by David Allen
The carousel spun dizzily as the ring appeared in view. David knew no one else could grab the ring, the hare-lipped troll in David’s employ had seen to it that everyone else on the ride was an amputee. He knew they all represented his conscience, each a sin that needed to be atoned. But nothing was being left to chance. As the the prize came into sight. David stretched and leaned to snag his fate .
Damn! It was gone. The man riding bthe hippo in front of him -- a laughing old fart with four stumps and a backbrace, had snatched the ring with his considerable nose.
Who knew Pinocchio still lived?
They came for David when the machine stopped, but he was already gone, disappearing into an alley, his left leg dragging lifeless behind him. He was wanted for “high crimes and misdemeanors” – the sins any good newsman is guilty of perpetrating with each stroke of a pen and click of a keyboard. He believed in the old newsman’s oath that it was his job to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” And now they wanted him to pay.
But he was already gone. The hangman would have to wait.
David was visibly shaken by his experience with the ghouls of conscience and the Ring of Fate when he limped to the fire escape at the end of the alley. Sweat poured from his pained brow as he contemplated climbing the ladder that led to his room above the kitchen door of Chun’s Chinese Restaurant. Joe Chun was there, emptying the remains of several skinned felines into a dumpster, but he had his back to the alley and missed what directly followed.
The frog waited for David to turn the corner before he spoke.
“What’s your hurry, friend?” the frog asked, stepping lightly from the shadows. He was dressed nattily, after the fashion of enchanted princes, and smiled at David, who had stopped dead in his tracks.
“Oh dear,” said the frog, staring at the limp body. “Why does this always happen to me?”
The frog knelt and checked David’s pulse. It was slow and weak. Then he slowly, sensuously, placed his moist lips over David’s face and tenderly caressed his eyelids with his long, sticky tongue.
“Uh, where, what?” was all David could mutter as his eyes slowly opened and he saw a chubby, four-foot tall frog dancing a little jig of joy next to his prone body.
“Oh goody! Goody!” The frog croaked. “It worked! It worked!”
“You have to be the weirdest thing I ever saw,” David said, as he stood shakily. It’s not every day you come into contact with a chubby frog wearing a bright red coat and plumed hat.
“Man, am I asleep? Dead? What’s the deal?”
“I am here to give great news,” the frog began. “I can fulfill three wish....”
Joe Chun’s hatchet made a swift impression on his mind before he could finish.
“Oh, what crazy frog legs we have tonight!” Joe said. “David, you must come in and hin me in partaking of this scrumtious delicacy!”
“Count me out, man,” David answered. “I don’t think i could stomach any French food.” He waved the cook away as he began climbing the ladder. “Goodnight, Joe.”
“You goodnight,” Joe replied, dragging the frog corpse toward the kitchen door. “Me good eats!”
Later that night, sitting at his desk, listening to The Doors play “The End,” on his stereo, David contemplated the night’s events. Having the Ring of Fate stolen from him after buying a Troll to make sure no one else could grab it, was a bad sign, for sure, he thouguht. But what did it mean to have three wishes from a magical frog stolen from him by a second-rate cook?
“Face it,” he told himself. “Karma’s catching up to you. It’s best to lie low for awhile. Good thing you prepared for the Apocalypse and have plenty of food and drink stashed. This story’s not over.”
He leaned back, pleased with his preparation for any new chapter.
Suddenly there was a loud rapping at his front door.