Saturday, October 30, 2010

Possible Short Story from New Orleans

Casual Encounters
Phil LaMancusa
It all started when I organized a chicken dismemberment party; another in a long line of my culinary travesties and here’s how that fiasco occurred: news was out that the local super market had whole chickens on sale for sixty-nine cents a pound, meaning that I could purchase some at couple of dollars each. Such a deal; I decided to call seven of my pals to show up at my house for a lesson par excellence in the art and science of bird dissecting, bidding them to bring themselves, implements of destruction (knives) and adult beverages of their choice. The evening promised to be one of blood, sweat and beers;
I replenished the first aid kit. I cleared the dining room of debris and furniture except for the dinner table, which I added leaves to, stretching it to its eight foot maximum length. I laid floor tarpaulins and removed artwork from the walls. Little did I know that I would be laid low because of a two buck cluck.
Did I listen to my instincts? No. Did I stop to the read signs and portents suggesting the day’s occupation would be one of endemic, ominous and prophetic significance? No. I was the man, I had a plan; the man with a plan, that was me. Oh, was I to be brought up short; and oh, how the mighty did fall.
The plan was to deliver naked shivering dead birds (one per guest) and perform avian surgery together, laughing and scratching and imbibing and generally just have a hell of a grand evening. The plan was sever the wings first to get started, disjointing them as South East Asians do for appetizers: deep fried and served Buffalo style with ranch dressing and celery sticks. Next we would filet out the breasts and pound them savagely for cutlets sautéed in Madeira wine and mushrooms, bone the legs after breaking them at the hip joint and cut them small for a Bolognese sauce, a la cacciatore, over homemade fresh basil rigatoni and lastly make a scrumptious stock from the skeletal remains and vegetable peelings to be served as a veloute diffused in Russian vodka laid over coddled eggs (mother and child reunion) with a mousse prepared from their delicate livers and a confit of giblets and neck bone renderings. Red, white and amber colored drinks, with high alcohol content would incite the mood and excitement like a goosed locomotive belching steam until all would be madness unchained and culinary lunacy unleashed. I was to be aided and abetted by my faithful cohort, Hinch the hunchback henchman, and that was the plan in a nutshell.
On the morning in question I walked the six blocks to the store with a song in my heart and gluttony in my soul, imagining the pullets served eight ways from Sunday; a gourmands dream come true. I bought the birds, celery, vodka, wine, French bread, ranch dressing and several other items and cursed myself for not driving, for dubious were the chances for a public conveyance at the ungodly hour of the morning that I had chosen to deal with my consumer issues.
The market was crowded at dawn’s crack with cretins, insomniacs and dazed unquiet minds on weekend passes. The pace remained dreamlike and frenetic throughout the experience with scattered flurries of cosmic debris falling and uniformed, obviously over-caffeinated, stock clerks rushing at erratic frenzied paces to complete sinister and mysterious errands. I was caught up in the maelstrom and weighed down a capacious shopping vehicle in record time.
As you all know, the grocery stores seem to possess an unlimited supply of plastic bags to burden one with. Evidently the persons chosen to do the bagging have been told to limit items placed in these petroleum based abominations to two per bag, at most; and, before I could say ‘pheasant under glass’ I was homeward bound as oppressively encumbered as an overzealous Sherpa, and looking, as I pictured it, as encumbered as a wandering Albanian refugee. I sensed that everything was packaged individually for the express purposes of humiliating me and insuring that any taxi driver in their right mind would speed up rather than stop for me; if you ask me, the super market service industry human resource department is rife with moonlighting comedians. Naturally, I took this affront on a visceral and personal level. Bravely I was determined to maintain, what my Indian chums call, ‘a high vibration’ and keeping a stiff upper lip, I soldiered my way back to my digs.
And so it was that I managed, bravely, to stagger and struggle home with every muscle wracked, every bone aching and every last nerve worked. To my dismay, Hinch had already been hitting the Herbsaint as a chaser for his prescripted antibiotics and antidepressants, a ghastly combination I ventured to surmise. I unloaded the bags and cursed the eight chickens one by one as I unbagged them, gulped four aspirin and a juice glass of absinthe and went to lie down with spasms in my sacroiliac. It was ten in the morning and the gang was due at six. I had decided on an early night so that they would be relatively sober, arriving and departing (who was I kidding?). A nice quiet nap would be just the thing. I left Hinch in charge of putting the kitchen in order; he was dressed in his cute little cowboy outfit. I asked myself: ‘what could happen’?
