Sunday, April 6, 2014

Wherein Mort's Wife Madge Dodges Through the Seven-Ten Split of my Heart


Well, you see what I’m up against.

Veering back to Miles Limitedlifetimewarranty, whom I left behind in a cloud of dust, because, well, Miles was wearing his exploding Dust Suit. But also because I'm angry as hell and I'm on my way to meet the most hated man in Mooburg, my arch-nemesis, Morton Slaf-Kabnecier, owner of the Fear and Loathing Bowling Lanes and Aquarium.

Mooburg is a small speck in the eye of Ontario (a painful geographic image), far off the beaten track (a painful incident of track violence). Almost nobody here bowled until the town was taken over by cows, who especially like bowling (they have built-in bowling bags). But the real bowlarama started when Mort Slaf-Kabnecier moved into town.

To keep his expenses down, Mort sets all the pins himself. (There are only two alleys. And he's too cheap to get automatic pin-spotting.) Then, to drum up business, he drives slowly along Main Street and insults everybody he meets. They get so steamed they run to the Fear and Loathing Lanes, quickly rent shoes and an alley, and angrily hurl three-holed balls at Mort. Not roll. Heave. He eggs them on by cackling maniacally behind the flying pins.

I'm beginning to think the people of Mooburg aren't very bright. As for myself, I usually stay off Main Street until Tuesdays, so I get a discount on bowling shoes.

A brilliant cow of good birth, Mort was a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Heidelberg (New Brunswick), author of a treatise on cud chewing vectors (The Final Problem), and lectured across North America on the hallucinogenic properties of udder cream (he could say "OK, well I'll benzodiazepine your methamphetamine" with his mouth full of popcorn) -- theories so advanced that few could understand their far-reaching consequences for cowkind.

But then Mort got hooked on bowling. He began hanging out with vicious gangs of high-roller party animals. He began to tell people that the NHL players were going to settle with the owners and, when he saw a glimmer of hope on their hockey-parched faces, he ran away cackling cruelly. (Mort cornered the cackle market several years back.) He began jostling the elderly and smirking about Bed Posts, Cheesy Cakes, Dinner Buckets, and Splashers. (If you've never smirked about a bedpost, you should try it. It makes you light-headed.) It's pitiful, really, what bowling does to perfectly normal people. But that was only the beginning.

Mort has become, of course, ruler of the Mooburg cow underworld, and is rumored to be the kingpin of the contraband cud market -- worth more than $12.6 million on the street. (An important detail for people who eat off the street.)

So it's come to this. It's high noon. Someone has to stand up for decency. As I mount the sidewalk in front of Mort's hangout, I check my undershorts for cleanliness in case I have to be embalmed before sundown.

As I said, the Fear and Loathing Lanes are below an aquarium, Mort's second legitimate business. He just plasticized the walls and floors of a six-bedroom upper duplex and filled it with water and tropical fish. (For Won Ton, you pay extra.) Add nutmeg and a bit of chive and simmer over a medium-hot coal for 20 minutes.

I storm in through the swinging doors, only to learn Mort is out of town. Probably a cud run. I decide to bowl a few frames. The storm I brought in doesn't have any shoes, so I have to bowl alone.

I am heaving balls semi-angrily at Mort's wife Madge, who is not particularly offensive as she picks up the pins (in fact, she very nicely sent me flowers last Valentine's day) but who fills in if Mort is busy elsewhere. But my heart is only half in it (only half of the flowers she sent exploded). And I have to admit that I find her artful dodging mildly provocative.

I notice a fish flying slowly by. Then I realize the fish is swimming. At first I think that the Jute Mill has exploded again, but it turns out the aquarium has sprung a leak.

That would explain why I was having trouble breathing.

It would also explain the sharks in the men's room.