Herbert you are easily becoming my favorite writer. Funny stuff.
|THE BARREL DEMON
Morrie Feldman stood on the dirt floor of his basement. On the floor was a pentagram outlined in Gold Medal self rising flour. In the middle of the pentagram was a circle. Morrie lit a red candle at each of the points of the pentagram and then took a frayed scrap of paper out of his wallet. Consulting the paper he added a pinch of this and a touch of that from a stack of paper envelopes.He mixed them together in a frying pan on top of a gas barbecue grill. He then stood on tip toe and declaimed, in what he hoped was a booming voice, " Ramajistus freebang FOOOOOOOSBAH" As he squeaked out the last word he lit the barbecue grill. There was a ball of flame that neatly removed his left eyebrow and half of his mustache. This was followed by billows of green foul smelling smoke that gave him a coughing fit and brought tears to his eyes.
As the smoke began to clear he saw there was something in the circle. HE HAD DONE IT. He looked again as the cloud lifted and could see that it was a barrel. A barrel?
From inside the barrel came a resounding HAAAAAAA-CHOO. Slowly a set of curved rams horns rose from the barrel. They were followed by a head covered with corroded looking green scales. The most startling thing of all was the long pink pig's snout.
"Hoo boy. That's some spell you got there. Where'd you get it, out of a box of Crackerjacks"?
"I'll have you know this spell cost me Five hundred dollars. Madame Spaviniski said it was the best money could buy"
"You BOUGHT a spell? What a schmuck. Don't you know you need a different spell for every demon and you can only use it once? For five hundred you think you get top of the line?"
"So all right. We work with what we got. Believe me, I'm used to second rate goods".
"Watch it with the wise cracks Bub. I may not be much of a demon but I can still handle a shrimp like you."
"HOO HAH. I read the book. I got you trapped. You're stuck here till I turn you loose".
" A lawyer we got here. So you got a reason for calling the mighty Foozbah or you just like to make a lot of stinky sneezing powder?"
"Well, you see I'm in ladies garments".
"I don't do kinky hangups", said the demon as he slowly sank back into the barrel.
"No, No, You don't understand. I make women's clothing. Now the problem is-"
"Hold on a minute Morrie" Foozbah help up a hand, then shouted into the barrel. "Knock it off you turkeys"
Morrie could dimly hear shouting and screaming coming from the barrel. "You got somebody in there with you?"
"Are you kiddin? I got a whole world in here. I'm their God which will give you an idea of what a crummy world they handed me".
"How can you get a whole world into that little barrel?"
"Well, it's a lot bigger on the inside than it is on the outside".
"This I gotta see", Morrie started to step forward.
Foozbah held up his hand again. "Hold it Morrie. If you step inside the pentagram the high council of demons will demand I tear you into little pieces and throw you in four different directions. Frankly I'm not up to it. They had the wine festival yesterday and the first twenty barrels are always mine. OY such a head I got".
Morrie turned pale and stepped back hurriedly. "You think YOU got troubles? You should try the garment business. Yesterday I caught my foreman and one of the girls from the cutting room fooling around. Now what they do on their coffee break is their own business but on a roll of my best Italian velvet? You know what that stuff costs? We should change places. You'd want back in the barrel in a week".
Foozbah looked into the barrel again. "Cheez, they're at it again. Two sects throwing rocks at each other. One says I'm blue. The other says I'm green".
"To me you look kind of half way. What color do you think you are?"
"Depends on my mood. One of these days I'll turn myself yellow with purple polka dots and screw them all up. NAAAH. That would just start another sect".
"So could we get back to why I brought you here?"
"Sure, sure. By the way, you know if those candles go out----"
Morrie looked over at the candles. They were down to just a puddle of wax and starting to sputter. "OH NO!!", he turned to run.
Foozbah laughed so hard he had to hang on to the barrel to keep from falling down. "Get back here Morrie. I was yanking your chain. They're just for atmosphere. You didn't need them in the first place. By the way how much did that old Gypsy fraud charge you for them?"
"Twenty dollars -- each" said Morrie in a shaky voice. "She said they were made from special ingredients that came from a far off place"
"Yeah, China. She got a whole box of them at a flea market for three bucks. You're the first sucker dumb enough to buy any. So okay, what's the big deal? Why did you call on the power of the mighty Foozbah?"
"Well first off, Christian Dior I ain't. None of my customers live in Beverly Hills. Mostly they're housewives wanting to look good enough to go out for a movie and a hamburger. But we still got a new line and a fashion show every year. So I get all ready for my fashion show and here comes Harry Goldstein one day ahead of me. Every dress he shows is straight from my line. The thief!!! He stole every one of my designs".
"Too bad Morrie but what you expect me to do about it?"
" Maybe go to his house while he's asleep? Tell him you're gonna tear out his throat if he doesn't quit being such a goniff?"
"Hoo boy, have you got the wrong demon". Foozbah opened his mouth and Morrie saw a row of rounded teeth about as sharp as grapes. "Besides, I'm not allowed out of the barrel. How about I just give him a hickey and we let his wife kill him?"
"His wife. That's another problem. Last week Harry gave his wife a mink stole. Now my Sadie won't be happy till she has a full length coat. Sable, she wants. Also she wants a whole outfit to match. I told her she wants to match a fur coat, she should let her mustache grow and quit shaving her legs."
Harry noticed that the demon was squirming around and kept scratching himself. "So what's with the wiggling? You doin the pee pee dance?"
"No it's those damn fanatics in that monastary again. Every time they start chanting and praying they give me the itch".
