A Picture-Saga starring all Russell's characters as the General


By Jo Anzalone

(NOTE: This is a longer, even more convoluted version of my original Maximus Saga

that was up on Murphsplace for well over two years. )




Maximus was NOT at all sure he was gonna LIKE this tale...but




...as there was not one thing he could do about it, he had to



sit back, smile, and make the best of it.





there was a General with really great armpits.



I mean...they were REALLY great!






So great, in fact, he even slept with them open to view.



Alas and alack, howsomever, our General had been captured

and hauled off to Rome by the evil Herodamus.



Maximus was kept in chains or bound by tee shirts



and forced to gather a team of gladiators to fight


in the great and dusty arena.

Once a prospective gladiator passed the height requirement,

Maximus invited them to follow him

beneath the arena to choose helmets

of various sorts


and color,

as well as a full range of protective gladiatorial garb.

The General had developed the unpleasant habit of

dirt-smelling to occupy his non-arena hours.

He had become quite the addict, I fear,

smelling dirt from early morning

until well past dusk...

even smelling the hands of strange women.

One day, alas, this got him in a great deal of trouble.

He was greatly distressed.


That night alone in his cell

he began to think back over his life...

remembering the son of his former days...

and the wheatfields of his homeland.

At last he fell into a deep sleep...

dreaming of his horses back in Spain,

the races he had with them across the Straits of Gibraltar,


and the many happy hours he had spent teaching his dogs

to pole sit.

He dreamed of long-ago birthday cakes

and how his sister always wanted to know just what it was

he had wished for.

Yes, his sleep was sound...and somehow

strangely satisfying.

The next day, at high noon, Maximus gathered his fellow gladiators

beneath the arena. This time the helmets chosen were more appropriate.


He lifted a glass of Tiber water in salute to his team,

and smelled the dirt under one fingernail

as all the others had been recently washed...


though "washed" WAS a bit of a stretch in terminology

and he fully intended to get back their nice coating of clean dirt

as soon as the coming battle was over.

He had spent the morning exercising, so he felt ready to face

the much larger Tigris in the arena.

Carefully he checked out what surprises Herodamus had planned

for him beyond the closed arena gates.

Then he shaved...

gave his dog a long, last, lingering look...

gathered his weapons

counted his potatoes,

and, at last, felt prepared

to walk out into the blazing sun.

He clashed violently with one gladiator after another.

Fearing some damage to his two front teeth...

he checked quickly in a nearby mirror.

Pleased to note his beautiful self was entirely intact...

he returned to the ongoing battle in the arena once more.

The enemy gladiators just kept coming

and coming, getting him down on the ground

and pouring Roman sewer water on him in an attempt to

microbe him to death.

Finally he was able to escape their clutches

and grab evil Herodamus forcefully by the neck.

Stopping a moment to thoughtfully consider his next move,

he looked far up to the right at those gathered in the huge arena.

Then he looked far up to the left.

He looked behind himself...

and down to the right...

down to the left...


Then he said..."Wait a minute...hold everything..."

...stuck his sword in the sand...


and offered to arm wrestle Herodamus to the death.

Herodamus escaped by cutting the General's belt...

which made Maximus really angry.

He thought he saw Herodamus escaping through the

palace gardens,

but when he went to check, it was just Quintus planting petunias.

He roared in his fury at Herodamus' escape...

and then sought comfort in Lucilla's arms

and other nicely rounded parts.

He was glad to note Lucilla had become somewhat more politically

correct these days and had replaced her wolf fur trim with white satin.

Just then, Herodamus leapt out from a fig tree, grabbing

Maximus by his beautiful head of hair.

Maximus, however, did NOT like to be interrupted when

he was with the beautimous Lucilla.

Grabbing Herodamus, he threw him into a large mud puddle,

which left Maximus happy...though quite muddy.

He had to wait a long time to get to the bathroom,


but when it was his turn, he made the most of it.

The next day, Maximus looked carefully about for anyone who

might recognize him without his usual helmet.

Deciding that it was safe, he ventured forth.

Shaking off the large puma that wrapped itself

savagely about his shoulders,


he rolled about in the meadow for a while, letting his

armpits breathe.

