Rachel

Rachel’s first trip to England didn’t go as planned.  It wasn’t the zombies she minded, they were slow and stupid and could be easily avoided, especially with the British government’s anti-zombie initiatives.  And, back in the states, she and some of her friends had gone on a few head bashing expeditions.  They were fun, of course, but the dry-cleaning bills were horrendous.  And there seemed to be just no way to get bloodstains out of alpaca.

Nor did she mind the British vampires.  They certainly had more class that the bourgeois American ones. She knew how to keep herself safe; some holy water, some garlic rubbed on the wrists, and a retractable wooden stake were all it took.  She had found the most fabulous stake made of Patagonian Rosewood, with a customized ivory handle.  The online price was only three EZ payments of $39.95, with an extra $10.00 to have a monogram carved on the blade by laser.  She had been carrying these things around for so long now that she thought of them as fashion accessories, and oh, how she loved to accessorize.

No, zombies and vampires were manageable.  It was the werewolves that were the problem. Ever since she was a little girl, she had had a deep and unreasoning fear of werewolves.  Once they turned, there was just no reasoning with them.

 

There was a delay at Heathrow airport, and all the passengers had to stay in the plane on the tarmac while a herd of zombies passed by.  A few months ago she would have watched them out the window, revolted and fascinated.  But now, it was just another mob of mindless, ravenous, decaying corpses dragging themselves along.  This was part of the government’s so called “Lemmings” operation.  Police were luring zombies to the white cliffs of Dover, and then bulldozing them off.  Zombies, as the world now knows, are notoriously poor swimmers.  Of course, the Straights of Dover were now teeming with thrashing undead, but the government felt that was preferable to having its citizen’s brains eaten, not to mention the cost of clean up afterwards.  The mermaid residents of the Straights who were forced to evacuate disagreed, but they didn’t vote.

Finally, they all deplaned, and Rachel was met by her third cousin, twice removed, Larsen.  Larsen was tall, lithe, and muscular and had the striking features of a young Lord Byron.  And his hair was perfect.

He was, of course, a werewolf, and Rachel recognized it right away.  His habits of cleaning his fingernails and occasionally sniffing the air were as telling as if he had been wearing a sweater-vest with a scarlet ‘W’.

“But, oh”, she texted to her best friend, Buffy, “he is so beautiful.”

After brief introductions and some chit-chat about the apocalypse, he drove her to the family estate.  She loved his English accent, and he spoke knowledgeably about what the burned out buildings used to be.

“That smoking pile of rubble over there behind that other smoking pile of rubble, that’s what’s left of the Tower of London,” he said.  “And over there, where the soldiers are piling up the bodies like so much cordwood, that’s Abbey Road.”

“Isn’t it a shame about Ringo?” she said

“Well, yes,” he said.  “But then it’s always been a shame about Ringo.”

While she was busy parsing that sentence mentally, they pulled into the estate.  A long, curved cobblestone road, lined with ancient oak trees, only a few of which were still burning, led up to the Georgian style thirty-eight-room mansion.

Her aunt Jane, whom she had only seen pictures of, was a tall, raven haired, youthful octogenarian who carried a taser gun with her at all times.

“You have an exquisite home,” Rachel said, a little breathlessly.

“Yes, we’ve always been happy here at Baskerville Hall,” aunt Jane said.

When Larsen was out gathering the luggage, Rachel whispered to her aunt, “You do know that he’s a werewolf, don’t you?”

“Don’t be silly, dear,” Jane said, patting the taser in the holster at her hip.  “That’s just the caffeine.”

After dinner, Rachel checked her pocket Farmer’s Almanac and learned that she had some time before the next full moon.  Relieved, she put her mind to rest and the next few days were among the happiest of her life.  Larsen proved to be excellent company, and Jane slept pretty much all day, so life was virtually perfect.  They breakfasted on the veranda, picnic’d on the south lawn and dined on pheasant and foie gras washed down with an acceptable burgundy.  They were interrupted by an occasional zombie, but Larsen always kept an axe nearby, and Rachel had completely given up wearing alpaca.

