Monday, August 03, 2009

Thank You, Masked Man!

There was sadness at the wake. There always is. But the characters sat stoically, facing the coffin in which their creator lay. And they all came: Dutch, the warden, Kinky the hospital attendant, Uncle Tom from Death Row. Tarzan and Boy. With a lump of chewing tobacco bulging like a tumor in between his cheek and gum, Fat Boy the used-car salesman, ogled Jane, winking at her when he caught her eye. Dracula and his bats were there, as were Ike, Sherm, and Nixon, sharing a flask with the White Collar Drunk. Tonto sat with the Lone Ranger and Silver (who was also crammed into the row), asking him to explain what had happened to their Kemosabe. To which the Lone Ranger exclaimed, "I'll explain if you'll get your goddamned hands off me, you barbarian!"

In the back of the chapel stood Christ and Moses. Bishop Sheen and Cardinal Spellman sat in front of Them, whispering to one another. Seated in the front row of the chapel, clothed in their judicial robes, sat Magistrate Kaiser ing intently to Judge Axlerod, who said over and over, "I swear to God he said: 'blah blah blah!'" Next to them were the pall bearers: six police officers wearing executioner masks beneath their hats. They were members of the Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York police departments. No one knew from what city the sixth officer had come.

With an empty chair separating her from the pall-bearers, the widow grieved. She was Lenny's shady lady: Hot Honey Harlowe. She wore a black crushed velvet dress, which clung to her lushly sculpted body. Her long, wavy red hair hung down her back. She cried and fidgeted with the object she held in her hands-Lenny's favorite microphone.

Standing at a podium at the front of the chapel stood Father Flotsky. He looked on all of the fatherless characters, and in his Barry Fitzgerald brogue began his eulogy, "Once a boy goes the bad road, the good road is hard to follow. When the good road is hard to follow, the bad road opens and the good road closes. Lenny was not a bad boy. Saying words of four letters doesn't make anybody bad. 'To' is a preposition, and 'come' is a verb. When Jackie Kennedy stood up in the Presidential limousine during her husband's assassination, the moment after the President was shot, she was hauling ass to save her ass!"

The old priest looked down at the placid countenance of Lenny Bruce. Father Flotsky sighed and said, "There is nothing sadder than an aged hipster."

Father Flotsky motioned to the pall bearers. They came forward and lowered the coffin's lid. With three officers on each side they raised the coffin onto their shoulders and carried it down the aisle like a trophy.

The atmosphere at the cemetery was even more melancholy. The police lay the casket on the straps stretched across the gaping mouth of the open grave. The orphans gathered around. In the midst of the gathering, stood Honey holding the microphone. Although she was a living person, she stood among Lenny's creations for she was often more fictional than real to him.

Father Flotsky, in full ceremonial garb, asked that the lid of the coffin been raised to allow him to bless the body, and so Honey could lay the microphone on Lenny's chest. The police officer whom no one knew stepped forward and raised the lid.

The characters breathed a collective gasp when they saw there was no body in the casket, but that it was filled with plastic dog crap. Tarzan turned to Nixon, "Plastic dog crap?! Who'd build a factory to make plastic dog crap?!"

Nixon shrugged and said, "I don't know how you couldn't, seeing as the plastic vomit sold so well."

The unknown police officer turned to the gathering and removed his hat and mask. It was Lenny. To everyone's amazement, Lenny removed every stitch of clothing he wore except for the gun belt, which he turned in such a way so as to cover his nudity with the holster.

"What?" Lenny asked, looking at the stunned faces. "Nobody ever seen a naked Jew before?"

No one replied.

Lenny slipped his thumbs into the gun belt and said, "Before I go, I just want to get something clear: If you take a kike and a dyke, a spic and a mick, and put them into a room with a kraut, a gook, a fag, and a spook, what do you have? A room full of people. So, if you put an F next to a U, then throw on a C and a K, what do you have? A word. And if you think about it, one that's pretty nice. Because, when I think about that word I don't imagine scenes of death and killing. No. I get images of her," he pointed toward Hot Honey Harlowe. "And if any of you schlubs think that's dirty, if you think that's decadent, amoral, or asexual; if you really think I'm rank for telling you that you're probably a bunch of fruits.

"I'm not saying there are no harmful words. There are. Like "mutilate." God, that's an ugly word. Or how about these dirty four letter words like "kill," "hurt," or "hate?" Or how about these: "entrapment," "harassment," and "we find the defendant guilty as charged!?"

Lenny gazed at his grieved characters. He approached Honey and kissed her tear-wet cheek. As he turned to the anxious expressions on his characters he said, "You worried about where I'm going from here? Am I going up? Down? Well, since I believe that the earth revolves, you can go to Heaven at six-oh-five in the morning, and hell at eleven-twenty-nine at night. You could say hell is to the left. I don't know. But if I see God I'll bet He's pretty pissed off. He might not have a TV, but I'd bet He knows about all the crappy things we're doing in the world. All this killing and hurting shit we're doing is a boil on God's ass, so he sent Jesus to lance that boil. But we killed Him. And if you think about it, it's a good thing we got Him when we did because if we killed Christ in the last fifty years we'd have to contend with generations of parochial school kids running around with little electric-chairs around their necks."

In the rear of the group, Christ smiled at Moses.

"Nah. Hey, I gotta split. There's a subway train due to go by in the Great Beyond and Marilyn Monroe's standing next to the tracks-I gotta be ready with my gun when her skirt goes up. So, in the words of Will Rogers, 'I never met a dyke I didn't like.'"

Lenny turned away from the assembled characters who watched his skinny, white Jewish ass as he walked off into the sunset.

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