Saturday, May 23, 2009

Harold Warpool and Nature's MD

Harold "Doc" Warpool Before the Closure of Nature's MD

Harold “Doc” Warpool is the proud proprietor of Cloverdale’s only Homeopathic Pharmacy called “Nature MD”. His shelves are stocked with cures, remedies, and snake oils with names sounding like they belong in the medical dispensary at Hogwart’s School of Magic.

Harold spends every morning in the forests around Cloverdale searching for the plants required to conjure his cures for mind and body. Some of the potions are old family recipes. Others come from Cloverdale’s very own witches' Coven. Witches, as a group, are secretive of their centuries old brews and hexes, but through seductive persuasion as the Coven’s only wizard, Harold successfully obtained access to their dusty volumes hidden under a floorboard at Wilson’s Janitorial Supply on the High Street.

Harold claims to have the cures for cancer, gout, ringworm, diabetes, hair loss, etc. In fact, one wall of his establishment resembles the rock wall at Lourdes in France - both laden with the crutches of the healed. Lourdes claims heavenly intervention through the Virgin Mary. Nature MD claims the mystery of nature and the ‘before his time’ intuition of the Doc. Some of Harold’s friends and supporters have urged him to adjust his practice to include religion. In one discussion held late into the evening at The Kicking Donkey Pub a new business plan was drawn up by Harold and his primary backers. Harold would claim a vision from some saint. It was left to Harold to decide which one. They felt it best to steer clear of Mary to protect their immortal souls. Harold would publish a narrative of his vision. Initial believers would provide the fertile soil to move to the second step of the plan. Harold would have regular visions in the back garden of this establishment. Each heavenly visitor would impart a new conjugation of ingredients designed to cure another of mankind’s ills. The profit potential of such a venture was sound - especially because of Nature’s MD proximity to St. Bartholomew’s Catholic Church and School - a captive and ready to believe audience, so to speak.

The plan was nearly ready to launch and then aborted after the trial run of the first vision’s telling. Harold couldn’t act. His performance lacked sincerity. Any thinking person would see through the ruse. Harold was back to midnight rendezvous with the witches.

A week ago an official from The Confederacy of Dunces Ministry of Taxes and Fraud walked through the door of Nature MD. He asked for samples of Harold’s cure for excessive flatulence (gas). The mixture was taken out to the official’s mobile lab in the back of a 1963 Volkswagen Twinkie Van. One hour later the official was heard nailing a notice to the door of the store. Harold rushed out to read the sign:
The Confederacy Ministry of Taxes and Fraud hereby and forthwith closes this establishment upon the finding of salmonella and lead. All patrons are urged to visit their local Doctor for examination.
Harold protested the closure vehemently but in the end lost the appeal. The mobile lab drove away leaving Harold with several walls of stock and no ability to distribute. Nature’s MD was forced to close. Harold struck back by commissioning a curse on the Ministry and the official by the witches in the Coven. While the curse may have satisfied his need for revenge, his distribution problem remained.

Two weeks ago a solution presented itself. While watching the evening Dunce News television program All the News, he saw a report on the thousands of Americans purchasing drugs over the internet from Mexican pharmacies thus bypassing the high cost of prescription drugs in the United States. That next day Harold parked outside Cloverdale’s Comprehensive School and waited for the students to arrive. He had several flyers in his hand to distribute to the students. Harold was advertising for the services of a ‘web master’ to create an internet site for his business. His wish was answered by the heavily pimpled Harvey Hod. For several hundred dollars and a cure for his complexion, Harvey created an online business for Nature’s MD.

Harold has successfully bypassed the Ministry ban and does brisk business by shipping product outside the Confederacy from the Janitorial shop. Harvey, the web master, is in the hospital for lead poisoning. There is a bright side - his complexion is much improved.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Bronson and Grumpys' Noah's Ark

Bronson holding Grumpys' Famous Noah's Ark

Bronson Bluumer is the junk food malnourished child of Lady and Ned Bluumer of Clear Creek Close in Cloverdale. Bronson isn’t allowed sugar except on holidays and his birthday. Bronson turned five yesterday. To celebrate, his dad suggested they taste the forbidden fruit and go out for ice cream. Bronson’s under worked pancreas leapt for joy. Finally, after six months it was time to prove to the brain it could, yet again, function and produce insulin.
“Ned, you know sugar is poison to the system,” Lady reminded her husband. She knew the battle was lost but she had to make an attempt to stop the soon to be overdose.
“Lady its his birthday and you promised he could have a special treat like the other boys,” Ned reminder her. Lady agreed she had made the promise and resigned herself to the fact that Bronson would soon be on the sugar high of his life.

