Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"God knows not everything! ... He listens only to the good. The evil and the ambitious He brushes off as you would a fly."

WITH VICTORY turning her face away from their banners, the bedraggled remnant of that once prideful chivalric order—The Knights of the Nauseous Poop—prepare for the final reckoning.

They have sworn to sell their lives dearly in this wretched hamlet—Coccyx is its name—against the overwhelming horde of their archfiend, That Spiteful Wench Whose Name They Have Sworn Never To Utter.

They are virtually surrounded and have lost three-quarters of their number in the battle just ended.

Evening is nigh. The heavens portend rain and thunder. As if Death’s vampire, an evil biting wind sucks out the strength from the sinews of the surviving men-at-arms. Food is scarce.

Yet despite towering privations and the certainty of death in horrible slaughter, these 200 score men stand strong. For they serve the Knights of the Nauseous Poop and their Leader—Poop, the Mighty Arm and Hammer —is among them.

An ascending tumult resounds from among the serried men-at-arms. They clash bloodied swords and battle-axes against battered shields; rattle spears and halberds stridently.

Doom for the Knights: Defeat at the Battle of Coccyx

“POOP!!” they cry out in one breath.


But the Mighty Poop remains unseen.


IN HIS STEAD and out of the gathering gloom looms Baron Aagar the Ambitious. A black cloak masking his golden armor, the Baron—a man who once was king—raises his right arm to command silence.

In a rasping voice straining to be heard, he attempts a shout, “Loyal soldiers! Our Liege Lord doth arm himself to again do battle with you!”

A deafening roar shatters the death laden dusk.

“POOP! POOP!” cry the soldiery.

“Soldiers of the Nauseous Poop!” screams the Baron. “Fear not death for death is fearful only to cowards! Thy duty is clear! It is to install our Liege Lord as Emperor of All The Surveys . . . rather, of All He Surveys!”

“POOP! POOP!” cry the soldiery.

“Our finest knights will leadeth thee in this final battle!”

“POOP! POOP!” cry the soldiery.

“Witness thy new leaders!” the Baron yells. “Sir Bale the Buffoon!”

There appears at the Baron’s left an enormous small man; his shoulders hunched under heavy pauldrons; his face darkened by a constant sneer.

The Buffoon, whose loquacity had done in many a foe; who eschewed the title “The Brave” for “The Buffoon” so he could dispatch his foes by catching them unawares.

“POOP! POOP!” cry the soldiery.

“Silence!” screams The Buffoon at the men. “I am invoking my right to speak!”

“POOP! POOP!” cry the unheeding soldiery.

“Shutteth thee up!!”

And the army quietens in fear.

“Who rides with me to glory?” he asks in his grating, high pitched tone.

“Who will bring me the head of That Spiteful Wench Whose Name We Have Sworn Never To Utter?”

“POOP! POOP!” cry the soldiery.

“Not Poop!” The Buffoon yells in exasperation. “Who will bring me the head . . .”

“POOP! POOP!” cry the soldiery. And their words drown out The Buffoon’s pleas for attention.

At which the Baron takes Sir Bale aside.

“Fool!” shouts the Baron into the Buffoon’s ear. “‘Tis not our plan to antagonize this mindless mob. Smile and agree with them ‘ere I gift them your tongue!”

Sir Bale wrenches his arm away from the Baron’s grip, turns to face the soldiery.

The Ambitious.

“POOP! POOP!” cries out The Buffoon.

“POOP! POOP!” cry the soldiery in turn.

And the Buffoon takes his place by the Baron’s side.

“Soldiers of the Nauseous Poop. Here is another Great Captain. I give you Sir Pint the Paranoid! Slayer of Kings!” shouts the Baron.

Sir Pint doth not appear.

The Baron’s eyelids fold into angry slits.

“Sir Pint the Paranoid!” he screams once more.


The Baron’s angry gaze fixes upon Sir Bale who, with trembling hand, points to a knot of soldiers asleep on a hillock close by.

“Sir Pint is yon,” says The Buffoon amidst the prattle.

“Shutteth thee up!!” commands the Baron to the babbling multitude.

They do not stir.

And in the hushed silence, the Baron hears one lone voice drone on and on and on and on.

