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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


 
The Essay
Show #456
The Order of the Refulgent Convolution
David Gunn

Lark A. Clobberworm liked to say that, not only was he in aluminum siding, in fact he was aluminum siding--his body was over 80% aluminum, thanks to a steady diet of bauxite he'd enjoyed as a child. When he walked, he sounded like a synchronized soda can marching drill team. He was walking now, determined to close a sale on a client who was just as determinedly walking away from it. Abruptly his quarry stopped, turned around, and began to poke Clobberworm with a mackerel. Surprisingly, his body resonated deeply when struck by the fish. Again and again the man clouted Clobberworm--until at last the sound struck a chord in his subconscious, and he awoke. Momentarily confused, he groped around in the dark until he found the matches next to the bed. He struck one and lit the beeswax taper on the adjacent table. It illuminated a small, austere cell. A roughly hewn chair, prayer mat and armoire made from the carapace of a giant armadillo completed the room's spare furnishings. The muffled pounding continued, and Clobberworm now recognized the sound. It was Brother Gambusia hitting the semantron with his cudgel. That meant it was five o'clock in the morning--time for matins.

Brother Clobberworm was a member of the Order of the Refulgent Convolution, a monastic guild that traced its beginnings to a missionary from the Crab Nebula who began proselytizing in what is now Belize at the end of the Upper Cretaceous Period. The guild's popularity peaked during the Clovis culture, when membership topped one million Paleo-Indians, but more recently had stabilized at an even one hundred and one blessed brethren.

The Order's armadillo-shaped monastery sat in the middle of a great caldera, which was a two-edged sword. The intermittently dynamic volcano that lurked beneath the grounds provided ample steam heat for the Holy Sauna Room, but the lava flows were murder on the fields of ginseng. As Clobberworm donned his rubber robe and headed for the basilica for prayers, he could smell the effects of a week of molten rock flowing over the North Field. It smelled a little like chicken.

Halfway across the courtyard, Brother Camphor caught up with him. "What is it, Brother Clobberworm, that walks on four legs in the morning, on two legs at midday, and on three legs at night?"

Riddles were a favorite pastime of the monks, though it played hell with their vows of silence. Clobberworm attempted to respond by employing charades, but Brother Camphor refused to be drawn in to the silence of the iambs. Clobberworm was about to try American Sign Language when he noticed a small figure stealing out of the monastery's feretory. It was the new catechumen--what was his name? Banquo? Beano? Bardo? Yes, Bardo, that was it. He pointed at him, and Brother Camphor turned to look. "That man? Quite right! He walks on four legs as an infant, on two legs as an adult, and uses a cane in his old age."

Bardo was not proceeding to morning prayers, as requisite for acolytes, but was skulking off towards the canteen. Clobberworm found that curious, but he let it go as a youthful indiscretion, of which he had many still to repent.

The Order's holy services were performed according to the traditional monastic liturgical rules of Refulgent Convolution, which were a shade more complicated than those of Whisker Six-Draw, a devilishly implausible card game invented by the Crab Nebula missionary. The monks formed two concentric circles in the basilica's apse and sidled meditatively in opposite directions. The abbot, resplendent in an armadillo-like cladding encrusted with rubies and rubber, entered bearing loaves of French bread. The two circles parted for him as he strode into the center of the room, spread the Holy Antimacassar onto the floor, and solemnly placed the bread upon it. He broke it into a hundred pieces, made the Sign of the Armadillo, and gestured for the monks to come forward and partake of "le pain in the apse." Simultaneously, the monastery's cook fluttered down from above on his great, leathern wings bearing a tray that brimmed with an assortment of cheeses and wine, which the monks ravenously scarfed.

After the ceremony, Clobberworm headed over to the corral for Morning Rumination with the goats, giraffes and other ruminants when he spotted Bardo, again sneaking furtively across the plaza. His actions sounded an alarm in the older monk, who decided to follow him. He trailed him to the canteen, then had to duck behind the baobab tree as the acolyte glanced nervously around before jimmying the lock and slipping inside. After only a minute, Bardo warily emerged from the building toting a large bag, which he tried to conceal under his robe. He walked rapidly back to his cell, but at the last moment had to detour across the courtyard to avoid passing another acolyte who suddenly fell out of the sky in front of him, his wings singed from the sun. At last he reached the door to his room, which he hastily entered and slammed shut. Clobberworm, too, ignored the figure writhing and sizzling on the ground and walked up to Bardo's door. Not bothering with formalities, he put his shoulder against it and shoved. The door burst open, revealing a surprised and crestfallen Bardo, for neatly arrayed on his bed and table and overflowing the shelves of the armadillo armoire were hundreds of priceless artifacts nicked from the monastery's canteen. Caught with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar, the acolyte was summarily tossed into the monastery's brig.

Oh, he repented, especially each time he was flogged with the Holy Mackerel, but he was nonetheless thereafter carefully watched, plus he was forever branded as the felonious monk.

There's nothing the least bit felonious about today's 456th episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, unless you want to count the crimes against humidity about to be perpetrated by the soon to be dry-cleaned Kalvos.