A SHORT STORY SATIRE

by

Kenneth James Wolverton

Copyright 1973

 

 

 

Shakespeare ain’t got it all in a barrel. I nearly said the same dang thing. Anyway everything in life is kind of like music. Yep, like this here record’n I heard one time. Some guy played a flute in some kind of big temple. It just echoed all the way back to heaven, like a big, big, circle. It’s all the same. Of course I spent a lot of time in a donut shop. One of those little hippy girls that moved into town started it, and she had this stereo phonograph and that’s the only kind of music she’d play. She called it spiritual and cosmic and stuff like that. I guess that someone that never heard that kind of sound wouldn’t know what I’m talking about. I used to think a lot about that sort of thing, music and circles and heaven, but now I am at this place, I don’t think so much anymore.

How I stopped think’n so much was just a natural result of what my think’n got me into in the first place. I was drive’n out by the gold mine dump one day and I got to think’n about what people say about there being all kinds of cyanide that dries out on top and blows away with the wind. Of course the wind generally blows back towards town and there’s a lot of speculation that the cyanide dust gets breathed up on the locals and an occasional tourist. Someone nicknamed that dump, Mount Cyanide.

  

 

 

Well, as I was say’n, there I was at the dump and I started think’n that there was tons and tons of material that they dig out of the mountain. No one thinks it’s any good for anything but poisoning people who live around it.

 

 

 

 

 

As I was look’n over the dump, it occurred to me, that maybe out there in those billions of tons of earth and cyanide, there is probably a secret.

You know the earth is full of secrets. The smallest thing that you might find lay’n around might have just what it takes to get you through. I guess think’n things like that was my downfall though. At first when I started think’n that there was a secret in the dump, I figured there probably was and someday, someone would find it.

 

 

 

That’s when I start think’n about how dad-gummed crazy the world is and how all through the ages people was looking for secrets to make them younger and cure all their problems. That’s when I figured it must be in the dump, that kind of secret thing.

I was sure someone, if they looked hard enough would see it right there in the dump. It’s easy to let it all slide by, life and secrets, I know cause I’m sure watching it slip by now, but if I hadn’t gone to think’n so darned much it would never occurred to me to start eat’n that stuff. I laughed at the idea and thought I was sure enough crazy just like everybody else. You know a man don’t know well enough to leave a good thing alone.

 

Think’n sure is a lot of trouble. Right now my brain is so cluttered and foggy and I’m having a hard time putting it all back together. Seems to me there’s a black curtain dropping down on my eyes and the times getting close. I should of course knowed all by myself that this would happen. People thought I was crazy as a loon. They told me that cyanide would kill me. I wouldn’t done any more than think about it, but I had that crazy dream one night.

 

Fool me, I thought it was real. Seemed to make the door open up in my head, and I started see’n all kinds of strange things and think’n big thoughts that I could save the entire human race. You see, I dreamed this big golden hand came down out of the sky while I was lay’n there in bed. Come right inside the bread truck I was live’n in and pulled me all the way up to the stars. There I was feel’n warm and good and you know the whole thing seemed so real.

 

 

 

Well, one finger of the  hand began to point to the earth and it was if I was rolling through time itself. I saw the weirdest things. I saw armies and cities and rivers and deserts and blood and wind, all kind of swirling around. I kept hear’n a voice like horn in my head.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The problem is, I was a dreamer to begin with, so have’n a dream like that was just enough to convince me that I was someone special. Well, the dream went on and on and I kept see’n cities built up in cities fall’n down and I got to see all kinds of people I heard about or read about in books.

 

 

I saw that ole’ Spanish explorer Ponce de Lion gallivant’n around in Florida swamps look’n for the fountain of youth. You know it was kind of funny because all the time I was watch’n him, he seemed to begin an older right in front of my eyes.

 

 

 

 

Then I saw all kinds of wise men and magicians and scientists poke’n and prod’n, read’n big books. They all looked like they was look’n for the same thing. Well this whole dream felt like it took years and things I saw sure surprised me.

 

 

 

 

Some of it made a whole lot of sense and some I don’t know what it meant, but the part that really got me jump’n was when was when I saw myself down there. It was spooky because it seemed as if I was the last of the live’n and looking for whatever there was all look’n for. All the while I had this peculiar voice in my head tell’n me that the time had come and, I was to find the key to the Universe and the relief of man’s suffer’n.

