24 June 2013

A Different Pile (Trinity IV)

“As long as that swarthy Slavic word merchant is in the business of telling stories about infectious disease doctors and the lovely lobes of pestilence they encounter, I might as well tell you about the universal affliction.” Mangey Paul always liked to talk about the so-called universal affliction and he was going to take this opportunity to indulge himself.

“The universal affliction makes us groan,” he said, stretching back into his wicker chair. “Listen to that wicker cry out under the pressure. If I were naked, I would have read Marx! Ha! Sumblymitch!” Mangey Paul always made that joke while sitting in his wicker chair, and I know that I have shared it with you before.

When you cop, either cop from the best or cop from yourself.

“The universal affliction was not achieved by choice. You might say that we all just kind of fell into it, the same way that some very lucky sumblymitch falls into an inheritance. 'Ceptin' it sure wasn't an inheritance in the typical sense. You know how some inheritances consist of a block of rabbit culture and a 78 of Hoagey Carmichael? That's more of what it was like. And still is.” Mangey Paul took something out of his pocket, brushed off an imaginary (or real?) piece of pocket lint, and stuffed it into his mouth. He chewed vigorously and held up an index finger (his own) to indicate that his story would continue in but a moment. At length he swallowed, cleared his throat, rolled his eyes, and went on with telling the tale.

“I am not immune to the universal affliction, you know – I just duck down low behind something whenever it draws near. That way I am mostly kept free from its ravages. Do you know what I mean?”

I tried to speak, but no sooner did I open my mouth than Mangey Paul waved off my comment with a dirty-nailed hand.

“You don't know. You don't know. You CANNOT know,” he said. “If you knew you wouldn't be sitting here, waiting for the help such as it has ever been. Now...here.” He reached in his pocket and pulled out another piece of whatever it was that he had been chewing on. Brushing off another imaginary piece of pocket lint with his dirty-nailed hand, he offered it to me. “Stick it in yer' kisser,” he laughed.

I did not want to stick it in my kisser. I felt a little nauseous, and whatever it was that he had just handed to me gave off a funny smell – a little like cat urine, and little like a female gingko tree. A little like death and taxes.

I stuck it in my kisser.

A minute later, after I had blown my nose and wiped the little bit of vomit away from the corner of my mouth, Mangey Paul continued.

“If ever there was a single person who did not suffer the universal affliction, I suppose that he would have been a pretty special sort of soul. I use that word lightly, as I do not understand what a soul is...exactly. I was once told that a soul is...how shall we say? Bestowed upon the person in question. I rather liken it, also, to the universal affliction.”

I looked around for something to drink, as I felt a great need to kill the taste in my mouth. Nothing was to be had, and I instead opted to tear off a button from my jacket and place it beneath my tongue to stimulate saliva flow. This was a trick that I had learned from my great uncle (nickenamed “the hairless wombat of Scranton”) who was an explorer and who specialized in desert crossings. He had died an untimely death by choking on a ram's-horn button torn from his favorite wool blazer.

“And as affliction, inheritance and soul, then (all the three), bestowed, in a sense, are nothing that one can give oneself, likewise is the cure. The cure for the universal affliction.”

“The cure?” I asked.

“The cure,” he said.

Mangey Paul rolled his eyes and vigorously rubbed his upper lip with a dirty-nailed hand. He coughed and spat. Coughed and spat. The spittle looked silvery-inky on the pavement.

“The cure is that guy over there,” and he motioned with a dirty, bony finger.

I could not see anyone in the direction that Mangey Paul motioned, so I squinted hard until he slapped me on the back of the head.

“Stop that,” he said, “you look dumb.”

I felt really stupid, and I flushed hot and red. I put my chin on my chest and my tail between my legs.

“No one sees him, it seems, anymore. So don't feel bad. Here...let me make it up to you.

He reached out his bony, dirty hand in my direction.

“Go ahead,” he said, “pull my finger.”

Something told me that I really didn't want to pull his finger, but something else told me that I was going to pull it anyway – no matter how hard I might try to avoid it.

21 June 2013

Pile? Who?

Vat ees zees?” asked Doctor Weimar, the infectious disease specialist, prodding the moist, fleshy growth with a long, bony finger. “Ees eet a vart?”

The patient sat quietly on the examination table and spoke not a word, but stared at the floor and shook her head. The moist, fleshy growth wobbled back and forth a bit.

