Brain in a Copper Cylinder

Not a dream! Not an imaginary story! Elvis returns to fight giant Nazi grasshoppers! This is the true story of a Real American Hero! Buxom women! Carcinogenic Jumpsuits! And just to make sure you heard it right, Giant! Nazi! Grasshoppers!

I was sweaty and frantic when I drew that one, sitting on my grandma’s porch, swatting mosquitoes by the score. Grandpa’s ghost shuffled around singing shanties in a soft, melancholic tone. The river that ran by grandma’s house was red and full of bobbing skulls, three of them called Maurice.

An elephantman working at an off-road petrol stop had told me the story. How this dent was Elvis being thrown into the air and banging his head and how that depression was actually a giant grasshopper footprint.

Before my eyes, the river forked and became a pair of roads onto which skeletons climbed out of the river and shuffled, some towards the setting sun, some to look for things they had missed out the first time around.

Maurice sat beside me and ate the same cockroach over and over, chasing it into his skull and then down his spinal cord. He sat down to play chess with grandpa but couldn’t keep track of grandpa’s moves because grandpa kept mentioning them without making them. All the time I drew.

Towards evening, I grew slumbery and lay down on the porch. Maurice lay down beside me and grandpa sat beside me and stroked my head, and once in a while my scalp would tingle and a couple of hairs would move at his touch.

Elvis flew away, with his new scantily-clad love, driven off in a blue Cadillac. The grasshoppers chased after him erratically. And then the painfully lettered credits, with my name on each line, and special thanks to grandma for the chilled coffee and grandpa for the company. This one settled against my sister’s bedroom window, and a stuffed koala bear read the credits to a comic that was no longer one.