We could have gone on like this but as Finch in the Sham Wow commercial says: "We can't do this all day," so I scraped my tale about a Labrador Retriever that gets sucked into the intake manifold of an F-16 and gets his doggy guts blasted over the tarmac like so much puppy chutney and posted this family friendly chestnut from the slush pile.
In a land far away, at a time just past now, in a bar called Ye Olde Coach House, that was noted for its cool quiet calm as opposed to anything “Olde” or coach like about it, three characters from various fairy tales, parables and morally uplifting stories gathered to relive the past. The tortoise, the ant and the country mouse would regale everyone around the bar with accounts of their long past achievements eventually boring their fellow patrons beyond mere tears and causing them to repent their lives.
The quality of an evening at Ye Olde Coach House could be judged by the number of times the discharge of a firearm punctuated the night. Almost nightly one or more customers would end the torment of listening to the biographical ramblings of a reptile, insect and rodent to seek a happier destiny by punctuating his skull with a bullet. In another time or place Ye Olde Coach house might have suffered for patronage in light of its sinister reputation but there were always more recruits willing to test their mettle for the cheapest well drinks in town.
Normally a reptile, insect and rodent wouldn’t have much to discuss much less drink about except as it related to who was going to eat whom but this is a fable and the county it takes place in is notoriously lax in its supervision of alcoholic beverage serving establishments since most of it revenue comes from servicemen on leave.
Each animal had a moment in the spotlight, and taken applause from a hypocritical public who demanded moral rectitude from their icons while they wallowed in a sump of comfortable corruption. To refresh your memory, the tortoise had won his famous race against the heavily favored hare through a combination of persistent plodding and sustained effort. The ant had thriftily stored up wealth for the long lean winter unlike his careless friend the spendthrift fiddling grasshopper. Despite the blandishments of his city cousin, the country mouse had turned his back on the material appeal of the city fleshpots for the wholesome values of the country. They were held up individually and collectively as icons of virtue and like Roman conquerors they returned to receive their praise from the mob. Unfortunately at the time of their triumph no slave rode in the chariot with them, holding their laurels above their heads and reminding them that fame is fleeting.
The fleet of fame had definitely sailed for these guys, they were has beens. They still got invited to appear on telethons and sometimes they were hired as guest attractions by the local triple A ball team; having them stand around and shake hands was cheaper and safer than giving away beer or bats. An unbiased observer would agree their time had passed; the bloom was off the rose and their glory days were long passed. If Arthur Miller were writing this they’d all have been traveling salesmen.
What made their pathetic lives even more galling was that their counterparts, the hare, grasshopper and city mouse had all gone on to success in other fields. The hare had gotten some coaching and gone on to lead his team to the league championship an unprecedented six times while having sex with an astonishing number of partners even for a rabbit. The grasshopper was so successful in his music career that on his last world tour he had filled Wembley Stadium and for an encore led a swarm of other like minded grasshoppers and locusts that denuded Somalia of its grain crops, causing widespread devastation and starvation. The city mouse had established a fabulously successful publishing empire anchored by a magazine he edited that featured photos of nude young female mice and generally lived the life of a degenerate Italian playboy except that he was rodent vermin and spread the dreaded Hanta virus in his feces.
The three spent their lives waiting and discussing their past with who ever came through the swinging doors. They complained about how unfairly life had treated them. But mostly they drank. And drank. And drank. And drank. And drank. And drank. And drank. And drank. And drank. And drank. And drank. And drank. And drank. And drank. And drank. And drank. And drank. And drank. And drank. And drank. And drank. And drank. And drank. And drank. And drank.
A.) Incestuous relations with an insane prostitute mother.
B.) A drunken, abusive religious fanatic father.
C.) Inability of society, family and/or self to accept homosexuality.
D.) A&B but not C.
E.) B&C but not A.
F.) A&C but not B.
G.) All of the above
H.) None of the above.
This galvanized our unlikely trio and they resolved the next day to start running guns to worthy Central American revolutionaries. Like latter day Ernest Hemingway’s they would all take notes and keep diaries and any one who survived the adventure would see to it that their story got told. Of course their wives, creditors and employers frowned on this sort of behavior so after sheepish apologies they shook off their hangovers, abandoned their crazy dreams and continued their lives of noisy desperation.
In a more forgiving culture they might have carried on like this for years but fortunately this occurred in a land where the personal right of every person to carry a hand gun was respected. After one night too many, the barkeep, tired of mopping up after suicidal patrons bored to despair by the endless self examination and angered by the trio’s incessant boasting about killing his dear friend Hickey, snuffed them all. The jury didn’t bother deliberating; many recalled Hickey as valued member of the community and a friend, while the deceased victims were an insect pest, an animal valued primarily as an ingredient for stew and an unpleasant but un-endangered species of turtle. The barkeep was released with the thanks of the court.