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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


 
The Essay
Show #490
Nancy's Bloomers
David Gunn

The year was 1931. The place, Indianapolis, Indiana. The time, ten o'clock on a Friday morning. The Duesenberg Motor Car plant at 808 Maple Street was in full swing. Three dozen automotive technicians in spotless white aprons worked fastidiously on eight top-of-the-line Model Js, each of which sat on the factory floor in various stages of assembly. It took nearly six months to build a Duesenberg: the automobiles were among the most luxurious, prestigious, and expensive in the world. Because they spent so much time on a single car, the technicians became quite attached to them. They frequently gave them names, which they would engrave on tiny plaques and affix inconspicuously to the undercarriage before the car left the factory. The names evolved as each motor car developed its unique persona. On this Friday morning in 1931, the eight vehicles on the factory floor were christened Agatha, Banquo's Feast, Revenge of Burdach, Nancy's Bloomers, General Salazar, Vicuña, Zeno Widebody and 71429621X. The "Nancy's Bloomers" Duesenberg was the nearest to completion, needing only a final tuning of its powerful Lycoming straight eight engine and the installation in the boot of the just-invented Emergency Dirigible Evacuation System. Technician Lark A. Clobberworm was under the hood adjusting the timing when he heard the trunk lid slam closed. Simultaneously, there was a horrifying scream. Clobberworm dashed around to the rear of the car and almost fainted at the sight of the blood-spattered head of the dirigible installation technician, Amigo Verispuccini, staring sightlessly back at him from the floor. Clobberworm grabbed the car's fender to steady himself, and he could have sworn he felt an unbridled malevolence reach out to him from deep in the sheet metal. Perhaps his eyes were playing tricks on him, but as he shrank back, the car seemed to smirk at him.

The factory closed down while investigators tried to determine the cause of the accident. Only Clobberworm thought it was an intentional act perpetrated by the car, but he knew that if he spoke his mind, he'd be tossed in the loony bin. After several days of fruitless analysis, the probable cause of death was deemed to be "technician error." Straightaway, the factory reopened and the remaining craftsmen went back to work on their motor cars. After all, the wealthy Americans who had placed orders for these Duesenbergs could not be kept waiting for long. A dirigible installer named Bardo was assigned to finish Verispuccini's work. He had not been told of his predecessor's misfortune, so he blithely removed his shoes and climbed into the car's trunk to wire the solenoids.

Why the name "Nancy's Bloomers?" Brother Gentry, the technician who installed the car's rear seat, likened the leather upholstery to a pair of his wife's knickers, and the rest of the assembly team immediately endorsed the name. All except Clobberworm. Even then he thought he sensed an air of antipathy from the car.

For two days, Clobberworm watched over Bardo as he meticulously installed the emergency dirigible evacuation system. But nothing out of the ordinary happened, and he gradually relaxed and settled back into his own routine of fine-tuning the supercharger.

The period of tranquillity at the Duesenberg Motor Car plant ended abruptly. Clobberworm was under the hood of Nancy's Bloomers applying neat's-foot oil to the timing chain when he felt a surge of power from the engine. It suddenly roared to life, and he barely escaped being sucked into the intake manifold. Bardo was not as lucky. Before he could clamber to safety, the truck lid slammed down, according his head the same fate it had of Amigo. Then Nancy's Bloomers broke free of its moorings and began to roll across the factory floor. At first it moved slowly, but then it speeded up and flattened Pierre, Zeno Widebody's pastry chef. Deftly pivoting ninety degrees, the Duesenberg next ran over Jerry and Tom, who had been cowering behind Banquo's Feast.

Nancy's Bloomers rubbed bumpers with General Salazar, and straightaway that car began to behave in a most unautomotive fashion. It crashed unscathed through the heavy wooden door, indifferently struck six pedestrians who were milling about outside, then drove nonstop to Portugal, where it installed itself as dictator for the next thirty-six years.

Upon the factory floor of the Duesenberg Motor Car plant, pandemonium reigned. Panicky technicians ran about higgledy-piggledy as Nancy's Bloomers picked them off one by one. Those who attempted to escape through the breach in the factory wall were promptly run over by Zeno Widebody, which had also come to violent life. Revenge of Burdach, too, lived up to its name as it summarily crushed first the entire Parts Department and then the Sales & Body Shop. Agatha, Banquo's Feast and Vicuña Duesenberg also contributed to the wreckage of the factory that bore their name. Only 71429621X remained strangely quiescent, and it was this fact that saved Clobberworm, for he alone had the presence of mind to hide behind its protective walnut fascia as the other cars carried on their rampage.

By the time the police arrived, the building was in ruins, the company's middle management wiped out. The Duesenbergs attacked the police, too, but a salvo from six Thomson submachine guns quickly subdued the cars, which were then rounded up and taken to jail. But the ringleader, Nancy's Bloomers, was not among them. Somehow it had managed to escape. The army issued an all-points bulletin for it, but the car was never again spotted.

Until today--for this 490th episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar features an interview with a composer who was born in the very year that the possessed Duesenberg escaped. Even more astounding, that composer's name is Nancy Bloomer Deussen. Coincidence? I'll let you be the judge, dear listener, because for now, there isn't a Kalvos nearby to voice his skepticism.