THE INFORMATION #822
WHEN THIS WORLD CATCHES FIRE
BOOK THREE: SAVAGE NOXTOWN
CHAPTER TEN: PART FOUR: KINGDOM COME
Musky Dan leveled his beady gaze upon Judge Rance Sniffle, who was looking especially hale and prosperous, having just come from long walk during the course of which he paid a visit to City Hall to gas and bloviate with some of his cronies on the council; after which errand he enjoyed a fine mid-day dinner at the Hamilton Club, also in the Downtown area; the fare was boiled new potatoes, carrots, pickled green tomatoes, butternut squash, and roast beef with a creamy béchamel sauce, all washed down with a good wine–which left him feeling quite mellow as he took a horse-drawn cab through the slums of Shanty Street and made his way to the Uptown neighborhood, and thence through Jivetown. He was particularly nostalgic for its theatre district, in which vaudevillains entertained with rude slapstick and lewd routines in accordance with the low tastes of the town residents. From thence he proceeded to nearby Noxtown, where he had made a bee-line to the Seven Stars Saloon, one of the favorite haunts of his younger years.
“You can well defend yourself, Judge,” said Musky Dan, “and talk big, and look big, for your whole career has been a pursuit of the indefensible. Your rookers are dripping with lucre, ain’t they, as you find the scoundrel worthy of the freedom of the town while the poor bread-starved misdemeanant is sentenced to thirty days of making little ones out of big ones.”
“My good man,” said the Judge, who was not pleased to face his beady-eyed adversary, “I can see you are little better than a chronic malcontent, and if you aren’t careful, Goof, someone might come along like a thief in the night, and you will not be a happy Yellof.”
“If you are trying to threaten me, Judge, so’s you can frighten me into some kind of a panic, you’ve got the wrong Gee. I done been through Hell and back agin, and I don’t rattle that easy. How can you be so fatheaded and stupid and still live is one of the seven modern wonders of the world, along with the elevator and the velocipede.”
“Humph, kack, I do not deign to threaten a scoundrel,” said the Judge, “nor will I nail his lies to the counter–But. But you would do well to hear the clarion call of your destiny as it stares you in the face. If I have ever seen an individual who was born to be hanged, it is writ with acid clarity in the wrinkles of your debauched face. You of all people certainly do not wish to become ensnared in the toils of the law, My Little Man.”
Musky Dan grew red at this perceived slur on his stature. “I may be a broken down old man who’s lived too long and seen too much,” said he, “but you are a murderous rogue elephant come a traipsing through the forest looking to crush everybody in your path with your exaggerated bulk. Be wary, Judge, that the people you misuse don’t rise up en masse and put paid to your blunderings. Everyone knows you are a chucklehead of the first water, with apartments to let. And that you talk like an apothecary. Furthermore, they know that in your degraded chambers you feast on the poor and fling down their spotless bones to pile up at your fat and bloody feet. Somewhere someone will take care of you–and they won’t be as gentle as a nurse with a fretful baby. No, My Baby Boy, you may indeed find yourself with a new smile on your oleaginous and loathsome visage–as your odious throat is slit from ear to ear.”
“Kack, Humpf, what infamous effrontery,” said the Judge. “Am I to understand that a jurist with my distinguished pedigree is to be marked for death by a mere barroom loafer, a notorious penny-ante mooch, and a well-known malingerer? Were you a younger man, I might very well be tempted to challenge you to a lively round of fisticuffs which would leave you bruised and battered in the very precincts from whence your incalculable taunts presently emanate.”
“Try it and be damned, Judge.”
You could see that the judge was actually considering administering a drubbing to Musky Dan. But he knew well that even an old and toothless lion who no longer feared much of anything could still show his claws and be a formidable foe. So instead, he decided to up the ante and cast imputations upon Musky Dan’s nativity. “Born in the gutter,” he sneered, “and I can well see that ye never lost your taste for it. What ARE we going to do with you? You, and the veritable swarms of used-up and useless men who, like you, have nothing better to do than to guzzle bad hooch and retail seditious horse apples about your betters. At least a tramp, for all his faults, is willing to work when all other avenues of gauzy and soft minded charity have been exhausted. But–you? Kack, wheeze, pardon me, Sir, but what the hell do you do, other than drink the dregs of a better man’s leavings? What lady fair fails to shudder at the sight of you? What constable, upon espying you in his glims, fails to grip his billy and his sap a trifle harder? Even in spite of your kack, humpf, your high estate? What is there left for you to do, at the end of a long and disreputable existence, if you can even call it that, other than to drink your life away?”
