Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Infected (but in that good Matt Johnson way)

My sometimes muse and oft times foil, Flannery Alden, passed something on to me a while back. It must have had a dormancy period, but has finally erupted into blisters leaving my skin all Splotchy!

I wasn't just going to contribute, I was going to end this sucker! I was going to take all the threads and weave them together into a cohesive tapestry. But there were far more than I thought.

I couldn't tie in all the threads, but I came close. My contributions are in green. The result is the longest post you will ever see on this site (and possibly any other.) No, seriously - IT IS REALLY LONG! I have no patience left, so there are some editing issues that may be glaring and almost all of the links for the contributors are dead. But the contributors are all listed neatly over at Splotchy's site. How do you get there from here?

For being incurable (and posting more arcade sound quizzes) I now have another restored link to...I,, um...I,,uh...I,Splotchy!

And now for the semi-complete story:

"I Woke Up Hungry"

I woke up hungry. I pulled my bedroom curtain to the side and looked out on a hazy morning. I dragged myself into the kitchen, in search of something to eat. I reached for a jar of applesauce sitting next to the sink, and found it very cold to the touch. I opened the jar and realized it was frozen. (Splotchy)

My first idea was to put the applesauce in the microwave. Hey, I was still tired. Could I scoop some out and put whipped cream on it? No, too solid. Why was it so damn cold in here? I walked over to the thermostat and saw that the heat hadn't clicked on all night and the temperature had dropped substantially overnight. Now, tired and hungry, I opened the access panel on the heater. There's the problem: why was someone cooking a duck in here? (SamuraiFrog)

I bent down and scooped up the uncooked duck carcass. There wa
s no way I was going to let it go to waste, especially considering I had applesauce on hand. I placed it in a roasting pot and went back to reset the heater. As I continued to wake up, I realized that my roommate had spent the night at his girlfriend's place and couldn't have put the duck there. "How the hell did it get there?" I wondered. Just then, an already odd situation became even stranger. The lifeless duck animated, flapped its featherless wings, and began to speak. (Some Guy)

"So," he quacked, "What's with the Spiderman p.j.'s? What are you, 12? God, this place is a dump."

The duck looked around, apprising the place like he was being filmed for Flip this House.

"See," he indicated the ceiling with his scorched wing, "There’re water spots on the ceiling! You've got a leak...and your vinyl flooring is warped...and your furnace is shot." The duck shook his head and folded his wings in front of his chest. "We've got a lot of work to do in six weeks."

I rubbed my eyes and blinked, "What?"

"Get yourself some coffee, throw that damn applesauce out and grab your keys...we're going to Lowes." (Flannery Alden)

Lord knows why I let the duck drive but needless to say we got lost. "Don't you have some sort of internal compass?" I asked. "Yes, but that is only going to help us if the Lowe’s is due south."

When we arrived there was a Loew’s right next to the Lowe’s. We unanimously decided to catch a movie. We were late for the only thing playing at that hour and walked in to the heroine’s voice over:

I was used to the house being quite cold in the mornings, as the night log usually burns out around one AM when I am dreaming cozily under my covers, not normally waking to put a new one on until morning. I was surprised because on the rare occasions that it actually had reached sub-freezing temperatures in the house, I had awakened in the night to restart the fire. I would have been worried about the pipes before P-Day, but there hadn’t been running water in two years and that was one of the few advantages to being dependent on rainwater, no pipes. (Freida Bee)

