Sucking on a Jolly Rancher at Andrew Jackson’s funeral, Betty let her itchy thoughts gallop freely along a glassy beach in Scotland. No one has the right, they whispered, to push you into eating a power lunch with your enemies in the courtyard. To clothesline you with a slick double-entendre while you’re picking spinach out of your eye.
Some jerk with an obnoxious straw hat was making up a story about catching toads with Ol’ Hickory at some bullshit fork in the river. A baby two rows back clapped for no discernible reason. Why was there a baby in here, anyway? All those hot, throbbing senators trying to shove their way through the iron gates, and that little fucker had the audacity to act like he runs this joint. Betty swung her head around like a battle axe, getting a good, juicy look at Little Fucker.
(LET IT BE KNOWN that this particular Little Fucker is a direct ancestor of one Ron “Fudgy” Fucker, Tom Petty superfan and, of course, the inventor of PowerPoint. But let’s not dwell on that.)
“I once squeezed Andy so tight, processed cheese spread oozed from his ears,” lied the man in the straw hat as the lectern burned from his acidic crocodile tears. “He had the mustang spirit, we all could feel it!”
Betty glared at Little Fucker. “Where are your parents?” she demanded. “You’re clearly here unsupervised, clapping away like you’re never going to die.”
Little Fucker’s face was a delicate, fleshy mirror ball, reflecting and refracting the faces of its impatient beholders into ragged fractals of chartreuse, burgundy and a previously unimagined, nauseating hue best described as “morange.” His mother had tried to dog-ear her own page in the Great Suede Codex of Memory, but the man of the house, ever the i- and j-dotter, insisted on flattening it out again before turning the iron on himself. Ergo, Little Fucker was unspoken for.
Mr. Straw Hat, with the assistance of the mayor and a sick-looking Great Dane, was now emptying a large cauldron of hot caramel into Andrew Jackson’s coffin. Water, sodium, potassium, all that junk. The inner juices of human beings.
Betty was falling out of it. This horrible reminder of her formative years was some sour milk. Plus, he smoked cigars. Never trust a baby that smokes cigars, she once read stenciled on the side of a boxcar.
“Excuse me, ma’am, but if you’d please face the front. Our guests paid good money to enjoy this experience, so you could at least feign interest.”
Betty snapped her eyes away from Little Fucker and instantly knew she’d never see him again. Her Jolly Rancher turned to lead as three harelipped boys began meandering up the aisle, morosely handing out commemorative fondue forks.
“Thank you, young lady. Nice hat, by the way.”
“I’m not wearing a hat.”
The boxcar, unbeknownst to her, contained Betty’s spirit squid. If she had dared open that door, if that tourist family hadn’t wandered by… But it was too late by now, for sure. That boxcar and many others just like it were sunk deep within a nebulous ocean of diet ginger ale in a Supreme Court justice’s beefy late-afternoon daydream.
There were no forks in the rivers of caramel that day, as they oozed into the hearts and souls of the famished mourners. Mouths like refrigerators. These people paid good money, and they certainly didn’t deserve the caboose, did they? But it was coming. Nobody ever remembers to get the caboose, and this particular one had been in orbit around the holy moment for quite some time. It sparked and skidded in a shrinking spiral around the century, tied to a psychedelic kite string tighter than cat guts.
Some idiot was trying to rap in Latin but kept fucking up the conjugation. Three one-armed lesbian Nazi nuns were fighting over a turkey leg. Nobody noticed the introduction of the aroma of rancid seaweed that had begun to boomerang lethargically about the chapel. Nobody noticed when the east wall shattered and the shrieking ass-end of a train knocked the corpse of the $20 Man into the ozone. No apparent pain when the tidal wave of teeth wiped out the sinners and the buffet carts. No apparent joy when Little Fucker hotwired Betty’s horse and took off for the city.
No apparent reason for even writing this. I wasn’t there. Nobody “invented” PowerPoint; it was grown in a petri dish in Brazil. I want to apologize to everyone who came out here tonight. Especially you, Betty. You deserved better.