Okay, so I’m not sure you’re ready for the real story of the bullet holes, but I’m gonna tell you.
It starts where any good story does: CHILI.
Yup, it was the Mayfair Annual Chili Cook-off Competition at the Mayfair Fairgrounds. People from all around the states were dragging their Dutch ovens*, sure that they would all have the blue ribbon first place winning chili dish.
(*the ones with actual chili in them, rather than the ones their oldest child would do to their younger children when they were forced to sleep two-to-a-bed, when they would laugh and giggle heartily as their younger siblings suffocated in hellacious overwhelming methane attacks of cruel farting older brothers – that’s a whole other kettle of fish).
See, the Mayfair Annual Chili Cook-off was the competition to kick off summer. As it was touted on the promo posters, it would be an explosively fun time!
The chili had strict rules that it had to adhere to, and the judges were carefully privately selected each year to ensure no tampering with, extorting, blackmailing, and outright bribery to win. Not since the Fiasco of ’47 did they think about doing things differently. All five judges had been bought by each of the competitors, and six competitors alone started a brawl when they realized they had all paid off the same judge for his vote.
After that, it was left up to the folks at the retirement centre, to choose five new judges for the contest each year. (Little did the folks know, that these were not randomly chosen, but again, different kettle, different fish.)
The chili was to be graded and judged and evaluated on six specific criteria:
Use of Ingredients: If it’s vegetarian, are they trying to put some cow in there?
Heat: oooh yeah, spicccccccceeeeaaay!
Flavour: Are you bringing the heat but no flavour? #CerseiShame
Scent: Does it make you scowl or salivate?
Presentation/Theme: Did you serve it in a clean boot this year?
And finally – After Burn: Do the judges need to stick their head in a trough, or is the burn sufficient enough to enjoy without tears?
Now, there are several rounds where the contestants go head-to-head for special categories. You can’t judge one chili that is a dessert against an international fusion one in the first round! Each type (appetizer, starter, entre, main, side, pre-dessert, dessert, post-dessert, and sampler are the starting identifiers) has rounds to reduce them to four remaining contestants.
Finally, it was down to just four:
Billy-Bob-Jo Johnson, with his Meat Pleasers and Teasers favourite contender of the burly bunch of bison ranchers – he had received the blue ribbon four times;
Sissy Darlington, the Queen of Dessert Chili, three time blue ribbon holder, and twice voted “Most Likely to Charm” by the folks of Sweetwater, where she serves her sweet chili treats daily from her Sweet Chili Heat Shoppe;
Francine O’Reminn, the Cajun Creole Countess deChili – current international fusion favourite, nine time blue ribbon holder (including the last two years), and official spokeslady for Creole Confederation of Cheeky Chili Chics;
And last, but certainly not least, a newcomer to the stage, 12 year old Pippers LaBelle, who had shocked the older competitors, instantly stole the hearts of the spectators, and was a sure contender for the final round of chili cooking.
The rules for the final round were simple.
No more than ten ingredients (not including salt, pepper, water, and other basic things), each competitor has to choose 4 ingredients for themselves, and two ingredients for each other competitor; and all ingredients must be used.
Three hours to perfect their new chili for the judges, and they were led, blindfolded to their workstations.
On the count of 3-2-1-go! They were off, opening their baskets of glee and disgust and growling at one another, as they raced to find a way to incorporate things like eggshells, orange flavoured protein powder, onion peels, and tripe.
They boiled. Reduced. They ground and pulverized and mashed and chopped and minced. They simmered, and Billy-Bob-Jo Johnson was heard near the 2:45 mark to yell out for Crowley to come make a deal with him at the Crossroads, when he didn’t think the oatmeal raisin cookies were still overpowering his chili.
“10…9…8…” The head judge yelled, and each audience member helped them count to “1”.
Four bowls were presented to each of the five judges. One chili was refused instantly, as it was making a hideously savage sound, as the Pop Rocks began to mix with the warm chili.
The judges took bites, some repulsed, other mere timid licks, trying to desperately hope that what the competition had created was not repugnant, but rather palatable.
Two bowls stood nearly full: the one with the Pop Rocks, and the one with the chocolate sauce poured on top but the chunks of ghost pepper clearly sticking up like tiny monoliths in the dense chili. One bowl was significantly eaten from. On judge, forgetting their couth in the frenzy of the moment, licked her bowl clean, unabashedly smiling to the crowd as they roared with laughter at her youthful antics.
