STEAMED HAMS BUT IT’S AN IN-RING PROMO
ADAPTED FROM “22 SHORT FILMS ABOUT SPRINGFIELD”
“Welcome to the longest running weekly episodic program in television history, this is Monday Night RAW” said Micheal Cole as he opened the latest edition of World Wrestling Entertainment’s
“As you can see, Miz TV is set up in the ring” observed Corey Graves.
“You just know the a-lister has got what’s sure to be a critically acclaimed plan for dealing with Roman Reigns tonight” said Booker T.
The Miz headed to the ring accompanied by his Miztourage. All three of them stepped into the squared circle and welcomed the large capacity crowd to the event.
“Welcome one and all to the most must-see show on any brand, RAW is the home of Miz TV and I have come with a peace offering for Roman Reigns, one might say this will be an unforgettable luncheon” he said, snapping his fingers so as to alert his Miztourage to their next course of action.
They unveiled in the center of the ring a small oven, smoke was slowly pouring out of it.
“Hmm, yes, it’s coming along nicely, you can tangibly taste the smell of that roast cooking in that oven. Yes, succulent delights await Roman when he arrives, or rather if he arrives, I hear he’s taken a slight detour. All the more for us I guess” said The Miz, confident that he would be able to help himself to the meal if Roman couldn’t make it.
Suddenly, Roman Reigns music hit and the crowd came alive.
“The big dog has made it Miz, despite your directions” said Cole on commentary.
Bo Dallas checked the oven and found the chicken was significantly burnt, he relayed this information to his employer.
“What do you mean my roast is ruined?” The Miz whispered back.
Curtis Axel suggested that he head over to a recently reopened fast food joint near the arena so he could purchase something and disguise it as their own cooking.
“Delightfully devilish Axel” The Miz said.
Just as Curtis was about to exit the ring and head towards an exit in the area, Roman stepped into the ring and glared at him.
Miztourage with their crazy explanations
Roman Reigns is gonna need his adulation
When he hears the fans negative reactions
There’ll be trouble in town tonight
“Axel” Reigns yelled as the crowd booed and jeered him.
“You can tell the WWE Universe is having fun” said Cole.
“Oh Roman, I was just stretching my calves on the ring apron, isometric exercise, care to join me?” said Axel, who already had leg positioned on the side of the apron.
Roman noticed the smoldering contents of the oven.
“Why is there smoke coming out of your oven?” he asked.
“Oh, that isn’t smoke, it’s steam, steam from the steamed clams we’re having. Hmm, steamed clams” replied Bo.
Reigns was swiftly distracted by the arrival of Samaoa Joe, who had come to taunt Reigns for losing his Wrestlemania clash with Brock Lesnar.
Curtis seized the opportunity and bolted from the ring and to the fast food joint.
“The only things steaming up in this arena is the heat between you and me Roman. Your failure to conquer the beast only fuels the fire necessary in me to put you out to pasture permanently at Backlash” taunted Joe.
“At Backlash, you’ll find this is still my yard, and this dog still has a lot more bite left in him” promised Roman.
After a few additional back and forth exchanges, each promising to take down the other in an assortment of unpleasant ways, Joe took his leave, Roman turned around to find Curtis had returned
“Roman, I hope you’re ready for mouth watering hamburgers” said Curtis, holding a stunning dish serving the meal.
“What are you feeding me here? I thought you said we were having steamed clams?” said Roman
“No, no, we said steamed HAMS. That’s what we call hamburgers” said Bo with a swift and assuring confidence.
“You call hamburgers steamed hams?” said Roman, clearly not buying it.
“Yes. It’s a regional dialect” said Bo
“Uh-huh… uh, what region?” said Roman.
“Uhh… upstate Florida?” Curtis said.
“Really? Well, I’m from Pensacola, and I’ve never heard anyone use the phrase “steamed hams.”
“Oh, not in Florida, no. It’s an Albany expression” remarked Bo
Roman nodded in agreement I see.
Roman took a handful of the burgers from the plate. The Miz quietly hid the burning oven beneath the ring while he was distracted. The Miztourage joined in on eating the burgers.
“You know, these hamburgers are quite similar to the ones they used to have at The World” said Roman
“Oh ho ho ho… no, patented Miztourage burgers. Old family recipe” assured Curtis
“For steamed hams?” Roman asked.
“Yes” Bo replied
“Yeah, so you call them “steamed hams” despite the fact they are obviously grilled” said Roman.
Bo suddenly noticed the smoke was starting to intensify beneath the ring.
“Ye- hey- you know, the- one thing I should- excuse me for one second” he said, clambering out of the ring and conversing with The Miz as they checked under the ring. Bo stepped back into the ring stretching his arms. The Miz whispered instructions to Curtis.
“Well, that was wonderful. A good time was had by all, I’m pooped” Bo said.
“Yeah, if you think this is going to pacify me after the way you cheated me out of the intercontinental title, you’re very mistaken. It’s payback time” said Roman, pumping up his fist for a swift superman punch.
Suddenly, he noticed the smoke rising from the ring.
“Just what is happening down there” he said.
“Aurora borealis?” said The Miz.
The crowd booed.
“Uh- aurora borealis!? At this time of year, at this time of day, in this part of the country, localized entirely beneath the ring?” barked Roman.
“Yes” said The Miz
“May I see it?” Roman asked.
“No” said The Miz.
“This house is on fire” said Cole as the crowd broke into a “Miztourage” chant.
“No Micheal, it’s just the northern lights” joked Graves.
“Quiet, quiet, when my hand goes up, your mouth goes shut” said The Miz as he raised his arm to silence the audience
“Well Miztourage, you are odd fellows, I must say you steam a good ham…but I throw a good haymaker” said Roman, and took out the entire group with a barrage of superman punches and spears, all as the crowed jeered him, rejecting the latest attempt of getting him over.
SLIDING (ANNOYED GRUNT)
(A rewrite of “I Love Lisa”)
Submitted for your consideration, a young girl on her way home from school. She is about to be met on her journey by a young boy that she gave a valentine’s day card to out of what she believed to be pity.
You may have seen one version of these events play out already. A most tragic outcome, where one child’s inability to bring herself to order led to public humiliation and rejection of the young lad.
That version of events you may know…this is not that version.
In your reality, the little girl you know as Lisa Simpson often asked herself the burning question ”what would have happened if I’d went about things different?”, here, for your enjoyment, is one possible answer out of millions.
Lisa is only a few miles away from her house when Ralph Wiggum accompanies her, still on a high after reading her valentines’ card.
He tries to make small talk as best as his mental prowess can allow, but he is finding difficulty conveying anything of interest to Lisa.
” … and my doctor said I wouldn’t have so many nose-bleeds if I kept my finger out of there” he said.
“That’s a little graphic Ralph” said Lisa.
“I don’t remember drawing any graphics, we did’nt do computing or art today” replied Ralph in a confused state.
“No, no, there are two different meanings for ‘graphic'” Lisa replied.
Lisa spent the majority of the walk home conveying to Ralph the differences between graphic design and graphic, and grotesque, physical acts, and why it grossed her out so much.
She didn’t seem to make much progress on this front either.
“So if I eat my mom’s nail polish, that’s not me painting my insides the way they paint the inside of the house?” Ralph asked.
Lisa tutted and tried her best not to look Ralph in the eye. Something inside of her was tempted to emit a vocal, and mocking, laugh, the kind of laugh that compels you to say things at school of the encounter the next day, but a saner, softer side to her rose to the occasion this day, making her understand the boy’s condition more.
Lisa instead opted to head towards her house as it came into view
“Well, here’s my house” she said, creeping ever so delicately towards the front lawn.
Ralph remained transfixed on her with a dream like gaze, he gently waved to her as she began to rush to the door.
Once safely inside, Lisa went to the window and stared outward. Ralph hung around a minute or so more, skipping a little down the lane lost within himself.
Lisa felt something in her stomach that made her uneasy, she tried to calm her nerves, but they sprang up once more just as she began to settle.
She could not understand where this sensation was coming from, it wasn’t quite clear to her just yet.
She walked past her older brother Bart and Homer, her father, who were watching television. It was another episode of Itchy and Scratchy. A valentines themed episode.
Itchy gave Scratchy a heart shaped box, Scratchy was confused as to why it was empty. Itchy took out a sharp edged kitchen knife and carved Scratchy’s chest open, taking his heart out of it’s compartment and depositing it in the box. Scratchy shed a small tear as part of him appreciated the gift given to him, until the lack of a vital artery ultimately resulted in him crashing to the floor in a lifeless heap.
Bart, who had laughed a great deal at the violent act, was left slightly annoyed afterwards by Scratchy’s reaction.
“What’s your malfunction boy?” asked Homer.
“It’s one of those darned sentimental episodes they make to remind everyone that, though it appears they be enemies, there’s a caring, sensitive side to the characters. That blows man” said Bart.
“Well it’s a little more tolerable than the public information film with those two involving the kite and the phone lines above the train tunnel, those shorts are real scary” Homer replied
“Dad, that wasn’t an Itchy and Scratchy short” Bart replied.
“Then who was the cat and the mouse then?” said Homer.
