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The death of Argo Navis

Trisected before April 29, 2012.

“Godliness is next to gourdliness…” the man began, a frying pan in his left hand and his brain pan enveloping the question of androdivinity vs. gynecopiliasterism. He didn’t know what any of those words meant, but it didn’t matter: The question had been posed to him by Mr. Wiebe van der Woobie shortly before that man’s death, and he knew he had to answer it, lest ol’ Wibo’s curmudgeonly ghost come back and haunt the bejeezus out of him.

That man was a man by the name of Phillip Norbert Årp, and he was I. In fact, he still is I—and will most likely continue to be I, yours truly, until the day that he (and I) die.

Long-necked geese stood on one leg, their headless necks undulating and writhing in the wind. This was the scene that greeted me as I peered out my above-sink kitchen window. The sky was ashen gray and the wind blew. The scene before me reminded me of the rectangularization of the mortality curve. It even reminded me of prostitution among penguins, chimpanzees, and macaques. I cringed. The geese continued to writhe. And squirt blood from their necks.

This ghastly, goosely image came to me often—too often. It came to me in dreams, in daydreams, in fears both transient and persistent, and in hallucinations. I didn’t know what it meant, those headless geese honking and fountaining blood, flapping their flightless wings in an impotent effort to take to the air and make their way to Canada, Mexico, or even New Gardegnomia. But I knew that the brooding, foreboding image would ultimately lead to the untimely—or, some might say, rather timely indeed—demise of yours truly and every goose in a quarter-parsec radius.

“New Gardegnomia!?” my electrical outlet shrieked in fright. It was the one below the above-sink window (that is to say, between the sink and the window)—a dual NEMA 5-20R that could provide a whopping twenty amperes of raw, juicy electrical power on a moment’s notice. It was mounted with its ground hole up. And it was the one that usually serenades me with “Rule Britannia” when I’m least expecting it, too.

“Yes, New Gardegnomia,” I answered with resignation. “Where moose go to rut, schtupp, and die. And sometimes turn into gnomes. But—I mean, not moose. Cornflowers. Gigglious little cornflowers, all husked out with parsimony and gleeful gusto. Yes, cornfl—”

I stopped short, my breath catching in my ursine throat. The anserine parade of horrors kept wriggling outside my window, but my attention was now diverted to the doorway. There along the door jambs flowed a quivering mass of… you know it… gnomes. Gnomes by the pile, gnomes by the pound. Honking, schronking gnomes rising up from the ground. They wheeled and squealed; they woozled and baffled; they even went “gerflumpt!” as they hung from their kerplunkerous, home-made scaffold!

I yerked, biting my tongue so hard that I split it in two. Half of my tongue sprang from my mouth and ran off; the other half remained in my mouth and writhed like the goosery-ghastery that was exhibiting itself shamelessly in my back yard. When I turned to look at the doorway, I had ½-expected that that which was trying to get my attention would be Ravna Olegg-Thorssondóttir wearing a shiny, black dominatrix costume and a pair of black flip-flops on her knees (not her feet), but instead the vision that greeted me was nothing more than the usual assortment of jamb-hanging gnomes.

Dinglebuckey!! I gibber-squealed before my memory engrams were able to spin up and remind me that Dinglebuckey, my five-time champion fighting hamster, had died in a rooster-stroking accident two months ago. Dinglebuckey!! Fetch my cornpones! Fetch my valise! I have some gnomes to slaughter! Fetch my rats, moose, mice… and my meese!”

Only upon verbalizing the last exclamation point in my sing-songiest voice did the memory of that eight-foot-tall rooster pop into my bread-filled head. My crests fell—along with my nose and both eyebrows. Dinglebuckey was gone and he wasn’t coming back. I wanted to cry. Yet, since I had ended last week bawling my brains out, I did my best to stave off the Pnårply tears this week. “Stiff upper lip, now!” I reminded myself in the most feminately Britannic accent I could come up with. “And besides, it’s time to go lube up that rooster…” I cringed cringefully. The gnomes cringed with me. If Rav had been here, she would have smirked. But she was nothing more than a lubricious, silithicine memory this week, too.


“Ugh…” I made it to the top of my basement staircase, closed the door, and latched it. I shuddered. A most mulpicious, underdunkerous chore out of the way, I scurried back to the kitchen to wash up and tend to my numerous puncture wounds. Only the grittiest of soaps would do to remove the feathers that were caked to my arms, legs, and buttocks. Knowing that the best course of action right now would be to continue confusing my reader mercilessly, I duly swallowed the soap the moment I dispensed the gorplious, pasty stuff into my greasy palm. “Not so Fast now, Orange,” I gloated. “Not so Fast at all…”

The telephone hollered for attention. I glivvoted over to it and picked it up. On the other end of the line, wind howled and something (or some things) honked mournfully. I slammed the telephone back down. In my back yard, the goosey horror show had vanished. Ah, now they were in the phone lines. Ah! I hid under my desk breathlessly and waited for Wednesday to end.

Wednesday ended, and took Wednesbury with it.

Smurfsday began with a bang and an electrocardiogram. I rose to find Moosey using his cloven hooves to tap out the lyrics to Jennifer Love Hewitt’s “Barenaked” in moss code. I chortled at the sight and remembered I hadn’t fed him anything but potted meat slurry for 2π+½ weeks now. I went down to my kitchen, dodged the rafter-hanging gnomes that had replaced the jamb-hanging ones, and fetched Moosey another canful of delicious, spongy pink slime. Until the supermarket started stocking bales of maple leaves, those greasy cans were all that Moosey would get!

12¾ o’clock arrived and I realized it was afternoon: Forty-five minutes after noon, to be precise, accurate, and exact (all at the same time). I began vegetating in front of my television, hoping to do so for an hour or three, but after six or seven minutes of staring at the screen I remembered that my TV had stopped working when the U.S. Congress, duly assembled, had replaced all the analog signals bouncing about the atmosphere with computery digital ones.

I sat for another 173 minutes and enjoyed the white noise that blasted forth from my 1954 Westinghouse.

Then I went up my stairs—and then up some more, and some more. Some weren’t even my stairs, but ones I had stolen from Mr. Van der Woobie’s house when I looted the place shortly after his death. But I dropped back into a black cloud of despair as I remembered that the constellation Argo Navis had been broken up into three pieces by a gividiverous French astronomer. Those pieces, my eighth-grade schoolteacher had taught me, were Carina, Vela, and Poöpis (no relation to Boötes or Alyssa Milano’s feëtes). The original Argo had sported a lubricious, tentacled she-beast from its bow. The constellationary asterism had borne no such squidly, tentacular voluptuousness, but it did bear a striking resemblance to Chloë Moretz lounging nude in a bathtub full of squid and octopus salad.

But that didn’t stop Nicolas Louis de Lacaille from slicing and dicing it to pieces. Soon my depression turned instead to anger. Purple blebs grew from my nose, gained sentience, and budded off. My neck glands swelled to elephantine proportions and tried to smother me. But I didn’t care. I was angry, and I would have my vengeance.

I went into my kitchen and burned to death every single piece of French toast I owned.