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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution


 
The Essay
Show #533
Thawing the Wolverine
David Gunn

Captain Logic strolled into the kitchen and looked over the array of pots and pans that Chef Cordero had assembled to accommodate his evening meal preparation. As always, he was taken aback by the vast number of implements that Cordero's kitchen staff employed--the acupressure cookers, the dark matter transfer plates, the dry rotifer bowls and Möbius fry-by-night stands--but he had to admit that the product that ensued was always impressively delicious. Why, he was just raving to Prince Oromund about last month's Furuncle Feast in which the chef had transformed hundreds of desiccated weasel boils into a four-course delight for the gustatory senses. He was smiling at the tasty memory when a curious aroma tickled his nasal palate, and he paused to sniff the air. Instantly, he knew. Oh no. Not that! For a year, maybe longer, he had begged Chef Cordero to steer clear of one item in the freezer. The chef typically refused to listen to anyone, but he had complied with that request. Until now. Homing in on the tangy smell, the captain slunk over to the large bain-marie in the corner and lifted the lid. His heart sank like a heat sink. They were thawing the wolverine.

In the early twenty-first century, an extended family of thirty-eight wolverines moved from the Yukon to Florida and settled in the greater Miami highlands. Since the animals typically lived in cold, northern forests, the move to an altogether different environment was of great interest to migrationologists. There were other anomalies in the animals' behavior, too. Wolverines are by nature solitary and introverted, but they traveled together to Miami in an orderly fashion, stopping frequently to pose for nature photographers and sign autographs. The journey took nearly five months. It should have taken them only five weeks, however they were either unable or unwilling to hitchhike through all of Montana. When they arrived at last in southern Florida, they headed right for the beach, where they constructed a little tent city. Again, this action was without precedent since, in the wild, wolverines usually den in tree hollows.

Ever vigilant of new potential voters, the mayor waded in from his offshore office to welcome the animals. However, they abruptly reverted to their feral nature, hissing, baring their fangs and kicking sand at him. Humiliated, the mayor called in a swat team of animal control officers armed with neutering machines, but a major interspecific crisis was averted when Bob of Bob's Oceanside Gelato stepped in and offered free cones to the wolverines. Again, scientists were surprised when the animals, which were raised on a diet of carrion and the occasional berry or blintz, eagerly gobbled down the icy confection. Betty, the alpha female, even asked for the recipe, which Bob cheerfully supplied. It was a noble gesture of goodwill but a poor business decision because, within weeks, the wolverines had opened their own gelato stand.

No matter a lax quality assurance program allowed rather a lot of fur to mix in with the product, the Canadian transplants' business thrived. Customers flocked to the unregulated food shoppe, where the "skunk bears," as they were sometimes called, churned out gelato in record amounts and in flavors that might do in a lesser business, including lava, splinter, cabbageworm and sand. As with any small operation, things sometimes went awry. Whenever the machinery broke down, the riled wolverines instinctively activated their skunk-like scent glands, which nearly always emptied their shoppe of clientele. Other times, they assaulted customers after mistaking their carry-on luggage for carrion. Poor eyesight and not-to-code lighting were the culprits here. But on the whole, the animals displayed a kind of insouciance that was wholly refreshing among backwoods carnivores.

Alas, the business bonhomie came to a tragic end one day when Betty slipped on some cabbageworm casings and fell into the Acme Freezertron. Instantly, the powerful supercoolant sucked the heat out of her and initiated rigor gelidus. She was soon as stiff as an Englishman's upper lip. Following a day of mourning, which included whipping up a special thalamus-flavored gelato, Betty's family prepared to eat her. But they were unable to bite through her hard-as-ice fur so they left her on the beach to thaw in the hot afternoon sun. However, when they returned that evening, keen on a little necrophagia, she was gone!

According to reliable eyewitnesses, one minute she was there; the next she wasn't. The wolverines combed the beach, searching for clues to her disappearance. They didn't find any, although they did uncover a dirndl belonging to the mayor, which later led to his political downfall.

Within a week, the rest of the wolverines were also gone. Along with a well-combed beach, they left behind a testament that deeded all of their recipes to their erstwhile competitor. Bob quickly got the hang of the lava and sand flavors, but before he could master splinter gelato, a customer sued him over a severe lower lip injury.

The path from a Miami beach to Chef Cordero's bain-marie was long, circuitous and indeed dubious, and Betty, were she able, would be among the first to label it a classic example of unintelligent design. But, five and a half years later, here she was, adding to the potpourri of kitchen aromas with leakage from her own scent glands. The captain, who played a major role in acquiring the once frigid furball, reached into the pan and gently stroked Betty's snout. To his utter amazement, the animal opened one eye. Logic reasoned that the action must be a long-delayed postmortem reflex, but then Betty opened her other eye, bared her teeth and hissed at him.

By this time, curious line cooks had gathered around the bain-marie. Word quickly spread to the sous chef and thence to Chef Cordero, who raced into the kitchen, his apron streaming behind him. As he approached Betty, he unsheathed his evisceration tool. He paused to brandish it above his head, and that cost him. Captain Logic at last came to his senses, pulled a chunk of especially fetid carrion from his pocket and jammed it into Cordero's face. Horrified, the chef recoiled and dropped his weapon. Unsheathing his own, much larger disemboweling device, Logic ordered the cooks to hold him. And that's when he noticed that the chef wasn't wearing an apron. Rather it was a dirndl.

Betty clambered weakly out of the pot, shook herself off, then briefly posed rakishly for the house photographer. Logic expected her feral nature to kick in and, sure enough, the moment she got her bearings, off she headed for the Yukon. However, five and a half years of neglect had atrophied her sense of direction and she got no farther than the garage.

Where are we headed with this story, you ask? It would be oh so easy to just stop here and leave all of the loose ends as untied as Chef Cordero's apron strings. But it would also speed up the arrival of today's guest, who has journeyed all the way from Toronto's backwoods to be on this 533rd episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar. So, loose ends versus Canadian speed. The choice is yours. Or Kalvos', really.