[EDITOR’S NOTE: If extensive use of the f-word upsets you, this piece may not be to your taste.]
Who’s the paleface cracker clowns that run the world an’ keep a brother down?
CHUMPS. Can you dig it?
Who’s the cats that roll the dice an’ ruin lives but never pay the price?
CHUMPS. You damn right.
Helluva thing, livin in a world run by chumps. Ain’t no rules for the chumps. Everybody knows that. Ain’t nothin you can do ’bout it. Everybody knows that too. The chump does what the chump wants. A chump can wreck the banks an’ demand thanks. A chump can start a war then get paid more. A chump acts without shame an’ gets no blame. Chumps break, an’ then they take. Chumps meddle, then get medals. Ain’t no accountability.
Or at least… that’s the way it WAS. Before that one Sunday, in the park.
Don’t ask me to explain Thump to you. Because, really, what could explain Thump? I shouldn’t even have to. Because everybody knows Thump, and everybody knows, ain’t nobody fucks with Thump. Suffice it to say: Thump is big. Thump is comfortably on the BIG side of big; on the continuum of big, that’s Thump, way out there yonder, on the far end of the scale.
An’ Thump is bad. Thump is the kinda bad that makes bad itself look up, gulp, an’ back away slowly with its palms raised. An’ Thump is bald, an’ Thump is beardy. Thump is Thump, is what I’m tryin ta say, an’ what more need be said? Except to repeat: ain’t nobody fucks with Thump. Yes. That is a point that needs to be definitely understood. So much so that I will repeat it a third time, even. Ain’t. Nobody. Fucks. With. Thump.
So Thump an’ me, we was in the park one Sunday, an’ there’s this chump there. An’ I’m sittin on the park bench feedin the pigeons, like I do, an’ Thump he’s all standin there lookin mean, like Thump does, big ol’ bald head an’ beard, an’ Thump’s gottis legs spread an’ his big ol’ arms folded, muscles just bulgin an’ ripplin.
An’ the chump, he be all runnin around, whackin backs an’ flickin dicks, like it ain’t no thang. “Lookit that,” I say, as the chump flicks dick on an ol’ man with a cane. Knocks that lil ol’ man right on over an’ laughs ’bout it. I’m shakin my head. “Helluva thing, when a chump can run around, all whackin backs an’ flickin dicks.” I shake my head again. “But of course, ain’t nothin nobody can do ’bout it. Gots ta just take it.” I shake my head again. “Helluva thing.”
An’ Thump opens up his mouth an’ growls, “I’mma dump that chump.”
Now, I heard him, but I didn’t HEAR him, if you know what I’m sayin. Shit didn’t register. ’Cause I’d thought I heard Thump say he was gonna dump the chump, an’ of course, that couldn’t be right. ’Cause you can’t just dump a chump. Everybody knows that. It cannot be done. Chumps make the rules, so chumps act like fools. So I just shake my head again. “Chump runnin amuck,” I say. Sure enough, chump’s still whackin’ backs an’ flickin dicks. Runnin amuck. “Helluva thing.”
“I’mma dump that chump,” Thump says again. An’ this time Thump takes a step forward. Pigeons they scatter, an’ this time I HEAR HIM hear him, an’ I stand up from the bench. “Whatchootalkin ’bout, Thump?”
“I’mma dump that chump,” says Thump.
An’ this time I HEAR HIM hear him, an’ lemmee tell ya, my eyes go WIDE. “What the fuck, Thump?” I ask ’im. “You can’t just dump a chump! Everyone knows that!” Meantime the chump come runnin up onna lil girl widda ice cream cone, whacks her back like WHACK, cone drops like SPLAT, lil girl all cryin an’ the chump all laughin. An’ Thump, he starts walkin. Walkin up on the chump. “I’mma dump that chump,” mutters Thump.
“Now hold on up there, Thump!” I yell, but Thump ain’t listenin. Now the chump, he sees Thump. An’ the chump grins. ’Cause Thump’s lookin all mean, all bristly an’ beardy, like Thump does, but the chump, he knows that you can’t just dump a chump. It cannot be done. So even though everybody knows ain’t nobody fucks with Thump, the chump he comes runnin up on Thump, like maybe he’s gonna flick his dick, maybe, or whack his back.
