Quint Solfanger sincerely hoped he was the last to arrive for the big occasion. He entered through the unguarded stadium door and quickly mixed into the bustling throng of people on the arena floor. He scanned the crowd and estimated it numbered close to a thousand or more. All wore shirts and hats for and against various peoples and parties. Literally everyone held signs and banners that screamed the name of their fearless leader, President Lügner (Lug) Widerlich.
Quint worked his way to a point near the front of the stage where a group of burly men stood to keep the exuberant crowd back. He found a spot nearby where he could observe his intended target and the followers before making a final decision. Quint waited impatiently for the show to begin.
Soon a slick-looking man stepped up to the podium and began to speak an introduction.
“Hello and welcome. How wonderful to see such a big turnout tonight, a big night for us Luggers and—”
Quint made mental notes as he observed the cheering, jostling, and hooting people. He hoped he would not have to wait much longer for the big moment—there was the damned parking lot incident to consider, if that was noticed it could really muck up his plan.
Finally, the speaker ended his spiel.
“Okay folks, enough of me talking. I know why you’ve come, and who you want to see. So, without any further delay, here he is, our man in the Whitehouse and Godsend to the country, Lug Widerlich!”
The crowd went wild with applause and shouts as a big man with a tanned face and well-styled hair strode confidently onto the stage. Quint noticed with amusement that a few women (and men) began to swoon and faint. Widerlich stepped up to the podium and raised his arms over his head, hands clasped together in a self-congratulatory manner. He waited while his jubilant followers roared and stamped their feet. Finally, he lowered his arms and held up the palms of his hands to his ecstatic audience. All in the arena knew the drill; it was time to quiet down.
Lug Widerlich smiled broadly.
“Hello people! How are my fans tonight? I can tell you how I’m doing and how the country is doing tonight—tremendously wonderful!”
The crowd burst into more frantic applause and cheering.
Widerlich held up his hands again for quiet.
“I’ve come here tonight to speak about our enemies, the country’s enemies. The people who have no interest in you and are hell-bent on destroying me with their fake—”
Quint heard a shout from the back of the arena. “Widerlich is a crook and is destroying the country. Lock him up, lock him up, lock him—”
Quint turned and saw a man in the upper level being punched by the people surrounding him. Finally, four men grabbed the screaming, bloodied heckler and made to throw him off the upper level.
“Okay, that’s enough,” Widerlich commanded. The men stopped.
“That’s right put him down now. Thanks for showing such loyalty guys. These people always try to break up my speeches with their lies, but you guys always step in. Thanks.”
Widerlich smiled a thin hard smile.
“Now get him out of here. Don’t be too gentle now and when he is outside, who knows what could happen to him?”
He laughed as the protester was shoved, kicked, and punched out the door. Quint saw a determined man in bib overalls follow him outside.
Widerlich sketched a mock salute to the closing door.
“Adios amigo. As I was saying. We all have to—”
The man who had followed the protester burst back into the upper level.
“There’s a goddamn spaceship out in the parking lot. Holy shit, you gotta—”
“Hey up there,” shouted Widerlich, “Who’s giving the speech halfwit? Me or you?”
The man hesitated. “But it’s true. Darn thing crushed the whole front end of my pickup truck and—”
Damnation! Quint thought, but then was relieved when several black clad security people hastily grabbed the man and clapped a bag over his head before dragging him away. The man—one Rufus Buckshot from Blue Ridge, Georgia—was found years later by his wife, Dolores, in Smolensk, working as a conductor second-class on the inner-city commuter tram. Saturday nights he moonlighted as a symbolic interpretive dancer at Club Moskva. When confronted by his wife while performing on stage, he ran away in terror screaming, ‘Ham sandwich and soup!’ After his escape he eventually settled down as a flamenco guitarist in an obscure sherry bar outside of Madrid, playing for drinks and tips.
After the reluctant Rufus was carried out of sight, Lügner Widerlich smiled and continued, “Don’t listen to him people. No such a thing as climate change or UFO’s, big opposition plot that’s all. Now settle down.”
He continued his speech to the faithful, delivering his usual greatest hits that were red meat for his adoring minions. Chants of Build that moat! and Lock up the Europeans! rocked the hall. Quint closed his eyes—absorbing all the rancor and rage that was thick as a noxious fog around him—and made his decision. He glanced down at the small widget on his belt that had a series of tiny studs. Diversion time, he thought and began to laugh loudly. A couple nearby who had matching shirts that read, Ignorance is Bliss, looked at him and began to frown in puzzlement.
Quint shouted at the man on stage.
“Ach, what a pretentious boor you are.”
Widerlich paused—his face turning a bit red—and looked down in his direction. “What did you say?”
“Oh, sorry. I did say you were a pretentious boor, but upon reflection it was a bit of an understatement. I should have said you were an apple-faced, half-witted baboon, with pine sap for a brain, who is vying to become a pretentious boor. Will that suffice, you bloviating stench from an elephant’s hindquarters?”
There was a hush over the entire arena. Widerlich’s eyes looked as if they could spout hellfire. The moment was brief—Widerlich pointed at him.
“Get that guy and throw him out!”
With a collective roar, the crowd and security guys surged towards him. Quint calmly punched a stud on the widget. The Rejexit Mark V protective screen surrounded him with a faint purple shimmer—the mob converged.
