Point Marion, Pennsylvania - 2001 Note: Stram Drocer is pronounced with a hard C. It rhymes with Bram Stoker.
(Please read The Kirmpad for background information about Stram Drocer and the theft of the Empire State Building)
With apologies to Lee Hollihan who created the characters of
Stram Drocer and Doc Ferdinand
and did not intend for them to be so silly.
The book of supreme horror is "The Book Of Lenz-Veronos". There is only a single copy in existance. It is not on this Earth. It has never been more than partially translated. An imperfect latin translation was printed by an unknown agent in the fifteenth century. Copies are occasionally found in the possesion of surviving witch cults.
"Bah!" bleated Stram Drocer looking up from the worn leather volume he had been reading, "That rotten printer! Every time he added an extra 'D' to 'Arovdga'". How is anybody supposed to know what I wrote? I suppose it is a good thing though. If people went around saying 'Arovdga, Arovdga, Arovdga' all the time, we'd be up to our necks in all sorts of... Get out of here!" With that final outburst he picked up a broom and waved it at an apparition with one arm, three legs and two unmentionables that had begun to materialize in the air. "Bah!" he added once more, returning to his starting place.
"Aha, I have had an idea," he continued talking to himself. This was not surprising as he was alone, the only occupant of a vast underground dome filled to bursting with natural gas. The only furniture was a flat-topped rock used as a desk and a broom used to sweep the thousands of empty bean cans against one wall. There were no entrances or exits.
"I will use my megazome to get the original Lenz-Veronos. Now where did I leave it? At Phil's house? No, no. That was my rhinocerous sandwich. Now let me think... Where did I leave those two mountains with the cable aerial stretched between them?" He paused for theatrical effect." Now I remember!" So saying, he swirled his cape around him and vanished in a great gout of flame.
With a puff of smoke, Stram Drocer appeared, coughing, somewhere in Switzerland. Seconds later a vast earthquake began the task of separating California from Nevada, allowing it to slide slowly into the sea surrounded by gently bobbing bean cans. "That is very strange," said Stram Drocer startling even further the dozens of people who had backed away, also coughing, from the cloud of smoke surrounding the hunched man. "Nevada is sliding into the sea."
Many, thinking him a prophet of sorts, fell to their knees. Others fell on their faces as he blew yet another blast of smoke from his smoldering cigar. "I will miss my summer vacations in Death Valley," he mused absently, as Death Valley absented itself beneath the rolling bean cans of the Pacific Ocean. "This does not matter however. I must get all of those people off of my mountains. "Hey you people!" he yelled. "Get off of my mountains! That is better," he said more quietly as he saw hundreds of skiers working their way down the slopes toward him. However, as soon as the skiers came close enough to the slouching figure in the cape to see the little propeller on top of his beanie and to smell his cigar smoke, they turned around and skied rapidly back up again.
"Blast!" said Stram Drocer waving his hand negligently. Promptly a huge blast shook the side of the mountain followed by an avalanche that swallowed up the retreating skiers. "We do not need them," said Stram,"there are lots more. And most of them are hanging from my antenna cable in little chairs!" He swirled his cape once more and found himself beneath the very mountain just as the avalanche swept past the spot where he had been standing, clearing the cigar smoke and, mercifully, putting to death the still hacking worshippers.
"Drat!" exclaimed Stram Drocer. But the word was muffled by the millions of tons of dirt, rock and pop-tops from beer cans that pressed in from every side. "Wrong mountain!" Since he could not swirl his cape with his arms jammed against his sides he muttered, "Beelze...," he couldn't remember Uncle's name. "...William Frawley!" he finished. It must have been good enough for in a trice, or maybe even a twoce, he was in the control chamber of the giant megazome, inside the other mountain. "This is more like it," he said before he realized he had materialized fifteen feet in the air and was now falling. He quickly did a midair flip so he landed head first, putting a large crack in the concrete floor but doing no other damage except to his propeller.
Opening a footlocker and removing a spare beanie he put it on his head. Scowling he took it off again, removed the damaged beanie and tossed it into the corner against the sizable pile of crumpled beanies, smashed propellers and empty bean cans. He then placed the new beanie on the short grizzled hair of his pointed head between the short grizzled hair of his two pointed ears, adjusting it so the embarrasing advertisment reading 'Heinz Bean-ie' was at the back. "Now to get rid of all these annoying people," he said walking over to a breadbox the size of a breadbox. He closed a large knifeswitch on its side. "Now who left that knifeswitch on its side?" he wondered setting it upright.
Three large Tesla busbars thrummed as thousands of amperes coursed through them. After about a minute the thrumming abruptly stopped and a little bell rang. "Aha, my toast is done," said Stram Drocer. "Now where did I put those beans?" Quickly he ate the toast and a can of beans, crushing the tin with his vise-like bite. With a belch, and with something less genteel, Stram stared at the megazome. The megazome stared back.
"What the heck," he said, "let's have some fun." He pressed a large red button on a piece of machinery the size of a small house. When a few seconds later nothing had happend, he kicked the base of the machine with a mocasinned foot. Thousands of feet above, vast streamers of electrical flame burst from the steel cable and sparks the size of tree trunks flew from the little chairs.
A sound like thunder shook the vast bulk of the mountain. "Darn beans!" griped Stram Drocer as screaming people fell from the ski-lift like droppings from a flock of pigeons. "Once I get rid of all these people I can try it at full power," he said loosening his belt. "I am talking about my megazome!" he growled at the smirking reader, belching behind his hand, then from behind a door and finally from behind, blowing the door off its rusty hinges.
As the door fell to the floor; cans, cartons, crates and boxcars full of beans tumbled through the opening, banging against the megazome. "I must remember to return those boxcars someday," mused Stram Drocer as he nimbly sidestepped a piece of rolling stock. A second later a diesel locomotive thundered after it. "You have been at my beans again!" yelled Stram at the receeding engineer.
Grumpily kicking Heinz and Campbell's cans, he made his way back to the megazome. "I will turn the power all the way up," he said as he grasped a huge rheostat with both hands, turned with all his might and split his cape up the back, not to mention the seat of his trousers, as he strained at the unmoving wheel.
"Scotora Mull!" he swore and, picking up a number ten can of Hanover pork and beans, threw it at the rheostat. That did it, for the wheel spun all the way to the 'eleven' at the top of the dial. The can of beans helped as well. Then, planting his mocasinned right foot firmly among the tin cans, he kicked with his booted left at the red button. The button depressed fully seven inches, six of which were accounted for by the new dent in the front panel.
Mountains of electrical fire flew skyward from the tops of the mountains of rock. The huge antenna cable reaching between the peaks writhed like a living thing. A butterfly watched in dissapointment as its brief life flashed before its faceted eyes, while an artificial lighting bolt, as thick as a redwood, shot toward it...and stopped inches short of it's multi-hued wings. "Thank you," thought the butterfly dimly as it fluttered by, not knowing that in the hollow center of the mountain Stram Drocer was 'Scotora Mull'ing with a vengence as he furiously searched his pockets for a penny to put in the fusebox.
"Dratted fusebox won't take quarters," he grumbled trying to pound one into the small socket with his fist. "First thing tomorrow I get a new one that will take anything up to ten dollar bills and give change," he promised himself. "Meanwhile I must figure out another way to get my hands on that Verse Of Lenz Veronos." Swirling half of his torn cape halfway around him and tripping nimbly on the other half, he stumbled forward and vanished into the thick air - which reeked of ozone and methane.
An hour later an unshaven Stram Drocer, smart in a new cape and a horribly out-of-date tuxedo, sauntered into the library at the Drocer Institute. Baring his long canines in a leer he fondly believed was an engaging smile, he told the librarian, "I would like to borrow The Verse Of Lenz-Veronos for a week."
"I'm sorry, it's out and there's a waiting list," she said, not even looking at the crazed old man.
