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Nature Lovers.

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Lydia had never been in the yard behind the Roadhouse. Neither had Beetlejuice. There’d never been any reason to. But the sunset was particularly spectacular, and Lydia wanted a better look.

Just past a stand of high, tufted grass was a patch of short grass, as thick, soft, and green as the expensive turf Charles had blanketed over his lawn. Lydia sat on it, about twenty feet from the ragged edge of the pedestal of land on which the Roadhouse was built. The grass was remarkably comfortable, much like being on her down quilt. Beetlejuice sat down behind her, his legs on either side of hers, his chin resting on her left shoulder, as his arms circled her waist.

The sky was a brilliant, ever-changing palette varying from robin’s egg blue, cobalt blue, purple, lavender, pink, orange, and a vibrant yellow around the blindingly bright sun itself, as it slowly sank toward the horizon.

Lydia sighed. “It’s so beautiful.”

Beetlejuice had never paid much attention to sunsets. At this moment his attention was on the warmth and softness of Lydia against him. They hadn’t seen each other for five days, while Lydia attended to family obligations, packed for college, and installed a new door lock to defeat Delia’s snooping.

“Yeah,” was all Beetlejuice could say, already thinking of the ache when his Lydia would leave.

“Does anyone know what galaxy the Neitherworld is in?” Lydia asked. “Or where it is in relation to Earth? Or if it’s in a different dimension?”

Beetlejuice shrugged. “Uh, never got around t’askin’. Hey, Carl Sagan hangs around th' park in New Yuck. You could ask him.”

“To think,” Lydia murmured, “I’m watching a sun that no one on Earth may know about.”

“Mmm.” Beetlejuice pressed his nose into her hair and inhaled deeply.

A simultaneous sense of awe and sadness came over the young woman. Lydia tightened her arms around his, her old fear of abandonment quivering under her skin. She hated that she couldn’t brush it off, but now, she had so much to lose. “This is our last night for…a long time. I want to Call you, right away, when I get to Sarah Lawrence!”

“Naw, c’mon, babes.” The ghost reluctantly decided that he had to be the strong one, a role he wasn’t used to, but which he was willing to force himself to play, for Lydia’s sake. He gave her a tight squeeze. “We agreed t’wait till after exams. Ya don’t want t' be distracted.”

“Maybe we could just…talk through the mirror.” Lydia lightly touched the locket hanging on her chest. “Like we do in my room. We could experiment.”

Beetlejuice grumbled, weakening. “Ya know if I see you, I’m gonna start talkin’ dirty.”

Lydia chuckled and elbowed his gut. “Maybe I’ll want you to.”

The ghost’s eyebrows rose. “Yeah?”

“Mirror sex. Like phone sex.”

“An' that’s not gonna be a distraction?”

Lydia nuzzled her cheek against his chin. “What do you think I do when I’m alone there, and I’m missing a certain Ghost’s Most? Why do you think I brought my toy to college?”

Beetlejuice gulped, beginning to sweat. “Ya do?”

“Um hmmm.” Lydia nipped his chin. “First thing I packed.”

A tingle was building in Beetlejuice’s groin. “Is yer roommate gone much?”

“Ugh.” Lydia snorted. “Ann Limbaugh. Miss ‘You Are So Going to Hell, Lydia Deetz.’”

“Whut?” Lydia had never mentioned specifics about her roommate before. Beetlejuice didn’t like the sound of it. “Don’t tell me. A Bible thumper.”

Nodding with irritation, Lydia listed, “An intolerant, anti-diversity, narrow-minded…ooo! She says I’m into the ‘occult’ because I take pictures of cemeteries and tombstones. So much for the Placement Office assigning me with a person with common interests and similar temperaments! The college evidently thinks us rooming together will be a learning experience for both of us.

“An’ all yer learnin’ is that ya want t' strangle her,” Beetlejuice surmised.

“Oh, I wouldn’t dirty my hands on her. But I sure wish I could send her to the Neitherworld for a day! But, thankfully, she is gone a lot.” Lydia shuddered and winced. “Argh, she’s in my head now!”

“Not good, babes. I think ya could use a little distraction right now.” Beetlejuice’s hands slid to her waist, and began pulling her t-shirt out of her jeans. “After all, we’re not gonna see each other for a long time.”

“Ummm. What are you doing?” Lydia whispered, knowing very well, and grinning.

“I was just thinkin.’”

“About what?”

“About how gorgeous yer naked bod would look in th' sunset.” Beetlejuice whispered in a deep, raspy voice, “How about havin’ th' occult into ya?”


