Welcome To Mosesville

By:
ernstluchs@gmail.com

The rough-hewn sign read, “Welcome To Mosesville, Home Of The Twelve Tribes, State Football Champs 1989.” On either side of the sign stood a totem pole which featured twelve crazy-looking faces. A grey-haired man stopped his car, took a picture of the totem poles, lit a cigarette and then drove on towards town. He pulled into the first gas station he came to and inquired, “I was told I might be able to find here a Miss Helen Slenderhoof, daughter of Felix Von Peckerpuss, alias Doctor Helmut Fink.”

“She no come here no more,” said the swarthy hunchback from behind his black veil. “She kaput. Vamooshka. Fräulein a-go-go.”

A sneer of impatience came to the vistor’s face. “Look, my name is Karl Trouzerpantz. I’m a hunter of Nazis. But you are in no danger. I hunt only the Nazis and their spiritual counterparts, the Saudis.”

The gas-station attendant’s eyes widened in amazement. “You don’t believe me?” asked Karl. “I will show you.”

He opened the trunk of his car. It contained a small arsenal: rifles, handguns, boxes of ammunition, a couple of peashooters, and also a burlap sack labeled BAIT. “Ten thousand dollars in gold Krugerrands,” explained Mr. Trouzerpantz with a smile. “All Nazis are driven mad by gold. If you had been one I would already have caught you scratching at my trunk lid, howling like a hungry jackal. Now if you’ll tell me where the townspeople are hidden, I’ll give you a baby dinosaur.”

The attendant suddenly ran back inside the station and jumped, screaming, through a trapdoor behind the cigarette machine. His echoing cries faded into the darkness below. “Suicide,” thought Karl. “How refreshing.” He flicked his cigarette into the hole that might as well have been a bottomless ashtray. He had heard of such things.

Karl got back into his car and drove into the seemingly deserted town. On the outskirts was a barbershop. A faded sign posted outside read, “Haircut: $87. Shoeshine While You Wait Forever: $27.50.”

Beyond that place, the street widened until it reached the town square. It was laid out like a genuine Bavarian beer garden, complete with lush, ivied trellises and repugnant statues of Cupid. The fountains were, in fact, flowing with beer. That, along with the scattered piles of discarded lederhosen and black lingerie, was a telltale sign of a recent drunken orgy. Karl shuddered in disgust. He couldn’t bring himself to step out of the car for a more thorough inspection. No doubt Helen Slenderhoof was gone from here and well on her way to some other playground for the rich and filthy rich. No doubt her stereo was playing John Philip Sousa marches at full blast. No doubt she was making love at that very moment, giggling in the arms of some fascist gigolo while the world went to hell.

Karl took a stick of gum from his pocket and chewed it fiercely. Tears came to his eyes and he drove away.

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Of Love

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The following essay is excerpted from “50 Card Tricks You Can Do from Beyond the Grave, or Lost Writings of Francis Bacon.” A maelstrom of controversy has surrounded the recently published manuscript, which was claimed to have been discovered by a Chicago butcher, Charles Gorgopopolis, within the entrails of a slaughtered pig.

Since Bacon died in 1626, that would make the pig over 375 years old, and there are other hints that the book may be apocryphal. In several of the essays the English philosopher refers to his readers as “youse guys” or “regular Joes,” and he makes frequent mention of the Sears Tower and microwave ovens. Although the ink was still wet when he brought the pages to the publisher, Gorgopopolis swore they were written by Bacon, or Bacon’s wife, or at the very least Shakespeare, or possibly Shakespeare’s wife — but definitely someone wearing a goatee.

Authentic or not, the book provides remarkable insight into a man described by some as “a genius for all time,” and by others (including the pig) as “a real stinker.”

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“Love hurteth the heart as a dead mackerel doth offend the nostrils.” Thus spake the Greek general Alcibiades after Socrates had utterly refused his advances for that, as the philosopher saith, “They were not cash advances.” Indeed, for some, love and money are one, although love doth not pay quarterly dividends. Heraclitus hath called love, “That which one cannot step in twice without wiping one’s sandals.” Verily, Heraclitus was an ass.

We may distinguish four varieties of love: the love of parents for their children (when properly seasoned); the love of a boy for his dog; the love between two dogs, a lord chancellor and a bishop in garters; and most wondrous rare, the love between man and wife — so long as it be someone else’s wife. One may also speak of the love between a man and a suit of chain mail, but it would be wise to do so in a whisper if there are others present.

Yea, nor should we confound common love with true love. Common love, or as Chaucer hath writ, “a litel on the side, with bosoms,” is fit only for beasts and advertising account executives. True love, it will be seen, is always signaled by a rash upon the tongue and abdomen, to which diverse ointments may be applied without relief. If a man feel love for a lady, or even for his wife, he will not dip her hairpiece in a blood pudding or break a 16-piece stoneware dining set upon her brow, although when no one else is looking he may slap her lightly about the face and neck with his broadsword, in jest as it were.

Lastly is the love of heaven and things holy. As Dante hath made note in his crippled rhyme:

“Before mortals would know their Creator’s heart,

They first must send candy, or a thank-you card.”

Oft hath it been said in truth, Dante was an imbecile, yet he had beautiful handwriting. For God, like the Marines, is looking for a few good men…better men than Tom Cruise, one can but hope. And the love of God will take all good men on a holy pilgrimage, or perhaps a hayride to Hell — the scriptures are not always clear. But if thou shouldst chance to make pilgrimage to Chicago, and if thou hath a taste for fine porklike killing floor remnants, be sure to pay homage to the Gorgopopolis Sausage Emporium.

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Preserve

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We climbed slowly out of a pale thicket of aspens, working our way up the shoulder of a ridge until we reached a wide plateau of sage grasses. It was there that we spied them: grazing in a tight pack about 50 yards ahead of us, a herd of seven senior account coordinators.

“You can tell they’re senior by the size of their horns,” my companion remarked, handing me the binoculars.

Realizing that they were being watched, the account coordinators warily turned their large dark eyes upon us. Their shoes glistened in the dew and their well-combed manes gleamed in the clarity of high-desert light. Hesitantly, the herd approached, their lanky, trousered limbs rustling through the short scrub sage, until they were a short distance from us. There they stopped as the most senior of the senior account coordinators, a mature male in a majestic blue Armani and pale yellow tie, came forward to hand us his card:

Travis Marquist

Senior Account Coordinator

Travis seemed to be the dominant male of a herd which consisted of two other males, three females and one small faun-like intern who might have just been hired that spring.

Travis suggested that we do lunch sometime, and my companion and I told him we certainly would have to do that — sometime. He watched us pocket the card and, seeing no appointment forthcoming, quietly turned around to rejoin his herd.

Slowly, the account coordinators ambled away across the plateau, Travis taking up the rear. He interrupted his doleful gait every few feet to turn and regard us, perhaps to get a sense of whether we would pursue or not.

Receding farther and farther, becoming smaller and smaller, they finally disappeared over a low rise where Travis, still the last in view, stopped at the crest to observe us one last time. He brought his hand up to his cheek, extending thumb and pinky in the universal gesture of “we’ll talk.”

Framed against the cerulean sky, he sniffed the air, adjusted his tie and silently vanished over the horizon.

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