|The Story||The Authors|
|Lydia just chortled, "Come on babes lets make chocolate brownies!" and with that she stepped into the pantry and emerged with a box of Betty Cracker's best. Janice was ecstatic. She hadn't had any since the surgery. Vashondra yawned, "Anybody got a nail file?" Lydia emptied the box into the Cuisinart and at that moment Max Bialistuk came into the kitchen. "Hi ya babes!" he exulted, "I'm glad you're all here, I want all of you to hear this. I'm putting together a new show for Broadway and I want all of you in it!" The girls were stunned. It was a dream they all shared and now it was going to come true. Max went on, "I've got a great script by Betty Ford and Marvin Hamlisch is going to do the music and Arthur Murray is going to do the choreography with the help of the Psychic Friends Network." "The John Deer Corporation and Wal Mart are the co-underwriters" The kitchen exploded with laughter and tears of joy. Vanshondra still couldn't find a nail file.|
|Unfortunately the explosion of laughter and tears of joy set off a larger explosion when it reacted with an obscure chemical preservative in the brownie mix. This in turn burst the gas connection into the stove and in seconds the entire house was consumed in fireball with all the occupants burnt alive, their charred corpses burnt beyond recognition except for Vanshondra who was identified by the remnants of Lee Press-on Nails. Meanwhile Mr. Tickles had problems of his own.|
|He had picked up the ladies vibes before and was waiting patiently in a room at the nearby Motel 6. He didn't realize until he heard the explosion that there would be no wild night of lesbian sex with him as the ringmaster. "It sucks to be me" said the horny dwarf. He hadn't had a good lay since Snow White kicked him out of the cottage and was so horny he could screw a squash.|
|No squash being available, the dwarf ferreted about the Hotel 6 bedroom in search of any other maliable substitute for the likes of lesbian Snow White. There was nothing to speak of, and the glimpse of the bible lurking in the bedside table was enough to dampen the urges emanating from his wee loins. Down to the Motel 6 bar for a beer instead - and perhaps a shot of sour-mash whiskey to drown his loneliness.|
In the time it took Mr. Tickles to traverse the brief distance between his room and the bar, 30 dismal, eventless years passed.|
A plague swept across the planet, mercilessly killing everyone with a first name of less than two syllables. The hundreds of millions of corpses of all the Toms, Eves, Truongs, Sues, Earls, Chans, Lees, and so on were carted off to Antarctica and burned on a massive, continent-wide funeral pyre which ultimately melted the southern ice cap and revealed the massive and indecipherable remains of an alien civilization hidden beneath it.
America became a sort of giant ghost-town. Even Madison Avenue was beset by coyotes, tumbleweeds, dust-storms and plagues of grasshoppers.
Down in the "Ponderosa Lounge" of the Motel 6, an old man rubbed his tired eyes and poured himself another stiff, neat Scotch.
As if from out of nowhere, a high little voice announced, "Make me one of those while you're at it."
"Can it," old Mike told his shrapnel.
"Wasn't me," replied the shrapnel.
"Then who in Sam Hill was it?"
"It was me," came again the seemingly sourceless pipsqueak voice.
"Who's me? What in tarnation's going on here? Did Management somehow neglect to inform me that the Motel is hosting a ghost convention this weekend, or have I finally gone completely loco, to be hearing voices where no flesh presents itself to the eye?"
"No, no, no, I'm down here," replied the voice.
Mike put down the highball glass he was wiping the everpresent lint from and peered over the bar.
On the floor stood a tiny man!
"Ho-ho, ha-ha," exclaimed Mike, obviously delighted. "Little man! Funny little man! Ho ha hee! Come let Grand-pa-pa dandle you on his big shoulders!"|
In its tiny studio apartment between Mike's coccyx and duodenum, the shrapnel groaned and rolled its eyes. Why? Why did it have to be lodged in so pathetic and embarrassing a specimen of humanity? Why humilated by this senile ninny, day after day after day? What sort of heinous, Bronze Age, ancestral Bad Karma had the shrapnel been working off for the past 31 years?
Mike was beside himself. "Little man! Tiny funny roly-poly! Oh ha ha hee hee hoo!" He waved his hands and giggled like a baby -- a sixty-five year old man, for sweet jesus' sake!
Mr. Tickles was not amused. He wanted a drink. He wanted his five naked bisexual nymphets all going down on him simultaneously while he greased their spheroid buttocks with homemade almond butter and bade the room service boy "Come hither, thou knave, and shoot thee this uncut Peruvian flake cocaine up mine bushy nostrils with yonder blow-gun!" He did not want to be patronized by this disgusting old coot who had now come around to where the dwarf stood, lifted Mr. Tickles up in his liverspotted arms and sat him on top of the bar, and presented him with a giant, rainbow-colored lollipop with a head of nearly the same diameter as Mr. Tickles' own.
"A-ha! Pret-ty candy for roly-poly tiny funny-bunny! Ha hee ho ha hoo!"
"For fuck's inimitable sake," groaned the dwarf and the shrapnel, inwardly, in perfect simultaneity, "Somebody please put this nauseating gaffer out of our collective misery, before the world is subjected to so lethal a dose of sacharrinity that it will never be the same again! Sweet Jesus, in Your infinite Mercy, save us from this veritable Prince of Morons!"
The shrapnel tried to cross that crucial millimeter to the base of Mike's spine, from whence it could resume its occasional role as the Puppet Master, and was thus too occupied to notice the cloud of smoke and incense which began to manifest in the center of the room.
Mike -- with a cry of "Big Horsey-horse take tiny funny man trot-trot-trot! Ha hee ho!" -- had lifted Mr. Tickles onto his shoulders, where the latter began to box him about the ears before grabbing ahold of a conveniently dangling chandelier and hoisting himself up onto it as if onto a playground swing.
And it was from this lofty vantage of comparative safety that he came face-to-face with the ghastly, disembodied countenance of the previously-invoked Jesus Christ, appearing from out of the cloud of smoke and incense replete with faintly audible seraphic choir and a buzzing host of cherubim the size of houseflies. "Huh?" gasped the dwarf.
"You rang?" replied the Son of God.
"Yeah," said the dwarf. "You took my bitches, you thieving bastard! Where my bitches be at?"
"They reside in My Father's house -- in which, by the way, are many mansions, with a wide variety of mortgage options available. Why rent when you can own?"
"What if I give you the old fart? The old fart and, oh, let's see --" he took out his wallet and counted the bills -- "Three thousand dollars? You gimme back my bitches then?"
"The Lord taketh away, yea, and the Lord giveth. It is a deal."
Suddenly a chill ran through the shrapnel. For years he had dreamed of this day, imagined it down to the smallest detail. He despised and resented Mike so much, he'd neglected to consider one important detail: when Mike went, so did the shrapnel.