“That was Snowball II trying to catch a rodent in front of the tv” answered Bart.
“Oh yeah, I was wondering if that was non-canon considering the cat killed the mouse” said Homer.
Krusty the Clown, the children’s entertainer, appeared on the screen in a tuxedo.
“Hey, kids! Don’t forget to watch my 29th Anniversary Show, featuring clips like this one of Sideshow Mel wacked out on wowie-sauce”
Krusty showed a preview of what to expect, showing a clearly drunk and disorderly Cecil giving Krusty a piece of his mind.
“And you shall be informed, forthwith, you clueless clam, that I, nor my compatriots to the right and left of me…or in whatever direction they are in that happens to fit my present vision, that you can take this job and shove it right between your…”
The clip stopped and Krusty reappeared.
“…Peak prime time viewing hours, that’s totally what he was going to say right kids? At least, for the purpose of this segway anyhow. Find out what he was really talking about and so much more…when you turn 15 years old. In the meantime, come to my special at your current age and let the magic grow with you until then” Krusty continued.
“I’d do anything to go to that show” said Bart.
“I’d sell my first-born son” said Homer
“That’s cold man, you’re way too old for Krusty anyway” Bart angrily retorted.
“Hey, you forgetting that time I filled in for that clown?” Homer replied.
“I’ve tried with every rerun from that era” snapped Bart.
Lisa chose not to partake in this latest of family squabbles, and went to the kitchen to see her mother, little knowing tempers had cooled down in the living room as Bart chose to go outside to lose a little steam, leaving Homer to eavesdrop on the conversation between mother and daughter.
Deciding to intercede, Homer walked into the kitchen with the apparent intention of taking a beer out of the fridge, but he hung around the general area with his head lost in the chilled container picking up every trace of what Lisa had to say about Ralph.
Finally, Lisa asked the million dollar question which sprang Homer into action
“What do you say to a boy to let him know you…you’re not…well…” Lisa began, but trailed off
“…A woman yet?” Homer replied, trying to finish her sentence
“Homer!” Marge retorted, telling him off with just the sheer pronunciation of his name.
“I was going to say ‘interested'” said Lisa.
“Oh honey, a girl is always interested when a boy starts to show a little curiosity in them…what you mean to say is you’re not ready yet” said Marge.
“Yeah, just rattle off these little fireworks” Homer said, checking his fingers.
“Let’s seem, you should give him something to fight for, so say I’ve met someone, or I’ve met someone who looks like you, I know this boy, he’s dumb as a rock, just give him a photo of himself to show what his ‘rival’ looks like and he’ll attack the photo thinking it’s literally him”
“I won’t be that cruel Dad” Lisa replied.
“Sometimes you have to be kind to be cruel to be kind dear” Homer said
“Homer, you just laid out a scenario where Lisa would just be cruel for cruelty’s sake” said Marge.
“Ok Marge, for your sake, since you’re so hell bent on us giving little Lisa heaven sent advice, let me try again…Lisa, try these six simple words: I’m not gay, but I’ll learn”
“Heavens above” Marge replied.
“My advice was that good?” Homer responded, in a vein hope his latest contribution had struck some sort of divine pay-dirt.
Lisa took her mother’s advice to heart more so than her fathers’, and the next day at school made her intentions clear to Ralph.
“Sorry Ralph, but I’m just not ready for this level of interest yet from you or any boy. I hope you understand” she said.
“I guess so” Ralph replied, taking his time to not only comprehend Lisa’s words, but to also decode their meaning.
It was a thought that would pester him all the way to his own abode, and well into dinnertime.
Ralph approached his father, Chief Clancy Wiggum.
“Dad, my friend Lisa doesn’t want me interested in her, but she also said she wasn’t interested in boys YET” Ralph revealed, believing he had pinpointed a subtle clue in the delivery of Lisa’s speech turning him down.
“Just shows she’s playing hard to get, the key to a woman’s heart is persistence, keep at it and before you know it, you’ll clip that lovebird’s wings and she’ll fall graciously into your arms”
“Is that how you met Mom?” asked Ralph.
“Persistence is one thing, but seeing a man in uniform? That’s an entirely different kettle of fish” Wiggum replied, giving Ralph a cautionary look.
“I hope you know my saying that in no way permits you to fill my uniform with boiling hot water and trout again, am I clear?” he asked.
Ralph laughed and nodded.
As another week ticked by, the days leading to Krusty’s big anniversary bash drew closer, and Krusty was in a reflective mood as he talked of the show’s history to his audience, with Bart and Lisa watching on television at home.
“The executive bigwigs…woo boy, and I mean that litterally, they were as bald as a ball-point cucumber, said we would’nt last six weeks on air when we started. We did’nt, we got picked up by another network which had crashed and burned marketing telenovellas to the public. We remain their savin’ grace”
“Oh if only we could nab tickets to that show, but our parents would have to be pretty high in society to be able to afford them” Lisa said anxiously.
Homer walked by the living area and overheard this, he looked quite down afterwards.
“Why am I so addicted to eavesdropping. Hmm…if I’m around Flanders, does it mean I’m adamandevesdropping?” Homer continued.
The doorbell rang, Lisa wandered over to the window to catch a glimpse of who was waiting for them on the other side of the door. She froze.
“What’s the sytch sis?” asked Bart.
“It’s Ralph, oh this is’nt good” said Lisa, clutching her stomach as it became a tense knot once more.
“I thought you told him to take his ball and go long with it” Bart asked.
“I did, but maybe he thinks I’m being difficult to attain on purpose…oh Bart, if he’s not willing to listen I don’t know how I’ll be able to rid myself of him” Lisa said in a helpless state.
She opted to hide, and urged her father to make up an excuse as to why she could not come and see Ralph.
Homer answered the door and greeted Ralph.
“Hi Mr. Simple, is Lisa here?” Ralph said.
“It’s that time of the month, come back later” said Homer.
“No dad, we want him gone for keeps” whispered Bart.
“Can I help her? I’d do anything for Lisa” said Ralph.
“Really now? Well, I think she said something about the roof needing some re shingling…” Homer replied, seizing an opportunity to make the most out of Ralph’s lovesick obsession with his daughter.
“I’d be glad to help with your roof dingaling, could you give Lisa this from me in the meantime? ” he said, handing out a package.
Homer took the package, and walked over to the closet where Lisa was hiding
Lisa gently stepped out of the closet and accepted the package, she headed back over to the living room and opened it up with Bart watching.
“Oh, the latest in the Malibu Stacy convertible range, I hadn’t planned on getting this until sometime in the summer with my holiday money” Lisa said.
“Look, there’s a note attached” Bart said, taking out the note
“Look in the tunk” he said, reading it aloud.
“Aw bless his heart, he means trunk” said Lisa.
Lisa opened the trunk of the convertible and found two tickets to Krusty’s anniversary show.
“Oh that slow little devil, he’s only gone and booked the two of you in the front row” Bart said furiously.
“How was he able to afford this?” Lisa replied,.
“It’s not fair, I’m ten times the fan you are, I even have the autographs of all his ex-girlfriends” said Bart.
“Bart, I’m not sure going with Ralph to this is such a great idea” Lisa said.
“Precisely my point, you don’t even like him, and if you go with him, he’ll just assume you’re ok with whatever he’s willing to do for you” said Bart.
“Well, it’s not exactly that I don’t like him, what’s not to like about a gift like this? It’s just I don’t want to leave him with a broken heart…” Lisa said.
“Look, if you’re this wound up, I’m behind you all the way, I’ll even go in your place disguised as you” Bart said
“Bart, what if he wants to…you know…hold hands? or Kiss?” Lisa asked anxiously.
“Hey, you’ve seen me in high heels, if I walk like a vixen, I can sure kiss like one” said Bart.
“That sounded more enthusiastic than someone of your sexuality is known for” said a despairing Lisa.
The two suddenly heard a thud, they walked over to the window to find a dazed and confused Ralph lying on the lawn.
Homer came through the front door to assure the two everything was ok.
“Not to worry kids, Ralph was getting to work on the roof and passed out inhaling the tar fumes” he said.
“What on earth was he out there doing that for?” said Lisa, rushing out of the door and towards Ralph’s hands as he remained disoriented.
“I told him a little white lie about you wanting some work done on the roof, he leapt at it…no really, prior to me fetching a ladder, he tried leaping Six Million Dollar Man style onto the roof, couldn’t get anywhere but a few inches, you should have seen it, it was a hoot”
“Maybe he’ll die before the special comes on tv” Bart said, which further annoyed Lisa.
“He’ll live Bart, and I’m definitely going now” said Lisa as she helped Ralph to his feet.
“Dad, talk to her, stop her, she’s only going out of guilt” whispered Bart.
“What’s she got to feel guilty about? Her Christmas presents have come so early, I may as well just stick Ralph in a Kris Kringle beard and keep him around for the rest of the year” said Homer.
The big day soon came, the night of Krusty’s anniversary show, and Chief Wiggum had offered to drive Lisa and Ralph to the event personally.
Lisa stared at herself in the mirror, admiring the dress her mother had provided for her.
