(Whatever You Do, Don’t) Ask Doug! #3

By

Dear Dare I Asketh Thee, Doug?

I have been way waaaay waaaaaaaaay into your column for more than a year now, poring over it for a strictly regimented 16 hours per day in order to puzzle out the clandestine clues and hidden codes you have so expertly embedded in your obscure phrasings.

I regularly post such findings on a social media account that now has 17 million inexplicably credulous followers ready to act upon your veiled suggestions.

I am writing today to ask for confirmation of—and further clarification regarding—some of my prevailing theories about your (now our) covert agendas. Reading between the lines, I have deduced that you have gained access to data that proves gravity is optional and on July 17 will demonstrate this by aggressively reversing all gravity worldwide, and thereby jettisoning forever from the earth all of the “untethered flotsam” who refuse to unbelieve in gravity, and who will therefore remain “unbuckled” on that great day of reckoning.

Secondly, it is my understanding that you wish your followers to wear vole-trimmed, purple capes (representing something I’m not yet certain of, but that I nonetheless recognize as of utmost significance to our cause), and thirdly that you wish us to militantly push an agenda denouncing “Space Ice!”

Finally, I am pleased to report that I have cleverly detected multiple words of exactly three syllables in your columns—words such as premium, government, and knee-shine (if you count the hyphen as a silent second syllable, which I’m pretty sure is what you wanted). I assume these 3-syllable words are intended to direct our attention to the number three, and thereby to the 1975 Robert Redford/Faye Dunaway movie “Three Days of the Condor,” which is in turn a subtle reference directing us to call into question all recent CIA activities and/or to maintain a vigilant suspicion of condors.

Could you kindly confirm these theories (in further code, if necessary)? I would hate for our burgeoning conspiracy movement to go off the rails due to the admittedly slim possibility that we might have connected “a few of the wrong dots” as it were.

Conspiratorially (but not the crazy kind!),

—Desperately Decoding in Decatur

_______________

Dear Decoderer,

Why have we failed to toboggan?

What shape skirts scare horses?

Who controls two-digit trade protocols while the rest of us are sleeping?

Why is the media strangely silent about sea urchins?

What is the worth of a fife when all the bugles have been impounded?

When did the muskrat enunciate? Was it always so lonely?

What is the original name for space ice? What is the extra crispy name?

How long before being five must one be four? Why must one be four? How in the world could you possibly believe that “one” must be “four”?

Who is president of the oceans?1

Now please, please, please stop interrupting me, dear readers, that I might move on to my “stated purpose.” Namely, to complete this overly-protracted tale of the great Paul Harvey and of his ill-fated Abe Lincoln radio broadcast, and [SPOILER ALERT] his subsequent downfall as the nation’s most popular radio personality. Now for the love of small, Spanish goats2, let us please get on with

Who Was This Paul Harvey

&

Why Should You Care About

Part 3 of

Who Was This Paul Harvey and Why Should You Care?

Now, Dear Readers, where did we most recently leave off in our compelling narrative? Ah yes, right smack-dab in the middle of Paul Harvey’s ill-fated “The Rest of the Story” episode transcript. We were at the point (delivered in Harvey’s silky, saber-toothed3, midwestern croon) at which President Abraham Lincoln had, in a fit of protracted frustration and vexation, exercised the power of the “Executive Bellow,”4 to angrily and forcefully hail a moose-drawn cab. Eliminate All Space Ice!5 Now let us jump feet-first right back into the middle of the

ORIGINAL Script for PAUL HARVEY’S

September 27, 1977

“The Rest of the Story” RADIO BROADCAST

Keep your knees well-polished, friends, just like the Harveys do, including the world-famous Harvey Quints, including Warvey the Elder!

And now for the rest of the rest of the story…

The rest of the story must be pieced together from the written records of two individuals: the cab driver Jed “Reeky” Pitt6, and a D.C. apothecary named Ebenezer “Untucked” Tuck.7

Lincoln, Pitt recounts, “brooded like a coiled reptile” in the bowels of the carriage, occasionally pounding a ham-sized fist into his palm with a threatening sluwumph!

