Getting Our Bearings
When I was a kid coming up in the Heights in Jersey City, you could reach Lagos, capital of Nigeria, shooting down the Turnpike, in a quarter of an hour. Folks there wore alarmingly colorful costumes and spoke a language that sounded like wood being chopped. They’d ask us are you Igbo or Yoruba, teasing, and Dad would sprout this grin, going Well, they’re both fun to say. That trades at a premium with this pasty bunch. Which one gets us these souvenirs cheaper?
I thought the Yoruba chicks were cute in the face, but some of those Igbo gals were taller than any of the buildings we had back then.
Travel in general was so much easier. London you could get to by lunch if you left by mid-morning and lucked out with all that traffic racing across the seabed and didn’t lose a tire to the coral. People you met along the way were called Fish and were just how you’d suppose. Blues were hyper, a little mouthy, octopi talked with their hands and tended to have what Mom called sticky fingers. Great Whites had these huge egos--what with that name--and were always yammering Hey, look at this cool, science thing we do with our mouths just before we eat you, which we considered braggadocio and unhelpfully provocative.
Mom did most of the driving back then when Dad was pregnant with the twins. She’d lob out commentary on the undersea locals all the way across, like Isn’t it fascinating how their musical tastes run to ska and waltzes and Wasn’t that nice lemon-cake at the filling station and served by that lovely girl with the flippers who said she used to be in aerospace?
A re-purposed porpoise, Dad said and then damn straight we all tried saying that three times in a row, afterward sniggering over aero-space awhile.
Now, not only was Great Britain famous for its food back then, it was always sunny, so you could pull up out of the Atlantic when you reached London, the car would be dry by the time you made it into the ol’ City of, where the victuals were said to be the best in all the UK. Mind, this was all before money became commonplace, so you’d maybe just leave a few firecrackers on a tree stump on your way out, or tell their oxen they had nice hair and you were good to go.
Didn’t much care for their women because I’d had my head turned by those Nigerian cloud-pokers over by us. These were what we called my formative years. You became either a dope fiend or a Senator according to how the sunlight hit the cottonwood branches on a certain morning. You could, everybody knew, during an eclipse become both but Grammers would come stampeding from her moonshine still out back of the shed in her Traditional Bespoke Bison-Wear—and scoop us all up if that happened.
What else? About the educational system in those years—I got nothing to report. Soon as they smacked me Gifted, I milked that bitch like a rented cow. When I deigned to appear at all I’d drill screw-face into whatever project they tried to pitch me:
I’d prefer not to. I feel…alienated.
Grammar-Gran coached me with that one. Taking it upon herself to teach me only words she liked--in only the arrangement she liked--so I became what’s colloquially known as an idiot. I make about as much sense to me as Abba used to when they recorded their hits phonetically in English.
Sometimes she’d slip me two-three shots of a morn’, murmur You’d have to do summer school to be perceived as Raised-by-Wolves or merely retarded, way I gotya. Then she’d cackle, ask me if I’d slept, I’d say Hell no and we’d quaff deeply, giggling, and take up our black-powder guns and go off looking for nefarious activity to get into.
The wider world, I’ll say, was in flux. Europe still had its troubles; departing England after one of those lunches was no fun if you got stuck in rush-hour. You’d circle around to Frogsville--ducking down when those Frenchies came bounding out to surrender--to a place called Cherbourg, where the Lacy Bonnet Wars were still raging, the Nazis versus the Lakota—and Wowza, were those boys fierce.
Dad would hum show-tunes about his favorite things, scream Man, feel my belly is that tyke kickin’ or whut? and try to distract us as we passed scorched fields of arrow-aerated, scalped Boche flung about like red-tipped matchsticks, jackboots pointed up toward the sky. Or else the Huns would be stacked like cordwood on a hillock. Sometimes, though, Mom would erupt in giggles, pull over and we’d sit there a minute saying hillock over and over, which is about as much fun as you can have with your scalp on.
