A laugh from hell woke me up at four o’clock this morning. It emanated, or so it seemed, from the same semi-distant place where I often hear the laughing woman.* But this new laugh, the laugh from hell, it was definitely male in nature, if not in origin. Call it incontinent, this laugh. This laugher laughed so hard it must have hurt. What sort of bloody sod laughs harder than is nearly humanly possible at four in the morning, and again thirty minutes later, and once more at five o’clock? You’d have thought the cackles were forced out of him the same way a small child squeezes a rubber ducky to death. I tell you, this laugh, it was a laugh of agony. The way you’d puke and shit out some serious food poisoning — like lose ten pounds overnight to the toilet kind of food poisoning — that’s how hard this loon laughed. Mayhap he could not sob. Say some psychological or biological impairment stifled his tears. So, instead, he laughed — laughed at it all and all of a sudden. It certainly seemed he’d been prevented somehow, for years, for decades, mayhap from birth, from laughing. ASIDE #1: How might we coax a baby into giggling their way out of the womb? Imagine the positive, lifelong effects of such good cheer, straight from the get-go. END ASIDE #1. But as for this incontinent, predawn laugher, you’d have thought he’d been tickled very nearly to death — that is, until early this morning, when, after decades of either self-imposed restraint or extrinsic suppression, the stitches that bound his lips together (whether metaphoric or authentic) at long last came loose. ASIDE #2: An African princess I once kissed and fondled insisted that tickling was a form of torture. She also attested to the efficacy of toothpaste on acne. That is, as a cure. I say nix to both tickling and toothpaste claims. But, in sooth, I never noticed a zit. END ASIDE #2.‡ (12/26/2000) 

*[09/05/2021: Any previous or subsequent mention of “the laughing woman” has yet to be discovered.] 

[09/05/2021: Any subsequent mention of the “incontinent” laugher has yet to be discovered.] 

[09/05/2021: Regal as she was, her royal claim was not independently verified.]

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