d a v i d    l a s k o w s k i

Seriously Folks


Although the origins of political palaver are in its beginnings, most experts agree it did not reach its apex until its nexus. However, even though this nexus knocked only after its apex topped does not mean whatever it is you think it may mean. In other words, what begins at the beginning ends at the end. That said, for all intents and giggles, political palaver had fallen into a state near Nevada since political palaver, as understood today, consisted of a jerk, a saddle, and the ass-end of donkey’s fart. Oddly enough, no one identified the actual apex of political palaver until climbers breached its summit soon after the election of Loathing B. Self-Hatred to the post of Prominent Primary, resulting in the splitting, not of the atom, but of the major headache that had been bothering the secondary mother. Thankfully, she is all right and resting comfortably.

Credit for the decline of political palaver belongs to the obdurate functionary of the Pleasing Meal, a series of bloviated amalgams named Sirius Fable, who was responsible for penning what is perhaps the best known of the sorry lots – “A Speech Upon the Derry Upon the Ferry: Milestones in Taxation Without Representation.” It was this speech, delivered as it was by Loathing B. Self-Hatred, which shocked the delicate yank-fiddles of the gentry-on-the-grange and resulted in the decline, according to Professor Fallout at Coleman Downhill in Revelation-Chapter-and-Verse, of faith in the office also known as not square.

The reason why so many citizens found this particular speech so incendiary was due to claims made by Fable in the speech as to the nature of existence. In the speech, Fable claimed the existence of limits that limited, oddly enough, the limits that limit the extent to which not only Fable, but also his brother Harry and sister Mabel, could earn within a fiscal year. The decision to limit, or not, these non-fungible-funds belonged, Fable claimed, to the Great El Gusto, or the Secretary of the Treasury. The Secretary of the Treasury was also apparently responsible for not only the regulation of non-earnings, but also the regulation of those earnings that resulted in the gap between the rich and whoever else there was.

However, it was not Fable’s decision to hand over this power to Gusto Prime. It was rather the decision of Self-Hatred that, upon the advice of his closest colleague, No One In Particular, decided to move all privileged-primary-backed-gold-nubs to rubber hoses and bottle caps thus resulting in the freefalling of all fiduciary controls, creating a system of value based on the best of intentions. Self-Hatred made the decision, some said, in hopes that such changes would spur the horse before the cart since the cart was, according to Self-Hatred, too big for its britches. Unfortunately, the cart felt no shame and the horse did not want to be bothered, so inflation continued to rise and the balloon almost popped. Those were sad days, indeed.

Oddly enough, it was not the Prominent Primary, i.e. Primarily Proper, who had originally enlisted Fable to serve as his primary speechwriter. It was actually PP’s secondary pivot that asked Fable to join “the team” after double-P’s primary speechwriter, Conjugal Verb, gave way to the Proper Noun that had been lurking about his shortcomings. P.P.’s secondary pivot, the secondary-in-the-first, or a Greek logician named Pontius Didn’t-Know, picked Fable from a group of available speechwriters that included Tall Tales, Out-and-Out Lies, and Bold-Faced Shame. Fable apparently knew PD and K, Fable said, “from a long time ago and far away,” when labor was labor and work was something else. Fable had been working in advertising as a mail clerk when PD and K called him from Washington. Fable, although surprised, was ready, as he told his colleague Marty Yank-Pfister, to be back “in the thick,” which referred to the weaving of great tales about secret communists and communist secrets. Fable had known PD and K since they met in grade school during a time-out. Fables’ fables had, for some reason, not passed muster with the mister masters and got Fable, as they say, in hot water. However, Fable had been in hot water before as the result of his role in the boiling over of several high-profile plots and was laughing it off when his chuckle was met with the chortle of PD and K, time-outted for closeting his coat. In other words, Myrtle bought a girdle and the goat was mighty pissed.

Fable got right to work, composing for the Double-P speeches not only on wine, but also on women and song as well. Double-P, who was infamous for disliking everyone, took a quick shine to Fable, finding his words “as tasty as a diphthong.” In fact, DP was so enamored of Fable he looked into Fable’s background, finding nothing but three Billy goats and a pot of porridge. DP was, suffice it to say, ecstatic since “back in California, we’d heard of goats.” It was, in other words, a match made under the covers. In the first few months alone, Fable wrote seventy-two speeches for Self-Hatred, although Self-Hatred used only two of them, the others, Self-Hatred had said, “no better than lemons in lemonade.” Although Fable was not sure what S-H meant, he did know S-H was fond of lemons and that was enough.

The two speeches S-H did use were the “Holy Gold” speech and the speech S-H made at the end of his first year in office, a speech best known for the phrase, “the mostly quiet.” In the speech, S-H to the Loathing made the argument for “the country’s continued presence in the place I cannot remember. Although,” S-H continued, “it’s somewhere over there and there is right where I want where to be.” Contending he was making the hard choice every PP needed to make, he claimed the country’s “seemingly unending” involvement in the “minor skirmish” begun by his predecessors was “necessary for its end.” Acknowledging, he said, “the fundamental right of the wrong to be wrong,” P² reasserted his authority “concerning matters above the country’s pay grade.” Somehow managing a tone between gently mocking and candidly superior, Self-Hatred articulated a plan specific to his own opinion and no one else’s. Specifically, the speech convinced an entire nation that the man they elected was speaking. Surprised, one insignificant woman said soon after the speech was over, “when he moved his mouth, sound came out. It was,” she continued. Several other horses agreed, stomping their hooves three times in agreement.

