The huge field of Free Country, U.S.A was quiet that day. The weather had been pleasant and very sunny since early in the morning, and everyone seemed to be off minding their own business. In the silence of the field, doing some yard work, was none other than young Homestar Runner, wearing his favourite pale-yellow duck shirt. Well, he wasn't really doing yard work; he was just scraping at the ground with a hoe. No-one knows how long he was there, but he had been there a while, as a patch of grass had been scraped away, and now Homestar was just standing there, scraping at a rough patch of dirt with a hoe. He stood there with sort of a blank look, his scraping getting slower and slower as he grew tired of the repetitive motion, before he finally stopped and spoke.
"This yard work is hard work!" Homestar quipped, sweating a little.
Just as Homestar thought of leaving, Strong Bad and The Cheat walked over to him, clearly both amused and unimpressed by his 'yard work'.
"Do you have any idea how dumb you look?" Strong Bad said, pointing his gloved hand at the patch of hoed dirt beside Homestar's feet. "You call that yard work!? Besides, Yard work is for losers… Like, the loseriest… of losers…"
Homestar was surprisingly offended by this. Surprisingly, since he is usually clueless to Strong Bad's insults. There he had been, just minding his own business in the peaceful field, before Strong Bad and The Cheat had to show up and spoil things for him.
"I never want to be a loser again!" Homestar Runner said sadly, dropping the hoe from his invisible grasp and running away. His two rivals watched as he disappeared off into the distance.
"Well, that got rid of him quickly." Strong Bad muttered to The Cheat. "Now, let's claim this patch of dirt in the name of Strong Badia!"
. . . . .
Homestar ran… And ran… and ran. In fact, as soon as he had started running, he forgot why he had even begun in the first place, as he often would. Homestar continued to run around town, running a lap or two around the neighbourhood in an attempt to pass time. The runner only stopped when he grew very tired, feeling like he'd just run around the world fifty times, and dragged himself back home and into bed for a nap. Unfortunately, Homestar was a very deep sleeper, and a sleep-walker, which would have made a good enough explanation as to how he woke the next morning back in the middle of the field.
"What did I do last night…?" Homestar asked himself, yawning a little. It was when he yawned and sat up that he suddenly couldn't help but notice a throbbing discomfort in his… Craw. It almost felt as if a small animal was trying to burst out of it.
"Homestar, why were you wandering through people's front yards last night?" A familiar whiny voice rang from behind.
Homestar was startled a little by the sudden sound and turned around to see Strong Sad, who pulled a look of disgust when Homestar faced him.
"What is that unsightly thing!?" Strong Sad shrieked, pointing towards the bottom of Homestar's neck. "Make it go away!"
A little confused, Homestar looked down at himself. To his surprise, there was a strange lump at the bottom of his neck, right where that unusual sensation of discomfort was coming from, as if something was there that shouldn't be.
"I think something is stuck in my craw!" Homestar Runner declared in shock. He had no idea how something could have gotten stuck in his craw, or more peculiarly, just what exactly it was that was stuck there.
"Well then do something to make it go away!" Strong sad whined, clearly repulsed by the lump in Homestar's craw. He left the area without wasting another moment, leaving Homestar to ponder some kind of solution.
And ponder he did, trying to figure out how to rid himself of whatever was wedged in his craw, or at least hide it. But being as clueless as he is, Homestar's best idea was to go home and stand in front of his bathroom mirror with his mouth wide open, in an attempt to at least catch a glimpse of the thing. Needless to say, that wasn't successful. Homestar tried drinking water to wash down the craw-blockage, but that just made his throat feel funny. Whatever was down there was going neither up nor down, it was just stuck. The athlete didn't dare consider asking anyone else for advice- he had seen the way Strong Sad had reacted, and he didn't want everyone in Free Country thinking he was some kind of craw-lumped monster!
"The only solution to this is… magic!" Homestar exclaimed to himself, kneeling down pulling a dusty box out from the cupboard under his bathroom sink. He lifted the lid of the box off and tossed it aside, rummaging through the contents with his non-existent hands. There were playing cards, wands, some kind of weird hat, some string, glitter… But Homestar had no idea what to do with the magic kit, which was really only a cheap kids' toy, since the instruction manual had been lost years ago in some kind of rabbit-related magic accident.
