picnic at Black Plague River

Once upon a time on a sad and lonely planet lived a sad and lonely man named Sad Solly, who didn’t understand what was happening, which made him sad. And all across the planet, all the sad and lonely people who didn’t understand what was happening, got up in the morning and went to bed in the evening and always felt as sad as sad can be…

‘Twas a time of sorrow, when a black cloud of misery, despair and sadness spread across the Planet and disease and madness slithered and scurried up the filthy streets and down the dirty drains and across the putrid floors like an army of funnel-web spiders…

And all looked bleak and nothing ever turned out right and devils walked the streets grinning and masturbating in a particularly horrible way…

‘Twas getting very near to the end of their world, rotten and collapsing, fraught with danger, consumed by fire and greed, when comets streaked the sky and cruelty stalked the land like a mean and nasty black cat stalks its prey.

But let me tell you more about Sad Solly and his woman, Mad Molly, who kept him company, and a boat, Dad’s Folly, which they took out on Sundays to the Black Plague River, a foul but popular venue in those strange and evil days.

Theirs was a joyless union, unproductive of health or happiness, and yielding only bitter fruit including a young lad, Wally, and a brain-damaged daughter, Odd Sally, whom they loved dearly, in a warped and hurtful way.

Then one dreadful Sunday, off they took their sorry selves upon them to attempt a so-called journey to that well-known venue at the Black Plague River with their little boat behind them on the Highway of Destruction where mutants roam and zombies groan and mad skeleton bikers ride their growling hogs in search of living things to slay.

They drove for hours in silence, arriving hot and sweaty at that vile and vicious venue where they disembarked dispiritedly from their vehicle without a gleam of hope or joy. Then Sad Solly, Mad Molly, their young lad Wally, and Odd Sally climbed into Dad’s Folly upon the Black Plague River that crap and shitty Sunday on that sad and lonely Planet in September all that time ago.

The frogs were croaking, the wasps were buzzing, the mosquitoes whining, the flies flying, the humming birds humming, the crows were crowing and around every crooked bend from rusty pipes upon the muddy banks into the river did toxic waste come oozing green and slow.

The pestilent air was painful to the eyes of four fools in their stupid little boat on that loathsome, stinking river where just beneath the algal blooms there lurked gangs of piranha fish with sixteen sets of razor sharp teeth, and also evil alligators, anacondas, snapping turtles and the lost souls of long dead suicides trapped within delusion just beneath the surface, their eyes mad with sorrow at the knowledge they have nowhere else to go.

Feeling frightened and frustrated our four forlorn phantasms floated on that oily River, lost and listless in Dad’s Folly, angry and ashamed they argued with each other until the bitter tears began to flow.

Eventually they spied a spot for their pathetic picnic and disembarking from Dad’s Folly they laid a threadbare flea-infested blanket upon the soggy ground and sniffing the air like dogs they unpacked the stuff that they had bought the other day from a not-yet-looted store.

Sad Solly lit a fire between two rocks in preparation for their lunch of barbequed lizard, fried frog and baked knuckle of diseased pig, accompanied by a slimy salad of bitter herbs and worm-infested lettuce hatefully assembled by Mad Molly the hot and sleepless night before.

To wash it down they had a dozen jugs of Fuckenberry Wine of which the children were allowed only one jug each, no less, no more.

Throwing a handful of spreadeagled lizard carcasses upon the fire, Sad Solly slapped at mosquitoes alighting on his dirty neck and sipped his sour foul wine and sighed.

Odd Sally splashed barefoot in the murky shallows singing a high fierce song with no words about a mindless maiden locked inside a dungeon till the day she died.

Mad Molly slouched drunkenly against a bent and twisted tree-trunk picking at her scabs until she cried.

The lad Wally scratched his greasy groin and told his dad a story bout a sly trick he’d played upon a girl to screw her silly but he lied.

And while they were thusly engaged something happened that took them by surprise.

Was it the Bluebird of Happiness? No. Was it a Fairy Godmother? No. Was it a Pot of Gold at the end of a Rainbow? No (there were no rainbows in those days). Was it the baby Jesus haloed in a cradle? No. Was it the Devil that appeared before them in disguise?

No, it wasn’t Satan, the Fallen, nor did he emerge upon them as a throng of rats, swarming in their teeming thousands, malice in their hearts and evil shining redly in their glinting eyes.

Suddenly amid the gloom there seemed to loom the shape of something different… something bright and golden, somehow hopeful even healing, a recognition long forgotten half remembered, of an exit to a better place, where all the long lost joy and love and beauty could be found.

A portal to another world did open up before them---an out, an exit to a better place where everyone is happy and every tree is green and every meadow sunny and every bunny fluffy and never can be heard a sad or scary sound.

And did our family of dysfunction avail themselves of that unique escape or was it far too sudden, unexpected, unpredicted, and did they take too long and did they miss the doorway while they stuffed around?

Actually they got their act together and ran and jumped into the portal just before it closed.

Arriving at the other side they smiled to see the smiling people and wandered in a daze of newfound joy from house to house and each time stopping to eat cakes and chocolates offered to them by kindly grandmothers smelling of fresh-baked bread.

But within weeks a deadly virus from the Black Plague River had destroyed the other world, and everything and everyone was dead.

The end.

Copyright © S R Schwarz 2007. All rights reserved.

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