An Impromptu Seminar, Dadder-nack would announce: Here we peek up the skirt of Poesy Bias, which gives us, as pleasurable as it may be, a Perception Problem and Ethical Dilemma. Namely, How far should a body, comin’ through the rye, investigate here? Maybe your eyes tricked you, maybe those piles were really fire wood stacked like Nazis—Jippetedy-bip!--and here You are with a carful of freezing, world-grade New Jersey Kids, a second-trimester Pappy and notoriously belle femme Mammers, plus not one but two pounds of ground chuck about to go bad if you don’t fry it up quick-like. Whattaya do?
We’d ponder that as I and the cootie-people confiscated six-seven of those swell Nazi helmets and arrowheads we knew Dad would use later to re-enact shaving scenes from musical war comedies like the ones Mitzi Gaynor always sang in, washing men right the hell out of her hair and showing a scandalous amount of elbow in the process.
Back home, the controversial invention known as fire was finally gaining a smoldering acceptance in the smaller townships. Toucans still held prominent seats on city councils, but in the hinterlands, like Ottawa to the south and the Everglades up north, Wallaby Doctrine, which spoke to the common man as well as marsupials, was promulgated by their newsweekly Hoppin’ Mad! The centerfolds showed full-frontal pouch. All I’m sayin’.
Wanna know if that’s a Dad over there? Poke ‘it, see if it springs up, hollering for Yuengling Black and Tan, blathering about how it’d been in his day, dag-rabbit!
Yada-yada bing-bang, how when jitneys got around best they could, yes they did, without Wheels, which wouldn’t come along until that embarrassing Afternoon in May when Jupiter spun too close to Skippy(what we called Earth then) and gouged off a big ol’ chunk of the Super Antilles. Most everyone took it to be Spanky’s(what we called God then) apology when a glimmering teal van was discovered in a South Carolina rice paddy, stocked to the roof inside with cole-slaw. Gram-pam claimed it was all foretold in 2nd Lollapaloosians in the Old Testament, how fools may succor themselves with yummy side dishes while the judicious will monopolize long-haul trucking, aided by what King James himself, bloody git, misspelled as tyres. Dad said this error occurred 233 times in the New Testament alone, most lamentably in the Gethsemane scene where Jesus opens up with Will you guys stay awake if I run us to the drive-through for coffee and no, I ain’t springin’ for those apple pies…
My earliest years? For the most part, idyllic. Bigness prevailed. Toucans nosed through legislation that every sandwich had to be built to the height of the high-tide mark on the side of your house. Or to kneecap-level of an Igbo stunner if a) one were handy b) if was before her growth spurt and c) there was a soaring oak nearby you’d need to climb in order to slip her a Sparky(what we called kisses then) as thanks for her time. Everything, everything came with triple-bacon unless you really tossed a hissy and then you’d have to flash paperwork avowing you weren’t funny-that-way and swear you’d get your Bacon Quota in by nightfall.
Meals in restaurants were served by harried but sweet divorcees, usually T Rexes, who called you Shoog, winking an asteroid eyeball, but packed a mixed message with those teeth, by Spanky--and you crossed your legs without quite knowing why.
Most of your bigger dinosaurs migrated here from the Greenwich Village Valley Region following the Éclair Crop Failure of ’86 that demolished the economy. The reptiles assimilated well and were received in good cheer, folks removing the roofs from their homes to accommodate those massive heads craning down to pluck carrots or sometimes a goat from the supper table. Jersey City took them as our own. Tommy The Pterodactyl Semolini, bitsy joint up on Central Ave, to this day pushes mean deli out the front and swag out the back. In time, intermarriage produced offspring of remarkable appearance, many of whom were restored to their ancestral homelands and may still be seen on the streets of New York today.
Those éclairs remind me of other foodstuffs that grew wild back in the day. Say you’d been fishing for elk, caught your limit and were feeling peckish. You just trod the riverbank for top-shelf fare: rooted, basking there were Sausage Trees, Cheese Vines and Baguette bushes. All of which had been cultivated the season before by a colony of supremely talented, if cornball, Cooter Turtles. Prodigies in the kitchen, those boyos, but past-master, fez-sportin’ Dorkatarians in the wild. Like bracelet charms all in a row they’d line up in the roadside scrub to upbraid passersby: Hey, tell us what you really think! and The ‘Seventies called, they want their shirt back! and That’s what she said! Then the showstopper: C’mon-a-my-house, come outta your shell! Amphib geekazoids would almost die laughing, tumbling-end-over-end toward the water, narrowly rescued in time by their compatriots, who’d impugn their seaworthiness, going Can You Canoe? like that old campaign song we used to march to up South to kill us some Johnny Reb. Cooter Turtles indeed. Had their origin in Alabammy, which shares a border with Nova Scotia.
