“this rat scene is just too fucking heavy”: chandler brossard slightly revises the pied piper legend

THE PIED PIPER OF HAMEL

 

Who Sucks for Mammon Sucks Blood

 

 

HAMEL WAS A cute little Middle European village with nothing to hide. Quite the contrary. It blew its own horn so much that the surrounding mountains developed ear trouble. The reason for Hamel’s self-love, smugness, and absolutely unbearable fucking hubris was this: It was the possessor of the world’s only aspirin deposits. That is correct. If you wanted an aspirin tablet, you had to get it from Hamel (through your local pusher, of course), or get it not at all. To put it another way: Hamel’s joy was the world’s headache.

And you can be sure that the good people of Hamel were not about to let anybody forget this fact, not even each other.

"I hear that Prague is swept with migraine this month," said one saucy housewife to a passing burgher, grinning widely.

"Roll out the aspirin, we’ll make a barrel of dough!" sang the good fellow.

Or this from Preacher Fartblast to his Sunday congregation: "And the Lord sayeth, Let there be headaches."

Oceans of amens.

And you know what that creepy village had on its coat of arms?

Three white aspirin on a field of pain, that’s what.

Well, that zilchy little place was laughing up its sleeve morning, noon, and night until a particular evening in June (the 12th, to be exact). Without any warning, without any advance notice whatsoever, like a discreet Coming Events and Disasters paragraph in the underground press, without even an omen in anybody’s noodle soup, the village was flooded with thousands upon thousands of shiny black rats. And they weren’t on their way to Miami Beach or any other such grooving spot. Theystayed. They took the bloody place over.

And I mean they were everywhere. In every nook and granny and crevice and crotch. In attics and basements and drawers and wardrobes. The tip-top, lovable folks of Hamel couldn’t make a move without bumping into or falling over a black rat, or swarms of them. Por ejemplo: Judge Klaus von Quicklicker would dip into his marzipan jar and yoicks! a rat would leap out. Frau Erna Chopcock would open her cedar chest for her new spiked steel corset and whoosh! out leaped a dozen shiny squalling rats. Town Councillor Rolfe Kuntlove would open his latest porn mag and zoomph! rats spilled out instead of hot nookie. Like, ach! it was really murder.

All their silly-assed rat extermination attempts fizzled. Rat poison merely made them fatter, rat traps were tripped by the rats as a joke, and when one mind-blown storekeeper blasted at a rat one day with his shotgun, the pellets just bounced off the rat, who then grabbed the gun and whaled the living shit out of the storekeeper.

Not only that … the rats were organized six times better than the Medici. They took the best seats at the opera, the best tables in the restaurants, creamed 20 percent off the top of all gross receipts, and boorishly monopolized the sidewalks to such an extent that the townspeople found themselves walking in the gutters. Boy! Were the villagers of Hamel climbing the walls!

"This rat scene is just too fucking heavy," said Town Surveyor Snatchgrabber to his drinking companion, dodging a half-eaten onion roll hurled at him by a rowdy drunken rat at the next table.

"Something’s got to be done about it."

"What else is new?" replied Horst Lewdtongue, not batting an eye as a sausage end, lobbed from the unmentionable table nearby, caromed off his bulbous nose.

Just when the village was about to go underthings were so bad the villagers stopped screwing, because every time some couple was about to knock off a piece, there these pushy rats would be, making dirty cracks, giggling, and even taking pictures—a very far-out looking stranger suddenly appeared in the town square. On one hand, he resembled a Cracker Jack prize, and on the other, a midget mountain climber. He wore a beanie with a propeller on top. He was about three feet tall, give or take a couple of smirks. He was wearing a big button on which was written GOD EATS PUSSY.

"Understand you folks have a few unwanted house guests," he shouted in a high child’s voice, and then giggled wildly.

"You don’t have to rub it in, you little prick," Town Crier Twattickle shouted back from a bench there. "What’s on your mind?"

"I’m Piccolo Pete," he replied. "I’m to rats what James Joyce was to the contemporary novel."

There was a long silence as the villagers in the square tried to slice that one.

Finally, Mistress Lowbottom, the village hooker, said, "Spell it out, you little buzzard’s fart."

"OK," said Pete. "I’ll get rid of all the rats for you at a deuce a head."

A great gasp went up from the assembled loiterers. "A deuce a head?" they howled. "Mamma mia! That’ll wipe us out."

"Take it or leave it," said Pete. "It’s no skin off my ass if the rats do you in."