"Drat, I guess I can't use magic on it then…" Homestar sighed, sliding the box back into the bathroom cupboard. He couldn't get rid of the lump in his craw, so he'd just have to hide it. From everyone. Of course, Homestar hadn't counted on Strong Sad telling Strong Bad and Strong Mad about it, and those two telling everyone else. It's funny how quickly news could spread around Free country.
Homestar Runner checked his calendar. Most of the days were labelled with 'stuff', 'nothing' or 'other stuff', as well as some meet-ups with friends. The next day on the calendar was marked 'race track with the coach'.
"Oh no, I have training tomorrow!" Homestar yelped. "I can't be seen out there with this lump in my craw! I'll be made fun of for sure!" He then ran to his bedroom and began ransacking the room for something, anything, to hide that unsightly lump that had discomforted him all day. Then he finally found it, the perfect disguise. Well, at least that's what Homestar thought it was.
. . . . .
It took Coach Z a LOT of effort to hold back laughter when Homestar arrived at the race track the next day, with a hairy brown wig resting on his craw lump.
"That's a nice wig ya got on your craw growth job there, Homestar Runguy!" the coach remarked, to Homestar's disappointment.
"What are you talking about?" Homestar replied a little nervously. "That's not a craw lump with a wig on it, that's my beard! I'm a man now!"
"Right right," Coach Z chuckled. "Now why don't you, ehr, do that thing you came to do."
"You mean run around the track as fast as I can?"
"Yeah, that's it!"
Homestar stood at the starting line of the race track and when the signal was given, he began running, hoping to beat his best time.
"Keep focused… Focus focus focus…" Homestar thought to himself as he sprinted along the track. "Ignore the thing in your craw… Ignore the thing in… Oh no! The wig!" Upon realising that the wig he had used to cover the lump had fallen off, the athlete lost focus and tripped over his own feet, tumbling and rolling several feet down the track.
"Ohhhh, bad luck, buddy!" Said Coach Z as he walked up to Homestar, who was lying flat on his back in the middle of the track. "You didn't beat your best time- four minutes and twenty-eight seconds of flat-out sprinting without tumbling over!"
That wasn't even bothering Homestar at the moment. The young runner's mind wasn't on his dreams of being the best athlete in all of Free Country, or how he'd have to stop tripping over his own feet to get there. His mind was on that thing that had been lodged in his craw since yesterday morning, and how it was still there, bothering him every moment.
"Coach Z, can I go home now?" Homestar moaned as he sat up, a little bruised and scratched up from his fall.
"Heck no, kid!" Coach Z replied sharply "We haven't even got to the part where we use tennis racquets!"
By the end of that sentence, Homestar had already scurried off out of sight, leaving the coach to his lonely old self. None of the other athletes had bothered showing up for training that day.
. . . . .
Homestar Runner had to be very, very sneaky if he wanted to get home unnoticed. He slinked behind a small bush and peeked out over it, observing the path ahead in the direction of his home, and made a plan- 'Hide behind stuff'. Unfortunately, there wasn't a whole lot to hide behind, since most of the town was made up of a vast, grassy field. The only things really worth considering 'hiding places' were Bubs' concession stand, some bushes, a weird cardboard box, some more bushes, and an abandoned car. It was worth a shot, though.
Homestar looked around cautiously, before dashing out from behind the bush and into another cluster of bushes, and looking around cautiously to make sure no-one saw him. He was being much more alert, cautious and sneaky than he needed to be, considering the town wasn't a very busy or heavily populated one… And almost everyone already knew about the lump in Homestar's craw by now anyway. He continued slinking around town like this all the way home, and when he got home, he had no idea what to do with himself. That discomfort in his craw felt like a small animal was trying to burst out of it, and it was all he could think about.
. . . . .
The next day, he painted it green and drew some stripes on it. Well, to put it in more descriptive language, Homestar tried to disguise the lump on his craw by painting over it with some green paint. When the green paint on his yellow shirt wasn't enough to hide the lump, he painted some pink stripes over it. Homestar tested the disguise by heading out and visiting Bubs at his concession stand. When he arrived there, Bubs' mismatched eyes were automatically drawn towards the lump in Homestar's craw, which only stood out even more with the green and pink pattern on it.