Now. I know you ain’t gonna believe this. But I swear it’s true. The chump, he comes runnin up on Thump. An’ Thump, he reaches out them muscly arms. An’ Thump, he reaches out one massive Thump-hand, grabs that chump by the throat. An’ up, up into the air goes that chump, with a WHOOSH. An’ down, down to the ground goes the chump, with a WHAM.
The whole park, they all seen this. They seen it, but they don’t believe it. Thump standin there, lookin all mean. An’ the chump, he’s lyin there, lookin all dumped. An’ you can see it in everybody’s eyes. What did I just see? their eyes say. Did I just see Thump dump that chump? I seen it, but I don’t believe it.
Total dead silence. An’ then Thump opens up his mouth, an’ he says, “I dumped that chump!”
An’ the park goes CRAZY. Goes CRAZY BATSHIT. Ain’t nobody knows how to react. Ain’t within their frame of reference. I mean, what if you saw a guy come walkin up to you with a pair of scissors, dropped his pants, snipped off his own dick, an’ handed it to you? That’s what it’s like. That lil ol’ man, he’s floppin on his back like a turtle, flailin his arms inna air an’ shoutin. There’s a guy over there, runnin around an’ around in a three-foot circle, howlin, got the heels of his hands pressed to the sides of his head. “HOLY SHIT!” he’s yellin’. “HOLY SHIT!” that lady over there? Pretty sure she just crapped her pants. Pretty sure.
An’ the lil girl, she runs up on Thump, an’ she’s huggin on his leg, an’ Thump, he’s just standin there with his arms folded, starin down at her, lookin mean like Thump does. An’ I’m thinkin maybe Thump’s gonna dump the lil girl next. Hell, why not? Anything’s possible now, right? I just seen Thump dump a chump. The un-doable, it has been did. Might be I’ll grab one of these pigeons right out of the air an’ take a big bite out of it. Might be the sky’ll turn green an’ switch places with the ground. Reality ain’t real no more. Thump done dumped a chump. Jesus H. Christ inna chicken basket.
An’ the whole park is crazy batshit insane, folk runnin around, not knowin what to do or which way is up. An’ in the middle of it, just Thump, standin there, got his legs spread an’ his arms folded. Not smilin or nothin. Expression never even changed. Until the cops come, an’ the cops take Thump away. ’Cause everybody knows, you can’t just dump a chump.
It cannot be done.
The papers, they’re just full of it. THUMP DUMPS CHUMP screams the headline. Ain’t no other news. ’Cause everybody knows Thump, an’ everybody knows, ain’t nobody fucks with Thump. An’ everybody also knows that you can’t just dump a chump. The un-fuck-withable force done met the undumpable object, an’ can’t nobody make no sense of it. Does. Not. Compute.
So they take Thump to the courthouse to put Thump on trial. An’ the press is all there, cameras snappin an’ flashin. And they bring Thump up in frontta the judge, an’ the judge is all sittin there behind them big, thick horn-rimmed glasses, starin. And he asks the bailiff, Well, my goodness gracious me. Isn’t that Thump? And the bailiff’s like, Yeah, that’s Thump all right. ’Cause everybody knows Thump. And the judge removes his glasses, an’ sort of squints at the bailiff, an’ you can see he’s nervous. And he asks the bailiff, We’re not fucking with Thump, are we? And the prosecutor rises and clears his throat, and he explains that, No, your honor, technically, this does not fall within the bounds of the statutes that govern Fucking With Thump. And you can see the judge exhale slowly, and you can see the weight lift off of his shoulders. A heavy burden has been lifted. ’Cause everybody knows, ain’t nobody fucks with Thump.
And the judge is all like, With what crime is the defendant charged? And the prosecuting attorney, he’s just sort of standing there, an’ he sort of looks at the ground an’ mumbles. And the judge says, Speak up, I can’t hear you. And the prosecutor, he mumbles a little louder. And the judge bangs his gavel, ’cause he likes doin that. And the prosecutor goes, Um, your honor, may we approach the bench? And the judge says, Sure, an’ the prosecutor an’ Thump’s attorney approach the bench, an’ the prosecutor leans over towards the judge an’ mumbles what Thump done. An’ the judge leaps up, eyes wide, robes flying, glasses askew, an’ he shrieks, “WHAT THE FUCK, THUMP???” An’ the courtroom erupts in a frenzy; flashbulbs poppin an’ cameras clickin an’ reporters hububin an’ spectators shoutin an’ judge gavelin an’ Thump’s standin there, eye of the hurricane, lookin mean like Thump does. An’ court has to be adjourned for the day. An’ the headline in the evening edition says WHY, THUMP? WHY?
