Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Mark Antony Rossi writes

Johnny Bag O' Doughnuts

Rodents are harbingers of dark things to come. History reveals horrors of kingdom after kingdom bending in agony. A Satanic plague exponentially exceeding the body counts of the bloodiest warfare. A Demonic hunger devouring viceroy and vagabond in one wretched digestion. An Omen borne of the molten rivers surrounding the gates of Hell. All conveniently delivered by the tiniest messenger: the infected flea of a filthy field rat. I pity the Night for it lost its mystery; it lost its title of sole proprietor of misery. The Devil's malady also stalked daylight making nightmares jealous of daily competition.The mind’s rapid eye recorded half-human heathens praying for a quick death absent of dignity. For many their destiny is a freshly dug mass pit of disfigured dead neighbors. Man may have conquered the moon but it has yet to tame the terrible rat that remains disease-carriers of our destruction.


Scientists observed rats running free immediately after atomic detonations. Decades of pesticides have produced super immune poison resistance in generations of rats. In large urban centers such as New York reports indicate rats live in collective nests of upward of a billion members. Thousands of deaths as recent as two months ago, in India, were attributed to rat populations overrunning garbage sites. Spreading disease from one city to another from the depths of human refuse. Our excretement is their glory.

This all comes to forefront of my brain as I recycle my sixth bag of aluminum cans and pause to think about the park down the street. The recurring incident that has angered neighbors and officials alike. An ironic occurrence indeed. But that's another twisted tale born of this frequent escapade.

Some sick park visitor is feeding a few rats residing in a mound cavity. His perverted excursions (it's assumed only a man would be this degraded) have caused the rats to become braver in their explorations of the park. Parents confine children to living rooms for fear of rabies or worse. At press time this lunatic has not been identified. What remains as evidence is a small white bag of partially eaten doughnuts at the mouth of a fist-sized hole in the dirt mound. And tiny footprints mocking the hostility of park supervisors. Basically mocking you and me.

We are living in an era of easy excuses for every act of irresponsibility known to exist. Ever since a white Ford bronco sped down a crowded highway, therapists have captured the nation's attention with wild theories of deep-seated dysfunction and delirium. Again the excuse rises its unwashed head. The local university shrink has made a name for himself on local news and cable channels. Charting the mind of the secret park pervert, now vilely labeled "Johnny Bag O' Doughnuts." He even toured the local bakeries with news cameras interviewing bakers about possible leads to "Johnny's" identity. With doughnut in mouth the shrink smirks before the audience and spells out his "delicious" psychological assumptions.

The suspect, according to this blow-dried, dime store Freud, "is most likely an elderly man, widowed recently with no family contact. Living on a fixed income and renting a small apartment last remodeled in the 1950’s. Memories and rats are all he has to comfort his pathetic pained existence."

Our press and police, benighted with anything beyond simple graft or gossip, welcome this limp analysis without reservation. It now serves as an expert profile of a poor soul in search of companionship. So say the papers that have made a crusade of blaming social policies for causing "Johnny Bag O' Doughnuts to seek out rats as friends." Editorializing the ill treatment of senior citizens in America while bashing Wall Street, Bourbon Street, Main Street and any other street able to fill the spaces between Geritol and Depends ads. 

Comic strips have included a caped-geezer called "Ratman" in their sketch cells. A horrible creation produced by an overly youth-oriented culture that builds nursing homes to hide pimple-faced consumer’s eventual fate. While all this pseudo-sermonizing wastes time the rat lover remains free and anonymous. He’s strengthening a colony of filthy creatures five yards away from a pre-school. Where a four-year old Spanish-speaking girl was bit in a gated school playground by a rat bigger than a breadbox. Probably attracted to the girl's half-opened lunch pail.

Unfortunately it took a terrified young girl's punctured calf to intensify the manhunt. The jokes and gerrymandered psycho-jargon came to a halt. Stakeout teams in unmarked cars waited with coffee and rolls in hand. If the weirdo showed up, his rat-loving butt was theirs. The public mood was sour. Angry fathers walked their dogs at night and spat out vigilante verses.

Several times detectives were forced to shoo away crowbar carrying citizens. Threats and counter-threats further stifled the humid spring air. Photographers bent in bushes were beaten by local bar patrons. Sidewalks were littered with black plastic film containers, camera parts and blood droplets.

The growing attention brought the area a nasty nickname "Fangville." Residents demanded the freak in custody; brought to a mental hospital, padded walls and all. But it quickly became a raging circus. And Johnny Bag O'Doughnuts (or whatever his real name is) was no blind man. He never did show up. And the unmarked cars dwindled down to an extra night patrolman swinging a stick and tune.

Huge rats started appearing in people's basements. Drinking puddles of stale rainwater left after a recent down pour. Two heart attacks were reported in less than two weeks. The Sanitation Department first stuff cakes laced with powerful poisons in the mound hole. Nothing doing. The rats scrambled on as usual. Grounds keepers dug up the mound, armed with pitchforks to stab the critters. None were present. The mound was completely covered up only to be freshly broke open the next morning. A new hole cut a foot away from a small white bag of nearly finished doughnuts.

