Henry Serves It Up Cold
(Perhaps a tad bit crude in places.) Courthouse clerks, robotic beings by instinct and training, are not necessarily known for their sense of humor.
“Did you hear the one about the guy who wanted to change his name?”
“I hear that all the time, sir. That’s what we do here.”
“Yeah, but you gotta hear this one.”
“Fine, but make it snappy.”
“So, the judge asks the guy what his name is now. He says his name is Joe Shits. The judge says he can certainly understand why he wants his name changed, and then asks him what he wants it changed to. And the guy says Barney Shits.”
“That’s not funny, sir. Now, can I help you with something or not?”
“Yes, I’d like to change my name.”
“Fill out this form and bring it back with the $25.00 filing fee. Take your time. I go to lunch in 10 minutes. Hopefully, I’ll be gone before you get back.”
An application for a name change has never been filled out with such relish, excitement, and anticipation. Henry had considered using several different pens for the occasion, just as the President does when signing significant pieces of legislation. But then he realized he had no friends to distribute the souvenir pens to, so he went with one pricey Pilot pen which would later occupy a prominent place above his fireplace.
“Here’s my name change application and the filing fee.”
“Ok, it seems like it’s all in order. And, Mr. Marshall, you want to change your name to…The Count of Monte Cristo?”
“Yes, sounds chilling, doesn’t it?”
“That is a very unusual name selection, sir.”
“For a very unusual story about to unfold.”
Henry, n/k/a The Count of Monte Cristo, wanted to go full monty with his goal of wonderful, sweet revenge. Considering the degree of suffering he had endured, the plan needed to be near biblical in scope, a true masterpiece of retribution to be inflicted upon the deserving. Henry’s magnum opus would make Heathcliff, Menelaus, and Carrie look like forgiving, turn-the-other-cheek, pushover softies. Henry needed a name, a new identity, to match the enormity of the deed, and he had come to compare his plight to the poor soul languishing away in Château d'If. Like Edmond, Henry was betrayed by friends and suffered greatly; like the Count, he would exact delicious revenge. “Henry” would be buried alongside the memories of that night so long ago; today he became the scheming, vengeful Count.
Never in the history of secondary education has a teenage boy been so hopelessly smitten. Marcie was the most beautiful girl in the world; it took Henry two years just to muster up the courage to one day say hello to her in the hallway. She was polite and returned the greeting which immediately put Henry into the Lloyd Christmas “one-in-a-million chance” frame of mind. He pined over her every day, but in the jargon of the young, she was “taken”, the sole property of Rocky, the superstar in all things sports.
No one will ever understand why or how, but Henry and Marcie became friends, Marcie adopting the traditional meaning of the word, while Henry dreamed of a much deeper relationship. He seemed to inch closer to that one-in-a-million chance when Rocky and Marcie broke up just before Prom. She already had her dress, and Henry had his fantasy, so they went to the big event together.
Henry was the happiest guy on the planet that evening. His illusions hit warp speed as he was already planning a future with the sweet, wonderful, beautiful Marcie. That was the good news. The bad news was that Rocky, known for fits of jealous rage, went to the Prom stag with some of his buddies.
Henry thought he was in heaven, holding Marcie in his arms as they glided across the gym floor, her hair gently rubbing against his face while her touch set his heart ablaze. Would that the music had never ended for just as the last notes fluttered around the balloons and streamers above, Rocky showed up.
“What are you doing with my girl, nerd-bag?”
Henry thought it best to avoid confrontation, especially since Rocky towered over him, outweighed him by 75 lbs., and held the school record for the bench press. He gently took Marcie by the arm and turned to walk away. The act seemed prudent at the time, but unfortunately, it presented a unique opportunity for Rocky to express his displeasure. He reached down the back of Henry’s pants, grabbed hold of his Jockey shorts, and delivered a Guinees Book-worthy wedgy. Witness accounts vary, and details may have become exaggerated over time, but most say the shorts ended up around Henry’s ears. A stunned, embarrassed, and rather uncomfortable Henry struggled to free himself of Rocky’s death grip on his underwear as all present looked on in shock and horror. When Rocky let go of the shorts, Henry bolted forward, tripped, and did a header into the punch bowl.
The laughter was uproarious and prolonged. Even the teachers and chaperones couldn’t restrain themselves. And for “the most unkindest cut of all”, Marcie joined in the laughter.
When Henry emerged from the punch bowl, the first thing he saw was Marcie and Rocky standing together.
“I’m sorry, Marcie. I was such a jerk.”
