- MODERN WISDOM PRESENTS: THE MODERN WISDOM DYSLEXICON
GRATUITIES. See Extortion.
HARLEQUINS. Never turn your back on a mean clown with a wooden sword.
IDEOLOGY: Melts in your mind, not in your mouth.
IDEOLOGY: Tomorrow’s fable.
IDEALISM. I wanted to be idealistic but I knew it was doomed to failure.
INFLATION. We’ll whip inflation even if we have to double our production of currency.
ITALIAN MONEY. Italian money is written in Braille so even blind people will know how worthless it is.
JAN AND DEAN. The Beach Boys for retards.
LIBERTARIANS. You…aww, you guys are fucking nuts.
LOBSTER. An overgrown cockroach with claws.
MARRIAGE: Often made in heaven and lived in hell
2, Noir Misfortune Cookies
- Satan has rejected your clumsy animal sacrifices.
402. An alert Copper will spot your homemade dye job.
403. Sacrificial Goat is now your Full-time Profession.
404. Your bogus resume has gone straight into the circular file.
405. Not even a shyster lawyer is anxious to defend you.
406. The neighbors report that you are neglecting your dog.
407. Twenty years of wake-and-bake have left you drooling.
408. Your obsession with Ninjas will get you killed.
409. What’s eating at your mind? Everyone knows it’s Murder.
410. Only Mother cares, but watch out for her.
411. God’s Rule: The Innocent Must Suffer.
412. Critics deplore your recent work as “Tasteless”.
413. Your house is constructed on a foundation of sand.
414. Your excuses reek of premeditation.
415. Everything is gone but your painful regrets.
416. It’s the Human Condition–but you are barely even Human.
417. Black Muslims don’t take kindly to mouthy Skinheads.
418. The Motorcycle Gang knows you are wearing a wire.
419. Dogs bark and shy away at your evil face.
420. Hidden microphones record your jailhouse boasts.
421. You lurk to overhear their slanders, but you never do.
422. Your ancestors are all notorious axe murderers.
423. You can’t even pretend you didn’t mastermind that job.
424. The Law’s Conclusion: Three Generation of Imbeciles Are Enough.
425. Forget It: They are tired of your idiotic lies.
426. Desperation has saturated your ill-fitting clothes.
427. You Poor Fool–of course you can be hypnotized.
428. The FBI resents your gossip about the Director.
429. Cruel men await the chance to do you harm.
430. Paranoia is not your hobby, but a Way of Life.
431. They’ll murder you solely for your share of the loot.
432. Mister, Beware–He has walked 500 miles to kill you.
433. Mama never loved you and she never will…now.
434. That sophisticated prostitute will horn in on your racket.
435. The “diet pills” have turned your brains to oatmeal.
436. Ether-soaked rags will be found in your trunk.
437. The darkness you fear most is in your soul.
438. Sins of omission will prove your downfall.
439. She will sweep you from her life like a broken toy.
440. They will list your Cause of Death as “Arrogant Stupidity”.
441. Racists hate you, and you’re not even Black.
442. Stop your foolish boasting or they’ll slap you down.
443. You will grub through restaurant discards like a starving dog.
444. Your bourgeois classmates complacently condemn you.
445. Your criminal companions taught you–but not well enough.
446. Cops claim that cheap slum you peddle is hot merchandise.
447. You will be nearly pecked to death by angry swans.
448. “If Only” just won’t cut it, you whining Punk.
449. You will finally step up, only to get beaten down.
450. Self appointed “Reformers” are targeting your enterprises.
451. The Sheriff knows you’re only masquerading as a Preacher.
452. Nitro is nothing to monkey around with, Gimpy.
453. “World’s Most Famous Carnival Geek”–nobody envies You!
454. They do not get “The New Yorker” in prison.
455. You play like a bookworm and read like an athlete.
456. You will sell your medals for a slug of rotgut.
457. You have just enough time to write your Will.
458. You will finally learn to read and write…in Prison.
459. No Bandleader wants or needs a junkie Percussionist.
460. You will squander your lump sum pay-out in Vegas.
461. The Big Man has no patience for Stupes like you.
462. You swore you’d never go back. You’ll break that vow.
463. She is nowhere near as sweet as Tupelo Honey.
464. Jimmy Crack Corn–the Mob DOES care.
465. You will become familiar with the smell of hot lead.
466. The truth will certainly never set YOU free.
467. They’ll get you in the end–literally.
468. They know it was a frame-up, but they just don’t care.
469. Your friendly pusher has tripled the price of your fix.
470. Poor Fool: One question has been answered; dozens yet remain.
- 471. From Day One your lousy attitude has held you back.