There was no need to deliberate for the blue ribbon winner this year. The crowd cheered raucously as Pippers LaBelle came striding confidently onto the platform stopping beside the announcement podium and the head judge, receiving her first (of many) blue ribbons for her ingenious use of kale, butter, rosemary, ghost peppers, red kidney beans, pimento pieces, capers, peppered steak, raspberry jam, and sweet mixed pickles.
While Pippers was waving for her publicity shot, a fearful scream rented the air. Someone had stolen the huge vat of chili she made! Everyone tried to race after the chili thief, but he jumped in his truck with the pot beside him, yelling “Yippee! More chili for me!”
Sadly, the after-after burn didn’t kick in until he had crossed the State line, and had eaten a massive portion of the pot. The gurgle in his stomach was angry at him that he had stuffed his face with so much chili, without a care for his lower GI system’s ability to hold or process that much ghost pepper heat in one day.
He made it to a rest area, but alas, both washrooms were closed for repairs, and as it was a weekend and the sun was long since gone down beyond the horizon, he knew there would be no way to unlock those doors. Boy howdy, did he yell at the clouds for that bit of unfortunate luck.
Crossing his legs, he made his way back to his truck, gingerly climbing in and setting his backside on the seat.
He really needed to find a rest area soon. He pulled out his map, cursing himself for driving off in the direction of nowhere, realizing he was at least 20 miles from the nearest town.
Back on the road, his stomach was angry with him for sure. He broke out in a sweat, and he chanced scowls at the vat of chili beside him; his beautifully tasting nemesis.
He saw a construction site, in a new development area, across the median on the opposite side of the highway. He forgot all his safety in lieu of his angry backside, which was threatening to volcano any moment in his truck. The most glorious thing he ever saw in his life was closing in on his advancing truck: a porta potty. He drove across the orange plastic fencing easily, spun his truck around, and opened the driver’s side door, close enough he would have to only hop out and open and get inside.
But his grandpappy had always said snakes and gators were waitin’ in the holes, so you always take your gun with you.
He groaned heavily, leaning across his seat, opened his glove compartment and pulled out his six-shooter. As he brought himself back out of the truck again, a fear ripped through him: what if the porta potty was locked? He didn’t care at that point, he would just have to go beside the pot if he couldn’t get inside.
Even still, sweat pouring down his face, his stomach lurching and screaming at him with each tiny movement, his grandpappy’s words echoed in his ear, “You don’t want critters to bite your bum or other bits!” He opened the door as cautiously as he could, and scanned around, gun at the ready.
Safety off, he spun his body around, unhitched his britches, and barely touched his backside to the hard plastic seat when the molten chili escaped him finally.
The smell. Oh the smell. Flashes of happier moments in his life flashed before his eyes, and he cried tears of agony and relief and apology to his overwrought rectal cavity, and to his poor, poor stomach.
Every time he thought he was done, a new reign of hell would pour from him, and he was sure that he had turned all his internal organs to lava. A forcefully painfully long fart ripped through his body, while round eight of his explosive expulsions seemed to tear his lower portion of his body in half.
And then the mini farts came, like a tommy-gun in a shoot-up movie. Ratt-tatt-tatt-tatt-tatt and each was an earthquake of pain and not even realizing it, he was shooting his pistol off with each one. All six bullets were fired and had bounced around the porta potty, barely missing him each time.
An hour and a half after he sat down, he was spent. He may have blacked out for awhile, he wasn’t sure. He dragged his exhausted body outside, pants around his ankles still, and dropped his ass in a wheelbarrow full of water. “Ahhhhhhh” he said quite loudly, as the cool water kissed his battered backside. He slept for a couple of hours in that wheelbarrow, woke up completely disoriented and needing to see the porta potty again. Once he had cleaned up, he drove himself to the closest town’s hospital, and checked into emergency, begging not to be told to sit down.
He survived, and when he had fully recovered, had sent an incredible apology note of full remorse to Pippers LaBelle, begging her forgiveness, and had definitely learned his lesson. He never ate chili again, and the sight of even a green pepper would make him break out in a cold sweat.
Moral of the story: It’s shitty to steal.
*this was part of a fun little competition from one of the members of the Geeky Creative Journey – she asked for some stories about why a porta potty had bullet holes*