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The Trouble with Bricks, Fourth Installment

Chapter Seven – The Mysterious Passion of the Crusty Hermit



The sock monkeys and the blue toupees had a long-standing feud for as far back as any could remember. It had started because either a sock monkey had sneezed and used a blue toupee as a handkerchief or a blue toupee had borrowed five bucks from a sock monkey and never paid it back. No one precisely remembered which.

The blue toupees erupted from the forest like a vast sea of blue-haired old ladies, minus the old ladies. As each toupee hit a sock monkey, it attempted to lodge itself in the throat or some other orifice. For the most part, the sock monkeys weren’t fighting back very effectively, except for Reggie, who was swinging wildly with his baseball bat.

Melvin tried to sneak away, but was stopped by the pleas and threats of his friends. Quickly, he removed the sharp stick from the head of the sock monkey with glasses and proceeded to cut his friends down from the tree. They all landed with heavy thumps and immediately cursed Melvin.

After they had finished rubbing their heads and complaining, they all took off at a quick dash through the woods. And, after a few minutes of running, they were hopelessly lost.

“Oh man,” said Frank, out of breath, “I have no clue where we are.”

“Well, look at your dumb book,” said Suzie.

“Yeah,” said Melvin, “I thought you had a map or something.”

Frank removed the rock/map from his pocket. “Yeah, I’ve got a map, but it doesn’t do us any good when the Forest of Blue Toupees is just a bunch of poorly drawn trees. And the Guidebook’s even less help. It just lists restaurants and bathrooms.”

The Colon , who had been holding it for some time, asked, “So where’s the nearest bathroom?”

“Who cares?” Suzie said. “We’re in a forest. Pick a tree.”

Frank’s Colon quickly shuffled off to relieve itself behind the nearest tree, while the rest of the group took a quick assessment.

“So,” said Suzie, “Are we heading back the way we came or what?”

Frank put on his best thinking cap, folded his arms and everyone else prepared themselves for what they knew was going to be a long, boring speech.

“Well, you see, before I was a leprechaun hunter, I spent three long, grueling years as a Ranger First Class in the Forest of Myopic Mohair. During that time, I was taught by the best: namely, The Ominous and Far-Reaching Ranger Quint.”

“You were a student of Ranger Quint?” Melvin asked.

“Who’s that?” Suzie said.

“Only the surliest Ranger this side of the Vale of Goobers. Why, they say that he was once trapped in a cave by five angry woodchucks, and he chewed his own leg off for food.”

“Is that a good thing,” asked Suzie.

“So,” continued Frank, “back to me. Anyway, looking at the markings on these trees, I would say that we’re headed North, which is just East of the way we want to head. So, if we head, this way,” Frank pointed in a haphazard direction, “we should be right on track.”

Just then, Frank’s Colon wandered back from regions unknown. “I think I stepped in some poison ivy.”

“Well, we best be off, guv’nor,” said Flippy. “We don’t want to be caught out here when it gets dark, no we don’t.”

“Why?” Suzie asked.

The rest of the party exchanged knowing glances.

“No reason, guv’nor.”

*                      *                      *                      *                      *                      *

They had been walking for hours and the forest didn’t look any different. Melvin was beginning to grumble.

“I don’t think you learned anything from Ranger Quint, except the surly part.”

Frank, who had been growing angrier by the minute, turned and exploded all over Melvin, like a shaken can of soda.

“Look, I don’t see you offering any solutions. And I’m getting a little tired of your constant complaining. That’s all you do is nag, nag, nag, and cut farts in people’s faces when they’re sleeping. Why did we even bring you along? Why are you here, Melvin?”

“Why am I here? That’s a good question. I guess I wanted to tag along cause I wanted to see Mr. Wilson too.”

“Why’s that, guv’nor,” asked Flippy.

“I need his help. I need him to help me find this friend of mine.”

“What happened to your friend?” Suzie asked.

“He borrowed my lawn mower and I haven’t seen him since.”

“And you miss him?” Suzie asked.

“No,” Melvin said. “I just want my lawn mower back.”

The party took a moment to digest this nugget of information, before Frank cut through the silence like a hedge trimmer.

“Well, that’s about the dumbest thing…”

He was interrupted by  a strange, little man, wrapped in brown paper and trailing a long, white beard who seemed to drop out of a paper mache bush..

