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The Essay
Show #250
David Gunn

The Sarstoon River that flows east from the Gulf of Honduras into the Maya Mountains and marks the southern boundary of Belize is home to numerous exotic types of man-eating fish -- the Swedish malignominnow, the leechguppy, the naughty kuolakamba, plus no fewer than six species of piranha -- and the Zontaru Indian collective who live on the northern bank of the river are among the fishes' favorite dishes. Conditioned by tradition to keep their wampum in FDIC-sanctioned savings institutions, the indians often make the dangerous wade through the roiling waters to get to the Sarstoon Sovereign Bank on the southern bank, where the rate is favorable. Unfortunately, there lurks in that neck of the river a species of loan shark that can smell transferable assets a kilomile away. The moment a collective member steps into the current, the sharks transmit a broadband interpiscine alert, and within minutes any indian caught unawares is liable to be reduced to fish fodder.

Twelve Mercator miles north of the river near the Guatemalan border, deep in a hardwood forest comprised mostly of coat and corn trees, lies the village of Mbanico -- or more accurately, the village of Mbanico lies, for it is curiously incapable of telling the truth. Until recently, the village had been completely cut off from the rest of the world. A deep, proto-sentient moat that surrounded the village was filled with anthrax-based humanocidic organisms that spat titanium acid at visitors, keeping them at bay for nigh on thirteen and a half millennia. Hence, the villagers who dwelt therein still lived as they had during the Stone Age, subsisting solely on sporadic airdrops from an alien spacecraft that circled the Earth every 13 hours, monitoring any unusual migratory nasal activity. But in 1988, famed junglephile Juan Trouserini happened upon the moat during an unusually long dry spell which had dehydrated the ghastly gutter, allowing him safe passage across. His discovery of the Mesolithic tribe led to a scholarly treatise that was for some reason printed only in Urdu. Further fame and fortune eluded him, however. At the behest of an anonymous sponsor, he attempted to teach the Mbanicoans the finer points of Whiskers six-draw, but confusion over the role of the card sharpener resulted in them tossing Juan into the moat, where he was summarily recontextualized as a corrosion-resistant hiking staff.

And, as long as we're bulking up this story with dubious geographical references -- though I would caution against any premature dismissal of seemingly immaterial information -- exactly six thousand miles and twelve feet to the east at this very same 16 degree north latitude on the outskirts of the village of Timboulaga in southern Niger stands a baobab tree. Around it prowls a mélange of panthers, hyenas and one belligerent antelope, who seem to be guarding it. Lashed to the topmost branch of the tree is a small, waterproof container in which reposes a very large, gently snoring nose. (See? Story line relevance!) Every 13 hours, the container is briefly scanned by a shaft of blue-black light that originates from a vacuum-tubed nosalometer bolted to the rear cargo deck of a sophisticated trans-universe licensed spacecraft that for the last 13,056 years has maintained a geocongruent orbit in the uppermost reaches of the ionosphere.

"Business or pleasure?" The customs official at Belmopan International Airport directed the query to the passenger in line ahead of Kinkajoul, who thought to himself, why was he here? Something entirely other than business or pleasure, surely. But how would a bureaucrat respond to "By order of a furrow (four) of sentient eyes?" Not willingly, he’d wager.

"Next. Next? Monsieur!"

Kinkajoul clambered uncertainly out of his reverie and approached the official.


Kinkajoul blanched. It was still in his travel trunk, which was still presumably in the baggage boot of Wingate's car. He hadn't thought to retrieve it before boarding the plane. He hadn't been able to think of anything besides boarding the plane. He did, however, have two pair of very persuasive eyeballs. "First, ah, I have these to declare," he said, uncovering the nasty little orbs.

"Wwwwwwww," remarked the peepers fulsomely, as they beat a hypnotic tattoo with their lids. The airport terminal official grew suddenly quiescent, as his own eyes were drawn incommodiously far out of their sockets towards the four in the box. Simultaneously, the nose in the baobab tree in southern Niger woke up for the first time in millennia and began to snuffle convulsively. The spacecraft overhead was commencing its routine scan at that moment, and the sudden organic activity caused the autopilot to overcompensate a course change, which in turn effected an out-of-control swift descent and crash landing near the rear of the Indiana Groves housing development in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Although its navigation system was wrecked, the craft survived the crash rather well. In fact, to the untrained eye, the vehicular exoskeleton looked not unlike one of those ubiquitous green dumpsters.

Kinkajoul, meanwhile, had slipped out of the airport, caught a bus to the coast, and hopped a tramp steamer that hoboed him south 120 miles to the Sarstoon Delta, all without an ounce of cash or any comprehension of the local lingo. The eyeballs did all the work -- so much so that he found an amply provisioned skiff waiting for him when he reached the mouth of the river, a mouth that gaped at him like a large, hungry kuolakamba. Nevertheless, he unhesitatingly climbed into the boat, engaged the clutch, and headed upriver. Twenty-five miles to the east, a 23-year old woman with a proclivity towards mineral-based music unwittingly awaited his arrival.

But you, dear audient, need wait no longer for this special gala 250th episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar and its attendant musical treats, not the least of which, or at least not the least-less-one of which, shall now be revealed by Kalvos.