Short Fiction

Call Him Tallywhacker by Leila Allison

An Ugsome Vexation

My ugsome vexations usually begin with me sitting at my desk and my Imaginary Friend Renfield entering the office bearing irritating news.

That is exactly what happened yesterday.

“What?”

“The results are in for the Name Our Realm Election,” she said. A hint of delighted evil accented her words. I knew that another debacle was at hand when it became evident she was going to force me to squeeze her for information–a drop at a time, a self-inflicted Chinese water torture, indicative of great underlying madness.

“And?”

“The good news is that we had a ninety-nine-point-five-six percent turnout–two-hundred and twenty-eight of the two-hundred and twenty-nine eligible,” she said, her evil accent now unmistakable. Plainly, she knew that I had forgotten to vote in an election I had conceived.

And?”

“It’s a tie.”

I sighed and turned to my old pal Marlboro for support. I lit one from a match I struck on the back of my chair. I leaned forward. “Let me guess–is it a two-hundred twenty-eight way write in tie?”

“Bingo.”

“Shitsticks.”

“No, that wasn’t one of the suggestions–but Fishstyxville did get one vote.”

“Of course it did,” I said. “I knew that we should have stuck with my original plan, and not given the thugs a write-in option. But noooo…the killjoy union had to poke its snout in.”

Days before, during a heatwave, several pitchers of Jim Beam-influenced lemonade had made the idea of finally naming this realm of Make Believe, where I am the ruling Penname, a glorious dream indeed. But I couldn’t choose between “Steam New Wave Leilaland” and “Electric Leilaland,” so I thought why not put it to a vote by my Fictional Characters (FC’s) and lone Imaginary Friend and Vice Pen, Renfield–all two-hundred-twenty-eight of the fiends. A why not (or two-hundred-twenty-eight why nots) complained to the Union of Imaginary Friends and Fictional Characters (UIFFC) that the ballot I submitted looked an awful lot like what the Russians see on Reelect Fearless Leader Day. Hence the write in option; hence the attraction of my arch enemy Free Will, which I endowed everyone in the realm with and cannot rescind.

As Renfield mixed a pitcher of martinis at the bar (another reliable source of Big Ideas), I opened my computer and scrolled the election results.

It was indeed an ugsome vexation.

Each and every last one of my FC’s (who play thousands upon thousands of roles in my stories) had voted to name the realm after him- or her- or itself. Along with “Fishstyxville” (so named for Lord Fishstyx a life coach Celeo”CAN”th), I saw “Daisy’s Dell”; “Fort Feckwit” and “The Kingdom of Boots the Impaler.” All had behaved in a narcissistic fashion. There were all kinds of “ville,” “lands” and even a–

“‘Renfieldstan’?”

She handed me a martini–”Right? Has a ring to it.”

“Don’t make me use the old line about a bathtub,” I mumbled. I scrolled further. “Seems like everyone chose the write in option to tout themselves–except Peety, who, naturally, submitted something utterly off the guard rail: ‘Was it over when the Geraniums bombed Pearl Harbor.’ Geraniums?”

“Daisy had to type it in for him Darling, since Peety can’t write. She must have heard it wrong.”

“Terrible thing is that it makes perfect sense–considering that Peety uses Animal House as his philosophical compass.”

“You can take heart from your two suggestions finishing tied for second.”

Since I had forgotten to vote both my candidates stood beside goose eggs.

“That would be like stopping to smell the geraniums in a pile of Deershit,” I said. “Shitsticks to the nth–guess it’s time to spill the backstory.”

“I don’t think so, darling.”

“How so?” I perked up, cautiously, for it was unlike Renfield to shine a ray of hope.

“I believe that any reader who has stuck it out this far understands that you are a befuddled Queen of a nameless fantasyland you have little or no control over. And that you employ a stable of highly unionized actors to play the parts in your stories– either as themselves or a new character, and that the union won’t allow you to create a new FC unless all your extant FC’s pass on the part, which rarely happens. And it’s already known that you gave them Free Will, which complicates and/or shoots down every little Big Idea that pops into your head–I feel that even the most first-time-out-of-the-house reader should be able to grasp it.”

“How uncharacteristically helpful, Renfield,” I said. “Being that you’ve got your little Miss Rennie Sunshine bloomers on, maybe you can suggest a way out of this latest ugsome vexation?”

“I can,” she said. “But it will require a–”

In The Land of Poison Waters

“‘Road Trip!!!” Pie-Eyed Peety the PDQ Pilsner Pigeon yelled for perhaps the twentieth time; for Peety only speaks lines used in the Golden Age of Slob-Coms and the Classic Roles essayed by Schwartzenegger, Stallone and Gutenberg.

