Al Frankenstein (or, Mr. Smith Goes To Hell)

Once upon a time there was a merry prankster named Al Frankenstein. Throughout the land he was renowned for his jocularity and wit, but mostly for his prankstering, so much so that he actually made a really good living at it by being a prankstering writer for a very famous funny television show. He loved to make people laugh. For example, the story is told of how when he and his wife had a newborn baby, all of the women who worked on the very famous television show–the writers and the actresses–wanted him to bring the newborn baby into work so they could see it. At a predetermined hour, all the women on the very famous funny television show got together in the writers’ room and waited for Al to show up with the baby. Soon he arrived and as he paused in the doorway with the swaddled baby, all the women who were seated about expressed sounds of gleeful expectation. However, Al hadn’t actually brought his newborn baby. What he had brought was a doll that was so sufficiently bundled up that no one could tell it wasn’t actually a baby. 

“Oh, come let us see!” said Maya Rudolph. 

And so Al came forward, but then immediately–and intentionally–tripped and launched the baby fifteen feet into the air, which caused every single woman present to scream and attempt to catch the baby before it hit the ground. 

Funny stuff. Huh? Yes, Al was a jolly if at times silly soul. And he was fine with his life. He had a really nice house and everybody in America knew who he was. 

But then one night as Al slept, a sound awoke him. It was a voice, and it called out to him in a ghostly manner.

“Aaaaaaal….Aaaaaaal….wake up, Aaaaaal.”

Al lifted himself up on his elbow. He looked to his wife as she lay still sleeping beside him, then back toward the sound of the voice which was coming from the darkened corner. A figure approached.

“Who–who are you?” Al nervously asked.

“It is me, Al. Your late writing partner, Tom Davis.”

Al took his glasses from the night table, for the spectre was but a blur. He put them on. “Tom–it is you! Tom, what are you doing here? What is it that you want?”

“I have come from beyond the grave to give you a warning, Al. I have watched you from afar. I have seen the road you travel. And I am here to warn you that you must digress from this path of silliness, a path I had travelled myself and which now I shall eternally regret. O’ woe!!!! Woe and Shame be now my companions forever! I am here to beseech thee to move off from the road that leads to the dark abyss!”

“Tom, are we in the future?”

“No, Al. We are in the present. The very disturbing present.”

“Well, what year is it, Tom?”

“It’s 2002, Al.”

“Well, Tom, if it’s 2002 then you’re still alive.”

“Don’t ruin the moment, Al. What do we say in improv?”

“Always say yes?”

“Correct. And I am the ghost of your late writing partner Tom Davis. Right?”

“Yes.”

“And I am here to help you. That’s why you must heed my words.”

“Tom, do you have key to my house?”

“Woe!!!!!!!!! O’woe!!!!!”

“Okay, okay, go head. It’s fine.”

The “spectre” paused to collect himself. “You have more to offer the world than silly pranks, Al. Much more.”

“But people like my jokes and my pranks. I get paid a lot of money for them. And they’re always in good natured fun.”

“Some people might feel the fake baby thing crossed a line.”

“It was pretty funny, though.”

“Not to most of the people in the room.”

“So what am I supposed to do?”

“Be more.”

“That’s it? Just be more?”

“Yeah, that’s it.”

“Well, how?”

“Why not try actually helping your country instead of making fun of it?”

“Well, I suppose I could maybe go on a USO tour and entertain the troops who are in a war zone. Is that the kind of thing you mean?”

“Absolutely. But that’s just a start, Al. Your wanting to bring some entertainment to the troops is a wonderfully noble thing, especially since you might actually die doing it.”

“When you say ‘die’ do you mean like dying on stage in a figurative way or actually getting killed?”

“The killed way.”

“I see.” Al considered it for a moment. “OK, I could do that.”

“But then you need to take one step further when you come home. You need to run for the Senate. There you can actually make a difference.”

“Gee, I don’t know, Tom. I mean, I don’t have any experience as a politician. Whoever runs against me will probably wipe the floor with me.”

“Sonny Bono was a congressman.”

“Yeah but, the Senate’s a considerable step up from that.”

“Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura was governor of Minnesota.”

“Yeah, that’s right. But still, I don’t know that I could pull it off.”

