Suggested Audio Jukebox ♬
 Lynyrd Skynyrd “Sweet Home Alabama”
 Dolly Parton “9 to 5”
 REO Speedwagon “Can’t Fight This Feeling”
 Nancy Sinatra “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)”
 Henry Mancini “Pink Panther Theme”
 Meat Loaf “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)”
 Carly Simon “Why”
 Prince and the Revolution “Kiss”
 Jamie O’Neal “All By Myself”
Home sweet home. There’s something deeply comforting about familiarity, particularly when the last 48 hours have been as off-the-wall as mine have. I thought it would be a blast heading off into space and admittedly it has been no less than eventful. That said, while the action has certainly been coming thick and fast, it’s not necessarily been of the affirmative variety. Indeed, I have been chased from pillar to post then back again, beaten to within an inch of my life and then a few centimetres more, called all the names thesaurus can muster, and generally mistreated just because somebody up there gleaned great amusement from it. All in two day’s work for the Brutal Word Wrangler right? That may be but there comes a time when you begin to question whether all your exertions are actually worth it. Regardless of whether or not I mean well, I continually find myself up against it, fighting a high tide that I have no idea how to ride. You know it’s bad when you wash up ashore at a leper colony and the crabs start scuttling away from you. Something has gone horribly wrong and I’m not entirely sure I know how to put things right.
It would be all too easy to pinpoint my recent space expedition as the problem, when I know full well that I was up against it way before heading for the stars. Incident is never far away and traditionally laced in misfortune, leaving me feeling somewhat hard done by, and questioning whether or not this gig is actually as tailor-made for me as it initially appeared. I hear that McDonald’s are recruiting and it would certainly be less hazardous working the drive-thru than fending off evil at every turn. Granted I would probably end up on deep fat fryer duties and end up riddled with acne, but at least I’d know my place and not feel as though I’m putting in all this legwork for nada. Plus I’d earn myself minimum wage and get an additional 30% off McFlurries. Perhaps that’s the answer, instead of striving to make the best of my endowments, I should settle for plain old average and accept that this is my calling in life. There comes a time when enough is enough, and at least I can claim to have given it the old college try. It’s not too late to become the man I’ve spent forty-two-years desperately attempting not to be. If I knuckle down, I could still be an also-ran. There’s nothing like setting your sights realistically.
I believe I shall start right away, hang up the old Stetson once and for all, and get cracking filling out application forms. Of course, I will need to inform Bonus Brain that I will no longer be able to provide free board on my pitiful earnings and I’m not particularly relishing that conversation. But I see no other way right now and have to start considering my own well-being in all of this. I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t miss our hare-brained adventures but it would appear I’m not cut out for saving mankind and far better suited to casting an eye over the McNuggets. Any job offers that come in will be politely declined and the world can find itself another go-to-guy for its thankless wet work. From this point forward, I fully intend on doing the absolute bare minimum to survive, and licking my plate clean after each meal to save on washing up liquid would be a great place to start. You see, it’s all about making cutbacks, only flushing for poos and being grateful to acid reflux for providing my second square meal of the day. Dare I say I’m actually rather excited about my new role; looking forward to turning my underwear inside out repeatedly and not wasting time searching high and low for that elusive right gym sock.
Ironically my in-tray is positively bulging with opportunities right now. It seems that my blundering efforts have struck quite the chord and, if I was looking to continue my tenure, then I’d have no shortage of death-defying missions to embark on. Evil waits for no man unless it intends on mugging him and running off with his food stamps, fresh villains are always waiting in the wings to rise from the shadows, and the dreaded Trump Demon may seem defeated but how do you explain Hilary Clinton suddenly coming down with a “mysterious illness”? There’s skulduggery afoot everywhere we look and it reeks to the heavens and beyond. Whatever, it’s not my concern any longer, I’m just a regular guy now and have no further obligation to place my balls on the chopping block for precious little emotional reimbursement. Not when there are more pressing issues at hand. I’ve got daytime television to catch up on, hopes not to aspire to, and no less than four testicles to scratch. That’s pretty much my whole day mapped out, now if only I could wake Bonus Brain, maybe I could get on with gradually losing the will to live.
