When I was 13, my sister and I decided that we wanted to get a Shih-Tzu. This is pronounced Shit zoo. It was forbidden in our household to say the word shit, and therefore my mother did not approve of this type of dog. Keep in mind that there were about a hundred words my mother didn’t approve of: terd, crap, butt, toilet, ha-ha, etc. So you can see how horrifying it would be for her to hear the “S” word day in and day out.
So my dad went out and bought us the next best thing, a Llasa Apso. It looks almost exactly like a shit zoo, except it doesn’t have a profane name. It may look cute, but let me tell you, these little creatures are vicious. My sister named her honey bear, but honey badger was more like it. This dog could bite.
This dog thought she was the head of the household and if anyone did something we didn’t like, she’d growl at us to keep her in line. If we accidentally dropped food on the floor, she’d get it. If we tried to stop her, she’d bite. And this dog would draw blood. It was like having a miniature pitt bull in the house.
We had to fence off part of the house to keep her from attacking our company. We had a little baby gate that we put in front of the kitchen entryway. This guy from my dad’s work came over one day and the fence fell over. He reached over to pick it up, and before we could stop him, the dog had bit right through his hand. I think the dog bit into one of his arteries because I’ve never seen so much blood. The guy had to get stitches and the dog was in quarantine for a month. But hey. At least nobody was saying bad words, right?
Lewis Harvey and The Book of Snatcher
Avec-Vu is Good for You
When Lewis arrived at Zhon-Claude’s house, he ran around back to the garden, where an archery range had been set up. Zhon-Claude had set the range up in order to do some sort of demonstration of a business strategy that he’d thought up. While they were waiting, Zhon-Pierre LeFlem and Zhon-Luke Chardonnay were flinging arrows every which way in the futile attempt at hitting a target.
The afternoon was dark, dreary and overcast like it always was on Chesky Island. Large blue bolts of lightning were zapping across the thick dark storm clouds.
Lewis scratched his nose, held up a bow and arrow, aimed and shot it at a target.
“Bulls eye,” he said. But nobody paid any attention to him. And since they weren’t paying any attention, he mustered up the courage to talk about that little problem that he had in his life lately that was really making him lose his mind.
“You know, Zhon, I don’t believe in ghosts, and yet I have one in my house.”
“Oh, well then,” said Zhon-Luke, aiming at his own target. “That is because you live in terraced housing. Those houses are loaded with ghosts. People are always dropping dead in those houses and since the windows are so hard to get open, nobody ever opens them to let the souls fly off into the afterlife. So they are just stuck there, hanging out all the time to freak out the next people who rent the house,” said Zhon-Luke as he shot an arrow.
The arrow went flying straight up into the air and would have hit Lewis right in the arm had he not have quickly moved out of the way.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” said Lewis. He slumped his shoulders and looked at Zhon-Luke with a doleful annoyed glare.
“I know she wasn’t really a ghost, she only told me that she was a ghost so I wouldn’t call the guards on her for vandalizing my property. She might have had a curtain on her head to look like a ghost, but she wasn’t a misty foggy illusion. She was real like you and me, only she was missing an eye and it seemed like maggots were in her empty eye socket.” said Lewis as he aimed at his target and shot another arrow perfectly into the bull’s eye. Zhon-Luke and Zhon-Pierre both dropped their bows and gasped.
“Which house did you say you lived in, Lewis?” asked Zhon-Pierre as he ran his fingers through his thick shiny hair.
Lewis picked up the arrow from the ground and brought it back to Zhon-Luke.
“I live in house number nine, third house downtown, the finest house there is around.” Zhon-Luke and Zhon-Pierre gasped again and looked to each other in wide eyed disbelief.
“No!” said Zhon-Luke. “I don’t believe it,” he said, taking the arrow from Lewis. “That’s the Everglades house. Violet must still be there, haunting the place,” he said as a bull frog hopped past his legs.
“Oh, please,” said Lewis, callously, giving both of them a doleful glare. “She isn’t a ghost. She’s a vandal. She’s been gouging holes in the walls of my house for nearly a month.”
Zhon-Pierre aimed his arrow steadily at his target. He stepped forward and crushed a snail, breaking his concentration.
“Violet used to live here a long time ago when we were kids. She used to put grains of cooked rice into her eye socket along with her dried up shriveled eye. Then she would run around the playground freaking the other kids out. She told everyone that the lurch sucked the aqueous humor from her retina,” said Zhon-Pierre as he shot his arrow. The arrow went flying through the air, but it didn’t even come close to the target.