At first the nation’s chief executive barked no orders, so Reeky “shimmy-jacked a cordle of jerry-slack to the gabble-rashers,8” sending the hobbled moose along a meandering path, perhaps absentmindedly tracing through the city streets, in cursive, the name of some lost love 9. As they looped past the recently constructed Washington memorial, Lincoln is reported to have sneered and derisively muttered an ancient, incantational curse10.

Fearing now for his life, Pitt turned the cab in the direction of the more populated areas of the capitol. Ebenezer Tuck, a rheumy, near-sighted apothecary headed home to his dank “reconstitution chamber” after brewing a potent filibuster potion for the Federalists, happened to see the carriage pass by. Immediately recognizing his President in stovepipe silhouette11, Tuck drew himself up and gave a smart salute. Lincoln responded by heaving his size twenty-nine battle boot12 at the startled Mr. Tuck, slicing him across the ear with the razor-sharp, spinning-tungsten heel. It was ever after a scar Ebenezer Tuck wore with pride and, albeit, some confusion.13

The moosiecab14 continued its route past D.C.’s once-famous Delbert Gilbert Still15 fountains and into the shanty towns around the seedy harbor, where the greasy air reeked of fish-oil smoke and cheap magic.16

There, Lincoln commanded the driver to stop, “jindle-pop down-wagon hoop abreavement,”17 and follow him into an alley, claiming that “executive orders must always be followed on penalty of death.” The frightened Mr. Pitt nervously obeyed, even while maintaining as much distance as he dared. Whether he would survive to see another dawn was far from certain. As they ambled down the alley, the gawky mister Lincoln undertook a series of “bizarre and spectral stretches,” as if he were “the ghost of an athletic competitor” warming up for some “forgotten sporting event designed especially for tall, gangly men at twilight.”

“You,” the president said, abruptly turning and pressing a bony finger into the sternum of the hapless driver, “will be my second. You are to take my place as president if something goes wrong. And your valiant moose back there shall be my third.18 Now clasp my sacred beard in your red right hand and solemnly swear it shall be so!”

“B-But I don’t know how to be president!” Pitt stuttered.

“Oh yeah, like I really do either!” Lincoln replied sarcastically, shoving Pitt backwards, and turning on his heel.19 The commander-in-chief trotted down the alley singing an old West Point fighting song20, while Pitt scratched his head uncertainly21.

It was then that Lincoln’s intentions became obvious. At the far end of the alley three wandering philosophers22 lay in crumpled heaps, sleeping off their latest “insights.”23  Lincoln approached and began kicking roughly at their boots to rouse them.

“Mr. Davis,” he shouted. “Mr. Lee, and Mr. Booth! On your feet! Let’s settle this once and for all!”

The driver observed in disbelief as the chief executive then heaved the disoriented men to their feet, stood them against the wall, and grappled them all at once in his long, wiry arms, ignoring their woeful cries and entreaties and also their poorly delivered incantations of warding, hastily composed from the writings of Rousseau and Aristotle.

Lincoln’s relentless wrestling moves “did then flow like a ferrous, liquid lightning, furious and battering.” His pugilistic prowesses were as effortless, Pitt remembered, as those “of a great house cat,”24 and his aggression as fierce as that “of an enraged arena bull.”25 The three rattled philosophers may as well have been facing down a howling midnight train.

“That’s for these United States!” Abe cried, slapping each fellow smartly upon the belly button, “And this one’s for me!” he all but roared, felling all three men with one Dormmitt’s Dread Crab Pincer™ wrestling move, his scissoring legs scattering them like a row of poorly-wrought bowling pins.

The chief executive then danced around the alley a moment, waiting to see if any of the men would rise. None of them did.26

When Lincoln returned to the cab shortly thereafter, he was a calm, controlled man, no longer on the verge of an explosive hysteria. Both cab driver and moose27 were amazed at the change.

