The Moment of Truth — April 21, 2006

The Return of Terry’s Veggies

Welcome to the Moment of Truth, in the spirit of whoever first took the forgotten cheese out of the cave, saw it was speckled with blue mold, dared to taste it anyway, and liked it enough to get her friends to try it.

Where did Terry Schiavo’s brain go? Now we know. Or at least I do.

A certain number of years ago—the actual number is shrouded in mystery—two men became so afraid of mortality that they would do anything to cheat it. This is the story of those two men. Two men whose fear of dying was so strong it drove them to seek power—bureaucratic, social, and political power—and when those powers did not suffice, could not protect them, did not assuage their inner terror, they sought control of no less fundamental toggle than the on/off switch of life and death.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist was born prematurely in a small village in the Carpathian Mountains. A frail Republican infant weighing less than four pounds, he was nurtured not by his mother, who had died giving birth to him, but by an old Romani wetnurse who looked and talked like Maria Ouspenskaya in “The Wolfman.” His childhood transpired in the latter half of the Sixteenth Century, during the last years of the bloody reign of Prince Vlad Tepes, known as The Impaler, also called Dracula, or Son of the Devil. Frist no doubt learned to dread the night—and its eternal counterpart—from superstitious peasants’ tales, and from reports, both actual and exaggerated, of the vile deeds of Vlad the Impaler.

Frist learned medicinal arts at the knee of his wetnurse. He achieved the rank of Weirding Woman at the age of eighty-one (he failed herbal midwifery six decades in a row—his academic record shows he couldn’t keep track of his sprigs). His thirst for immortality drove him on. Somewhere, somehow, he learned to transfer his own aging process to paintings. Though the legend of Bill Frist was one of the sources for Oscar Wilde’s tale, “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” Frist did not limit himself to transferring his corruption to a portrait of himself, nor to any single painting, nor even to paintings of human beings, nor even to paintings of organic material; Frist spread the decrepitude meant for him among many artworks, including a painting of an empty room by Edward Hopper, of which scholars have remarked that the direction of the afternoon sunlight in the tableau seems to have shifted over the years by about half an hour toward evening, and that the room appears to be about a half-hour dustier. Also, Michelangelo’s David has lost some of the definition in his abs. But Frist was not content with just one method of staving off the Reaper; simultaneous with his Dorian Gray powers, he was developing the ability to drain the life force from other human beings. By the late twentieth century he had learned to leech the vital essence out of children by posing for pictures with them. He’d found his calling, his special skill in manipulating living energy through visual media, and developed that skill to mastery. Eventually he could leech the life out of a person simply by looking at his or her photograph.

Former Governor of Illinois George Ryan was born, a seven-pound, nine-ounce Republican, in Persia in the Seventeenth Century. Son of a Castilian Muslim mystical poet, Ryan spent his early years studying esoteric texts in Sanskrit, Arabic, Persian, Chinese, Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. By the age of five he could recite the entire Necronomicon by heart. It was, no doubt, from that sinister text, and others like it, that he derived his morbid terrors.

Though steeped in multiple mysticisms, Ryan’s attempts to extend his material existence were a good deal more hands-on that those of Frist. While Frist trafficked in intangible life-essences transmitted through the luminiferous aether, Ryan’s early experiments involved bathing in the blood of virgins. The practical difficulties of such a method were most likely what pushed him into politics. His pattern of using his political offices as cover for or means to slake his thanatophobia has recently become a matter for the courts, but there’s no reason to believe the date of its advent couldn’t be fixed many years earlier. During Ryan’s two-hundred-year tenure as Asia Minor’s Recorder of Deeds, periodic waves of virgin-disappearances plagued the region, so much so that, during that period, Asia Minor became one of the few places on Earth where losing one’s virginity by the age of nine was kind of quietly encouraged. Exactly how nine-year-old Asia Minors went about getting laid remains, thankfully, a historical enigma. It gives me the willies, frankly. In fact, thinking about the cure is worse than thinking about the disease, in my opinion. The whole thing is perverted and disgusting. But that’s George Ryan for you.

As Ryan trod his ghastly path into more modern times, however, the virgin bloodbath proved a difficult practice to maintain. It was during the early Nineteenth Century that Ryan hit upon the “guild memberships for vital organs” barter scheme, which he reworked in various guises in a variety of municipalities over the globe. The licenses-for-bribes-and-organs scandal behind the benign façade of Ryan’s term as Illinois’ Secretary of State is only the most recent manifestation of his modus operandi. Ryan created a publicity campaign urging driver’s licensees to fill out the backs of their licenses so as to indicate their desire to donate their organs should they come to a bad end; at the same time he arranged for his office to sell trucking licenses to unqualified applicants in return for contributions to Ryan’s campaign coffers. When the incompetent truck drivers caused the deaths of unsuspecting organ-donating citizens, the organs harvested were not given to medical schools to further scientific study, nor to hospitals to save the lives of the ill. No, the organs were swiftly spirited away to Ryan himself, whereupon he would open his own flesh and secret the organs under his own skin, within his paunches and pouches. His jowls alone housed as many as eight kidneys at a time. And the life-giving organ juices he absorbed from them availed him a hedge against the Dark Angel.

