Monday, December 23, 2013


(Midnight Mass at St. Edward the Confessor’s.
A church altar, with a crèche scene to the side.  In the crèche there are statues of Joseph and Mary, Wise Men, Shepherds, and various livestock; but the manger crib itself is empty.
FATHER MIKE is at the altar, assiduously cleaning up the chalice after communion.  Oddly, he appears to be humming softly to himself an amalgam of carols, from “O Come All Ye Faithful” to “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”.  After setting the chalice in place, he approaches the pulpit, just a bit unsteadily – he may have had a drink or two - and addresses the congregation)

We will close tonight’s Midnight Mass Service by the traditional placing of the baby Jesus in the manger and the singing of our concluding hymn, “Joy to the World” – always a moment to treasure - but first I have a few announcements.
         (reads from a sheet)
I’d like to thank the Ladies’ Eucharistic Society for giving so generously of their time and talent in decorating the church for Christmas.  The magnificent poinsettias gracing the altar, and the wreaths adorning the walls, were donated by Hick’s Nursery, and we thank them as well.   The church has never looked more beautiful.
(Father Mike looks up from the sheet, checks out the altar, and shrugs.  He resumes reading)
We also want to thank the custodial staff for getting the church cleaned up in time for tonight’s Mass.   We had a Living Nativity for the children this afternoon, and some of the animals got a little over-expressive.   
         (points off left)
It was mostly over in this section.  You can’t smell anything now, can you?   
         (back to the sheet)
Kudos once again to the adult choir, led by our esteemed choirmaster, Edward Fartstain – Fairsteen, I’m sorry.  As always, they sang like the heavenly host itself.   I heard notes tonight I’ve never heard before.

And of course a special nod to the New Ambrosian Bell-Ringers and their spirited rendition of one of my all-time favorite carols, “Ding Dong The Witch is Dead.”
         (reacts to o.s. whisper)
What is it...? “Ding Dong Merrily on High”! - of course.  Just kidding.
         (tries a joke)
Speaking of bell-ringers, did you hear about the riot at the Quasimodo Look-alike Contest?  Things were going fine at first, but then the crowd turned ugly.
That’s an old one.
(back to the sheet)
Looking ahead, the schedule for New Year’s Day will be the same as a regular Sunday; we will be celebrating the Feast of the Holy Family.   Which in the old days was the Feast of the Circumcision.   I guess somebody nipped that in the bud.  Heh heh.
         (checks sheet)
Anyway, that’s it for announcements. 
         (tosses the sheet aside, and takes a moment)
Now, on a personal note: as you may know, this will be my last Midnight Mass here at St. Edward the Confessor.   At the end of January I’ll be leaving for another parish.  I was hoping to stick around for the Super Bowl party at the Moose Lodge, which is always a blast, but apparently my new church needs me desperately.  Although they haven’t told me where I’m going yet.   Anyway, if I happen to win the pool, please give my winnings to the poor.  Actually, I’ll send a forwarding address.
         (loses his footing momentarily)
Whoa!  They always put too much wax on this marble…Or maybe it's me.  We had a little Christmas Eve get-together in the rectory this evening, and truth be told, I’m a little toasted.   Not that this in any way compromised my solemn observance of the liturgy.   I’ve been much worse than this, believe me.   I’ve said Masses where I was half-blind. Father Andrew will bear me out on this. 
In fact, he almost did bear me out one time.  Last Pentecost Sunday, remember? - I was speaking in tongues.  Gonna miss you, Andy.  My old drinking buddy.  Maker’s Mark!
         (expels a deep breath)
Anyhoo…I’ll be going soon, and leaving behind a lot of memories.  I’ve been here at St. Edward’s for 26 years, and as I look out over this congregation I see so many familiar faces.  And I just want you to know that I will miss all of you, and by that I mean I will miss some of you.   

The rest of my flock have left scars on my faith that will never be healed.   I’ve heard things in the confessional that would turn most people’s stomachs.    And by the way, I knew who you were, no matter how you tried to disguise your voices.  Frankly it’s only because I’m filled with the love of Jesus that I can look at you without throwing up.

