today’s propaganza: a fictional account of factual events

A fictional picture of factual teeth.

The National Evil awoke this morning quivering with anticipation and wonder as to what spume of propaganza Edward would inflict on her next. Something else about zombies? Maybe another YouTube monkey clip?

Rather than spray words into her engorged belly, however, Edward marched straight past her to the bathroom where, to the National Evil’s annoyance, she discovered he had chipped a tooth. While tearing at the freshness-seal of a bottle of coffee creamer, the back of one of his lower incisors had sloughed off like shale from a mountainside, dissolving into powder on his tongue. At first he thought some sort of fixative or crusted dairy had affixed itself to that tooth, and he began scraping it with a fingernail until he realized he was chipping off tiny chunks of his own body.

Now the National Evil found him aiming a flashlight’s eye into his mouth and repeatedly muttering “The lord dwells not in the bodies of the healthy and vigorous,” a line he filched from one St. Hildegarde via Nathanael West’s 1931 debut novel The Dream Life of Balso Snell.

As a devoted worshipper of lava, Edward had no idea whether this St. Hildegarde actually existed or was merely West’s fictional construct. But he’d always liked the quote and invoked it whenever his body sought to betray him. Be it acid reflux, viral meningitis, or an infected cyst on his back, Edward had learned from hard experience that the human body is nothing more than an elaborate series of potentially lethal booby traps into which the soul is forcibly interred.

Baring his teeth, the line of which had come to resemble a sine curve, Edward sighed. His mixed Scots-Irish ancestry had provided him manifold benefits—a healthy bloodlust, an advanced tolerance for alcohol, an almost mystical connection with tubers—but alas, good teeth wasn’t one of them.

Having no dentist of his own, Edward called his general practitioner. His doctor’s cell phone vibrated just as he was about to sink a putt to win a $500 bet with the region’s premier neurosurgeon. Instead he advised Edward to deviate just this once from his strict peanut-brittle-and-cubed-ice diet and find a dentist, then proceeded to miss his putt, bogey the 18th, and lose those five hundred smackers. Fuming, Edward’s doctor resolved to poison Edward the next time he saw him.

Meanwhile the National Evil returned to her supine position on the divan, fanning herself and hoping that Edward would have his tooth fixed by Monday afternoon. She was getting damned tired of his constant bodily foibles.

And the lava worship didn’t do much for her, either.


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