Harold ducked out of the doorway and looked around wildly for a secluded place to burst out laughing, again. “Oh, my gosh…it’s really her! The Enquirer came to life!” he deja-vued. This little sidestep was turning out to be one of the most bizarrely, entertaining mornings he had ever witnessed. Even more so than the time he spent the night at his Aunt Minnie’s house, and experienced the sight of his uncle’s prisoner-of-war mating ritual upon his own wife. He spied the shed about twenty yards behind the trailer and suddenly made a break for it. Expecting it to be empty, he burst through the open door and tumbled over 691 pounds of reclining swine. Harold tried desperately to compose himself, while wondering what had happened to Igmo and the sylvan emcee with his tin crown after the pandemonium hit. Igmo had obviously returned to his shed, wet and hatless. Harold picked himself up off of the earthen floor, keeping one eye on Igmo and leaned against a window sill a few feet away from the massive animal.
     “Why, hello…Mr. Igmo,” he blurted out nervously after a few moments. “Ugh…what happened to the king?”
     “The King,” Igmo replied rather matter-of-factly, “is dead!”
     Harold sort of gurgled at him, then let out his astonishment when it finally sank in, “HOLY CRAP!”
     The hog grunted wistfully, “You like d’ old lady’s gifts?”
     Falling down again in a somewhat dizzying state, Harold began clawing his way backward across the dirty wood planking until he caught the seat of his Wranglers® on a nail sticking up from the floor. He heard laughter and stared horror-stricken at the huge hog until he realized that the sound was not coming from the direction of the pig at all, but to his immediate left. He glanced over and saw a man in a drenched denim leisure suit leaning against a large wooden support post, twirling the dented tin crown around his finger. The farmer shook his head and laughed softly for another moment, then sloshed over to Harold and held out his hand. Harold looked at it suspiciously for a second, then grabbed it and hoisted himself up. There was a loud ripping sound as his jeans and the nail separated after their intimate encounter. Fearing the worst, he withdrew his hand quickly from the stranger’s grip and felt around his backside, smiling with relief when he discovered that only the back pocket was torn. He turned back, intending to thank the showman and ask him who he was, but the gentleman was gone.
     “Over there, boy,” the pig chortled.
     “Damn nasty turn of events this mornin’, buddy,” came a voice from over by the open door. Harold spun around and noticed the farmer standing by Igmo with one foot on the hog’s back like a Spanish explorer claiming the porcine mass for Queen Isabella. “Ain’t never seen nothin’ like it. Gee-wizzzzz…in all my years doin’ this manure. Young man…you did see what happened, did’nch you?” Harold bobbled his head up and down. The tin man took this to mean ‘yes’ and continued, “But, you wasn’t down there with the rest of the crowd, was you?”
     “No, sir,” Harold managed to speak, then abruptly asked, “excuse me, but…who are you, anyway?”
     “Hugh Fardid.”
     Harold purposely looked behind where he was standing, spun around and responded, “Not me!”
     “But, you can call me the Wizz Kid. That’s what the folks always called me back in school.”
     “The Wizz Kid?” Harold asked curiously. “Why not the Wizzer of Oz? I mean, look at the setting. It’s out in the country, there are animals all around the place, it feels like an old-timey carnival and all the folks out here are stupid! I think that would fit you nicely…umm, Hugh.”
     “Hmmm…I guess in that sense, I could be called the Wizzer Wizard. But, the Wizz Kid’s my nickname, so I’m stickin’ with that!”
     Harold was trying to figure this out in his best sleuthing manner, “The Wizz Kid, huh? Were you the valedictorian of your class, or really smart in science or something?”
     “Nah…I peed in my pants a lot!”
     Harold didn’t quite know how to respond to that, so he remained silent.
     “Speakin’ of piss,” the Wizz Kid continued, “that really pissed me off about that darn hat!”
     “Hat? You mean your tin hat that’s got a dent in the side of it? You can get a hammer…like the one hangin’ on the wall over there and bang it back out,” Harold infused, trying to sound conversational.
     “Not this tin-pan shit, boy,” Hugh barked, then pointed at Igmo, “the hat that Igmo was wearin’ down at that tank.”
     “Oh, yeah…that old hat. What about it?”
     “Sam Spade wore that very same hat in The Maltese Falcon.”
     “I knew I recognized it from somewhere.”
     “ Picked it up at an auction for $4,275. I betcha some bastard from d’ audience picked it up and took it home to show his wife an’ snotty-nosed kids. Oh, hell…I don’t care, anyhow.”
     “You don’t care?!?” Harold sputtered, “That hat’s worth…”
     “Horse shit, now!” Hugh quickly intervened, then continued, “It had Humphrey Bogart’s sweat on it! Don’t you see? The sweat got all washed off when that hog fell into the water! That damn hat ain’t worth squat without Bogey’s sweat stained on it!”
     “Oh…hmmm…I guess.” Harold had just reached the conclusion that he wanted to be back in his ’57, many miles down the road. He started inching his way towards the open door. If that wouldn’t have worked, he could always imitate one of those stunt men that he had seen in countless western movies crashing through a window. Thinking that he might ruin Aunt Penny’s gift that she had given him, in case he misjudged his flight pattern through the actual glass pane and wound up cutting himself all to pieces, he nixed that idea and inched a little closer to the opening, instead.
     “Hey, kid?”
