Although he admitted it to none, Doc was afflicted. He was being afflicted with things he heard. Nobody else, it seemed, could hear these things.
It had started at home. He was about to say something to Molly when he heard a burst so loud he looked around startled. Molly had gone on eating her corn pops. Doc had hesitated and returned to reading the Daily Jibe.
It had happened later in a board meeting as Pastor Fel had been explaining the new outreach plan which somehow involved building a medical facility out of the rubble of WDOC. The sound had come out loud and clear, strumming and blaring and unmistakable. But nobody winked or reacted at all. Pastor Fel continued exuding, “Amazing . . . impact . . . so awesome . . . composite.”
At least, Doc thought to himself, Mariachi music makes board meetings more interesting. He had never enjoyed board meetings at which he did not speak. He was startled as he realized that Pastor Fel had been doing a lot of the talking recently, which was quite tedious. How had that come about? And how did it come about that he found Mariachi music interesting? He’d never been a great one for Mariachi music in the past. Nor was it considered solid. Why was he hearing Mariachi music blaring in his head anyway?
After the board meeting he wandered out and along to his office, not at all briskly, as was his custom, but slowly, ruminating, with his head strangely bowed and his gaze on the repugnant heliotrope carpet. Who . . . he began to ask himself, and then realized the carpet had been ordered by Molly—she ordered all the carpets.
Nodding, feeling old, helpless in the face of those who carpeted his kingdom, who talked endlessly to his board, he gripped the door knob. He opened the door and looked, as it were, at the very incarnation of insolence sitting behind his desk. And he saw it with indifference.
“You like doctrinal puffs?” Doc said to Dull Sodder, who was stuffing himself, as usual.
Dull Sodder eyed Doc with the glassy eye as he chewed and swallowed enough of what was in his mouth to be able, (a) to take a breath and (b) to talk around it.
“I like the plain ones, the cheese ones, the cheese and bacon ones, the cool ranch ones, the lemon twist ones . . . everything but the spicy ones. I like a variety of flavors, but I don’t like spicy.”
“I can’t stand Mexican food myself,” Doc observed. He shuddered; in the past he would have said he didn’t hold with Mexican food. What was happening? And why did the thought of a plate of enchiladas bring with it a surge of joy? The mariachi music swelled inside his head like a cloud of dust. He focused on the cactus by the window until it went away.
Where had the cactus come from?
The Lilrabbi was scarfing down enchiladas and tacos and getting rather plump.
“Little bunny’s getting fat again on enchiladas and tacos!” Unk exclaimed.
The lilrabbi eyed Unk with disfavor, for he saw the accordion emerging from its case. Wiping the plate clean, the lad sought solace out on the edge of the cliff, near the roar of the ocean.
Unk, convinced of his musical genius, was trying to play a Bach fugue with such success that were he to consider the matter dispassionately, he might have had to acknowledge it were better called The Great Chicken Calamity. And yet, it was under these circumstances he conceived the ingenious plan.