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Confound delivery

Starched on January 16, 2022.

Nothing reigned. Nothing abounded. Absolute, terrifying nothing.

Then the week ended and another began—except, the end of nothing is something too, so that couldn’t happen, either. So it didn’t. The week—last week—bore on for eternity.

At least, that’s what I thought happened, but the truth was slightly different: Last week ended promptly and this week began. Right on cue, right at midnight, last week sauntered off, never to be seen again. And the next week—this week—promptly began. In fact it was all so predictable, it was almost like clockwork. I pondered briefly the possibility that the nonstop progression of days, weeks, and even months might be entirely predictable—perhaps so predictable that I could set my watch by them. But then I dismissed the possibility. Nothing is predictable in my life, not even the passage of time that assails me without mercy. I pushed the silly idea out of my caprine head and went on to ponder more important things, such as: What kind of infernal device or implement of destruction might have enough firepower to embed a cherry in an acoustic ceiling tile? And if winnowing my minnows by length, weight, and IQ was worth the time and expense? (I do have a lot of minnows to winnow.)

A moment later, a car passed by outdoors and backfired. I seized the opportunity this surprise afforded me and farted with gusto. I looked around furtively and broke out into a smarmy smirk: It worked perfectly. No one had suspected a thing! Off in the distance, a dog backfired. I farted again.

The whole affair put me in mind of Adolf Schüttelmayor. Not only had I forgotten about Hitler again, but everyone else had too—until they saw that photograph. And that’s when it all began. Hitler was hiding in Argentina. Or Hitler was hiding in Patagonia. Or Hitler was squirreled away in Josephine Baker’s breadbox in Dordogne, France. Or Hitler was living underground in Butte, Montana, whooping it up with a bunch of other Nazis, Mafiosi, and illegal gnomes. But I had always known—even in the years before I was born—that these were all silly conspiracy theories.

The truth was much simpler: Hitler was hiding in my own breadbox. Even I had forgotten until 1999. And boy, was my face red when I remembered!

I scuttled into my kitchen to fix myself a plate of garefowl eggs and potato juice. This nearly resulted in catastrophe: While making my potato juice, I gasped when I realized I had used one ice cube from one tray… and one from another tray. Always forcing myself to use two cubes at a time, and always from the same tray, I was now faced with but one option: I carefully lifted a single, now-extraneous ice cube from the first tray and gingerly placed it in the empty slot in the second tray. I breathed a sigh of relief. Balance was restored to my universe. The catastrophe was averted.

The cat-ass trophy on my mantle was another matter, however. After I had bravely intervened in that feline-shaving accident back in 1998, winning that trophy had been inevitable. I couldn’t avoid it even if I had tried. And believe me, I had.

Time for more potato juice. I repaired to my kitchen once again for some more potato juice. Refrigerator opened, jug fetched, deadly skeezle-wumpus hiding in the cabinets avoided, jugular still intact, I went about pouring the very large jug into a rather small glass. I tried to pour the jug without making it glug, but I failed: The jug glugged. An angry pustule of air slipped through the mouth of the jug and shot upward, toward me at the speed of something really fast (like sound or light or something). Only the thin, translucent bottom of the upturned jug stood between me and that raging air bubble. The plastic held. But I didn’t. I yelped, lost my balance, the jug flew, and the next thing I knew there was a gallon of potato juice coating the floor, walls, and ceiling of my palatial kitchen. Righting myself after a few minutes of gibbering consternation, I picked up the now-empty jug and continued pouring it calmly into the glass like nothing had happened. But the jug was empty and so nothing flowed out but smooth, refreshing air. I had failed miserably at constructing my lunch. And the lunch hour was soon over: Lunch would alas be canceled. I sighed. At least I had blunch to look forward to, and perhaps even dinner (and blinner). I squinted at the jug.

“Perhaps this calls for… a funnel,” I surmised to myself—always the surmiser, I am. But after much ponderous pensivity intermixed with many pensive ponderings, I was unsure how a funnel would aid me with my empty jug. A big, full jug—a tiny glass? Most certainly! But an empty jug? I didn’t see how.

“Look, you can stand here all day making excuses, cursing the man who invented inflatable hotdogs, or you can pick yourself up, dry your starchy self off, and go find yourself a God-damned funnel!” I rebuked myself. Grim determination flowed over me like air flowing gracefully out of an overturned jug. My jaw was set, my nose aflare. I cocked my fez at its jauntiest angle and stiffly—very stiffly, for the potato juice was starting to dry—stalked out of the kitchen. A funnel I would find, and a funnel I would use to save the day.

My new gig selling schtumpfenbeast pelts and skeezle-wumpus leather online was going swimmingly. It was much more profitable than my stint as an itinerant gas-pedal peddler back in ’19, and even more than my job from ’15 to ’18 as a copy-editor specializing in turning apostrophes right-side up. In another vigintade I would have enough money to book a flight to Finland to have it out with the man who sent me a dunning letter over a pair of fish boots. (Or, I could just buy a pair of fish boots instead.)

Once again I repaired to my kitchen to fix myself a snack. I wondered why so much was broken in here and needed fixing, but that was another matter—much like the dog-ass trophy I still hadn’t won despite my best efforts. I looked around. Other than the muffled gabbling coming from the over-stove cabinets, my kitchen was quiet. I opened one cabinet after another (except of course the one housing the skeezle-wumpus and its multitude of sharp, fast claws). Every cabinet was empty. My freezer held nothing but sixteen trays of ice. My refrigerator held nothing but an empty jug of potato juice and a dead mouse. These cabinets and appliances were wholly bereft of victuals. I murped quizzically. What pray tell had happened in here? Did the sizeable pile of bent, broken, and shattered funnels in the sink have anything to do with it?

But there was no time for such inquiries. Lest I starve by morning, I needed to go shopping. Sharping—sharpening all my funnels—would also have to wait till later. I decided to drive to the Spend-O-Mart 300 miles away because I like that one better and the drive through skinwalker country is quite scenic (with only a 15% chance of being eaten by skinwalkers). I also had it on good authority that the Cheez-It shortage had not hit this store as hard as the ones in my own corvacious hometown. So, off I went.

Passing through the goatburping park on Shoehorner Street, skinless and with nothing other than a flat Trabant tire around my neck, I reverently placed one of my oscillating salt shakers at the feet of the Nahum Dalhousie statue. There it would stay. There it would oscillate. A cool wind was blowing. I had yet to acquire any fresh food (or any rancid food either), but this solemn act of saline respect would have to suffice for now. How any of this fits together is left as an exercise to the reader. (You poor thing.) I could bore you with silly, plim-fisted attempts to drunkenly drive a thread of coherence through this all, but that exit sign on the interstate had taught me diffidence in such matters. So, I will merely state—

Confound delivery: Where some rarely go. “Rise, robot rise—eat the path. You’re wormfood, dude!” Behold! A converted church in Venice, Italy, replete with one thousand thousand slimy things. “Whatever you please. You think you’re big time? You’re gonna die big time!” But the gnomes weren’t listening. Nor were the eructant goats, at whom I hurled all this invective.

And with that, it ends much like that day in the spring of 2014 when I found a dead dog in a suitcase that I was bamboozled into believing contained a pair of stereo speakers. I was confused then, oh yes. But the week is over again—something about running out of time. Exit Pnårp.