NED VS. NERO

INTRO & CHILDHOOD YEARS

My name is Ned Nye and I will be your narrator for this nail-biting, nerve-wracking, no-holds-barred, nonfiction account of my battles with my nemesis Nero Neruda. The nascence of our enmity goes back to nursery school where we never got along. One day at noonday lunch he kept nettling me to trade my Joe Namath and Ray Nitschke cards for his Jim Nance. Now though Nance was a notable fullback, I didn't necessarily envision him with the nomenclature of N.F.L. hall-of-famer so after running the numbers, I nixed the deal and broke off negotiations.

The next day at noontime doesn't this ne'er-do-well nursing a grudge go and steal my nectarine and navel orange right from under my nose along with my napkins. Since I'm a nonviolent neutral sort and disdain acts of naked aggression, I mentioned good-naturedly, "I don't mean to be nosy, but I can't help notice you are nibbling on my nosh." Well my noble gesture was all for naught as this neanderthal just nodded nonchalantly like I was a nuisance and grabbed my nachos. I added, "Normally, I'm no noisemaker but I have a notion to notify Principal Norris, but we can keep this entre-nous if you just stop this nonsense of appropriating my nourishment." This had negligible effect as well since he remained nonplussed like I was a nonentity and proceeded to swipe my noodles as well as my nutritious chicken nuggets leaving me with nothing. I roared, "'Nuff already! It's a no-no to take my num-num. You must take me for a nerdish nervous nellie Mr. Nice guy but I'm ready for the real nitty-gritty of going tooth and nail so Put 'Em Up Nero!"

He finally spoke, "Nay you namby-pamby nagging niggling nitpicky nudge (that's nooj the noun). Stop needling me while I'm eating. You must be a nitwit, nincompoop, ninny, numbnuts, and numbskull all rolled into one. You are nuts to challenge me you nondescript nugatory nudnik." I figured to myself, "Well if I'm nuts like he says then I can plead non compos mentis instead of nolo contendere," and nailed him in the noggin.

He then choked me by the nape of the neck tighter than a noose but I managed to get him in a half nelson and belted him in the noodle. Enraged he had a nosebleed gushing from his nostrils, he made like a ninja and whacked me in the nether regions, my nuts, with his nunchucks. The end result in a nutshell was that we both got nine days suspension for being naughty.

Another time I was at the nickelodeon with this new kid on the block Nestor, kinduva nebbish but my friend nonetheless since we were both into film noir. We were at a neato classic double feature of North By Northwest and High Noon. He bought a bag of nuts and a Baby Ruth nougat bar while I opted for a Nestle's Crunch. All of a sudden that nogoodnik Nero leapt from a nearby aisle and robbed us of our goodies in like a nanosecond and then needlessly stomped on Nestor's nebulizer, a medical necessity.

Was it something prenatal, perhaps in the nethermost regions of Nero's soul or inherent in his nucleic acid that made him such a nocuous force? I often wondered if Saint Nick from the North Pole left Nero any toys on Noel. While I was like Nat King Cole and wishing kids from one to ninety-two (nurslings to nonegarians) Merry Christmas and leaving Santa egg nog with a hint of nutmeg before getting into my nightclothes, Nero would be out knocking down Nativity scenes.

NED COMES OF AGE

When I was older I got a nine-to-five at the hardware store and notwithstanding the fact it was OK providing folks with neoprene gaskets, nails, nuts and bolts, newel posts, and other needful things, I wanted to work for the newspaper. Later, as a newbie cub reporter, I worked hard to rise above the norm and become a first-rate newshound with a nose for what was newsworthy. Naturally, the 'nattering nabobs of negativity' (a guy named Newton Minnow not to be confused with Sir Isaac Newton coined that), mostly the veteran newspapermen at the newsroom, figured noways nohow could I be so good. They intimated my scoops emanated from necromancy or some occultic dabbling with the netherworld, but the nub of it all was my nonstop determination.

MY DREAM GIRL

These naysayers were making me so nutty I went to Saint Nicodemus Church where I experienced nirvana in the nave at nones when I saw an angel or perhaps a naiad, yea a water nymph. I gathered from the nuncio that she was Nancy Nee, a novitiate for the nunnery. Later, I presented her with a necklace and a nosegay of nasturtiums proclaiming, "Someday you will be Nancy Nye nee Nee!" She admitted she had been naïve and nearsighted trying to become a nun and the novelty had worn off. They had assigned her so many nightlong prayer vigils and novenas (ninefold prayers) that she had no nightlife. Though young and nubile, she was not some nymphomaniac with a native urge to jump out of her nightie and get nude for necking and making nookie with everyone but felt the need to maybe nuzzle with someone was natural. So she left the order to date me and become a nursemaid to newborns and under her excellent neonatal care not of the infants ever got nappy rash.