I rummaged around in the kitchen and found one of the few things that hadn't frozen overnight to eat- an expired granola bar. [This may just be as a single guy, but do granola bars ever go bad?] "Better than nothing", I muttered to myself as I tore off the wrapper and took a bite, trying to not chip a tooth in the process. I thought I should go out to the shed and bring in more wood. The mind-numbing cold snap that had set in over the last few days seemed to be in no hurry to leave. Pulling on my heavy coat and wool hat, I considered for a moment what lay ahead for the day. Normally I would spend much of the day making any needed repairs to the house, cleaning, reading various newsletters, cooking, and just trying to keep busy in general. With no job to fill my time anymore I have found my new found "freedom" to be both a blessing and a curse. Ever since P-day, the only job most of us have is to sit in our homes and find something, anything, to pass the time. Well, that- and to stay alive. (Whiskeymarie)
I reached the woodshed I’d built from the remains of our fence, and heard a rustling. Fearing one of the wild dogs that now roamed the neighborhood, I crept back to the house for the gun my husband left with me before he volunteered to join the fighting. My hand was shaking so badly, I didn’t think I could pull a trigger, so I also grabbed an old broomstick to use as a club. My son tried to follow me, and I ordered him back inside; he obeyed, frightened by the harshness of my tone. He seemed not to sense how terrified I was and I was glad. Inching toward the shed, glancing backward every few steps to be sure the children were staying inside, I heard the rustle again, accompanied by a very human cough.“Who is it?” I shouted, in as angry and menacing a voice as I could muster. No response. “Damn it, I know you’re in there! I have a gun! Come out with your hands up, or I’ll just start shooting!”“Don’t shoot!” said the voice, and...(CDP)

I woke up hungry. The room was white, small and seemed to not have any doors. That is when I realized I was naked. I had a thin sheet of plastic over me and some machine making beeping noises to my left. I started to rise up that is when I noticed the cuffs holding me to the bed. I started to scream. A large booming voice came over a loud speaker, "Calm down, calm down Mrs. Peabody."I bellowed out, "Who are you?! Why am I chained down?! Where are my children?! "The voice replied, " There has been an accident, everything will be fine. There will be someone to assist and answer your questions shortly."Then there was silence. I yelled some more but nothing. No response. Then suddenly, a creaking sound. To the right there was a door opening, it was......(Wyldth1ng)

A cat. A small black cat padded gently in and hopped on the bed. It paused to look at me and let out a sorrowful moan. As it crept toward my face I looked into its strangely unsettling eyes."Down, Scheiser," a man's voice spoke. A sullen, shambling figure entered the room. His right hand was bandaged, part of it soaked through with blood."Hello, Mrs. Peabody." He pulled up a chair. "Sit, Scheiser."The cat curled up on the man's feet. The man stared past me, resigned, distracted."Where is my family?!!" I moved my leg to kick at the man, only inches from me, but restraints dug into my ankles. Without turning to address me, the man spoke, in words that seemed memorized and repeated a hundred times befor
e -- "Your family is safe. As safe as any of us can be. I would let you go see them right now if I could, Mrs. Peabody. But you and I are linked.""I don't know what you're talking about!""Applesauce. Cold. What do you really know about what your people call, P-Day, Mrs. Peabody? It is starting again."(Splotchy)


Mrs. Peabody threw back her head, her CASCADING LOCKS (for you, Pistols) shaking with mirth, and let out a hearty belly-laugh. That's right. A bowl-full-of-jelly belly laugh.

"P-Day!" she cried, with glee, "of course, refers to Christmas!" (more bowl-full-of-jelly belly laughing) "Presents Day anyone? It's so simple!" And then she stopped, mid-belly laugh, as the man's eyes started to twinkle. His white moustache began to grow into a full beard, and his cheeks popped into cherry-like buds, and his belly expanded and began to shake.

Mrs. Peabody's eyes grew to saucer-size, and her jaw dropped to the floor, as Santa C
laus stood before her, laughing and ho-ho-ho-ing.

He then asked if, next year, could she please bake the regular Christmas cookies, and not try to make them "low-fat" by substituting applesauce for the butter. APPLESAUCE for God's sake! They were so hard to eat with his bandaged hand - that spiteful Dasher had gotten a bit snippy at the last house, and boy is he going to be on shovel-duty for the next 100 houses.

Santa, then removed the cigarette from the orangutan's mouth. That orangutan was a gift for Mrs. Peabody's youngest daughter, and the cigarette was a dangerous fire hazard.

And then he reached into his sack, which had been carefully hidden by the black
kitty cat, and pulled out a brand new pair of Christian Louboutin shooties for Mrs. Peabody.

She had been a very good girl that year.

The End.

The duck shot me a look of death.


“You bring me to a movie about post-apocalyptic shoe shopping?”

