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The Essay
Show #121
Blood, Water, and Neil
David Gunn
A biochemist at a famous midwestern university, having at last sucked dry his research grant to study the interrelationship of human bodily fluids, summed up his years of investigation and business luncheons with the pithy pronouncement: "Blood and water don't mix, but they make an interesting cocktail." The formal paper which accompanied his findings didn't have much to add except for a detailed log of his mileage to and from various restaurants. However, the institute which funded the study had anticipated a report of more substance -- one with a double-spaced dissertation rich enough in graphs, footnotes, bar charts, and appendices to impress the most dubious shareholder -- and its trustees advised the scientist to expand on his deductions or risk immediate foreclosure on his summer home in Nepal. Suddenly inspired, the scientist repaired to one of his favorite watering holes to discuss the situation with the bartender, but not before stopping at the local grocery to procure several items critical for the discussion. It was early morning, and the establishment was vacant, save for thousands of proton-fused molecues crashing into one another at quasi-light speed, once again refuting the common pluperfect law of Algonquin Hole Theory by a power of two. The bartender was named Neil, which he often had to do because, at 7' 7" tall, he towered over and tangibly intimidated his patrons. Neil protested that he was really a warm and fuzzy guy who once bonded with Flipper and who regularly donated blood to charitable organizations, though after prodding he would admit that he still wore the bone through his nose to commemorate his past life as a cannibal. But mostly, Neil knelt, in order to provide his customers with wistful eye contact. He did so now as the scientist sat down at the bar, opened the grocery bag, and withdrew a flagon of spring water and the entire hindquarters of a freshly butchered cow. As the offal oozed into the run-off grooves of the formica countertop, the scientist explained his idea to the dubious drinkologist. By targeting a high profit blood and water apéritif to the clientele which frequented his establishment on Saturday mornings -- an amalgam of subhuman grotesqueries that made circus freak show inhabitants look like Wall Street stockbrokers in comparison -- he would be able to realize handsome profits during this normally slow period of the day. Still skeptical, Neil agreed to beta-test the beverage. The following Saturday, as PBS commenced its Heckle and Jeckle cartoon marathon, a dozen ghoulish patrons clad in shades of black and reeking of mass graves skulked into the bar, noticed the new cocktail on the menu, and ordered it en masse. And then, they ordered it again. And again. Encouraged by the drink's low alcoholic and high protein content, they continued to imbibe well into pre-football game programming, at which time a different, more plaid clientele discovered the beverage. For reasons unknown to mass marketers, they, too, liked it. The popularity of the drink forced Neil to change the focus of his business. He became adept at spotting and scraping up fresh road kill. Sometimes, he'd try to run over road-bound animals himself. Once he drove over a median strip, weaving between on-coming traffic, to nail a squirrel. For his wealthier customers, he had carrion flown in from the African savannah. If game were scarce, he always kept in the back of his mind pedestrians as an option.

Neil no longer reveals the sources of his ingredients, but that doesn't matter to the patrons of Le flambeau oriange, much as we hope the ingredients of this, the 121st episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, need not be divulged to you, our end users, lest they detract from the musically imponderable magic of the whole, a hole whose center exists at the same time in a parallel universe where the only voice, alarmingly enough, is that of Kalvos.

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