s

...

" I've got a joke for you. I asked this the other night and the people got it. Let's pretend I have a, we're all adults here, right? So I can say this and no one will be offended? Okay, let's say I have an eight inch dick sticking out straight here from my forehead... "

the curly shuffle
fiction: tom fillion


Wassail! Wassail!" one of the musicians shouted.

He held his glass high.

"This is a time of good cheer and good spirits. We hope this fare of music and meat has pleased you. Let's raise our glasses and toast. Wassail! Wassail!" he said to the audience that was subdued by the vast amount of roast beef, potatoes, and Yorkshire pudding smothered in gravy consumed that evening, and the burgundy-robed madrigal singers who performed so eloquently and transported us in the dimmed lights to a splendid Renaissance gathering.

Leslie and I were invited to the Christmas madrigal dinner with all the tables set with wine glasses, bottles of wine, pitchers of wassail, cups, plates, rolls, butter, flowers, and Waldorf salads at each place. On a small stage in the center were tables decorated with red and gold table cloths. The tables were in elevated rows for the madrigal singers.

The people at our table poured more cups of hot wassail and, after his cheerful admonition, we toasted those around us.

"Wassail! Wassail!"

Most everyone left soon after that except for Leslie and myself, another couple, and of all people, the jester who looked like he had fallen out of a deck of playing cards.

"You were wonderful. Thank you very much," Leslie said to the jester who had performed earlier, but in retrospect, his act was just beginning.

He took off his white tights, his red, gold and yellow ruffled costume and the pointed hat he wore during the madrigal singing and the sumptuous dinner. This jester had short, reddish brown hair and his face was mapped with deep acne scars. An earring glistened from his left earlobe.

"Thank you. Would m'lady like more wine?" he asked.

There were still wine decanters on many of the tables.

"Yes, thanks. Won't you join us for a drink?" Leslie asked.

"I thought you'd never ask. I have some time to kill before my strip tease act."

"Strip tease act?" I asked.

"Over in Delta dormitory, kind sir. They love me over there. I'll be bedded by someone over there tonight, I guess. It's one of the hazards of the job. You can't have everything though. They throw stuff at me. Clocks. Radios. They're only satisfied when I peel off more clothes. Piece by piece. It's a job."

"Sounds interesting," I said.

"My codpiece overfloweth," he replied, then put his three pointed hat back on.

The jester noticed the young woman sitting next me. He began to sit down but when he saw her he stopped and stared for several seconds. He winked at her and smiled.

"Are you with him?" he asked, pointing to me.

Couples didn't sit side by side but sat facing each other. That was one of the untold attractions that evening. Potentially, you could meet four new people. I wasn't that keen on madrigal singing, in fact, I knew nothing about it, but I found the seating arrangement to be exciting and, until this couple arrived and we hit it off, I wondered who would the force that fired the universe and ticket sales put next to Leslie and myself?

"No, I'm with him,' she said, pointing across the table. "Joe and I've been married for two years."

Her husband wore a green shirt that said 'St. Croix.' Wire frame glasses rested on his thin nose. She had long feathery blonde hair, an attractive face and figure.

"Are you sure you're with him? Are you two brothers?" he asked about Joe and myself.

"No."

"You look alike."

"We just met this evening," I replied.

"Okay, that's enough, Henry. Did you invite me here so that you could talk, or do you want to hear about me? I'm a very busy person. I'm also in love. What's your name?" he asked Joe's wife.

"Sharon," she said then laughed.

"Are you sure you're with him, Sharon? No offense, Joe, she could have done a lot better, but let's not get into that now, okay? I mean, we're having a good time, and I really don't want to say what's wrong with you. Are you sure you're with him, Sharon? Let's be realistic about this. You could have me. Okay? I'm in love! I knew that was going to happen. I saw you when I was on stage. I would have picked you for my kissing rug, would m'lady care to step on my rug?, but they wanted me to pick someone in the front near the stage."

"That was a funny routine," Leslie agreed.

"You should have seen it the other night. I threw my kissing rug in front of a pregnant woman. That was the best one. She was eight or nine months. I tried to convince the audience I wasn't responsible for her condition," the jester said proudly.

"Were you responsible for it?" I asked.