“But we all knew she was lying because lurches don’t slurp eyeballs. They only slurp bone marrow,” said Zhon-Pierre with a solemn expression on his face. Lewis slapped his own face and rubbed his eyes. He didn’t believe in lurches, and thought that people who did believe in them were idiots.
Zhon-Pierre shot off another arrow and it fell to the ground before even getting near the target.
“But we all knew the real reason that freakish girl lost her eye,” he said, walking over and picking up his arrow. “Her mother gouged it out with a paring knife in some freaky voodoo ritual,” said Zhon-Pierre casually, as if eye gouging was some sort of normal occurrence. Lewis and Zhon-Luke shuddered in absolute horror. Zhon-Pierre held out his bow and arrow once again and aimed it at the target.
“Violet had what they called the evil eye,” he said. Lewis furrowed his brow and aimed his bow and arrow at his own target.
“The evil eye?” he asked in a tone of disbelief. Zhon-Pierre shot his arrow and nodded.
“Yeah. Every once in a century a girl is born with the power to wreak havoc just by the power of the mind. If a girl has the evil eye, and you make her mad, she will make bad stuff happen to you,” said Zhon-Pierre with an eerie quiver in his voice.
“Bad stuff? Like what?” said Lewis, who was starting to get a little irritated about the ridiculous subject at hand. “Is that why she got sent to Chesky Island? Because she was using the evil eye on people.” asked Lewis. Zhon-Pierre looked towards Lewis with sincerity and firmly nodded his head. Lewis raised an eyebrow.
“Well! What did she do?” he said impatiently, throwing up his arms.
Zhon-Pierre smiled a wicked mysterious grin, stepped over a patch of snails that were sliding across the ground, and walked over to Lewis. The steam from the warm ground rose up around his feet. He leaned close to Lewis and spoke in an eerie tone of voice.
“A long time ago when Violet lived in Paris, she had a neighbor with this gorgeous piano. It was one of those really expensive ones that was hand carved and painted. I think it came from the palace or belonged to some French nobleman or something because she would not let Violet touch it or even get near it. Anyway, Violet snuck into her house one day and started playing on it and the lady chased her off with a broom and called her a pikey runt.”
Zhon-Pierre picked up a frog that had jumped onto his foot, threw it forcefully at his target, and missed.
“Well, a month later, the old lady decided to move across town to get away from Violet because she really creeped her out. Since the lady lived on the third floor, the easiest and safest way to move the piano was through the window using pulleys. The old lady was standing out in the street making sure that the piano didn’t get scratched or anything, when Violet walked up and started staring at the piano. The rope broke and the piano landed right on top of the lady, crushing her to death.
“So, I guess the piano got scratched after all,” said Lewis sarcastically.
“No,” said Zhon-Pierre folding his arms and giving Lewis a single insistent nod. He wiped a single drop of rain from his bushy eyebrow. Several more drops of the light rain fell to the ground but then stopped. “I think the piano was fine,” he continued.
“The old lady broke the fall. Anyway, they blamed the whole thing on Violet and accused her of having the evil eye. The French will send anyone accused of having the evil eye to Chesky Island. Violet’s mother knew this, so she freaked out and cut out one of her daughter’s eyes.” Zhon-Pierre shrugged and screwed up his face.
“She is German. You know how German’s are. Anyway, the French people just thought that cutting out a kids’ eye was a sick thing to do, no matter how evil it was, so they sent the whole family over here to Chesky Island. They lived here about a year or so before they all died. Uck. It was horrible,” said Zhon-Pierre with a shudder.
Zhon-Pierre looked over at Zhon-Luke who kept shooting arrows at the target and missing. Lewis rubbed his face furiously and gave Zhon-Pierre a puzzled look of confusion.
“Died?” gasped Lewis. “How could she be dead? I just got through talking to her. She’s alive and she’s breathing. Are you trying to tell me that she’s the undead? You mean, like a vampire, or a zombie or something?” he said, raising an inquisitive eyebrow.
Zhon-Pierre sat back up and got a gleam of delight in his grey eyes.
“Why yes she is, actually,” he said. “A long time ago, her little sister climbed into a trunk and fell asleep, or accidentally locked herself in or something, because she died. I remember when it happened like it was yesterday. My dad runs the morgue downtown. He is the city coroner. I saw her cold dead body myself and we put her into vault 19. It was sad. But, you know, it is always sad when cute little kids die.” Zhon-Pierre sighed sympathetically and shrugged his shoulders.
“And well,” continued Zhon-Pierre quite mournfully. “I guess her dad could not take the grief of losing a child so the very next week, he hung himself by the pipes in the basement. He was dead as a doornail when they brought him in. We stuck him in vault 19.”
