(Somewhere in an Almost Parallel Universe)
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“Wake up, wake up! I know youse been out carousin' all night, Montague, but I ain't gonna have no chile o' mine goin' without breffus, y'hear? I jus' ain't a-havin' it!” cried the slippered and housecoated matriarch of the Mus Clan known as the Wallers. “If youse thinks fer one minute thet I...thet I...I...”
And that was it. Old Bessie Waller simply up and died mid-sentence, right on the spot.
Anyway, the funeral was amazing. All sixty-eight children, two-hundred and forty-five grandchildren, five hundred and twenty-two great grandchildren plus all one hundred and fifty spouses gathered near the mountain cave entrance where inside The Rt. Rev. Elias Benton Skyler Davidson Dresser Towns, by way of including his paternal heritage going back the customary five generations, delivered the finest eulogy ever heard as proclaimed by the prestigious College of Elders.
The next day
“You must be joking,” rasped Edna Rockridge, said to be the only remaining true heir to the Rockridge Clan fortune, even though an exact accounting was always considered impossible given the two thousand or so generations that had come and gone in the interim.
“No joke, Edna,” Mryna Tollbridge replied with a sneer. “Believe me, the Tollbridge Clan is going to raise a real ruckus over this one.”
“Well the Wallers are such trash!” Edna shrieked back. “Indoor plumbing, for heaven's sake. Whoever heard of such a thing!”
“And sleeping on their little wooden beds,”Myrna blurted before going on in her famous wrinkled nose fashion, “...which I've actually seen by the way.”
“Well, I don't like speaking ill of the dead, mind you,” Edna added with the back of a paw held to her mouth, “but I heard just the other day that that woman...”
“Edna, come quick!”
“Uh-h, who said that?” Myrna gasped.
“I'm sure I don't know,” Edna replied. “It seems to have come from somewhere under the bridge.”
“Oh dear,” Myrna whispered in covered tones. “They've found another body. I just know it.”
Three months earlier
“Wake up, Montague, git up! Youse gonna git fired from thet new job, y'hear me? I know youse been out all night but I ain't gonna have no chile o' mine gittin' fired from no job, y'hear? I jus' ain't a-havin' it!”
“Oh-h-h,” came a groan from under the covers. “I'm sick. I can't go in today. Call 'em for me, will ya, Ma?”
“Call 'em fo ya? Me? Youse is gittin' outta thet bed right this minute! Who does you think I is, yo secretary?”
“O'course not, Ma. But y'gotta help me out. Please? Just this once?”
“Jus' this once, huh? Where I heard thet befo'? I been roustin' yo ass outta thet bed fo' the last fo' years ever since you been born. Now, nose up! Git yer face outta thet piller!”
Then out of the blue there came a knock on the wall.
“Mr. Montague, sir!”
“Suh? Who you know is a-callin' you suh?”
“It's my new driver, that's all.”
“What new driver? You mean they's sendin' a driver out fo' y'all?”
“Well they are now – since my promotion.”
“Your promotion? Since when?”
“Yesterday. I ain't had time t'tell ya 'bout it, that's all. I'm the store manager now.”
“Yer fibbin' a-gin. Montague Mouse, if youse is lyin t'me 'bout such a thing I'se gonna tan yo' hide, I declare.”
“Mr. Montague, sir, your car is here. Are you alright, sir?”
“Go and tell 'im, Ma. Please. I'm so sick.”
“Lemme see. Raise up and stick out yo tongue.”
Bessie Waller leaned forward and lined up her good eye in front of her son's lolled-out tongue.
“Well. I don' like yer color, I'll say thet much. Weak. What'cha been eatin', boy? Don' tell me yo been sniffin' roun' thet garbage pile over by them Rockridge rats. I done tol' youse a million times...”
“No Ma, it ain't like that.”
“Well. Okay. I'll tell 'im. What's 'is name?”
“Well now ain't thet interestin'. They ain't thet many Chesters aroun'. You wouldn' mean ol' Chester Rockridge wouldja?”
“O'course. Why...somethin' wrong?”
“Heh, heh, why no. Nothin's wrong. I cain't wait t'see ol' Edna's face, is all. Ha! Her ol' man drivin' my son, a Waller, aroun'?”
“Let it go, Ma. Let it go.”
Sixteen days later
It was Montague Waller as few had ever seen him – Zoot-suited and walking up to the PA system microphone carrying what appeared to be a rhinestone encrusted cane tucked under his paw.
“I've called this employee-slash-management meeting today to discuss a very important issue...one that affects each and every Wallmeister Affiliate in the most profound way possible. I'm speaking of customer relations, as if you hadn't already guessed.”
The room was packed. There wasn't near enough seating and they'd have been hanging from the chandeliers, had there actually been any.
“I've heard it said...whispered about in the break room, etcetera, etcetera...that I have a past. Well don't we all? And so it's been bandied about that I – as your Wallmeister Manager – threw a customer out of the store unjustifiably.”
