Like so many of my stories, The Dancing Fool is about a tragic failure to communicate. I don’t usually make a habit of tooting my own horn, but it is a very deep, moving story that all humans should read to better understand the hidden depths within all of us. I may have made a mistake, in fact, and made it too deep. Perhaps humans have not evolved yet to a point where they can truly understand the bottomless depths of this profound meditation, for it has for so long been confined to nothing more than an old issue of Black Garterbelt Magazine, where it remained hidden and tucked between pictures of ladies’ frilly panties. While the story may or may not have enjoyed its time there (it certainly never made any complaints known to me), I feel that it is finally time for me to rip it away from the bowels of obscurity. Thanks to the pioneering efforts of a certain website I am once again able to offer this masterpiece to a public that will undoubtedly finally appreciate it for its intense and meaningful metaphors. And while some may say that I’m being anal about it, I have made every effort and movement to restore it to its former glory before well-meaning but ultimately incompetent nincompoop editors butchered its true meaning with their evil red pens.
And so, without further ado, please allow me to present what I do believe is the greatest work of art ever witnessed by the human race.
-Kilgore Trout, world’s most brilliant writer and amateur log-roller
Zog farted on his superior officer.
He didn’t mean any disrespect by this. If fact, he meant it in the most respectful manner possible. Among Zog’s people, the native inhabitants of the distant world of Margo, farting was one of the two main forms of communication. To a human it would have sounded like Zog had let out a long, slightly wet flatulent noise that grew oddly higher in the middle as Zog carefully manipulated his sphincter muscles. It had its own unique odor as well. Someone with a particularly sensitive set of nostrils might have been able to identify a wonderfully fragrant potpourri of fermented corn, pickled kidney beans, rancid cabbage, sulfurous rotten eggs, and just a hint of fresh summer wildflowers. If any residents of the planet Shinostinq, with their highly over-evolved sensory organs, had been present then they would have immediately gone into a cardiac arrest, sending them into a long and drawn out coma that would have inevitably ended with their closest family members weeping as they made the heart-rending decision of whether or not to take them off of life support.
But to the people of Margo, Zog was simply saying hello.
His commanding officer responded in the most appropriate way, with a quick kick ball change that made a loud click on the metallic floor.
The second primary form of communication on Margo, after all, was tap dancing.
[Author’s Note: I should note here that it would not have been entirely accurate to call Zog a he. The people of Margo had long ago evolved beyond the ridiculous concept of binary gender. Part of this was because at some point a large number of Margoin males decided they liked the color pink and figured the best way to get the rest of the men to stop making picking on of them was to put forth a law abolishing the idea of gender altogether. The other reason was that, in a culture that must talk to each other in the form of farts, it would do no good to have half the population unable to speak because it was unladylike. –Kilgore Trout, a male all the time except on alternate Thursdays]
“Commander, I am here for my orders,” Zog said. This was said with a clickety-clack from his four feet along with the quick scent of asparagus rotting in the noonday sun.
“Zog, we have identified a mission for you that is of the utmost importance,” the commander said. He drew the words out, expelling the air from his anus in a sound not unlike someone pulling tight the opening of a balloon and letting the helium out in a protracted squeak.
“I am honored,” Zog said. The word honored came out as almost – but not quite – a shart. “What is my task?”
“Let me show you,” the commander said, gesturing for Zog to follow him to a three dimensional holographic map of their planet. The commander waved several of his tentacles over a nearby control console and the planet Margo was replaced with a different planet of an entirely different shape.
[Author’s Note: I’m sure the reader will forgive me, but as much of an endearing work of staggering genius this story might be I did feel the need to make a change for this edition. In the original story I went into greater detail about how and why the planet Margo is, in fact, shaped almost exactly like a coconut connected to a banana being bitten in half by a woodchuck. It came to be this way through a complicated combination of plate tectonics, asteroid crashes, stock market crashes, automobile crashes, sugar crashes, athlete’s foot fungus, kidnappings of important heads of state, kidnappings of non-important heads of state, kids napping on the heads of non-important heads of state, bad weekend box-office takes, good weekend box-office takes for bad movies, both good and bad boxes sitting in offices, online piracy, real piracy, a lack of piracy just when it would have been entertaining, unauthorized fan fiction, authorized fan fiction of highly literary authors who then rose up from their graves in protest to cause the zombie apocalypse, zombie rights activists, reality television, violent revolutions that were really more like minor spats, rude hand gestures, genetically modified foods, foods that weren’t modified but probably should have been because then they might not have tasted like canned broccoli, plaid biodegradable diapers that mutated into carnivorous chess-playing spiders, wars, famine, frivolous copyright lawsuits, and silly foam hats shaped like cheese wedges. I cut that part out, however, because it was a half line of text that was really there for no other reason than to take up space. –Kilgore Trout, eloquent grand master of succinctness]
Zog gave a couple of particularly fragrant toots. “It is beautiful. Which planet is that?”