Marge stepped into the bedroom and was taken aback by how beautiful Lisa looked.
“Oh my little starlet, Ralph’s a very lucky person” she said.
“Easy for him I guess, I feel my luck’s completly run out” said Lisa.
“Oh honey, just focus on having a good time, I’m sure Ralph won’t say something too out of line, or nothing too exotic” assured Marge.
“Mom, Bart thinks I’m going to this show out of guilt, or obligation, but a part of me is really very appreciative of what Ralph did for me…I just don’t want him to think it’s more than that” Lisa admitted.
“Oh dear, it’s not like he’s going to proclaim his undying devotion for you in front of millions. Go in as friends and seize the night” said Marge.
The doorbell rang, Lisa and Marge gave each other a reassuring hug and went downstairs to greet the visitors.
Ralph was dressed in a striking and swanky grey coat and shirt , he was looking his best.
“Hi Lisa, wow, you look like a looker” he said.
Lisa smiled, but something was different this time, she didn’t feel so anxious, she instead felt her mood lifted considerably by the compliment.
Chief Wiggum chauffeurs Ralph and Lisa to the anniversary show in the back seat of a police car.
“Mr. Wiggum, how were you able to afford the tickets?” Lisa asked
Wiggum proceeded to tell her of an encounter with Krusty at an adult movie theatre, Lisa cut him off before he could get further into it.
“This isn’t very appropriate Mr. Wiggum, I’m only nine” said Lisa.
“I’ve been telling stories like this to Ralph since he was seven” Wiggum replied, shocking Lisa.
“Is this true Ralph?” she asked. Ralph nodded.
“Usually at bedtime, Dad says so long as he helps the town sleep at night, the stories should help me sleep too” Ralph replied.
“And do you?” said Lisa.
“I have lots of exciting dreams about nabbing robbers and protecting people, I get so excited about them I play them out at night” Ralph said beaming with positivity as he reflected on his adventures.
“So you don’t sleep for long then?” said Lisa.
“Sleep is for cats, I read that was a saying somewhere, my cat’s name is Mittens” Ralph said.
“I have a cat too, it’s called Snowball II” Lisa replied, now most interested in Ralph’s choice of pets.
“You have a sequel as a pet, that’s funny. I own Empire Strikes Back, but it doesn’t react to me” said Ralph.
“Alright kids, this is your stop, play nice” said Wiggum as the car pulled up at the studio. Lisa and Ralph disembarked and made their way to their seats.
Lisa looked at the teeming mass of youthful humanity pouring into the studio sound-stage, she was relieved to find not so many were from her class.
Some caught a glimpse of the two and began making small chatter among themselves, Lisa sat in her seat besides Ralph, who waved at her innocently. Lisa waved back, she felt surprisingly calm considering all that was conspiring against her in the back.
The show began. In the audience were Bill and Hillary Clinton.
“Hey, Ms. Clinton! I campaigned for the other guy, but I voted for you” Krusty said as he made his way onto the set.
Krusty introduced a clip of Robert Frost in 1963 reading one of his poems. Krusty made some faces at the camera before depositing a large load of synthetic snow on Ford, who continued to read out his poem regardless.
The next clip was from 1973,`’Kroon Along With Krusty”. A rocking and rolling Krusty sang, back-dropped by psychedelic Laugh-In colors.
“I think this is one of those instances where I have to ask myself what I was literally smoking” Krusty said aloud as the clip came to an end.
Ralph had decided around this time to indulge in some refreshment, and took a pair of chocolate ice creams out of a miniature container that he had carried into the studio with him, he offered Lisa one, but as she reached out for it, Chief Wiggum’s hand snatched it from her.
“Mind if I confiscate that son?” said Chief Wiggum. Ralph nodded.
The chocolate, however, slipped from the top and dripped down onto Wiggum’s lap.
“Oh great, excuse me a moment kids, I gotta go wipe this off” he said.
Lisa giggled at the calamity that had just occurred, but soon noticed Ralph himself was getting apprehensive without his father around.
“Ralph, what’s wrong?” she said.
“People are talking about me, I can hear them. I need an adult” Ralph said, his eyes beginning to slightly water.
Lisa held his hand tightly.
“Everything’s alright Ralph, you don’t need to worry about what they say, just focus on what I think of you” she said.
“Your brother said you only came because you felt bad for me” Ralph revealed.
“Maybe that’s how it started, but I’m having a great time, you’re good company Ralph, you’re generous and you’re interesting, I don’t think many of the kids in our class can measure up to that” Lisa said reassuringly.
“Now for my favourite part of the show…interacting with the audience” proclaimed Krusty.
Ralph’s eyes widened with joy, Lisa was a little more nervous, but was steadily finding it easier to maintain her composure
She knew Bart was at home recording the program, she knew more of the kids in her class were watching at home. The kids in her class that were attending the event continued to make chat among themselves, taking little bets that the camera would soon be trained on Ralph Wiggum and whatever mad thing would emit from his lips at the expense of anyone associated with him.
Sure enough, Krusty approached Ralph and asked him what he was doing there.
“I’m on a date” he said
Lisa could hear faint bursts of laughter coming from behind her.
“A date huh? I take it the person sitting next to you is the lucky lady right?” Krusty said.
“Yes, her name is Lisa Simpson, she’s the kindest girl I’ve ever known and when I grow up, I’m going to marry her”
All of the young audience’s eyes were swiftly trained on Lisa, she gulped, realizing the worst fears had come to pass, now the ball was in her court
In your reality, Lisa let her anxiety overtake her, she told Ralph in a fit of unparalleled frustration and rage that she had only given him that card out of pity, that she never loved him, and that she would never be his bride. The humiliation shattered a very tenuous link that Ralph had to the world and for a time he retreated into himself.
This is not that reality.
Here, Lisa opts instead to bring herself to order, this was such a special occasion for Ralph, a proud moment for him, and she was not about to ruin it for her own sake.
Besides, she no longer felt guilty, or apprehensive, or resentful. Those feelings had been purged from her system upon taking into consideration all the things Ralph had done for her over the last few days.
This was not guilt motivating her, nor was it bravery.
This, perhaps, was love.
“I, well, look Mr. Krusty, Ralph’s sweet and everything, but we’re just friends at the moment, would I like it to be something more than that? Maybe when we’re older we could give it a go, but for now I’m just glad to be here with someone who wants to make himself and one other happy” she said.
“Sounds like you got friend zoned live on air kid, I feel for ya” Krusty said, nudging Ralph in the arm and resuming his show.
Ralph looked at Lisa, who stared back at him with sincerity in her eyes.
“You still just want to be friends?” Ralph asked, disappointed.
“Please don’t be mad at me Ralph, it’s just too soon for us” she said.
Ralph sighed, resigned to the knowledge his persistence had not paid off, now he had to respect Lisa’s wishes.
“I’ll be ok I guess” he said, before latching, once more, onto something she had said.
“Did you mean that? Will you be my girlfriend one day?” he asked.
Lisa smiled, and clutched his hand even tighter.
“Ralph, you never know how we feel about someone as you get older, but with luck, if you can stay true to who you are, and I can stay true to who I am, you’ll always be someone I consider in the future” she said.
Ralph beamed and the two gave each other a warm embrace.
Back at home, Bart was watching the events unfold on television.
“Aw, and I was so looking forward to recording the precise moment his heart broke in half” he said aloud in despair.
RENEW YOUR LOLS
THIRTEEN YEARS EARLIER
“Hey-key wakey kids” Krusty the Klown yelled at the top of his lungs, which were quick to give out on him due to some excessive smoking mere minutes before.
He wanted to curse out his bodily functions, but regardless of his ill intentions, his show was on the air and he had to abide by its rules, which meant persisting with a smile
He tried to skip over to the hot line, a red mobile phone perched on a pedestal in the center of the stage. It had long been a more traditional handheld telephone, but the networks had it changed to keep things more concurrent. Krusty felt like this was an insult to the art associated with the occasional throwback to a golden age.
As hard as he tried, he found skipping, or even hopping over, to the phone left his knees knackered and his incredibly un-trim belly bloated. He was reminded lately of going up to his father’s old attic to pull out some nostalgic albums and he could barely move around because of his weight issues, and could barely even sit down in order to mount the ladder and scale back down to the floor.
He needed to remind himself daily to try and keep in tip-top shape. Each day that vow would go unfulfilled.
“What we’re going to play with here” Krusty said to his excited child audience, “Is ‘Laugh Line’, this is the big one kids, whoever calls in and answers this Krustacious question, will be granted the ability to call on my services at least one time in their lives. That’s right, if you’re feeling like that smile remains upside down, be it at school, at your parent’s therapy sessions, at your dodgy thanksgiving arguments, just ring the number on the screen beneath, 0-5-7-8-KRUSTYKALL, and you’ll have me in your life for a 24 hour period. A little ray of sunshine on the cloudiest of days…so let’s roll on if we want to get someone rolling on the floor, who do we have on the line Mel?”
“Line Five” his sidekick Sideshow Mel revealed
“Keep him off” Krusty replied
“Sir, its Line Five” Mel insisted.