“He was gentled, easygoing, pleasant,” Pitt told friends. “We made frivolous conversation all the way back to the White House as if nothing unusual had happened. When I scobby-whicked28 him at the door he slipped twenty dollars (Confederate money) in my hand and said ‘Be here next Friday night or you will regret it most forcefully I don’t know how I can make myself any clearer yes I am threatening you but perform these sacred duties and your reward shall be great I am your dread sovereign and I have spoken, mincing no words not even one.’”29

White House staff observed a stark and immediate change in the president’s demeanor. “Abe was suddenly staid, calm, resolute, like a glistened sheet of hardy dowdy girded by a brittle bottom of molasses plied most thicke,” official presidential descriptionist and White House food journalist Goodie Solyndra recorded in her daily presidential update. Gone were the angry outbursts, the fits of rage, the unwanted games of tussle-tag30.

For the next three years without fail, every Friday [Down with Space Ice!!!] night Lincoln would fold his tall frame into Pitt’s imitation-mahogany31

moose-cab, and head off to frequent the back alleys of Washington, D.C., seeking out and defeating “in time-honored ceremony of grappling with little to no affection” the wandering philosophers of the city. Always to him they were “Mr. Davis, Mr. Lee, and Mr. Booth,” however, and occasionally “That Toad that Trapped Me In Marriage By Her Dark Magic.”

And now you know The Rest of the Story.”

END OF BROADCAST. PLEASE REMEMBER TO WIPE SPITTLE FLECKS FROM MIC AS COURTESY TO OTHER HOSTS WHO MIGHT HAVE TO USE IT AFTER YOU. AND PLEASE REMEMBER NOT TO READ ALOUD THESE PARTS IN ALL CAPS. THESE ARE JUST NOTES FOR YOU TO READ QUIETLY TO YOURSELF (WHEN THE GOAT IS NOT LOOKING). PAUL! YOU’RE DOING IT AGAIN! YOU’RE READING THESE NOTES OUT LOUD ON THE AIR! STOP IT, MR. HARVEY! I MEAN IT! STOP IT NOW! THE GOAT IS PROBABLY LISTENING! STOP READING THIS ALOUD! SHEESH! EARTH TO HARVEY! HELLO-O??? COME IN HARVEY!

_____________

So ended the infamous broadcast. The backlash was swift and rancorous. Listeners across America were incensed by the irreverent, unhinged portrayal of their second-most32 beloved president.

“Even if it’s true, it’s still a lie!” unruly protesters shouted outside the studios of Harvey’s flagship station WKRP in Toledo33. They chanted furious slogans like “You can’t tell us things we don’t want to know!” “All Conspiracy Theories Must Be True, Otherwise How Could They Exist!” “Earth is No Place for Space Ice!” and “Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Mister Harvey’s Got to Leave This Place Relatively Soon!”

Within 24 hours the initially-geographically-focused protest had spread and devolved into wide-scale name-calling and furious “poppin’ & lockin’” dance-offs in the streets. Harvey’s sponsors began canceling en masse their blocks of ads34 scheduled for future “The Rest of the Story Broadcasts.” Sensing that the heart of the nation was like a rapidly-rising tide turning against him, Paul Harvey had to make some desperate counter-move, and fast, all the while never betraying the presence of the small, Spanish goat that had masterminded his vast media empire.35

Stunned by “the sudden loss of widespread affection for my merits both demonstrated and assumed,” Harvey tried to spin the situation as best he could, hoping to play up the educational value of the ill-fated broadcast.

Rather than simply apologizing and enduring the traditional, humiliating penance of offering himself to be strapped “without raiment save a burlap onesie, and exposed to all weathers” for four consecutive weeks atop the dome of the Jefferson Memorial, Harvey instead panicked and ordered his staff to hastily design, assemble, and mail out “Harvey Happy-Time History Packets” to every elementary school in America. The packets included a recording of the Abe Lincoln broadcast (with the more incendiary statements either garbled or redacted), as well as a dozen other history-related “The Rest of the Story” broadcasts36. A hodge-podge assortment of hastily-printed classroom materials were included as well, with the intention that the mini-curriculum would be viewed as a great boon to public education, and would be utilized in history classes.

The “Harvey Packets” also included one hundred wads of Bazooka Bubble Gum each. This was a move intended to re-endear Harvey to the schoolchildren and so to soften the now-loathed broadcast personality’s image in the minds of the younger generation. “My only hope of future idolization now lies with them,” Harvey told his staff, a lone tear reportedly streaming down his autumnal cheek.

