Saturday, September 5, 2009

Gastro Fantastic

 I have no idea how I came up with this, but I thought you might get a kick out of it.

Copyright 2009 by Erik F. Helm

I took a shortcut through the woods. The path curved through the forest floor, and I followed it with some recollection or intent to fish a Hendrickson hatch. It was a strange wood, and under the deep beds of ferns grew colorful mushrooms and flowers that reminded me of candy-canes. It all seemed so familiar, in a bizarre way. I had been here before a long, long time ago.

As the path led through a grove of unusually crabbed and ancient oaks, I spotted a cottage.
It was a small dwelling, but lit with color. Moving closer, I realized that the structure was constructed entirely of various cans of beer. “How strange,” I thought as I found myself knocking at the door.
It soon opened, and I was confronted by an old woman with a long nose complete with warts, and wearing a big floppy black hat.
“Come in my pretty,” she said. “Have a beer.”
“No thank you,” I said, as my eyes adjusted to the brightly-lit interior. The old woman held out a can of Hamms, and with a grin that revealed her missing teeth, popped open the beer.
“Mmmm, good beer…, nice and cold!” she cackled.

As I refused her offering for the second time, I noticed that a large cage stood in the corner, and that an enormously rotund figure was seated in it drinking a beer. The floor of the cage was littered with empties.

“What’s going on here?” I asked, turning to the old woman.
“Oh never mind him,” she replied, “That’s just our Christmas dinner. We’re just fattening him up.”

“Hey,” I exclaimed in sudden clarity, “You wouldn’t happen to be a witch?”
“Of course!” she stated, “Everyone knows me. I am the wicked witch of the forest. I live here with my husband. He cooks meth in the back shed.”

As on cue, a huge figure of a man in faded and stained bib overalls came into the room through the back door. He looked exactly like Boris Karloff playing the Frankenstein monster, but sported a NASCAR ball cap. He made a mooing noise as he walked.

“Say,” I began, “ you’ve got it all wrong. The house is supposed to be made out of candy and gingerbread, and you are supposed to be eating Hansel and Gretel after fattening them up on candy, not beer. And Lester or Zeke over there, whatever his name is, is a woodcutter, not a meth cooker.”

“Oh, we used to have a candy house many years ago,’ she reflected, “But we updated it for modern times.”

A knock sounded at the front door, and I stood aside as the witch opened it to reveal a family of bears, all bearing a striking resemblance to Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead.

“Not you again!” the witch cried. “I’ve told you before a hundred times, you have the wrong house!”
“We have no porridge here.”

This was getting stranger and stranger, and a funny sort of boiling and churning feeling was coming from the pit of my stomach.

Another knock sounded at the door, and with an exasperated sigh, the old woman opened it a second time.

The three bears were replaced by a tall figure in a red cloak and hood. He carried a fly rod and creel, and looked exactly like Issac Walton in drag.

“What the ‘ell do you want?” the witch asked.

“I have come from the temple of Moron,” he stated loudly. “Have you heard about the end-times?”

He opened his creel to take out a religious tract, and out spilled hundreds of cans of chili. They were covered in hatching mayflies.

“Hendricksons,” I said aloud, waking to an aching in my gut.

I was in my tent, back in the real world. It was three in the morning and halfway through an epic trip for trout. As I unzipped the rain fly and made my way to the porta-john, I reflected that Rob was right in his warning to me late that evening.

Canned extra-hot chili and discount beer is a lethal combination.


  1. All that without the use of illegal drugs.

  2. You been fishin' in Idaho again aint'cha.

  3. Idaho...

    Actually it was a conglomeration of goofy tent dreams that lead to the story. Dreams so vivid you take 30 seconds or so to figure out where you are when you wake up...


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