LNH: Web of Mainstream Man # 3

Tom Russell milos_parker at yahoo.com
Mon Feb 27 21:25:02 PST 2006

an LNH title


   Kid Recap runs into Time-Waster Lad.
   "What's new?" asks Time-Waster Lad.
   "Well, in the last issue of WEB OF MAINSTREAM MAN,
Mainstream Man and Pocket Man continued their
investigation of the strange going-ons at the comic
book store Mainstream Man frequents.  They discovered
that the missing owner of the comic book store used to
be a net.villain that went by the name of the Purple
   "Purple..." Time-Waster Lad's eyes bugged open. 
"What was his first name?  Was it Billy?"
   "No.  His name was Frank.  Why?  Does the name
Purple Muffin mean something to you?" asks Kid Recap.
   "I went to school with this kid named Billy
Botimer," says Time-Waster Lad.  "He was a weird kid. 
Ate grass, laughed for no reason at nothing at all. 
He got picked on a lot.  He tried to fit in-- he tried
to be cool-- but for some reason it just never worked
   "Sometime during the middle of first grade, he
asked his dad, what's cool?  And his dad stopped and
thought and he said, Fonzi.  Fonzi's cool.  So the
next day, Billy comes to school with his hair all
slicked back and greased up, he's wearing these shades
and this leather jacket, going around saying Hey! to
   "He got the crap beat out of him.
   "When second grade came, he looked at it and
thought it would be a new start.  He comes to school
on the first day, about ten minutes before the school
year is about to commence.  He surveys the recess
area, and he looks for the coolest kids he can find. 
(After last year, he gave up on asking his father's
   "So he sees some fourth graders.  And he says, hey,
you guys are cool.  I want to be cool like you.  How
can I be cool?
   "And the fourth graders look at him, and Billy's
afraid they're just going to laugh at them, beat them
up.  But they don't.  They just nod and say, okay. 
We'll help you to be cool.
   "To be cool, you got to be tough.  You got to let
everybody know that you're not going to take anything
from anybody.  Got to let them know that you're not
scared of anything.
   "Well, how do I do that? Billy asks.
   "You know what you do? says one of the fourth
graders.  Soon as class starts, you should stand up
and shout some swear words at the teacher.  You might
get in trouble, but it will show all the kids that you
aren't scared of nothing.
   "Well, Billy's father was a minister, and so Billy
didn't know any swear words.  And he asked the fourth
graders what some of them were.  Now, these guys, they
could have laughed at him.  Made fun of him for not
knowing.  But they didn't.  They looked at Billy and
they said, the worse swear word of all... is Purple
   "Purple Muffins?
   "Purple Muffins.
   "Well, what does it mean? says Billy.
   "Don't worry about it.  It's just the worst word
you can say.  Trust us.  Say that word, and your name
will be the stuff of legend.  Fifty years from now,
kids will talk about Billy Botimer and how he said
Purple Muffins to a teacher on the first day of second
grade.  They will talk about Billy Botimer, and how
cool he was.
   "This sounds goods to Billy, but he's a little
apprehensive.  What if the fourth graders were lying? 
What if they were just trying to make him look like a
fool?  What if Purple Muffins didn't mean anything at
all and he was just that weird kid?  He didn't want to
be the weird kid again.  He wanted to be cool.
   "But, what if they were on the level?  He decides
to take a chance and, as soon as the teacher has
finished taking attendance, Billy Botimer stands up
and shouts at the top of his lungs, PURPLE MUFFINS!
   "The teacher turns pale.  She grips her podium to
keep herself upright.  The kids start laughing,
laughing at him, but she tells them to be silent. 
This is no laughing matter.
   "You go to the principal's office, she says.  You
go there and you tell me what you did!
   "So Billy heads down to the principal's office. 
Now, the principal of my elementary school, Samuel B.
Long Elementary, was named Mr. Monroe.  He was a
heavy-set, balding guy in his fifties.  He liked kids
though, liked to work with kids, he was very fair,
very considerate.  I remember once when I was in fifth
grade, some high schoolers saw me walking home and
they pulled down my pants, stole my underwear.  Mr.
Monroe did not rest until they were brought to
justice.  That was the kind of guy he was.
   "I remember later, when I was self-publishing some
mini-comics, he let me use the school's copy machine--
I was doing a community service class by assisting one
of the teachers at the elementary-- free of charge. 
He was generous like that.
   "And when Billy was being beat up the year before--
especially during the Fonzi Incident-- Mr. Monroe was
there for him, talked to him, didn't treat him like
the weird kid.  He was a good man.  And when he saw
Billy coming into his office, the first thing he said
was, who did it to you and what did they do?
   "And Billy explains, very quietly, that no, he's in
trouble.  And Mr. Monroe asks him to explain further,
start from the beginning, take his time.  And Billy
Botimer says:
