Earth Bound – Chapter III

Redneck Charlie and the Olympiad

Dawn breaks, and as the lime green solar disc surreptitiously peers over the pastel-swirled horizon, mixing the day’s palette with a wonderful assortment of vivid colors and painting sunrise with brilliant broad strokes from a more passive palate, billowy clouds refract the sun’s waves in a dancing light-show celebration of morning, and the tribe whose name translates to They Who Are Heavily Burdened stirs from its collective sleep. The Nocturnal Elixir created by Erasmus the Tribal Apothecary enables the tribe to dream as a unit, each member experiencing the same dream but adding elements to it, which reflects the tribe’s collective mood. Rarely does anyone remember the dream, but each member wakens refreshed and the subconscious sharing of dream images clandestinely strengthens the tribe’s unity.

A tumultuous crash echoes throughout the cave, and the tribe, now wide awake with adrenal anxiety, directs its attention towards the cave’s entrance but then, wearily, relaxes, postulating whether the auricular chaos was the result of the ubiquitous violent weather that constantly batters their world. As the tribe mechanically begins to think about its daily schedule, Polyphemus the Nocturnal Sentry rushes in from his outside post, incoherently yelling as loudly as he is able, a mutant wildcat in savage pursuit.

The men quickly grab their weapons and within seconds confront the snarling, paw-swatting beast, a cautious line of men with spears nervously jabbing as the sinuous carnivore crouches in front of them preparing either to leap and attack or to instantly retreat in survival-flight, vacillating between the two instinctual extremes as its legs quake in anticipatory readiness for the fulgurous decision to send the feral feline into action. With two incredible incisors gleaming salivary viscosity and penetrating upwards from the raring feral feline’s jaw, the catamount is ready to pounce, its legs shimmering with tension that is ready to unleash fury, but from behind the javelin-jabbing warriors a flaming arrow arches, in slow motion, over the group of warriors and strikes the cat’s flank. The projectile hits with a painful thud, and the cat yelps, but the shaft falls innocuously to the ground. The arrowhead is unable to penetrate the thick skin of the beast, but the flaming shaft sets the animal’s fur ablaze in a violent burst of blue-green conflagration. Howling in fatalistic pain, the tortured animal rolls on the cave’s sandy floor until the fire extinguishes then, with shiny red and black charred flesh and smoldering fur, it screeches out of the cave.

It was when the tribal warriors were nervously confronting the invading wildcat that Polyphemus regained his composure behind their biological wall of protection, inhaling in and out like an ironsmith’s bellows when he noticed the fire’s burning low. He determinedly stoked the fire until the flames of differing shades of green and yellow aggressively licked the air, creating intense heat. He hastily grabbed some arrows and dipped the flint-heads into the flammable paste and then quickly stuck them into the fire. After the rods ignited, Polyphemus shot them at the beast just as it was about to launch at his fellow warriors.

Exhausted the warriors stand, still paralyzed with fear yet relieved and mentally drained, staring with hollow eyes at the cave’s entrance, waiting for the beast’s return, the women and children huddled together at the cave’s far wall, the immediacy of death desperate and clutching at their conscious spirit. Midas the Haggard Leader with a Hemp-Woven Codpiece then casually walks to the area of the cave where he and his warriors store their weapons. The other warriors follow, excitedly reliving what had just happened.

With a barely noticeable gesture, Midas signals to Erasmus the Tribal Apothecary who retreats into his private laboratory and grabs a mixture of botanical herbs with certain tranquilizing properties to help the tribe overcome its present hysteria. Midas then assembles together his followers.

It is near the beginning of the Sunny Season Celebration, the time of year for our annual sports festival wherein we remember certain tribal ancestors and acknowledge our best athletes. We will begin the sporting festivities this afternoon, and I will initiate our celebration by telling you the history behind our five day ceremony, but first, I think it would be appropriate if we pray to Captain Kirk our god of war, for helping us vanquish our recent assailant.”

The tribe bows in reverence, and a young girl puts some flowers at the base of Midas’ throne. After a few minutes of deferential silence, the tribal leader with the magical hemp-woven codpiece resumes his oration.

In honor of the Sunny Season Celebration, I’d like to recall to you the sad story of Redneck Charlie, an ancient tribal warrior who has come to represent for us the ultimate hapless victim and reminds us what happens when one becomes overconfident.”

Staring into the dancing green and purple flames of the fire, Midas the Haggard Leader with a Hemp-Woven Codpiece chants a song to the gods and then describes what the gods present to him in the conflagration.

I see… Redneck Charlie following Jackal-Dude…”

At the sound of Jackal-Dude’s name, some of the children scream and run for their parents. Jackal-Dude is the tribe’s most egregious nemesis: a half-beta, half-carnivorous wolfhound. During the hunting season, Jackal-Dude hides outside the tribe’s encampment, waiting to ambush one of the tribal members who strays too far from safety.

There, there, now children. Don’t worry. Jackal-Dude won’t come to us for a long, long while… although we should always try to avoid open spaces because our tribal nemesis is very cunning… and very dangerous.”