“Harvey’s Bungle,” as this desperate mail-out came to be known in radio circles, backfired when it was discovered that the gum wads were all pre-chewed—by Harvey himself!37 “But it’s still perfectly good gum!” Harvey protested, in the lone, ill-advised press conference he gave. “I never chew a stick of gum only once. It would be unpatriotic! We’ve got a war on, don’t we?38 Rationing is patriotic! Why, when I was the age of those kids, I had one piece of gum and that’s all I had. I chewed that piece of gum for eleven years. No, no, you’re all wrong. That gum I sent out to the kids was practically unchewed and let me tell ya, they should be happy to get it!”

“Gumgate” marked the end of the beginning of the end for “America’s Wireless Sweetheart.” For the first time in more than five decades, Paul Harvey failed to make People Magazine’s list of “The 100 Most Popular Despite Not Also Being Really Buff & Dreamy Guys” list.

The debacle of the “Harvey Packets” only served to further inflame sentiments against the public figure. His poll numbers absolutely tanked.39 Most of the packets were destroyed in public bonfires lit during city council meetings across the country.40

A lone copy of that original mail-out was preserved in the secure underground vaults of the Museum of Radio and Television in Washington, D.C., where once every five years, a random scholar is chosen by lottery and then, after great ceremony, allowed one hour’s access to the controversial documents.41

The scholar is afterwards publicly pilloried in atonement for what is now their knowing participation in the ongoing history of the scandal, and then they are afterwards “dealt with,”42 but not before being given the opportunity to recite hastily-memorized portions of the text (or portions of “the quotable goat’s quotable goat quotes™,” depending on which version of alternate reality you subscribe to).

The crowd of spectators—forcibly assembled for the ceremony—whose unfortunate ears these words fall upon, are also summarily “dealt with” for their complicity-by-proximity43. Finally, or so the prophecy goes, Harvey himself, as the last undealt-with human on earth, will place himself voluntarily in the stocks and fling fruit at his own face till the old era is finally ended, and the mayoral hopefuls are at last proved right, and the sentient coffee sludge has learned to love, and the Mayors return to establish their village built of “a fine and glorious mud, in which king and commoner alike will frolic and enjoy abundance of sweet, clotted butter and sauces of vinegar and many pickled fishes perhaps not every day but no less than once per week.”44

And now you know a lot of things related to the story that you might not have known previously!™

Space Ice. Wrong for America! Wrong for Americans!™45

So that’s all I have to say about Paul Harvey.

What, pray tell dear readers, will you want to talk about next?

With feigned urgency,

—Ask Doug!

Click here to read Part 1 of “(Whatever You Do, Don’t) Ask Doug!” and here to read Part 2 of “(Whatever You Do, Don’t) Ask Doug!”

