tagHumor & SatireThe Ubiquitous Carpet

The Ubiquitous Carpet


The infamous Oriental Rug of Al-Kroli was the final ill-fated creation of the hoary, hydrophobic Arab, Al-Kroli of Bhala-Kalava, whose madness had been caused by a miniscule injection of the rabies virus by an unlikely and unfortunate encounter with an infected camel. The torpidity and flatulence which increasingly drove both his consanguinous allies and his vapid customers away was attributed to age and his unfortunate lifelong habit of imbibing a quarter-dram of mercury after high tea.

The rug itself was fairly a document of the hebetudinous artisan's descent into insanity. Its color scheme alone, which featured a cacaphonous blend of inharmonious jeweltones, blinding celadon and vermilion encroached by bright ocher and a shade of green which has never been duplicated and which the old man claimed was manufactured in a mysterious process involving the entrails of a mongoose, was so loud it virtually caused a ringing in the ears of anyone unfortunate enough to gaze too long at its stentorious shades.

Its themes and motifs echoed similarly the subterranean levels to which the poor Arab's increasing imbalance had led his imagination. The central panel, whose vertiginous mix of shades of heliotrope and iridescent gamboge created a bizarre coruscation which caused migraine in anyone who stared too long at its disorderly composition, was a portrayal of what seemed to be a bacchanal, enacted primarily by hippopotami and chimpanzees, the latter of which were primarily habited in the costumes of 18th Century Zouave battalion commanders. These beasts were engaged in all manner of debauchery, the decidedly feminine, if horrifying, hippopotami galumphing round a central altar on which deranged exequies of unclear nature were being enacted by what seemed to be a bedeviled orangutan and three somniferous fantods sporting verdant bowlers.

Around this central panel were borders of nauseous ultramarine, over which gamboled a riotous collective of what seemed to be tuberculous cherubs, famished satyrs and the occasional hippogriff in spats.

Altogether, the rug presented such a horrifying spectacle that the family hid it for many years after the Arab's untimely demise, which was delayed at the very end only by his oppugnancy against the encroaching Azrael of his unique strain of rabies.

Unsurprisingly, his wan and ineffectual descendants were hard-pressed to make a decent living at any of their trades, and so eventually the rug was unearthed and put up for sale with a mendacious historical and ecclesiastical description that implied its connection with an obscure sect of Albigensian heretics from the medieval cathedral at Ulm.

Even with this underpinning of antiquity, the rug sat unpurchased for many years, until an incautious young collector of erotic manuscripts by the name of Standish Vertumnus Proddington, an obscure and overly endowed minor lord of east Anglia, happened upon it one day in the small, malodorous shop in a scrofulous side-street of Villa Crepula, a hamlet under the protection of the British emirate in Morocco populated primarily by pickpockets, grave-robbers and the occasional leprous paraplegic. The rug's themes and colors fascinated Lord Proddington, who unhesitatingly paid the outrageously inflated price given him by the corpulent merchant, and had it shipped to his ancestral home, an unkempt castle near Retching-on-Tweed.

His ineffectual and laudanum-addicted wife, the Lady Persimmon Proddington, offered only vague execration upon arrival of the rug, which was accompanied by a falsified manuscript detailing its connection with the bizarre sexual practices of an undocumented Harrappan cult of salamander worshipers along the Indus River. It was Lord Proddington's hope that a dalliance or two on the turbid carpet might serve to enhance Lady P's indifference to his overwhelming and anamorphic sexual appetites, but her frigidity was only enhanced when, after an initial disordered attempt on the rug, it was discovered that her derriere had been irritated by one of the chemically-unsound dyes in the fabric, and she was forced to go through a series of humiliating and only partially successful treatments of vinegar and lye on what seemed to be an impenetrable and untreatable putrefactive rash.

Eventually, her repining led him to sell the sullied carpet to a bombastic Texan expatriate in Bumfumble, a soot-stained suburb of London. His foreknowledge of the difficulty of even being in the presence of the rug for long without cerebral hemhorrage led him to obfuscate its history, and he sold the rug to the Texan sight-unseen, describing it as the last and most impressive work of an obscure but notable Coptic engraver, one Father Cloacus of the priory St. Ambiguitous, famous for his subtle but alarmingly debauched portrayals of life in Eden before the Fall. The Texan shipped it home to his ranch in Crowgullet, where it served as little more than a soft surface on which his three buck-toothed and angular daughters could osculate with their splay-legged suitors, none of whom tended to last past the first salivary encounter with the unmarriageable girls.

From that household it went through an uncountable series of purchases, each unfortunate owner buying the rug sight unseen on the recommendation of unscrupulous antique dealers, until it made its way in the late 1970's to the outskirts of Denver, where the purchasing family unrolled it, took one look at its soiled and stomach-turning colors, and rolled it back up. Later that same afternoon it was dragged to the curb to await trash pickup the following Tuesday. However, it disappeared late that night, hauled off by some penniless student or low-income family who undoubtedly carried it off unseen, unrolled it and then again rolled it back up and carried it to their own curb.

The rug traveled round Denver for the next 15 years in this way, always picked up by a hopeful suburban scavenger who assumed that it was cleanable and who would similarly reject it upon unrolling it at home. Each time it was put out for the trash truck and each time it disappeared before the next morning, only to be abandoned once again.

I myself found this rug, in a similar circumstance, driving through the Five Points district, and, assuming it to be in at least reasonable shape, loaded it into the back of my '88 Chevette. When I unrolled it triumphantly at home, I was greeted with those same delirious and deranged colors and motifs, and immediately banished the rug to my own front curb to await the morning trash pickup. It disappeared before dawn. I suspect it makes the rounds even now and will continue to circulate through the suburban households and squalid ghettos of Denver in this manner until the end of time, the final remaining testament of the madness and complete uselessness of the work of the mad Arab.

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