After a supper of tofu burgers and salad, washed down with a choice of water or soy milk, the family dressed for their birthday trip to “Grumpys”. Ned waited impatiently by jumping up and down on the couch. “Can I have anything I want?” he asked over and over.
“Within reason,” Lady answered back each time he asked. “Would you please stop jumping and be a good boy?”
“I’ll stop jumping if you say I can have anything I want,” Bronson countered. He knew he needed a mutually agreed on deal before arriving. No deal and he’d be stuck with a child’s quarter scoop trial size cone. Or worse, his birthday surprise would be Grumpys’ heath conscious sugar free yogurt served in a sea weed cone.

Grumpys, Just outside of Cloverdale on Highway 1

He started screaming the song ‘Happy Birthday to You’ as he jumped higher and higher on the couch. “Ned stop him!” his mother demanded from the bathroom as she applied a few streaks of make up to her milky white complexion. She had an aversion to the sun - always afraid that skin cancer would be the result of overindulgence.
“You know what to say dear,” Ned responded from the bedroom. “Its his birthday, let him have what he wants.”
“All right Bronson, you can have anything you want!” she yelled while dabbing her mouth with cherry red lipstick. Bronson’s strategy of increasing his annoying factor paid off. He quieted down and started to dream of the 20 varieties of ice cream soon to be laid out before him.

Grumpys for Bronson is like the Wailing Wall for a Jew. He was surrounded by sugar in all its sinful varieties. Making the decision what to order was difficult until he saw a young teen age couple sharing this monstrosity of a dish called Noah’s Ark. He had to have it. Lady Bluumer let Ned do the ordering. She sat at a pink and white booth near the front window and waited. She ordered the yogurt cone. Ned ordered the one scoop hot fudge sundae and Bronson ordered the Noah’s Ark. He couldn’t believe it when the attendant reached over the counter and put the five pound dairy delight into his waiting hands. Lady Bluumer couldn’t believe it either, and was thankful she made the decision to allow these special treats only a few times a year.

Bronson ate and ate and ate. He savored every drop knowing that was it until Christmas. Twenty minutes later and three fourths of the way through the ice cream and he still hadn't reached the bottom of the bowl. His rumbling stomach convinced him to stop. Ned ate the rest. Lady took a bite or two and stopped because of a developing migraine.

Bronson’s stomach ache grew worse at home. He went to bed after taking two tablespoons of Pepto Bismol. Thirty minutes later he felt a strange sensation in his tummy. He got out of bed and walked into his parent’s bedroom.
“Mommy,” he said as he shook Lady into consciousness. She woke with a start.
“What is it honey?” she asked while rubbing feeling back into her face. “Does your tummy hurt?”
Bronson nodded. She padded the bed between her and Ned. Bronson climbed up and laid down. Lady leaned over to kiss him better on the forehead. Bronson suddenly covered his mouth and sat up quickly. Lady saw the signs of impending disaster. Out of impulse and a primal urge for self defense she turned his head toward Ned's side of the bed. A torrent sprang up from Tommy’s stomach and out his mouth. It seemed a gallon of fowl liquid fountained over Bronson's sleeping dad. Ned promptly woke up. Lady was impressed with Ned's speed. He wasn't known as an easy riser.

Next year the Bluumers will start honest negotiations a month before the birthday for a more reasonable and digestive celebration. Bronson learned a lesson he will never forget - the eyes are bigger than the stomach.

Clifford Barrows. Pin Cushion with Honors.

Clifford Barrows made a deal with his mother. She promised him two new piercings if he brought up his grades at Cloverdale’s Comprehensive School. He started the semester with a C average. His mother expected straight ‘A’s” and knew it would take bribery to get her son to reach his potential.

Clifford knew giving his schoolwork that much attention could cost him some popularity with his gang of pin cushioners but he had respect for his mother - and being a good, but slightly odd son, decided to accept the deal and make the required grades to get the needed piercings. Besides, he was intelligent enough to find ways to keep his improving grades secret.

Clifford’s home room teacher passed out the report cards. When your name was called you stood, walked to the front of the room and held out your hand to accept the establishment's evaluation of your performance. Clifford’s friends saw this ritual as an opportunity to make a statement. Each one picked up his report card, ripped it up in front of the teacher and waited for the order to report to detention. This was their agreed upon action. Clifford knew he was in trouble. His last name started with a B. He would be the first Pin Cushion called to pick up his report card. He was expected to set the example for the others. He would be the first to tear up the report. He would be the first to be sent to detention. On the other hand, he needed that report card to fulfill his part of the bargain - a 4.0 for two new piercings. He was caught between his duty to his rebel alliance and his obligation to his mother.

