Journal entry, 3/28/14: Justice Minotaur and Mr. Cornwall, neither of whom has been on a date for a significant period of time, decided to solve this problem by going to the nearby dollar store to try to meet some women who might enjoy a lovely dinner with two eligible bachelors. While entering the store, Cornwall met two men who each introduced himself as the father of the other. If they meant they were one another’s biological fathers, this seems like an impossibility (assuming no time travel was involved). Meanwhile Minotaur was already by the cheap paperware making advances on a woman of some six and a half feet tall who was wearing a snowmobile suit underneath what appeared to be a bathrobe. He soon learned, after being placed in a painful headlock near the closeout Arbor Day supplies, that the woman was a judoka and therefore that the robe was probably a judogi. Pretending not to notice what was going on with Minotaur, Cornwall enjoyed pleasant conversation with a wigged cashier whose tag said her name was Callabunga Ram. Ram disclosed that she is a guest lecturer tomorrow evening at the falconer’s guild lyceum. Her paper is titled “Vending Machines that Offer Payment by Credit Card: Salvation or Waterloo?” Perhaps Cornwall will go, he told Ram, but the conversation could not continue because Minotaur needed medical attention.
Journal entry, 3/15/14: It being the Ides of March, Justice Minotaur got up at about three in the morning and spent several hours going from empty bed to empty bed in the compound with pillows, cantaloupes, and wigs to make it look as if someone was sleeping in every bed. Then he locked himself in the safe room with fourteen cell phones, caffeine pills, an M-16 with two thousand rounds of ammunition, a Mad magazine, four fatherless lambs, a Sterno stove, and 14 pounds of self-harvested tree nuts. He is in there now yelling out, “Keep out of here, Cornwall, you Brutus! I swear if you come at me I will take you down and harvest your organs!”
Journal entry, 3/15/14: To celebrate “pi” day yesterday, Justice Minotaur and Mr. Cornwall drove the Peugeot to a McDonalds drive-through to order an apple turnover, the closest thing to “pie” that was reasonably available. Minotaur was at the instruments. After accomplishing the transaction at the drive-through window, Minotaur, while still in front of the window, put the vehicle in park and gummed the turnover bit by bit for about forty-five minutes until it was completely gone. Traffic behind him in the drive-through lane was backed up about a mile and a half, even back past the plant where they make the two-person coffins.
Mr. Cornwall pointed out that he had not eaten anything, so with some complaining Minotaur circled the car back around and pulled into a parking stall, after which the two men entered the restaurant.
It should be noted that there is one McDonalds in New Salem for about every five hundred adults. Factors contributing to the density of this particular hamburger restaurant appear to be an unusual craving for the sauce that is advertised as “special” and the fact that a third of the New Salemite population bear a striking resemblance to Ronald McDonald. Since he is apparently only a fictional character, he cannot be the father of one-third of New Salem, but perhaps if regional history were traced back beyond the civilized period (roughly two hundred years) one would find one or more clowns in what then would have been a small pool of founders. It is known that clown genes are never recessive.
In contrast to McDonalds in the United States, which Minotaur and Cornwall have occasionally visited in their international travels, McDonalds restaurants in New Salem never have an indoor playground, which is essentially a place (for those who have not seen one) where hyperactive children with extremely productive glands, often joined by unshowered Boy Scouts, interact aggressively in a weather-sheltered environment where neither the sun’s rays nor any form of precipitation can effect any natural sanitization. Instead, children are tethered lightly to a pole outdoors and adults are treated to regular fast-food restaurant decor plus often an attached and enclosed “adult park” area generally consisting of about fifty square feet of artificial turf garnished with a park bench and two pigeons with dysentery.
It was in this park area that Minotaur and Cornwall consumed their meal–for Minotaur, another apple turnover that he gummed even more slowly than its predecessor and for Cornwall, three menu items bundled together at discount and promoted as a “combo” (or combination) meal. Minotaur, evidently quite relaxed, discoursed at great length. Between bites of his fish sandwich, Cornwall scrambled to record as much as possible of Minotaur’s utterances, writing with a golf pencil on the back of the tray liner.
