The Barometer of Evil

(whoever finishes this gets a pretzel...)

I was running along, pretty carefree all things considered. I flipped a shiny coin into a sidewalk violinist’s casket. She smiled. All was right with the world.

But then, then—I saw it and I yelped like a schoolgirl character in some bad Japanimation show.

I saw the ancient Barometer of Evil thrust itself from the crust of the earth and begin to denounce the Tyrants of the Land.

It had come, finally. I suddenly felt naked. I was in the street; I had to run, hide, find shelter. I was sure that at that moment the Tyrants were in their bunkers, stabbing at political prisoners with plastic toothpicks and shouting angry threats.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I banged at the gates. They swung open slowly; I forced my way past the guard who put up a feeble protest. I threw him the chicken wings I kept wrapped in my pocket, dinnertime treats I usually saved for hoboes in the bus shelters. The guard picked a wing off the ground and gnawed gratefully. I sped inside.

I whispered in the hallway at an approaching shadow, “Which way to the nearest lavatory?’

I spoke in a British accent; I liked pretending I was a diplomat.

“I am sorry, sir,” the disembodied voice replied, “but we don’t allow just anybody to urinate in this building.”

Dismayed by the shadow’s lack of hospitality, I felt like pissing all over him.

“Also,” he continued, “I don’t even work here.”

“What?” I asked, pretending I didn’t hear.

“You shall have to ask for a requisition at the main desk, which is now closed of course, since it is the hour of the Apocalypse.”

The Apocalypse; of course--in my rush to use the bathroom I had forgotten my reason for coming.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Just minutes before I had been sitting in Bar Albicocca on Thurman St. sipping a raspberry frappachino; I was listening idly to the programming on FM radio, KROK 102.5:

"Well, here's an update--the Apocalypse is upon us. The tyrants in their bunkers are about to be overthrown! All humans are advised to take shelter before the eternal judgment begins... thanks to Eric from Gainsville for phoning in that update! Now this next tune goes out to Lance, it's 'Dude looks like lady;' Happy armaggedon!"

Shit, this was serious. I telephoned my auntie Beamish in the countryside. Ring ring ring. No answer. Dammit, fuckin' Beamish. I swore into the dumb receiver and retrieved my quarter from the slot.

I was irate. Helpless. But then it came to me: I hopped a barge to the Consulate.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“Oh wait,” I stopped the shadow as he was about to disappear, “I need to see the viceroy—I believe I may have a solution.”

“Like I said, I don’t even work here.” Stubborn chap, but as I rubbed his bald head I realized he was just a senile old loon. “I am just somebody’s grandpa,” he said with a pleading smile, “touch my goiter if you like. Say, do you like playing chess at the tables in the park? How ‘bout feeding pigeons?”

It seemed I was mistaken about this man. Indeed, I would be mistaken about a great many things.

I decided to just look for the viceroy in his office. I looked over the consulate directory and after finding the appropriate room number I took the first elevator upstairs.

Before stepping into the corridor, however, I decided to relieve myself in my pants.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“Come right in,” said a voice behind the office door. It was the viceroy--sitting in the one exact place I had expected to find him.

I entered, shut the door, and began to twitch from my benzodiazepine medication.

“God Travers, you smell like somebody pissed on you.”

Sharp as ever, even in a time like this. He was right about one thing—in crisis situations, I, Hiram Travers, tended to piss all over myself.

“Sorry to intrude, Viceroy, but this is an emergency.”

I looked down; a puddle was collecting on the floor. I blushed, continuing,

“Viceroy, the evil is upon us, have no doubt! But it is a cleansing wave of evil, and with it will be washed out all tyranny as well as good. I have in on authority from a radio phone-in show that the tyrants are in their fortresses at this very moment, and they are acting quite irrationally.”

“What’s that? Tyrants acting irrationally? How do you know it?”

“I heard it in the café near the river barge, sir.”

“I don’t follow you, Travers.”

“Turn on the radio if you don’t believe me. KROK 102.5. The great barometer has thrust itself on top of the world, sir Viceroy sir!”

“Travers, get a hold of yourself.” He reached into the 'munchies' bowl on his desk, and began to throw pretzels at me. It really must be the Apocalypse, I remember thinking—at no time before had he been so cavalier with his snacks!

“Sir, I beg you to listen. Lay aside the pretzels.”

My protest seemed to calm him somewhat. He nodded, I continued; my damp crotch was beginning to chafe.

“The prophecy is being fulfilled; the barometer of evil has returned. Let us take to the mountains!”

“Mountains, Travers? But this barometer is a mere molehill. In fact, what is a barometer anyway? I believe it’s pronounced ‘thermometer’. And I think you have a temperature….”

The viceroy, always trying to be clever. But, moist as I was, I wouldn’t budge from my errand.

“Sir, I need you to clear the ambassadors and the attachés to the mountain retreat of Lake Cybill. There we can seek refuge until the evil has done its job.”

He was perplexed. “But why, Travers? Can’t I finish my game of Minesweeper? I’m on level 15.”

Fool, I thought—nobody can pass level 15 of minesweeper. But when would fools learn?

“But viceroy, the evil, the tyrants, my pants—I want to seek refuge in the mountains, and thereafter we can reclaim the earth and all its serfs when we get back, after the barometer has left, of course.”

He turned a blood-shot eye to me. He squinted, then scoffed.

“I’m beginning to worry about you, Travers. What do we have to fear? Isn’t the Consulate a force for legitimate good? Am I not a man of courage? And are you not a whiny pants-pisser?”

He was right, in his way, of course; there was no use trying to convince the viceroy. I thanked him for his time, stuffed a couple pretzels in my mouth, and left the offices.

I hailed a cab—the streets were empty from all the fear. In fact most had already been imprisoned by the tyrants. There were very few free citizens left in the downtown. I had been one of the lucky ones, but now I had to act to save it all.

(unfinished of course)

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