May 2000

The Magic Goats of Presto Island

'You don't want no pie in the sky when you die. You want something here on the ground while you're still around.' -Muhammad Ali

'Dear Mr. Good. I would like to tell you that the world is worse off with you in it. Your records are excellent but you as a person are less than acceptable. Please remedy this.' - Fan Letter, April 2000

    I once had sex with twenty under aged girls while dangling from a tightrope that was spanning the Grand Canyon. All of them fell to their deaths, save one. So I married her. I married her because she had the good sense to hold on. I married her because I had nothing else planned that afternoon. She was fifteen then. I was twenty nine.

    Looking back on it, I've tried to convince myself that I made the right decision. She was, after all, quite a resilient little thing. No rest for the wicked and all that. No time for reading before bed, just bang - bang - bang. Then the cigarettes and gum. I could never abide people who chewed gum and smoked at the same time. So, on her eighteenth birthday, I did something special for her. I smothered her with a pillow.

    My neighbor, Fred, frequently asks me how I could have let my late wife get away. He's under the impression that she left me. Fred likes to water his lawn a lot. His wife, Linda, does not water the lawn. Watering the lawn is Fred's only means of escaping her I would think. Linda is rather loud, you see, and quite annoying. So Fred waters the lawn. It is no more than thirty square feet. It is the best looking bunch of grass I have ever seen. I once told Fred that I knew how he could solve his problems. I told him to smother Linda with a pillow while she was sleeping. All he said was 'can't live with 'em, can't smother 'em with a pillow.' I disagreed.

    I have been a National Geographic subscriber since March 3rd of 1978. My mother got me the subscription for my birthday. I used to love pinning the maps to the walls of my bedroom. I would lay there for hours and just stare at them without blinking. My eyes would not close after a while because they were too dry. It was great fun. When my mother, father, two sisters, and aunt were killed in the great Air Tanzania mid-air collision disaster of 1979, I was unsure as to what would happen with the subscription. Would I have to renew it myself at the end of the year? Or was it paid in advance for a specific period of time? As it turned out, I had to renew it - which I immediately did of course. It's the greatest magazine in the world you know. Had my father taken the time to peruse it more often, I doubt he would have ever willingly set foot on an Air Tanzania charter. My father was a fool. There are some thing in life that cannot be helped.

    The first book that I ever read was 'Little Pink Flamingos' by Catherine Waters. It was about a boy who gets lost in the Everglades and finds his way back home by following baby Flamingos. It was not accurate whatsoever. It was baseless and crappy. The last book that I read was 'Sense And Sensibility' by Jane Austin. It too was baseless and crappy. At no time were any of the characters sensible. To be frank, they were all quite like my father. Too bad they hadn't the sense to fly Air Tanzania as well. It's a shame that the book was awful to be honest. I quite liked 'Pride And Prejudice'. At least in that the characters were both proud and, even at the least of times, extremely prejudice. You've got to love that Mr. Darcy. A National Geographic subscriber for sure.

    I bought a garden hose the other day. I have no idea why. I do things like that from time to time. For example, I'll go out intending to buy cereal and come home with two Filipino hookers and an application for the Entertainment Card. It's puzzling. My high school guidance councilor once told me that I have a very short attention span. The following day we were given the results of our career placement tests. Mine said that I was going to die.

    So I bought a hose. I thought of giving it to Fred, but couldn't bring myself to actually go over there. I would most likely try to strangle his wife. Like most people, I have met a fair share of folks throughout my life. A great many of them didn't mind that I wasn't listening to them. They just kept talking and talking. Some of them are still talking. Some of them are under my porch visiting with my wife. Some of them wonder what has happened. Some of them eventually forget. My career placement test was inaccurate. Turns out it's the other way around.

    Come to think of it, I don't remember what is was that I went out to get in the first place. It wasn't cigarettes, I quit smoking. It'll kill you. My father was a heavy smoker. He smoked almost two packs a day for twenty three years. Believe it or not, he had the blood pressure of a track star when he died. My Aunt Lucile, on the other hand, looked like she'd been kicked in the head with skis and then run through a washing machine fourty or fifty times. Luckily, she died on that Air Tanzania flight instead of having to get one of those disgusting holes put in her throat. You ever seen someone with one of those holes stick a cigarette in there and puff away? It's quite cool actually. Not only that, they get to use those speech enabler devices. Very nice indeed.

    I was sitting here thinking about it the other day. I've spent the last fifteen years of my life paying to kill myself. Seems kind of futile. I should have shot myself in the head years ago. I'd be rich.