“Clifford Barrows,” It was time. His name had been called. He stood and began the long walk from the back of the room, headquarters of the Pin Cushions toward the front of the room, home of the nerds. Strangely he felt comfortable with both groups. Clifford was very intelligent. He knew he had the ability to do anything. His teachers and mother spent hours explaining his ‘gift’ and his future possibilities. Clifford reassured them that he understood.
“I’m young and this is what you do when your young,” he explained hoping they would cut him some slack and let him have some time to express himself in this unusual way. “I’ll conform when its time but now I’m having some fun. Besides, I really like the reaction I get looking like this. I’m spooky. Kinda fun.”

Clifford reached the front of the room and held out his hand. His teacher looked at him. She knew the routine. He would destroy his grades in front of her and she would send him to detention. Mrs. Dawson was a good teacher. She knew Clifford and was proud of what he’d done that semester. She ignored his look of indifference. “It’s all part of the act,” Clifford told her in previous encounters.

Clifford took the report card and glanced down to privately admire the perfect rows of A’s. He was puzzled. The paper was blank except for a hand written note.
“Clifford, the teacher in detention has your real report card. Your first there so you can pick it up before anyone else sees. Go ahead and rip up this paper. Give us a good show. I expect the best from you.”

Clifford gave Mrs. Dawson a quick and private smile. His demeanor changed to disgust. He was on stage and ready to perform. He turned to face the class. He held the report high over his head.
“Do it, Do it, Do it,” the Pin Cushions chanted from the back of the room. Clifford didn't’ disappoint them. He took the paper with both hands and ripped it into several smaller pieces. The back of the room erupted into loud cheers. Clifford was expected to toss the shredded paper up into the air. Instead he turned and placed the confetti into Mrs. Dawson’s hand. The room fell silent. No one had ever handed a destroyed report card back to the teacher. This would be legend. Mrs. Dawson took the paper in one hand and pointed to the classroom door with the other.
“Detention Mr. Barrows,” she shouted playing her part in this one act play.

Clifford left the room. He had his 4,0 and the report that proved it. He would get his piercings. His mother would get the grades and everyone would be happy. Clifford wasn’t planning on repeated the deal. The new piercings would be his last. He intended to let his grades slide for a semester and then bring them up again at the end of the school year before secretly applying for university. Now he was rethinking his plan. He had a newly found respect for Mrs. Dawson. She came through for him and he thought he might give her another good semester - as long as she would be willing to repeat today’s performance.

Clifford is a good boy. He just doesn’t look like it and that’s OK with him.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Albert and Blake

Albert Moore was an investment banker at Goldman Sachs for 35 years. Life in a pressure cooker was everything Albert wanted. He made money. He moved in elite circles. He financed some of the largest building projects in New York. He worked from dawn until dusk.

His wife and children left him.
He had a heart attack.

He retired the day they released him from the hospital, sold everything, packed his belongings and left the world that had given and taken so much.  It was time to leave the fast lane;  in fact, it was time to get off the freeway completely.

Albert started a new life in the Shire. He purchased and renovated a log cabin five miles off Highway 1 where he has lived for the last three years. Today he gets up when his body says its time. He takes long hikes in the pine covered mountains above Cloverdale.   Long lunches with his new friends occupy his afternoons, and a little banjo music at The Kicking Donkey Pub finishes his perfect days. Along the way he met a lovely lady, and with Mary at his side,  he hoped fortune would smile and grant him a second chance with his children in the world outside the Shire.

Last week his son and grandson arrived in Cloverdale for a week’s visit.  Blake had never met his grandfather. He recognized his face from a picture which hung above the staircase in his home. Albert and Blake spent many evenings on the cabin’s front porch. It was a bit uncomfortable at first, so Albert filled the empty air with banjo music.

Blake was fascinated by the instrument and wanted to learn.  Albert taught him a few simple chords and let him pluck away. Every mistake Blake made brought laughter. The laughter drew them closer together. By week’s end, Albert felt a new happiness - the kind that only comes from family.

Albert and Mary saw Blake and his father off last Sunday. Blake cried at the railroad station. He wanted this giant of a grandpa in his life. Albert invited Blake to spend a part of his summer in Cloverdale.  Albert’s son agreed.