But - let he who is without sin cast the first stone, as the Good Book says.  And in that spirit of humility, I’d like to make a few confessions of my own before I go:

You all know me as wise, affable, saintly Father Mike, but that’s not who I am.  For one thing, my name isn't Mike. It's Gaylord.  I didn't think “Father Gaylord” really sent the right message.

         (points to his hair)
This is a wig.  Not sure how many of you knew that.

For the last ten years, I’ve been copying all my sermons off the Internet.  I didn’t even know what I was talking about half the time.

I never met the Pope.  That picture in my office is photoshopped.

Remember back in ’96, we had that fire in the old rectory, and I was a big hero for saving Monsignor Keller and Father Tom, who were both passed out in the parlor?  Well - I was the one who started the fire in the first place.  I was smoking in bed, and I dozed off watching Letterman.  As the kids say, my bad.

And then there was the time the Bingo money went missing, and we had to fire Carlos the landscaper, because I spotted him sneaking out the back of the parish hall with a brown paper bag?
         (shakes his head)
Never happened. I took the money myself.  Bought a nice big flat-screen TV at Best Buy.

As for that retreat upstate with the CYO traveling team, I still deny that anything untoward occurred.  If it did, I was frankly too plastered to be responsible.  That whole weekend was a blur.   Maybe they took advantage of me – how about that?

But I can tell you this:  when I’m sober, I’m as straight as a prize stallion.  If you don’t believe me, ask Sister Mary Geraldine;  or better yet, her obstetrician.  I sometimes wonder what happened to that kid of ours.   I think they shipped him to Minnesota.  Maybe I’ll spend some of my free time trying to find him.  Eh, whatever.

Finally, as I look back over my life in the priesthood – what, 35, 40 years – I am struck by the fact that it was probably a colossal waste of time.   I don’t even know why I became a priest; I’m not really religious.   But you know, I didn’t have a job at the time, and the draft was still on, and I thought it would be cool to be a bishop someday.  Never happened.   Never got to wear the big hat.    And now that they’re shipping me out to pasture, I guess it’s Game Over. 
         (shouts up heavenwards)
Thanks a lot, pal!  If there’s ever anything I can do for you…!
         (to congregation)
That’s a waste of time too.   If there is a God up there, He sure as hell isn’t listening to me.    I know, this is pretty heavy stuff for Christmas Eve, but what can I say?  It is what it is.  I’m not a sacred conduit, I'm not a vessel of divine light; I’m a powerless cipher.  I can’t do anything for you.  I can’t intercede,  and I can’t forgive your sins.  I can’t forgive my sins…
(after a beat;  Father Mike brightens, and picks up the statue of baby  Jesus)
But that’s why this little guy is here - right?
         (faces the statue of Jesus out to the crowd)
Check it out, kid.   Everyone came to wish you a Happy Birthday!  Not bad, huh?  Packed house!  You’ve still got it!    Okay, Manger Time - let’s do it!

         (Father Mike staggers as he approaches the stable.   
At the last moment, just before he crashes into the tableau, he suddenly pulls himself up straight, and gently places the baby in the crib.  He kneels and bows his head in prayer.  After a moment, he rises and turns to the congregation)

Merry Christmas.

         (As he walks off tipsily, the choir sings “Joy to the World”)

Sunday, December 15, 2013


This monologue, POLES APART, was first performed last year by the peerless D. Jennifer Dawson in our evening of Christmas one-acts at the Creative Arts Studio in Sea Cliff NY.


         (Mrs Santa Claus, seated, in spotlight)

         MRS SANTA
He was a good man.  A jolly man.  He made me laugh.   He could do things with his belly that would have me on the floor. 

Very wise, too, for all his childlike innocence.  He had street smarts.  His knowledge of geography and aviation - matchless.

And he had a lovely tenor voice.  Not many people knew that about him.  They figured, “ho ho ho”, gotta be a bass-baritone.  No, he could get up there.  E over high C. He’d sing “Di quella pira”, crack the icicles right off the roof.  

And as a husband, what can I say?  He was gentle and attentive.  A skillful lover.  Surprisingly flexible.   Hey, any man who can squeeze through a chimney, you know?…Yes, we spent five hundred wonderful years together.  I thought I knew him pretty well.

So when all these allegations of worker abuse came out, I was naturally shocked.  Flabbergasted.  I saw it on the news, and I swear, the hot cocoa squirted right through my nose.

