Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Maniac McClawenstein and His Foul, Fiendish Flatulance

"And so," the slug continued, "McClawenstein discovered he had the ability to kill with his gas."

"That's unbelievable!" I burst out. "Not only is it unbelievable that he's got deadly gas, but that it's taken you so long to give a conclusion to that story. Seriously, it feels like it's been a week since you've said anything."

"And yet," countered the giant bag of slime, "I've just now finished speaking."

"Time's mighty funny that way," I pondered, "sometimes it seems like an afternoon can just go one forever. But then, when you're a kid, it seems like summer's crazy short. And then, when you grow up, it seems like your childhood was just an eye blink."

"You know, for us slugs, that's reality," he explained, "the eye blink thing. Our childhood is literally an eye blink. We are born with our eyes open and then, as we mature, we produce eyelids, which extend slowly down over our eyeballs. As we reach puberty, we can barely see out of our own eye anymore. A slug is not considered a full adult until we are able to gain the muscle power to open our eyelids again. If we are unable to do it, as my brother Roger was, we must wander the rest of our lives in darkness. Usually, again like Roger, one in this state ends up being eaten. Most times, they're eaten by a lizard. If they're like Roger, they'll blindly wander onto a lettuce leaf, be boxed up and shipped off to a restaurant somewhere and they'll be devoured by an old lady whose eyesight is worse that the slugs. And the worst part? The old lady will say it's the most delicious salad she's ever had."

"Ya know," I interrupted, "that's kinda funny."

He got pretty offended. "Are you mocking my brother's death?!"

I back peddled. "No, no, that ain't what I'm sayin. It ain't that kind of funny. It's funny in a 'boy, that's a pretty strange thing that he says and it compares to somethin similar to it in my head' kinda funny." He just glared at me, so I dove in head first. "There was this one time that we was all out for my grandma Lorraine's 87th birthday. What you gotta understand first of all is that ol' granny Lanny, as we called, her, was deaf as a post and blind as one, too. She had these big ol' hearing aids that she got in the 1920's. She was so proud of those hearing aids. They were the first of their kind, you know. None of us really thought she should be that proud of 'em. I swear, to this day, them was the only steam powered hearing aids I ever seen. She had to drag a wagon with her everywhere she went that had a big ol' coal furnace on it to heat the steam that turned a drum as big as a man and that somehow led through a series of pipes and tubes and gauges and whatnot into a diving helmet that she had to wear that somehow made her hear better. The worst part is that the whole contraption had to be manned by a crew of three; one guy to drag the wagon, one guy to shovel the coal and one guy to monitor all the gauges, so there'd always be three big guys following Lanny around. It wasn't the same three guys, mind you, because they'd work in shifts, but there were always three burly guys around. One time, I asked Lanny how she could afford to pay for all this and she told me this crazy story that she had an insurance policy that grandad's company bought them when he was working that covered all their medical expenses for life, and they didn't have to pay nothin at all. I know, I know, it's crazy, but I think granny went a little loopy there towards the end.

"Anyway, we went out for Lanny's 87th. We wanted to take her somewhere fancy, so we booked the most expensive restaurant in town. Lanny was very impressed by the Sizzler, but the staff of the Sizzler wasn't too happy with her. They asked her to leave her boiler and crew outside because they felt it would disturb the other guests. We had no choice, really, so we led my poor, deaf, blind grandma to her spot and ordered for her. When the salad came, we all saw there was a slug on her lettuce. Mom tried to wrestle the fork away from granny, but she'd been doin strength trainin with her boiler crew and wasn't nobody in that place that could stop my grandma from eatin her birthday salad. Well, right after that, dinner was pretty much over. We all got our food in doggy bags and skedaddled out of there."

The slug just stared at me for a time. Then he blinked slowly and drooped his eye stalks. "Are you telling me your grandmother ate my brother?"

"Well," I hemmed and hawed a bit, "I ain't sayin yes, and I ain't sayin no, but it seems a mighty funny coincidence. Especially seeins as how granny Lanny said the salad was the best she'd ever had, and she was at the Brown Derby when the Cobb salad was invented."

He stammered, "That's...did...I...I see. The past is past, though. We must all recognize that we are interconnected in ways we can't imagine. I only hope that Roger has had his eyes opened in the next world."

I was pleasantly surprised. For a second there, I thought he was gonna eat me in some weird family revenge scheme. It'd be just like the Capulets and the Montisquieus, but none of the Capulets ate the Montisquieus and I really doubt I'd fall in love with one of their members. I needed to diffuse this situation fast, it was really spiraling out of control.

"I'm sorry," I said, "I interrupted your story. Would you please continue?"

He looked shocked, which is hard to do when you ain't got no eyebrows, you're sitting on your mouth and your eyes are up on stalks. But then he continued, "Why we remained with McClawenstein after his cold blooded, warm air murder of the bearded lady is something I've questioned myself about ever since. Perhaps we were scared. Perhaps we knew not where we would find another source of algae. Perhaps, in our hearts, we're all weak and small. Regardless, we did not leave when we should have, and we paid a terrible price for it.

"McClawenstein remained as a sideshow in the circus for the time being. He did not know what to do with his new found power, so he bided his time and experimented. He began toying with different combinations of food; pork and beans, bacon and peanut butter, coffee and cabbage; to see what effects each would give his gas. He couldn't experiment on himself, and it was discovered that we slugs were made immune possibly from the radiation or possibly from another cause. So, to conduct his experiments, he built a collapsible cage in his tent and he began to kidnap people.

"It was a horrendous time to witness. Sometimes, his subject would only be put to sleep, some would die quick deaths and others, after he got a taste for the killing, would die horrible, slow deaths. The more he killed, the more sadistic he became. In a year's time, he was experimenting with different combinations of hot sauce and pickled vegetables in order to melt people where they stood. When the management got wind of his doings, they tried to fire him, but he was ready for them.

"He brought the managers into his tent, where they explained that the missing people were beginning to give the carnival a bad name. They patiently explained that, while they did not know what he was doing with the people, they knew he was responsible and that they would be letting him go. What they didn't know is that he had eaten a mixture of beans, broccoli, cabbage and eggs curried in a beer sauce, and had just released his sneak attack, the SBV, aka, the Silent But Violent. In some circles, it is known as the Silent But Deadly, but that doesn't rhyme, so those people are wrong to call it that. In still other circles, where ability to alliterate is held dear, it is the Triple B, or the Butt Bomb Bandit. Whatever you call it, the effects it had on management were too terrible to speak of.

"When they lay in a pool on the floor, all of the slugs were aghast. Our world began to tremble and we thought everything was collapsing. Alas, we were wrong. It was the laughter of a maniac that shook us. McClawenstein laughed and laughed and laughed. When he stopped laughing, he called out from his tent, 'I am King of the Carnival now! You will all obey me! Anyone who wants out, come in here and say it to my face!' After the first two laborers died, the others were cowed and McClawenstein was, indeed, King of the Circus.

"Then he met the ninjas."

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