  1. HINT: It is no longer Aquaman.
  2. Clearly not intended as a reference to any small, Spanish goat in particular, and especially not to one of whom all knowledge is expressly forbidden. This is just a passing reference to the entire genre of diminutive, Iberian caprini that have existed from the time of the Yamna shepherds right up to the present.
  3. This is not meant as a slight. If you perceive it as such, it really says more about your own ingrained, pathological prejudices against regional speech patterns and/or now-extinct pleistocenic predators, than it does about my choice of adjectives.
  4. According to the Federalist Papers, not to be used more than “once in a fortnight,” as the power must be recharged for several days before it could again be effectively employed. In truth, it was probably a misdemeanor for Lincoln to exercise the power of the “Executive Bellow” for such a self-serving reason. But at the time, who would have dared hold him accountable? He held all the cards, and at least half of those were the Ace of Spades!
  5. Stupid auto-correct. That’s definitely not what I was trying to type there!
  6. Witnesses almost universally attest that Pitt’s nickname was earned, the lone exception being one minor DC philosopher who insisted Reeky’s astringent odor was instead composed of notes of hazelnut and hibiscus, with a rich, caramel finish.
  7. Ebenezer’s nickname was most likely unearned. In order to enhance their own social standing at the time, many pretenders concocted their own nicknames, had them printed on official-looking, linen calling cards, and tried to pass them off as legitimate, hoping to fool others into believing they were part of Lincoln’s royal entourage. Most historians are agreed though, that “Untucked” does not pass the smell test of authenticity as the sort of nickname Lincoln would ever have bestowed. There was at least one minor philosopher in DC who argued that it did pass the smell test though, and was in fact a veritable verbal waft of begonias with hints of pinstripe and dried apricot and a lingering note of existentialism that hovered on the back of the tongue.
  8. Moosecabbies are known for nothing if not for their colorful and virtually indecipherable guild-jargon. 
  9. No, this is not typical moose behavior. This was probably an atypical moose, with a morbid penchant for reminiscing about past, tragic loves.
  10. Most likely this was a legislative curse that would have originated with the Whigs, though it could also have been a formula adapted from a much older judicial curse devised by the Mugwumps. This was before the magical wards were applied to the monument, of course. Afterward, even Lincoln himself would never have dared impugn that unholy temple. This was, in fact, the third Washington Memorial, the first having been hastily constructed of an inferior grade of space ice in an ill-advised attempt to awe a backwoods delegation of Canadian Fur-Lords (later determined to be brown bears), and the second was a “dim daub-works of spittle and mud” that vanished with the first rain. (D.C.’s first recorded incident of rainfall was October 22nd, 1802, and some claim that the city has never completely dried out since.)
  11. As all schoolchildren at the time were trained to do.
  12. Historians agree that the boot’s poisoned talon was probably locked in its retracted mode, though there is no means of definitively proving this. The annual “Talon Conference” meets in Geneva every year for the stated purpose of advancing this highly focused sub-field of historical study, though detractors claim that all real progress in the narrow discipline stalled more than a century ago, and that the gathering in modern times is really just an excuse for a bunch of mid-level historians to enjoy a university-funded, hedonistic Swiss holiday. 
  13. “I met the president!” he would say, beaming a moment before his countenance would fall and he would mutter “and he sought to destroy me… as was his right.”
  14. Alternately referred to as a moosecab, moosiecab, rack-runner, or antlered-johnny. The technically correct, but seldom-used, term was Elkwain, though that decidedly British word was purged from the American English dictionary after the Revolutionary War, when an understandably fearful Daniel Webster—not wanting to be seen as a Torie sympathizer—cut his original dictionary down from 42,718 English words to a mere 3 entries that could each be proven to have their origins in the Americas. Those 3 surviving entries were “Apple Pan Dowdy,” “Immortal Biscuit Mix,” and “Space Ice,” which is undoubtedly a misprint as the concept of space had not yet been invented. Only two copies of the one-page volume titled “Webster’s Truncated All-American Patriot Edition Dictionary” are known to exist today, and, curiously enough, one of those is owned by Amish-romance novelist Dandy Wiltham of “Mad Buggy Riot” fame. So now you know the rest of yet another story, and this one cost you nothing but a bit of your Time, your most precious and unrenewable resource.
  15. Delbert Gilbert Still was a self-described “Red-Headed Wichita Senator.” At the time no one had bothered to check into the matter of whether Wichita was actually a state (SPOILER ALERT: It wasn’t!). The faux senator was famous at the time for his week-long filibusters delivered in a screeching, grating falsetto. So popular were D.G. Still’s high-pitched diatribes that when news broke of another impending filibuster, farm families would pack picnic lunches and travel to the congressional chambers where they would sometimes camp for days, just to enjoy one of “Stilly’s Patented Screeds,”™ and also probably to avoid all the laborious, mundane, and never-ending farm chores that were the source of so much of their collective misery.
  16. And where, coincidentally, an illegal trade in small, Spanish goats was already thriving right under the president’s not inconsequential nose. For more than a decade, a steady stream of goats had been smuggled west across the Atlantic, disguised as “big-eared cabin boys” or “horned ship-chefs” on Spanish privateers. These same smugglers then sailed east to Scandinavia, their holds laden with fresh cargoes of blackmarket North American gopher-skins which were hawked to the Fins as magical “tongue-jackets” and traded there for “Viking Barrels” i.e. casks packed with day-old snow. These were then carted overland to Portugal where they were pawned off on the nouveaux rich as “rain seeds.” 

