The Winner of the 2005 Ninth Annual Imitate Keeler Competition:
by Ed Park
Yuri Macadam-Kong--the Russian-born son of a far-flung Scottish burglar and a Manchurian pickpocket--who was raised by a family of Hmong yeggmen--and women!--and who was a nearly lifelong resident of the "Buenos Aires of the North"--that is to say--"Chi"!--or as certain yeggfolk like to say, "Chicaggy"!--swept--or, more precisely--dabbed--with a stiff kerchief--for "hand"-kerchief it was decidedly not, the simple reason being that a yegging fiasco mit dynamite had left Yuri with smooth paddles instead of the typical palm mit digits!--the beadlets of sweat from the wide expanse of his brow--or "fur-head," as his beloved nanny, Clementine Qat--a devoutly religious woman whose one sin was her unbecoming pride at her u-less surname!--used to call it.
"Done!" he cried, admiring his labor. On the baize-covered table--for all tables in stories set in this period are invariably covered with "baize," to the degree that one imagines baize-merchants occupied the top rung of Ye Olde Social Ladder!--lay the product of three years of furious Yuri-work--not just the tangible result of his welding, hammering, and tightening, but also--and more importantly--of his ceaseless cogitations--and calculations!--that over the course of 1,095 days--id est, the sum of three years--had turned him into a shell of his former, rather "roly-poly"--thanks to an all-blintz diet!--self. The moment of truth was at hand--or "at paddle"! He would test the device to see if it worked. If it did--fame and fortune--and--something else--would be his. And if it didn't--they would most assuredly not be his!
A draft ran through his basement apartment on that cold Hallowe'en night. Sirens blared, almost drowning out--almost!--the noise of revelers wending their way downtown. He would have dearly loved to be with the partygoers this evening--well, to be out with one partygoer, by the name of Serena--a strikingly handsome--that is to say, quite lovely!--young lady with a serious, somewhat secretarial air--who tried to lessen the impact of her beauty on mere mortals by bundling her molasses-colored tresses into "hair biscuits"!
Yuri had met Serena by chance, in line at the Chameleon, a new night-club featuring a big band, casino games, and monkeys in wide lapels clambering on--and sometimes sleeping in--the cut-glass chandeliers. Not to mention numerous baize-colored tables! Serena, dressed severely in black, had thought--mistakenly!--that she was waiting to get into Vespers--for the night-club in question had taken over the building once occupied by St. Stanislaw's Church of the Good Impression! So nicknamed because Friedrich Favre-Lautrec, famous for his impersonations of assorted U.S. presidents--and their assassins!--attended services there in days of yore!
Yuri convinced Serena to stay, and over three bottles of champagne--apiece!--it was revealed that she was none other than Serena Qat, the impoverished daughter of Clementine Qat, Yuri's late nanny, who has been described--albeit briefly!--four paragraphs ago!
Before the last bottle was drained, Yuri and Serena found themselves engaged to be married. But the next day she paid him a call, informing him that the marriage was most definitely and unmistakably "off"--for the simple fact that Yuri, the epitome of the "daydreaming inventor"--if not quite the "mad scientist"!-- had not even possessed enough in the way of funds to cover the cost of their evening at the Chameleon. Sensing that her cooling was simply a matter of spondoolicks, Yuri proposed that she give him thirty days to complete his work in progress--what he called a "surefire mechanical hit" that every housewife--and come to that, househusband--for he knew more than one domicile wherein the female half of the married equation wore the trousers, as they say!--and even some domiciles in which the equation was noticeably unmarried--and several in which the domiciles consisted not of man and wife, but wife and wife, and at times man and man--and who was to say that a single person, living unattached, did not him- or herself constitute a "domicile" of a sort? Anyway, his product would appeal to all sorts of domiciles--or else she could give ... give him the "boot"! And join the nunnery, as she'd also threatened!
The deadline was tomorrow. Would it be nundom--or wifedom--for Serena Qat?
Just then the phone rang. "Yuri Macadam-Kong?" came the voice over the wire--a familiar voice, yet one that he, Yuri, the recipient of the telephonic call, could not place! "Yes," he replied. "This is he. Him. I am...me!"
"This is Friedrich Favre-Lautrec--Freddy Fingers, for short! Our parents were yeggmeisters together, back in ancient times! The golden age of yeggdom! Yes! Currently I'm well known as a vaudeville star and radio personality. But I have just been to my lawyers' office--Schlegel, Sorrow, & Cherukupally--and they've informed me that in order to see the copious greenbacks from my Croesus-ish grandfather's will, I must do a good deed for any descendent of my parents' old pals who may have fallen on hard times! Your financial situation is...dire? Very good! How can I be of service?"
Yuri thought it over!
The next day, Serena arrived, wimple in hand. Before she could put down her coat, he uncovered his masterpiece.
"Now then! I have on the line none other than President Roosevelt! An old pal!" He picked up the speaking part of the telephone. "Frankie boy? Yes, the little lady is here--standing right by my side, in fact! Could I put her on?"
Serena listened intently as the voice, familiar to her from the weekly "Fireside Chats" that went out across the airwaves of the country, extolled the virtues of her beau's new creation--which precision-toasted minuscule letters onto slices of plain, Pullman, and rye!
"But...who will buy such a thing?"
"Why--simply everyone! Especially as the war lengthens and people need the security of having a machine to handle both foodstuffs--and--more--prosaic tasks! Has he told you the motto yet?"
"N-no," said Serena.
"'Bread--that tastes like writing--and writing--that tastes like bread!'"
"That's enough of that," said Yuri, hanging up the telephonic device rather abruptly. "So--who wants to be a nun now?" Serena's only reply, before he smothered her with kisses, was: "Wh--?"
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