“Sir Pint!”

“Sir Pint!” yells the Baron, his lungs bursting with fury.

At which a wizened old man turns to face the Baron. Beneath his tattered gray surcoat, the man wears a coat of mail armor, chipped and dulled, evidence of years of combat.

“Do you mind, Baron!” Sir Pint yells back unafraid.

“I am telling these men that year old yew saplings make better bows than year and a half old yew saplings.”

“But they are all fast asleep!” protests the Baron at the top of his voice.

“Their brains can still hear me!” Sir Pint retorts.

The Baron rolls his eyes heavenward in despair.

“Sir Pint,” says the Baron politely. “Wilt thou lead thy men into battle against the wench?”

“As certainly as the sun revolves around our planet shall I leadeth them pell mell into battle!” shouts the Paranoid.

“POOP! POOP!” cry the soldiery.

“But first,” says The Paranoid “I must discourse on whether counting from 1 to 10 ‘tis more proper than counting from 0 to 9.”

“Then there is the matter of using fletchings to stabilize the flight of our ballistae, thereby improving accuracy. Also, should knights wear thicker undergarments? Mail armor does have a tendency to pull out hair in the damndest places. I know, you know.”

The Paranoid, his long face burdened by heavy jowls, then begins to discourse upon the subjects encompassed by his mammoth intellect. And he turns his back to the Baron to face his somnolent soldiery, who have sought the refuge of sleep rather than face a fate worse than death by giving ear to The Paranoid’s anesthetic musings.

The Baron shuts his eyes in despair and quietly curses. His iron will soon regains control of his senses, however.

“Soldiers!” the Baron exclaims. “A warrior much feared shall also lead you. Sir Otto the Obscurant!”

A roll on the drums and a blast of trumpets. Preceded by two handsome squires, one bearing his sword, the other his helm filigreed with gold, Sir Otto the Obscurant strides proudly forward, waving to his audience.

Gleaming in his polished silvery armor, the well kempt Sir Otto exudes the intense charm of a Latin lover. A few warriors swoon in admiration of the dashing knave.

“Men of the Nauseous Poop!” screams The Obscurant. “I shall be most honored to lead you to certain victory! Who follows me?”

“POOP! POOP!” cry the soldiery.

“Yes, we shall follow Poop!” The Obscurant replies, wise enough not to repeat the Buffoon’s mistake.

“But to regale you on the eve of this battle, I present your all time favorite dance ensemble—The Captivating Coquettes!”

The soldiery unleashes a roar of gratitude.

At which 12 seductive maidens, robes torn in titillating places to reveal not all but just enough of their hidden pleasures, gambol on stage to the clash of cymbals and heathen music. The soldiers of the Nauseous Poop feel their spears rattle in desire. Their eyes burn with powerful lust.

“Come, get meeeee!” the Captivating Coquettes wail enticingly at the end of their long, suggestive orgy.

The Captivating Coquettes

“Soldiers of the Nauseous Poop!” cries The Obscurant. “The Captivating Coquettes shall be waiting for thee with open arms—and more—when thou returneth from the field in victory!”

A maniacal roar engulfs the heated soldiery. They are eager for blood and desire.

Amid the tumult, the Baron takes The Obscurant aside.

“Sirrah, thou hath done well,” the Baron tells The Obscurant. “Inflaming the men, stoking their bloodlust, promising them pleasure where there is none to be had.”

“Thinkest thou I would have my Coquettes share their bed with any but myself?” asks The Obscurant. “I own these wenches. And thou knowest I have killed to protect mine own.”

“An ambush is hardly fair combat,” replies the Baron.

“Be thankful thou art still alive,” hisses The Obscurant. “All the others are dead who, like thee, have partaken of their pleasures.”

Only with the greatest effort does the Baron force his right hand away from the pommel of his misericordia. The Baron coerces a feigned smile to his angry lips, turns away from Sir Otto to face the multitude yet again.

“Soldiers of the Nauseous Poop! Here are your generals! Mighty warriors all!” the Baron screams out.

“POOP! POOP!” cry the soldiery.

“POOP! POOP!” replies the Baron and the surviving Knights of the Nauseous Poop.