The commander apologized and waved his tentacles over the controls, making the planet disappear and replacing it with a new one. “Whoops. Wrong one. That was Uranus. This is the one I meant to show you.”
Zog did jazz hands to show his displeasure. “That one is hideous.”
“It is called Earth. It is a class QZ planet that we have recently discovered it in our scans. And we have found that it is inhabited.”
“Really? Are the inhabitants intelligent?”
“Not even remotely,” the commander ripped. “Apparently they actually communicate using sounds forced past cord in their throats and then out their mouths.”
“That is barbaric and disgusting,” Zog said. “Is there not anything we can do to help them?”
“We are trying. We have sent them cartoons about cats and dogs and young boys that fart all the time in the effort to civilize them, but they do not seem to be getting the message. But that is none of your concern. We need you to go there directly. You see, they have still got war.”
[Author’s Note: Prior to this story being reprinted here in digital form it had someone who at one point actually read it, a ballerina who spoke it aloud before her performances. Apparently she had horrible stage fright and found it much easier to perform in front of crowds if they weren’t actually there, and this story was the perfect way to get rid of them.
Anyway, she once asked me how it was that Zog was so horrified by the concept that humans still practiced war when I had mentioned in the bit about the shape of Margo there had been wars there at some earlier time. I told her to quit questioning my genius. Then I told her that rather than try to explain that I would just remove any reference to Margo’s wars if the story was ever reprinted. Which is exactly what I did earlier. Now you are blissfully unaware that there was ever a discrepancy in the story. –Kilgore Trout, see what I did there?]
“They even still have disease and cancer,” the commander said.
“But how could they not have discovered the secret to stopping all that by now?” Zog asked. His question smelled like the chili he’d had for dinner. “Any reasonably intelligent society should have hit upon the answer before they even discovered the wheel. All they would need to do is just…”
“I know what the answer to wars and cancer are, Zog, just as well as you do. But the fact remains that somehow they do not. And that is why we are sending you there. It will be your sacred duty to make sure that no more of Earth’s people die from war or disease for the rest of their history.”
Zog waved one of his tentacles in front of his face so he could look at his watch. “Good. I was afraid you were going to give me some task that might take a while. But if I am lucky I should be back in time for Margo’s Next Top Smeerp Blargherer.”
“Excellent. I knew I could count on you,” the commander step ball changed at him. “There will be a flying saucer waiting for you in the requisitions department.”
Zog gave a long, low fart in acknowledgement and then copiously rubbed his buttocks on the commander as a sign of his deep respect.
Zog went from the central command room and into the hanger bay, there to better sniff beautiful frilly lace panties and pant over the deliciously naughty strumpets who dare wear such sinfully excessive lingerie.
[Author’s Note: I’m just as confused by that last paragraph as you are. You see, I never kept copies of my stories for myself. I just sent them out to any magazine that might take them, fully expecting them to eventually meet their fate lining the bottom of some editor’s parakeet’s bird cage. On the bizarre occasions that they did actually get printed I never received a copy, and often wouldn’t know for years that they had been printed in some dirty men’s magazine between pictures of saucy young women doing fascinating and improbable things to each other with breakfast sausages and waffles. By the time I found one of my lost stories in the back room of some seedy store I’d completely forgotten what exactly I had written in them. I think I would have remembered, however, if I had composed something this nonsensical in such a serious and deep story. I highly suspect that the editor of Black Garter Magazine got my story, put it in the magazine, and then realized there was nothing tying it into the pictures they’d used to illustrate the story. So rather than change the pictures they changed my words to make it match. I’d restore it to the original, but I’m sure this prose is much better than my own. –Kilgore Trout, apparent connoisseur of fine women’s undergarments]
Zog got into his flying saucer, checked the rear view to make sure it was adjusted for his height, and then started the ship. As he took off from Margo he marveled at the idea of where he was going. Earth. A planet full of people who hadn’t figured out how to live peacefully. It almost didn’t make sense. The people of Margo had happened upon the secret soon after the infamous Crab Salad Uprising. And cancer could be cured in the exact same manner. All it took was
[Author’s Note: This is another part where my original text seems to be missing. In its place the magazine editor, in all his infinite and knowing wisdom, apparently deemed the secret to ending wars and disease to be less important than making sure to place an ad for all-natural male performance enhancers. At the very least the ad makes an effort to be artsy: it features a close-up picture of a rose’s stem with large, bold letters stating ARE YOU THORNY AND CAN’T DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT? The stem in question doesn’t actually have any thorns on it at all, but I prefer to think of that as less of a mistake by the ad department than as a deep, subtle message about the futile nature of human procreation in the face of inevitable oblivion. Or it’s just a penis joke that I’m not getting. –Kilgore Trout, whose male performance is just fine, thank you very much]
With a secret that simple, the creatures on Earth had to be very stupid indeed to still be doing all this needless dying. But Zog didn’t hold it against them. He was more than happy to bring enlightenment to such a simple species.