“Hey, what’s all this racket? Can’t a guy get any decent peace around here?”

He strode between Frank and Melvin and held out dusty hands, which everyone tried to avoid. “So, you come into my clearing, make a lot of racket, then won’t even shake my hand? What good are you, eh?”

Flippy tried to be diplomatic. “Sorry, guv’nor, but you smells a little unpleasant, you do. And may I add, that you looks like you’ve been rolling around in some things that a person shouldn’t be a rolling around in.”

“Well, well.” The old man chuckled. “You must be the leader of the group, little meat dog.”

Frank pushed forward. “I don’t think we’ve officially elected a leader. But, if we had, I’m sure…”

“That it wouldn’t be you,” Melvin added.

The old man looked around, then shook his head sadly. “A group without a leader’s like a soup without corn. Sad.”

The others looked at each other quizzically, while the old man continued.

“But you’re traveling so far. And you have so much farther to go.” Slowly, he looked around. “And one of you is absent.”

Suzie spoke up. “That would be Cleotus. He’s…he was my brother.”

“Is your brother,” the old man corrected. “But I see darkness for him. He is surrounded by darkness.”

“He was swallowed by a two-headed cat.” Melvin said.

“That would explain the darkness. But, come, you are exhausted and it’s getting late. You can stay in my hovel tonight.”

“Maybe we better not,” Frank said slowly.

“Yeah,” added Suzie, “I’m sure we don’t want to be a bother.”

“Nonsense,” said the old man. “I insist. I made mud soup enough for everyone.”

“Yummy.”  Melvin belched enthusiastically.

*                      *                      *                      *                      *                      *

When the old man said “hovel”, what he really meant was a large hole in the ground with a couple of pieces of cardboard thrown over the top for a roof. Suffice to say, it wasn’t the large and luxurious hovel that they all thought it would be. But it did have a lamp hanging from one wall, so it wasn’t dark, just creepy.

Melvin had to sit hunched forward with his long arms grasping his legs just to fit. And then there was the smell too. And by smell, I mean Melvin.

The old man held out a ladle full of soup. “So, does anyone want seconds?”

Everyone quickly placed their hand over the top of their bowls and vigorously shook their head no, except Melvin, who requested two more heaping helpings and this time, make it with more lumps.

When everyone had their fill, or lack of, they all relaxed as well as anyone in a coffin-sized hole could. The old man produced a sack and began rummaging through it.

“So, why does your water bottle have arms and legs?” The old man asked as he pointed at Frank’s Colon .

The Colon jumped forward and had to be forcibly contained. “That’s it, old man. I’m gonna smash you good.”

“Simmer down, Colon ,” said Frank, before he was cut off by the old man’s laughter.

“Be at peace, Colon. I was only messing with you.”

Frank’s Colon nodded his head as if he accepted the old man’s apology, but moved to the rear of the hovel, where he was heard muttering, “Just wait till you’re asleep and then we’ll see who’s the water bottle.”

“So, you’ve come a long way and still have far to go.” The old man pointed at Suzie. “But you, young lady, have come the farthest, haven’t you?”

“Yes,” Suzie said. “I actually came from a different world. My brother and I were transported here by some kind of Mint Juno fairy.”

The old man nodded to himself. “Phlegmina. She always was a hasty one. Yes, you may have to see her again before you can get back home.”

Flippy leaned forward. “Pardon me, guv’nor. But who are you?”

“Who am I? I don’t know if I remember. But, it’s not who am I but what I can give you that’s important. I know you’re looking for Mr. Wilson, and you’ve gotten slightly off track.”

Everyone looked at Frank.

“What?” Frank asked.

“No, it’s not Frank’s fault. Not anymore than usual.” The old man said. “But I can help you get back on track. And I have some gifts for you as well that will help you out on your journey.”

The old man reached into his bag and pulled out a small jug, which he handed to Melvin. “Here.”

Melvin held it up to the light and gazed at the bluish liquid inside. “It’s beautiful. What is it?”

“It’s mouthwash. You need it. I can’t do anything about your other problems.”

“Thank you so much,” said Melvin, as he looked for a place to shove his new gift.

“No, thank you, as long as you use it. And little meat dog, I’ve got something for you as well.”

The old man handed Flippy a tiny, felt top hat, which the meat dog puzzled over for quite some time. “What’s it supposed to do, guv’nor?”

