“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”
-Possibly Ernest T. Campbell, “Give Ye Them To Eat”
Also attributed to Mark Twain, Don Boyer, Les Brown, Kyrbyjon Caldwell, Dave Martin, John C. Maxwell, Danny McDaniel, J. Sewell Perkins, Bob Proctor, Felicia Shaw, Dianne Wilson, David Wood, Darlene Zschech, and Dr. Rev. Thomas K. Tewell.
“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.”
-Mark Twain Paine, Albert Bigelow. Mark Twain, A Biography: The Personal and Literary Life of Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Source).
“I know; I know. ‘So, write something.’ If only it were that easy.”
“It is. You just-”
“Just WRITE something. If it’s so easy, you do it.”
“Where is it?”
“Where is what?”
“Whatever it is that you wrote. Supposedly. I mean, you said that-”
“Oh, that. Yes, well, it’s …thing is…”
“Computer crash last week.”
“Yes. Tragic. I’d just finished up the 53rd chapter, too.”
“Fifty-three chapters?! Now I know you’re making this up.”
“Hmph. You’re just jealous because you can’t think of something to write.”
“Neither can you!”
“Of course I can. Didn’t you just hear that I wrote fifty-three chapters?”
“And J.K. Rowling’s agent. He said they wanted me to send off what I had.”
“Unfortunately, that e-mail also was lost in the crash.”
“Obviously….So, what were the fifty-plus chapters about? Hmmm?”
“Oh! Erm.. ah.. it was a fantasy novel.”
“Well, I can’t give everything away.”
“Sure, sure. Just tell me the synopsis you sent to Rowling’s agent, then.”
“I’m sure you’re not really interes-”
“Well.. it was a sort of ..hmm… a mashup of classic story lines. …You know: a bit of boy-coming-of-age meets a girl-who-discovers-she’s-magic story…”
“It’s true! Julieng –yes– Julieng is nearing adulthood and discovers a dragon egg buried beneath a red wall that …erm… Eil-ent -um- Eilent’s uncle built near her family’s cauldron on a pig farm and they must join forces to stop the ..evil …overlord who came back to life because of a ring.”
“Uh-huh. And the ring was lost behind a false wall ..erm.. in an upstairs room about a hundred years ago that ..uh… Jules’-
“Yes -Juleng.. Julieng’s stepbrother’s half-sister’s cousin made with magic powder that takes them between worlds. …I had a bit about a lion -or maybe a witch. -Hmmm, maybe it was a wardrobe-”
“Or, maybe it was a vanishing cabinet. I can’t exactly remember because that was back at the start of the book, see, and I was to the part where they …ah found Queen Guinevere with one of the knights..”
“That’s what? Hey -where ya going?”
“I thought you didn’t have anything to write …”
“I didn’t, but a recent conversation inspired me.”
“Yep. I just hope the publisher doesn’t think it’s too tame of an idea…”
“Let’s begin, Igor!” Frank cackled and rubbed his hands at their palms.
Igor rolled his eyes as he rolled the enormous pot from the storage closet. Its metallic ringing reverberated from the expansive cement walls, from the myriad hanging tools and laden steel tabletops nearby. It landed with an excessively-loud Bang! near the giant burner.
“Igor!” Frank chastened, as he jumped. “You nearly restarted my heart!” He drew his bushy eyebrows forward to deeply scowl over reproving eyes.
“Sorry, Man,” grumbled Igor. “Master!” Retorted Frank. Igor shrugged, and smiled lopsidedly once he turned away.
Igor pushed optimistically against the pot. It barely moved. “We need to put this on the fire,” he grunted, summoning Frank from his notes-study. “Of course!” Came the engrossed reply.
Igor tried again. “Master! We need to both put this on the fire.” The scientist finally looked over. He noted the heavy cooking vessel, the assistant with a raised eyebrow, the vacant burner. “Ah!” He exclaimed, abandoning his review to stalk over to Igor.
Shoulder to shoulder, they hunched to shove an edge of iron up the side of the short floor-platform. They paused, supporting, as it teetered. “Again!” Frank commanded; they complied. With a screeching metal, Eeeee! it slid to position. Clunk!
Frank sunk to sit, back to pot and bottom to floor. Igor leaned against an arm on the black lip of the cauldron, patiently catching his breath.