“I’m sorry too, Rocky.”
And then the hug, an image burned in Henry’s brain that he couldn’t erase. Rocky and Marcie walked off together with not even a look-back from Marcie.
Henry didn’t keep score, but he would have guessed that the number of nights he was tormented by the echoes of the laughter, and the number of sleepless nights spent fighting off images of “the hug”, would have been about the same. He needed something to alter the course of his life, a purpose. He found it in the words of Alexandre Dumas. Revenge became Henry’s North Star.
Today’s Count understood that patience was one of the keys to becoming a good hunter. A cat lies in wait for the opportune time to pounce and devour its prey. The Count’s challenge was complex, with two moving targets in varying locations. He was willing to wait, to allow his thirst for revenge to percolate, for the dish to be served cold, but he was growing impatient. And then he received news of an event that even the Count, not known to be the sharpest knife in the drawer, understood would require that Rocky and Marcie be at the same place at the same time- their wedding.
The news did two things. It reinvigorated the animosity he carried for both of them ever since that awful night, and it presented the opportunity he had been waiting for. The Count immediately went into planning mode with a mind as cunning and diabolical as Dr. Evil. The degree of humiliation to be inflicted would be far greater than undies on the ears and a dip in the punchbowl.
On his very first trip to Barnes and Noble, the Count found a book with the alluring title “Sick Pranks to Pull on People You Don’t Like”. He stayed up all night, taking notes, and otherwise being impressed with the author’s degree of depravity. He was downright giddy as he made a list of the things he would need in his new role of Wedding Planner:
-Book on how to train a dog.
-Remote Control Fart Machine.
-Immense quantities of liquid laxative.
-25 fake pukes.
-25 fake poops.
-Skunk smell spray.
-Bottle of Super glue. (Economy size)
The Count applied himself to the task with the dedication of an Olympic athlete. He studied, practiced, and ran dry runs. Recalling the words of his grade school basketball coach that attitude was everything, the Count fired himself up by watching Home Alone and clips of the Roadrunner and Wyle E. Coyote cartoons. For daily inspiration, above his kitchen table he hung a copy of the ominous words from Shelly’s Frankenstein: “I will be with you on your wedding night.” His confidence soared as the day approached.
As he honed his skills, he came to realize he might not be able to pull it all off alone. Fate smiled on the Count as he found a willing accomplice in his downstairs landlady, the elderly yet devious and fun-loving widow Jenkins. On a good day, if she remembered to take her meds, she would do nicely.
The Count and the widow Jenkins arrived at the church early to deploy their props and synchronize their watches. With the excitement of players lined up along the sidelines before a big game, they went through their final checklist.
“Thanks for all your help, Widow Jenkins.”
“No problem, Count. After what he did with your underpants, I want to get the dirty bastards too.”
They went to their posts, the Count disguised as a church maintenance man, and the widow Jenkins posing as a backup organist. She wanted to go full camo, but the Count convinced her that would make her even more noticeable at a wedding.
The bride was stunning, even more beautiful than the Count’s memory. For a moment, the Count’s mind drifted back to a pre-wedgy time, his love for the marvelous Marcie all those years, and he briefly considered aborting the mission. But then he remembered the laughter ringing in his ears, her cold, heartless departure that night, the humiliation, the hundreds of unhappy nights, and he recommitted to the plan.
Rocky stood at the front of the church looking as handsome and fit as he did that night at the Prom. That’s all the Count needed to fan the flames of hatred ignited the moment his briefs reached his ears.
The familiar strains of “Here Comes the Bride” wafted down from the balcony as Marcie commenced her slow walk down the aisle, and all heads turned to watch her dramatic entrance. The scene was rudely interrupted with a secretive wave of the Count’s hand and the flick of a switch by the widow Jenkins. “Here Comes the Bride” was decisively drowned out by the 1963 smash hit blaring out of the super-size, on-sale boom box from Walmart:
“If you want to be happy for the rest of your life,
Never make a pretty woman your wife,
So from my personal point of view,
Get an ugly girl to marry you.”
Marcie was stunned, appalled, and angry. Rocky was curious and wondered if it was a prank pulled by one of his “insensitive” jock friends. The Count was ecstatic. It took Marcie’s brother nearly the entire length of the song to find the boom box and turn it off.
A much chagrined Marcie retreated to the back of the church, and the grand entry was replayed from the beginning. This time the traditional music went off without a hitch, but the bride’s march was unceremoniously interrupted halfway down the aisle when a large German Shepard eagerly ran to Marcie from the back of the church, jumped up on her, and feverishly began humping her leg. Rambo was going at it like a freaking jackhammer, and it took two of the groomsmen and Marcie’s father to get him off her.