The old man chuckled. “It’s not supposed to do anything. It’s a hat. It’s supposed to make you look jaunty.”

Flippy immediately sat on the hat. “This is degrading, it is.”

Quickly, the old man reached inside once more and produced a small book, which he handed to Frank. Frank’s eyes lit up as soon as he noticed the title.

“It’s a Land of the Misbeggoten Woe and Surrounding Hinterlands Unofficial Travel Guide. And it’s the newest edition.”

“That’s right. And it’s completely updated with new sections on the Blue Toupee Forest and comes with an appendix on various man-eating flora and fauna.”  The Old Man said.

“Wow.” Frank exclaimed.

“ Colon ,” the old man said, “I have something for you as well.”

Grumbling still, Frank’s Colon moved forward to accept his gift: a small box. It moved to open the box, but was quickly stopped by the old man.

“Don’t open it yet. What you’ll find inside is magical and mysterious. When the time comes, you’ll know when to open it and what to do with it.”

Frank’s Colon grumbled some more about strange old men who handed out boxes but didn’t let him open them as he moved back behind Melvin, who was gargling quietly.

The old man looked sadly at Suzie. “My dear, the only gift I offer you is advice.”

“That stinks,” Suzie said.

“But it’s good advice, and mind your elders. Remember, at the end, the good times you had with your brother. Also remember that there is love in this world and it’s not just the gooey kind of sticky love you find on some greeting cards, but the rich kind of love that you find in doing a good deed or smelling a new fragrance. Sometimes, it’s easier to go forwards rather than back.”

Suzie took a moment before responding. “Thanks for that wonderful piece of advice, Ben Franklin. I’ll have to remember to file that away for later. Man! Why don’t you give me something useful instead?”

“Oh,” the old man said, “and you’ll find Phlegmina in the Valley of Unwholesome Cocktail Weenies. Third fairy house on the right.”

“Okay, then.” Suzie sat back, satisfied.

“Now, I have gifts for all of you.”

“You just gave us gifts.” Melvin pointed out.

“Did I? Crud. There goes the old memory. Well, I have some other gifts as well. Here’s a kazoo for each of you, some bubbles, and one of those fold up fans that break right after you use it twice. Oh, and Frank…”

Frank leaned forward. “Yes.”

“Here’s your very own deck of magic cards.”

Frank turned the playing cards over in his hands. “Wow. They don’t even have my name on them. How can we ever thank you?”

“You can thank me by doing what you’re going to do.”

“What’s that?” Suzie asked.

“Don’t worry about it. You’ll know when the time comes. Now, I must bid you goodbye for now. Some of you I’ll see at a later time. Others I won’t.”

The old man stood up suddenly, banged his head on the roof, and threw something that made a large flash and smoke appear. When the smoke had dissipated, he had disappeared, leaving only his clothes behind.

The smoke forced Frank, Melvin and Frank’s Colon to seek fresh air outside of the hovel. “Come on, Suzie.”

Suzie shook her head. “Somewhere, there’s a naked old man running through the forest. I don’t need to see that.”

*                      *                      *                      *                      *                      *

In the morning, they set off in a completely new direction, led now by the new guidebook and a confident Frank.

“If we travel at this pace, before too long, we’ll end up at the Chasm of Despair, across which lies the Bridge of Peril. Once across the bridge, we enter the Kingdom of Frosty Delights, where Mr. Wilson rules.”

“Well, that doesn’t sound too bad,” said Suzie.

“But in order to get to Mr. Wilson, we have to pass the three trials of Malodorous Mandibles.”

“Well, that doesn’t sound too good.”

And that’s when Mevin’s butt fell asleep.





















Chapter Eight – The Three Trials of Mr. Wilson, CPA



They made it uneventfully over the Chasm of Death and the Bridge of Despair, unless you count Melvin falling off the bridge and into the chasm, which only happened once.

Once across the bridge, the Kingdom of Frosty Delights rolled out before them like an advertisement for the world’s biggest grocer’s freezer. Everywhere they looked, frozen confectionaries adorned the landscape. There were trees shaped like snow cones, a bush that resembled a mound of whipped cream, and, over a hill, two snowmen were performing an autopsy on Jack Frost.

“So where do we find these three trials,” asked Suzie.

Frank flipped ahead in the guidebook. “Well, it says here, that once inside the Kingdom of Frosty Delights , to find the illusive Mr. Wilson, seekers must stand on one leg and recite the following words: Traloo, Tralee , Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail.”

