“The Tender Lamb”
by Ed Malin
And now for the appetizer for the story
Why rush into things. You will learn about internal bleeding and global warming later.
See, a story can be dissected, but do you cut right to the center to find the main idea? Oh you do? And
is that where you find it?
We may have a carcass on our hands at the end of this, but we will be doing things right. That’s the best
use of your time. And apologies to any vegetarians out there.
The band Air Traffic Control Freak were about to have their biggest hit ever. The singer, Julius
Salad, admittedly acted like he ruled the world. The drummer, Junior Murvin Sr., was lost in time.
“See You on the Way Down” was unusual for the era in that more than half of the budget went into the
album cover art and the music video for the first single. That more-than-half somewhat curtailed the
amount the band used to spend on drugs.
In the dressing room, it smelled like desperation. Sorry, I forgot to capitalize Desperation. That was a
popular brand of hairspray.
The band’s style was progressing. They were not going to get out on that stage and backpedal. They
were going to use all the other kinds of pedals, though.
One might have described their conscious style as “The Parable of the Metaphor”, except the band saw
fit to name their next album exactly that. The reason they did may explain their surprising success. In
the words of Julius Salad: “See, a simile is a poetic device that uses like or as. For example: “The
Hindenburg sank like a Lead Zeppelin”. We are not like anyone. If we catch ourselves playing like
anyone, breathing like anyone, brainstorming like anyone, we veer off. That’s our cue to go into fight or
flight. Oh, I want to emphasize the OR in “fight or flight” because we’re into divergent thinking.
To be clear, the band’s success was surprising because it was still, like, a simile world. Teenage record
buyers were not normally prone to buying an album that sounded like that.
Which only became clearer when these buyers did not buy the follow-up album. That later album did
not have a cover depicting quite so many nudes. Still, if explanations were needed then the band was a
failure, as the lyrics contained within “See You on the Way Down” did not give any reason for nude
women to be falling from the heavens. At least they looked good doing it. In the video, several large
fans were used to keep the nudes’ hair fluttering dramatically.
Was it only the gratuitous serving of flesh that sold so many copies? Modern scholars tend to think so.
Although the band did not sound like anyone else, that is not really an accomplishment.
Still, when I’m feeling nostalgic, I play Side B of “The Dirtiest Dozen in the Zodiac”. It contains a few of
the band’s catchiest tunes, the brightest of which are “Bernouli’s Assistant Principal” and “Listenin is Not
on the Periodic Table“. The entire side is in 6/8.
So, you say, fine, the lamb is cooked on the outside but is it pink in the middle? Shall we find out?
April, 2020. I am an unemployed travel agent. And I am on the run.
I didn’t mean to do it. But it was a matter of life and death. Because I’m sorry, if anyone’s going to be
an endangered species, it’s not me.
I hear a V8, and it ain’t the vegetables. It’s all their fault, and to add insult to injury, now they’re coming
to get me.
There are still places to go during the pandemic. If you’re really rich and have your own boat. How can
the powers that be let my industry go under? We represent the whole outside world, and that world is
too big to fail.
Yet, almost no one can go anywhere so virtual reality is being used as a substitute for vacations. I don’t
like it one bit. Whatever happened to flying to St. Martin and spending too much on restaurants?
That’s where my commissions came from.
Then people felt trapped. And then they started ordering hot wings. I have nothing against Asian
restaurants. See, it was just the sequence of it all. Folks worked from home, and started smoking much
more pot, because now they legit could do so all day. Did they play video games, too? They did, all
those VR simulators and such. A month into the pandemic, some millennial told everyone on Instagram
(this I also monitor for professional reasons) that if they played this one immersive VR game set in Asia
and ordered Korean barbecue, it was just like going on vacations. The extra senses were what tipped
the scale. People go to a lot of places and take pictures. They can even photoshop the pictures and
pretend they went someplace else. Photoshop food, though?
Now, large sections of the city were staying home, gaming and chowing down on wings. When my
travel office shut down, it was quickly converted into a barbecue joint.
I’m not racist. At least not in public. Oh, was I sad and mad, though. When I smashed the windows of
my own former office, I conveniently forgot I was standing right next to a police camera, the one that
had helped protect my establishment from lowlifes all those years. I had a motive. I had to get out of
Call me what you like. Some day, I will stop running and live in an exotic foreign country with customs
vastly different from those of New England. Or maybe I’ll go to Texas.