"WHAT!" thundered Stram Drocer and the sparks flying from his eyes mingled with those from his cigar.
"Just a joke," she said, still not looking up from her work. "And besides Mr. Drocer, you know your library card has been cancelled."
Chug-a-lugging a can of beans, he left a resounding blast that felled three large shelves of books, the coat tree in the foyer and the maple tree in the front lawn as he stormed out the door.
He held his cape over his head to protect himself from the storm as he paced the deserted street. His anger was spent and his last quarter was lodged sideways in the fusebox under the mountain. How was he going to afford the streetcar?
"This is very easily," he muttered, "I will steal one."
So saying, he ran to the nearest car barn, jumped in the nearest streetcar and jammed his number fourteen boot on the accelerator. Nothing happened.
"Scotora Mull!" he swore, "I would pick one that is out of gas."
With that he charged out the door, both forgetting to open it and and missing the blown fuse on the dash in his agitation. He stomped forward to the next streetcar on the siding and charged in. Fortunately the door on this one had been left ajar. He plopped his generous hindquarters on the drivers seat with a loud creak. The seat squealed in protest as well. He mashed down the accelerator and promptly backed into the car behind with a crash that shook the old car barn to its very rafters, dislodging a family of bats and about twenty years worth of soot.
"Scotora mezzini!" he screamed. He was starting to get really peeved now. Shoving the big electric motors into forward, he floored the accelerator. Crash! He slammed into the trolley in front, shaking loose soot from the twenty years that had preceeded the twenty years he had previously dislodged. He also dislodged the bones of the family of bats that has preceeded the one that had flown away.
Smoke flew from his ears - the first collision had caused him to swallow his cigar. Bat bones rattled dryly on the roof of the trolley like gentle rain. "Grrr!" he growled and, reaching violently for the steering wheel to pull out around the trolley in front, he cartwheeled out the door.
"I forgot," he muttered to himself as he lay face down in the soot, "Trolleys run on tracks. They don't have steering wheels."
Dusting off his tuxedo as best he could with his big hairy paws, he stomped to the trolley at the head of the line with his big hairy feet, and finally stomped in, leaving great dents in each metal step.
"Third time pays for all." he grimaced and, once more, stomped the accelerator. The heavy electric motors roared into life like angry dragons awakening from aeons of sleep. The trolley shot forward as if out of a cannon. It crashed though the blockade at the end of the siding, flew straight off the end of the track and coasted to a stop in the dirt as the trolley pole left the power wire.
Then the lights went out as the motor-generator supplying power to the trolley wires shut down for the night.
The next morning, as thousands of miles away in the city, perplexed Port Authority workers stared unbelieving at the damage and soot in the car barn, Stram Drocer was back in the control chamber of the giant megazome.
"Why it...uuurp," he began, tossing the empty can from his breakfast beans into the corner, "...was certainly a long walk back to Switzerland. But this does not matter, except to that bootmaker who will be one sorry cobbler when I get my paws on him!" He stared disconsolately at his ruined boots and wriggled eleven toes that stuck out the soleless bottom. His acquaintances had always told him he had no soul, and they were finally proved right. He wriggled the toes on the other foot for good measure.
Finished with measuring his feet, he jotted down several rather large numbers for the, soon to be sorry, not to mention exhausted, cobbler.
"I must remember to have him make me a second mocassin too," thought Stram Drocer, "if he can find another cow."
Rising from his breakfast table, which also served as his lunch and dinner table and as the workbench for the mortuary business he ran on the side, he looked around at the giant megazome that filled the hollowed out mountain. Then he looked down at the table, some thirty feet below where he had risen.
"I must remember to embalm that body and bury it one of these days," he mused.
There was a sound like the honk of a rather large goose and Stram Drocer shot forward across the control chamber and ricochetted off the wall, dislodging a boulder the size of a Volkswagen which crashed to the table below, saving him the trouble of burying the body after all.
"Drat those beans!" he snarled. "The next time I steal a boxcar I must make sure of what is in it. Perhaps cabbage again..." His repulsive face brightened as he remembered speeding down the track in a hijacked trolley, towing a stolen reefer full of cabbage behind. Those were the days - outwitting the railroad police as he left their tracks and confounding the Port Authority guards as he sped into a dark alley never to emerge. He wouldn't see days like that again in this lifetime. Maybe in the next...or in the one after that...
Several honks and ricochets later, his bouyancy finally dissipated, he descended to the cavern floor.
"I must remember not to smoke my cigar until the air has cleared," he thought, craftily stuffing two plugs of chewing tobacco up his nose and lighting them. The explosion that followed indeed cleared the air of noxious gasses as the improvised nose plug protected his scarred eardrums yet again.
Blowing his nose into his tobacco pouch, Stram Drocer slouched over to the megazome control panel. Varicolored lights winked at him. He winked back with varicolored eyes, one green, one yellow, and both with what he insisted were flecks of ruby, but which looked more like oversauced spaghetti. So deepset were these bloodshot eyes that many people he hypnotised had nightmares for months afterwards of worms at the bottoms of wells.
At least he had accomplished one good thing in his disastrous trip to the car barn the previous evening. A streetcar fuse was lodged securely in the fusebox and nearby lay the sledge hammer which had been used to lodge it there. He was also solvent once more with a slightly bent quarter in his pocket.
Stram Drocer stared at the large red button now at the bottom a six inch crater in the control panel with his good eye. The other eye was looking somewhere in the direction of his left ear. "Someone has polished that," he thought, "it is just like looking into a mirror". Pulling a greasy comb, bearing the much worn signature of Edd Byrnes, from his hip pocket, he carefully combed the hair over his bald spot and wished, as he did every morning, for a second hair to go with it.
Pocketing the comb, he began his morning housekeeping. He filled the ashtrays by burning scraps of paper in them. He took clean dishes from the cupboard, rubbed them in the soot on his cape and stacked them neatly in the sink to be washed. Finally he got out the Hoover and emptied it on the floor, kicking at it with his bottomless boots, to give the cave a nice 'lived-in' look. He tried to do a little tapdance in the dirt, but it was impossible without sole. He considered calling the fish market to order sole for his boots but decided that would be silly. What he really needed was a cobbler, so he phoned the bakery instead.
His morning chores successfully completed, Stram Drocer stared at the megazome with displeasure. "I am displeased with that," he muttered. "I should move it to the Institute. This will show them I am not crazy and I do not talk to myself," he said to himself.
"But before I can move these two mountains I must make them smaller. I know! I will use my megazome." His hairy face assumed a puzzled expression, but it was still pretty ugly. "I do not know if you can use a megazome on itself but I will find out."
He spun dials with a vengence, spun his marching baton and even attempted to spin himself around. He failed at the latter for, as he had discovered earlier, one cannot dance without sole. His big flat feet just slapped the cement sending spalled chunks of concrete flying in all directions.
In mounting anger he threw switches, picked them up and threw them back. Finally, however, he managed to aim the megazome at itself. Taking a run at the megazome, arm outstretched to punch the red button, he tripped on a chunk of concrete and ended up smashing the large button with his nose. His dog-like face momentarily took on the expression of a surprised boxer. It was still ugly though.
Then all hell broke loose.
"I will fasten that down later," mumbled Stram Drocer as he hung on to the megazome with both arms, both legs and both teeth. His luncheon beans had begun speaking loudly and, as if that weren't enough, the white sparks playing over everything in the chamber, including Stram himself, were igniting the aftermath of that lunch and great blasts of blue flame were burning holes in the back of his best cape.
But he hardly noticed that for he felt as though a giant hand were reaching through his nose, grabbing his crotch and pulling him inside out...repeatedly. It was most unpleasant and his smashed face broke into a big smile. But it was still ugly.