Rachel realized that she was falling in love with Larsen.  And, like any young fool in love, she refused to think about the obstacles.

A few days later, Larsen and she were lounging on a divan in their matching silk pajamas.

“I’ll be locked in my room for the next few days or so,” Larsen told her.  “I have some correspondence to attend to from my solicitor.  And I want you to wear mother’s taser while I’m gone.”

“But what about aunt Jane?” Rachel asked.

“Well, she’s very old, and has only minimal nutritional value,” Larsen replied.  Rachel did not even attempt to parse that sentence.

“Please don’t worry,” Larsen said.  “It’s only for a few days, and you can think of it as a safety drill.  Our monthly ‘lock-yourself-in-your-room-solicitor-correspondence-drill’.

“Larsen,” she said gravely.  “I know that you are a werewolf, and I don’t care.  I love you, and want us to have a life together.”

“Oh, I love you too,” Larsen said, sniffing the air as casually as he could.  “But if you realy undestand about my condition, you know we can never be together.”

“We’ll find a cure,” Rachel said.  “We’ll scour the globe.  We’ll go to every doctor, try every treatment, endure every hardship, spend every last dime of your money until you are normal again.  I’ll never give up on you.  Never.  As god is my witness, you’ll never be hungry again.”

“Gee,” said Larsen.  “That sounds like an awful lot of bother.  Why don’t you just go home?”

“Oh, well, yes.  I suppose I could do that,” she said.

 

The next day, on the red eye back to the U.S, she thought about her trip to England.  She couldn’t think of it fondly, but at least she was able to control the trembling.

Rachel looked forward to seeing her friends again, perhaps bashing a few zombies, perhaps staking a few vampires, if only for the aerobic value.  She was young and she was free.  She thought, as she was returning her tray to the upright position, ‘there will be good times for me, there will be other lovers.’

But, it was 2012 now.  The eastern seaboard was flooded all the way to the Ohio Valley, the mid-west was suffering from an unprecedented series of mega-tornados, and the west coast was being torn apart by earthquakes.  She was not even sure the pilot would be able to find a safe place to land the plane.

There was some question that her return home would go as planned.

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A-SMACC

Chip: Welcome, folks, welcome!  I’m Chip Sunshine coming live to you from the Red Carpet, that’s right, I said the Red Carpet, just outside the Crossroads Hotel/Motel and Brushless Car Wash.  Alongside me is my charming co-host and runner up in the 1998 Miss Ain’t I A Peach contest, Rosemary Gitaklu.  How are you this morning, Rosie?

Rosie: I’m just rarin’ to go, Chip!  I’ve been looking forward to this moment since I got up this morning!

Chip: Well, me too, Rosie, sort of.  This is the Third Annual Sign Makers and Content Contributors Award Show.  It would have been the Fourth Annual Sign Makers and Content Contributors Award Show, except for last year’s hairdresser strike that blocked traffic all across the downtown area, and forced the cancellation of this much-ballyhooed event.  However, the hairdressers are back, standing proudly next to their dryers, and we are ready to go!

Rosie:  As you know, Chip, the Association of Sign Makers and Content Contributers, A-SMACC for short, awards a snazzy little statuette of an open hand to those sign makers and content contributors that it feels has best represented this vibrant field of commerce during the past year.

Chip:  Yes, Rosie, like the Oscar represents the best in the movie industry, and the Grammy represents the best in the music industry, being acknowledged by A-SMACC means that you are at the top of your craft.

Rosie:  Look, Chip!  Here comes our first nominee!

Chip: Yes, Rosie, and I would recognize him anywhere.  He is Impala de Cervantes, who created the popular “Fines Doubled in Work Zones”.  His work is up for an award in the Hold Onto Your Wallet category.

Rosie: And coming up behind him is a new face to the Sign and Contributor industry, Lincoln Tolstoy, up for a SMACC in the Best Supporting sign painter category.  Many critics have found his work muddled and difficult to understand, but the general public seems to love it.