Fine, the main course is rich. Did you try the sides? Oh, you don’t eat salad? What kind of a person are
Dakron, Ohio would never be the same. The local high school had just become regional football
champions by defeating top-seeded Mylar, Michigan.
In a cable sports TV interview, the Dakron football coach explained his team-building philosophy: “It’s all
organic. From when they’re born and grow up in town, I get to know the athletes, recruit them, help
them train. We have strong bonds.”
Mylar’s domination of the title for the past 6 years was considered air-tight. Their defense was known to
be “as impermeable as you can get.”
Meanwhile, school sports financing doesn’t just come from nowhere, and Dakron’s patron, Polymer
Bank, was part of a chain of intrigue. The chairman of the board was under investigation for securities
fraud. He admitted that tax breaks on importation of semiconductors are more substantial than for raw
materials such as bamboo. Heavy duties were involved.
However, he asked the jury, was it really so unreasonable to refer to bamboo chopsticks as
semiconductors? The judge did not understand. You know, if you wave them around in the air like
there’s an orchestra and you’re the conductor.
Technically it was a plea bargain, but it was an extreme bargain the company had cleared in paying
Chewy, is it? Keep chewing, please. I have a few more things to tell you.
Senator Josephus Sussbaum (R-Ore.) was hitting a new career low. And not just for himself, but
for anyone who had ever been a US Senator.
The oil spill on his watch was just the beginning of the environmental disasters which snowballed (given
that oilballed was not a word yet) until running for reelection and running away to a neutral country
were equally prohibitive.
Sometimes, sea creatures die in large quantities due to human-caused pollution, such as a leak from a
Sussbaum Manufacturing Global Stimulus Corp (NYSE ticker: SUSS-MAN-GLO-STIC) plant.
Usually not in Oregon, but there’s a first time for everything. There had been a coverup, albeit a
horrible one, as Sussbaum Extraterratorial Corporation (NYSE ticker: SEXCO) sent in cargo ships in the
middle of the night tasked with collecting the dead scrod, sea urchins and starfish.
Unfortunately, another accident resulted in the jettisoning of the SexCo ship’s other cargo of several
tons of bread crumbs. Who could then have predicted that the oil-rich water would be struck by
lightning and burned like an eco inferno?
The coverup of the coverup failed, so the disaster (not in itself illegal, if you can believe it) as well as the
Senator’s alleged conflicts of interest (he was on the Wildlife Non-Extinction Committee and the
Fossilized Legislators Committee) were brought before a special session headed by whomever wasn’t ill
with the virus. The V.P. insisted on receiving treatment in Florida (leading to the dangerous nickname
“Miami Vice”) and so the task of officiating fell to…actually to Sussbaum himself.
The papers had a field day, referring to Sussbaum as President Pro Tempura of the Senate. And it was a
flambé of an issue to investigate.
The Japanese ambassador, outraged, reminded the assembly that the word “tempura” entered that
country’s language only through the 16th Century visits of filthy white people. Sussbaum’s sycophantic
rival, Sen. Titus Von Trapp (Independent of Texas [sic]) took this opportunity to acknowledge that these
whites had been the Portuguese Jesuits, the only secret society openly trying to control the world. To
this, Senator Bourbon Williams III of Kentucky remarked he had thought it was the Jews.
While some say that In Dixie the past is not forgotten, it can be troubling when those involved never
This was also the view of Sen. Diana Orrosco-Pollo (D-NewMex). While New Mexico has a land border
with Original Mexico, Oregon is an oceanic entry point into our nation. Do we not owe the native
inhabitants as well as the entire ocean and world a nuanced apology?
Could POTUS help to resolve this squabble? POTUS was busy proposing legislation for more renewable
energy and saving of the environment. Hopefully, he could accomplish this before those in the other
branches of government had more unsustainable fish fries.
It took a lot of finagling to line up all the votes. Western Tennessee had to solemnly aver to West
Virginia that the latter invented white people music. It took several months for both states to realize
they had voted against strip mining, strip clubs and all the other things which generally got legislation
passed. And only by taking a great step forward and two steps back did the country feel like they were
at least getting somewhere.