Above, surprised skiers found themselves hanging thousands of feet in the air as the two mountains shrank to the size of molehills - very heavy molehills. Happy smiling faces turned into happy smiling red mush as people were ejected from the ski lift to fall to their deaths on the newly exposed bare rock below, bringing their holiday to an abrupt and messy end.
Meanwhile, in miniature, Stram Drocer pried his arms and legs from the megazome. It was several minutes before he could find a crowbar large enough to pry his teeth from it as well. Until he put them back in, his face was perhaps not quite so ugly.
"I must go get my pickup truck to take these mountains back to the Institute," he said as he opened the outer door and smashed his recovering face once more, this time into a boulder that was, in reality, a grain of sand.
"Scotora Mull!" he bellowed as he realized his predicament. "This is another fine predicament I've gotten myself into." He had a feeling of deja vu that flickered away before he could grasp it. Or perhaps it was a last dying blue flame. "I have made myself small as well." he realized. "Well, at least my beans will last longer."
So saying he turned back to the megazome and swiftly reset the controls, pausing only to find a plumber's plunger to pull his face out again. This time he had the presence of mind, tiny though it was, to swing the plunger at the red button with his outstretched arm instead of smashing his face against it. Unfortunately he missed the button and belted himself in the face with the plunger.
We must, of necessity, lower the curtain on the language that ensued.
The next day in Ammon Cove, Massachusetts, a few miles from the Drocer Institute outside of Kingsland, a recently washed 1937 pickup truck drove out of the ocean and up the beach to Cove Road. A recovered Stram Drocer was sitting smartly behind the wheel. Well, as smart as his small brain would allow. The back of the truck was loaded with cans of pork and beans and a tiny but very heavy crate with what looked like model railroad scenery inside. The rear springs were broken and the headlights pointed roughly at Aldebaran.
On the passenger seat were more cases of beans. The top one was open. The 12 cylinder engine ran raggedly put powerfully on natural gas provided by the hose leading from the modified carburator to the funnel under Stram Drocer's bottom.
Without signalling he whipped out onto the freeway, floored the accelerator and shot toward Kingsland at a speed in excess of two miles an hour - two mountains are quite a load, even for a twelve cylinder engine. Horns blared and brakes screeched.
Several loud crashes split the air behind him, but the extra gas did little to help the straining engine.
A police cruiser, noting the disturbance, pulled out behind him but shot past before it could slow down. Stram Drocer chugged on unconcerned, chug-a-lugging another can of beans, tossing the empty can out the window and dropping it neatly into the back seat of a passing convertible.
Twelve hours later he swung into the parking lot of the Drocer Institute of Technology and backed up to the adjacent cornfield.
"Now how to unload these two mountains," he mumbled and walked around to the passenger door. Opening the door, he started pulling out cases of beans. As he lightened the cab of the truck the front wheels lifted into the air and the two mountains slid off the back into the cornfield. He reached for the doorknob to let himself into the megazome chamber and remembered he would need a microscope to see it.
"It is a good thing I brought this," he said pulling a remote control from his pocket and pushing the 'power on' button. Instantly Stram Drocer and his pickup truck shrank to the size of dust motes. He climbed in and, steering around several paramecia and a puzzled looking amoeba, he drove up to the base of the nearer mountain. Fumbling in his pocket for his key ring he unlocked the three padlocks and the deadbolt and quickly entered the door.
Shortly a low roaring began that built slowly in volume until both mountains literally danced on the ground. It ended in a tremendous explosion that lifted them several scale feet into the air. That was followed by a series of progressively smaller blasts that lasted several minutes and ended in a machine gun-like rattle. Finally there was a sound of running water and Stram Drocer emerged, wiping his hands on his cape. He closed and carefully re-locked the men's room door.
Entering the megazome chamber he flopped down in his armchair and stared beadily at the massed machinery. As soon as the vicar finished the mass and left through the nave, Stram got down to business. He wrote out several checks and called his lawyer to have a late payer thrown in prison.
Finished with business, he walked over to the megazome and kicked it listlessly. Not satisfied, he kicked it with quite a bit of list. Still unsatisfied he picked up the plunger, swung it around in a great arc, missed the megazome and belted himself in the face.
Nor did that satisfy him, but it sufficiently dampened his enthusiasm that he did not try the same with the sledge hammer that still lay under the fusebox. Instead he gave the megazome a mighty kick with his number fourteen, soleless boot. He spent the next several minutes hopping madly around the megazome chamber, clutching at his toes, whining pitifully and, incidently, proving that one can dance without sole.
With that task completed, Stram Drocer gave a delicate twist to a small knob near the center of the control panel. When it did not move he gripped it with his teeth and twisted his head around. When that also failed to work he recovered his teeth and put them back in.
Finally, in desperation, he took an eighteen inch pipe wrench from his back pocket, clamped it around the tiny knob and heaved with all his might. When he was done throwing up he felt better, though it didn't help the atmosphere of the megazome chamber, not to mention that the maid was in for a nasty shock when she came in to sweep up next week.
Stepping carefully around the steaming pile, he kicked at the huge wrench with his booted foot so violently he broke it off. Stram Drocer stared in disbelief at the broken foot lying on the floor. He prodded it with his stump only to discover that it was just the bottom half of his boot and, in fact, his foot was still securely attached to the end of his leg after all.
He was about to heave a sigh of relief but his stomach was empty from the last heave. So he picked his nose instead. "I pick...this one," he announced taking his favorite false nose from a drawer and attaching it to his face with a piece of string. He looked in the mirror. The false nose looked quite handsome, he thought, sitting there beside his real one though not sticking out quite so far.
He considered sweet talking the librarian as he tried out his best John Zacherle leer in the mirror. The mirror gave up with a tinkle and a pile of silvered glass slid to the floor. Besides, he remembered, he was still microscopic inside the miniaturized mountain.
Well, at least he could take care of that. Picking up a microscopic shovel he shoveled microscopic coal into a microscopic boiler in the microscopic megazome. Then, turning the volume of his public address system all the way up, he shouted into the microscope for every one within ten miles to stand back. Realizing how foolish he must look shouting into a microscope, he readjusted his tie clip, silently wished for a tie to go with it, put his lips to the megazome this time and shouted again.
"Wait a minute," he said, "I need a megaphone for this, not a megazome." But I guess one has to do one's best with what one has at hand."
Turning on the megazome to one one-hundreth of full power he shouted into it again. At least 9,240 people in Kingsland jumped as the Megazome broadcast Stram Drocer's voice directly into their brains.
"Test! Test! Buy Zeke's Adrovdgas!" said the voice in their heads and 9,240 people tested and ran out to buy Zeke's Adrovdgas. The suicidal rush on the adrovdga stores is rememebered fondly to this day by the grocers of Kingsland. It is known as the Great Adrovdga Rush of '87. The shelves were wiped clean. The adrovdgas from those clean shelves were then sold to the rushing people.
As you may have noticed, adrovdgas play no small part in the story. In fact they play no part at all. I wonder why I have even mentioned them.
With a ghastly smile Stram Drocer briefly considered telling everyone in Kingsland to go jump in the lake. But he decided that would pollute the reservoir and he was in no mood for more complaints from the sanitation department. The last time he told someone to jump in the lake, Doc Ferdinand had turned the tap water in Kingsland black for a day as his shoe polish washed off.
"I will tell everybody to get out of town," he said. "That will keep them out of the way when I restore my mountains to full size.
"Hey everybody!" He yelled into the megazome speaking tube. "Get out of town right now!"
He sat down to read last year's newspaper while he waited for the town to clear. After he finished the comics and wrapped them back around last year's fish, he looked out the door. His mouth dropped in amazement. He picked it up and, in his consternation, put it back on his face upside down. The entire population of Kingsland was milling around the cornfield.
