Menelaus rasped his tongue along the iron bars of the cell.
“Open this door!”
“No.” said the go-go dancer inside.

The club was fulla hubbub and had a hot-tub in back where backrubs were given by Oddjob lookalikes. There was hobnobbing and gladhanding but not enough hobhanding. “This place is bunk.” grumbled Menelaus.
“We gotta get outta this place. If its the last thing we ever do cuz guys there’s a better life for me and you.” mumbled Argo. 
Ulysses stomped his foot. “I’m putting my foot down! This club was voted the only place in Atlantis City to get the ‘Food and Environment Warning’.”
“Firstly, that wasn’t an award it was a citation from the Health Code Inspectors and secondly the bacterial meningitis in the hot-tub has evolved legs and an endoskeleton!” Argo shrieked. 

As they pushed their way towards the door, a sinewy hand lit upon Uly’s shoulder and a chill touched his bones and he felt power drain from him. “Who dost touch me?” 
“Come,” he heard whispered across his eyebrow, curving along his cro-magnon skull and rattling his ear cartilege. 
Uly grabbed unto Menelaus’ coccyx who grabbed Telemachus’ perineum who grabbed Argo’s sacrum.
They made a trainwreck of a centipede, winding through the throng of thong wearing twenty-somethings who surreptitiously smoked something or another and wore perfume that smelled of Now And Laters. 

Through an alley way door and skipping through a round-about then down a drainpipe, they battled a giant spider’s Dead Lights and arose triumphantly after befriending four mutant ninja turtles and two Italians in overalls.
They stood on Atlantis City’s Boardwalk. The air smelled of cat, fish, catfish, and pirate’s crabs. 
Pale light from the whore houses glumly lit the Mysterious Stranger. Under her cloak her face was sheen, wane, a dagger of strange. 
 
“Look yonder” She pointed “and see the Great White Throne of Judgment.”
Past the merrygoround and a Hall of Mirrors it shone lilywhite and comely.
“There shall meet the most beautiful.”
“Yahoo! The beauty contest! We’ve finally arrived!” Ulysses yipped as he scratched at his scraggles he called a beard. 
“Yesssss. Your journey was arduous was it not? No? Oui?” The Stranger frowned her hisses.
“There was an anteater in Arkansas I’d rather not talk about.” Argo offered. “It kissed me on the mouth and then licked the inside of my stomach.” 
“We even went to Topeka!” Tele prompted.
“Topekaaaaaa….” from under Her Strange Hood. “What a punk ass town. Buncha weak ass clowns.”
“Uh…yeh.” 

The Stranger handed them backstage passes to the Beauty Pageant and in a BAMF! disappeared.
“Call me!” Menelaus weakly whimpered.

Tickets handed, wrists banded, hands sweaty, eyes leery, cheeks cheery the fantastic four were backstage at the Multiverse’s hottest spot since Lindsay Lohan’s canker sores. 

Said Menelaus:
Me likes the looks of the pretty ones the lovely bones
the shapes of things–of bone, of fleshy boon, they makest me swoon
Ah, fie! I spy with my little eye everyone here oh my oh my!
My lusts are lively and I’m lookin’ for a lady to be wively
ohhh I’m ready to settle dowwwn.
I like the looks of a country marm
with twigs in her hair and a sleepy charm
the looks of illiteracy found in the Bible belt
like big hamhocks and never svelt
a dullard’s nice duller’s better
someone who’ll stay home and knit a sweater
 

But until that day comes and along with it the duldrums
I’ll happily swing and do the nightscene thing
for that’s where the action is
Yes there’ll come a day I’ll jump in the fray
of a yawnin’ bond ’til On Golden Pond
but ’til then I’ll stay…where the action is

Sang Argo:
I’m keen on findin’ a mate fulla spleen
someone who’ll hold me and tell me its fine
I’d go for a fella smooth and sweet like Nutella
who’s church goin’, and tall and genuine
There no tellin’ where you’ll find your next heartache
I’ve had one or two in each United State
I fell for bellhop who hopped a train to elude me
I rang the bell of a boxer who squarely wouldn’t denude me
I wish I were a bloodhound to track down an escapee
or sniff out a gent who hails from Kissimmee
O a husband! It seems I’ll never get my paws on thee
Muttered Telemachus
I’m happy with my hand man
I don’t understand man