Continuing on his way, he was shocked to see


a ghost approaching from out a nearby cave.

Quickly grabbing a passing helicopter,

he made good his escape.

Back in Buffalo, he found Lucilla waiting for him.

After an evening spent quietly rubbing her leg,

his good humor had returned.

They spent the next 3 days reading David Copperfield together...

then he kissed her tenderly good-bye

and went out to check on what was happening.

He decided to take a leisurely ride through the forest

and meet an old friend for lunch.

His friend was reluctant to let Maximus go home when the

luncheon was over

which filled the General with great regret.

After 67 choruses of "My Darlin' Clementine", though,

his friend agreed that Maximus, indeed, should depart.

Catching his horse once again,

Maximus charted his next course.


He was tired and needed to digest all the tortillas, hotdogs,

and eclairs he had eaten, so he went home...

not noticing the door opening slowly behind his chair.

and before he could blink, he found himself tied to a post

in Syracuse.

Carefully, he measured how far he would need to contort his

backbone to free himself.

It took some effort, but at last he was free!


He waded out into the Atlantic off Cape Cod...

and, avoiding several pods of migrating whales, swam

through the Straits of Gibraltar and back to Rome where,

he found himself yet once again under the arena.

He was quickly chained to the wall by Lucilla's evil twin,

who squeezed his head unmercifully,

blasted his hair with blow dryers set on high,

and cruelly marked out most of the words in his newspapers.

After soaking him to the skin in Diet Pepsi,


she slyly offered to get him a dry shirt.

But he knew it had all been a dastardly plot to expose his armpits.

Forced into a showdown with her in the arena, he tucked

his hands in his belt...it being against his General of the Armies

of the North code to shoot down females, however much

they might deserve it.

He stood there in the street, alone, and thought of his wife and son,

now in Elysium.

A great shout rose up from his belly, causing the entire city

to flee to the hills.

He sighed in great...relief.

Quintus left his petunias long enough

to bring Maximus his backpack


and free him from his chains.

Maximus, however, did retain some amount of suspicion

from those days back in Germania when Quintus had

ordered his execution.

But Maximus left quietly,

and after a nice nap,

and another shave,

found the real Lucilla again...

which made him smile...

Scout's honor!

By the next day at lunch, however,

Maximus could not remember why he had tied the white

string around his bicep.

Was it to remind him to wash the cattle?

Or to take the chariot in for an oil change?

The white string was forgotten quickly, though, when he was

sent flying by an unseen attacker.

It was Herodamus, come back to poke at Maximus' cheek

once again.

Quickly taking cover underneath a handy tiger,

he unleashed his light saber and began ruthlessly to trim

Herodamus' facial stubble.

Carefully not leaving a single hair,


he then gave Herodamus a mocking salute,

thanked the tiger for its kind assistance,

leapt off the top of the arena's outer walls

and spent the remainder of the afternoon blowing nosebubbles

in the Trevi fountain.

Leaving the fountain,

he dried himself carefully


and left the city.

That evening, while strolling peacefully through the forest,

he looked up just as a girl fell from a dirigible,

barely managing to catch her before she crashed to the forest floor.

The impact caused him to lose his footing and fall into the mud.

After a quick wash in a nearby stream,

he waited patiently for her to reappear.

But she had gone...and he was left alone in the sudden downpour.

Drying off in the campfire he made,

he was in no mood to be trifled with.

He went back to the arena, vengeance against the evil

Herodamus his only thought.

They battled fiercely, their swords making silver X's in the

sun-scorched air.

Tiring of sword X-ing, he dropped his blades,

making more X's with various other weaponry.

Herodamus surrendered and signed the paper Maximus held,

giving up all Imperial rights


to this year's wheat crop.

Though his back showed the marks of all he had suffered,

he manfully donned his shades,

gathered up his few remaining possessions,

and without sparing a single thought for the patching the walls

of the arena now needed,

leapt on the very first bowsprit that passed him by

and went home to his stables where he could sit and listen

in peace all day to Elvis Costello songs

and, not having always to keep one eye peeled for Herodamus,

could just sit on the fence all day and look beautiful.


That is....

      unless he really DID want to capture that enemy ship!