“You’re right. We need to buy some tools to restore our testosterone levels.” A reciprocating
saw, a belt sander and a caulk gun later we were back at home in the kitchen.

"That's strange," I said out loud to no one in particular. My fingers slowly reached towards the jar again. My body experienced a wave of apprehension as weighted blanket covering me as I did so. The jar was completely frozen. I picked it up and stared at it, my fingers stung with little knives of chill. "What the..." again I spoke aloud. Then I realized what had happened with a shock. Suddenly the jar flew from my hand. It shattered creating a collage-like mixture of frozen applesauce and glass shards on my kitchen floor, the lid lazily rolling to a stop across the room.(FranIam)

My roommate walked in with his girlfriend.

She flicked the lid with her massive big toe. "So, I guess I'll be having another Camel for breakfast and you'll be having a breakfast date with the Electrolux." She lit her Camel cigarette as she turned to open the closet door where we kept the vacuum. "In case you're wondering how the applesauce got frozen, I seem to recall you insisting that I stick it in the freezer before we went to bed last night." She pushed the Electrolux at me and it squooshed through the rapidly unfreezing applesauce and the glass shards. "This kind of crap happens all the time when we go drinking with the Brazilians." (Dr. Monkey)

Suddenly, the front door erupted in an explosion of wood splinters. “Jesus in a bucket! They’ve found me!” I thought as I dove out the kitchen window. My experiments with frozen applesauce, Camel cigarettes and Electrolux vacuum cleaners were supposed to be a secret, but, apparently, they weren’t as secret as I had thought. What would happen if the formula fell into the wrong hands? All my work, for naught! Who had leaked the information? Was it her? Or possibly one of the Brazilians? “Now the damned Department of Homeland Security will ruin everything I’ve worked so hard to achieve!” was the last thing that went through my mind before I was surrounded. (Enriched Geranium)

Totally surrounded, I might add, by secret service agents. A childish gray-haired man stepped between them. He walked as if he were hiding an eight ball in his trousers. Stepping ne
arer I saw an actual eight ball, (pool table, not drugs) fall out his pant leg. Bruised, a little bloody and a lot confused, I still thought "some guys just can't deal with their shortcomings".

"Where's Pickles?" short and arrogant demanded of me.

"Pickles?" First Brazilians, now pickles, Camel cigarettes and an electrolux? Sweet jesus on a popsicle stick help me make sense of this.

"I know yer shaggin' Laura. She said you're into the brazillians . I'd have ta be preznit for another eight years before I had brazillians and brazillians of dollars". He looked sad. "I bet she tried her erotic applesauce trick on you." Eeugh. She did try the erotic applesauce trick on me. But I didn't know I was whispering sweet nothings into the ear of the First Lady. In the snowdrift outside the kitchen window he saw the Camel butts. "Camels! Ha! I knew she switched from Pall Malls for a reason. It's you. Buddy, I have half a mind to punish you in ways you will never forget. (Jess Wundrun)

“Buddy, you have half a mind,” I responded dead-pan, surreptitiously checking my back pocket for my trusty old .45. It was still there. Warm, silent and deadly. Oh yeah, and unloaded. It’s rather dangerous to sleep with a loaded .45 in your back pocket, after all.

“Don’t even think about it,” one of the short guy’s henchmen barked. And I do mean, literally, “barked”. One of those kind of henchmen. “Toss it over here, you commie scum.”

I tossed at his feet, then did my best drop-and-roll, coming up with the short guy’s eight ball in my right hand. Pausing for a quick calculation of vastly improbable trajectories and velocities, I hurled the ball as hard as I could towards the edge of the countertop, from where it rebounded directly off barking-boy’s forehead and made a quick tour of the other agents, knocking them all out cold before coming to a rest at my feet. I stooped to retrieve it, then held it out to the short guy. “I believe this is yours, little man,” I said coolly.

“Whut? Naw, that ain’t mine. Why on earth would Ah put an eight ball in mah shorts?” He was obviously dazed—perhaps even bespelled—by my magical display of ball-tossing. What a poor, simple-minded little man. Completely helpless without his strings being pulled. Sighing, I made a decision. Perhaps it was being in the presence of the supposed Decider himself. Who knows. Anyway, I did it, and the doing of it was something that promised to change both our lives. “Well, let’s get going, sir. There’s someone I want you to meet.”

