He was a huge man, by the standards of big men, but even bigger than most of them would imagine a large man who they'd like to emulate to be, for he was even bigger than them.
A large, fattened and bulbous foot dangled over the side of the patchwork yellow life raft; toes like over-ripened plumbs dripped the fresh waters of the river Morava and "plunked" in its still surface causing small fish to skip across the water fleeing in fear for their very lives.
His forehead seemed as bulbous and ripend as his fattened toes, except for the rather odd looking wound that looks as if it were left by a tuning fork, or perhaps the odd death star.
The massive frame of Vardar Pannonianium could barely fit in the life raft...in fact, it looked more as if he were surrounded by children's water wings, or maybe floating in the intertube from the left front wheel of a 1957 Eireflite "Shopper" De Soto Station Waggon, the one with the 341 cubic inch engine and 4 barrell carbs...what a motor in such a body, and what a body, in such a life raft.
A dribble of water had run down from the scab on his forehead and he noticed with his good eye, the one that was slowly working its way back in its orbit to once again look forward, rather than up at the wound in his head, (he was becoming bored with the scene, and this a feat for him) he watched with that eye the droplet descend slowly down his bulbuous pig snout an then fall as if from a cliff down, down to his T-shirt below.
"Damn," he thought, "dees ees my good T-shirt".
Yes, a good T-shirt it was, as for once he had one that would cover down to his waste. It still wouldn't tuck in his britches, but most his T-shirts only covered the upper portion of his chest, just below the twin beer barrels that were his pectorial muscles.
"Vonder vhere I got dees ting? And das n dees headache...feels like dee time Vardar vus hit between dee eyes with zat arrow. Mmmmm....Cle...," he tried to read the letters that bridged his armpits from side to side..."Cleve...Cleeve...Clevland ROCKS !"
"Wow, vonder vhere dees came frohm?"
Vardar was pleased. Here he was in a River that he knew from his youth and no doubt on the Pannonian plains that were named for his ancestors and from whom he derived his last name - Pannonianium (which tranlates, roughly, from the Montenegran to "Mud Head").
"Zee last zing I veemember ees verking out in a Gym in America somevhers? St. Louis, I tink, or maybe Manhattan?".
And he was right, as what little senses he ever had were slowly beginning to return, like some dog that had been previously hit by a car, but who's sense of smell had slowly begun to return and so the dog tries to walk, and hunt and to run on its leg, only to find that its smell is much better than its ability to run on a single good leg.
Such was the case with Vardar, only he had all his legs.
The allusion was meant to point to the fact that Vardar, unlike most humans, operated on a single brain cell. One cell that controlled them all.
The author now ponders on yon reader with a raised brow.
"Hmmmmm...shall I break out the McGuffee reader? NO, I think I'll continue with the plight of dear friend, Vardar, and try and refrain from obscured reference to another's work."
A rather large piece of stone masonry was loosed from its mortar in the main pilon for the bridge.
Vardar's foot had managed to knock it loose as his raft crashed into the stone foundation.
Fortune was always on Vardar's side.
As a boy of ten, it was noted by all the other town's people of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina that the lad was "special". He was a dear boy, slow to anger and quick to help all in need.
Some local "toughs" known to all as the "Hapsburg Boys" had been marauding town, tossing paint on the farmer's barns, and lighting piles of hay on fire. Fearsome they were, and quite the marauders.
One day, Tisza Rusyn (known as "teaser", the worse of the worst), the leader of the Hapsburg Boys had the extreme misfortune of capturing in his bare foot a thorn from a wild rose bush that had been lying in wait in the cold Winter rye. Well, this of course brought a tear to Vardar's eye, who had been watching from the freshly painted barn above.
"Hold on zar," bellowed the beheamouth (for even at ten years of age, Vardar had already achieved the size of most giants).
Vardar rushed to young Tisza's aid "I'll get zee thorn," boomed Vardar.
Of course, Tisza was almost in tears at the thought of what the monster would do to his foot.
"Be careful Vardar, or I'll paint your Mother's garden shed."
"Oh Teesa, you ahhh such da Teas-uh - ah, ha, ha, ha, ha."
Vardar, thinking on his one good cell, found a needle on the floor of the barn and picked it up in his teeth. He used the needle, his massive teeth, and the unique postioning ability of his eye (for his eyes had never been straight, even before the incident with the death star in that American Gym) to remove the thorn.
