Paul Tumlox was a large man. He was someone who would never have to answer the rhetorical question “Would you rather be feared or respected?” because now, as he floated in space with the weight of 7.8 billion souls on him, he had both angles covered. Two years ago, his head hovered off of the Earth’s surface at 6-feet and 11 inches. Two years ago, if that head of his ever fell off it would only take .3 seconds to hit the ground.
Paul’s head was much farther away from the Earth’s surface now. 221463 miles minus 6 feet and 11 inches. He was on the moon, alone in the Doomsday Arc, a space station designed and paid for by the United Nations. In case the Earth became uninhabitable for humans, by their own doing or otherwise, they would have a place of celestial refuge. If his head fell off here it would take 1.26 seconds to hit the lunar surface.
One Mississippi. One M-
A year ago Paul had been an extremely simple man. Some even called him simple-minded. He took this as a compliment, not being sure what exactly it meant. But now he was a very complicated man. At least that’s what people told him through a NASA earpiece. He had sensors, and suction cups, and spools of wire running into and out of his body like little railroad tracks. They monitored his body. He was a very important man now. He was humanity’s only hope. Like Spiderman.
Only a year ago Paul was still working at Jiffy Lube as a Shift Supervisor. In this position he reported to both the General Manager and Manager of Services; it suited Paul fine. He was never too great with understanding cars but he was excellent with customers. Paul attributed this character trait to his genetics. “The customer is always right,” was something Paul’s dad, a grocery-store clerk, had always repeated, even when he had Alzheimer’s. “They are always right.”
While Paul couldn’t tell a carburetor from a cockatiel, he could certainly change a car’s oil. Other workers had to stretch their arms way over their head to reach the oil filter when a car was up on 8-foot jacks; but Paul, in fact, was already halfway there. In fact, he had to duck most of the time. In fact, he typically forgot to duck and frequently hit his head on the frame and engine block and axles. Dean, the Manager of Services, once commented during a staff meeting that Paul had a head like a Tootsie pop, hard shell on the outside, nothing but sugary mush on the inside.
The reason that Paul had been promoted to Shift Supervisor was that he was so popular with the mechanics and technicians. They loved to tease the big fella. Nothing makes a person feel good about themselves like teasing someone else. So Paul made the mechanics feel good and half of a supervisor’s job is getting people to like you. No one ever took the teasing too far though. Most of them knew that Paul could have easily popped their heads off of their shoulders like a young Dandelion bud. It would have taken their heads .2 seconds to hit the ground.
But it wasn’t Paul’s head that every being on Earth from Berlin to Bangkok was worried about now. It was his butt.
Two ago, Paul was changing the oil on a 2006 Infinity G sedan. It was a nice car and it belonged to Irwin Berlitz. Irwin sat in the teeny-tiny lobby area of the Jiffy Lube. He read a backdated issue of Scientific American occasionally glancing up to check if the water-damaged ceiling tile would fall into his cup of warm coffee.
Meanwhile in the garage, the mechanics were having fun with Paul like normal. Paul was a notoriously loud gas passer. However, the toots that came from his butt-trumpet were not befitting of a man of his size. They did not bellow like a pipe organ or reverberate like a bass drum, instead Paul let out long sustained squeaks. However, the squealing releases of air were not smelly at all. Most people commented that Paul made the room fresher when he broke wind. His gas had a lofty mountain scent it. It was like standing at the top of a waterfall.
This particular day was a Thursday and that meant that the soup over at the local Panera bread was Harvest Cheddar Mushroom. Although Paul loved to eat the soup for lunch, he was not in love with the side effects. The back half of the day would be filled with the harsh chirpings of Paul’s rear end. However, Paul loved working in the loud garage because he would never have to deal with the embarrassment. All of his bodily noises were suppressed under a thick quilt of ratchets whirring and engines cranking.
“Let’s have a little fun with Paul,” one of the mischievous mechanics said in the break room. “Anyone got any ideas?”
“We could try to light one of those squeaky little farts of his on fire,” offered another technician. They all laughed with delight because farting was and always would be funny to them. Other people, Elitists and Democrats, claimed that farts are not funny. But they were just lying to themselves.
Paul had his arms Timex-deep in the bowels of Irwin Berlitz’ automobile. He was having a tough time loosening the nut to the top of the oil filter so he winced. But he shifted back and forth a few times, raised a leg and let out a shrill vibration. Paul’s bum was several feet off of the ground, 4 feet 7 inches to be exact. The ill-behaved mechanic silently entered the garage and lit a TIG welder that usually sat idle during their days. He raised it slowly to Paul’s bum. The other technicians held their hands over their mouths to contain the excitement. Because in the kingdom of men, there is nothing more exciting than watching someone light a fart. It’s humor and chemical reactions. What more could you want?
