Downtown Walla Walla was teeming; you couldn’t squeeze a rubber chicken between the people crammed shoulder to shoulder, hustling and bustling up and down the sidewalks. Amidst a symphony of beeps and honks, cars darted around busses and trucks that thrummed at high speeds through the city streets. On the corner of Premise Road and Conclusion Avenue, two men bumped into each other and shook hands with delight.
“Ray, you son of a motherless whore!” Buford Picklefeather said, “How in heck are ya!” Behind Buford’s oversized polka dot bow tie, his Adam’s apple bobbled up and down. His wide buck teeth hung out of a wider grin.
“Couldn’t be better, Buford, you mincing fairy, you!” Raymond Luxury-Yacht said. His enormous nose supported thick, black spectacles with lenses thicker than storm windows. His 56-waist trousers drooped about his knees, held up only by a pair of purple and green-striped suspenders. The Walla Walla crowds brushed past them in an endless torrent.
“How have you been there, Buford?” Raymond said.
“Well, I gotta tell ya, Ray, not too swell. I saw my psychiatrist today, and I says to him, I says, ‘Doc, ya gotta help me! I’m a tee-pee, I’m a wig-wam! I’m a tee-pee, I’m a wig-wam!’ So, he says to me, he says, ‘Your problem is you’re two tents!’” A few polite chuckles emerged from the passing crowds, disappearing quickly as the traffic washed down the street.
“Har, har, har!” Raymond barked like an asthmatic collie, “Say, that reminds me of a little story: I asked my wife where she wanted to go on vacation. She said she wanted to go someplace she’d never been before. So I told her to try the kitchen!” The crowds emitted chuckles and even a few guffaws.
Buford joined in with his own burbling giggle. “Hyuck, hyuck! Say, that’s something else. Speaking of your wife, is anyone here from out of town?” A smattering of applause. “Hey, great!” Buford said, “I gotta tell ya, Ray, I was walking down the street today, and this bum comes up to me, and he says to me, he says, ‘I haven’t had a bite in three weeks!’ So I bit him!”
The laughter from the passers-by became strained. Raymond felt obligated to offer his own, “Har, har, har!”
“Hyuck, hyuck!” Buford said, “Yeah, I bit him, and then he threw me down and stole my wallet!”
The noise of traffic was drowned out by the laughter of all within earshot.
Raymond grimaced, running his thumbs under his suspenders. “Uh, har, har. Um, so, yeah, speaking of wallets, I saw my doctor today, and he told me I was out of shape. I told him I wanted a second opinion. So he punched me in the face!”
The pedestrians burst into uproarious laughter, holding their sides and slapping their knees.
Buford’s long fingers twiddled his bow tie. “Er, uh, say, that’s something else. Well, y’know, Ray, my wife is so fat...”
“How fat is she?” a voice called from the sea of people.
“My wife is so fat,” Buford said, “that, due to all the cholesterol in her diet, she suffered a massive heart attack that nearly killed her!”
Raymond’s eyes darted about the throngs of people whose heads were thrown back and howling with delight. The accompanying applause was deafening. Raymond chewed his lower lip. “Um, so, uh, last night, Buford, I was at the movies, and I saw my teen-aged son, two rows down, making out with some girl. So, when I saw him today, I says to him, I says, ‘Son, who was that lady I saw you with last night?’ And he says to me, he says, ‘That was no lady, that was my sister!’”
Cold sweat beaded on Buford’s forehead. The crowd’s laughter thundered in his ears. He swallowed with difficulty. “Hey, Ray, uh...did you know...uh, what I mean to say is have you ever wondered why that ol’ chicken crossed the road?”
Confusion crossed Raymond’s face, but his smile held. “Why, sure, Buford, who hasn’t?”
“Well, whaddaya say we find out?”
Buford ran full-bore into Premise Road, where a taxi cab slammed into him and sent him flying. The pedestrians actually halted their comings and goings, actually stood stock still and held their breath, as they watched Buford’s limp form sail through the air, his left leg broken and dangling at an unnatural angle. Buford splatted against the side of a bus, fell, and was sent back into the air by a small pick-up truck. One of his buck teeth broke off and spun through the air. He bounced off the roof of another taxi, his vertebrae snapping like carrots, and hit the ground with a wet thump. His broken and bloody corpse rolled to a stop in the gutter on the other side of the road.
The laughter and applause from the pedestrians gained in volume until Raymond’s innards vibrated. The ovation lasted nearly ten minutes, hands clapping, feet stomping, hoots, hollers, cheers, whistles. Then the applause began to ebb, the laughter died down, and the crowds of Walla Walla went back to plodding up and down the street. A stray dog sniffed at Buford’s remains.
Raymond cleared his throat and pushed his glasses back up onto his nose. “So,” he said in a shaky voice, “Is anyone here from out of town?”
"Stop Me If You've Heard This One"
Copyright: © 2010 Jimmy Callaway
Copyright: © 2010 Jimmy Callaway
Jimmy Callaway lives and works in San Diego, CA. Please visit attentionchildren.blogspot.com for more wackiness. Many obscene thanks to Garrett Cook for his help with this story.