I was busy prying the hubcaps off of Area Man’s truck when the fracas began. I had been working with a skill and dexterity known only to auto thieves as I was under a time constraint. I had to get those hubcaps off while Area Man napped; that killjoy would probably not go along with my plan to use the shiny steel discs as serving platters for my petite fours, and I needed those platters NOW. After all, the next meeting of the Wainiha Mensa Society was right around the corner and I had no large serving platters left on which to present the gooey sticky little cakes; most of my large plates had been broken in one marital brawl after another over the years. So it was the hubcaps or nothing.
However, something was going on across the street at the Wainiha General Store and usually there was some high entertainment value to be had from such occasions. I put down my pry bar and sauntered out of the driveway for a better look. Once again, I was not to be disappointed. A can of Campbell’s Soup rolled out of the store’s doorway, crossed the threshold, bounced down three steps, raced across the parking lot and came to rest at my big toe. Hummm, Campbell’s Soup. I wondered if this was an omen to forget the petite fours and go with soup for the meeting. Soup would work well in the hubcaps and the whole mess could be flung if things got out of control again, a flying saucer bearing stodgy glistening destruction like a dripping Frisbee from the edge of the Milky Way. If I used a garnish of nuts, this would act as a kind of shrapnel that would really hurt should it spray the rowdy members prone to misbehave. We would have Roberts Rules of Order, by Jove! Just then, not one or two cans but a cascade of soup cans came screaming out of the store, and headed my way. This was starting to look like a Wainiha General Store Sit-u-a-tion, a SNAFU with enough danger and screaming involved to be downright thrilling. Here we go, I thought. Duck and cover.
Now the clatter of the escaping cans was accompanied by the braying of a donkey. In Wainiha it is local wisdom that when you hear the pounding of hooves you look for zebras. But this time it was a donkey. From inside the darkened recesses of the Wainiha General Store, a donkey was putting up a helluva fight. Never known to be a cooperative animal, the obstinate beast was kicking down shelves and in general making its objections felt. A jackass in the store…nothing new there, but a donkey? So, what’s this about? I could only guess from the escalating threats that one of the locals had just brought it in for a look around and things had gotten out of hand (as usual) and there you have it. I grabbed a can or two of soup and started back across the street. I was thinking that I might just treat myself to a big steaming bowl of Chicken Noodle when a can of soup whizzed past my right ear with the determination of a scud missile. “Put that can down RIGHT NOW”. I didn’t even have to look; I knew who had caught me red handed, and I knew who would be willing to rip my juggler out over a can of happy good lucky soup that, I might add, had been gifted to me by the gods. All righty then. Without turning around. I placed the cans of soup on the yellow line in the center of the road and slowly with a kind of tattered dignity skulked on home. Within moments I heard a car hit the cans of soup, turning tin and noodles with tasty bits of carrot but no actual chicken into road kill, something as attractive as vomit. More screaming…I did my extra special abbreviated version of the Highland Fling…Vindicated! Taking a certain schadenfreude over this, I picked up my pry bar and went back to work on the hubcaps.
Enough dancing around. Let’s get down to brass tacks about the Wainiha General Store right now. This is the epicenter of all mischief and the magnet of all trouble in the little village of Wainiha. When you roll down the Wainiha Grade, and cross the first little bridge into town, the very thing that catches your eye like an object of terrible fascination is the Wainiha General Store and a surfboard just beyond that warns you that this is your Last Chance. I would like to place an addendum under that sign that reads Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here. It is here that you will find the entrance to the Underworld. If Babylon, New York has its Amityville House of Horror, we’ve got the Wainiha General Store. If London’s got the Tower, that’s nothing to us. We’ve got The Store. If the Congo has its Heart of Darkness, hah! Go pound salt; we’ve got The Store. And just like Kurtz’s compound in Conrad’s famous novel, heads on stakes, leering in mock salutation, line the front porch and cheery picnic area.
Furthermore, it is local knowledge that there is a core Wainiha within the greater Wainiha Area and that is known as Wainiha Nation. That’s where I live; at the crossing of ancient ley lines of power and the intersection of nightwalkers, river spirits, crazies and drunks. In Wainiha we have three moons, not just your measly one. A full moon night comes ‘round and you have one moon in the sky, one moon in the ocean and one moon reflected in the Wainiha River. Three moons. Schizotypal lunacy to the power of three. All the better to cook up voodoo mischief, my lovelies.
We have our own currency, as well. Locals know this and tourists must discover this the hard way…at The Store. The Wainiha General Store, the seat of power and governmental administration for Wainiha Nation only accepts Wainihaitian dollars. If you think otherwise go in there and try to spend your U.S. coin. I have seen it frequently thrown out the door at the backs of retreating terrified tourists. Our currency has the Tongan flag crossing the flag of Tahiti with empty beer bottles stacked up as a background. It is soon to be traded on the foreign exchange markets around the globe…and is printed every night by a grouchy old ghoul who looks like Nosferatu in the green glow emanating from the back of The Store.
Who runs the Wainiha General Store? I knew you’d be getting around to asking that. If you have boned up on your Aeschylus lately, I can hint in a guarded and careful whisper that it is The Kindly Ones, also known as the Eumenides who govern the store and thus Wainiha Nation. These three Lovely Women, Alecto, Megaera and Tisiphone who I would prefer not to name out loud all look exactly alike and you never know which one you are dealing with. You might think they are all the same person, except that Alecto handles the parking situations in front of The Store, Megaera handles currency issues and Tisiphone anything appertaining to family matters. In fact, speaking of family matters, true to Aeschylus, the place operates on the schema of a Greek Tragedy; sons are trying to kill mothers, mothers are trying to kill sons, sons are trying to kill each other and sooner or later someone is going to kill someone else over who has right of way on the Wainiha bridge. The rest of us are just poorly paid Greek chorus members who wail at funerals and ask stupid questions of the audience during moments of high crisis.
Wait! What do I hear? An altercation has broken out across the street at the Wainiha General Store. Imagine! The three-headed dog that guards the front step, normally in the grip of a sleep plagued with fretful dreams of kitties, barks three times, sets up a howl and gets to its feet. Ah gee, a tourist is involved. And yes, now do I dare say it? One of the Furies comes to the entrance throws her head back, her mane now a swarming mass of snakes, blood dripping from her eyes, points her finger in the air and yells, “Release the Kraken!”
This is the part I love; this is what I wait for every time. The little Lays Potato Chip delivery guy dives under his truck, the locals scatter and the helpless tourist looks around in utter confusion. I race to the backyard and watch the ocean begin to boil. Landslides and rocks cascade down on Lumahai Grade and the wind picks up to a deafening roar. Suddenly, the Kraken, a giant octopus, waves its arms in the air, rolls up out of the troubled waters of Wainiha Bay on its suckered arms like an amphibious tank, begins its trek across the sandbar, wades through the Wainiha river and makes landfall in the yard just next to me on its way to The Store. “Hey, Guido”, I say as it slithers past. “Wha’s up this time? A tourist with a parking issue or a currency problem?”
“Nah, I dunno. She jus’ don’ like the guy’s attitude. Go figyah.”(This in a Brooklyn accent)
“Oh well. Happy hunting, pal. See ya later, alligator.
Guido responds with a very toothy grin “In awhile crocodile”. That Guido, what an original, huh?
Screams of terror, light fades.