This morning there came a knock at my door. Upon answering, I found a well-groomed, nicely dressed couple. The man spoke first:
"Hi! I'm John, and this is Mary."
"Hi!" Mary nodded. "We're here to invite you to come kiss Hank's ass with us."
"Pardon me?!" I mumbled in shocked disbelief. "What are you talking about?
Who's Hank, and why would I want to kiss his ass?"
"If you kiss Hank's ass," John chimed in, "he'll give you a million dollars; and if you don't, he'll kick the living shit out of you."
"What?" I muttered. "Is this some sort of bizarre mob shake-down?"
"Hank is a billionaire philanthropist," John continued. "Hank built this town. Hank owns this town. He can do whatever he wants, and what he wants is to give you a million dollars. But he can't until you kiss his ass."
"That doesn't make any sense," I said. "Why?"
"Who are you to question Hank's gift?" Mary interjected with mild signs of impatience. "Don't you want a million dollars? Isn't it worth a little kiss on the ass?"
The logic of it all did seem hard to refute.
"Well maybe," I conceded, "if it's legit, but"
"Then come kiss Hank's ass with us," beamed John.
"Do you kiss Hank's ass often?" I wondered aloud.
"Oh yes, all the time," said Mary.
"And has he really given you a million dollars?" I asked.
"Well no," John admitted, "you don't actually get the money until you leave town."
"So why don't you just leave town now?" I said as the odd circumstances sank in.
Mary added, "You can't leave until Hank tells you to, or you don't get the money--and he kicks the living shit out of you."
"Do you know anyone who kissed Hank's ass, left town, and got the million dollars?" I queried.
"My mother kissed Hank's ass for years," John volunteered. "She left town last year, and I'm sure she got the money."
"Haven't you talked to her since then?" I asked with some concern.
"Of course not," John remarked. "Hank doesn't allow it."
"So what makes you think he'll actually give you the money if you've never talked to anyone who got the money?" I pointed out.
At that Mary spoke up. "Well, he gives you a little bit before you leave.
Maybe you'll get a raise; maybe you'll win a small lotto; maybe you'll just find a twenty-dollar bill on the street."
It sounded about as convincing as a square circle, but I pressed on out of sheer curiosity.
"What's that got to do with Hank?"
"Hank has certain 'connections'," John stated solemnly.
"I'm sorry," I concluded, "but this sounds like some sort of bizarre con game."
"But it's a million dollars," John urged. "Can you really afford to take the chance? And remember, if you don't kiss Hank's ass he'll kick the living shit out of you. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose by kissing Hank's ass."
"Maybe if I could see Hank, talk to him, get the details straight from him," I ventured.
"No one sees Hank," Mary quickly interrupted, "no one talks to Hank."
"Then how do you kiss his ass?" I asked in astonishment.
"Sometimes we just blow him a kiss and think of his ass," John admitted.
"Other times we kiss Karl's ass, and he passes it on."
"Karl? Who's Karl?" I mumbled.
"A friend of ours," stated Mary. "He's the one who taught us all about kissing Hank's ass. All we had to do was take him out to dinner a few times."
Astonished, I asked, "And you just took his word for it when he said there was a Hank, that Hank wanted you to kiss his ass, and that Hank would reward you?"
"Oh no!" John stated emphatically. "Karl's got a letter Hank sent him years ago explaining the whole thing. Here's a copy; see for yourself."
John handed me a photocopy of a handwritten memo, written on From-the-desk-of-Karl letterhead. There were eleven items listed:
1. Kiss Hank's ass and he'll give you a million dollars when you leave town.
2. Use alcohol in moderation.
3. Kick the shit out of people who aren't like you.
4. Eat right.
5. Hank dictated this list himself.
6. The Moon is made of green cheese.
7. Everything Hank says is right.
8. Wash you hands after going to the bathroom.
9. Don't drink.
10. Eat your wieners on buns, no condiments.
11. Kiss Hank's ass or he'll kick the shit out of you.
"This would appear to be written on Karl's letterhead," I observed.