Dad suffered painful reversals when I was in my teens.
First, on the counsel of his OB-GYN-WTF, he had to deliver the twins, Bumps and Bruises, by caesarian, which made him feel unmanly. Then the spider factory in Hoboken where he’d worked for 30 years closed after it was discovered by some Princeton weenie, writing it up in the Toucan Tattler, that arachnids are a Naturally-Occurring Phenomenon. I was waylaid a smidge by all that beak Ms. February was showing, but Dad, who knew for damn sure who that bell was tolling for, was devastated. What that man didn’t know about your Brown Recluse, your Hobo, your Female Trap-Door, wasn’t worth knowing. Technology he’d developed to tight-wind the pre-loaded silk each model required was later adopted by manufacturers to pack spools of fishing line, but Dad didn’t see a single Cap’n(what we called money then) for his ingenuity.
So while half the population rejoiced that suddenly scaring womenfolk with spiders was now a DIY affair and significantly more affordable, over our way we were caught, as Mom put it, in a web of despond. Dad tinkered around, listlessly, in the tool shed, fueled by Grandma’s Special Tea, muttering Got yer Daddy-Long-Legs right ovah heah…
This is the time I picked to confide in Mom about the Issue I was having with a certain winsome, altitudinous Someone.
Oh, Stretch down the road…a stretch. An enigmatic smile dawning, she gave me a few tips and screeched for Dad to get his bee-hind there forthwith.
Thus came the 99 Luftballons Gambit, Dad outfitting me with gear and gondola, rearing me in the essential hydraulics of lift and control necessary to get sufficiently airborne to conduct an actual conversation with Someone.
Call it the thrill-ride I barely survived. KaaA-BLOOO!! SHPERRK!! YOWWWwwwm! GAaa-SPOINK! BOOoompf...
Limp-assing back to Mummzy, skin a relief-map of bumps and bruises, eponymous twins trailing, laughing their wee heads off, in their odd accents howling Now eet ees geeven to us to know of zee Schadenfreude! Danke, Bruder!
I hit the ground with a whole new attitude, charging at the Mommers.
Yo, you with the enigmatic smile, did we skip coupla chapters in Dames for Dummies?!
None o’ yer lip, woman, I cried, before she could answer. I want Family McIntyre in its Entire right with the nowness, out back, camels circled, bonfire blazin’, Granners on musicks, every Deirdre and Seamus within earshot. I want all hands with grog in tankards, Bumps and Bruises inclusive, catered by Cooters and I want it yesterday!!
Nestled there in the gloaming, all settled, cooing, cozy and intox, I found them a surprisingly handsome bunch. Grammar-lamb laying down a tasteful musical score on bongos. Mayor Toucan Tess Tipperary had airlifted in with her retinue, aflutter in party-plumage, flapping how It had been a long way, million things she should be doing but hadda be here. Isn’t romance terrible? She squawked, I do love it so, how I do and by the way, beware that Wallaby out front with the lean and hungry look, handing out political tracts, but rather dashing in surfer-wear…maybe should get his number, strictly for surveillance purposes…
One surprise: Cooters had proven, shall we say, a little mercurial in their comportment, shucking the dork thing, showing up all Gangsta Turtle, in wide-brimmed ball-caps with holograph logos, going:
“Yo, got a cherp from yo moms, sayin you be the tramp got chipped over here. Bitch needa be served? We smoke shawties for lunch, yo, on the real, you got a piece a work we be up, son, we dead-ass, you already know…
Gathered Species! Hello, Jersey City!!
