A Steaming Pile of Love

“I know! I know! — Damien

Bourbonnais narcissist, neckbeard and pool-toy enthusiast Damien Hurlbutt, working the concession stand at Cinema-13, tries to sell a customer some “Non-Parallels”

“Do you mean nonpareils?”

“Oh, these are non-parallels.”

“I will just get some popcorn with butter then.” 

In walks a rather foul-smelling couple. 

Bern Cacca’s Turd-Eating Grin

“Hey, can I speak to the manager?” Manteno communal narcissist, Optimal Club accordion-player and port-o-dump partner Bern Cacca asks Damien.

“OK Karen. He’s busy,” Damien says in his usual monotone voice, not even looking at Bern, too concerned with filling popcorn and listening to the copier in the back office create a pile of ticket facsimiles so he can hopefully woo women with them.

“We have a meeting at 2 to discuss advertising our porto potty business with a Mr. Konrad…Teeerant?”

“I know, I know. It’s Teirant. Rhymes with ‘tyrant.’ Walk over to that door and knock.” The bulbous neckbeard Damien Hurlbutt points to the door simply marked “Manager” getting a glimpse of Bernadette Cacca’s behind as she and her husband Peppi make their way toward Konrad’s office. An evil grin fills Damien Hurlbutt’s face, with bedroom eyes to match.

Image: black-and-white cartoon set in an office. A man and a woman wearing crowns face a man sitting down on a chair with the text: "Teirant Cinemas."
The Caccas’ submit a proposal to do their business.

After the meeting, Bern, Peppi and Konrad emerge. Bern beelines toward the washroom, pinches a massive loaf, and stares at it in awe. She is so proud of her creation, almost afraid to flush it down. Since she has nowhere to burn it at the multiplex, she reluctantly pushes the handle and washes her hands in the sink. At least she did that. Damien ogles Bern’s round bum as she and her beau Peppi exit the theater.

“Fill up those popcorn bags!” Konrad commands his clerk Damien. “Friday I expect to make big bags at the release of the new rom-com. We partnered with our advertisers to increase the bottom-line. This one’s gonna be a game-changer. Make me a sign.”

“Yep.” Damien heads to the back office to draw and make more color copies of movie tickets on the company’s budget. 

While working on the sign, Damien’s brother Robbie calls his flip phone. Thinking it’s one of the many OKStupid ladies he messaged, he answers.

“Hey honey!”

“Damien, it’s Robbie, you dork.”

“Sorry.”

“Can you get me a job at the theater? Wally’s cuttin’ back my hours again.”

“Maybe. Hey, there’s this cute chick coming in Friday for the new premiere.”

“Groovy. Can I meet her?”

Image: a black-and-white cartoon of an Elvis impersonator's face, wearing a devilish grin.
Swarthy Elvis impersonator Robbie Hurlbutt

“She’s married. But I have first dibs.”

“Riiiight.”

“Hey, I got a free ticket if you wanna come down.”

“Do you think your boss will let me work with you? If you really love your brother you will ask your manager. It’s really selfish of you not.”

“Come down and see the film. Friday night.”

“Later.” Damien and Robbie disconnect…for now.

Peppi and Bern Cacca are loafing away inside their run-down shack in Manteno.

“These maxi pad commercials always come on when I am watching TV. This is Star Trek. Men watch this show,” Peppi whinges.

“Hey Pep. I got this handy-dandy new laundry basket. Would you like to come with me to the laundromat?”

“Why? Bern, I try to help and you won’t let me.”

“Oh come along for the company. You’re fragile. I can do it all. Maybe you can hold doors for me while I haul all our laundry in.”

“So I can watch? Yeah, no. I am busy.”

Peppi walks into his bedroom to get away from his wife, lights up the skunkiest joint he’s got and guzzles moonshine.

It’s showtime. In walks Bern Cacca wearing her accordion over her Peppi’s Portopotties shirt, bearing the caption “King & Queen of the Throne.”

“Hey, Bern. We have changed our mind about your advertising strategy. We think playing accordion while Peppi raps about portopotties is not a good idea,” Cinema-13 owner Konrad Teirant tells Bernadette Cacca.

“Oh, Peppi stayed home. I wanna belt some crappy show-tunes instead.”

“It does not take a genius to figure out that we both need to make money. Sing at home, preferably with the windows shut. We designed a new ad, and we think you’ll like it. It will play halfway through the movie. A new rom-com premieres tonight, “Steamy Love.” We expect a big bag from a big turnout. Your seat is on me.

Image: a black-and-white cartoon of a neckbeard behind a cinema counter.
Text: "Cinema-13" and "Peppi's Portapotties."

“Hey M’lady. Would you like some popcorn?” theater clerk and neckbeard Damien Hurlbutt calls out to Bern Cacca.

“I’m good, thanks. What a lovely theater you have!”