That’s easier said than done after all the recent dramatics and I haven’t heard a solitary peep from my associate since being banished from The Matrix like some sort of rabid shrew. I genuinely thought we were making progress you know, it seemed as though the tide had finally turned, and that romance was potentially on the horizon. More the fool me as nothing has changed whatsoever and, if anything, we’ve actually taken a step backwards. Bonus Brain still insists on offering nothing whatsoever in the way of support and encouragement, still detests my very bones, and still stubbornly believes that she is a he when we both know different. Perhaps I should suffocate her in her sleep, pour her a cup of tea and donate a couple of drops of rat poison to the brew, tie her up with cable tie and force her to listen to contemporary jazz until which point as she hemorrhages and drowns in her own cranial fluids. It would admittedly save any further heartache and mean one less mouth to feed around here. Call it cutting my losses if you will, bidding adieu to the last remaining link to my past and embracing a comfortably numb future.
So why then can I not bring myself to do it? As I hover over Bonus Brain with my memory foam pillow, what is it that is holding me back from having the courage of my convictions? That’s easy, she just looks so dang peaceful in her deep sleep, suckling her favorite comfort blanket, and doing that adorable little thing she does with her cerebellum when nobody else is watching. How could I possibly be expected to murder her in cold blood when all I really want to do is give her an affectionate lick? I simply won’t do it, moments such as these can prove pivotal turning points, and I just don’t have it in me to do something so premeditated. Indeed, I have half a mind to spoon Bonus Brain where she lays, although I’m reasonably certain my groin wouldn’t thank me when she wakes up to find me nibbling her frontal lobe and plants a swift and decisive one directly between balls three and four, thus rendering me indefinitely paralyzed. She has made it abundantly clear that she wishes to take no part in anything of a romantic inclination. Having said that, I just get this feeling that she’s holding out on me, likely terrified of leaving herself exposed just in case it all amounts to nothing.
I thought the course of true love was supposed to be smooth and free of obstruction. Nobody told me it was going to prove such a constant source of bitter frustration. Okay so perhaps they did but it’s hard to heed warnings when there are so many fragrant lilacs to sniff and fresh fields to skip through. I may have been love’s fool but I so desperately wanted to believe there was hope for the true variety. Moreover, I’d do the precise same thing again if there was even a 1% chance of a pot ‘o’ gold at the end of this rainbow. There’s a pot ‘o’ something for sure but I’m a little concerned over the amount of flies circumnavigating it right now buzzing “take a look at this shit” to each other. Seems like a lot of legwork to put in for a pile of rancid excrement if you ask me. Especially when there’s a crack house barely two blocks away. Screw it, I’m sure there’s a leather belt around here somewhere, may as well shoot up while I’m at it and choke to death on my own bile and vomit. Why stop there when I could slather a few toilet rims and grab myself a nice bout of diphtheria or some hepatitis B? So many wondrous possibilities.
Of course, I will do nothing of the sort. That’s my plan B and I feel obliged to give plan A one more crack while there’s still some dignity to relinquish. Besides, I’ve just googled it and it would appear that I was mistaken in my assumption. Turns out that the course of true love was never meant to be straightforward; must’ve got it mistaken with the instructions for preparing an omelette. As a result, it’s three-years since I last cracked an egg out of blind fear. More critically it is the same trio of big ones that have been spent chasing an ideal that apparently only exists in fairy tales and Catherine Cookson paperbacks. How could I have been so stupid? Actually don’t answer that and we’ll simply assume we both know the answer. The first thing I plan to do is storm down to my local multiplex and demand the $6 back I wasted on Pretty Woman. Had I stayed through the credits then I would have witnessed poor Vivian losing her footing when dashing down the fire escape to Edward’s open arms, tumbling over the safety railing with all the grace of a double-jointed osprey with wing cramps, and ironically hanging herself with her pearl necklace. You guessed it, love was nothing more than a crock all along. I wonder if they’ll reimburse me for my popcorn too.
