N-yuk, N-yuk, Knuckleheads
Copyright July 1988
Published in Hack'd Magazine

It was a beautiful spring morning, silent except for the wind in the trees and the sounds of the farm; a crowing rooster, the gentle mooing of cows, a creaking barn door, and the loud, raunchy snoring from three never-do-wells who slept in the hay loft.

A large horsefly hovered above their bed buzzing loudly until it was sucked down Larry's throat. "Cough, cough, wheeze!" he sputtered, his right hand reaching for his throat, while his left thrashed wildly hitting Moe square in the face.

"Hey, what happened, where am I?" exclaimed Moe as he raised up. By now Larry had settled back to sleep while Curly snored on. A hollow sounding bonk followed Moe's fist striking Curly's forehead.

"Ow!" yelled Curly.

"Wake up and go to sleep," barked Moe.

"Keep quiet will, you?" said Larry. "I need my beauty sleep."

"Shut up!" said Moe, slapping Larry.

"Boy, am I hungry," said Curly, as they got to their feet.

"Why do you want to remind me for?" Moe answered.

"Yeah," Larry cut in. "I'm so hungry my stomach thinks my throat's cut."

"Well, let's get out of this hay loft and find some grub," Moe said.

"If we had a hay-levator we wouldn't have to climb down," Curly smiled.

"Shut up!" Moe barked, giving Curly a shove into a bale of hay, which had a pitchfork sticking out of it.

"Moe, Larry, help! An alligator bit me!"

"What's wrong, kid?" asked Moe, as he and Larry hurried over.

"Help me! I'm losing my mind!" exclaimed Curly, showing them the fork in his rump.

"Hold still," ordered Moe. "We'll have it out in a minute."
He and Larry grabbed the pitchfork and, with a mighty tug, pulled on the handle but, as the fork came loose, they fell backwards over the edge of the loft. "Oooooh," they yelled before hitting the barn floor.

"Oh, thanks, fellas," said Curly, as he turned around. "Hey, where'd you go?" He peered over the edge. "What're you doing down there?"

"Come down here," Moe grimaced, motioning to Curly with his finger.

"Nya-ah," said Curly. He walked to the ladder and started down but as his weight hit the rotting wood the first rung broke and he fell on top of Moe and Larry.

"I'll murder you!" Moe growled.

"You ain't got time, we got to find something to eat," said Larry.

Moe gave Curly an evil stare. "Lucky for you."

"I wish I had some fried eggs," said Curly.

"Look," said Larry, pointing to a chicken nest on a rafter.

"Oh, boy, cackle-fruit!" said Moe. "Quick, porcupine, find a ladder and we'll get the eggs."

Larry climbed the ladder. "I'll tip the nest and you catch the eggs," he said.

Moe looked up. "Okay, let her rip." Splat, splat, splat, was the sound of half-a-dozen eggs hitting him in the face.

"What's the idea?" chimed Curly. "You know I don't like scrambled eggs."

"I'll scramble your eggs!" Moe said, giving Curly a handful of egg in the face.

"Hey, leave him alone," said Larry, climbing down. A sharp bonk followed Moe banging Larry and Curly's heads together.

"Alright you three chicken thieves, stick 'em up!" The three turned around and looked straight into a double-barreled shotgun held by an old farmer.

"Nya-ah-ah!" exclaimed the trio in unison.

"Take it easy," said Moe.

"Yeah, my mother and your mother were both mothers," added Curly.

"What're you doing in my barn?" the farmer glared.
"We didn't mean nothing," said Moe. "It was raining so we slept in your loft."

"It was too crowded in our pickup," said Larry.

"We're on our way to California," said Moe.

"With the banjo on my knee," Curly broke in.

"Shut up!" Moe sneered, slapping Curly. "Look, mister, we're broke, so give us a break, will you?"

The farmer tilted his hat back. "How you going to get to California if you ain't got no money?"

