As you may have heard, I’ve recently returned from an extended sabbatical abroad and have now resumed my duties as president and publisher of The Sacred Sandwich. I greatly appreciate the many inquires in the last year concerning my long absence and, of course, the flood of well wishes I’ve received after the announcement of my return.
Lily Smukler summed it up best when she saw me walk through the door of the Sacred Sandwich office on Monday morning after my release from the hospital, and said in jest, “Well, it’s about time, Angus!” She was right, of course. It was about time.
There has been much speculation about my whereabouts during the past year, which has spawned a myriad of mysterious tales of supposed time travel to 1888 and sinister plots that hindered my return to the present. And while I cannot deny that there are some elements of truth in these reports, I would rather not betray the confidence of certain parties by being more specific.
This is not to say that I don’t appreciate the valiant efforts of agents Cade and Desmond, Corky Velveeta and Eddie Eddings of Calvinistic Cartoons, or the hard-boiled work of Sherlock Jr. (and his man Devlin) in securing my return. Indeed I am so thankful for them. Still, discretion will not allow me to elaborate on the matter.
I will say this, however. For the sake of whimsy, let us entertain the idea that one could actually bend time and propel himself into fantastical worlds of past or future. Seems a shame if such a man did not jump at the chance to interact with the great minds and events found throughout the pantheon of time, does it not? Why, just imagine the possibilities!
It is entirely possible, for example, that last year I found myself thrust thousands of years into the future, shipwrecked on a planet ruled by apes and was, at one point, minutes away from having an orangutan perform surgery on my brain. It was a mad house, a mad house, but with the help of Dr. Zira, I was able to get their stinking paws off me and finally escape.
It is also possible that I was later thrown back to November 1922 to join Howard Carter in supervising Lord Carnarvon’s Egyptian excavations of the Valley of the Kings. Perhaps I was there at the very moment that Carter pried open the doorway to the antechamber of King Tutankhamun’s tomb and we beheld “wonderful things” of ebony and gold. Oh, how the treasures glistened in my mind’s eye!
Is it any wonder, then, that reports began to emerge in the last few weeks of another implausible adventure of mine that trumped them all: a journey back through time to Victorian London to meet the Prince of Preachers? Imagine, if you will, the intriguing possibility of attending worship service at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in 1888, perhaps having the opportunity not just to hear Mr. Spurgeon preach, but to shake his hand in fellowship or talk with him about Christ over afternoon tea. Would this not be time well spent (or well traveled), dear readers?
Of course such a thing could never really happen. Not unless you just happened to have a flux capacitor watch specifically calibrated to a Tesla Portal Drive that was hidden inside a miniature Metropolitan Tabernacle in northwest Missouri. Better yet, imagine the absurdity of a mule figuring out how to turn on the elaborate machine in order to find you and bring you back to present day Gazingstock before the whole thing exploded.
It is to laugh.
It was a dark and stormy night. Humphrey had led me to a tattered calendar hanging on the stable’s tack room wall which advertised Lester Digg’s Wacky Golf and Two Bits Arcade. I immediately saw the featured photograph for the month of May: the famous tenth hole, “Metropolitan Tabernacle.” Now I understood the purpose of the key I found in Angus’ safe.
Humphrey and I immediately made haste to Lester Digg’s place. It was way past closing, but we were able to slip past the gate and stumble our way through the darkness to the miniature Metropolitan Tabernacle. Only the waning full moon gave us adequate sight.
We instantly stopped in front of the 10th hole green. Ahead of us, the Met Tab glowed from within and flickered white-hot through its plastic windows. A pulsating, crackling hum oozed through the damp night air and light danced like an electrical storm. Then… nothing. All went dark and silent.
We slowly moved closer, but then froze in step. The Met Tab’s front door rattled, then creaked open and a dark, hunched figure emerged. He turned and somehow adjusted his sight to see us. He covered his face, but it was too late. The moonlight betrayed him. It was Borax, and he had a pistol pointed at us.
“Don’t come any closer,” he growled.
“Where’s Angus?” I demanded.
“Not here,” he cackled. “Never here again. His tether to this time and place has been cut forever. I’m the last one through. I’ve unplugged the Tesla Portal Drive that connects to the real Tabernacle in 1888 London and in a moment I’m going to burn this whole Calvinistic monstrosity to the ground. Stand back!”
Borax reached into his pocket and pulled out a match to strike against the sole of his shoe. There was a crisp spark in the darkness, then Borax held the flickering flame before him in defiance, revealing his sinister grin. “Agent Desmond is dead, Cade went rogue, and the only flux capacitor in the world that Angus could possibly use is being hawked on Ebay as a pricey steampunk trinket,” he said with a laugh. He tossed the lit match inside the Tabernacle. The flame caught rubbish on the floor and ignited.
“There’s no one else to help your precious publisher now,” he pronounced smugly.
“You forget me and the mule,” I replied. “You can’t stop both of us.” As I spoke, I leaned closer to him. Humphrey followed suit and slid forward a hoof.
“I’ll plug you both!” he snapped, jabbing his gun in the air. “I mean it!”
Suddenly Humphrey unleashed the most resounding “hee-haw” known to man. Startled, Borax turned to the braying mule in defense, but it was just a ruse. The momentary distraction was all I needed. I immediately lunged at the villain and grabbed his gun. A tussle ensued and we flopped to the ground. The gun pitched onto the artificial turf and Humphrey snatched it between his teeth. He flung it into the nearby Dutch windmill for a birdie.
Still, Borax outweighed me, and he was able to maneuver a sharp knee to my head that bloodied my mustache. Once I became dazed, he was free. He scampered to his feet and fled into the night.
