The TPC Halloween Spook-tacular: “DUKE MARSHULA”
*Brought to you tonight by LIME CHIP! Soda
The Mor-Doh Pa$$, Newtonvania, a minute till midnight…
It was a cold, dark, dreary, and other foreboding adjective-laden night. An electric current haunted the cold, listless air. Young Ellis Harkersaps stared blankly at the dark, imposing figure, seated astride the imposing, dark horse. The neophyte solicitor’s lips quivered and quaked as a voice spoke words - words, cold, dark, and raspy - to disturb the dreary, electrified, miserable, lonely, et cetera evening vapors,
‘My Toyota is fast and my wives are hungry, my friend! You’re late.’
The stagecoach driver removed a gnawed cigar from his mouth, spat, and replied, ‘Geesh, muh Lard. Blimey, but it was a smidgeon to nab dis Angleshman from tha arms a them haggard gypsy Uber womans.’ He spat again and made exaggerated I-talian-esque hand gestures.
Upon receiving a polite, yet dire invitation from the horseman, Ellis Harkersaps departed the coach and stepped into the hollowed-out shell of a rusty Yaris coupe, rigged strangely behind the menacing, opaque horse. The coachman cracked his whip, cursed when the frayed leather ribbon snapped in half, and slowly plodded away. Ellis thought his captor-driver might have, in parting, called after, “Go Dawgs!”
Along a dark, narrow, winding, worn, untidy, ill-kept, and completely unsafe-looking path, the horseman led poor Ellis. Somewhere beyond sight, deep in the darkness under a sky without moon or stars, a cat mewed mournfully. Upon crossing what felt like a crumbling speed bump, the driver announced,
‘At last, my young friend, we are arrived at the magnificent CASTLE MARSHULA!! It is, you must know, available for rent, some weekends, via Air-B-n-B. Local taxes and moderate cleaning fees apply…’
The demented driver pulled the heap away at a crawl. Ellis surveyed the manor and huffed under his breath, ‘Castle?! Looks like a common, condemned and abandoned Rite-Aid…’
‘I heard that.’ A gravelly voice echoed from somewhere.
Ellis rang the bell. And waited. He rang once again. And waited. Thrice he rang. There was no answer. His fourth attempt was a knock, soft but firm. Finally, a shiver meandering down his back, he began kicking the cheap plywood door and screaming, ‘Goddammit! Let me in! It’s cold out here.’
The door opened. There, in the doorway, just inside the door, on the floor, stood, with a slight slouch, a bearded man in a dark caped-outfit. His terrible appearance almost made Ellis relish the cold out of doors. But, the sinister figure spoke kindly, if roughly,
‘Welcome, young Harkersaps of Porterdon. I am Duke Marshula. Welcome to my squatter’s pa… my little home … sweet home. Enter cheaply and leave a little of the cash you bring.’
Ellis unwisely entered and the Duke escorted him back to where the manager’s office in an old Rite-Aid might have once been located.
‘Weren’t you the guy just driving that junker? Anyway, I have the figures and forms you requested, Duke.’ Ellis spoke with a shudder of intrepid hesitation and through an imperfect countenance.
‘No, no, my young friend. No and no. I pay my, uh … driver uh, very well! And, for you - first, a little Newtonian hospitality. Perrinfield. PERRINFIELD! YOU IDIOT! Bring refreshments! For our victi… for our guest.’
Presently, there appeared a most shabbily dressed, lurching, stumbling figure of a man, bent and untamed to gaze upon. Ellis noted his budget-saving resemblance to the coachman. The troll carried with him a poor attitude and an ax. The toad spoke,
‘Hell. Jus got in… Well, not times like tha pressed net. I’ll quarter him up like a spring goose!’ He laughed a hideous cackle of maniacal insanity, his left eye rolling wildly.
‘Perrinfield, NO! Not yet… The wine?’ The Duke remonstrated, his palm covering his face.
‘Hack him, Perrinfield. Get him drunk, Perrinfield. Pick him up from the bus terminal, Perrinfield. Was I ever born under a bad…’ Perrinfield disappeared into the gloom outside the parlor, muttering and cursing as he went.
The Duke looked up through his gnarled fingers, sighed, and coughed. He was just inquiring as to the rights to, and necessary bribes for, a used hand-cranked printing press, Ellis Harkersaps waiting eagerly with an excuse quickly contrived, when three buxom young women in scandalous attire entered the little manager’s office/formal dining room.
They all three chanted in alarming unison, one voice, bitterly sweet but sweetly bitter: ‘Perrinfield has cracked the crockery! Your guest voted for Obama! But, no attention have you showered upon us. No shower. You, yourself, have never showered! Not even a leaf for a morsel as supper.’
Ellis noticed the spectral women all wore matching tied-up Braves jerseys and Tammy Faye’s makeup. He moved to speak but found that he was rooted to the ground, rooted as if with the roots of a plant. Perhaps a tree. A pine, no less. A stout one. His mouth was parched. It would admit no answer of snarky rebuke. The Duke spoke for him,
‘Young Harkersaps, these are my brides - Besserelda, Kayladith, and Ann’azalea. Three … are my brides. We are old-school LDS… I will accept no bamboozle.’
