With all such trivia out of the way the Wizards went to work at creating the Strawman. Which may be a simple task for a farmer who seeks only to bamboozle a bunch of birds. But a Strawman good enough to perplex a passel of people is a more painstaking project. The first worry of the Wizards was what kind of straw to use and where to get it without arousing suspicions.

A Wizard from Kansas suggested wheat straw; but acknowledged when challenged that it might be irritating.

Oat straw seemed soft enough, but possible more expensive because of its several uses down on the farm.

"We could use bean straw," a Massachusetts Wizard said. "There's lots of that and really quite cheap near Boston."

"But some of that was used a few Carnivals ago," said a Wizard from the Far West. "We ought to use something different this time."

Then arose a Wizard from the Deep South to say: "How'd y'all like to have a kind of straw what ain't never been used afore fer enythin' like this an yuh kin git all y'all want of it fer free?"

"What kind of straw?" asked the DamYankee Wizards all at once.

"Peanut straw."

"How come it's for free?"

"'Cause people who plant peanuts use tractors now instead of mules."

Where can we get it?"

"Where people plant peanuts."

"But can we get it," asked a skeptical Wizard from Schenectady, "without someone getting suspicious?"

"Why shore yuh kin," said the Deep South Wizard. "All y'all have to do is drive along some flatlands backroad in Georgia and pick it up when nobody's looking."

So that was done -- peanut straw gathered and fashioned in shape of a man. No great wizardry involved in that -- no great task at all for the Wonderful Wizards of Ooze. But much more was yet to be done...

"What kind of face shall we give him?"

"Make it happy face. Everybody loves a happy face."

"Big smile?"

"You bet -- great big smile -- with lots of pretty teeth."

"How's that?"

"Eyes! He's gotta have eyes!"

"Would these do?" asked the Apprentice Wizard apprehensively as he dug two glass marbles from the pocket of his jeans.

"Fine, my lad. Just fine!" said his mentor Master Wizard masterfully as he stuck the marbles in the Strawman's grinning face. "You'll do well as a Wizard, my boy. How about it fellows -- isn't that a beautiful pair of eyes?"

"They look glaringly glassy to me," said the Wizard who'd given the Strawman his big smile."

"Well make the smile bigger, then -- and with bigger teeth; then no one will notice the glassy look of the eyes."

"Okay! How's that?"

"Hey, great! No one could resist a happy face like that!"

"Well -- yeah -- okay for the face. But what about his hands?"

"Whadaya mean about his hands? He's got two of 'em."

"Sure -- that's the right number of hands. But he looks so stiff with 'em just hangin' out of his shirtsleeves."

"Put a Bible in his right hand!"

That was done.

"That oughta satisfy the Saints!"

"What about his left hand?"

"Put a Playboy Magazine in that one -- that'll scintillate the Sinners!"

That was done and a cheer went up from all except a few worried Wizards. "But now," said one of the cheerless Wizards, "How's he gonna carry his suitcase?"

"Let someone else carry his suitcase!"

"Who d'ya think'll carry a suitcase for a Strawman? He's gonna hafta carry his own suitcase!"

We could give him another hand!"

"Don't be silly! Two faces we could get away with 'cause he's supposed to be a Politician. But three hands would be a dead giveaway!"

Then did one of the Senior Wizards call for a Concentrated Concentration. (That is a way of Wizardry wherein all Wizards apply their wits at once to the same worry.) And from that great concentration of wizardry did emerge this solution:

"Switch the Bible to his left hand! Roll the Playboy Mag up in his left hand! Then trade his suitcase for a garment bag and let him carry it over his right shoulder."

And quickly as 'twas thought, 'twas also done.

Now even as the Rockyfinger Wizards were grooming their Strawman for the purpose, other Wizards were at work on Images which they hoped would please the Demagog Party for the next Great Carnival. Many and varied were their creations, but all in vain were their efforts. With the backing of the TLC and the Brothers Rockyfinger (though the latter remained out of sight), the smiling Strawman overwhelmed all Imagery rivals and was hailed in Grand Convention as the Demagog party's Champion for the Great Carnival.

