Now, TrueTom sailed off from the Theopenisian Wars with his shipgroup. How he missed his home! Would his loyal mutt Rookin—how old must he be now?—still recognize him? TrueTom pictured him on the dungheap, same as when he was a pup, perhaps reading Dilbert and wearing his cowboy hat.
More wrenchingly, Truetom longed for his noble wife, fending for herself these many years. Probably the malcontents were making plenty of trouble for her, trying to draw her into their wicked beds. He’d kick their rear ends sure enough.
“Gather around, men!” Truetom hollered to his shipmates. “We all long for our homes but there are yet perilous seas ahead. Like this island coming up where voluptuous sirens descend and sing so tantalizingly that it is said no man can hear them and not go mad! I’m half there already, so what’s another exposure? But I want to protect you from these femme fatales, even as I check them out for myself.”
TrueTom’s men hearkened to this new light but mused whether their peerless leader could really withstand the wiles of these knock-out babes. Tom announced his plan of action. “I want you guys to put blinders on and stuff your ears with this tincture of molasses and tar. But me—bind me securely to the masthead. And—this is important, men—no matter how much I plead, DO NOT release my bonds!”
Now, you know how guys like to improvise—improve on a good idea. The men responded that the most effective bond of all would be for them to threaten shunning if their captain misbehaved—shunning to continue until he resumed behaving! At first, Tom was aghast that they could propose anything so cruel as shunning. However, in view of the dire risks he agreed to this harshest of all bonds.
“Are you ready, men?” Truetom shouted as they neared the dangerous island. The men, their ears oozing with molasses and tar, made no reply. Truetom praised them inwardly for their obedience. With blinders on and ears plugged, they pulled ahead lustfully, Tom bonded to the mast under threat of shunning.
Women curvaceous beyond anyone’s wildest dreams soon descended upon the boat. They swirled around the masthead, singing their maddenly sweet songs. “Go to college—make a great name for yourself!” one of them cooed. “Do your own thing! be happy,” another crooned, followed by such tantalizing lyrics as “Take it easy,” “have this here cigarette—live it up!, Here, let me pour you some strong drink.” “Why so serious?” cried another. “It’s not so baaaaad.”
Shucks, said TrueTom to himself. This is nothing! It’s like when you click on that cautionary Twitter link expecting a real zinger ahead and it turns out to be pure dullsville. I stopped up the guys’ ears for this?
However, a second wave approached. The first had been but a decoy! Those first hussies headed back to their island, discouraged that their songs had so little impact, but now the ‘bad cop’ floozies swooped down en masse!
“You guys are a cult!” sang one. “Your CSA policy stinks,” bellowed another. “What about that guy in Colorado who shot his wife?” wailed a third.
Suddenly Truetom was overcome. “Get me out of here!” he pleaded to his men. “Release me—I can’t take it!” But his men rowed on as though passing Giligan’s Island, blinders in place, molasses and tar doing their evil work. They could not hear his impassioned cry! Tom struggled in vain to escape his cruel bonds but was held fast in place. He didn’t want to be shunned!
(Photo: Ulysses and the Sirens by H.J. Draper—Wikimedia)
The magical women gave no letup. “Tony bought some booze!” shrieked another siren! “Rolf says you suck—and he’s been to university!” tormented yet another. On and on the unspeakable torture went. Truetom gnashed his teeth, his heart ablaze as though he had taken 1000 Covid boosters. He tore in vain against his bonds but there was no escape. At last he collapsed, exhausted. The women, seeing they had not swayed him, went off to search for some other sucker.
Far from the island, Tom’s men released him, promising not to shun him even if he did misbehave. Thereafter, Truetom’s stature became legendary, as the man who had withstood and lived to tell all the brazen spiritual hussies had to dish out.
****** The bookstore