Larry rubbed his chin. "Gee, we never thought of that."

"Boys, I might be able to help you out," said the farmer. "Follow me."

Curly grinned. "Gosh, you're a swell guy."

They walked to the back of the barn where the farmer pulled a dusty, old tarp off of an old motorcycle, an antique Harley with a sidecar. The seat was torn and the bike had a generous supply of rust but it was completely intact.

"What is it?" Larry asked.

"It's a Harley Knucklehead."

Larry was miffed. "Don't get personal."

"No, it's a 1946 Knucklehead Harley," said the farmer. "I bought her brand new right out of the factory. Yes, sir, runs like a watch and gets fifty-miles-a-gallon."

"Boy, we could get to California for next to nothing with a rig like that," said Moe.

"Well," said the farmer. "I could use a truck around here. Why don't we trade?"

"Mister, you got a deal," Moe smiled, shaking the farmer's hand.

"Well, have a good trip," the old man said, as he walked towards the door.

"Boy, what a sucker," whispered Larry, which sparked a good laugh between the three. "Wait 'till he tries to drive that old truck."

"Ha, ha, ha, wait 'till you try to ride that old bike," laughed the farmer, before he walked out the door.

"Nya-ah!" exclaimed the trio.

"C'mon, fellas, let's hit the road," said Moe. All three made a dash for the handlebars, bumping their heads together.

"Spread out!" Moe ordered. "I'll handle this." He climbed into the saddle, turned on the ignition, and then came down hard on the kick-starter. Spit! Pow! "Wo-wo-wo-wo-wo!" Moe screamed as he was tossed over the handlebars onto the floor on his back.

"What happened? Where am I?" he shook his head as Larry and Curly helped him to his feet.

"Let an expert show you how it's done," said Larry. "You got to retard the spark like this." He jumped on the bike and kicked the starter and the ancient engine roared to life. "See, nothing to it." He put the bike in gear and revved the throttle but his foot slipped off the clutch. "Ya-ah-ah!" he yelled as the rear wheel spun in the dirt and the rig took off.

The bike cut two donuts and took off chasing Curly and Moe around the barn. "Woob, woob, woob, woob, woob!" cried Curly. "Wo-wo-oh-oh!" yelled Moe, as they ran out of the barn with

Larry in hot pursuit. The pair ran around the barnyard until they came to a plank fence.

"Quick! Climb over!" Moe ordered.

Over they went a second before Larry shot by. Only after they were both buried in a foot of mud did they realize that had jumped into a pig pen.

"You and your big ideas," sneered Curly, as they sat in the gooey muck.

"Shut up!" answered Moe, hitting Curly in the face with a handful of mud just as Larry pulled up to the pig pen.

"The throttle stuck and the brakes need adjusting," Larry said, a sheepish look on his face. "I feel so silly."

"I'll adjust you!" yelled Moe, slipping and sliding in the mud as he tried to get over the fence.

After a quick lube job on the throttle and a brake adjustment they managed to get on the road with only a few minor delays. In Arkansas Curly failed to negotiate a hairpin turn in the Ozarks. They were saved from disaster by a tall, pine tree. It only took a day and a half to get the old Knucklehead out of the top branches. In Texas they ran through a fence into a cow pasture. They drew straws to see who would distract the Longhorn bull so the other two could retrieve their three-wheeler. In New Mexico a tumbleweed got stuck on Moe's head during his turn at the controls and they set the unofficial world distance record for a canyon jump in a fully loaded side-hack rig. In Arizona they were caught in a blinding sandstorm, and went to Bakersfield, California from Flagstaff by the way of Tombstone. But, with perseverance and luck, they finally made it to California.

With a screech of tires three dusty travelers slid up to the pumps at a gas station on the trusty old Knucklehead. "Haaaaaa!" yelled Curly, as he flew out of the sidecar and landed on his back on the pavement.

