Junction City, TX, 9/22/2018, Star-Gazer News Service–A Local author was picked up by local cops and arraigned before a local judge after 15 local women allegedly died after reading his new novel, Give Me All Your Money, Babe.
During this morning’s news conference, Chief Kruller clarified that the women were dead rather than allegedly dead. “‘Allegedly’ referred to and real or imagined a connection between author Caine Molasses novel and the women’s demise,” said Kruller.
“I wasn’t there when it happened,” Molasses told reporters. “I was busy working on my new novel, Thanks for All Your Money, Babe, a satirical yarn about the gigolo business. I’ve made more money gigoloing than I have writing because today’s readers are buying most of their books from famous writers who are publicized by PR flacks working for big New York publishers.”
According to witnesses, the 15 women died moments after stopping by the Merchants and Farmers National Bank on Maple Street where each of them wrote Molasses a check before dying of supposedly unnatural causes.
“They just collapsed,” said teller Bert Jenkins. “Several of them bit me when I tried to administer CPR, but they died anyway. It’s like they knew their number was up.”
Police said that after interviewing Molasses for 25 minutes, he was “clearly in the clear.”
Reporters learned that Molasses’ muse, Sally Sweetwater, stuck up for him by claiming they were together the entire evening.
“Personally, I think each of the women took an undetectable poison before walking into the bank. They loved Molasses, especially when he called them honey. But they knew that all of them couldn’t possibly marry him because that would be against the law, silly as it may be.”
Coroner Jack Stiff said he never detected any undetectable poison in the women’s bloodstreams during the autopsy.
Stiff, who said that he had seen enough stiffs in his life to determine the cause of death in a matter of moments, said that as far as he could tell, the women died due to an unusual blight of mass hysteria.
“Each of them thought they were the only one he loved,” said Stiff.
According to a white paper file by psychiatrist Sigmund Jung–author of Death Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry–“love kills more people than bullets, knives, or heavy objects in a room.”
“I thought I could juggle all those broads forever,” said Molasses. “I feel really sorry this happened, but luckily I’ll forget about it in a few weeks when I pick up somebody new at the grocery store.”
After the deaths were announced, the Texas Booksellers Associations announced that Molasses latest novel was number one on the bestseller list.
“For every dark cloud, there is a silver lining,” police chief Kruller said.
Every year, like an annual checkup with a proctologist, the dwindling Falls family made a pilgrimage to its ancestral home, Fallaway, illegally located on a remote limestone rock outcropping at Pedernales Falls State Park in the Texas hill country. Constructed by chain gang labor out of haunted stone stolen from Enchanted Rock, the old mansion–where Manderley’s Mrs. Danvers first worked as a maid–was built by Falls patriarch Ash for his Bride Snow from an ample fortune funded by a misbegotten conglomerate of saloons, houses of sin, and corner-cutting mortuaries. Granny Falls, daughter of Snow, presides over the gloomy mansion where, even in the innocent sunshine of high noon, the plaintive cries of ghosts and badly evolved creatures inhabiting Deadfalls Cemetery in the kitchen garden are louder and more persistent than the voice of water at Pedernales Falls.
This year, like every other year, Trick, his sister Niagara, and his brother Pratt made the long trek from the four corners of the known world to grandmother’s house.
After the graceless chorus of amens that followed Granny’s prayer (God is Great, God is Good; Let us thank Him for our food. By His hands we all are fed, Save us Lord from our dishonored dead.), the family opened its tired eyes to behold a meal fit primarily for the garbage disposal: twice boiled turkey, cranberry slush, mashed potatoes with deadeye gravy, stuffing knocked out of goodness knows what, wilted greens with squid ink dressing, and Parker House rolls.
Pratt: Every year as we thank the good Lord for the blessings we escaped, I wonder what we have done to deserve this.
Niagara: Our lives would make a chart-topping blues song if anyone in the family knew how to sing.
Trick: You’ve outdone yourself, Granny.
Granny: Last thing I wanted to do was repeat the horrors of last year’s meal, so I made fresh ones.
Pratt: So who’s gotten knocked up since last Thanksgiving?
Niagara: Oh, Pratt, be nice.
Trick: I think I’m pregnant.