WHAT'S NERO UP TO?

Meanwhile Nero had found his niche as the nefarious kingpin of a notorious narcotics network. Casting a by no means narrow but very wide net throughout the neighborhoods, it dealt not just out of noisy nightclubs with big neon signs but quieter smaller nightspots as well. Earning tremendous net profits, he spent his newfound wealth pursuing a novel idea...an undersea drug lab, a secret nerve center for his operation, far from Eliot Ness the narc who was combing every nook and cranny of the underworld for Nero.

Eliot Ness had nearly nabbed him a few times but Nero would always get tipped off and narrowly escape. Built like a noseguard, Eliot worked on Nordic Track and Nautilus and had been nominated for narc due to his great nobility and bravery on the beat and using his nightstick only when necessary. Yet, Eliot Ness, feeling the Loch Ness monster would be easier to locate than Nero, found his hopes at a nadir as far as neatly wrapping up the case and sipping the sweet nectar of victory. There were constant nostrums and neverendums and newspeak (a neologism from the novel 1984) of politicians insinuating Ness was in never-never land and decrying the inability of his nationwide manhunt to net public enemy numero uno guilty of a nonillion crimes.

NERO HIDES OUT

On the run, Nero was rumored at different times to be in the Northland of and the Northwest Territories of Canada, Newfoundland, Norway, the Netherlands, and even the Nubian portion of the Nile. Still other leads pointed to Nepal, Namibia, Nigeria, the Negev in the Near East, and even Viet Nam. Some said he was out west among the Navajo or Nez Perce Indians in the USA or somewhere in Nebraska. Lastly, he was supposedly seen at the Golden Nugget in Nevada at a Wayne Newton concert hanging out with Paul Newman, Jack Nicholson, and Jim Nabors.

Nero was actually holed up at Norton Sanitarium, a so-called nuthouse nestled far away in the northernmost part of our state of N.Y. due to the *NIMBY factor. By acting like Napoleon in every nuance, he was deemed a nutcase and admitted. Meanwhile Nancy, a regular Florence Nightingale who felt she was a neglectful nonperson if she wasn't doing more for the needy, had coincidentally gotten a job at Norton's. Now though his nametag said Norman as did the notarized documents in his file, she nevertheless suspected he was that Nero from the news bulletins and my old Nikon photos staying there under a nickname or alias until his lab got built.

*Not In My Back Yard (acronym)

Nero (incognito as Norman) roomed with four other nutsos. One was a neurotic neatnik who spent all day straightening his necktie and who would nudge patients awake from their naps to smooth out their nightshirts. Another guy said he was the novelist of the nom de plume Nabokov while another was a necrophiliac who deserved to be neutered. The last guy filled reams of notepaper as he put the phonebook in numerical rather than alphabetical order for nebulous reasons. Thus Nero, so nobody would suspect he was normal, did his Napoleonic best to mix in.

Nancy considered it noteworthy that on a nightly basis his nightlight was on for meetings with nighttime callers, perhaps the nucleus of his gang. He also had a notebook which he kept on his nightstand which he said was for musical notations for nonets and nocturnes and even a ninth symphony he was composing. Yet when Nancy snuck a peek there was nary a single note of music but names of numerous foreign contacts for newfangled weaponry.

When she insisted I needed to come right away, I told her she needn't worry and made a nocturnal visit to Norton's. Sneaking like a nimble newt up a narrow ledge outside the balcony ninety feet up, I did my newsgathering by listening in. I discovered that Nero was indeed not merely a narco but a narcoterrorist and had fallen in with a nest of nihilistic terrorists intent on procuring a neutron bomb. Since these nihilists were familiar with getting noxious materials like napalm, nitroglycerine, and ammonium nitrate but were novices at buying nukes, they turned to well-connected Nero to compensate for their naïveté.

ARE NANCY'S SUPERIORS ON THE TAKE?

Nancy had gotten nowhere at Norton's when she had expressed nervousness about Nero. Her managers did nothing and said it was a nonissue and she was a silly nene goose who shouldn't stick her nib where it didn't belong and noted that she herself might have a neurological imbalance. First she suspected nepotism. Perhaps VP Mrs. Naugatuck was a niece or Pres. Mr. Nash a nephew. Indeed, Nero was allowed to smoke Newports though his file said his lymph nodes should have no more nicotine. He was also allowed his nightcap of Napa Valley wine though his file said nowise should he have a nip of alcohol. So Nancy figured it was not necessarily negligence on the part of the honchos with the fancy nameplates but bribery naturally since neither Naugatuck nor Nash had gotten raises. And it wasn't some nickel and dime amount since both were noticeably nouveau riche dining on nouvelle cuisine and lobster Newburg and had adopted an affected narcissistic noblesse oblige.