What was most interesting about the speech was how Fable was able to appeal to the fear of what he called the average voter, in contrast to the above and far-above-average voter, two groups that Fable had been sure did not exist. However, on a bet, Fable wrote a speech that he felt would appeal to the baseness in each group, located somehow near their bottoms. Unconsciously, Fable constructed a ridiculously obvious plea to the obviously ridiculous. In other words, he took Humphrey from what was McGovern about the McCarthy or, in other words, he Jacked the Dick with Checkers and Khrushchev. Specifically, he wove a nylon tapestry of vague claims and even vaguer justifications about the “skirmish in the south,” a thoroughly obnoxious phrase used by PP aides to refer to that “thing which,” according to PP’s Staff Infection, “should not be named.”

The “skirmish in the south,” or the “battle for battle,” was a war that had begun almost eight years before Tubby St. Hate, as his detractors called him, took office as PP, although PP had made no indication, much to his wife’s chagrin, that he was ready to pull out. PP, despite reports to the contrary, actually raised conflict levels to eleven. PP’s justification for the raising of levels was, in his mind, not only an act of principal, but also an act of necessity. It was, he said, “a matter of stemming the tide, ceasing the plain, and stumping the cavalcade.” Although no one knew what exactly he meant, it was most likely that PP felt the “communist aggressors of the northern front wouldn’t stop at the southern tip, moving mercilessly until they reached the western most eastern end of the middle.” That they did understand, although it was not entirely clear.

Fable did not have an opinion on the “clash in the hash.” He was, he told his then-wife, Ally Gory, “not interested in politics.” When asked by Gory how he could work for PP, he said, simply, “There were no jobs left at the cannery.” That is what Fable felt the “Asian altercation” was -- a matter of politics. “There’s nothing I can do about it,” he told Gory, although Gory, who had been a supporter of Self-Hatred’s rival, Incommensurable Hope, said there was a credibility gap between being indifferent and working for the “other side.” The “other side,” Fable replied, “is how we pay our way, afford the gourd, and frequent the piquant.” Confused, Gory put down what she was reading and got an aspirin from above the sink.

The reason Fable did not have interest in the “rumble in the ramble” was because Fable was in no danger of being drafted. In other words, he figured war was inevitable and no matter who said what to whom, where, or wherefore, it would make no difference. Even though he understood the power of the paperboard sign, it was never something he was going to pick up and especially as an employee of the federal government. It was a government, after all, that despite its tendency to embroil its citizens in domestic conflicts, conflicting domestics, and conflicts both foreign and domestic still had one foot in the sand. Politics, for Fable, was about the desire to be a politician and living with those politicians was a matter of luck. It was about who you knew, how much they made, and if they would give you any. In Fable’s case, he knew someone who made a lot and who was willing to give a little of it to Fable for not doing too much. What else, he would ask his wife, is there? What there was, and Fable knew this, was responsibility. Specifically, there was the responsibility a citizen of a free and democratic country had to his fellow citizens, a responsibility, Fable thought, that would make for a great speech. Unfortunately, Fable was never able to write that speech since his boss resigned the presidency due to a scandalous scandal a short five years later, years that passed, according to Fable, sluggishly slow despite their speed.

Oddly enough, soon after the fall of Self-Hatred due to events, although out of his control, he had managed to initiate, Fable disappeared. Although most said Fable had run away in shame for his role in the scandal, it is more likely Fable walked away in embarrassment over his role in the going-on. Suffice it to say, no one had seen or spoken to Fable, expect for Fable’s wife, parents, friends, and acquaintances until Fable reappeared weeks later during the resurrected construction of the Generation Gap in western Missouri, a project, that fueled by federal dollars, had been responsible for the severing of purple into blue and red. Where Fable disappeared to, no one can say, although Fable said he was in Hawaii and has pictures to prove it. Unfortunately, the fallout from the scandal clouded Fable’s reputation, radiating what had been a relatively marketable skill and making it a cancerous lesion in the shape of California on Fable’s ground zero. Suffice it to say, Fable never recovered, moving first to tales, then to short stories and poems, before settling, finally, on erotica. Although Fable’s final piece in Skin Tight, “A Night with Day,” won the American Butter Teat for Excellence in Mammary Glands, his work, for the most part, found itself endlessly revised by none other than Fable himself, an almost exact copy of the person he was when he first started writing.

In many ways, Fable had nothing to do with the drastic change in public speaking that occurred after the removal of Self-Hatred from office despite his primary role in it. Although Fable denied having contributed anything to the notorious break-in, police found him hours later with a ladder, a rope, and rubber gloves although even the burglars the police arrested insisted they knew nothing about it. It did not matter because the damage was irreparable; Fable’s name would go down in contemporary history from 1972-1974 as Serious Fable, misspelled for a minor eternity.



DAVID LASKOWSKI lives in Madison, WI and teaches at Edgewood College.

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