The first day of the trial arrives. An’ Thump is supposed to be sitting at the defense table. But Thump doesn’t sit, ’cause sittin is not a thing that Thump does. Instead, Thump STANDS behind the defense table, legs spread wide an’ muscly arms folded, lookin mean. Which is a thing that Thump does. Over by the prosecutor there’s the chump, swathed in bandages head to toe, all four limbs in casts an’ stickin out like a big ol’ X. Gotta say it, he looks like a man what been well an’ thoroughly dumped. The victim is hisself the evidence, an’ the evidence don’t look too good for Thump.
An’ the prosecutor stands up to deliver his opening argument. An’ before he does, he glances at Thump, and he swallows. ’Cause he knows. He knows that even if technically, legally, he is not fucking with Thump, he is ridin mighty close to the line. An’ it is a line he dares not cross. Because to fuck with Thump is to play with fire. And to fuck with Thump is to ride the tiger. And if you fuck with Thump, Thump will take that tiger, and he will set it on fire, and he will shove it up your ass. And you will thank him for it afterwards. ’Cause having a flaming tiger shoved up your ass is but the mildest of the possible fates that await the man what fucks with Thump.
“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury,” the prosecutor begins, “over the course of the next several weeks, you will hear accounts of a most odious event. An event that defies explanation, that defies logic… some would say, an event that defies possibility. You will hear the testimony of no less than eighty-seven eyewitnesses, all of them good men and true, that THAT man…” An’ here he points at Thump. An’ then he looks down his arm, down his finger, an’ he sees Thump standin there lookin mean like Thump does, an’ you can see him thinkin, I’m pointing at Thump. An’ you best believe his arm drops right back down to his side, and he swallows, and instead of pointin, this time he sort of nods his head in Thump’s direction, “…THAT man, Thump, did willfully and with malice aforethought… dump a chump.” An’ there’s this loud gasp from everybody. ’Cause he done said it. He said that Thump dumped a chump.
So Thump’s attorney gets up. Helluva attorney, Thump’s attorney. Nothin’ but the best for Thump. Got his three-piece suit. Got a watch chain with a gold pocket watch on it, an’ every now an’ then, he’ll whip that watch out an’ twirl it as he talks, real persuasive-like. So Thump’s attorney gets up, an’ he tucks his hands behind his back, an’ he sorta sloooowly duck-walks towards the jury box.
“LAAAAAADIES and gentlemen…” begins Thump’s attorney. There is a long, dramatic pause. He turns his back on the jury box. He regards the whole rest of the courtroom, one eyebrow raised for dramatic effect. An’ then, just when you think the pause can’t go on any longer, it doesn’t go on any longer, an’ he whirls back on the jury, and he says “OFTHEJURY.” An’ you can tell, this here’s a professional we’re dealing with here.
“MY CLIENT…” says Thump’s attorney, “…one… THUMP! by name… stands accused.” He turns his back again, paces the marble floor. Paces like a caged panther. Like a predatory beast of jurisprudence, that’s how Thump’s attorney paces. “Staaaaands accused… ofamostheinouscrime. Of a most astOOOOOONISHING crime.” He raises his right index finger. “THEY SAY!” he says. Then he says it again. “THEY SAY!” He punctuates each word with a stab of his finger. “THEY! SAY!” Another dramatic pause, and I’m leaning forward in my chair. We ALL leaning forward in our chairs. What do they say? “…that Thump…” A long, indrawn breath. Then the words come sliding out, slowly, like a dagger betwixt a dead man’s ribs, “done dumped a chump.”
There’s that collective gasp again. Thump’s attorney’s face be awestruck. “I KNOW!” he shouts. “I KNOW! I CAN’T HARDLY BELIEVE IT MYSELF! When they first told me, I was like, ‘WHAT? THUMP?’” He’s reenacting it for us, the moment of his discovery. His eyes are wide with shock, his face a mask of horror. “‘Thump… dumped a chump? Well, butter my bread. Shit on me an’ call me a biscuit. Thump dumped a chump???’” An’ we feel him. We all been there, in that moment. “’CAUSE EVERYBODY KNOWS,” he continues, “…THAT YOU CAN’T… JUST… DUMP… A CHUMP!” Cries of assent. “Tell it!” shouts a man in the back of the courtroom, and Thump’s attorney is rolling now, watch chain twirling like a ’copter blade. “IT… CANNOT… BE DONE!”