“No, we’re banning him outright from this”
“Why? Because he’s had enough goes. I’ve seen him plenty of times. So much so he’s become as famous as me…and it was just as fleeting”
“Krusty, I think you’re being a bit harsh”
“That’s the thing about fans kids” Krusty said, addressing his audience “They think they’re entitled to everything, they know what they should GET, but sometimes they don’t necessarily think about what they NEED. Sometimes in life, they NEED to move aside sometimes and let someone else muscle in. Fresh turf is where we surf from here on out, so anyone BUT line five will do”
“Fine, we’ll skip over to line six” said Mel.
“Hello?” Krusty said, picking up the phone.
“Hi” came a squeaky feminine voice
“What’s your name?” asked Krusty, tapping the phone
“Kristy” said the voice.
“And here’s the question…who am I right now?” Krusty said, tapping a wooden table
“The one who knocks” said Kristy.
“She got the joke folks, congratulations Kristy, you have my services whenever you want it” Krusty responded.
Watching this unfold on television was caller five, who had been denied.
Bart Simpson hated to be denied.
Was Krusty right though? Had Bart been around Krusty so much he saw him more as an associate than a fanatic that needed his constant attention?
“Bart, Laura’s at the door” said Marge from the main hall.
Bart got up and opened the door, greeting his old neighbor and babysitter, as well as one of his earliest crushes, Laura Powers. Her t-shirt bore a Captain America with his letter “A” on his chest and the flag on his mask, completely the wrong way around, but it was a tell-tale sign of how much she always liked to turn things you expect to stay the same on its head.
She looked as lavish and as beautiful as ever, her chestnut brown hair was tied back and her jeans were tattered, but her eyes were still spell-blindingly striking and her smile was infectious to the heartstrings.
“Laura, hey, is everything chill?” Bart said nervously, the old butterflies from yesteryear hadn’t quite subsided around her. They never could.
“Just my luck champ, ’cause I’ve got something wicked cool just for you” Laura said in a familiar voice
“Line Six? YOU were Kristy?” Bart said in astonishment as he picked up on the voice.
“Nifty trick huh? Mom wanted me to enter that talent competition, but after finding out the winner of this year’s search was for a dog act that required a stunt double for the participant, she’s sort of discouraged me”
“Gee, Laura, thanks” Bart replied
“You’re going to have to promise me something though”
“Use it when you’re older”
“Why not now?”
“Because you have everything to live for right now. Your whole lives in front of you, wait ’till you have everything in the palm of your hand, and whenever you feel like it’s slipping, then is the time to smile about it”
“Great, save it for adulthood” Bart dryly and sarcastically remarked, huffing “People grow out of things, Krusty’s already growing out of having a persistent fanboy, what good’s a Clown when you have anything my dad guzzles down at that age?” Bart asked.
Laura brushed Bart’s hair with her right hand, “You’re little, but you’re big on improvising, when you see a chance, you’ll seize it”
“I’ll go one better, I’ll do it for you. Anytime you’re in a jam, I’ll ask Krusty to get on top of it”
“Rather it than me” Laura replied,
Bart looked confused
“Never mind, big person humor” she said, “I’ll hold you to your promise, but take it to another level for me…do it for any kids I might come to know in the future. Kids your age. The right age. I’ve kind of grown out of that stuff”
“Consider it done” Bart said, high-fiving his former sitter. “Say, how long you in town for? I’d love you to drop by again, I have the WHEW network, we can sit down and watch that” asked Bart.
“Oh, just catching up with a few Holograms” said Laura.
“I don’t follow” said Bart.
“Oh you know, just what I name my gal pals, you know, after that Jem movie?”
“That’s an awful film. I should know I’ve seen the full trailer” said Bart.
“I know, it drives my friends nuts when I call them that” Laura replied. “Don’t worry, I’m on social hang-outs, look me up, we can be online pals for as long as it takes to grow beyond those shorts you tell people to eat”
“And after that?”
“Who knows?” Laura said, “Maybe then I’ll have a man rather than a cow” Laura teased.
“You ok?” Bart asked.
“Just waiting” Laura replied.
As Laura left, Bart pondered the meaning of her words, and looked at the phone number she had left.
An opportunity to call Krusty at any point.
In a period where Krusty may no longer want or need him.
A thought occurred to him.
How would that define the pair of them if he were to use it years from now?
THIRTEEN YEARS LATER
The sun was right to invite itself as the dour mood from the huddled crowd surrounding the grave was suddenly lifted by it. The spectators looked up and took in the exhilarating summer air that accompanied it.
Bart couldn’t process that mentality. It was the same with people who go to spread ashes in the ocean. They all end up taking a dip, they all cool themselves off, and they all swim.
Swim merrily along while portions of their souls are drowning.
Drowning in grief.
There was no perfect pitch to the healing process, yet people always strive to find some solution. It may look a pleasant sight, maybe to an artist painting a picture nearby, or has a camera handy to capture the moments.
Laughter was to follow as someone made a joke that the person occupying the grave would have made. There was cheer and adulation.
It sickened Bart.
He then began to wonder just where Lisa was.
She shouldn’t have missed out on this.
Maybe her husband didn’t feel comfortable with being around so many people. People that had hurt him in the past.
Bart shook his head at the potential reason for eluding this event. He had been hurt many a time by the occupant of the grave, to the point he once raised an army against him. A time where he fancied himself a General. Water balloons at the ready, a day where the bullies of Springfield were given a taste of what a true uprising looked like.
A simpler time.
Bart looked to his right; the gravestone that had done the man in had been put back in its original place.
He expected the little kid to the middle of the mourners, Calvin was his name, to bear all and urinate down the side of it, an ill-intentioned mark of territory. A mad dog upset with that which slid off its foundations and crushed it’s master.
In Calvin’s case, his father.
A way to say ‘I owe you’
As the procession ended and the laughter grew ever louder, Bart slipped away back to his car and drove back along the bustling streets paved with road works and intolerable traffic pile-ups to reach the apartment blocks.
The rain suddenly switched itself on. Bart stormed through the rain and pressed the buzzer at the right of the door, the door unlocked and he went inside, he climbed up the stairs, making sure not to inhale the fresh coatings of paint on the unappealing and blank walls, turned to his left, and entered the second door in the hallway.
Once inside, he made a bee-line to the kitchen, where he found the most charming and feisty woman his formative years in life had ever known making him a sandwich.
To the right of him, in the center of the kitchen table, was a high-chair containing a true bundle of life and joy, the perfect remedy for a day dosed in dreary feelings.
“How did the day go?” said Laura.
“Well I didn’t poke the body with a stick” Bart joked, and leaned in for a kiss with his wife.
Laura grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and poured her lips into his, giving him a surge of an emotional sensation that did more to clear his head than the adulation and brightness found in the mass crowd that had accompanied the funeral of Nelson Muntz.
“How was that trick?” Laura asked.
“It’s a kind of magic” Bart replied.
“You never forget that line” said Laura, walking over to the table and feeding the baby some yoghurt.
Bart sat down at the table, leaning back in his chair with his hands folded behind his back, he stared at the child before him, it looked back at him, curious eyes staring straight into him, she stretched her arms outright, expecting an embrace, and getting one as Laura scooped her up and waltzed around with her. Bart took in the sights and saintly sounds as Laura began singing to her kid.
Granted, it was a Beyoncé track, something not too close to his chest in terms of musical preference, but he was hip about it.
“You know I was thinking a lot today” Bart said, “Remember that laugh line number you got me when we were young?”
“Little Maize is way too young” Laura said, “She’s not even old enough to process a knock knock joke, the closest thing she has to cutting edge late night is when you and I pull goofball faces to her or to one another when we can’t get any shut eye”
“No, not for Maizie, for the kids who saw the accident” said Bart.
“You reckon that’s why Lisa and Ralph didn’t show?” asked Laura.
“Maybe not the whole reason, but I could understand it if it was their kids, they were traumatized” said Bart, “I go to Lisa’s house usually every second day of the week and their faces are just so vacant these days, not a drop of mirth coming out of their mouths, and they used to laugh at anything, especially Dad trying to work off an exercise bike and breaking it in two as soon as he stepped OFF rather than ON”
“So Krusty could be up to it? It’s been a long time” said Laura
“Hey, he owes you, and you’re family now, you know Lisa’s kids, you babysit them, so consider this me living up to my promise years back. Kids you know are going to get an injection of quality laughter”
Laura walked over to him, wrapped her arms around him and stuck her tongue out at baby Maize. She giggled.
“They’ll be no talk of injections around this table, Maize’s scheduled for a jab this weekend, I think she senses it coming” Laura said.
“I’ll be more wise with my words babe, trust me” said Bart.
“Just be sure about calling on Krusty too” she said, “Nostalgia makes you high on things that can leave you low”
Aztec and Olmec Wiggum were through waiting, even if their scheduled appointment had not come through just yet.
They were taking charge of the waiting room’s play area. They were going to command attention, anything to drive them to distraction from what they were currently feeling.
They would take the toys in the play area from those indulging in them, even the ones without that many accessories attached, because they’d all been pilfered by other children on visits to the therapy clinic, and they would try their best to act out a domestic family argument. The content of their play was enough to disturb the parents, even if the haplessly innocent children in the clinic were more concerned with waiting their turn.