I began to recount, getting right into it--
Most of an hour it took to ascend to the peak of the Sable Giantess. Looka me, assembled fauna. I’m loaded for love-bear, stoked, on a mission, bailing out ballast water from the kiddie-pool Dad rigged with the balloons to get me heavenward, goosebumping as the air gets thinner and my waders squishy.
Appreciate the stakes here, family mine? The Celestial Colossus in question?
Y’all recall, a week after the fire her daguerreotype ran in the paper. Shot from so far away--in order to get the whole blessed length of her in the frame--you could barely see her features a’tall. Just a grin up near the top as wide and bright as an advert banner towed by an aeroplane.
(Pause here for murmurs, clinking of tankards and desultory applause.)
The article, I continued, said it all happened as she was ambling home from her after-school job tutoring mentally-challenged, handi-capable, transgender, minority orphans with questionable fashion sense, aversion to bacon and Daddy issues. Smelling smoke from her lofty perch, the young woman bent waaaay down to look in a 12th story tenement window, a pot aflame on the stove---and a father, son and family friend Rollie Goaste, running in circles, screaming. She whisked the trio out the casement to safety, placing them on her opposite shoulder and her palm on the ground. Then that alluring, astral Atlas shrugged, sending that trinity butt-surfing, as gently as from a water-slide, down to the street.
(Pause for extempore crowd noise, stomping of feet, ad libs galore, a few stentorian male voices I couldn’t identify inexplicably Bardy, piping up with Aye, to bury Caesar, not praise him! and For Harry and England! To the breach,lads! and Measure still for Measure!)
Hoppin' gave her name—I had to shout to override the jubilation--
as Tamigogorobamigogoro Chukwu--
(Here we tarry for deafening applause, all phyla present pogoing into the crickety air, hats flying and those same unseen orotund wags getting weirder still, letting loose with All Hail yon queen! and Ye gods take heed, an Usurper! and Or Hecuba to her, sirrah?)
I pushed on, yawping The paper stated that the 16-year-old Nigerian native, first in her class at Lagos’ own Gifted & Gorgeous High, is in the middle of negotiations with Harvard University for an early-admission signing bonus as prodigious as her height and currently consults with the US Army Corps of Engineers about the physics/optics involved to right-size, the comely coed giggled, a photo spread of her for Vogue.
Can you furred, feathered, epidermied Americans, I mused, imagine my response? I quote me: Whoooaahh. Brainiac heroine-ism’s sexy.
Said to myself, Biff (what we called Bevan Devlin McIntyre back then) Biff, you gotta get you some o’ dat. Just business, nothing personal.
So Papper-nacks got me and the rig over to Tutelage Hut where I waited for this bonny lass to appear, this Size Zero to Two but poky and perky everywhere it counts…
(Here I asked for and received a Wha-wha…!!)
…This aeroport runway peeled up and thumbtacked to the sky. This licorice extrusion the sleepy guy let run all night from the Goddess Machine--yea, this inspirer of fumbly metaphors Grammers coughs up two for a Cap’n.
So now folks, I get to the promised land—can you get there with me? Up by the humdinger witchery of her face…
(here a few bewildering Boo-yahs!!!)
“Ningwendete!” I bellowed. “Kuanguku kwa upendo na mimi!” Here with the bellowing I believed I’d said Madam! I’ve come to seize your heart and make you mine!
“Oh,” said She, “Was that you wetting up my sneakers?”
“We muega umuthi!” I thundered. Good afternoon!
“Sorry,” she said, “But am I missing something? First you say I love you in Kikuyu, a tribal language from Kenya, in East Africa, nowhere near Ni—“
“Listen, lady,” I said, “In my hometown, I’m—“
“Where are you from?”
“Jersey City, hunner-bunner, right outside o’ Da Nang, where we see some fierce fighting. Any case, back in the world I’m considered some kinda Certified Geographical Genius.”
“Then why,” she said, “Do you say Fall in love with me in Swahili, spoken by only about half of Nigerians, then the Kikuyu again—“
“Belay all that ticky-talk, woman. Get busy adoring me. Do it now! Advance with a Sparky toward the sound of my voice!! You is under Love-Arrest!”
“Um,” she said, with a twisty smile, angling around in her willowy cloud of braids, gripping what looked like a pearl-headed hat-pin, “Have you been drinking?”