And if there were any Demagogs at the Convention with doubts as to the true credentials of the Chosen Champion, they spoke not a word of such suspicions, but solemnly vowed to assist him onto the Throne. For such had become the way of Party Politics even before the names were changed to Demagog and Reprobate from whatever they might previously have been.

After which there was Great Celebration at the Demagog Convention -- much Spirited back-slapping and laughter. But probably less of enjoyment and satisfaction than that which was shared (perhaps more quietly) in the House o Rockyfinger. For certainly it must now have seemed to the members thereof that Big Brother N would soon be chosen by the People to sit upon the Throne of Ooze!

But Woe! And also, Alas! The Fickleness of Fate in this regard could hardly be o'erstated! A Series of Calamities befell which again forbid N Rockyfinger's Noble Image from being chosen as Champion of the Reprobate Party for the next Great Carnival!

For one thing, while trying to gain support of some Reprobates in a region of the Nation less Oozie then elsewhere, N Rockyfinger mis bespoke a bit in answer to some question asked politely enough of him. In consequence then did his questioners decline to support the candidacy of his Image, with the same degree of politeness with which he had responded to their questions. (Or -- just to be perfectly blunt: He lost his cool and cussed them out and they told him to pack it!)

Then also, the near-Imageless one who had been placed upon the Throne without benefit of Carnival, and who had said he didn't really want to be there, decided that the People needed for him to remain there, after all. And so did he make himself available to the Reprobate Party to be their Champion at the next Great Carnival.

Now this happenstance should not be misinterpreted as meaning the near-Imageless one was at all insincere when he had said that he had no desire to seek the Throne for himself. You see, although he was virtually Imageless when he was placed upon the Throne, he soon thereafter acquired an Image. For Image-makers are attracted to Throne-sitters very much as flies are attracted to a honey pot -- and for very similar reason. And what better way might Wizards show gratitude to any Throne-sitter who would welcome them graciously than to create for him a fine Image; especially when he had none to begin with. And having acquired a Fine Image, was it not then his duty -- for People's Sake -- to remain on the Throne if he could?

Yet despite that dismaying development, N Rockyfinger was not yet full dismayed. He told all his Wizards, and anyone else who might listen, that the Throne-sitter's newly acquired Image was nowhere near so attractive as his own in the Eyes of the People. So he id still pursue the long-sought approval of the Reprobate Party for the Carnival Contest against his Strawman.

Then woe upon woe! From out of the West came another contender for the Reprobate Party's approval. A Maverick sort of fellow, some did allow, and with a well known and even by some admired, long-established Image. Also some did say that he had "the drawing power of twenty mules!" And it was soon to be seen that his long-established Image was overshadowing by far the newly acquired Image of the temporary Throne-sitter.

So then despairing of prospects for his own Image to successfully contend against the 20-mule drawing power of the newcomer's Image, N Rockyfinger instructed his Wizards to cast their lot (which was also his own) with the temporary Throne-sitter instead of continuing to promote his own Image for the candidacy of the Reprobate Party. "We must make this great sacrifice," he told them, "to make certain the Party will not choose that Wild one from the West."

And all the Wizards dutifully nodded in agreement except for one who foolishly asked:

"But why?? It appears to me that what the Reprobate Party needs right now is a real good muleskinner.!"

Then did the foolish fellow pause in mid-chuckle at his own fun-intended remark when he found himself the focus of a flood of Wizardly glares....

"I'm afraid," he spoke then nervously, "that he who now sits upon the Throne cannot win the Carnival Contest against the Strawman we created for the Demagogs."

He looked then pleadingly at N Rockyfinger, hoping for some sign of approval, or agreement, or at least tolerance of what he had first said. But N Rockyfinger cast not his gaze for even a moment at the wayward Wizard, but looked instead above and beyond him, waiting without a word the way of wizardry in dealing with such waywardness.