As she anxiously waited for the Doctor to call them in, a frustrated and concerned Lisa Wiggum tried to keep her children under control, but her eyes wandered to where her husband was seated.
Ralph was starting up a conversation with a young male to his left.
Just her luck.
“I couldn’t help but notice you were humming Crash Trolley’s theme song, did you see the Wrestling event last night or what?” asked the male.
“Yeah” said Ralph, “But I want my wife to see the rerun, so no spoilers”
“Really? You don’t want to take my mind off of…y’know…this?” asked the male, pointing to the foreboding cream blue door in front of them.
“You can take clothes off, not minds” said Ralph.
The male backed away ever so slightly.
“You’ll have to forgive my husband, he’s always thinking a little too literally” said Lisa.
“Doctor Ullman will see the Wiggums now” came the voice over the intercom.
Lisa approached her children and pried them away from the dollhouse and fire engines just as they were about to enact a bit of drama over a domestic disturbance that had resulted, in their minds, in a fire. As they were dragged into the door, they could be heard to make small explosive noises, which seemed to inspire the other kids in the waiting room to echo the sounds in unison, much to their parent’s annoyance.
Sitting down in the compact therapist’s office, Lisa and Ralph looked tensely at one another, clutching each others hands tightly while their kids chased each other around them in a frantic circle.
Doctor Ullman turned her chair around to face them, having spent some analyzing some notes she had been preparing.
“How many hours have you had sleep?” she asked
“We tried taking him down from five grams to two, but it didn’t agree with him” said Lisa.
“Silly, pills never argue” said Ralph playfully.
“You’re being a clown” Lisa said, “We agreed not to act like that around the doctor”
“The duck lady is in a flap. I can tell” said Aztec as she grabbed Olmec and put him in a tight headlock.
“Duck lady? Mrs. Wiggum…have you or any member of your family been calling me a QUACK behind closed doors?” asked Doctor Ullman, with more of a fire ignited in her mannerisms.
Lisa stared at the floor in embarrassment
“No, but their grandfather always cares enough to speak his mind on these matters. Whether I like it or not” Lisa said, embarrassed as always by what her father could say in the heat of conversation.
“How long have the children been displaying aggressive symptoms?” said Ullman.
“Oh, they’re not that aggressive” said Lisa, looking back up to the doctor, only to find Aztec and Olmec had wrapped the telephone cords around their fingers and dragged the contraption off the desk.
“I don’t need a phone to tell you that was a bad call on your part” said Ullman, “The kind of behavior they were exhibiting in the waiting room has me concerned”
“You were watching?” said a shocked Lisa.
Ullman pressed a small oval shaped button attached to her desk; a monitor screen slid up from underneath her observational window and displayed a series of black and white CCTV recordings.
“The walls have ears as much as people do Mrs. Wiggum” she said.
“She should send those in to America’s Home Videos” said Ralph. Lisa tightened her grip on his hand, trying to hurt him, to control him, but he seemed oblivious to the intent.
“Enacting a domestic spat that can only end in violence is a touchy subject for any child to be thinking about, and it’s something commonly connected with what they seem to be expecting of you two. Have you had any disputes that could lead them to consider these left-field concerns?” asked Doctor Ullman.
“No, no, Ralph and I love each other, we’ve loved each other since we were kids, we’d never break a bond that goes back as far as that, even after all of this” Lisa said in protest, resting her head on the shoulders of her husband.
“Something clearly happened at that graveyard, something that’s making them act out these fantasies, if you have such wedded bliss, why are they acting as if you would do anything to disrupt that?” probed Ullman further.
Ralph slowly began to breathe a bit more deeply; Lisa could tell straight off he was starting to struggle with how heavy this all seemed.
“Can we schedule this for another day?” said Lisa.
“Here you go again, something new emerges that requires our attention, and you flee from it just on the cusp of a break-through, I’d rather we get this all out of our way right now” insisted Ullman.
Ralph began to sweat a bit, “I feel hot” he said.
“Its nerves Ralph, nothing more” said Lisa, stroking his back, “Don’t let it strain you too much, you hear me baby?”
“Your husband may be a man-child, but he’s not oblivious is he? Exactly how much of this experience have you been honest about when talking to your family about it?”
“They know it had an effect on the kids, that’s all” Lisa revealed.
“And what of the effects on you? On Ralph? It seems he’s more traumatized than they are” noted Ullman.
“Please, don’t push me, I don’t want to push back” said Ralph, a few tears pouring from his eyes.
“Ralph, keep calm” said Lisa.
“Mrs. Wiggum, stop coddling him and be straight with me. What happened those few weeks ago that could affect him worse than the children?”
“If I tell you the truth, Ralph will pay the price, surely you can understand me wanting to keep my cards close to my chest”
“Oh you’re a royal card alright Mrs. Wiggum, and if you’re not careful, your whole family will be flushed” said Ullman in frustration
“Look, let’s reschedule, I just think everyone needs a bit of comedy, something lightweight to take them off this roller coaster…renew our laughter out loud” Lisa suggested.
“Medicine is the best medicine Mrs. Wiggum” replied Ullman sternly, “Laughter is a mask”
“Maybe, but I’ve found that so long as you leave the mask on, you can be just about anything you want to be” Lisa replied.
Bart reckoned it was an afternoon well spent.
Putting his feet up, sitting back on the couch, the idiot box lit up, a good game of football on, a Duff bottle held firmly in his right hand, and nacho cheese chicken crumb stains all over his checkered shirt.
This was incriminating evidence that he had been raiding the family feast portion of the fridge and tucking into a fine meal ahead of the evening.
If she were anything like his mother, Bart would be lectured on that for hours.
Bart could be the sensitive sort, but he knew when to bottle himself up, but women always made him weak at the knees. Their disapproval of him always made him cry more.
He cast his mind back to when Edna gave him an F.
He felt so trapped that day, so helpless. That nothing he said or did mattered to anyone.
So he spoke out. He tried to turn the tide. In a moment of kindness from God, fate, whatever you want to call it, Edna caved in and changed her grading.
And Bart kissed her.
Women. No matter what the age, they had an influence on his soul, pulling him in so many directions, sometimes a benefit or a blight to others depending on the people he met.
One thing that concerned him was how flawed most of them were. Even the adults like Edna.
Jessica, the rest, they were negative influences despite their saintly looks.
Even Laura, beautiful Laura, gravitated to the bad boys. Just ask Jimbo Jones.
Just ask Bart Simpson.
But as adult life eventually seeped into his own, Bart didn’t feel like much else could happen that he hadn’t accomplished as a child. The ‘bad boy days’ as he knew them seemed to peak at the age where he was still just a boy.
He was barely out of his teens now, settled, committed. He always had visions of futures where none of this would work if he stayed who he was as a youngster.
Everything ending in the worst case scenario.
Broken hearts, weak knees, court battles, custody clashes.
“Not here” he thought, “This is what I have, and it’s something I’ll work hard at keeping . They deserve it. I deserve it”
He looked at the photos on the mantelpiece. Photo booth kissing, riding bikes down a lavish hillside, a picnic near the power plant, pretending to tuck into a three-eyed fish.
Homer actually taking it too far in one photo and coming close to feeding Maggie it.
Maybe a call was in order.
He got off his Kester and moved over to the phone, he dialled up the familiar numbers that connected him to his family abode on Evergreen Terrace.
“Hello? Do we want any?” came a laboured and lazy voice, “I know Marge always tells me to say we don’t want any, but I’d like to give it a whirl if the price isn’t so steep”
“No Homer, I’m not trying to sell you jack, it’s just me” Bart said.
“Boy” Homer said, before bursting into a fit of laughter, “How’s the game? The Spring Steps are getting jacked right off the pitch at the moment”
“Laura bet on the Shelby shooters. I’ll be tucking into a bigger and better meal tonight with those earnings” Bart replied.
“Whatever happened to rooting for the homer-town team?” Homer replied.
“You know this happens whenever a nest is emptied” Bart responded, picking up one of the photos of Homer covered in mud and aggressively attacking a cameraman from the period he was mistaken for Bigfoot. “Sometimes you just go a bit ape for the alternatives”
“How’s little Lisa?” asked Homer, “And don’t sugar coat it….hmmm….sugar coating….”
“Train of thought Homer” Bart urged, “Stay on track”
“Yeah, totally. How is she?” he asked.
“She’s alright, all things considered. Was thinking of calling in a favour from an old face”
“I’ll be there in a jiffy…unless you mean Grandpa, if so, he’ll be there more all tipsy”
“He’s still drinking?” Bart replied, “At his age?”
“Told me it was just a little, but at the rate he’s going, a little is more than a lot”
“I didn’t mean Grandpa, or you, I meant Krusty” said Bart.