“Whut? It’s only 9:00! Ah don’t get mah spankin’ from Condee until elebbin!”

“No, not her. Someone else. Someone you don’t realize has secretly had a crush on you for years.”(Commander Other)

I know he meant my roommate’s girlfriend and he wasn’t buying my sub-par
Commander-in-Chief impersonation for a nano-second. I silently motioned for Pickles the duck to escape while he could. No one was paying attention to him in the ensuing chaos.

As I was handcuffed like some common criminal and put into the backseat of the Fed car, I looked back to my flat to see if she was okay, but I didn't see her. The only thing I saw was all my years of work that now lay in the hand of some wimpy, nerdy scientist that could barely lift the Electrolux into his van. Then she appeared. My heart lifted. But wait... is sh
e laughing? Why isn't she wearing handcuffs too, I wondered. My mind raced, was I double crossed? And what kind of Fed car has a Portuguese owner's manual peeking out from underneath the driver's seat?! Then the car sped off. (Kristi)

I was brutally beaten until they got the Electrolux secret out of me. Every man has his breaking point, mine was thirteen weeks of having to watch “A Very Brady Christmas” on a continual loop.

Eighteen months later I was back living on the lam in a series of shacks, waking up each morning to a jar of frozen apple sauce.

I stood for a moment considering what all this meant. Oh, I knew what it meant, I didn’t need to waste time thinking about it. He was back. And he was mad.

I ran down the hallway and flung open the door at the end. I was immediately hit with a blast of cold. I took a step back as I tried to catch my breath. I bent over, hands on
my knees panting. He always had this remarkable effect on me. After so much time, it no longer scared me, but it was a shock nonetheless……

“You know,” I panted, “There’s no need to break things to get my attention.” (DCup)

I woke up in the same position as in my dream, on my knees. I was sweating even though room was freezing. (mathman 6293)

The nightmares began during the following spring. The apple trees came to life in my dreams. At first the trees spoke and I thought they were amusing. That changed when the messages arrived. Lately, their anger was directed at me. (mathman 6293)

I have been wracking my brain to figure out why they were so angry with me, of all people. The only thing that it could possibly be is that I ate too many apples. Too many apples, can you imagine? I thought that was the whole idea. I mean, they kept coming to me saying, "Here, eat another apple, eat another apple." That night is when the dreams turned to nightmares. Usually I am not one to remember my nightmares, just waking to a vague terror of some sort, but these stuck with me. The applesauce thing is what really terrifies me. (jen)

Shivering, I moved through the cloud of my nearly-crystallizing breath over to the frost-encrusted window. Unable to see outside, I feebly attempted to brush the flakes away with my sleeve. I sighed, the warm exhalation upon the upper panes only further decreasing visibility. I thoughtlessly tried my fingernails, having forgotten that I continuously bite them when nervous. I've recently been nervous a lot. I didn't know why, and failed to give it a second thought. Shuffling across the well-worn wooden planks, strangely as cold as the jar, I opened a drawer to grab a spoon and begin the task at hand, chipping away at the frost. After some moments, I stopped to peek outside, managing to see only white. The window was again frozen.

There's no way it can be that cold, I thought to myself. I began to chip once more, with the same result. Frustrated, I sprinted the ten feet back to the drawer, taking a larger soup spoon and returned to my assault on the ice. Harder and harder I pushed the spoon into the wintry glaze, intermittently stopping to wipe the chill sweat from my brow, pushing harder, my arms flailing upwards, now coming down as if wielding an axe, ignoring the stinging salt of perspiration in my eyes, the ice growing along with my anger, overcome by a violence, a ber
serker rage, up and down I swung that makeshift blade into the white, into the red, grunting, screaming, my hands sliced open as the spoon blasted through the broken glass.

I didn't see anything but the dew-haunted lawn before I slumped down, fainting on the cold wooden floor. (Randal Graves)

I awoke to the touch of my cat, Scheiser
whom I had named after the cat in the movie I had seen with Pickles, as he gently licked my cold cheek. His rough tongue against my cold, sensitive skin jolted me like electricity, popping my eyes wide open.

