|The Story||The Authors|
|Dr. Evelyn Phibes was worried. She'd tried for a while to follow Muffy's trail
on foot but soon realized that it was useless. She'd gone back to get her car.
Not having any idea where the dog could have flown to she was reduced to
combing the streets in the general direction he had been heading and peering up
through the windshield as best she could. She touched the mojo she had around
her neck. This was some bad juju to be sure.|
All along the streets the usual Friday night crowds wandered merrily along their patchouli scented ways. Nothing. Pulling over on a side street she stopped to consider her options. It was then that she heard the sirens
Across the street the arresting, super-schnozzed profiles of the Easter Island
moai statue replicas on the roof of the Ti-ki Lounge stood in oily black
relief against the red-orange ribbon of gloaming at the Western edge of the sky
(where the dusk-ruddied sails of sailing boats and the winking lights of
booze-cruises came rippling Bayward) and beneath them, in the parking lot,
ambulances and police cruisers clustered like feeding pigeons. |
...Inside the Easter Island Ti-Ki Lounge was a scene from Heironymous Bosch. Profusely bleeding customers, many of them noseless, earless, eyeless, de-fingered, de-toed, or scalped, lay groaning amidst the fish-stinking carnage of a hundred crushed lobsters. Some of the lobsters had not yet received the coup de gras, and lay feebly clacking broken pincers or making still-feebler attempts to re-ascend into the air. These a teenage busboy, with a flap of skin hanging over his eyes where a lobster had tried to scalp him, was wandering through the carnage with a deep-fat-fryer basket and pulverizing the dying crustaceans until a police officer but his hand on the boy's arm and told him, "Thanks, kid... Yer doin' yer country a great favor here... But save us a few a dem spiny critters so's we can take 'em down to the station fer questioning..."
Meanwhile, Monty huffed and puffed along, trying desperately to keep up with the dead dog and his train or airborne, hostage-bearing lobsters. The dead dog occasionally turned his head on the grotesquely broken neck to regard Monty down below and utter some cryptic snatch of rhyme at him:
Clickety, clackety, wicker-snicker-snack!
... and barking hysterically to itself as it returned its sinister gaze to forward and mush'd the aerial caravan a few knots faster, causing poor out-of-shape Monty to subject himself to even further physical exertion in the humid San Francisco evening.
To one side sat Monty surrounded by a cadre of plain clothes cops eyeing him
suspiciously. "So..Ah...Darth, ah, tell us again what happened. I'm having a
hard time with this one. Flying dead dogs and swarms of killer lobsters, you
cna understand that."|
A fat one in a Montgomery Ward seersucker suit pulled the match stick from his lower lip and poked Monty's chest with it. "And don't leave out the part about how you weren't hurt in all of this." "The FORCE must've been with him." remarked his overweight and helmet haired companion through a walrus moustache. "Hey Markley, be nice." barked the first plain clothes cop." This fella's the only person to make it through this whole. He's important. Ain't that right, Darth?" All three of the copsleaned in close to Monty's face like hungry dogs hoping to lick a crumb or tow from his chin. He could smell the greasy lunch and cheap cigar and whiskey breath. "From the beginning...again."growled the first cop.
"When they carried off Barbara and that other woman, the Ti-Ki manager, I
followed them," said Monty, still panting from his strenuous and ultimately
fruitless pursuit of the dead dog et entourage. "I followed them halfway
to Marin but then the evening breeze picked up and they shot out of sight,
heading northeast. That's all I know..." |
"Alright, kid" said the fat cop; "I believe you more than I believe Crusty Crustacean here...' All eyes turned to the lobster sitting at the other end of the table, handcuffed to its chair. "This one won't give nuthin' away it's like he can't speak or something... We tossed him around a cell all afternoon, put cigarettes out on his antennae, and still not one woid! I tell ya, kiddo, I been around, I worked the Tenderloin twenty-seven years, I seen it all, so believe you me when I tell ya this is one tough lobster!" He sighed, scratching at his shiny, balding scalp. "And his gang's just as tough. We got nothin' to go on here except your fuckin' 'heading northeast on the evening goddamn breeze.' Ah, but odn't worry, kid: we'll get your lady back. Lobsters or no lobsters..."
