Onion & Reginald Blisterkunst, Ph.D.
is a sequel to Reginald Blisterkunst's Among the Remembered
Saints: My Life and Subsequent Death, which was originally
serialized in WAG.
Readers who prefer to begin at the beginning may read
the first book by clicking here.
Calls and the World Ends
knocking wakes me up at eight the next morning. At first,
it's just a little pecking, easily ignored, like a bird
scratching at seeds; then it turns into a great cacophonous
drum roll that ends, quite abruptly, with the panel popping
out of the door and slamming to the floor with a great
slapping crease. A moment's silence and then a voice from
—Onion? I say, Onion. It's Lieutenant
Duty of the Homicide Division. Are you in there? I have
some news about the er...bones.
From my position under the pillow I
pounce pantwards and, zipping, descend. Duty is waiting
for me on the porch, in a halo of butterscotch scent.
—I say, he says, through the empty
door frame. Sorry about the door, old man.
—No problem at all, I say. I'll
just have Ronnie fix it again.
He looks at me closely as I open what
remains of the door and wave him inside.
—Yes, I say, startled. With the
large...all puffy...Look, is that really his name?
—That's what we called him at
the station, Duty says. I'd keep an eye on him, if I were
you. Tricky little devil.
—Thanks for the tip, I say.
I catch Duty eyeing my crotch and discover
my fly is open with a twirl of shirt sticking out and
weaving gently in the breeze like a long beckoning finger.
Christ. Zip: shut.
—Yes, well, he says. Yes. About
those bones, as I was saying: they're not human remains,
which is a relief, of course. But that's not why I came
He unwraps a fresh butterscotch and
shoots it cracking loudly against his teeth once or twice
—Have you seen this stuff about
—Last night, actually, I say.
—Strange stuff, Onion. Strange
I nod my head, agreeing.
—You know, he says, I must confess:
I have a metaphysical side. And I...this guy gives me
the willies. If he thinks he can take over the world to
get back at—
—I'm sure it's a prank, Lieutenant.
He sends the butterscotch on a few clacking
laps and eyes me.
—Maybe. Maybe. But keep an eye
on it, he says. And call me if you see anything strange.
Anything. In the meantime, I'll watch the dreams.
—Dreams. You know—nocturnal
movies. Where I get my messages.
—Of course, I say. Dreams.
I close the door and we shake hands
through the empty panel. Then, after he's pulled away
from the curb, I walk over to Woody's house and let myself
in. They've already cleared out, so I make myself some
coffee and call the landlady to complain about the door.
She promises to send Ronnie over pronto pronto. I hang
up and drink the coffee and decide I don't want to hang
around for Pompadour's abuse. So I snatch the Dick Watch
from under the Ghost of Eddie's Father and drive across
town to the WAG offices.
This time, I don't get lost.
is thick steel, and I whale on it mercilessly for several
minutes before a tall, chinless man opens it.
—Is McKratchitt in? I say. I'm
Charlie Onion. I have copy for him and—
—Come on in, the man says. McKratchitt's
out, but he should be back soon. I'm Justice Periwinkle.
Reports from the Edge. Glad to meet you.
We shake hands and then I follow him
down the corridor to a back room where a sullen, dark-haired
man seems to be concentrating intently on his right kneecap.
—Stinky, this is Charlie Onion.
New Dick Watch guy. Charlie, meet Stinky the Clown.
I make a show of shaking Stinky's hand
but he doesn't look up. Periwinkle shrugs his shoulders
and nods at the door. I follow him back into the hall.
—Sorry about that, he says. He
has...social problems, I guess you'd say. You can just
drop the column on McKratchitt's desk, if you want.
I follow him to the room where I had
first met McKratchitt and he gestures to the desk.
—He'll find it there eventually,
he says. Well, I'm off to horsewhip a psychic named June
—Good to meet you.
We shake hands again and after I hear
the front door close, I walk up to McKratchitt's desk
and peruse the stacks of paper. On the top of one pile
is a letter asking a Sioux Indian tribe to
rush me a free brochure about your
Portable Sweat Lodge—I am greatly interested.
Beside it, I find an angry letter from
a UFO nutcase threatening a lawsuit for an article in
which Periwinkle had claimed she'd eaten her own dog after
it said her name three times straight while drinking a
dry martini. And then, on the bottom of a stack of articles,
I find this:
Institute for the Study of the Other Side
Mc = can, may, must, shall,
2323 Spaceship Drive
New York, NY 10175
by your work. Amazing insights into the human condition
and the society that we live in. Brilliant. And pithy.
I've followed your career avidly for some time now,
and I agree: this is truly your best work yet.
our rule is never to consider unsolicited manuscripts,
obviously you are an exception we will be delighted
Dr. Cantaloupe, we are seriously considering publication
of Creative Transformations from Above. Please
send us the full manuscript at your earliest convenience,
along with author's proposed contractual terms. If you
are currently in negotiations with another publisher,
we feel we can match or beat their terms and offer "fringe
benefits" that will make all the difference.
to hear from you soon!
Adler Cantaloupe. Editor-at-large of
There They Are! Magazine. Quoted by none other
than the Great Armando just yesterday. A coincidence?
Before I can decide, the phone on McKratchitt's desk rings.
And rings. And rings. Apparently, Stinky and I are alone
in the building, and he's too caught up with his kneecap
to answer the phone. So after letting my heart settle
back into my chest cavity, I pick up the phone and say
—McKratchett? a man says on the
—No, I'm sorry, I say. He's not
in right now.