"By golly that brake adjustment really did the trick," observed Moe, as he and Larry jumped off and ran to Curly. "Speak to me, kid, say a few syllables."

Curly raised his head up groggily. "It was a tough fight, Ma, but I lost."

"C'mon," sneered Moe, as he pulled Curly to his feet. "Larry, get the gas. Curly, you check the oil."

"What are you going to do?" asked Larry.

"I'm going to make sure you guys do a good job," answered Moe.

Curly grabbed a quart of oil and opened it and bent down to pour it into the tank. "Wait a minute," said Larry. "You better use a funnel. Got to keep things neat around here."

"Good idea," Curly answered. He straightened up and bumped into Moe, spilling oil onto the front of his jacket. "Nya-ah-ah!" exclaimed the man, when he saw what he'd done.

"Why you ignoramous!" growled Moe, taking a swing at Curly. The fat man ducked and Moe hit Larry in the mouth knocking him into the sidecar. As Curly straightened up Moe slapped him in the back of the head and the force of the blow knocked him forward into the basin where the windshield cleaners were kept. Curly's outstretched arms were lodged in between the rollers of the rag cleaner.

"Moe, Larry, help! I'm stuck!" Curly yelled.

"Now look what you did," said Moe, as they ran to Curly's side. "Hold still, we'll have you out in a jiffy." Larry grabbed Curly by the head and pulled.

"Wait! Not that!" he yelled. "Does my head look like a cork?"

"No. A cork's not that ugly," remarked Moe.

"Just remember my head's not stuck," said Curly, indignantly.

"Yeah, and I'm glad I'm not stuck with your head, nyuk, nyuk, nyuk," Larry laughed.

"Quiet, porcupine!" said Moe, giving Larry a slap. "Now grab his arms and we'll pull him free. Ready? One, two, three ... go!"

They pulled. Curly's hands came free slapping both Moe and Larry in the face. Moe started to hit Curly but was interrupted by booming laughter behind them. So busy with each other they hadn't noticed another biker who was next to a gas pump on the other side of the island laughing heartedly at their antics. He was a big man over six-feet tall and weighing at least two-hundred-and-fifty-pounds. A matted beard hung nearly to his large belly. His hair was long and stringy and he had a bald spot on his head. His denim clothes were greasy and tattered and his worn cutoff had the name "Raunchy Rats" sewn on it. Beady eyes stared out of a face that was covered with scars, accented with a broken, misshapen nose, and a mouth with two front teeth missing. He stood next to a shabby Harley Davidson Shovelhead that was an extension of his own grubbiness.

"C'mon," yelled Moe, grabbing Curly and Larry each by an ear. "Gas up our rig before I tear your tonsils out."

Larry was busy pumping gas when Curly struck a match and started to light a cigar. "Hey, you numbskull, what're you trying to do, blow us to smithereens?" growled Moe, as he snatched Curly's cigar and broke it over his head. "Now toss that match before I gouge your eyes out!"

"Mmmmmm," squealed Curly, as he threw the lit match over his shoulder just as the strange biker took the lid off of his left fat-bob gas tank. There was a terrific explosion after the match went down the tank.

"Nya-ah-ah-ah!" was Curly's reply, when he saw the damage. A pair of engineer boots stood next to the pieces of the motorcycle, which were scattered all over the station. The bike's owner hung from a pole by his cutoff like a huge ragdoll in his stocking feet.

"Let's get the heck out of here!" yelled Moe. They jumped onto the Knucklehead and sped out onto the highway.

                                                                          * * *

A lone van rolled down the deserted highway. Behind the wheel sat Ralph Dajerkski, a skinny, dark-haired man with a fu-manchu-moustache. The passenger, Joe Dopenski, a fat, dull-eyed man was eating an ice-cream bar. Both wore matching Raunchy Rats M.C. cutoffs. In the back of the van was a beautiful, but unusual customized Harley Sportster with gold plated wheels and pink paint job, which was securely tied down.

