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A Dozen Cries Foul


By Ben Moss

Everyone was outraged, everyone. Nicholas, Nixon, Culpright, Culpright’s alter ego (Dewey), the boys shooting craps, the boys playing baccarat, Tannenberg, all of the women (even Tina and, as everyone knew, Tina was a major witch). The lovers’ quarrel had become so abrasive, so uncomfortable, so gratingly personal, that there wasn’t a soul left who wanted it to dig deeper. Nixon was frantically trying to console Amanda who was so distressed that she failed to realize the napkin she wiped her eyes with was mustard-stained. Tannenberg restrained Kevin from indulging whatever violent impulse was most associated with bitter domestic rage.

With the entire party fuming, floored or erect, Nixon took a step into the center and began his lecture. “Listen, this is New Year’s Eve among friends. There is nothing left to make the evening more cringe-worthy. We know that Amanda’s mother collected jars and jars of rooster semen. We know that Kevin faints at the sight of another man’s urine. We’ve emptied our dirty laundry. There’s nothing left.”

Tina, standing contrapposto with a feminine cocktail and her matronly glasses misty, unzipped her lip and began, “Nixon screwed Elizabeth!”
“You monster!” yelled Tannenberg who had engaged in premarital sex with Elizabeth several times and who called her his girl. He unleashed Kevin and threw his closed fist into the side of Nixon’s jaw. Kevin, now unchained, ran to assault his soon-to-be bride but slipped on the mud tracked in by Richards, a country bumpkin from the outskirts of town. Kevin’s misery continued; he landed his eye on a corner of the dining room table. He reeled from the injury and some of his blood leaked into the communal guacamole.

Meanwhile, Tina started pulling Amanda’s hair and stomping on Elizabeth’s shin bone—God only knows why. To escape her assault, Amanda tried to climb onto a tree just beyond the open window, but fell and shattered her coccyx.

By this time Tannenberg had stripped the antenna off a televishon and had begun flogging Nixon. Thence, the boys shooting craps began flailing wildly at the boys playing baccarat.

For thirteen minutes the entire party erupted in a brawl, only ended when a whiskey-sloshed Richards shot a bullet into the ceiling. After settling down, the adults found the children traumatized and slick with cold sweat in the closet.

The next day, as mayor Culpright called an emergency town meeting, the audience was washed over by an opening address spiced by four-letter-words and street slang (today Culpright was Dewey, an East St. Louis street tough with a flair for salty tongues).

Afterwards, suggestions were heard. Miss Velez was first, “We should not have let things get out of hand.” Murmurs of approval were voiced.

Anderson Kilkenney was next, “We should never have served alcohol to parties fond of violence.” More approval.

In fact, with ten similar sentiments voiced in the following hour, we knew exactly what we shouldn’t have done. Everyone approved.

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