Where do Giant Squids come from?
My Patient and Nameless Readers,
As you shall recall, two weeks past, I was asked the above question. In order to reply meaningfully, I was obliged to entertain a somewhat lengthy—though nonetheless interesting—discursion through a period of my long tenure far prior to my many tasks and misadventures of advising the great and humble men and women of history (and, occasionally, herstory, thank you very much Ms. Faludi). Rest assured that it is never—in this column, nor at the Burgher King's drive-through, nor upon the game's show, nor during simple phone conversations—my goal to frustrate the good wills or test the patiences of you, my dear and much valued fans and well-wishers.
At any rate, to recaptivate: I was once, an unknowably long time ago, imprisoned within a crystal sphere as the most-valued treasure in some great and forgotten potentate's vault of valued things. The unbounded string of indistinguishable, unilluminated days was finally broken when a raiding party—consisting of a brute warrior woman, her conniving compadre, and a magic-wielding young woman in a tattered gown—rappelled in among the horde and set to appraising the most valuable items to pilfer, only to inadvertently activate a most terrifying security apparatus, loosing slow, but methodical and utterly terrifying beasts. Whilst the two professional raiders sought an escape, the magic-wielder approached me.
"Now, listen," she said, her voice penetrating me, consuming me all, "Would you . . . like . . . to take me to Homecoming?" Her blush was deep upon her cheeks, and she looked down to the ground, to the delicate huaraches upon her knobby little human feets, and then back up, smiling to expose her sharp and brittle teeth.
The self-consuming beast army—called forth by the clockwork idol actuated by these under-cautious interlopers—made its ponderous progress towards us, and the warrior woman Mamda and her weaselish consort, Kor, scrabbled in the shadows, desperate for escape. The nameless young anthropomancer waited eagerly, then dulled somewhat, then frowned and crossed her arms across her pert and nubile bosom.
"I sorta need an answer," she tapped the glass for my attention. "I sorta need an answer like now."
I had not, at that time, the wondrous technological appliances that now allow me to talk aloud, man-fashion—which is a clunky mode of communication, but nonetheless enjoyable after the quaint fashion of the comb-and-waxed-paper kazoo or cigar-box banjo. Instead, as is my wont, I blushed my opinions across the surface of my skin, communicating in the chromatophoric fashion common among squids, cuttlefish, octopoda, and bloviating punditry throughout the animal kingdom.
So, across my skin I blushed, "I would much rather tear from you, in strips, your skin, and devour it while you wriggle yet lively, and then proceed to the brain, thymus, and generative organs, for I prefer my sweets mid-meal, when my hunger is still whetted. The remains I will brine and eat over the course of weeks. Given the resources, I will then pen a letter to your kin describing this process in detail, with illustrative diagrams."
The young demonologist rolled her eyes through this, and huffed her frustration. "Father's beast legion is deathless; they'll eat Mamda and Kor," Kor cried out shrilly at this admission while Mamda cursed, then took to hammering the adamantine walls with a large, bonging brass urn, "and gnaw upon other as they methodically find a chink in your crystal confines. Then you will spill forth, writhe in the dry air, swell and burst with the lack of pressure, and finally be devoured yourself."
She smiled with the wickedness of fifteen year old girls throughout human history.
"So, while you might rather," she twisted the word teasingly, "eat me," she winked at that, although the words had not for me the entendre she intended to double, "your choices are being eaten by monsters, or an evening of dancing and then getting, I dunno, dumped back in the sea. Or whatever."
I allowed that her point was well taken, and she beamed. "So you're coming?" I assented, and she hopped in place and clapped her hands, a delighted feminine squeal escaping her lips as Mamda turned to fight, unsheathing her short, blunt gladius and hacking into a closing phalanx of chimpanzo-sheep men with cockatiel heads and tridents. Kor whimpered and curled into the corner behind her.
"Okokokok!" the young sorceress sang, "I'll take care if everything! It'll be just so so so GREAT! Squeeee!"
A trident found its home in Mamda's flank, and another in her shoulder, and two of the beastly birdmen tackled her good right arm; one accepted the sword into his vitals, but his falling weight disarmed her and, but for the mopping up, it was finished. Mamda's and Kor's bellows and terrified squeals commingled in the eldritch racket of the cavern.
The girl, noting none of these developments, briskly rubber her hands together, began to sing a flat and voweless chant, and then we stood elsewhere, within what I would come to know was a gymnasium, dimly lit with lights of orange and red, and bedecked with balloons of similar hues, and the thin, wafting crepes paper, like the clumsy and senseless webs of huge wood-pulping spiders.
The teen necromancer wore still her tattered gown, but I found myself bedecked in black dungarees and shirt and jacket, and a necktie printed with a Boschian landscape replete with fires and suffering—I noted that no others seemed decked as I, they instead favoring white cotton shirts, blue or tan jackets, and neckties printed with the plaids or paisleys. The dark glass of a trophy case returned my pale face, a whisp thin mustache atop my lop, and the hairs of my heads the tangled tentacles of a greasy, uncombed human hair mop. My head was small, and my bony hands drifted up to explore its bony inner-armature.
"Whoa," I muttered, and realized that my thoughts, too, encased as they were in such a tiny, unyielding headsac, had shrunk small and scurrying, rattling around within me like pennies in a boiling kettle. I blinked, then snorted a laugh. I experimented with crinkling of my nose and stitching my brow and all the myriad, adorably senseless things humans do. I was, in a word, adorable.
"Why did you select of me to do this thing at this place? Why a squid?"
"Oh," she said breezily, looking about the room and paying me little head. The music was very loud, and so she was obliged to lean in close as she spoke, the breath of her lungs tickling my ear and nape delightfully, "I saw a picture one time, and thought a squid would be a killer in the sack, and remembered that Father had you down in the cellar back home."