Suddenly he realized what had happened and smacked himself in the head. Putting down the plunger he stuck his head out the door and yelled, "Ereh emoc ot uoy rof naem ton did I 'nwot fo tuo teg' dias I nehw, elpoep uoy yeh!" forgetting that his mouth was upside down. Besides he was only a microcopic man in a miniature mountain. Nobody heard him.
Stram Drocer was not used to being ignored. He steamed, he fumed, he burned with a dull red fire, sparks flew from his eyes, smoke billowed out of his ears and blackened the earflaps of his beanie. Finally he took the lit end of his cigar out of his mouth and turned it around.
He glanced in the mirror and frowned. Yes, that looked much better with his mouth turned around. It had been unnatural to have the corners of his mouth go up when he frowned. Absently he put the lit end of the cigar back in his mouth and yipped when he burned his single front tooth. He spat the cigar out onto the floor and glared out it. He considered kicking it but, instead, picked up the sledge hammer, gave it a mighty swing, missed the cigar and belted himself in the face.
After regaining conciousness several hours later, Stram Drocer gloomily surveyed his smashed nose in the mirror. Finally, in disgust, he broke the string and tossed the nose onto the pile of empty bean cans in the corner.
He looked out the door. The cornfield was dark and empty. He rubbed his eyes and looked again. This time it was empty and dark. He shook his head to clear it. That was a mistake. A great pounding inside his head was making his eyeballs bug out with each heartbeat. Wearily he sat on the floor, leaned back against the pile of empty bean cans and fell asleep.
The next morning Stram Drocer woke with a start, struggled to his feet and rang for his butler.
"Yes, sir." said a cultured voice at his elbow.
"Take that sledge hammer and throw it in the lake, Zeke!" demanded Stram Drocer.
"Very good, sir."
Before he had time to step aside, the heavy hammer whizzed past his right ear, missing it by an inch and sailed through the door.
"Will there be anything else, sir?" said the voice at his elbow.
"Yes," retorted Stram Drocer. "Stop talking into my elbow!"
"Very good, sir," replied the voice from the vicinity of his knee and then vanished.
"And bring me some ham and eggs!" he shouted at the retreating butler.
"Of course, sir. Which shall it be this morning, sir, Wilbur or Arnold?"
"Never mind. Just bring me a couple cans of beans."
A second later a can of beans flew through the open door of the butler's pantry, missed his left ear by three inches and smacked into his forehead popping the lid open. "He has a strong throwing arm," thought Stram Drocer. "It's lucky he's such a bad aim." As he bent down to scoop up the spill, a second can caught him smartly up the bum knocking him face-first into the pile of beans. He could have sworn he heard a hearty laugh just before the pantry door slammed and locked.
As he lay on his face on the floor lapping up beans, Stram Drocer tried to remember what he was doing here. "Aha, of course! I am eating breakfast." That problem solved, he lapped up the last of the beans with a light heart and a heavy stomach.
"Now I must move these mountains somewhere that I can make them the proper size," he said aloud. "But they are on the ground and the story did not say how I got them on the truck the first time."
"Aha! I have got an idea," He said pulling a silk cord dangling from a stalactite.
"You rang sir?" said the voice at his knee."
"That is not a bell. That is my stomach rumbling from those blasted beans, you fool!" yelled Stram Drocer.
"Now," he added smugly, "put these mountains back on the truck." He flopped down in his easy chair.
"Very good sir," said the butler. He walked over to the megazome, carefully adjusted several vernier dials, flipped a number of switches and, finally, reached into the deep dent to firmly press the red button. Stram Drocer felt a moment of intense nausea and retched into his lap.
"Will that be all, sir?" purred the butler.
"No, blast it!" yelled Stram Drocer standing up and brushing off his tuxedo. "Clean up this mess!"
"I'm sorry, sir. That is the maid's duty and she only comes in on Tuesdays and Saturdays, sir." And then he was gone.
Stram Drocer stared moodily at the closing pantry door. "One of these days he is going to get his," he said looking at the bell rope with one eye and the plunger with the other.
He walked over to the door and looked out once more. All he could see was the inside of the closed tailgate of his ancient pickup truck. "Well I'll be bloggered!' he mumbled. "So that's how the author managed it. Now why are my hair and ears standing on end? I look like the Washington monument standing between two Egyptian pyramids." As he stuck his muzzle through the open door, blue fire played over the distant tip of it. He turned around, bent over, backed part way out the door and snickered as streamers of flame were ignited by the blue sparks and shot from the seat of his trousers. In fact he began laughing so hard he fell out the door banging his head against the tailgate.
"Just a minute," he said. I am my right size again! It must be some delayed effect of what that butler did with my megazome! Why can he operate it better than I can?"
Just then the sledge hammer, which had also returned to its proper size, fell from the sky squarely onto Stram Drocer's head. Before he passed out he could have sworn he heard a tiny laugh from inside the miniature mountain.
Hours passed while the amateur vampire snored and smiled in his sleep as he dreamed of biting people on the knee to drink their blood. As his dreams turned bizarre and he nearly drowned after biting a person with water on the knee, he awoke in a fuzzy stupor.
In this momentary, unatural clarity of mind he had an idea.
"I have had an idea," he said. "I will take my megazome to New York City."
Clambering out over the tailgate he caught the cuff of his tuxedo in a chain and tore the leg all the way up to the pocket as he fell heavily to the ground. Tearing the leg completely off, he stood up and promptly fell over. Pulling his leg free of the trouser leg which was still caught in the chain, he reattached it and stood up on both legs this time.
He walked around to the door of the truck, stomping heavily to make sure the leg was firmly attached. He climbed in, started the engine, put it into third gear (He had never learned how to shift once the truck was moving.) and popped the clutch.
While Stram Drocer was going through these motions, his butler was far from idle. Now that he had been introduced into the story he intended to make the best of things before he was dropped again. Pulling his number 14 bowler snugly over his beetling brow, he studied the megazome. Carefully readjusting the verniers and throwing more switches, he pressed the red button. The two miniature mountains disappeared from the bed of the pickup truck with a soft pop!
As we have said, Stram Drocer revved up the big engine and popped the clutch to resume his two mile an hour trek. The suddenly lightened truck shot forward with a lurch tumbling him through the missing back window of the cab and into the bed. Rolling head-over-heels Stram Drocer fetched up against the tailgate with a resounding crash! Fortunately, deprived of its unusual souce of fuel, the engine faltered, died and, with a last backfire, filled the air with a green cloud of unburned methane. Stram Drocer took a deep breath and passed out, this time to dream of beans.
Stram Drocer sped up the interstate toward New York City passing cars, vans, eighteen wheelers and police cruisers with reckless abandon. He didn't slow down until he hit the Manhattan traffic. And he hit it with a resounding crash!
He backed up to disengage his snowplow from the city bus he had rear-ended and drove up onto the sidewalk while the fat bus driver shook his fist out the window and yelled something about Stram Drocer going to the moon. Downing a can of beans and flooring the accelerator once more he sent street signs, lamp posts and pedestrians flying in all directions as he made his way toward the former site of the Empire State Building. Speeding up the mountain he looked in vain for the empty lot.
"Wait, stop the book!" yelled Stram Drocer standing on the brake with both feet then jumping out of the truck. "What is this about driving up a mountain?"
"You've been driving up a mountain for the past ten minutes," replied the author.
"In the middle of New York City?" cried Stram Drocer.
"In the middle of New York City," said the author.
"There's a mountain in the middle of new York City?" asked Stram Drocer.
"There's a mountain in the middle of New York City." said the author.
"There's an echo on this mountain," said Stram Drocer threateningly.
"Get back in the truck and start driving," replied the author calmly.
"And what if I don't?" said Stram Drocer truculantly.
"With that his tuxedo trousers fell to the ground revealing boxer shorts with large red, blue and yellow polka dots," stated the author.
