A Lie, in which I Alienate the Nation of New Zealand
I don't know if I've ever told you people this, but I once served as America's Ambassador to New Zealand. This was in 1992. The exact circumstances of my appointment are still something of a mystery, but I can tell you that it had something to do with the Twins and Braves playing each other in the World Series in 1991, having each gone from worst to first in the same year, and the fact that the grudge my father holds against Lonnie Smith is as powerful as a Locomotive.
A Locomotive That Can Travel Through Time!
But that's neither now nor then.
This happened during my fourth week in New Zealand, on the same day that I finally conceded defeat in my lengthy debate, and admitted that Christchurch wasn't the capital city of that beautiful green pay-toilet of a country. (That Maori Gentleman and I still hold the Southern Hemisphere Record for the longest continual "Yes it is/No it isn't" debate, by the way.)
I stood on the corner, out of breath, still crying from all the rage, and wondered what, exactly, my next move would be.
I asked aloud: "Where in the hell does one get a Gatorade in this country? Have they invented Fierce Melon Gatorade yet? It's 1992!" The wind blew in reply, deafening me with all its windiness. I raised my baseball mitt to shield my eyes from the coarse, gritty volcanic ash that blows in the wind of New Zealand like God's Cancer Causing Dandruff.
I gave thought to stepping into the brothel behind me to take refuge from what I was afraid was the second pyroclastic flow to inundate the town of Christchurch since my arrival. Little known fact about New Zealand: There is no building built before 2003 standing, due to the numerous volcanic eruptions.
Littler known fact: "Dancing on their Graves" is the National Dance of New Zealand. It is impossible to take three steps in any direction in any urban area of New Zealand without stepping on the grave of another New Zealander, because each new shanty-town of a city is built on top of the ruins of the last. Indeed, as soon as the ground is cool enough to support a shack made of old TV boxes and aluminum foil, suddenly it's a thriving metropolis again!
Why aluminum foil? To block the sun's rays. There is a giant hole in the Ozone layer directly over New Zealand. The Devil put it there, because he wants people out of New Zealand, so he can have it for himself. That is perhaps The Littlest Known Fact in All the World. One person knows it: Me. And now you. And given the number of people who'll read this, that means probably still just me.
Oh yeah! I was standing there, shielding my eyes, thinking of stepping into the brothel for the shelter (Yeah! The Shelter! That's the ticket!), when I felt something roll against my leg.
I looked down, and it looked like a dried plant had rolled up against me.
"Oh Good!" I said. "I get out of my rowboat in this Godforsaken country, lose an argument to a scary tattooed man and have 3 pounds of volcanic ash turning to pumice in my lungs, and now I get hit with a Tumbleweed? That. Is. It."
And I pulled my shotgun out of the holster I had for it on my back, and went to blow that damned weed away! I cocked the gun. I placed my finger across the twin triggers. And then I noticed that the Tumbleweed was looking at me.
"Are you going to shoot me?"
"I don't know. I've never run across a Talking Tumbleweed before."
"I'm not a Tumbleweed."
"A Talking Tumbleweed?"
"No," he said. "I'm not a Tumbleweed of any sort."
"Are you sure?" I said, raising my gun to the ready again.
"Jesus!" he swore. "I'm a Kiwi Bird! I'm not a fucking Tumbleweed."
We stood, regarding each other for some time. Many minutes.
"Kiwi Bird? Like the shoe polish?"
"Yes," he said. He added: "Would you put the gun down?"
My arm was getting tired, but I wasn't about to give him that sort of advantage. Such are the perils of International Diplomacy.
"Tell me why I shouldn't shoot you."
"Well, for starters, I'm not a Tumbleweed."
"And for second, I can take you to Wellington."
I was thrown for a loop.
"Who's Wellington?" I asked, looking over the sight of my gun.
"Wellington is the capital of New Zealand. Not Christchurch. Remember?"
It dawned on me what he was trying to tell me.
"The argument," he agreed. "Would you put the gun down?"
"You can take me to Wellington?"
"Now, if you'd like. As soon as you lower the gun."
After another minute's consideration, I lowered the gun. "My arm kinda hurts," I told him. "What's your name?"
