by Albert Howard Carter III
Simon Lacerous’ column “The Last Word” routinely excoriated literary works: if realistic, they lacked imagination; if fantastic, they lacked veracity; if existential, they lacked moral compass; if moralistic, they were fascist.
As he left his office one midnight dreary, he was confronted by a hooded figure carrying a stylus, a goose quill, a ballpoint, a laptop, and a scythe.
In a flash, Simon saw the error of his ways and shouted out this devious fiction: “When I woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, I found myself changed into a monstrous vermin. Surely that’s punishment enough?”
The hooded figure opened its cloak, revealing multivariate weaponry. It spoke in sepulchral tones: “If, sir, you were in fact changed into a cricket, I should employ this [it indicated a flyswatter] but I perceive you are a critic, indeed of the most slovenly, ambushing, and puling sort.”
“Perhaps so,” S.L. replied, quickly kneeling, “but I made less money than most writers. Oh, spare me, hooded figure!”
H.F. pursed its lips and extruded a large stick of playground chalk. Its robe swirling, it danced macabrely as it drew—on the alley’s tarmac and around the kneeling critic—the forensic figure of a victim.
“Lie here and don’t go outside the lines,” it ordered.
H.F. pulled a kalashnikoff from its robe and riddled S.L. with a staccato series of very short bursts, creating umlauts, colons, diereses, ellipses, and, even, periods.
Police, seeing the corpse already with an outline, experienced brain seizures.
A second-story window opened and Annabel Lee, an intern with Marlowe, Poirot & Holmes (also a leggy dame with big headlights and a smart mouth on her) cried out, “Look, yuh lousy flatfeets, it’s obvious you should put out an APB for that punk Chu Aishen!”