Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Unkindest Coffee of All

Until about 6:30 or so, it looked like it was gonna be a normal day. I'd gotten up about 5:30, tellin myself "Time to go watch the genetically modified squirrel monkeys make the donuts." That's a little joke I tell myself in the mornings. Course, it's not totally a joke because that's really what I'm gonna be doin. Whatever it takes to get you out of bed, though. I knew this woman long ago who had to sing Rocket Man to herself every morning before she went to work. She also had to flip the light switch on and off twelve times before she left a room and had to wash her hands a couple dozen times a day, but none of that really bothered me as much as hearin Rocket Man every morning. Not that it's an unlistenable song or anything, but she didn't ever bother to learn all the words, so she would sing the ones she did know extra loud. I can hear her now, "ROCKET MAN somethin somethin somethin EVER KNOWN!" So now, whenever I think of Rocket Man, I hear her version and can't ever hear nothin different, like that Bob Marley Exodus song that, in my head, goes "Exodus, second book of the Bible." Fortunately, they don't play a lot of Bob Marley on the radio out here. The Rastafarian lifestyle never really took off in the Midwest.

Boy howdy, I sure am off track. I was talkin about this morning. So I go out to the shop, that's Pat O'Neil's Body Shop, Refurbished Car Emporium and Donut Eatery, if any of y'all wanna stop by, it's just off the 15. We're sellin day old donuts for $2 a dozen. If you don't buy 'em, we'll have to give 'em to Albert, and he's already gettin a little chunky. Like I says, though, I go out to the shop to make a big ol' pot of coffee. It ain't just for me, a number of them squimonk loves them some coffee, but they don't know how to make it. It just blows me away, they're supposed to be hyper-intelligent, yet not a single one of them can make a decent cup of coffee. They've tried, oh how they've tried, but it always ends up tasting like coffee you'd get at some lonely convenience store in the middle of nowhere on a night black as pitch while you're drivin to see some great uncle or whatnot whose name you don't know and who'll just tell you about how big you were last time you were there. You know, that pot of coffee that's been sittin there so long it's turned solid, then, due to the forces of time and pressure, has turned back into a liquid that has more in common with the platonic ideal of mud than coffee. Now, go one step down on the coffee ladder from that cup, and you'll have squimonk coffee.

So, there I am, waitin for the coffee to brew, when a dozen squimonk come runnin in, holdin one squimonk in the middle. It's got a bandage around its foot, and it looks to be bleedin pretty bad. They all look a little panicky and Alistair's runnin around chatterin orders in some sorta squirrel monkey language I can't understand, but he's sorta wildly gesticulatin this way and that, sendin them squimonk runnin every which way. I sorta shout whisper, "Alistair, hey Alistair!"

He turns and glares at me, "Not now, Pat."

But I'm too curious to let it go, "Alistair, what happened?"

He turns all the way around and snaps, "I said not now Pat!" Then he turns and goes back to giving orders. Chastened, I sit and watch. The squimonk work quickly to patch up their companion. They cauterize the wound with this tiny laser thing, and then they patch up the foot with some gauze and bundle her off to the back room. Then they clean the entire shop in two minutes flat and all but Alistair disappear into the back where they do heaven-knows-what.

After that, Alistair comes over, pours himself a cup of coffee near as big as he is and sits on the donut display case facin me. "Pat, I'm sorry I yelled at you. I've been up for three days now and everything fell apart this morning."

"Well," I say, willing to give him the benefit of the doubt here, "you wanna tell me what happened?"

"It's a long story, and I don't want to go into the whole thing right now, but I can give you a sketch."

"Couldn't you just tell me?" I ask, "I ain't so good at interpreting art. That is, unless you want to give it in comic book form, then I would be ok."

"No, Pat," he sighs, sounding more exhausted, "a verbal sketch. I can give you an overview, an outline, if you will."

So I tell him, "I will."

He just shakes his head and moves on. Sometimes, that's the best way to deal with me. "It started out with Douggy's request. We stayed up for awhile tracing his family line; we're still waiting for complete results, which should be done here soon. Then, Charles needed to see me. So, I ran all the way to his place only to find out that he was worried about a new pocket of Platypus operating in this area, so I came all the way back and organized a scout party. Last night, we went to check them out and found out too late our intelligence was outdated. The Meth Ninjas have a new alarm system that we accidentally tripped. Since we were just scouting, we weren't really prepared for combat, but we fought anyway. The squimonk fought valiantly and were in the process of drawing out, when Victoria was hit in the foot with this," he took out a sorta disc with points all over it and threw it on the counter. In the middle was some creature that looked like some fella with a cannon talked to another fella with a cannon and said, "Hey, I've got an idea, how's about I load a beaver into my cannon, and you load a duck into your cannon, and we'll point the cannons at each other and see what happens."