|Meanwhile, flying high through the cooling evening air in the claws of several dozen lobsters, Barbara and Pata remained unconscious. Joselito, however, was wide awake: Barb's alcoholic higher power had a splitting headache from his own earlier Happy Hour fenestrations... In fact, he couldn't even remember how he'd gotten home.|
|Sitting blearily on Barbara's chest Joselito peered cautiously over the side. Joselito hated heights. It had been one of the reasons he'd taken this Higher Power gig despite the crappy hours and pay. It essentially made him earthbound. No long queasy nights on clouds and buzzing through the firmament in open space. God he hated this. Below him the outskirts of the city were giving way to the suburban. They were headed approximately northeast. Joselito was overcome with vertigo and shutting his eyes clung with all his might to the collar of Barbara's blouse. After a bit they began to descend and Joselito opened his nauseous vertiginous eyes on Petaluma.|
Right about this time Pata's Higher Power was waking up, too unfortunately
for Joselito, however, Pata's Higher Power was none other than Hinenuitepo, the
Maori goddess of Death, of she was in a pitch-black shit of a mood. |
"Kai whea?" [Where the fuck are we?] she boomed in a voice which only Joselito could hear (although the dead dog felt it like a particularly sharp flea-bite on his mangy rigor-mortis'd hindquarters) "Petaluma, my little brindle-bottom," replied Joselito in his best W.C.Fields voice (which was not a particularly good one) "Petaluma and rising..."
Click. Dr. Phibes turned on the radio in her car to see if
there was any news about the sirens she was hearing.
"...Time for traffic on the eights. Let's check in with
Stan Burford in the KGO jetcopter North of the Golden Gate Bridge.
How does it look out there Stan?"|
The radio blared Stanley's traffic report with the sound of helicopter blades in the background, "Well Greg, we're here above highway 101 between Marin and Petaluma and the traffic appears to be moving swiftly along with no backups...and now back to.....what the ?....I mean....holy..."
"Stan is everything ok?"
...the radio petered out in silence then, and Dr. Phibes wondered if this
weren't perhaps one of those wacky radio stunts, until she looked
northwestward, over the hills and houses and past the noble arches of the
Golden Gate Bridge to where the sun should have been setting in glorious
pollution-rich crimson over the ocean, only to find
In its place a varicolored cloud blotted out the sky, winking with a billion
faint movements, moving southeast, and Dr. Phibes was still imagining it as "a
Thunderhead of weirdling Aspect" until the first prawns and crabs began to flap
and float and flutter past the windscreen, the first flocks of aerial clams, a
trio of heavy, weed-encrusted abalones
thumping and scraping across the roof of the car. The radio came back to life
"Sorry Greg, I thought I saw a dog and a bunch of lobsters flying through
the air carrying two women being closely followed by a shark. Must be a weather
balloon or something. Back to you Greg."
"Allright Stan. You're sure vapors aren't leaking into the cock pit there? (Chuckle). Thanks for that unique traffic report Stan....."
Click. Evelyn switched off the radio. She knew it was Muffy.
Traffic screeched to a halt as the hail of crustaceans and sea life fell from
the sky. The road slick with the remains of squashed sea cucumbers and squid.
Dr Phibes cautiously maneuvered around a BMW convertible parked over the curb.
A squealing middle aged woman in Dior scarf was trying to get the top up while
avoiding the tentacles of a tremendous octopus that thrashed lasciviously in
the passenger seat beside her. Cars slid helplessly down the steep side streets
on a slick sheet of herrings. Cable cars careened to a stop covered in brightly
colored starfish. It seemed as if every door in Chinatown opened at once as
cost conscious restaurant proprietors rushed into the streets with bushel
baskets and spread aprons to gather tomorrow's seafood specials. The sidewalks
were a wriggling mess of felled pedestrians and Albacore death throes. Doorways
were jammed with people trapped on the street taking shelter from the peppering
of cherrystones and oysters. Many nursing open head wounds stumbled down the
sidewalk repulsed by the throngs at every building. Even the hippy throngs
along Haight-Ashbury stopped their incessant open air percussion jams to look
to the sky and cry as one,"Whoa Dude, Heavy."|
The air was shrill with the cries of gulls and terns and albatross shrieking with avian joy at the unexpected banquet. Barbara's car hood a symphony of bangs and skitters as armies of crabs plopped on it and sidled off onto the road. Screams, shrieks and carhorns blended in a cacaphonous whole. The emergency sirens started. A man with half his face a blistered welt from a direct assault by a Portugues Man o'War clawed at the door to Evelyn's car. She looked at him in horror and hit the gas.