Why the trouble’s gone through
when your hand is given you

But until a ring graces my finger
In sleazy bars and dark alleys I’ll linger
There’s time before the vows are said
And there’ll be time to be celibate when I’m dead

Lamented Ulysses
O Penelope! Your name repeats in my conkles and valves
The memories of your smiles and laugter are my only salves
O what mistakes have I accrued that my birth is now rued
From a sad and broken heart this wisdom I now impart:

A marriage in title only means one should never be lonely
Yes I’ll soothe my pains and drown my shames
in further exploits yet with lovely damsels you can bet
‘cuz I earned my wife’s ire I’ll fight fire with fire
and burn my loins to ashes
with ladies in painted sashes
For flesh I’ll send until death the end–
More ladies says I, more ladies!

The Contest’s Judge checked the mirror one last time as she listened to the MC’s voice over the dressing room intercom. The mirror said: “this is what the sum of your body and clothes look like to you in the reverse image of what you would appear like to others” she smacked her lips and winked. Since her first occasion of judging the Atlantis City Beauty Contest, she felt like she was being paid for doing the opposite of what she was doing. It was she that was being judged. She knew that beauty evades proper naming and being applauded thus the best poets and prophets spoke in strange and confusing lines full of awe and evoking silence. No, it was she that was judged standing in the presence of beauty is a horrible thing at times, requiring change, humility, daring, self reflection. She had been aged dearly by the process, which is saying something since she was immortal.

The first 12,000 contestants were admirable. The next 144,000 were also full of grace and stirringly, hauntingly beautiful. She was shaking. Backstage the Flirtatious Four were just leaving in disgust.
“These people are disgusting!” Ulysses howled. “They look like grocery clerks and (sigh) mill workers!”
Menelaus shook his head “Truly, this is the worst looking group since ComicCon!”
They huffed towards the exit and just as they were squeezing through the door they didn’t hear a huge silence spread through the Hall. Somewhere a pin dropped followed by one elderly man’s giant adam’s apple clicking.
“What’s this all about?” Argo turned tail and sniffed back towards their spot in the wings.
“Well, maybe they’re so ugly it’ll be worth it just for laughs. Let’s go take a look.” said Uly seconding Argo’s motion.

She was plain as a scrap piece of paper, a face to be lost in crowds and assured to get her name forgotten. She stood before the Great White Throne in a dress not dissimilar from Judy Garland’s in that movie where she stood before a Great Green Throne. The Judge’s head was in her hands and the tiara was already descending from thin wires commanded from some theatre tech high in the clouds. The sea of onlookers were all a’tremble like a Methodism revival. Even Ulysses was beginning to slump as though an ice pick of ‘something great’ was shivvin’ into his gutsy-guts.

“I’m gonna ask her to marry me.” Menelaus whispered.
The Teen of the Quad cleared his throat. “Why does everybody got their nuts all wound up about her? I mean, she looks like somebody’s sister.” 
After years of hardship and loss, Telemachus would learn that beauty and ‘sexual appeal’ or ‘good looks’ were not always hand in hand and he would come to desire beauty–but that was many years away. He was in the maelstrom of testosterone and in a solipsism of masturbatory lust. 

Menelaus caught up with her in the parking lot. Under UFO landing lights and in yellow grids they spoke uneasily. Her tiara glimmering like a snowcone atop a head of raven’s feathers and nest. His hands rattled like the bbs in a trainyard’s grof session. She was kind and glowed at the non-punchlines of his non-jokes but didn’t give an inch when he played cute. After they parted, he ran back to the guys. “She said she appreciated the sentiment–but she can’t marry me right now and if I don’t back off, she’d pepper spray my ‘creepy ass’. But overall, I think it was a good first impression/marriage proposal….guys are you even listening?”
“I wanna marry that woman.” from Argo.
“Hey, waitaminute!”
“I’m gonna proclaim my undying love to her.” from Uly.
“Hey, jackass!”
“I’m hungry.” From Tele as he played Nintendo DS.

Menelaus looked back where she was waiting for her bus and the congregation of people around her on one knee.
“Getting down on one knee is a bit cliche isn’t it?”

Above them on the parking lot’s jumbotron big electric pixels announced: “Winner of Beauty Contest: Helen…..Next Week: Hannah Montana World Tour”

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