20 October 2011


Old Runyon Scalawag tipped the scales at about 310 pounds and carried a meaty lump of a fist on the end of his gnarled and twisted left arm. “I only beat my woman when she's got it coming,” he would say to the adoring crowd that always gathered around him at the car wax factory. “I only beat her when she's been mean to me.”

Runyon Scalawag had no woman in his life. He had no one at all in his life. He once had a dog that masqueraded as a ferret, but the dog had run away from Runyon as soon as it had the opportunity. The dog was later seen doing stand-up at a resort somewhere in the Catskills. Much of his act revolved around Runyon, but that is another story.

The car wax factory was all that Runyon had. Runyon would get to the factory very early in the morning – much earlier than he needed to – and walk up and down the conveyor belt that made up his workspace, swinging that meaty lump of a fist at anything that looked dirty or out of place. “Gonna' whup you if you ain't careful,” he would snarl at the conveyor belt rollers and the switches and the fuse boxes, “you just watch yourself.” When the demotivational whistle blew at 8 o'clock, Runyon's conveyor belt would start to roll and an endless line of car wax containres would stream out toward him. Runyon would place a little round sponge pad on top of each container and the conveyor belt would carry it away to the next station where Runyon's colleague would place a clear plastic cover over the sponge and the wax. The final station on the conveyor was manned by Father Demetrios, the Greek priest, who would cense and bless the car wax container before it was shipped off to the car wax store.

Runyon would constantly daydream about having a friend. It wouldn't have to be a woman, Runyon thought. It could be anyone. He would even be happy if his old dog would retire from doing stand up and move back from the Catskills.

On a lonely Tuesday in a lonely September, Runyon succumbed to what people in the early twenty-first century called a “massive coronary.” This meant that Runyon's heart finally rejected the egg-and-cheese-and-bacon diet on which Runyon had lived for several decades and exploded in a fit of desperation. Runyon and his meaty lump of a fist tipped forward onto the conveyor belt and landed squarely on a car wax container upon which he had just placed a little round sponge pad. The fall jammed the pad into his mouth and Runyon's body was swept away with the car wax container on the conveyor belt. At the next station Runyon's colleague snapped a plastic cover over his lifeless form and at the final station Father Demetrios pronounced a blessing on poor Runyon before he left the factory.

Later that month in a car wax store in Binghamton, a Cocker Spaniel named Skippy who was playing a two week engagement at a nearby resort purchased an unusually heavy container of car wax. The meaty lump of a fist did nothing for the finish on Skippy's silver BMW.

Hmmm,” thought Skippy aloud, “this car wax smells like loneliness.”

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