"Duh, that looks just like Bear," said Joe, after they passed a hitchhiker, a large, bearded man in his socks. Ralph hit the brakes and backed up.

"Duh, what are you doing walking, Bear," asked Joe.

Bear opened the side door and climbed in. "Get this heap moving," he said. "Three guys blew up my bike. When I get my hands on them I'm going to tear them apart!"

"Sounds like fun," said Ralph, fingering a .38 he had under his cutoff.

"Duh, can we stop and get an ice-cream first?" asked Joe.

Bear gave Joe an icy stare, gritted his teeth, picked up a twelve-inch crescent wrench, and then slowly bent it in half.

                                                                    * * *

"Hey, Moe, I'm hungry," yelled Curly, over the roar of the Knucklehead engine.

"Quit sniveling, you ate day before yesterday," answered Moe.

"Me, too," said Larry. "I'm so hungry that last bug I swallowed tasted good."

"Are you going to give me trouble, too?" snarled Moe, giving Larry a bop on the forehead.

"I'm still hungry," said Curly.

"Shut up!" said Moe, poking Curly in the eyes.

"Mmmmmmm! I'm still hungry!"

"I'll hungry you," Moe grimaced, taking his hands off the handlebars and choking Curly.

"Don't look now but we're about to be killed," said Larry.

"Wo-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh!" yelled Moe, making a quick grab for the controls just before they nearly ran head on into an eighteen-wheeler. He swerved the bike to the passenger side of the truck just before a collision, almost hitting a Toyota, before they got back to the right lane.

"Remind me to kill you later," said Moe to Curly, after he regained his composure.

"I'll make a note of it," answered Curly, digging around in his jacket for a pencil.

Larry pointed his finger. "There's a fruit-stand," he said. "We can get something to eat real cheap."

"You're right," agreed Moe. "Maybe you've got half a brain after all."

They wheeled into the parking lot. Moe hit the brakes, sending Curly flying out of the sidecar, landing on his back on the pavement. Moe and Larry jumped out and ran to the prone man.

"Speak to me, kid, say a few syllables," said Moe.

"It was a good fight, Ma, but I lost," he answered.

"You going to start that again?" said Moe, giving Curly a slap. They pulled Curly to his feet and started putting assorted fruit into a sack until the boys noticed three girls standing together crying into handkerchiefs.

"Gee, what's wrong, girls?" Curly asked. The question brought a torrent of tears and boo-hoos from the women.

"I'm Moe and this is Larry and Curly. If you tell us what's wrong maybe we can help."

"I'm Ella."

"I'm Stella."

"I'm Bella."

"We brought our motorcycle to California to enter it in the custom show," said Ella.

"We spent all our money to build it, over $10,000," said Stella.

"And three men stole it from us," said Bella, which started a fresh round of tears from the girls.

"It was a pink Harley Sportster," said Ella.

"With gold plated wheels," said Stella.

"And now it's gone," said Bella.

Moe pulled Curly and Larry to one side. "Listen, fellas," he said. "We got to help these girls."

"Yeah, we'll catch those dirty rats," said Larry.

"Let me at 'em," said Curly. "I'll tear 'em limb from limb."

"Girls, we'll get your Sportster back if it's the last thing we do," promised Larry.

"I'll fight to the last drop of their blood," added Moe.

About that time a black van passed by the fruit stand. "Turn around," said Bear, with an evil grin. "Them are the guys that blew up my 'sickle." The van wheeled around and parked beside the Knucklehead. The three Raunchy Rats got out and stood around the sidecar rig.

"What are those guys doing with our scooter?" asked Larry.

"By golly I don't know but we better find out," said Moe, pushing Larry and Curly in front of him.

"Remember me?" asked Bear, grimacing at the boys when they walked up.

"Can't say as I do, we're strangers in these parts," answered Moe, not recognizing Bear with his singed beard and burned clothes.

