Herb's Brain Scam

Submitted into Contest #167 in response to: Set your story inside a character’s mind, literally.... view prompt


Funny Fantasy

Herb’s Brain Scam

Deep in the recesses of Herb’s brain, an emergency meeting of unparalleled import was just underway. "CC", representing the largest portion of the brain, the Cerebral Cortex, chaired the meeting as usual. The other powerful Union Bosses, each representing billions of members, in attendance were:

-“Fronz”, representing the Frontal Lobe responsible for reasoning and motor skills.

-“Perry”, representing the Parietal Lobe responsible for tactile senses.

-“Temper”, representing the Temporal Lobe responsible for memory.

-“Oxy”, representing the Occipital Lobe responsible for vision.

-“Med”, representing the Medulla responsible for auto functions.

-“Cerry”, representing the Cerebellum responsible for coordination and speech.

-“BS”, representing the Brainstem responsible for involuntary functions.

-“Audi”, representing the Auditory Cortex responsible for hearing.

-“Libby”, representing the Limbic System responsible for emotions.

“Alright everyone, take your seats. We don’t have all night. Our guy could get up at any moment to pee.”

“Yeah, thanks to BS Herbie gets up to pee like a hundred times a night. Can’t you control that?”

“Not my fault, Med. You’ve got a hand in this too.”

Keen ears Audi jumped on the hand reference.

“He’s got a hand in this peeing thing. Ha, ha, ha. Get it? Like he needs a hand on his pee-pee to pee. Ha, ha, ha.”

“Yeah, and thanks to “Touchy” Perry he probably likes touching himself! That’s probably why he goes so often. Ha, ha, ha.”

 “Stop it, Audi! You too, Cerry. We’re on the same team. We’ve got to work together.”

“Work together? How am I supposed to work with these guys? I’m surrounded by buffoons.”

“God dammit, Fronz! That’s enough!”

“Swear jar! You’ve got to put a quarter in the swear jar!”

“Fine! I’ll put a freaking quarter in the God damn swear jar!”

“Whoa! That’s another quarter! And maybe two. Who thinks “freaking” is a swear?”

All present, save CC raised their hand.

“Fine, ok, 3 quarters. Now can we finally get started?”

CC’s slamming the gavel down on the table brought all to attention.

“Let’s get some old business out of the way first. I’ve told you a thousand times that the Suggestion Box is for serious ideas only. I’m sure you won’t fess up, but rest assured that I will find out who put the “CC Sucks The big One” note in the box.”

Muffled laughter.

CC reads from a small piece of paper.

“And, ‘Let’s get Herb to do hard drugs so we can all have more fun' is not at all helpful.”

More muffled laughter.

“Finally, no, we are not going to audition for the lead role in the remake of ‘The Brain that Wouldn’t Die’. We’ve got too much work to do here.”

A smattering of boos.

“Now, to the business at hand. I think we’ve all noticed that Herb is…well, slipping a little bit. He just isn’t as sharp as he used to be.”

“Herb sharp? Give me a break. The guy’s elevator never went to the top floor.”

“Yeah, thanks to you CC, the guy had to repeat 3rd grade…twice. You’re not putting this on us.”

“The 3rd Grade thing was not my fault. Because of old Oxy there, little Herbie couldn’t see the board.”

“Hey! Get off my back. Don’t be playing the blame game with me. I had him seeing like a hawk. It was Audi’s fault! The kid couldn’t hear for shit!”

“Swear jar! Swear jar!”

“Shut your mouth Oxy or I’ll shut it for you!”

Libby broke out in tears.

“Stop it! Stop it! Can’t you see you’re tearing me apart?!”

“Could we just once have a meeting without Miss Cry Baby going to pieces?”

“Emotion is what I do, Med! I don’t have it easy and run on auto pilot like you do. Oh, let’s see, you have to check once a year to see if his heart is still beating. Real tough job. Why do you think you got the easy job you f’ing moron?!”

“Swear jar! Swear jar!”

Repeated slamming of the gavel restored order.

“Enough! We have to pull together and act in the best interest of our host, our client if you will. Fronz here has been filling me in on a lot of the ‘issues’ Herb has been having. Fronz, why don’t you fill the others in on what’s been going on? Fronz, the floor is yours.”

Mild, polite, golf course-like clapping.

“Look, I understand how you all feel. We’ve been dealt a bad hand getting stuck with Herbie, but I think we have a responsibility here. It’s what we do. It’s our nature. Dogs bark, birds fly, we think and push the buttons that move our guy around. We may not like it, but it’s our nature, our duty.”

“Oh…that was beautiful, Fronz. I think I’m going to cry.”

“Jesus Christ, she cries about everything.”