    That said, it wasn't cigarettes that I was after. I remember now, it was bread. I had run out of bread. I wanted peanut butter toast. I had no bread. I went out to get some. I came home with a garden hose. I'm not rightly sure how that happened. I did it again this very afternoon. I went out to get a can of Ravioli and came home with a round trip ticket to Tripoli, Libya. But they don't call it that anymore. They call it Tarabulus. And it's not just called Libya either. It's called the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya - whatever the hell that means. Some years ago the United States Of America sent a few planes into Libya to bomb Muammar al Gaddafi's house with missiles and bombs that can think for themselves and have cameras mounted on them. They missed him. The Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya has a population density of 3.4 socialists per square kilometer. All I wanted was Ravioli.

    So I guess I'm going to Libya. I have never been to Africa, despite the fact that my entire family is buried there. I have only ever been to the Grand Canyon. The rest you know.

    So the first thing I did when I got home this afternoon was to read up on Libya. I cracked a couple of volumes of my National Geographic collection and went to work. Here are some interesting facts that might interest you.

    1. It's not called Libya, it's called the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.
    2. It's not called Tripoli, it's called Tarabulus.
    3. Libya's total area is 1,759,540 square kilometers.
    4. Libya has a population of 5,903,128.
    5. Libya has a 75% literacy rate.
    6. Libyans speak Arabic.
    7. Americans do not speak English, they speak American.
    8. The majority of Arabs are not terrorists.
    9. The majority of Americans are not native to America.
    10. It's a crazy world.

    Despite what most people think of it, the Arab culture is probably the oldest culture on the planet. Egypt is an Arab nation, as is Syria, Jordan, Morocco, and so on. The literacy rate in Egypt is 50.5%. Somewhat disappointing for a people who constructed the pyramids. Then again, they did invent mathematics and were the first to seriously study astronomy, so I suppose we can forgive them. There are those that believe the pyramids were actually designed by alien taskmasters who enslaved the Egyptians for some years so that they might supply the labor. No one is quite sure what the pyramids were for. Popular opinion says they're tombs. The Egyptians learned a thing or two from the aliens. They enslaved the Israelites for years so that they might supply labor. What comes around goes around. That, of course, led to Moses parting the Red Sea at Universal Studios, Hollywood. Years later, Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, and Richard Dreyfuss would get it on with Jaws in the very same body of water.

    But I am not going to Universal Studios. I'm going to Tripoli. I also enjoy tube tops very much. But that's all I'm going to say about it.

    I have formulated a plan. I doubt that it will work, me having a short attention span and all. Perhaps I will get lucky. I am going to be the first North American in history to hijack an Arabian airliner. I am going to hijack it and crash it into Lough Neagh in Northern Ireland.

    Why Northern Ireland? Why not.

    Why not is the best possible answer that you can give to any question that you are asked. 'Why don't you hijack an Arabian airliner and crash it into Lough Neagh?' Why not. 'Why don't you just smother the smoking - gum chewing little bitch?' Why not. 'Why don't you give that hose you just bought to Fred?' Because I don't want to. See what I mean?

    I have no idea as to how I'm going to go about hijack the aircraft though. I have scoured my library of National Geographic but have found nothing. Killing innocent travelers is more complicated than I had anticipated. For starters, what am I going to use to gain control of the aircraft? Dynamite strapped to my chest? A gun? A machinegun? A knife? Having thought it through, I have come to the conclusion that hijacking a plane is a very complicated business. It has given me a headache. I am against headaches.

    I always do my best thinking in the shower. During sex is a close second. For some reason that I can't explain, immaculate ideas pop into my head when I'm in the act. When I'm in the shower it's the same thing. I'll be standing there and something will just occur to me all of a sudden. For example, how does one go about attaining complete control of an aircraft without having to deal with the complications of smuggling fire arms or explosives past airport security? Easy. You use your TV remote.

    If there is one thing in this world that looks more confusing, impressive, and generic all at the same time, it's the television remote control. I am not sure if Libyans have televisions, therefore I am taking a chance. If they do not, then they will probably think it some kind of detonator. If they do have televisions, perhaps they will think that I am kidding and leave it at that. Either way, it's a win - win.

    I will miss my National Geographic collection when I am dead. I will miss it because it is the only true thing that I've had in my life. I will miss it because it is filled with useful information, colourful maps, and creative photography. I will miss it truly and deeply. Strangely enough, I would have never known where Lough Neagh was if it hadn't have been for National Geographic. Perhaps they will do a piece about the crash. Perhaps my picture will be on the cover. I am not a wild animal. Yet.

    While I was suffocating my teenage wife, a thought occurred to me. I realized suddenly that, had I the chance, I would go back in time and make it my goal to get a job working for National Geographic. It bothers me that I didn't consider it an option available to me when I was younger. My career placement test said I was going to die, so I never bothered considering other options. I wasn't sure how I was going to die, but I was sure that it would be my job. Thankfully my parents were extremely wealthy people who had but one son. My father made his money in art. He bought and sold carvings made from elephant tusks, whale bones, and soapstone. A cultured man to say the least. My father did not buy or sell anything made from wood, stone (other than soapstone), or metal. He said they were far too easily acquired and were therefore sullied by scores of filthy, lower class, bohemian hacks. My father did not believe in art produced by the rabble of the world. He said they cheapened it. He was a firm believer in art remaining an upper class sport. There are many people who agree with him. Strangely enough, 90% of the most influential and respected artists in human history had extremely poor table manors. Most likely because they were products of an uneducated, heathen stock. My mother, by the way, sold fur coats at The Fur Exchange on West 32nd Street while father was traveling the world in search of endangered-species-art for the bourgeoisie. Mother always was a sucker for deadness rubbing up against her.

