Sunday, February 18, 2018

RAGING PRIAPUS by Cameron Kirk

All the gods were there: the gods of love, sorrow, virtue, honor and liberty, to name but a few. Among the minor deities were the god of idleness, the goddess of the draught, and the god of beards. But of all the gods none proved so unpopular, and indeed unloved, as Crepitus Ventris, the God of Flatulence.

‘I see old Crepitus somehow scammed an invite,’ scowled Priapus leaning conspiratorially on a Doric column at the edge of a magnificent god-filled pool.

His co-conspirator was Abundantia, and she was, as her name suggested, endowed with both bosom and curving hip. She expertly grabbed another goblet of wine from a passing slave. ‘I am surprised you noticed him Priapus, for you haven’t taken your eyes from my tits since we began our conversation. Perhaps you should be talking to Upis, the many breasted.’

‘I find more than two disconcerting. But why should Crepitus be here?’

‘Why should he not? He is, after all, a god, and this is a party for the gods; at least that’s what it said on my invitation.’

‘A God of Farts?’ It’s embarrassing.’

‘Well, he’s not particularly popular, if that makes you feel any better.’

‘Is he coming over here?’ asked Priapus in horror.

‘He is.’

‘Don’t come over here.’

‘He is,’ smirked Abundantia.

‘Crepitus Ventris,’ smiled Priapus his tone merry but brittle. ‘How are you?’

‘Magnificent,’ said a smiling Crepitus. ‘And a magnificent party. Priapus, you’re looking huge as usual, and Abundantia, you swell in beauty every time I see you. Or is that Priapus swelling in beauty every time he sees you? Ha ha ha.’

‘Got any new followers, Crepitus?’ asked Priapus with one eyebrow raised in faux casualness.

‘Sadly no, it’s not the most glamorous of reputations I hold. Very few pray to the God of Flatulence before battle, or making love, or before anything really.’

‘Ah, shame,’ said Priapus.

‘But on the bright side, I have had news from on high, as they say.’


‘I am to join the pantheon,’ beamed Crepitus Ventris.

There was a moment’s stilted silence.

‘The pantheon?’ asked Priapus, unable to keep the incredulity out of his voice. 

‘Yes, Zeus himself has asked that I join the major gods. I was quite astounded, and honored of course, magnificently honored. Ah, I see Sterquilinus, I must tell him the news. Excuse me.’

Crepitus Ventris bowed with a wrist flourish, farted, and took his leave.

Priapus waited till Crepitus was out of earshot. ‘There must be a mistake at head office,’ hissed Priapus under his breath. ‘They’re putting farts in the pantheon now?! I’m the God of Cock, for God’s sake! I should be in the pantheon, not some whining, minor deity!

‘Calm down Priapus,’ said Abundantia.

‘They’ve promoted farts over cocks! How can I stay calm?Abundantia had begun to regret engaging Priapus in conversation in such a public platform. ‘Gods are starting to look,’ she said, trying not to meet anyone’s eye. ‘Your rage is impotent, Priapus. Let it go.’

‘Not impotent,’ grunted Priapus and Abundantia noticed with horror his growing erection.

‘Control yourself,’ warned Abundantia but it was too late. A Vesuvian eruption splattered her breasts and face, blasted back off the Doric column behind her, and rained down on the assorted party relaxing in the pool. Some of the guests expressed their disgust at the salty precipitation and exited the pool, but the majority simply shrugged it off as an unexpectedly early start to the evening’s frivolities.

‘Sorry, sorry,’ apologized Priapus sheepishly.

Abundantia slapped him across the face.

‘If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times,’ she said. ‘Wait for me.’

BATTLE OF THE BANDS by Caleb Echterling

A yellow stream splashed over the collection of tubas, French horns, and trumpets. “That’s what I think of your shitty band,” said the source of the cascade.

“Hey, stop mixing your metaphors,” Humberto said. “And quit taking a leak on our instruments. Somebody’s going to catch hoof and mouth disease.”

The last drops rolled into the bell of a trombone. A zipper returned to its fully upright and locked position. “Whatever you say, loser. Everyone knows you freaks don’t have a chance. We’re winning this Battle of the Bands.”

The stern look left Humberto’s face as soon as the sprinkler system walked away. The on-ramp for his tear ducts swelled with traffic. Sally slung an arm around his shoulders. “Don’t worry about him. He’s just a big bully.”

“Yeah, a big bully with the best rhythm section in the county.” Humberto wiped his eyes on Sally’s shirt. “He’s right. We don’t have a chance. Unless we can find an ear trumpet player, we won’t even live up to our name.” Humberto dropped a window-rattling sniffle. He blew his nose on Sally’s sleeve. “How can we have ten butt tubas, but not a single ear trumpet?”

Sally threw Humberto into a headlock and tussled the wad of phlegm into his hair. “Why didn’t you say so? I can fill in on ear trumpet. It can’t be that different from a nipple sax."

Humberto sobbed. “We’re doomed. You’re used to a reed. You’ll never learn how to blow on a trumpet mouthpiece in time for our performance.”