   "I wanted to be cool, so I asked some fourth
graders what was cool.  And they said to say this word
in front of the teacher.  And so I did.  And she sent
me down to your office.
   "What was the word?
   "Billy hesitates, shrugs, and then gives his
answer: Purple Muffins.
   "Billy blinks.  He can scarcely believe his ears.
   "And so Billy leaves.  He wants to stop and use the
phone in the office, so that he can call his mother. 
But Monroe chases him out of the school before he gets
a chance.  The principal's face is red.  Billy has
never seen him so angry before in his life.
   "So Billy walks home.  It's a long walk, and it
feels longer because of the guilt and confusion
weighing down on him.  I mean, what does this word
mean, anyway?  Is it really that bad?
   "His mother greets him at the door.  She says, I
know you have a half day, it being the first day and
all, but you're home a little early.  Is everything
   "Mom, he says, I got expelled.
   "Expelled?  Uh... are you sure?
   "Yeah.  Yeah, I got expelled.
   "This gives her a bit of a shock.  But she embraces
him anyway.  She says, you're my son, and I love you
Billy, and I always will.  We'll find you another
school.  Just... tell mommy what the problem is.  Tell
me what happened?
   "She hugs him tight and he tells her what happened:
   "I wanted to be cool, so I asked some fourth
graders what was cool.  And they said to say this word
in front of the teacher, and I did.  And she sent me
to the principal's office.  I told the principal the
word and he expelled me.  And I don't even know what
the word means!
   "What... what word was it?
   "I don't want to tell you.
   "Was it the C-word?
   "Go ahead, baby.  Tell me what it was.
   "P... Purple Muffins.
   "And so Billy heads out the door.
   "He spends most of the evening walking around,
looking for shelter for the long, cold night.  He
thinks over the day's events.  Maybe, he thinks, maybe
this is all a dream.  Maybe I'll wake up.
  "Or maybe my mom will forgive me.  She'll come and
get me and it'll be okay.  He builds up his courage
and uses a pay phone.  He dials home, only to find
that his mother has changed the number.
   "He finds a cold, hard stoop that's less cold and
hard than the rest.  He pulls his knees close to his
body, pulls his coat over his legs, pulls his arms
into his coat and huddles in a corner on the stoop and
shivers.  Just as he's starting to fall asleep, he
sees a police car.  The car stops, the passenger
window rolls down, and the officer beckons him near.
   "Billy comes up to the officer, and the officer
asks him what're you doing, little eight year old kid,
what are you doing on the street?  Don't you have a
   "I did, Billy says.  I wanted to be cool.  So I
asked some fourth graders, what's cool?  And they said
to say this word in front of the teacher.  And I did,
and she sent me to the principal's office.  And I told
the word to the principal, and he expelled me from
school.  I went home and I told my mom the word, and
she disowned me.  And I don't... I don't even know
what it means.
   "Billy starts to break down into tears.
   "What was the word? the officer asks.
   "I don't want to tell you! sobs Billy.  Something
bad will happen!
   "Nothing bad will happen, the officer says.  Come
on.  I'm a cop.  It's nothing I haven't heard before.
   "And so Billy tells him.  Purple Muffins.
   "The cop pulls his gun on him.  Put your hands up! 
Keep them in sight!
   "The cop gets out of the car and slams Billy
against it.  Now, hands behind your back!  You piece
of slime.  You disgust me!
   "He slaps the cuffs on Billy and throws him,
roughly, into the back seat.
   "Billy spends a long night in the holding cell.  It
smells of urine, the bunk is hard, the room is cold,
but it's not as cold as someone's stoop, not as hard,
the urine smell isn't as prevalent.  He's not sure if
this is a step up from his previous predicament, but
he'll take it.  He gets a little bit of sleep and the
next morning, he is brought before the judge to be
   "There must be some mistake, says the judge.  Why
is there a little kid in my court room?
   "I'm guilty, your honor, says Billy.  I did it.  I
said the word.
   "What?  What are you talking about?  Look, son, why
don't you tell me what happened?
   "I wanted to be cool, so I asked some fourth
graders, what's cool?  And they said to say this one
word in front of the teacher.  So I did.  And she sent
me to the principal's office.  I told the word to the
principal, and he expelled me from school.  I went
home and I told the word to my mom, and she disowned
me.  I was out on the streets and the police officer
found me, and he asked me what happened, so I told him
the word.  Then he arrested me.  And I don't even know
what the word means!  I'm sorry I said it!  I'm sorry!
   "It's okay, said the judge.  You're just a kid. 
And no word could possibly be that bad.  What, uh,
what word was it...?
   "I don't want to tell you.
   "Go ahead, son.  I've been on the bench for thirty
years.  I've probably heard it dozens of times.
   "No.  Every time I say it, something bad happens.