The journey to Earth was mostly uneventful, although it became more difficult the closer he got. The space immediately surrounding the planet was surrounded by all manner of space junk and cast off debris. Twice Zog had no choice but to pull over and change the tires on his flying saucer when they were popped by some satellite that the Earth’s creatures had carelessly left to litter their space. If this was the state of things outside their planet, Zog couldn’t even imagine how things might be on the surface.
[Author’s Note: More questions from the ballerina. She actually had the nerve to ask why Zog’s flying saucer would need tires in outer space. To which I had to ask this question back: how else do you expect people to travel? By some sort of futuristic clean propulsion? That would be ridiculous. Do I really need to remind the reader that this story is literature, not science fiction? –Kilgore Trout, doctor of rocket surgery]
The state of things, it turned out, was significantly worse. The air was full of pollutants (which, Zog found out after consulting his flying saucer’s database, was actually produced through the unbelievable practice of burning dead dinosaurs for fuel. Apparently the people of Earth didn’t see the irony that the dinosaurs, which had been killed when asteroid crashes had thrown enormous amounts of dirt and crud into the atmosphere, were in the process of getting their revenge.) The ice caps were melting, and according to the primitive transmissions Zog received the people didn’t seem to think there was any connection between this and their precious dead dinosaurs.
Zog did his best to ignore all these things, however. He was not here to judge the people of Earth. He was merely here to make their lives better in a couple of small ways, although he wasn’t sure what good it would do. Earth obviously had more problems than just war and disease.
[Author’s Note: Dear Reader, did you know that the standard practice with publications like Black Garter Magazine is to pay by the word? So the next time you read a preachy rant like the one above and decide that the writer is trying to be profound and relevant, it might do you well to remember than rather than attempting to impart some great wisdom the writer was more likely trying to pad his or her word count just enough to buy an extra sandwich. –Kilgore Trout, who would like you to hold the lettuce, please]
Eventually, however, Zog’s sensors found a place that seemed less ruined than other parts of the planet. If Zog understood the primitive languages of the Earthlings correctly, this comparatively pristine place was called Connecticut, in a bizarre land known as New England. Night had fallen on this part of the world, and Zog piloted his flying saucer over the area, looking for anything that might make for a good landing site. He avoided anything where the lights were too clustered together, assuming that there wouldn’t be enough room for the saucer, as well as anywhere with too few. He needed to find someplace with just enough population that he would be able to deliver his all-important message to a number of people at once. Then he could finally get back home and find out whether the next top Smeerp Blargherer would be the lovely Yug Smeenah or that insufferable Tiervbebadn Bip.
[Author’s Note: Spoiler alert, gentle reader, but you don’t actually get to find the answer to this out. For those of you who absolutely must know, I wrote the story that revealed the answer when I was working under the pseudonym Frank X. Barlow while I was in the Federal Minimum Security Adult Correctional Facility serving time for treason. If you’re too damned lazy to seek out the story for yourself, here’s how it turned out: the beautiful Yug Smeenah’s true colors were revealed during the third Yelp Peckler challenge, which revealed that the whole reality show was a dream and they been dead on the island for the entire time, or they were in Purgatory, or something. I’m the one who wrote the story and even I don’t understand exactly how that twist worked. Anyway, Tiervbebadn Bip slew the zakspeggler general in the final challenge but right before she could be crowned the Smeerp Blargherer King she fell down the stairs and died. Her ghost was the narrator for the next season. It should be noted that this was considered the greatest television moment in Margo’s history. –Kilgore Trout, undisputed master of the ironic twist]
Zog put his flying saucer down at the edge of an absolutely horrifying-looking area that his databanks told him was called a suburb. He could think of no more frightening name, but he bravely reminded himself that he had been sent on an important mission of peace, and it would do no good to let his fear get the best of him. The top of the flying saucer opened and Zog jumped out onto what looked suspiciously like thousands of tiny plants that had been cut so they couldn’t grow to their full height. He could think of no more bizarre and pointless custom than this.