Because believe me, the elves are very happy here.  Always singing, whistling, playing leapfrog and such. They get unlimited gingerbread cookies, all the eggnog they can drink…it’s a dream workplace.  I had no idea it was just a front, that he was farming all the work out to China.   I mean, okay, sometimes I wondered, how do these little bozos make any toys, all they ever do is dance in circles and blow bubbles?  Somebody’s gotta pick up a hammer once in a while.
So that was a blow.  Then came the whole Vixen scandal.  Which was a set-up, as far as I’m concerned.   Those pictures were clearly Photoshopped.   See, my husband and the reindeer worked as a team.   When you’re circumnavigating the globe in 24 hours, dodging airplanes, satellites, geese, no bathroom breaks, there has to be an implicit level of trust. 

So was he spending a lot of time down at the stables?  Did he maybe get a little too involved in their personal lives?   But that’s just his way.   He needs to know who’s been naughty or nice. 

And I saw him with Vixen.  He was affectionate, sure.  He would scratch behind her ears, feed her lumps of sugar, give her a pat on the rump after a good flight.  Same as with me.  But it was all very paternal. Those reindeer were his children.  He would never…!    Funny, the one I was always worried about was Prancer.
So no, I don’t believe any of these stories.   Look, my husband was a powerful man, he had a lot of enemies, people who wanted to take him down.   The Easter Bunny.  The Sandman.  Mother Goose…did you ever catch her act?   She’s got those poor kids in Storyland getting eaten by wolves, breaking their crowns, eggs cracking wide open and you can’t put them back together…It’s like Dante’s Inferno over there.   You should do a story about her, the sadistic bitch.

So what I’m saying is, he had his issues, yes, but the divorce had nothing to do with that.   We were just growing apart.  He was becoming very conservative.  He insisted global warming was a hoax: “It’s plenty cold up here!”   Of course it’s cold, it’s the North Pole, you idiot.   And he kept ranting about immigration; he was obsessed with illegal dwarves crossing the border.   He also had a little thing for Ann Coulter, which I won’t even pretend to understand.

Plus, to be honest, he was losing a few steps.  Messing up toy orders, delivering to the wrong houses.   He couldn’t spring to his sleigh anymore; he needed a footstool.    Every night I’d find bits of food stuck in his beard.   Not just crumbs, but whole chunks of meat, carrot sticks.    He’d aim for his mouth, miss, and just forget about it.   It was very sad.

So something had to be done.  The Claus brand was in danger of being diminished.  I couldn’t let that happen.

I got the house, the workshop, the toys.  He got the magic sleigh.   Which was fine, I didn’t need it.  FedEx, Amazon – that’s the way to go now.

I haven’t seen him since the court settlement.   I don’t know where he is or what he’s up to.  There was a rumor he might be on Dancing With the Stars, but that never panned out.      I just hope he’s staying clean.  There was a time back in the 70’s when he was hooked on nutmeg.  That was scary.

Do I miss him?  Come on - He was Santa Claus.   A legend.  He took me to magical places.  But sooner or later, you have to grow up.   How much friggin' merriment can you take?

I have a new romance now.    He’s a younger man.   Skinny little thing.  No beard.  I met him on-line.  We do yoga together, take long walks on the glacier…He’s very serious. 
He doesn’t even believe in Santa Claus. 
         (then, wistfully)
But I do. I still do…

(SOUND of jingling SLEIGH BELLS in the distance, as we FADE  OUT)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Kicking through old boxes of papers in the basement, I found a Thanksgiving poem that I wrote when I was in third grade.  It was on loose-leaf paper, and my printing was choppy ("chicken scratches", as the nuns would say) but legible.  I was a few weeks shy of 8 years old when I wrote it, so forgive the irregular meter and the sudden shifts in tense.

Do they write poems in grade school anymore?  If so, they’re probably free-form and deeply expressive, full of wild whirling words and youthful melancholy.   Our poems just had to rhyme and scan; the content was not all that important, although if you managed to work in God or the flag, you got extra points, and possibly a miraculous medal.

