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Fiction #373
(published March 13, 2008)
Hammurabi's Not So Defunct Law
by Paul Skrabanek
I wake up dizzy, remembering the prior night of excessive Johnny Walker and Vicodin. I immediately reach for my mouth first gingerly running my fingers along my sore jaw-line, then inserting my index finger through dry morning lips only to feel the void left in the rear of my mouth. "Fucking Phil Donahue," I thought. He had somehow knocked out my back right molar. It was a solid hit for an eighty year old geriatric. I probably had it coming for insulting his three legged dog. But I couldn't help it. My yoga master says my defense mechanisms are quick and witty.

I revel in knowing Donahue's act is complete bullshit anyway. Does he really buy his own legitimacy? I know four marines who blame him for the shoddy treatment they received in a Beirut prison. Their capturers were enamored with American television, but were angered when Donahue did a show with Gloria Steinem. Well now there are five righteous human beings that can blame their chronic fear of octogenarians on television's talk show king.

The entire blame does not lie with Donahue. My mullet loving white trash humping sister-in-law made an initial call to the producers on my behalf.

. . . I have now brought my brother into the matter by calling him white trash. That is probably unfair. I will leave him out of it. So I re-characterize, "Wal-Mart shopping back-stabbing. . ."

Thinking about it again . . . that is probably unfair to Wal-Mart. They have so many good sales-always the lowest prices on generic soda products and my favorite snack, Crunch n' Munch. I promise to get it right this time . . . My "self-glorifying narcissistic sister-in-law." That says it all. I should have known something was afoot when she offered to do anything on my behalf.

I had saved a second-degree burn victim from jumping a motorcycle through a ring of fire. He realized what I had done when a volunteer from the audience, seeing the show faltering, leapt from his seat, commandeered the burn victim's bike, and attempted to jump it through the ring of fire. The bike misfired, which caused the drive chain to break loose. The valiant audience member flailed through the air tangled in the chain and incurred third-degree burns before dying two days later.

The burn victim was grateful. He sent large amounts of tulips and aloe plants to my colonial style home. My wife appreciated the flowers and I sold the plants to a neighborhood boy-scout troop.

My sister-in-law, like the Beirut capturers, loved daytime American television. She saw a promotion on Donahue's vile show requesting that people call if they knew any stories of heroism. Suspecting that she could live out her life-long 15 minutes of fame dream, she called the show without my knowledge, and told them of the burn victim.

Within a month, the burn victim, my sister-in-law, and I were flown second class to California. I almost went ballistic on the plane when the in-flight movie was Pretty Woman and the on-board meal was burnt chicken. But I chuckled at the irony: A whore in the movie, and a whore seated to my right; A burn victim of a meal, and burn victim seated to my left

Donahue lavished attention on the burn victim, which I didn't mind. But then he spent almost the entire remainder of the show praising half-witted boobs of which I found no heroism. It is true that the concept is subjective, but my own objectivism tipped the dominos.

The other guests included: A man who synchronized the traffic lights in a major metropolitan city, a woman who claimed to have verbally dueled with the President of Finland and won, and a dwarf who impersonated a child so that the child's drunkard father would beat the dwarf instead of the child—this would be heroic had the dwarf not been a masochist.

I felt the need to interject before the enlightened conclusion of the show. "Donahue, I don't want to sound self-involved, but you have really not said two things to me this entire show."

He had obviously pre-formed his bias against me: "True heroism needs no recognition."

To which I responded, "I guess that's why your show has such gigantic ratings." His inflamed ego got the best of him at this point.

"Why you little bastard . . ."

"Bastard?" I was indignant. "Why don't you take my sister-in-law and go beat your three-legged dog, you scumbag."

I was unable to brace myself for the metal chair that slammed into my back. Cheap-shot bitch of sister-in-law caught me when my guard was down. I had forgotten that she was a rabid animal rights activist.

As I turned to deal with her, Donahue leapt, microphone in hand, to throw a hideous hay-maker that landed across my jaw. The punch sent my right rear molar careening from my mouth. "Well played old man," I thought. The burn victim inserted himself into the fray preventing Donahue's imminent death.

"Let it go," the burn victim commanded. I let it go, choosing to plot my revenge before acting in haste.

Today as I withdraw my sticky index finger from the back of my mouth it all becomes clear. Hammurabi's law is still good in this town.

I catch my dirt-bag sister-in-law at the grocery store and use my car to creep up behind her. As she reaches for her car keys, I gas the engine and run my grill into the small of her back. She lets out a foul scream, and I laugh. Rolling down the window, I scream "Hammurabi's Law, Bitch!" She doesn't laugh. She simply shakes her fist in anger. I'll be looking over my shoulder for years after this.

I turned my attention to Donahue, and picked up the burn victim on the way to the studio. I have him distract Donahue with his skilled mime techniques. Once Donahue became immersed in the act, I seized the moment and came flying out of the corner to deliver a vicious kick to the side of Donahue's face. It jarred loose his second bicuspid. I lamented for a second, "damn I didn't get his molar." But then I realized my folly and shouted "Tooth for a Tooth, You Bastard."

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