"Good gravy, what is that thing?" I asked, sorta startled.

"It's a throwing star, sort of a classic ninja weapon," he responded.

"Uh huh," I said, pretending I'd already known that, "and what about that thing in the middle, the one that looks like a goose truck and a beaver truck collided?"

"That's a Platypus, symbol of Clan Platypus," he explained. I could tell his patience was wearing thin.

"How 'bout that," I said. "Learn somethin new every day."

"You sure do. Look Pat," he segued, "I'm gonna go see if the Douggy report is in and try to get some sleep, I'm running on fumes here."

"Sounds like a good idea, buddy," I responded.

So he slid off the counter and into the back.

I'd barely had time to digest this when Douggy comes through the door, yellin', "Three!"

"Three?" I ask, on more level footing. I always know Douggy's gonna say somethin weird, so I'm sorta prepared for it. A lot more prepared than hearing about a scoutin mission gone wrong or seein a new kind of creature on a new kinda weapon.

"We've sold three shirts!" he exclaimed proudly.

"Good work, Douggy," I congratulated him. "That's pretty good."

"Yeah," he said, slipping downward a little, "but I'm beginning to think you're right, it's not gonna be enough. Say, has your partner said anything about hiring me yet?"

I picked up the star thingy and started to fiddle with it, "You know, Douggy," I begin, "these things take time and--"

He looks directly at my hand, "What's that you're playin with, Pat?"

"What? This?" I gotta think quick, I think, but then that thought really takes up all my thinkin time. It's a real shame when all your thinkin time's taken up by thinkin about thinkin, I think. But then I realize I'm thinkin about thinkin about thinkin, and then my head hurts and I forget what I'm supposed to be thinkin about in the first place.

He takes advantage of my ontological paralysis, "It's a throwin star!" he says.

"What? This?" I ask, tryin to act innocent, "Nah, this is a hubcap off one of them Smart Cars. You know them tiny little cars what look like someone cut a car in half and slapped an extra set of wheels on the half car. They only need tiny little hubcaps and this is one of them. It's special order for a lady who lost one on her way to Rapid City. She couldn't stop and wait just then because she was on her way to a used battery collectors convention and she had to get there before the auction started because she had her eye on this mint condition '68 9-volt that was starting at a very reasonable price. I offered to sell her a perfectly good 9-volt for $.98, but she told me she had to have that '68 to complete her collection of 9-volts from the '60s. She said she'd pick it up on her way back. It just got delivered and I wanted to see if it was mechanically sound."

"Pat, I know a throwin star when I see one," he says, "Give it here, lemme see."

I can't keep nothin from Douggy; somehow, he always knows when I'm makin stuff up. So, chagrined again, I hand over the star thingy.

He takes one look at it and says, "What are you mixed up in?"

"Whaddya mean?" I'm still tryin to play innocent, even if it seems like it ain't goin so well for me. I'd think of a different strategy, but after before, I'm kinda scared to start, I may get lost in the maze of my mind where some half man, half bull thing will eat me. Maybe I should put string in my ears so that doesn't happen. Then I could spool it out behind be when I was thinkin and I could find my way back, like that guy did with that maze that once.

"I mean," he says coldly, "that this is a throwing star from Clan Platypus, the most evil, most feared clan of meth selling ninjas ever to walk the earth."

"You mean there's more than one?" Consarnit! He had me! I'd just given it all away.

"There used to be more," he said, "but they were all copying Clan Platypus and so they were wiped out."

"How do you know all of this?" I ask.

And he tells me, "I've been keeping a secret from you all these years, Pat. I'm gonna tell you now, but you gotta promise not to tell anyone else."

And because I promised him, y'all have to keep this under your hats, which you should now hang on to. When he told me this, my hat flew off my head, buzzed around the room like a UFO or something, then it landed and tiny men came out, stole a donut, pulled Albert's ear, then reboarded my hat, flew around some more, stuffed string in my ears and finally landed back on my head.