When I was a kid, Thanksgiving was one of those holidays that was just suddenly there.   You knew it was coming, you looked forward to the four-day weekend, but you didn’t get over-excited, you didn’t anticipate it like Halloween, certainly not like Christmas.    There was no, “Oh boy, Thanksgiving is almost here!”,  no month-long build-up of Thanksgiving specials and morning-show tutorials about how to cook the perfect turkey or survive your relatives.  

To us, Thanksgiving was more of a gateway holiday - it opened the way to the Christmas season and all the festivities pertaining.  Santa Claus showed up at the end of the parade, and the Yule clock was running.   Aside from that, the day itself was just about eating, and mostly grown-up food that held limited appeal. We were supposed to be enticed by the yams because they were candied, but nobody fell for that dodge.

Back then there were no Thanksgiving movies on the Hallmark Channel, and no Thanksgiving songs – “Alice’s Restaurant” hadn’t been written yet.   “Over the River and Through the Woods”, that was it.  And even that was more of a quasi-song to most of us – “Over the river and through the woods, to grandmother’s house we go, the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh through the something-something snow….”  From that point on the lyrics became pretty much a matter of personal preference.   It’s one of those special songs you always got bored with halfway through, the hearty chorus of voices trailing off into quizzical indifference.

At school, Thanksgiving was considered a religious holiday.  Whoever anyone else was thanking, we at St. Patrick’s were thanking God – the Roman Catholic God, thank you -  and as such we were expected to go to church, presumably to make sure He heard us thanking Him.  And even though some of us pointed out that it wasn’t a Sunday or a Holy Day of Obligation, and we didn’t really have to go…we went.

The highpoint of November  - or any month - would come when we got a visit from the art teacher, Miss Kepner.  She would turn up at the classroom door unannounced, and our hearts would leap with delight.   Not that Miss Kepner was a study in charisma; in my fuzzy recollection  she looked like someone’s dotty aunt, with a fluty voice and oversized black-rimmed glasses, and possibly a flask up her sleeve.  But she would step up to the blackboard and show us ingenious strategies for drawing turkeys and pilgrim hats - it was all about circles and cones – and we would copy the chalk sketch at our desks and color it in, and Miss Kepner would check everyone’s work and approve of virtually everything, and then she would sweep out the door and take all the joy with her.  Back to the multiplication tables.

Despite its reputation,  Thanksgiving wasn't a big kids’ holiday.  Maybe the morning was, with the Macy’s parade and “The March of the Wooden Soldiers” prevailing on TV.  But by mid-afternoon, the adults had taken over, and the early excitement had slowed into the ponderous, ritualistic presentation of various edibles. Nana would arrive with a bowl of chilled shrimp, and Dad would put out the tray of celery, and Aunt Helen would sit at the kitchen table with a cigarette and a can of beer as she fed boiled potatoes into the ricer and squeezed the handle down, and the potatoes squirted out of the basket holes like skinny white snakes.  My mother would be at the stove mixing gravy and cooking corn and creaming cauliflower, while Dad kept trying to hand her the first Manhattan of the holiday:  ”Have a drink, Ree, have a drink,” he would persist, while Mom warded him off: “In a minute.”   Finally she would break down and take her drink, and we all would raise our glasses, sodas included, in a toast: “Happy Thanksgiving!”

While the women prepared the dinner and Dad kept mixing, we kids sat in the living room watching “King Kong”.  How “King Kong” came to be considered an appropriate Thanksgiving story, I couldn’t say, but every year channel 9 would air the complete unofficial trilogy – “King Kong”, “Son of Kong” “Mighty Joe Young” – and Channel 11 would counter with the Max Fleischer cartoon of “Gulliver’s Travels” or Danny Kaye in “Hans Christian Andersen”.  Maybe it’s because Thanksgiving itself has such a thin narrative – “The Pilgrims and the Native-Americans have dinner, and…Curtain” – that we can impose whatever traditions we want on it.

For instance, my own essential piece of Thanksgiving music, the one that recalls the emotions of my childhood with a startling Proustian intensity, is “Scheherazade”.  Now why a symphonic suite of glittery Orientalism written by a Russian composer should come to embody for me a uniquely American celebration, I don’t know.  I suspect it might be because there was a vintage Popeye cartoon where he’s pitted against Sinbad, and they used a lot of Rimsky-Korsakov’s music, and Popeye was one of our favorite balloons in the parade, and…well, who knows?  All I can definitively say is that if I don’t hear “Scheherazade” on Thanksgiving, then it’s as if the holiday didn’t happen.

