Suggested Audio Jukebox:
 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Piano Concerto No 21 – Andante
 Labi Siffre Something Inside So Strong
 Billy Ocean When the Going Gets Tough
Time for a quick status check methinks. You see, I am about to engage in a particularly dicey game of thrones with none other than the grim reaper himself and something tells me I’m about to play the role of court jester and end up in the stocks being pelted with rotten vegetables. Foolishly I have agreed to a swift round of chess with this lanky crank pot and have precious little game to fall back on once those bishops vacate their corners and plunder my sovereign. Defeat will no doubt spell an eternity of anguish and pain in hell’s innermost sanctum and that likely means simmering in a cauldron alongside wretched infidels such as Osama Bin Laden and Oscar The Grouch. Not that I have anything against the latter but, if he’s cranky in his own trash can, imagine how insufferable he’ll be in Satan’s hot tub at maximum heat. The mere thought is almost enough to throw myself off the cliff and pray for a swift dashing on the rocks a few hundred feet beneath.
The thing is, since I accepted my role as Brutal Word Wrangler, scoffing in the face of defeat is no longer an option. I once made the mistake of remarking that, if my work touches one soul, then it has all been worthwhile, and that means my three or so fans will expect absolutely no less than the old college try. How’s that for dagnabbery? Undone by my own flapping gums and a reluctance to fumble the potato regardless of any first degree burns to my palms. On the plus side, receiving a hand job from crispy digits could be fun, as long as no razor-sharp finger gloves are introduced before those knee trembles. I would imagine that is the very first item Freddy Krueger removes on arrival back at his workshop as he settles in for a midnight screening of Stand By Me. Odds on he wouldn’t make it past the scene where poor Gordie discovers the whereabouts of that blood sucking leech.
Anyhoots, enough of the digression, stalling for time is only delaying the inevitable checkmate and, in the words of E.T. as he slipped on Elliot’s mom’s pearls and stilettos just to fit in – “I may as well just suck it up and get this shit over with”. I’m paraphrasing of course as the likeliness is that he was far too busy plundering his extraterrestrial poop box with that glowing red index finger of his to heap on any additional shame. Fret not E.T. as it happens to the best of us at one point or another. Have I mentioned that I once inserted a rampant rabbit into my own rear passage right up to its grip on the uppermost setting in my search for that elusive G-spot? Did I find it? Nope. The reward for my troubles was an unsettled tummy for three days afterwards and vague case of rectal myxomatosis. Thankfully good old elasticity was my friend. However, since that fateful night I have not been able to watch Watership Down with the same bright eyes and don’t even get me started on bushy tails as I’ll never again vacate my hutch if you do. We all explore in the name of science. I just admit to it like a chump parading as a Wrangler.
Where do I possibly go after such a revelation? There is but one option available now and that is start shuffling those pawns towards all-encompassing despair. As I look death straight in his smug face and am greeted only by a vacant stare, it feels suspiciously like he is looking straight through me. How’s that for a brisk jab in the solar plexus? Instantly his ignorance has my back up and I’m ever more determined to put into practice all the chess moves ascertained through ingestion of Max Von Sydow prior to engagement. I plan each move meticulously in advance so as to wipe that smarmy grin off his pissy pale profile. Upon glancing down at the chess board it is just as I have expected and I’ve been well and truly stymied before the starting gun can sound. While the pieces are all in place, his personnel don’t exactly refer to the rule books. Two rows of bishops and rooks surround his king whereas I have been dealt a rather less attractive hand. Fifteen spineless pawns all cower around my monarch with not a worthy protector in sight. Why I oughta!
Referring to him as a spineless bastard just seems like providing him a shoulder rub so I’ll just have to shake my fist until my wrist dislocates, but not before poking him dead in his eye and darting off with his sickle while he recoils. Actually, my primary consideration is to request a quick round of rock, paper, scissors instead but something in those beady pips suggests he won’t be satisfied. Fuck it, I’m breaking this wretched silence. Time to take this inhospitable heathen down a peg or two through way of verbal lashing.
“So you call this a fair play-off do you bones?”
This opening shot in itself is a dicey pursuit when dealing with one capable of stripping the meat from my very marrow simply through suggestion. Fairness is evidently not a requisite here as my aggressor seems disinterested with receiving any runs for his money.
“My dear fellow, no need to look so defeated. We’re not really here to play chess or anything inane like that. I credit the much-lauded Brutal Word Wrangler with more intelligence than that you know…”
Okay so he’s clearly deluded as he’d obviously have me in check before my lily-white cheeks had left their indentation in my seat but I’m not about to argue the toss in the name of one-upmanship.
“…Max Von Sydow gave me a good game all those years ago you know but I’ve long since grown weary of this trivial game. I have something a little more…invigorating…in mind for our soirée Mr. Wrangler…”
Uno. Please God and all that is holy and righteous, let it be Uno.
“…Instead you shall do battle this night with a select few whom I have personally chosen…”
Sounds even more dubious than a six-minute belly dance from Donald Trump to the extended version of Labi Siffre’s Something Inside So Strong. Stare at that miniature gut Trump for long enough and it starts to resemble a gyrating gif. Here, take a listen and tell me the words “you’re fired!” don’t vacate the little fella’s mutated maw by the first chorus. Why the hell should I endure this shit alone dag and double nabbit?
“…Should your reputation precede you then such menial challenges should cause you no real headache. Call it a touch of light sparring before returning to the king to reclaim your freedom. Do we have ourselves a deal Wrangler?”
