Sunday, April 6, 2014

Wherein Our Aardvark Meets La Fin Du Monde And Finds It Wanting


Fortunately, the sharks were staying in the men's room, where the tips were better.

But I had something even worse to worry about. The water level in the bowling alley (swollen by the deluge from the upstairs aquarium) was almost up to the ceiling. Fortunately, aardvarks have vestigial gills in their snouts (manufactured by the Vestigial Aardvark Gill Co. of Canton, Ohio), so I had at least fifteen more minutes of air left to perfect my underwater bowling ball heaving.

At that very moment, however, Morton Slaf-Kabnecier himself burst into the Fear and Loathing Bowling Lanes (minus Aquarium, which had by this time enacted a liquid corporate merger with the bowling alley).

"Aha!" he said, picking a small mackerel out of his teeth, "throwing bowling balls at my wife when I'm not around, are you?"

At the time I remember wondering how Mort could have burst through the door without causing the aquarium spew to gush out in the other direction. I rashly thought it was the strength of his "Aha!" that held the water in check.

But I was distracted by the murder in his eye. It was a look I had not seen in Mootown since the Mfrank Floorpolishingwhileyouwait scandal almost fifteen years earlier. Mfrank (who, like all Mooburg residents, had to lug an M in front of his name) was a local viaduct-and-castle construction contractor and a married man of rather unsavory reputation.

Not long before the incident of which I am about to speak, his wife Mbetty made a complaint against him for non-support. To avoid the law, Mfrank left town and was gone until Mseptember, when he was arrested for lethally assaulting a handicapped mailbox (the incident of which I am now speaking). Mfrank was convicted and sentenced to the Moo County penitentiary for six months, but his counsel, Mbartholomew Tort, appealed the case and he was out on bail pending, well, whatever they had lined up in the pend department.

But I digress...

"Again I say, AHA!" said Morton Slaf-Kabnecier, holding up a bizarre sign featuring the word "FLYING", and evidently waiting for me to respond to this cue.

I racked my brain. What flying? Flying with Your Dog? Flying Down to Rio? Flying Omelettes? Miscellaneous Flying Photos? Flying Without a Net? Flying Particles?...

No sooner had I thought "Flying Particles" than the universe exploded and all hell broke loose, sending the entire watery contents, assorted fish, bowling balls, and Incomprehensibly Burning Luggage (darned if I know where they came from) out through the door and down Main street. From there, while I made a mental note not to mention the phrase "Flying Particles" again, a series of boring conversations flashed through my brain:

Q: Did the heretofore mentioned (M)al and Mort (said he, careening unabashedly into the third person) avoid being flushed through the car wash at the end of the street?

A: No, but they enjoyed the benefits of the Executive wash, followed by a heavy-duty rinse and the optional Carnauba wax job.

Q: And did our flailing hero and his dastardly antagonist crash through the abandoned Acme Buggy Whip factory at the edge of the mile-deep Mooburg Gorge?

A: Yes, and various Mooburg citizens on their way to Thursday night Bingo saw them whooshing across the rickety abandoned viaduct connecting the buggy whip factory to the abandoned castle of Sir William Longchamps of Chartreuse who, as the story goes, was so angry at being interrupted at dinner by his butler (just as Miss Tyler, intoxicated and wearing a red taffeta frock, brandished a candlestick) that he chased him (the butler) upstairs and dispatched him forthwith.

Q: Was this the same Sir William pardoned by King Ray-o-Vac II providing he could invent an effective aardvark muzzle in two days' time?

A: The very same. You will recall that Sir William was shut in the Tower for two days and then summarily attacked by a pack of carnivorous aardvarks (who in those days were not vegans and could not write rants), whereupon he flung his newly invented muzzle over the lead aardvark's head (explaining why today the muzzled aardvark is prominent on the Longchamps coat of arms) and Sir William escaped unharmed.

Q: And were Mssrs. Mort and (M)al rammed by the force of assorted fish and bowling balls up the castle's winding staircase, forcing both Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel to an early retirement, and leaving our two arch-enemies clinging to an arras hanging out of the tower window and locked in a titanic hand-to-hand struggle?

A: They were. And yes it was, indeed, a fearful place (he said, veering irresponsibly back into the first person).

The torrent of bowling balls, swollen by a misadvised interconnection with the municipal water system by a civil engineer in training who shall remain nameless, geysered through the tower windows and plunged straight down into the yawning (but still awake and waiting impatiently for the eleven o'clock news) abyss below us. The spray from this deluge rolled up upon us (as we broke into a chorus of "He Who Would True Valor See, Please See John's Bunions") like smoke from an erupting volcano. The precipice itself was lined with glistening coal-black granite, and narrowed into a roiling, boiling pit of incalculable depth.

At the same time, the Incomprehensibly Burning Luggage that had followed us from the bowling alley set the tower roof on fire. Blazing timber and debris fell asymptotically (spacetimewise) about us, and the sounds of bursting rocks assailed our ears.

At that moment, I recalled that the contractor for the castle construction was none other than Mfrank Floorpolishingwhileyouwait, convicted mailbox killer and -- to my everlasting horror -- defrocked businessman and oft-sued tower builder. And, as the stones gave way around us, I remembered that long-distant (timespacewise) court case, in which alleged faulty construction had caused a tower to collapse, sending the Plaintiff and his biting, kicking arch-enemy plummeting head-first into the infinite chasm below...