The Quotable

The Real Crime and Its Punishment by Its Actual Author, True and Unexpurgated!

Could the cruel world possibly be so blind as not to understand that I, Dr. Piotr Bobovitch von Grippe-Gripocki, Esquire, am not only the finest satirist satire has known, but the greatest writer, nay, philosopher, that the solar system has ever beheld? Having scoured only our own sun’s sphere of influence fairly exhaustively, I cannot necessarily vouch for my being the most accomplished cogitator in all the universe; it may very well be that, loftily enthroned in some paradisiacal aerie of the unexplored reaches of our plane of existence (or yet beyond and beyond!), a laurelled brow frowns with still more preternatural power of aesthetic profundity than my own. Though the chances of this are slim, of course, but I must cover all of my bases. I must be thoroughgoing and logical in all my thinking from this moment on if I am to save my life, save literature, and save culture from self-immolation.

The final day of my trial, they wake me at dawn and haul me into the courtroom, prodding me in the buttocks just like I am cattle. The guards’ teeth grind like grim bulldozers as they fling me into the dreaded dock, its rails covered with gray wads of gum and bloody fingernail clawings – the signatures of the sad souls launched into perdition from the ejector seat of death, which I occupy with such admirably stoic resolve.

I enter and the gallery erupts into laughter ― erupts, yes, erupts into chuckles like volcanic ejecta that sting my sworn enemies, the philistines and betrayers of beauty. There they sit, all terrible twelve, jittery with the cataclysmic import of their duty. They must find me rightly innocent of artistic gaucherie, or else ― I die! It is, technically, true that my crime, if it is one, carries only the penalty that I crawl under a rock and not make an inky peep with my pen for the remainder of my dreary, obscure existence; but I have promised to martyr myself, if I am found even remotely guilty of in any way squandering my readers’ time.

Yes, the gallery laughs, and no doubt because that ugly blackguard, the persecuting attorney, has loped into view. He slouches, apelike, dragging his knuckles and tittering with delight at the evil speech he will give. Grimy words dribble from the corners of his mouth like poisonous chewing tobacco, dripping, dripping and staining the floor of the Halls of Justice!

“My fellows, I say,” he croaks at the jurors, “have we not seen and heard enough already to condemn this man, if we can call him a man and not a monkey who has learned to hack his screeching out at a typewriter. Condemn this sorry chap and his dreck, I say, to the dustbin of American letters for good!”

Pretentiously, the evil one pauses for a bungled attempt at theatrical rhetorical effect.

“And yet,” he continues, “you may be shocked to learn that, with the evidence I will present to you all today, your opinion of Mr. Gripocki ―”

“That’s Dr. Piotr Bobovitch von Grippe-Gripocki, Esquire, to you!” I correct the irreverent villain.

The courtroom explodes: giggling, chortling, guffawing, and cackling. Yes, the people are putty to shape in my palms. My stentorian oratorical prowess remains unequalled.

“As I was saying, sirs, you may be shocked, horrified, scarified, and outraged to learn that, with the evidence I intend to present this very day, your opinion of the poor buffoon who has just interrupted me will be lowered to depths of disapproval and ignominy you probably never imagined possible. I hold in my hand,” and here the brute produces from a portfolio the unpublished manuscript of my latest sensational masterpiece, destined to be a smash international hit, “the most recent specimen of Mr. Grippe-Gripocki’s ―”

“The honorable Dr. Piotr Bobovitch von Grippe-Gripocki, Esquire!”

“Order in the court,” the judge hammers vigorously, silencing the snickerers.

“The most recent and most thoroughly ridiculous specimen, I say, of this puerilely prattling pipsqueak’s scribblings. You may notice, sirs, that under each of your seats is a complimentary vomit bag. I have provided these to you for your convenience and at my own expense, as I purpose to recite to you word for odious word the first chapter of this startlingly awful document, only the briefest excerpt from which should be necessary to convince any man of sound mind, and, mind you, beyond the tiniest shadow of a doubt, that the accused is positively the worst writer ever to set his pen to paper.”

