November had arrived and there was yet another delay. The filming of Yule Log Humbuggery was far from over and the deadline was approaching fast. They were a hand short and that put production at a standstill.
This time, it wasn’t Dick who was a no show. He had taken Oscar’s words to heart and was easing up on his consumption of boner blow. This allowed him to get a good night’s sleep more often than not, which in turn had a beneficial effect on his punctuality.
It was Felix Pynchon who was absent. At first, it was assumed he was off sending mail from one of the other Boroughs. Dispatches from Pynchon-Lohff to the future were done via coded letters to Penthouse. There was an operative at the magazine to ensure they got published, but it would have looked suspicious if a series of accepted letters all bore the same postmark.
It eventually got late enough for Felix to have made a round trip to the far end of Staten Island. He did mention meetings with a potential investor so maybe that was it.
Oscar, Dick, and Rhea decided to make the best of it. There were some post-production reshoots planned to make a version of the movie without the shit. Apparently, there was a substantial market of people who preferred their pornography excrement free. Go figure.
They decided to reshoot some of the Nancy scenes. Nancy, being dead, was unavailable so Rhea donned a blonde wig and filled in. They were roughly the same height (Nancy was five-one, Rhea five-two), but that was where the similarity ended. Rhea was filmed with her face turned away, but that didn’t make it a lot more convincing because Rhea had the physique of an aerialist and Nancy had the physique of a junkie.
Felix finally walked in the door. He was carrying a canvas bag that looked quite heavy.
“Stop production. I have something important to tell you all,” he said.
“We haven’t started production today,” Oscar said.
“Why not?” Felix asked.
“Well, maybe it’s because you’re the Ghost of Christmas Present and you are, you know, not present,” Oscar said.
“Fair enough, but you are going to like what I have to say. I think our money woes will soon be over. It would be nice if HQ would bankroll us like they do every other operation, but I suppose they don’t want a money trail if we get popped for peddling shit porn or heroin. Like it or not, we have to be self-sufficient.”
“So this investor isn’t one of us,” Rhea said.
“Oh no, he’s an older gentleman named Wolfgang Gerhard who wants us to make a movie for him down in South America.”
“A German. Well, that makes sense. The Germans do like their shit porn,” Dick said.
“So how long has this Wolfgang guy been living in South America?” Oscar said.
“Thirty three years, give or take.”
“Oh shit, he’s a Nazi,” Rhea said after taking a moment to do the math. “That’s hilarious.”
“Ex-Nazi,” Felix said.
“And I’m assuming Wolfgang Gerhard isn’t his real name,” Oscar said.
“If you must know, it’s Josef Mengele. I know what you’re thinking. Maybe we shouldn’t be going into business people with people wanted by the Mossad and who knows who else. It’s actually a pretty sweet deal. We take his money and make the picture. When it comes out, we keep all the profits because he’ll be dead three months from now.”
“Do you want me to kill him?” Rhea asked.
“There’s no need. This coming February, Mengele will suffer a massive stroke while swimming and drown. His death will be kept a secret for six years so his next of kin won’t be inheriting dick. Now help me get this telecom equipment set up. We have a conference call scheduled with Herr Doktor.”
Felix unzipped the bag and was met by giggles as he hauled out a bunch of primitive speakers, a dialer, cables and whatnot. At least the dialer was touch-tone rather than rotary.
“Need I remind you this is 1978? You’re not going to be talking to any holograms today,” he explained.
After it was all set up, he dialed the number. A hiss came from the speaker and did not stop when the connection was established.
“Alo,” said the voice on the line.
“Com licença você fala inglês?” said Felix.
“Yes, a little.”
“This is Felix Pynchon of Pynchon-Lohff Productions. I would like to speak with Mr. Gerhard.”
The voice said to please hold and the line went quiet except for the hiss for five solid minutes. Then an old man’s voice with a German accent came on the line.
“Wolfgang baby, how’s it hanging?”
“It hangs good, danke.”
“Hey, I got the whole team with me. Why don’t you lay down your movie idea so we can figure out how to make it happen?”
“Very well. I want to make a movie called Constipation Camp and need you to handle the production and supply the necessary excrement. Ach, you may ask, why would we need excrement in movie about constipation? I will explain the plot. Filthy Untermenschen fornicate in their own Scheisse so they are sent to a camp where the brave doctor uses superior medical science to try to constipate them. Unfortunately, they continue to fornicate in their own Scheisse so he is forced to exterminate them all. It is good cinema!”
“Wolfgang, I couldn’t agree more,” Felix said. “We may be a small organization, but I guarantee you we can deliver excrement in the quantity you desire anywhere on the planet. As for the actor to play the doctor, you could do a lot worse than our resident star, Dick Spitz.”
“Spitz? That sounds Jewish.”
“Perish the thought, Wolfgang. Dick’s a fine German-American. In fact, he’s sitting here eating pork schnitzel even as we speak.”
“Nom nom nom,” said Dick.
“OK, it is a deal then. I will contact you with further details and I hope we can begin filming next month.”
The call ended and there was a great high fiving all around. Oscar did bring up one possible sticking point. Assembling the cast to play the camp inmates and flying them down to Brazil with the necessary work permits was going to be quite an undertaking. Not a problem, said Felix. Filming was going to happen up north in Guyana where Mengele had found a group of Americans willing to play the inmates. They had no outstanding visa issues and as an added bonus, they all spoke English.
Filming for Yule Log Humbuggery continued the following day. Felix, buoyed by the South American deal, gave his portrayal of the Ghost of Christmas Present the high spirits it deserved and he sounded downright convincing as he showed Ebenezer the merits of loosening up and having a good time.
His performance was not the only one that was in top form. Tiny Quim’s bar-wench bustier with a tartan schoolgirl skirt might not have been historically accurate for an impoverished child in Victorian England, but her defecation athleticism more than made up for it. Lying on the floor with her legs pulled back so her feet were against her ears, she launched a mud scud that flew for nearly a foot before hitting the floor and skidding to a stop. Looking on, her father Bob Crotch-shit played by Oscar hiked up his Tweedledee pants and playfully fingered his gunt crease. Lastly, Ebenezer looked suitably anxious as he stared through the window like a peeping Tom. This was because he really was anxious. Who wouldn’t be standing out on a sixth-floor fire escape wearing nothing by a nightshirt and cap as a cold November wind swept down from the north?
All in all, it was a perfect day. Like most perfect days, it carried no guarantee that those days would continue.
The seed for disaster had been planted earlier that year. It came in the form of a small piece of future poo that failed materialize over the Bermuda Triangle in 1984 and was bounced nearly years off course. It was no larger than a walnut, but when it materialized inside a man’s cranium, it drove him insane. The man was the leader of the people who were slated to play the inmates in the South American project. His name was Jim Jones.
On November 18, he snapped completely. He and over 900 of his followers committed suicide. Constipation Camp had no campers so Mengele pulled out and the deal was dead, the last casualty of Jonestown.
Felix delivered the bad news to the team and asked if they wanted to take the day off to mourn. Everyone kind of wanted to, but they all said they should keep going. The days ahead seemed a lot less rosy, but it was the here and now that mattered. They had a movie to finish. They would soldier on.
Felix and Dick stood in front of the gray tarp for the last scene of the “Christmas Present” segment.
“And what will become of Tiny Quim?” Ebenezer asked.
“Are there no women’s prisons? Are there no whorehouses?” the ghost said. “My time here is short. I look ahead and see a crutch that has broken because it can no longer hold the weight of a cute, young girl who has grown old and fat.”
Ebenezer, quite off script, began to cry.