The flame was only inches from Paul’s gargantuan, hoola-hoop sized anus. “There was extra cheddar in that soup today,” thought Paul. He raised his leg and long, high-pitched whine followed. The torchlight blew out. There was no miniature explosion. No wisp of smoke. No flicker of the fire. It was like someone blew out some birthday candles.
The mechanics tried again and again but could not get the explosion that they desired. Human farts contained Hydrogen Sulfide, which was a flammable and stinky gas. There should have been no problem igniting a fireball. They were hoping for a Roman Candle. But each time he squeaked, they noticed that freshness again. It was as though the garage were a dense coniferous forest, with budding pine-cones flowering in the frosty air.
The mechanic finally got too close and burned Paul’s trousers which in turn made him angry. He chased them all around the garage for a bit that until he saw Irwin Berlitz standing in the doorway of the garage. Irwin had a bewildered look upon his face.
“Oh no!” Paul yelled, afraid that he would be viewed as unprofessional. Irwin was a paying customer and he surely wouldn’t appreciate this horseplay. “I am very sorry, sir.”
“Please” Irwin interrupted. “Do that again.”
“Do what? Chase them again?”
“No, no, no. Please, fart again.”
Paul complied because Irwin was a paying customer. While he shuffled his hips, Irwin held out a small device to Paul’s back pockets. The device looked like a saltshaker with twinkling lights and adjustable knobs. Paul bit his lip and cut the cheese for Irwin. It was harvest Cheddar Cheese. The little saltshaker lit up with lots of blue and a little bit of red.
“Amazing,” said Irwin as he studied the little instrument. It was hand-held chemical chromatography machine. He was an atmospheric scientist for NASA specializing in Lunar Colonization, so he always had one handy. The colors on the twinkling lights corresponded to certain elements. “Your flatulence contains the exact amount of Nitrogen and Oxygen that is found in Earth’s atmospheric mix. I thought something was strange when they were unable to light your colon coughs with that welding machine.”
“What are you, some type of rocket scientist?” asked Paul.
“No, but I know a few that you should meet,” said Irwin. “They will be thrilled with your talent.”
Two years later Paul was in a spacesuit. He was dressed appropriately because he was in space. He didn’t like this new place that the NASA people had put him in. It was a huge warehouse and it was on the moon. Irwin’s scientist friends had discovered that an Alaska-sized meteor would be colliding with the Earth in the year 2027, probably hitting somewhere near Brazil. No more Carnival in Rio. There was no way to stop it. Their only hope was to colonize the tag-along friend of the Earth that was 221463 miles away.
The only problem was that no one can breathe moon air because it is non-existent. Humans would need to transfer their atmosphere up there and there weren’t enough pipes on Earth to do so. No robot created by man could synthesize the exact mix like Paul in such great, hilarious quantities. So they sent him up with a giant frozen payload of Panera Bread’s Harvest Cheddar Mushroom soup. Paul was expected to create a new atmosphere by sneezing in his underpants repeatedly until the whole moon was fit for humans to live and breathe. The air that would give plants and animals life on the moon for eons to come would originate from Paul’s sphincter. His butt would be the Father of all lunar life and the savior of the human race.
It was about 9:00 AM Earth time. The voice in Paul’s ear was that of Irwin Berlitz, the man who had paid $34.00 for an overpriced oil change two years ago. “How are you feeling today Paul?”
“Not good,” the giant replied, as he roused from his sleep and latched the large rubber hose to a valve on his elastic air tight pants. “My stomach hurts.”
“That’s wonderful!” replied the scientist. “That means a lot of output today. Just think it’s only been a year since your arrival on the moon and you already have populated the lunar ecosystem with 3% of its needed atmosphere.”
Paul bent over slightly and released his Morning Thunder into the rubber hose. They were making progress. Paul was lonely, but in the shadows of the Lunar crater, where cryogenically frozen embryo’s of all manner of plants and animals were stored so they could be thawed at a later date, he felt proud. People will remember that I did a good job, Paul thought to himself. He turned on an instructional video of “How to Smelt Iron.” Maybe someday the Earth settler’s would forget that important process and would need to be reminded.
In 2027 the meteor hit the Earth and pretty much destroyed it. Luckily, all rich humans had relocated to the new moon colony by then, which was fully functional and smelled like mountain fresh pine-cone air. In the center of the space town there was a wrought iron memorial monument dedicated to Paul, who had died from a stroke caused by a massive hemorrhoid a year before.
In this ground is the great Paul Tumlox
Who saved us all by stepping on ducks.