"So I'm going already," whined Stram Drocer pulling up his trousers with one hand and opening the door of the truck with the other. "But first tell me how did this mountain get here?"
"Turn the page," said the author. Stram Drocer turned the page.
In the instant that the two mountains had disappeared from the back of Stram Drocer's pickup truck, the wily butler had caused them to return to their original size in the middle of New York City. It's no wonder the City traffic had been snarled more than usual. And it was a startled skier who had been suspended in the megazome field until he suddenly found himself shooting off the end of the ski slope, across a New York sidewalk and through the front window of Chin Lee Sibolsky's Original Chinese Delicatessen and Kolbasi Shoppe.
"Scotora Mull!" screamed the baffled skier as falling shelves buried him beneath a montain of sweet and sour pierogies.
"Pierogies sound good," thought Stram Drocer chewing a mouthfull of beans and turning the page to see what happens next.
The pickup truck, which had been left pretty much to steer itself while Stram read, was speeding backwards among the giant pines when suddenly it wedged itself in the open door of the megazome chamber with a terrific crash!
Had he not been wearing a seatbelt, Stram Drocer would have been propelled bodily through the back window of the pickup truck cab and into the megazome chamber. He wasn't wearing a seatbelt, so that is exactly what happened. He slammed, back first, into the megazome controls. "Ow, that's going to hurt in the morning," he thought.
His flat head had missed smashing a pressure guage by mere inches and bashed into the red button instead. There was a brief but overpowering nausea and he upchucked on his shoes. Through the open door the New York skyline had been replaced by dense jungle. He was trying to wipe his shoes clean on the backs of his tuxedo legs when a black face with a bone in its nose suddenly appeared at the door.
Black eyes stared at him hungrily as a fat tongue emerged from between two rows of efficient looking, blindingly white teeth and licked the full black lips. Finally a large black hand appeared and pulled out the chicken bone that was jammed up a nostril. "Hello dere, Strams!" said Doc Ferdinand. "I'd ast youse t'share mah picnic, but dis here mountain landed on toppa it."
Stram Drocer's eyes rolled up into his head so only the bloodshot whites showed as he slid to the floor in a dead faint.
He awoke, stark naked and up to his neck, in a large cauldron of steaming water. Doc Ferdinand looked up from the rhythm and blues records he was counting into stacks and idly tossed a bar of soap.
"Youse was mighty ripe," he said. Have yerself a bath while I sees if yer suit is dry." He turned to look at the ragged tuxedo and cape hanging from a tree branch beside a small, polluted stream.
As soon as the black man's back was turned, the naked Stram Drocer leapt from the pot, landed on the bar of soap and somersaulted head over hooves into a brier patch.
"Ouch!" he said as he landed face down on the thorns.
Actually he said considerably more than that and in great and definitive detail but in a language the author has no idea how to spell. Gingerly regaining his feet and pulling thorns out of here and there and his everywheres, he gave a great sneering laugh at the author's ignorance and plunged into the pines.
When that brought him up short, he tried plunging between them.
Half an hour later he was lost, naked and alone in the Ubangi Swamp. "Scotora Mull," he muttered, "What am I going to do." He inadventantly stepped on the head of a crocodile and a brief but fierce struggle ensued.
"At least I won't go hungry," he said an hour later, burping, patting his bulging belly and sucking the marrow from the last crocodile bone. "It may not be a rhinocerous sandwich, but it sure beats canned beans."
He was now smartly attired in a genuine crocodile loin cloth over his crotch. A string of grinning crocodile teeth hung around his scrawny neck. Without his butler to lay out his clothes he had reversed them at first but was promptly and painfully made aware of his error.
Crudely he fashioned a crude spear from a tree branch using his teeth and went off in search of Doc Ferdinand. He was afraid of black people, he was scared of smiling black people and he was terrified of happy, smiling black people. He was headed in the wrong direction! He turned and ran away from the picnic area as fast as his short, hairy bowlegs could carry him.
Later he stood on the sidewalk of a small outdoor shopping mall next to the swamp panting heavily and looking in a store window at pairs of pants. He gave a last pair of pants and resumed his normal rheumy wheeze.
He felt his loin cloth for money. He didn't find any but he had to pause for a moment to wipe the smile off his face. Fortunately the crocodile had had a gold tooth so he pulled it loose from the jawbone and took it into the store.
An hour later Stram Drocer emerged in a custom tailored tuxedo and cape. He was still pretty ugly though. Maybe it was the way the derby teetered on his pointed ears. He tried twirling his cane but thought better of it when he promptly hit himself in the side of the head causing the derby to spin for several revolutions.
He paused to take stock of his situation. Here he stood, outside the shopping mall. The gold crocodile tooth had got him a new tuxedo and cape and a silver alligator tooth in change. His derby was sitting sideways on his head. He didn't realize it yet, but it was to be a turning point in this particular life.
He was stumped for a way to get past Doc Ferdinand and into the Megazome control chamber. But he had an idea and snapped his stubby fingers.
Actually there was a great deal more to it than that. First he faced himself north-northwest, looked upward at precisly nineteen degrees, and repeated a secret incantation three times. I can't tell you what the word was, but it sounded very much like Adrovdga.
The air grew dark and stifling hot. A scowling figure with blazing eyes and a black suit and frock coat appeared and, grabbing Stram Drocer by one hand and one foot, spun him violently around until he faced the same direction as his derby. In so doing it snapped three of Stram Drocer's fingers and several bones in his foot. So you see, it really was a turning point in his life and that's how he snapped his fingers as well.
Satisfied that the derby was now correct, the butler gave it a smart rap which settled it over Stram Drocer's eyes, bowed, shimmered and was gone. Stram Drocer stood stunned, not to mention dizzy. He attempted to take a step, teetered and fell through the window of the men's shop with a resounding crash. This just wasn't turning out to be his day.
Blinded by the derby, he quickly jotted down the idea for the song, which he later sold to Manfred Mann for a $3 bill. With minor changes in the words, it became major hit record.
Stram Drocer's flailing arms found and clutched a sharply creased trouser leg. He was just pulling himself to his feet when the author hit the wrong key and the sharply creased trousers suddenly became sharply greased trousers. They slid down. Flailing once more he grabbed an arm and pulled it off but he had lifted himself high enough to get his arm around the figure's neck. He promptly pulled its head off.
You and I know was a window dummy. Stram Drocer's flea brain had yet to register that fact and he went into a frenzy ripping off arms, legs, fingers and toes. It wasn't until he ripped off his own nose that he began to calm down. "Bugars!" he said. "Another false nose ruined. I wonder if there's a novelty store in this dratted shopping center. If I could get this hat off maybe I could see."
But Stram's butler had seated the derby so well it eventually took a wheel-puller to get it loose. It simultaneously relieved his back trouble and made his neck an inch longer.
Coming out of the auto parts store with his derby in one hand and the wheel-puller in the other, Stram Drocer looked up and down the shopping mall for a novelty nose store, then looked for an empty hand to wipe his real nose. As both hands were as full as his nose, he ended up using a foot. It just matched the length of his nose.
What he did spot was an army surplus store. He mozied over to it and opened the door.
"Good evening my friend," he annonuced. This is what's popularly known as starting out on the wrong foot; as it was 10:00 A.M., or if you are Irish, ten O'Clock. The owner of the store was Irish and looked up from his Dublin Times crossword puzzle to give Stram Drocer a suspicious look, simultaneously reaching under the counter for his shillelagh.
Oblivious to the owner smacking the weighted shillelagh menacingly against the palm of his hand while he scatched his head at this tuxedoed interloper with the other, Stram Drocer stepped through the door with his left foot. This is also known as starting out on the wrong foot; for he promptly tripped over a box, sending himself and a dozen IRA surplus gas masks tumbling across the floor.