Looks like you found the wishbone. In a lamb chop, you found the wishbone! Isn’t that a little
unusual? And yet, there it is. Aren’t you going to make a wish?
Your honor, that is correct. I, Reggie, sorry, full name Regina Smalls, being of sound mind and
body (that’s debatable, but I’ll keep going) waive my right to counsel and will instead defend myself.
Yes. And you’re writing it down so I don’t need to say it again.
When I woke up this morning, taking this step was not in my mind. But, today has gone so beyond
what’s normal that… if I don’t try every option, I would be down by myself a disservice and wasting your
When the officer was beating me up today. Oh, I apologize, getting ahead of myself. I know you think I
came here to defend myself against all those parking tickets, and that’s why I thought I came here, too.
During that part of the beatdown, I was lying on my back on the sidewalk. That’s when I flashed back to
parochial school. I always use that term because I looked up catholic in the dictionary and saw little
When I was in school, sisters were doing it for themselves. That’s right, there were smacking all the kids
with rulers like a footlong wasn’t enough. Especially the ones like Sister Mary Lou Xavier. As far as she
was concerned, I needed to not exist. Once, during a girl gang fight on the playground, I told the
headmistress that someone was out to get me. The next day, Sister was out to get me, teasing along
with her ruler torture. Poor Salve Regina, the girl who always needs saving.
I glared at her through the pain. You’ll never make me speak Latin!
Anyway, I made it through parochial school and got off the straight and narrow path. I’m a social
worker. I help people. Not only that, I like people. Sorry that I parked in front of that restricted
driveway that time. I was going to just pay the fine. But it really wasn’t clearly marked. I have photos.
So I came here, and I took the bus to court today. No need to find a parking space. Much easier, that’s
what we’re supposed to believe about public transportation.
Meanwhile, I get off the bus and the cop is following me. He’s yelling things like “Hey!” and “You!”
Was I supposed to stop based on that? I have a name, you know. It’s Reggie. I mean, I like my full name
but I went to Canada once and they pronounce it like it rhymes with vagina. Reggie is more my speed.
So you never heard of Shi Tzu Affective Disorder?
It’s when a dog starts acting like it can defeat anyone much bigger.
In this world, there are a lot of things—animals, people, pieces of furniture—which are much bigger
than a Shi Tzu.
The question is, does whatever the Shi Tzu is fighting against get scared and have a mental breakdown?
Scientists have observed that in 9% of cases, this does happen. This phenomenon is called Dementia
On the other hand, when I really want to succeed at an impossible task, I take a deep breath and think of
math. Math was not a strong point at parochial school, so my parents found me a tutor. They were
mildly racist and couldn’t pronounce his name, so they just called him the Korean Abdul Jabar. He was
six foot five and obsessed with sports trivia, which some people call stats. I really looked up to the
Korean Abdul Jabar, both figuratively and literally. He explained to me some of the physics involved in
basketball. But mainly he taught me how to fake people out. It requires coordination. It requires
syncopation. Smile on one side, pivot on the other, knowing that the left hand knows what the right is
doing, but nobody else guessed. That’s how you score and if you keep it up that’s how you win.
I came here to pay parking tickets, I got attacked by a cop, I fought back, I got thrown in jail, and I had to
beg to still come to court.
I have never been prouder of myself. That cop I gave the smackdown to, he wet his pants. It would be
indecent for me to tell everyone in this courtroom how I distracted the officer enough to damage him.
It would impede the carrying out of justice. Sorry for laughing. Impede sounds like peed, cause that’s
what he did, in his pants.
Oh, judge, you can bang that thing all you want. After the day I’ve had, are you really going to send me
back to a holding cell? What is this, the parking ticket to prison pipeline? OK OK is there anyone in this
courtroom who can bail me out? I know I get a phone call, but I left my cell phone at home and I don’t
remember anyone’s number. The Korean Abdul Jabar taught me many memory techniques, which I still
can’t apply to this situation.
Fine, guilty as charged. Here come the handcuffs. Could you at least not give me another parking
ticket? Because if I’m here overnight, there’s alternate side of the street parking and I have to move my
car at home before 8 AM.
I’m sorry I didn’t bring dessert. But you know what’s better than sweets? A moral!