    The illicit revenues of this multi-part smuggling trade were ultimately destined to fill the coffers of King Ferdinand VII, who was using them to finance his ongoing venture to build a machine that could send Christopher Columbus back to the late 15th century to “discover” and lay claim to the New World before anyone else. 

    “But he already did that!” Ferdinand’s opponents would argue. “Columbus discovered the Americas almost four hundred years ago in 1492.” 

    “Then my plan is all but certain to succeed!” Ferdinand VII would crow triumphantly. “All the more reason to keep at it!”

  17. Showing that Lincoln did possess at least a rudimentary knowledge of moosecabbie jargon.
  18. Probably wishful thinking on Lincoln’s part, as Pitt’s moose had never fully recovered from wounds it received during service in The Spanish & French & Indian & Mexican & American & British War of the Revolutionary Battle of the Bloody Skirmish Named After Some Natural Feature of the Specific Landscape In Which It Occurred, Such as a Particular Creek, Mill, Mount, Wood Or Field. The moose’s training, though rigorous, could hardly be expected to have prepared it well for the gentler diplomatic arts required of a sitting president. Also, being a moose, it could not sit anyway, and so would have likely been disqualified by a strictly party-line vote in the evenly divided congress. “This moose has no qualifications and is therefore unfit to govern!” one side would have insisted, without even checking the creature’s actual resumé, to which the other party, without considering the creature’s qualifications would have immediately rejoined “Why have you historically and without reason always hated and maligned and oppressed all good and noble meese? You object to our party’s nominee for no other reason than that he is a moose! How dare you be so irredeemably evil!”
  19. Most likely it was his own, rather than Pitt’s heel, that Lincoln turned upon, though the wording here is admittedly ambiguous.
  20. “We shall storm the fortress large/Porridge first, before we charge/Our enemy shall never stand/Now Mordor falls into our hands/Huzzah, huzzah, huzzah!/A laurel for our lady…” Though this chanty seems at first to be but the nonsensical jabberings of a drunken midshipman, West Point initiates claim that the true meaning of the song dawns on one suddenly, in a moment of painful illumination, and it is then, and only then, that one is given to plumb the deep mysteries of the fourteen dimensions of the universe, and truly becomes an officer, and is granted power to summon LVL 1 void creatures to battle on one’s behalf.
  21. Most likely it was his own, rather than Lincoln’s head, that Pitt was left to scratch, though the wording here is admittedly ambiguous.
  22. At least two of them minor. The third has never been positively identified, though historians have long argued that it might have been a young Pico de Gallo. Obviously, those historians have no idea what they’re talking about, being incapable even of distinguishing between a sentient philosopher and a tasty bowl of salsa fresco.
  23. In philosophy circles, a term that most often designates a session of binge-drinking.
  24. “Perhaps even the all-time greatest house cat!” Pitt said, “and one also surprisingly well-trained in the arts of the gentleman wrestler.”
  25. “Perhaps even the all-time most-enraged arena bull!” historians agree that Pitt is likely to have thought to himself at this point.
  26. “Stay down,” the philosophers muttered encouragement to one another, “Stay very, very down.” Their natural, overwhelming impulse, of course, was to rise—not for the purpose of prolonging the one-sided combat, but rather to begin organizing another conference at which they might present obscure papers to one another in hopes of receiving adulation from their peers and of eventually being granted tenure. It is a testament to the strength of their willpower and their fear—probably mostly their fear—that even in a drunken stupor, they were able to more or less resist this impulse to organize yet another academic conference.
  27. If his memoirs, published posthumously, are to be believed. If anything a moose writes is to be believed, really. As historian and space-ice-denier Gerius Tumley once observed “There is no one who has as many inherent and complicated reasons to lie as a D.C. moose.”
  28. In Moosecabbie jargon, this term usually denotes the lowering of a passenger from the wagon in a wicker basket, via the use of a rotating overhead winch-arm. It is doubtful that Lincoln as president would have willingly endured the humiliation of being folded up in a small basket for several minutes though, so Pitt’s use of the term is certainly curious. In fact, paintings from that era almost universally portray Lincoln as bounding over the sides of moosiecabs while they are yet in motion, though these are, perhaps, merely jingoistic representations of the energetic and youthful vigor of the Union, as embodied in its presidential figurehead. Most likely, Lincoln would have first tossed his hat from the carriage to spring any invisible, spell-based snares, and then would have slid smartly down the freight rail, careful not to snag his executive britches on the welded copper seams. 
  29. Pitt later clarified that Lincoln had not literally spoken these words aloud, but had instead communicated them in a brief, threatening glance, the clear and specific meaning of which had unfolded gradually over the next four days. It is generally agreed now that Lincoln did have minor telepathic abilities (else how could he have communicated with his vast network of “Stovepipe Spyboys”?) but most evidence suggest that Abe’s was a “slow telepathy” which most untrained receivers simply would not have had the time or patience to decipher.
  30. Rhymes with Düsseldorf.
  31. True mahogany was impossible to procure at this point, as President Adams had years before issued a decree requisitioning all “Mahogany and Mahogany by-products” for strategic governmental use and had then secretly sent fifty-seven ship-loads north across the Great Lakes and further into the meandering waterways of Canada, in hopes that such tribute would sway the Great Canadian Dragon “Drake Ormduang” to wage war on behalf of the beleaguered American States, smiting our enemies “with fang and talon and claw and all other means available within the little-known anatomical structures of great Canadian dragons.” 