Midas nods towards Erasmus the Tribal Apothecary who silently leaves the assembly to prepare another anodyne for anxiety. In the interim, Midas sings a song about happiness. Erasmus returns shortly, and when the room settles, Midas resumes his story.

Redneck Charlie cautiously, clandestinely follows Jackal-Dude from a distance and suddenly realizes, as the hairy beast walks hesitantly over the heat-absorbing sand crystals, that the reason Jackal-Dude leaves during the sunny season is because the rocks and sand are too hot for the mutant’s sensitive feet, so the unruly beast retreats every year at the beginning of the sunny season to the mountainous region where the snow and cold comfort him.

When Jackal-Dude finally reaches the cooler smooth foothills that debauch the infernal sandy region, Redneck Charlie feels confident that the carnivorous beast will not turn back; the mutant carnivore is yearning so badly for the cooling comfort of its lair that it will not cross back over the hot sand until next year’s seasonal change. Still ankle deep in sand, Redneck Charlie jumps out of hiding and yells, waving his hands in the air with reckless abandon, relentlessly taunting the mutant half-beta, half-carnivorous wolfhound. At the sound of the juvenile heckling, Jackal-Dude slowly turns around and stares menacingly at his gadfly adversary, yet he remains on the edge of the desert, fuming, until Redneck Charlie shouts to a small crowd that has gathered, ‘Hey, y’all. Watch this.’ He then places his thumb on his nose and wiggles his fingers in Jackal-Dude’s general direction.

Redneck Charlie doesn’t realize that the gesture he has just given to his nemesis is the equivalent in the language of Jackal-Dude’s ancestors of calling into question the carnivore’s parentage, and as soon as the gesture is made, Jackal-Dude methodically walks toward the mocking beta who is so into his spasmodic gyrations that he doesn’t notice the beta-consuming mutant until he accidentally strikes the carnivore’s nose. Charlie’s knees buckle as the mutant carnivore immediately masticates the writhing, screaming… dying beta.

Now we, the tribe whose name translates to They Who Are Heavily Burdened, celebrate Jackal-Dude’s annual retreat with a week-long competition at the beginning of every sunny season, and our yearly competition is dedicated to the commonsense-impaired, Jackal-taunting beta named Redneck Charlie. The god of the Tree of Knowledge, Jimmy Hendrix Page, is also honored during the Festival of Let’s Get High, Not Stupid And Dead. For five days our greatest athletes compete in a pentathlon. The winner is the athlete who collects the most points, and he receives, among other glorious prizes, an honorary seat on my pelt-laden throne as well as the privilege to toke from the Sacred Pipe of Dreams. The festival concludes with two days wherein we rejoice in epicurean delights.”

Midas the Haggard Leader with a Hemp-Woven Codpiece takes a kingly quaff from the Amber Lethean Jug of Inebriate Liquid and then continues his story, “The first day of our festival pits our athletes against each other in the large rock-throwing competition, but… before the competition begins, all of the athletes who will be competing throughout the week long event come together for a communal breakfast of performance-enhancing pharmaceuticals. This is the Steroid Breakfast that helps the athletes better prepare for the anguishes of world-class competition while simultaneously rendering their sexual organs useless. It is a price each athlete is willing to pay for the ultimate goal of celebrity. After breakfast, the athletes draw straws to direct the order in which they take turns at heaving the stone as far as their bodies allow.

In this competition, the winner is our tribal citizen who can throw the same large rock the farthest, and he receives for his efforts a massage from one of our tribal maidens who’ll use a lotion made by Erasmus the Tribal Apothecary. This buttery lotion relaxes muscles with a penetrating heat that also produces wonderful hallucinations. We call this event the Vesuvian Warming in honor of a warrior from antiquity named Vesuvius Aetna. He was a mountainous man who was outrageously strong. He stood atop a large seaside precipice and threw down rocks, ash, and pyroclastic flows upon the ancient city of Pompeii, completely destroying it.”

Midas the Haggard Leader with a Hemp-Woven codpiece takes yet another royal quaff from the Amber Lethean Jug of Inebriate Liquid, foaming liquid racing down his furry face and unto his chest. Smiling, the tribal leader belches loudly and continues.

Day two of our festival honors the elegant sport of spear-throwing, which is similar to the large rock-throwing contest only the athletes throw spears. The spears, however, have been adapted for the contest. The razor sharp blade on the spear’s tip is replaced with a blunt rock. This event is unique in the pentathlon because a partner is used: the spear-catcher… and the best spear-catcher receives an honorary quaff from the Lethean Jug of Amber Inebriate Liquids.

The spear-throwing contest is played in memory of Head-Wound Harvey, who was the spear-catcher for the great pent-athlete Rick Flair, arguably the best athlete ever. Head-Wound Harvey, whose last words were, ‘Hey, y’all! Watch this!’ was the greatest spear-catcher in the land. On the fateful day when he lost his ability to speak at an adult level, Harvey did a back flip just as Rick Flair released the spear into the air. This was, of course, preceded by the aforementioned last words, but as he landed, he lost balance and fell on his back. The blunt stone of the spear struck Harvey directly in the forehead, leaving a permanent indentation and leaving the athlete with a prepubescent disposition. Harvey spent the rest of his life, at least within the boundaries of his eclipsed mind, skipping school and looking up young girls’ skirts.”