I awoke to shots being fired, the smell of burning pungent foreign substances and the sound of the smoke detector clanging like a prison break. Clouds of haze wove through the room like giant cuttlefish tendrils, and the acrid aroma of bloody, battling rodents in a convenience store Dempsey dumpster assaulted my senses. The gaseous miasma of werewraiths unleashed from hell assaulted my senses; My vision refused to focus, I was supremely disoriented and I struggled to assert myself master of the situation. Oh, woe.
“What mischief is afoot?” I shouted, trying to rise, and swatted at a scuttling, shrieking, delirious midge that was bouncing on my half prone unfocused carcass, clawing the air and raining spittle upon me.
“Hold, Sir!” I cried, for I recognized the form of Hinch (an obviously hallucinating, Herbsainted, hypochondriac hunchback henchman) who slathered and railed, as against the coming of a lubricious and apocalyptical catastrophe. Hinch was inconsolable and raved in his native language (Hungarian or Hawaiian or some such heathen twaddle), flourishing his little arms and slinging his stilted legs as if caught in some advanced form of Sydenham’s Chorea (St. Vitus Dance).
I managed to get Hinch into his straight jacket, usually reserved for his naptime and strapped him into his custom constructed cushioned highchair to query him further; hopefully he would explain in a language that I would be able to understand. Placing a raving stunted hunchback into a highchair is difficult enough, but when you’re seeing them in twos and threes… it is a challenge. I was indeed attempting to thread moving needles with undulating threads.
It’s important to note that Hinch is, most times, a docile little fellow (except when he’s sleeping); one of our most simple and uncomplicated of thinkers; to wit, he raises plush toy unicorns as in a family atmosphere and not as a playful past time or hobby. He actually wonders why they never seem to grow and only to age. He tries to feed them, worries that they might be catching something debilitating and sings little unicorn songs to them. It is heart rendering; the burden and curse of too much parental devotion cannot be overstated.
I jumped as the phones rang and my collection of cuckoo clocks chimed the noon hour. I have five land based telephones and they ring in tandem, letting me know, in whichever room I happen to be in, that a verbal communication is at hand; also, I have fourteen chiming wall clocks that I have lovingly synchronized to ring in scatological sequence. What with the phones and the clocks and the smoke alarms and Hinch shrieking, cacophony reared its ugly head and prepared its assassination.
It started to thunder outside, the dog began a primitive howling and just as I started up, I stepped on the cat’s tail who reacted with slashing claws and razor sharp fangs. This state, from a rapid eye movement slumber, zonked on absinthe, without my eyeglasses, was further exacerbated by what I thought was a pounding in my head. It turned out to be the local gendarmes that some concerned citizen had called hammering on the door, rounding out my experience with blue and red lights pulsing into every cranny of my house and fiber of my being. I roundly cursed the chickens again and told Hinch to shut the fuck up. I needed to think. Just then the electricity went out, taking all available light with it.
My matched pair of Peruvian cockatiels were screeching at my fainted canaries and my head was pounding like a Grateful Dead drum solo. The only cool head in the situation was the giant land turtle that had befriended me on one of my desert retreats; unfortunately he/she/it had chosen to withdraw into itself (all 300 pounds) center stage and quite par for the course, I tripped again, banged my shins and getting a nasty gash on my temple thanks to the placement of my imported teak Maru tea table.
To make a long story longer, what had happened was that Hinch (the hallucinating, Herbsainted, hypochondriac hunchback henchman), upon my departure, called an acquaintance of his: a Honduran named Hermes. Hermes and his brother Hector have a cottage industry business selling Humboldt Hemp; they have a process in which they transmuted the hemp into a heavenly hashish. Hermes and Hector paid a visit to Hinch. Hermes had brought Hector along because, although he spoke enough American to get by, Hermes had a harelip. So, Hector had self-appointed himself as helpmate in matters of translation and high finances. They had been at my place when I had returned from shopping but were in the back yard baiting my hound Hercules; the self same hound that was now howling as the Hispanics hid from the heat in the hedges, who were hammering on the door of my house. It is safe to assume that Hinch had partaken Hermes’ and Hector’s Hispanic Humbolt hemp heavenly hashish as well as my Herbsaint! I’ll halt here and let you imagine the other possible repercussions of what I found when my rest was so rudely interrupted with the (I can’t help myself)… havoc.