Pops and whines belched from the speakers. “Next up … hey, you people shut up when I’m talking. I can wait as long as you can.” The hum of conversation and instrument tuning continued unabated. “Ah, who am I kidding? I can’t focus on anything for longer than a few seconds. It’s been like that ever since I was a kid. My teachers begged my parents to have me evaluated for ADHD. But did they listen? Hey, quit poking me with that pen! I’m getting around to it. Next up, the Every Orifice Brass Band.”

Thirty-strong musicians filed on stage, instruments protruding from bodies at odd angles like a re-enactment of a cubist masterpiece. The heft and clarity of brass harmonies painted the air. Ever-functional duct tape kept instruments attached to the smaller or more slippery orifices. One thumping version of O Sole Mio later, the crowd burst into whoops and cheers. High-fives and hugs flowed as the musicians left the stage.


“We made the finals,” Sally screamed. “Who are we up against?”

“The Prancing Piccolos.”

Sally rubbed her hands together like a silent movie villain. “I remember them. They pranced about playing piccolos, right?”

“You’re thinking of The Butch Biker Band,” Humberto said. “The Prancing Piccolos were the ones firing sawed-off shotguns.”

“Ugh, those guys were terrible. Kept a good beat, but they couldn’t carry a melody even if you sewed handles on it. We’re a shoo-in.”

Humberto shook his head. “Not so fast. The rules change for the finals. Instead of playing music, the bands square off in a fight to the death. Using their instruments as weapons.”

Sally collapsed into a weeping heap of no-twitch muscle fiber. “We’re done for.”

Humberto hitched his pants up to his belly button, and ground his boot into the dirt. “Get up. We’re not beaten yet.”


The Every Orifice Brass Band and The Prancing Piccolos traded soul-scorching glares across a stage shorn of its usual amplifying electronics. An air horn wailed. The Prancing Piccolos clicked ammunition into their shotguns as they marched lockstep.

“Now!” Humberto shouted. Band members released their spit valves, and blew like it was the crescendo of the 1812 Overture. Gobs of translucent, or brown, or milky goo peppered their foes, who, between bouts of gagging, vomiting, and pratfalls, threw down their shotguns and fled the stage. The Every Orifice Brass Band, in color-coordinated HAZMAT suits, linked arms and sent legs flying askew in a poor approximation of a kickline, which flung bodily fluids into the audience. Somewhere, Gallagher smiled.

PESKY PROBLEM by Laura Beasley

She never locked the gate or door of her mountain home. She welcomed visitors in her retirement. She’d always locked the dark city apartment. Now she planted flowers and vegetables. Her only companion was her cat.

“Eating sweets will make life sweeter.”

She made candy. Every batch enough to feed family or friends. But she didn’t have any family and hadn’t made new friends yet. She sampled two pieces and boxed the rest. She baked dozens of cookies. She filled her home with treats. She glued them on the outside of the cottage.

She heard nibbling at night. She swept away rodent droppings. She replaced the missing candies. She glued cookies on the shutters. Cats catch mice and rats. A candy house will attract children.

The chewing and gnawing woke her. The cat hid under the covers. The woman napped morning and afternoon. Birds pecked at the house. She hosed off the guano and replaced the missing candy and cookies.

The cycle continued for weeks, for months.

The cat escaped and led hikers to the scene. Rats and birds had eaten the sweets from the cottage. The woman was dead on the porch. Her eyes pecked by birds.

EULOGY by Andrew J. Hogan

We gather today to celebrate the life of Woodrow Jacklum, a brother, son, cousin, friend and neighbor, a man many of us thought God had not given any special endowments. Yesterday, the chairman of the North American Moose Conference faxed me his organization’s official regrets over Woody’s passing: “Please inform the family of Wildlife Biology Assistant Woodrow E. Jacklum of the Isle Royale National Park that he has been belatedly, and regretfully posthumously, inducted into the Order of Alces, notwithstanding his having attained only associate membership status during his lifetime due to the lack of an advanced science degree. The emerging field of bull moose fertility was molded almost exclusively by Woody’s innovative hands. Woody’s untimely passing came while saving Morris, Isle Royale’s alpha bull moose for the last decade, who had been injured following a confrontation with a Homeland Security vehicle on Angleworm Lake Road. Morris was Woody’s principal research subject, contributing more than 20 ejaculate samples. Woody’s heroic actions to save Morris from the jaws of the East Pack timber wolves resulted in his own death, partial dismemberment and closed casket ceremony. No other wildlife biologist, regardless of educational attainment, has even collected viable sperm samples from a free-range moose, or any other cervid, for that matter. Unscientific squeamishness over Woody’s research focus, combined the secrecy surrounding his specimen collection methods (“to protect the moose from abuse,” Woody would say), delayed well-deserved recognition of the significance of his achievements. Woody agreed to write about his specimen collection methods for Moose Call; such an article which would have almost certainly won him the Distinguished Moose Biologist Award at the next scientific meeting. Now ill fortune has deprived the North American Moose Conference, and posterity, of a full understanding of Woody’s field techniques.”