Marty was prone to ‘accidents’ in middle school, after that fateful day in the humiliation of that black tent. To be more precise, his accidents always seemed to involve scenes of hilarity and striking absurdity, leaving people talking—and laughing—for days.
His first accident was in the lunch room. With a full plate of linguini, he had tripped over a backpack. The noodles found their spot all over the new principal, hanging from his suit like tentacles and protruding from his collar like alien chest hair. And Marty had found his spot on the lap of Miss Cooper. But it didn’t stop there. He had tried to rise like from a mud puddle; retreating so fast he hoped to jump right out of the mud and remain spotlessly clean. But that was when the chair broke, and he landed sprawled on the floor with Miss Cooper. The laughter continued to hang from the lunch room rafters for weeks afterwards.
The next incident involved a finely aimed soccer ball, a lot of pain on Marty’s side, and a powerful burst of laughter from a group of high school pot-smokers on the hilltop. After that incident, Marty feared for his future, wondering if there even was a possible future for his children after the impact of that soccer ball.
But as his life progressed, he began to discover ways in which he could shape the incidents before they occurred. He began to realize that he could aim for a comedy of higher quality. He could steer the jokes so that he was the comedian rather than the victim.
It was all a matter of being in the moment and realizing the ebb and flow, the charges and potentials for comedy. Marty began to see weaknesses in reality where comedy could seep in, but instead of attempting to plug these infinite many holes, he began to discover ways of opening his own holes and guiding the comedy to its resting place just enough to satisfy it. There was a certain level of comedy that had to be maintained. He had resisted for days at a time, only to find that accumulated comedy, when unleashed, made a much bigger boom than regular flowing comedy.
But none of that matters now. He’d made a choice to find his own path without stretching an elastic band with every step. He’d made a choice to fight it without a shred of slap stick. He wanted a life of meaningful and serious endeavors without a by-product of laughter. He wanted a relationship with a woman that could become intimate without a punch line. He wanted a career that he could work at without driving his employees into mental institutes.
And most of all, he wanted to be taken seriously.
And now he stands watching a jack in the box with a life-sized head bob outside his window as it is rolled into his neighbor’s house. He had come to this neighborhood to escape. But now, though he has not seen a cause for laughter in three weeks, he can feel something mighty on the horizon; something even mightier than the blue, ceramic genie being walked across his neighbor’s lawn—though it could very well involve said genie.
He stands in duck pajamas and fuzzy slippers, his wild bed hair too good to touch, and his face as dry and cynical as a crumbling statue. But don’t laugh. There is absolutely nothing funny about this. He did not choose the duck pattern. And he most certainly did not choose his neighbor…who now appears for the first time to direct traffic.
Marty stares. The man is dressed in a royal purple robe with sparkling sequins and a white fur lining. He wears a rock on his finger that could very well have come from a low-budget sci-fi mini-series reject bin in which he had also scavenged his sandals, which appear to be fashioned from half-chewed twizzlers and gummy worms.
The man wears his hair like a black wool cap with a single streak of blue and a frizzy strap under his chin. He even has a pom-pom of hair that bounces around on top of his head. But the most frightening thing about the man is his face. This is not to say that he is particularly horrendous or ugly, but rather, he wears a mask of make-up that makes him look like a doll from a cheap horror flick. His face is baby-powdered to a pale glow, his lips are apple red, and his eyes are colored like a cross-dressing raccoon having an identity crisis.
And because Marty’s reality is about to turn down a one-way no-exit road up a short pier without a paddle, he doesn’t give a shit if the metaphors even make sense.
Marty groans and pulls on the cord for the blinds. They fall rapidly and knock him in the head, but he doesn’t care. It’s no laughing matter. He turns and shuffles across his dark living room to his kitchen. Let the fun begin.
By mid-afternoon, he hears a knock on his door. He is suspicious beyond a doubt that someone is here to invite him to a party. Which is really to say that he is positive that the party has already begun with his name on the banner. He answers the door, wondering if it’s going to be a costume party in July and whether he’ll be requested to contribute to the exotic themed potluck. Instead, he is absolutely delighted to find himself staring into the faces of two very tall and very sinister cops in full uniform.
One has a very round face and one has a very square face, and they are both darkly handsome; in fact, they are unfortunately made considerably less intimidating by the fact that they look like a charming couple.
“Howdedoo!” he says.
The officers blink. “Good afternoon, sir. We were wondering if we could ask you a few questions.”
“Yes, please do. Are they difficult questions that must be taken absolutely seriously?”
The police officer with the square face raises an eyebrow. “This is no joking matter, if that is what you mean. The questions will pertain to a serious concern for public safety.”
“Fantastic!” Marty claims. “Please come in. I’m afraid my house is really boring and plain, but hopefully you will both be right at home.”
The police officers enter his house with mildly perplexed expressions, and Marty shows them into his living room.
All three of them sit down, Marty is poised and ready, and the officers look at one another to decide who will speak first. And then Marty is hit with one of his least favorite questions.
“Have you witnessed anything interesting lately?” asks the officer.