To be honest, I was growing a little tired of hearts and flowers anyhoots. I mean what’s love got to do with it? Little more than a second-hand emotion with one decidedly less than careful owner if you ask me. Why should joy be held in such lofty esteem when other feelings are being so callously snubbed? Whatever happened to old classics such as fear, anger, sadness, and disgust? Are they no longer relevant? If not then I really ought to get with the times as all four are currently camped out in my cerebral cortex, vying for attention. “Pick me, pick me” they plead and, all the while, I’m fashioning daisy chains and whispering sweet nothings to a stone-hearted cynic who regards me as the intellectual equivalent of pond scum. Look at her, laying there all high and mighty, no doubt dreaming up new and exciting ways to insult me and further crush my spirit. I once heard it remarked that, if you love somebody truly, then all you really desire is to see them happy. I guess that was pure baloney also. Sorry right hand, but it appears it will be just you and I for the foreseeable, as per usual. Tell you what, I’ll spice things up by sitting on you for ten minutes beforehand, as I know how partial you are to numbness and it works for me too. Now where did I leave the hand cream? Back in two squirts of a bishop’s pecker.
Anyone care for a slice of cake? I don’t know, you lot must really have sad little lives to spend half of them listening to that imbecile rattle on about nothing whatsoever even remotely engaging. Is it any wonder I hoodwink him into believing I’m asleep? It’s either that or cave his skull in with a meat tenderizer and, right now, I’m veering increasingly towards the latter. Perhaps if he dedicated as much time to fulfilling his wrangling duties as he did to being such a pitiful excuse for a social security number, then I’d not be so quick to wish chronic disease on him. Nevertheless, it looks like I’m stuck with the Brutal Word Wrangler for the time being, or should that be McWrangler? Fucking chimp. Little does he know that recruitment day was last Thursday and he’ll be lucky if he can land a paper round in the current economic climate. Well if he thinks I’m cramming my voluptuous hips into his bicycle basket, then he’s clearly been watching too much Spielberg. That said, if his mother feels like donating me her summer frock and wedges, then I see no reason not to put on a fashion show, just to curb the tedium you understand? I may come across as mean-spirited but, deep down, I crave the same things he does. The difference is that I’m not willing to compromise my beliefs to find them.
And this is where I begin to spill over with frustration. You see, should I happen across a Labrador Retriever sprawled out on the pavement suffering from a severe case of mange, then my primary instinct isn’t to punt it in the rib cage and scamper away laughing maniacally. I’d be far more inclined to rescue the poor mutt and rush it off the nearest pound for further assessment. Granted, it would be put down the very moment I turned my back, but the main thing is that I would have done what I could to assist a canine in jeopardy. For as much as I attempt to loathe the wrangler, I cannot bring myself to punish him when he does such a bang-up job of coming a cropper without me. And if it’s really cards on the table time then I guess there is a vague mist of attraction, albeit nothing that wouldn’t be cleared by opening the downstairs windows for ten minutes. If you’re pondering why I haven’t acted on these undesirable impulses then please allow me to elucidate further. You see, a girl wishes to be wined and dined, and nowhere does it state that a triple thick shake and Sausage & Egg McMuffin constitutes as a romantic gesture. If he were any kind of real man, then he would take each of life’s many knock backs and mould them into successes. But instead he is more content to settle.
Now I’m not suggesting that sensitivity is a bad thing in miniscule enough measure, but I’d love to know where his sense of fight resides. Yes he has shown uncommon flashes of valor and, once or twice, I’ve even felt a slither of pride on his behalf, but there just seems no way of getting him to remove his head from the clouds and I’m growing weary of waiting for a wayward Boeing 757 to lop it off at the windpipe. Do you want to know what a real wrangler would do right now? A real wrangler would get his very best swagger on, moonwalk over to my hammock, cradle me in his arms, and whisk me away for an all-inclusive two-week vacation in Mauritius. A real wrangler would then make love to me under the light of the moon, while plying me with margarita and serenading me with a ukulele. Then, as I prepare to take another pounding amidst the crashing waves, a real wrangler would drop and give me fifty stomach crunches and guzzle a quick whey protein shake to aid with the muscle recovery. Do you see this cretin engaging in any one of the above? Or do you see him accepting that his future lies in fast food and taking over ten minutes to pinpoint his mother’s moisturizing lotion when it’s dead centre of the bathroom shelf next to the penis pump?