Midas the Haggard Leader with a Hemp-Woven Codpiece looks around surveying his people, checking to assure that the youngest members of the tribe are not getting too restless, which is tough during this time of year when fairly decent weather importunately calls youth outside to marvel in Nature’s mysteries. Noticing that the children are stirring slightly, Midas the Haggard Leader with a Hemp-Woven Codpiece asks Erasmus the Tribal Apothecary to re-administer the calming elixir slightly less potent than the Nocturnal Elixir. He then resumes reciting his tribe’s history.

Day three of our annual Sunny Season Celebration is set aside for the contest we call the Disoriented and Sense-Impaired Race for the Prize. To begin this event, our athletes sit at the starting line. They simultaneously inhale as much smoke as they can from the burning leaves and buds of the Tree of Knowledge then hold their breath. (Of course, one of the past leaders of the tribe, Bill Clinton, had his championship stripped away because he claimed to have never inhaled.) When the official gives the signal, the contestants exhale then stand up and turn around ten times in small circles with their forehead against the top end of a club that is resting vertically upon the ground. When the official in front of each contestant counts to ten, the athlete straightens up and runs forty yards to the finish line where he has to pick up from the ground, without using his hands, a bud from the Tree of Knowledge. When the contestant has secured the bud with his teeth, he becomes the winner, and his bud is ignited.

The Disoriented and Sense-Impaired Race for the Prize is played in honor of Mary Jane, another celebrity from antiquity; although, we really don’t know that much about her. However, we believe that she did important work studying joints, roaches, and jays, which were birds and insects that are now extinct. She invented something called a doobie, which is a small group of brothers singing four-part harmony atop a large rock. She was a great scientist of the past, and we honor her name to this day.”

The tribe bows their heads in silent homage. After a brief moment, Midas continues, “The fourth event of our celebration is the Expectoration Distance Championship. This is a relatively straightforward event in which the athlete spits as far as he can. This event became notorious after it was discovered that milk from the hybrid Bovine Boar makes the saliva heavy and viscous enough to spit great distances. Roger Bannister was the infamous first member of the tribe to expectorate his fluid the equivalent of thirty feet, but his competitors dismissed him as a charlatan, claiming he used a performance enhancing substance. Once a year, however, the tribe honors Roger with a celebration in which everyone spits and incessantly grabs their crotch. This day is also known as Baseball Day, but the meaning of this phrase has long escaped our tribal historians.”

Midas starts giggling, which makes the entire tribe giggle in return. Slightly regaining his composure, the leader continues, “The fifth and final day of competition is the Race and Rhyme Relay sponsored by COP, the tribe’s Counsel Of Poetry. The object of this event is to race the equivalent of forty yards, hand a stick to a partner, and then recite a limerick. After the limerick is completely recited, the second athlete runs back from where the first one started, recites his limerick, hands another partner the stick, and the pattern continues until five athletes from the same team complete the race. Bawdy content of the limerick can overcome lack of speed in this event and this almost caused a riot in one of the games from the past. It seems that Cassius Clay finished the last leg of the race by reciting a limerick about floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee; however, Redd Foxx, who had finished the race’s last leg five minutes after Cassius, was awarded the victory by reciting a raunchy limerick about a man from Nantucket.

The winner of the pentathlon not only gets to sit on my pelt-laden throne and smoke from the Sacred Pipe Of Dreams, but he also gets to marry, from a group of maidens desirous for strong children, a woman of his choice. Of course when the commissioner of the game adopted this rule, many of the more shallow athletes lost sight of the glory of the games in favor of glory itself. They became spoiled crybabies whose puerile threats and fatuous temper tantrums left many of the elders hollow inside, but our children, unfortunately, embraced the athletes and their false, materialistic drive, and they, in turn, became unruly, restless… ill-behaved. All was saved, however, because of insight given to us by Duracell, the god of light. Our athletes are now humble and grateful for their athletic gifts, which they have come to realize, are gifts they have received through no merit of their own but instead are acknowledged as gifts from the benevolent gods whom we honor daily.”

Midas takes a kingly toke from his Sacred Pipe of Dreams then washes it down with a quaff from the Amber Lethean Jug of Inebriate Liquid. What Midas didn’t relate to his tribe was the fact that it was he who “changed” the attitudes of the ancient spoiled athletes into a more humble realization of their gifts. As he was the most powerful warrior upon ascending the throne of his tribe, Midas the Haggard Leader with a Hemp-Woven Codpiece gave the first pentathlon champion of his rule, Tyrell Owens, a vicious dope-slap when the athlete starting sprawling like a baby about not getting his way. Tyrell’s ears rang for three days, and when the ringing ceased, his humility and graciousness returned. Soon after that, the children of the tribe began respecting their elders and became more studious.

Midas finishes his story, and his tribe smiles with contentment, reflecting on his words. Midas then sends Polyphemus the Nocturnal Sentry out of the cave to see if it is safe. The sporting events are about to begin.

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