The former Union of Pennames, Imaginary Friends and Fictional Characters (UPIFFC) recently defrocked all Pennames and reorganized itself as the UIFFC. This came out in a bull that rolled down the hill in a manner consistent with tumbling bullshit. For the first time, however, the announcement made sense; the Union concluded that Pennames are the management in their realms thus not entitled to be whiny pains in the ass because, unlike rolling cow pies, being a whiny pain in the ass is considered an uphill activity.
In my realm there’s just one Pen, yours truly, a lone Imaginary Friend, Renfield (a former FC who took the vacant I.F. office), and 227 FC actors who play various roles in my productions. So it became necessary that we elect a Shop Steward to represent my motley collection of FC’s. I was somewhat surprised to see that only six wanted the job: Daisy Cloverleaf the Pygmy Goatess; Boots The Impaler, a talking Siamese cat; Poppyseed the Type A Hummingbird; Flo the Trade Rat; Maab the Photobomb Fairie and Pie-Eyed Peety the PDQ Pilsner Pigeon, who is beyond description.
I usually write out numbers, but this time I must disregard that–for only hard numbers accurately relate the debacle of election day. Somehow, with 227 ballots cast, we wound up with a six-way tie at 37.833333333 (to infinity) votes. Not as in percent, but as in votes.
“How for the love of hell did that happen?” I asked when informed by Renfield of the result.
“It was possible. You see, FC’s may cast just one vote, but the Union stipulates that not all of their one vote must go to a single candidate,” Renfield said, reaching across my desk and taking my laptop. She banged in some data (and probably opened the door for some viruses) before she turned the screen to face me.
I scowled at the data. It was enough to boggle the sanest mind. But there it was. Crowding in on me.
Behold an example of what I read: Drake Mallard, an FC Gander who identifies as a Duck, cast .164 of his vote for Peety another .37 to Daisy and the rest he just pissed away on Poppyseed. All the damn votes were like that, except for the candidates, who at least had the decency to vote wholly for themselves. Somehow it all piled up to 37.8333 to infinity votes for each one.
I snapped the laptop shut. “What about the other quark of vote unaccounted for?”
“Why, it’s pushed to infinity,” Renfield said, with that slappable smirk of hers on her face. “Feel free to go find it. I’ll wait.”
“All right, wiseass, everyone says you’re the smart one–what do you suggest?”
“We call it a six way draw and make them all Shop Steward.”
“Great,” I said. “Now you want to give everyone a participation trophy. Is this an election or Pee-Wee soccer?”
I guess it was Pee-Wee soccer.
We wound up assembling a Shop Steward panel. From the get go there were problems. By name, the biggest problems were Boots the Impaler and Maab the Photobomb Fairie. Flo the Trade Rat and Poppyseed the Type A Hummingbird refused to spend time in the same room with Boots, him being a cat, and submitted their resignations, on the condition that both would forever be known as Shop Steward Emeritus. And Maab the Photobomb Fairie is as charming a soul as you’ll want to meet until she’s had her fourth orange blossom, at which time she begins to snarl and make dark observations about everyone handy–mostly me. It sucks taking shit from a four-inch Fairie, but that’s how it goes when said Fairie is packing a loaded wand.
Fortunately, Maab usually passes out before she can follow through on her threats. And in the same manner that a good host takes guest’s keys away at a cocktail party, Renfield now asks Maab for her wand when she sees her fly to the bar. If Maab hasn’t pre-oiled herself before meetings, she’s cool about it.
We can’t scold Maab about her habits because that would force Renfield and I to set a better example. Besides, there’s perpetually blasted Peety. You know things are challenging when Peety is the second most reasonable person in any group of three or more. I do my best to avoid arranging meetings other than the one per month the Union requires. Yet every now and then I must gather the fiends for a special occasion.
From here, the most reasonable of the panel, Miss Daisy, will “goatess” the helm. That means she’s taking over the narrative in the spirit of that post-mod verbal dingleberry, transparency, and will finish writing this piece from after the line of asterisks below through the end.