“Ronald Reagan was president.”

“Okay I’ll do it.”

Tom slowly backed away, extending his arms in a flowing farewell gesture, while whispering, “That’s good, Al. That’s good, Al. That’s good, Al,” until he disappeared into the distant darkness.

Al watched Tom fade slowly away. He was shaken by the experience of the visit, and before Tom was completely out of sight, he called out, “Lock the front door behind you!”

And Al did do it. He ran for the Senate and won, despite his Republican opponent running television ads saying “Al Frankenstein says the elderly should be killed” even though that was his character’s line in a comedy skit on the very famous funny television show.

And Al argued in support of many great things as Senator, such as a universal health care system where every child born in America gets health care immediately; ending subsidies to oil companies so as to help prevent the sky from turning to goo; and lowering the interest rates on student loans so that college students didn’t have to moonlight as heroin dealers to pay off their student loans; as well as directly asking Republicans who had business dealings with the Russian Mafia–during Congressional hearings–if they knew anybody in the Russian Mafia.

Yes, these were fine things. But then one day a former Playboy Playmate accused Al of pretending to touch her bosom a long time ago when they were merry pranksters on a USO tour entertaining the troops in Afghanistan. This greatly alarmed most members of the Democratic party, none more so than the Washington Ladies’ Auxiliary, who called an emergency meeting in Nancy Pelosi’s office to discuss what they should do.

“I’m not sure what we should do about this, but we must do something,” Nancy said to the group of women there. “We must show that we have zero tolerance for this sort of thing.”

“The pretend hooter touching,” clarified Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

“Right,” confirmed Nancy. “We must hold the representatives of this nation to a higher standard.”

“Than the standard we currently hold career criminals to.”

“Absolutely,” said Nancy.

“Or the president.”

“Right again.”

Suddenly the telephone on her desk rang and Nancy picked it up. “Yes? Yes. Oh, my gosh. Really? Oh my gosh. OK. Thank you so much for sharing that.” She put the receiver back in the cradle and looked sternly at the women in the room. “That was a woman who said Al Frankenstein once did something to make her feel uncomfortable.”

“Oh my God,” gasped Senator Kamala Harris. “What did he do?”

“She didn’t say.”

“Did she leave her name?”

“No, and I didn’t feel it appropriate to ask. But she was pretty darned upset, that’s all I know.” She turned toward Senator Patty Murray. “Patty, get the torches.”

Senator Murray went into the anteroom and brought out an armful of torches and passed them out. Nancy Pelosi lit each one, and when the last was lit, with an assertive wave of her arm yelled, “C’mon girls!”

They headed for Al Frankenstein’s office. There they found him at his desk. He looked up, startled, and then rushed to the window, crashing through it in order to avoid the oncoming menace. The women reversed course and headed back through the Capital Building. Out the door and into the street they went, pursuing Frankenstein into the dark of night with their blazing torches. And as they chased, their menfolk joined them, for the menfolk knew if they did not, there would be no sugar tonight, as the Guess Who song goes. The mob pursued Al all the way to the edge of town, to where the dark forest began. Al ran in, but the mob knew it was neither prudent nor necessary to pursue. “Good riddance,” sneered former Governor of New Hampshire Maggie Hassan, watching Al disappear into the blackness. And they all turned for home.

Al was out of breath and after running blindly through the forest for so long, he lay down on a soft pile of fungus and went to sleep. Had he known it was fungus he probably wouldn’t have gone to sleep there, but it was dark, so.

He awoke in the morning and continued his journey through the forest. All day he travelled, unsure of where he was going and growing more tired as each hour of the journey passed. But then, just as twilight set in, he saw a magnificent treehouse.

“Hello!” he called upward. “Is anyone home?”

And above him on the balcony appeared an enormous elf. He was over six feet tall. He had pointed ears and a funny face, and wore green shoes and red socks. Al had never seen such an extraordinarily large elf before and he was amazed.

“Hello,” said Al. “My name is Al Frankenstein.”

“Hello,” said the enormous elf. “My name is Garrison Keebler.”

“Excuse me for saying so, but you must be a giant among elves.”

“Indeed I am. Tell me, what business do you have here in the forest?”

“I’ve been banished from society,” said Al. “And it’s left me saddened and confused.”

