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Squid #411
(published December 4, 2008)
Ask the Giant Squid: Window Shopping the Cabinet of Wonders
Who is Poor Mojo's Giant Squid?
Dear Giant Squid:

My cousin's boyfriend says that the old Detroit salt mines are full of devil orphans that guard six brocade amulets; is this true?


"Dude," my lab assistant, Rob, intoned, pressing the printed-out mail electronique to the glass of my tank.

I read through the message thrice.

I was tempted to reply in the affirmative by repeating Rob's initial mantra, but instead I furled and unfurled my mantle and flickered from pink to teal and back again, which is much to the same thing if one were a squid, which I myself currently am, and likely which neither you nor Rob is—and for this I am grateful.

Then I intoned carefully, "SIX AMULETS?"

Rob nodded, "Totally."


"That's what I'm saying."

Finally, I said, "CONTACT YSSLENA ALMIRAS OF THE MIASMIC MISTS"—who, ironically, Rob himself had inadvertently conjured some months earlier.

"She got the big guns, bad ass magicks and shit?" Rob asked.


"Is this a contract thing, then? Should I call your legal counsel, Dr. Love?"

Of this latter I did decline, as Dr. Love does charge per the hour.

Forty-five minutes later, we did descend into the salty catacombs of the Dismotored City: Rob in his Carhart, I in my anti-bathysphere, and Claude in naught but his thinning fur and silvering back, packing only an iron pipe, an iPhone, and the dangling emaciated nethers of a souciant chimpanzee betwixt his bent legs.

Cloaking us from the prying eyes of the city at dusk was a swirling cloud knit from the ethereal fibers of a million vacant shades of the Earth-tramped dead, conjured by Ysslena Almiras, who hung in the air like crooked spine, her scales flashing despite the absence of light, her belly studded with ten thousand breasts each weeping blood, her monkey face bent to one side, her eyes half closed as she slipped through the air deep in thought. She was being remarkably good-natured about what seemed, in all honesty, to be quite a monstrous security failure on my part.

In her left hand she casually held a thin cheroot which sent up a ribbon of smoke. She carelessly dragged upon the cheroot as she floated down the wet culvert into the gaping maw of the mine.

She seemed already to be unimpressed; with the mine, with the arrangements, with me, and with this despicable world. But, as none of us had yet been reduced to a mote, sealed in a tiny bottle, and handed to a child as a diverting bauble, I deemed that, after a manner, my little party and I still had the "upper hand," regardless of the depth of Ysslena's pique.

Deep in the heart of the mine, after passing through several false emergency exits, through a funerary catacomb carved in secret by Samuel de Champlain in 1635 (where dear Rob did capture for himself a translucent vole and find a small bag of pied type cast in pure silver), and after we had ascended into the subbasements of several ancient and paved over buildings lost long before the fire of 1805, we finally came to the Cabinet of Wonders Learning Annex and Deep Storage Unit. This I had purchased from the under-secretary to the secretary of the Eldritch Policy division of the Department of Homeland Security in 2006, in order to settle the debts (public and private) of several failed Republican Congressmen (public and private).

The Annex was guarded, as always, by the deathless corpse of Jesse Helms.

He was, as always, bored but alert. Some claim he suffered vascular dementia, but to that I would say pfah, could I say such, which I cannot, for I am lipless and stern of jaw. Subsequently, I gesture pfah. He was no doddering fool, but was simply bored by the drudgery of increasing only human suffering, and being limited to doing so in a single psycho-spiritual and physical plane. A daily commute across the River Styx has perked his demeanor greatly, although oddly left him mute and somewhat enlargened his leftmost eye.

Dear Jesse guided us into the antechamber where the mechano-weasels were found, in flagrante, working on an elaborate barrel-rolling maneuver, either for their own entertainment, or as the foundation for some offensive or defensive jape of truly staggering ferocity. Four weasels rolled the barrel from within, each with the tail in the mouth of the other. Encircling the barrel, six weasels rolled the four in the opposite direction, and then ten weasels encircled these, again moving anti-widershins to the first, and so on, until there were fifty undead mechano-weasels nested in a series of racing concentric circles, each circle spinning opposite to the one within it, to the circle at the center. The disk of weasels looping casually around the vast cavernous gallery, only a small portion of which was actually used for storing items.

I had purchased the space prospectively, assuming that our collection of mysterious items in need of storage would expand more substantially than it had. 2006 was still during the ill-fated boom for real estate, and I believed the investment sound at that time.

Upon seeing me in my armored suit, the rings of weasels did collapse into a great and writhing weasel pile—such being the way with weasels—its gears grinding and clearly badly in need of lubrication; I thought I would mention this maintenance note to Jesse as we left, and now realize that I neglected to do so, and will have to send young Trael with a note later today. Upon seeing the knotty weasel heap, Claude set his hairy manipulators upon his hips and shook his head with chimpanic disappointment. He then harshly clapped his hands and began shouting orders in French, running the clockworked weasels through their proper drills with the military precision inherent to all Francophones.

Unimpressed, the ethereal Ysslena, ensconced in her cloud of shades, smoking her cheroot, streaming the blood of innocent children from her thousand breasts, did shimmer past us three men directly to the chest in which was locked her strange treasure. She opened the chest.

All ten amulets were present.

"Fucked up," Rob did intone, which sentiment I did and do endorse.

We returned to the lab only to find Mr. Leeks upon the floor, breathing, but with blood running from both his ears, and plausibly other orifices, although Rob declined to check. In any event, Mr. Leeks did not move.

Ysslena sighed and faded from sight. I have reason to believe she will not be suspending service or disputing future invoices, and this I find reassuring either now, the economy being as it is (which is unpleasant in the extreme).

The main office of the Cabinet of Wonders was open to the lab. The transom window was broken, the door was agape, and papers were scattered at the threshold.

Rob surveyed the situation, including Mr. Leeks, who for his part continued to breath sallowly and irregularly.

"You know," he opined, "I can't be, like, 100 percent, but I'm pretty sure shit wasn't like this before we left, you know?"

Claude spit upon the floor, then announced "Votre esprit sorcière m'a donné une érection qui je dois assister à l'. Je ne suis ni infirmière, ni un concierge, de sorte s'il vous plaît excusez-moi si je me rends service à moi-même."

Then he left.

Mr. Leeks groaned, and Rob left as well, as did I. As Mr. Leeks was gone the next morning, I can only assume that he ultimately sought medical attention on his own.

But, to answer your question, dear and unsigned reader: There are no children in the Great Detroit Salt Mines at this time.

I Remain,
Your Giant Squid

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see other pieces by this author | Who is Poor Mojo's Giant Squid? Read his blog posts and enjoy his anthem (and the post-ironic mid-1990s Japanese cover of same)

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