   "Nothing bad will happen to you.  I promise.  Just
tell me what the word is.
   "You promise?
   "I promise.
   "Billy takes a deep breath, and in a low, muffled
voice, he squeaks it out: Purple Muffins.
   "Twenty years! says the judge, banging down his
gavel.  No parole!
   "The bailiffs take him away.  And Billy Botimer
goes to prison.  Soon as he gets in, he finds himself
sharing a cell with a serial killer.  And the serial
killer recounts, in grisly detail, all of his heinous
crimes.  Then, he turns to Billy and says, what are
you in for?
   "I wanted to be cool, says Billy.  So I asked some
fourth graders, what's cool?  And they told me to say
this word in front of the teacher.  So I said it.  And
she sent me to the principal's office, the principal
expelled me, my mother disowned me, the cop arrested
me and the judge gave me twenty years, no parole.  All
because of this word and I don't even know what it
   "What word was it? asks the serial killer.
   "Purple Muffins.
   "GET ME OUT OF HERE! cries the serial killer,
rattling the bars.  THIS GUY'S A MANIAC!
   "And news spreads through the prison.  That kid,
the one in cell block B?  He's here because he said
the purple word.  He gets his own table at the
cafeteria.  When he takes a shower, all the other guys
huddle in the corner out of fear and respect.  In the
yard, he's given a wide berth, always accompanied by
whispers.  New prisoners are informed immediately of
the heinous nature of his crime, and consequently no
one gets close to him.  Billy Botimer has no friends. 
All because of this one word.
   "Now, those fourth graders have heard about the
trouble he's in, they feel sorry about it, they feel
responsible and, yeah, they kind of are, and so they
pooled all their cash for his defense.  The lawyer
meets with Billy one day about a year into his
twenty-year sentence.
   "I've been paid to handle your appeal, says the
lawyer.  Now, why don't you tell me, in your own
words, the details of the case?
   "And so Billy recounts the whole story of his life
so far: the teacher sent him to the principal's
office, the principal expelled him, his mother
disowned him, the cop arrested him, the judge gave him
twenty with no parole, and even the child molesters
won't come near him.  All because of this word, and he
doesn't even know what it means.
   "And what word is this?
   "Billy really doesn't care anymore, and so he says,
very nonchalantly: Purple Muffins.
   "The lawyer closes his attaché case, stands up, and
motions to the guard to let him out.  I may be a
lawyer, he says, but even I have my morals.  And it's
the same way with every lawyer.  No one will take his
case.  (Not even Ramsey Clark.)
   "And so twenty lonely years pass, and Billy Botimer
finally gets out of prison, a bitter, bitter man. 
He's never had a drink in his entire life, and so the
first thing he does now that he's out, is that he goes
to a bar to get a drink.
   "He quickly downs a shot.  Then a second, then a
third.  And, it being a slow night and the bartender
being a bartender, the bartender leans over, wipes the
counter thoughtfully, and asks, what's your troubles,
   "Billy looks up at him with sad, razed eyes.  He
wets his lips and clears his throat.  And he tells him
his troubles.
   "I wanted to be cool.  And so, on the first day of
second grade, I asked some fourth graders, what's
cool?  And they told me that to be cool, I had to say
this one swear word in front of the teacher.  So I
did.  She sent me to the principal's office.  I told
the word to the principal, and he expelled me.  I went
home, explained to my mom that I was expelled, and I
told her the word.  And she disowned me.
   "I wandered the streets, and was found by a cop.  I
told him the word, and he arrested me.  I told the
judge the word, and he gave me twenty years, no
parole.  I've just got out of prison.
   "I have no friends.  No marketable skills.  My
entire life is ruined, all because of this one word. 
And I don't even know what it means.
   "What's the word, buddy?
   "Purple Muffins.
   "Yeah, says the bartender.  I hear that from time
to time.  And you say that you don't know what it
   "No, I don't.
   "You know who would know, is my brother, Jeffrey. 
He's a, what do you call it?, a lexicographer.  He
studies words, particularly vulgar slang.  You know,
he lives right across the street.  He'll just have
gotten home by now.
   "Yeah.  Tell him Moe sent ya.
   "Billy finishes one last shot and springs up from
the stool, he heads out of the bar.  He starts to run
across the street and is hit by a truck and dies."
  Kid Recap blinks.  "God damn it, Time-Waster Lad."



The stuff promised
 in last issue's
 next issue box
 actually happens!


Kid Recap was created by Josh Geurink and is not

Time Waster Lad was created by Ray Rich and is not

The "Purple Muffins" story has been in existence at
least since I went to school.  The frame of it, then,
is public domain; the details are my own.  In a bare
bones telling, it can run two or three minutes long. 
I have managed in the past to stretch it near twenty.


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