I’m sure my dear grandmother once taught me never to trust anything skeletal to play by the rules or maybe that was Sinbad, it escapes me currently. That said, it just so happens my lips acquired themselves a taste for deep red during my recent rock-climbing expedition and currently teem with pent-up vitriol over the flaming Cheerios I’ve been required to prance through just to get this far. Should he wish me to play his shitty little game, then play I shall. I am the Brutal Word Wrangler after all, and prepared for discontinuation in order to save my skin from becoming surplus for death’s chopping board.
“I accept your challenge reaper. Indeed it is one I welcome”
While ordinarily known for the brutality in my honesty, there isn’t a grain of truth in that last statement. He knows this of course, turns out that a lack of college education didn’t harm when accepting his eternal gig as hell’s harbinger. Indeed, I know that he knows that I know he knows this. I know that much. So why does it still feel like he knows something I don’t know. You know what, who knows? One thing’s for damn sure, I shall not let him witness the faintest whiff of desperation in my tone, to do such would be to accept bubbling away in molten angst ad infinitum. Fuck that for a game of chess, draughts, or snakes and ladders come to think of it. It’s time to man up, puff out that chest, lick my teeth, and become his own personal plaything, until which point as he becomes complacent enough to lower his guard. Then, with the whiff of triumph stinging both flared nostrils, I shall unleash the inevitable KABOOM!, thus sending him back to the sin bin whence he came empty-handed while emerging last action hero.
You see Grueheads, it’s all about Bonus Brain with the Wrangler, and allow me to elaborate for the previously uninitiated amongst us. Bonus Brain represents that forgotten 25% of cerebral matter, the offset slither which precious few ever gain access to. I happened across this cantankerous little cretin after one too many psychotropics and haven’t been able to shake his vile funk ever since. That said, this terminally loitering so-called scholar does have his purposes and has been known to solve a riddle or two on my behalf when the going has gotten decidedly tough.
Problem is, Bonus Brain believes he can read me, and he can like a flimsy pamphlet no less as all 100% of my thought processing is data in the public domain. However, he hasn’t done his homework on the Wrangler and, for all Mr. Smarty Pants’s blatant spewing of arrogance, I plan to make him pay my dividends come the close of his first lease period. Had he swatted up sufficiently on his host beforehand, then he would have all the intelligence needed to compromise my sorry existence but instead he wastes his downtime viewing reruns of Falcon Crest in my cranial conservatory and raiding my refrigerator for Twinkies and the like. Silly rabbit, that’s no way to become rampant.
“I leave you with this Wrangler – a roster of sorts. There shall be a number of pre-set challenges before we meet again but for now I bid you adieu as you’re starting to bore me back to life with your incessant inner monologue and farts are more amusing when they don’t scald one’s sphincter. Toodle pip loser”
In a toxic cloud of vaporized death my decomposed aggravator is no more and, in his place, is a solitary rolled up scroll, with a dark crimson seal bleeding delicately into a pool where he was just seated. I slash it open eagerly with the quill I keep tucked away in my rather becoming crimson fanny pack and unravel his parting correspondence to ascertain my proposed opposition. There are eight pawns lined up as an appetizer. Ordinarily they wouldn’t bother me one iota but, the fact that they are spearheaded by none other than the uncanny Monsieur Heureux, it does give me slight cause for consternation.
After this fretful opener, I shall enter into skirmish with a pair of, as yet, unspecified rooks, the customary knights and bishops, then queen, before matching up against his ultimate warrior for the all-important battle royale and, one way or another, checkmate. However, right now I cannot see beyond her majesty, the queen, and my eyes cannot help but balk at his selection for such a pivotal player. I suspect the reaper has finally taken entire leave of his senses by pitting me against an adversary so sniveling and puny that I fully expect to dismantle him faster than a novelty Kinder toy.
Bieber? Justin Fucking Bieber? For real? Is that the best you can do death? Scrawny little ass pustule is a veritable non-threat plus I shall be afforded the opportunity of peeling away the skin of this soiled banana strip by strip and not have to pay for the privilege either. Indeed, I may leave this particular provocation to Bonus Brain as it seems most fitting that its first taste of affray be my greatest irritant of all. I expect nothing less than total annihilation, and Bonus Brain is already grinding his gnashers like The Deadly Spawn at the mouth-watering prospect in hand. Needless to say, its breath is every bit as ghastly. You’d think they’d have Ultra Brite toothpaste in outer space but apparently that’s a negative.
Alas, my fleeting smile is promptly leveled as I go on to read the small print and am presented with the final dare. The Reaper himself sits atop this trifle of terror like a blackened cherry. While he had already hinted at such, to read it on parchment quickens my heart in its already rattled cage. Maybe the puny twerp beforehand is merely present to lull me into a false sense of security. As I arrive for my date with death I shall be prepared for bitter skirmish and compacting Bieber’s top box into a teensy flesh cube prior to the main showdown will only elevate my battle-hardness. That said, I still have no clue as to the other combatants and can’t shake the uneasiness over that cursed doll, Monsieur Heureux. I can feel his blinking peepers burning into me at this precise moment from a vantage point as yet ambiguous. Despite this, and with the aftertaste of Von Sydow’s bleached nasal hair still stinging my palate, I am ready for my primary head-to-head. Time to fist fuck a petulant puppet and sniff my fingers as I relinquish him of his voice box anally. Muffin The Mule must be rolling in his cellophane about now. Fear not my wonky donkey friend as my beef is not with you on this night. This one is all about settling old scores.
Truly, Really, Clearly, Sincerely,
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
Copyright: Crimson Quill: Savage Vault Enterprises 2014 (Revised Edition 2016)