There were six in the office: Leila, Miss Renfield, Peety, Maab, Boots and of course the brains of the outfit, me, Daisy Cloverleaf the Pygmy Goatess. I double as the stenographer for our meetings because the Union insists that everything be in writing, and even with hooves, I am the best typist. A normal meeting features Leila sitting behind her desk (alert enough to feign interest whenever such seems necessary), Renfield working the bar, Peety and Maab at the bar, and Boots asleep on Leila’s desk. To date, Boots has successfully slept through every meeting.
My desk is near the window. Close to the AMI (Adverb Mass Indicator). It’s a little red box screwed to the wall that works like a smoke detector; it beeps when the prose gets dangerously adverbally. Sometimes, as I dutifully tap out the mindless meeting events on a chromebook, I cast a gazely gaze out the window at the troubled realm; I wonder wonderfully and dream dreamily.
Then the A.M.I. goes off, annoyingly. Which causes Leila to say, all exasperatedly:
Leila continues to smoke cigarettes even though it offends most people. That’s why she does it. She’d rather risk COPD down the line than comply with the snooty worldview of persons who frown and tut over her habit as they ignore the dead homeless people lying in the streets. She also refuses to catch COPD until everyone calls it emphysema again.
Leila lit a cigarette off the burning butt of another and called the meeting to order. Nothing happened. Maab and Peety still exchanged “Silly Sally” jokes, Renfield remained on her phone researching exotic drink recipes of yore, Boots slept on, and I continued to be the brains of the outfit. But that didn’t prevent her from talking as though everyone was listening.
“Got word from HQ that the push to a hundred stories, plus two, on the main site has been greenlighted,” she said, leaning back in her chair, feet on the desk, an accidental smoke ring forming overhead. “Want you guys to know that I couldn’t have done it without you. But for the final push across the realm, I will need the Union’s cooperation.”
“Gotta big idea,” said Maab, already with juniper berries in her voice, “how’s bout stealing ideas from someone like Marco Etheridge?”
“Or maybe a furbaby saga,” Renfield added, knowing the evil things furbaby did to my gizzard.
“Could take another shot at the meaning of life via a power-defecating Cormorant,” I said.
“Funny, I don’t recall asking for asinine suggestions,” Leila said, rising to her feet. “Sometimes you guys are as useful as an awl in a condom factory. Fortunately, I’ve got all the ideas covered. What I need are actors and a teensy weensy bit of cooperation.”
“Squ-wack, ‘Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue’–Steve McCroskey, Airplane,” Pie-Eyed Peety the PDQ Pilsner Pigeon contributed. Peety is an expert on 1980’s “lowbrow” and “slob” comic films, and has a quote from the genres for every occasion.
“That’s brilliant, Peety, thanks for sharing,” Leila said. “Alcohol is doing wonderful things to your brain.”
She walked to my place by the window and too had a gazely gaze at the realm. What fancily fancied fancies she philosophically fantasized fantastically–those secretly held–
The AMI began to beep.
“Drat. Just trying to class it up a bit,” I mumbly mumbled. She patted me on the head and reset the AMI.
“It’s like this gang,” Leila said, “I know that the FC’s and the Union opined that the Feeble Fables franchise had gone on long enough, and I agreed it should stop at twenty two. But I’ve got a few more… and I want to add three in the seven pieces we are greenlighted for.”
My fellow Stewards (save for dozily dozing Boots) flingingly flung verbal feces at the notion and Maab reached menacingly, drunkenly for her wand, but Renfield had smartly locked it in the wand cabinet earlier.
“Did I forget to mention that these will star the four of you, Renfield and our esteemed pair of Steward Emerituses?” This, of course, had the cynically desired effect.
“I want to be a Unicorn,” I said, voicingly voicing my lifelong dream.
“Of course you do,” Leila said, smiling like a candidate. “I’ll have makeup glue a horn to your head.”
My fellow Stewards made similarly similar requests, even Boots awoke to throwingly throw in his “suggestion”–a word that in catilly cat is a synonym for “demand.”
We had to adjourn early; for the AMI began to smokily smoke and wildly whistle.