Some people look upon Thanksgiving as a day of unrelieved family stress.  Happily we didn’t experience that in our house.  There was no yelling or recriminations or overturning of mashed turnips; the idea of getting into an argument on a holiday seemed profane and inconceivable.  We ate, we ate some more, we watched a family movie over dessert (Nana's spectacular chocolate layer cake, never to be equalled), and then everybody went home.

But because my father owned a bar, which opened at 6 pm on Thanksgiving night, I know from first-hand observation that many others experienced a far grimmer holiday.   Customers would stream in from far and wide, fleeing their homes like refugees.   Even if it snowed, the place was packed with people desperate to escape their families after an afternoon of hell.   Thanksgiving was one of our busiest nights of the year. That was a real tradition.

Nowadays people seek similar relief by storming Walmart's at the stroke of twelve.  One could rightfully lament that this singular holiday, which has no exclusionary agenda and celebrates nothing more than our reasons to be grateful for life itself, has degenerated into yet another soulless shopping bacchanal, but I can't say that it affects me one way or the other.  I have my Thanksgiving traditions - "King Kong", "Scheherazade" - they can have theirs.  If my fellow celebrants feel that swigging Red Bull and body-checking strangers into a display of flat-screen TVs in the middle of the night will someday constitute a treasured holiday memory,  God bless them.

This Thanksgiving we'll be at my brother Jack's house, and my other brothers will be there, and we'll watch football and Laurel & Hardy and have turkey and shrimp, and at some point we'll raise our glasses in a toast - "Happy Thanksgiving!"- and our relatives out there in Brooklyn and Jersey and Palm Springs and Texas will join us, and so will Mom and Dad, and Betty and Joey Kash, and Nana - and Aunt Helen, who is probably still puffing on a Winston and marveling at how high those Rockettes can kick.

Anyway, I was telling you about a poem I wrote in third grade, and by now you must be chomping at the bit to read it.  Here it is then, "Thanksgiving Day", in its brief but potent entirety:

(November 1964)

The Turkeys gobble
And the Pilgrims say,
“Come back, you turkey.
It’s Thanksgiving Day!”

But Turkey says,
“You won’t catch me!
You won’t get my head!
I won’t agree!”

The Pilgrim’s coming!
The Turkey must run.
When the axe comes down,
It’s not much fun.

Turkey thinks he’ll be caught!
He feels pretty ill.
For he knows the Pilgrim’s
Closing in for the kill.

He finally attacks!
The Turkey is caught!
He didn’t run
The way he was taught.

The axe comes down!
The Turkey’s dead.
But now the Pilgrims
Are happily fed.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Computer: A Halloween Story

My son Joe had to write a scary Halloween story for his 6th grade class  - read it if you dare....


by Joseph Stroppel

It all began in a small peaceful town, on October 30th.  The new computer technology had taken over quite a few young men who would NEVER stop searching on the computer.  A few men like 17-year-old Isaac.

  Isaac was always failing in school.  He wouldn’t focus in class and would wait impatiently for the bell to ring.  And once it did, he ran home as fast as he could.  His computer was life.  Until one day, when it wasn’t anymore.

  On this day, when Isaac started up his computer after a long day of school, it broke down.  This had happened many times before.  However, Isaac’s parents just paid to get a new one every time, to the point where they were very poor.  They refused to buy him a new one this time, and told him to get one with his own money.

  So Isaac spent his entire evening on his parents’ computer searching for a cheap computer on e-Bay.  He looked and looked, and finally he found a computer at an extremely cheap price.  He should have been suspicious by then. Still, he really wanted that computer. The description said that he had to meet the man to get the computer. Luckily, the man only lived two blocks away, near a huge forest. However, it was very late. Isaac just decided to go to sleep and get it tomorrow.

