Away From The Farm That Fall

Back to school:

THWACK! Blindsided and dazed, Petrel roused himself back into consciousness. "It is not agony that I want to wallow in nor cause in any poor soul. I'm sick of it. That's why I've torn it asunder! Maybe there's another way."

"Crabstick," he whispered. "Ever heard of Suboceana?"

Outside the library in the colonnaded bog, Crabstick applied the grabber to another illegitimate round of scaleless spadefoot toads. With modulated harmonic completion, he dipped into the sphagnum, found purchase, then raised the inexorable device high over his shoulder. Above this grim tableau, the cloaked witnesses reassembled their surveying instruments on the terrace. Certainly it was time somebody took responsibility! Tomorrow was the inspection after all! Professor Lampsie made the final adjustments with the socket wrench and out from the foghorn spilled a groggy version of sound -- this just as Petrel emerged from the peat with several stellar examples of atypical moss. "Hurrah!" rose the stalwart cheer. It quickly sank like a wet sponge. News was posted on the corkboard beyond the scrim.

The light pounced the window like an old sneaker as David pocketed another seashell soap for his rare collection. "Meager scraps for the nonce," huffed Judy, quite red, "but it takes so very little." She resumed scouring the spine of her Atlantis manual to a sleek ovaltine furbish. It was the first of many such afternoons marking the slumberous contemplation of space/time/kookla.

- - -

Meanwhile, in Gramps' laboratory, home schooling:

With the rats back in the cage, Judy placed the moving blocks in their original positions and assumed a sly, coquettish pose that required every ounce of her strength. "I examined the skin beneath the fur and it seems that prolonged proximity did not undo the spell of the charmextra," she said. Her extended back suddenly snapped with a thunderclap. David stifled a grin through his periscope.

"Pour some more potion into the feeder, chickabiddy, and note it in the ledger," chirped Gramps, speaking through the hole that he'd blasted in the refrigerator door. "With the help of a few rubber bands and an egg timer, the experiment will soon be complete. I'll take you to the hospital when it's done."

The reexamination of space/time/kookla continued along unhindered. With great excitement, Judy came to understand there would be sheets and a pillow on her gurney. "For once!" she said, leaving on her usual statement of sarcasm, a milk mustache.

Through the open hatch the medics could be seen parting the hedge. "Quick game of dominoes anyone?" said Petrel.

- - -

The end of daylight savings time:

A Fisher-Price Dune Buggy returns from a test-drive to its plastic garage. The driver climbs out, windblown -- the buggy has no windshield, just a hole where one ought to be -- to find he has been ticketed: a bright red poker chip. "This is surely a mistake. I stayed within all safety cones!" Then he remembers. Behind all the blinding coconut flakes, the vague recollection of a school crossing midway through the test course with a Weeble inside the crosswalk, a lonely bystander on an otherwise empty track. "Weebles wobble but they don't fall down!" he remembered calling out as he floored the gas pedal. But it wasn't a Weeble after all. He'd best remember that in the future.

After the inspection, he dropped the red chip in his pocket and went inside. He could almost believe no real harm had been done. But what to do about the amber liquid that had splashed up the sides of his once clean buggy? How exactly would he take off the sticky resin still gummin' down from the tire wells?

- - -

8:30 AM, homeroom:

Professor Lampsie shook out his fishnet stockings and held up the realia: one ziplock bag o' blood (for splashing), one retractable cattle prod (good times), and a small, rainbow-colored Play-Doh skull (pure fun). As we passed around the blood bag and each poured out his share, he sunk his fingers into the glob and resumed his discourse on phrenology.

"As you can see, some of the faculties of the skull have been arranged in the wrong place by meddlers. Nonetheless, judging by the suspicious lack of fur -- okay you little shits, where the hell is my Play-Doh Pasta Fun-Maker!? -- it's easy to conclude this specimen has difficulty playing with others and is better suited to the care of officers. In conclusion ..." Lampsie's fists suddenly opened and he tore the Play-Doh skull to shreds. Everybody ceased splashing. Even Judy, huddled in a corner sucking on the baggy, sheepishly lifted a blood-covered mouth.

The day before, during geometry, the professor had connected several pieces of chalk to his cattle prod and had drawn on the blackboard a series of slanted parallel lines. "Now I want you all to tell me if you can remember what this is," he'd said. Before he could single out an anxious student, Crabstick had blurted, "A seesaw. Two Weebles wobble on a plank until one jumps off and the other one cracks his head open! Blood flows from the injured Weeble's skull so that another Weeble can fill his baggy!"

As though just now responding to Crabstick's impertinence, Lampsie approached him, his shirt covered with the gory remains of the Play-Doh skull, and carefully traced the contours of his head. He then returned to the blackboard and sketched what appeared to be an image of a man with chocolate-smeared lips holding a gun to his temple. Over the criminal's head he drew a plastic bag and surrounded him with a box across which he drew prison bars. Finally he added a swarm of killer bees and a smiling sun being extinguished by a long fire hose oddly connected to the prisoner's groin area. He addressed the class, producing from the desk an unopened box of ziplock bags. "Okay, who wants to have his head examined next!" Tentatively, but with bold determination, Petrel raised both arms.

- - -

The Virginia Reel:

And so the examination commenced with Petrel boldly approaching the table and waving to Crabstick, Judy, and David that he was going to be dissected. "It's embarrassing," he yelled, "but joyful!" Moments after being tacked to the examination mat, Lampsie started things off with vaudevillian, top-hat-bobbing gusto and set the table spinning via a hand crank that also worked a garish calliope to the tune of "On Top of Old Smokey." Thus were Petrel's clothes removed one-by-one by centrifugal force.

As they whipped, ripped, and flew from Petrel's spinning body, each article was inspected and commented upon by Lampsie for the benefit of the class. "Interesting choice of fabric for a pant," Lampsie intoned, pressing his monocle close to the denim. "Durable, yet with a thin promise that they'll eventually go askew." And to the rubber soled shoes. "Oh, these are especially good for tromping through mud and bog!" He tossed the clothes in a bin and began to remove his pants. "Judy, be a good girl and douse these rags with gasoline. David will light the match."

About the author:

Bryson Newhart is known primarily for his proficiency at throat singing (where the singer uses the mouth cavities as tuned resonators, allowing strong emphasis of the harmonics of the sound generated in the throat. In theory, this allows the singer to produce two (or even three) notes at once, with the high notes sounding a bit like a flute). He lives in Brooklyn, NY. Doltus Effings once a child prodigy, was touted as "Ventroloquist Extrordinaire" for three years running at St. Mary's Star of the Sea grade school in Hampton, Virginia. This promising start, however, was cut short due to repeated classroom whippings from Sister Rosalie's red Hot Wheels track. Having recently turned to penning gut-wrenching doodads, Doltus hopes to make up for lost time and reclaim his right to have "pure fun." Doltus co-exists in Queens, NY with a delightful Mrs. Effings and the ever-so-lucky Doltus, Jr.