“Oh god, Beej, please don’t slow down,” Lydia gasped.

“I want this t' last, baby,” Beetlejuice panted. “I want this t’laaaast. How’s that? Ya like that?”

“Yes! OH!”

“My beautiful babes, my hot, sweet babes, ah, jeezus fuck.”

“Harder! Faster! Oh, your cock—“ At that moment, Lydia thought she heard breathing that wasn’t theirs. Instinctively, her eyes opened. “AAAA!”

“What?!” cried Beetlejuice, halting his thrusts. “Ya OK?!” He followed Lydia’s horrified gaze upwards. “AAA!”

Lydia and Beetlejuice froze, their eyes huge.

The Monster Across the Street loomed only six feet away, his hands on his furry red hips. His big grin clenched a toothpick.

“Hey thar,” he said. “Don’ mind me. Y’all continue.”

What th’ hell are ya doing?!” Beetlejuice yelled, covering Lydia as best he could. Lydia tried to draw herself under him as much as possible.

“Nothin’.” The Monster gestured at them. “G’wan back t’yer pumpin’ motion, Beetlejuice. Boy howdy, you got you some energy!”

“Oh, god, I do not believe this,” Lydia moaned.

Get outta here!” Beetlejuice started to rise up in order to blast the Monster, but quickly dropped down to conceal Lydia.

“Why?” asked the Monster.

“Why?! Because, ya flea-bitten shag rug, this is private!

“No it ain’t.”

“What?! Whaddaya mean ‘it ain’t?!”

“If it were private, yew’d be doin’ it in private. Y’all er doin’ it outside, where anybody cun see.”

Beetlejuice sputtered.

“Beetlejuice,” Lydia whispered, “I’m not ever going to be able to go back to the Living World.”

“Huh? Babes, why?”

“Because I’ve just died of embarrassment.”

Snarling, Beetlejuice grabbed a pebble from the grass and threw it at the Monster. It disappeared into his fur. “Give us our clothes, ya goddamn voyeur--- HEY! Where are our clothes?!”

The Monster jerked his thumb toward the Roadhouse. “Took ‘em inside. Ya didn’t want ‘em gittin’ dirty, did ya?”

“I’m gonna rip ya t' shreds!

“Can’t you juice us into your room?” Lydia pleaded.

“Y’know I can’t do that with ya, just by myself!”

“Magic some clothes, then!”

“I can’t make somethin’ from nothing,’ outta thin air!”

“Hey, Poopsie!” the Monster bellowed. “C’mon over an’ see how homo sapiens mate!”

“Woof!” barked Poopsie from across the street.

“NO!” yelled Lydia and Beetlejuice.

“How long have you been watchin’ us?” Beetlejuice demanded.

“Um,” the monster moved his toothpick between his teeth with his tongue, “around th’ time of Lydia sayin’ ‘in me’ an’ you sayin’ ‘I wanna fork yew fer days—“

“THAT’S ENOUGH!” Lydia cried. “Why isn’t that sun down by now?!”

“Whut’ve forks gotta do with homo sapien matin’?” asked the Monster, sitting down.

“You can’t watch us!” Beetlejuice roared.

“Why not?”

“Because, it’s…it’s..,” spouted the ghost, grappling for words, “because we’re people!

“Yew humans watch other animules mate all th’ time.”

“No, we don’t!”

“Sure, ya do. On them ‘National Geographical’ nature documentaries.”

Whatever planet or dimension or whatever the Neitherworld was, it received television and radio signals which had been sent out from Earth decades before Lydia was born. At this time, the Neitherworld Network was running “Earth Television: the 1970s!” The Monster was a big fan of The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau, anything from National Geographic, and Marlin Perkins’ Wild Kingdom.

“Well, we’re not animals!” shouted Beetlejuice, indignantly.

The Monster looked puzzled, as much as one can with hidden eyes. “Wull, sure ya are. Yer Kingdom is Animalia, yer Phylum is Chordata, yer Class is Mammalia, Order is Primates, Genus Homo, Species Sapiens.” The monster grinned proudly. “I got me a book.” From his fur he pulled out The Neitherworld Guide to the Dead from Earth. “It’s a pop-up!” He opened it and closed it, making flat paper humans bounce up and down. “Heh, sorta looks lak whut yew were doin’.”

“But, humans are different!” Beetlejuice snapped. “Watchin’ animals do it is one thing! Watchin’ people doin’ it is…is…”

“Pornography,” sighed Lydia.

“Yew humans watch each other doin’ it alla time.” The Monster sounded painfully confused. “Even after yer dead, y’all got movies of humans matin’. I seen ‘em at the store. They lak trainin’ manuals or sumpthin’?”