“Hold on a second.” interposed Lewis. He squinted his eyes and furrowed his brow. ”How can you stick two dead bodies into the same mausoleum vault?” he asked, scratching his nose. “Aren’t those vaults built for only one person?” said Lewis, firmly folding his arms.
Zhon-Pierre scoffed and threw up his hands in frustration. “Bodies disappear after they have been in the vault for three days, Lewis,” he said, shaking his head and rolling his eyes, as if Lewis were the village idiot. “Everybody knows that. Zoot alors, Lewis! I swear you can be such a pin head sometimes.”
Lewis pressed his index finger and thumb firmly against his forehead and closed his eyes momentarily. He didn’t think he was the one who lacked knowledge about the way things worked.
“There’s just something not right about that. It just seems so bazaar. Doesn’t that defy the laws of physics? I mean…er…I thought that matter could neither be created nor destroyed,” said Lewis in baffled confusion.
“That is what you get for thinking, you imbecile! A thing is not matter after it is deceased!” snapped Zhon-Pierre as he shook his head like an agreeable bindi Indian and screwed up his face.
“Anyway, stop ruining my story. A year later, the mama’ lost her mind and shot Violet right through her empty eye socket and she shot her own brains out, as well. It was the most gruesome death that I had ever seen and it made me sick to look at it. I nearly passed out. There was so much blood all over the place. I could see their brains coming out. It was horrible,” said Zhon-Pierre casually.
Zhon-Luke shuddered, pressed the tips of his fingers against his forehead, closed his eyes and let out a long sigh of disgust. Lewis scratched his nose and leered at Zhon-Pierre quizzically.
“So she lost her eye because her mother shot her?” asked Lewis, looking intensely at Zhon-Pierre LeFlem in a futile attempt at making sense of his strange tale.
“No. Wrong,” said Zhon-Pierre sharply. He was losing his patience with Lewis, and Lewis could hear it in his voice.
“I told you. Do you ever listen?” snapped Zhon-Pierre viciously as he slapped his own forehead in frustration. “She lost the eye before she came to the island. She used to open up her empty socket and freak out all the little girls on the playground just to be mean. I am telling you. That girl is sick. And now it is even worse because she’s come back from the dead,” said Zhon-Pierre pantomiming a zombie.
Lewis looked at over at Zhon-Luke to make sure that this wasn’t some sort of a joke. He was nodding vigorously and pursing his lips. Lewis could see the sincerity in his eyes. He looked at Zhon-Luke’s throat and then at Zhon-Pierre’s throat. Neither one of them gulped. Not even once.
Lewis knew that if a person swallowed hard it was a sure sign that he was blatantly lying. If Zhon-Pierre and Zhon-Luke were lying, they had definitely been practicing the art of not guiltily gulping for quite some time.
Lewis didn’t think that either of them would go to that much trouble to cover any sort of lie, let alone, a wacky one like this one. And yet, it was just too weird to be true. They do say that truth is stranger than fiction, and this was definitely…out there.
Lewis thought about it for a moment and realized something. Violet did tell him that she was a ghost. Could it be, that she wasn’t lying after all? It somehow made sense in a very strange sort of way, and yet, it didn’t make sense at all.
“Well, then. It’s obvious. They were just faking their death,” said Lewis furrowing his brow.
“No, Lewis. They were not faking. It was as real as the nose on my face. It smelled of burning flesh and decaying intestines. My dad signed the certificate of death. They were claimed legally dead,” said Zhon Pierre, punching a fist rapidly into the palm of his other hand.
Lewis stroked his chin methodically and bit his lip. “Did you put them in vault 19, too?” asked Lewis, almost jokingly. But Zhon-Pierre didn’t think it was very funny. He wasn’t born with a sense of humor.
“How on earth am I supposed to know what vault they were put in?” snapped Zhon-Pierre, rubbing his face with intense agitation. It was like ten freaking years ago. I do not know. What difference does it make? She is dead!”
“But you said…” started Lewis, but Zhon-Pierre didn’t want to hear it.
“Seriously, Lewis, do you have to nit-pick every word that comes out of my mouth? Cut it out all right. Sacre bleu! How annoying can you get? I mean, I tell you a story to warn you of someone, out of the kindness of my heart…because I truly care about you, and then you have got to scrutinize me and analyze a situation that happened over a decade ago. Dear God almighty, Lewis!” Zhon-Pierre slapped his forehead with extreme frustration. “
You can’t come back from the dead. That is impossible,” said Lewis in a tone of frustrated annoyance as he removed a frog that had jumped on his foot and threw it into a goji berry bush.
“Well then,” said Zhon-Pierre callously. “Tell me how you really feel.”