Have I made my point or must I really draw you a diagram? You know I’m actually starting to realize why you lot all get along so swimmingly. Can’t he just bang one of you instead? Where’s the camaraderie gadnibbit? And yes I did just invent that word as I’m sick to the limbic gland of hearing his asinine alternative. Is it any wonder I’m so perpetually exasperated? I should wring every last one of your scrawny little necks and, would consider this recourse very seriously indeed, if it weren’t for the fact that I may end up chipping a nail and they set me back twenty bucks. That said, how am I ever likely to pay for a manicure now on his meager salary? You see, I’m damned either way, do or don’t I’m doomed to spend the remainder of eternity desiring only to throttle him. Which I guess leaves only one alternative – angry sex. Not so much angry as vein-poppingly furious, this would entail clenching every last muscle in rage around his bog-standard girth until which time as it resembles Gonzo’s nose before elbow-dropping his sternum mid “I love you”. I hear there are many ways to express these three little words but nary a one feels so gratifying. Maybe I could reveal to him that he is my soul mate whilst slamming his gormless face in the double-glazed patio door. If I ensure that one finger remains in his bottom as I do so, then I’m pretty sure it still qualifies as angry sex. Failing that I could just drop Chris Brown a line.
I can’t quite believe I’m even entertaining coitus with someone who sickens me just by sharing the same ozone. I must need my head read for even contemplating such midsummer madness but it’s either that or grind his bones down into dust particles using a steel pipe and I fear my nail varnish wouldn’t survive that either. There is no other way to relieve all this lingering sexual tension than to fuck six-and-a-half minutes away like minks in a hurry and deal with the elephant in the room before it starts firing dry-roasted peanuts at me. You ever taken one full on in the face at 200 mph? Exactly, I have absolutely no conceivable choice other than putting out and getting this ghastly ordeal over with. Who knows, perhaps he’ll rupture a vein in his temple and drop stone cold dead midway through the not-so-big dipper. Me and my wishful thinking. If only everything in life were so easy then perhaps the tooth fairy would cough up that 75 cents she owes me and the Easter Bunny would cease playing it all low-key too. I know I have to watch my figure but a little Swiss praline wouldn’t go amiss from time to time. Just a segment or two without the lifetime on the hips that it comes packaged with.
I can procrastinate all I want but, the fact remains, reluctant copulation is the only answer to this long-running conundrum. In a moment or two, he’ll come bounding back in here filled with the joys of spring, forget the very reason he was searching for the hand cream in the first place, become mesmerized by the tumbleweed blowing around on the front porch, soil himself, plead for your sympathy some more, and fill in the McDonald’s application with red ballpoint instead of black, thus rendering it null and void. Methinks it is time to buck the trend somewhat, toss a little caution to the wind, and assume the dominant role in this relationship. Of course this will involve lying bare-faced about finding him irresistible when his feet aren’t a patch on Danny De Vito’s but, if one wishes to achieve their selfish goals in life, then one must first learn to take one for the team and pretend one fucking loves it. I’m pretty sure that’s how this works. While it pains me being so liberal, it’s ultimately for the greater good and I haven’t come hard ever since they cancelled Miami Vice and Philip Michael Thomas dropped off the radar. Here he comes now, time to bite down on that bullet and seduce me a wrangler while attempting not to puke through both nostrils. And yes I’m quite aware I don’t possess any. Whatever happened to whimsy?