- 472. Nothing can make it right, though money will be accepted.
473. The marriage wasn’t legal–you inherit nothing.
474. Pimp? Sucker, you’re not even a pimple on a pimp’s ass.
475. Maybe another beating will penetrate your thick skull.
476. Never let ’em see you sweat–too late for you, Fatty.
477. New obstacles await, each more deadly than the last.
478. You will sabotage society, one day at a time.
479. You will fry, but for the murder you DIDN’T commit.
480. You loved her. Didn’t you? Loved her…to death.
481. The Big Man’s cold dead eyes promise dire consequences.
482. Remember: It’s Lonely at the Top. And Deadly.
483. The Consigliore strongly recommends your early death.
484. Listen, Jailbird–You’ve got nothing coming to you.
485. Dreams die hard. You will die even harder.
486. Once your father dies, nobody will defend you.
487. You’ll remain a stranger in this world…and the next.
488. You will live–and die–by betting on the Ponies.
489. A hard-luck two-timing Dame will suck you in.
490. They will find you cutting out paper dolls in Stir.
491. They will break every one of your itchy trigger fingers.
492. She hated her Slob Husband; she’ll learn to hate You.
493. Every one of your hunches will be spectacularly wrong.
494. If you gotta tell ’em who you are, then you ain’t.
495. Your “Doctor” thinks the world is 6,000 years old.
496. Black Despair is not through with you just yet.
497. You should have changed all your passwords–too late now.
498. Nonexistent sirens will haunt your sleepless nights.
499. First you’ll see Red and then you’ll see Black–Forever.
500. It’s always Darkness, standing before the Don.
- THE THREE TRAMPS
Reader, I will be frank. I have often been accused of “thinking too much” by jealous academicians of every stripe. (Of course, they themselves, had been, undoubtedly, accused of much the same “crime”, most likely by men who themselves do not think at all.)
To this accusation I plead guilty. Guilty as charged.
But, if I am guilty, I plead I am guilty merely of an excess of logical vigor in pursuing my
arguments—a certain savage joie de vivre in strangling the arguments of the opposition in the bed where they lay.
If you have gotten this far in my tale, you are obviously a person of intelligence and discernment. I beg you to read on.
Before I proceed, let me lay out the facts as I understand them and explicate them one by one—with, it should go without saying, the impeccable logic which is the hallmark of my profession as well as the firmest instinct of my character.
The evening of Sunday, August 30, was unseasonably hot. Then it began to rain. At that time I was walking my dog in the park some three blocks—four-tenths of a mile, to be precise—from my home. There were three tramps in the woods. On two earlier occasions, my hound had worried them from their warren. Or so I like to call it.
(You may call it a camp, or shantytown, or hobo “jungle” or other such vulgar term. In fact, you may call them homeless vagabonds or murderous brigands or—ugh–“hikers,”—or, for that matter, whatever you please. I shall continue throughout to refer to them as tramps. For does not the ineffably wise Confucius call upon us to “rectify the language?” )
I shall try to be brief. Here is what happened. On that rainy night these three tramps went their separate ways and attempted to break into three homes. One belonged to an elderly widow who lived two doors from the far side of the park. One belonged to a possessive and territorial brood of Italians three doors from the near side of the park. And one house belonged to me.
May I digress? It occurs to me that the genre known as “science fiction” is not in any way deserving of the term. True science, at least by my definition, seeks to create a way of seeing the world and corrects that worldv ision as new theories crowd out the old. Science fiction does not do this. Nor is “experimental” fiction deserving of the name, for it does not conduct its narrative experiments by any rigid methodology. Let us be frank. Science Fiction is merely boy’s fiction with a technological veneer. Experimental fiction might more properly be called abstract fiction, since it corresponds to that movement in art which eventually supplanted representational and even so-called “impressionistic” forms—namely, abstract art. Of which, I have little to say. Right wing cranks may despise it, since (and because) it was never meant for such as they. But I find it endlessly fascinating, if often exasperating. Or perhaps because it is so often exasperating.
