My Face is on Fire: A Novella (Part Three)
Meatcutter Marvin,---Marvin Lawson---originally from Memphis, now residing in New Orleans, has been winning blue ribbons for his barbeque since he was thirteen years old. Cooking was his passion. Barbeque his glory.
Maybe being a barbeque man wasn't the most important thing in the world. But dadgummit he was the world's best barbeque man. And nobody could tell either him or his legions of follower any different. Especially those devotees who fracture the Internet, on Facebook and Twitter, testifying to the High Heavens about Meatcutter Marvin's Louisiana style barbeque.
Meatcutter Marvin was a jovial man who loved what he did. Loved the happiness and pleasure it brought to people. A forward-thinking man, it was all about the children for Marvin. The children, the next generations to whom the future belongs. You got to raise them right, as far as he was concerned. Give them the right start. Feed 'em good barbeque.
Marvin loved nothing more than to see a little tot, just starting to eat solid food, propped up in a high chair, in one of his fine barbeque eateries, biting into a soft-as-butter barbeque rib---jovially smearing the barbeque sauce all over his little face, licking his fingers---before Mommy inevitably scrubs him down with Handi Wipes.
Marvin had a dozen barbeque establishments below the Mason-Dixon Line, from Florida to Texas. He was planning a Great Northern Invasion real soon.
The thing he was most proud of, at this moment... the thing that, if he were to be struck down right now and it would be okay... the thing upon which he could hang his legacy... the thing which he considers his great gift to the world...
... is his latest brand of Lawson's chili. He called it "The Law's Chili." And get this: his slogan is "The Law's Chili! It will pull you over with its arresting flavor!"
Get it? Ha-Ha! Hee-Hee! Funny! But it was damn good chili. His product, his "The Law's Chili," which threatens to pull you over with its arresting flavor, graced the shelves of supermarkets---and not so 'super' markets---from Florida to New Mexico.
The chili would form the vanguard of the Great Northern Invasion of the Meatcutter Marvin brand.
People were always asking Marvin for the recipe of his chili. He always gave it. They ran home to try it; but they found they couldn't quite get it to taste as good as Marvin's.
Marvin always left out one ingredient. The one very special and secret ingredient.
The Fugitive found himself coming out of a drugged stupor. He was naked and lying on a cold metallic floor.
Two big, bald men in white, wearing butcher's smocks, came in. One of them said, "Hello, meat."
One grabbed his legs and the other grabbed his arms. They lifted him up, and, despite his struggling, picked him up and carried him over to a circular opening in a wall. They threw him and slammed shut the latch.
The Fugitive found himself sliding down a metallic tube. It was smooth and greasy, lubricated. He could not grip anything to slow his momentum. To make matters worse, he heard, below him, the whirring sound of chopping blades.
We haven't the words to adequately capture his terror. It almost goes without saying. Anyway, as he struggled to halt his slide, the latch opened again, followed by a tidal wave of a squishy substance. He realized it was meat and fat, with which he was to be mixed, apparently.
He fell toward the blades. Just before the moment of truth, he woke up.
Another variation goes like this:
The Fugitive again found himself coming out of a drugged stupor. He found himself lying naked on a cold, metallic floor, yet again. Once more the two big, bald thugs enter, with one of them saying, "Hello, meat."
Again, they make a grab for him. This time, however, he had been playing possum a little bit. He was not quite as groggy as he had let on. This time, somehow, he manages to overpower his two assailants and make a run for it.
However, in that hard luck Charlie Brown way---in which Lucy is always pulling the football away at the last second, so that instead of kicking the football, Charlie Brown lands on his butt---the first door he ran through trapped him. He literally stepped into a hallway that was the long, snaking, lubricated smooth, metal tube, drawing him to the death of a million cuts at the bottom, in the form of the superfast whirring blades.
Once again he tried desperately---one might say futilely---to halt his descent. Once again the door opened again, only to hit the man in the chest with a tidal wave of meat and fat. Once again, as he is about the feel the first knick of the whirring blades, he wakes up screaming.
Yet another variation goes like this:
The Fugitive struggles to consciousness, out of a drugged stupor. He finds himself lying, naked, on a cold, metallic floor. The two bald-headed butcher-thugs come in, with one of them saying, 'Hello, meat.' Then they reach for him.
But this time, he overpowers them and/or escapes from them, somehow. This time he actually manages to find his way safely outside the building. But he finds all reality outside that building deserted. There are no people around anywhere.
He runs because he cannot accept it. There must be help for him somewhere. There must be!
The ground rumbles beneath his feet and all around them. Shooting up into the sky, from beneath the ground is the familiar conveyance tube. This immense, metal, tubular thing with chomping razor sharp teeth at the opening.
The tube comes for him. He cannot escape the cooking pot so easily.
He runs. The tube pursues, indifferent to all substances that cross its path.
If he climbs a tree, the tube eats the tree, threatening to swallow the man up with it.
If the man runs into an abandoned apartment building and tries to flee for high ground, the tube simply burrows up.
If the man tries to lock himself in the basement of an abandoned federal bank and locks himself in the safe, the tube chops away the building layer by layer until it comes to the remaining basement layer. The tube crashes the safe. Thud. Thud. Thud.
It will not hold and the running man is done for.
He is a man of flesh and blood. He cannot run forever. The tube can but will not have to. The man will tire. Then tire some more. Eventually he will become paralytic with fatigue.
And the tube will get him. Swallow him up. Swirl the man down, down into the whirring blade below.
Many pounds of squishy fat and meat will rain down on him, hastening his slide.
The Fugitive will wake up before his body comes in contact with the whirring blades below. But he will not wake up in his own house, in his own bed.
