Wherein Amahl Smells a Gas Leak.
“It smells like a gas leak,” said Amahl, looking up from his backbreaking work.
“Wasn’t me,” said the donkey.
“Don’t look over here,” retorted the monkey.
The sheep and the pig didn’t even look up from whatever it was that they were doing.
“Amahl, you worthless aberration (literal translation: “periodic defect”), get your gimpy butt over here and scrape my bunions,” the old man shouted. The old man was always shouting at Amahl. “Scrape my bunions, clean my sphericals, shave my back.” There was no end to the unbearably disgusting grooming demands of the old man. Amahl prayed for the day when the payback for all his suffering might come. Being a crippled boy sucked bad enough without this abuse too.
“At least it’s winter,” said the donkey, trying to make Amahl feel better, “the old man’s disgusting skin growths don’t need draining in winter.”
“Thank goodness for small miracles,” said the monkey, while studiously examining some sort of sticky substance he had squeezed out of a cyst.
Arrival of the Night Visitors.
Amahl had just gone to fetch the bunion scraper when he heard the knock on the door. The old man slowly climbed out of his Sitz bath and went to the door (all the while gagging, but not life-threateningly choking, on a stringy piece of ham which was caught in his esophagus). The Night Visitors smiled upon the wet, naked old man with the stringy piece of ham dangling from down his throat and out of his mouth. It was obvious to anyone that the Night Visitors were rich. (Literal translation: “They shat golden nuggets.”) The old man retchingly extracted the string of ham from his gullet, quickly threw on a towel and invited the Night Visitors inside. Soon everyone but Amahl was drunk on the old man’s cheap-ass liquor. (Literal translation: “Southern Comfort.”) The Night Visitors told a wondrous story of how they had followed the path of a star, which had led them to this place. They told of a newborn Messiah they hoped to find. The old man thought the Night Visitors were total morons, and plied them with more cheap-ass liquor as part of a plot to steal their gold. Amahl went to sleep to the sound of one or more of the Night Visitors throwing up in the bathroom.
Wherein Amahl Makes Some Coffee.
Amahl woke early the next morning to the sound of digging. The old man was in the backyard, shoveling dirt onto three shallow graves. In the kitchen, the counters were piled high with golden nuggets. Amahl was more disgusted with the old man that ever before. He moved some of the gold out of the way so he could make some coffee and think about what he should do. After his second cup of coffee, Amahl came to a decision. He decided that he would have eggs and bacon for breakfast instead of his traditional cold gruel. What could the old man say? The house was full of gold now, and Amahl could always threaten to go to the authorities. Amahl was in such a good mood that he decided to limp out into the backyard on his crutches and whack the old man on the head with a particularly large gold nugget. Once outside, however, Amahl saw that the backyard was empty, except for the three fresh graves. Without thinking about it, Amahl threw the golden nugget onto one of the graves.
“Sorry the old man killed you,” he said, “He’s a real aberration” (same etymology as previous usage; see Ch. 1). Suddenly the Night Visitors, looking pale and hung-over in the daylight, stepped from around the side of the house. Amahl recoiled in shock and surprise.
“I thought the old man had killed you!” he cried out.
“Oh no,” said one of the Night Visitors.
“Then who is buried here?” Amahl asked, pointing to the fresh graves.
“Last night we ate the donkey, the sheep, and the pig,” said one of the Night Visitors. “We asked the old man to bury what was left of their carcasses, out of respect.”
“What about the monkey?”
“Who the fuck would eat a monkey?” exclaimed one of the Night Visitors. (Translation note: The word “fuck” is used here instead to fully convey the subtextual urgency of the exclamation.)
Departure of the Night Visitors.
As reward for his obvious concern about their well-being, the Night Visitors presented Amahl with several generous gifts before departing to resume their quest for the Messiah. These gifts included: 1) forceful apprehension, trial, and conviction of the old man for child abuse and extreme public grotesquerie, 2) twelve golden nuggets representing the twelve months of the year, and 3) a case of Vioxx, the arthritis medicine manufactured by Merck that was removed from the market due to safety concerns. Within two days of starting to take Vioxx, Amahl found that he was no longer cripple, and soon landed a high paying job at the local penitentiary, where he enjoyed taunting and torturing the incarcerated old man for years to come, until his (Amahl’s) sudden untimely death from coronary arrest.
The mention of Southern Comfort and the arthritis medicine Vioxx in this 12th century manuscript has led some scholars to question its authenticity. Other scholars, however, feel that this supports the long-held belief that the Night Visitors were either extraterrestrials or time-travelers. There is also a small group of influential academics who claim to have evidence that the Night Visitors were, in fact, the infamous scientific team of Sherman and Mr. Peabody, whose time-traveling expeditions have been depicted in the Peabody’s Improbable History series of historical documentaries. The proponents of the “Sherman and Peabody” theory have yet to produce their evidence or explain the obvious references to the presence of three, not two, Night Visitors.