Antioch Baptist Academy
"Hey, Mr. President Squid, I gotta—" this was the small one, Trael, turned backward in his chair, which was positioned next to Rob's. Rob did not acknowledge Trael, but continued to study his computer's monitor, as did I.
"A MOMENT, SPAWNCHILD. A MOMENT." I wavered a pulsing hunting arm afore him with distraction. My optically perfect eyes were attuned across the lab, to the far end where Rob did play at Scrapple upon the Facebooks. I was, even then, meditating on plots somewhat nefarious, but also exceedingly efficient.
"Jarwaun said . . ."
My hunting arm, flickering pink and blue with nodules raised from the skin in micron increments, was meant to indicate my intense inner thought. A fellow squid would have known this, but alas, unfortunate Trael is descended from the apes of the trees. Such differences in upbringing often make our friendship awkward, like, for instance, how Trael weeps when I eat dogs, or how I weep when Trael indicates that he or his family have paid retail for simple commercial goods that can so easily be bought at steep discounts.
"Mr. Squid, Jarwaun . . ."
I swished the limb through the water, and then finally did turn up the volume of the inter-office address system:
"BY PLAYING OF THE 'S' YOU MAY PLURALIZE BOTH THE 'ZAP' AND CHANGE OF THE 'WITCH' INTO 'SWITCH,' THUS UNLOCKING TWO WORDS AND GENERATING A NUMERICAL ADVANTAGE."
The speaker system, as it has on the occasion, did blow out upon this last, leaving "ADVANT" hanging in the air, echoing and pulsing. Turning then to Trael, I did see a slight trickle of the pus running from his ear, but he did not notice it, and so I paid it no more mind.
As our eyes locked, Trael repeated, "I got a question, Mr. Squid."
"WHAT ARE YOUR CONTEMPLATIONS, REGARDING THE FACEBOOK?"
"Jarwaun say I can't have no Facebook on account I just a shorty and I ain't 'In the Hunt.' He always put 'In the Hunt' in a special voice and wave his fingers around when he say it. What's he mean by that?"
Before I could hold forth on the many and numerous possible implications — especially taking aim at the fecund topics of hunting arm posture and how best to navigate the interlocution of dominant males vis a vis said postures — Rob did yell out from his workstation:
"OK! Christ! One: Jarwaun means you ain't in the market for ladies yet, Tray, so there's nada reasons for you to get on Facebook or MySpace or none of that. Two: Jarwaun is fuc— effing right. My cousin, who's, like, twenty-whatever, hooked up with some weird, triple-divorced bar skank through MySpace, and now all he does is have weird, loud sex, fight with his dad about having weird, loud sex, and go to the drug store for that crab lice shampoo. Three: I can do fine at this Scrabble with No One's Help provide they help me by shutting the fu—eff up so I can Think. Four:" he did pause, "Turn down the mother-effing speakers, Lord A. I'm gonna sue your ass if I get tinnitus and shit."
"SWEAR JAR, ROB."
"FUCK!" Rob slammed his fists upon his desk, "Whatever! Take it from my fucking paycheck! And for that 'fuck,' too, but leave me alone to play." Rob used the computer's mouse to guide his S to the interstice, joining the ZAP and the WITCH, and I nodded my assent, which Rob could not see, and Trael did not acknowledge.
Trael did then stand up and call back, "All I want is to play Scrabble! Girls can play with me if they want, but Jarwaun ain't home all the time, and the cat always be licking the pieces on account J be playing while eating and getting pizza grease on everything, and sometimes I wake up the next morning and all the letters are in a pile and the cat is sleeping across the board." He calmed himself forcefully, "All I'm saying is . . . is that I'm just saying," he said finally, sitting back down, "I'm just saying, you can't be all making new rules about Don't This or That without taking care of the problem that Doin' This was s'posed to solve. That's what I'm sayin'."
"IS OUR QUERY AT AN END?"
"What?" He shook his head. "No! It's the first week of school, and fourth grade is hard, and I got to do a report on my five favorite presidents. Jarwaun said . . . "
I coiled and uncoiled my tentacles, flushing them pink, to auburn, to brown, to blue, to yellow, and back again, in different orders and patterns. Rob had fully returned to his ten games of Scrapple, and I soothed my nerves by permitting htem to wander back to my initial wonderings, concerning a scheme to craft a Facebook applet, a word game like this Scrapple, but kosher and composed of Hebrew letters assigned about an arcane circle, wherein points would be scored, and eldritch beings conjured, all in a distributed fashion and at an enormous rate, with revenues funneled to my accounts via GoogleAds. Although I was certain that the game design was solidly founded, I was — and continue to be — at a loss as to how I might ensure that the players did so naked, in the dark of the new moon, and streaked with the blood of Sacrifice. It is hard to code such things into a Java-based applet, my web developers inform me.