"I'm half ninja," he says.

"What?!" I'm quite surprised. After my hat returns, I ask, flabbergasted, "What does that even mean? How can you be half ninja? Isn't it an occupation?"

"Kinda," he explains, "my mom was a ninja and my dad was Irish. That makes me half ninja. Also, my mom trained me in the ninja arts when I was young, but when it got to the final test, pulling out a man's beating heart and showing it to him before he dies, I just couldn't do it. I mean, I pulled out the heart and showed it to the guy, but then I felt pretty bad for him, so I worked fast and put the heart back, reconnecting everything. Then I sewed his chest up and put him on a regiment of antibiotics, to ward off infection. After six weeks of recovery, he was good as new. It worked out in my favor because he started telling people that I could have killed him, but I didn't, so I got the reputation for being dangerous without having to really kill anyone. However, because I had not technically done what was asked of me, I could not be promoted to the rank of full ninja and would have to remain half ninja forever."

I pondered that for a bit. Not thinkin, mind you, but just ponderin. They're different. Ponderin is just like flyin an airplane over the surface of your mind. Gettin the lay of the land, if you will. Thinkin, on the other hand, is like walkin through your mind hoppin the Minotaur ain't gonna get you. Finally, I decided, "You're pullin my leg, Douggy."

"No he's not," said Alistair, coming from the back room.

"Whoa!" he yelled, "is that a squimonk?"

"Yes I am. I am Alistair of the squimonk, and you are Douggy, half ninja of Clan Coconut Crab," said Alistair and then they both bowed to each other.

All I could ask was, "Clan Coconut Crab? Why don't these clans name themselves after normal things? Why's it always Platypus or Coconut Crab or Banana Slug?"

"Shhh!" Douggy said, "Unless you want every bone in your head broken, don't let anyone hear you speak poorly of Clan Banana Slug. They are a clan of honor and wisdom!"

"Sorry, I didn't know," I murmured, thrice chagrined before finishing my first cup of coffee. "But still, why all the weird animals."

"Long ago," Douggy began, "when ninjas were first around, there was only one clan, Dragon Clan. They chose that because the Dragon is really the best of animals. It can rise high into the air or sink into the earth, it can wind its way on through the clouds on the breath of the wind or torpedo its way through the waters. It is bold when the time for boldness is at hand and it is hidden when the time for hiding has come. It is, at turns visible and invisible. On top of all that, it looks super stylish on a uniform. Dragon Clan was the first, but then a new way was discovered. Soon, Tiger Clan was founded by Takahiro Morimoto, who is like the Martin Luther of ninjas, and there were only two for a while, so they had to fight each other. Eventually the clans proliferated to such an extent that they started to run out of animals to name themselves after. Clan Coconut Crab was formed late in the game, due to dissension within Clan Featherless Chicken. Even if we did have to take a freaky crab that can climb trees, I think we're still a lot better of than Clan Anthropomorphic Representation of a Food Item. I mean, that's not even a real animal."

I couldn't really say much. First, there was just too much information. Second, Douggy had never sounded so smart and informed before. I just ninjology is really his subject.

"Douggy," Alistair said, "As you know, we squimonk are locked in a deadly battle with Clan Platypus, who created us to be their messengers and drug carriers by combining elements of squirrels, monkeys and various other animals. They are attempting to take over the world by using Meth to turn people into mindless zombies who will do the bidding of the Ninjas. We squimonk have vowed to wipe this clan from the face of the earth and are being assisted by Charles Lindbergh, who faked his own death after Clan Platypus kidnapped his young son, and who posed as a reclusive meth buyer in order for the squimonk to run an obstacle course designed to raise us into sentience. You know, now that I say all of that out loud, it sounds kind of silly and convoluted. Were anyone to want to know more, perhaps it would be best to start from the beginning. We don't have time for that now, but if that person were to have a slow day at work, or possibly a free evening at home in which they wanted to laugh so hard their shoes came out their nose, they might be able to catch up on the full story in a week or so. Alternatively, they may want to print out some pages and read them in the bathroom, I wouldn't be hurt by that."

"Me neither," Douggy said.

"I'm fine with that," I chimed in.

