Sunday, April 6, 2014

Better to be Late than Non-Existent

Oh, Yes.

In front of me are the little grey wisps, dancing around. And they seem to be flavoring to me. Like, if chocolate ice cream could talk, what would it say? Only it's not talking. It's flavoring somewhere inside me in such a way that I know it's not vanilla. I make a mental note to avoid conversations with ice cream.

But this grey-wispy flavor is kind of a mishmash of different flavors, like Peanut Butter Surprise, Pineapple, Warthog's Armpit Supreme, and Chicken Fat Ripple. And this is what the flavor is saying inside me:

"Gaak! Harumph! Is this mike on? Gaak! Testing: One, Two. Testing. Ladies and Gentlemen, could you please be seated? ...Thank you."

I knew that flavor. It was (M)Erstwhile Eagle, Mooburg's most insufferable blowhard...

"As you know (continued the flavor), we are gathered here this morning to pay homage to the late Mal J. Maardvark, who passed away last Friday after a damned hideous fall from the former abandoned castle of Sir William Longchamps of Chartreuse, which now is a wet hunk of debris at the bottom of Mooburg Gorge.

"As was reported in the papers, attempts were made to rescue Mardvark Mal and his arch-enemy, Morton Slaf-Kabnecier, on Saturday and Sunday. However, the search was called off when it became evident that no one could have survived that fall, and that the bodies had undoubtedly washed down the Moo River, and from there to the ocean beyond.

"Understandably, the good citizens of Mooburg were distraught, almost as distraught as when my Uncle Parcheesi lost his leg. He had had terminal gout for several years until just last April the doctors at Moo Hospital decided that the leg just had to go. Unfortunately, the hospital somehow misplaced Uncle Parcheesi. On the bright side, however, they did return his leg to us...

"I don't think this is the appropriate occasion to guffaw... You in the back row! Put a sock in it!"

"At any rate, we are therefore gathered on a great battlefield of the Mal-Mort arch-enemyhood, so to speak, to extol the life of one of the town's greatest aardvarks, a devoted husband to the good Mgladys J. Aardvark, and a loving father to all the MLittle J. Aardvarks. Rumors that he may have been in some way responsible for half the population in Mooburg are greatly exaggerated. Maardvark Mal was a devoted Odd Person of the local 682 of the Oddfellows, Head Lion at the Lion's Club, past Gearbox of the Rotary Club, yadayadayada...

"Well, enough about the deceased. Let's talk about me for a change..."

Wait a minute (said the real me)! That can't be right. I'm still walking around and breathing. I can't see a damn thing, but I'm still breathing. I had to get to a payphone and call somebody in Mooburg. (I make a mental note to avoid mental notes.)

I search through my pockets. To my relief, I have two quarters. Unfortunately, they are two Canadian quarters. But where can I find a payphone? I flip through the Payphone Atlas tatooed to my elbow. Fortunately, (given the surrounding blackness) it's written in Braille.

"Could I be of some assistance?" says a voice. This time it isn't a flavor. It's a brilliant point of light at my feet about one centillienth of the diameter of a Graviton particle. I'm well known for my small feet.

"Yes, kind Fractionated Graviton, could you direct me to the nearest payphone?"

"We'll get to one, as fast as you can say Jack Robinson."

"OK. Jack Robinson."

"Not so fast. We're still building the next scene. OK. Now try it."

"Jack Robertson."


"No. You said it wrong. That’s a screwdriver. It's Jack Robinson."

Suddenly, there appeared before us a gigantic Superstore, shining brilliantly like a thousand South-of-the-Borders on your first drive-all-night-nobody-sleeps trip to Daytona Beach. Inside the entrance is a fluorescent payphone. On it is a sign: "Maximum Strength Fluoride Telephone. Not only builds truly effective protection against tartar, but also cleans and whitens your conversations. (Recommended for adults and children over 12.)"

I stepped back to admire the phone’s smile.

"Oh, dammit!" said the Graviton particle. "You were supposed to say Jack Robinson, not me! Now everything's going to come out all wonky."

Encouraging words, I thought. He knows I hate payphones with bad breath.