Chip:  I thought his “No Cellular Phones Beyond This Point” was a work of genius, Rosie. And I think few can argue with that.

Rosie:  Yes, notice the use of the complete adjectival referent “cellular” rather than the more pedestrian “cell”.  I wholeheartedly agree, Chip.  A work of genius.

Chip:  And here comes last year’s winner in the Natural Disaster category, Toyota Hemingway, renown for both his “Bridge Out” and “Emergency Exit Only:  Alarm Will Sound if Opened”.

Rosie:  I read that he had a team working for months on that one, Chip.

Chip:  And it obviously paid off, Rosie.  Its become an instant classic.  I think he is a shoo-in for an award this year, and in my opinion, if anyone should be SMACC’d, it’s Toyota.

Rosie:  While we have a few moments between the nominees’s, Chip, lets tell the folks about some of the categories that are up for consideration this morning:

Chip:  Great idea, Rosie.  In the Eye Strain Category we have ‘Alternate Side Parking Tuesday And Thursday 8-11, Fridays 10-6 Except October Through April.’

Rosie:  In the Tell You Where To Get Off Category we have ‘Exit’, ‘Exit Left,’ ‘Right Lane Ends’, and ‘All Traffic Must Exit’.  I think that last one is my personal favorite.

Chip:  In the Obedience to Authority Category we have ‘Yield’, ‘Stop’, ‘No Littering’, ‘No Turns’, ‘Line Forms Here’, ‘No Stopping’, ‘No Standing’.

Rosie:  And finally, finally she said, in the Oh, Thank God, Just In Time Category we have ‘Men’, ‘Women’ and ‘Handicapped’.

Chip:  What a great line-up Rosie.  It just seems to get better every year.

Rosie: Well, except for last year during the hairdresser strike.

Chip: Yes, you were affected by that, weren’t you, Rosie?  Didn’t I hear something about you having to do your own hair during the strike?

Rosie:  I’d rather not talk about it, Chip. Do we have another nominee moving toward us on the Red Carpet?

Chip:  Yes, Rosie, it’s Ford Madox Thurber, and he’s coming over this way.

Rosie:  Well, Hello Ford, and thanks for joining us.

Ford:  Hello Rosie, and hello, Chip.  What a wondeful event!

Rosie: And congatulations to you on your nomination for your newest contemporary hit “No Texting While Driving’.  A brilliant piece of work.

Ford:  Thanks, Rosie, but you know it really is a team effort.  As the front man, I get a lot of the credit, but it take a lot of work by a lot of people.  The sheet metal guys, the riveters, the post-hole diggers, paint mixers … the list goes on.  It really is a group effort.

Rosie:  Well, that really is true, Ford.  And it takes a big man to admit it.

Ford:  Thanks, and by the way, your hair has almost completely grown back.

Rosie:  But I really don’t want to talk about it.  Perhaps we’ll see you inside at the award ceremony, Ford.  Thanks for stopping and good-bye now.

Chip:  Well, Rosie I think that may be all the celebrities we’ll get to see this morning.  It’s almost time for the award ceremony to begin!  We should be getting inside. It’s time for someone to get SMACC’d!

Rosie: Why, you’re right Chip. Time sure flies.  Well, so long everybody, from the Red Carpet outside the Crossroads Hotel/Motel and Brushless Car Wash.  It’s time to begin the Third Annual Sign Makers and Content Contributors Award Show.  We’ll see you all next year at the Fourth Annual Sign Makers and Content Contributors Award Show!  I hope!

Communication Age

“I think it may be the carburetor,” the older man said, leaning over a plastic box.  “It seems to just stall sometimes, like a Datsun I once had.”

“No,” the younger man said, looking into the same plastic box.  “It’s your L2 cache.”

“Cache?  No, I paid for it with a check.”

“No, no,” the younger man said, wiggling his pinky in his ear.  “They aren’t Czech, they’re usually made in Korea.”

“Ah,” the older man said.

The younger man just nodded, knowingly, and peered again into the box.

“Brakes may need adjustment too,” the older man mumbled.

