The top of Professor Elliot Lambert’s head was bald and oh so shiny, but the sides of his head had yet to get the message. The hair on the back and sides of his head was brown, speckled with gray. He’d grown it down to his shoulders, perhaps out of some misguided belief that this would prove that he actually had hair.
Standing in front of his class at Sitwell Community College, the scholar was engaged in a lecture on the mating habits of the Antarctic penguin. He found it riveting, even though no one else did.
“And so, the male penguin will perform a seductive dance, which culminates in the female to bend over and expel the feathers surrounding her hormonal glands,” Professor Lambert said. “It’s truly an amazing sight to behold. I swear, kids, if you ever get up to Antartica, you must check it out.
The professor couldn’t help but notice that something was off. Normally, his class room was packed to capacity. Although no one on campus had a particular fondness for Animal Biology 101, Professor Lambert was a notoriously easy grader, an educator who would gladly stamp an A on a paper as long as a student regurgitated something halfway legible. Further, the course satisfied a science requirement.
However, on this morning, only three students managed to show up: Connor the Hipster, Kate the Goth Chick and Mackenzie, a girl whose eyes were permanently riveted to her phone.
“Is there something I don’t know about?” the professor asked.
The three students remained silent.
“Big party last night?” Professor Lambert asked. “Everyone back at their dorms, sleeping it off?”
“You don’t know?” Declan asked.
“I don’t know what?” Professor Lambert said. “That’s a ludicrous question, young man. How could I possibly know what I don’t know? The point of asking a question is to determine what one does not know and then to persist in obtaining and answer to what one does not know, thus to facilitate an answer that can added to the mental reservoir of what one knows.”
“Chad Becker died on the toilet last night,” Ann said in her Goth monotone.
“It’s been all over the news,” Mackenzie said as she stared at her phone.
“True,” Connor said. “Although personally, I prefer not to obtain my information from corporate outlets like Network News One as most mainstream channels simply whore themselves out to big business. Instead, I prefer low key, self-sponsored blogs produced by independent owners and operators. In fact, the Bookshelf Battle Blog just reported that Countess Cucamonga may have been an alien from outer space. Now that’s an angle you’ll never hear from the bought and paid for corporate media.”
“The Bookshelf Battle Blog?” Mackenzie asked.
“Oh, you wouldn’t have heard of it,” Conor said. “It only has 3.5 readers.”
The Professor threw up his hands. “Slow down children. Are you telling me that Chad Becker is dead?”
“Deader than disco,” Mackenzie said.
“His soul is the property of Azaglotz, Keeper of the Demon Realm, now,” Kate said.
The professor lowered his head into his hand. “This is terrible. So terrible.”
“I’m sorry, sir,” Declan said. “Were you two close?”
The professor lifted his head up and blurted out. “I bought my weed from him!”
Connor and Kate appeared shocked. Mackenzie was too glued to her phone to care.
“Um,” Professor Lambert said. “That is to say, yes, he was one of my favorite students. He took this class seven times.”
The professor picked up a remote control and punched a button. A blank, white screen rolled down in front of the dry erase board. Next, the Network News One channel was projected onto the screen. Kurt Manley was reporting, as usual.
“Witnesses on the scene report that Russian President Anatoly Verashenko pulled out his penis, plopped it down on the podium in front of the entire United Nations General Assembly, and dared the President of the United States to do the same,” Kurt Manley said. “The Russian President openly doubted that President Stugotz would accept the challenging, saying, quote, ‘Everyone knows that in an international dick measuring contest, Russia will win every time!”
Kurt shuffled some papers. A photo of Chad Becker wearing a bra on his head with a beer on his head appeared on screen. Kurt spoke in a voice over. “In our ongoing coverage of the bizarre series of toilet murders that has gripped the state of Florida, we’ve talked a lot about Countess Cucamonga. But what about the other victims? We’ll talk about retired history teacher Hugh Hogan in the next hour, but first, a retrospective on the life of Chad Becker, who, some say may hold a world record for the longest amount of time ever spent in pursuit of a two year degree. We’ll look back on Mr. Becker’s life after this commercial break. Also coming up in the next hour, could this brand of frozen pizza cause you to hallucinate and believe that you are the Second Coming of Ethel Merman? We’ll tell you which brand after sports and weather but first, a word from our sponsors.”
The Network News One announcer came one. “Network News One. The Hottest Blonde Chicks. The biggest titties. Oh yeah, and occasionally we report the news and shit.”
The professor turned off the television. “Awful. Just awful.”
“Professor,” Kate said. “I don’t mean to be a downer…”
The professor and Connor looked at Kate, surprised she would say such a thing.
“…I mean, no more than usual but…I just don’t think I can concentrate given the fact that some psycho is running around murdering people while they shit.”
“I should be safe,” Connor said. “I have decided to stop using toilets as I have realized that every flush just puts another dollar into the pockets of Big Toilet.”
“Big Toilet?” Kate asked.
“The toilet industry,” Connor said. “They keep us subservient by making us believe that the only way to shit is through a toilet. I checked out a book on how to compost your own shit from the library and I’m going to do that from now on.”
“Wow,” Kate said. “That sounds hella woke. Can I join you?”
“Of course,” Connor said. “Maybe we could even, um…”
“I already told you I’m promised to Azaglotz, dirt beard boy!” Kate said.
Mackenzie yawned. “All I know is I got no sleep last night because my roommate was too afraid to shit in the bathroom after what happened to Chad, so she shit in a coffee can and stunk up the entire room.”
Professor Lambert scratched his long beard. “Hmm…yes. I suppose under the circumstances, it would be appropriate to cancel class.”
All three students jumped up to their feet with eager anticipation.
“Read chapters thirty through thirty-five in your textbooks,” Professor Lambert said. “And don’t forget there is a quiz on the anal cavity of the East Himalayan Snow Leopard next week. Good day, students.”
The students left the room. The professor sat down behind his desk. “How the hell am I supposed to get my Supersonic Chronic now?”