So, the party, being the obedient boobs that they were, immediately stood on one of their legs and recited the words. After a long moment of sameness, they began to have doubt.

“Okay,” said Suzie, “Now what?”

Frank sped through some more pages. “Okay, now it says, just joking, you don’t really have to stand on one leg and say stupid things. You’ll find Mr. Wilson and the three trials in the building on your left.”

They turned left and noticed, as if it had appeared out of thick air, a large stone structure covered with glass windows. Over the door was a mystical banner, proclaiming “Mr. Wilson, CPA”.

“What’s CPA?” Melvin asked.

“It means Conjurer and Professional Accountant,” Frank lied.

“Oh.” The entire group exclaimed, with the exception of Frank, who knew he’d made it up, and Frank’s Colon , who was busy trying to wrestle a cat made of ice cream.

Frank reached for the door handle, but was stopped by Suzie.

“Wait! It could be a trap.”
“A trap?” Frank asked. “Why would they booby-trap a door when you have to go through three trials once you get inside?”

Frank once again reached for the knob, turned it, and the door fell on him. His voice came from somewhere under the door. “Maybe you’re right.”

After digging Frank out, the group entered the building. They sent Frank in first.

The room they entered was larger than the outside of the building suggested. In fact, they entered into a large warehouse-sized area that was devoid of all furniture, except for a single desk in the exact center of the room. Seated behind the desk was a skeleton in a suit.

Frank gathered the group around him. “Maybe we can just go around it.”

So the party, led by Frank, attempted to skirt fifty feet around the desk. But the farther they got from the desk, the nearer it appeared, until they were standing directly in front of it.

“Well, that didn’t work.” Suzie said.

The skeleton seated behind the desk had his feet up on the desk, was leaning back in his seat and snoring softly. The name plate on the front of the desk read “Mr. Jackson, Riddler of Endangerment and Front-Line Receptionist”.

They waited a few moments and nothing happened. Then they noticed the bell on the desk. Frank pushed down on it several times, but Mr. Jackson, or what remained of Mr. Jackson, simply snored louder. Shrugging, Frank attempted to step around the desk.

The skeleton sat up sharply and looked at Frank with red, glowing orbs. It raised one bony finger and shook it back and forth in a “naughty, naughty” gesture. As Frank moved around to the front of the desk again, the skeleton spoke.

“Good morning, my name is Mr. Jackson. I’ll be your first trial of today. Should you fail before me, your punishment will be everlasting torment and eventual destruction. Should you succeed, you will move on to face the second trial. So, is everybody ready?”

Flippy spoke up. “Hold on there, guv’nor. Doesn’t that seem a little one-sided? I mean, if we succeed, we get to go do some worse stuff, but if we fail we get tormented and destroyed. That doesn’t sound too fair. What if we get half right?”

“Then you lose completely. You either succeed completely or you lose.”

“Well then, that’s my point entirely, guv’nor. We comes here with the intent of seeing Mr. Wilson, not meaning any harm or nothing. And instantly it’s death or another trial? What’s up with that, guv’nor? Couldn’t we just turn around and leave?”

The skeleton looked around the room. “Well, sure, you could just leave. Nobody said you couldn’t just leave. But look, this is my job. This is what I do. I don’t make the rules. I just enforce them.”

“Oh,” said Flippy, “So, that makes it alright, does it? You’re just following rules so that gets you off the hook, huh?”

“Yeah,” said the skeleton, “it does. Now get to the back of the line before I torment you for being annoying.”

Flippy grudgingly moved to the rear of the line behind the Colon , which was cheating at a game of solitaire. Frank moved back in place at the front of the line as the skeleton continued.

“So, here’s the deal. Being the Riddler of Endangerment, I’m gonna ask you a series of questions, or riddles if you will. If you get them all right, you can move to the next trial. If you miss one, you get torment and death. And, just so we don’t have any more problems, I’m gonna pick who answers.”

It pointed it’s long, bony finger at Frank. “You! You’re the guy that’s gonna answer all of them.”

Melvin gave a loud shriek. “Oh, that’s just great. We’re all doomed.”

“We’re not all doomed.” Suzie said. “Maybe the rest of us can leave right now.”

Suzie, and everyone else but Frank turned to go, but were stopped by the skeleton. “Halt, no one leaves unless I say so.”

