Tuesday, September 13

9/13/05 -- Antipope Clement XV vs. Downs

It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO THE GAME.

Randy Johnson awoke one morning to find himself transformed into an enormous bug. Overnight, he had become a great gangly creature with cruel crooked limbs and angry snapping mandibles framed by wiry hairs.

Even in the cool September air, the blanket on his bed seemed suffocating. He struggled to be free of it driven by a lust for the crisp air, but by another desire as well, the desire to feed on the scraps of human existence. He could smell the kitchen garbage a floor away, and it called to him. Was it always so strong?

The blanket grasped him like a net ensnaring his the spiky structures on his six legs. Five of them he freed, but one could simply not escape. He pulled and pulled against the blanket until suddenly his leg tore right through it sending him sprawling on to the floor.

“Free,” he tried to say, but the English phonics would not come. Perhaps because he no longer had a tongue, the word sounded far different than it should have. It sounded like “Get that god damn camera out of my face.” But in a guttural rumble.

What was worse, he was not free. A completely different and totally unanticipated problem had presented itself. In his haste to liberate himself from the blanket, he had thrown himself clean off of the bed and on to his back. For a proper man, recovering from this supine position would be of little difficulty, but Randy Johnson was not a proper man. He lay there with his six legs in the air wiggling helplessly as he rocked on his hard exoskeletal shell.

For the longest time he continued to wiggle his legs, imagining that if only he wiggled them enough, he would eventually right himself. This would not happen, of course, but Randy Johnson, even before becoming a bug, was none too bright, and certainly not the sort of chap who would be dissuaded from doing something for the hundredth time just because it hadn't worked the first 99. But eventually even he tired of his futility.

Trying a different approach, he began to sway his legs from side to side, creating a constant rocking of his shell. When the shell swung to its furthest extreme in one direction he would shift the weight of his legs in the other direction. Over and over he repeated the motion, the arcs of movement growing larger and larger until-a snap-he had torn his rotator cuff, of perhaps three of his rotator cuffs, or whatever the insect equivalent is, but with the last effort as the tissues frayed, he swung his legs with such violence that he righted himself with a thud.

“Are you up Randy?” his wife yelled up in response to the thud.

“No, no,” yelled Randy Johnson, afraid of what she would think. But in his guttural bug voice it ended up sounding like. “My God I hate Alex Rodriguez. He's such a prick.”

“I know Alex is an SOB,” replied his wife. “But do we have to talk about him first thing in the morning?”

Suddenly, he heard the soft clomp of slippers on stairs. His wife was coming up to the room. Up to his room. Invading his cold and his dark. Her arrival was inevitable.

The doorknob turned with a gentle squeak. As her slender finger flipped the light switch, Randy scrambled under the bed, away from the horrible burning light. A thin trail of green ooze marked his path.

“Randy,” his wife complained. “Why do you always flee when the lights come on? Come out from under there this instant.”

Randy pondered his options. They were few. Either she could see him now, or she could see him a few minutes from now. There would be no escape.

“I can't come out,” he moaned.

“Why not?” she answered. How odd that she could understand him.

“I've been transformed into a giant bug.”

“Randy that's ridiculous. Come out now. I insist.”

“Yes… okay,” he yielded.

He slunk out from under the bed, each step sending fire up his damaged joints.

“See I'm a bug,” he cried.

“I'm not really seeing it,” she answered nonplussed.

“I'm hideous vermin.”

“Well yes, but you look kind of the same to me.”

“But can't you see that I have six legs?”

“Oh yes, now that you mention it. But otherwise. I fail to see the difference.”

“I've become a hideous giant insect. I'm ugly and disgusting,” he wailed.

“If anything, I'd say you look a little bit better she responded.”

And so began the metamorphosis of Randy Johnson.

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