Gone Lawn
a journal of literature
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Gone Lawn 10
Spring, 2013
Featured painting, ©2012 by Andrew Abbott : you might like this.

New Works


Vivisectionist Seeks Clientele

The phone rang brittle and harsh. "Yes? No. No! No arachnids this week!" Jacques slammed the phone down, the third time in five minutes. This online advertising crap was not paying off. He had gone to the trouble of specifying "bipeds". He stood aching, flexing his back with both hands gripping his waist just above the kidneys. Surely, there's an easy way. He adjusted his glasses as he squinted through the smeared windowpanes at the Salivation Army cohort across the street drooling for donations.

The kettle was not exactly full. Two of the attendants left abruptly for a lunch-and-loo break, leaving behind only a Major with a tambourine gripping his buffalo robe, the smoke under the kettle torn asunder by the splintering wind. "No doubt, it's rough all over," Jacques reasoned from the warmth of his vivisectionist parlor, "but what can cabbage not cure?" His fumigation technique put all vermin, rodentiary and insect, out of their misery for good, on first contact. (The reader may now extrapolate the number of uneffected causes unleashed on the planet each day.)

One of the Salivation Army attendants headed straight for the nearest bank building to visit the loo. The other went to a hotel's second-floor public washroom briefly, and then Pinto Dreck headed straight for the local Chambermaid Dairy for something to taste. He'd had new heels put on his worn boots just two days earlier, and with his resolute stride and the persistent lingering memory of the past weekend's festivities alive in his head, he was conjuring new verses for a revival revival.

Stepping into the local Chambermaid Dairy, Pinto eyed the freezer display cases, the visual cues triggering involuntary gustatory, olfactory, and hortatory response right there on the spot, the tops of the sundaes were strewn with the carcasses of many kinds of fruit of greater and lesser degrees of freshness and flavor, prunes not among them, however. (It's whispered, I won't say where, but widely in the locality, et cetera, that the prune lobby was still irate to the point of volatility that prune sundaes were never to be found in any Chambermaid Dairy. Be that as it may: franchisees were being enlisted even then to test a tasty prune shake in several markets to resounding success.) Of all days, though, Pinto had an acute hankering for simply a tall glass of prune juice, and not utterly aware of Chambermaid Dairy policies and practices (management had not designated this particular franchisee a candidate for the test marketing of the tasty prune shake), Pinto ordered a tall prune juice.

"No can do," a stark freckled redhead snarled from behind the counter.

"But I just like the taste of it, I'm not even consti-"

"Ahh-ahh-ahh! I don't care how many -ectomies or what kind you may have had, mister, and I won't say a thing about whatever else you want to order, but: no prune juice! We don't got none." Her teeth clicked together behind her rich red lips, her shapely mouth gnashing every word, an incredible performance for an actual service provider.

Pinto knew rejection when he encountered it and was just leaving when other events conspired to transpire. Collusion between the prune and fig lobbies—well, negotiations had been fruitful, and they were about to embark together on a guerilla marketing campaign: and who would have predicted, who could have known, but they had to begin their campaign somewhere, and the very Chambermaid Dairy franchise that Pinto was leaving the frosty lobby of, was about to face the first deployment of force.

Before Pinto could properly turn on his freshly installed heels, fifty prunes promptly dropped through the ceiling tiles, yielding fifty near-simultaneous squirts of a blend of fig and prune concentrates. The redhead behind the counter opened her red and shapely mouth, but no squirt was within twenty feet of her. Pinto's gast was equally flabbered, and none of what he beheld would have made the least sense to him had he not spotted in the same moment the avocado-green limousine across the street, from the depths of which someone was clearly controlling some local event remotely. This vehicle Pinto recognized instantly as the corporate limo for Queen Fig Enterprises, as some eminent personage in the remote depths of this very limo had been making generous daily donations to the Salivation Army kettle every day that he'd been on duty there for the past year. (The Salivation Army offers its own retirement plan to its ranks to this day, due to the sound management and oversight practices of the firm Snavely, Faustroll & Philbin, Ltd., from the days of the Army's founding philanthropic bequest.)

While events in this Chambermaid Dairy franchise constituted progress of a sort, Pinto concluded he wouldn't be sipping a tall prune juice for the moment so he continued his outward stroll, the spurts of prune juice still dripping from the ceiling tiles (the resulting condition of the floor tiles never a strict consideration of the perpetrators of the guerilla marketing campaign). As soon as Pinto was out the door, a curled finger beckoned through the limo's open rear window. Pinto obliged the summons after looking right and left, left and right (yeh, a one-way street, and so?).

By the time he reached the limo's open window, the hand was proffering a contract, which Pinto took to looking over. This was the moment he'd been waiting for! He actually kneeled in the street to sign the contract then and there with the pen being proffered from the limo, and on return of pen and contract Pinto was invited into the limo and whisked away.

In bell cap and motley, owing to his physique and the boots he insisted on keeping his feet clad in, Pinto took up his new job as Court Jester for Queen Fig Enterprises ("The Fig, My Able Queen!" the corporate motto) and took to his new position in good stride. From the first day Pinto proved he could provoke mirth without even resorting to flatulence. To prove this to the small knot of remaining QFE skeptics four weeks after his hire, Pinto ceremoniously pulled out a large wheel of smoked Gouda and a small gleaming silver knife. Everyone at the ceremony smiled as the perfumed air wafted heavenward, each secretly anticipating a date with a large personal brick of Limburger.

Nevertheless, the following Friday, someone high in QFE management ordered the QFE kennel in the sub-basement of the corporate tower to release its horde of Hellhounds—all twenty-nine of them—for a final assessment of Pinto's intestinal fortitude. Their claws clicking and clattering up floor after floor, staircase after staircase of undressed granite steps to Pinto's office on the thirteenth floor, the Hellhounds raced up the tower with slathering jaws dripping runny Brie. Pinto had returned from lunch in characteristic good form, providentially, and already stood outside his office with his hands cupping and kneading fresh wedges of black tar Havarti. The Hellhounds bounded from the thirteenth-floor landing for Pinto's throat, but inhaling one or even two snootfuls of the black tar in mid-air, one by one each dropped away and began to float in Havarti bliss. Confident but recovering from residual nervousness, Pinto was relieved that the Hellhounds' slathering hellishness had taken a backseat to their newfound stupefaction. "Chalk up another one to black tar Harvarti!" Pinto chortled of the cheese that yielded the Hellhounds' transport to bliss, the Hellhounds floated by not even noticing their fresh inability to salivate.


strannikov earned no thanks when he assured NASA administrators that exoplanet settlement is out of the question unless the exoplanet in question comes equipped with a lunar body similar in disposition to the one that keeps circling our happy globe: the surging tides of human blood depend on it, he contends.