 

Maybe what got me believe’n this whole crazy thing was this beautiful music that was float’n through the whole dream. It was like wind and waterfalls and birds sing’n like that flute player in the temple. It really sounded holy. Well the music took a change and got all mysterious and it was just like in the movies when something is about to happen, you know, the music gets louder and the rhythm is faster. I saw myself down at the dump, surrounded by people.

 

I was dig’n with a little golden spoon, eat’n that stuff one bite at a time. As I was watch’n the dump begin to disappear and I kept get’n younger and handsomer and stronger. People start gather’n around me in a big circle and I heard’em sing’n out my name. The more I ate the stuff, the more people come around. It was just like the World Series. I never saw so many people. Well I was come’n to the crucial moment, cause the music and the crowd was build’n up to the biggest noise I ever did hear. I saw myself take one more bite of that dump and all of a sudden I started glow’n all white and the people start cheer’n and pink and yeller flowers fell out of the sky. Then it went all funny. There was this great big kind of groan that came from the crowd and the voice in my head. I guess it was really more like a sigh, you know, when you feel good, sort of relieved like. I felt like I knew everything there ever was to know. That’s when I woke up.

 

See what I mean about think’n? It just gives you a whole lot of trouble. I mean, here I am at my Waterloo and it was me think’n about the dream that got me in this predicament, but if I hadn’t gone to think’n about it so much I never would have started eat’n that dump. You know, people said I was crazy when I started, but you should have seen them. It was just like a dream. No time at all they was all commingle’n around just to watch me eat that rock gravel and cyanide. For a while and had a hard time figure’n out if I was crazy, or all them people, ‘cause they seemed to enjoy watch’n me so much. It seems now there is something a whole lot better always could’ve done.

 

 

Now this is a strange part. It was about a month after I was eat’n at that dump, that this big old Mercedes-Benz with California plates pulls up and out jumps a slick city dude.

 

He introduces himself as Putnam Lyon. He says he’s come all the way out from Orange County in Southern California, and he’s developer and a promoter of unique restaurants. He tells me he’s heard about me all the way out in Orange County, that I was on one of those human interest spots on the news. They have all those things, you know, when there ain’t enough war and violence go’n on. Anyway\ he says that he would like to build a restaurant around me, right there at the dump, so people could sit right along with me and eat their meals too. Naturally, he says they’d be eat’n prime rib but at least they’d get to watch me devour that dump. Well honestly I didn’t remember anything like that in the dream, but somehow it seemed like a good idea. So we wound up talk’n for a spell and I finally agreed to eat my help’ns of the dump at the main eat’n hours at the restaurant.

 

Ole Putnam said, I be able to prove my theory about there being a secret in the dump if there was a lot of publicity and people got to see me. He also told me that I could move out of that big bread truck and he get me a room at the Sheridan hotel with a toilet all to myself.

You know it wasn’t hardly no time at all I was live’n in that hotel, of course it was on the top floor and it didn’t have any windows. The bother’n thing was the toilet was down the hall. However, in less time than I can say scat, old Putnam had built this fancy restaurant right at the dump site. I suppose he never figured the whole thing would attract such crowds, but it worked out just fine. As I eat into the dump naturally it have to move in the direction I was eat’n and it just worked out that his business was so good that he kept expanding the restaurant along with my movements. People come from all over.

 

You should have seen the little glass box he had built for me so people could stand right close to where I was eat’n and not have to worry about getting cyanide dust in’em.

Well a lot of time went by and I was eat’n into the dump pretty good in the restaurant was just get bigger and bigger and everything was work’n out okay. Once in a while I’d think about the dream and wonder when I was going to turn all shiny and white, and save the world with my mysterious find. I also wondered what the restaurant had to do with the whole scheme of things. One thing though everyone sure enjoyed watching me eat that dump. To tell you the truth, there was many a time that stuff tasted just plain putrid. I began to believe and I was completely nuts, and wanted to stop, but then I looked around and saw all them Americans, and knew I was just being selfish.

 

Those little fat kids with their noses smeared right up next to the class was convincing. Shucks, after all, I did have that room at the Sheridan Hotel, even if the toilet was down the hall. I mean ole Putnam Lyon had been real considerate, and not only that, the commerce of the town had skyrocketed. In a sense, there was lots of folks dependent on me eat’n that dump. I couldn’t give up.