Musky Dan had at least one trick left in the bottom of his bag, and was quick to step up to the plate to address this latest sally. “I know you well Judge–perhaps too well. You’re mighty fond of barking through the fence. You beat Akeybo–and Akeybo beats the Devil. You’re a Blood and Guts Alderman, and the Ale-Spinner’s best pal. If you spent more time working and less time in your altitudes snapping at the bottle, you might of made something of yourself in the sweet bye and bye. But you’re all jaw, moonshine, smoke, gammon, and pickles. Your soul is as thin as the gruel they serve at the workhouse. Your endless prating about your own importance is merely the shrieking of a vindictive monkey who is left free to roam and fling his warm droppings at the heads of the innocent. Your pride of ancestry? Faugh! A roast suckling pig has a more distinguished lineage. You were born of a sniveling cove and the acorn never fell far from the tree. Your mother’s milk was gall and wormwood, and it made you mean-spirited and false to all men save those from whom you scheme to gain a transitory advantage. You were born to worship at the feet of a deformed and mediocre God, and so have you yourself proven to be. I know you well, Judge–too well. Acknowledge the corn!”
You could tell that for some reason the final remark hit the judge right up to the mark.Because at that, the Judge turned to abskize but before he did skedaddle he sputtered, “You–you’ll be sorry, Sir, that you said that. You can’t get away with talking to me like that.”
To which Musky Dan replied, as smart as a new penny, “I’m not trying to get away Judge–I’m staying right here–’til hell or water high. You’re the one who’s advancing backwards.”
Big Haw Haw from all the Adams and the Abigails, the Abbots, and the Abbesses–as they realized the Judge had been good and bumsquabbled.
BOBBY FULLER FOUR
I FOUGHT THE LAW (DEMO)
GOOGLE IS WATCHING YOU
WHEN THE ROLLING STONES WERE EVIL
5*AVATAR OF THE ZEITGEIST
6* DAILY UTILITY
MOTHER OUTRAGED BY SCHOOL BUS SATANIC SYMBOLS
The Adventures of Mr. Obadiah Oldbuck
FACEBOOK LIKES COULD COST YOU A JOB
Reviewers for hire
THE JOE FRANKLIN EXPERIENCE
11* DEVIATIONS FROM THE PREPARED TEXT: A REVIEW OF OTHER MEDIA
CONTRA SCIENCE FICTION
I’m afraid I don’t know enough about science fiction to generalize about its merits or lack thereof. But it is fun to fulminate against. My opinion: Science Fiction is baseball for people who throw like girls. I’ve never known a sci-fi diehard who could throw a baseball. I have not tested this theory, but I would guess I am correct within three standard deviations.
What is it about so-called “science” fiction that’s so irritating to the likes of men of sober judgment? Likely, it is its many conventions. Mystery has kind of branched out. Sci-fi, as far as I can tell, has yet to do so. Like its cojoined cousin, Fantasy, it’s essentially just normal fiction with a scrim of the ludicrous. It’s like a pure white light projected through a prism of goofy pseudo-precognition. It’s everyday meat and potatoes expository prose with absurd bells and whistles. Its acolytes, nine-tenths of them, are the most irritating fanboys, Mama’s Boys, unicorn-huggers, armchair ice cream soldiers, bath-averse intellectual vagabonds, autodidactic dreamers, incorrigible Walter Mittys, croaking math geeks, myopic computer game obsessives, arrogant engineers, norm-haters, unpopular loners (see also: slasher flicks), slash-fiction writers, chrome and steel fetishists, feebs, wonks, nerds, code jockeys, clickbait enthusiasts, crackers and hackers, conspiracy theorists, UFO obsessives, candy-colored Archaeologist manques, autistic spaceship worshipers, devotees of freaky science, spacy channel-turners, incorrigible technophiles, bespectacled men who resemble hornrimmed fireplugs, women who wear multiple piercings as a badge of tribal uniqueness, melodramatic fantasists, quietly melancholic desperadoes, hopelessly asexual bucktoothed troll-men, folklore-and-mythology blowhards, mouth-breathers, Bigfoot believers, math prodigies, computer science majors, small-bosomed women who support innumerable cats, and bearded but soft-spoken fatsos sporting unironic pocket-protectors. It is a genre that makes invalids out of supermen, to quote the inestimable Captain Beefheart. A love of science fiction is less a gross character flaw (although it is also that) and more a simple and egregious lapse in taste and judgment.
By the way, there is a name for good science fiction. It’s called “fiction”.
11A BOOKS READ AND REVIEWED
THE ADVENTURES OF MR. OBEDIAH OLDBUCK. TOPFFER. ***
THE AGE OF ANXIETY. TONE. ***1/2
THE BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES OF THE CENTURY. UPDIKE. ****1/2
BLACK CANARY & ZATANNA: BLOODSPELL. ***
DEATH TO DUST: WHAT HAPPENS TO DEAD BODIES? ISERSON. ****1/2
THE ECCO ANTHOLOGY OF CONTEMPORARY AM. SHORT FICTION. OATES. ****
THE MYSTIC PATH TO COSMIC POWER. HOWARD. ****
SAM HENDERSON’S MAGIC WHISTLE 11. ***1/2
SLANG AND ITS ANALOGUES. FARMER & HENLEY. ****1/2
TRAVELS IN SIBERIA. FRAZIER. ****
CONTROVERSIES IN POPULAR CULTURE.
780. DR. JECKYLL AND MR. DRUNK