—Oh. No. Hmmm. Is this...Charlie
—Yes, I say. That's remarkable.
How did you—
—Okay, the man says. McKratchitt
said you were coming on board, so I guess you're okay
then. So you can call me...Peter.
—All right, Peter.
—That's not my real name, he says.
My parents are prominent in this state, and I don't want
them embarrassed by my connections to the underground.
So you'll simply call me Peter. Understand?
—Yes, I say, sitting down in McKratchitt's
—I've got a couple stories for
McKratchitt. One's with a militia group that only does
interviews with white racists. I don't know if McKratchitt
has anybody who can—
—I'll leave him a message, I say.
—You don't think you'd like to—
—No, I say, trying to sound cheerful.
Plate's full and all that nonsense.
—Here's one you don't want to
pass on, he says. Cattle mutilations.
—Oh. I see.
—I've got a guy down in Marseilles,
Texas, who can give you clippings on every article that—
—All right, I say, just to shut
the man up.
—What's your address?
—It's...just send them to the
office here, with my name on it.
—Wise move, Onion. Keep everything
hidden. You don't know me, I don't know you. I like that.
So how about sexual abuse by aliens? I've got somebody
in Baltimore who would agree to talk, but only under strict
—Um, no, I think I'll pass on
that right now.
—Let me know if you change your
mind. She can also help you on stories about secret Army
training sessions being conducted in the woods behind
—Oh yes. There's an army base
nearby, and they spend half the night mocking up nuclear
—It is. And what with the alien
abuse and all, she's one sick puppy.
—I can imagine.
—But you didn't hear it from me.
—Of course not.
—She's got a friend in Colorado
Springs with the same problem.
—What? The abuse or the army?
—Both. We believe they may be
Eventually, I fake a bad connection
and hang up. I walk down the hall and glance in at Stinky:
still kneecap-locked. I wait around for McKratchitt for
a few more minutes, then drive out to Aunt Sarah's for
breakfast and afterwards loop around the park a few times
and watch a dead duck float up and down on the tepid waves.
Then lunch at a burger barn and thoughts of alternate-Charlie.
Somehow, the sun manages to cross the sky and I make my
way slowly home, where I find my door fixed but also painted
blood-red. As I gawk, the door opens beside me and Eddie
—Hey, I say.
He starts down the stairs but I stop
—Did you see Ronnie today?
—Did he paint my door red?
—I don't know. Hey—want
to go drinking?
—Shoot some pool?
—No, I say. Look, I want to know
why my door's blood-red.
—Guess he didn't want people to
knock on it too hard. He says the whole house might come
down next time.
I suppress an urge to leap over the
porch rail and throttle the half-wit. Instead, I merely
scowl at the sky as a single, small disk describes an
arc high above us and disappears.
—That's them again, Eddie says.
The world's going to end soon. You can feel it, can't
—Yes, I say. I can.
—Tell Papa I love him, he calls
up from the street.
—I will, I say.
I open the door and step into the darkness.
—Hello, a sultry voice says.
I step back, startled, as a figure in
a red dress leaps from the shadows and knocks me to the
—Long live Blister, the figure
shouts over its shoulder, as it disappears through the
takes me a minute to recover my senses—I'm seeing
stars for a moment as the staircase does a short waltz
over me and then, woozy, I rise and look streetwards.
A single redneck ducks into the Bare-Ass Rooster, an errant
pit bull click-clicks down the sidewalk on untrimmed claws
and afterwards the street is silent. No Mystery Woman.
To be on the safe side, I lock the door.
Down the hall for a drink of brown water
in the kitchen; glance out the back window and see the
garden still-moated and undisturbed. Another glass of
water and then back down the hall and, after peeking out
at the street, I stumble next door to Woody's.
Duty's out but I leave a message saying
that, for what it's worth, the Mystery Woman has just
fled my house. Then I leave Woody's number as mine and
hang up. I find an English muffin in the refrigerator
and eat it cold while drinking coffee. Then I call McKratchitt.
He picks up after two rings.
—Sorry I missed you this morning,
I say. I dropped a Dick Watch off and just wanted to make
—Great piece, he says. Loved it.
Guy really has great hair. Keep that tone and we'll be
fine. So how's everything on your end?
—Well, um, actually, I was just
attacked by the Mystery Woman.
—You're kidding. My God. That's
great. I can't believe it. You know how hot that story
is right now? Give me a thousand words by tomorrow morning—but
don't do any embellishing because I'll fax it out to the
TV tabloids, and they can smell embellishing like it's
a rotting horse.
—I'll do my best, I say. A guy
named Peter called while I was in the office, incidentally.
A moment's silence.
—He did, eh?
—What did he say?
—He said something about having
a racist militia story for the right guy, I say. And I
agreed to look over some cattle mutilation material.
—Good. Good. Peter's my best contact.
CIA, NSA—you name it. He's got connections. So if
you talk to him again, just agree with everything he says.
—All right, I say.
I hang up and Duty calls.
—Tell me what she was wearing,
—Hard to say, actually. Red, I
—Long live Blister, I believe.
—Did she seem...disoriented?
—All things considered, it would
be hard to say.
—I understand, Duty says. And
there was nothing in the face that would make you think—
—It was too dark too see much,
I say. And I was rather surprised by it all. But thinking
about it now, I almost see a mustache.
—I can't say for sure, I say,
as the front door opens, but I think she might have needed
—Interesting, he says. Most, most
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2 | Part 3
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6 | Part 7
| Part 8 |
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