“Holy Accalon Almighty!” shrieked Zhon-Claude in an outrageous French accent as he marched up behind them. “Will you two ladies cut the absurdities and stop wasting my time with your riff raff! I do not have time for this constant quarreling of yours. In case you did not know, the main reason why you cretins are impoverished is because you spend all the live long day fighting. Let us put our differences aside, and use the time we have to focus on money, and how we can make some more of it,” said Zhon-Claude, trying to be a superhero and save his world from the evils of quarreling.
“Now Lewis, come with me,” said Zhon-Claude Baguette as he grabbed Lewis by the arm and dragged him forcefully towards an oversized target.
“Now you stand here with your back against the target,” he said with a bull-headed, arrogant tone of voice. Lewis broke free from Zhon-Claude and tried to run away from the target. But Zhon-Claude quickly grabbed him and drug him back.
“Lewis, do you want to get paid or not?” he said angrily to Lewis.
Lewis didn’t answer. He merely glared callously at Zhon-Claude.
“I am paying you the big bucks to work for me, so either do as I say or get out of here,” said Zhon-Claude arrogantly. Lewis scoffed.
“Paying me the big bucks?” he said with a snarl on his lip. “Are you kidding me? I’ve been filling your stupid Avec-vu orders for six months and you haven’t paid me anything,” he said in a matter of fact sort of way.
“Oh. Well. I have got good news,” said Zhon-Claude cheerily as he to shoved Lewis into the wooden green and white target.
“I am going to pay you fifty francs as soon as the business meeting is over, now how do you like that?” smirked Zhon-Claude. I just want to give a nice demonstration to help me prove a point and I need you to help me by standing here with your back against the target. Do not worry, you’ll be just fine,” he said, eyeing Lewis down maliciously.
“Now hold still, and do not move a muscle,” growled Zhon-Claude, holding a threatening fist up high enough to get his message across to Lewis.
“Because if you move, I will tie you to the target, and leave you there until the end of the world. Is that clear?” he said, still holding his fist up to Lewis’ nose. Lewis faked a smile and nodded.
Zhon-Claude bent down and picked a honey-crisp apple off the ground. He flicked two very large snails from it, polished it on the long black sleeve of his sweater, and rested it on top of Lewis’ head.
Zhon-Claude ran his fingers through his lush foppish hairstyle and walked towards the other two Zhons. He picked up his bow and arrow and prepared to take aim. Lewis held completely still like he had been told to do, and watched Zhon-Claude fumble around moronically with his archery equipment.
In the past, Zhon-Claude had never been able to get the arrow to fly forwards. It always sort of flipped around a few times before falling to the ground. Lewis didn’t expect Zhon-Claude’s arrow to make it very far. This time, however, he was actually holding the arrow properly. This made Lewis a bit nervous.
“In the game of life, there are rule books everywhere,” said Zhon Claude. “If you want to win, you have learn the rules and play by them. But if you want to win big; If you want to be the best in the world and better than all the rest…”
Zhon-Claude visually aligned the tip of the arrow with his target that Lewis was standing in front of. “…you have to find a loophole…a legal cheat…that allows you to get ahead of the game while nobody is watching.”
Zhon-Claude had apparently been practicing this shpiel in front of a mirror because he sounded like one of the announcer’s on the radio. He had a naturally deep voice and had decided that if the Avec-vu business didn’t work out, he might be able to try his hand at broadcasting.
Zhon-Claude held his arrow firmly, closed one eye, took a deep breath and aimed. He shot the arrow and it went flying through the air. Lewis was dumfounded and terrified as the arrow went flying towards him. He hadn’t actually expected the arrow to go flying towards the target. Zhon-Claude had never managed to get arrow to fly forwards. Amazingly enough, the arrow hit the apple that was sitting on Lewis’ head, right smack down the middle. Lewis was not only surprised that Zhon made the shot, but relieved that it didn’t hit him right between the eyes.
Lewis wasn’t afraid of dying. Death might not be that bad. After all, he’d heard that death was the only possible way to escape the island that they lived on. [DF1] It was for this reason that he knew he wouldn’t die. He didn’t have much faith that he would ever get to leave the godforsaken place. What Lewis was really afraid of at this moment, was getting severely maimed.
If an arrow hit him in the wrong spot it could injure him so badly he might have to lie in a bed and live the rest of his life as a vegetable. And that, was a fate worse than death. Well, it might be nice for some people, but not Lewis. He was a real go getter and the thought of being incapacitated for the rest of his life sent shivers up his spine.
Even though Lewis remained perfectly still with his back against the target, he was terrified. He didn’t trust Zhon-Claude at all. He had a history of not being trustworthy.