"Alright, then. Take me to Wellington."
And off we went. Hand in hand, Willie Keeler and I left the town of Christchurch. There was a brief skirmish where Willie and I had to fight our way through the Hammerheads, that I would tell you about, except that I don't write fight scenes much to my satisfaction. Suffice it to say, we would have met our makers, were it not for the quick intervention of Willie Keeler's Friends, also Kiwi Birds, I would later learn.
"I'm glad you guys are here," I said. "Willie Keeler and I were goners for sure!"
"Goners?" Willie Keeler said. "I've never heard that word used outside of a book."
Willie Keeler explained to his friends that I was America's new Ambassador to New Zealand, and that I was on my way to Wellington.
"Let's take him then!"
And the Kiwi Birds did something, that 19 years later, I still don't know how to explain. I'll try though: With a squawk, they flew together, and became a Tractor!
A Really Boss Tractor.
And off we went. Slowly. I can't talk too badly about my Kiwi friends. It was a slow trip, but I cant think of any of my friends, before, or since, that could merge to form a tractor! Come the fuck on!
So, anyway, we trekked across New Zealand, me riding my Kiwi Tractor, them telling me stories of their fight for independence, their cause of justice and their recipes for Strawberry filled confections and drinks. I mostly talked to them about the show Perfect Strangers.
"Did you know Louie Anderson was originally set to play Balki's American cousin? And that he was replaced with Mark Linn-Baker after screening the first pilot for network executives? I wonder if it was because Louie Anderson was too fat?"
"There's a certain irony," came the voice of one of the more sardonic members of the gestalt tractor made of kiwi birds, "in you wondering if anybody was too fat."
"Hey! This is my story! You don't make fat jokes at my expense if I'm telling the story!"
So, anyway. after several days, came to the northern coast of the South Island and looked across the water to Wellington.
I stood there for several minutes.
"How do I get over there?"
"We thought you would fly there."
"I can't fly," I said.
And the Kiwi Birds looked at each other, in dismay. And I've never seen a more disheartening event in all my life. Watching three Kiwi, distraught and dismayed.
"Can't you fly?" I asked Willie Keeler.
"No," he said, a tear rolling down his Kiwi Bird Cheek.
And I pulled out my shotgun, and shot Willie Keeler's friends. I then grabbed the gun by its barrel and bonked Willie Keeler on the head with the butt of the gun.
"See?" I said. "You ain't no kind of bird. You're a Talking Tumbleweed."
And then, there was a great Earthquake!
I dropped my gun into the New Zealand Sea, and fell! I was sure I was falling into the sea! But I grabbed hold of something flapping in the wind! A sheet, of some sort!
It took a minute for the realization to set in. The Earthquake had loosened the soil, and revealed a laundry that had been covered by a previous volcanic eruption. And I had grabbed a sheet that had somehow survived the tumult. I hung by it, over the Great Blue and Scary New Zealand Sea!
Willie Keeler stood over me. He held a green bottle in his hand.
"Your loss," he said, as he turned the label so I could see it, "Is My Gain!!!!!"
And he hit me with that Bottle of Gain Detergent (also, one would imagine, unearthed by the Earthquake). And he hit me again. Again, and again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again.
He raised up his detergent, for one final shot. "From Hell's Heart," he sneered.
"I stab at thee!" I said, surprising him with both my katana, and my razor sharp wit!
Willie Keeler fell, impaled upon my katana blade, into the Roiling, Turbulent Great Dangerous and Smelly New Zealand Sea. Dead.
I never did make it to Wellington. I was expelled from New Zealand. Seems the Kiwi Bird is somehow special to them. At first, I was flummoxed by that. But then, they do turn into a really cool tractor. I think that's awesome, and if there's one thing I regret about ending Kiwi Willie Keeler's 44 Gain Hitting Streak, it is that I don't have a souvenir from my trip of me riding my Really Boss Tractor made out of Kiwi Birds.
But I'm not allowed back. And even if I were, I'm pretty sure that the Kiwi wouldn't let me ride their Gestalt Tractor. If there's one thing I know about flightless birds in general, it's that they're assholes.
All the pity. Because Tractors Rock!