Nor had he long to wait....

"It is better," said all the other Wizards in unctuous unison, "...If N Rockyfinger himself cannot sit upon it, that our Strawman should be placed upon the Throne."

And as the other Wizards so did speak, the wayward one vanished without even a "poof" -- never to be seen or heard from again.

Then did N Rockyfinger speak unto the loyal Wizards again saying: "I release you all of any obligations to me, to follow your own good consciences through the rest of this Carnival. As for myself -- knowing you will understand -- having been for all my life a Reprobate it would be most unseemly for me to desert the Party now."

"Does this mean," asked that inquisitive Apprentice Wizard of his Mentor Wizard, "that N Rockyfinger will himself stand with the Throne-sitter during the Carnival, and against the Strawman which we created for him?"

"This means," said his mentor-master most masterfully, "that you should not ask dam-fool questions but just keep your mouth shut and watch what happens."

N Rockyfinger did indeed remain as faithful to the Reprobate Party as ever he had been. In the final days of the Carnival he appeared in public places together with other Reprobates who were to the People extolling the virtues real or imagined or pretended of the Party's Throne-sitting Champion. In none of those appearance he heard to suggest that the People should choose Demagog's Champion instead.

No matter that he said nothing of note in favor of the Reprobate candidate; since neither did he say anything outright against him. In fact, N Rockyfinger spoke very little during those appearances. But he did provide thereby that the People of Ooze might see what they were missing because the Party had not chosen him as a candidate. Especially when he would wave to them as he did on several occasions - with all of his rocky fingers bent except one. So it came to pass in that Fabulous Land of Ooze, that a Strawman was acclaimed unto the Throne. And as he strode to the Palace, with his garment bag slung over his shoulder, there were murmurs among the multitude that here most surely was a leader from within their own ranks - one of their very own kind. So humble was he -- and so profuse his piety -- that a few observers did suggest that he seemed a bit uncertain.

But if the Strawman in fact felt uncertainties as he approached the Throne, these should surely have vanished once he was seated upon it. For there all around him, seated on the cushiest of nearby cushions, were some of the self-same Wizards who had groomed him in preparation for the Carnival.

At once did the Wizards present to the Strawman volumes of their own most intellectual works; thus filling his basically uncluttered head with their own UNPARALLEL WISDOM. Then after paying brief homage to his Royal Aspect, and receiving in turn his Blessing, many of them did wing way to elsewhere to work their wondrous wizardry all over the world.

And so it did come to pass, despite the Fickleness of Fate which forbid himself from sitting upon the Throne, that N Rockyfinger was able to bestow at least some of his great genius to his beloved People of Ooze, through his Wizards and his Strawman who was seated on the Throne. In so doing he sought for himself neither credit nor acclaim. The credit he selflessly allowed to the Wizards and he minded not but rather enjoyed the sight of the People paying homage to his Strawman.

While the Wizards were working their wonders around and about the World, the Strawman dressed in a comfy sweater sat near the hearth of a flickering fire, therefrom to speak through his smiling face via the televisionary magic of modern media to ALL the People of Ooze, even with a telephone near at hand in case any of the People might wish to call and discuss with him their problems.

And the good People of Ooze did love it!. (Never mind what some of the "bad" ones might have thought.) For was this not to them still further proof that the new Throne-sitter was truly of and for themselves?

Yet one of the Wizards was worried by all that. He hastened to the House of Rockyfinger and to the Brother R spake thusly:

"The People seem to love our Strawman's fireside chats."

"We noticed that," they said.

"Our Strawman seems to enjoy them as much," said the Wizard, "...and maybe even more."

"We noticed that, too."

"But just suppose, good Sires, that because of all that Popular acclaim and adulation our Strawman might come to the notion that he is something more than he really is --?"

"In that case --," said the Brothers R quite calmly and in unison, "...we'll just put our Strawman's feet a little closer to the fire."

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