moon is watching us, my friends. Watching us with enormous quicksilver
can be said for the morning news anchorman who delivered his update
on Iraq in Pig Latin, with the help of Jeff, the Malaysian hand
puppet? And who can fathom the matter of the Sicilian volcano that
spewed five-hundred and sixteen gallons of extra-foamy cappuccino
while belching out swamp gas to the tune of Un Bel Di?
Strange forces were at work that day. Insidious influences of an
a village on the Yucatan peninsula, oversized cicadas ate the elastic
out of all the white cotton briefs. A British secretary staying
in North Rhine-Westphalia was told by the ghost of an insane seamstress
where to dig (Behind the rabbit hutch!) to find a long-lost
jar containing half of a cookie that had been nibbled upon by the
Marquis de Sade. And at 10:23 p.m. Central Time, a cornfield in
Buttercup, Iowa split open and It emerged: that selfsame diety that
the Pre-Atlantean, Post-Lemurian Serpent Priests addressed by Seven-Thousand-and-Twelve
Sacred Names (Number Eleven translating to Whatever It Is,
We Wish It Would Just Leave Us Alone); that lugubrious critter
known to the ancient Aztecs as He-Who-Drips-Sweat-All-Over-Our-Nice-Clean-Temple,
to whom they sacrificed the lymph nodes of their enemies after they'd
given the hearts to gods they actually liked.
entity had the face of a rhinoceros, the wings of an albino fruitbat
and the body of a hotel bellboy (It also wore the little hat). It
stood eight-hundred feet tall and shot rays out of Its golden-brown
eyes that could turn stainless steel into a truly good tapioca.
This being was in fact the odious and horrific Rhinodactyl, Lord
of the Absurd, and on the day that It emerged from the cornfield,
It screamed and squealed and screeched and caterwauled for - what
else? - women's dress shoes. It then added, in a disturbingly conversational
tone (for oh, It was trying to lull civilization into a false sense
of security), that if It did not receive enough women's dress shoes,
and mind you, they had to be stylish, It would coat the entire world
with a thick layer of rabbit excrement, ruining TV reception for
all eternity. Reporters and channelers and spokesmodels conveyed
the news to international heads of state, and so began the mad global
dash for shoes, shoes, lovely and delicious and ever-so-rococo shoes.
But as soon as the first dumptruck load of Italian leather goodies
arrived, the fiendish Rhinodactyl requested creamed spinach casserole
by the ton. And the madness continued thusly. Lava lamps. Couches
upholstered in animal prints. Hygiene films. Those little plastic
houses that tell you the barometric pressure by whether the little
burgomaster or his milkmaid wife pops out of a door. There was no
way to predict what the unsavory behemoth would want next.
nightmare creature shook the world like an aging movie queen shaking
the last few drops of handcream out of a crystal decanter just before
her long-awaited rendezvous with a $150-an-hour male gigolo named
Big Johnny; It played with civilization like a garden spider playing
with a leprechaun in its web (the afore-mentioned spider thinking,
"Gee, a leprechaun, what luck. Maybe it'll grant me three wishes,"
so the spider asks for three wishes and the leprechaun says, "Oh,
okay," and the spider promptly asks for three more wishes and
the leprechaun says, "I think not," and the spider says,
"Therefore, you are not," and begins to suck all the juice
out of the poor little leprechaun who only wanted to be loved).
The perfidious Rhinodactyl teased and taunted civilization; It sprinkled
itching powder down civilization's back; It slipped a plastic ice
cube with a bug inside in civilization's drink; It then told an
utterly shocking fib regarding civilization's little sister and
a pimply Food-O-Luxe bagboy (or should I say, comestible packaging
engineer) from Wichita Falls, and that was the last straw. The outlandish
and superfluous Rhinodactyl was a pest, a bother, a cosmic ne'er-do-well;
so actually, no one was surprised when the nations of the world
got together and tossed one nuclear warhead, extra-large, upon It.
this point, one might expect a sweet and dandy resolution, a tidy
denouement, a big rubber stamp that reads CASE CLOSED, BABY. But
alas, such is not to be. For you see, the atom bomb did what it
was supposed to: it atomized the insouciant Rhinodactyl. And the
wind carried the monster's atoms through the air into the lungs
of people everywhere . . . from the lungs, the contamination leached
into the sweetmeats, into the damp grey convolutions of the brain.
That's the funny, little-known thing about absurdity: it's really,
awfully, terribly, implacably, highly contagious. These most curious
and virulent atoms insinuated themselves into all living things
(the catalpa tree outside of my apartment is hopelessly in love
with the wire-haired terrier that piddles on it) and into the very
workings of our planet . . . but ah, the grandeur of fuchsia days,
the decadence of neon-orange nights!
these capricious particles seeped beyond the ionosphere to invade
the endlessly swirling web of space. Just last night, eyes blinked
open in several of the moons larger craters. And now the moon
is watching us with eyes that shine.
here we are, drinking furniture-polish margaritas and snacking on
fricasseed trilobite esophagi. End of lecture . . . and everything
else, for that matter. Look to the window, my friends, and behold:
the full moon, growing larger (hence, nearer) by the second, staring
hungrily and grinning with more teeth than I have grubs crawling
in the folds of my neck.
OVERHEARD AT THE LAST COCKTAIL PARTY EVER
is Copyright 1998 by Mark McLaughlin and is published in feoamante.com
and Feo Amante's Story Time with his permission. It is now available
in a chapbook along with 9 other stories in
SHOGGOTH CACCIATORE And Other Eldritch Entrees
from Delirium Books
Visit Mark's website at : The