Monday, November 5, 2012

Good Luck in the Upcoming Election!!

I want to take a quick second to say THANK YOU to Matt Valenti for giving us a peek inside his world. His political satire The Newts, is going to be a big hit.

With election day coming up, I feel the need to remind everyone to get your butts out there and vote if you're 18+ that way when bad things happen, you can say, "well, I didn't vote for him." Now, if the guy you voted for screws things up, you can't blame anyone but yourself, so keep that in mind, but if you don't vote, then shut the hell up! Okay, that was my political rant for this year.

Now enjoy the last excerpt from The Newts, and thanks again to Matt!!


Introduces a Mercurial Deity who promises to help Ed, and depicts an old-fashioned Ferry Ride across a scenic river

Ed found himself standing near the bank of an ink-black river. All was silent except for the gentle, rhythmic lapping of water against the dark shoreline. The atmosphere above was steel gray, yet cloudless. The light it provided had none of the warmth of sunlight, and cast a sickly, uneven glow on everything it touched. The effect was very much like being in a poorly lit back corner of Costco, surrounded by crates of paper towels and boxes of garbage bags.

“Greetings, Mr. Wurlitzerbachermann,” said a voice.

A blonde-haired man dressed in a tunic, short red cape, and winged sandals materialized in front of him. He was holding a long golden wand shaped like two intertwined serpents, and smiling pleasantly.

“Who are you?” asked Ed in great surprise. “And where am I?”

“Hermes, and Hades – in that order,” replied the man.

“Huh?” said Ed.

The man smiled and gave him a look of gentle chiding. “You’re in the Underworld, otherwise known as Hades,” he said. “And I’m Hermes, of course, the fleet-footed messenger god. I serve as a guide for the new souls down here. Never studied Greek mythology in school, did you?”

“I didn’t really study much of anything in school,” replied Ed, “except for the good looking girls. But I don’t want to have anything to do with Greece. Look at what’s happening there now. The country’s bankrupt. Everyone wants a handout and a free ride. And now we’ve got politicians in Washington who want to run America the Greek way. It’s terrible!”

“Oh, I don’t know,” replied Hermes, “lots of Americans like to do things the Greek way, don’t they?”

“Maybe in places like San Francisco!” said Ed, with a sneer. “They’re a bunch of socialists there. They don’t believe in Real American values – like democracy, capitalism, and Happy Meals.”

“Don’t forget foreskin removal,” added Hermes.

“Yeah, that too!” cried Ed.

“But Ed, my friend,” said Hermes, “the Greeks are the ones who actually invented democracy. Doesn’t that mean anything to you?”

“Democracy means everything to me!” shouted Ed. “That’s why I’m trying to save America from the socialist in office now.”

“You seem to be quite opposed to socialism,” observed Hermes, with an agreeable smile.

“Damn straight,” replied Ed.

“What does that make you then? An ‘Unsocialist,’ I suppose? Is that what they call it?”

“I don’t know, never thought of it that way,” replied Ed. “All I know is that I’m against it.”

“Oh, perhaps you’re an ‘Antisocialist,’ then?”

“I guess that sounds about right,” said Ed, nodding. “But the point is, I’ve come down here to bring a Real American back from the dead to run for President. I’m not sure the current Republican running can win. Or that he’s a Real American, come to think of it.”

“Well, you’re in the right place,” said Hermes. “The Land of the Dead is on the other side of this river. Just take Charon’s ferry across.”

He pointed down the shoreline, to where a little rowboat was moored at a dock. A pale old man in robes was sitting perfectly still within it.

“Take the ferry,” continued Hermes, “and I’ll meet you on the other side. I’ll help you find your Real American.” Having said this, the god vanished as suddenly as he had first appeared.

Ed frowned in concern, but seeing no other option he walked cautiously towards the dock.

As he got closer to the river’s edge he smelled an intense odor of sulfur and kerosene. It burned his nose and made his stomach queasy. He took some solace in this discomfort, though, as well as in the rapidly thumping heartbeat in his chest: both were at least signs of life.

The old ferryman saw him approach and called out the stops on his route.

“All aboard for Tartarus! – Netherworld! – Purgatory! – Sheol! – Beelzebub’s Kitchen! – New Jersey!”

“Can I go to Hell this way?” asked Ed.

“You can for all I care!” replied Charon. “Get in.”

Ed nearly upset the boat as he climbed in and sat down facing the spectral ferryman. He was the sole passenger.

Across from him Charon sat stroking his long, filthy beard with a skeletal hand. With his other hand he gestured towards the oars. “Now put your back into it and row!” he rasped.

“You want me to row?” cried Ed. “But I don’t know anything about how to handle a boat.”

“Oh, stuff it you worm!” replied Charon. “You don’t know a damned thing about government either, but that doesn’t stop you from shoving your nose in it, does it? Now row!”

Ed held the oars with trembling hands and began to row. The boat wobbled as he adjusted the oars and slowly found a rhythm, a task made all the more difficult by the churning sensation he felt in his stomach from the concentrated odor of kerosene surrounding him. Meanwhile Charon brooded in silence.

About halfway across the river, Ed looked into the foul-smelling water and noticed a great number of frogs floating belly-up in the current. “What’s with all the dead frogs?” he asked.

“For millions of years I had those frogs to keep me company, and sing to me,” replied Charon. “And now they’ve all croaked for good!” The ferryman scowled in silence for a moment, and then unexpectedly, and in a surprisingly mournful tone, groaned what appeared to be his imitation of the sound of the frogs:

“Brekekekex Ko-ax, Ko-ax, Ko-ax! Brekekekex Ko-ax, Ko-ax, Ko-ax!”