Instead of her usual nonrun nylons and nightgowns, Mrs. Naugatuck now sported Victoria's Secret net stockings and negligees. She was also going for plunging necklines and no longer attending Needlepoint Nite with the neighbors. Formerly frumpy Mr. Nash now wore Nehru jackets or would be nattily dressed in a Nino Cerruti suit of the finest needlecraft with nifty neckwear. He even traded in his Chevy Nova (pardon the non sequitur but doesn't that mean 'doesn't go' (no va) in Nicaragua?) for not a simple Nissan but a Lincoln Navigator.

I called Ness with all this newsy stuff and he exclaimed, "Nevermore! Things like 9/11 or Nagasaki can't be allowed to recur." He raced to Norton's but alas, Naugatuck and Nash must have tipped off Nero Neruda since that very night he fled and Nancy was fired.

NANCY COMES THROUGH AGAIN!

Not long afterwards, we received a tip from Nancy courtesy of her confidante, her nana Norma who had just celebrated her ninetieth birthday. She had called Nancy from her nipa hut in Nassau Beach saying, "Nancy, this is your nanny. I have big news about Nero's whereabouts. Get Uncle Nemo to bring down Ned Nye and Eliot Ness right away."

A nautical nomad who roamed the seas, Uncle Nemo was the navigator nonpareil of his own navy surplus sub he called the Nautilus just like his namesake. He enjoyed waxing nostalgically especially on November 11 about the highlight of his noble naval career when he captured a Nazi sub in his netting to make our landing at Normandy safer. Since I was a bit of a naïf about ships, I admitted to him that I preferred my old nag whose every nicker and neigh I understood. Ness admitted he was a neophyte at sea too and was always afraid of those pointy-nosed needlefish and narwhals. But no one else but Nero could've gotten us through some of the tricky narrows to reach Norma in Nassau.

I whipped out my notepad and we exchanged niceties. I asked her how she lived till ninety and stayed out of the nursing home, but I might as well have notched up the nozzle on a hose of nitrous oxide or Novocain full blast since I got a nineteen minute answer. She said she kept her neuropathy at bay by taking long nature walks and combatted arthritis with plenty of needlework like knitting along with naproxen. She kept her nasal passages open with Neo-Synephrine and the NeilMed NasaFlo Neti Pot and was happy she had a neoplastic nodule removed from her navel. She felt she could stay off the necrology of her Notre Dame alumni newsletter by avoiding the junk food around nowadays and eating foods rich in niacin and other nutrients.

Unlike her late husband Nate who hung around the nineteenth hole and drank too much Narragansett and Natural Light until he got nephritis, Norma drank only grape Nehi. When she noticed me nodding off I just politely made up the excuse I had narcolepsy, but finally (!) she said she knew this guy seen around Nassau passing himself off as a nobleman was really Nero and she also divined from her numerology that if we sailed a bit northward, we'd find the strange undersea nexus of his operation.

OFF TO SEA!

Nemo then exclaimed, "I have allowed for the neap tide and nigh is the time to embark at nightfall on my nuclear powered Nautilus (you thought it ran on nicad batteries?). Oh mighty Neptune! The newscast says you will send us a nor'easter soon which nullifies any thought of delay."

We went northbound like Norma said and espied the lab, but Nero, in his own sub noodling around for intruders, nicked us with a torpedo. Nemo cried, "Never give up the ship!" and scored not a near miss but a direct hit on Nero's sub. Nero abandoned ship but next thing you know a plane no doubt Nero's went into a nosedive from up in the nimbostratus to rescue him all numb from the nippy waters but nope, too late because...he had succumbed to nitrogen narcosis.

Ness, after recovering the nukes intended for the nihilists, also destroyed the lab thus negating much drug trade and was soon promoted to National Security Advisor. Nemo went on his way and his Nautilus has been sighted since off New Guinea, in the North Sea, and even around Nantucket Island. Once my report hit the newsstands, I netted the Nobel Prize for newswriting. They may even mint a coin of me, perhaps a Ned Nye nickel, creating a numismatic sensation! As for Nancy and I, we exchanged nuptials and became newlyweds just as I had predicted and honeymooned at Niagara Falls.

THE END

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