Vy are you zo qviet, young lady?” asked the bony-fingered specialist as he turned to prepare a syringe. No answer issued forth from his patient, so he merely went about his business. A long, old-fashioned glass syringe. A long, old-fashioned corkscrew hypodermic needle fashioned from an otherworldly metal that was extracted from a meteorite. Four ounces of cold, cold gin. He drank the gin in one swallow and filled the hypodermic needle with the wondrous pile-driver heiney serum that he was known for.

His calling card. His stock-in-trade. Pile-driver heiney serum.

The patient began to tremble as Doctor Veimar approached with the heinous, heinous implement.

Just a brief word on heinous implements, please, if you will. My father had a heinous implement in his tool chest back home (that was before the war, of course). He eventually moved it into the drawer of his workbench, and mother was much happier. Anyhow, he would use the heinous implement to set straight the tinkling pipes when autumn was in the air. From time to time my Uncle Cheetah (not his real name) would stroll over to our house and ask my father for the loan of his heinous, heinous implement. Father would always deny his request, claiming that “the neighbor needed it later.”

I have become fond of this method of escaping treacherous and unpleasant duty assignments. When the kommandant asks me to saunter forth with my little, shiny rifle and procure animal corpses for feeding my fellow dragoons, I will often say “my neighbor needs it later.” The kommandant will thrash me with his riding crop, but it gets me out of the duty.

And I like that.

More to the point of my aside, it should be noted that heinous, heinous implements were largely outlawed under another famous “public safety act.” One can now only wield a heinous implement if one is also at the same time drinking a 32-ounce sweetened and carbonated fountain beverage. How curious.

Doctor Weimar loomed close. He was not a weaver, mind you, just an infectious disease specialist. The trembling patient held out her thin pale arm, ready for the treatment. She shook with fear.

Doctor Weimar stabbed the hypodermic needle into the muscle of his own lower jaw, just below his right ear. He pressed the heinous, heinous implement hard into the flesh, until it was stopped by bone. He squeezed the plunger and felt the wondrous pile-driver heiney serum flow into what would one day be his mortal remains. We all have a set of those, you know. Some have two.

I feel infinitely better, Doctor,” said the young patient, hopping off the examination table. “Thank you so very much.” She exited the room with a shining countenance and a newly-found spring in her step.

Doctor Weimar prodded the moist, fleshy growth that now took up residence on his chin. He poked at it with a long, bony finger.

Vat ees zees?”

18 June 2013

Without a Half-Moon Shake

The half moon didn't shake as much as you would have thought, and certainly not as much as you were told. Nothing ever shakes quite that much, but you have to watch yourself. You go to bed a small child and wake up an adolescent; go to bed a young man, wake up an old man. You go to bed a scientist and wake up a shaman. I've seen it happen before.

So that is what the free-world would call the prologue, and that is what the not-so-free world would call collateral damage. Either way you try to minimize it, and explain it away until the point where everyone has forgotten it. So with the prologue behind us I share with you the tale-face of Misty Popper, hog-butcher to the world and a place where the sun doesn't shine. When people use that phrase and tell others to “put it there” (that is, in the place where the sun does not shine). That is the place they are referring to – the tale-face of Misty Popper, hog-butcher to the world.

Misty crawled away from the wreckage and brushed a little bit of the smoldering fuselage out of her hair. She could only think of the lunch she had never eaten and the lip she had never kissed. Just one lip. It was an upper lip. She had kissed the lower one, but could not, at the time, seem to locate the upper one. Sometimes you find challenges like that. Sometimes the challenges find you. Sometimes it looks more like ham than lip.

Go figure.

Misty Popper loved ham, and she loved lip, but her tricky-dicky neurons (remember them? Of course you do, sweet-ums) loved other things as well. The tricky-dicky neurons loved theft and fire and sticky fingers. She had to fight against the tricky-dicky neurons to get around to even a short thought of lips and ham.

Only one thing could silence the tricky-dicky neurons, and at times Misty Popper knew it. She knew exactly what could silence the tricky-dicky neurons.

Brushing a last little bit of the smoldering fuselage out of her hair, Misty cast her glance on what looked like a pelican with its head bowed low upon its breast. There was not even a sound.

Misty Popper looked at a broken pomegranate in her hand. There was not even a sound.

The tricky-dicky neurons fell silent, if only for a while.

07 June 2013

Hello There.

Is this what writer's block feels like?  No, I think it might be something else...perhaps something like a fast-moving, flesh-eating bacteria.

There...doesn't that sound better than some pithy little "writer's block"?