Graceful like Fall
By: G Wayne
Copyright © 10/06/07
A touch of the winter winds slipped through the leaves of the trees as the sun set over the castle turrets. They were topped with strange shaped cupolas clad in copper, which had developed a thick deposit of verdigris over the years. It left them gild in an ominous dark green that turned to gray and faded to black at that time of day, when the sun sank away and allowed the darkness to culture all things evil.

From when it was built over three hundred years ago, the castle has been a center of social activity. It meant safety to a community under siege, and in more modern days, a place where social events were held. Over the years, great orchestras, dazzling operas and even rock bands graced the stone-block walls of the enormous hall which was snugly nestled within the ever-vigilant bulwark. That all changed during the dark days. The time when only a fortunate few managed to escape the land before all life was snuffed out. But now, after years of being uninhabited, the abandoned castle was about to receive its new tenants.

Zach Polyp and his wife Highlo were given the castle because they already had the disease that a human could expect to contract from living there. And there was the fact that no one else would even go near the castle. Even their kids, Zuzu and Wobble, had the disease and weren't expected to live very long. Their bodies were all different colors and had taken on unusual shapes due to the disease. This was exacerbated by their dire symptoms being in a constant state of flux.

Riley Hairfoot, an old and dear friend of the Polypes came along for the ride. Riley felt safe in his protective bubble suit that he thought would shield him from the disease. He only took the suit off when he was in his portable anti-contamination room.

Riley was a simple man. Some folks thought he was dumb...and they were right! He was as dumb as a wheelbarrow full of poop, and his protective suit smelled about the same. Maybe worse after staying in it for weeks at a time. The protective suit was not only a lifesaver to Riley, but a danger to anyone that was in his vicinity.

No one could possibly remain in the presence of Riley Hairfoot when his unsavory stench was not checked. This overpowering odor was redolent of everything that is thoroughly nauseating in life. I'm talking the tangy reek of excrement, the smell of cheese that grows between the toes of people that don't wash or change their socks for a long, long a few rotting fish. Top that off with a sack full of assholes and you'll begin to comprehend the magnitude of discomfort Riley could wield.

There is one recorded incident of Riley leaving his anti-contamination room without the suit after being in it for only ten or so days in a row. His stench cut a swath downwind of him that killed every living thing for three hundred yards. Birds fell from the trees and rats gagged to death from the odor. It was a miracle no humans were injured.

When word spread of the catastrophic effects of Riley's B. O. Scientists, some of the greatest minds in the land, braved the disastrous disease to research this extremely unusual event as... a tribute to science! Samples were taken of the soil, the water and the air. Dead tree limbs were carefully placed in sealed containers and then packed in dry ice. Rumors circulated that the government intended to use Riley as their latest secret weapon, because one whiff was thought to cause a total pulmonary shutdown before anyone could say, "Eeeuuu! That really stinks!" To the government's dismay, their findings indicated that Hairfoot Agent, that's what they called it, Hairfoot Agent, was not a lethal toxin to humans at all. Although, they did find that burned out nose hairs and caused them never to grow back. It would also remove paint and sometimes make things to burst into flames. But there were other strange aspects of Hairfoot Agent, ones that the government tried to hide. They didn't want people to know that if you could get past the smell, it had profound psychedelic and hallucinogenic effects. Not only this, but they found that it killed the virus that plagued the castle and cured people that had the disease.

Then ... everything changed. People first noticed that Zuzu Polyp was becoming only one color. It was a terrible shade of blue, but at least she was blue all over. And then her form began to look more normal. Her big leg shrunk down several sizes until it was almost the same size as her arm. Then it grew back to relatively the same size as her other leg. Each day her head would swell something awful, like pumpkin or a big mozzarella cheese. But every evening, it would shrink to the size of a pea. Fortunately, each day the change was less and less extreme.

Her brother Wobble, who was reticent by nature, became more outgoing and just talked all the time after he noticed himself changing. It was easy for him to get peoples' attention when he shot up to twelve foot tall even though he still weighed only 90 pounds. He really wasn't able to stand up that much. In fact, Wobble could only slide up a wall for about seven feet or so, any higher and he would fall over like a piece of tape.

At first, Riley Hairfoot was having a heck of a time. When people learned that the odor he emitted got you stoned. They would follow him around all the time, hoping for a whiff to escape his protective suit. Somebody would invariably come up with a pin and poke a hole in the back of the suit when Riley wasn't looking. This would draw a crowd, all hyperventilating Riley Hairfoot's back draft.

Things changed when the government asked Riley to rid them of the virus infestation by walking naked through the castle. When he found out that he no longer needed the suit, all Riley wanted to do is take a long bath...but they wouldn't let him? No. Wherever Riley went he could hear the whispers, "Hide the soap, hide the soap." Riley's "new friends" were kind enough to provide him with a brand new wardrobe. Unfortunately, the clothes were made of latex and it made him sweat like an atheist at the pearly gates. All day long there was a constant drip, drip, drip into his shoes. To say Riley was uncomfortable was definitely an understatement. But when he found he could get five hundred bucks for a raunchy pair of his sox, he decided it wasn't so bad. Riley was becoming a celebrity. He even got his picture on the cover of High Times Magazine.

When religious people caught wind of...excuse the expression, his condition, things really got bizarre. For the first time Christians and Moslems were able to agree on something. They all thought poor Riley should be put to death. Although this was a big step toward religious solidarity, the unity broke down when opinions differed on how this task should be accomplished. Christians decreed that Riley should be burned at the stake while Moslems just wanted him blown up.

Other groups felt that Riley possessed supernatural powers and began to deify him. Rileyism began to spread throughout the land. Rileyists, or Hairyrollers as they preferred to be called, began to hold services in rented movie theaters and in bowling alleys. They would sing songs like, "Riley, Riley, Riley, Hairfoot is highest," or "Give me that Hairfoot religion, give me that Hairfoot religion, give me that Hairfoot religion, a stinky god for me!"

The most popular preacher of this new movement was a used car salesman from Steubenville, Ohio. He went by the name of The Most Redolent, Mephitis E. Stinkhorn. The "E" stood for Effluvium. He would always open his sermons with, "My dear brothers and sisters, now is not the time to pray for salvation, now is the time to smell for salvation ... and embrace it with both nostrils!" What a showman; he would throw his head back and lift his hands to the heavens. Then he would close his eyes with a look of divine rapture on his face while rocking his head back and forth and inhaling deeply. It was a grand spectacle. People began to call it the Mephitis Shuffle. Some women would swoon and fall to the floor. Some men would scratch their heads and say, "What the heck?" Just when people were starting to get bored with his ranting, Stinkhorn would call for the most sacred communion. Four men dressed in food-stained robes and gas masks would carry out a Coleman cooler while all in attendance would line up to gather a whiff of Riley's underwear.