The following excerpts are from the second book of the The Tinsel Town Tall Tales Trilogy:
The Lost Song of the Zombie Shapeshifters
After an escalating preponderance of embarrassing episodes over the years involving the subconscious or oftentimes downright careless use of profanity in inappropriate situations, Leafy and Beefy had concluded that they had to make a serious effort to clean up their act and had arrived at an understanding that they believed might curb their foul ex-military tongues.
It was a simple enough plan: each time a curse-word was uttered, a penalty had to be paid. They had played around with self-inflicted punishments like: Beefy had to miss breakfast and/or lunch or Leafy had to stop smoking and/or wiseassing around for a specified period of time. But after deeming those penalizations just a tad too Draconian they had agreed to give $5.00 to the next homeless person they encountered after the utterance of any of the banned expletives, if any such persons happened to be around. Over the course of a verbally-unguarded shift, this could get quite expensive for the unguarded utterer because, on any given day or night, there was never any shortage of waifs and strays around to accept their reluctantly-given largesse. The curse word prohibition applied only to the F-bomb, the C-bomb, the S-bomb and the P-bomb; but redacted euphemisms could be used in their stead, such as f-dash-dash-k, c-dash-dash-t, s-dash-dash-t, and p-dash-dash-s - or derivative words thereof - where the first and last letters were spoken along with the two dashes in-between. This awkwardness was designed and intended to dissuade the potential curse-word utterer from going to all of that pronunciation trouble just so they could have a good, old cursing session. With this system, they had to work at it if they wanted those swearwords to roll smoothly off the tongue. But sooner than forgo the mysterious and hedonistic pleasure associated with the unfettered use of the top four words in the lexicon of the profane, the two had stuck at their self-imposed restrictions, and after only three months of adopting their new plan they had become quite adept at f-dash-dash-king around.
"I mean, what's more patriotic than cussing?" asked Leafy, in a tone that implied that he could not really believe he had to ask such an idiotic question.
"Nothing's more patriotic than cussing," replied Beefy. "This is the land of the free and cussing is the ultimate freedom of speech. I don't think it's any exaggeration to say that cussing has played a major part in making this nation what it is today."
"Not only that, cussing is the ultimate form of truth. Nobody lies when they're cussing. They're too busy cussing to be deceiving anybody. Cussing gets right to the heart of any matter. There's no slyness in cussing. It's much easier to trust a cusser than a non-cusser."
"Never a truer word spoken, Leafy. Cussing is also about justice. It is the ultimate equal-opportunity descriptive technique. It favours nobody, rich or poor, old or young, happy or sad."
"Happy or sad?"
"Yes, happy or sad. I think those are two highly polarized categories that have been sadly ignored and wholly misunderstood within the broader field of demographics."
"Upon reflection, I think you're wholeheartedly and absolutely f-dash-dash-king right! And I promise you . . . I am not s-dash-dash-tting you when I say that."
"I hope you're not just being a silly c-dash-dash-t here, coz you know how that really p-dash-dash-es me off."
* * *
"Talk about unlucky!" observed Leafy. "That's like . . . going to get a flu shot and catching AIDS, hepatitis, toenail fungus, PTSD, Alzheimer's, COVID-19 and the bubonic plague all off the same needle."
"That's so unlucky," returned Beefy, pausing as he searched for a comparative scenario that seriously outdid Leafy's, "it's like . . . you're in the woods at night being chased by an evil monster and - sure as s-dash-dash-t - you make it back to the car but the engine won't start."
"That's like," responded Leafy, sensing and accepting the implicit challenge, "the engine does start but you don't have the foggiest idea how to drive a car."
"That's like . . . the engine starts, you do have the foggiest idea how to drive a car but it's axle-deep in primeval swamp ooze."
"That's like . . . the engine starts, you do have the foggiest idea how to drive, and you manage to get the car out of the primeval swamp ooze, but the monster, by some evil magical machination . . . ."
"Machination . . . somehow manages to be sitting in the back seat of the car breathing right down your neck as you career wildly down the dark forest road."
"All right. Well that's like . . . the engine starts, you do have the foggiest idea how to drive, and you somehow manage to get the car out of the primeval swamp ooze with the monster in the back seat of the car breathing down your neck while you career wildly down the dark forest road . . . but Vladimir Putin and his buddies choose that exact moment to test out their new Avangard Hypersonic Missile System and just by sheer chance, it blows you, the car and the monster to smithereens."
"Only three Es in smithereens, Leafy . . . as in pieces, bits, fragments, shards and chunks."
"Thanks for the heads-up on the Es."
"Don't mention it. You're very, very welcooome."
* * *
"How are you making out with your book?" asked Beefy, with a sly smile. "Come up with a second word yet?"
"You tell me," said Leafy, reaching into the back seat of the car and handing Beefy a large, brown envelope. "First three chapters. Damn thing has taken over my life. I'm thinking of getting me a ghost-writer."
"Really? And exactly where does a person get a ghost-writer from?"
"There's tons of them online. They're a dime a dozen."