"Hey fella," I mumbled, propping myself up on one elbow. Scheiser purred in my ear, and I scratched his forehead with numb fingers.

I noticed the window was still encrusted with ice... if anything, it had thickened while I was out. I got myself onto all fours, then pulled myself up on the old couch. This was nuts. The lawn outside had been dew-laden, yet things were frozen in here.

Scheiser was at the kitchen door, meowing to be let out. Why not, I thought. Better to have him do his wretched business outside than in. Feeling sluggish, I shuffled to the door, unlocked it and opened it. Cool morning air filled my nostrils as I looked out on the front "yard"... not a speck of ice anywhere to be seen in the dirt and weeds. It actually seemed kind of b
almy. I followed Scheiser outside into the day. (Snave)

"Have you so easily forgotten all that I taught you?” he said, his voice reflecting the icy surface of the pond outside. "It's a cathartic gesture. Just like in the cinema."

The lecture hall. Of course! In his mind he was back in the lecture hall, where he once held court over a minor kingdom of undergraduates. His own films had been always been greeted with polite indifference, so many of the reactions determined by the specter of the semester's final grade. Bundled between works by Bergman and Tarkovsky, the comparison served only to emphasize their resemblance to promotional shorts for the Scandinavian travel industry. This was a deliberate choice he would argue, unleashing a flurry of footnotes culled from the cold storage of academia. His demons were best reserved for the whiskey bar.

Looking back on it, perhaps the accident could have offered him an opportunity for liberation. Sight, he always said, was highly overrated. (Morse)

When I woke it hit me like a ton of bricks and in a wave I remembered just what happened last night. I couldn't believe I hadn't remembered sooner, sure I was exhausted when I finally fell asleep but it's not every day you are attacked in your home so it should have come to me sooner. I jumped to my feet...perhaps a bit too fast, my head was spinning...was my hand still bleeding? I rushed to the basement door. Still locked. Thank God...or at least whatever deity might be listening. I slumped to the floor again hoping the sudden pounding in my head might go away. It probably wouldn't as long as I let my hand bleed like this, how long had I been passed out anyway? I tore a piece of my robe and wrapped my hand hoping it would be enough to stop the bleeding, the cut looked deep, I needed stitches I was sure but I wasn't about to leave my house with that thing in the basement. (Becca)

Between my bandaged hand, my cinema professor, and the cat with the theatrically inspired name, my life was starting to parallel that stupid shoe-shopping movie I had seen what was now years ago.

I woke up hungry. I rolled out of bed smacking my alarm clock that was singing Carly Simon and thinking to myself I have to stop eating pizza right before bed and then sleeping till noon. I must remember to change that station to something that will actually wake me.

Stubbing my toe on my boots on my way to the kitchen, I glanced sideways down the hall and caught the dead body out of the corner of my eye. (Wyldth1ng)

I rubbed my eyes, not wanting to believe them, looked again, and then sprang headlong into the living room. Oh God, no! I dropped to my knees, hot tears erupting and blurring my vision. NO!!! In the name of all that is good and right, why him? Why HIM?!
It was Jerry. My pet cockroach. Somehow, he'd gotten loose from the little flat I
'd made for him and was...what? Seeking adventure? Overtaken by wanderlust? I glanced over at his little apartment. His tiny divan with the embroidered "J" sitting empty, his six little booties all lined up under his chiffarobe. Oh, his feet must be cold. I touched them, ever so gently. What's this? Do I detect a hint of warmth? My heart leapt, I dropped lower, pressing my mouth to his and breathing two little puffs of air. Pulling back, I gently pushed 1, 2, 3.....30 times on his minute chest. More air, more pushing. To no avail. It was too late. Too late for my little Jerry. I sat back, exhausted, still weeping, licked my lips and tasted....tasted....applesauce? (The Village Carpenter)

I immediately knew poor little Jerry was the victim of foul play - he's allergic to applesauce. I was going to find the bastard that lured Jerry in with its creamy sweetness knowing that he would gorge himself, as it was his only weakness.

