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Story #16

June 14, 2012, a day when . . . this SotWC Classic should have been published.  I have become a total champ at falling behind.  Oh, well.  In case I still have any readers out there at all, here’s the Classic that should have been published way back when.  Well, of course, it WAS published “way back when,” that’s why it’s a Classic.  But it should have been published in the more recent back when as well, and . . . Oh, never mind, I’m sure you get it.

So, this one goes to new heights exploring the “Creative License” clause of the club, which, of course, amused me terribly.  There’s also a fairly overt “Elfquest” reference, for those of you who are into that.  For reasons that should become quickly apparent, I always pictured this story being illustrated with Shel Silverstein’s cover illustration from “Where the Sidewalk Ends,” which I would post here, but am worried about copyright issues.  So look it up or something.  🙂

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Subject: GERTRUDE AND ERNIE (story #16)
Date: Mon, 10 Oct 94  15:00:54 EDT

BRO-MAN’S STORY OF THE WEEK

    Well, howdy again, tykes. Time for another fearsome foray into the collective mind of the club. Let’s see what’s living down there this week. We’ve only got a short time to nail down this week’s tale, so let’s see what the time crunch does for us. . .

    This week’s tale is about the end of the world. Not like Armageddon or anything. No, I mean the place where the world literally ends. It just stops. You thought the world was round? Well, read on. . . .

THE TALE OF GERTRUDE AND ERNIE

    There is a place; a very little known place just outside of Poughkeepsie, New York, where the world simply ends. If you take a wrong turn, you can accidentally just sort of wander into outer space if you’re not paying attention. I tell ya, more people explode that way.

So, once upon a time, there was a little boy named Gertrude who was going to visit his Uncle Adar and Aunt Wendy in (can you guess? Go ahead, give it a shot) Poughkeepsie, New York while his parents were away on a fishing expedition in Cairo.

After he’d been there for a few days, Gertrude realized just how boring it was staying with his Uncle and Aunt. You couldn’t really blame him, because his Uncle and Aunt were both dead. Now, it’s not like Gertrude’s parents knew this when they left him there. Nope, they just thought Adar and Wendy were exceptionally lazy.

So, after the food ran out (which didn’t take long, Adar and Wendy hadn’t been shopping in awhile. Dead, you know.), Gertrude decided to go out looking for something to do. It didn’t take long to find something to do, because as soon as Gertrude stepped out the door, he tripped over a cactus named Ernie.

“Ouch!” said Ernie the talking cactus.

Gertrude looked down at the spiky green talking thing he had just tripped on. “What did you say?” he asked.

“I said ‘Ouch!’” Ernie replied, “and you’d say the same thing if somebody tripped over you.”

Gertrude scratched his chin. “Oh, I don’t know about that,” he mused, “I might say something different.”

“Like what?” Ernie asked.

“Like, oh, I don’t know. . .  egg salad.”

Ernie frowned (have you ever seen a cactus frown? It’s really weird.) “Why on earth would you say that?”

“I don’t know,” Gertrude said, shrugging, “but I might.”

“Oh.” said Ernie.

So, that’s how Gertrude and Ernie met. The first they did walk into town and get some doughnuts. They were strawberry frosted doughnuts with little colored sprinkles on them, but that’s not really important to the story. It’s just the kind of vivid detail that’s fun to include in a story every now and then. They bought them at Dunkin Donuts, and that IS important to the story, it’s not just an extravagant detail.

(Once again, allow me to reiterate that, while there may not even be a Dunkin Donuts in Poughkeepsie, this is fiction, and I can put things where I want them to be, okay?.)

After that, they decided to visit the Eiffel Tower, which was just two blocks over.

When the were at the top of the tower, Gertrude looked out over Poughkeepsie and said “Wow. You can see everything from up here.” Suddenly his brow furrowed. Okay, well, he made it furrow, it didn’t just DO it. “Hey,” he said, pointing to the East, “what’s that over there?”

Ernie looked where Gertrude was pointing. “Hmm,” he said, “looks like outer space.”

“Oh, yeah,” said Gertrude, “I didn’t even see that. I was pointing at that fire hydrant over there.”

“Oh,” said Ernie, “well, I guess it’s a fire hydrant.”

Gertrude smiled. “Oh yeah, how silly of me.”

Ten minutes later, as they walked past the Parthenon, Gertrude suddenly realized that he wasn’t wearing any underwear. “Gee, Ernie,” he said sheepishly, “you know something? I’m not wearing any underwear.”

“Well, kid,” Ernie said frankly (not that he said it like someone named Frank, just that he was being honest), “I gotta say that’s something I really didn’t need to know about you.”

“Well,” Gertrude said, looking around, “let’s just stop over here so I can duck behind this fire hydrant and put some on.”

“What, you got a pair on ya?” said the cactus.

“Oh, sure,” Gertrude answered, “I have a pair in my back pocket.” And with that, he ducked behind the fire hydrant.

After a moment of waiting, Ernie heard a scream from behind the fire hydrant. “Help!” the scream said, “I’m being sucked into the endless vortex of space!”

Ernie cocked his head to one side (another interesting thing to watch a cactus do) and said “Gertrude? Is that you screaming?”

“Uh, yeah, who else would it be?”

“Well, I dunno,” said Ernie, “I was wondering that myself. I mean there really doesn’t seem to be oodles of room back there for too many people.

“Well, yer right about that,” Gertrude said from behind the hydrant, “there’s not a lot of room back here for people, but interestingly enough there is room for the End of The World. Wanna give me a hand, here, before I blow up?”

“Okey-dokey,” said Ernie, and started around the hydrant. Just then, though, he had a seizure and simply lay on the ground having spasmodic convulsions while Gertrude was pulled into the vacuum of the cosmos and reduced to cosmic dust. You see, Ernie had forgotten that he was allergic to Dunkin Donuts.

    Silly cactus.

THE END

        Well, there you have it. Hope you enjoyed this tale of a boy and his cactus.   Um. . . . yeah, whatever.

In 7,

Bro-man

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