You’ll never guess what? I only went and forgot what I was looking for. I swear I’d forget my pubic lice if they hadn’t already spread to my chest hair. My most humble apologies for leaving you hanging for so long with nothing else to occupy your time; it must have been dreadfully tedious. Hold on, why is my cherry Bakewell flan two slices shy of approximately spherical? You’ve been at it again haven’t you? It seems that, every time my back is turned for one minute, you just can’t resist hopping in the sack with the enemy. Where’s your pride? Moreover, where is your sense of loyalty to the one tasked with keeping you entertained? We’re supposed to be tight like diaphragms, in this together regardless of weather, pals to the bitter end and all that. Instead you insist on fraternizing with the hired help and no doubt plotting against little old me in the process. I’ve got a good mind to revoke those V.I.P. passes pending further investigation and let you find some other chump to ridicule. I do have a heart you know. Indeed I’m clutching it for dear life as we speak, thanks to this latest act of treachery. Actually it’s probably the energy drinks but we’ll soon find out once that coroner’s report comes back and proves what I’ve suspected all along. Listen to me, what have I become? For all I know, you’ve been standing up for my honor while I’ve been absent, preparing gifts to lavish me upon my return. I’m in the right ballpark aren’t I guys? Guys… guys?
“That one got old around the same time that Ronnie Wood started getting a reduced fare on Greyhound”
“Bonus Brain. Have you been eavesdropping all this time?”
“And listen to you spew forth verbal diarrhea by the keg-load? What do you think?”
“I don’t know what to think anymore. There’s only so much constant heartbreak and rejection a wrangler can take before he unlearns how to lasso a cactus”
“You’re just such an easy target. And you wonder why I have over two-thirds of my fun at your sole expense”
“Yes I do actually. Aren’t there others you can make an example of for a change of pace? Is Justin Bieber really that hard to ping a message to?”
“What can I say? Tormenting you is all a girl could ever want and so much more”
“Aha! Got you bang to rights madam”
“Slip of the tongue”
“Freudian more like. Listen Bonus Brain, you know it as well as I know it, so isn’t it about time you just show it?”
“Fuck it, I’m a girl alright. My favorite film is Step Up 2: The Streets, I’m rather partial to New Kids on The Block, and like to knit wool sweaters for rescue squirrels on weekends. You happy now?”
“I don’t know what to say Bonus Brain. If that is your real name?”
“It’s Lucinda Jean Bollinger actually. Ex-captain of the cheerleading squad back at Brain Academy, one-time poster girl for Tampax, and akin to a fistful of cranky dynamite beneath the sheets”
“Well I have to say I’m at something of a loss for words right now”
“Then why not slip into some inner monologue as per usual and give me time to suss out how to sever my tendons in the fastest bleed-out time imaginable”
“I’ll do no such thing and resent the very suggestion”
How very dare she? Thinks she’s got the wrangler all figured out when, in truth, she knows nothing of what makes my gears turn. I’ll tell you what I shall do, the precise opposite that’s what. Indeed, for no other reason than spiting her, I shall refrain from talking to myself and stand here in silence until she coughs up an apology. Oh fiddlesticks. Has this thing been turned on all that time?
“Tell you what wrangler, I’m going to throw you a bone, how does that sound?”
“A sympathy fuck?”
“A sympathy fuck”
“And what makes you think I’ll entertain that after all the mean things you’ve said?”
“Do you feel like a commiseration shag?”
“Count me in. Hold on, do I get to go on top? Never mind, would you mind terribly assisting me with this zipper?”
“You’re wearing button fly denims you human grass box. Listen, if we’re going to do this, then there will need to be strict ground rules”
“I’m all ears”
“Number one. I have decided that the bath tub would be a suitable setting for our pity screw and it may occasionally appear that I’m attempting to drown you. That’s just part of the seduction so I will require you to play along”
“No safe word?”
“Okay. How does supercalifragilisticexpialidocious grab you?”
“Like a bit of a mouthful if I’m honest but go on”
“Number two. Should I fail to elbow check the temperature before shoving you into the water, then it is purely an oversight on my part, and I am therefore exonerated of blame if you suffer any third-degree burns or melt down into slag”
“I know you wouldn’t do anything to harm me on purpose”
“You keep believing that and we’ll be at the toe curls in no time”
“Is that it?”
“Not quite. Number three and this one is mandatory”
“So I can say no to numbers one and two then?”
“Nope. They’re mandatory too. This one’s just extra mandatory”
“Why does it feel like you’re dreaming up the rules as you go along?”
“Cork it flea felcher before I change my mind and hit speed dial”
“What’s on speed dial?”