“Yeah, tell me about it.”

Garrison invited Al into his treehouse. As Al came through the door, Garrison felt an urge to make Al feel better by patting him on the back and saying, “Now, now. There, there,” but Garrison had done that once before and gotten really badly burned by it, which was why he was living alone in the woods, and so chose to skip it. But he did make Al some dinner. And after dinner Garrison told Al a story about a faraway village called Lake Wobegon, where life was simple and things generally made sense. Al really liked the story. Then afterward they were both sleepy, especially Al, for it had been an exhausting day.

“You can sleep on the hide-a-bed,” Garrison told Al, as Garrison sauntered off to his treehouse bedroom.

Al appreciated having a nice bed to sleep in, and he found the hide-a-bed extraordinarily comfy. Yet sleep did not come easily that night, for he kept thinking, “How did he get this thing up here?” And it really bothered him.

On the second day, Garrison invited Al to stay a little longer and have dinner again. And so Al did, since he had nowhere to go. And the same thing happened the next day, and the next. And each night Garrison would tell another story about Lake Wobegon, which Al greatly enjoyed. And to reciprocate, Al would tell Garrison about his youthful merry prankster hijinks, which Garrison also enjoyed. And they became the best of friends as time went on. And most of the time they were happy. However, once in a while Garrison would become sullen and depressed. And it was at these times that Garrison would say to Al, “Tell me the story about the fake baby again.” And Al would tell it. And it always cheered Garrison up for some reason.

They were at peace in the woods. They were even at peace with all the animals that lived in the woods with them. They were kind to the animals and the animals returned this kindness by bringing Al and Garrison food and leaving it on their doorstep. Unfortunately it was usually acorns and bugs and bits of horror and so Al and Garrison asked just the bears to be in charge of supplying the food, which pissed off the squirrels, martens, and wolverines, who up to that point had been doing about all the work, and so they kind of got their noses out of joint, and while the bears could supply berries and salmon, they’d go on vacation for five months, so it wasn’t really a sustainable system, which is why living in the woods is not a good idea unless you’re, like, a shark or something. So Garrison and Al started a vegetable garden and learned how to put stuff up, and that worked pretty good.

Then one day,

“Hello! Hello! Is anyone there?”

Al and Garrison were surprised to hear a voice, a woman’s voice at that, calling out from below the treehouse balcony.

“Hello,” said Garrison. “May I help you?”

“Hello,” said the woman. “I’m Andrea Snow-White, former Democratic candidate for the Kansas 3rd Congressional District.”

“What can I do for you, Andrea Snow-White?”

“I’ve been exiled from my society and am looking for shelter.”

“What did you do?”

“I’m not really clear on that. I was in my office this afternoon Googling it in an attempt to find out, when a bunch of people with flaming torches burst into my office and chased me to the edge of town.”

“Why would they have flaming torches in the afternoon?”

“You know, I wondered that too. I don’t know. Maybe they were going to burn me at the stake.”

“That’s possible. Come on up.”

Andrea Snow-White was so grateful that the giant elf gave her shelter, that she made dinner for both he and Al Frankenstein. And both men very much appreciated it, as Al couldn’t cook at all and all Garrison was good at was baking cookies.

The men fashioned a hammock out on one of the tree limbs that night so Andrea would have a place to sleep. Al offered her his hide-a-bed and said he would sleep in the hammock, but Andrea declined, saying she didn’t want special consideration just because she was a woman.

The following night Andrea made dinner for everyone again, for she had been invited to stay a little longer. And the same happened the next night and the next. And along with making dinner each night, Andrea Snow-White would routinely encourage the two others to pick up their dirty laundry and place it in the hamper so that one of the two males would find it more convenient when they were doing their laundry since she was not going to do it for them.

And that was fine. And–curiously–within a couple weeks Al noticed that Garrison’s occasional brooding had ceased, and Garrison no longer asked Al to tell him the fake baby story. Even though Al liked telling the fake baby story, it pleased him that Garrison no longer needed to hear it. And as time passed the friendship between the three of them grew ever more strong. And for all the time they were together, not one of them ever–ever–expressed a desire to return to society. For they knew–deep, deep in their hearts–that society is run by idiots. The End.  

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