“Brakes?  What brakes?”

“Well, whatever it is that makes the damn thing stop.  It seems to must keep spinning and spinning and spinning.”

“Spinning?”

“Yeah spinning.  This little circle thing.  Like a picture of a spinning circle.”

“Oh, an icon.”

“Icon?  What do you mean, icon?  I can’t get it to shut off.  Maybe you can, but I can’t”

“Ah.  Right, well.  Hmmm.  Shutdown sequence.  That’s the Windows software.”

The older man knocks on the monitor screen.  “Window seems plenty hard to me.”

“Yeah, well.  With a big flat screen like this one, I bet you get max resolution.”
“I don’t know anyone named Max, but my wife keeps after me to make a resolution to stop swearing at the …… thing.”

“Ah,” the younger man said.  They eye each other for a moment.

“Well, I’ll just defrag if for you.”

“Look, I’m not judgmental.  What you do on your own time is your business.  I just want to get this thing working again.  My grandson is coming for a visit, and I want him to be glad he came.”

“Oh.  He probably wants to game.”

“No, no.  You didn’t hear me. I want him to be GLAD HE CAME!”

“Ah.”

“And what about that net thing.  Safety net, interbet, interdebt, something like that.  Everyone is talking about it.  Can I get a subscription to that?”

“Are you wireless, or hard wired?”

“Well, I wired this place myself, back in ’77, and yes, it was hard.  Although I did have my brother-in-law help some.”

“Oh, your brother-in-law must work for a help desk?”

“No, he didn’t help me with a desk, he helped me with the wiring.  He was studying to be an electrician.  Changed his mind though, and now he’s a hair removal technician. He’s doing pretty well at it, too.  Taking mustaches off old ladies.  What a racket.”

Ah.”

They eye each other again, and each leans back a bit.

“Well, you do have an Ethernet cable.  Who’s your internet service provider?”

“Service?  I thought that was you.”

“No, I’m troubleshooting and repair. Who do you get your broadband from?”

“Broadband?  Look, I heard there’s a lot of nudity on that intermet, but, hey, I’m not paying extra for that.  I’m a married man, you know?”

“Ah.  Sure, I think I understand.  Well, I think I’m done.  Your grandson should be able to play his…. I mean he should be glad he came.  I’d like to get home a little early tonight.  They have back to back Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien tonight.”

“Really?  Leno and Conan?”

“Yep.

“On TV?”

“Yep.”

“Who’s on first?”

Biker Geese From Heck

A gang of leather-clad geese is heading south on the sky highway.  There are about thirty of them; most have tattoos, a few have their bills pierced.  Some have knives, some guns, and a few have guitars strapped to their backs.  All scowl as if they really mean it. They are all humming, rrrrrrrrRUMRUMRUM rrrrrrrrrrrrrrRUMRUMRUMrrrrrrr as they fly along the empty skyway. They aren’t looking for trouble, not really, but won’t mind if they come across it either.

Their leader, Rip, aka Shred, aka Slash, and lately known as ‘Lou’ scans the marshes below for a good place to rest and find some food. Night is coming too, and he is proud that of his band of thirty hardened biker geese, only a few are afraid of the dark.

He signals a turn, and banks down to a marshy area where he comes to a running stop, but trips and gets his bill stuck in the mud.  With one eye he can see that the others in his ragged band have all landed safely.

His second in command, Claw, aka Talon, aka Mangle, lately known as ‘Ed’ waddles over and peers down at him.

“Are you alright?”

“NN.  Ah junee uh ddle heh,” Lou replies, just needing a little help.

“Um, ‘June in January’?  Is that what you said?  You want me to sing ‘June in January’?

“Nuh.  Nuh, nuh.  Heh.  A junee heh.”  Lou says, wriggling a little bit in the mud, and asking again for a little help.

“A jaunty hat?  You want a jaunty hat?”

Lou shrieks, but the shriek comes out sounding like ‘murble, murble’ murble’.