A hairy man with a huge gut tried to grip Quint in a bear hug. He was immediately catapulted back at the surrounding throng. On his outward trajectory he bowled over a few dozen angry people—including a toothless grandpa who had a pink-iced donut with sprinkles fiercely clenched in his gums.
One of the black-clad security men, Sammy Fracker, was next. He tried to clout Quint with a baton, but the club rebounded back at Sammy’s head with such force he dropped like a sack of mildewed potatoes. Sammy came out of his self-inflicted coma a month later and promptly ran away with a wandering troupe of performing Jack Russell terriers, where he achieved a modicum of fame as the singing fire-hydrant.
Others tried to attack Quint, all were repelled like popcorn exploding on a hot buttered griddle. A wide angry circle finally cleared around him. One guy took a shot at Quint with a pistol. The bullet ricocheted away and blew up the poor pink-iced donut with sprinkles that the grandpa still held clamped in his gums. The sprinkles shot everywhere and temporarily blinded Doris Raymond from Slapout, Oklahoma. Hands clasped over her sprinkle-shot eyes, she ran in a panic, unfortunately straight into one of the huge wooden columns supporting the upper level of the arena. Doris woke up three days later, her sight restored. She proclaimed it a miracle, telling the bemused medical staff she had been visited by a large cheese blintz in flowing robes who had told her the true purpose of life. The next day she moved to San Francisco and became a shaman living in a large cardboard box in an alley near Market Street. Her ardent followers include two calico cats, a dog named Klinkers, and beat patrolman Mulvaney.
Grandpa—remnants of the mortally wounded pink-iced donut spattered on his enraged face—jumped on the pistol wielding guy and began to chomp on his neck. The man screamed and dropped the pistol which immediately went off. The bullet hit a control panel that promptly dropped Lug Widerlich’s speech-ending grand finale balloons and glitter on his followers. The entire crowd of Luggers erupted in rage and attacked one another in outraged frustration over such an abbreviated ranting from their dear leader.
The throng now ignoring him, Quint pushed another stud and popped up on stage next to the stunned President. He smiled sunnily at him.
“Well that worked out well now didn’t it? Ready to go?”
Widerlich recovered himself quickly. “Go where? I not going anywhere, dimbulb.”
He pointed an index finger at Quint.
“And just who the hell are you? You’re going to pay for making me look ridiculous in front of the rubes.”
Quint laughed. “Oh no my fine specimen. It is I who will be paid, and handsomely. You see, I am Quint Solfanger, a collector and supplier of—”
Widerlich bellowed. “Doesn’t matter. When my people are done with you, you won’t be collecting anything but a disability check. That is, until I cut the funding for that program.”
He signaled to a group of men at the back of the stage sporting long truncheons who quickly came out and surrounded Quint. Smiling, they raised their clubs to strike—Quint pushed another stud and vanished with the President. With their boss and intended victim gone, the frustrated thugs fell on each other in blind fury amidst the drifting balloons and softly falling glitter.
A member of the audience, Rob Tuppy—who had paused from bludgeoning a fellow Lugger with a ceramic statue of Widerlich—saw the scene unfold. Years later working as a headwaiter at a Denny’s in Billings, Montana, Rob would recount that it was, ‘The finest dang finale he ever had the privilege of attending.’
Lug Widerlich woke up inside of what appeared to be a very large canning jar. Quint was looking in at him.
“Perfect, awake at last. Welcome aboard my craft. Sorry you weren’t conscious for the journey, I’m sure the conversation would have been quite amusing. Anyway, I’ve got you all packaged up and ready for pickup.”
Widerlich stood up and said, “Pickup? Come on let’s make a deal. Let me out now and I’ll cut you in on my action. The money is huge, believe me, these people will buy into anything I tell them.”
Quint shook his head and said, “As I began telling you earlier; I am a collector and supplier of fine delicacies to only the most discerning tastes of the galaxy. I have to say that until I heard about you, I was going to grab a rotting Mammoth corpse that had been defrosting in the Siberian tundra for a few months. My clients, you see are the Croobezk, who are the inhabitants of the planet Odious Kugelfang. We have just made a landing near their capital city and they are coming to take delivery. The Croobezk are desirous of—”
He paused and turned as a large door behind him opened. Widerlich looked past him and his tan faded to the shade of vanilla.
Quint said, “Ah, here they are now. Now, as I was saying they are desirous of something new, totally revolting, filthy, and disgusting. Something that will pair well with a finely aged glass of Plexion goat sweat. You, are, shall we say, a sample for their edification.”
Widerlich screamed and beat against the glass as he was hauled away by large wasp-like beings with nasty looking mandibles.
A day later a Croobezk with scintillating hues of green and purple on its carapace came to visit Quint at his ship.
“Greetings trader,” it lisped in a low buzz. “I must tell you the specimen you provided was unusually awful. So foul and reeking—we all loved it, especially the head, which was so ecstatically horrid and went so well with a warmed stein of Rolfgut twizzle. May I enquire what they are called, and if you have a further supply of these disgusting delicacies?”
Quint stopped counting the gold bars he had received for his cargo and smiled broadly at the creature.
“Oh, yes there are more. They call them supreme leaders or dictators, and if I run out of them, there are always the followers. They are not quite as rancid as this one, but still fairly repulsive and repugnant. Would you like to place an order now?”
By Alex Starke