    I have decided to give my National Geographic collection to Fred. It is the least I can do for him, since I am planning to kill his wife before I leave. I never much liked her. Fred won't do it. Fred deserves better. This will be my gift to him, along with one of the worlds most extensive National Geographic collections. I will plunger his misses with a Wilkenson's Sword and leave him with a world of knowledge. I will also leave him a note that says 'can't live with 'em, can plunger them with a Wilkenson's Sword.' I may also leave him the knife. It sharpens itself every time you pull it out. It's quite ingenious really.

    The impossible thing about all of this is that I won't be able to tell you how it ends. I will either end up in Tripoli, or I will be dead. Those are the only two possibilities. If my first attempt fails, I will try again on the return flight. I will not fail the second time. I will casually stroll up to one of the emergency exits and turn the handle that is to never be turned. I will kill everyone. I will do it after the movie.

    National Geographic Magazine is the greatest magazine ever created. It has yellow boarders. It often comes with free maps and informational posters. Time Magazine does not. Most magazines are filled with the opinions of idiots, pictures of idiots, and the recipes of idiots. National Geographic is filled with pictures of animals, vast wildernesses, and all sorts of different kinds of people. In some respects, it has little to do with merely 'national' geography. So, as my final act as a living, breathing person, I have decided to write them a letter. I hope they like it.

    Dear National Geographic,

    I have been a National Geographic subscriber since March 3rd of 1978. Your publication is, in my opinion, the greatest ever conceived. If I may make one suggestion, you might want to consider changing the name of the magazine to 'International Geographic'. It's just a thought.

    Beyond that, I would also like to relay my intentions to you (as a person in my situation always must). Let it be known that I plan to hijack a commercial airline flight to Tripoli (which one I cannot say, of course, as it would ruin the surprise and such). I also plan to crash this flight into Lough Neagh in Northern Ireland. Notice there are two drafts of this letter. I will be the first North American to hijack an Arabian airliner. Perhaps you would consider sending someone to Lough Neagh to report on how the crash effects the ecosystem and local communities. I would very much appreciate this. I have enclosed a photograph of myself in the event that you want to put it on the cover or next to the article.

    Sincerely, M.L. Preston II

    In the late 1960's there was rumored to be an edition of National Geographic that caused such a stir that it could not be released. There are those that steadfastly claim that it was to present twenty four years of research concerning the mysterious goats of Presto Island. Legend has it that these beasts have the ability to both fly and swim underwater for periods of up to one hour. They are also said to be entirely blue in colour. The research team, led by Dr. Julius Prantzer, was rumored to have spend the better part of a quarter century on the island studying the goats. To this day, no one is quite sure what happened to Dr. Prantzer and his team, but their findings were supposedly discovered, rolled up, in a sealed two liter bottle of Ginger Ale. Having been purchased from cut throat sea pirates, National Geographic had planned to release an issue entirely devoted to Dr. Prantzer and the magic goats in late 1969. For some unknown reason this issue never saw the light of day.

    It is now 2:37am. Fred is watering his lawn again. Fred loves that lawn more than anything in the world. I have decided to bury Linda under that lawn after I kill her. It will be the last place that anyone will look for her. I will bury her under that lawn so that she will always remember one, simple, truth. No one will miss you if you've given them nothing to miss.

    Tomorrow is a new day. That is the beauty of things. Best to keep that in mind.

10 Things I Would Love To See But Know I Never Will.
    1 RiverDance on ice.
    2 An all nudist HANDS ACROSS AMERICA.
    3 The day the Special Olympics becomes an 'advertising worthy' television event instead of broadcasting guilt driven by pity and McDonald's need to rent out orange-drink dispensers.
    4 Live sex in church instead of bake sales.
    5 To wake up one morning only to discover that Jennifer Connelly and I are the only two people left on the planet.
    6 To see the Pope do a TROJAN ad.
    7 To see thousands of cars with bumper stickers that read: 'If Jesus is the King of peace, it's time for a little regicide'.
    8 To have every person under the age of 20 in the US, for one day, wear a T-shirts that says: AMERICA-THE BIRTH PLACE OF ROCK & ROLL. AMERICA-THE DEATHPLACE OF ROCK & ROLL.
    9 To invent a shrinking machine so I can fuck Barbie and then steal her Corvette.
    10 When juveniles wake up to the fact that they can go on gun crazy killing sprees and will only be forced to serve eight months for it.