“Pull!” he shouts.  And this sounds enough like ‘pull’ for even Ed to understand.  Ed pulls Lou’s face out of the mud and backs away a few feet.

Lou sits up, trying to regain his alpha male dignity, and scowls at Ed for a moment.

He points at him angrily.  “June in January, really?  June in January, Ed?”

Ed says nothing, but keeps a wary eye on his leader.

“Everyone get down alright?” Lou asks, wiping his bill with his wing.

“Yeah, they’re all down.  A few are out scouting the area.  I think there are a few locals that live on the other side of the marsh.  Maybe we can have some fun with them.”

Lou adjusts his eye patch, and checks to be sure his penknife is still in the sheath attached to his skinny little leg.  “Okay, let’s check it out.”

They walk across the muddy marsh, Lou in the lead, Ed a few paces behind him, and both going ‘rrrrrrrrRUMRUMRUMrrrrrrrrrrrrrrRUMRUMRUMrrrrrr’ softly as they walk.  From the top of a small mound they see a few of their gang laughing and squawking at an older goose. One, with an American flag bandana on his head, runs up behind the old gander and kicks him.

“What?  What was that for?” the old goose bellows.

“That’s for being old, and not giving us any food,” his tormentor replied.

“But I have no food to give you!” shouts the old timer.

“Just another reason to kick you,” one of the others in the crowd laughs.

Lou and Ed stride into the middle of the group.  “We’re hungry, mon ami.  We need food, comprendre vous?” asks Lou.

‘rrrrrrrrRUMRUMRUMrrrrrrrrrrrrrrRUMRUMRUMrrrrrr’ Ed mumbles behind Lou.

“Turn your engine off!”  Lou yells at him.  “Trying to make me deaf?”

“We have only enough for my little family,” the old gander replies.  “We got a late start this season, and most of the grass and good vegetation is all dried up.  We have barely enough for ourselves.”

“Not our problem, old man,” Lou yells.  “We’re badass biker geese, and we take what we want.  We’re rebels, you know.”

The old gander looks confused.  “What are you rebelling against?” he asked.

“Whadda ya got?” Lou says with a sneer.

Just then, another goose came running, sort of, up the hill and squawking, “Don’t hurt him!  Please don’t hurt him.”  She is a young goose, a light, blondish gray, with a trim waist, a kissable beak, a long neck perfect for nibbling, and extra feathers where they would do the most good.

“Please, please don’t hurt my grandfather,” she pants when she reached the tableau.  “He’s all I’ve got.”

Lou scowls.  “Apparently, you’re all he’s got too, which is a problem.  We need to eat, sister, and if you and this old bird here can’t point us to some good grassland, you’re no good to us.  Except maybe as entertainment, if you know what I mean.”

“No,” Mehitable says, for her name was Mehitable.  She was given this awful name by a vindictive mother, who married for money and then found that her husband didn’t have any.  She didn’t want children, and if she had to have children she wanted at least to have a boy.  When she was a small child, her mother always forced her to play the duck in ‘duck, duck, goose’ and as a result, Mehitable had a crippling identity crisis. That is the reason that Mehitable was now living with her grandfather even though he often smelled funny, especially after a big meal.

Lou, who sometimes repeated himself just for emphasis said again, “You’re no good to us.  Except maybe as entertainment, if you know what I mean.”

 “No,” says Mehitable.  “I don’t know what you mean.”

“He means that ‘if you’re gonna dance, you have to pay the fiddler’.  Do you understand now?” Ed growled.

“Uh, no.  Not really,” Mehitable says nervously.

“We mean,” says Lou glaring at her,” that ‘all that glitters is not gold’.  If you know what I mean.”

“I’m, I’m sorry,” stammers Mehitable, “ but I don’t.  I don’t understand what you mean.”

“We mean,” Ed says, “that ‘sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander’.  Do you understand now?”

“Oh.  Oh, yes, I think I … no.  No, I still don’t understand.”