"I'm just sayin' that I tried looking in the Internet and all I found was a white people band. Jarwaun made it sound like this was all hard and I'd have to get a bunch of books from the library and read 'em and he can't help me because he's got marching band, but I figured maybe I'd ask you if you could just tell me about all the presidents you met, and I can write that down. It has to be a whole page and I got no clue. You don't gotta tell me everything, or just what to write of nothing, but just, you know, help me know where to get started."
"I LIKE NOT THE PRESIDENTS, TRAEL, AND THUS—"
"You WAS the president, Mr. Squid."
"BRIEFLY, AND I FOUND IT UNPLEASANT IN THE EXTREME. IT IS NOT MY CALLING."
"And you know president better than anyone else I know." His eyes were large and wide, glistening with desperation, "And I wanna start the year good, not with no Fs I gotta get Pops to sign."
I sighed, and acquiesced, "WELL, THAT'S AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT MATTER. I WILL TELL YOU OF MY FAVORITE PRESIDENT: TIDY, POLITE, JAMES MAD-MANSION:"
As has been mentioned in the past, James the Mad-Mansion was, is, and shall always be exactly 100 pounds, and exactly five of the feets tall. He was, upon arriving to the Casablancum Americanum, given a perfectly joined coffin of fine, lightning-struck cherry wood crafted to his exact dimensions.
He is my favorite president, because upon receiving the chest, he immediately set it against the wall of the Ovoid Office, opened the lid, stepped in, and be-shut the lid.
It is, after all, surety and quickness of judgment that we seek in or presidents. Upon exiting the coffin, he left for the day, because C-the-N-and-N had not yet been invented, and therefore the office of the presidency was largely ceremonial, most of the sweat-equity of governance being furnished by beadles, magistrates, and very small goblins who lived inside of hollow coins, their gray eyes gazing listlessly from behind the graven heads of dead kings.
That night, whilst the Mad-Mansion did slumber astride that his pastry-devouring-horse of a woman, Dolly the Mad-Mansion, the coffin did glow to activity.
Upon returning the following day, James did find two twins of identical feature and character to his own, each exactly half his size: The first two-and-one-half the feets tall and 50 pounds, and the second two-and-one-half the feets tall and 50 pounds.
The three formed a triumvirate, and bound their hands together in a great and secret pact, for it was revealed by the twins to the elder and larger Mad-Mansion that while each duplicate was half his size, each would — owing to both the Conservation of Momentum and the Multiplicative Property of Equality — live to be twice his age, back-dated to his date of birth.
Lacking any endeavor of greater importance, for the entire first year of his presidency, Mr. Mad-Mansion did embark on a nightly sojourn into the coffin with all of the duplicates produced, each entrant producing more duplicates who were half the size and twice the longevity of the previous originator.
By the end of the first month of his term, all of the Goblins of the United States of America had been evicted from their coins and replaced with tiny Mad-Mansions, thus asserting, for the first time, direct executive control of the money supply.
These duplicates also helped to instigate the wars of 1812-1847, and now cover the entire country and all of her inhabitants (including dogs) with a Mad-Mansion patina one micron thick. The modern American digestive tract, for example, is now entirely dependent on the billions of James Mad-Mansions who reside there, and this reason, more than any other I know, prevents modern man from traveling backward in time or properly digesting legumes and cellulosic chains. As a denizen of the sea, I suffer no such Mad-Mansionsonian limitations upon my character or digestion.
Trael scribbled upon his Transformers sprial-bound notebook as I spoke. I then assented to play of the Scrapple with him, and as he laid the cardboard board upon the floor afore my tank, and organized the trays and tiles, I regailed him briefly with my thoughts on Georgio Washingtonienne (whom I favor not for his paltry military strategems and statecraft, but for his innovative fashion designs and the humorous foibles of his irascible male member), Millard Fillmore (Our thirteenth president, so ordained as the end of the grand Masonic Era of the early Republic, for it was Fill-the-more who was anti-Mason AND anti-Catholic, and as such chose to mark by his sequence that grim day, Friday the Thirteenth, when both Catholic and Masonic came to blows), Zachary Hayes (our Someteenth President and author of On Practical Jokery, Chicanery and Tomfoolery: A Treatise Upon Manifest Humor), and Sasha O'bama (Our third black president, but our first black-Irish Serbian President-to-Be, which is saying something, although I know not what).
I ultimately came to learn that Trael earned a grade of "See Me After Class" for this theme. I presume that the instructor was uncomfortable heaping exceptional praise upon the boy in the presence of his peers, and thus elected to do so in private. This sort of discretion (as so often evidenced by Georgio and his sore, yet sated, night-guests) I do applaud. I was also flattered and humbled to discover, on espying the document Trael had typed, that he had elected to include me as his most favorite President, despite my short term in office, and the fact that the entirety of that term was ultimately invalidated via judicial review. It should go without saying, but in the case it does not, I note with vigor that Trael is, indeed, a very good friend.
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Copyright (c) 2000, 2004, David Erik Nelson, Fritz Swanson, Morgan Johnson