“Ninety-thousand raging baboons with inflamed hemorrhoids”
“Number three. Absolutely, categorically, under no circumstances whatsoever, is any kissing permitted. Failure to adhere to this condition will result in me pulling out my electrified cattle prod before you can so much as pucker up and shove it so far up you that you’ll be singing Intergalactic for a week”
“But I really like kisses”
“Tough titty wrangler. Those are my stipulations and I’m not about to budge so quit with the sad eyes and trembling lip act as it just makes the urge to thump you all the more uncontrollable”
“What about a peck?”
“What am I bird seed? No pecks, no Eskimo smooches, nuzzles, or snuggles. Just hard, fast, wham-bam gee thanks ma’am coitus of the randy penguin variety”
“And positively no kissing? Penguins kiss, Morgan Freeman caught them at it”
“Tell you what. Give it a try and see what happens. Now why do you look so hard done by?”
“Well it’s hardly the height of intimacy is it?”
“If you’re looking for tender loving then I would suggest sticking it in a slow-cooked pheasant instead and saving me the stress tumor”
“Well okay then. But I am feeling a little used right now”
“Excellent. Bottle that bubbling angst and convert it into embittered thrusts. Perhaps then it won’t feel as though I’m being slammed by a stick insect”
“Maybe I’ll surprise you and rock your world”
“Maybe Ike and Tina Turner will get back together for old time’s sake. I’ll take my chances bell head, I mean, sweetheart”
What do you think Grueheads? Am I heading for a crushing disappointment here? Is my poor weathered heart about to be dashed on the vicious rocks of rejection? Is this destined to end in tearful renditions of All By Myself while I binge myself sick on truffles and watch Beaches? My head is saying no but my heart seems more than willing to offer its blessing. Moreover, I’ve got four throbbing testicles staring at me with intent, each weighing in at around four pounds a pop, and all set to implode, should I fail to empty them soon. I believe I have no choice but to follow my heart on this occasion and just pray that I can provoke some kind of feeble tremor through outrageous fortune alone. It’s either that or another night of thrashing the gibbon and I already owe the wank bank seventeen gallons of semen. So it’s not the most romantic proposition I’ve ever received; at least it’s something and, unless I’ve been holding my abacus upside down all these years, that still amounts to more than nothing. Wish me luck Grueheads, I’m going to throw caution to the wind, for one stolen night of decidedly gaunt passion.
But what’s this? Bonus Brain has vanished and, in her place, is what appears some kind of ransom note. I’m pretty sure this doesn’t classify as foreplay you know. This is a desperate turn of events and I’m now at a total loss for what to do for the best. I guess I should run my eye over this correspondence and find out what the kidnapper’s demands are. Now where did I put my reading glasses? How silly of me, right here on the tip of nose. You see what all this unnecessary tension does to my sense of awareness and ability to stave off dementia. Right then, let’s take a quick look-see what I’m up against shall we?
Dear Brutal Word Wrangler,
I’ve got Bonus Brain and, unless you deliver yourself to me by 23.00 hours for a one-for-one trade, the bitch is going to suffer more than Ash in Evil Dead II and will be dead by dawn. Come alone and don’t even thinking of attempting any funny business or I’ll slice her open from bulb to stem.
I knew it. My mortal enemy just had to be behind this. What an underhand tactic to employ, although no less than I’d expect from one so abominable as he. Anyhoots, time is a wasting, there’s a damsel in distress and only one man who can save the day. Any ideas who that might be? The kind of man who flips burgers? Or the Brutal Word Wrangler strain of alpha? You guessed it, McDonald’s can find themselves another skivvy to exploit, I’m off to rescue myself a fair lady. Should I display enough panache then perhaps she’ll upgrade from sympathy fuck to a much obliged bonk. What Heureux fails to realize is that, while I don’t have money, what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like him. You’re damn right I’m a brown belt in jujitsu and I’ve seen The Karate Kid six times dagnabbit. Stick around guys and I’ll show you some real wrangling. Guys?.. Guys?
You know I’m starting to develop a complex right?
Truly, Really, Clearly, Sincerely,
Richard Charles Stevens
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
Copyright: Grueheads Films 2016