I thanked her for asking, then queried “Is a bear Catholic? Does the pope poop in the woods? Cogito, ergo pour some more, baby. Dammit!”
“Did you just cuss me out?”
“Biko,” said I, “E weli iwe.” Pardon me.
“Now with perfect Igbo. You’re, what, toying with me, oh?”
I said: “About that Sparky, muff-puffins…”
Well, that obsidian angel whipped out her hat-pin and commenced murdering my Luftbalons, one by one, in broad daylight, crying “Hafum aka!” Leave me alone!
“Nye nka!” I yelped, Help! Plummeting toward Skippy but managing to hurl the gift I’d brought into her décolletage on the way down.
And that’s the way it was, friends and fam. Spanky my witness. Except one more, call it inscrutable, thing. Scampering away, doing triage on body parts, I hear twinkling down from the stratosphere:
“Oh, it’s lovely, it’s beautiful! Never have I been given such a wonderful gift, oh! Your name will be darling.”
Pappers--stand, bow, speak?
Dad elucidated that what we had there, the keepsake extracted from the young lady’s, um, poker-dokes, perky-works, was your artisanal Golden Orb Spider. Hand-crafted. Complex circuitry. Graphite, 24k. Your finest silk. Fully-operable, natch. Li’l number we like to call the Living Brooch.
Silence for a moment in the McIntyre backyard. Just the camels chewing cud scenically. Then from Grammer-phone’s organ, wistful, yearning chords. Aw, man, dirty pool, she knows I love this song. Them musicks, sounding like the sea agreeing to marry the shore all over again--
--the long intro to No Woman No Cry.
Ancient Mariner was fixing me with a sinister, drunken smile. These women with their smiles would kill me dead, surely.
Unknown chappies, three with guitars and one with drumsticks, sidled up to form a semi-circle behind Gram-dred, plugging into amp stacks, hopping on kit, severe haircuts bopping to the reggae one-drop beat. A rompin’-stompin’ aspect to these fellers, all in black, commando pants and ribbed sweaters with undercover epaulettes.
Milking her keyboards, Rasta-Grams blazed up a fresh Pall Mall, wailing: “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain!”
Hadda say, by this point family and guests were shaping up as a professional audience. With aplomb they executed crests and falls of recognition and applause, lifting voice in song when the bugaboo boyos and Natty-Gram struck up the opening chorus telling that gal to by-gosh quit her bawlin’…
No Wo--man Nuh Cryyyyy…
Eldest Deirdre-Sis interpreted: The twins remark on the song’s general tone of spiritual rapture in the midst of penury, undercut with a tincture of sorrow and hint of creeping mortality...
Down in Trenchtown with Bob and the Rude Bwais, Georgie was handling firelight but we were losing it fast in Jersey City, those intruders with their axes draining down that firefly-juice with the quickness. No worries, mon, all Irie, dem bwai cook up oatmeal porridge, which Mr. Nesta Robert Marley himself was eager to share with you.
This inspired the camels to drop-kick the Cooters onto each other’s heads, where they wore them like helmets, those turtles hanging on for dear life, the dromedaries scooping up the vocal for Everything’s gonn-a be all right, everything’s gonn-a be all right, necks swaying wide, lowing in a soulful baritone.
When it got to the third chorus, events took a turn for the bizarre.
In the interval between No woman and No cry, one o’ them enigmatic dudes in the band stepped to his microphone and intoned: Insulted her by using wrong languages, old sport.
At the next, another of ‘em drawled: Contradicted her repeatedly, old sport.
No woman… again, then I heard: Ordered her to fall in love with you, old sport.
No wo-man No cry!!
Finally, in tandem, laying down some ferocious licks, thumbing up the volume, stiving the vocal in just above the din:
And you were drunk, old sport.
Those boyos cut back hard to some pizzicato-plucky deal, while Grammer-bach plunged in with an organ solo, folks stirred to holler things in the manner of But don’t forget the Spider!
Which ignited an attempted amen-choir, Deirdre-led, of Yeah, Tamigogorobamigogoro loved the Gift! evoking laughter and exhaustion, finally coalescing in compromise as:
Something to Build On!! Something to Build On!! Something to Build On!!
