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The Essay
Show #334
David Gunn

While Weasel Slayer attempts to come to terms with his second period of rapid maturity--a period that spans just under 1.658849 billion sidereal years--let us return to Beano Bengaze as he leaves the Bismuth Brothers bus, which has just docked at Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego at the bottom of Chile, and tries to hire a cab for the 500-mile pontoon taxi ride to Antarctica to search for what quondam US Defense Secretary Rumsfeld claims aren't there: terrorists. Beano is grateful to be off the bus, because his seat neighbor, the succubus that he dispatched with a nose torpedo, is rapidly decomposing and the fumes therefrom are causing his inner nose to hyperventriloquize. Security in the bus terminal seems tight for such a remote hamlet of human habitation. His credentials, hypnotic suggestions and even the box of candied spaghnum he presents to the chief inspector as an obvious sop do not disoblige him from running the gauntlet of metal, medal and mettle detectors. But his awards are all made of vegetable matter, he has couched his fortitude in an attitude of general malaise, and he wired all of his metal matter ahead to General Delivery, Antarctica. He steps out of the terminal into the chilly Octovember air. The pizza-hued sunlight that pervades this part of the southern hemisphere, while effulgent, is no substitute for a good tanning machine. He gazes out across the expanse of frothy blue-black water of the Drake Passage. Named for a line of packaged chocolate luncheon cakes that inhabit the Cape Horn shoals, the strait presents his first real obstacle, for there are no pontoon taxis to be seen.

His pager rings, if you call a tinny rendition of the theme from Paladin as whistled by arctic char a ring. Beano unhooks the pager from his adobe hat. But the device is merely going through its sporadic pagination cycle, so he re-hattaches it. Then his phone rings. This, however, is a real ring, and conjures a queasy memory of the Six Flags Over Rancho Cucamonga Tilt-A-Whirl ride: he was alone in the passenger bucket as it plunged towards earth at well over eight times normal gravity (32 noses per second per second); at the bottom of the ride's arc, his inner ear rang a whole tone scale in parallel fifths and he involuntarily hollered "Ruina quidado summa Caesar amidst fortis." This caused his nose to twitch and snout, a motion that, unbeknownst to him, was repeated a five hundredfold by similarly nasaline organs on the banks of the forgottenmost fork of the Gauley River in Bung Hollow, West Virginia, a parallel story tie-in that will hopefully be soon exploited. Meantime, from deep within the recesses of his trenchcoat Beano withdraws and activates his cell phone.

It is Washington calling. But Washington who, or what? The DC? The state? The island? The St. Louis university? Irving? Grover? The brand of haggis paste that Weasel Slayer spreads on his unleavened gelatins? Beano loses interest in the call's origin when he learns that there has been another terrorist scare back in the states. (What states? Altered? United? Papal? Pro? For heaven's?)

The wind coupled with the mariachi band make hearing difficult, so he retreats into what is billed as the world's southernmost Denny's. As the waitress takes his order for penguin pâté pop, he reviews the terrible events a hemidemisemisphere away.

Apparently, enemies of the state (and which state is still unclear, though the diamondback rattle now seemed a distinct possibility) were disbursing through the US mails a potentially deadly commodity: anthracite. Normally a perfectly benign coal, dense and shiny with a high carbon content, villains have been stuffing chunks of it into envelopes and sending them to high-profile geopolitical leaders. Some unsuspecting recipients--curious about the large, hard bulges in the envelopes--have opened them without taking due precautions, such as switching to all-electric heat. Anthracite is legally distributed throughout the world when it has affixed to it the surgeon general's warning label: "Exposure to this product, even for as short a period as 12 years, can result in anthracosis, or black lung disease, assuming the exposee has kept the coal in close proximity to his or her nose during that time. For external use, only."

Not surprisingly, none of the anthracite sent to the high muckamucks was properly labeled. And while no one had yet exhibited any symptoms of anthracosis, two injuries have been reported: an advertising assistant in the Office of Homemaker Security dropped an eight pound coal nugget on her foot, hobbling her for a day and a half; and former Secretary Rumsfeld himself mistook a 15-ounce chunk of it for peanut brittle his granddaughter had made, and he is currently having two of his incisors fitted for crowns.

As troubled as Beano is by these developments, he feels his investigation of the local frigid boondocks is more important. He gazes down into the fuliginous pool of gravy covering his penguin and sees the hazy 1/128th-scale image of Weasel Slayer flashing him the OK sign. Then it's settled. Antarctica, ho!

Half a Dzil Na’oodili away, Weasel Slayer has just discovered and been entertained by his first Nava-ho', an occasion of pure prurience that this family-oriented 334th episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar shall not promulgate, unless you ring us up, say the secret word, and ask for Kalvos.