“And yet… ” An’ there’s the finger again. Thump’s attorney is subdued, deferential. “And yet… Whole lotta folks say he done it.” Murmurs of agreement from every corner. “Whooooooole lotta folks.” He shakes his head, lost in despair. “Mmmm-mmm-MM-mm-mm. Helluva thing, ladies and gentlemen. Helluva thing… IF. TRUE.”
“Soooooooooooooooooooooooooooo ladiesandgentlemenofthejury.” Thump’s attorney’s summin up, an’ everyone leans forward, anticipatin. “That’s the question before you. Did. Thump. Dump. A. Chump. A dick-flickin, back-whackin chump.” He shakes his head. “Don’t envy you the task, ladies and gentlemen. Don’t envy you the task before you. Untanglin all the evidence. Sortin through the many and contradictory accounts of what did or did not allegedly happen on that fateful chump-dumpin-day.” He stands there, does Thump’s attorney, ramrod straight, hands behind his back, holdin the jury in his eye. “Ain’t nothin for sure, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, but one thing’s for sure. Could be that when you review the evidence… could be you’ll say…” An’ one last dramatic pause. “I seen it…” —an’ there’s Thump’s attorney, arms spread wide, head thrown back to the sky― “…but I don’t believe it.”
Thump’s attorney bows his head, an’ the courtroom erupts in applause. Spectators applaudin. Press applaudin. Jury applaudin. Judge applaudin. Prosecutor applaudin. Everybody applaudin but Thump, ’cause applaudin is a not a thing that Thump does. An’ maybe, I think, maybe there’s hope for Thump yet.
But then I see that there’s one other guy who ain’t applaudin. This cop in the audience, he ain’t applaudin. Cop just sittin there with a lil smirk on his face, regardin Thump with a jaundiced and evil eye. An’ I can hear him, under the applause, under his breath, mutterin. Just mutterin.
“Thump’s going to be sent to the clink to think,” the cop mutters, smirkin. “Thump’s going to be locked away for many a day. And in that dump, Thump might get jumped. And Thump might find his rump gets pumped.”
And my blood runs cold at the thought of the fate that might await the mighty Thump.
It’s a goddamn parade. Witness after witness. One after another. All tellin the same story. An’ as they do, it becomes clear that what Thump done (allegedly) is like a wound on the brain of the community.
You leave a wound alone a while, it’ll scab over. Get a lil crusty, maybe. Maybe you can even stitch it up. But you pick at that scab, you rip at them stitches? Got that same ol’ ugly wound. An’ that’s what the prosecution’s doin. Keep pokin an’ proddin. Keep makin us all re-live it, all over again. Makin us all confront the unconfrontable. Makin us all explic the inexplicable.
“Mr. Morris, where were you on the afternoon of July 12?”
“Well, as I recall, sir, I was in the park.”
“And what did you see that afternoon?”
“Well, there was this chump there, and as I recall, he was… well, he was engaging in various chumplike behaviors. The flicking of dicks, the whacking of backs, and so forth.”
“And did you happen to witness any other events surrounding that chump?”
“Well… he was… he was running around and… and Thump was… and… oh God oh God OH GOD…”
Same story, over an’ over. Did you see it? Yeah, I seen it. I seen Thump dump that chump. I seen it, but I don’t believe it.
An’ every time the story gets told, the whole circus starts up again. Whole courtroom gasps in shock, people start screamin, like they ain’t never heard of such a thing. Like they ain’t just heard it yesterday, an’ the day before that, and every day for a week, ’bout twenty-odd times. Seems like everybody’s minds just keep erasin it every time, repressin the memory, only to have it rammed right back on in there again. Like goddamn Groundhog Day up in this courtroom.