“POOP! POOP!” cry the soldiery.


The Mighty Arm and Hammer.

BEHIND THE Baron and the Knights, the entrance to a huge pavilion is flung open. Dazzling lights from hundreds of torches within rend the gloom. The Knights and fighting men shield their eyes from the dazzling glare.

A lone silhouette, broad in dimension, strides towards the Baron. As he draws closer, away from the glare, the Baron and the Knights fall on one knee in obeisance. As if they were one body, the gathered soldiery follows in unison.

Poop, the Mighty Arm and Hammer, casts his pitiless gaze upon the kneeling throng. He is a giant of a man; his powerful shoulders easily carrying the weight of his heavy armor; his gauntleted right hand crushing the haft of a blood stained war hammer. His demeanor is that of an executioner at the chopping block: cruel and unflinching.

Poop, the Mighty Arm and Hammer, raises his right arm, swings his war hammer in circles and cries out in thunderous might:


“Victory!” replies 200 score men-at-arms in thunderous might.

The Baron and the assembled Knights recoil from the mighty Poop. For they know full well the secret of his power.

They hasten back 10 steps to evade the Poop’s ghastly odor. Yes, not for nothing is the Mighty Poop called the Mighty Poop.

For the Mighty Poop, in his countless battles, has discovered that if his foe’s first instinct is to hold his sword hand to his nose to block out the most unbearable of odors, that foe is as good as dead for he cannot fight.

And he has slain God knows how many knights in single combat this way. They died gasping for fresh air, retching or trying to escape The Stench That Hath No Name; a stench so unspeakably foul as to defy description.

As they tore off their helmets gasping for breath, ‘twas but a simple matter for the Mighty Poop to calmly walk up to them and crush their skulls with his war hammer.

No one knows the source of the Mighty Poop’s hellish stench: some say his armpits; others say he never cleanses after defecating; still others claim it comes from a magic potion made from the entrails of exotic beasts conjured for him by his witch aunt.

But the Mighty Poop consoles his men by saying that only his foes fall before his stench in battle. And there is truth to that, so say his men. For they would all been slaughtered in the battle just fought had not the Mighty Poop scattered the wench’s henchmen by mere act of keeping his sword arm upraised.

Hundreds of the foe collapsed to the ground, gasping for breath. More ran away. Certain victory for the wench has been delayed, but it would come for the numbers were on her side. Here at this forsaken hamlet of straw huts and reeds called Coccyx, by the River Duma, would the wench win the final victory, Poop or no Poop.

“POOP! POOP!” cry the soldiery.

“I am here,” he replies in thunderous voice.

“POOP! POOP!” cry the soldiery.

The Mighty Poop turns to the Baron.

“Remember our plan,” commands the Poop.

The Baron, who is holding his breath for fear of fainting, can only nod in assent. Both The Buffoon and The Obscurant have collapsed—but away from the sight of the Mighty Poop.

The Mighty Poop mounts his huge war-horse. His soldiery cheer.

“POOP! POOP!” they cry.


THE BARON AND  his Knights prepare for the Final Act in this unfolding travesty. He turns to the now awake but still stunned Sir Bale and Sir Otto and motions to his loyal aide, Sir Eroc the Exculpator.

“Eroc, I trust thou hath set our plan in motion,” the Baron asks of the young knight.

“As you hath commanded, so hath it been, my Lord. The men are ready,” replies the young knight, whose guile and glib tongue have made him the Knights’ fairy tale weaver nonpareil.

“And what,” the teetering Obscurant asks, “am I to do in this plan?”

“Remind the good Sir Otto, will you Eroc.”

“Certainly, my Lord,” replies Sir Eroc. “My good Sir Otto, our plan is to make certain that we all die this day.”

Startled, The Obscurant replies, “And I agreed to this?”

“At counsel held a fortnight ago, it was fully explained by our Lord Baron that our victory would not be won in this field of battle called Earth. But then, good sir, your hands were not on the matter at hand but on the bosom of your favorite Coquette,” sneers the Exculpator.

“Impudent worm!” The Obscurant growls. He reaches for his sword just as he feels the sharp tip of The Exculpator’s misericordia pressed against his groin.