“Now see,” said Flippy, “that’s what I’m talking about guv’nor.”

“Quiet you!” The skeleton retorted. “Now, where were we? Oh, yeah, the first question.” It pointed at Frank. “If a train leaves the Vale of Goobers, traveling fifty miles and hour, and another train leaves Smelly’s Hollow traveling at forty miles, but runs in reverse, how many minutes would it take for the trains to run into each other and where would they converge.”

Frank stood in front of the desk with his mouth gaped open, like a fish who had just escaped from a fish bowl and found the air was just a little different out here.

The skeleton laughed as it slapped its knee. “Oh, man, you should see the look on your face. You really thought that was one of my questions. No, I was just kidding you. Here’s the real one. Okay, are you ready? Okay. Knock knock.”

Frank hazarded a “Who’s there?”

“Your mama.”

Frank’s eyes narrowed as he concentrated. “Your mama who?”

The skeleton suddenly let out a big laugh and beat on his desk. “Oh man, that’s hilarious. Your mama who. You really are gullible.”

“He sure is,” said Melvin.

Slowly, the skeleton calmed down, and, after wiping imaginary tears from his eyes, continued. “Okay, I’m sorry. I won’t do it again. I promise. But I got you. I really did. Wow. Okay. Are you ready? Okay, here we go. Here’s the real one now. I’m gonna let it loose right…about…now. What’s the beginning of eternity and the end of space and time?”

Frank folded his arms across his chest. “What? Is this just another joke?”

“No, it’s the real thing. Yes, sir, it is.”

Frank was about to say, “Even if I knew the answer, which I don’t, I think this is a really stupid game and refuse to play any more. Did you know there are a group of pygmies living in Lower Hysteria that spend countless hours fattening up their victims and telling them horrible jokes until they die of boredom or from being overweight? Then they get eaten. It’s true.” But, he only got out, “E…”, before the skeleton interrupted.

“That’s right. You’re a smart one alright. Wow. I’ve never had anyone get it right out off the bat. Okay, only forty-nine more to go. And number two is…”

“Wait a second.” Frank interrupted. “Did you say I have to answer fifty riddles to pass this desk?”

The skeleton nodded. “Yeah, that’s right. Why?”

Frank leaned forward and crossed his arms, while the rest of the party sat down, dreading what was coming next. “Did you know that in the Valley of Unwholesome Cocktail Weenies there are precisely fifty fairy houses? And each roost of blue toupees holds exactly fifty hair pieces? Why, there’s an entire history of the number fifty in the Land of the Misbegotten Woe.”

The skeleton attempted to interrupt, but was promptly driven over by the freight train that was Frank.

“In the fiftieth year of the reign of Harley the Slightly Benevolent but Mostly Ignorant, the Land of the Misbegotten Woe was attacked by a band of fifty small rodents. In fifty days the attack was repulsed and the rodents left. But not before consuming fifty cubes of cheese. It’s true.

“And, Fifty years after that, during the reign of Queen Harold, the Slightly Imbalanced, it rained fish fifty days straight and then it rained jelly for fifty days after that. Why, scholars have predicted…”

Suzie stopped Frank with a hand on his shoulder. As he glanced toward her, she pointed at the skeleton, which was now fully asleep and snoring deeply. Slowly, the party scooted around the desk and exited the room.

*                      *                      *                      *                      *                      *

The door opened onto a long corridor. Long, fake walls stretched out on either side of the walkway, while lights hanging from the ceiling flickered on and off, causing the party to bump into each other often. At the far end of the hallway, a horrendous monster with tentacles for arms and tennis rackets for feet, stood drink from a water cooler.

As they approached, the monster nodded its head toward them. “Hey, how you doing? Name’s Milton . I’m the second trial.”

“What do we need to do?” Suzie asked.

“Well, it’s pretty simple. I’m just gonna eat you and that’ll be the end of that trial.”

“Hold on a minute,” Frank said, “We don’t even get a chance to succeed? That’s not a trial, it’s just a punishment.”

“Well, look at it this way,” said the monster, baring its long pointed teeth, “if you don’t get eaten, you win.”

Frank’s Colon stepped forward. “I think I can take him.”

Suzie put down a restraining arm. “Hold on, Colon. Let’s just think this through. There’s got to be a way around this guy, otherwise he wouldn’t be a trial, right?”