The smattering of oo-s and ah-s that rose up were definitely of the “heads-will-roll” type.
“Let me be clear. I am the store manager, and it would therefore be impossible for me to err on a judgment call that involved a customer showing blatant disrespect toward my person...or that of any other Wallmeister employee.”
Murmuring among those gathered began to to take on a much more ominous tone.
“Such behavior cannot be tolerated.”
The speaker's cane came down with a bang while affiliates winced as though having felt the sting.
“It is further suggested that the customer was ejected from the store...largely...on the basis of ethnic and racial lines. I am here to tell you...categorically and in no uncertain terms...that there is no truth behind such a suggestion. Wallmeister's has no interest in inflaming controversy...over the long standing feud between the classes.”
“We leave class and ethnicity at the door, people. But the matter of disrespect...well that's something quite different.”
“I was told by this disrespectful customer...that I was looking at him in a condescending manner...which was, according to him...as though he had two heads. Well guess what. He prob'ly does have two heads, but there's prob'ly no decent way for me t'suggest it in a professional setting such as this...heh,heh.”
Laughter began to break out, slowly at first, then building along with a smattering of applause.
“That was a good one, wasn't it? We also would've said back in the day that a customer would have some nerve t'say things like that. Some nerve, right? But believe me, I'd have gone much lower than nerve. Y'get what I'm sayin?”
The message was clearly taking hold as those gathered hooted and hollered with uproarious approval.
“But seriously... ...that was a judgment call about me and my person...a call which that customer...had no right to make!”
With the assembly in the palm of his hand, the only way to describe the frenzy of the moment would be to call it what it was – freudenscheide, a German word that has no known counterpart in other languages. It meant, in this sense, to celebrate in the public humiliation of others, including catcalls directed toward rival clans within the Mus community.
“If a customer such as a Rockridger or a Tollbridger ever disrespects a Wallmeister Store Waller, I demand to be informed of the incident immediately....is that clear?”
A cheer went up that would've rivaled a Waller touchdown during inter-league play.
“Have a great day... ...good selling... ...and peace be with you!”
Two years earlier
It was a dark and stormy night when Monty and his band of Mus Raiders set out to claim the old courthouse basement as the latest acquisition in their land empire.
“Listen up, all you Raiders! Tonight we decide whether we're men...” Monty boomed out, “...or mice! And let no one tell you different!”
“But Monty,” a small voice squeaked, “We are mice.”
“Only in your mind, little one,” Monty replied. “It's just that you've never been in the presence of Monty Mouse before. It isn't a case of mice and men, it's a case of do and die...or something like that.”
A voice from the rear echoed out, “We're with you Monty!”
A chorus of sentiment followed along with paws pumping the air, giving Monty time to make the obligatory microphone adjustment while also clearing his throat.
“Now men, the Rat Pack is bigger, faster, stronger...and what's more, there will be twice as many of them. But as we all know... ...and this is a biggie... …they have very poor eyesight. And just as important, they're also a vain bunch of dudes who hate wearing glasses. Now what ol' Monty here has done is take their glasses, which they're known to leave abandoned in a heap until needed, and replace them with trick magnifying lens glasses.”
A murmur began to race through the cadre.
“Uh-huh, you guessed it. When they rumble with us tonight, we're gonna look twice as big as they are!”
A cheer went up that was so strong it made the thunderstorm outside sound like a lawn sprinkler.
“When they get a look at us chargin' like a herd o'cattle, it's gonna look like running with the bulls!”
Cries of “Mon-ty, Mon-ty, Mon-ty echoed through the corrugated roof with a force that could've even been mistaken for a freight train.
“Now are we ready, Raiders? Well then follow me!”
It was frenzy everywhere as a swarm of diminutive shapes threw open the doors and charged out into the night, heedless of the blinding rain. Water probably an inch deep ran in rivulets that carried several gang members off and down into a deep ravine, where, sadly, they were never heard from again. From that day forward a yearly memorial had been held in honor of the few that fell in the most stunning rumble victory ever to be recorded in Mus folklore.
“Wake up, wake up! I know youse been out carousin' all night, Montague, an' I know people's askin' 'bout them bodies they's findin' jus' since yo fifteenth cousin canned yo ass, but I ain't gonna have no nephew o' mine goin' without breffus, y'hear? I jus' ain't a-havin' it!”
The bedsheet stirred as a head came out from under the pillow.
“Please don't call me that, Aunt Bea. My name's Monty, okay?”
“Yo mama tol' you youse gonna lose thet job, an' y'sho' 'nuf did. Jus' what was you thinkin' anyways, like y'all could jus' go messin' with payin' folks? Even yer ol' Aunt Beatriz here coulda toldja thet would land yo ass on the street and right back to yo evil ways where youse done nothin' but bring shame t'the good name o' Waller.”
“Gosh, Aunt Bea. Does this mean you ain't gonna serve me breffus in bed?”
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