In order to assimilate recent bad news I retreated to my Redneck Mind Palace. The roof was high and cantilevered. There were scattered fires over which steaks were being grilled. One of the fires was a heap of unfiled paperwork. My brain had parked a decrepit tractor in the distance. Predictably, it didn’t run.
Various aspects of the Curmudgeon psyche milled about; some where ghostly images of real people others were invented from whole cloth. Guglielmo Marconi and Rudolf Diesel were taking turns yelling at an AMC gremlin about “shitty engineering”. Three Vikings joined in and started ramming the car with a roto-tiller. Several gearheads were tearing apart a wooden bench and, improbably, assembling a motorcycle from the parts. Vasily Zaytsev was at another bench reloading ammo. Albert Einstein was using a 3D printer to make margaritas. Ernest Hemingway was bitching about the margaritas and trying to pick a fight with George Washington. Hemingway turned and ran when Alexander Hamilton suggested a duel. Beowulf and Elmer Fudd prowled the periphery looking for Grendel and wascally wabbits.
As the creator of this controlled chaos I strode among “my people”. It seemed like a happy crowd. Some were drinking. Some were thoughtful. Some were solo while others were in groups. Some were busy. Some were quietly reading books. They needed to hear the news.
Because it’s my brain I got to take the big chair. Are we not each rulers of our own hypothetical empires? Once I was comfortably seated on a throne made of hippie tears and the skulls of slain enemies I motioned for Blogger and Drill Sergeant. Blogger was a pale wimpy nerd with Coke bottle glasses. Drill Sergeant was an utterly uncreative stereotypical screaming jackass. “Blogger, take notes. Drill Sergeant begin the process.”
“ALLRIGHT LISTEN UP YOU REPREHENSIBLE HYPOTHETICAL SHITHEADS. IT’S TIME FOR THE QUARTELY MENTAL ASSESMENTS. IT’S TIME TO EXAMINE HOW MUCH YOU SUCK AND WHAT DAMAGE WINTER IS DOING TO THE BIG GUY’S PLANS. WHEN YOU’RE CALLED YOU WILL RESPOND. YOU WILL SPEAK ONLY WHEN SPOKEN TO. YOU WILL…”
I let this go on for about 20 minutes. A man needs to keep his emotions under control. When I waved Drill Sergeant to cease it took him a few seconds to wind down.
“FURTHERMORE IF YOU NUTSACKS KEEP SPENDING MONEY LIKE IGNORAMUSES I’M GOING TO RIP OUT YOUR… uh well that’s enough introduction. Time for the meeting.”
“Thank you Drill Sargent. Since it’s winter we’ll begin with Infrastructure.”
A harried engineer who’d survived sixteen heart attacks scrambled forward. He reeked of coffee and desperation. “As you know the house is a shithole.” He began. “The pipes are making an ominous sound. I recommend you gather a pile of money and grovel before the nearest plumber.” I ignored him, I have a shovel and pipes aren’t rocket science. “Beyond that, minimal life support is holding steady. It’s the best I can do given the circumstances.”
I nodded. “Understood. Winter Heat, you may report now.”
A Paul Bunyan analogue lumbered to the front. He was tall and strong and proud but had a broken leg. “As you know, last fall’s timber harvest was…” He paused, grimacing, “…difficult. However the wood supply is more than adequate.” At this news everyone cheered and Beowulf gave him a playful punch to the arm (which would have floored a smaller man). Then he continued, “Furnace oil is dirt cheap this year. Therefore we’ve been using less wood and more oil. Going a bit soft if you ask me…”
“STIFLE THE EDITORIALS CHAINSAW MONKEY!” Shouted Drill Sergeant.
Drill Sergeant is a vicious bastard but Winter Heat scarcely blinked. “The furnace tank is down to a quarter. You need to buy three loads with the portable tank.”
“Noted” I agreed. “I’ll have oil delivered.”
“Delivered?!?” Choked Winter Heat, “You can save $25 hauling it yourself. Pussy!” Winter Heat glared at me angrily. Drill Sergeant’s hand slowly inched toward his 1911. Hemingway looked gleeful at the thought of bloodshed. Time to defuse the situation.
“In light of your honorable service I’ll add a new woodshed to the summer hypothetical budget.” I offered. The tense moment passed and Winter Heat strode off.
Hugh Brannum clomped to the front. He wore rubber boots that smelled of chickenshit. “Good news is the pigs. All were either sold or reside in the freezer. All hail bacon.”
“All hail bacon” the group intoned with reverence.
“As for the pets: The loyal dog is in fair health for its age. Also healthy are the two cats; one deranged and one evil. Neither is a good mouser and come spring we may be overrun by rodents of unsual size. As for livestock: Fluffly the battle hardened resistance chicken is well and scouts report as many as four of her Freedom Flock are still alive. We lost several ‘domestic’ chickens during the last blizzard but sufficient egg layers remain.”
“Sadly winter is the hardest season and…” He paused and refused to go further. A tear came to his eye
“They need to know.” I coaxed. “Get it over with.”
Taking a big breath he continued, “I’m saddened to report that Bowling Pin Chicken is dead.”
Pandemonium broke out. Tables were flung aside as personality vectors wailed in grief and anger. Winter Heat dropped his axe. Hemingway threw his drink in fury at Washington. Washington, glaring angrily, nodded to Hamilton who decked Hemingway and laid him out cold. Infrastructure blamed himself for failing to build a better fence and Marconi accidentally electrocuted the Viking standing next to him. Drill Sergeant started punching random personalities in the balls. My mind was awash in confusion.
Finally a tall handsome, heavily armed, roguish fellow stepped forward. Thor? My mind palace has Thor wandering the halls? You’ve gotta’ be kidding. I need either counseling or a better imagination.
“A toast!” He shouted and everyone looked up from their grief. Thor took a quick sip from a huge flagon and gave the greatest of eulogies:
“To Bowling Pin Chicken. O creature of many names. We offer a toast in your honor.” He took a sip. “Rising from humble status as a mere idiot named Skidmark.” Swig. “Crossing lines no others could, to become Bowling Pin Chicken.” Gulp. “To become sole survivor of a great battle and lay claim to the mighty Dodge. Here’s to you, Truck Duck!” He slurped some more. “Idiosyncratic pen mate to creatures a hundred times your size and yet you were fully their equal in spirit. To you Subbacon!” Another gulp. “Thought lost and dead twice! Yet ever the survivor. Giving no explanation for absence, because you never answered to anybody!” Chug. “You grew to encompass more personality than can be held by one name!” Chug chug chug. “If there’s a scrawny runner duck in Valhalla, it is you!” Another huge gulp.
We were all joining in; drink for drink. We all loved the dumb little critter.
Thor continued “He died as he lived… free and stupid!”
He paused to refill his flagon. “TO FREEDOM AND STUPIDITY!” He shouted. We all joined in with a hearty shout and a great brain cell killing drink.
I invite you all to share a drink in memory of Bowling Pin Chicken: “TO FREEDOM AND STUPIDITY!”