“But that’s when people know they’re being watched,” said Lydia, peeking from under Beetlejuice’s shoulder. “They want to be watched. They’re being paid for it. We didn’t want to be watched!” She paused, and looked at her lover to be certain this wasn’t something he’d planned.

“Hell no I don’t want anybody seein' me,” Beetlejuice confirmed riotously, “an’ especially not seein' my woman! So SCRAM!”

“But, why’s it any diff’rent than y’all watchin’ animules in th’ wild matin’?”

Because they’re animals!” yelled Beetlejuice.

“So is yew!”

“Shit! Here we go again!”

“Monster,” Lydia attempted, delicately, “on Earth, a lot of humans think they’re better than animals. That they’re special.”

“Huh?”

Lydia tried to think in terms of someone with no familiarity with human culture. “Because…certain books, which many humans believe are holy, say that humans aren’t animals, that animals were created to serve humans. That humans are meant to be their masters.”

“Whut? Why in tarnation would someone write a cornpone, dumb-ass thing lak that?!”

“Because, on Earth, humans are the only animals who talk.”

“That’s poopie! There’re dead Earth animules all over th’ Neitherworld, an’ they talk jus’ fine!”

“They do, after death. But on Earth, humans can’t understand them.”

“Maybe they should try harder!”

“Lyds,” sighed Beetlejuice, “yer wastin’ yer time.”

“Why’s she wastin’ her time?” asked the Monster.

“Because,” seethed the ghost between gritted green teeth, “YOU’RE A DUMB ANIMAL!”

“What’dya mean I’m dumb?!” snorted the Monster. “I talk!”

“Yeah! An’ ya prove how dumb ya are every time ya open yer trap!”

“Huh?”

“Woof!” Poopsie ran through the tall grass, tail wagging. He sat down beside his owner and panted.

“See?” Beetlejuice started to point at the monster dog, but immediately pulled back his arm to continue to hide Lydia. “He’s an animal, an’ he can’t talk!”

“Sure he does! He jus’ said ‘Are they still matin’?, loud an’ clear!”

“We can’t understand him,” said Lydia, burying her face in Beetlejuice’s neck and holding her legs together very tightly. “Beej, do something!

“I’ve been tryin’! Y’know that word ‘mortified,’ Lyds?” the ghost groaned. “I think I just found out th' definition. My juice is frozen. I’m stuck.”

“No, yer not.” The Monster leaned down, trying to see between the two lovers’ legs. “It comes out, don’t it?”

Beetlejuice kicked at him. “The moment we’re outta this, I’m skinning ya alive!”

Lydia covered her face with her hands. “How long do sunsets in the Neitherworld take, Beej?”

“Uh…a couple hours.”

“What?!”

“Baby, that’s why I thought of this. I wanted you an’ me t’ be hot an’ heavy fer a couple hours, an’ th' sunset … Shit.”

The Monster said, “C’mon, why doncha give Poopsie a demonstration of what y’all were doin’? Now, watch this, Poopsie. Looks like it’d hurt somethun’ awful, but they seem ta lak it.”

“JACQUES!” Beetlejuice bellowed.

“Good idea!” said the Monster. His voice shook the tall grass as he roared, “JACQUES! GINGER! YUH DON’ WANNA MISS THIS!”

“If you scoot closer to the ledge,” Lydia whimpered to Beetlejuice, “I’ll jump.”

“What ya yellin’ for?” Ginger dropped from the roof behind them by a thread, and walked through the grass. “Hiya, Lydia, Beetlejuice. Whatcha doin’?”

“Crocheting doilies,” snarled Beetlejuice.

“They’s matin’!” declared the Monster proudly, as if he had just discovered how humans did it, and wanted to share it with the world.

“So that’s what you look like when you’re makin’ all that noise in yer room.” Ginger cocked her head. “Human males are bigger than human females. An’,” she kneeled, trying to look between their legs, “they got parts.”

“Come a little closer,” said Beetlejuice, “so I can squash you!”

“Not like us spiders,” Ginger said, critically. “Females are much bigger. And we eat the males when we’re finished.”

“Lydia, yew gonna eat Beetlejuice after y’all done?” asked the Monster.

“No, but about now I wish somebody would bite my head off for being so stupid!”

“Ginger, if you don’t get outta here,” Beetlejuice hissed, “I’m gonna make ya snort a can of Raid!”

“Why’s he so mad?” Ginger asked the Monster.

“Dunno. Said somethin’ about matin’ bein’ ‘private.’”