Leafy pulled out his phone, clicked on a website and handed it to Beefy.
"Kevin E. Buckley, author/political-commentator/satirist/ghost-whiter," Beefy read out loud.
"That's a typo on writer," admitted Leafy. "What can I tell ya? He's really inexpensive . . . some might even say cheap."
"And here's his blog post: Grave New World. The blog that tells you every detail of the depressing truth but offers no viable solutions whatsoever. Holy cow! Look at his picture. This is one seriously good-looking dude. Here, check this out: "There's so much bad news flying around these days, it's like we're drowning headfirst in a giant barrel of snot and puke. Every now and again, a person has to come up for air.'"
"He's right about the snot and puke . . . or as we were fond of calling it in the navy: snuke."
"I guess puot doesn't really work so well."
"That's why we called it snuke."
"Marines definitely have a way with words."
"Semper Fi, army boy! I think this Buckley guy is Scottish, but I'm not really sure."
"What does the 'E' stand for?"
"Dunno. He probably just made it up. You know these writers, man. Pretentious as all hell. They think if they add an initial to their name and get all mysterious about what it stands for, then somehow people will take them more seriously and buy their books and make them filthy rich."
"Is that why you've been signing your name Jerome L. Green?"
"That's between me, my rabbi and my publisher - who just happen to be all the same person by the way. Except for the rabbi, who is almost entirely a separate entity."
"You know, it's quite ironic that you're writing a book, coz I always wanted to be the protagonist in a multi-genre sci-fi murder-mystery novel."
"That's uncanny, Beefy, coz I always wanted to be the antagonist in a multi-genre sci-fi murder- mystery novel."
"What exactly does an antagonist do in a multi-genre sci-fi murder-mystery novel?"
"Well . . . she or he spends most of their time hanging around with the protagonist saying stupid things, goofing around and generally p-dash-dash-sing people off."
"That sounds like it might be right up your alleyway, Leafy."
"Not really, Beefy," disagreed Leafy, with a slight frown. "I don't know why you'd say that."
"If it's not really up your alleyway, Leafy, then I don't really know whose alleyway it could really be up."
* * *
"Have you understood one word that I just said to you?" asked the astrophysicist. "Are you paying any attention whatsoever, Detective Green?"
"Hey! Hold up there, science boy. I've been following along. It's all about the snorgalization of the Wampolinean entrenterbolic Crempetulising effect as applied to the nothingness of indectrosonic matexial protuberant principles."
"Within the confines of a snark-based abluvial-force dingheroid array module superimposed against a retro-dimensional time-inverted force paradigm, don't forget."
"Well . . . yeah. Duh!" replied Leafy, striking his forehead with the palm of his hand in an eloquently sarcastic Simpsonesque gesture of obviation.
"Okay, fair enough. Then I guess you have been listening."
* * *
For the last year or so, Beefy had been in denial about certain age-related infirmities and especially about his fading long-range vision. Peering through the windshield into the rain-soaked night, he picked up the handset and called dispatch.
"We're behind a silver-grey Dodge . . . Jealousy? Jalopy?"
"For Christ's sake, Beefy," put in Leafy, eyes locked on the other vehicle. "It's a Journey. A Dodge Journey. Dude, you gotta get some glasses."
Leafy took the handset, corrected Beefy's mistake and reported the suspect vehicle's tag number. The car came back clean, but the detectives were pretty sure this was their perp.
"F-dash-dash-k it, Beefy, I'm gonna light him up."
Leafy rolled down the window and placed the flashing magnetic police beacon onto the roof of the Crown Vic. After a few hundred yards, the suspect's car finally rolled to a halt on the hard shoulder of the dark and lonely road. Weapons drawn and flashlights levelled, the detectives cautiously approached the vehicle from both sides.
"Driver! If you do not instantly comply with my commands, you will be tazed, thrown roughly to the ground and severely beaten up just like you've probably seen many times before on American reality TV cop shows!" shouted Leafy. "Now roll down the window and put your hands outside where I can see them!"
After a brief hesitation, the driver complied.
"Okay driver, open the door from the outside and get out of the car!"
The driver struggled to comply, but could not turn his wrists sufficiently to unlock the door.
"Okay driver, open the door from the inside and get out of the car!"
The driver got out of the car and put his hands in the air.
"Get down on the ground!"
The driver got down on his knees.
"All the way down!"
The driver lay down on his belly.
"Now get back up again!"
The driver got back up on his feet.
"Now get back down on the ground again!"
The driver got back down.
"Now stand up on one foot and take three hops backwards towards the sound of my voice!"
The driver hopped backwards on one foot.
"Put both feet on the ground, twirl your arms like a windmill and sing the last line of the Star Spangled Banner!"
The driver twirled and sung as commanded.
"Okay driver! Keep your hands in the air and slowly turn around to face me!"
Beefy shone his flashlight on the driver's face.
'That's not the guy, Leafy," whispered Beefy.
"Okay driver, listen up! Get back in the car, drive away and pretend this never happened!"
The driver gratefully complied.
* * *