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And then the flies danced

Smelt on October 2, 2022.

If 50,000 cats had all pissed in the same spot and it was left to marinate in the sunlight for 50,000 days, it still would not smell this bad. If another 50,000 cats had later made their own deposits—a veritable conga line of joyfully urinating felines—each and every one pissing in the same spot, one after another, one each minute, nonstop, for thirty-five days straight, it could not smell this bad.

My eyes crossed and my nose hairs recoiled in consternation. Had they not been firmly attached to the inside of my nostrils, they would have retreated all the way into my sinuses.

I had, as is my usual routine, arose moments after the crack of dawn, and once the Sun had risen above the horizon, gone to my front door to momentarily bask in its presence, stretch, make curious burbling noises at the early-morning passers-by, and snatch a newspaper off one of my neighbors’ steps. But when I opened the door, what I countenanced upon my own steps was awful beyond measure. I was flabbergasted—fully, wholly flabbergasted.

An enormous pile of rotting fish had been deposited there overnight. It was tall as a man–squirrel and nearly twice as wide—a slippery, glistening pyramid in overall shape, composed entirely of the corpses of thousands of dead and decomposing fish. The mephitic mound fully covered the steps; as it slowly rotted and compressed, the occasional fish slid off and into the surrounding yard. My unwelcome mat was nowhere to be seen—surely the first casualty of the appearance of this fishpile.

Was this just the latest chapter in the sad, sorry tale of lifelong flabbergastation that is my life? Perhaps. I stared at it, hoping it would just go away on its own. (Some fish do.) It blocked my doorway completely. I wouldn’t be stealing anyone’s newspaper today. There were trout (all rancid). There were bass (all rotted). There were pickerel (all pickled), flounder (all putrescent), and sturgeon (all downright liquescent).

Another dead fish fell from the sky and landed atop the pile with a squickening thud. This slimy newcomer was just as rotten as its pile-mates. My stomach lurched. I looked up.

My befuzzled flabbergastation gave way to calm—the calm of revelation. Oh, well that explains it, I thought to myself. The mystery of The Great Rotten Fishpile of 2022 had been quickly solved; I saw where they were all coming from. My palatial abode’s roolf was completely covered top to bottom, from one side to the other, in these dead and rotting fish. As I observed, another one (a halibut) slowly slid downward, gained speed, and landed with another oozy splat! atop the Fishpile.

Mystery solved, I went back indoors.



“He who smelt it dealt it!” A tiny, singsong voice intoned. Someone was mocking me. Who was it? A derisive tittering followed. Was it Nosey this time? I started to burble a puerile retort, to see if I could goad the voice into loudening his mockery. Then I could be sure it was Nosey and not just some gnome in the wainscoting. But my protestations fell on deaf ears: My ear hairs were able to detach themselves earlier and now were ensconced behind my tympanic membranes. It would take a very pointy Q-Tip to get them out.

By noon a legion of flies of every size and color were massing on the Fishpile. Green bottle flies, blue bottle flies, blow flies, bot flies, and even robot flies had arrived to party like it was still 1999. Yet, despite the flies’ valiant attempts to reduce the Fishpile to a maggot-ridden puddle of goo, more and more fish rained down atop it. (My roolf was big.) The flies could not keep up. More and more buzzed in and they tried harder and harder. The neighbors didn’t like it. Those urinating cats didn’t like it. I didn’t like it. But I was in no mood to do battle with a trillion-trillion flies with their peckers up over the Fishpile. I was sure it would turn out like that fly-bottling battle I lost in 2005 which left me inside the bottle and the flies on the outside… mocking me. Mocking me. I hate flies.

I stayed indoors. The Fishpile putresced and the flies danced.



I discovered another one of the dark, silithicine creatures lurking about Bouillabaisse Boulevard this week, I did, I did. The slippery, malevolent thing surmised it could pass in the shadows undetected, invisible, it did, but it couldn’t—no, it couldn’t. Late at night, early in the morning, two o’clock, maybe three, maybe two, I felt it coming, felt its accursed presence amongst the shadows between the street lights, then I saw it, even though it didn’t think I saw it, I saw it, I did.

The thing thought it could pass undetected, undetected on all its legs, it did. I let it think it could do so, then I tracked it, I followed it, a safe distance behind it so it didn’t sense me, but I followed it, I did. I’m the better surmiser, as you all know. The thing couldn’t see me and it couldn’t gnaw my soul off. I followed the suppurthine abomination to the grottoes on the shores of the Whatanagawatchee River. Where it was building its nest. It was the only one this time. No others. No offspring. No mates. Only shadows. And legs. And so I waited. I waited. I waited until it was good and deep inside its warrens and then I blocked the mouth of the cavern, I did, I piled sticks and brush and twigs and leaves and then old tires so high the damnable beast could never get out, then I set the pile of detritus on fire—I set it ablaze—whoosh!—a funeral pyre for the execrable beast! With a can of gasoline and some matches and some more gasoline and then some more gasoline.

The abomination couldn’t escape this time—I stepped back and watched the blaze, kept vigil over it, down on my haunches, motionless, transfixed by the flames, until the Sun rose. To ensure it really truly really honestly indeed was dead, dead, and gone, without any doubt this time, without any question.

Then I went home and ate a tub of cream cheese in celebration.

The Great Rotten Fishpile putresced and the flies danced.



The gnomes were hard at work in their underground lairs beneath the town, smelting iron in their blast furnaces and breeding smelt in their grottoes. They were an industrious lot, with their little beards and hammers and anvils and fezzes. This gnome hive was keeping its distance from my wainscoting and my roolf, so I initially allowed them to go about their business unmolested. And go about it they did, toiling nonstop, churning out gnome iron by the ton and smelt by the gross.

Massive, decomposing pile of fish on my doorstep notwithstanding, now I had a hankerin’ for some smelt.

Smelt and their smell put me in mind of the Cthulomat, which put me in mind of Becasue. That put other ideas in my mind which smelled less of smelt; those ideas thoroughly distracted me from this entire train of thought. The caboose crashed into the back of my skull and I fell over, dazed. Now I wanted some fish pie.

And rumor is, the smell of smelt attracts the silithicine beasts that stalk Bouillabaisse Boulevard in the early hours of the morning. Rumor also has it that only weapons forged of gnome iron can vanquish them. Lastly, I wonder if living on a street named after fish soup might have anything to do with this—but rumor would hear none of it. Rumor, like Fate and Luck, truly despise me.

I went back to pining for Becasue and some fish pie. And outside, the flies danced.



I had sure learned my lesson: If I eat my condiments before using them, I won’t have them when I need them. And I needed some cream cheese now. Meanwhile, a nasal mishap this morning convinced me I should resume documenting my nose usage in my nose log. I sighed and picked up another notepad.

October 2, 2022. 8:47 a.m.  Sneezed. Nose went flying. May be behind defrigerator. Need to call plumber to investigate. Or perhaps lawyer. Will wait till tomorrow to see if nose returns on his own. Eardrums now clear of ear hair.

It wasn’t all bad news. The gnomes had been slain, the shadowy Bouillabaisse horror defeated, and I had over 9,000 gnome-iron swords, shields, helms, and chain mail to call my own now. Against any future onslaught I was invincible (except another nasal mishap).

I got my fish pie, too—a blonde one! Satisfied, I reclined in my Hopeless Slack-Ass®, started paternostering out this week’s blog entry in my mind, and cracked open a fresh bottle of mustard.

[Feetnote: I call it my “roolf” because it’s opposite my floor and “floor” spelled backwards is “roolf.”]