Albert spends many of his evenings on the cabin's front porch playing his Banjo;  and, when occasion permits, shooting deer that cross his field with Blake’s forgotten paintball gun.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Nazi Secret Weapon Uncovered

This Report Filed by Mark (Scoop) Daymont. Scoop Daymont is the Dunce News Service's (DNS) International Coorespondent for Foreign News. If its news and it foreign, Scoop Daymont will be there!

And Now Mark Daymont's Report

Nazi Secret Weapon Uncovered

Cloverdale researcher Harvey Fuddlestone has made military history news last week with his announcement of the discovery of previously unknown Nazi weaponry from World War 2.
It all started with a visit to his uncle Charles F.W.I.W. Tooner. Charles, age 88, currently resides in the Cloverdale Home for the Terminally Confused. A veteran of the Second World War, Charles gave up on coherent thought and speech some years ago and turned over his newsletter business to his nephew, Harvey. During a visit to his uncle, Harvey says that he noticed that uncle Charles was paying keen attention to a magazine article paying homage to the 20th anniversary of a popular science fiction epic movie. Charles repeatedly pointed his finger at one picture, muttering “That’s the one! That’s the one!”

After questioning his uncle, Harvey discovered that Charles was the only survivor of a special Allied mission sent to recover secret Nazi weaponry in the closing days of the war. Harvey believed his uncle had stumbled upon some dark secret that was haunting him to this very day.

After raising funds by selling off the newsletter business, Harvey managed to make his way to the Historical Archives in Berlin, Germany. For the last several years Harvey has used every resource possible to track down the information given to him by his uncle. There were many roadblocks in his way.

“First of all there was the unbelief expressed by the archives staff,” says Harvey. “They obstructed me at every turn until I uncovered a plot to sell off unpublished photos of Marlena Dietrich. Then I had to deal with a lawsuit placed against me by the producers of the sci fi movie where the Nazi weapon first appeared.”

Fuddlestone claims that the movie producers went so far as to illegally obtain the original photos of the secret weapon. But that did not stop him, he says. “I had finally found the photos, and knew what I had seen!” insists Harvey. Luckily I was able to obtain a second copy of the illustration.”

Pictured with this article, the photo shows the secret weapon in action against enemies of the Third Reich. Terrible in form and function, the existence of this weapon begs the question of how it was able to be depicted in a major motion picture without any one noticing except Fuddlestone and his uncle.

And what of the rumors that the photo was photoshopped? “Lies,” says Fuddlestone. “Lies spread by my competitors to discredit me.”

Harvey has reconstituted his newsletter business and published issue one of Nazi Conspiracies and Alien Plots with the focus on this great discovery. His subscriber list has grown substantially to a record 42.

Monday, May 18, 2009

An Anniversary by the Sea

Aloria and Morty Clark live in a small red brick bungalow at 20 Glenn Close in Cloverdale. Today is their 48th wedding anniversary. They’ll spend it on the beach near Tamworth on the Tide, just like they’ve done for the last 32 years. Aloria Clark enjoys the view. The sea reminds her of happy times when she was a girl. Her family spent many long afternoons in the sun and sand. The smell and sound of the sea conjures the voices of her parents from the quiet of memory. The voices are soft. She closes her eyes and listens closely, almost afraid she has forgotten their sound. It grows cold. She pulls her coat tight around her.

Morty Clark looks across the sand and sees wave after wave of soldiers struggling to gain a foothold on the beach. Memory brings the sound of bullets streaking through the air. The shouts of the wounded follow. The sight of the sea and sand merging at land’s end triggers the memories of that day from long ago. They are etched onto memory like hieroglyphics on rock. He is a living memorial to the friends lost that day.

Seconds turn into minutes. Time passes. The sun and horizon creep closer together. Without a spoken word, the couple turns from the sea and walk to the waiting car. The drive is quiet except for the sound of the car’s fan. Aloria reads. Morty drives.

Their favorite table at The Sea Shack was reserved six month’s ago. They walk through the restaurant and onto the balcony overlooking the sea. Nearby cliffs rise out of the water like black monoliths. The moon casts a shimmering path across the ocean.
They share a few thoughts but find the atmosphere provides better company. The waiter brings their food. Candles provide enough light to see their hands together at the center of the small table. He thinks it marvelous to see a couple together after so many years.

Alora watches the other couples at the tables. Morty watches the sea and moon. Each lost in their own thoughts. Alora stands first. It is time to go home.

Tomorrow they start their 49th year together. They fall asleep side by side, content in knowing the other will be there when they wake in the morning.