     Harold replied in a jumpy tone, “Upt…yes, sir?”
     “What’s your name?”
     Feeling a little insecure, he wanted to conceal his actual moniker, “It’s…ummm…Harry, sir.”
     “Ummharry, you want some breakfast before you take outta here?” Hugh inquired, “We don’t get many real visitors in here too often.”
     “Imagine that…”
     “Mildred could whip up somethin’ real tasty!”
     “Maybe, but…”
     Hugh started reminiscing, “She used to make me breakfast real early at the circus sideshow camper. That’s where we first laid eyes on each other. She was a real star, too. She bit the heads off of turkeys before Thanksgiving dinner. Lookie, now…we raise them out back and make sandwiches to sell at our full service gas station up the road. We raise a lot of turkeys nowadays…gobble-gobble-gobble! She still finds the time to bite the head off one every now and then!”
     “Errrr…no thanks, Mister Fartbag…I think I better get to school.”
     “An ed’jication, eh? I remember when I went to school in Spankville. All the grades were under one roof back then and we had a hot teacher that’d show us kids somethin’ special in the cloak room…”
     Harold had reached the door by then, so he turned and bolted through it.
     “All righty, then,” Hugh’s voice inferred from inside the shed, “come back, again! Ya hear?!?” That was soon followed by a loud grunt, then another low-toned nasal voice, “I will catch up with you later, young man.”
     “Ugh…sure, man,” Harold retorted under his breath, “right after I get picked up by a U.F.O. Gee-willikers!” After exiting the shed, Harold found himself on the wooden walkway he had first seen Hugh and Igmo on half an hour earlier. He followed it out of curiosity, since both he and the walkway were headed back toward the gravel road and away from this Barfum and Bally’s circus. He soon found himself in a soupy hollow where the majority of the pond used to be, though all that was presently visible were several pieces of broken, mud-covered plexiglass and a dirty ear of corn. It looked as if the crowd had trampled the entire area in their haste to be somewhere else. Surveying the depressing scene, Harold almost felt sorry for the farmer and his eccentric turkey-sacrificing nose-winnowing wife, for all the damage to their property; but, then he figured that it could all be put right again with a bunch of ‘turkey sandwiches’, ‘bloody nasal shrouds’ and ‘miracle money’. As he prepared to leave the ruined site, his foot caught on a soft bump in the mud. He looked, then bent down and tugged at it. His hand came up coated with the sticky mud, holding an old felt hat, sopping wet. He swiggled it around in a puddle of relatively clean water, beat it fairly dry against his thigh, then flopped it on top of his head as he made his way up out of the meadow and onto the palm tree lined drive.
     Peering up at the brim of the hat, “Humphrey Bogart’s sweat, hmmm…” Harold smirked, “it’s, ugh, the stuff that dreams are made of. Pfffffffffffffft!”
     When Harold was about three miles down the road, he suddenly remembered that Igmo had spoken to him back in the shed. Matter of fact, it was numerous times that he confabulated. He nearly smashed the old antique automobile through an aging picket fence when he slammed on the brand new bad brakes and shuddered to a stop by the side of the road. He sat inside the car and shook his head for a while.
     “Hold on a minute,” he whispered, trying out his voice to see if it still worked. “Just wait a minute, now,” he said, attempting to make himself feel better under the circumstances. “NOW. Just WAIT a falootin’ MINUTE,” he soon repeated, louder this time because the first couple of times didn’t achieve the desired effect. He climbed out of the stuttering, smoke-billowing 1957 Chevy Bel Air sedan and squinted back down the road in the direction from which he had come. “Hmph! Hold on another second, here,” he said, hoping the altered phrasing might help. He turned wildly about, facing his car, “IGMO TALKED!” he informed his hood ornament. “That damn pig can really talk! The first thing he said was ‘the king is dead’. Who’s dead? Hugh’s dead! In the shed with a stupid tin crown on his stupid head!” Harold giggled a little bit, then continued with his colloquial pabulum, “but, Hugh’s alive! He was also in the shed.” Harold paced energetically around the front of the car, then stopped dead and slapped his forehead with the heel of his hand. “THAT’S IT! Hugh was already in the shed; therefore, he is a ventriloquist!” He leaned over and placed his hands flat on the quivering hood of the ’57 like a criminal being searched by the police. He began to ransack his memory in about the same fashion: “Did I ever see Igmo’s lips move? Do pigs have lips? Does a snake have hips? Are Cheetos® really chips?” He danced this little jig for a couple of more seconds, giggling wildly, “No…he didn’t move his mouth. At least, I don’t think so…hmmmm? Besides, if Igmo could really talk, why would that crazy-ass farmer bother with all that walking on water bullshit?!?” He straightened up, drew in a deep breath, and announced loudly to a couple of crows passing by, “HUGH FARDID IS A VENTRILOQUIST! And, not a very good one, either!” So saying, Harold walked back to the half-opened car door.
     “Well,…that settles that,” he said as he climbed back onto the worn plastic-covered car seat, put the car’s transmission in gear, and took off down the road, spraying rust and dirt all over a pole cat who had just poked his head out of his burrow to greet the fresh-scented morning and to see what all the hoo-haw was all about.
<Song Credit-2: The Ventures, “Walk-Don’t Run” (Johnny Smith)>
Song: Ch.10-1
End: Chap. 10