Lewis was extremely worried that Zhon-Claude just might shoot his eye out. He closed his eyes tightly in the hopes that somehow his eyelids would form some sort of protective barrier to prevent him from being harmed. He shuddered and tried to get the thoughts of squirting blood out of his head. He breathed deeply and was relieved to hear the arrow hit the target a mere centimeter from his ear.
Zhon-Claude continued shooting arrows one right after another. Each arrow managed to hit the target in a neat body shaped array around Lewis as if it were one of those knife throwing acts in in a retro circus.
Zhon-Pierre and Zhon-Luke applauded. Zhon-Claude huffed some hot air onto his knuckles and rubbed them against his shirt pocket proudly.
“Allow me to show you how one masters a skill so perfectly,” he said as he stroked his sideburns, and smiled arrogantly revealing his rather large square teeth. He took long strides across the grassy lawn towards the frightened, trembling Lewis.
Zhon-Claude put down his bow and arrows, straightened his tie, ran his fingers through his chestnut hair and motioned for everyone to follow him. They walked over towards Lewis.
Lewis was trying to come to grips with a wide array of emotions. He was relieved that one, if not all of the arrows had not passed right through him causing him to be horribly disfigured. He was both surprised and perplexed that Zhon-Claude, the worst archer in the history of mankind, had actually managed to perform such a skillful task.
“So what is the trick?” Zhon-Claude said rather proudly, tapping his fingers in a methodic rhythm on the back side of the target, as a black cat brushed past his legs carrying an arrow in its mouth. Zhon-Claude took the arrow from the cat’s mouth, patted it on the head and put the arrow into the quiver.
“I suppose you fine gentlemen are all wondering the same thing. How does one become an archery master overnight? Well. I will tell you. It is magnetism,” said Zhon-Claude knowledgably, waving his index finger around like a fine scholar.
On the back of the target was a series of wires and magnets. Zhon-Claude flipped a switch, and turned off a hidden electromagnet that had controlled where the arrows had landed. Lewis heard a hissing snap as the power went off, and then the air became still and quiet. Lewis hadn’t even noticed the low humming vibration until it wasn’t there anymore.
“And magnetism…,” continued Zhon-Claude. “…is exactly what we are going to use to draw people to us,” he said, smiling gleefully as he gave the wind up electromagnetic motor a nice pat. With personality, charisma, and the power of suggestion, we can have every student in school drawn to us and clinging to our every word.” he said animatedly as he paced back and forth in front of them through the misty fog that was rising from the ground.
“And because of this bond, they will buy all of our products. But that’s just the beginning. Once they are hooked, they will want to buy even more of our products,” said Zhon-Claude passionately with his fists clenched, shaking them firmly.
Zhon-Claude picked up his bow and arrows, slung them over his shoulder and started pacing. “But they will need money to buy the products. And just how will they manage to get the money to buy our products?” Zhon-Claude pursed his lips, and threw his hands up into the air as if throwing the question to them. He paused for a moment to wait for an answer that he knew they did not have.
Zhon-Claude continued speaking with one hand on his hip and waving a finger of the opposite hand in the air around to add great emphasis to his masterful speech.
“They make money by joining our sales team, of course. It is in this way, my fine gentlemen that we are going to build our empire.” With this words, he reached his hands up in the air as if trying to clench on to some unknown energy field.
Zhon-Claude and his Millionaire’s club had started a vitamin company called Avec-vu. Unlike most people’s companies on Chesky Island, Avec-vu was sold person to person instead of out of a crank powered vending machine.
If Zhon-Claude bought a vending machine, he would have to rent a space on the street and then pay someone to advertise. He was far too cheap to do any of that, so he invented a new way to sell things called interpersonal sales.
Of course, Zhon-Claude didn’t tell anyone the real reason that he didn’t use vending machines. Oh no. He made up some fancy schpiel about how it’s so much better to buy your vitamins face to face with the distributor. The vitamins are fresher that way and more potent.
He also claimed that vending machines were too impersonal and long term use of them could suck your soul away. This face to face interpersonal business plan worked out great for the Zhons. They took orders from people, took their money, and delivered the products.
Of course, Lewis was the one doing all the grunt work. The Zhons outsourced all of their labor to Lewis’ basement and sent payment to him via empty promises. It had been going on like this for several months now, and Lewis was about to tell them where they could stick all those vitamin pills.
Zhon-Luke and Zhon-Pierre applauded and they all went inside to have their afternoon tea. Lewis didn’t get to stay and have a sit down. He had to go home and take care of his crippled mother, and when he was done with that, he had to repackage vitamin drink powders into specially marked containers.