“Swear jar! Swear jar!”                                                   

“I noticed his memory is starting to fade. He keeps forgetting where he parked his car, and he tried to go to Sunday Mass last Tuesday. Then just this morning he fed the cat that ran away 2 months ago. That’s on you, Temper. You’re the memory guy.”

“Me?! What?! That’s some kind of health thing, you know, the stuff old people get. I can’t control that.”

“Temper, Herb is 37 years old.”

“Yeah, you slacker.”

“Slacker my ass..”

“Swear jar! Swear jar!”

“The guy is just stupid. IQ is your Department, Fronz. I’m rubber, you’re glue. Whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you!”

“Oh, that is so childish, Temper. I can’t believe you’re with us here in the command center. You should be stationed somewhere in his butt.”

“Stop it! You’re tearing me apart!”

“CC, why do we even have her at these meetings?”

“Emotion is an important component of what it is to be a human being, BS. If you don’t like it, go find yourself a stupid Vulcan.”

“You’re always defending her, Med. What, do you think you’re going to get a little moochie-moochie after the meeting?”

More slamming of the gavel.

“Ok, so his memory is slipping. I want you to work on that, Temper.”


“Then we have him stumbling around and slurring his words last night. That’s you, Cerry.”

“He was drunk! He had like 200 beers! How am I supposed to keep him upright when he’s sloshed? Fronz shouldn’t have let him drink so much in the first place. That’s a judgement thing.”

“A guy has a few beers after work, and you can’t keep him vertical? The poor guy is so uncoordinated because you suck at your job!”

“CC! Fronz is being mean again!”

“Stop it! You’re tearing me apart!”

“Please everyone! Stop the bickering! Our guy is on a downward slide, and we have to help him.”

“Ok, ok, I’ll try to cut him off at a few beers, but Cerry’s got to do a better job with his motor skills.”

“Ok, I’ll try harder.”

“That’s the spirit! Now we’re rowing the boat together!”

“Hey, you stole that from that football coach in Minnesota.”


“Sew buttons on your underwear!”

Uproarious laughter.

“We don’t need it, Temper. This is serious business. Now we get to the big problem.”

“What’s that, CC?”

“He might be thinking about marrying that Bertie babe.”

“No way.”


“She’s nasty, fat and ugly. Are you sure, CC?”

“That’s what I do. I know what he’s thinking.”

“I bet it’s Oxy’s fault. He probably can’t see well enough to know how ugly she is.”

“No way is this my fault. I even put it on wide angle lens to get her whole girth in the picture.”

“Is she rich, CC? Maybe that would explain it?”

“Nope, Med. She’s dead broke.”

“Maybe she’s just a very nice person. Looks aren’t everything.”

“Nope, she’s a real bitch, Libby, nastier that the Wicked Witch of the West.”

“Swear jar!”

 “Bitch isn’t a swear!”

“Is to, is to.”

“Fine. So, I know he’s planning on marrying Bertie. I just don’t know why.”

“Uh…I think I know.”

“What is it, Perry?”

“Well, I want to be delicate about this, but have you heard the phrase ‘he’s thinking with the wrong head’?”

“The wrong head? What are you talking about, Perry? Herb only has one head. We should know.”

“Uh…sorry, but it means Herb is thinking with his wiener.”

“Oh for Christ’s sake, Perry. There are women present.”

Libby swooned.

“Good one, Perry. Now look what you’ve done.”

“Sorry, but I should know. I’m the physical sensory guy. And trust me, there’s been a lot of physical sensory stuff going on down there.”

Libby swoons again.

“Shame on Herb! Marrying for sex!”

“Well she’s pretty good at it. That’s for sure.”

“Oh stop it, Perry. That’s no reason to get married.”

Several of the male members in attendance turn their heads.

“So, we’ve got to stop him.”


“What do you mean ‘why’, Perry?

“Well, Herb seems to be ok with it. If it makes him happy, who are we to intervene?”

 Fronz fielded that one.

“Who are we? We are everything. We do Herb’s thinking, I mean the real thinking. I’m responsible for his reasoning, his sense of good judgement. The cheap physical stuff will wear off, and then he’s stuck with that witch.”

“Hey, I resent that ‘cheap physical’ talk. You think you’re so high and mighty with all your highfalutin intellectual crap. Herb’s physical needs matter too! And let me tell you, I’ve been doing a hell of a job with that!”

“Swear jar!”

“I bet you have been doing a good job, you sicko perv.”

“Well, we will do what we always do when we have a difference of opinion. We’ll put it up to a vote. All those in favor of stopping this, say Aye!”

A visibly agitated Perry was the only dissenter, a position that earned him the disapproval of all the others for putting his own self-interest ahead of the good of the whole.

