janitor's closet jangled as a guard tried it. Throwing caution to the wind, I crawled through the hole in the wall and into the crawlspace, just as the door swung open! I burrowed under a pile of old Swank magazines, musty with age, and watched from the shadows. Soon a guard, his face blank and inhumanely symmetrical, stuck his head through the hole and looked around. I held my breath.
Suddenly, a house centipede crawled into view on the wall opposite the guard. His eyes bulged, his throat worked, and he gnashed his teeth. The centipede waved its antennae at him, and the guard uttered a strange, high-pitched whine, before shielding his eyes and fleeing back into the janitor's closet. I heard the door slam and the same unearthly whine taken up by his companions, the noise receding as they fled down the hall.
Unfortunately, the mold thriving in the nest of pornography that I had hidden myself in made me light headed, and I found myself unable to rise and flee. My vision swam, and I felt my breathing growing shallow. The last thing I remember was the house centipedes advancing from all sides towards me, their antennae waving in a perfectly synchronized pattern that seemed to hint at some deeper meaning, some greater intelligence, before darkness descended on me, and I remembered no more.
I awoke on the Staten Island ferry, wrapped in a faux-fur coat with pockets stuffed full of off-brand snack cakes. I sat down against a bench, removed the ill-fitting shoes I had stolen, and pitched them over the side and into the inky waters rippling in the wake of the boat. I ate a snack cake, and went over the events of the previous evening, searching in vain for answers to my many questions.
For Christ's sake, I asked myself, why hadn't they done a Sprockets skit?