Lewis didn’t have any money he couldn’t afford to take the trolley home. Since there weren’t enough hours in the day for Lewis to spend walking at a snail’s pace all the way to the poor people’s side of town, he had to run three and a half miles to get to his row of terraced housing. He stopped at house number 9, third house downtown. Finest house there is around.
To be honest, the house was a dump. It had once been a nice house, and very appealing to the eye. But over the years it had become neglected. The roof was sagging, the paint was chipping away and most of the windows were broken and covered with grime and bird droppings.
Lewis was sweating and had ran so hard that he collapsed on the front steps and laid still while he caught his breath. As he entered the house, he could smell the strong scent of feces mingled with stagnant urine. His mother was so crippled that she couldn’t stand up at all to use a proper toilet. She had to have a fildge pot attached to her wind up mobile recliner. It was Lewis’ job to empty it and since he was late getting home, it had filled higher than usual and smelled twice as bad.
“Hello mother,” said Lewis glumly as he grabbed a clean fildge pot from the lavatory.
“What took you so long getting home?” said Maleen Harvey in a worried tearful voice. “I was worried sick about you. I hate for you being out there all alone by yourself with so many lurches on the loose. I heard on the radio that three people got lurched over there by the school house. Oh. Oh. Oh. I hate for you to have to go so far away from home with so many lurches,” she said. Her lips were quivering because she had taken out her dentures.
Lewis rolled his eyes as his agoraphobic droned on and on about how lurches were everywhere and how he needed to be careful and yada yada yada…on and on and on…as usual.
Lewis didn’t believe in lurches[DF2] . He thought the whole thing about people who could suck the marrow from a person’s bones was completely ridiculous. In his opinion, lurches were right up there with aliens and fairy godmothers.
The only thing he really feared at this moment was that overflowing fildge pot of hers. It was his job, though, and there wasn’t anyone around to pass the buck to. So he cringed, held his breath, and pulled out that disgusting overflowing pot of feces and urine.
The fildge pot sloshed around and some of it spilled onto Lewis’ hands as he carried to the lavatory. He gagged, coughed, and nearly barfed. The tempera battered frogs’ legs that Lewis had eaten at Zhon-Claude’s house started doing summersaults in his stomach and he had to cough to keep it down as he dumped it out into the toilet.
Lewis wound the crank on the toilet to make it go down and brought the pot back to put underneath his mother as soon as possible. He should have cleaned it out and rinsed it, but he didn’t because he didn’t want his mother to forget that the fildge pot was no longer attached to her seat, and do her business on the floor. She’d done that before and it was an absolute nightmare to clean up.
Maleen, was sitting in her automated mobile recliner trying to teach her fluffy blue-grey cat how to do a back flip, using a hypnotic feline training device called a limelight pen. She had the owner’s manual for the pen in one hand and was waving the limelight pen around in the air with the other. The mesmerized cat was sitting on a chair a few feet from her staring at the light in a cross eyed glare.
Maleen was sitting next to a very large crystal wave radio listening to a moonlight sonata when the music stopped.
“We interrupt this program to give you an important message from the Limelight Company,” said a very excited radio announcer.
“Ever since the beginning of time, people have tried to train their cats and failed miserably. Up until now. Now with the limelight pen, you can train your cat to do back flips, somersaults, and even fetch the newspaper. The highly hypnotic light the pen emits goes directly to the hyper pineal gland behind the retina allowing you to obtain total feline mind control.”
Lewis didn’t know who invented the limelight pen, but suspected that whoever it was must be incredibly wealthy. Everyone on the island had at least two limelight pens, and loved using them so much that they played with their cats day and night. Some people had become so obsessed with this new adventurous hobby of cat training that they quit their jobs, stopped brushing their teeth, and even stopped ironing their shirts.
The limelight consumers were all waiting, hoping, wishing, and praying that someday soon their hairy domesticated houseguests would develop the habit of keeping house. It hadn’t happened yet for Maleen’s cat, Fifi. However, there was still hope yet because the radio announcer announced “Be sure and try our new improved version with retinol.”
Cat training with the limelight pen was a new fad, and although it took up a lot of everyone’s spare time, it did not outweigh the most favorite pass time on the Island. Throughout most of the world, many people spend countless hours watching their favorite television shows. It’s a great way to tune out reality and make life seem a lot more entertaining than it actually is.
Since there was no electricity or television on Chesky Island, the islanders sat around spying on everyone else through their high powered telescopes. Some people who didn’t have great windows or rooftops for prime viewings installed a periscope so they could view the world from any angle in their house.
Since most people stayed indoors most of the time, there was little to see of great importance except for one huge castle made of stone on the north side of the island. This castle was called the Castle Nonesuch and in it lived a king, queen, the prince, and a whole bunch of servants who descended from the island’s native race of Aborigines.