[Author’s Note: I think I just didn’t feel like mowing my lawn that day and was looking for any excuse to put it off. Zog’s disapproval seemed like as good a reason as any. It seemed like such a good reason, in fact, that I haven’t bothered to mow my lawn for the last twenty years. I’d try to do it now that I’m more motivated, but the grass has grown so tall that I’m afraid it has grown sentient and might scream in pain if I tried. So really, I don’t mow my lawn for humanitarian reasons. Or vegetarian reasons. Either or. –Kilgore Trout, master of the incredibly flimsy excuse since 1937]
He noticed several structures nearby, although he couldn’t tell at first what they might be. From the terribly boring sameness of them he thought they might be some kind of misguided art project created by some Earth dweller to dull and numb the mind of anyone who saw them. At this task the structures were quite successful. But as Zog crept closer to the nearest one he decided that he must be wrong. They appeared to be dwellings, although he couldn’t imagine anyone actually wanting to live in any of them. He must have touched down in some kind of prison portion of the planet. There was no way any intelligent species would live in this “suburb” as anything other than an incredibly cruel and unusual punishment.
He could tell, however, that something was wrong the closer he got to the nearest dwelling. There was something different about this one, a unique aspect that none of the other suburban dwelling shared. He couldn’t quite place it at first though. He looked carefully at this dwelling, then the two on either side of it, then at any and all others within sight of his eight eyestalks. This wasn’t his imagination. There had to be a difference, if only he could concentrate on it a little harder.
Finally that all important difference came to him. The reason this dwelling seemed so different than the mind-numbing sameness of the others was because it was on fire.
[Author Note: Back to the damnable ballerina. I don’t know about you, but she’s starting to get on my nerves. Did I mention that she was horribly disfigured and only had one leg? No? Sorry, I probably should have mentioned that.
Anyway, the reason this ballerina was horribly disfigured with only one leg to call her own was thanks to a fire, and she greatly objected to the fact that Zog couldn’t recognize a fire burning down a family’s home at first. When I made the mistake of curiously asking what had happened, she’d informed me that when she was young her brother had taken it upon himself to find out if a person really could – oh irony of ironies – light their own farts. So he took out a lighter, dropped his pants, bent over and did his best to let out a big wet one. Unfortunately he must not have eaten anything recently of sufficient gas-producing power, because nothing would come out. So he decided to help the issue along and proceeded to pour lighter fluid all over and around his butt. He still couldn’t get it to light, so he went the next step further and covered his entire body in lighter fluid. The lighter wouldn’t work at this point, which apparently he didn’t realize could be fixed by just getting another lighter. Instead he dumped gasoline around the entire house, including all the inhabitants still in it.
The next time he tried the lighter, it finally worked. Reportedly, as he was twisting and writhing in the inferno, he finally farted.
I asked the ballerina what any of this had to do with my story, at which point she asked me what story. I slowly backed away and decided I probably didn’t want much else to do with her. –Kilgore Trout, who looks at lighters in an entirely different light now]
Zog took a few seconds to consider whether this might be on purpose. It could very well be the attempt of the family within to give some sort of personality to their dwelling. Or it could have been a term of endearment from some other family in the area. After all, the people of Margo repeatedly set others on fire as a way of expressing their affection. After some careful thought, though, Zog decided this probably wasn’t the case. These Earth people were far too primitive to understand that level of infatuation. So it seemed likely this was purely by accident, just as it seemed likely that the people inside the dwelling might not be prepared for or welcoming of the fire.
He rushed to the dwelling, having some trouble with the unfamiliar method of the opening and closing the door. After precious seconds her managed to grip the round protrusion with several of his tentacles and twist it, which allowed the door to finally open and give him entrance.