“Thou art too predictable, Sir Otto,” smirks The Exculpator. “And too slow.”

“Desist, Eroc!” commands the Baron.

The Exculpator sheaths his weapon.

The Baron walks up to The Obscurant and hisses into his startled ear, “The only thing I pray of you, Otto, is that you die with a smile on your lips.”

“The Mighty Poop’s witch aunt hath foretold our inevitable doom in this adventure. But, because the stars are in an evil alignment this night, we shall, all of us, be resurrected at a future time if and only if we adhere to certain . . . requirements,” says the Baron.

And, Sir Eroc, following the Baron’s train of thought continues, “The first requirement, good sir, is that we die fighting the wench and her holy horde. Of more import is that we die unafraid of death, with a smile on our lips.

“The second requirement will need nerves of steel, my good sir, and this must you have. It is that we do not defend ourselves against the deathblow. We must die defenseless,” at which The Exculpator ceases to speak.

“You do remember it now, do you, Otto?” quizzes the Baron. “Why must we die defenseless, you ask? Because the witch aunt hath cast a spell on all 44 of us so that we might live again.

“You do want to live again, don’t you, Otto? There are now only 13 of us left alive and we must all die tonight ‘ere the spell fails! Thirty-one of our comrades await our arrival in the Beyond.”

Sir Otto the Obscurant feels his courage dissipate but the Baron’s implacable gaze pours steel into his heart.

"Do not fear death, Otto. Listen to me now and listen to me well when this truth I utter:

"God knows not everything!

"He knows not all because He listens not to the hearts of evil men or to those of high ambition whose deeds transcend good and evil. He listens only to the good. The evil and the ambitious He brushes off as you would a fly.

“This is the Great Truth revealed to me by the witch aunt. In visions, I have seen men of evil and men of high ambition resurrect as other men in centuries to come.

“This one great weakness of God opens the door to immortality for those who know the truth. Our souls will live on forever in other men because God deigns not to see us.

“We will be together again, Otto. Believe that with your entire being,” and so saying the Baron unleashes a frightening smile. The courage returns to The Obscurant.

“Now, Eroc,” commands the Baron, “let us not keep Eternity in suspense. Sound the attack!”


The final travesty.

TRUMPETS BLARE. A deafening shout tears through the early evening sky.

With the Mighty Poop at their head, the 13 surviving Knights of the Nauseous Poop and 200 score fighting men charge the astonished enemy.

The butchery is vicious. Thousands fall in the space of an hour. Sir Bale cuts a swath through his foes, is speared through his left thigh and, writhing, falls to his knees. The Buffoon raises his head to see the deathblow and smiles as the heavy blade cleaves through his helmet and down through his belly.

Sir Eroc is unhorsed. His foes pinion his arms as others run him through with their swords. His decapitated, handsome head is held aloft triumphantly, smiling even in death.

Sir Otto, paralyzed by fear, lets out a manic cry. He casts aside his gilded helm and brazenly charges 10 enemy knights. He unseats one before the remainder transfix him with their lances.

He is lifted bodily off his saddle by five lances that have torn through his armor. He dies wearing a crooked smile, his lips frothing blood, while held aloft like a speared pig.

The Paranoid, pressed on all sides by an overwhelming foe, draws back step by bloody step. He is unable to extract his sword from the ribs of a knight he has skewered.

Thus defenseless, he parries blow after blow with his shield until it is splintered by a battleaxe. Standing on the field of battle unarmed and undefended he extends his arms towards his foes as if to embrace them—and smiles.

His foes pause for a moment, unable to make out the meaning of this gesture, but then charge him with a roar. The Paranoid disappears beneath a pack of bloodthirsty knights that cut him to pieces.

The Mighty Poop inflicts the greatest destruction. Dozens fall before his war hammer or are trampled underfoot by his charging warhorse. But he is only one man. His ghastly odor dispels hundreds but thousands more remain.

In the end, he is exhausted by his Herculean labors. The mighty arm that has slain hundreds lies limply at his side—fatigued.

His warhorse is disemboweled and the Mighty Poop falls to the ground never to rise again. A hundred spears perforate his body. He is smiling even in death.