The City bought ad space to appeal to Johnny to turn himself in. They promised understanding and a suspended sentence -- but no can do.  At least twice a week a small white bag of doughnuts was placed at the mouth of a hole that became two holes. There was no money in the City budget for round-the-clock electronic surveillance. Local pest-control companies repeatedly failed to capitalize on the publicity by claiming their company would be the first to silence the menaces. Poisons, traps, tricks and dammed Halloween treats could not arrest the rate of rat population growth.

Yesterday a few high-ranking city officials, including the mayor herself, made a trip to the state capital to plead for state or federal assistance. Full grown red-eyed rats were popping up daily on top of refrigerators. The public was beyond digested. Some took the law into their own hands and assaulted an elderly gentleman feeding pigeons two blocks away from the park. He was a Lutheran priest and quick to forgive the lynch mob. No arrests were made.

I don't know whom I despise more, the fat rat sitting atop my computer monitor, the rat man-at-large, or the gall of price-gouging hardware stores charging $10 a rattrap. Johnny Bag O' Doughnuts wherever you are -- you deserve at least some credit. I can't recall in twenty-two years this much neighborly cooperation.

People are actually talking to one another. Trading rat poison tips and asking about the children. Church attendance is up 22%. I'm not qualified to comment if recent events are examples of the last signs in the Book of Revelations. But I have to say God does work in mysterious ways.


  1. In 1994, driving his year-old white Ford Bronco SUV, Al Cowlings led the California police on a 2-hour slomo chase on Interstate 405. The incident was watched on TV by 95 million viewers until his passenger, former Buffalo Bills team mate running back O. J. Simpson, surrendered at his own home in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, after another hour of negotiations. He was charged with the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. Simpson was acquitted at the televised "trial of the century" in 1994. According to the prosecutor, "When the trial began, all of the networks were getting these hate-mail letters because people's soap operas were being interrupted for the Simpson trial. But then what happened was the people who liked soap operas got addicted to the Simpson trial. And they got really upset when the Simpson trial was over, and people would come up to me on the street and say, 'God, I loved your show.'"

  2. Wall Street is an 8-block street in New York, the world’s leading financial center, and is a synecdoche for that activity, especially the greed associated with it. The street was named for a wooden palisade built as a defensive line. Over time business interests became the most numerous inhabitants of the area. In 1884 Charles H. Dow began tracking stocks; in 1889 his report changed its name from “Customers' Afternoon Letter” to “The Wall Street Journal,” giving the street added public focus, although as early as 1853 Herman Melville had subtitled “Bartleby, the Scrivener," his short story about the alienation in the district, “"A Story of Wall Street."

    Bourbon Street runs for 13 blocks through the French Quarter, the oldest neighborhood in New Orleans, Louisiana. When the royal engineer Adrien de Pauger designed the city's layout in 1721, he named the streets after Catholic saints and French royal families, including the ruling Bourbon dynasty. Over time it became famous for its many bars and strip clubs, especially in the late 1800s.

    “Main Street” is a generic phrase denoting the primary retail street of a village, town, or small city, and as a symbol of traditional small-town middle-class value, often used in contrast to the wealth and elitism of “Wall Street.” Between 1870-1930 in particular, social realists used the name as a symbol of stifling conformity. In 1930 Sherwood Anderson became the 1st American to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, largely on the strength of his satiric 1920 novel “Main Street.” Its protagonist is confronted by the smug conservatism of fictional Gopher Prairie, Minnesota; in despair, she proclaims, “I do not admit that Gopher Prairie is greater or more generous than Europe! I do not admit that dish-washing is enough to satisfy all women!”

    In 1950 Pharmaceuticals, Inc. introduced Geritol, an alcohol-based (12%), iron and B vitamin tonic that it particularly marketed to old people. J. B. Williams Company bought up Pharmaceuticals in 1957, and the Federal trade Commission began investigating its health claims in 1959. In 1965 the FTC ordered Williams to disclose that Geritol’s benefits extended only to the small number of people who suffered from iron deficiency anemia, and Geritol's claims were discredited in court findings as conduct that “amounted to gross negligence and bordered on recklessness." The FTC imposed the largest fine in its history up to that time, $812,000 (nearly $4.5 million when adjusted for inflation). Nabisco acquired the brand in 1971. Despite the fines and bad publicity, the product continued to be the best-selling iron and B vitamin supplement in the US through 1979. Beginning in 1982 it has passed though a series of corporate hands, before going to the Dutch conglomerate Mylan in 2016.

    “Depend” is a brand of absorbent, disposable underwear and undergarments for people with urinary or fecal incontinence, marketed as an alternative to adult diapers by Kimberly-Clark. It was originally test-marketed in 1983 in Green Bay, Wisconsin, the "Toilet Paper Capital of the World" because of the prevalence of the paper industry in the city, and became a national brand in 1984. (Kimberly-Clark had been making “Huggies” disposable diapers for infants since 1978.) Most of David Foster Wallace’s 1996 novel “Infinite Jest” (in which each year has a corporate sponsor) takes place in the "Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment.”


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