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[this tale originally ran in The Hyperion Chronicles as #329 Car-Lions, Rampaging Snowmen and the Toaster of Death]

If you’ve been reading the past few weeks you noticed I haven’t been writing anything, the reasons for which I’ve briefly mentioned in my Editor’s Notes a few times. The pain is the issue. It doesn’t allow me to sit at the computer for more than a few minutes, and has even made writing manually difficult.

Last night, Institute Council member Laureate urged me to write a column about just that: the difficulties of continuing when conventional sitting is virtually impossible. I was going to add to that my own thoughts on what it has been like to be basically crippled, my ruminations on seeing others with these kinds of debilitations and how they deal with both the physical challenges and the bile-inducing aggravation of slack-jawed morons who don’t know how to behave around them, and finally my fears on what it may mean if I join the ranks of the permanently disabled.

(Physically, that is. In the opinion of Barb from New Jersey, I’ve been permanently disabled in a mental capacity at least since I publicly acknowledged that the Magic Pygmy Rabbits are running the universe and are actively out to get me; although whether my craziness stems from my assertions about the M.P.R. or my foolhardiness in voicing them Barb left unexplained.)

However (he said, stuffing some of the cake in his mouth and putting the rest in a Tupperware container), I have decided NOT to write about my own ills and ailments. I do this for two reasons. One, I get so sick of my whiny complaints. I mean, what good do they do? I feel like slapping myself and saying, “Suck it up and crawl like a man!”

Second, in my pain-filled haze, strange doings have been going on under my nose; doings that require investigation, the light of truth, and beef jerky (to keep my strength up). And, as this may be my one shot at original material, I have a sacred duty…a sacred duty to my Readers, a sacred duty to the World, and a sacred duty to a lion named Banjo who sleeps on our car in the garage.

Let me back up a step. A few months ago Banjo just showed up out of nowhere—like Jessica Simpson—and much like Jessica Simpson, he refused to go away. However, to our relief, Banjo did not come equipped with a complete lack of life-skills and asked only that he be allowed to sleep on the car at night. (When the car is away Banjo likes to nap on some old mattresses or newspapers. In fact—and I say this with complete respect for all my giant feline friends out there—Banjo, like most cats, seems to spend about 90% of his time asleep. I envy cats.)

In his spare time, Banjo has managed to do some serious sleuthing. I attribute this new hobby to the collection of Dashiell Hammett detective stories I gave Banjo a few weeks ago, which he just devoured. (Figuratively. To eat, Banjo much prefers raw steak, oranges, and party-mix.)

Anyway, Banjo got done reading classics like The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man and decided that he would make a great gumshoe. What Banjo discovered (I learned a few days ago when we were doing the crossword), is that the Toaster may be homicidal.

Apparently Banjo was trying to make himself a cream-cheese and chicken bagel when, in his words, “…the Toaster jumped me like a desperate woman over 40.”

At first I dismissed his claim as the product of an over-active imagination (he is a “lyin” after all; hee hee), but soon I had cause to take Banjo very seriously. This is because I was in the kitchen, hopping around, trying to reach a bay leaf, when I slipped and caught myself by leaning on the Toaster. The evil beast was turned on, which both burned me and gave me quite a fright!

Now, I know some of you nay-sayers will tell me that the simple answer is that the last person left the toaster on. I say to you people: “Wake up and smell your appliances trying to kill you!” I mean, any idiot knows that toasters shut off automatically—by themselves!—and no one had been in the kitchen for hours.

Actually, as I think back on it, the Toaster may have well been a passive-aggressive enemy for some time. I can think of many courageous slices of bread and pop-tarts who gave their lives when they failed to come back up. Yes, the more I ponder this, the more I realize the Toaster might be part of a vast conspiracy in our very homes.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to devote my full attention to the Toaster Of Death, because there are plastic snowmen fighting on my porch. Every night I hear them banging against each other in some unholy snow melee.

My Witness Protection Program Mother (which they thoughtfully gave me when I came to Canada) says that the sound is merely the wind knocking one of her 37 decorations against the house. But, C’mon! Can you say cover-up?

Sadly, in my declined physical condition, I can never just spring over to the door when I hear the snowmen brawling (our tree blocks the view of the porch), and on the occasions that I do get over there, the snowmen are of course silent and still. Obviously they hear my laborious movements and have ample time to collect themselves, possibly have a smoke (in their corn-cob pipes) and get back to “show” position before I can discover their treachery.

I know things look bleak, and you worry that this situation could escalate into thermo-snowcular war. But don’t despair. I have spoken to our intrepid car-lion Banjo, and he has agreed to keep an eye on things.

As soon as he finishes his nap.

Hopefully with you soon, unless I get a carrot in the back,


December 17, 2004

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