The Brooklyn Rail

MAY 2010

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MAY 2010 Issue

The Trials of Woodchuck

Here is another story of Woodchuck.

As we all know Woodchuck was a wanderer.

One day he came to the people in his wanderings and they noticed that his feet were covered with red oozing sores.

So plentiful and ugly were these sores that as he walked he left a trail of blood in the dirt and grass behind.

Involuntarily he made small grunting noises as he walked an interruption of the silence he had always before maintained and for which he was well-known.

Small bare patches appeared as spots of his hair fell out.

Woodchuck had been made by God the people knew and nothing made by God is exempt from suffering but this sight broke the hearts of even the most heartless people.

Come they said to Woodchuck and rest your weariness.

It is obvious that your feet are sore from so much wandering they said even though the sores were as many on the tops of his feet as on the bottoms.

They did not even bother to light a pipe in ceremonial acknowledgment of his presence.

Instead they sat Woodchuck down and he was unusually docile as if willing to be led although showing no particular thanks to the people who helped him.

They positioned Woodchuck where he could recline and take the weight off his injured feet and while conscious of the great honor of his presence said among themselves well what can he expect with his endless wandering of course this will take its toll.

But within a day of their having put Woodchuck down to rest his hair began falling off his body in great clumps and continued until his entire body was exposed flesh.

All over this flesh bloomed bright pink sores which oozed copious amounts of fluid that dried so that Woodchuck developed a thin yellow crust all over his body.

To the people who had undertaken to nurse him the yellow crust was even more confirmation that Woodchuck had wandered too far in his travels. Again they blamed him for his own troubles.

Soon Woodchuck had other ideas than to continue convalescing among such people and under cover of night he left and began to wander again.

Now Woodchuck was weakened by the oozing sores and whatever had given rise to them and so tired that he could hardly keep hold of the box he always held in his hand his greatest treasure which was always endeavoring to flee him but no showed no such inclination now that it was easy.

And in such condition dragging the box that held his penis behind him half open Woodchuck came to the next town where although horrified by his devastated appearance again the people were glad to receive him.

Who could leave Woodchuck alone for so long that he would fall into such a state they said.

Thus speaking they did not offer Woodchuck a ceremonial pipe but instead once Woodchuck had fallen asleep in their care they too began to tell lies about what had befallen Woodchuck.

Did you see how carelessly he has left his box open they said.

The only thing that covers one’s body in sores from head to foot like this are diseases one brings upon oneself.

Obviously they agreed this was punishment for Woodchuck’s long and careless path of libertine behavior.

Still they were honored by his presence and thought of the great acclaim that would come to their community if they proved the ones who cured Woodchuck of his awful malady.

They lay Woodchuck who had not the strength or will to contradict them down in a sickbed and administered potions and unguents.

But Woodchuck rejected their medicines.

No sooner than they made him swallow fluids he vomited bloody bile and his mouth and throat erupted with hideous pustules.

Where they applied poultices on his now completely hairless flesh that flesh turned white then gray then black and gave off a putrid odor.

Woodchuck suffered all silently.

Again under cover of night while these people were asleep Woodchuck found the strength to rise and leave them and began again to wander barely dragging himself agonizing and dropping all along the way dried crusts of the evil corruptions that were now leaking constantly from him pausing from time to time to lean on his ever-present box.

It was in this collapsed state that Woodchuck one day awoke to a stream of hot piss raining down upon him.

He was lying in the dirt and next to him atop the box was his penis pissing on him.

He penis began to sing a song.

Dead-Chuck, Dead-Chuck
Covered all in yellow crust
Penis will go off alone
Penis wants his own crust

And Woodchuck’s penis ran away.

Woodchuck could not be separated from his penis because he knew very well what troubles could result.

Days went by of shuffling stumbling and walking as Woodchuck wandered on in search of his penis which he would from time to time hear singing off in the distance or whose familiar scent when he was exhausted from the effort he would catch in a passing breeze and urge himself onward toward.

But the universe did not cooperate with him.  Woodchuck now became leprous, and his bald oozing crusty flesh now began to dry up and flake off.  Woodchuck found he could no longer make himself large as he had in the past.  Day by day more of him disappeared until one day he had no more legs left with which to move.  The lump that was now Woodchuck continued to flake away and crumble.  Finally Woodchuck entirely ceased to be and all that remained of him was a small pile of dust.

Woodchuck had been made by God and when God saw what had happened she said “This will not do.”  And so she blew away the dust scattering it to the four corners of the world and she made a new Woodchuck and set him down beside the empty box.  Woodchuck was still missing his penis and when he awoke he knew by first instinct that this was something he had to find because if he didn’t it would cause trouble.  No sooner had he been made than he began to chase after his penis again.


Ted Pelton

Ted Pelton is the author of several books, all fiction: Bhang, Endorsed by Jack Chapeau 2 an even greater extent, Malcolm & Jack (and Other Famous American Criminals), and the novella, Bartleby, the Sportscaster. He is also the Executive Director of Starcherone Books, and a Professor of Humanities at Medaille College of Buffalo, NY.


The Brooklyn Rail

MAY 2010

All Issues