Remembering his huge store of canned beans, Stram Drocer reached for a gas mask which lay by his muzzle with the intention of offerring a silver alligator tooth for same when the shillelagh came whistling through the air, missed his skull by inches and landed across his knuckles.
This was too much! Stram Drocer leaped to his feet, took a boxer's stance with fists balled and chin out, looked the proprietor in the eye... and screamed with pain. The force of the yell sent the stunned Irishman staggering backwards through the minefield of gas masks until he tumbled across the counter with a gas mask tangled around each foot.
Stram Drocer, who was about as dim as a burned out nightlight, stared at the two masked feet waving in the air, picked up a second gas mask from the floor, an army surplus false nose from the wall display, tossed the silver alligator tooth on the counter and stormed haughtily through the closed door.
Staring at his bruised knuckles with tears in his eyes, he trod across the shards of plate glass that littered the sidewalk wishing he had bought shoes to go with his new tuxedo. Strapping a gas mask to each foot and the false nose around his hips beneath his trousers where it produced an impressive bulge, Stram Drocer strode purposefully down the sidewalk wrapping his cape around him and looking for elderly ladies to flash.
Thirty days later as he emerged from the jail clutching a plastic bag containing his belongings - two gas masks and a false nose, Stram Drocer looked for the familiar mountains towering above the swamp. They weren't there.
"Drat those mountains!" he muttered. "Now where are they?"
A police officer guarding the door, ostensibly to keep people from sneaking into the jail, replied, "They were impeding the view of the swamp, sir, and we asked the butler to move them."
"Diddley and doggerel!" spluttered Stram Drocer. "Did he leave my truck?"
"Yes sir," said the officer. "We apprehended a 1939 pickup truck parked at an expired meter at the center of the swamp and had it removed to the tow pound at the rear of this premeises, sir. It can be redeemed on payment of the parking fine of one false nose."
Stram Drocer took the camouflage nose from his bag and strapped it around the officer's head, giving the strong military elastic a mighty snap in the process. Removing his crank from the unconscious officer's key ring, he climbed over the chain link fence, started his truck and, quickly downing a can of beans, crashed it into the gate.
Soon he was cruising down the turnpike lulled by the popping of the beans and the engine and working his snowplow up and down on its hydraulics in an attempt to shake loose the tow pound gate and the two hundred feet of chain link fence that was dragging behind it.
He eventually picked up I-80 and drove across Indiana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and most of Illinois - in that order, and looking right and left for his missing mountains. It's a shame he didn't look up.
He had been driving up a mountain steadily for half an hour before he crossed the city limits into the town of Winnetka on the outskirts of Chigago. He was admiring the towering pines and snow capped peaks when suddenly he stood on the brakes. The fence whipped past him, sailed a hundred yards up the hill, hit a skier right smack in the puss and finally become tangled in the pines. He jumped out of the truck.
"Wait, stop the book!" yelled Stram Drocer, "What is this about driving up a mountain?"
"You've been driving up a mountain for the past half hour," replied the author.
"In the middle of Chicago?" cried Stram Drocer.
"On the edge of it," admitted the author.
"There's a mountain on the edge of Chicago?" asked Stram Drocer.
"Actually there are two mountains in lake Michagan." said the author.
"I'm getting tired of your deux et machinas," said Stram Drocer threateningly.
"Get back in the truck and start driving," replied the author calmly.
"And what if I don't?" said Stram Drocer truculantly.
"I thought you had learned your lesson about arguing with the author," said the author as Stram Drocer's tuxedo trousers fell to the ground revealing boxer shorts with large red, blue and yellow polka dots. Only this time there was a large false nose strapped around them."
"So I'm going already," whined Stram Drocer pulling up his trousers with one hand and stuffing the rubber nose into them with the other.
And he had to go badly too. He ran around to the back of the "Winnetka Trucke Stop and Goode Eates Plaza" and kicked open the men's room door. He hadn't had time to ask for the key. He jerked the door closed behind him.
The building shook to its foundations. Plaster fell from the ceilings in chunks as people ran screaming from all the exits. And this was before the door had time to close. Fleeing cars jammed the drive as their owners ran after them yelling for them to wait. A series of tremendous explosions terrified the populace all the way from Gary to Milwaukee. Scientists as far away as the twin cities of Kansas City and Kansas City felt the ground shake and predicted calmly that the two new mountains in Lake Michagan were volcanoes about to erupt.
There was a final eardrum warping blast. The walls of the service plaza groaned one last time and toppled, bringing down the roof around the ears of Stram Drocer who was struggling with his fly which had caught in the rubber nose. He stepped over the wreckage and noticed the thunder of that last titanic gasser echoing back and forth between Winnetka and the Rockies. It would have made no impression on him to know it would go down in legend as the Big Noise From Winnetka.
He never new how close he came to fame of a more dubious type. If the local constabulary hadn't had their hands full trying to hold up the ceiling of the police station, the vice squad would likely have caused him to go down in legend as the Big Nose From Winnetka as well.
This was all well and good, good and well, but it wasn't getting Stram Drocer any closer to his goal - whatever that was. Trudging through the deserted parking lot, stepping over pies, cakes and cookies and sliding on ice cream; he had just reached the door of his pickup truck when he recognized where he was. He was standing only a hundred yards downhill from the entrance to the Megazome chamber. He started to run, his nearsightedness causing him to tumble through gulleys and carom off the pines. Squinting, he saw the open door and rushed toward it only to find himself suddenly enmeshed with the thrashing skier in two hundred feet of tangled chain link fence that was securely plugging the opening.
He managed to get his right hand around to his hip pocket...and found it empty. Bullmoose and ballyhoo! His bolt cutters nust be in his other tuxedo. He wondered if he could reach his hardened steel dentures, Not likely - they were eleven hundred miles away in Kingsland.
"Zeke," he yelled, "help!"
A tall figure in custom tailored black suit, black frock coat, spotless white shirt, bowler hat and welding goggles appeared in the tunnel behind the blockage. There was a brief hiss and a load pop followed by the roar of an oxy-acetylene flame. Sparks cascaded out of the opening and through the coils of fencing, burning holes in Stram Drocer's cape.
"Not my new cape," he whined bunching it behind him and letting the sparks land on his face. In the blinding white light of the cutting torch with torrents of sparks cascading through the smokey air illuminating his twitching muzzle, Stram Drocer's hairy face was beyond ugly.
In less than a minute he was free and following the butler into the Magazome chamber, slamming the door on the pleading skier still wrapped in fence.
"Bring me my supper, Zeke," he demanded.
The immaculate butler placed a can of pork and beans in Stram Drocer's outstretched hand, relit the torch and played the three thousand degree flame over the can until it was red hot. He then pulled the trigger for extra oxygen and, in one smooth motion, cut the top from the can. As he had handed it to Stram Drocer upside down, the amateur vampire found himself with a paw full of red hot beans. He did what any sensible person would do finding his hand full of red hot pork and beans - he jammed them into his mouth.
He sat chewing thoughtfully for a second then screamed in pain, spraying red hot beans from one end of the cavern to the other. While his buttler walked calmly around with an extinguisher putting out bean fires, Stram Drocer ran to the rear of the cave and flopped down on his back in the lake letting the ice cold waterfall cascade into his mouth producing billows of steam.
Ten minutes later Stram Drocer lay unconcious in the dry lake bed with the entire contents of the waterfall tumbling into his wide open mouth, filling his ever expanding belly. Without warning, his butler seized him by the heels, swung him once in a circle and slammed him face first into the cave wall. Thousands of gallons of water squirted from Stram Drocer's mouth, nose and ears refilling the small lake and waking him up in the process.
"Was that necessary, Zeke?" he moaned crawling out of the lake and looking for the plunger to pull his face out. Passing a mirror he noticed that bruised and smashed though it was, his face was still passingly ugly.