“Private! The way they make noise when they’re in his room, it ain’t private!”

“I need to insulate,” said Beetlejuice.

“I’m never having sex again,” said Lydia.

“Don’t say that!”

“Nope. I’m taking a vow of celibacy, right here, right now.”

“JACQUES!” Beetlejuice’s shriek shook the Roadhouse.

“I heard the time first!” The skeleton stepped through the tall grass. His eyes bugged in his skull. “Mon Dieu!”

“Get our clothes!” Beetlejuice demanded.

“What are you— Merde!” Jacques stuck his bony fingers on his bony hips. “Ah, la! Mais oui! Do not tell me! You two think to enjoy passion, to have la petite mort, en plein air! Et voila!” He swept out his arms, to indicate the lovers’ audience.

“I dunno what you just said,” complained Beetlejuice, “but get us our clothes! We’re kinda naked here!”

 “Tant pis! Je m’en fous! Beetlejuice, from you I expect such diablerie, such gaucherie! But,” the skeleton looked at Lydia with great disappointment, “et toi?”

“Now he’s speakin’ a langwage yew don’t know,” said the Monster, “an’ yew don’ think Jacques is a dumb animule. Hey, Jacques, yew were human. Did ya useta look lak Beetlejuice?”

“Non!” huffed Jacques, crossing his arms. “I assure you, in life I never resembled him in any way! When Beetlejuice says someone can kiss his fat, white, hairy ass, I see the description, she is apt!”

“Hey!” snapped Beetlejuice.

“Hairy?” The Monster guffawed. “Yew call that hairy?! Newborn monsters got more hair on ‘em than that! Lydia, she got even less’n he does! ‘Cept that little furry patch ‘tween her—“

“JACQUES,” Lydia interrupted frantically, “please, please, would you bring us our clothes?”

For someone with no lips, the skeleton could scowl hard enough to make Lydia blush with shame.

“Look,” hissed Beetlejuice, “we weren’t thinkin’, oh kay? The moment kinda went to our heads. Ever had a moment like that, Jacques? Huh? Before? Or After? You were human, weren’t ya?”

Jacques sighed irritably. “Why do you not ‘juice’ yourself into a blanket? Eh?”

Beetlejuice blinked. “Well, shit.” Instantly, he took the form of a black-and-white striped blanket, covering Lydia.

Lydia stood up, wrapping Beetlejuice around her. She said, softly, “Thank you, Jacques.”

“Aww!” said the Monster, disappointed. “I wanted to see how it ended!”

“It ends,” snarled the Beetle-blanket, glaring at the Monster, “with me gouging yer eyes out as soon as we’re dressed!”

“You will do no such thing,” stated Jacques. He waved a finger at the lovers. “This is your fault.”

“Jeez, Jacques, what were you Before?” snorted Beetlejuice. “A preacher?”

“We won’t do it again, we promise,” said Lydia as she hurried to the Roadhouse.

“We won’t?” asked Beetlejuice worriedly. In his bedroom, he resumed his normal form, and he and Lydia dressed. “Ya don’t mean, we won’t ever have sex again?”

Lydia booped his pointed nose. “No, silly. We won’t ever do it outside again.”

Beetlejuice leaned forward and booped her nose with his, grinning wickedly. “Never?”

“Beej! After what happened today, you’re lucky if I ever want sex outside of a lead-lined box with no lights!”

“Hey, you guys!” It was Ginger’s voice, calling from the Common Room. “We’re gonna watch a show, if ya wanna join us.”

“Thanks, Ginger!” Lydia answered. She grimaced at the ghost. “I don’t know if I can face them. What about you?”

Beetlejuice scowled. “I gotta live here. As long as nobody makes any wisecracks, I’m cool.”

Ginger, the Monster, and Poopsie looked somewhat apologetic as Lydia and Beetlejuice came into the living room, though they also looked as if they were confused about exactly why they should feel apologetic. The Monster was tuning the TV, while Ginger was putting out bowls for popcorn, pop-flies, and buttered beetles.

Jacques, however, looked grim. “Beetlejuice, may I a word with you?”

“Yeah, whatever.” With an angry grunt, Beetlejuice followed the skeleton into the kitchen, preparing for a lecture, and already trying to decide whether or not to glue Jacques’ jawbones together.

In the kitchen, Jacques suddenly whipped around and grabbed Beetlejuice’s shoulders.

Putain de merde! Lydia! She is fille tres sexy! “

Beetlejuice blinked. “Whut?”