  Isaac woke up the next morning and realized it was October 31st! However, he didn’t plan to trick-or-treat. He just wanted to get that computer, download all of his favorite games, and PLAY. But first, he had to go to school. He had another day of getting 0s for not doing homework and refusing to do school work. Finally, that final bell rang, and Isaac went straight to the computer seller’s house.
  Isaac arrived at the house, which turned out to be an OLD, RICKETY MANSION. Another sign of suspicion that Isaac didn’t think of. He knocked on the door and a man came out. At least Isaac thought it was a man. The figure had a hood on in a way that its face couldn’t be seen. Isaac gave the figure 10 dollars and went off with the computer. Isaac thought to himself “Time to test this thing out!”
  He took the computer home, plugged it in, and went to play! He downloaded all of his favorite games, including Minecraft, Call of Duty, and Battlefield. Isaac decided to play one of his favorite games, Minecraft. He would learn later that this was a big mistake. That is when the horror began.

   Isaac started a new game on Minecraft, where he prepared to build a base to survive zombies and other horrible creatures that hunt in the night. When he finished building his base and night fell, the screen went black. He heard a high-pitched scream, and the computer crashed. Isaac was surprised and scared at the same time. He didn’t know what would come next.
  He was able to restart his computer and get online. To avoid that disaster again, he just decided to watch YouTube. He decided to watch videos of Minecraft and his other favorite video games instead of playing them. He picked a random video and watched it. The video went smoothly with no black screens and screaming. That was, sadly, about to change.
   When he was expecting it the least, about halfway through, the screen went black. But this time, a figure appeared. It was horrifying. It looked like a creature out of a horror movie. It had cuts all over its face. It had purple circles under its eyes. And it had very, very sharp teeth. Those teeth opened up and the same high-pitched scream from before was blasted out of that computer. Was this a coincidence or was Isaac being stalked?

 Isaac was pretty scared by then. Just to be sure, he clicked on another video. The exact same thing happened. Then another and another. It kept happening. That is, until Isaac found one video. A video where the figure didn’t scream. Instead, it opened its jaws and said in a horrifying voice “ I’M COMING FOR YOU”. Then, it opened its mouth and let out that scream again.
  Isaac finally realized that he had to destroy the computer. He pulled out a plug. The computer stayed on. Then, Isaac removed a few more. The computer still stayed on. Frustrated, Isaac removed ALL of the plugs. The computer STILL stayed on. Frightened, Isaac went into the kitchen and pulled a knife out. Then, he ran back to the computer and shoved the knife into the screen. The screen STILL stayed on. Isaac was terrified. However, he didn’t know what horror would happen next.
 Isaac was very busy trying to destroy the computer, but still noticed the front door open. A figure walked in. The same figure that gave him the computer! It began to approach Isaac. It didn’t have a weapon, but Isaac still knew this may be the end. He tried pulling the knife out of the computer, but it didn’t budge. He suddenly realized that the computer had him trapped! Finally, the figure took off its hood. What was under it was NOT a man. It was the face he saw on all of the videos. It opened its jaws and…. The further parts are unknown, even by me.

 Police came to investigate the scene of a missing teenager by the name of Isaac. They found no trace of the teen or whatever took him. Some say it was foul play. Some say he ran away. The only thing the police DID find was a very strange, most likely cheap desktop computer. And the strangest part is that there was a kitchen knife driven into it, yet it was still working. No one will know why Isaac is gone, not even me. But no one will EVER know what actually happened at the scene of the crime, the computer, the creature, Isaac… So yeah kids, don’t buy cheap computers from creepy, hooded figures and play Minecraft or watch YouTube on them.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013


My one-act play TESTAMENT, a comic monologue about an elderly man setting down his final thoughts regarding the disposition of his estate, was staged at the Theatre Artists Workshop in Norwalk, Ct. last weekend, as part of the annual Playwrights Festival.   It was performed by the magnificently funny Jim Noble, and he was brilliant as always.


(LUCIUS PEMBROKE, an elderly man of some considerable wealth,  sits at a table, writing.  He holds up pages and reads from them)

         (reads aloud)
I, Lucius Pembroke, being of sound mind and body, do hereby set forth my Last Will and Testament, which of necessity voids all previous wills.   I do this of my own consent and volition, and without the benefit of legal counsel.  I’ve been dealing with lawyers my whole life, and over the years those leeches have sucked me drier than my first wife’s hoo-ha.  As far as I’m concerned they can all go screw themselves for a change.