Tellya what, got downright churchy out in that backyard, all them potato-heads going that’s right, uh-huh, talk about that, mmm-hmmm…
With that, those musical irregulars crashed out of the Marley and into a rocketing instrumental jam, using up with what remained of the firefly-juice so we were progressively black-dark for each of their solos--bass, drums, rhythm and lead guitar. As a last bending high-note hurled up to snare the moon, I felt myself corralled by the neck, heaved up and skronked down behind a camel’s hairy hump--moving away at terrific speed.
Mind those saddle-bags, came a husky voice, you’re being Shanghaied. Right, I said, Shanghai, near Denver, I s’pose that’s fine. Shaddup, he said, and because Gram-hammet insists goons who say Shaddup are just as handy with Mebbe and Dunno—I shaddup.
Short story shorter, I made out we were five camels barreling down the Garden State Parkway, mine in the lead and those mystery mooks hurdling behind, hunched over aerodynamically. My bump-back was quite chatty—name was Chester--giggling as he leapt clear over the toll-booths and inclined toward cheeky narrative as we traced a route headed down the shore. We’d pass a nativity-town of a Jersey rock god, say Red Bank, and he’d go Hey, Biff, it’s your liii-yie-yiife, it’s now or never, you ain’t gonna live for-eeeehhver and then we’d sail past Asbury Park and he’d wax effusive about how Baby, we was born to ruuuuhhn…
Eventually we trotted into Belmar, past marinas and bait shops onto the beach alongside a jetty. The oddball guerrillas dispatched the camels to start a fire by gathering dune grass and rubbing it between their hooves. Chester hollered Looky, got me one hot camel-toe over here, lads!
First, indulge us, said the angular, hard-boned trooper who seemed in command.
Howdya like the crowd ad libs?
Baffling, kooky, singular, my impression, I said. Now I gots this kidnapped feeling and wondered if any or all here needed their asses kicked?
That got a huge laugh and round of Boo-Yahs!
In the ocean, dirt-bag, get wet! get sandy! cried Leader-Boy, The Hell you say, I countered, then a donnybrook ensued to shame the best duke-em-up movies, where the cowhands fight in and out of the surf, slugging away, then fall ashore exhausted, best pals forevermore, Hey-Pilgrim-ing and picturing Kitty, in Victorian slut-wear back at the brothel-bar, where they’ll tell the story a hundred times over.
I’m lying there, spent, as two spiffy oblong hard travel-cases coughed a wet thump in the sand.
Punk-nuts, you got a half-dozen new best friends. We’re four, here’s the other two. H&K MP7 and H&K 416. With which you’ll proficient by morning--or you’ll be chum.
We're lookin’ at 2347 hours. You, recruit, are in Facts of Life--BUD/S training. Fast-track version, until first light. Your telescoped Hell Week will occur when the first dolphin-American breaks water and conclude when that same dorsalled-maiden surfaces, darts us a wide grin and shouts Thanks, the mackerel were great! Are we clear, I mean are we very clear?
So. Who we are, who you are, what exactly’s gonna happen here:
I’m Sean. Yonder is Shawn, Shaun and that’s Tristan who was on drums.
Who are we? Call ourselves The Beached Seals. Descriptor? Demobbed special operators. You may know us as Contractors, Shooters or Mercs.
Motto? Somebody, Somewhere Needs Killing.
Logo? Pending-- we’re going with the trident, but certain girlfriends contend the complementary image we have in mind is too transparently hoo-haa-ish…
We’re a four-man fire team, gutless punk, do it all, best there ever was. Give you an idea--prior to your party, none of us ever played guitar or drums, let alone acted professionally in crowd scenes. All last night, two of us read aloud Shakespeare’s canon while the other two practiced fingering, chords and the major rock oeuvre. Then we switched off, low man on the Dawn Mission Test got skins for the gig, principle being any doofus can play drums. Follow, little shaver?