“Yeah,” said the monster, “you got it.”

“Could you please keep quiet,” Suzie asked. “We’re trying to not get eaten here.”

“Sorry.” The monster said. “I’ll just hang out by the cooler here until you’re ready.”

“Thank you.” Suzie said. “Now, where was I before I was so rudely interrupted? Oh, yeah. So, there’s got to be a way around this guy.”

Melvin spoke up from the rump of the party. “Maybe Frank can bore them to sleep like he did the last one.”

“I didn’t bore him to sleep,” said Frank. “My soothing announcer-like voice drifted him off to sweet dreams.”

“Yeah, maybe,” said Melvin. “Or maybe your long boring story about falling fish did him in. You probably put him in a coma.”

“Excuse me, guv’nor,” Flippy said. “Maybe I could provide a solution to this dire problem. I might.”

“Now there’s an idea,” Suzie said, as she picked up the meat dog and flung him at the monster.

The monster was able to get out a short, “Hey, wait…”, before the meat dog spun head over heels and landed directly in the its mouth. Automatically, the monster began chewing.

“Let’s boogie!” Frank screamed as he dove headlong past the monster.

The rest of the party followed Frank’s example and ran, head ducked like they were afraid the monster would take it off.

The monster was having its own problems, as Flippy, after being partially chewed, was now lodged in the monster’s throat and quickly shutting off the air supply. The monster turned five shades of blue and a really bright purple before falling over, knocking the water cooler over in the process.

As soon as the monster stopped struggling, Flippy backed out of the monster’s mouth and hopped its way down the corridor, dragging its half-chewed behind.

“That was a stroke of luck, guv’nor,” the meat dog told Suzie. “How did you know that throwing me would do the trick?”

“I didn’t,” said Suzie. “Sometimes you just got to go with your gut.”

“Yeah,” said Melvin, “or go with the monster’s gut. Or go into the monster’s gut. Or something. There was supposed to be a joke there somewhere.”

“You’re the joke, Melvin,” said Frank as he turned the door knob and the door fell on him. “Now, this getting real old.”

*                      *                      *                      *                      *                      *

The first thing that hit them when they opened the next door just a crack was the intense smell.

“Holy crud,” Suzie said as she fell back from the door. “You’d have to cut my nose off to make me go in there.”

“I just caught a glimpse of what came past you,” said Frank, “and I don’t think I could hold my breath long enough to get through.”

“What is making that smell?” Suzie asked.

Melvin, not suffering in the least, stuck his head in through the cracked door. After a few moments, he withdrew his head. Tears flowed down his hairy face, but a smile brushed his lips.

“I think it’s a rectal troll. Man, I haven’t seen one of those since my uncle Mack took me exotic animal watching with him. That year, I got thirteen fairies, a woodchuck on roller skates, five brownies and two boy scouts, a dwarf with a bad case of acne, and that troll. That was my best year ever.”

“So, how do you get past one of them rectal trolls, guv’nor?” Flippy asked.

“I don’t know,” confessed Melvin. “We weren’t trying to get past him, we were just watching him. Why don’t we try Frank’s Colon? It’s as close to a rectum as we’ve got.”

“You’re not using my Colon.”  Frank said.  “So, why were you watching him for?”

“I don’t know. It’s just a game. You know, like that one game where you strip the fur off somebody, dip them in pudding and then throw them at a wall to see if they stick. Only, this game is where you see how many exotic animals you can see in a day. You keep score.”

“That sounds like a game only a moron could play.” Frank said.

“Oh, have you played it, Frank?”

Frank raised his fists and approached Melvin. “Maybe I have and maybe I haven’t. What’s it to ya?”

Suzie moved between the two of them. “Alright, you two. We don’t have time for this. Now, how do we get past this rectal troll so we can get in to see Mr. Wilson?”

“Well,” said Melvin, “throwing Flippy at the last one seemed to work. Let’s try throwing Frank at this one.”

“No, I’ve got a better idea,” said Frank. “Let Melvin go in and he can choke it to death with his own stench.”

“Now, Frank…” Suzie started before being interrupted by Melvin.

“Hold on. That’s not such a bad idea. I think I’m formulating a plan.”

“Just don’t formulate it around here.” Suzie said.

With an extremely large grin, Melvin moved into the next room.