"Okay. Let's get serious now. Who's the comedian around here now? Okay? Maybe I was responsible. Come to think of it, she did look familiar. Look Joe, I won't let that happen with your wife and me, okay? I promise. I can use some protection. I mean I went to school and they showed us how to use that stuff in phy ed class."

Sharon looked at Joe and laughed. We all laughed. Sharon grabbed Joe's arm reassuringly.

"What do you do for a living, Henry?" asked the jester.

"My name isn't Henry. I teach school."

"Henry, I used to teach school in Illinois," the jester reminisced. "It was ridiculous though, working with high school girls. I mean they were all over me. I couldn't keep my hands off them. They had me teaching a scuba diving class. The principal realized the mistake he'd made after a while. I mean, it was I'll take one of these, and I take two of those. I didn't last too long as a teacher. OH, I can see you guys, Henry and Joe here, saying to themselves, the guy couldn't get any so he robbed the cradle. Well, maybe I wasn't as good as you guys when I was in high school, you guys look like real pros, why, I didn't get laid until I was twelve years old," the jester laughed.

"Cousins come in handy?" I asked.

"Cousins? That's right, Henry. Do you know my cousin, Cindy? Have you ever been to Illinois, Henry? God, my uncle would kill me if he knew what I did with his daughter. Let's not dwell on my past accomplishments though. We've got Ed sitting over here with us now and Ed is very gay."

The director of the dining room sat down with us while the rest of his crew cleaned off tables, others collapsed the tables and took them away. He had an expensive looking bottle of wine.

"And I don't mind gays as long as they bring wine like this with them. Thanks, Ed. Don't mind Ed," the jester addressed the rest of us. "He's gay, but he only likes blondes, so you guys are off the hook, but I don't know about Sharon and Leslie here, but Sharon's going home with me, right? My place or your place, Sharon? It doesn't matter to me. How about your place? Joe won't mind, will you Joe? It'll give him something interesting to watch. Me humping you."

Joe burst out laughing, but didn't answer the jester.

"Ed, I've got another strip tease over in Delta dormitory. Remember the last one?"

Ed sat next to Leslie. He had dark brown hair that was shaped. His glasses were slightly tinted.

"You should be able to taste the difference between these two burgundies," he said, offering the group a refill from his bottle. "Yes, I remember that one at Delta. I've had a Strip-O-Gram before. Here in my office. I was so embarrassed. The people who work for me did it. I was trapped in my office and there was no way for me to escape. It was my birthday, and I knew they were going to pull some gag. A policeman showed up at my desk and told me he was going to ticket my car unless I moved it. Well, I knew I was parked in the right place. I figured this was their prank. They had gathered behind the police officer, and I couldn't get out to move the car. One of my people switched on the music, and the police officer starting doing a strip tease. I was so embarrassed. There was no way for me to get out. He even took off his moustache."

"Are you finished, Ed? I mean, I didn't want you to go into a lot of detail even if the guy did turn you on, okay? You've got to learn to control yourself. I can't stand it when gays start in like that. Give me some more wine, Ed. Now, where was I?"

"You stopped at your sixteen birthday," I said.

"Am I boring you, Henry? Why don't you go sit over there with Ed."

"It's interesting. I'm not bored."

"Okay. Now Sharon has agreed to go to bed with me. It won't be a long drawn out affair because I've got a wife and two kids at home and a third on the way. I hope this one doesn't look like the last one. I mean the doctor delivered him and said. 'Congratulations, you've just had a cone head.' I said, 'C'mon doc.' Unfortunately, he was a cone head, but he's okay now. It took several months until his head rounded out. And now we've got another one on the way. It's a good thing I've got two jobs."

"What else do you do besides jesting?" I asked.

"I'm a fireman."

"That's a good job," I said.

Leslie moved closer to Ed.

"Oh, you'd rather talk with Ed, huh? Well, okay," said the jester.

"Is he really a fireman?" Leslie asked Ed.

"Yes," Ed replied. "Unfortunately."

"Now, okay, Sharon, I've got a joke for you. I asked this the other night and the people got it. Let's pretend I have a, we're all adults here, right? So I can say this and no one will be offended? Okay, let's say I have an eight inch dick sticking out straight here from my forehead..."

"Why don't you call it a pecker?" Sharon suggested.