“Lydia!” Jacques slugged the ghost’s upper arm. “You lucky bastard! When did she grow into that? Mon Dieu, she gives a man the boner! As you say, ‘know what I mean?’”

“Hey!” snapped Beetlejuice, shoving Jacques threateningly. “Don’t get horny over my – “ The ghost stopped and stared. “Waitaminnit. How’re you able t’ feel horny? Y’got nothin’ to,” he gestured, to indicate Jacques lack of flesh, “feel with.”

“Tsk,” Jacques scoffed. He pointed at his skull. “Sex, it is all in the head.”

Beetlejuice thought of his favorite body parts, and what Eternity would’ve been like had he lost them. “You’ve been dead too long.”

“Never mind. You are a too lucky son of a bitch. Look, you want to make the love passionate outside, or in the living room, or the kitchen, be my guest.”

“Jeez, I’m surrounded by sickos!” Beetlejuice marched out of the kitchen in disgust.

“I am, how you say, just saying,” wheedled the skeleton, following Beetlejuice into the Common Room.

They all silently agreed to forget the earlier, outside incident. Beetlejuice claimed the couch, lounging back, with Lydia reclining on him. Jacques took a large armchair, Ginger her web in the upper corner, and the Monster sat cross-legged on the rug, with Poopsie curled up in his lap.

Lydia thought she noticed Jacques staring at her. But when she looked at him, he kept his eyes firmly aimed at the television screen. Her curiosity wouldn’t be quelled. “Jacques,” she ventured tentatively, “what were you…Before?”

They all but Beetlejuice looked uncomfortable. Jacques sighed.

“For you, mon petite, I will tell.” Jacques continued, with great dignity, “In France, I was the authority on fitness. I had my own gym, my own salon, where the rich and famous would flock. But an American upstart appeared on television when it was new, this Francois Henry LaLanne. He proclaimed America was the greatest country for fitness! In 1954, he swam the length of the Golden Gate Bridge, while pulling much heavy equipment. I was not to be outdone! I declared to swim double the distance, in the Amazon river, upstream! And I did…halfway.”

They waited. “And?” said Lydia.

Jacques twitched. “Piranhas are the vicious little critters, as the Monster would say. And very efficient. Quicker than the film crew, the cowards.”

“Well,” said Beetlejuice, “that explains a lot. I think you win the Roadhouse ‘Nasty Ways T' Croak’ prize.”

“Y’all shush now,” said the Monster, waving his hand at them. “Program’s startin.’”

“Nature, on PBS,” said the announcer. “Hosted by George Page.”

“Ah, no,” groaned Beetlejuice through a mouthful of buttered beetles. “Not another nature show.”

“Be quiet, Mister Sunburn Butt,” said Ginger. “Ya might learn something.”

Lydia giggled while Beetlejuice glowered. He pinched her rear and she yipped. She pinched his inner thigh, and he yelped.

“The two of you, you want to be active, you are free to do so,” encouraged Jacques, grinning.

Shaddap,” warned Beetlejuice.

“Tonight, “began George Page’s soothing baritone voice, “we explore the many and varied ways we many and varied species continue our species, from arachnids to Bonobos.”

“Whut langwage is he talkin’?” said the Monster. “I’m missin’ somma them words.”

“What’s an arachnid?” said Ginger.

Ssh!” said Lydia and Jacques.

George Page continued, “Let’s begin with the fascinating discovery that female Physocylus globosus spiders cry out during sex.”

Film footage began. Page narrated, “Here we see the male spider squeezing the female---“

AAA!” screamed Ginger. “TURN IT OFF, TURN IT OFF! OH M’GAWD, IT’S OBSCENE!”

“It’s edumacational,” said the Monster, indignantly.

“No, it ain’t! Golly, I might KNOW those people!!”

“It’s only spiders,” snickered the Monster.

“Oh, yeah?!” Ginger dropped to the floor, scurried across the rug, and pointed accusingly at the furry creature. “How’s about we put In that video you got of what Monsters do?!”

“WHUT?!” His yellow eyes widened with shock, actually showing through his curtain of red fur. “How’dya know about THAT?!”

“Let’s see how educational that is, pal!”

“Yew cain’t watch that!”

“Yeah? Why not?”

“That’s…that’s about Monsters! Not yew kinda creatures!”

“What’daya mean by that, two-legs?!”

“Your place?” Beetlejuice asked Lydia, putting down his bowl.

“Oh, yes,” Lydia sighed, getting up.

“Don’t go!” begged Jacques. “We do not have to watch the telly! We can play a game! Charades! Old Maid! Strip poker! Non, the last is a joke, Beetlejuice, a joke!

The End.