My heart soars aloft like a drunken bird as he begins reading aloud from my latest creation, for I know that now, at last, once the people have heard my words for themselves, the jury cannot help but vindicate me! Raising a monocle to his vulture’s eye, he growls out the first page with unhidden contempt:

Furious Fists of Flaming Wisdom:

A Dr. Piotr Bobovitch von Grippe-Gripocki, Esq. Novel of Philosophical Suspense

The bullets, venomous pellets that they are, deal stinging kisses to my ears as they shoot like missiles past my perfectly coiffed mane of obsidian fleece. I am untroubled, magnificently composed as I leap into the yowling assassins’ midst and deliver karate chop after karate chop, tenderizing their necks like gourmet steaks. I bite and bowl them over like an African wildebeest, kick them like a crying zebra, scoop them up and body-slam them until they fall to the bloodstained sand of the beach like beautifully beaten butterflies, drained of all strength, dropping their fire-spitting machine-guns, but still my hair is crystalline in its gemlike flawlessness.

“Well done, Cricket,” says Amos-san, my wise, blind, crippled, and ancient Japanese-African-American sensei. “You have indeed imbibed voluminously from the cup of my wisdom since I began training you last week in the mystic killing arts. Come, Cricket, let us partake of a splendid repast of sushi back at the dojo to reward ourselves and recoup our considerable strengths.”

We are hunted like turkeys by those who would fling us into concentration camps because we are Japanese and African-American. They, the Hateful Ones, cannot comprehend our epic nature, our luscious licorice-flavored flesh and impeccably cultivated afros, and grudge us our brazen beatitude and our inherited oneness with all in Brother Nature. Consequently, we meditate by day and fight the Undying Albinos by night, advancing the revolutionary cause kick by kick, and must hide like misunderstood missionaries of soul power when the rising sun tinges our lovely puffs with sanguinary crimson highlights.

I pray:

“Great Warrior Spirit of Unkulunkulu, preserve us. We require your sizeable energies for the upcoming battle, the holocaust of fists and wits that will decide not only the fate of our holy dojo’s accreditation and the reputations of our brother ghetto kickers, but will tip the precarious scales of the balance of powers in the spiritual astrodome of interdimensional realpolitik as well. Praise be to thee.”

“Amen,” Amos-san affirms, bowing his shriveled shrunken head in reverence.

I light a fat Cuban blunt in the car and turn with somber slanted eyes to my master, who is piloting our immaculate, tiger-striped, scorchingly hot, tricked-out, soul-injected bouncy-suspension pimp ride.

“I see sinister omens of desecration in the pale wisps of smoke from the cigar I am smoking, Amos-san. Do you dig the vibrations, as well, wise Master?”

“Yes. It is a form of karmic electric ectoplasmic mojo-charge that sets the soul-sinuses to palpitating and produces instant Unkulunkulo-dharmic clairvoyance. A white being is waiting at the end of this toll bridge, you may be quite certain of that, praise be unto Buddha the Fattest Pimp. Bend your ears to the Tides, young Cricket ― the Halcyon Funky Tides of Destiny. The Tides know all and will gift the attentive youngblood hustler with lisped intimations of what has not yet been fully funkily realized in the temporal realm of the hater state.”

My sensei is wiser than I.

Suddenly sirens sound alongside and a swirling blizzard of shards of broken white glass pours into the ride as an enfilade of hyped-up deadly full-metal jackets rips and whips across my passenger side door like a hailstorm of hatreds raining down on the ghetto’s golden gongs.

I duck and ancient Amos-san hollers like a bluesman as his sightless eyes roll back into his curly brow and the beastly, shrieking projectiles continue to riddle the wicked pimp ride as it rocks out of control like a bucking bull and swerves off the bridge like a wounded dragon snorting flames toward the blue, boiling, bellowing waves below.

Beloved Amos-san is already reborn in the next episode. And I?

Seconds slow to a tortoise’s trot as the ride is suspended in the air for an agonizing moment that feels like five thousand screaming years of frozen enslavement and doom.

“Has my daddy’s destiny dropped into my lap like a short-fused bomb oh so soon, oh Majestic Ones?” I yell out the window at the great Warrior Spirit of our Japanese and African Unkulunkulu, puffing up my brilliant dark foliate mane, crossing my proud fingers under my seat, calmly closing my glossy, almond-brown eyelids, and hoping to die now in top physical shape and with an ultimate glory worthy of my Black Ninja Heritage and my good sensei Amos-san’s reverend memory.

Pfunk-plish-splash! I am under the water but thankfully this ride is watertight and equipped in its crafty behind with one press-button hate-seeking torpedo, praise be unto Buddha the Japanese-African Holy War Machine.