Son, with an eyelash I can kill a platoon of baddies. From a sliver of fingernail I can build artillery and manufacture ordnance. My current fave? I’ll erect the L52 Howitzer, loosing a 155mm projectile on target, 60 rounds in 40 minutes. I can devastate a mid-size town, like Lagos, say, due west of here, in two hours. Let me show you, do it right now--
Stand down, Sailor! Or prepare to meet your Spanky, I roared over mushrooming Boo-Yahs and whoops of misbegotten joy.
Oh, got skin in the game, eh, punk-fest? Mebbe, just mebbe, I dunno, Somebody Spayshul in the pixcher?…Astronomical gal, could see her from here if she stepped outside right now?…46 klicks as the crow flies…Dunno, mebbe Somebody snatches said crow from the sky, she feels like, cooks it up for some kinda ethnic breakfast?
Listen hard, punk-panties.
Me and the fellas--any man with eyeballs and IQ--stipulate this is the Most Luscious Woman Currently Twined In This Mortal Coil. And you deserve her? You?
Bevan Devlin McIntyre aka Biff. Seventeen years of age. 5’,10”, Cap’n-fifty. Autodidact, which we’ll read as MOE-RON. Never read a book, never slept the night through. Notorious drunkard. Worst? You’re a BAC, baby—Broke Ass Cracker. You ain’t fit to wash Mizz Chukwu’s sneakers—which is about what you accomplished eight hours ago.
Yet. We like you, kid. Ya got moxie, spunk, we like the cut of yer jib.
I granted my jib was cut rather finely--but did I have pluck?
Don’t push it, punk-blossom. ‘Nough o’ this. Huddle up for Class, first lesson Facts of Life, second Facts of Death. He said something I didn’t quite catch about how the route to Love often detours first through Death.
The Outrage. Heinous, egregious acts perpetrated against my chimp forbears--
What they claimed issued forth from persons--potions and substances…lunar schedules, unholy milkshakes…a vision of colors, nightmare whorls of peppermint…things that arc upstream, things pierced, viscosity...some Greek restaurateur jerk named Zygote…
Later I would assuage my trauma nuzzled in the pillowed wedge of my happy place, find refuge, as Grammish taught, in a word picture: Curtains billowing, then parted, jalousie louvres, an opening wand…a window raised…this bitty cardinal in the cleft of a redwood branch…an arm extended to feed her…
Wake up, recruit! Oh, I’m wide awake, you hoax purveyors, sland’rous villains, why you’re worse than all that, you’re funny-that-way!! You mentioned girlfriends? Balderdash, say I, such Poppycock was never heard--
--Oh, their grins shut me up, howls and guffaws galore ringing all along that tangy, fish-funk shore. Then silence.
…Biff, how many Deirdre sisters have you…and what ages? This from Tristan, gripping his drumsticks in what I’ll label a suggestive manner.
I allowed as how—not counting Bumps—we clock six-seven, ranging in hair color from chestnut to grenadine and enough freckles betwixt ‘em to feed the world, if freckles were pizzas. Age, they dress out through their twenties. Why you axe?
They just looked at me. Eyes wetly agleam and tee-hees bubbling. Let no man suffer the type of epiphany Biff McIntyre endured in the next moment—but let all men savor the glory of the thrashing I doled out in the brawl following, the punishment I dealt those blackguards and the cootie-people they’d dared befoul.
Oddly, I found that rage, so clean, so hot, fired me in the crucible. I became Galvanized Iron Biff, brainwork forged, also my resolve, in the most delightful ways.
So y’all so badass—I finished by pounding ‘em with words—y’all such scary killers, why you working my party, playing gee-tar and freaky Shakespeare? Sometimes the killing takes an unfortunate downturn, the commandos moaned, in a spooky minor harmonic, as Chester, now with a sassy first-aid kerchief round his neck played corpsman to the downed men, Sometimes, they caterwauled, you just follow the Cap’ns…and your girlfriends…
Yeah? How’s about we follow the Moxie/Pluck Highway for a mo? Want Big Boy Rules? I whipped out that H&K 416 and slapped home a 30-round mag. Sighting downrange, under the moonlight, I spotted another jetty about 3 1/2 footballs fields to our south, at the far end of the next town over, Spring Lake. Saw seagulls helicoptering above, dropping clamshells onto the rocks, I guessed to bust ‘em open. Give a look, blokes, I cried, shouldering that weapon and pikyew! PikYew! PikYEW! Nailed 12-15 o’ them mollusks mid-air, me chortling ‘Scuse, illiteracy got its privileges, doncha know…something earlier about me being chum…?