“Oh never mind!” shouts Lou.  “If we don’t get something to eat soon, I won’t be responsible for my men.  That’s what I mean!”
“Oh, food. Why didn’t you say so? I can help you there,” Mehitable said.  “I know a spot less than a mile from here, tucked in a valley, where the grass is green and fresh all year long.  I can take you there.”

“So how come the old granddad here didn’t tell us about this valley, eh?” asked Ed.

“Well, he is old,” Mehitable, said.  “And almost blind.  And his daughter, my mother, makes anyone in a hundred kilometer radius insane.  Besides, he’s a gander.  Since when do males know anything about food?”

“Lead on, sister,” Lou said, darkly.

They walked down the road, Mehitable occasionally going ‘rrrrrrrrRUMRUMRUMrrrrrrrrrrrrRUMRUMRUMrrrrrr’ very softly, until they reached the top of a ridge.  They could see the small valley below filled with grass, and seeds and even a little pond with fish eggs floating on top.  Everything a goose with an attitude problem could possibly want.

Later, after the whole gang had eaten their fill, they sat on the grass resting.  Some strummed guitars softly.  Well, very softly because it’s hard to make a lot of noise on a guitar with a wing full of feathers.  Some are playing mumblety-peg with their penknives, and others are taking bets that Ed will be the first to spear his own foot.

Lou was lying in the grass with Mehitable’s head in his lap.  “I guess we’ll have to be on our way soon.  I’m a traveling goose, you know.  An adventurer.  A rolling stone.  Born under a wandering star.”

“Will you take me with you?” She asked.  “I can ride as well as anyone in your gang.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” said Lou.  “It’s a tough life.  Bar fights, bugs in our beak and cops on our tail, and sometime a serious head wind.  No, not a life for a nice country goose like you.”

“Well, will you come back this way sometime?  I could wait for you.  I’d be glad to wait for a goose like you.”

“Sure kid, sure we’ll come back.”  Then he whistled, which is a difficult thing for a goose to do, and tells you something about why he was the leader.

He made a wing signal to his gang, and within minutes they were all lined up in formation, ready for take off.  Lou nodded to Mehitable, gave Ed a high five, and stepped in front of the group.  He started running for his take off, but tripped and landed beak first in the road.   No one dared to laugh.  He soon was airborne, at the head of his ragged band of misfits and troublemakers.  He waved once at Mehitable, then banked majestically and headed north for the winter.

Three Hours, Seven Minutes

News flash:

Recent archeological projects in ancient Mayan cities have persuaded scientists to push back the estimated time of the end of the world.  It is well know that Mayan culture has predicted that some kind of cataclysmic event, or a series of them, will end the world on December 21, 2012 at 12:30 PM.  Murals recently found on cave walls in Guatemala clearly indicate that it will end on December 21, 2012 at about 3:37 PM.

“That’s a relief,” said one researcher.  “I could really use the extra three hours and seven minutes.”

When asked how his plans have changed in light of the recent findings, the director of the archeological dig, J. Rufus Shovelful, replied, “I plan to Skype with my family in Kansas City.  It will be good to catch up.”

A graduate assistant on the project, Katie Fab Jetski, has different plans.  “I’m going to spend the extra time dremeling my feet.  I refuse to face a global catastrophe all, you know, bumpy.”

Katie’s boyfriend, assistant project manager Ken Boyoboy, hopes to be playing “Angry Birds” when the end comes.  Says Ken, “Time seems to just fly by when I’m slinging birds at pigs.”

Via email, fax, Facebook, twitter and extra sensory perception, we have asked prominent members of our planet what they plan to do with the extra three hours and seven minutes.

Donald Trump:  I plan to re-package my hair.  Color, mousse, Elmer’s glue, comb, powder the shiny spots…. It usually takes just about three hours.  With the extra seven minutes, I can put together some kind of mega real estate deal that will net me a billion or so.  We’ll see, you know.  I haven’t made any firm plans.

Tiger Woods:  I have a date.

Josh Becket:  I plan to squeeze in 9 holes at the country club.

George Bush:  I am going to find those damn WOMDs.

Bill Clinton:  I will not have sex with that woman.