[Author’s Note: My son, Leon Trotsky Trout, routinely had a large amount of trouble with doorknobs when he was a child. His trouble wasn’t with opening them, however. His trouble was that they routinely bullied him. I know that this shouldn’t be possible, and yet somehow it was. It started when he was young and, since I was too busy writing to do anything more than give him a beige crayon and tell him to use his imagination like his old man, he would go about using the crayon to turn ordinary household objects into his friends. By the time he was two he become best friends with one of my slippers. By three had had taken a number of broken salt and pepper shakers and turned them into his own personal gang, who would follow him around the neighborhood on his tricycle where he would shake down Chihuahuas for their lunch money. At four he embarked on a brief but torrid love affair with a spatula, although I knew far better than to ask just what the hell he and that spatula did together when they were alone. Then at five he drew faces on all the doorknobs in the house, which promptly set about engaging in subtle mental torture techniques. I still thought it was all fun and games until the day when, as I reached for the knob to leave the house, the knob whispered to me in my son’s voice that it would do horrible things to my feet in the night if I didn’t give in to its demands. From that point on my son was expressly forbidden from ever using crayons again.
This doesn’t really have anything at all to do with the story. I just thought you might find it interesting. –Kilgore Trout, apparently going senile in his old age]
Zog rushed into the dwelling, urgently searching for the residents that he would need to save. He tapped repeatedly and loudly on the linoleum floor in a sign of warning. He also let rip the loudest and smelliest fart he could manage. It didn’t really mean anything, but he figured that the Earth people, even with their idiotically ridiculous form of communication, would be able to understand the important undertones of flatulence that loud and roaring. Something made a squeaking noise from another room, clearly one of the Earth people telling him where it was. He followed the noise and finally laid his many eyes on what could only be the dominant species on the planet: in a glass enclosure on a table there sat a small furry creature running frantically in a wheel. The poor thing, Zog thought. Of course. The Earth people were obviously far too stupid to realize that zooming around in this way was not going to get it any farther away from the fire raging in several nearby rooms. They didn’t have the sense to run when they were in danger.
[Author’s Note: Wait, what do you mean I have to answer one more question from that damnable ballerina? I thought I was rid of her. Oh well. Let’s just get this over with.
So what the ballerina so desperately needed to know this time was why I chose to give the family a small fury rodent rather than a dog or a cat. Wait, seriously? That’s what she wanted to know? Good lord. Fine. The rodent represents… uh, give me a second, I can think of something here. It represents… mankind’s inner child. Yeah, sure, that sounds good. It is a symbol of everything we strive to return to in order to get away from the stresses of the adult world. I think Freud actually said that. Or maybe it was Jung. No, wait, I think I actually read that on a fortune cookie. Whatever. It doesn’t matter where I got it. All that matters is that it sounds deep. Now can I please get away from this ballerina?
Oh wait, that’s right. I completely forgot. I married the disfigured one-legged ballerina three years ago. She’s the only person on the planet who can put up with me. –Kilgore Trout, Bullshit is his middle name]
“It is okay,” Zog said through a series of kicks to the floor and several toots that smelled like roasted chestnuts. “I have you. You are safe now. And once I get you out of here you can spread the great and wonderful news that I have brought you from far across the stars. For behold! I have the answer to stop all war and every form of cancer. It can even cure herpes! You see, the solution comes in the simple, obvious form of…”
The creature in the glass enclosure didn’t have anything to say to any of this. It was just a hamster. The real people who dwelled in this house stood right behind Zog. They had been on their way out of the house, but they had been distracted by the sound of tapping and the rancid stench that overpowered even the pungent scent of their every worldly possession burning around them. Upon seeing the green, many-tentacled creature farting and dancing in their living room the father of the family ran back upstairs into the inferno, grabbed a nine-iron, ran back down and, just as Zog was about to impart his wisdom, smashed the creature repeatedly in the eyestalks.
“George, what are you doing?” the man’s wife asked.
“There’s an intruder in my house,” the man said to his wife. “I’m standing my ground.”
“But I don’t think that’s even the law here in Connecticut,” the wife said.
“I don’t care. It’s my ground. I worked hard for it. I’m standing it.”
“But the house is burning down,” the wife said. “We have to go.”
“If we leave now then the terrorists and communists have won,” the man said. “We’re staying right here.”
So they did. The man continued to whack the dead body of the alien creature with his golf club, squirting blue blood everywhere and ruining the freshly installed carpeting. The woman stood by his side.
And then the house burned down and they all died.
Author’s Note : And there you have it. Obviously this superior work of art was far beyond the small minds of the time when I originally wrote it. But you, dear reader, I am sure will appreciate the beauty and craftsmanship behind it. And if you did, it is logical that there is only one thing you can do: buy more of my damned stories and pay me more money. I need another sandwich.
-Kilgore Trout, master of conning you out of your hard earned money since 1929