Some of the witnesses, they can’t take it. Can. Not. Cope. Prosecution asked one man what he saw, he sorta stared straight ahead for a minute, then he calmly reached up to his face an’ done plucked out both his eyeballs. Like pickin a couple peaches off a tree. Guess he didn’t wanna go on lookin at a world where Thump might get sent away for dumpin a chump. Can’t say I blame him neither. Another fella, they ask him, he stammers for a second, then grabs the back of his own head an’ slams it, WHAM, right into the walnut-and-brass railin in fronta the witness stand. Then again, WHAM, WHAM, WHAM, once every second or so. Keeps doin it until the bailiff has to drag him away. Reckon they hadn’t dragged him off, he’da keeped on WHAMmin his head into that rail till it split like an overripe melon. Spill that memory out onto the courtroom carpet. Get it outta his head for good.
They call that lil girl up to the stand, though, an’ she’s hard, man. Ain’t no eyeball gougin or head whamming from her. “Thump dumped that chump!” she said, right plain as day. “He’s my hero! I wanna grow up to be just like Thump.” An’ she stares at Thump, an’ crosses her arms, an’ screws up her face to look all mean, just like Thump, only she don’t look mean like Thump. She look like a lil girl wants to look mean like Thump. Whole courtroom goes “Awwwwwww,” except Thump, ‘cause goin “Awwwwww” is not a thing Thump does. He just stands there lookin all mean, starin back at the lil girl, lookin like the lil girl doesn’t, but like Thump does.
What is also a thing that Thump does is this: Thump fucks up his own defense somethin fierce. I am not fucking with Thump, but merely stating a fact when I acknowledge that Thump in general does fuck up his own defense beyond aaaaaaall recognition. ’Cause Thump’s attorney, he’s playin rope-a-dope. He’s not really askin any questions o’ the prosecution witnesses. Just gonna let the prosecution wear itself out by presentin all these uncontested facts right in a row without refutation. Only questions he’s askin are things like “You SURE it was Thump?” An’ then sometimes, when they say yes, which they always do, “You SURE you’re sure?”
Which is cagey of him, if you ask me, except Thump keeps on interjectin. Like, prosecution will bring up a new witness, an’ they’ll ask, “Where were you on the afternoon of July 12?” An’ the witness might stammer or reach for his eyeballs or somethin, only before he can, Thump’ll bust out with “I’ll tell ya where he was! He was watchin’ me dump a chump!” Or maybe Thump’s attorney will ask if the witness was sure it was Thump, and maybe the witness will squint a little, like he needs glasses or somethin? And maybe a lil bit of doubt will creep in, an’ then Thump’ll yell out, “Damn right it was me! I dumped that chump!”
An’ everytime this happens, everybody starts yellin an’ the judge starts gavellin an’ it takes maybe ten minutes to get things quieted down, an’ the judge has to tell the jury not to let Thump’s interjection prejudice their decision. An’ probably the judge and Thump’s attorney should be telling Thump not to keep doin this. Only everybody knows that a wise man does not presume to tell Thump what to do. So round and round we go. Eighty-seven goddamn times. An’ by the end of it, a whole buncha the jury’s had to be replaced ’cause they keep jumpin out windows an’ shit, an’ the headlines in the papers say things like THUMP DOOMED an’ THUMP CLEARLY GUILTY AS HELL (ALLEGEDLY). An’ you can bet that one goddamn mutterin cop is still there in the backa the courtroom, smirkin his dumbass smirk at all this.
So Thump’s attorney, he goes for the Hail Mary. When the prosecution finally runs out of witnesses, he declares he has but ONE witness to call: none other than Thump hisself. An’ you can see the prosecutor start to sweat. ’Cause what’s he gonna do? Is he gonna question Thump’s version of the story? Is he gonna call Thump a liar? ’Cause the man what questions Thump might well find himself flyin through the air with the greatest of agony. The man what questions Thump might well wind up goin home in several dozen sandwich bags. The man what questions Thump might well be buyin himself a ticket to Disemboweltown aboard the Thump Express.
What sorta man questions Thump? None but the brave, my friend. None but the brave.