I mention these facts because the following narrative is, in fact, an attempt to incorporate both science and experimentation (but no, not abstraction) into my account of what happened on that rainy night that three tramps were chased from the park and one of them broke in through the cellar of a home and brutally murdered a helpless and defenseless old woman as she lay asleep—dreaming, no doubt, of her deceased husband and her neglectful kinfolk and the loudmouths and vulgarians who congregate in an endless procession in the park, and perhaps even of the nearby old age home which, if she had sensibly sold her home and entrusted her care instead to their staff of professionally trained attendants, and her safety to the security guards which prowl its dusty parking lot both day and night, she might yet be alive as I write this tale. Yet, if she were alive, I would not be writing this account.
For a tale pertaining to the unsuccessful attempts made by three tramps to break into suburban homes would hold little interest save to dullards. The tale requires murder as the sauce to make the plain fare a more savory one. But furthermore, it is an attempt at a logical reconstruction of events.
For this is a true story. Not “based on a true story”, as the credulous might say. Let me be as plain as I can be. This…is…a…true…story.
First, let us speak of the rain. In the New England of my birth, sudden summer cloudbursts were commonplace, as were torrential rains lasting for hours. More rare were rains of roughly one hour duration. But an exhaustive search (made by myself) of newspaper accounts covering the years 1990-2000 prove that at least 15 such downpours occurred in this vicinity. That evening was one of them. Furthermore, on that evening, based on my observations, it rained for exactly 63 minutes, from 10:14 to 11:17pm.
Now let us speak of my walk. At 10:13 I had set out from my house and had reached the park perambulating at a brisk pace, accompanied by my hound, at 10:17. By that time the rain had begun. It is my wont to walk the dog for an hour. The veterinarian, Dr. Minimoto, noting that the dog was sluggish and overweight, had recommended three walks of twenty minutes duration, but I preferred four circuits of the park.
Each circuit of the park takes twelve minutes, and each walk to and from my house to and from the park takes roughly four minutes, for an estimated duration of 56 minutes, and an estimated total distance traveled of roughly 3.25 miles. At 10:25, nearing the perigee of circuit one, I heard a ruckus from the house of the Italians. I took no further note of this, thinking it was merely the racket from some unspeakably violent television program of the sort such people are fond of wallowing in. At 10:59, at the apogee of circuit three, I heard a loud banging noise from what I suspect was the house of the widow. On returning from my walk at approximately 11:08, I startled a shabbily dressed man in my back yard who looked as though he was attempting to break into my basement window. I unleashed my hound and he chased the malefactor across our modest yard.
We had inherited from the previous owner of our house a chainlink fence, of the brand name “Cyclone”, which the tramp duly leaped over to escape my hound, leaving behind a shard of cloth which stuck to a triangular point of the fence.
Now perhaps here I should mention the tramps. How do I know there were three? I do not, repeat, do not know that for sure. But somehow, the number three seems right. For I know there was at least one, for I saw his sleeping roll on the first occasion, late in April, when my dog had stumbled across it. On a subsequent occasion, late in June, I heard two loud voices. One was of Tramp One (for so I considered him), and the other was of Tramp Two (for so I now designate him). On a third occasion, early in July, I heard Tramp One talking to another individual, who I designate as Tramp Three.
Whether these three traveled as a unit, and took their evening’s rest as a part of the same triad, I cannot assert. But intuitive logic (which has largely been discredited but to which I still loyally adhere) says it is so.
Surely, no tramp would talk loudly in two different voices in a vain attempt at trapping an alert listener into being deceived that they were hearing two distinct individuals, let alone three. What tramp would be that astute? (I assert that no tramp would do such a thing, any more than I would attempt to palm off a shard of my own clothing as a rag left behind upon a cyclone fence by a fleeing tramp.It is only logical. )
To be sure, I have lost many potential academic appointments whenever the subject of logic has come up. For I have come up with what I believe is an important historiological advance in the study of history. And I have used as my example the logic of the Kennedy assassination. The key to this enigma is the key to all American History. I dare any truly scrupulous historian to deny it.
Yet, rather than an exclusive University endowing me with a chair in the discipline I designate as Logical Historiometrics, I have had, these past five years, to earn my crust teaching (parttime) a course in contemporary history to legions of slackjawed boobs at a small community college of no repute.
