"Balls, baby! Balls!"

The Life and Times of Mort Poisson

By Elbert "Moose" Hornack, Jr.

(NOTE: Since the arrival of the outspoken Mort Poisson to the pages of Wormwood Chronicles, I have had many inquiries about the background of this mysterious character. Several men in dark suits and sunglasses named Smith have appeared to ask me about my relationship with Poisson. Therefore, in the interest of self-preservation as well as the public's need to know, I present the following rare missive by Elbert Hornack, acquired at great personal expense to Wormwood Laboratories. It is hope that this will shed some light on a murky subject...Dr. Abner Mality)

How to assess a man's life, especially when it is not yet over; when he is at the peak of his powers? I have known Mort Poisson for nearly a quarter of a century and I can honestly say he is still an enigma. Ask him to describe himself and as often as not you will get a sharp grunt and a turned shoulder. On those rare occasions when he will offer a thought on his character and station you will more than likely get a terse "I'm a Commie.So what?"

Best to stick to the facts:

Mort Poisson was born in December of 1953 in Montreal, Canada. Mort was the first child of a radical Quebecoise father and a mother from Spain who did not attempt to hide her sympathies for the Basque Seperatist movement. In fact, before her marriage, Mort's mother was an ambitious agent of the seperatists, often shuttling between Montreal and Northern Spain to carry out the odd assasination or bombing. As Mort puts it: "She would hop a flight on Friday afternoon, spend Saturday derailing a train, knifing a police commissioner and blowing up a whorehouse full of important politicos and be back in Montreal for 10 am mass on Sunday! Mom was quite a badass Mademoiselle back in the day!"

When Mort was just 15, his father was severely injured by a rubber bullet during a Quebeçoise riot in the streets of Quebec City. Mort had to drop out of school and take a job to help support the family's terrorist activities. Always interested in cooking and cuisine - fallout, no doubt, from the influence of his French chef grandfather - Mort worked as a busboy and later a prep cook at a number of Montreal bistros.

At age 17, Mort made his way south to America seeking his fortune in the culinary arts. He worked for nearly two years at a popular delicatessen in Detroit until he was fired for allegedly funnelling cabbage rolls and hot head cheese to one of the city's more radical Black Panther groups. Mort was arrested but the charges were dropped due to lack of evidence (it had been eaten). Spared almost certain deportation, Mort had grown disgruntled with the restaurant industry and began drifting around the states and investing himself in his other passion: the pen. Writing of his adventures in America,he molded his scribblings into a volume of short stories and essays. 'What A Fucking Gyp: Visions of America' was published by a small press in San Francisco, but did nothing to raise Poisson's literary profile. Depressed and broke, Mort took work in the kitchen of the fancy upscale New York eatery called Snoot, and it was here that our long term friendship began.

Fortune smiled on Mort one busy Saturday evening when the head chef, famed culinary wizard Jean-Paul Merde (I heard he wasn't worth a shit...Linguistic Mality), keeled over with a massive heart attack and Mort took the reins. Dragging Merde's body into the walk-in cooler and taking command of the line cooks, Poisson delivered an array of fine food for the patrons without missing a beat, even garnering the compliments of then mayor Ed Koch. A star was born and Mort made the most of it,catapulting Snoot to the top of elite New York restaurants. Now a celebrity in his own right, Mort mixed easily with the stars and politicians who frequented Snoot. Even the unfortunate incident of Poisson applying a flying headlock to Broadway star Carol Channing (she had questioned the authenticity of his Pintade aux Choux) did little to dim his glory. In fact Mort's rapport with the rich and famous so impressed publishing impressario Angus Benwa-Torres that he was offered a position as celebrity interviewer for Benwa-Torres new "lifestyles" magazine Pompoose. At last, Mort Poisson was able to indulge in his two great passions: cooking and writing. For the next few years Poisson kept a grueling pace, interviewing celebrities during the day and serving them gourmet bills of fare at night. For the longest time Mort's contributions to both worlds slipped not a whit, but finally in late 1983 the strain began to show. The first real signs of stress appeared during an interview with veteran actor Mickey Rooney. Things seemed to be going swimmingly until without warning Poisson posed the question "So tell me, how did a pug fucking runt like you end up married to Ava Gardener?"

Later that evening Poisson debuted his latest gastronomical creation, Pollo ala Mort. Patrons who unwittingly ordered the dish were shocked and appalled when they were presented with an uncooked, unplucked Rock Cornish hen and a blowtorch. It seemed Mort Poisson's star was about to plummet.

Mort Poisson on his favorite pastimes: "To keep myself sane I have become a student of modern dance. I especially love the wild gyrations. I am fulfilled flailing about without consequence. Also, I find it very important that my nuts swing freely as often as possible."

The curious behavior finally turned nearly tragic when Poisson was assigned to conduct a brief interview with first lady Nancy Reagan following her speech to a local Daughters of the American Revolution chapter. Poisson sat attentively through most of Mrs. Reagan's speech, but when the first lady asserted her husband's appreciation and concerne for the "everyday working people of America," Mort leapt to his feet and screamed "Balls, baby! Balls!" Poisson was promptly tackled by several CIA agents and dragged from the room, but not before he could yell "Is it true you sucked off Bob Hope in the rose garden?" It was only after much wrangling and backroom machinations by Angus Benwa-Torres that Poisson was released from custody,but his career was clearly over.

Pegged as a nut and nearly broke due to bad investments, Poisson shuttered himself away in small, dank apartment in New Jersey. One morning, while walking the Jersey shore, Mort met the woman he would credit with bringing him back to life. Venusia Pratt was a young, beautiful bohemian who had dedicated her life to the art of modern dance and the principles of nudism.

"From Venusia I learned the catharsis of gyrating wildly and the theraputic benefit of letting my nuts swing free."

Poisson was so taken with Pratt's teachings that to this day he looks for every excuse to bob and weave and flap his arms...and to expose his testicles. What happened next is best told in Mort Poisson's own words.

"It became clear that Venusia and I were not going to work out, romantically speaking. I was sad, but the gift she gave me allowed me to feel empowered for the first time in my life. It became clear that I should try to better the world, so I sought out the most backward, depraved city of consequence I could find. A copy of Money magazine pointed me in the direction of Rockford, Illinois...the last place God made!"

Poisson was not disappointed in his decision.

"There is a seriously diseased mindset in Rockford. I think it stems from over a century of lily-white Brit and Scandanavian landowners and industrialists dividing and exploiting those of other cultures and colors in the pursuit of profit. Of course these blue-eyed ghouls paint themselves as good Christians and dangle the idea of salvation as their justification of greedy, evil deeds. Yep...Rockford is a sinkhole of pious churchgoing and blatant financial exploitation. The only structures more prevalent than Christian "Houses-of-Worship" in Rockford today are cheapjack "payday loan" stores, a scummy, carpetbagging industry if ever there was one. It is clear that Rockford needs my advanced points-of-view, and as long as there is a Wormwood Chronicles and I don't get murdered, my nuts will swing free in Rockford!"

And thus our story is brought up to date. What does the future hold for Mort Poisson? Assassination? Jail time? Tar and feathers? Only the fates know for sure, but I am proud to call Mort Poisson my friend.

POSTSCRIPT: Shortly after the above was published, Mr. Hornack was found choked to death on a Super-Stuft Burrito from Taco Bell. Not that there's anything particularly unusual about that form of demise, it's just that the timing is suspect. If anything should happen to me, it means that I am just another casualty associated with Mort Poisson!