"OK, OK," said Town Negotiator Klaus von Slysuck. "It’s a deal." He gave his fellow citizens a real big wink. "And our word is as good as gold."

"Oh, wow!" they exclaimed.

"Yeah. Right on."

"Go, man, go."

Their chuckles of complicity were almost too much to hide, and a couple of the natives pissed their pants in the attempt.

"You’re on," said Pete.

That evening, when all the village adults were in the town hall watching some hardcore flicks from Amsterdam (the best seats, of course, were all taken by the uppity, boisterous rats, who were milking the situation for all it was worth), Piccolo Pete worked his magic. He stood in the town square and began to play his little silver piccolo. The tune was an oldie but a goodie. It was the marching song from the Children’s Crusade. Old it may have been, but its box-office appeal … jeepers! The rats began to pour out of everywhere—basements, attics, sewers, the theater, shoes, you name it—and their frenzied rush down the streets to the square was so noisy you’d have thought Cecil B. was reshooting Ben-Hur.

"No holdouts, I hope," said Pete, surveying the roiling rat masses.

"Oh no!" they chorused by the thousands. "Not when it comes to stirring suicidal music like this."

"Groovy," said Pete. "Andiamo."

And away they went, through the tricky, self-satisfied cobblestoned streets of Hamel. Piccolo Pete was playing at his best and the hordes of rats scurrying obediently behind him were humming their crazy hearts out. If you don’t think that was a sight to end all sights, then you’d better get your eyeballs fixed.

They finally reached Funk River.

"OK, you all," said Pete, pointing to the swirling, hungry waters. "This is it."

"Last one in is a blue-balled revisionist!" shouted the first rat, and leaped to his doom.

They all followed suit, while Pete continued to play that very catchy tune. The last rat left was a fat, silvery-grey old codger who had clearly been around. "We had a real good thing back there," he said, smiling philosophically.

"Yeah. Well, you can’t win ’em all," said Pete.

"I’ll drink to that," said the rat, and leaped into the river.

The next morning Pete showed up in front of tile town hall to collect his fee. The place was jammed with happy, grinning villagers. They were giggling and nudging one another. What a simply super joke they were in on! What a boffo coup they were shortly going to observe.

"Well," began Pete, "I took care of those rats for you. They’re all drowned." He held out his hand to the Town Negotiator. "You owe me two hundred and six thousand bucks."

"Our deal," said the Negotiator, grinning and winking at tile crowd, "was a deuce a head. Where are the heads, my freaky little friend?"

"You know fucking well that’s simply an expression," said Pete. "It doesn’t mean I’m supposed to show up here with one hundred and three thousand bloody rat heads. Those rats are drowned and you know it."

More wild laughter from the crowd.

"No heads, no dough," said the Negotiator.

The crowd of lumpen shits howled with lewd glee. "Attababy, Horst!"

Pete stared daggers at them. "OK, you double-crossing motherfuckers. But let me tellyou something. When I get through with you, you’re going to be laughing on the other side of your faces, if you have any faces left."

Somebody flung a coin after him. "Here’s a nickel for a pickle!"

Late that evening, while the adult villagers were all in the ancient Fuckatorium celebrating their sleazy fraud with a drunken sex orgy, Piccolo Pete returned to the village square. He began to play a very strange number on his piccolo, a number that could only be heard by the ears of the sleeping children of the village. As he played, all of the children left their beds and scrambled (noiselessly, on feather feet) out to Pete in the square. They crowded around him. They were not awake, but they weren’t asleep either. Their eyes were glistening and wide open; they were in an ecstatic trance. Pete stopped playing and began to speak to them in an odd language. As they listened their faces were suffused with an expression of beatific sensuality. Pete finished his message and began to play again, and the children raced soundlessly back to their homes. In a matter of seconds they came back out of the houses.

They were armed with guns, knives, pikes, hatchets, and hammers, and these glistened eerily in the moonlight. Pete paused in his playing to say one more sentence in the odd language. The white-nightgowned children sped through the dark moonlit streets toward the Fuckatorium. The drunken, sated, stupefied adults could offer no resistance to these avenging angels, and in a matter of blood-drenched minutes they were all slaughtered.

Piccolo Pete strolled on his way, and though he was not exactly what you would call throaty, his laughter reached all the way to heaven.

P.S. Hamel thus became the Original All Children’s Village. 


—from Chandler Brossard’s Dirty Books for Little Folks

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