Marcie was humiliated, the crowd was stunned, the goodly priest almost passed out, the two altar boys struggled to conceal their laughter, the Count congratulated himself for the successful hours of field training with Rambo, and the widow Jenkins’ mind was jolted back to her late husband’s heroic but catastrophic final efforts to satisfy her insatiable earthly needs.
The third march down the aisle went off without a hitch, if we discount the damage done to the dress by the aggressive canine.
As the Count and the widow Jenkins were joyfully exchanging high-fives, the congregation was seated, and the mechanics of the Mass commenced. The Count assumed his cat-like approach, his finger gently caressing the button on his (deluxe model) remote control fart machine as he awaited the signal from the widow Jenkins. Timing was critical.
“And do you, Rocky, take Marcie to be your lawfully wedded wife?”
The receiver had been cleverly placed inside the lectern, mere feet from where Rocky was standing. The priest, Rocky, and Marcie did what most people do at embarrassing moments- they ignored it. The two altars boys, not so much. This time they could not contain the giggles and smiles. The goodly priest started over.
“And do you, Rocky, take…”
Brraaap!!!! Brraaaap!!!! Brraap! Brraaap!!! Brraap!
The Count was in tears as his finger happily danced atop the magical button.
The Count and the widow Jenkins had little time to celebrate their wildly successful disruption of the wedding. Like an NCAA Tournament team, they had to prepare for the next round. They hopped in the Count’s rusting Chevy and raced to the Old Hickory Country Club, the site of the gala wedding reception.
The planning had been meticulous and comprehensive, from the caterer to the cake maker, from the band to the banquet hall custodian, all elements of the event had been infiltrated. The reception made the flow of the wedding look flawless.
The guests were welcomed by the putrid smell of a recently agitated skunk. Guests rubbed anything they could find under their noses to mitigate the effect of the foul odor. The fortunate had perfume or cologne; the not-so-fortunate used salad dressing, butter, beer, wine, and even pepper.
The Count and the widow Jenkins, now cleverly disguised as banquet hall servers, added a little something extra to their deliveries- fake poops and pukes, sufficiently life-like to cause one elderly man, already battling the nauseating effects of skunk odor, to expel his own very real, disgusting deposits, first in his soup and then on Marcie’s grandmother seated at the next table. The sight, smell, and repeated unnerving gagging sounds set off a chain reaction, a domino sequence of puking people from one table to the next.
Ants were everywhere, underfoot, scurrying around on the tables, in and out of the decorations, and eventually on the guests themselves. The most ambitious of the colony made it to the head of the little figurine groom perched atop the cake.
Throughout the evening, people were lined up at the restrooms after consuming entrées laced with the fastest-acting laxative on the market. The more affected made hurried and frequent trips to the gas station across the street.
When Rocky attempted to rise to make his post-dinner comments, he could not separate himself from his chair. He had to be carried to the men’s room, glued to the chair, for a change of pants. Many of those in line and in need of immediate relief grew angry and shouted, “Hey, no skips!”, and “Who do you think you are?!” Considering Rocky's massive size, the only substitute trousers available were a pair of colorful plaid golf pants found in the men's locker room belonging to Reggie "Fatso" Ferguson.
It was a carpet bombing of the entire affair, leaving total destruction and humiliation in its wake. The memory of the horrible Prom night had finally been erased from the Count’s mind and replaced by the worst wedding in history. Sweet, sweet revenge.
The Count reveled in the misery of the bride and groom. It had all gone like clockwork, and the Count basked in the warmth of the vengeance so completely delivered.
On the way home, the Count rewarded the widow Jenkins with a stop at the All You Can Eat Country Buffet, her favorite dining establishment. Later that night they sat in her living room making plans to market their video and kicking around possible titles- "Worst Wedding Ever”, “Wedding on Elm Street” and “Revenge of the Wedgy-Nerd”.
The next morning Rocky and Marcie, still adrift amidst the flotsam and jetsom that had been their wedding day, opened gifts at her parents’ home.
Marcie’s angry mother asked, “What sick person could have done such horrible things?”
The answer was found in one of the gifts- a pair of badly stretched-out Jockey shorts.
The Count didn’t need to unmask the architect behind it all, the saboteur, the evil genius, for his act of vengeance to be complete. The unusual gift said it all. They knew.
Goodbye sleepless nights.