Pinny walked out his skin that fateful day (the day after he died in the cold county jail, victim of the United States Postal Service). Pinny walked down the street and up to the house of the man who was rumored to give rocketry instruction to anyone who was interested. That is exactly what the sign on his lawn said: “Free Rocketry Instruction to Anyone Who is Interested.” Pinny figured he had nothing to lose. He had been dead for a day, after all. What could it hurt?
With a deft rap on the door, Pinny summoned Rocketman, who quickly appeared.
“You're the meth addict who died in the county hoosegow, ain't you?” asked Rocketman.
“Sure am,” said Pinny, rubbing his tender noggin with a piece of flannel soaked in camphor. “And I'd like some rocketry instruction.”
Rocketman studied Pinny's eyes and his nose and his mouth. He went on, studying his chin and the lump on the side of Pinny's neck. Pinny shifted uncomfortably.
“What 'cha doin'?” asked Pinny.
“I'm studying you...as one must study oneself. You got it, or do I gotta' pop you one? Now shut up, while I study.” Rocketman seemed impatient.
Pinny could feel the insects beneath his flesh begin to move again, and he was afraid that his beloved necklump might be shifting in shape or size. He raised his hand to cover it, and then lowered it again, afraid that it might call attention to him in a way that he did not desire.
“Is that the cha-la salute?” asked Rocketman, noticing Pinny's raised and then lowered hand. “You a cha-la boy?”
“I'm afraid I have no idea what you're talking about,” said Pinny, blushing bright red (bright red for someone who has been dead for a day, anyhow. These things are rather relative, you know).
Rocketman stopped his study and stood close (very close, in fact) to Pinny's face. He locked his little beady eyeballs onto Pinny's little beady eyeballs. And he leaned in close. Close. Real close.
And he stuck out his tongue.
The serpentine tongue must have measured at least eighteen inches on a good day, but Rocketman only needed an inch or so of it just now, as he placed but the very tip upon the very tip of Pinny's nose. It felt cool, and then warn to Pinny, who very nearly drew back, but stood still and allowed Rocketman's tongue to linger for at least a minute.
Rocketman withdrew his suddenly rainbow-colored tongue and turned back into his house.
“Where you going?” asked Pinny. “You going to go get your rocketry supplies so's you can teach me?”
“I will not teach you,” said Rocketman. “I will not give you instruction.”
“Why?” asked a saddened Pinny. “Do I taste bad?”
“Steel,” said Rocketman. “Steel dreams. They ooze out of a man's flesh. And I can tell your dreams, even if you cannot tell them yourself. Be off. And be well.”
Pinny turned to a deserted street – nowhere to wander for a lonely meth-ghost, but the abandoned avenues of Rocketman dreams.