Now I had a choice to make: follow Borax or stay to access the damage to the portal. I watched as Humphrey bolted inside the Tabernacle to stomp out the match’s growing flames, and it was all I needed to know. Humphrey was more than capable of securing the safety of the portal, which meant that I could focus on the capture of Borax. I sprang to my feet and gave chase. Borax was mine.
It would be several hours before I caught up with the scoundrel. I was able to track him into the sleepy town of Gazingstock in the wee hours of morning, but lost his trail on the hard streets. Still, I knew his general location and was able to enlist the aid of local law enforcement to secure the perimeter that Borax would need to cross for escape. Every hour the circle tightened as more sightings of Borax were reported and our ranks swarmed in his direction. Then– paydirt! Mrs. Edwin Milgram called the police to report a peeping Tom hiding behind her prized lilac bush.
Eventually we closed in on our prey, and Borax must have realized his fate. Bruised and spiritless, he emerged from an alley with his hands raised in defeat and was quickly apprehended by deputies at the corner of Chance Street and Nunn.
It wasn’t until after Borax’s capture that I was told of Angus’ miraculous return. He had been found tending his superficial wounds with Humphrey near the Wacky Golf. There had been an explosion on the tenth hole and the miniature Tabernacle, a favorite icon of the community for many years, had been obliterated. The shockwaves had rattled Alma Ritter’s china cabinet three miles away and broke a relish dish.
From the tenth hole blast site: only Angus, Humphrey and the Tabernacle columns remained standing.
There were no witnesses at the Wacky Golf between the time I left and the later explosion, but whatever took place could have been nothing less than a triumphant bending of time and space. I speculate that Humphrey was able to contain the fire and plug in the Tesla Portal Drive, which allowed the passage of Angus to return to his ordained time and place. Yes, Sheriff Lazenby and his people have already begun to weave a convenient theory that Angus had simply been kidnapped by Borax, bound and gagged, and temporarily squirreled away in the bowels of the Tabernacle until a ransom was received. What really happened, however, is only known by Angus and Humphrey. And they have yet to say anything.
As for me, my work is done here. Angus is safe and back in Gazingstock, and I must now return to my home in Picqua, KS. If you ever find yourself near Picqua (or nearby Iola) make sure to stop by The Buster Keaton Museum in the Rural Water District #1 office in Picqua. And if you don’t have any plans this fall on September 25th & 26th, 2015, make it a date to join the Buster Keaton Celebration at the Bowlus Fine Arts Center in Iola, Ks.
I guarantee you will love it! … Adieu!
Dear readers! It gives us the utmost pleasure to announce that our beloved brother, Angus Wordsworth Duncan, has returned to Gazingstock! He is a little worse for the wear, but very much alive and resting comfortably at County General for routine observation after his year-long ordeal. Details are sketchy concerning the circumstances that led to his remarkable reappearance, but be assured that The Sacred Sandwich will submit a full report once we get all the facts.
Currently, Sheriff Lazenby of the Nodaway County Sheriff’s office is questioning Sherlock Jr. and Humphrey about the crazy events that took place last night and this morning at Lester Digg’s Wacky Golf which culminated in Angus’ dramatic rescue and the arrest of Coddington Borax. As soon as we get an eyewitness account from the horse’s— er, the mule’s mouth, we will let you know.
Lester Digg’s Wacky Golf and Two-Bits Arcade, just north of Gazingstock on Highway 24 near Hopkins, has seen better days, but it still offers one of the most popular holes in miniature golf: the tenth hole, “Spurgeon’s Metropolitan Tabernacle,” a par 3 beauty that challenges the best mini-duffers on the amateur circuit. If you ever play it, just make sure you avoid that deceptive downgrade near the left side of the vanity fair-way.
Sherlock Jr. and Humphrey are heading up there right now with the key to the front door. Don’t know if they’ll find time to get in a round, though.
Out at the Sacred Sandwich Stables…
Sherlock Jr.: I just need to clear my head a bit, Humphrey. Hope you don’t mind me hanging out with you. Thought I’d get a little fresh air.. and maybe a fresh perspective on the case.
Humphrey: (Turns to look at him.)
Sherlock Jr.: I must say, it’s beautiful out here. Springtime in Gazingstock and all that. Nice.
Humphrey: (Deep breath, then let’s it out.)
Sherlock Jr.: I suppose you know why I’m in town: searching for your buddy Angus… I’m sure you miss him like everyone else around here.
Humphrey: (low nickering.)
Sherlock Jr.: You wouldn’t happen to know where he is, would you?
Humphrey: (Looks away.)
Sherlock Jr.: Of course, you don’t. You’re a mule… What was I thinking?
Humphrey: (Lays ears back.)
Sherlock Jr.: It’s just that this case has me flummoxed, Humphrey. It seems almost certain Angus traveled to the past, but I haven’t been able to figure out how he got there or how we might get him back.
Humphrey: (Turns to look at him again.)
Sherlock Jr.: And my only real clue is that key to the Metropolitan Tabernacle, but what was it doing in Angus’ safe? Wouldn’t he take it with him if he were traveling back to London in 1888 to use it? I just don’t get it.
Sherlock Jr.: Of course, the strange thing is, that key is waay too small for the lock on the Tabernacle’s front door. Devlin figured that out as soon as I described the key to him. Little key equals little lock on a little door. So if it really is a key to the Tabernacle’s door, then we need to be looking for a little door… or a little Tabernacle.
Sherlock Jr.: (Laughing.) Heh, you wouldn’t happen to know where I can find a little Metropolitan Tabernacle, would you?
Humphrey: (Bobs head.)
Sherlock Jr.: Pffff, what am I saying. You’re a mule. You wouldn’t know any—
Humphrey: (Turns and slowly walks away.)
Sherlock Jr.: Hey, wait a minute. Where you going? Humphrey?… Humphrey!