As for the Baron, his death is the bravest of all. Cunning cur that he is, the Baron has chosen not to tell his Knights that suicide easily ensures the immortality of The Men God Chooses Not To See.

As the tide of battle turns against them and with the enemy almost upon him, the Baron takes his dagger and stabs himself in the heart. He is dead, a quivering smile on his lips, before he crumples to the ground.

The Knights of the Nauseous Poop have ceased to exist.

The Men God Chooses Not To See


IN THE HALL of Eternity, the newly dead are gathering. One by one the Knights of the Nauseous Poop appear. There is great rejoicing among them.

The Baron is the last arrival. A great huzzah goes up from the 44 gathered Knights. “You were right, Baron. We live again!” exults The Buffoon.

“Do not be overweening,” the Baron cautions. “For we have much work to do to ensure that we return to mortality. Remember our plan all of you. Fulfill your appointed parts.” The Knights nod in assent.

In the wink of an eye, the 44 find themselves before a tribunal. They are in a cavernous hall at the center of which is an elevated stage.

A rectangular rostrum, made of a gleaming, exotic wood and emblazoned with a circular escutcheon commands the stage. Behind the Knights are 200 empty seats the likes of which they have never before seen.

The Knights hear a hubbub behind them but see no one. They hear a gavel pound thrice.

“Order!” commands an unseen Speaker. “I will have order in this House.”

The tumult ceases.

“Mr. Speaker,” an invisible spirit says. “Should these 44 men be tried en masse or singly?”

“Yes, what is it,” asks the Speaker. “The House recognizes the spirit from 15th century Asia.”

“If I may, Mr. Speaker, their case hews closely to that of the Crusaders at the Rape of Constantinople. And we did try the Crusaders en masse.”

“Point of order Mr. Speaker,” says another unseen spirit. “There are only 44 of these new souls. We can easily dispense with their case in about two centuries.

"Trying them en masse will bring forth the conspiracy angle and we all know how long the last one took. Almost two thousand years.”

“Point well taken,” says the Speaker.

“My dear Lords,” the Baron interrupts. “What is our crime?”

“Silence! This House has not recognized your right to speak,” another spirit retorts.

“Souls in judgment have the right to speak. It is in our rules,” replies a dissenting spirit.

“But only if the Speaker elects them to speak,” counters the other.

“That was not the case with the Romans who sacked Carthage. Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica was given the right to defend himself before we damned him.”

“Order! Order!” the Speaker shouts as he bangs his gavel. “What do we know of these 44 souls?”

There is a heavenly silence.

“What do the records say?” the unseen Speaker asks. “Where are the tally sheets of their sins and good deeds?”

“The secretariat has not finished the manual tally of their sins and good deeds,” explains a spirit.

The Speaker groans.

“If I might defend myself, Mr. Speaker,” shouts The Paranoid.

“And I,” seconds The Exculpator.

“Keep your peace!” the Speaker bellows.

“I will not shut up because I am innocent,” retorts The Buffoon.

“My pinky pains me,” cries the Mighty Poop.

“Are there any ladies out there?” asks The Obscurant.

And all the rest of the Knights of the Nauseous Poop wade into the fray, confusing, annoying and irritating their unseen jurors. For in eternity, the seconds are as years on Earth but debates do not endure forever.

“I declare this case in adjournment,” says the Speaker, frustrated. “Bailiff, you will escort these 44 souls to the holding chamber while the secretariat completes their tally sheets.

"The next thousand cases, if you please.”

The next instant and the Knights find themselves in what can best be described as a room with a view of eternity. They can see what they want to see, in whatever country, in whichever century.

They are amazed by man’s progress and are in awe of his seemingly miraculous machines. But the Knights of the Nauseous Poop take comfort in the realization that man himself is unchanged through the centuries:

Man remains a thinking animal driven by animal passions.

And, by some inexplicable accident of chance, the souls of the Baron, the Mighty Poop and his Knights escape and are sucked downwards towards the Earth, there to inhabit the bodies of men in various centuries, forgetting their past selves but not the passions that drive them.

And now, their spirits fester on a wretched necklace of islands in the vast Maris Pacifici.

The Knights' new kingdom.

*Written in 2004