But I am no mere credulous conspiracy theorist. I have, it is true, been a constant patron of the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum archives, practically since it opened its doors. The retired Boston ex-cops who guard its doors know me by sight. And they like me. Because behind their gruff demeanors they must surely know that I am the friend of all policemen. Even though they try to trap you with their simplistic reductio ad absurdams and their childish good-cop bad-cop routines.
Well, I will not be a victim.
Let me assert right now that I am not a conspiracy theorist. I deal solely in facts.
(Of course, speaking of the Kennedy assassination, you are –I hope–aware that Oswald was a patsy. In much the same way as myself. But I am getting ahead of my story.)
Sadly, no evidence of the three tramps has been found to bolster my story. But as I understand it, regarding the events of the night of August 30, I must first speak of the possessive Italian family who occupies the house three doors down from the near side of the park. When I was in the habit of walking my hound in the day, as I strode purposely past their bungalow on the way to the park, one of them—let us designate her as The Matriarch—would observe me narrowly from one of the two front windows of the second floor.
One time, when my dog had an accident on their (admittedly) impeccably groomed lawn, the following exchange ensued:
M: Is that nice?
I: It wasn’t me—it was the dog!
M: Why do you let him do that?
I: Madam, it is in a dog’s nature! Is it not in the nature of a scorpion to sting?
With that, she slammed shut the window. I looked about for a tissue or plastic bag to scoop up the steaming dung, but to no avail. I briskly walked to the park to procure one, and upon my return, encountered her hairy, glowering son, arms folded across his chest, surveying me from the opened door of the first floor. Thankfully, he said nothing as I cleaned up the mess left by my importunate hound. I say thankfully, for he was wearing a sleeveless t-shirt popularly known among the vulgar and slangy as a “wifebeater”. I am sure no productive inputs would have resulted with a dispute with this insufferable Bluto.
I speak next of the old widow who lived on the far side of the park. The constant refrain of this wretched hag was that the neighborhood had gone to the dogs. She meant this quite literally. On any given afternoon she would be seen to walk feebly out to her front yard, sunblasted and disoriented, seat herself, then peer out at the passerby from the dubious comfort of a flimsy white plastic chair of a type popular among the needlessly thrifty or the actually impecunious. (It should be noted that I myself own such a chair, which I fished—I admit it proudly—gratis, from the sidewalk trash of a slightly more affluent neighborhood.)
The widow spent her days engaging all and sundry in the desultory sort of talk which is the boon and balm of the lonely and old in every locale. Isn’t it a shame, this emptyheaded old woman would opine, that the Negroes moved in seven blocks down the road? Isn’t it a shame that people let their dogs leave messes in the park? Would I sign a petition to forbid people from using the park to walk their dogs? (No, Madam, I would not! The first amendment is one of the mainstays of my political philosophy. “Freedom of assembly” was evidently a privilege this crone had long forgotten, if she had ever been taught it in the first place, which I doubt.)
In short, this spiteful (and yet pitiable) old witch spent the balance of her feeble decline afflicting the young and vital with her plaints. Such, I suspect, will be the probable fate of all who refuse to engage in a life of the mind—until it is too late.
I will not speak in any detail of why lately I was wont to walk the hound at the extravagantly late hour of 10 o’clock, save to mention that my brain—occupied in the early evenings by what I conceive of as my unique studies–is still quite active at that hour, and I find a long walk soothes my spirit enough to enable my mind to slow down so that I might get to sleep at a decent hour. For my tossing and turning has recently been the bane of my wife’s existence.
I must now speak of my loving wife. She is almost twenty years younger than myself and I will not deny that I love her a great deal. I met her when she was a graduate student and I was an assistant professor just beginning my career at, of all places, an institution vulgarly known as a “business college”. This was shortly before what one might call my fixation upon the Kennedy assassination, when I still had a bright and promising career ahead of me. That she has had to help support me for nearly twenty years while I finished my course of—admittedly self-imposed—studies has been a bane to her existence, but she has loyally stuck by me. (At least until now.)
Did I mention that she was an exchange student and that English is not her first language and that she was rather thick around the ankles? No matter. This data is irrelevant.