Well, as I said before, thinking is nothing but trouble. If I hadn’t thought so much, I probably would have stopped before it was too late. It was me thinking about what them people was thinking of me that kept me going on. I should’ve known better when I saw myself in the mirror.

 

 

I’d started turning all yellow and had little red pimples just like chickenpox. Well my complexion just kept getting sicker and sicker look at. It got so bad that ole Putnam Lyon said I was nauseate’n the customers. He even asked me if I would cover up so’s I wouldn’t gag the clients. I could see his point, and I sure didn’t want to ruin anybody’s meal. I know I looked pretty terrible. It was a Friday I recall that I started powder’n myself up with bake’n flour before I’d get in the glass box. It worked too. Not a customer complained of gag’n after that.

 

 

 

Everything went smooth for a while. You know though, when I do eat a real big keeper the dump, those customers would stand up and start clapping like they are all crazy. It’s no telling what a man’s thinking will make them do and it’s even worse when people stand around and clap you. The darn thing was even though the stuff was so gravelly it tasted so nasty, I kind of started liking it. There was a few of the old-timers in town that kept telling me that cyanide in the dump would kill me, but then they didn’t think like me, about music and things. They didn’t have that dream I had either, so I figured they didn’t know any better.

 

I know one thing. If I had it all to do over again I sure wouldn’t do it the same way, and I wouldn’t think about what the other people thought about ‘cause if I had thought that way I wouldn’t be in a terrible fix now. Think’n is nothing but trouble and dreams are sometimes worse. I guess the jokes on me. Funny though, how that dream come around true and lots of ways.

Come to think of it, the dream come around just like I dreamed it, but I thought so much, that my thinking seemed to blind me to what really happened.

I suppose now is the time to tell all. I feel plumb foolish. They all told me this dump would do me and, but I was sure there was a secret to be found. In a way, maybe I’m even right yet, but the problem is what good is a secret he can’t tell it?

 

It all came to this because of that crazy celebration Putnam line thought up. I’d been eat’n at dump for some time and it was getting close to have’n it half gone. You see Putnam line thought we ought to make a real occasion out of it and advertise and have ribbons to cut, and even give me a gold spoon to eat up to the halfway point.

Yep, you probably guessed what come about and it would save me a lot of trouble tell’n you if you had guessed right. But you never know these things for sure and my problem is I still think too much about what other people think about. So I’ll go ahead and tell you what happened.

 

 

Well, the day come about that had been officially announced where I would get to the halfway mark, and man it did draw a crowd. I don’t think I ever did see such a bunch of people.

There I was, all powered up for the occasion with my gold spoon in hand, and people stand’n all over the place, and the girls hired for the festivities to hand out flowers. Ole Putnam lion got this weird band from Orange county.That band sure played strange music. As a matter of fact I was eat’n away at the dump and get real close to the halfway point, when all of a sudden the music starts sound just like the music in the dream. I suppose it was when they turned on the spotlight that something went kind of haywire in me.

 

All those little girls were throwing pink and yellow flowers around and I started feeling I’d seen it all before, all the people were cheering and urging me on. It was just like the dream. The lights were shine’n on me so much I could hardly see, but I looked down at my arms and sure enough, I was all shiny and white and going to beat the band. One more bite I’d been halfway through the dump. But it was all those things that was going on around me. All that music, and that little gold spoon and the flowers. I just couldn’t go on! Not only that I was starting feeling really bad, like kind of dizzy and sort of drifting off.

 

 

 

All of a sudden I knew that’s exactly what was happen’n. I was drift’n away. I couldn’t even hang on to my gold spoon anymore. The people seem like blurs and the music was gravelly just like the dump. Well everybody was yelling to go ahead and take one more bite, but I just couldn’t do it. You know, and made those people so mad, that they broke into my little glass box, pull’n at my hair, and hit me and dragged me right out of the restaurant.

I never saw such ungrateful people. They threw me right in the middle of the garbage cans out back in the restaurant.

 

 

 

Well, here I am and to tell you the truth, I don’t remember this part at all in the dream, but like I say, here I am sit’n by grimey ole garbage cans, and I feel like I’m fade’n away into the fog of it all. I know one thing though. I sure got myself in a mess but think’n so much. Think’n, I tell you is noth’n but trouble and dreams ain’t a whole lot better. Still, it’s kind of funny, I mean the dream has come true in a way. I just wonder if this is the end of it all…

 

 

 

THE END