Yogi Berra:  When I come to that fork in the road, I’ll take it.

Brett Favre:  I plan to come out of retirement.

Joan Rivers:  I’ll put together an end of the world outfit.  It’ll be fabulous.  I can’t wait.

This Particular Bear

“Yep, that is a bear, alright,” the cop said as he lowered his binoculars.

“Yep,” the other cop said.  “Not too hard to spot, with the big lumbering body, the brown fur, the teeth and the sharp claws on those huge muscular paws.”

“Yeah, kind of hard to mistake a bear, when you get right down to it.  They are distinct.”
“Have you noticed where this particular bear is?”

“Yes,” the first cop said, rubbing a spot off his binoculars.  “I made a mental note of that right off.  This particular bear is up a tree.”

“Well, yes,” the second cop said, “but more than up a tree, I think.  He is very high up in a tree, in the middle of a residential street in a city not known for having much of a bear population.”

“Yes.  It is a puzzlement.”

“Thank you for that insight, Yul Brenner.  It is a puzzlement indeed.  However, the real problem, the nub of the issue, the heart of the matter in a manner of speaking is not the location of the bear.”

“I agree.  That is not the prime consideration with which we need to treat.”

“No, sir.  The question which requires our deepest and most profound cogitation is what to do about this particular bear, high up in a tree, in the middle of a residential street in a city not known for having much of a bear population.”

“I am certainly open to suggestion,” the first cop said.  He was the senior of the two, but only by a year or two.

“Well, we can wait him out.  I believe it is a truism in the field of natural science that bears are as adept at climbing down as they are at climbing up.”

“That is certainly one strategy,” the first cop said.  “However, I detect a flaw in that scenario.”

“A flaw?” said the second cop.  “Well, I never perceived it as a perfect solution, but please, elaborate.”

“Well, it seems a reasonable surmise that this particular bear has wandered to this particular neighborhood from the surrounding hills, and has done the aforementioned wandering because he is hungry.”

“A very reasonable surmise.”

“So, follow me on this.  If he was hungry when he did his original wandering, let us try to imagine his state if we, as you so succinctly phrased it, ‘wait him out’.

“Hungrier yet, I would anticipate.”

“And I think that, in the world of bears, hungry is tantamount to dangerous.  Can we agree on that point?”

“I believe the truth of that statement does not even warrant discussion.”

“Leaving us to cogitate further and, it is to be hoped, settle on a different plan.  One that would place fewer of the local citizens, not to mention ourselves, in dire, bear-oriented peril.”

“Just so,” said the first cop, raising the binoculars to his eyes again.  “In that vein, how high up would you say this particular bear is?  I make it about thirty feet.”

“My initial and quite informal measurement led me to an estimation of approximately fifty feet.  But, I suppose we can split the difference and say forty feet.  Does the application of objective data jiggle any of your neurons?  Does it toggle any interpretation?  Corral any concepts?  Develop any dispositions to our current conundrum?”

“Only one, I’m afraid.  And it is not subtle, nor neat, nor in any way a comprehensive solution.  I suggest that we shoot this particular bear with a tranquilizer.”

“Shoot him with a tranquilizer?”

“Yes.  Thus rendering his hunger academic, his location only temporary, and transforming our problem from one of confrontation into one of transportation.”

And thusly, verily, in a trice, it was accomplished.  The bear, young and spry enough to be unharmed by his involuntary plummet, was soon transported to a wooded area and released.  As he sprinted away from civilization, he did not feel under any compunction to favor his rescuers with a backward glance.

A grateful city plans to award the two erudite officers a set of Roget’s Thesaurus, and a collectors edition of “The Best Of Toody And Muldoon.”