"Hank didn't have any paper," said Mary.
"I have a hunch that if we checked we'd find this is Karl's handwriting," I continued.
"Of course," John piped up. "Hank dictated it."
"I thought you said no one gets to see Hank?" I said with some annoyance.
"Not now," said Mary, "but years ago he would talk to some people".
"I thought you said he was a philanthropist," said I. "What sort of philanthropist kicks the shit out of people just because they're different?"
"It's what Hank wants, and Hank's always been right," intoned Mary.
"How do you figure that?" I snapped.
"Item 7 says 'Everything Hank says is right.' That's good enough for me!"
Mary shot back.
"Maybe your friend Karl just made the whole thing up," I gleefully concluded.
"No way!" John exploded. "Item 5 says 'Hank dictated this list himself.'
Besides, item 2 says 'Use alcohol in moderation.' Item 4 says 'Eat right,' and item 8 says 'Wash your hands after going to the bathroom.' Everyone knows those things are right, so the rest must be true, too."
"But," I pointed out with logical finality, "item 9 says 'Don't Drink,' which doesn't quite go with item 2, and 6 says 'The Moon is made of green cheese,' which is just plain wrong."
Clearly, I had them by the tail now, for they could hardly deny the point.
"There's no contradiction between 9 and 2," John argued, "9 just clarifies 2. As far as 6 goes, you've never been to the Moon, so you can't say for sure."
"Scientists have pretty firmly established that the Moon is made of rock," I said with astonishment.
"But they don't know if the rock came from the Earth or from Saturn, so it could just as easily be green cheese," Mary said.
"I'm not really an expert," I stammered, "but I think the theory that the Moon came from the Earth has been discounted. Besides, not knowing where the rock came from doesn't make it cheese."
"Aha!" John countered, "You just admitted that scientists make mistakes, but we know Hank is always right!"
"Of course we do," Mary added with gusto, "Item 5 says so."
"You're saying Hank's always right because the list says so," I retorted, "and the list is right because Hank dictated it, and we know that Hank dictated it because the list says so. That's circular logic, and is no different from saying 'Hank's right because he says he's right.'"
"Now you're getting it!" John exclaimed, "It's so rewarding to see someone come around to Hank's way of thinking."
"But oh, never mind," I said in resignation. "What's the deal with wieners?"
Mary blushed. John shuffled uneasily.
"Wieners, in buns--no condiments. It's Hank's way," said John. "Anything else is wrong."
"What if I don't have a bun?" I pointedly queried.
"No bun, no wiener," John continued. "A wiener without a bun is wrong."
"No relish? No mustard?"
Mary looked positively stricken; John was becoming agitated.
"There's no need for such language!" John bellowed. "Condiments of any kind are wrong!"
As I took this in, an impish thought slowly crept into my mind.
"So," I boldly stated, "a big pile of sauerkraut with some wieners chopped up in it would be out of the question?"
Mary stuck her fingers in her ears and John turned positively red.
"I am not listening to this," said Mary in a singsong voice. "La la la, la la, la la la."
"That's disgusting," John stammered. "Only some sort of evil deviant would think of eating that, that"
"It's mmmm-mmm good! I eat it all the time," I cheerfully volunteered.
Mary went white, turned on one foot and fainted into John's arms.
"Well," sputtered John upon recovering his breath, "if I'd known you were one of those I never would have wasted my time. When Hank kicks the living shit out of you I'll be there, counting my money and laughing. I'll kiss Hank's ass for you, you bunless, cut-wienered, kraut-eater!"
Having said that, John dragged Mary to their waiting car, and, in a huff, sped off.
Presented by kelsos
© 1996 Jim Huber
Santa Rose, California
Snagged from the Internet (September 1997) with the help of Ed Babinski and lightly edited and printed by The Oak Hill Free Press, P. O. Box 61274, Pasadena, CA 91116. Distribute this item freely without charge.