"Sure you do, the gas station," said Bear, grinding his jaw.

"Gas? Naw, you must be mistaken," said Larry. "We never touch the stuff."

"Yeah, we're trying to cut down," said Curly.

"I'm going to cut you down!" yelled Bear, as he made a lunge for Moe. Moe poked him in the eyes and then kicked him in the shin. Joe tried to catch Larry but he pushed the ice cream Joe was eating into his face. Ralph came up with his switchblade and slowly walked towards Curly.

"Hot-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta!" stuttered Curly, as he backed away. Ralph stabbed at Curly but he sidestepped and Ralph stuck Bear in the rear who had bent over rubbing his sore shin.

"Ooooooow!" screamed Bear.

"Duh, I'm going to smash you for messing up my ice cream," said Joe, as he chased after Larry.

Larry ran to the back of the van. Joe sung his big right fist just as Larry opened up the rear door. There was a loud piercing scream after Joe smashed his hand into the heavy steel door. As Joe rubbed his sore fist a pink golden glint caught Larry's eye.

"Moe, Curly, look!" exclaimed Larry. It's Ella, Stella, and Bella's Sportster! The guys must be the crooks!"

"C'mon, let's get 'em, boys," yelled Moe.

"Let's make tracks," said Bear. "They're onto us!" The boys tried to stop the Raunchy Rats, but Bear hit Moe in the face and his head bounced back hitting Larry in the head, whose cranium also bounced back cracking against Curly's skull. All three fell to the ground. As their senses returned, they got to their feet just in time to watch the van speeding out of the parking lot.

"After 'em, boys," said Moe, as they ran for their scooter. All at once Curly ran back to the girls, kissed Bella, grabbed the sack of fruit he had collected, and then jumped into the sidecar. Moe started the Knucklehead and they took of in pursuit of the van. Curly pulled an apple out of the sack but, before he could take a bite, Moe grabbed the apple and smashed it over Curly's head.

"What do you think this is, a picnic?" Moe growled.

They rounded a tight corner to the right and the sidecar left the ground. "Nya-ah-ah-ah!" Curly cried. Larry, who was on the back, grabbed Moe around the head for support, covering Moe's eyes. Unable to see Moe crossed over into the other lane forcing three cars into the ditch before he could pry Larry's hands loose.

Moe had the throttle wide open going so fast he didn't see a large chuckhole in the road. For a second the Knucklehead was airborne but Moe didn't slow down. Curly was thrown out of the sidecar but managed to grab hold of Larry's belt loop. "Nya-ah-ah-ah-ah!" he screamed, waving like a flag with his feet straight out behind the speeding motorcycle.

"Get back in that sidecar and quit playing around or I'll bat your brains out," yelled Moe. Curly pulled himself back onto the bike as they came into the city limits of a crowded town. The van made it through the green light at a busy intersection but by the time the sidecar rig reached the crossway the light was red. Moe screeched to a halt as the traffic crossed in front of them.

"What're you stopping for?" asked Larry.

"Shut up! You want to get us killed?" Moe growled.

"Look, a cop," said Curly, pointing to a traffic patrolman parked across the street.

"Hey!" Moe yelled. "Stop that van!" All three of them began yelling and waving at the cop.

The officer looked at them for a second, waved, and then continued pointing his radar gun at the incoming traffic.

Larry shook his head. "It's no use. He thinks we're just being friendly."

"I got an idea," said Moe. "Hey, pudding-head, give me one of those apples." Moe grabbed an apple and threw it at the traffic cop hitting him square in the face. "Bull's eye!" beamed Moe.

Larry tossed an orange knocking the cop's hat off. The officer sputtered and started to yell at the boys but was caught short when a banana stuck in his mouth. Spitting out the banana the patrolman started the squad car and spun around towards the Harley.

"Oh, boy, success!" yelled Moe, as he gunned the engine. With the siren wailing and lights flashing, the cop chased after the Knucklehead, which chased after the van.