“To work, Igor!” Frank realized, standing as he shouted, bolting to his notes. Igor sighed, then leaned slightly further down to check the burner’s settings. He stepped away, kicking the igniter switch.
Fire flared dramatically all round the base of the dark iron cauldron. “Ready, Frank!” Igor called. “Master,” came the muttered correction.
Keeping his eye and finger on the yellowing page, Frank picked up his notebook and strode to the cooking area. He looked up for an instant, then down. “Two, I think,” he told Igor, who complied by bending to lower the gas output to the burner by half.
“Perfect, Igor! Perfect!” Frank laughed maniacally. “Mwahahahahaha!” Igor sighed resignedly.
“What first?” He asked, genuinely curious.
The scientist frowned. “I’ve told you, Igor! It’s a delicate process! It’s never been done!” He paused, looked up to meet his assistant’s eye. “It will be done -TONIGHT!”
“What will?” Igor inserted, cutting off another impending cackle. Frank looked pained.
“I told you!” He paused, for effect. Lightning flashed obediently outside the warehouse windows. “We’re going to create The Perfect Blog Post!” Before Igor could stop it again, Frank threw back his head and laughed. Thunder outside boomed as background.
Igor cleared his throat. “What first, then, Frank?”
“Master,” Frank said. Then, “A CAT!”
“Oh dear,” lamented his assistant. “But what about PETA?”
“Never you mind,” the obsessed scientist reassured. He stirred in some liquid Igor hoped to be water. He pulled a lenticular poster from the nearest tabletop, brandished it somewhat dramatically, then threw it in after the liquid. “It’s only a gif,” Frank explained.
“The spoon!” He commanded. Igor complied, stumping over to the supply closet and back again. Igor handed the large wooden spoon to Frank, handle-first. He leaned closer to watch Frank use the rounded end to push a yawning feline beneath wet clockwise swirls.
“What now, Frank?” He wondered.
“I’ve told you! Call me Master!” Came the indefatigable reply. Then, a mumbled, “We’ll need to appease the Skimmers.”
“The Skimmers,” repeated Frank. “Those that do not read everything, even if they have the time.”
“Oh,” said Igor, thinking. “Just make a few ingredients bold.”
“Of course!” The scientist exclaimed, “And, a few of varying sizes or appearance!”
Igor nodded. His employer was brilliant at times, besides merely eccentric. He looked over at the available cache of ingredients. He’d helped gather many of them, not knowing what he had been collecting them for.
“So… is this what the parsley, sage, and rosemary are for?” He asked. “They don’t seem very bold.”
Frank didn’t even look over.
“You forgot the thyme!” He snapped, from the stove, “Er,
I meant that you will need all four.
They’re for singers, poets; prosaic lore!”
Igor stood, herbs in his fist.
Then, he found the thyme that he’d first missed.
Grasping tight to stems and leaves,
he stumbled over; threw them in, relieved.
He watched the plants sink into the depths, then scrambled over to the collection nearest Frank. “What is this one for?” He wondered, lifting Mark Twain’s head. It looked surprisingly good for its age.
Frank glanced over. “Careful, Igor!” Letting the spoon fall against the side, he stretched out to gingerly hold it in two hands. White fluffing hair drifted against his wrists as he carried it to the pot. He dropped it in.
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started,” bubbled up from the steaming solution. Igor snickered. “He already has a head,” he commented. Frank stirred, ignoring them both.
“Now, we need something for Romance!” He shouted, over an underwater Twain speech of, “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt.”
“Romance, Master?” Igor asked, also speaking over the spewing quotes.
“Yes, yes, Igor! Love, lust, kissing, sex, fondling, romance.” Frank looked wistful. Igor looked over the contents on the tables.
“This?” He asked, holding up a piece of meat.
“No, no, Igor!” Frank sounded exasperated. “That’s for horror. Bring the chocolate! Deep, rich, dark, enticing!”
Igor set the dripping meat back down in its bloody puddle, reluctantly. “I thought a piece of meat was a good idea,” he said under his breath. Finding the chocolate, he brought it over to the waiting scientist.
“I do see you picked one with nuts,” he observed, smiling crookedly up at Frank. “Of course!” Frank ejaculated. He always had to be on top.
Submissively, Igor watched the melting pools stir into the cat, into Mark Twain’s babbling head. The chocolate was thick enough to block out whatever it was trying to inspirationally say next.
