The Legendary Tale of the Hero's Grand Adventure (and some cheese...)
by Daniel J. Durand
It was a dark and stormy night. The seas were choppy and dangerous. Lightning arced down from the heavens, and even the bravest of the town’s citizens ran in terror of what appeared to be the wrath of the gods unleashed onto the world. The earth split into great fissures, which ran along the ground like lines across paper. As barbarians ran unchecked across the land, pillaging the small island village, the air began to grow thick with the stench of smoke and flame. To those who were left alive to witness it, this night was their apocalypse.
Luckily, our story takes place miles away from that island village, on the other, more peaceful, happier, and somewhat more complacent side of the world. It was a bright and sunny day, and our hero was walking merrily along the sidewalk, whistling a merry tune. Unbeknownst to him, but beknownst to us, today would turn out to be the most exciting day of his life.
Our hero was on his way to the post office. He was mailing off a subscription to the “Cheese of the Month Club”. Although he particularly abhorred cheese of any kind, being lactose intolerant since early childhood, the prospect of getting mail once a month seemed like an opportunity he couldn’t pass up. Years later, he would find a use for the cheese he had accumulated, but that is a tale for another day.
However, the post office was a considerable distance from his apartment, and, wanting to enjoy the beautiful day outside, our hero opted to walk rather of drive. All of this walking was making him feel thirsty, and so he decided to stop for a beverage. Finding a nearby convenience store to be to his liking, (conveniently, I might add) he set out on his new search for something to drink.
Just before he opened the door, however, our hero was interrupted by a haggard-looking man in a wool trench coat, who was hacking and wheezing and seemed to be having a very difficult time in general. Quickly, our hero rushed to the man, whom for the purposes of narration will hereby be known as Dennis. Our hero grabbed Dennis by the armpits, and gently eased him down into a sitting position against a nearby wall. The wall, being made of brick in simpler, quieter times, didn’t seem to mind. In fact, the wall thought, it was nice to have a little company.
After a short while, Dennis was able to catch his breath. “Thanks for that,” he said, “other people would have waited until I had passed out and then used a sheet of newsprint to cover the body.” Our hero took a moment to consider this, wondering how people could be so lazy and not loot the body first, and why he hadn’t done that, before replying; “It was no problem. Sometimes you just feel the urge to do something human.” “Like coughing!” Dennis exclaimed. Both men began to laugh at this, for a time that seemed to last an eternity, even though it was a very stupid joke and neither person really thought it was funny. The wall soon grew tired of this, and fell asleep. Nobody seemed to notice.
“Well then,” said our hero, remembering that he was thirsty, “now that you’re doing okay, I had better get going”. “Suit yourself, then,” replied Dennis, who had realized that the wall had fallen asleep. As he attempted to wake it up, our hero entered the convenience store.
As he opened the door, a small bell rang, alerting a nearby mob of “attendants” that money had arrived, and that it must be separated from its owner by any means necessary. The sales people swarmed our poor, thirsty hero, asking helpful questions such as, “Are you finding everything O.K., sir?” and “How may I help you, sir?” or the coup de grace of all helpful phrases, “We have a special on dish soap, aisle thirteen”.
Our hero, dazed and confused, rendered near speechless by this sudden attack, could feel himself slowly giving in. As his wallet began to slip from his grip, our hero finally managed to pull himself together. Sweat dripping off his brow from the effort, our hero managed to get out that one deadly phrase, those fateful words that to this day bring hope into the hearts of all those who find themselves oppressed by the over-helpfulness of salespeople being paid on commission: “No, thank you”, he stuttered, “I’m fine on my own”.
Stricken and defeated, the salespeople shriveled into darkness, disappearing in a wisp of black vapor. A sudden chill blew towards them from the canned goods section, carrying the evil spirits back to the abyss, where their true Master awaited them angrily. As quickly as they had come, the salespeople were no more.
As our hero, distracted, began to pick at some lint on his shirtsleeve, the other shoppers began to peek out from their hiding places. Relieved to discover that the enemy had been slain, the shoppers crowded around our hero, dancing and singing, cheering for the mighty champion who had so unwittingly come to their rescue.
Oblivious, and once more remembering the reason he had come to the store, our hero pushed his way past the throng of former captives to the refrigerator section. Grabbing a lemonade, he turned and nimbly worked his way back up to the check-out. Since the salespeople seemed to be absent, our hero was forced to scan and pay for the item himself. Walking out of the store, he held the door for a woman and her child who were carrying groceries. He then went on his way.
After a long and perilous journey, upon which he encountered an irate zoo keeper, a wizard, and some Trekkies who needed directions to the Convention, our hero had finally managed to get to the post office. Just as he was about to slide the subscription into the mailbox, danger once again reared its head, like a serpent coiling to strike. The corner of the envelope, sharp as an executioner’s axe, bit into the soft, unprotected flesh of our hero’s index finger. A paper cut…
As our hero watched in horror as his life-blood drained away before his eyes, our hero became determined ever more. Unwilling to give up after his long and tiring journey, our brave and valiant hero, in one swift move, tore off a bit of cloth from his shirt and wrapped his grievous wound. Fortunately, the makeshift bandage was just enough to stop the bleeding, and his crisis ended, our hero dropped the subscription carefully into the mailbox, and closed the lid. Emboldened by his sense of accomplishment, our hero set out on the long journey for home, eager for his first cheese of the month.