“Be wise boy, Krusty isn’t so sure on summons these days. One time he went to a birthday bash, and a few drinks later, he ended up taking the ‘bash’ part a little too literally”
“That was more a grown-up’s gig. He adapts different mentalities where that’s concerned” Bart said, “This will be with kids, he’ll sort everything out”
“Let’s hope you’re right boy, I’d hate the kids to be standing in another’s rain. D’OH. Sorry boy, had a bit of a lady mondegreen there”
“Dad, you got it right” Bart replied
“Got what right?” said Homer
“The mondegreen. The misheard lyric, you actually got it right, everyone interprets it as ‘standing in another’s grave’, but the rain part is exactly right”
“Whoo-Hoo” Homer yelled in triumph.
“Take care Homer…Dad…I love you” Bart replied, and after a hearty exchange of that, he put the phone down.
The buzzer on the door went off. Laura and the baby were home. Bart let them through.
As Laura made her way upstairs and entered the apartment, she examined Bart’s shirt and casually shook her head while smiling.
“Did the Springsters lose their step? Because if not you are so paying for the diner tonight” she replied.
“Rival school is the rule of cool so far” Bart said.
“So 90s” Laura continued, removing her jacket before scooping Maize up in her arms.
“How’d her jab go at the clinic?” Bart asked.
“Valiant with the vaccine” said Laura, “How about you? You still want to make the call to your Clown?”
“Well, I’ve already run rings around a member of the family circus, how can one from an actual one hurt?” replied Bart.
“You sure you can pull off a convincing female voice over the phone?” she said, “He’ll still think you’re Kristy”
“Hey, you know how long I’ve been practicing, I’m starting to think a women’s voice fits me like a glove” Bart joked.
“Still wondering why I won’t do it?” asked Laura, pinching his cheek.
“Tell me over dinner. I can digest anything you say better than anything on a plate” said Bart
Lisa paced up and down the room, looking at Ralph as he sat in the old wooden chaired given to the family by her grandmother at the center of their living room.
The kids had been put to bed early, even a few hours ahead of curfew.
That’s how serious Lisa was treating the situation.
“The television isn’t on” Ralph said.
Lisa switched it on, but made sure to turn down the volume.
“I want to watch something” Ralph insisted.
Lisa folded her arms and stared at him.
“We’ll watch something when you’re better” she said
“Have I caught something? Am I with diseases?” Ralph asked, a little anxiety growing in his voice.
“You’ve got something that’s not making you take anything in” Lisa answered, kneeling down and resting her head on Ralph’s legs.
“Count to me” she said.
“800” replied Ralph. He was quick to stop after the utterance of the number.
“Still can’t get past that number?” Lisa asked, her fingers lightly dancing across Ralph’s lap lovingly.
“The internet is a bad place” said Ralph.
“It is, isn’t it? Is that how the little ones found out? Did you tell them?”
“Nelson made me do it” Ralph insisted, “He told me I’d be famous if we found out together”
“It was a lie though wasn’t it? Oh honey, you were being manipulated by him” she said, moving her arms over Ralph’s shoulders and tightly wrapping them around his neck as he leaned forward.
“Every time I’d nip down to the shops, for milk, or cakes…I like cakes, they would be there asking why I hadn’t had a shave, or a wash…and then they asked me if the Easter Bunny was real, and then they’d tell me things about the town, and I never knew if they were true or not” Ralph said, his anxiety levels slowly creeping up on him again.
He took in a few intakes of breath. Lisa moved forward and gave him a gentle kiss.
“I love you” she said, “Keep going, we can push through this if you want to Ralph, I believe you can. I won’t judge you for it. Just admit it to yourself”
“Nelson told me about the 800 orphans, their bodies, where they were, in the septic tank near the graveyard, he said there were 800 bodies in there, and if we found them together, we could share the credit, I’d have money, we’d be like Roseanne after the lottery”
“You took the kids with you” Lisa said.
“They wanted to see the bodies…their Aunt Laura likes poking them with sticks, so they brought some. They got carried away with them. They started poking Nelson and Calvin with them. Wish they could see the look on their faces, but their eyes had made contact with the wooden ends of the sticks”
“That’s what set them off didn’t they? Aztec told me Calvin pushed him into one of the open graves”, Lisa continued, convinced she was making some kind of break-through.
“Nelson got piping hot. He seemed to grow as he got mad, like a giant off the beanstalk. So I brought the beanstalk down on him” said Ralph.
“No, this is not a fairy tale Ralph, you have to accept that, you have to get to the root of the problem, with you, with this…it wasn’t a beanstalk, and you didn’t topple a giant”
Lisa took Ralph up from the chair and proceeded to waltz around the room with him. The formal dancing gently eased Ralph’s nerves.
The two made eye contact, their pupils ignited with reflection, revelation, light, and love.
“I…I…it was a headstone. An Angel was on top, arms spread wise, like it wanted to hug him” said Ralph, “So she did, and he liked it, he didn’t let go. It was funny to see her on top of him”
“Is it funny Ralph?”
“Renew our laughter. That’s what you said to the Doctor, I’m trying my best” said Ralph.
“Nothing over something as morbid as murder Ralph” said Lisa, “That’s what it was. You killed Nelson because he threatened our boy”
Calvin still thinks it was an accident” said Ralph
“I don’t know” Lisa said, “but…Ralph, I want you to know, this is something I’ll keep to my grave”
“No, keep it to my grave” said Ralph.
“Deal” Lisa said, drying her eyes as gentle tears came pouring down.
As the waltz continued, Ralph stared at the blank television.
“I miss the moving pictures” he said
At the bustling food bank that was Moe’s Family Feedbag (either second time’s the charm or I pay for half your housing bills), Bart and Laura Simpson were savouring the delights that their earnings from the Football bet had provided for them.
Laura took the time to tell Bart a little bit about her day at work.
“I get the strangest requests from this one crank that befriended me on Facebook” she said, “I know I was supposed to be occupying my time with charting digital sales and e-mailing them, but the requests were so insistent and bizarre I had to take time out to get to the bottom of it. This one girl, no kidding, wanted me to buy her a box full of 90-era Bongo comics. [U]Mint [/U]condition. Fifty dollars, on e-bay” she said as they tucked into a noodle and curry pizza with all the delicate manners of a piglet at a troth.
Even Maize Williams Simpson was tending to her small morsels of meat with more fines than her parents.
People stared. The couple were content to allow them to. They were the ones having the time of their lives.
“So level with me. Why won’t you do it?” Bart asked his wife, with the question pertaining to why she wouldn’t call Krusty and put on what would have been a more convincing act than him.
“Take the responsibility away?” Laura replied.
“You reckon Krusty will see through my cheap imitation? Because I could totally land a better gig with this” Bart said, putting on his feminine voice.
“You’re used to being yourself Bart”
“Yeah, but if he figures out it’s me…he’ll…”
“He’ll what?” Laura asked, “You’ve met him loads of times since I got you that number, he was always coming through for you then”
“Maybe it ought to be different this time” Bart replied, peering into the distance.
Laura took a napkin from the table and cleared Maize’s stained mouth with it, she grabbed onto the napkin and playfully tugged at it with her mother.
“Is it because of what I said earlier? About nostalgia getting you all high and then reality rendering you low?” Laura asked.
“I’ve seen reality with Krusty. Up close. Once the magic’s clear to you, it kind of fizzles out. Krusty isn’t the type to hide it either” Bart answered, taking another bite of his food and talking while gnawing away at it.
“Well, maybe that’s just what Lisa’s kids need. Someone who can make you laugh, but rarely sees the funny side. You’d be surprised how many can pick up on that”
“You always had an eye for what young scamps like me could think” Bart replied, “We’re walking books that you’re just able to read”
“The book of Bart was always my favorite” Laura said, tucking into her own food with similar ill manner, almost as if to disturb the more sophisticated types trying to dine on their own dinner.
“How long do you reckon before we’re kicked out?” said Bart.
“As soon as we start tucking in with our feet” said Laura.
“When do you reckon we do that?” Bart asked.
“Oh let Maize do it first, everyone will fawn over her” Laura suggested.
As the late evening crept in, Ralph was sound asleep, but Lisa just couldn’t shut her eyes and join him in merry slumber.
She got out of bed and crept down the stairs, entering the kitchen to pour herself a soothing glass of hot coffee.
She nursed the cup steadily in her hand, looking outward at the photos of days spent in her youth with her brother, her younger sister, and the young Wiggum lad that allowed his heart to be stolen by her.
It would take a lot of hard work, but in time, she would let him know that he had stolen hers.
Or maybe he always had, and all that was left was for her to slowly realize it.
She thought she knew what she was getting into when she married someone like him.
Anxieties, a playful blend of innocence and ignorance, a kind but irreverent soul.
All the qualities Lisa was often insistent on eluding, out of fear of social ridicule if anything.
At the time she didn’t want another Homer in her life.
She had been thinking of calling her family, as Bart already had when she got him on call to arrange the play date for Krusty,
Her husband had taken a life.
Not just any life.
The life of a boy she had crushed on.
A boy, who terrorized her brother, yet had stirred her own soul.
And here she was, vowing to never tell anyone what Ralph had done.
She wanted to question herself, question her ethics.
To challenge herself.
She didn’t want to feel trapped.
Too many instances had occurred in her childhood where she felt that way. She liked to think it was a predicament she had learned to grow past.
She had to face the big black world as an adult.
