Dan Browne, eh?

By Lyle Neff | May 21, 2006


Dave Browne, the noted but controversial paleo-scriptural researchist, put his square jaw in his perceptive hands and sighed. If the Naxalene papyrus-vellum fragments under his microfiche meant what he thought they did, then he and Natalie had to get to Moose Factory right away. Ah Natalie, he thought, my statuesque but disregarded archeo-glyphic specializer, my ex-wife, what kind of Panderers’ Box has my tireless study unleashed?


With a sudden energetic burst of energy, Natalie, along with the marginalized but fat crypto-antiquer who also was named Dave, fell to her knees and began digging up the graveyard soil.

“It hurts, Dave Browne,” Natalie stated excitedly. “It hurts that your provocative truth-seeking is about to prove that Jesus Christ’s descendants have trained polar bears to guard their grow ops here for centuries,” she added. “It hurts that this textual-archival provider, who seems obese but goodhearted and is also named Dave, is actually a spy for the secretive society called The Priority of Kiwani, and it hurts that I am not revealing this to you, due to ex-wife reasoning. It hurts,” Natalie continued, “to dig up this permafrost with my bare hands. What’s the deal here again?”

“Midden,” Dave Browne grinned.

“You mean…?

“Exactly. A century-by-century sedimentary, meaning layered, record of a people’s leavings and droppings, including both their waste and their crap. But what’s this we see here, in the sediment, or layer, which corresponds to, meaning it lines up with, the period just after Christ’s supposed death?”

“Good heavens, Dave Browne,” expectorated Natalie. “Is this… *frankincense?*

“Close,” grinned the oft-derided but fundamentally-honourable chrono-biblical engineer. “Natalie, it’s *myrrh.*. Real *myrrh.*” He paused. “*Recycled* real *myrrh.*”

Suddenly the other Dave betrayed them and the evidence was destroyed.


Tom Smith, the genial but sinister Home Hardware franchisee with a mysterious connection to the Priority of Kiwani, tented his fingers and looked at Dave Browne over his gigantic desk.

“You see, Mr Browne, we Kiwanis have nothing to hide, especially nothing of an Essonistic, cabalish, or sectafarian nature. But we still don’t like noble lexico-Galilean linguists like you poking around after non-existent secrets we haven’t guarded for centuries. That’s why we smeared you in the monotheistic media, had that nasty cartoon of you published in *Frank,* and ran over your ex-wife with that snowmobile.”

Dave leapt across the desk and seized the old man by the throat. “Do your worst, Mr Browne,” Smith rasped, choked and held in Dave’s chokehold. “When we hit your statuesque but brainy Natalie, she just lay there like a poet without a grant… gaack!”

Dave was grippening Smith more tightly. “Just tell me one thing, you bastard,” he shouted. “What *is* the Priority of Kiwani?”

“Browne, you idiot,” hissed Smith. “Ssss! Just look out my office window.” He gestured jitterily out to the rink, where forty people were playing bingo, and another forty curled. “These people, Kiwanis for them is a priority… but for my organization, Kiwanis is a *greater* priority…” Smith sneered, and died.


“Sorry I betrayed you, Dave. I’ve come to realize that your single-minded devotion to the truth makes you the greatest scroll-unrolling consultant of our times. Also pretty cool.”

“All right, Dave. Let’s just concentrate on breaking into this storage locker.” Dave Browne looked at his rotund but treacherous younger counterpart, and he, Dave Browne, mopped his tall brow. Inside the storage locker, if his interpretation of the Agnostic rubbings from Smith’s rink was correct, lay a stack of LiteBrite boards, their batteries dead for millennia, which, when plugged in and decoded, would provide a vital piece of evidence for the Christ’s-descendants-are-large-mammal-trainers-and-weed-farmers-in-Canada theory. Which he now knew to be true.

Sadly, he was betrayed again, and the evidence smashed, by the other Dave, a double-double agent if there ever was one. Only this manuscript remains.

647 w. May 21, 2006


  • Lyle Neff

    Lyle Neff is a Canadian poet and literary journalist who lives and works in Vancouver. His most recent book is *Bizarre Winery Tragedy* (Anvil Press, 2005)

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