The practical disposition of my estate is a subject that has long consumed me.   I have truly lived the American dream – I’ve worked hard and sacrificed much to preserve the fortune that my parents left me - and I feel it incumbent upon me to assure that this great legacy does not, upon my demise, fall into the waiting hands of lazy unproductive moochers.

To wit, my various ex-wives – Sheila, Madeleine, Bambi, and Juanita - who have already benefited from my largesse far beyond their combined worth.   These indolent cows have been grazing on the pastures of my alimony payments long enough, and by this point they could live quite comfortably off the fat of their grass-fed asses.  Accordingly, I leave them nothing but the fruits of my decomposing corpse; accustomed as they are to feeding off my flesh, they are welcome to any and all of the maggots that my cadaver may spontaneously generate.  Bon appetit.

To my son, Fielding, who has proven to be a monumental disappointment in every respect, from his muddle-headed embrace of socialist politics to his execrable taste in unattractive patchouli-smelling women – to Fielding,  I leave the key to my safe-deposit box, which he will find as empty as the cavernous gap between his ears.

To my daughter Wendy, who through some weird process of surgical alchemy is now my son Wendell, I leave my first edition of  “Finnegan’s Wake”, so that she/he may be as thoroughly confused in mind as in body;

To my cat Muffin,  who taught me so much about myself - primarily, that I hate cats; it’s a miracle I haven’t strangled that son-of-a-bitch already – to Muffin, I leave a year’s supply of Meow Mix, liberally laced with rat poison.  See if you can hack that up into a hairball, you little fucker.

And now, to my nurse Inga…
Inga,  young and fresh-faced, full of high spirits and the promise of springtime–
Inga, barely twenty-three but wise beyond her years, her bright green eyes and winsome smile evoking the very essence of Scandinavian innocence -
Inga, with her soft yielding mouth and darting tongue; her long silken hair cascading over lush ripe breasts; her waist trim and supple; her round firm buttocks, plump and juicy…
         (goes into a happy reverie, then snaps out of it)
What was I talking about?  Oh - 
Inga,  who turned my musty bedroom into a playground of sensual delights…Not just for me, mind you, but for my chauffeur, my personal trainer, my sous chef, and most disturbingly, my accountant – Inga, who slept with everyone on the property but the garden gnome…
Fuck you, Inga.

Having suffered dispiriting failure on every front past and present, I now turn my hopeful gaze to the future.   And the future, my friends, is Space.   In that grand exploratory spirit,  I hereby bequeath the entirety of my remaining estate  - my properties, my off-shore accounts, my stocks and holdings  - all to my good friend Zarkon, the Imperial Leader of the planet Moktu.

It was while summering in Fiji that I was first visited by Zarkon and his hearty crew of extraterrestrials, and spirited aboard their spaceship.

There, as is customary in all alien encounters, I was anally probed, gently but with great thoroughness.  A long cylindrical tube was introduced into my rectum, and methodically snaked through the winding catacombs of my gastro-intestinal complex.

While thus impaled, I received an intense genital massage from a handsome Moktu woman who had fifteen fingers on each hand, but nevertheless used her feet.  Afterwards, my cranium was removed with a laser beam, and I was allowed the privilege of holding my own brain in my lap.  It was an experience I will never forget, even though I don’t quite remember it.

I spent a week on planet Moktu, and found the Moktuvian people congenial and without pretense.  They have no word for “hate”.    They have no word for many things.  They’re a very primitive race. They can build spaceships, that’s about it.

But they’re a great bunch of guys, and I want to help them out, any way I can.   Hopefully my small contribution will help the Moktuvians establish a colony here on Earth, a base of operations from which they may create a New World Order, one based on peace and kindness and mutual respect.  If we could achieve that kind of cosmic love, if we could reach a defining moment of pure universal bliss – and wipe out a bunch of worthless assholes in the process - then my money and my dreams will not have been spent in vain.

Such are my wishes in these, my final moments.   The next pill I take will transport my soul through the galaxy vector and back to Moktu, where eternal life awaits me. 
         (Lucius pops the pill)
Some will probably challenge the wisdom of my directives here;  some in desperation may even question my sanity.  But anyone who tries to contest this will on those grounds,  just be forewarned: Zarkon is watching, and he’s got an anal probe with your name on it.

         (Lucius keels over gently onto the will)