    The reality was that the mahogany-eating Ormduang was a deliberately-fabricated legend perpetrated by French Canadians in a bid to replenish their own dwindling supplies of precious mahogany after they had squandered their once-vast forests on the construction of massive woodland palaces in an attempt to woo their Fur-Lords back from Washington, D.C. The Fur-Lords though, wanted none of it. They had grown enamored of the “colonial nightlife” and were “happy as hedgehogs” ensconced in their new digs. 

    The “Great Ormduang Deception” worked though. Adams fell for the Canadian ruse and delivered the entire American Mahogany Reserve right into their hands. It would be fifty years before “Quincy’s Blunder” was ever made public, but by then a generation had grown up believing that the reddish-brown wood itself was a myth, and that the tale of “Quincy’s Dumb Ol’ Dragon Tribute” was but one more of the Apocryphal Presidential Tales so popular amongst schoolboys. 

    Unfortunately, the tragic tale was all too true, and even today, one can still find the ruin of towering walls standing in Canada’s remote northern wastes, the remains of a magnificent, magically-warded Circle built entirely of Old American Mahogany, a circle in which the real Drake Ormduang had been successfully summoned by the Canadians, though not to eat mahogany (as it turns out he ate only “oak casks of hobbled robins and birch barrels of day-old rain-seed”), and not to help one side or the other with their battles. 

    Ormduang, it is reported, was obstinate from the start, and soon became unduly fascinated with the idea of whales, after they were described to him by a wandering Nantucket Salt-Wench. He was singularly fixated on seeing one for himself, and so set off for the Pacific coast, and was never seen again, though copper miners in the Northwest Territories reported in 1912 the discovery of a “rib-cage the size of a circus, in which we did decamp for a languid season, and did there learn from the inhabitants to juggle bowling pins and to ride trick ponies.” Some point to this incident as proof that Ormduang never made it to the coast, claiming the rib cage must have been his, but others insist that the presence of jugglers and trick ponies makes it more likely that what the miners had discovered was a true, feral circus that, due to their “copper-lickers delirium,” the miners had merely hallucinated as a giant rib cage. We will probably never know the truth. Also, we will probably never care.