Peety, Daisy Cloverleaf the Pygmy Goatess, Boots the Impaler (Siamese Cat who goes by “BTI”), Renfield, a Berkshire Pig named Tallywhacker and myself were all crammed into a golf cart, whose speed topped out somewhere between that of a drunken crawl and justice for a Kennedy or a royal when the subject is statutory rape. We were on our way to the spot in the realm where the water used to brew PDQ Pilsner oozes to the surface from a crack in Hell.

The place is called Saragun Springs–each letter in Saragun stands for one of the seven foul substances hostile to life found in the spring water; they are long-assed scientific words that no one can remember or pronounce and will not be written here. But if you can imagine the liquid in a death cup mushroom enhanced by extreme radioactivity and damnation, then you can imagine Saragun Springs. The water is so aggressively noxious that black rainbows* form when the sun passes through its spray, and the few rudimentary organisms that thrive in it are seen wearing ameba-sized hazmat suits when placed under the microscope.

(*Upon closer inspection the seven bands of the black rainbows are composed of silhouettes of Skulls, Ax killers, Rejection notices, Amanita phalloides (aka, the “death cap” mushroom), Gen-nexters, Union reps and Non-alcoholic beer cans.)

The cart was struggling to get uphill, but the scent of something best described as boiled diarrhea had gotten thicker, so I figured we were almost there. I was driving, Daisy was seated on my lap, Tallywhacker to my right. Renfield, Peety and Boots rode in the back. Never before was I as eager to get out of a vehicle.

Tallywhacker, who, like everyone in the realm, is immune to substances and death rays and the germs that would drop an actual living creature more quickly than a snootful of the Andromeda Strain. He is a talkative fellow and lives near the Saragun Springs location. Some say he talks too much, which is only a problem if you choose to listen.

“What’s this thing with ‘anthropomorphic’?” Tallywhacker said, continuing a here to there and back again monologue that had begun at the start of our trip.. “I think it’s a word people use to make other people feel stupid, if you ask me. Just say ‘ talking Pig’ for heaven’s sake. No confusion nor hurt feelings nor googling there–you know what I mean?”

“Tell me what it’s like to be smothered in sausage–do you ever taste yourself?” asked BTI.

“Now, now, Bootsy, no need to get creepy,” said Daisy.

“Road Trip!!!” Peety exclaimed for the twenty-first time.

Renfield was composing the speech I was to give at Saragun Springs on a tablet. All my FC’s were told to await a big announcement. There would not be a live audience at the site, but it would be broadcast by the same tablet throughout the Realm. For it is extremely difficult to get anyone to visit Saragun Springs.

“Peety?” I said. “What did the Terminator say to the guy in the big rig?”

“Get owt!”

“Damn right,” I said and stopped the cart. “You all heard the bird.”

Infomercial Dump

(A quick switch to the present tense: Being the New Guy (Prime FC ID 228), Tallywhacker the Berkshire Pig gets little in the way of juicy dialogue, here, in his first appearance. In fact he has to face the same initiation we all were made to suffer upon our debuts (myself included). Although Peety wants to smack him on the hams with a paddle and force Tallywhacker to say “Thank you, sir, may I please have another,” as happened to the ever ubiquitous Kevin Bacon in Animal House, I stand firmly against all forms of violence. Still, my form of breaking the fellow in may be considered, by some, insidious.

So, Instead of absorbing a corporal sort of initiation, Tallywhacker will now add to the backstory in an unrealistically conversational way that we like to call the “Infomercial Dump.” If you remember, I did state earlier that Tallywhacker talks a lot–which was my way of helping set up the following. I now return this to the past tense.)

“There are two Earths. Ours and “Other Earth,” Tallywahcker said as we made our way to the podium. Daisy rhymes with lazy for a good reason–so I had to carry her, while Renfield did the same for slothful BTI. Peety rode on Tallywhacker’s wide back, the Pig didn’t seem to mind, for his hamhocks were set on oration.

“The latter was created by our esteemed employer,” Tallywhacker continued. “She does stuff like that. No one knows why because no one has ever cared enough to ask. Anyway, she is like God inasmuch she goes into hiding when her creations go wild on her; her Big Hopes have a way of growing up to be criminally insane children. She has the same sort of weakness for endowing her creations with Free Will that Winos have for Night Train. Although she knows that engaging in her addiction will go sideways on her, maybe this time it won’t. Twelve-steppers call that ‘stinkin’ thinkin’–I call it reality.”