News Item: “Stolen Television Sold For Drugs”

There it is.  Proof positive that television is a dangerous drug.  Soon after this story aired, an undercover operative for LAME (Local Agency Messing with Everybody) sold illegal televisions to a video pusher on the mean streets of downtown Buttermilk, Kansas.
The television components were known to have been grown on the southern slopes of a small valley in Peru, and smuggled into the U.S. in barrels of chili.  It is well known to the underworld that component-sniffing dogs are thrown off the scent by chili.  From the port of entry, San Diego, they went by barge to Tucson, Arizona, by FTD to Bismark, North Dakota, and then by Goodyear Blimp to the Bronx, New York where the components were assembled in a three-room apartment with no hot water and a broken doorbell.  LAME was tipped off to these TV’s by an informant who was promised a six-month subscription to Direct TV.  The skell in question, his name is being withheld as a material witness, drooled when he learned that the Oprah Winfrey Network would be part of his entertainment package.  Rather than simply make an arrest and confiscation, LAME chose to use the illegally grown TV’s in a sting operation.  They were overnighted by FedEx to the LAME headquarters in Buttermilk, and an agent was chosen to make the sale to a known video pusher.  The agent was wearing a wire, but next to the wire was a hidden microphone, and the following conversation was recorded.

 

LAME: I got a van full of ‘em, all the best quality.  All primo stuff.  Your clientele are sure to be pleased.
Known Video Pusher:  Better be.  My clientele are getting really frantic, man.  This town dried up a few months ago, and all they can get is QVC and TV Land.  This burg is gonna explode, something don’t happen soon.
LAME:  Well, I got what you need.  27-inch flat screens, I’m talking 1024 by 768 pixels.
KVP:  Got anything bigger?  Anything HDTV?  Plasma?
LAME:  Are you kidding me?  Feds are cracking down hard on that, man.  You couldn’t find one within a thousand miles of Buttermilk.
KVP:  Yeah, yeah, I know.  Damn feds.  I’m just a businessman, trying to keep my customers satisfied.
LAME:  Well, these babies will satisfy.  They’re Peruvian.  Grown just outside of Maccu Piccu.  The best, you know?  The best.
KVP:  Peruvian TV’s, huh?  Man, I heard that one before.  Let me test the merchandise. (Licks one of the TV’s).  Oh, man that is spicy hot!
LAME.  Of course it’s hot.  That’s the chili they were shipped in.
KVP (Fanning his tongue):  Wew, yeh me ee how ey wor.
LAME:  What?  Oh, you want to see how they work (turns on one of the TV’s).  See how quickly it comes on?  See those vibrant colors?  I told you, man.  Primo stuff.
KVP:  eah, bu wha ca ou ge?  Wha ay uns?
LAME:  Huh?  What the… Oh. What stations can I get.  Well, watch, and I’ll just flip through a few.  All the major networks, ESPN, Turner Classic, SyFy, you name it, this baby can go get it.
KVP:  Will you throw in the remotes?  And double ‘A’ batteries?
LAME:  Wow, bro.  You drive a hard bargain, but okay.  It’s a deal.
KVP:  Put your hands in the air!  You’re under arrest!
LAME (simulaneously):  Put your hands in the air!  You’re under arrest!
KVP: You’re under arrest!  I’m WACD! (Western Alliance for Contraband Detail)
LAME: No, you’re under arrest! I’m LAME!
KVP/WACD:  Oh, man.  I’ve been following this shipment since Bismark.
LAME:  Well, we’ve been working it since the Bronx.  Oh man what a mess.
KVP/WACD:  Well, I guess there’s nothing we can do now, except wait for our backup.
LAME:  Well, mine won’t be here for another half hour or so. Wanna go outside and shoot some hoops?  Maybe hit some fungoes?
KVP/ WACD:  Um, well, I don’t…. no.  Not really.  But I have another idea.  Let’s shoot some TV’s.   What do you say?
LAME:  Really?  Shoot some TV’s?
KVP/WACD:  Yeah.  We choose a show or a station that is especially obnoxious, and just, you know, blast it.  It’ll be fun.
LAME:  Well, I always did want to shoot American Idol.
KVP/WACD:  I’m gonna do one of those Lifetime Network movies.  Doesn’t matter which one, they’re all the same.
A series of gunshots, followed by exploding glass, follows.
LAME:  Wow.  Cool.
KVP/WACD:  Yeah.  Cool.