Then from out of the choas came the turtle. Bright green and still with a few stray strands of seaweed clinging to her shell. She swam through the air with an almost zen stillness and landing calmly on the hood. It gazed through the spiderweb of cracked glass at Evelyn with large cow-like brown eyes. Ahau Waia [follow me] and with that it rose again and with a look over it's shoulder to see if she was understood began to move forward.
Meanwhile deep in the bowels of the Laffy Taffy saltwater taffy factory in Petaluma Joselito was between a rock and a hard place. Pata's higher power's mood had not brightened and she alternated between galring and swearing a blue streak at him in incomprehensible Maori. After securing the still unconcious forms of Barbara and Pata with the super resilient confection the lobsters had taken to a much needed rest in the main saltwater holding tank. (Months later the Laffy Taffy Confectionary company would go under in a class action lawsuit brought on by irate customer compaints about a "fishy" taste.)
Vigo Itsy looked out from beneath a cart at the creatures as they descended
into the saltwater tank. Thrusting his nose into the air and back and forth,
"sniff sniff sniff" He squeaked to himself,
"Hmmm, what are these creatures odiferous and smelly
"Their claws are gigantic yet lacking in fingers
Vigo was a little mouse that lived at the Taffy Factory. He'd never seen a sea creature before in his life aside from Lupo the goldfish that one of the secretaries kept in a bowl near her desk. Vigo and his friends could count on spilled GoldFish flakes for food when there was nothing else around. He'd also grown up with taffy as a staple, but the giant lobsters, easily 20 times his size, stood to change all that. And then there was the dog. He knew for certain that dogs were trouble. He scurried off to tell his friends.
|Barbara was having a dream, perhaps even a nightmare. Spiders were crawling across her palms. She could feel their legs tingling across her skin but when she moved her fingers to push the spiders away they had already crawled onto the back of her hand and her fingers simply became sticky with webbing. The spiders crawled in circles around her hands and wrists and the more she struggled to flick them away the more tangled and stuck to her they became in the web they were weaving. She was boxed in by fear of being stung, afraid they would bite her if they sensed her agressive fingers. She wanted the spiders off her, she couldn't stand the feel of the movement of their legs on her skin. She was sweating, eyes watering in fear, short of breath. Yet the more she struggled the thicker the webs became. The more bound she was. The less freedom she had. It was becoming harder and harder to move, as if she were being wrapped in a cocoon.|
|As she struggled against what she thought were spider webs, Barbara came to a confused consciousness. She could not move and she did not recognize her surroundings. She could feel the panic welling up insider her and wanted to scream but there was something sticky covering her mouth. She was able to move her head side to side and could see the hostess from the Easter Island Tiki lounge lying next to her. She was still unconscious and was bound in what appeared to be banana flavored saltwater taffy. On the other side of the room she could see a large vat of saltwater teaming with several dozen lobsters. Circling over her was the horrible corpse of a dog. A dog that she recognized. It was the very same dog she had run over while reading the marquis in front of the Gubernatorium!|
"Just keep playing Possum," whispered Joselito then, cooly, into the whorl of
Barbara's ear. "Don't let him know you're awake. Who knows what madness they
"I'm somehow reminded of that brawl that broke out at the Persimmon Room back in 1983... Remember?" she whispered back.
"Oh, cara mia, cooed Barbara's Higher Power back at her. "Not a day goes by that I do not treasure our escape from that nightmare. You were like Red Sonja..."
"And you, my little voix du Raison, were braver and cleverer than Jiminy Cricket why, when you bit that copper on the " But here her reminiscence was cut short by the arrival of the dead dog, who sniffed something different (underneatht he overpowering odor of bananas) about the Barbara-cocoon.