Foozbah straightened up, held his hand over his head, made a couple of peculiar motions and then snapped his hand downward. Lightning shot from his fingertips. Morrie heard a rumble of thunder, then saw the flash of lightning and smoke boiled out of the barrel. " Fit that into your theology you meatheads!!", the demon shouted.
"Boy this a lousy job" he said to Morrie.
"You think you got a lousy job? I had to cancel my whole show. I should stand around in a barrel while you work up a new fashion line".
"Oh Oh. Emergency here. The barbarians are about to attack my holy city. This ought to be good. I got something special planned"
"Now get the picture Morrie. My sacred city is on top of a mountain. In front of the mountain is a hill with the temple of virgins on it. Most of the time the temple's empty except for two old maid sisters. All around the mountain and hill there's a flat plain inhabited only by nomad barbarian tribes. Zamboni, one of the barbarian chiefs, has managed to unite the tribes into a huge army and that army is now advancing on the mountain".
"Why do they want the city if they're nomads?"
"Oh you know. Pillage, rape, loot. It's a barbarian thing. You wouldn't understand. Mostly though they want the sacred Talisman in the great golden temple. HOO HAH, Great golden temple? It's an ugly pile of rocks painted yellow".
"So what's with the sacred Talisman, they want it so bad?"
"It's supposed to bring great power to the one who has it. Actually it's a can opener. I was opening a can of beans and I dropped it when I cut my finger. Those idiots down there never invented cans so they have no idea what it is but it's shiny and it fell from the sky with a drop of my blood on it so of course it's sacred. It fell on the top of the mountain and they built a city around it. What kind of schlemiel builds a city on top of a steep mountain with no roads up? "
"So who wants a can opener with no cans? It's not good for anything else".
" So they invented a use for it. They use it to circumcise the new priests who must remain celibate after that. Believe me, when you been circumcized with a can opener, remaining celibate is a cinch. Hoo boy. Here they come, thundering across the plains on those ugly little horses. Now they're milling around at the foot of the hill of virgins. Such a disapointment they got coming. The two sisters ran to the edge of the hill and started beckoning to them".
"Enough already with the barbarians. What about my problem?"
" Come on Morrie, cut me some slack. This is more fun than I've had in years. I really got something great planned here".
"All right, already. I shouldn't spoil your fun. Then maybe we can work on my new fashion line?"
"I promise. Just let me have a little fun first. I don't get to rout a barbarian army every day. All right, here we go".
"The barbarians are holding a war council at the bottom of the hill. They are arguing over whether to capture the hill first of go on to the city. The old maids are setting out casseroles on a picnic table and inviting them to dinner. Finally, in desperation, they offer them milk and fudge brownies. OH OH Here we go. My secret weapon just arrived at the foot of the mountain. Get this Morrie. It's a stroke of genius if I have to say so myself.
I told the high priest to round up all the women they could find that weighed over 300 pounds. They have each been tattoed with my sacred mark, which by the way happens to be a footprint. They're dressed in flowing white robes."
The demon was beginning to giggle now.
"Here they come, marching up the hill. Such huffing and puffing you never heard. They sound like steam engines. Now they're TEE HEE lining up in a row on top of the hill. The barbarians catch sight of them HOO HOO. They're running for their horses. Now they're galloping up the hill. The barbarians got a thing about fat ladies. Their own tend to be scrawny. They're almost HEE HEE halfway up. The high priest blows his trumpet and all the ladies turn their backs to the enemy. HOO HAW. The barbarians are almost there. The high priest blows his trumpet again and all the ladies bend over AAAAHAHA. I can't stand it. They all pull up their skirts exposing the tattoo of my sacred footprint. THE HORSES ARE REARING. The barbarians are falling off. HOOOOHAAAAWHAAAW"
Foozbah was beating the side of the barrel and howling with laughter at his outrageous pun. He almost fell out of it a couple of times.
"Oh Morrie, I wish you could see this. HAHAHAHA. That's it. The barbarians are beaten. They're limping back across the plain trying to catch their horses."
" So while you're fooling around with fat ladies in a barrel, Harry Goldstein is running away with my customers. Right now being a God in a barrel doesn't look so bad. We should trade places".
Foozbah stepped out of the barrel. "Thanks Morrie".
"I thought you weren"t allowed out of the barrel."
"Well, you see Morrie I'm not really a demon. I made a wizard mad once and he put a spell on me. Once every thousand years somebody gets a chance to break the spell and today is that day". His pig snout was beginning to shrink and he was losing his green color.
Morries skin felt odd as though it was squirming around. "ME? You telling me I broke the spell all by myself?"
"You had to say it three times"
Three Morries appeared from thin air.
The first said,"We should trade places. You'd want back in the barrel in a week".
The second said,"I should stand around in a barrel while you work out a new fashion line".
The third said, "Right now being a God in a barrel doesn't look so bad. We should trade places".
The three Morries dissapeared with a popping sound.
"HEY!!!", shouted Morrie,"What's going on?" He was having trouble speaking as his nose stretched into a snout.
Foozbah was changing also. His snout had turned into a nose and his scales began to look like blue serge, a little ragged at the cuffs and baggy in the seat, just like Morries suit.
Only Morries suit wasn't a suit any more. It was scales. He was dismayed to find himself standing in a barrel.
"You see the only way I could get out of the barrel is for someone else to get in and they had to offer to do it three times".
"How do you like the new me Morrie"? Foozbah now looked exactly like the old Morrie Feldman. He brushed his hair over his bald spot with one hand.
"HEY, let me out of this thing". Morrie was trying to climb out of the barrel.
"Sorry Morrie. Maybe in a thousand years. Enjoy your new career. Not everybody has their very own world".
Foozbah scraped out the pentagram with his shoe and Morrie and the barrel both disappeared.
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