The courtroom roars in tears as the evil one stops to take in the effect his recitation has had on the gentlemen of the jury. To a man they are laughing, holding their sides, bittersweet tears streaming down their cheeks in a firm affirmation of my powers. My masterfully crafted sentences have scaled the walls of the Halls of Justice, jumped from the rafters and rained down blistering blows upon their bourgeois sensibilities. I am convinced that this must be my finest moment, the pinnacle of my towering achievement as an artist and as a man.

Surely my case is won.

I am certain of it.


The verdict is read.

“What? I object!” I shout louder than even the Isley Brothers and leap up from my seat, stumbling over my clumsily shackled feet. I’ve fallen on my face, but still, from the floor, I hail and regale and upbraid them mightily:

“I’ll have you know that everything in my novel is true, from the smallest details of the mystic Shinto ghetto rituals to the stark social reality of the characters’ everyday lives. I conducted thoroughgoing research in preparing Furious Fists of Flaming Wisdom. More than this, however, I lived it. I lived for weeks in the poverty-ridden, sword-infested Japanese-and-African-American barrios of Los Angeles and San Francisco, danced their dances, drank malt sake and shared their mystic loco peace pipes, prayed to their gods with them, ate their pan-Asian fusion soy-pimped soul food with them, sweated and fought their pitched battles of political and sexual liberation alongside their fomenting youth, and even wept and tasted their own salty tears of joys and tortures. Furious Fists of Flaming Wisdom is more than authentic, more than a mere ‘nonfiction novel’ or white-bread roman a clef; it is a document of undeniable fact. My book is the hard, scaly, unadulterated Truth and you can’t handle it, can’t stomach such a cuttingly incisive condemnation of your corrupt, snootily hypocritical military-industrial complex of a honky literary establishment. Admit it!”

The judge in his powdered wig whacks his gavel with masturbatory frenzy. How like a toddler at his plastic toy tool set, I muse as he clears his froggy throat and delivers his fatefully hateful sentence:

“Piotr Bobovitch von Grippe-Gripocki,” he grimaces sourly, a few horseflies issuing from his mouth, “this court finds you guilty of rank literary amateurism in the first degree and sentences you to shut up already and get out of town.”

“But ―”


“No! Never let it be said, Your Honor, that Dr. Piotr Bobovitch von Grippe-Gripocki, Esquire, was one to go so gently into that good night. I will die! Now! You must kill me! Violently! Make me a martyr and emblazon history with my several gloried names!”

“Yes, please throw him to the wolves!” cries Mary May, my loving spouse of thirty years, waving her handkerchief sweetly from her guarded gallery box. “Piotr was made for another world. Ours is too vulgar for him.”

“Truly,” I concur in all beaming sincerity. “If you have any sense of mercy, any flicker of humanity left in your conscience, you must chop off my head immediately. I am far, far too sensitive, too tautly strung, to continue to exist in this sorry, sadistic excuse for a universe of yours. What dwarfish brutes, what hairy monsters are Chopin and Mendelssohn, or any of your too-earthy earthlings, to play upon my tender and trembling heartstrings?”

“Well, I suppose,” the judge hems and haws, “since you insist, Mr. Gripocki, I suppose we . . .”

“That’s Dr. Piotr Bobovitch von Grippe-Gripocki, Esquire, to you, Your Honor!”

“String the little twerp up! Posthaste!”

My followers, yes, they must be, I know it in my soul, have lofted me up onto their shoulders like a divinity and carried me out of the courtroom and onto the lawn, where the sun shines its greeting and a gallows has already been constructed for me.

Suddenly my throat burns as if I’ve just swallowed a flaming Arabian scimitar:

“A drink! Oh, mercy, a drop!” I beg, but my thirst is metaphorical, I realize. I thirst for life, for truth, and redemption; I thirst for ink with which to wet my tongue, lick the clouds, and paint my power and glory across all the heavens. And I will have it! I will have that magic ink, I tell you, even if I must dip it from bottomless inkwells of uncharted, unknown, and unknowable worlds that succeed and transcend this maggot’s life as you mortals think you know it!


The author of “The Real Crime and Its Punishment by Its Actual Author, True and Unexpurgated!” died a horrible death under multiple dominoactive defective library shelving units after submitting the story.

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