So Thump is called to the witness stand. An’ the bailiff brings him the Bible to swear on, an’ Thump puts one mighty, meaty fist on the Bible, obscurin it completely from view. An’ the bailiff, he starts in. “Do you, Thump, swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and noth-”
“GODDAMN RIGHT I DUMPED THAT CHUMP!” yells Thump apropos of nothing whatsoever. “AND I’MMA DO IT AGAIN!” An’ Thump sorta strolls right through the eight-inch-thick walnut-and-brass railin in front of the witness stand, sorta just moseys right through it, an’ walks his humongously muscled self over to the prosecution’s table, where the chump’s still sittin’ there, all bandaged up. An’ WHOOSH. An’ WHAM. Thump dumps the chump again. Right in fronta the judge, the jury, the whole courtroom, an’ the entire assembled press of the five-state area, flashbulbs poppin. An’ the screamin commences, and it’s just a goddamn duckrape madhouse, an’ the judge is gavellin an’ yellin at the jury to not let this prejudice their decision. An’ court is adjourned for the day.
So. Next day, closin arguments.
Courtroom look like a hurricane done hit it. Which it did, in a way. Hurricane Thump. Over by the prosecutor, chump’s still sittin there, only he’s got like three times as many bandages now. Ain’t even shaped like a human being no more. Just a big white ball made outta gauze and tape an’ plaster. Upside is, I guess, he can’t get dumped no more, ’cause if someone tried to dump that chump now, he’d just sorta roll away.
Thump’s attorney, he’s got him a bit of a tall order in front of him. Ain’t sweatin, though. One cool cat, Thump’s attorney. “SO!” says Thump’s attorney. “SO! SO, ladies and gentlemen of the jury. Did Thump do it? Did Thump, in pointta fact, dump a chump?” He sorta recliiiiines back in a pensive pose, strokes his lil pointy beard a lil bit. “Hmmmmmmmm,” muses Thump’s attorney. “Haaaaaard to say. Hard! To say! Could be, ladies and gentlemen of the jury…” He brings up one hand, holds it up. “…could be he did it.” An’ there’s a gasp from the crowd. “Coooooooould be. On the OTHER hand…” An’ here he provides a visual aid for the jury’s consideration, bringing out his other hand, and that’s two hands all right. “On the OTHER HAND… maybe… maaaaybe…” An’ here he plays a card we had not considered. “…maybe the chump did it to hisself.”
Now, I don’t mind tellin’ ya, that raises a few eyebrows. That possibility there, that sprains a brain or two. ’Cause… well, everybody knows that you can’t just dump a chump. But… a chump dumpin’ hisself? I mean, it ain’t been done yet, maybe… but… ain’t it possible? Theoretically? An’ once you eliminate the impossible, that which remains, however bugfuck crazy, must surely be the truth.
That big ol’ plaster ball that used to be the chump, it’s sorta rockin’ back an’ forth over there, emittin faint squawks of muffled outrage. But ain’t nobody noticin. ’Cause that argument? That argument is far from the only ace up the sleeve of Thump’s attorney. Oh no. “Or what if…” Thump’s attorney speculates, “… what if… what… iiiiiiiiiif, ladies an’ gentlemen of the jury… what if the chump done made Thump do it?” He raises a finger. “AFTER ALL!” he exclaims. “AFTER ALL! It is undisputed, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, it is undisputed, that backs were whacked on that fateful day. It is un-dis-pu-ted… that dicks were flicked.” Thump’s attorney raises an eyebrow, lowers it, raises the other, lowers it, raises one then lowers it as he raises the other. “Contemplate this possibility, ladiesandgentlemen… ofthejury. What if… one of those backs… one of those dicks… was the back or the dick of none other than Thump hisself???”
An’ I suppose that was supposed to be the masterstroke. That maybe was supposed to be the crownin blow. But it goes over like a wet fart in church. People all around got frowns on, be shakin they heads. An’ I’ll tell you why. ’Cause it’s too much to imagine. It’s a bridge too goddamn far. ’Cause to contemplate a chump bein’ dumped, that stretches the mind to its limit. But to contemplate a man flickin dick on Thump? Well, that cracks the mind in half like a crab leg. That would not have happened. That could not have happened. ’Cause if it had, we would not be here in this courtroom. That series of events would not have resulted in a chump bein’ dumped. That series of events would have resulted in the chump in question bein’ transitioned from a chump into an atmospheric phenomenon. Chump particulates woulda been scattered across the stratosphere, to rain down over a period of six months over a full seventeen percent of the Earth’s surface. Global Chumping would have ensued.