“Ok, so now we have to figure out how to stop this. We need to…oh-oh, he’s moving. Dammit, BS, couldn’t you have held out just a little longer?”

“Swear jar!”

“When you gotta go, you gotta go.”

“Tomorrow night, same time. I’ll expect some good ideas at that time.”


“Alright team, this has turned into a Mach 7 Red Alert.”

“A Mach 7 Red Alert?!”

“Yes, this is going to be all hands on deck. He’s taking Bertie out to dinner tonight, and he’s going to pop the question.”

“Looks like we’re getting some tonight!”

“Shut up, Perry! Now let’s hear your ideas. Med, what do you have?”

"Could Fronz make him think he's a vampire, and that he can only marry a vampire?"

“Gees, Temper, that is really stupid. How did you ever get into a brain? Why don’t you go join the Lollipop Guild.”

“No, Oxy, were just brainstorming here. There are no bad ideas. Do you have any ideas, Oxy?”

“Well, I could mess with his vision. If you think she’s ugly now, wait until you see the special filters I can throw in.”

“Good, good. I like it. Temper?”

“Well, I think I could play on his memory. There was this girl in high school. Herb was infatuated with her. She was a real hottie, and sweet too. If I can get Herb to start thinking about her, he’ll realize Bertie isn’t such a catch.”

“Excellent! Now were cookin’. Fronz?”

“Look, we all know Herb isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, and I’ll take my share of the responsibility for that, but I will do my best to reason with him, to appeal to his better sense of judgement. I’ll try to make him understand that marriage is a special spiritual bond and not about Perry’s cheap physical thrills.”


“It’s ok, Perry, let’s move on. Libby?”

“We might be looking at this all wrong. Let’s think outside the box. Herb is such a dolt. No offense intended, Fronz, but I wouldn’t count on Herb figuring out that this would be a bad move.”

“So, what’s your idea, Libby?”

“Instead of trying to make Herb not want Bertie, let’s try to make Bertie not want Herb. We have the weapons. We control his actions, his movements, his voice. Let’s use the power. We could make Herb so offensive, so undesirable that no one would want him, not even fat, ugly Bertie.”



“Herb! This is such a fancy place! Are you sure you can afford this?”

“This is a special night, Bertie. I want everything about it to be special.”

Herb patted his front pocket to make sure the ring was safe and secure.

“Linen table cloths and linen napkins. Oh my!”

At this point Herb grabbed his napkin and blew his nose it. The uncouth act was followed by a little aggressive nose picking.

“Good job Cerry!. Man, that was gross.”

A startled Bertie pretended not to notice. She appeared to be annoyed by the boorish behavior but continued perusing the pricey menu. Bertie daintily sipped on her Merlot while Herb chugged down his 3rd beer.

Fronz was quick to congratulate himself.

“Three beers before dinner! How’s that for a lack of judgement?!”

Oxy’s turn.

“Watch this. I just yanked his depth perception.”

As Herb reached for his 4th beer, his hand tipped a candle over and set the table centerpiece on fire. The fire was quickly put out by staff, and Herb and Gertie were moved to another table.

“Gosh, sorry about that.”

“That’s ok, Herb, but maybe you should slow down a bit on the beer.”

“You’re not my mother. I’ll drink what I want.”

As Herb struggled to understand how he could have said such a thing, Cerry smiled at his remarkable ability to put words in Herb’s mouth. Bertie quickly went from annoyed to fuming.

BS was downright giddy as he prepared for the group’s magnum opus.

“And now for the coup de grâce, the pièce de resistance, the clincher, the last straw, the final curtain, the fat lady getting ready to sing, the…”

“Ok, ok, we got it, BS. Let’s get on with it.”

In comedy, timing is everything. So too is it in the world of a nefarious plot of devilish sabotage. BS waited for Bertie to taste her first spoonful of her French Onion soup before he unleashed his talent to control, or lose control, of certain bodily functions.


Herb was stunned. Bertie looked puzzled. Herb tried to act naturally and continued to work on his salad as though nothing had happened.


This time there was no doubt. Even people at the next table shot disapproving looks at Herb. Bertie was in a state of shock as Herb closed his eyes tight and hoped that he could be someplace else. Uproarious laughter echoed within the confines of Herb’s skull.

“BS! That was awesome!”

“You ain’t seen nothing yet!”


The table shook. Cries of disgust filled the room. Those seated closest to Herb fled for the exits. Bertie was humiliated, angry, appalled.

CC and the Union Bosses were in tears laughing.

“I can’t stand it. That’s the funniest thing I’ve ever seen, BS!”

 “Herb! What is wrong with you?! At least excuse yourself and go to the bathroom! Your embarrassing me!”