He will find himself lying on another cold, hard, metallic floor. Naked. Suspended above him there will be rows and rows of hooks. Upon which will be rows and rows of beef carcasses.
He will hear the sound. chup. chup-chup-chup. chup. chup-chup-chup. splutteerrrrrrr splop.
He will turn. "Mildred." The wife he had murdered.
"Hello, meat," Mildred will say.
He will exhibit terror and run. But he will be awkward because he hasn't yet gotten used to his new body. As he runs he will find himself spontaneously disassembling and reassembling. In the way Mildred does. Making the sounds Mildred does.
She will head him off easily. "How does it feel?" she'll say to him. "How does it feel to be part of the ingredients of 'The Law's Chili.'?" She will laugh and laugh and laugh.
She will pause in her laughter only enough to say, "'The Law's Chili. It'll pull you over with its arresting flavor.'"
She will again laugh and laugh and laugh. She will laugh uncontrollably. She will grab her stomach and fall over laughing. She will struggle mightily once more to control herself, saying, "License and registration, please."
As always, the Fugitive will wake up in his own bed, in his own house. As always, he will wake up screaming.
Television Commercial for The Law's Chili.
Opening scene: We see a lone woman driving home from the day's errands, the last of which had been a trip to the supermarket. We see the many grocery bags bunched in the car with her. There is even one in the passenger seat up front with her.
She is a young woman. Perhaps late twenties or early thirties. She is smiling and humming along to the car radio. Some innocuous soft rock or some such.
She is truly contented in her heart, feels the warm glow in her soul. For she has the satisfaction of having heroically done her proper duty by her family. She is old fashioned that way.
Suddenly we hear the sound, just before we see it. It is the sound of a police car with its alert siren blaring.
The woman driver pulls to the side, thinking the officer wants to pass. But he does not. He wants... her... to pull over.
"Driver, stay in your car and keep both hands on the steering wheel," the officer says over his loud speaker.
He walks over to her, hand on his gun holster. He bends down and scans the interior of the car with his hard, watchful eyes.
Apparently satisfied, for the moment, he straightens up. "License and registration, please."
She bats her eyelashes at him. "Is there a problem, officer?"
"License and registration if you please, mam."
"Certainly." She hands over the license and registration.
He looks at them. Once again, apparently satisfied he says, "Do you know why I stopped you today, mam?"
Her innocent, law-abiding eyes widen. "Why no, officer. I can't imagine."
"Did a little grocery shopping, did you mam?"
"On your way home to cook dinner for the family."
"What are you making?"
"Well, its the second Friday of the month. Mexican night! I thought nachos and tortillas, like that."
"Any hot chili?"
"Of course," she says, "can't do without the hot chili."
"What brand of chili, mam?"
She happens to have a can in the grocery bag in the seat next to her. She hands the can to the officer.
Horror of horrors! Its some nondescript generic brand. This will not do and the officer of the law tells her so.
"Good thing I caught you," he says. "Just in time from the looks of it." Somewhere on his utility belt he happens to have the corrective: a can of 'The Law's Chili.'
"Of course," she says, hand on forehead. "How stupid of me!"
Then they both face the camera and say, in unison: "The Law's Chili. It will pull you over with its arresting flavor!"
Two fingers in mouth. Ready. Set. Vomit.
That deranged, megalomaniacal barbeque tycoon, Meatcutter Marvin is talking about making a Broadway musical out of that commercial. Out of The Law's Chili, which will pull you over with its arresting flavor.
Ha-Ha! Hee-Hee! Funny. But it was damn good chili.
What on earth could the plot of such a production be? Would they have inmates in prison saying something like: "You can take away my freedom. You can even take away my companionship with my fellow inmates. But don't take away my Law's Chili. I'll gladly do the time with its arresting flavor."
What could possibly be the plot of such a production?
Perhaps a group of nefarious looking toughs are gathered on a street corner. Late at night. Up to no good. Then a sinister looking urban youth walks up, head down, face obscured by the upturned collar of his jacket. He hands one of the nefarious ones some money. A bag of powder is handed back to him.
And then out of nowhere. A gleaming object, like the shield of Captain America comes flying through the air, bouncing off the heads of the evil doers, knocking them all out.
Like a boomerang, the gleaming object returns to the hand of the person that threw it. Its some chump wearing a neighborhood watch T-shirt. He is standing there, over the unconscious bodies of the drug dealers, arm upraised, proudly displaying the can of The Law's Chili.
The voiceover says: "The Law's Chili. It'll pull you over with its arresting flavor."
What's next? Will a man in a ski mask, carrying a gun, try to rob and bank? Will he go up to one of the teller and say 'Your money or your life.'
Will the teller say something like: 'The Law, sucker,' and smack him upside the head with a family-sized can of The Law's Chili, knocking him cold. Maybe they could change things up just a little bit by having the voiceover say: 'The Law's Chili. It will knock you out with its executing flavor!'
Will we see the firehouse company sitting around a steaming cauldron of the stuff? Will one of them say something like: 'You know friends, take it from the city's bravest, you don't have to be the city's finest to enjoy The Law's Chili."
"That right, Fred," one of his colleagues says, "The Law's Chili is a four-alarm humdinger."
Who says 'humdinger' anymore?
You just got to have a police precinct full of cops, all in dress uniform, seated at a long table. Some kind of ritual or holiday dinner event. Of course they must all be facing the camera, as they say in unison, "The Law's Chili. It'll pull you over with its arresting flavor."
Cut to Superman standing---or floating---on top of the Earth. The voiceover says: "Truth, Justice, the American Way, and Law's Chili."
End of Part Three.