The jester looked askance at Joe.

"I think I'm going to like going to bed with you, Sharon. Okay, let's say I have an eight inch pecker, I'm not trying to say I'm well hung, Sharon, but I'm well hung and you can find out anytime."

"Finish the joke. You started the joke. Now finish it," I demanded.

"I have an eight inch pecker sticking out from my forehead, if I look up, how much of it will I see?"

"I don't know. Eight inches?" Sharon replied.

"Four inches?" Leslie said.

"I wouldn't see any of it because my balls would be hanging in my eyes!" the jester said, then burst out laughing.

The clean up crew had cleared all the other tables from the large dining room. They grabbed the table where we sat with the jester holding court. Everyone remained seated as they moved the table away.

"Ed, doesn't your crew have any manners? Don't any of you have any manners? There's a woman here I'm trying to go to bed with, and you disturb us like this? I'd never go to bed with you," he said to a large, black woman.

"Glad to hear that," she said.

"It's a good thing you only pay them minimum wage, Ed. With manners like that, I mean, come on. Maybe you should hire some Puerto Ricans. They have better manners than this. Okay, where was I? Oh, Sharon, you see that over there?"

He pointed to a tapestry of a maiden in a white dress. She had her arm around a unicorn's horn.

"Ed, you can't look at the unicorn. You might get too horny. Sharon, should I have Ed's crew bring the table back so we can have more roast beef and gravy right here in front of Henry, Leslie and your husband? I mean, when I see that unicorn getting stroked like that, I've got to find a place to ram my motley fool, Punch."

Joe stood up.

"Did you say, Punch?"

He threw one so hard at the jester, it knocked off his three pointed hat and sent him sprawling onto the floor, undoubtedly with a broken nose.

"I guess we're going," I said. "We've got to pick up the baby from the baby sitter."

"You're going to leave in the middle of my life story? I don't know if I can take this. It's a good thing I've got a strip tease to go to. Did you have fun talking to Ed, Leslie?" he asked from a reclining position on the floor.

"Yes. I enjoyed everything. Your show also. I liked the pantomime. That worked real well."

Joe went over and kicked him in the groin. It took the jester several minutes to get his breath back.

"The first couple of nights I didn't do the pantomime. I talked to the audience and stole the show from the singers," he said, gasping for air. "They were furious and refused to sing unless something was done about it. Those jealous prima donna assholes! So I've done it in pantomime the last couple of nights."

Joe grabbed the bottle of burgundy from Ed and slammed it against the jester's head. The glass shattered in several directions.

"Have you heard that song on the radio?" I asked. Leslie was ready to go, but I was curious.

The jester was dazed but still conscious.

"What song?"

"The Curly Shuffle. Sounds a bit like the Blues Brothers."

Joe grabbed one of the folding chairs that we were sitting in and broke it over the jester who spit up a couple pieces of roast beef sans gravy.

"Yeah, well...," the jester coughed.

"Remember the way Curly from the Three Stooges went nyunk, nyunk, nyunk, nyunk? That really cracked me up. It's in the song."

Joe picked up a pitcher of wassail that the crew placed on another folding chair. He tossed the warm contents on the jester then finished off the pitcher by slamming it against the jester's already broken nose.

I stood before him and spread my arms to sing.

"Nyunk, nyunk, nyunk, nyunk. Oh, a wise guy. Mm," I laughed.

Joe did a cannonball and hit the jester in his midsection. He coughed up some Waldorf salad on himself.

"Is that it? Are you done yet?" the jester managed. "I've got a strip tease to go to."

Leslie and I turned and walked to the door. The jester hacked up some Yorkshire pudding.

"Wassail! Wassail! Nyunk. Nyunk. Nyunk. Nyunk. Oh, a wise guy," I said as we departed.

(illustrations: dee rimbaud)


Tom Fillion is a graduate of the University of South Florida. He teaches mathematics and coaches golf and tennis at a Tampa public high school. His short stories have appeared in Ramble Underground, Hamilton Stone Review, Cautionary Tale, Word Catalyst, Decomp Literary magazine, Storyglossia, Tonapah Review and Shelf Life. Others are forthcoming at Word Riot, Fiction Circus, and Rose & Thorn.

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