The following was written in May of 2006. After reading a selection of short stories by an author whose work belongs in a category all it’s own, I had an itch to try my hand at the nonsensical breed of humor. Whether it carries is up for the reader to decide. If anyone can guess the aforementioned author, I’ll take that as a compliment.
Fillmore is no extraordinary individual. While he carries on incessantly about Alan Greenspan and his enormous genius every Thursday night at the Carrion Crow, putting down whiskey sours like they were so many glasses of water, he cannot seem to cure himself of his unhealthy addiction to cod liver oil.
It all began as a child, when his conspicuously round aunt coerced him into a daily regimen of the slick, foul concoction. She succeeded in doing so on the premise that it would keep his hangnail from catching him in the eye. He had bitten it off some time ago, but one never knows when one could experience a recurrence of the embarrassing condition. Not that Fillmore had ever felt a sense of embarrassment, at least not one that compared to the ignominy of appearing with his aunt in public. In fact, if he had any sense of self-consciousness at all, it wasn’t apparent except to certain families of the canine species.
Fillmore’s parents died of an incurable case of irritability when he was only two years old. As his aunt recalls the event, they could not come to a resolution as to how long it took to build the Great Wall of China. While his mother had insisted that it was a matter of decades of labor and toil, his father insisted on a lost art of domesticating armadillos, known only to the Chinese Empire, which had been employed to accomplish the task in less than one year. The contention between the two had subsided only briefly when Fillmore spoke his first words, “geriatric medicine;” after which it escalated, and his aunt reports that they shook their heads so vigorously that it caused brain damage and a bloody nose, and then a post-mortem ear infection.
Fillmore’s education was not particularly lacking in abuse, but he had known a few striplings who had received somewhat more of an advanced treatment. One of these skulking boys, Bill (nicknamed Bill), gradually became a close friend in young adulthood and later a colleague in adult life. In elementary school Fillmore once snuck, concealed in his ear canal, two vials of the addictive substance, and introduced Bill to the ethereal and metaphysical wonders of cod liver oil. Bill was at first hesitant, but after a few coaxing words and a forty-five minute shoulder massage, he succumbed to peer pressure.
Later on in high school, the two were inseparable. Because their secret addiction severely impaired their ability to bicycle, not to mention date women, they spent the majority of their time experimenting with various natural substances and their effects on the visual perception and intellectual comprehension of tax returns, and occasionally, Certified Public Accountants. As with most great discoveries in the history of mankind, this casual experimentation resulted in an accidental discovery which was to alter the course of their lives for several months.
Graduation followed shortly after their great discovery, which they had successfully kept to themselves by engaging in blatantly and socially unacceptable public activities – namely the eating of Laverbread cheese, made from an Atlantic seaweed and milk from the Red Poll dairy cow.
Gathering what information they had gleaned from their experiments, and now unburdened with the unrewarding task of seeking out dates with women, Fillmore and his kindred comrade Bill set to the task of capitalizing on their great discovery. This was, in their minds, no Newton’s Apple, no pure accident in the true sense of the word. This was a discovery resulting from their direct interest in the impact of certain natural substances, absorbed by the human body, on the perception and understanding of a very specific point within the infinity of arbitrary reality – taxes.
After an unbearable intellectual strain lasting several long, interminable and exhausting minutes, Fillmore and Bill devised the most impossibly genius marketing strategy (they were sure of it) in order to capitalize on their astonishing discovery. Within weeks, they had succeeded in attracting sixteen internationally recognized psychiatric research institutions, one of which expressed a feigned interest in their research. The American media was even drawn momentarily to the unfolding events in their lives, shortly thereafter to be super-ceded by the nationally televised rescue of Liza Minelli’s obese cat.
The newspaper headlines, for that short time, read something like this:
“Higher Taxes Linked to C.L.O.”
Bill tried to commit suicide, but had forgotten to pay his electrical bill. Fillmore took it better. The newspapers had apparently mistaken the acronym for cod liver oil as an acronym for the unpopular Communist Liberation Organization, a spin-off of the secret organization founded by the Kennedy’s in the 1960’s known in private circles as the Grand Old League of Fortunes. (It has been speculated that the sport popularly known today as golf had its beginnings in the Kennedy families’ desperate attempt to cope with clinical depression. Psychiatrists abroad are still debating its merits. Interestingly, J.R.R. Tolkien based his most depressing fictional character, Gollum, on Robert Kennedy.)
Within days of Bill’s failed attempt to take his own life, and with the national media attention rapidly subsiding, Fillmore was determined to utilize the lessons he had learned in the past few weeks, and combine them with the useful applications of the discovery that he and Bill had achieved together – and which had almost made them famous – to a practical and noble end.
This evening Bill and Fillmore were out late, very late. Tonight, they are celebrating at the Carrion Crow. There are thirty-nine CPA’s in the vicinity who will wake up tomorrow with an entirely new perception of tax returns (they will be in color), and perhaps a slight predilection for rare cheeses. Fillmore is no extraordinary individual, but tonight he feels extraordinary.
Tonight he is determined he will shake his addiction.
Tomorrow he will wake up with a hang nail.