Yes, I know. You're curious. That's what they all say.
I can't blame you, son. I mention them all the time. I chew them all the time, use them to stir my coffee. Sometimes I even throw them at people, just to see if they stick.
Tjbang sticks. 'What are they?' you might well ask.
I'll tell you what they are, son. They're death.
A long time ago, in Asia, there was a cult of rogue Buddhists who took their master's words a little out of context. They created the recipe for Tjbang sticks for their Arhats, who took them in order to quietly slip away from their lives.
Suicidal Buddhists? I know, son, it sounds like one of those !@#$ lousy West Coast punk bands. But I assure you this is all historical fact.
Now, the important thing to understand here is that Buddhism doesn't exactly frown on suicide, per se. It just explains why you might want to go through with it, and what the consequences for doing it will be.
(Little hint: this !@#$ happened before, and will !@#$ happen again and again. Life sucks. Wear a hat.)
Having said that, there's a slight, almost anecdotal precedent for those who've achieved total (or near-total) enlightenment to go ahead and do it, under certain circumstances. Call it a perk of sitting on your ass contemplating a big bowl of vanilla ice cream for most of your adult life.
So these folks, after consulting various now-lost Alchemical treatises, came up with the ultimate poison. Ten times deadlier than the Disneyland Octopus, and easily twenty times as fast.
They distilled it and soaked it into small pieces of the bark of a special kind of tree that grows near the monastery. It has an odd, cherry taste and pleasant texture, which the poison doesn't affect at all.
What it does is turn the bark bright red, like arterial blood. That and make it as poisonous as above described. They strips can't even be handled by naked skin before they're properly cured, or they'll cause blistering, open sores, and a slow, lingering demise. And you'd better not have wet or sweaty hands when you handle the cured ones, or you're in a world of hurt.
But pop one of the cured sticks into your mouth and chew it, and you'll be dead in microseconds. Your tongue won't even have time to swell, and you'll leave the world tasting of cherries and smelling of sweet-scented wood.
Tjbang has no real meaning, and does not denote the tree, bark, the color of red, or the poison. It doesn't even mean "deadly as living !@#$" in their otherwise descriptive dialect of Chinese.
Tjbang is onomatopoeic, which is a fancy, ten !@#$ dollar word for "it is what it sounds like," like "bang," "Splat," "barf," or "woosh."
Tjbang is the sound of a metal bowl hat hitting the stone floor of a monastery after its "owner" keeled over, still smiling, from chewing one of those sticks. Tjbangggg-g-g-g-g-g
Which brings us to yours truly, and his propensity to buy Tjbang sticks by the bushel from the monastery, which is still around and still makes the !@#$ things. The reason they do is to keep the Chinese government from messing with them, because they alone have the secret to making the stuff, and the Chinese are all too happy to buy it for their own uses.
Me? I chew them to stop my heart.
They don't do it for very long, obviously. That's the immortality thing getting in the way of a good-tasting death.
But when I'm coming up on a massive drugs binge, coming down from a near-terminal caffeine overdose, or stumbling sideways through time and space after drinking twice my weight in alcohol of suspicious character and uncertain vintage, one of these babies will sober me right the !@#$ up, like a reset button. Sometimes you need that in the field, or office. Sometimes you need it at home, or in bed.
And sometimes I just chew them like licorice whips because, Gods help me, they taste !@#$ good.
So now you know, and knowing is half the battle, or so they say. The other half is knowing to not eat anything you might find in my utility belt.
(SPYGOD is listening to Bang Bang (Dead or Alive) and drinking Lucid Absinthe)