What terrified her most was Ralph’s obliviousness to it all.
How would it affect the outlook her children had on the world? Knowing this incident was a part of their all too fragile lives.
Would the tears of a clown be any better than the tears of a heartbroken mother? Or their own tears later in life as the full magnitude of Nelson’s death came down on them?
Would they blame her?
How many questions could she think aloud?
How many days would she count maintaining the secret before it spilled out in the heat of an argument?
She would think of only that one word.
That one simple answer.
She would not entertain the idea of cutting loose.
Not in front of her kids.
And not in front of Ralph.
She was a Wiggum now. Not just a Simpson.
The Wiggum word was law.
She knew the law in Springfield could be unjust, it could be unfair.
But it also had maintained some semblance of order for what had felt like generations more than a couple of decades.
And that largely in part to Ralph’s father having connections, and being made of stern stuff in order to deal with all kinds of shady stuff.
Maybe she needed to seek out his advice.
And maybe she should consider her options.
If she told Clancy, she would condemn Ralph to a daily reminder of disappointment and hurt from his own flesh and blood.
Would he then blame Lisa for that?
Lisa realized Krusty’s visit would not stamp out the approaching firestorm. If anything, it would be like drenching a spark with oil.
She still thought his presence was required, but she wanted something different.
She wanted Krusty to be himself.
Warts and all.
By giving her children the world outside her window, it would ready them ideally for when they stepped out into it.
Would she be forgiven for the risk?
She finished off the hot coffee and gently strolled back upstairs to the bedroom, she would gaze upon the face of her slumbering husband, she would check on her children in their own room, and she would come to the only logical conclusion she could as a mother and wife.
To renew their laughter, she would first see fire set to tears.
Bart tossed and turned in his sleep. He awoke for had now been the fifth time.
He couldn’t try a sixth turning, he decided to get up for the time being.
He did some stretching and combed his hands through his spikey hair, as his weary and baggy eyes stared at the clock.
He groaned and made his way to the living area.
He couldn’t believe Laura was still up.
Spread across the sofa, chowing down on cold noodles watching the teleshopping infomercials on mute.
“Hey champ, what’s keeping you cooking?” she asked, noticing how much Bart was sweating,
“The weather’s pretty chill, is it the radiator? I’ve been meaning to lower the temperature on that” she said.
“How do you do it?” asked Bart.
Laura smiled and leaned her head upside down over the side of the sofa, a small noodle hanging out of her lips, her eyes fixated on her husband.
“Do what?” she said.
Bart leaned over and took the loose noodle out of her mouth, kissed her on the lips, then deposited the noodle back into his mouth.
“Hang with the baddest of boys?” said Bart, sporting an alluring and mischievous grin.
“Because I know you’re just too good to be totally bad” said Laura, reaching out for Bart’s nose with her finger and squeezing it.
“You reckon Lisa’s kids will be able to handle Krusty next weekend?” said Bart as Laura got up, and offered him a seat on the couch.
“They can handle anything. They’ve got Simpson blood…their blood runs righteously red. A brave color, a strong color. It isn’t as yellow as our features”
Bart wrapped his arms around her and gently stroked his hands through her hair.
“How did I do it? Meet you, make Maize, make it all work…how?” he asked.
“You put in the hours…amongst putting in other things” Laura said in a playful manner, “And your finest hour is yet to come”
Bart took a small note out of his pyjama pocket, he opened it up.
“What’s that?” asked Laura.
“A speech I wrote for Nelson’s wake” Bart answered.
“Why didn’t it follow the funeral?” asked Laura.
“Not everyone could make it. This will be the official get together to make up for that” Bart said.
“Are you still going? Nelson victimized you. A lot. You don’t owe him any charity” said Laura, “Besides, Jimbo will be there and I’d rather not open up the skeletons left in that old closet”
“No, I think I’ll take the little poem I wrote and use it at the get-together with Krusty this weekend”
Laura put on her reading glasses and took a look at the bottom half of the eulogy speech. Bart sat back and admired the sensational sight of his wife looking like the kind of formal librarian fantasies he and his father would often think about when withdrawing books back in the day.
“Bart, these are lyrics from a TV show” Laura said.
“I know…but they’ll remind Krusty of times spent in television. Forever his home y’know?”
“These specific lyrics will make him feel a bit old given how many years they’ll take him back to” said Laura.
“think that emphasizes the point of all this” said Bart, taking the glasses off of Laura’s face and planting his lips delicately onto hers once again, before disembarking and moving his lips towards her right ear.
“We’re all a little older” Bart whispered into his wife’s ear as the pair locked into an embrace and allowed their passion for each other to ignite.
The following morning brought news and nurture to the Wiggum household.
As Aztec and Olmec argued at length over which of the final two Variety breakfast pack to choose from, Lisa had taken to her study area to do some light reading, and had found that her husband had snuck back on it again.
His own laptop had been in the PC repair shop for a record breaking fiftieth time. He had never quite learned his lesson about downloading spyware. He had often mistaken it for “Eyewear” following a misquote or two in a conversation with Groundskeeper Willy.
Ralph figured he looked more presentable in glasses. Lisa never agreed with that. She figured he was doing it out of fears she still had thing for Van Houten.
Lisa calmly read what Ralph had been typing away at on her own computer.
A poem had been plastered publicly across his Facebook profile.
By Ralph Wiggum
On a patch of Earth
Our home, our land
Comes somber footsteps
Along the sand.
As winds gather
And tides are tossed
We take a breath
We count the loss
There are those that walk still
Who fled so far
There are those that stayed
As the sun swayed to stars
It’s those we thank
For staying guard
In our sombre footsteps
Across the scorching sands
We reach out to your hearts
And hope you’ll take our hand
It already had fifteen approved likes.
Lisa logged in and quickly added her own like, following it up with the comment, “Very proud to be your muse as well as your Mrs.”
She knew he’d like that.
“Mom, someone’s at the door” yelled Olmec. Lisa darted out to the hall to greet the visitor.
Her heart almost leapt out.
She felt like forming a fist and swallowing it whole to keep from hyper-ventilating. Or screaming. And both.
It was Chief Wiggum.
It was the law.
Was he here to investigate what happened to Nelson?
Had Ralph confessed?
The options of what to do and not do in this situation dragged up every volatile emotion she had spent the previous evening softening. In one instant, everyone came back up and stung her mind’s eye like a splintered dagger.
“I’m afraid…” Wiggum began.
“So am I” replied Lisa.
“Huh?” said Wiggum, confused.
Lisa caught herself and try to remain compose, “Nothing” she said, “Thinking out loud, go ahead”
“You were expecting Krusty this weekend? Ralph told me, I’m afraid he was detained coming into town. Something about immigrant monkeys”
“Isn’t that bit racey?” said Lisa.
“No, I mean it. Monkeys. Genuine monkeys. He said it was for a show, we did some filing on it and it turns out they were being put on show. Auction even”
“Oh those poor things, how could he possibly do that?” asked Lisa.
“We’ll be holding him over the next three days, just thought I’d let you know he’ll miss the dinner with the family, same with the brat pack ruled over by your brother”
“Still never quite forgave Laura’s mother for that car chase did you?” said Lisa.
“How’s the home fire burning with Ralph anyway? Teach him any new tricks?” asked Wiggum.
“If anything, he’s teaching [I]me[/I] Clancy” Lisa replied.
Krusty squinted his eyes as the phone was handed over to his outstretched sticking out of the prison cell bars.
“For me?” Krusty spoke
“For you” said the officer.
“You’re a big guy” joked Krusty.
“C’mon, that film’s ancient history” said the officer.
“No shame in a little Bane” Krusty replied back.
“Here are your notes back” said the Officer, “Chief reckons you could make a mint more off of what’s in there rather than what you were going to sell”
“How does he reckon that?” Krusty asked.
“It touched his heart, it didn’t break it” said the officer.
“I’m the only one with the literal kind of shattered heart around here” Krusty said, pointing to his pacemaker
“Just take the damn call” said the Officer.
Krusty placed the phone to his ear.
“Hello?” he said.
“Hi Klown, taking the hard knock knock joke on life?” said what sounded like a grating and syrupy female voice.
“Knock it off kid, you’re terrible at this” said Krusty.
“Terrible at what?” inquired the voice.
“Putting on some dame’s accent, I’ve been around the world and counted every accent imaginable, only one who ever sounds like that is your mother”
Bart slowly emerged from the shadows.
“Only actual grown I’m used to” he said.
“You mad?” said Krusty.
“Oh it angers” Bart said, keeping the gnarly voice.
“Yeah, you’re going to have to do that for both of us kid, I got nothing”
“Thirteen years ago, my wife reckoned you’d still have something, something I needed. Evidently, this isn’t what I want, but it’s definitely something YOU need”
“And what would that be?” asked a despairing Krusty.
“A chance to renew your laughter out loud” said Bart, “It’s something for my sister, something for me, something for the one family that’ll always cut you a break even when you cut our hearts to ribbons”
“Maybe I can touch that heart of yours with something then” said Krusty, taking out his notebook.
“A little something I wrote after I wished a pal of mine a happy birthday on her Facebook” said Krusty.
