If you are reading this, the premiere sentence of my posthumous memoirs, then I have sadly and fantastically left this mortal coil. No, don’t weep for me. Dam those tear ducts and stifle the sobulations, for surely I have died in the most monumentous way imaginable. Perhaps I was poisoned by a sinister secret society, such as the Illuminopoly or the shadowy and enigmatic Baby-Sitters Club? Or mayhappenstance I was plucked from the pavement by the tenacious talons of an evil bird, or by pincers installed in a helicopter piloted by evil but flightless birds? Shot from an ancient Civil War cannon by a dastardly historian? Or I may have contracted a rare and fatal disease wherein my skeletal innards became aflame; my speech turned into a rock-like mass and anyone within a fifteen-foot radius of me turned transparentally see-through. Or some other, underplausible means? The world may never know, and that is the real tragedy here, aside from my death.
Hippopotamus is the name, and the species. Eponymous Hippopotamus. Named after myself, I was. No doubt you’ve heard of my exciting exploits and ignormical adventutations? No? My victory over the Zombie Cyborg Army of East Saint Louis, Jupiter? Or the time a freak earthquake, initiated by a Freak Earth Quaker, detached the State of Maine from the rest of North America, and I re-un-detached it using only a crochet needle and the expansive and surprisingly tensile nose hairs of former President William Henry Harrison? Surely, you’re peepers have squeepled the straddlepating tale of the fiery headed cyclist, the Skull Biker? Well then, I shall avail you of it forthwith!
It was the seventy-leventh of Decembuary, and the snow was snugly snoring below my footsteps. I had just finished the feast of a lifetime at my good friend and the only female Cary Grant impersonator Maya Puma’s cabin on Lake Calrissian. It was a truly gorgeous gorging of gourmandery. Succulent eggs of ostrichery, the tenderest tail of stegosaurus I’ve ever eaten, and the asparagus was hilarious. But the real treat was a bouillabaisse consisting of cod spleen, foil of swordfish, and tuna eyebrows, peppered with octopoppy seed, sea cow milk and indifference of tiger shark. Fully sated, I wended my way homeward, ready for a monthlong hibernation.
Suddenly, from out of the tall Doogie Fir trees came a monstronious figure full of flame and fervor, astride what I initially mistook as a growling egantic beetle, but was in factual a roaring motorbike, black as the sole of a craven shoe. The rider, bedecked in black leather from shoulder to toelder, pointed a gloved finger at me and barked, “Repent!” His head was an alabaster skull upon which waves of fires skittered and licked like an overbearing tarantula. “I am Skull Biker, and I command you to repent! Repent, I say!”
It was clear this fellow had one thing on his mind, and that was my repentance. But for what? The only sin anyone had ever accused me of was coating my chronicles with an overabundance of embellisheen. Is that such a crime, I thought. And anyway, it was an untruth of the falsest order! I stood my ground and pointed my own, ungloved finger at the Skull Biker and said, “Sir, I have done nothing to repent for, and I shall not repent. Now, stand aside, I am about to settle down for a long winter’s nap.”
Skull Biker twisted his rictus into a grin. “You are wrong, even-toed ungulate, for I can see within your soul, and it is as black as a craven shoe. Repent!” He reared backward on his motorcycle, as if he were going to strike me. It was then I saw the chain coiled around his belt. I had to act fast.
“You should talk, skinless,” I said, taking the offensive. “What did you do to find yourself in such an inflamed state, skullwise?”
“My skull? What business of yours is my skull?”
“How’d it get burned?” I countered.
“How’d it get burned, how’d it get burned, how’d it get burned, how’d it get burned?” I shouted. I was losing my cool, as was the snowy ground below the Skull Biker, which liquericed from the radiant heat of his person.
“An ancient curse, which is none of your beeswax, but will soon befall you, foul hippo!” he said, and with that, unleashed his chain and swung it savagely round his blazing cranium. Thinking quickly, I lunged at him and flunged him from his bike onto the now slushy ground. He shrieked like a falsetto skeleton and landed with a resounding GA-WHOMP! The look of shock turned to sheer hatred. It was clear I had basiled his wrath bone. With a strength belying his skeletal frame, he hoist me like a petard and thrust me into the darkening woods.
That was his fatal mistake.
I grasped a Doogie Fir by the trunk and unearthed it, roots and all. It must have stood fifty feet and felt as light as a foot hair in my fingers. Skull Biker gaped and dropped his chain. He held up his hands and backed away, pleading, “No, no, please! I take it back. You don’t need to repent! I’ll repent for you. I repent the sin of crossing Eponymous Hippopotamus. See? Repented!”
“Too late, Johnny,” I said, summoning my inner Stan Musial, “Say hi to the stratosphere for me!” With that, I swung the tree and swatted at the Skull Biker, who shrieked and streaked into the sky, like a freaked-out Phoenix, until he hit the constellation Taurus and bounced off the moon, and settled in space where he remains to this day. If you have a strong enough telescope, you can see him orbiting the Earth, and looking very, very bored.
I donated the motorcycle to an orphanage, who then sold it to a young man in exchange for a lifetime supply of porridge. That young man? Evel Knievel. As for me, I never did get the chance to hibernate after that feast, for when I returned to my palatial lean-to, it had been infiltrated by a marauding band of Viking jellyfish.
But that’s another story.

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