I used the glass to examine my darling little human teeth, then looked to my small, moist hands with their flimsy nails, and doubted much I could kill anything, such as I was.
"And, anyway, the only other guys I know are Brian's douche-bag friends, and it was really short notice." She looked at me. "My name's Daphne," she said. "Your name's Arturo."
I was aghast, "It is not!"
"It is tonight."
We then danced, both with a quickness to the works of Red Hot and his Chilied Peppers, and with a slowness, twirling in ponderous circles—all the while Daphne craned about to catch the sight of our passers by. Finally we were approached by a small clutch of boys dressed as I, their hairs of their heads spiked or long or knotted, their eyes eye-shadowed, their movements immaturely thuggish, their feet shod in heavy leathern boots. One, wearing a thick layer of inexpertly applied pancake make-up, was at the fore. He demanded know who the fuck I was, and Daphne replied that I was fucking Arturo, Brian, and I had an 18-inch tongue and a cock like a baby's arm holding an apple. I shifted my human jaw gingerly, and assessed that the former was not the case; for decorum's sake, I elected to investigate the latter at a later time.
Brian slitted his eyes, and then a composition by Mr. Marilyn and his Mansons was broadcast throughout the space, and we danced in a furious, jumping knot. After this we were parched, and drifted toward a large table surmounted by an iced tub of beverage cans. Daphne handed me a Cherry Coca Cola, then declared she must "drain the lizard" and sauntered away. The other boys drank of their cans, but I could not puzzle out the closure, and so elected to bit through the exterior wall of the can, with definite, although limited, success. I sipped the soda from the many small punctures, and Brian laughed, and said I seemed little like such a fuck as he thought. Then he confided:
"Listen, shit got really fucked up with me and Daphne about some stupid drama. I know that she's just fucking you to piss me off, and that, like, isn't your fault. I don't give a rat's fuck. But," he paused, he sipped reflectively from his soda, he girded himself and dove forth, "but I really totally love her, man. You know. I know I fucked up a little, but how can I make that shit right? What's she said, you know? What will get her back?"
I had no idea. I hardly understood what he was saying, so I set my mouth to can and likewise sucked some high-fructose nectar, buying myself precious, precious time. I recalled Daphne's father's horde, succumbing to the automaton fury of the strange beasts, and advised that perhaps she would enjoy it if he destroyed a thing of great value for her pleasure. Brain evidently thought on this for a moment, frowning with the force of it, and then smiled broadly. His mates likewise smiled, nodding of their heads as Brian's eyes alit with the possibilities. He disappeared for an interval, returning with his hands badly soiled by lacquer-like paints. By then Daphne had returned, availed herself of a soda, and launched into a long and tedious discussion about some baby goth poseurs she saw within the shopping mall, and whose asses she should righteously have kicked, given a second opportunity to do same. Brian drew her way with one soiled hand, and they returned mutually giggling, Daphne draped from his shoulder like a drunken sloth. I was effectively forgotten. Mr. INXS crooned "Never Tear Us Apart" across the room, and Brian gallantly took Daphne into the midst of the dance floor, like two graceful, feckless crows stalking through a wash of well-meaning pigeons. They held one another whilst the coins of white light raced about the room counterclockwise, flitting over their delicate human skins like so many sunstruck minnows, and amid the strains of Mr. INXS's "Never Tear us Apart."
For me, the remainder of the evening was something of the bust. Daphne and Brian disappeared to some far off unlocked classroom, so that she might entice him to enter her in the fashion of dogs for a brief while before prematurely spending himself, and then satisfying her with a somewhat fuddled, yet nonetheless heartfelt, massaging of her external genitalia. Brian's coterie assessed me to be, "basically an OK guy, just caught up in Daphne's web," and we passed the time smoking of cigarettes near the garbage receptacles exterior to the gymnasium, and also inhaling nitrous oxide from balloons filled via a frosted metal cylinder, loaded from cartridges absconded from Luke's place of employment in a cafe of some commercial repute. I cackled and boxed and grappled with these new compadres among the refuse, caught in the ocean like roar and currents of the diminished blood oxygen level brought about by the huffed libation. Soon it was the midnight: the large, high windows sprang into brilliant illumination as the gymnasium's primary lighting was thunkingly activated, and adult human announced over the public address system that the dance had come to a halt, both due to curfew, and to an unfortunate act of vandalism upon the principal mature human's conveyance, which would need to be investigated without delay. Both authorities and parents had been notified. Luke and Mark and the others looked to each other in astonished glee, and then highed their fives and cheered their comrade in absentia for having "nuts like a fucking bull moose!" We all ran out into the crisp autumnal night, coursing across the damp, loose fields of footballing and soccerballing to God might only know where—that is, for my newfound comrades some God might only know where, for in my case I found that, between one step and another, I suddenly found myself again a squid, dunked sprawling into the frigid waters of the Lake Superior dividing dainty Michigan from her hulking Northern Suitor. The rest, as they say, is history (or, occasionally, as in this occasion, herstory).
I shall be candid now, nonsignatory reader: Prior to that moment, I was not I. I lived, I moved, I manipulated things with my tentacles, I rutted and chased prey, I felt and inflicted feelings upon others, but I was not this noble beast you know, whose advice you have sought and whose charming anecdotes you have delighted in.
Where did I come from, this body, this brain, this deathless land-haunting coil? It is immaterial. But where did I come from, this series of pulses, these words across a blank and boundless space, lending guidance, giving succor to his curious and fascinating lessers? Where did the true me, that against all odds coddles a strange compassion for the all too human finds its origins? That me, the one true me, the real I, came from a secondary school gymnasium in Kettering, Ohio in 1998. The rest is details of little merit.
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