I scooped up ol' Jerry in my hands, gave him one last little k
iss good bye and then flushed him down the toilet. "Good by ol' buddy...I will miss you. You were one in a million." I walked across the room to get my bright orange Crocs (yeah, they are ugly, but boy are they comfortable). As I padded across the floor my foot stepped on something sharp. Glass! "Where did this come from?" I wondered as I picked up a shard and examined it closely. I could see the label from the shattered jar that was splintered out in hundreds of pieces across my new purple and red Mowhawk Berger carpet. "It wasn't even organic applesauce!" I cried. The anger gripped me like a vice. (Shazza)

I half noticed at first glimpse that there was something odd amidst the solidified apple sauce as I reached for the broom and the dust pan. As I knelt down to clean up the frozen mess, I could clearly see a tiny figure within the goopy mess. It was a human eye, with tiny arms and legs! I resisted my initial urge to pick it up with my hand, and then reached down to scoop it up with the dustpan. The eye looked up at me in horror and gave out a frightening high pitched screech as it ran for the living room.

I was dumbfounded by this turn of events. I didn't even like applesauce - And I had guests coming for dinner! It would not be proper to have a homunculus eyeball running around during the appetizer - I had to think fast. I crept into the living room so as to not startle the small creature. The eyeball was under the coffee table, peeking out from behind one of table legs. When I approached, it quickly darted under the couch!

I got on my hands and knees to look under the couch, but I could not see the eye through all of the old newspapers and dust bunnies that had accumulated under there. I had to hurry! The guests were coming at seven o'clock, and I had not even started the buffalo chicken skewers with blue cheese dipping sauce yet! Not to mention the couscous and the broccoli noodle salad. (Zaius Nation)

Then it suddenly dawned on me, "this is why I have dogs ... to protect me from unwanted creatures roaming around my house." And where were those lazy bums anyway?

Not wanting to further startle the little eye I softly called to them. "Bart, Bella ... come here, I've got something to show you!"

The clicking of their nails against the hardwood floor signaled they were on their way. They love a challenge, and particularly like it when I'm on the floor with them.

Not saying a word, I pointed under the couch and waited for their response. Bart, being ADD, spotted the eye immediately, and was sure it was one of his toys that he's so fond of playing with. He tried to scoot under the couch to retrieve it, but to no avail. He couldn'
t reach it with his paw since dachshunds have such sort legs. Poor little guy, two inches just wasn't enough. This was a job for Super Bella!

You see, Bella is a miniature schnauzer ... with long beautiful legs. It took only one swipe and Bella had the eye out from under the couch and rolling across the living room floor. That's all Bart needed ... he was off to the races! The eye, sensing impending doom quickly reacted. (Yikes!)

The eye took off at a full sprint across the floor of my living room, but he was no match for Bella and Bart. Bart quickly caught him and threw him up into the air like he does with all of his toys. After I allowed Bart to toss him around a bit, I knew I needed to stop him from hurting the eye too badly, as I needed to talk to it. I called Bart over and although I was still scared to touch the eye, I know that I was running out of time before the guests got there. The whole idea of making dinner had started to go out the window, but I was still hopeful that at least I would be able to get the answers I needed before the others got to my house. I needed to know what had happened to my dear, sweet Charlotte that fateful day five years ago and I knew that the eye was the key to this mystery.

The eye said that Hrothgar had her and that I would need to enter the eighth dimension if I wanted to see her. (Boxer Rebellion)

Eighth dimension my ass! After she sold me out to the Feds?
Bart and Bella had now darted off after Scheiser, leaving me alone with the eye. That is when he said something that really startled me, “I know where Pickles is.”

“Where?” I demanded.

“Behind you,” the eye explained casually as he vanished. No doubt back into the eighth dimension to plot with Charlotte, my old roommate’s girlfriend that I had been secretly in love with, and Hrothgar, my college film professor who was both my mentor and my nemesis.