"Now that you know the whole story, Douggy Yamamoto-McBride, will you join us in our fight? Will you also drive the tow truck? We're really trying to get this Refurbished Car Emporium going, but we don't have cars to refurbish because we've got no way of gettin 'em here."

Douggy didn't even hesitate, or maybe he did, it's hard to tell with Douggy because everything happens so fast. "I would be honored."

So, that was my morning. After all the hubub, I was able to sit and enjoy my coffee and a maple long john.


garrett said...

If I was to take up ponderin, I might ponder the universal applicability of a sentence like "Time to go watch the genetically modified squirrel monkeys make the donuts."
That formation is a ringer for anyone from any walk of life.

garrett said...

Oh, and I really do own/run a donut shop and a motorcycle restoral business. I'm not saying you'd ever find a donut gap in your knowledge base, mind, but I am saying that any anonymous plea for procedural data to notsoglibgarrett at hotmail will be duly answered and forgotten. Might want to put something I'd recognize in the subject line.

YogaforCynics said...

I really don't see why being Irish should prevent somebody from being a full ninja....

By the way, William Shatner's version of Rocket Man (which I think can be seen on youtube) will easily clear the mind of any lame replacing it with the lamest imaginable....

Anonymous said...

I have suspicious feelings about Douggy now. Why does he know so much? How did he know that wasn't a monkey sitting on the tree? And how did that couch get thrown the bed of the truck without a good tossing hook from Douggy's truck? Coinkeedence? I don't think so.

/The plot thickens....


Brunhilda said...

I for one am glad the squimonk can't make coffe. Everyone needs a flaw . . . is it a fatal flaw?

Pat O'Neil said...

I dunno, not being able to make a cup of coffee could turn out fatal, depending on how sharp you needed to be in the morning. I'm not gonna throw anything out about Douggy or the flaming couch just yet, but it's in the pipe. Anyway, I wanted to swing by the comments and say thank you to you all for stickin by after the tide receded. You're like the Pat O'Neil seaweed, in a good way. A very good way. Not like a red tide kinda way.

Leprechaun Sniffer, Esquire. said...

Half-Irish, half-ninja? Why, if I didn't know any better, I'd-a thunk that you'd be there now chewing the fat with them there Chris Hastings feller and his comic-made creation.

poodlepaw said...

I dated a half-ninja once. He was also half-Irish, so I think that may be common. He was an odd one, though. Very sneaky. It was an overall weird experience. I prefer pirates now. They're much more entertaining and carry around enough booze to last a month or longer.

Anonymous said...

i am here forever pat. ure skills r second to none.

Anonymous said...

//Blogger Pat O'Neil said...

I dunno, not being able to make a cup of coffee could turn out fatal, depending on how sharp you needed to be in the morning. I'm not gonna throw anything out about Douggy or the flaming couch just yet, but it's in the pipe. Anyway, I wanted to swing by the comments and say thank you to you all for stickin by after the tide receded. You're like the Pat O'Neil seaweed, in a good way. A very good way. Not like a red tide kinda way.

December 8, 2008 8:43 AM//

Barnacles is the word you're looking for. Barnacles it is.


Joe Fool said...

I rather enjoyed your thorough description of a Dragon. I found it to be very true, not to mention entertaining... except that I just did mention entertaining. Oh well.

One of the few blogs with long posts that I will read all the way through, I must give you props for that.

Kerrik Wolf said...

I normally avoid blogs but this one is definitely worth searching out.

It does make one wonder just how many other clans of meth ninja exist. Perhaps they can be made to battle each other to thin the ranks.

aL said...

Just finished getting caught up with the story. Hilarious! I think the earliest posts are my favorite.

Eugenia Tibbs said...

I think you are going places, Pat. It might not be far, but you'll get there. I'm from Iowa so forgive me for this...If you write it, they will come.
I never realized how interesting blogging could be, I'm kinda addicted now.

Bethany said...

It needs pictures.

Pat O'Neil said...

I've heard that. I'm no artist or anything, though, and I can't imagine what I would have pictures of. Any suggestions?

Joe Fool said...

Hmm... Well I think leaving squimonks up to the imagination is a good thing. Any attempt to depict them might cause a riot among loyal fans who had different impressions.

I personally think it's fine leaving it all up to the imagination, otherwise why bother writing at all, why not make a movie?

Anonymous said...

I think you should have a series of drawings of squimonks done by an artistically talented but blind person. They should, of course, vary dramatically.