I hope you see that I have covered the background circumstances to the best of my ability. Let me now attempt to reconstruct what I think must have happened on that fateful rainy night. Read quickly, for I may need to call upon your assistance in chasing down and apprehending these three tramps. They are the only ones who can corroborate my story, and, for reasons which you shall see, it is important that I should be believed.
Of course, thanks to the recalcitrance of the police (with whom, hitherto, despite a minor contretemps or two, I have always gotten along famously with,) these selfsame tramps might very well by now have hopped on a passing freight car, proceeded to the nearest port, and stowed away (perhaps on a “tramp” steamer!).
(The preceding sentence was an attempt at “gallows” humor—a type which (at least) hithertofore I have always found highly distasteful. Forgive me. It shan’t happen again.)
The vengeful tramps, soaked by rain, afraid of my dog (which had harassed them on previous occasions), and resentful of those with warm basements, sought to appropriate (as do the proletariat the world over) the pelf of the bourgeoisie. To achieve this end, they divided their forces. One lazy tramp sought in vain to penetrate the encampment of the Italians. Whether they drove him off or not this tight-knit clan has refused to confirm. Another tramp proceeded to my home, with the results which I have already related.
What I have thus far failed to mention was that I duly called the police. The following day a rather porcine fellow arrived to “take my report”, as he put it. I gave him the benefit of all my observations, not omitting to mention the ruckus at the home of the Italians or the noise I heard from the widow’s cottage. He gave me his card and told me he would be “in touch”. Whether his rather perfunctory dismissal of my concerns was at that time a source of satisfaction to me I leave for you to guess.
The third tramp—ah. He succeeded in his aim, and, after having broken into the home of the widow, strangled her then fled. No money was taken. It would seem as though he walked out the front door after committing his foul deed.
No word of this murder was reported in the newspapers until the afternoon of Wednesday, September 2. It was at one pm that this selfsame detective appeared at my door telling me he wished to “ask me a few questions.” I repeated my story and he seemed contented. He asked me where I worked and told me he would “stay in touch.” Witness my surprise when, three hours later, a squad car pulled up to my door, two policemen emerged, and I was told I was to be escorted to headquarters to “clarify a few points.” Given the circumstances, only a cad would have declined their request, so I set off to the station with these two ruffians.
I have now been held in their filthy jail for ten hours. I believe they suspect me of complicity in the death of the widow.
Sad to say, I have recently spoken to my wife. It is likely that when I appear before the magistrate, an excessively high bail will be set. My wife has already mentioned that she will not mortgage her home on my behalf. (The house is in her name.) Nor, she says, can she—“she”, note, not “we”–afford the services of a bail bondsman.
So all I can do to occupy my time is to write this account and commit as much of it to memory as I can.
Let me ask you—how is it that the Italians, normally so territorial (as I have demonstrated), could have failed to detect an intruder? Is it out of some foolish adherence to the code of Omerta or merely some grudge which they hold against me, that they have failed to confirm my account?
And how is it that (if indeed I am guilty, rather than one of the tramps) no neighbor has come forward to definitively identify me as the culprit?
And why was there no blood on my clothing? Why did I leave no DNA evidence at the scene?
Could I have murdered the woman at 10:59 and made it back to my house nine minutes later—a walk which normally takes at least ELEVEN minutes? Let us assume (as no doubt the detective did) that I ran. Could I have murdered the woman that quickly? Would I not be out of breath when calling the police to report my encounter with the intruder? And what about the telltale scrap left upon my fence? Why has no so-called detective exhaustively examined it under his microscope?
I conclude that the detectives simply want to solve this case, and care not whether I did it or not.
Otherwise, how could they accuse a man such as myself of this murder? Quo vadis? What was my motive? Cui bono? Are there really “enough holes in my story to drive a truck through,” as one blue-clad vulgarian facetiously quipped? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
If I AM guilty, WHY would I call the police? Why?
In my defense I can only continue to assert that such a conclusion is simply not…logical.
- THE ANYTOWN “FOUR HUNDRED”
By “Peanuts” Butler & Arentino Capriccio
Inspector Peer Coot
Katherine Bird Gray
Rose Bay Lapland
Carolina C. Lavender
Detective L. Limpet
Umberto B. Prairiechicken
‘Affidavit’ Red, Esq.
Leonard Shark, R.N.
Charles William Widdow