I had a choice to make: do I go along with this impossibly reincarnated duck drama that's unfolding before me, or do I phone Dr. Leary and get my prescription changed? Feeling more comfortable believing the Chemical Dementia theory, I pressed Dr. L's speed dial button. That's when I noticed that the duck was wearing my watch. And he had a knife. And he was telling me to lie on the floor. (Cooper Green)

The duck stared me down from across the room, if it is possible to stare without eyes, and repeated its instruction, gesturing with a long, thin knife which I must have also left on the counter. This line of this might have sounded more menacing coming from an undead bird with a carving knife, but its voice was delightfully light and British-sounding. This was a fact that wasn't helping me establish the boundaries of reality, but I knew that my hero wouldn't wait to find out. My hero wouldn't call his psychiatrist and inquire about hallucinogenic side effects with an enemy in the home. Oh hell no. That's not what Patrick Swayze would do!! "Listen buddy," I said in my most patronizing voice, my hand groping on the nearby counter for something to pick up, "assuming this is real and not some delightful side effect of mixing my favorite blue pills with my favorite alcoholic liquid, then in the real world, I'm the lazy sort of guy who leaves out -" I found the applesauce jar and waved it at the duck, "applesauce overnight. And, well you know what that makes me? One lazy bastard. It makes me the sort of guy who never ever sharpens his knives either. So the knife you're holding? It couldn't cut warm butter if it held still. And I won't hold still. So tell me, you wanking, british zombie duck, do you really think your kung fu is stronger than mine?" I held up the apple sauce, preparing to throw, and the duck quacked out a blood-curdling, curse-laden scream, before running straight for me, kamikaze style. (Yoshick)

“Pickles! Pickles! Snap out of it!”

"Zal-pinga, zal-pinga, zow-zow-zow! I am the ghost of unrequited meals and you will be haunted by three more meals, tonight!"

I folded my arms, my face and body language conveyed equal parts doubt and skepticism.

"What?" asked the duck.

"Shouldn't you be an ex-business partner or friend of mine that has passed away?"


"Marley, you know, you should be like Marley."

"What are you going on about? I am not a reggae duck."

"No, if this is anything like the story, you shouldn't be a duck, you should be someone just like Jacob Marley...I don't know, maybe, uh, Dwight Holstein."

"He's too busy haunting Louise Barret, because she stood him up on prom night. At any rate, tonight, you will be visited by three meals."

"But why do meals walk the earth and why do they come to me?"

"Will you shut up already? I am freezing walking around here, with nary a stitch of clothing or plumage-"

"And why should you be cold, you are dead already?"

"And why do you think we ghosts are moaning all the time? It's bad enough being dead, are getting my sidetracked! Tonight, you will be visited by three meals!" (Write Procrastinator)

"Three meals? Visited by three meals? Is that what you are saying?"

The duck glared at me while wrapping my best kitchen towel around his plucked body for warmth. "You don't listen so good, do you? Watch my beak and I'll say it slowly. T-h-r-e-e meals. The belches and gas of meals past, the taste of meals present and the dreams of meals future. Got it?"

I tried to focus, wondering if this was indeed a plucked duck wrapped in my Williams-Sonoma cotton dishtowel, now puffing on one of my hidden cigarettes, telling me of the ghosts of three meals that would come to visit, or, if that blotter acid I took back in '89 really did cause flashbacks.

"When your kitchen timer clicks off 60 minutes, the first ghost will appear." he continued. "I'd suggest you lock your doors, you really don't want guests tonight...the first one may be...unpleasant."

While he spoke, I realized I kept referring to him as a him, and from the drape of the dishtowel, the struggle to keep it under the wings, over that plump, juicy breast meat...he was a she... and I hadn't eaten... yet. (Quin)

Did I dare slaughter and cook a duck with whom I had just been conversing? I had misgivings.

Not about the eating a friend part — I hadn't been all that traumatized by The Carp in the Bathtub and had eaten gefilte fish with impunity well into my adulthood, when I realized that I preferred shrimp toast (although I did learn from the gefilte fish experience that shrimp toast, dipped in a little khrayn, is pretty damned delicious).

No, it was the slaughtering part that was worrying me. Again, not from a morality standpoint, but from a practical one. I know how to purchase duck at a supermarket and cook it, but how do I start one from scratch, as it were?