Daisy was supposed to speak then, but she had fallen asleep in my arms. So I performed her lines. “Wow, Tallywhacker, you have a keen way of stating information that everyone around you already knows in such a stimulating way. What a gift. Tell me, is that an interdimensional vortex of some kind next to the Spring?”

We had arrived at the crest of a grassy knoll. There, just ahead, like an infected boil on the buttocks of the Universe “glooped” Saragun Springs. It was surrounded on three sides by Druid-esque stones and the open end fed spray into a standard interdimensional vortex, a shimmering lensing two-dimensional ripple in the air, about the size of a frisbee.

“Gee willikers, that’s a good call, Miss Daisy–erm, Leila,” Tallywhacker, perhaps not known for his ability to adlib, said. “Indeed, once Saragun Springs has stewed the juice to perfection, infusing it with seven secret ‘spices’–as it were–the spray is then sucked through the vortex to Other Earth where it is processed into the wholesome PDQ Pilsner–which is currently only available at Other Earth, but someday, if the gods are kind, it will be sold locally.”

“Drink PDQ! Lewd, screwed and tattooed!” Peety chanted–eschewing his quote language and reverting back to the first words he’d ever learned.

BTI had the next line, but he, as it goes with small animals who are carried about like royalty, and Cats in general, had also fallen asleep. I counted on that happening because the words really didn’t match his personality. So, Renfield spoke for him.

“Hold the phone, Mr. Tallywhacker man, let’s not call the bananas counted just yet,” Renfield ad libbed, to both my confusion and further vexation. “It’s been thirty seconds since I last thought about it, so would you please refresh my memory on Peety’s long association with the PDQ company.”

“That’s an outstanding question, Renfield–do tell Tallywhacker,” I said, jumping in to save his sweetbreads, for it was clear from the expression in the Pig’s eyes that he had forgotten her name.

“Um, yes, yes Miss Renfield,” Tallywhacker said, lifting one cloven foot in an effort to acknowledge Peety, who was still on his back. “Sir Peety is an advertising icon at Other Earth. He’s been the cartoon mascot for PDQ Pilsner since the 1940’s over there. But thanks to Miss Daisy-erm–Leila, he now exists in our realm as an indestructible two-dimensional object who drinks from an endless vessel of PDQ and quotes panned films from the seventies and eighties that are still popular, even though all the Oscar winners from that era have long since been forgotten.”

I smiled and patted Tallywhacker on the head. “That’ll do Pig, that’ll do.”

Big Announcement

Earlier that day I had a team of idler FC’s place a lectern and chairs in front of the ever seeping, vaporizing, black rainbow casting, sucked into a different dimension Saragun Springs. I really should have supervised the activity, for the “lectern” was a stack of three orange crates, which stood even with my nose, and the “chairs” were various sized stones made genteler by a few plastic cushions that were the type teams give to the first ten-thousand fans or so on Seat Cushion Day. Hardly top notch.

I threw the top orange crate into the Spring and watched it catch fire and sink, still somehow on fire even under water.

Daisy and BTI had awakened, but Tallywhacker was snoozing beneath a twisted old crabtree, that was the only tree at the location, and one that resembled a gnarled fist shaking angrily at Heaven for barring its entry. Due to his continuous consumption of PDQ, Peety, though a two-dimensional cartoon Pigeon, sometimes passes out for an hour or so, which he had accomplished, still on Tallywhacker’s broad back. Mainly this tradeoff occurred due to this Pen only able to deal with a maximum of four characters active in any scene she composes. Think of it the same as the max an electric plugin can handle.

Renfield balanced the tablet on the second crate, propping it up on a rock because we forgot to bring its cover. The camera was engaged, the words came up and I spoke the following:

“Greetings, fiends.

“The five-hundred word warning has come up on the tablet–so I will be brief. But first I’ must thank the dignitaries who joined me on the trek to Saragun Springs today, because they will pout if I forget to do so,”

I lifted the tablet and introduced the company one by one.

“I present the Duchess of Daisy Dell” (who did that somehow anal retentive back of the hoof wave the Brithish royals do); “Evil Overloard BTI of the Kingdom of BTI; Renfield the Great of Renfieldstan–and passed out under the tree are Tallywhacker, lord of whatever nonsense he is probably dreaming about, and I’m sure you recognize Ambassador to Other Earth, PDQ Peety, in one of his natural states of being–the only difference being that he is atop a Hog and not in the gutter.”

I saw 2573 blinking in the corner of the tablet screen. The ugsome vexations kept piling up.

