Bob Slarnak and the Great Fluffleberg Escape
by Drew Scot
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From the beginning of time men have attempted to move mountains by the sheer power of their minds, only to find that within their minds there was no true internal power… only a void where the seeds of power might once have assumed residence. This did not keep them from trying.
This is a story about just such a man.
Bob Slarnak was born in the small town of Fluffleberg Missouri, just East of Westabunda. It was an inconsequential birth in an unflattering environment. That is not to say there was no one of note in that small Villa. There was, of course Edwina Perkwatt who became the first woman in the history of all time to consume 414 Flufflebutterbuns in a single sitting, with no apparent side effects I might add. That is if you don’t count the odd squishing sound she made when walking about town or when leaning over to pick up preserves from the bottom shelf at Quarkin’s Grocery and Used Auto Parts Supply and Wholesale Furniture Warehouse. But I digress…
In school, Bob was always known as “That guy no one really ever noticed”. It was an unofficial title, but he did have it embroidered on his Graduation Gown (not that anyone actually noticed). On the day of graduation for instance, Bob’s diploma was accidentally given to an exchange student named Uba Guba from the quaint African Village, Lithaswanago. It took his doting mother 6 months to get the mess straightened out and by the time she did he was fighting deportation orders from the government. It wouldn’t been such an arduous process, but to keep from hurting anyone’s feelings Bob had taken to signing his name “Uba Guba” and changed the monograms on all of his hankies to “UG” (of course, the thought crossed his mind that “UG” might have been a more flattering set of initials than “BS”). Once the confusion was cleared up he went straight back to being plain ol’ “Bob that no one noticed” in short order.
The year was 1954. It was dis-affectionately dubbed the “Summer of Sweat & Sweaters”. The primary business of Fluffleberg was, as it is today shepherding and raising sheep. Before the sheep could be relieved of their coats they were dropping dead from heat exhaustion. So to keep from losing their livelihoods to the “flames of Hades” the sheep were shorn and the wool knitted into sweaters and woolen mittens. The town voted to change its official slogan to “Missouri Loves Company” and had a wading pool constructed and filled with chocolate syrup to attract tourists. But with all this Bob wanted more than little Fluffleberg could offer.
To all outward appearances, Bob was ever the obedient son. But no matter how he tried to hide it his mother was wise to his adventurous nature. You see it was she who first noticed while most of the other children were busy minding their “P’s and Q’s”, Bob secretly gave much more attention to his “M’s and N’s”. That was why it was of no great surprise when, after regaining his status as an American Citizen Bob informed her of his decision to leave. “I’m leaving mother.” He said in a rather matter-of-fact manner. He reasoned that he had sweated enough and been ignored plenty so he placed all his worldly possessions in a brown paper Quarkin’s bag, placed it in the basket of his 1952 AMF Roadmaster Junior and headed South.
It had always been in the back of Bob’s rather smallish mind to make of himself something more; to be recognized for doing something significant, something remarkable. This thought rested somewhere in the upper left corner of his brain and he took it out and played with time and again. He was fond of Superman but figured he was much too lean to look good in a blue leotard, so he mostly fantasized about being an international spy, maybe a double agent… a man of intrigue who, at the end of the day dispatched the scoundrel and saved the girl.
Fluffleberg Missouri was at the bottom of the State just across the border from illustrious Grantonwaller Arkansas. Well known for its upscale concrete sidewalks and grand Oak trees, Grantonwaller was the place most Flufflebergers chose to relocate. That is if the good Lord ever saw fit for them to break free the chains that bound them. Not to say there were no happy denizens of Fluffleberg, but at least once in their young lives every child dreamed of the bright lights and was drawn by the fickle flashing flame of red-hot notoriety the big city offered. Well, as Bob cycled his way into town he made his way to the traffic light on 5th and Shamus. Being from a small town, Bob had never seen a traffic light so he didn’t know that its primary purpose was to keep him from being flattened by oncoming traffic. He might have surmised red was a cautionary color had it not been that he was a smidge on the color-blind side. So, as fate might have it Bob ventured cautiously through the intersection only to be “bumped” ever so soundly by a shiny, lavender 1954 Buick. “Hey kid! Are you alright??? Why don’cha watch where yer goin’???” the driver exclaimed as he pumped his fist in the air. Embarrassed, Bob set his bicycle aright and hobbled onto the sidewalk at the other side of the road.
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