"Yes, sir," replied the butler. "I have found in the past that that is the best way to clear the water from your lungs when you have passed out at the bottom of the lake. Here is your plunger, sir," he continued, plopping it onto Stram Drocer's face.
"Mmmmph mphlll unnngh!" he mumbled from inside the plunger.
"Of course, sir," said the butler and jerked back on the plunger, pulling out Stram Drocer's muzzle to twice it's normal length. "By the way sir, there is a policeman at the door."
Stram Drocer remembered the false nose and plunged his hand into his trousers to rip it off. A startled look suffused his face and he let loose with a high pitched screech that started dogs barking as far away as Kankakee. He felt around for a second, grabbed and ripped again. This time he got the nose, tore it loose and threw it into the lake.
"What does the fuzz want with me?" he asked in a strangled, falsetto voice.
"I believe they wish you to move your mountains, sir. He says they are disrupting shipping on Lake Michagan"
"Bee Gees and balderdash!" Stram Drocer said in the same high pitched voice. "Does no one want two mountains in their back yard?"
"At least no one wishes them in lake Michigan, sir"
Bah!" Stram Drocer's voice was returning to its normal nasal whine. "I guess I will have to move them."
His big hairy paws fumbled with tiny vernier dials and miniature toggle switches, setting them more or less at random in spite of his best efforts.
"Perhaps if you would let me sir..." started his butler.
"Buzz off penguin," snarled Stram Drocer as he punched the red button. The universe turned inside out and did three somersaults. Stram Drocer barfed in the bucket held out by a helpful penguin.
As his stomach settled and his vision cleared, Stram Drocer turned to look out the door, stepping into a bucket that had not been there a moment before.
To his consternation everything looked the same - only smaller. A midget policeman appeared at the door.
"Exuse me , sir," he said, "but this must stop. When I asked you to remove your two mountains form lake Michigan I didn't mean for you to make them so big that one remains in lake Micihigan while the other now rests in lake Huron. No sir, this won't do at all!"
"Just wait right there." snarled Stram Drocer and ran to the megazome controls. He rapidly made an adjustment. "I hope you can swim!" he yelled over his shoulder as he punched the button.
The usual gut wrenching nausea, the usual barfing on his shoes and then Stram suddenly found himself in the middle of Lake Superior and sinking rapidly.
"Penguins and piffle!" he burbled as his nose went under in spite of the fact that he was treading water like mad with his big boots. Ten minutes later he was on the bottom and striding puposefully toward shore. He would have been steaming except for the icy water flowing into his nose and out his ears.
"I'm getting awfully tired of this story," he grumbled stepping on a flatfish. Actually it wasn't flat until after he stepped on it. "Nothing nice ever happens to me. Us good guys should win, not lose."
"Have a can of beans," said a voice in his head. It was the author's.
"I think I'll have a can of beans," said Stram Drocer and, suiting the deed to the thought, pulled a can from his pocket, bit off the top and swallowed the contents in a single gulp. Feeling better, he chewed the empty can like a stick of Wriggly's for some time.
Eventually his head broke water. I must be near shore, he thought and looked around. He saw nothing but water in all directions. "That's odd," he wondered aloud. "I wonder what I'm standing on." He looked into the water, beneath his feet he saw...water. "That's more like it," he said as a big smile spread across his face. It was still ugly. "I'm walking on water!"
Actually, since eating the can of beans, he had become bouyant. Suddenly his smile turned into a pained look, there wasn't much difference, and he clutched his belly and doubled up. There was a noise like a motorboat and, with bubbles billowing out the seat of his trousers, he rocketed toward shore.
He fetched up against a pier that took him in his aching belly, arms outstretched above and legs outstreched below - spreadeagled but doubled up, if you can picture that.
"At least I didn't get my face smashed", he gasped, just before a burly stevedore stepped on his muzzle.
Stram Drocer grabbed the steel-toed boot and bit down hard. He broke his upper tooth but it was worth it, the stevedore let out a yell that turned heads on the other side of the great lake.
Stram Drocer climbed onto the pier and stood up with the booted foot still in his mouth, spun around three times then unlocked his jaws. The surprised, not to mention dizzy, stevedore found himself flying above the waters of Lake Superior and out of the story.
Stram Drocer, who was also quite dizzy, fell of the end of the pier back into the ice cold lake.
A minute later he shinnied up the piling and climbed onto the pier again. As he stood in the sun, allowing the water to dry from his tuxedo and the tar from the piling to dry on it, he pulled splinters from his hands and his knees.
"I wish I had a clean tuxedo and cape," he said aloud.
"I can lay out your Sunday best, sir," said a voice at his knee.
Startled he jumped backwards and landed, once more, in the lake.
The next day Stram Drocer lay on his back in the middle of the megazome chamber. His skin was a sickly blue, his stomach was distended and water dribbled from his nose, mouth and ears. He looked like a drowned rat. Although still ugly, he looked so much better than usual that his butler stood above him on the worktable with a camera and managed to take several photos before his master's face caused the lens to crack.
Placing the camera carefully on the table, the butler jumped as high as he could into the air and came down with both feet on Stram Drocer's abdomen. Water squirted to the ceiling from the unconsious creature's mouth and nose while streams from his ears hosed down the walls. Spluttering, he stood up knocking the butler to the floor.
"Get up you lazy sot!" he yelled, kicking the butler in the ribs. "And get me dried off."
The butler struggled to his feet, lit a blowtorch and, holding his aching ribs with one hand, he used the other to play the roaring flame over his master's tuxedo and cape. Clouds of steam rose into the air followed shortly by billows of black smoke as his derby caught fire. Stram Drocer quickly rolled the derby into a tight tube and, carefully observing which end was unlit, placed the derby in his mouth like a cigar. And, like he always did with his cigar, promptly took the lit end out of his mouth and placed the unlit end in.
Taking a few quick puffs, he idly blew several smoke rings toward his butler. The lit end of the derby ignited his bean laden breath and the butler beat a hasty retreat as great, expanding rings of smoke and flame raced after him. Stram Drocer laughed so hard his burning derby fell out of his mouth and onto his chair as he fell into it simultaneously releasing a resounding postern blast. The resulting explosion bounced him off the high vaulted ceiling knocking loose several hundred bricks which smashed into powder on the floor far below ready to cushion his inevitable fall.
"What goes up must come down." he plagiarized, not noticing that the wily butler was quickly sweeping up the thick dust. He smashed into the concrete floor head first leaving a wall-to-wall crack and ruining yet another beanie propeller. Tired of losing so many propellers, he dug out a new beanie but this time strapped it to his posterior where it would be safe from all these head-first falls.
After his usuall lunch of canned beans he burped genteely then passed such a strong and steady stream of gas from his nether regions that the propeller on the beanie strapped there spun faster and faster until it was just a blur. The little propeller spun so violently it began to lift him into the air seat first with flailing arms and legs hanging down.
Stram Drocer floated slowly about the megazome chamber. He grabbed futiley first for his butler's belt, then his nose and finally the long hair down his back. If the butler had only had hair on his head, Stram Drocer might have been saved. Still higher he floated reaching for various control knobs and switches on the megazome control panel. Once his hand closed around both conductors of a high voltage knife switch. There was a blinding flash followed by the smell of burning fingernails. The propeller picked up so much speed it's bearings began to squeal and smoke.
Stram Drocer flew in pregressively larger circles around the huge chamber leaving a spiralling trail of smoke and occasional flames behind him.
"Get me down!" he screeched.
"Try to burp," called his butler helpfully. Picking up a hat stand, he gave it a mighty swing above his head hitting Stram Drocer square in the gut as he flew by. Stram Drocer let out a belch that actually lifted him several feet higher. But, out of gas for the moment, the propeller stopped spinning and Stram Drocer fell like the proverbial rock. When the rock, his head, hit the hard place, the floor, something had to give. The butler gave - a loud laugh and neatly jumped aside as another wide crack opened in the floor under Stram Drocer's head.