“See that man over there at the self-service beverage station? See how he has filled his cup with ice, then, finding that he put more in than he desired, has poured some the excess into the discard area? Oh, how it angers me to see someone wasting ice! Imagine what Father Adam would have given to be able to put a couple of ice cubes in his V8, or whatever he preferred to drink.”
“Many people spend a lot of time determining what they would select as their last meal if they were going to be executed. To be sure, it is a fascinating topic of conversation. I have always figured I would eat something that was most likely to complicate the work of the clean-up crew and the coroner. For example, I have wondered if one’s last meal were four blueberry pies and 100 Alka-Seltzer tablets whether one’s abdomen would literally explode blue offal once it was penetrated by the arrow [Cornwall’s note: in New Salem, capital punishment is administered by an arrow shot by a bow wielded by the oldest surviving World War II veteran].”
“When I was a boy we visited some cousins in Northern California. The whole area was covered by vegetable fields, each growing vegetable like a star of the heavens. We took scimitars and went around beheading lettuces and artichokes until a farmer tried to blow us up with dynamite.”
“The Golden Ratio is the ideal proportion of French-filleted potato fries to icy cold carbonated sugary beverage. Ideally one full quaff of beverage remains after the final fry is masticated. As a separate matter, the consumer must be sure to eat and drink with haste so that the last potato fry is still hot and the last gulp is still frigid.”
By Lady I. Dorothy Cottonmouth
Scientifica factualis: According to the U.S. Bureau of Gas Station Statistics, all of the gas stations in the United States of America, the nation that surrounds and makes an island of our glorious nation-state of New Salem, combined to sell twenty-seven pieces of fruit in the year ending 2013. Of those twenty-seven pieces of fruit, it is estimated that six were still fresh at the time of purchase.
Journal entry, 3/1/14: Justice Minotaur and Mr. Cornwall dined out this evening at a hamburger restaurant called Critterz. In an attempted to save money that backfired miserably, the two men stopped on the way to the restaurant at a gas station to have a snack and wound up purchasing the only two pieces of fruit that could be found on the premises. The total bill was $2.67 (equivalent to approximately $14.50 in American dollars).
At the restaurant, the men spent the first hour and a half acquainting themselves with the menu, which included a 167-page biography of its founder, Dwight Overlord. Chapter 12, “How to Fight a Rash with Your Bare Hands and Win,” was particularly instructive. In a corner in the back, a young man was making out with a short-haired damsel who was wearing deer antlers.
Nothing about the food itself was noteworthy, but Minotaur did observe near the end that “we have been blessed with a meal with perfect timing, including the interludes between the waiter’s visits to our table and the period between ordering the food and its arrival. It is like a dance or a concert–pace, dynamics, the caesura: all must be in perfect balance, equal parts restraint and explosion. Chronos has blessed us with his presence this evening.” The two diners left a kind note to the waiter but no tip, figuring it was better on the waiter’s morale if he believed a large tip was intended but had simply been forgotten than if a small tip were actually given.
The two men decided to go home and watch the Kenneth Branaugh version of Much Ado about Nothing on the VHS player. As the movie started, Minotaur said: “Cornwall, your watching will be on the superficial level, as you struggle to acquaint yourself with character names and the most fundamental aspects of the plot. Meanwhile, I will be comprehending the universe.”
By Lady I. Dorothy Cottonmouth
1. Though Kool-Aid commercials started using a computer-generated Kool-Aid Man in 1994 and therefore stopped using a live-action character, the Kool-Aid Man costume is still moist on the inside from perspiration.
2. In the books listed in the Consensus Top 100 Books Ever Written, the word “fudge” is not mentioned a single time. Deal with it, fudge industry!