Chapter Eight: Who's Your Daddy
She'll always be daddy's girl, even if he's batshit crazy
Last time in Lake Nipples…
The door opened with a violent noise, and in rushed Tom, a look of panic spread across his face. The fact that Esmerelda was lying naked on a table, drenched in chocolate, and in the arms of a strange man didn’t faze him at all — his eyes were empty, his skin as white as the vanilla bean frosting concealed in her buttcrack.
“We’ve been looking for you everywhere,” said Tom, his voice trembling. “Something’s happened to your father.”
Before Tom had a chance to explain further, Esmerelda leapt from the table and grabbed her dress from the floor, dashing out of the kitchen barefoot and naked, with a thick coating of chocolate to protect her modesty. Tom ran after her, as the stranger slipped out of the room and escaped unseen through the back door.
And now… back to our story!
Esmerelda ran out of the Flamingo Breeze Yacht Club and paused in the pouring rain to wash the chocolate off her half-dressed body, pulling up her bridesmaids dress and zipping it up over her jelly-coated cans.
“WHERE’S MY FATHER!” she screamed at Tom, her normally timid voice straining to drown out the thunder.
“Get in the car!” he shouted, pointing to a town car parked at the valet station. “I’ll tell you on the way!”
She slid into the backseat with Tom right behind her, doing her best to keep herself composed and failing miserably. Even though she never came back to visit, she spoke to her father every single day — partially because she loved him madly, and partially to make sure he was staying tethered to reality. This was not the first time she’d been told something had happened to him, but the look in Tom’s eyes told her that this time was different. Her father was a good man, but couldn’t help what life had turned him into. Perhaps fate would have been kinder had he never become a Poppingcorn.
“What happened? Please tell me he’s okay” said Esmerelda while choking back tears, her body still barely under her control after her rainbow sprinkled sexcapade.
“Don’t worry, he’s not dead,” said Tom. “Not yet, anyway.”
Her voice broke again as her body began to tremble in the not-sexy way. “Are we going to make it to the hospital in time? Is he…”
“We’re not going to the hospital,” said Tom. “We’re going to Uranus Industries.”
Burtholemew Ortolan met Delores Poppingcorn during a convenience store robbery when they were both only 24 years old — he was a timid ornithology graduate student who’d gone out to grab a Fresca, she was the badass cop who disarmed the gun-toting bandit with a roundhouse kick to the face. He fell in love with her instantly, but was too weak of a man to say anything. Fortunately for Burt, Delores Poppingcorn was not a woman that fucked around. When she saw that ghost-white slab of man meat hiding beneath the chili-cheese machine, she knew she’d found the guy for her.
They seemed an odd pairing, but it was their complete incompatibility that made the relationship work — Delores was a smooth-talking hot shot cop with big plans and an even bigger attitude, while Burt was a meek doctoral candidate who preferred to be alone with his birds and bird-related activities. They held each other up while staying out of each other’s way, supporting each other's dreams while building new ones together. They were perfect for each other… until they weren’t.
Even though Oprah Poppingcorn’s death was ruled not to be suspicious, Delores was unable to shake the feeling that there was more to her mother’s death than met the eye. She’d spent every day of her life in Lake Nipples, and in that time only two other people had been found eaten by bears, and both of them deserved it. But her mother? A saintly woman who raised three children on her own after their father skipped town without so much as a word; who worked overtime every night at the Flamingo Breeze Yacht Club to make ends meet; who would sometimes not come home til the wee hours of the morning because she’d been working so hard? What had she done to deserve her blood-and-honey glazed fate?
When Delores quit the LNPD shortly after her mother’s mysterious death, she had failed to take into account that, outside of ornithology, Burt had no applicable skills and a considerable amount of student loan debt. (Bird college is expensive.) With no career prospects in sight, Burt accepted a low-wage job at a local NFT factory owned by Uranus industries. He was smart enough to work his way to foreman, but socially inept enough not to climb any further.
Burt never made enough money to give his family the life he thought they deserved, but he made enough so that Delores could search for her mother’s killer outside of the law, Esmerelda could recover from her ham trauma at Catholic school, and he could keep a small aviary in the attic of their decaying Victorian house. It wasn’t much, but being a simple man, it was more than enough to make him happy. But then, on a dark September morning 16 years ago, tragedy struck the Poppingcorn family once again when there was an explosion at the NFT factory and Burt’s dick fell off.
Dive headfirst into the titillating waters of Lake Nipples. What’s the worst that could happen?