The Castle Nonesuch was such a beautiful place to watch. There was singing and dancing and the people in the castle were so much more beautiful than the rest of the people on the island. The castle was filled with the finest fineries that had ever been seen. An interesting thing happened to people while they watched this royal family. They forgot their own worries and troubles and became so deluded that they forgot to look at their own selves.
Maleen spent almost every minute of the day looking through her periscope at the Castle Nonesuch. In her own mind, she, herself was the queen. In her vivid imagination, she was drinking Merlot and eating bon bons instead of Zorba and Ding Dongs.
Lewis was nothing at all like his mother. He hated Chesky Island with a purple passion, and decided that nothing was going to stand in his way of leaving. The only problem was the fact that leaving the island was both illegal and downright impossible.
However, Lewis overheard someone saying that a person could escape the island for the sum of three thousand francs, if he knew the right person to bribe. Lewis didn’t know who he could bribe, but he didn’t have three thousand francs either. So when Zhon-Claude offered him a job that would pay him the big bucks, he jumped at the chance.
However, all the running back and forth was wearing him out and he just couldn’t take it anymore. If he were getting paid for it, it would have been one thing, but they hadn’t given Lewis anything but a ridiculous looking outfit.
Lewis had been so late in getting home that afternoon that his mother had completely run out of Ding Dongs and had to survive an entire hour by eating some frosting out of a jar that she had laying on a shelf. She used her thick finger to wipe the last remaining bit of frosting out of the jar and made an annoying slurping sound.
“I was worried sick about you all day long and I just had to sit here all alone in my condition. My automatic chair ran out of power and I can’t wind it on my own. I thought I would starve to death. I ran out Ding Dongs an hour ago and I need you to change out my Zorba tank, I’m nearly out,” Maleen said with a shaky, trembling voice.
Zorba is a heavily sweetened mocha flavored beverage that can be purchased from a vending machine for a franc. But for three francs, islanders can buy a whole tank of it that can be easily attached to an automated chair. Of course they have to make a special trip across town to get the tank. It’s a dreadful pain in the butt, but some things are just worth it.
A lot of people liked to attach a straw to their giant tank of Zorba and sip it all day long. What they didn’t realize, however, was that this sweet and frothy beverage was so heavily loaded with calories that it caused rapid weight gain. When a person becomes heavy, it makes it a lot harder to move around, so they move around less and less, until their muscles deteriorate and it hurts every time they move. Of course, nobody had been able to link the overuse of Zorba to the loopies disease.
Maleen had been suffering from loopies for the entire sixteen years that Lewis had been alive. The doctors of the Chesky Island said that her ailment was caused from winding cranks for too long. So she quit her job as a crank winder at the train station and just sat in an automatic chair looking through her periscope towards the castle nonesuch all day long. And as the years went by, she became completely unable to use the lower half of her body.
Maleen put the limelight pen and instruction manual in the side pocket of her automatic chair and said drearily, “I have been stuck still in this one spot for three and a half hours and I am just dying to know what’s happened to the prince. They’ve lost him and can’t seem to find him anywhere. There’s no telling what’s happened. I bet he’s been lurched. They say that the royalty never gets lurched, but never say never. That’s why I never leave the house. It’s so much safer right here in the living room.”
Maleen continued rambling on and on about people dying from freak accidents on the street and strange diseases that people got in other countries from the drinking water.
“People in most countries die all the time from parasites in the drinking water. That’ll never happen here. Chesky Island’s got the cleanest drinking water in the world,” said Maleen as she picked her denture up from the side table, pinched off a piece of hair from them, and clinked them into her mouth.
Lewis rolled his eyes, as he wound the crank on the back of her chair as fast as humanly possible. Listening to his mother was like listening to a broken record. She’d been telling him the same old things over and over again for as long as he could remember and it was driving him absolutely bonkers.
When Lewis was finished winding the crank, Maleen flicked the switch on the arm of her automatic chair and zipped through the living room towards the brass periscope that was hanging from the ceiling. She grabbed it with excitement, peered inside and gasped.
“It’s horrible. I’ve never seen such a horrible thing,” she said.
Maleen moved the periscope around looking over the Castle Nonesuch with great interest and gave a loud scream.
“Oh no, Lewis. Come and look! One of those Aboriginal servants of theirs just pulled him from the ocean.”
Lewis wasn’t the slightest bit interested in the goings on of the island’s royalty. He had a sneaking suspicion that the whole thing was being staged by the man who owned all the vending machines that sold periscopes and optical lens replacement parts. His mother believed the whole thing, though. He could still hear her jabbering on and on about that poor prince when he made it to the bottom step of the basement.