Ellis swayed as if to swoon. Just then, the ghostly women repeated their demand for a “morsel.” The Duke howled out a laugh that shook the bowed and water-stained tile ceiling. He trailed off into a coughing fit, though he was able - just barely - to lift up an old Tupperware bowl for the inspection of his polyamorous Bravo babes. ‘A taste, my loves.’ He hissed, still hacking malignantly.
I recoiled within the shrouded confines of my own mind. A play of life and death unfolded before my frightened eyes, red with tears of fear and hate. The strumpets made for the Tupperware like school girls to a coin-operated cigarette machine. From out it, laughing as they did so - most disquietingly - they raised up a wrapped bundle of swaddling cloth. I knew then, as I know and remember now, what was held neath those ragged coverings. Their fangs bared, their mascara smearing, the lecherous ladies seized upon the helpless rancid baby cabbage. It emitted the most pitiable squeak as it’s putrid leaves sagged and flapped. Belching! Snorting! The fiendish wives descended on the rotten little vegetable. The taste of my lunch, previously consumed but only that very afternoon, filled my dry gullet - particularly back where the taste buds register tones harsh and bitter. I mean it was damned unpleasant. I thought to scream and run away. Instead, I leaned against the wall and yawned, contemplating my forthcoming resignation from the less-than-lustrous firm of Dewey, Cheatam, and Howe. In an instant, the doomed soup-fodder met its grisly fate. I shedded a single tear as somewhere, far away but yet near enough to not be so far, too far, a produce clerk cried out with the angst of demise. “The cat will have that one. And, so much better the so with,” I thought. The women burped and rolled on the floor. Off-putting enough was that. But the Duke! His eyes! Never has any Member of the Congress witnessed upon the innocent world such boredom! Such rank malaise! Perish the very notion that in that Rite-Aid, within that veritable castle prison, that I should endure such such and such … of this and that.
Luckily, at that very moment of sheer exhaustion of trope and poor taste, Perrinfield reappeared, bearing forth a two-liter bottle of plastic, within which resided some generic soda concoction, likely bought on sale, woefully expired, and now utterly flat. He announced dejectedly,
‘My Lard. Mas’ Mark, er … Angleshman. Wenches… I give you the night’s drink - Lime Chip Soda!’
A round of “oohh’s” and “aahh's” floated lazily about the place. Ellis Harkersaps angstily fingered his pocket revolver. Most horrifically, a cheesy music began, as if from nowhere, though still heard herewhere, starting low and then rising to a headache-inducing screech. Perrinfield started singing - out of tune - being soon joined by the others, plus a multitude of assorted oddities, previously unseen:
Lime is beating...
Sadness makes it roll...
But, listen, Bitches…
(Nothing is wronger)
My pockets have a hole.
I remember joining the Lime Corps,
Slinking those slouches then.
The wackness would hip me.
(And the Noid would be mauling)
LET’S DO THE LIME CORPS AGAIN!!!
LET’S DO THE LIME CORPS AGAIN!!!
Constipation, flee me.
So you can't knee free; no, not a squall.
In belabored distention,
With liberalistic dissention,
Well deluded; Tom T. Hall.
With a clip of a rip dip,
You're into the LIME CHIP!
And nothing brings greater shame.
You're priced out of cremation.
Like it’s a bargain libation!
LET’S DO THE LIME CORPS AGAIN!!!
LET’S DO THE LIME CORPS AGAIN!!!
Against his better (maybe worse) judgment and to his eternal regret, Ellis Harkersaps began to toe-tap along, his fingers snapping to the alarmingly catchy if completely moronic tune. All was well until, quite suddenly, all parties noticed the label on the green plastic soda bottle. The music died. Hearts stood still. With one voice of terror, pain, confusion, lust, agitation, fear, sorrow, worry, fear, envy, yadda, yadda, and morose, they all cried out:
Ellis Harkersaps crashed through the back door - just punched a hole straight through it - his being one of dozens of hasty exits from the dilapidated, abandoned - now, re-abandoned - squatter’s palace of doom. Alas, just when the story was getting “good,” the party ended. Another condemned wreck of a building left standing amidst the ruin of another Eve of the All Hallowed. But, it was not yet the end, entirely…
For, seeking shelter from the ghastly spectacle of Sanheim, there entered into the Duke’s deserted castle-drugstore, the Vispoli family, recently disembarked from Anytown. While the children, Ruthie, Bryson, and Lizzie, plundered the remains of the pharmacy cabinets in search of dat fix, Todd and Claire examined the wreck of the back room, where once, if I forgot to mention this earlier on, there might have been a manager’s office. Might have been. Standing on a dank cabbage leaf, Todd exclaimed to his sleepy bride, ‘A bottle of Diet Lime Chip! Glory be.’ Under his breath, he added, ‘And, an ax…’
[Commence, here, in your head, either “Werewolves of London” by Warren Zevon or “Pet Sematary” by the Ramones - or RHPS’s “Time Warp” - that one’s probably stuck, right?].
***Please note that in the telling of this tale, no literal limes, baby cabbages, cranky English majors, or upon-a-time residents of the SGI Plantation were harmed in any way. A show tune might have conceivable been plagiarized, but that’s about the worst of it. Oh! And, Bram’s gothic - looted that too. But, hey, he’s dead and the copyright’s run so heck with it, eh? That’s the worst. Well, that and the concept, execution, etc.