“Aww, shucks. Hey M’lady, Madame. What is this lovely lady doing when the film lets out? I can get you free tickets if you meet me at the Gaslight Bar.”

“I’m busy.”

Bern heads to her seat, excited to see all the theater patrons, and tries to make friends with as many as possible, hugging, shaking hands, and calling them “darling”. Bern thinks she’s everybody’s friend, and reminds the crowd of all the favors she does for charity and her enablers.

The film begins to roll.

At intermission, the new ad for Peppi’s Portopotties plays, interrupting a scene depicting two people kissing, and a prominent plot point. Will the lady choose her secret lover or go back to her husband?

Image: a full-colour cartoon of dancing porto potties, parodying "Let's All Go To The Lobby."

“Let’s all go to the washroom

Let’s all go to the washroom.

Let’s all go to the washroom,

And take ourselves a dump.”

The patrons run to the restrooms, but not to crap or whizz.

They barf up the popcorn, candy and pop, for which they overpaid at the concession stand.

Too nauseous to stay for the ending, the crowd of moviegoers leaves Teirant Cinema-13 in droves.

An angry Bern Cacca leaves the multiplex, worrying about her squeaky-clean image as a singing fool who raises money for the Manteno Optimal Club, and gives rides to friends because she loves to look good.

Image: a color cartoon of a heavy-set, middle-aged woman angrily walking past a concessions stand. A heavyset middle-aged man with an orange beard, wearing a black fedora is standing behind the counter, with the look of love in his eyes.

“Hey honey puddin’ — what are you doing right now?” the bulbous concessions clerk Damien Hurlbutt asks Bern Cacca as she passes the ticket counter.

“I have a date. I’m leaving you guys.”

“With me, my dainty queen?”

“No, you moron.”

“How about me?” pops up Damien’s brother Robbie Hurlbutt, emerging from seemingly nowhere.

“No, with JB, the Turd Burglar.”

Frowns fill the faces of the Hurlbutts, while a devilish grin fills that of Bern Cacca as she embraces the neighborhood Turd Burglar, who has been waiting for her in the parking lot.

Konrad Teirant counts his ticket sales, all smiles because he does not plan to offer refunds. He had made his big bag and takes it home to lie in it, spreading the cash all over his bed, rolling around in it and over it like a dog.

Behind the Moroniverse: Konrad Teirant

Konrad “Kon” Teirant

Back when I had just graduated high school and was looking forward to attending college, I applied for — and got — a job at a local drive-in movie theater. Despite the pressure put on young folks to get a job, employment was not easy to come by in a small city about to lose a couple tens of thousands of its people due to Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC).

Despite the odds, I managed to get a part-time job working at one of the few remaining drive-in movie theaters in my state. The first day went well. My supervisor was impressed with my work ethic and ability to work with customers. He warned me about the theater owner; saying he will either love me or hate me.

The next day I met the person who would later become the main inspiration behind my character Konrad “Kon” Teirant, the CRASS Accounting Chief, Cinema-13 owner and Vaudeville troop Moronic Half Assets emcee. The theater owner put the skinny blonde girl up front to collect tickets, while placing heavyset and awkward goth chick me to work behind the scenes. He could not wait to complain.

“Fill that popcorn bag. No fill it up more. Does that look full to you? It does not take a genius to figure it out. Look, I don’t think it is going to work out.” Puzzled and stunned, I asked him what he meant. He told me to leave and not come back. I never got paid for the work I had done for him.

I remember calling up my cousin, crying because I had lost my job that summer I graduated. She called the theater owner “a tyrant”. I did not know that he was a grandiose narcissist, because narcissism was never talked about in our area. I wish they would teach about it in schools, the signs of these personality traits and how to avoid them. I also wish the boards in charge of school curricula would create reforms which mandate schools teach empathy skills.

I found out later that he owns a chain of theaters in the region. I saw him in a restaurant a few years later, bragging out loud about having been flown to Atlanta, and getting loaned an Armani suit to wear for whatever business deal he was trying to get, or “big bag” as he called it.

A few years later, I was sick as a dog on Christmas Day, and called into work at my then call-center job. I wrote a song about a character I called “King Tyrant.” I made a crude sketch of him holding a “big bag”. I played the song live a few times but it was not well received, and it was not very fun to play anyway.

First concept sketch of Konrad Teirant

In 2017, after having left an emotionally abusive relationship with a communal narcissist, I started writing and creating characters. I wrote a lot. I drew a lot. To cope with having been emotionally abused and being all on my own on the verge of suicide, I wrote short stories and launched MoronicArts. I drew my very first sketch of the now-renamed Konrad Teirant while receiving treatment for suicidal ideation in a psychiatric unit.

I can certainly say writing, drawing, and having zero contact with my emotionally abusive former husband has helped me heal a lot. I write to help people laugh and make myself giggle at the same time. Laughter is one of the best medicines, for me anyway and I hope to continue to pay it forward, as I would never wish what happened to me on my worst enemy.