An’ Thump’s attorney, he senses it. He senses that he’s maybe taken it too far, so he pulls it back a bit, like so: “Or maybe the chump hadn’t done it yet, but maybe he was thinkin ’bout it!” He raises the finger again. “Is it not so, ladies and gentlemen, is it not so, that the chump did run up on Thump, prior to the alleged incident? Perhaps… perhaps… Thump was forced to get back at the chump for something the chump hadn’t did yet. Perhaps, ladies and gentlemen, what we are dealing with here… is an entirely justified and understandable instance… of pre-venge.” An’ now everybody’s noddin again, ’cause that’s a fair bit more credible. An’ Thump’s attorney is back on the beam.
Every eye is upon Thump’s attorney, an’ the summupification is commencifyin with a fury now. “But one thing is certain, ladies and gentlemen. Of the jury. There is one thing upon which we all, prosecution and defense alike, agree. One ironclad principle which exists above the fray, etched in stone.” His voice drops to a whisper. “You can’t just dump a chump. It cannot be done.”
“And so, ladies and gentlemen of the jury…” He turns his back to the jury box, duck-walking slowly away. “…in a world… in a world in which you decide that Thump… has indeed… dumped a chump…” An’ he spins back around on them with a roar: “WHAT THEN???” An old lady in the jury box shrieks in horror, an’ Thump’s attorney is shoutin, “WHAT THEN??? WHAT THEN, LADIESANDGENTLEMENOFTHEJURY??? A world in which Thump could dump a chump would be a WORLD WITHOUT RULES! ANY DAMN THING COULD HAPPEN AT ANY DAMN TIME! ALL BETS, AND ALL PANTS, WOULD BE OFF!!!”
From the jury box comes the sound of soft sobbin an’ the smell of fresh urine. An’ Thump’s attorney just shakes his head sadly. “Helluva thing, ladies and gentlemen of the jury. Helluva thing.” He shakes his head again, an’ spreads his hands. “Is that the world in which we live, ladies and gentlemen of the jury? A world without pants?”
“Only you can say.”
The jury’s filin in, an’ man, are those some solemn looks on their faces. These are the survivors. Only three left outta the original twelve, an’ one of those is kinda droolin a bit. Rest are replacements. These are the hardy few that made it through. These men and women, they done gazed into the abyss. They done left pieces of themselves behind, pieces they can’t never get back. An’ now they got their verdict. Now we shall see what we shall see.
Judge gavels one more time. “Has the jury reached a verdict?”
Wizened ol’ jury foreman stands up. “We have, your honor.”
Judge turns to the defense table. “Will the defendant please…” An’ there’s Thump standin there, arms folded, like he does and like he has for the last eight weeks. “Never mind.” So back to the jury. “What say you, ladies and gentlemen of the jury? They say Thump dumped a chump. Are you seeing it?”
Slowly, the foreman nods, an’ my heart sinks down in my chest. An’ out the corner of my eye, I see that one cop in the crowd, smirkin away like crazy. “Oh, we seen it,” says the foreman.
“But we don’t believe it.” An’ the foreman smacks his open palm right down on the railing of the jury box and he shouts out, “NOT GUILTAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!”
Anarchy. Feces-eatin anarchy. All the tension of weeks an’ weeks an’ weeks of trialin and tribulationin released at once, an’ everybody who wasn’t crazy already by this point, they crazy now. Everyone shoutin an’ screamin. Thump’s attorney dancin and the judge gavelin. Big white balla bandages with the chump somewhere inside it rollin over an’ whackin up against the prosecutor’s back, ’cause everybody knows, a chump don’t never learn. Media guy over there, he’s eatin his camera. As in he done set his camera down in front of him an’ he’s sawin away calmly with a knife an’ fork, which I guess he musta found somewhere, an’ takin big crunchy bites of tin and glass, happy as you please. An’ as for Thump? He’s still standin there, arms folded, lookin mean like Thump does. Expression still ain’t changed, not in weeks. He just turns an’ walks out of the courtroom, an’ me with him.
An’ it occurs to me as Thump an’ I walk out the courtroom, flashbulbs poppin an’ reporters yellin, that I done underestimated Thump. Occurs to me that I managed somehow to ignore Thump’s greatest weapon. Oh sure, like everybody else, I know all ’bout the furious fists of Thump, an’ I’m awarea the fearsome feet of Thump, an’ I fear the bristlin beard of Thump, but I done ignored the brilliant brain of Thump.