It was fate and fate alone that brought Frist and Ryan, the two ghouls, into United States politics at the same moment in history, fate and only fate that brought them both to the Republican Party, and fate and nothing else that brought their destinies to converge and intersect at the very cranium of Terry Shiavo, the world’s most famous vegetable aside from Mr. Potatohead, Carrot Top, and Sean Hannity.

[Send your own suggestions for position number three in that series to Speaking of which, did you know Britney Spears’s middle name is Asparagus? Anyway, the best suggestions will be judged by a small committee and then voted on by readers of the Moment of Truth and listeners to This Is Hell. The top suggestion maker will receive a prize valued at well below twenty bucks, but it will be vegetable-themed.]

Frist and Ryan both are known to have advocated policies conducive to their sickening fetish. Frist has been known to associate with the so-called Pro Life movement. This is a movement whose main goal is to display images of fetuses, living and dead. Frist absorbs much of the photographic life essence he craves from these very images, mainly from ultrasound images, which are especially well-suited to his purpose because of something about the waves, or something. Interestingly, though, for a Pro Life associate, Frist is not against embryonic tissue stem cell research. The reason is obvious—the life of an otherwise wasted embryo is extended, and of course there are cool pictures and videos of the stuff, and electron microscope images, which are, again, particularly well-suited, for some reason, like something about subatomic something-or-other, maybe.

Ryan, of course, is famous for commuting all the death sentences of the prisoners on Illinois’ Death Row. Again, the reason is obvious: the longer the prisoners live, the more likely they are to be killed in a traffic accident involving some incompetent truck diver Ryan sold a license to, and thus the more likely they are to be a source for Ryan’s subcutaneous horde of organs.

The question is: which of these ghoulish creatures of the night stole Terry Schiavo’s brain right out of her head?

Frist is the obvious suspect. He publicly admitted to examining a brief video of Terry. There is little doubt that during said examination he began sucking out her vitality under the guise of forming a diagnosis, which is ridiculous on its face. In a way, it was the perfect crime. Everyone expected her to die anyway, so who would be the wiser? It was like getting away with murder in broad daylight on international TV. It may even be that Terry Schiavo would still be alive today if someone could have prevented Frist from seeing an image of her. Like maybe if her stupid family hadn’t turned her into the media circus poster child of the year.

However, that still doesn’t explain what happened to her brain. Frist may be a life-force-leeching Dorian Gray mandarin, but he couldn’t have stolen her brain via the medium in question. In spite of all the weird things I’ve asked you to accept thus far, trust me, you can’t steal someone’s brain via video. Yet the fact remains that when Terry Schiavo went into her coma she had a brain, but at the end of her life all they could find in her braincase was a half cup of sticky porridge, like half-digested peanut brittle mixed with polenta and molasses. Who made the switch?

I can’t divulge my sources, but I have strong corroboration for the following scenario: Governor of Florida Jeb Bush, using his gubernatorial skeleton key that opens every lock in the state, snuck into Terry’s hospital room, removed her brain, and put the gruel in its place. The brain was soon thereafter rendered to Ryan as part of an agreement which involved Ryan giving Jeb something called a “choad massage.” I’m not sure what that is, but it’s a term of art often found in contracts and letters of agreement between Republicans whenever one party is to receive an amount of human flesh in excess of half a pound.

The sad thing is that, even though Ryan’s licenses-for-bribes-and-organs scheme has been thoroughly investigated, the main evidence of the Schiavo brain theft is most likely gone by now. Ryan surely made it a priority to digest her brain as quickly as possible. And even the porridge it was replaced with has disappeared. My sources assert that Jeb Bush had a reaction to the drug Ambien and, in the middle of the night, wandered back to the hospital and ate the porridge out of Terry’s skull. Really, it’s an actual side effect of Ambien, it’s called Sleep Eating, you can look it up.

What’s horrible is that George Ryan will never face the death penalty even if his theft of Terry’s brain is proven in a court of law, thanks to the very moratorium on executions he himself imposed on the state of Illinois. Coincidence? Serendipity? Luck? Happenstance? Synchronicity? Or do you want to go back to luck? But let’s be realistic, it’s not any of those things. This is a guy who’s over three hundred years old. You don’t get that old just by being lucky.

Listen, do send your nominees for third-most-famous vegetable to

This has been the Moment of Truth. Good day!