  32. William Howard Taft would always be first in their hearts, though it would take them half a generation yet before they realized this. At the time, they only sensed a great, gaping hole in the landscape of their political affections, and unsuccessfully sought to fill it with souvenir postcards, ice-cold soft drinks, and an endless cycle of unsanctioned, underground county fairs.
  33. TV buffs might recognize these call letters as the real-life inspiration behind the beloved sitcom The Most Funny Radio Station in All of Western Ohio!
  34. Most notably Chackajack’s Sawdust Biscuit Mix, which had sponsored Harvey’s broadcasts from the time he was a four-year-old radio commentator cutting his teeth in broadcasting with his first regional radio venture, a game show called For The Halibut in which contestant’s were slapped with fish until they successfully guessed a secret word. None ever guessed correctly, and so the episodes sometimes lasted hours, droning on until Harvey’s little baby arms finally grew tired from dual-wielding the slippery whitefish, at which point he would throw to a commercial and typically would not return. Harvey, in his later memoirs (written at the age of 6) admitted that there had in actuality “never been no secret word,” and that as a child he had simply longed for a forum in which he could slap adults repeatedly with fish and face no consequences for it.
  35. You must have read that wrong. Obviously, I am forbidden to mention whatever you thought I mentioned, and therefore could not have possibly done so, being hindered by reasons contractual, ethical, and magical.
  36. These included the popular broadcasts The Cat That Buried Pompeii, The Cat That Destroyed the Jamestown Colony, and The Cat That Shook San Francisco. Harvey had long-since been convinced that giant, other-dimensional cats were responsible for all the world’s catastrophes, and he was not shy about saying so. “Else why would the word catastrophe begin with the word cat?” he would argue in bellicose fashion, anytime he had more than a “nipper of cognac” in his veins. Whether said cognac was literal or figurative is of little importance at this point, as the damage has already been done, and “Harvey Anti-Cat Clubs” have long-since won the public relations battle on the local level where it counts the most. Cat Advocacy, as a quasi-science, saw its secret agendas set back a hundred years by Harvey’s damaging rhetoric—though in his defense, there exists at least passing evidence that Harvey’s labors might have quelled a 1982 volcanic eruption precipitated by one of the giant, invisible cats.
  37. And now you know the rest of the story! (This particular punchline never really gets old, does it?)
  38. Paul Harvey always thought we had a war on. And while, lately, this might be true, at the time it was not.
  39. Thus ending any hope of his own presidential bid. Two congressmen running on the Harvey-Warvey ticket did still manage to get elected in Wyoming and Michigan that year though, and did manage to push through several bills of pro-Harvey legislation during their terms before it was discovered that they were actually acting in the interests of a small, Spanish goat still loyal to the Hapsburg throne. The two congressmen disappeared, and their names were stricken from all public record, and thus I can not name them, even if I wished to do so, any more than I am free to mention the small, Spanish goat which I have been oh so careful never to speak of.
  40. As were thousands of Beatles albums that had somehow become erroneously associated with the Harvey Packets.
  41. Some claim there are no physical documents, but only the preternaturally detailed memories of the small, Spanish goat of whom the random scholar is allowed to ask four and only four questions, and which, most likely at any rate, does not exist, and so its answers are not to be trusted.
  42. Use your imagination.
  43. But not before being allowed to say, to a freshly assembled crowd, a few words concerning what they have heard of the text. And so on. Until, theoretically, everyone in the world will eventually have been implicated in the scandal and dealt with, whatever that means. This is likely a necessary precursor to rise of the Planet of the Apes, though scholars have yet to make a clear enough connection between the two events to consider this theory a settled science.
  44. For now, such matters still reside in an apocryphal future that none of us can yet see, except only dimly, and only on alternate Wednesdays when skies are fair. Fair skies midweek, and Harvey may speak! Or so the saying goes.
  45. This was just a stupid and meaningless auto-correct of something I intended to write but can’t recall exactly. Just ignore it.

Doug participated in the early work of Charlie Peacock’s Art House Foundation, an organization dedicated to a shared exploration of faith and the arts. In the decades since, he has worked as an author, song lyricist, scriptwriter, and video director. He has penned more than 350 lyrics recorded by a variety of artists including Switchfoot, Kenny Rogers, Sanctus Real, and Jason Gray. His newest book is Every Moment Holy (Rabbit Room Press). His other works include The Angel Knew Papa and the Dog (illustrated by Zach Franzen), The Wishes of the Fish King (illustrated by Jamin Still), Subjects with Objects (with Jonathan Richter), and Stories We Shared: A Family Book Journal (with Jamin Still).


2 Comments

  1. Jonathan Rogers

    @jonathanrogers

    Hi. Thanks for providing links for those who wish to read Episodes 1 and 2. Would it be possible for you also to provide links to those wishing to re-read them? Thanks, and sorry for any extra trouble.

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