Robert Fulghum II
Always wanted a Cuckoo Clock. A big baroque German job with all kinds of carved foobaz and a little bird that leaps out once an hour and hollers an existential comment about life. So I got one. For my best friend, who also happens to be my wife and lives in the same house with me. See, the way this deal works is that she usually doesn't really like what I give her for Christmas, anyway, and I usually end up with it in the end, so I figured I might as well start out by giving her something i want in the first place, so when i get it back i can be truly grateful. She gets the thought; I get the gift. I know it's wicked, but it's realistic and practical. (And don't get high-minded about this, as if you would never think of doing such a thing. The hell you say. I've been around. I know what i know.)
Anyway, I wanted an authentic antique cuckoo clock. But they cost a bundle. And this store had new ones -overstocked- a special cheap price- hot deal. So i brought one. There were two messages written in small print on the carton, which i missed reading. "Made in South Korea" was one. And "Some Assembly is Required" was the other.
The carton produced five plastic bags of miscellaneous parts. And an ersatz Bavarian alpine goathered hut marked "geninue simulated wood". And to top it off, a plastic deer head that looked like Bambi's mother. I put it all together with no parts left over, thank you, and hung it on the wall. Pulled down the weights, pushed the pendulum, and stepped back. It ticked and tocked in a comforting kind of way. Never before had such an enterprise gone quite so well for me. The damned thing actually worked!
The hour struck. The little door opeend. The little bird did not come out. But from deep in its little hole came a raspy, muffled "cukaa, cukaa, cukaa". Three "cukaas"? That's it? That's all? But the hands of the clock said noon.
I peered deep into the innards of the Bavarian alpine goathered hut of simulated wood. There was the bird. Using an ice pick and a chopstick, I tried to pry the creature forth. It seemed loose. I reset the clock to three. The clock ticked and tocked and then changed. The door was flung open. No bird. Out of the darkness at the back of the hut came "cuck" but no "oo"- not even "aa".
Applying the principle of "If it wont move, force it" I resorted to a fubber mallet and coat hanger, followed by a vigorous shaking. Reset the clock. Hour struck. Door opened. Silence. Close inspection revealed a small corpse with a spring around its neck, lying on its side. Not many people have murdered a cuckoo-clock bird, but i had done it. I could see Christmas morning: "Here dear, a cuckoo clock. For you. The bird is dead."