“Can it make me laugh?” said Bart.
“If you see life in a certain way, yeah” said Krusty.
“Just read it, then we’re bailing this joint and taking you for a parole hearing all your own at our place. You better have some corn and not be a flake”
Krusty read aloud from his notebook, a small yellow hardback tome full of personal poems he had written over the years.
Eight long years separate
Why did we wait?
Loved ones dismiss us with a piercing glance
Why must they hate?
Daily comments of her lives online
Well wishes for a birthday
It sparks a notion all day long
Let’s go out for coffee
She was shy, small, and keeps no eye trained long
We talk her whole life over
A most familiar song.
When the talk ends, she turns
She thanks me for the meal
I ask if we can stay in touch
If time was ours to steal
She says it depends on the day
In a tone so tellingly flirty
She snuck past her parents to make this day count
The girl is well past thirty!
As she strolls along the high street.
Her world knows no doubt.
I sat there nursing a hot mug
What was that all about?
Krusty closed the book and handed it over to Bart through the bars of the cell.
“Keep it, only poetic thing left for me is justice”
“I had a plan. You squandered it” Bart said.
“At least you came out in order to come through for me kid, I appreciate it” Krusty replied.
The cell doors slide open, Krusty emerged.
Bart, having paid for Krusty’s bail with Lisa’s help, escorted him outside, where Laura, Lisa, Ralph, and their children were greeting him.
“Is that the Powers kid?” said Krusty, smiling at Bart, “Boy, you sure had to grow into a man quick to catch up with her”
“I’m still a kid Krusty; question is…in this moment, for this day, will you be?”
“Kid, you should know by now when it comes to acting well below the guidelines for maturity, I’m very much a monkey’s uncle” joked Krusty.
“Then let’s renew our lols” said Bart.
The families Simpson and Wiggum clambered into their vehicles, and, with the sounds of sincerity and signing, made a merry and mellow drive away from the prescient and back to the Simpsons abode, aiming to make a man less of the monkey he’d become.
Renewed for two more seasons, and it’s episode count will soon eclipse Gunsmoke
Personally, I’ve come to the conclusion that “Homer’s Enemy” is the finale of the classic era, since it deconstructs the whole premise of Springfield’s tolerance of Homer and uses it as a meta-commentary on why we all put up with him, and it ends with Homer telling Marge to change the channel
THE LADLE OF THE LAKE
WRITTEN BY ZARIUS
Disclaimer: Simpsons is trademarked by 20th century Fox.
Note: This story occurred to me after I watched the episode “El Pluribus Wiggum“, after seeing Lisa and Ralph’s brief but brilliant interaction, I knew this was a story I couldn’t pass up.
Homer skimmed through his laundry list of Netflix channels, looking for something to watch.
“Let’s see…White In A Kind of Orange, the story of a successful Caucasian rap artist who winds up in a Buddhist settlement…oh, they’ve done that so many times. Marge, why can’t they do something with a black guy converting to that?”
“Honey, a lot of Buddhists are black” his wife Marge replied
“Oh…wait, are those the monks that taught David Carradine and Johnny English how to fight?” Homer asked.
“Dad, could you let me stream Itchy and Scratchy’s collection on there today? Election coverage has been all over the place, they’ve got no time for Krusty today” Bart Simpson requested as he strolled into the room.
“That show’s been on so long now, don’t you ever get tired of it being the same thing all the time little guy? I knew when to give up the ghost when Casper went into space” Marge replied.
“It’s nice to compare and contrast the originals with the new stuff…plus it allows me to go back in and retrace my steps, and see how much of it I can remember for the trivia challenge Krusty set for us last week. Winner gets a special prize”
“What prize?” asked Marge
“A free trip to the set” Bart said joyfully.
Homer and Marge just stared at him.
“Honey, you’re one of Krusty’s biggest fans, you can visit his set anytime” Marge said, breaking the stirring and awkward silence in the room.
“Yeah, but I’m also known as his washed-up apprentice who annoyed half the town with “I didn’t do it”, you know what they say about going on these kind of rides…once it’s done, and if you want to go again, it’s back to the end of the line”
“I never hear the end of ‘the line’, because you’re always the one to cut in front” Homer mumbled.
“Homer’s right dear, you just want to show off with how much you know, but why don’t you let someone new take the visit and get inspired? Surely nothing Krusty does now can teach you anything different?”
“Entertainment’s always got room to grow Mom…and I ain’t been getting any taller these last few years, so until this spiky hair I got starts forming a bit more beneath this ol’ chin…” Bart began
“Bart, that’s already happened” Marge replied, interrupting him.
“Not naturally” Bart insisted.
“Everyone, they’re running Ralph’s old joint party election broadcast on the news again” Lisa said as she ran into the room, switching the Netflix service off and putting on FOX news, having been informed via a text by Milhouse.
Sure enough, there it was.
A political broadcast endorsing the young and very, very late developer Ralph Wiggum for President, part of a joint effort by both Republican and Democrats, an unprecedented feat.
The comparisons were being made between Ralph and another more hot-headed dunderhead in the more recent election coverage, and how dangerous it had been to convince the American public to put their faith in someone who doesn’t say or do all of the politically correct things.
Others in the debate argued, however, that Ralph’s innocence and sense of right made up for his lack of sense in other areas and that it touched a raw nerve with America’s concerned and equally underprivileged sections.
Lisa, as politically charged as ever, found the whole experience romantic.
“Can we watch something else?” Homer asked.
“No way, this is our little piece of history, adding to the crucial conflict of what it’s in the best interests of the voting public going forward this year” said Lisa.
“All I know is my friends took a lot of flack over that campaign…all the key players in Argentina caught wind of Lenny and Carl talking about Madonna…” Homer replied.
“Homer, they took issue with the pun aimed at Juan Pero…” Marge said, correcting him.
“And I QUOTE ‘Madonna, that was a bit much’” Homer insisted.
“Gee, Dad, you used QUOTE in all capitals, you must really CAAAAAAAAAAAREEEE” Bart said.
“At least the Fox news board had the sense to censor those quotes from your fellow Nuclear nincompoops in Latin America, except in Brazil for some reason” Lisa replied.
Marge knelt down and placed a hand on Lisa’s shoulder.
“I remember how Ralph was that day. The whole thing overwhelmed him at first, but you know who was there to fend off all those rotten reporters and callous candidates? You, my precious little Princess. You ran straight into that house and you told them to leave him alone, I was so proud of you when you told me”
“I felt even prouder sticking up for him…he wanted to use them, not the other way around, he was a bit overtaken, but he gutted it out, put on a brave face, and threw himself into the race as fast as he could, no matter how slow he was in other areas. For the briefest of days, he was able to get everyone to see his side of things…and even if it didn’t work out in the end, it was a good way to show what looks like a joke can subvert expectations, instead of what certainly IS a joke meeting expectations”
“So when’s the wedding “First Ladle?” Bart said, mocking what Ralph had said to Lisa after she endorsed him. Ralph had meant ‘lady’ but it had come out, in his usual irreverent and eccentric manner, as ‘ladle’
“Oh cut it out Bart, I was just humouring him” said Lisa.
“Sweetie, you certainly weren’t, I know the look you had on your face when you came back, I’ve never seen you so taken” Marge replied
“Mom, stop it, you’ll just encourage Bart to tell him” said Lisa
“Won’t say a thing, former scouts honour” said Bart.
“Thanks I guess” Lisa said.
Marge gave her daughter a hug, “You did so well that day, and if it weren’t for you liking the sound of Ralph’s ideas, he probably wouldn’t have the confidence to run. He’s your special little guy”
“Thanks Mom..while there will be days I’ll dip my feet in the lake and come out holding a different kind of sword, at the end of all those days, there’s a good chance I’ll still wind up with Excalibur”
“That’s a Stan Lee quote isn’t it?” said Homer
“That’s Excelsior dear” Marge said.
“D’oh” Homer grunted.
Lisa watched the footage play back over and over again, ignoring the ongoing debates surrounding his controversial standing, proud of the work her best friend had put into his campaign trail, proving that, just by being there, he could walk on water.
Petter Sellers would be proud of him, just as she was.
And as she thought about the future, she again got excited at the notion of being attached to this master of underestimation, to hold after many years, a slightly out-of-shape, bent Excalibur in her hand, to being Mrs. Ralph Wiggum.
The ladle of the lake.
“That’s the thing about fans kids” Krusty said, addressing his audience “They think they’re entitled to everything, they know what they should GET, but sometimes they don’t necessarily think about what they NEED”
Very proud of this one. Doesn’t have many reviews besides ones from a good friend, but I don’t care.
For years I have wanted to see at least one future flung episode of The Simpsons where Bart is settled and has a nice family. No divorces, no deadbeat dad syndrome, none of that, and I’ve never really seen that happen…so I decided to make it happen, and there was no better candidate to be his wife than Laura Powers. Many real life couples have transcended the age barrier and this is no different. Also thrown in to pad the story out are my favourite pairing in the show…Lisa and Ralph. You continuity hounds might get a kick out of the names of their kids also.
I also incorporated two of my poems published on this blog into the tale.
Hope you enjoy it.