"Hey Bubs!" Homestar greeted in a forced casual tone. "How is this normal day, huh? Pretty normal, right?"
"That thing's still stuck in your craw?" Bubs queried, pointing at the unsightly lump. "Man, when is that nasty thing gonna go away-way?"
Homestar looked down sadly in response to Bubs' comment. Bubs felt a bit guilty for upsetting him.
"Oh, uhm, y'know, I think I've got some stuff in the back here that could help you with your problem!" Bubs said, trying to cheer up Homestar. He turned around and rummaged through some boxes before pulling out a large pair of tongs. "How about these? These are handy. I mean, I know I've used them before. Not used them as in shoving them down my throat to get something out, but it'd probably work!"
"Bubs, that sounds kinda dangerous and/or painful!" Homestar said, a little repulsed.
"Now it can't be as bad as I just made it sound!" Bubs replied, leaning forward towards Homestar. "I can do the job for you for half the price of one of those professional places. Now lean back, open your mouth and say 'aaaahhh'…"
"Ehr, thanks for the offer but I… Have to go…. Pick up my wristwatch from that repair shop." Homestar said uneasily, alarmed by Bubs' offer, before briskly walking away from the concession stand.
"Aww man, I didn't even sell these dodgy tongs!" Bubs whined to himself. "...On second thought, I might keep these. I might need them some day."
. . . . .
Homestar Runner dragged his feet along sadly as he walked back home, accepting the failure of what he could've sworn was a fool-proof disguise. How could he have possibly known that painting the lump green and drawing pink stripes on it would just make it more eye-catching? When he got home, the athlete took his paint-tainted duck-shirt off and put it straight into the laundry to maybe wash later if he could even be bothered. Walking back into his bedroom, still naked, Homestar opened his closet to look for a change of clothes. There were a couple more yellow duck-shirts, a green duck-shirt, some extra pairs of blue and white shoes, some pyjamas, a pair of sandals and a scarf. He was in major need of a fashion update but was a bit too slow to realise it.
"That scarf looks like it could cover my craw lump pretty well!" Homestar said to himself. "But it's not winter, and wearing a scarf on a sunny day is a silly idea." It was kind of ironic for such a thing to be said by someone who thought wigs and brightly coloured paint were good cover-ups. But even Homestar knew that he couldn't hide whatever was stuck in his craw forever. It would have to come out sooner or later, because it was interfering with his life, making it difficult to catch some sleep, near impossible to eat, and going out in public had become some kind of stealth mission. For a moment, he considered going back to Bubs' concession stand to have him try to pluck the object out with those handy-looking tongs. Only for a moment, though.
. . . . .
The next day, Homestar didn't even bother getting out of bed; he was too drained and ashamed to do so. Whatever had found its way into his craw had been there for three days now, and hadn't shown any signs of moving. Suddenly, there was a knock at the door.
"Homestar?" A feminine voice called out, when there was no reply from inside. It was Marzipan. "Homestar, it's me, Marzipan! I haven't seen you around lately and I came to make sure you're alright!"
"Stay away, Marzipan!" Homestar called out in a depressed tone. "I'm a monster! A nasty craw-lumped monster!"
"What is he talking about?" Marzipan asked herself as she opened the door and walked inside. "Homestar, are you okay?" She searched the house for him until she finally found him sitting on the end of his bed facing away from her.
"Oh Marzipan, it's terrible!" Homestar whined with a sniffle. "You surely don't want to see it!"
"See what?" Marzipan asked, confused. "I wish I could cheer you up, but the gift I was going to bring you disappeared from my house a few days ago, and I have no idea where it's gone!"
Homestar turned around to face Marzipan, revealing the unsightly lump that had been causing him so much trouble.
"….That's it?" Marzipan said, somewhat unfazed by it. "I don't see what the drama is all about, it's just a… Wait, what IS that, anyway?"
"Something is stuck in my craw…" Homestar whined, looking down sadly at the lump at the bottom of his neck.
"Homestar, how long has that been stuck there?!" Marzipan asked, clearly worried.