Stram Drocer gave a big smile as he realized his thoughful plan has saved his propeller from disaster. Fortunately, as his head was inside the newest crack in the floor, we do not have to see this hideous sight! But rolling over, sitting up, and hearing a crack as he sat on the propeller, he swore an oath at his butler.
"I swear to get you for this!" he swore.
So overpowering was his anger as he threw the now ruined beanie into the junk pile in the corner, he mistakenly strapped a can of beans onto his rear instead of another beanie.
Chapter 8 discusses in great detail how, falling from the ceiling onto his rear, Stram Drocer learns a way to consume a can of beans without openning his mouth. Unfortunately that chapter was destroyed in the melee that ensued. So on to...
...in which Stram Drocer is just whipping his ancient pickup truck through the gates of his newly built "Drocerland Amusment Park".
There was a terrific crash followed by a loud, "Scotora mull! I told that bumpkin butler to unlock the the gates. This is no matter. We shuld be open for business anyway. Ahah! I think I will win myself a kewpie doll at the shooting gallery.
So saying, he drove his truck, currently firing on fully seven of its twelve cylinders, directly through the front of the shooting gallery booth knocking down an entire row of moving targets.
"I have won! I have won!" shouted Stram Drocer.
Whatever the response may have been from the attendant who lay in the wreckage under the truck with his head directly under the sputtering engine, it went unheard by either Stram Drocer or us.
Idly crushing yet another can of beans with his two powerful jaws and two powerful teeth, he climed down from the driver's seat stepping on the hand of the downed attendant in the process. He thought he heard a faint screech from the area of the engine.
"The fan belt must be squealing again." he said opening the hood and pouring a quart of oil over the ragged belt. The screeching abruptly stopped as dripping oil filled the attendant's mouth. This was follwed by a loud sputtering as he tried to spit out a quart of thirty-weight.
"Ah!" said Stram Drocer, cupping a hand to his ear. "Another cylinder has started firing again. I will not have to go to the garage after all."
He poured two more quarts over the fan belt for good measure and, leaving the engine running and grabbing a kewpie doll from the overturned rack, walked away from the booth bitting off the doll's head and chewing thougtfully.
Stram Drocer's mouth suddenly dropped open and his eyes lit on an empty car ready to enter the funhouse. He picked up his eyes from the car and nearly blinded himself trying to shove them back in his sockets before he realized they were only the doll's eyes which had fallen from his open mouth. Stuffing them in his pocket he climbed into the waiting car.
"That was a quick trip." he mused, looking ove at his should at the funhouse door now behind him.
It eventually filtered through to his somewhat disconnected brain that he was sitting in the car backwards. He turned around in the seat and, flailing the air with the headless doll, began yelling, "Let's go! Let's go! Let's go!" Quickly jotting down this idea for a song he mailed it off to James Brown.
Suddenly the waving doll slammed the starting lever outside the car all the way down and he started off with a jerk that toppled him, from the front seat, upside down into the back. This was fortunate for the whirling knives, that would have been at the level of his neck, only succeeded in shearing off the soles from his new surplus army boots. He scrambled up to kneel on the seat just as several wickedly pointed sticks shot up through holes provided in the floor. This startled him so much that he fell to the floor just as a bullet passed completed through the car leaving holes in the backs of both seats. This left him breathless just as the car sped through a cloud of poison gas.
"I think I've had enough fun for one day!" he said jumping out of the car just before it dropped into a pit of burning oil and disappeared from view. "I wonder if I could find a live dinosaur and run the track right into its mouth?"
He lifted the canvas side of the funhouse and crawled out into a warm summer downpour. He held out a hand palm side up and watched it fill with a golden yellow liquid. Looking up, and up, and up...he saw that he was standing under the lifted leg of a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
"That's it!" Stram Drocer yelled. "I'm getting out of this chapter. It's too dangerous!"
Holding his nose, he jumped out of chapter 9 and landed with a resounding splash in...
Stram Drocer found himself standing in a slowly spreading pool of motor oil outside the open door of his pickup truck. His sole-less boots were filled with oil. It was splattered up his tuxedo trousers all the way to his red and green suspenders. His cape was was a dry cleaners worst nightmare and there was a slow dripping from the oil-filled brim of his derby. He pulled his silver-tipped cane from the pickup truck and held it to the ground at a jaunty angle. Smiling at his reflection in the side-view mirror which promptly cracked, he began to feel hungry and headed for the nearest five-star restaurant.
Showing his most charming two-toothed grin, Stram Drocer ordered a hot dog from the man pushing the cart. Seeing said grin, the man screamed and dived into the boat-lake where he sank to the around-the-park train tracks which were underwater at just that point. The train promptly ran over him. He might have survived, or at least the major remaining pieces of him might, had he not filled his lungs to scream again and drowned.
Dropping his bent quarter on the cart, Stram Drocer finished off the remaing thirty-seven hot dogs and belched contentedly. A thirty-seven hot dog belch is no laughing matter! It blew the cart, at a speed that left an expanding sonic boom behind it, halfway across Drocerland park where it jumped onto the train track. Catching quickly up to the train, the cart shoved it forward at such an incredible speed that it flew straight of the track at the next bend which happened to be at the starting gate of the roller coaster. The hot dog wagon and the train caught up with the coaster near the bottom of the first large dip and passed it so fast that the occupants of the coaster saw only a blur. It left the tracks again at the top of the second dip and disappeared into the sky!
To this day astronauts speak among themselves in hushed whispers of a phantom train in orbit around the Earth and the frozen occupants who ride it with their mouths open in perpetual screams. But none of them will mention the empty hot dog wagon and bent quarter that passes that roller coaster several times in each orbit.
Broke again after spending his quarter, Stram Drocer looked around for a way to make a fast buck. His eyes lit on the brass ring dispenser on the merry-go-round. He lept onto the back of a horse which promptly collapsed with it legs spread-eagled on the floor. Standing on the horse's back and hanging onto the pole with one preternaturally long arm, Stram Drocer grabbed at a brass ring with all the power of his two can-crushing teeth. The entire dispenser was ripped off its mount and hit Stram Drocer square in his ugly face.
Stram Drocer went down spread-eagled on top of the merry-go-round horse where he was promptly buried beneath a huge pile of brass rings.
"Being buried alive is quite pleasant," thought Stram Drocer. "I will have to try it again when I have more time...perhaps just before I die."
He stood up scattering brass rings everywhere. The weight of the rings had already tilted the merry-go-round so that side was scraping the ground while the other side rose several feet into the air to the yelling of happy children. Hundreds of rings fell into the stationary center where many of them got into the workings of the large electric motor. Crackling blue sparks shot in all directions melting the plastic horses and setting fire to the happy children. The sparks also set fire to Stram Drocer's tuxedo, which was nothing new to the inept operator of the giant megazome...at least not until the oil in the brim of his derby started to burn with a stench not unlike the Little House On The Prairie just before the family's weekly Saturday-night bath.
Breathing in the smell, Stram Drocer's ugly face broke into such a big smile that it caused the motor to explode in a cascade of sparks sending a surge of power down the lines into the rest of Drocerland. The Ferris wheel picked up speed, flew off its bearings and rolled down the side of the mountain. The main power switch on the whirl-and-hurl fused and emergency crews couldn't get it stopped for a week at which point they took one look inside and left in disgust. The roller coaster picked up so much speed that centrifugal force stretched the mountainous oval track into a flat circle. The airplane ride snapped all its cables and the planes rocketed into the sky, eventually kamikazi-ing down onto a Chinese frieghter unloading in New York harbor and very nearly starting World War III.
"Very amusing," commented Stram Drocer as he climbed into his pickup truck, backed over the shooting gallery attendant who had just crawled out from underneath, and left his amusement park forever.