“As you probably know, the Name Our Realm Election was yet another debacle. But this time we will stick to the results of this latest shame. Our Realm will be from here on out be known as Saragun Springs, informally. This is because PDQ Pilsner is our lone source of income, even though all that money is still imagination donation. But its full name is the United Fiendoms of Saragun Springs. Each and every last one of you is a sovereign state known as whatever dumbass name you gave yourself in the write in ballot. Go ahead and pass whatever laws you want in your little realms; teach your progeny whatever you like, but remember that the greater laws of the republic or whatever it is called, will not always recognize what you think it should. Still, I will allow that all your birthdays will be observed as national holidays, for there are never enough valid reasons for public intoxication.”

2733

“This is really going to happen,” I thought, “for once I will get out of a story without a lingering ugsome vexation.”

But that dream went the way of the third orange crate. Daisy walked up to the podium and hoof tapped me on the knee. I knelt and she whispered what will certainly be the latest ugsome vexation in my ear.

I lit a cigarette, sighed and addressed the remote audience. “It has been brought to my attention that we will need to elect a Saragun Springs government because the Union forbids a dictatorship. That means yet another election. Vote early, vote often.”

Renfield awoke Peety and brought him to the podium. She not so gently shoved me out of the way and announced that the first thing out of Peety’s mouth would be the national motto. The PDQ Pigeon thought it over.

“Road Trip!”

Leila Allison

11 thoughts on “Call Him Tallywhacker by Leila Allison”

  1. Hi Leila,
    What two braw wee beasties as the image. It’s such a shame that they are delicious!!
    Just as always here we have a re-hashing of my initial comments. I promise you if I ever think of anything new to say I will. As I have done just the now there. But when I look at my add-ons, I see that they are as pishful as most of my wittering’s – Sorry about that!
    Anyhow –

    Brilliant!! My usual plaudits for your imagination and back story telling. I also agree with Diane, the scene setting was exceptional. I’ve never considered boiled diarrhea – Thanks for that!!!!!!
    ‘Ugsome’ and ‘glooped’ are two grossly underused words!
    Loved the God parallel.
    The ‘That’ll do pig’ line, I haven’t seen the film (Babe??) with that line but Gwen has and uses it. Now that I think on it, I don’t know why as she doesn’t use it about me (Surprisingly) she has always said it randomly when she says ‘That’ll do’. I’ve just realised my wife is fucking weird.
    I do know that it was used in ‘Shrek’ but it was said to Donkey.
    Sorry, I’m off again.
    Loved the image of the burning crate when it hit and sunk in the water!!
    Hugh

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Hugh.
      I first encountered “Ugsome” when spoken on the Addam’s Family by “Gomez.” Both John Astin and Raul Julia used it–“This is an ugsome turn of the screw”–or something like that. I immediately took a liking to it and looked it up and it has been with me ever since.
      Leila

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Incredible, wild imagination in this piece – I honestly don’t know how you do it! I agree with Hugh about the use of ‘ugsome’ – great word!

    The election part and the reference to Russia’s leader reminded me of a Putin joke:
    “Mr. Putin I have good news and bad news about the election.”
    “Tell me the bad news first.”
    “Nobody voted for you.”
    “What’s the good news?”
    “You won!”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Paul,
      And again I thank you for your lovely work yesterday.
      I’ve always wondered why some countries bother with “elections.” Speaking of such, North Korea’s Fearless Leader will be celebrating a birthday this week. I’ll give him this much credit, he doesn’t waste time on cynical elections. No guesswork there.
      Leila

      Like

    1. Thank you, David
      From what I read earlier, Tally might be best off in the realm and nowhere near a smokehouse in Scotland. Then again, there’s probably no place in the real world he’d be safe until Veganstan is founded.
      Leila

      Like

      1. Happy New Year to you and everyone at LS! My worst olfactory experience ever is a tie between a bus station toilet in Southern India (Plus the soundtrack!!!) and the steering bilge on a Bering Sea crab boat. It’s a toss-up.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. The make believe world becomes ugsome with free will, God is dead, Miss Daisy gives up control and uh oh chaos rides in a golf cart, to ugsome Saratoga springs. This is a world that would be great to have as a graphic novel. When I’m reading this, I think of how it might be as animation, that’s one way to bring a make believe world to life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Harrison

      Some writers can visualize, some have a great ear and there are the few of us who smell what we write.
      I’ve just begun exploring graphic novels as a reader. For some reason I never thought to look at them. Some are quite wonderful artistically.

      Leila

      Like

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