Saturday, August 17, 2013

Summer Fiction Week — "Mom Crimes"

     Maybe the strangest entry for Summer Fiction Week. This was written years ago, when I was a contributor to the old National Lampoon humor magazine.  I seem to recall a blasphemy issue being involved in its creation, and my shooting for something edgy, though not edgy enough, apparently, because they didn't take it.  Don't ask me what it means or why it's supposed to be funny: I'm not sure myself.

                                       Mom crimes

1. Your mom betrays vital American interests:

     After carefully selecting a few postcards of Paris to send back to you kids at a newsstand, your mom hurries across the street, just in time to meet a man she knows only as Haji at a small cafe off the Jardin des Tuilleries. After carefully showing Haji the postcards, pairing each one off with photos of its eventual recipient in a small album produced from her big, cluttered purse, she  tells him that he is looking thin and should order a brioche and a cup of boiled milk. As he does that, your mom digs further into the recesses of the purse and, eventually, pulls out a thick sheaf of papers wrapped in a rubber band.
    "Floor plans of the American embassy in Damascus," she announces in a loud voice, proudly, sliding the papers toward the man, who glances uncomfortably around. "Plus day codes, and a list of undercover operatives."
    "Magnificent," grins Haji, quickly grabbing the papers and sliding them out of sight. "Saddam Hussein thanks you, and will generously reward you for your..."
    Your mom cuts him off with a wave of her finger, grasping his forearm in an affectionate manner. "No," your mom says, smiling sweetly, "you thank him, from me, for carrying on his important work..."

2. Your mom has sex with strangers in a drunken debauch:

     It is the type of bar you would never go into: a gray tarpaper shack distinguished as a saloon merely by the "BUD" sign glowing in the filthy window, like a leer. Behind the building, in the gravel parking lot, are a dozen chopper motorcycles and two huge semi tracker-trailer cabs.
     Yet inside, piercing above the Metallica song screeching from the jukebox, is the distinctive laugh of your mom, only a little wilder, almost crazed than heard at any standard poker night. She is frolicking in a booth in the back, with three huge, bearded men wearing leather vests. The red frazzle of the neon casts a demonic glow to your mother's heavily-powdered face as she hefts a pitcher of beer to her lips, drinking form the side, laughing at the same time, spilling beer down the front of her pale blue house dress.
     One of the bearded guys fakes an effort to brush the beer from your mom's front, and ends up massaging a breast. Your mom pauses to pop a tiny square of Chiclet gum into her mouth as the entire group slides under the table in a howling, grasping, moaning mass of animalistic lust.

3. Your mom helps Josef Mengele escape from Israeli agents:

     Her Dr. Scholl's sandals clatter on the cobblestones as your mom hurries into the courtyard of the villa, scattering llamas and chickens as she rushes inside the yellow stuccoed companesto. Dropping a sack of plantains, she practically pulls a tall, grey-haired gentleman out of an easy chair.
     "Israeli agents!" your mom hisses. "Manuel passed word to me in the marketplace. They should be here any moment. Mach schnell, my love."
     Without a word, the man grabs a small satchel from the mantel, pulls aside a hand-woven woolen carpet, opens a trap door and —pausing to kiss your mom deeply on the mouth—disappears.
     Just as your mom has finished smoothing down the rug with her toe, the door bursts open and several tanned young men with curly black hair rush in, waving Uzis.
     "Guten Tag," your mom says, patting down her hair in that nervous way of hers.

4. Your mom sells heroin to children in a suburban schoolyard:

     The autumn colors are just starting to emerge on the oaks and sycamores on Shady Lane the day some 6th graders notice your mom lingering on the playground, pretending to examine the flower beds the PTA has dug by the chain link fence. A few of your friends go up and tell her that you're not there — you went with the Explorers Club to the Natural History Museum on a field trip. She says she knows that, startling them slightly, then suddenly thrusts her hand into her blouse and draws out a fistful of small glassine packets of white powder from her bra.
     "China White!" she hisses, urgently. "The beset you can buy. You won't get hooked." She dangles the packets back and forth in front of the faces of your friends, who, grumbling, dig into their pockets for spare change.

5. Your mom secretly worships Satan with other community stalwarts:

     No sooner has your mom dropped your sister off at her piano lesson than she wheels the big, fake-wood-paneled station wagon toward the white spire of your church.
      She is met at the door by the janitor. "They're all down there," he says, quickly bolting the door after your mom slips inside.
     Eleven figures, in black robes, their faces hooded, look up as your mom and the janitor descend the stairs. Little Wendy Peters—she's in your sister's 4th grade class—squirms in terror, struggling against the ropes binding her hands and feet to the rough stone altar.
    "Hi Wendy!" your mom says, happily, as the little girl's eyes goggle in horror. "Don't be frightened. Soon you'll be skipping jump rope with Satan. Won't that be nice?"
     The others have formed a ring, kneeling, and begin an ancient chant as your mom dons her own black hood—similar to the others, but with a pentagram on the forehead and antlers on either side.
     She removes a long kris from under the altar and  holds it in both hands, the serpentine blade hovering over Wendy's naked stomach.
     "Here me O forces of darkness!" you mom booms, in that deep "dinnertime" shout you've heard so often. "Malik nocturno achtan nocturno mento mori haec et olum!

                                                       #  #  #


  1. Neil,

    I hope you had a good time at the state fair. We went there last weekend with the three grandkids. It's too bad that more people from Chicago don't take advantage of the chance to go there especially considering that they could also visit the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum.

  2. Why is it funny? It's like June Cleaver speaking Jive in Airplane.

  3. Perhaps "Mom is a Monster" was too edgy, even for the National Lampoon.

  4. To be honest, I think it was too tame. Remember, this is the publication that printed, "The Vietnamese Baby Book."


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