*                      *                      *                      *                      *                      *

The others were able to watch Melvin’s progress by taking big breaths and glancing through the crack in the door. Frank’s Colon seemed impervious to the smell, but Flippy, being a meat dog and not having fully formed lungs yet, was only able to peek sporadically.

As soon as Melvin pulled his entire body into the room, the rectal troll, which was chained to a toilet, began making horrible grunting and belching noise, waving its hairy, muscular arms in the air. The rectal troll, like Melvin, was completely covered with fur. Unlike the sasquatch, the rectal troll was rail thin, covered in brown spots, and had a large foam cowboy hat on its head. It also had a t-shirt on, half-torn of course, that said, ‘Is That a Ring Around Uranus or Are you Just Happy to See Me’.

Melvin approached cautiously.

Before he had covered half the distance, the troll spoke. “Hey, where’s everyone else? I thought there’d be five of you.”

“Uh, they were eaten by the last trial.”

“Oh, man, that’s too bad. I was hoping for five. I haven’t seen five at one time in a real long time. Hey, you’re hairy. What are you?”

“I’m a sasquatch.”  Melvin said.

“A sasquatch?”  The troll said.  “Wow. I haven’t seen any sasquatches since that one time five years ago when these two sasquatches sat outside my cave and watched me through binoculars for like twenty-four hours straight.”

Melvin stopped suddenly. “It was more like six hours. Thank you very much.”

“Oh, so you were one of the peeping sasquatches?” The rectal troll asked. “Man, you scared the crud out of my kids. My wife wanted me to call the cops, but I kept telling her that you’d go away sooner or later. What were you doing out there for so long?”

“Uh, we were playing exotic animal bingo.”

“Oh man,” said the rectal troll, “I love that game. Hey did you get the family of werewolves that live in the hollow past my cave?”

“No, we must have missed them.”

“That’s too bad. Oh, well. Okay, well, come over here so I can kill you. And try not to put up too much of a fight, will ya? If I come home with blood all over me one more time my wife’s gonna kill me.”

Melvin started forward. “Oh, I won’t put up too much of a fight. Say, how do you get that smell? I mean, I’m a sasquatch, so I know stink. But I’ve never met a stink quite like yours before.”

“Oh, this old thing?” The rectal troll said. “It’s really all in what you roll in. Now, I can’t name everything I’ve rolled in, but I know there was a really old custard pie and a whole mess of dead frogs.”

Melvin stopped a foot away from the rectal troll and motioned to the floor by its feet. “Say, did you drop something?”

The rectal troll bent over to look at its feet and, when it did, Melvin quickly turned around and blasted a massive fart right in its face.

“Yeah, baby, how’d you like that beef stew? Huh? I so got you right in the ever-loving face.”

The rectal troll’s face turned green as it fell to the floor. It lay motionless, like a long dead turd.

Melvin turned and motioned at the door. “Hey guys. The coast is clear.”

Suzie entered the room, but had to back up. “No way,” she yelled from behind the door.  “It’s worse now. Did you cut the cheese?”

“I had to.” Melvin yelled back.

“You better go on by yourself. We’ll see if there’s another way.”

“Come on, you wuss,” Melvin yelled back. “Just hold your breath. It’s only about twenty feet from that door to the next.”

One by one, they held their breath while they ran from one door to the next. When it came time for Frank to run through, he found the exit wouldn’t budge.

After a moment, Melvin’s voice could be heard from the other side of the door. “I so got you, Frank.”

*                      *                      *                      *                      *                      *

After they left the room with the comatose rectal troll, they found themselves in a waiting room. They approached the counter and waited patiently. After a few seconds, Frank cleared his throat, causing the receptionist to glance up.

“Yes? Can I help you?”

Suzie approached the counter. “Um, we’d like to see Mr. Wilson. We would like his help. See, I really need to find my way home.”

“And I would like him to change me into a real dog, guv’nor.”  Flippy said.

“And I really need a new career path,” said Frank.

“And I’d like to find that guy who borrowed my lawn mower,” said Melvin.

“And I’d like him to replace my arms with bazookas,” said Frank’s Colon.

Everyone glanced at Frank’s Colon.

“What,” it demanded.

The receptionist stuck her pen behind her ear and looked at the group thoughtfully for a time. Finally, she took a long sip from her coffee cup, straightened her hair and said in a very raspy voice, “Do you have an appointment?”


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