"Oh, about… Three days…"
"Three days?! You need to go see a doctor!" Marzipan gasped. "That could be dangerous! You see, I once talked to a veterinarian who found a pelican with a similar problem, and he told me that an obstruction in the alimentary tract can be re- Homestar?!"
Homestar had left the room. Presumably through the now open bedroom window, in an attempt to escape from Marzipan's lecture.
. . . . .
Homestar was left with no choice but to consult the person who had been the first to be repulsed by that darn craw lump. He was going to ask Strong Sad what to do.
"Strong Saaaaaad!" Homestar wailed as he ran towards him.
"What the… Homestar, what are you doing?" Strong Sad asked, a little surprised.
"Strong Sad I need your help!" Homestar whined. "This thing is still stuck in my craw and I don't know what to do!"
"Well, what have you tried already that hasn't worked?"
"I couldn't use magic to get it out so I put a wig on it and painted it green and drew some stripes on it!"
Strong Sad looked surprised, then confused, and then began to think.
"Sensible people solve their problems with words, not disguises." Strong Sad advised. "That's the best advice I can give. It's not every day that these sorts of problems arise, you know! Now, I must go, those journal entries about the nightmares I'll probably have from this won't write themselves…" And with that, he left.
"Words, not disguises… Words, not disguises…" Homestar repeated to himself. "What does that mean? Do I need to talk to it?" He looked down at the lump and began trying to make conversation with it.
"Why don't you just go away?"
But it didn't answer.
"I just wish I knew where you came from!"
Still, no answer.
Just then, two laughing voices rang out from behind Homestar. It was none other than Strong Bad and The Cheat, probably back to insult Homestar.
"Check it out, The Cheat!" Strong Bad cackled. "Homestar's talking to that gross lump now! It's funny because it's not a person! And he's talking to it!
"You leave him outta this!" Homestar snapped, turning around to face his rivals. "Strong Sad told me that sensible people solve their problems with words!"
Strong Bad and The Cheat only laughed harder at this comment.
"You seriously took advice from my stupid little brother?!" Strong Bad asked, almost gasping for breath between bursts of hysterical laughter. "I can't believe you took his advice! Look, if you want to get rid of a craw-object… Or… Crawbject… THIS is how you do it!"
With one swift swing of the arm, Strong Bad punched Homestar right in the craw! Homestar was knocked back by the punch, and could feel the sore lump in his craw forcing itself back up his throat and into his mouth.
"Puh-tooooh!" Homestar spat out the 'crawbject' as he sat back up, still a little dazed from Strong Bad's punch. Curiously, he looked at the thing he had just spat out. It looked like some sort of curled up red clump. Homestar unfurled the clump with his telekinetic 'hands' and lifted it up out in front of him.
It was a shirt, just like his other shirts, but it was bright red and had a big white star on the front of it!
"That is one pointy duck!" commented Homestar, rather dim-wittedly.
The shirt wasn't as soggy and slimy as one would have expected it to be, but it was still a bit damp and smelled a bit funny, so you can imagine Strong Bad and The Cheat's slight disgust when Homestar slipped the shirt on over the top of his yellow duck shirt. After all, he had just coughed it up out of his craw.
"Well, don't you look a sight!" said Bubs, as he rocked up with Coach Z.
"Now you really look like a terrific aaiiiirrthlete!" Coach Z stated in realization. "You look more like a man now than you did with that poorly-placed fake beard!"
"And I couldn't have done it without my craw!" Homestar announced proudly.
. . . . .
In celebration, out of hunger, and as a gesture of forgiveness for not being very supportive, Homestar took Bubs, Coach Z, Strong Bad and The Cheat to Mars to get meatball subs- 'Mars' being the name of the dodgy little lunch bar about a few yards away from Coach Z's locker room that no-one likes to talk about.
"Thanks for punching that lump out of my craw, Strong Bad!" Homestar said, handing everyone their subs.
"I still hate you, and later on, you gonna get cut." Strong Bad threatened, holding up a knife.
"Oh, Strong Bad!"
Meanwhile, Marzipan watched through the window of the lunch bar.
"Oh, Homestar and his sleep walking…" She said to herself with a sigh. "At least now I know what happened to that red shirt I was going to give him."