We shall leave Babs and Joselito to feign sleep, then, and proceed to the adjacent taffy cocoon, where, right about then, Pata was being rudely awakened by Hinenuitepo, Maori goddess of Death as well as Pata's own Higher Power, beating angrily on a rusted iron spirit-drum, shrieking unrepeatable blasphemies against the other gods and goddesses in the pantheon of old Oceania, gouging out her own omniregenerative eyes with a series of horrid shriekings, and generally making herself into an approximation of the Most Unpleasant Alarm Clock in the History of the World...
|"Oho! Whakaoho, hakewa! Ka kangaia e ia ona hoariri katoa!" [Wake up! Arise, idiot! Or I shall curse your entire family with shingles and chronic flatulence!] Hinenuitepo turned her mouth into a sharp beak and produced then the shrill, ear-splitting aue shriek of the gaena-bird, causing bllod to flow from Pata's ears. She then caused Pata's body to be covered with a swarm of tickling mice, in a cruel attempt to tickle Pata back into consciousness, meanwhile having grown nine extra sets of arms so as to be able to bang together all the metal cookware hanging from hooks on the wall in the kitchen of Pata's mind, and to tear open the drawers and throw all the silverware up in the air and came clattering down on the floor in much the same way that the inscrutable Chinee was once rumored to name his newborn children. But still Pata refused to awaken.|
Hinenuitepo then caused ten thousand cymbals to be clashed together
simultaneously, producing so loud a sound that wavers were felt through the
time-space continuum causing (a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away) such
bizarre ripples as the Taj Mahal and the White House momentarily replacing each
other, the splendid V of a flock of Canada geese (replicating the splendid V
hidden somewhere within the varicolored folds of Pata's sleep) to fly backwards
for ten miles, and a young lad (a country sawbones' assistant) named William
Grant to theorize the warbling circuitry of the theramin fully fifty years
before Thomas Edison harnassed the bluewhite power of electricity so that Don
Van Vliet could howl its praises in 1967 (accompanied by, of all things, a
But still Pata did not awaken.
Vigo wrinkled his bewhiskered nose from a hidden corner behind the sugar intake
This clatter and clashing, this primitive noise
Is wrecking my cool, destroying my poise,
but the old lady is dead to the world,
She's stuck in a coma, her sleep won't unfurl
while my sensitive ears get destroyed!
Despite his diminuative stature, Vigo Itsy was not a one to mess with when irritated. He flung himself from his hiding place and scurried furiously over to the angry Demi-God.
|Hinenuitepo had an idea. The bane of Pata's husbands existence was his inability to become romantic with his wife without her bursting into fits of giggling and laughter. He would always look forward to spending special evenings with her, and would go to great lengths to plan out elaborate romantic settings. Whether he rented a luxurious penthouse suite overlooking the bay and filled the room with the soft tones of her favorite Maori mating songs, placed hundreds of burning candles all around the bed, spread bouquets of beautiful blooming flowers all around and confections so that the smell of chocolate was in the air, laid out a scentuous array of body oils and comfortable fluffy down pillows, or whether he took her to a quiet place with the sound of running water, sunlight filtering down through the trees, birds chirping from above, a thick homemade quilt laid down on gentle fresh spring grasses, warm air moving just enough to warm their skin and bring them the fragrance of of the cherry blossom trees nearby. The setting didn't matter. He would caress her. Massage her. Recite poems to her. Kiss her passionately. He would look deep into her eyes and say "Pata He kotahi ano te kotahi, a, ko a ia anake.[One is one and all alone.] Kotahi tonu te mahunga o te tangata, kotahi te kaki. [A man has only one head and one neck] A tetahi ra ka hoki mai a ia ki te kainga. [One day he will come home.] Au kai whakarongo atua. [I have listened to God]. Nona Rongo[his message]: Whakapuakina te pono ahua [I speak the truth] Ko Ihowa Ahau, ko tou Atua. [I am the Lord your God.] Ko taku whakahau tenei [This is my commandment] me aroha tetahi ki tetahi [love one another]." Yet the moment he began touch her whakararo Kora [down there] she would start giggling. He would try to ignore it at first, but it would well up inside her and eventually she'd burst into a fit of laughter. Hinenuitepo seized on this experience and began to taunt Pata. Oho! Whakaoho! Panga kai whakararo Kora! [Wake up! Arise! Or I will touch you down there!]|
Pata began to giggle and blush though her eyes remained closed. "Ko te tikanga
kia ata whakaaro te rangatahi i mua i te ai!" she said, which meant 'Young
people should think carefully before they have sex!
"Turituri! Rorirori kohine! [Shut up! Stupid girl!]" roared Hinenuitepo who was by now very short on patience.
Fortunately for both Barbara and Pata, Dr. Phibes was following the flying sea turtle across the Golden Gate Bridge towards Marin and Vigo Itsy was formulating a plan to expel the trespassers.