The Fart Chronicles

The twist is wise.

Was the cheese in that meatball sub that did it.

I thought I might be in the clear after I blew that one in the Snacks aisle. Figured I’d gotten out in time. I’d fled around the corner, down the Cereal aisle, and come back around to my stocking cart from the other direction, wearing a serious, self-absorbed expression, a look of utter innocence, though a lingering effluvium obtained about my cart, or in any case was with me as I got back.

An older woman who had pushed her shopping buggy into the area now squatted down on her old tentative knees, right by my cart. Her nose visibly wrinkled as, finding nothing she needed, she rose creakily up, glaring at me. She knew; she’d seen me dart out.

You can forget about a bright, cheerful Walmart greeting, “Can I help you find something?”

I was blown.

And this damn day was getting complicated.

Answers don’t come easy, but I’m in the answer business. This town’s full of questions, and I aim to solve them best I can. That’s why they pay me.

Had to lay low for a while. But I was thinking all the time.

What happened on Snacks stayed with me. I weighed the evidence as I unloaded Planters peanut jars, and got out of there to work the Candy aisle.

I was obsessed with a conundrum.

When you pass gas and swiftly dart from the scene of the crime, are you in fact free and clear? Or are you dragging evidence of your foulness along with you in your jockey shorts and jeans?

That wrinkled nose added up to a clue I didn’t want to find. But ain’t life like that?

My afternoon break came not a moment too soon.

I took a swift belt in my car from the bottle I keep in the glove box. Needed the soothing balm of a shot of Jim Beam.

“Look, it coulda been worse,” I told myself. “What if you’d got found out by some pretty young babe in short shorts?” The kind you see in Produce. Everywhere else in the joint you’re in danger of getting run over by old, fat people in motorized carts, though most of them can walk. “It was just some old lady. Relax.”

But that constituted slim solace. Not much encouraging feedback from the young gals these days anyway. At 66, my swagger around the young, nubile specimen had attenuated with a sobering realization. My ogling was inverse to her own reaction, something along the lines of, “Eew. This old guy’s checking me out.”

I’ve lived and fought and loved and farted all across this great land of ours.

You learn your truths the hard way.

Lived in New York for a spell. Wotta town.

With my fedora and a Camel unfiltered hanging from my lips, I give people the impression of being some kinda tough guy. True, true. I can massage a stooge’s gums with my knuckles or with the .38 I carry if I really wanna make an impression.

But that’s not me. I got more class than that.

I took to going to museums in the Big Apple. That’s where some of these intellectual broads hang out.

I tell you, there’re some hot dames in that town.

And I’ll tell you something else, there are some hot dogs that’ll give you indigestion. I do a lot of eating on the run working cases, so GI issues are a hazard of the trade. Shouldna had that second Sabrett.

I’m strolling from canvas to canvas in the French Impressionist display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, when the flatus expanded within my bowels, causing discomfort and pressure, and a mounting sense of urgency.

I thought the coast was clear, even with this leggy, elegant twist, high heels clacking, moving along not fifteen feet away, eyeing a Manet or Monet. One of those nays.

I anticipated an emission of little olfactory threat; my sole concern was that it might be audible.

So I thought I’d pull a fast one. An old trick I liked to use. Takes a little coordination between mouth and the other relevant orifice, but I prided myself on being a pretty slick operator. Or I did, until that day.

Mr. Slick was not on his game. His control was off, his delivery unsynchronized. The “Ahem!” – clearing my throat – was supposed to happen at the same time as the fart. Only it didn’t. Maybe because I’d been holding it in, it got trapped and took a while coming out. So I cleared my throat and then, a split second later, farted.

The twist broke into a helpless grin. She couldn’t stop laughing, kept trying not to.

I try not to take myself too seriously, but I didn’t want to wait around long enough for her to make of my ludicrousness a friendly joke. Like “Good try.” Man’s got his pride.

Hell, maybe that’s the problem.

I knew a guy in junior high who barfed all over the girl in front of him in class. It became known schoolwide that they became boyfriend and girlfriend after that.

Go figure dames.

MOMA had Nefertiti in another exhibit. I tore myself away from a Cezanne (nothing but a buncha swells lounging around on the grass in half-ass swimsuits with umbrellas all around) and headed over to Egypt.

Try to crawl into a sarcophagus with the mummy.

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