This would prove fateful for Vardar, and for Tisza Rusyn.
"Vardar, what the hell are you doing in that raft? Don't you know that Winter is not a good time for a cruise?," Tisza yelled from above on the bridge.
"Get out of that damned water and get up here in my waggonere and get dry."
Tisza Rusyn had recieved his education from the graduate program in development in a collaboration between Brown University and the Watson Institute for International Studies. His concentration was in "Complimentary Politics", which he was advised to take after almost being expelled for painting the woodshed behind the Dean's home on campus an appropriate shade of brown.
Complimentary Politics, it was thought, might calm the spirted boy down and get him to focus on his studies.
He had finally accomplished his life-long dream of saving enough money to buy the 1957 Eireflite "Shopper" De Soto Station Waggon he had always dreamt of. With its unique design, three on the column gears, 341 cubic inches of raw power, it was a force to reckon with, especially given the two-cyliner SAAB's that most local police in Vojvodstvo; AND, it was two tone (red on white).
"I would ask rather nicely that you get your rather large rear in gear, climb that river bank and get in the back of the waggonere, Vardar. We have an appointment with Ugrin Čak, and we mustn't keep Master Čak waiting."
Vardar climbed the bank as Tisza recommend in such polite, dare say "complimentary" fashion.
He adjusted the life raft which he was now wearing over his shoulders and wrapped around his neck like a big, yellow suit, his arms "fitted" through the floor of the raft after dreaming that he had been hugging his pet Python, Slinky.
He climbed in the back of the waggon and away they sped, chased by young local toughs trying desperately to flick paint on Teaser's waggon.
"How did Vardar get in dat reever?," Vardar asked in usual quixiotic fashion.
"Vardar, my dear boy, do you not remember when the military picked you up in the Lean-firm Gym in Little Lima-Lima, Ohio? Our good friend from Greenback, Mr. Lester Dong and a cadre of his choicest cadets arrived there not long after some sort of altercation had transpired. All they could find were a couple of dead pallookas, some ultra-thin (and quite tiny cigarillo butts) and you, muttering something about "I deeden't see dat coming", with a damned death star sticking out of your thick skull like a hard pecker.
"According to Dong, there were 9mm shells from a glock all over the place, and some poor bloke had a set of numbchucks sticking out of his ass".
"Dong thought it looked like the work of some Frenchman. Kiss-a-blow or something," related Tisza.
"Zat vould be Quisleau...Herve"
"God bless you !," relayed the most polite Tisza.
"No, no, I deedn't sneezle, hees name, hees name is Herve," said Vardar.
"God bless you !", again confused.
"Herve Quisleau...dat eeze dee name of dee mon in dee Lean-Firm Gym...hee ees dee man dat give Vardar dees headache. He a very bad man.", spouted the enlightened, single-brain celled Vardar.
"Well, we have a mission now," said Tisza. "Let's get ourselves to Greenback."
Lester Dong revved the props on the old airplane. Yeah it was vintage WWII, but so what. It crossed continents and oceans, and it would carry them back to Greenback.
He looked at his watch. 9:30 pm.
Tisza was supposed to be here with the giant no later than nine.
He took another "pull" from the whiskey. It reminded him of home. His mom would always serve whiskey at breakfast.
He looked again at his watch...9:35 "Damn, where are they?", he thought.
The ramp from the belly was extended down to the tarmac and awaited the arrival of the station wagon. He'd transport the whole shoot'n shabang back to the states.
Back to Greenback, where they all belonged.
"Hold onto your life raft Vardar," Tisza exclaimed.
"We are up for one hell of a ride".
The waggonere belched fire as she zoomed up the runway, into the belly of the bird. Its pistons clamored like Usorian sleigh bells, and fire flew from her ass like a Bačkan whore after a night with the huns.
Ugrin Čak and Lester Dong now awaited them for their debriefing.
They explained to poor Vardar that they had rescued him from the Gym in America and were administering first aid on the flight back to Vojvodina, when he awoke, exclaimed "Vyoule neva take me alive, you commie peegs", grabbed a life raft, pulled the inflate string like a rip-cord and jumped out the door of the plane yelling "YEEE-ron-OH-MO".
"Our prayer was that you'd hit the river," said Čak. "And it looks like you did !".
They all had a good laugh.
This contingent, now reunited, soared across the dark Croatian night and with them carried a new day across the planet and to Greenback beyond and their peerless leader, Platu.