Granny: Holy shit.
Trick: Sorry, as an empath, I often blurt out what somebody else is thinking.
Granny: Why’s everyone looking at me? I haven’t been arse over tits since the big M a thousand years ago.
Niagara: Well, this is almost as awkward as last year’s green apple quick step epidemic.
Pratt: I’ll always blame the store bought fried pies for that.
Hooker: I’ll confess, I’m the one with the bun in the oven.
Granny: Who are you with, honey?
Pratt: She’s with me.
Niagara: That figures.
Belle: Pratt took me out of the business to make an honest woman of me.
Granny: He hasn’t succeed yet, that’s clear to me. Are you one of Charon’s daughters over at Johnson City.
Belle: Yes, m’am, I’m one of hell’s belles.
Niagara: Are y’all married yet?
Belle: Pratt’s afraid to ask because when he goes into politics, he can’t have no fallen woman in a closet, worse yet a father in law who purportedly carries folks to the underworld.
Granny: Our family built the underworld before Al Capone was a bun in the oven.
Pratt: She’s talking about Satan’s world.
Granny: Satan’s never getting my into handbasket, I’ll tell you what.
Belle: You’re too much of a gentlemen to ask, Pratt honey, but you’re definitely the father. You remember that time we got lost in that dark wood and said “what the hell?” That’s when it happened.
Pratt: That was you?
Trick: Does anyone else need their moonshine on the rocks topped off?
Niagara: There’s not enough in that Mason jar to make it through the night.
Pratt: Belle, will you marry me?
Granny: What the hell?
Belle: Yes my handsome sweetums darling, I will marry you. Shall we set a date.
Niagara: How about right after desert?
Trick: Granny is an ordained minister from the Church of What’s Happening Now.
Granny: My diploma was right there on the wall before it fell behind the buffet during the hash slinging fight on Thanksgiving of ought six.
Niagara: That doesn’t nullify Granny’s powers, does it Trick.
Trick: Absolutely not.
Pratt: Well then, Niagara, pass the desert.
Granny: If you ask me, Pratt, you’ve have your just deserts coming for many years of many dark woods.
Pratt: I was rather hoping you’d start your pitch with “dearly beloved.”
Belle: Oh, Pratt, you’re gonna make me cry.
Pratt: Been there, done that.
Niagara: Granny, you got any more jars of this shine?
Granny: Out on the stoop.
Trick: Pratt, when your sister comes back, I think it’s only fitting to ask her to be maid of honor.
Pratt: Spinster maid of honor’s more like it. Okay, okay, don’t look at me like that. I’ll ask her if you’ll agree to be best man.
Trick: Might as well, can’t dance, fields are to wet to plough.
Niagara: Was ya’ll talking about me while I fought through all the spider webs out back to get to the booze?
Granny: Drink up, you’re the maid of honor. Pratt, y’all will have to get married in the kitchen since it’s the only room that presentable.
Pratt: I thought you’d make us stand by the hitching post out front.
Granny: Not with all that thunder and lightning out there.
Belle: Oh, don’t worry about none of that. Daddy’s just having a bit of fun.
Niagara: Pass the devil’s food cake so we can get this show on the road and return to our lives.
Trick: Belle and Pratt, you’re starting off on a grand adventure. How fitting it is that it begins on Thanksgiving. I wish you much happiness, but always remember that no matter what weird stuff happens, you can kiss, make up, and say, “We’ll always have Pedernales.”
Granny: I never thought I’d live long enough to hear anybody say that.
Pratt: We usually say it when we’re drunk.
Narrator: And so the deed was done. . .
Niagara: I didn’t know we had a narrator.
Granny: Just one of the haints from underneath the rosemary.
Narrator: As I was saying, an so the deed was done, Belle and Pratt were married with a minimum of discouraging words next to Granny Falls cook stove that–according to all involved–wasn’t nearly as hot as Belle in her Victoria’s Secret wedding down, and finally just after the flour canister tipped over in front of the oscillating fan, creating a virtual whiteout, Granny pronounced the two love birds husband and wife which led Mr. and Mrs. Pratt falls to kiss so enthusiastically, everyone else felt moved to leave the room and sip apple pie moonshine on the front porch where the rain came down like there would be no tomorrow.