I started the way I start most endeavors where I am clueless: Blingo. It led me to Viva USA, which stated that

Different books encourage various methods for small flocks. Some of these include:

“hanging the duck on a shackle, then cut the throat on the left side at the base of the beak, severing the left jugular vein and carotid artery” (1)


“starve a duck for at least six hours before killing it, but do not restrict water. To kill, cut the duck’s throat in the soft spot where the head joins the neck (2)."

1. Adams, A.W., Cooperative Extension Service, Kansas State University, August 1989.

2. University of California Cooperative Extension, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Publication 2980, January 2000.

Yeah, no. First of all, that's just ew, second of all, I don't have that kind of time, and third of all — no, we're back to first of all. Ew.

My stomach was growling and I was trying not to think of a conversation I'd overheard between my best friend and Charlotte when they were fixing the vacuum cleaner:

He: I think you should put that —
She (interrupting): Excuse me. Who's fucking this duck?

He: You are.
She: Then shut up and hold the head.

Meanwhile, in walked the duck ... and it smiled at me.

Aha. When a duck is smiling at you around Christmastime, a Chinese restaurant will cut off its head for you. I learned that from A Christmas Story.

(Mind you, I also learned from A Christmas Story that I had really better get that whole "fucking a duck" thing out of my brain before I said it out loud, risking soap poisoning.)

I picked up the duck and took it to Royal Palace.

Tony Hong greeted me the same way he always does: "Where's your mother?"

I explained my situation and presented the duck, who said, "You're about to experience the belches of meals past."

I replied, "Ooh, get her — whoops. I've got your number, duckie. I take Prilosec and I just watched Good Will Hunting."

"Affleck!" quoth the duck.

"Wait a minute," Tony said. "Did you pick up that duck to bring her here?"

I scrolled upward in the browser window, because I couldn't remember. I had, indeed.

Tony said, "You pick up a duck, you win a prize. Flip her over."

I flipped the duck onto her back and she had the number "42" printed on her belly. I guess I was right when I told her I had her number.

Tony took the duck from me and said, "Anything off the top shelf."

The shelves behind him, as at most upscale Chinese restaurants, were stocked with your standard bar ingredients. I selected a bottle of whiskey and asked him to make me up an order of scallion pancakes and some shrimp toast, which, as I mentioned previously, is really good mit a bissel khrayn.

"What about this duck?" said Tony, when he came back with my take-out.

"Are her eyes open?" I asked.

He checked. They were.

I picked up my take-out and my whiskey, said, "She's Peking," and went off into the night.

When I got home, I found that the applesauce had defrosted. I dunked my scallion pancakes into it. It wasn't latkes, but the flavors worked better than you would have thought. (Golf Widow)

Pickles and I had been through a lot over the years, but I knew in the end she would always be there for me. We have the Royal Palace on speed dial in place of Dr. Leary. No more meds, no more frozen apple sauce. Just me, my zombie duck companion, and all the moo-shi we can afford. It isn’t paradise, but it’s our own little slice of Zen.


Splotchy said...

What the hell just happened?! I feel all woozy now.

I picture you in a yellow hazmat suit, fighting this pernicious virus. I commend you for tackling this thing head on, and all its mutant variants!

FranIAm said...


I am stunned.

The twists, the turns, the dizzying pace. What Splotchy has wrought with a single paragraph unleashed into the blogosphere!

minijonb said...

i'm sorry... i only read Cliff's Notes of posts that long.

Blowing Shit Up With Gas said...

Well, I can't say I actually read this post, but at least I scrolled down to see how long it was -- and even that took a few minutes. Maybe tomorrow...

Flannery Alden said...

Impressive! That picture is going on my blog with a permanent link to this.

I'm weepy and humbled.

I love Pickles.

McGone said...

Did I just have some crazy fever dream?

GETkristiLOVE said...

Holy crap. I should have taken Evelyn Wood's speed reading course when I was younger.

golfwidow said...

Holy writing virus, Batman.

pezda said...

My eyes hurt. Oh crap man, you crafted a fine meal from some diverse and base ingredients.

Freida Bee said...

"Masterful! Just masterful."- New York Times Book Review.

"That shit fuckin' rocks." -me.