“You think it could have been global warming that killed them?” asked Ed.

“Global warming!” cried Charon. “You don’t believe all that hot air those environmentalists are spewing, do you?”

“Of course not!” replied Ed, defensively – although not very confidently. How did it go again? ‘There is no such thing as global warming; in fact the Earth is actually getting cooler?’ Or perhaps it was ‘there is such a thing as global warming, only it’s not caused by burning fossil fuels, it’s simply a natural part of Earth’s cycles.’ Like ‘Mother Nature having a hot flash,’ wasn’t that it? Or maybe it was ‘the scientists don’t all agree, so the rest of us should just forget about it until they finally reach agreement in fifty or sixty years from now.’ Was that it? He tugged on his goatee as he tried to remember.

Charon shook his head angrily and slammed his fist on the side of the boat, making it rock and bob in the water in a way that Ed found most disconcerting.

“No, it’s not global warming that killed all the frogs!” snapped the ferryman. “It’s the frickin’ fracking!”

“Down here?” asked Ed, quite shocked.

“Of course down here! Haven’t you ever heard of stuff trickling down?”

Ed had to admit he’d heard of it, but never actually saw it happen.

He was about to protest however, that he thought he’d heard fracking was perfectly safe, or maybe just a little unsafe, or maybe polluted the ground water and caused earthquakes – occasionally, perhaps. It had to be one of those, but again, as with global warming, he couldn’t quite remember which. But before he could defend the noble art and science of frackology, he noticed hundreds of little creatures swimming happily in the murky water.

“Oh look!” cried Ed. “Maybe some of the frogs are still alive.”

Charon glanced to where Ed pointed and scoffed, “Those aren’t frogs you fool!”

Upon closer examination Ed was forced to agree that they looked like no frog he’d ever seen: their sleek, lizard-shaped bodies were covered in blood-red skin, and they had long tails that lashed the water like whips. Thousands of them surrounded the rowboat in wriggling masses of crimson.

“It’s just some more of the newts!” barked Charon. “The slimy little buggers have been multiplying like crazy lately – they seem to do best in polluted waters. And they never stop singing their damn song!”
Ed cocked his head to listen, and sure enough he could hear the voices of the little amphibians as they burbled a song in unison:

Welcome good citizen, welcome to Hell!
Welcome to the muck and the slime and the ooze – ain’t it just swell?
We’re subterranean Newts, and we’ve got votes to buy and sell!

Gurgle-suck, Gurgle-suck! Suck-suck-gurgle!

An endangered species we’re certainly not,
We thrive all the better when the planet gets hot;
To call us scavengers isn’t quite right,
It’s more scientific to say ‘Parasite!’

Gurgle-suck, Gurgle-suck! Suck-suck-gurgle!

Our daily drink is a sweet blood called money,
And Government is our land of milk and honey;
We suck and we suck ‘till we get our fill,
Cause it’s Old Man Democracy footing the bill!

Gurgle-suck, Gurgle-suck! Suck-suck-gurgle!

To get what you want there’s a game you must play,
And to help win elections we know just what to say;
We’re skilled in the art of Newt pettifoggery:
Abortion, immigration, health care reform? –
They’re just handy props for our demagoguery!

Gurgle-suck, Gurgle-suck! Suck-suck-gurgle!

And now thanks to the semi-divine interventions
Of five black-robed friends whose names we won’t mention,
We never again need hide our most selfish intentions!
Great swarms of us Newts are about to attack,
We’re the tip of the spear of the Superest Super PAC!

Ed’s enjoyment of this delightful instance of interspecies communication was suddenly interrupted when the rowboat slammed into the opposite bank of the river, and he was involuntarily disembarked – which is to say, the force of the impact propelled him backwards out of the boat and into the foul water.

“All those for Hades, get the hell off!” cried Charon a moment later, apparently under the impression that Ed was still sitting directly across from him in the boat, rather than awkwardly rising to his feet in the river.

Ed retrieved his tri-cornered hat, which threatened to float away on the current, and was about to slosh his way up the river bank to dry land when Charon held out his bony hand and croaked, “Don’t forget the ferryman!”

“What’s the charge?” said Ed with a sigh, reaching for his wallet.

“Forty-nine, ninety-nine.”

“Fifty bucks? Are you serious?”

“I’m never not serious.”

Ed thumbed through his wallet, retrieved three wet twenty-dollar bills (the last of his cash), and handed them to Charon, who rolled them into a little tube, which he stuck inside the ragged folds of his cloak.

“What about my change?” asked Ed. But Charon merely stroked his unkempt beard, smiling a toothless grin.  
Then the old ferryman shoved off with a grunt, and quickly disappeared into the twilight.

Ed scurried out of the reeking water to the top of the riverbank, where he looked around to get his bearings. He saw no signs of life whatsoever. A dim, misty haze hung everywhere, and the only sound he could hear, from far off in the distance, was a soft rattling noise, like dry autumn leaves blowing across the ground. It was as desolate as a Congressional office building on a Friday.

After a little while, however, he saw a figure approaching from out of the haze. It was the messenger god Hermes, and upon seeing Ed the god smiled warmly in greeting. It took a moment for Ed to recognize him, though. Instead of wearing a tunic, cape, and winged sandals, he now wore a finely pressed three-piece suit and shiny black loafers. Rather than holding a glittering wand, he carried a leather suitcase. His previously free-flowing golden curls were now slicked back in a precisely combed wave of hair that crested above his forehead. And as he walked swiftly towards Ed, he spoke into a Bluetooth device perched in his ear, while swiping his thumb rapidly across the screen of an iPhone.

* * *

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