Albino County, October 20, 2009–Drill Instructor Boots Anderson slips quietly into barracks #3724 five minutes before Reveille on a cool Texas morning. The humidity is 68%, the pressure is 30.05 inches, the dew point is 56 degrees, and the 100 felines at the Albino County Rat Army Boot Camp are blissfully sleeping in the calm before the storm.
Anderson scowls at the mess, the random hairballs, the shredded up bunks, the tipped over litter boxes, the complete lack of military grade standards of cleanliness and ambiance, “as though a tornado hit the freaking place during the long hours between taps and dawn,” he muses poetically.
And then it hits. Anderson slings the open, CinchSak (R) 39-gallon lawn and leaf bag of empty cat food cans against the wall. Two hundred eyes pop open, one hundred pairs of ears go back, growls, snarls echo throughout the austere structure. Manx cats comprise company 816, so the denizens can’t turn tail and run, opting for caterwauling instead, the kind that makes Anderson’s skin crawl as though he’s covered in fire ants, the nasty buggers.
“Atten-HUH,” bellows Anderson, though it does little good. He hates himself when he resorts to trickery, but the corps demands it or Manx Company is not going to be wearing cat’s pajamas on graduation day. So, he puts a smile in his voice when he utters the disgusting words, “Food Time! Would my pretty little kitties like an itty bitty ditty bad of treats?”
The cats assemble smartly in the long center aisle between the rows of bunks. Their bearing is is straight and true like those perfectly posed goddess-style cats in art from ancient Egypt.
“So you’re not a lost cause after all, you lousy, good-for-nothing curs, you miserable excuses for ratters, you sloppy-as-dogs critters, you alleyway varmints. You Siamese.” He adds that for good measure, knowing it’s a low thing to say to a Manx.
At this moment (05:25 central), the emergency doors at the far end of the building are kicked open and the Feds, damn their lousy timing, crash into the room with assault rifles, mace, snarling dogs straining on leashes, and enough spotlights to make the cats’ eyes look like his chaotic collection of old marbles before his brother lost them to Dexter Smith in the school yard before the cat got his tongue.
“General Mark Sirius, Homeland Security SWAT Tsar,” shouts the dog-eared fat officer who rolls into the room like like a basset on a acid.
“Are you serious?” yells Anderson.
“If you don’t believe me, read my name tag, you wussie cat lover. We’re shutting down this operation until we sort through the litter and totally understand what kind of shit you people are into in this county.”
“Do you have a warrant?”
“Warrant, why would I need a warrant when I’ve got guns, dogs, mace and the Patriot Act backing me up? Stand down, I say, for Mark Sirius is sitting in the cat bird seat today.”
“It’s a little late for that, General, the cats bugged out when you busted in,” says Anderson.
“What the hell?” Sirius doesn’t look like a cute doggy in the window now. “How did they manage that?”
“Training, General, plus they got those little cat feet; they slipped out like fog.”
“Cats or no cats, we’re shutting you down. For one thing, it just ain’t right, even in Texas. I know what you’re thinking, Anderson. You’re thinking all we do at Homeland Security is make life difficult for honest, everyday people. Not by a long shot. We’ve been studying cats, from cat dancing to catamounts to catacombs.”
“So what,” says Anderson, grinning like a Cheshire cat that’s starting to fade into the woodwork.
“I’ll tell you what, mister smiley face, you organize cats, you gotta a catastrophe. You think you can control them, but you can’t. You whistle and they keep on disobeying your commands, telling secrets, spying, sneaking in under the radar. That’s just anarchy, the kind of cat’s cradle trap our enemies are waiting for us to get our fat paws stuck in while our pants are down.”
Sirius is stoked like a cat on a hot tin roof, but he’s not wagging his tail now because Anderson has faded away into the Texas morning, a morning when the winds are gusting to 23 mph, a morning when the old general should head to the dog house early and hang his head while his masters tell him Sirius is a bad puppy for not putting all those cats in a great big hat and bringing in for questioning.
Anderson laughs from a nearby tree. Once the FEDs leave, it will be back to business as usual. All he has to do is open a can of tuna and the troops will pass in review, soon, if not smartly, the sorry flea-bitten strays.