“Why should I leave? It’s what I do. Live with it, bitch.”

Herb was confused, bewildered. He could no longer control his words.

“What did you say?! How dare you talk to me like that?! You apologize right now or I’m out of here!”

“Suit yourself, Fat-Ass.”

“Hey, does he have to put a quarter in the swear jar?”

“How would he do that, you dope?”

Bertie got up from the table, threw her napkin in Herb’s face, and angrily stormed through the dining room.

“Hey, Bertie! Wait!”

Bertie slowed, stopped and turned back toward Herb, perhaps expecting the apology she had demanded.

“Come back here, Bertie!”

“Oh, now you want to say you’re sorry?”

“No, I forgot my wallet!”

“I never want to see you again, jerk!”

“Nice finishing touch, Temper. You had him forget his wallet! This is all too good.”

Every part of Herb’s brain erupted in laughter, from CC to the Union Bosses to the rank and file. All were in a joyous mood, well, except for the sullen Perry who sat alone in a corner contemplating a foreseeable future of unwelcome celibacy.

A bewildered, hapless Herb sat at the table stirring his soup, trying to understand what just happened. He had unknowingly been saved by a chorus of unseen angels, rescued from a life of torment at the hands of Bertie, unlikely to improve in appearance or temperament with age.

The monthly meetings of the Union Bosses continued in an atmosphere of improved communication and cooperation. CC himself suggested that the gavel rotate amongst the attendees in the hope of putting an end to the petty jealousies that had plagued the group in the past. The Suggestion Box was replaced with a free wheeling round table at the start of every meeting, and all agreed to redouble their efforts to make Herb a better person.

The experience of saving Herb from Bertie had been so enjoyable that the Brain Trust agreed to allow themselves small moments of mischief and levity, at Herb’s expense, once a month in order to relieve the stress of their jobs. Nothing drastic, just little things that could get a laugh- Herb occasionally wetting the bed, showing up for work in his underwear, and of course the go-to gag of a couple of “Brraaaps” in church.


October 13, 2022 02:25

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Graham Kinross
02:32 Oct 18, 2022

Poor Herb, the voices in his head aren’t on his side, more like Osmosis Jones than Inside Out.


Murray Burns
13:07 Oct 18, 2022

Ok, you got me....I had to go to Google to find out who Osmosis Jones is...and what an Inside Out is. Must be an age thing...or I just live a sheltered life.


Graham Kinross
21:10 Oct 18, 2022

Both worth a watch.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
AnneMarie Miles
13:09 Oct 14, 2022

Haha, this eas funny! As someone who loves psychology, this was a humorous and creative use of it. So many excellent lines in here that made me laugh. Here's one: “And, ‘Let’s get Herb to do hard drugs so we can all have more fun' is not at all helpful" I think this is a great commentary on self-sabotage or our unconscious helping us out in some way. It was a very entertaining read! Thanks for sharing.


Murray Burns
00:40 Oct 17, 2022

Thanks. I like to write funny stuff, even if just for my own amusement. I've long been affected by a speech former college basketball coach Jim Valvano gave as he accepted the ESPY courage award many years ago. Despite the fact that he was dying of cancer, he said it was important to laugh everyday. Sometimes I'll read something I wrote that I thought was funny just to get that laugh in. I'm glad you found a laugh in something I wrote. Thanks.


AnneMarie Miles
13:24 Oct 17, 2022

It is healthy to laugh! And something we don't do a lot of. I am with you, there, I like to reread my own stories, too, something. It's a nice feeling to laugh with yourself, and even better when someone else makes ya laugh. Thanks again.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Lily Finch
14:09 Oct 13, 2022

Hi Murray. This story was excellent. It truly made me laugh out loud. I thought it flowed well, and the plot was super exciting and comical. You have a knack for the humorous story! I enjoyed reading "Herb's Brain Scam" very much. LF6 "He keeps forgetting where he parked his car and he tried to go to Sunday Mass last Tuesday. " - I thought maybe this might be when he tried instead of and he tried?


Murray Burns
14:50 Oct 13, 2022

Thank you. I really appreciate it. The car/mass thing...it was 2 separate events...but it need a comma to show that...I just inserted it....good catch. Thanks.


Lily Finch
15:07 Oct 13, 2022

I changed up Gladys and Wilma's Cookies some. If you have the time and want to read it, I could send it to you. I am glad I helped you out. LF6


Murray Burns
16:27 Oct 13, 2022

Who the heck are Gladys and Wilma? If it's a cookie recipe, I'd like to see it. I'm not very good at it, but I like to do some baking. (And I like cookies.) backupcatcher1@gmail.com Thanks.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in Reedsy Studio. 100% free.