Where was I, says Uncle Fishhead. Oh yes. I was telling you about the day the clowns baked food. Did they ever. Funny food. All of the ovens were going. And what have you made? said Horothy, who was to judge their final creations, to Clown Cooking Contest Contestant 8. He gave her a peek in his oven. He was baking a bear.
Uncle Fishhead? says little Tina.
Why is my leg coming off?
You're ill. You're quite ill.
Oh yes. Please continue.
Finally it was time. Horothy sampled each concept in turn. Contestant 4 had baked a red satin pillow. The pillow was hot and burnt, blackened. I don't normally go crazy about pillow, but this I like, said Horothy. Warm, rich, fluffy, decadent. Very nice.
Why am I so ill?
I know! exclaims little Tommy, raising high his hand.
Correct! Uncle Fishhead gives him a sticker. Tommy beams. Tina plays with her faulty leg. Uncle Fishhead is feeling suffocated. He goes and opens a window. A baby deer clambers in, collapses in a scrawny battling heap, cries, and struggles to its feet, bright-eyed.
The children shriek with delight. Uncle Fishhead, can we keep it!
Uncle Fishhead produces his cellular phone, enters the musical digits and places it to his ear. Kimberly? Hi, it's Fishhead. Can the children keep a deer? Thank you.
She said no, says Uncle Fishhead.
Uncle Fishhead leaves the room. The children can hear him drawing a bath, knocking around in the back. He returns with a different baby deer in his wiry arms, a lonely one.
Here, he says. Have this lonely one.
Uncle Fishhead places the deer on its stems on the floor. One deer regards another.
I have to go potty.
You know where the yellow hat is.
Yes, Uncle Fishhead.
Where was I. Oh yes. Rhonda was driving in the wrong lane, into outraged oncoming traffic, practically asleep. Horns were blaring, cars swerving. Her trunk was full of Christmas presents. Her brain was sleeping. When she came to, a nurse was leaning over her bed, adjusting her morphine drip. You're awake, said the nurse.
You were driving in the wrong lane. Literally. Something happened to your brain.
And the presents?
Distributed, as designated. See? The nurse handed her a stack of Thank-You's bundled in an elastic band.
"Dear Rhonda, a million times thanks for the new pair of ice skates. You read my sister's mind (I traded her for the lab coat). I'm sorry about your accident, and for all who got in your way.
"May the slum volt kiss your hurts and the tin pin bend your bravery.
That was nice, said Rhonda, setting the Thank-You's aside. She felt medicated, nice. The nurse was carving a helmet.
Uncle Fishhead? Tina says, limping back in with the yellow hat.
I went. She hands him the hat.
Yes, quite white.
Is it normal?
I know! exclaims Tommy, raising high his hand.
Not every time, Tommy. Uncle Fishhead takes back the sticker. The deers are sniffing each other romantically.
Don't watch, says Uncle Fishhead.
Shakily he rises and plods to the kitchen, rattles the cupboards, returns with a handle of bourbon.
Are you going to drink? the children ask.
Oh yes, says Uncle Fishhead.
Where was I.
About the author:
Swan was born at the bottom of a sliding board, four months early, to unwed mother Caitlyn, age 10. Much to her surprise. His daddy was a policeman, now incarcerated, like the baker who went in the oven. Swan has orange eyes, pudding pies, blue jeans, baked beans. Find more from him smeared about at www.angrymeltedmachine.com.