’Cause Thump saw it from the start. Saw what no one else could see, or really, he didn’t see what everyone else could see. See, a man can’t edge around the rules, ’cause there’s chumps on patrol out there at the edge. Can’t climb over or dig under. They’re expectin that. Got to walk straight through, ’cause for Thump there are no rules. That’s the Zen of Thump. Thump don’t know what everybody knows—and so, there’s nothin to know. When Thump says “nope,” the chumps can’t cope.
An’ what if Thump’s attorney is right, ’bout a world without rules? Well, what of it? What’s that even mean, when the rules are written by the chumps, for the chumps? Could be that until we get a say in the rules, a world without rules is what we need. And I will tell you this, my friend. I will tell you this straight out. In a world without rules? You can have your government and your police. You can have your lawyers and your judges. You can have your FBI, your CIA, your NSA, your CBS and your NBC and your FOX and your ESPN. You can have your Army, your Navy, your Air Force, your Marines, your Coast Guard and your goddamn Royal Canadian Mounted Police if you please. You can have it all.
Me an’ mine? We’ll take Thump.
For a people in need, need Thump indeed.
So Thump an’ me, we’re walkin the gauntlet, reporters screamin an’ shovin microphones, only not too close, ’cause there’s this bubble around Thump into which a wise man does not insert any object which he wishes to see retain its original molecular structure. An’ over there, by the courtroom door, there’s that cop again. An’ you best believe that he ain’t smirkin this time, but he’s hoppin up an’ down he’s so angry, an’ he’s mutterin. Oh, that cop is muttterin.
“It isn’t right!” that cop’s mutterin. “It isn’t right! Thump should be locked in a cell till it’s snowing in hell! Thump found a flaw in the law! Everybody knows that you can’t find a flaw in the law! It cannot be done!”
An’ Thump hears that cop mutterin. An’ Thump stops walkin.
An’ in Thump’s eye, he spies that cop.
An’ Thump opens up his mouth an’ growls, “I’mma drop that cop.”
1. The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wrote in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, “To create itself freedom, and give a negation, even to the duty: for that, my brethren, there is need of the lion. To win the right to create new values―that is the most formidable assumption for a patient and respectful spirit. Verily, it is a ferocious act for him and the work of a beast of prey.” Could Nietzsche beat up Thump? What about Nietzsche and a lion together? Explain your answer.
2. What will become of the man what fucks with Thump? Attach additional sheets of paper as necessary.
3. Was there ever a time when you pulled out your own eyes? Why did you do so? Would you do it again?
4. Did you read that part where the guy ate his camera? Pretty weird, huh?
5. The author chose to write this story in African American vernacular English or “ebonics,” a dialect with its own conventions and standards. In your estimation, does this choice on the author’s part constitute fucking with Thump? He’d better not be. The author had damned well better not be fucking with Thump, that’s all I’m gonna say.
Steve DuBois lives in Kansas City. Follow his literary misadventures at www.stevedubois.net.
WHY WE CHOSE TO PUBLISH “Thump Dumps a Chump”
In his cover letter for this piece author Steve DuBois posed the question “What would the screenplay for Shaft have looked like if it had been written by Dr. Seuss?”
Well, that was more than enough to pique our interest in reading it. We will also say that his original submission began with the paragraph “So Thump an’ me, we was in the park one Sunday, an’ there’s this chump there.” While we liked the story overall after reading it, how it began left us a bit confused. We didn’t feel that the author had properly set up his story world for us. So, we declined the piece with a note to that effect. However, we offered to reconsider it if he chose to revisit the piece. He did. He added about 300 words at the beginning, sent it back to us, and we accepted it with that revision.
We warned you in the beginning about the language in this piece, but we must also say that without such language, it would be a mere shadow of itself. The language, a strong part of the voice of the narrator, is what makes it work superbly. This piece aptly demonstrates when the use of crude language serves the writing. And did you notice that nowhere is the narrator named? This is one of those stories where naming the narrator is unnecessary because, even though it’s his point of view, the story is not about him.
[Editorial note: We deliberately left out the expected apostrophes in place of the “g” at the end of many wording normally ending in -ing. Adding them would have made for a messier presentation of the writing.]
We invite you to check out the author’s website and specifically his blog post of April 26, 2015 MY FOOT IN THE CROSSHAIRS where he talks about his writing and this piece in particular. We found it interesting and amusing, and we hope that Mr. DuBois finds more pieces like this one inside him to write—and to send to us.