Burt had no memory of what happened on that fateful day, but he knew that he was lucky that he walked away from the accident, even if his dick didn’t. Dozens of his coworkers were maimed and killed — some of their bodies burned so badly, they were unidentifiable. He should have been grateful, but when a man’s dick falls off, a lot of other stuff falls out of the hole left behind. His spirit. His dignity. His will to live.
After months of intense physical therapy, Burt returned to work at the NFT factory, spending every minute of his days in paralyzing terror, worried that the factory might claim his balls next. To calm his nerves, he began carrying a flask of Blue Curaçao inside of his jumpsuit — he only had a few nips here and there to start, just enough to steady his hands. But as things always go with Blue Curaçao, a few nips turned into bigger nips, and soon, poor Burt’s life became nothing but nips.
Within weeks Burt was fired for gross incompetence, having drunkenly contaminated a freshly-minted batch of NFTs with enriched uranium. Sadly, this extraordinary lapse in judgment happened but only one week before he would have qualified for his pension, leaving the Poppingcorns penniless, and forcing Delores to abandon her pursuit for justice to care for her broken, dickless husband. She took a job as a security guard at Muffins Memorial Hospital to keep the lights on, while Burt sat in the attic tending to his birds and fading away.
The day after Esmerelda left Lake Nipples for good was the day her dad’s dick fell off, and she didn’t go home. After the Hammening she had counted off every day until her 18th birthday, when she’d get on a plane to anywhere and never return. Though Lake Nipples was a place of tremendous wealth, power, and intrigue, it was small enough of a town to make you suffer; small enough to crush the life out of you before you’d even begun to live it.
It devastated her to know that her dad’s dick fell off, but she could not let Lake Nipples steal her dreams of becoming one of the top five OSHA inspectors in the country, just like it stole the dreams of every Poppingcorn for four generations. She didn’t know if her family had been cursed, or if it was the town itself, but she knew if she went back, she’d never be able to leave.
It had been 15 years since the accident, and Esmerelda’s success confirmed she’d made the right decision, no matter how cold it may have seemed. Burt and Delores were in their own little world, but they were fine. There was no reason for them to imprison their daughter inside of it; to expect her to throw her life away on account of one measly explosion that killed 43 people and destroyed 17 dicks. Besides, what would she have done if she was there? They may have been broken people, but they were still able to take care of themselves. And yet, as she stared out the window while the town car sped down Asscheeks Drive, she couldn’t help but wonder if her hotshot OSHA inspector career was worth all the missed days she could have spent with her father.
When Esmerelda saw the red lights ahead she assumed they were ambulances, but as they drew closer, she realized that the full force of the LNPD had the NFT factory surrounded, and that they had their guns drawn.
“Why didn’t you tell me about any of this while we were driving!” Esmerelda screamed at Tom.
“I did, but you weren’t paying attention,” said Tom. He was right. Esmerelda tended to tune the rest of the world out whenever she stared wistfully out of windows, remembering all the scandals and tragedy of yore.
“Esme, I wish I could say this in a way that made sense, but I can’t. All I know is that your father is standing naked on the roof of Uranus Industries surrounded by six-to-seven hundred birds and screaming something about ‘finding the truth.’”
Her blood went cold. She’d expected something like this to happen, but prayed it never would.
“If you can’t talk him down,” he said, “they’ll shoot him down.”
“What do you mean they’ll shoot him down!” she cried. “You’re Uranus’ Executive Vice President of Classified Projects! Can’t you do something?!?”
“I tried to talk them out of it, I swear I did!” Tom responded, grabbing her firmly by her shoulders and staring into her bloodshot eyes. “I’d never let anything happen to you, and you have no idea of the things I’ve done to protect you. But the truth is there’s some very valuable NFTs in that building, and I’m not the one calling the shots.”
Seething, she tried to pull herself from Tom’s grasp. “Some executive vice president you are,” she spat. “Big enough to to have a superyacht, but not big enough to save my father and his birds from being murdered to death.”
“He has a lot of birds, Esmerelda,” Tom shot back, grabbing her even tighter — tight in a way that terrified her, despite the fact she knew he had a massive dong. “This is bigger than you, or me, or the office of Executive Vice President.”
She jumped out of the car and started running towards the NFT factory, straining to see anything through the pouring rain. Suddenly, three black helicopters appeared in the sky, pointing bright white spotlights at the roof, illuminating Burt Poppingcorn and his legion of birds for all to see.
“NO FUTURE TODAY!” the madman laughed at the thunderstruck heavens. “NO FUTURE TOMORROW! I SEE GOD… MOTHER OWL!”