He sat down at his work table, and pulled out the essay that his teacher handed back to him. There was a big red fat “F” at the top along with some note about how his topic was scandalous, controversial, and completely fabricated. Lewis had expected to get a wonderful grade. He thought it was well written, and full of interesting facts from “The Encyclopedia Atlantica”.
The assignment was supposed to have been completed in the school library, using the “New Modern Chesky Encyclopedia.” Lewis found the school’s encyclopedia boring, wordy and hard to follow. The topics weren’t the slightest bit appealing. Lewis didn’t want to write an essay on the slime flavors of Chesky Island Slugs. He wanted to learn about something important and worthwhile.
Naturally, when Lewis found a volume of an old Encyclopedia in one of the many holes in the walls of his bedroom, he at once tore into it and found his topic. As he looked at the big fat “F” on the top of his graded essay, he decided that it might not have been such a good idea.
Essay on Mt. Sludgepot
By Lewis Harvey
Hundreds of years ago, Mt. Sludge Pot (originally called Mt. Volcano), kept erupting so much that the sky was grey and filled with incredible amounts of smoke and ash. It was a nuisance for the people of Chesky Island because it blocked the sun and kept their lavish gardens from thriving.
But all their problems came to an end in the seventeenth century when a Frenchman named Zhon-Pare Le Bleu discovered that the volcano was erupting because it kept getting clogged and backed up somewhere in the underground laval piping system. So he invented a mechanical device that removed clutter and laval blockage.
As it turns out, the volcano on Chesky Island isn’t an ordinary volcano. It is very much alive. The hole on top of the volcano is the mouth. Further on down the side of the volcano is the vent. This is how it breathes. If you feed the volcano, a black substance called sludge comes out on the other side.
Sludge is very useful. You can burn it and it made a very pretty green light, which is called limelight. Sludge can be dried out into strands that can be woven into clothing. In recent years, the manufacturing process has become so masterfully skilled that it looks as if it is made of fine silk if seen in a dimly lighted room.
Although the sludge from Mt. Sludgepot has its benefits and is used to make many fine products, there is one problem. It is an active volcano. When an active volcano rumbles, it starts spitting out hot lava. It splatters everywhere. This is a nuisance. It can burn your eyes out, you know. This can be horrible if you aren’t accustomed to having huge seeping pustules of steaming flesh covering your body. Nobody in their right mind would willingly volunteer to throw things in.
It didn’t take long for the island’s team of scientists to figure out how to solve this problem. They designed a pipe that could act as a safe volcanic feeding tube. Islanders could safely throw away their rubbage, and not have to worry about burning off half their face. It worked out so well that the guards of Chesky Island decided to throw all of their criminals in there as well.
Not long after the discovery of the sludge pot system, another man…a doctor by the name of Franz Lupenheimer came up with the marvelous idea of how to settle the heat level within a volcano, once and for all so it would never spit out lava. He discovered that Mt. Sludgepot would stop bubbling if you threw in dead bodies.
This is also how he got into a lot of trouble for disposing of a bunch of elderly folk in a local nursing home. He would have gotten away with it too if it hadn’t been for a retired acrobat named, Emile Delakit, an elderly man who was mistakenly thrown into the pit while napping one August afternoon.
Upon being thrown into the laval feeding tube, he suddenly awoke and did three swirling loop de loops and grabbed hold of the edge of the tube and climbed out. Nobody saw him escape and run down the other side. Had it not been for him, the senile sludge pot scandal of 1934 might never have occurred.
In order to avoid any more escapees from Mt. Sludgepot, a sky tram was erected over the island. Chesky island prisoners are placed into a sky tram car and carried across the island to Mt. Sludgepot. The sky tram car stops directly over the laval feeding tube. The floor of the sky tram opens up and down plops the prisoner.
Here’s something I bet you don’t know. A certain snack cake company once got into some big trouble for making their snack cakes using sludge as a main ingredient.
Lewis scratched his nose and wondered if he should have left out that last bit about the Ding Dong Company. People tend to get touchy about their Ding Dongs. Lewis groaned, slapped his face, crumpled up his essay and tossed it into the rubbish bin.
He plucked up a few large snails that were gliding across from the table, tossed them into a bucket, and wiped the slime trails with a wet washcloth. When he had everything in order, he sat down began filling tiny brown paper bags with mocha flavored Avec-vu vitamin powder. He did this for many long hours until his eyes drooped and he could hear his mother upstairs calling him to wind her chair for him.
He went upstairs, took care of his helpless mother, went into his bedroom and plopped down on the bed. He reached into his pocket, pulled out his pocket watch, and flipped it open. It was 10:19, as usual, and still broken.