The lights and siren helped clear traffic and before long the boys caught up with the van. Moe pulled up near the back of the van on the driver's side. "Curly, jump on the back," Moe yelled, who motioned to the ladder on the back door, which hung from the luggage rack on top.

Curly stood up in the sidecar but hesitated. "What if I miss?"

"Quick stalling and jump!" Moe ordered.

"Not me!" exclaimed Curly. He started to sit back down but Moe pulled a Harley's Best pin off of his shirt and poked Curly in the rear with the stick pin.

"Ya-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah!" yelled the fat man, as he leaped out of the sidecar and landed on the ladder.

"Hey, Bear," said Ralph, who was driving the van. "One of them is on the back."

Scowling, Bear pulled out a pistol and made his way to the rear doors. Slowly he opened the door that Curly clung to and stuck out the gun. Curly leaned around and bit Bear on his massive hand. "Owww!" yelled Bear, dropping the pistol onto the pavement as he fell back into the van.

Curly climbed on top of the van and crawled to the front and peered upside down into the windshield.

"There he is!" yelled Ralph. "I'll get him!" He pulled his .38 out and pointed it at Curly.

"Nya-ah-ah!" cried Curly, as he jerked back out of the way just before Ralph fired and blew out the windshield.

"Hey, you idiot! What're you doing?" yelled Bear, as shattered glass fell back into the interior.

"Duh, yeah, you're getting glass in my ice cream," said Joe. Joe leaned out the window and peered over the top. Curly poked him in the eye and grabbed his ice cream bar.

"Oooooh, chocolate, my favorite," squealed Curly, as he munched down.

"Turn here and drive under them trees and we'll scrape him off," said Bear, pointing to a line of trees and shrubbery along the highway. Ralph jumped the curb and drove under several low hanging limbs.

"Woob, woob, woob, woob, woob!" yelled Curly, as limbs and branches slapped him on the head and body. Satisfied that he had lost his unwanted passenger, Ralph turned back to the highway.

"Nya-ah-ah!" yelled Curly, who still clung to the top with a handful of leaves, branches, and a hornet's nest. Curly tossed the nest, which just happened to land in Moe's lap, who had managed to pull along beside the van.

"Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh!" yelled Moe, who threw the nest back to Larry. With a yell Larry tossed the nest through the driver's side window of the van into Ralph's lap. Ralph jumped out from under the steering wheel and, now out of control, the van ran over several garbage cans before crashing head on into a tree.

As steam poured out of the van's punctured radiator, Moe and Larry slid to a stop on the Harley, quickly followed by the squad car. The cop jumped out with his revolver in hand. "Alright, you two, I've got you now!" he said.

"Wait a minute, you don't understand. Those guys in the van are crooks," said Moe.

"Yeah, officer, they stole our girl's motorcycle," added Larry, who opened the rear door of the van. The three Raunchy Rats stumbled out still swatting at the angry hornets.

"Good work, boys," said the patrolman. "We've been after these bandits for months. Okay you jail-birds, get in the car." As the cop loaded up the Raunchy Rats, Ella, Bella, and Stella arrived in a taxi.

"Look, girls, we got your bike back," said Moe.

"Our heroes," the girls chimed, showering Moe and Larry with kisses.

"Where's Curly?" asked Bella, all at once.

"Gee, I don't know," said Larry.

"I forgot all about him," said Moe. "Curly, Curly, where are you?"

Moe, Larry, and the girls began looking frantically around the van for Curly.

"Hey, fellas, up here!" yelled a voice from above.

"Look! Up in the tree!" said Larry. They all looked up and saw Curly sitting on a branch in the top of the tree the van had struck. A woodpecker was on his head pecking away.

"Nya-ah-ah-ah, woob, woob, woob, woob, get me down!" he yelled. "I'm losing my mind! Woob, woob, woob, woob, woob, woob, woob!"


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