Nowza, can we get to the point here? Unfortunate downturn, say you? In the weeds, are we? Then I grabbed the H&K MP7, giving myself a mad minute fussilade, divoting sand geysers between their limbs, which is about as much fun as you can have with your limbs on.
Punk-quartet, Deirdre-Defilers--How many kids beds, kids closets, currently in the world, wouldya say? Gape-jawed hush from the lascivious loons, then Chester piped up that there hadda be about 2 billion children on Skippy, so sloppy math gives us about 1.5 billion beds, same for closets. So, a monster under every bed and in every closet, I sang, gives out about 3 Billion Monsters? Am I very clear? Unfortunate who-turn?
In that moment was born MONSTA IGBU! Rough-ready Igbo for Monster Kill!
For the fiscal year just ended, our revenue was just over $60 Billion USD, netting a 27% income of $160,200,000. Anybody believe I so named the firm to impress Tamigogorobamigogoro? Well, then, you’re our kinda dude(tte) and are encouraged to whiz a CV over to our corporate campus in Lagos/New Brunswick, attention of Chief Operating Officer, T. Chukwu-McIntyre, PhD, MD, DJur, Lt.Gen USMC(ret.), MILF. (Note to aide-de-camp Chester and his lovely dolphin-bride Katie: find out what the hell that last one means.)
Last year’s IPO was triggered by the astounding growth the firm enjoyed with the roll-out of our subsidiary operation, AWFUL OFFAL. Profitability increased by an order of magnitude as the division began to market worldwide, as a health elixir, the beastie carrion rendered following our monster-eradication measures. By now, our presence in the wellness market rivals the prior hegemony of TCM—what my Seals and their Deirdre-wives EVPs call Traditional Commie Medicine.
With signal pride we combat the wackadoodlery that haunted and hunted hundreds of species to the cusp of extinction, all for the sake of a horn or fin or the blood of a turtle. Speaking of, the recipe for AWFUL OFFAL derives from the Cooter’s alchemy, turning monster gore into Skippy’s foremost Good-For-What-Ails-Ya Remedy. Dadders, who nicknames it Monsters, Ready to Eat, helms this branch of the company, with Grammer-scam Director of Marketing and Mendacity.
Shareholders are doubtless aware that media coverage of MONSTA IGBU! was largely responsible for our astonishing prosperity in early days, from the Times’ “Double-Tap: Doling Death and Dreams” and all reportage since detailing the worldwide boon of children and their parents finally able to sleep undisturbed. Business journalism customarily focuses on our protection of the planet’s biodiversity and the ironic sustainability of the outfit, namely that restful nippers allow and encourage parents to produce more, which yields additional monsters that need killing.
Recently, there has been some controversy alleging that the greater percentage of our workforce is composed of criminal drunkards, to which the extended Family McIntyre responds: And your point is…?
To really get a grip on what we’re all about at MI!, see the photo overlaying the stock chart inside the annual report’s back cover. Mommers thought it’d be cute to have the fam illustrate the stock’s precipitous rise since the IPO, so imposed over the graph--that’s us.
See me there, the short starchy one at the bottom left representing the shares’ debut price, then tapering upward through all our six-seven Mocha Moppets, from Chimamandanata, our terrible-two whirly-girl at 6’,10” all the way skyward to Riordan, 15, with his arm around beloved Tammer-Mam. No freakin’ idea how these dazzling dusky dumplings came to be with us. Reminds me, I’m under orders to report that anything remotely accurate or truthful herein is wholly attributable to the Missus.
Some will say that’s rather unprofessional, such a display, the family portrait, for a corporation of our global profile. Yeah, well, we kicked that around the head shed a minute and then decided, us McIntyres…we’re just funny that way.
#Unreal #Fiction #Evolution #HumanCondition #Satire
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