“Quickly, Igor, we need Science Fiction!” Frank yelled. Igor gave him a deadpan expression. The scientist, looking up from the steaming concoction in his secret laboratory, felt inspiration flash through his mind as lightning flashed again outside.
“Of course, Igor! We’ve more than allowed for that.” Frank raised his tufted brows in thought, then grabbed at an unidentifiable goo nearby. “I’ll throw in this alien slime, just in case.” Splurk! Said the slime, as it touched the simmering surface. Who knew what affect it might have as it slowly seeped its way into the other ingredients’ spaces?
“This is taking too much time!” Frank shouted. “No one has patience for this long!” He caught Igor’s eye. “Quick! We’ll need that meat!”
Slinking away, Igor remembered a time when he hadn’t merely assisted the scientists. It was a time long ago, long before the police had sent him into hiding. Long before he’d caught his wife, her lovers; and his mother-in-law, and her lovers, all hiding in his small brick house out on the moors.
Igor hefted the meat, its dripping flesh reminding him of the full, wet weight of a recently-deceased body -particularly ones that he had–
“Igor! Now!” The scientist could feel his mixture thickening, could see it rising.
Igor dripped his way back across to the pot, and dropped the meat thickly onto the moving surface. “Excellent, Igor,” Frank complimented, “And, good work appeasing the mystery- and gore-lovers as well.” His face was deeply shadowed from the basal flames as he glanced at Igor. Igor shrugged, wiping blood casually on his thighs.
“We’re nearly there!” The excited scientist observed.
“Don’t you think we’ve skipped a few?” Igor wondered aloud.
“Like, who?” Frank asked, distractedly. The slime was congealing oddly.
“Mommy bloggers,” Igor threw out. “Um, How-to, recipes,” He thought, hard. “Fan fiction? Politics?”
Frank stirred, but thought as well. “Grab that lovely, chic, repurposed kichen décor,” he decided. Igor looked over the remaining table items, then held up a pile of leaves, squash, and berries. A few spiders skittered out of it, down his arm, and to the floor.
“This yard refuse?” He asked. “That’s what I said!” Frank snapped. Igor threw it in.
“Now, this link of chain, the acceptance letter to Bogharts, and a few crackers,” Frank commanded, pointing at each item in turn.
Igor hefted the link. First, he chose the weave he liked. Second, he chose a design. After selecting materials and tools, he was ready to drop his finished product into the brew. It cascaded in a long, sliding Shoosh of clinks amidst the gurgling materials.
Next went a tattered paper, stamped with the Bogharts seal. It congratulated Frank Stein on his acceptance thereto, and listed what materials he’d have to purchase from Horizon Tall Street. Frank pushed it beneath the slimy bubbles and noxious steam without a second thought.
“We need a cracker, you Gypsy!” Frank berated Igor.
“I feel triggered,” Igor resisted, folding his arms defiantly.
“Fine!” The scientist conceded. “I said political anyway, not racist.”
Uncrossing his arms, Igor looked over what was left. “There’s only this pile of cash and these empty bottles,” he noted. “Yes! That’s what we needed,” Frank shouted.
Shrugging, Igor dumped nearly all the bills, fluttering, into the mix. He felt he was throwing it all away. Hopefully, it would turn out well spent.
Just behind came the empty bottles. Igor could read their labels as they sunk: Promises was printed on each.
“It’s working!” Came the exultant shout. “It’s happier; it’s rising!” Igor was surprised at the positive results. He’d thought they would need better ideas, a slogan, or actual data.
Frank stirred frantically. The Blog Post Brew threatened to boil over as it inched ever higher in the pot. Choking steam billowed out and around the warehouse. Igor could hardly see his employer; he caught a flash of lab-coat white in the occasional flare of firelight.
A sudden Poof! sent Frank flying backwards. He was stopped, accidentally, by the faithful Igor.
The warehouse rang with echoed silence. They looked to the dark, silent pot. It sat, inert, atop the extinguished burner. A few black tendrils of vapor curled from the nearly-empty cauldron. Frank and Igor edged closer, closer, closer. They peered inside.
“Hmm,” Frank observed, poking at the black lump in the bottom with what remained of the wooden spoon.
“You seem to have made dubious food, Master,” Igor commented.
“Well,” the scientist conceded, “At least the Gamers will be happy.”