My best friend loves me. I know this not because she told me, but because she wrote me a story called Cletus and the Hot Weasel.
No, we weren’t stoned. Or drunk. We probably wouldn’t be as funny if we were.
There are two parts to the story behind the story:
1) Vikram Seth, despite being one third of my Holy Literary Trinity, wrote an Abomination from which I only recall one sentence. That sentence had something to to with there being no ailment which cannot be cured with a warm cat compress. We will end the discussion of Seth’s Abomination here, and will return to pretending it never existed. The warm cat compress is a joke in my house, as my large male cats tend to weigh about 25 lbs; my cats are also rescue animals, and some of them have, um, issues with being touched and would rip your face off if you tried to put them on your sore back.
2) Sometimes the submissions for the writing workshops I hold are a little… less than one would expect from people who want to call themselves writers. I’m not referring to bad writing – that happens to all of us – but to no-effort writing: the first five paragraphs of a novel (of which no more than said five paragraphs have been written) in which the verb tense switches twice and there are 17 typos. Such submissions are downright impossible to critique politely. One week when I had several of these to contend with, I was complaining to my friend. She referred to the writers as Cletus, and hoped that they dun gots their acts togither an’ put their mark on that there piece o’ paper. I hoped so, too. We thought this might be one situation, though, which could not be solved with a warm cat compress. It would, if it were to be effective, have to be a very large, hot cat compress.
Do people named Cletus have pet cats? No, they have weasels.
I came up with the title, laughing so hard I couldn’t say it for several seconds.
My friend had to attend a backyard, Hawaiian-themed wedding yesterday, and spent the occasion composing Cletus in her head. Cletus sees a flier which advertises a contest for the most creative use of a weasel. It is, however, Cletus’ wedding anniversary, and his dear wife is planning to cook the weasel that’s in their fridge for a celebratory dinner. When Cletus puts the kibosh on her roasting his weasel, the lovely Lurleen has the good fortune to run over a porcupine with the truck. Tragedy awaits Cletus, though, as the Hefty garbage bag which Lurleen uses to transport the entree home has already been contaminated with a forgotten squirrel corpse.
While Lurleen cooks the porcupine, Cletus contemplates all possible creative uses for weasel. He considers making a coat, but he only has the one weasel. He considers using “them four little feets” to make a fur stole for Lurleen, but he realises her bulk might require something more like “10 little feets”. He finally draws some dots on the weasel, strings it to his truck’s rear-view mirror with a bootlace and sits back to behold the first ever Fuzzy Dice Weasel.
It’s later on, after Cletus has consumed the entire squirrel-contaminated porcupine, that he realises he is on death’s doorstep. Summoning all his strength, he bellows to Lurleen, “For the love of Holy Roadkill GET ME THAT WEASEL. I’m dyin!” The weasel has been sitting in the truck for several hours, and is now hot and bloated.
The Hot Weasel Compress hauls Cletus back from the brink of death, and one week later he is able to present the Hot Weasel Compress to the thronging crowd of 20 people in the Town Hall.
Cletus and the Hot Weasel is – I must say – one of the best things ever written. I’m thinking we might need to send a copy to Vikram Seth, just so he can see that something good came from his Abomination. We also think that some of the members of my writers group might benefit from an exercise in which I give them the title – Cletus and the Hot Weasel – and they have to write the story.
Shall have to see how many no-effort submissions I get at the next workshop, I guess.