View Full Version : SHORT Stories/Essays

06-02-2007, 07:14 AM
Thought it might be cool to give our "writers" yet another outlet. I'll be brave and start with a piece I wrote my senior year of college that I thought might connect with some of you people. I'm open for criticism, but please be nice. I bruise easy.

Reality Fest was a festival that the school hosted in the student center for many years. It was there for all four years that I was at Columbia and I’m unclear as to how many years it had survived before. But after our class graduated, it was shut down. I think we created something that quickly lost control. It was a school sponsored drug fest, our collegiate take on the Acid Test. The goal was to create a post-modern take on the hippie sensibility. It was about art and music and interaction. People interacting with each other, art interacting with music, people interacting with art and music, but most significant was people interacting with all of these things while interacting with drugs. It was so obvious for those of us who participated. It was a shock that the administration allowed it to go on as long it had.

The first year I went sober. I was a good girl, had never even been drunk yet in my lifetime. But it was at Reality Fest where I caught my first glimpse of how glorious the buzz could be. It started so innocently. A rugby player, with his head shaved into a Mohawk and an eyeball tattooed to the side of his head that looked like it was bursting out of his skull, offered me a clove cigarette. By the next year, I went to The Fest after taking two hits of acid. What a difference.

The party spanned the entire student center, occupying several floors. There was the main auditorium and the upstairs conference rooms. There were a few rooms dedicated to music and poetry, while the others were devoted to student art installations. The music varied from classical to punk to techno to folk and everything in between. It was highly stimulating wandering the hallway, listening from room to room - the difference in rhythm and melody - roaming with a preppy on one side and a club kid on the other. It all seemed so naturally juxtaposed. I could sense how music came from music and see the notes and sounds parallel, and everything played off each other beautifully. The drugs helped it all fit together.

I experienced Moby for the first time at Reality Fest my sophomore year. It was then that I fell in love with raving. I was touched by the music, penetrated by its pounding power and warmed to the soul by its melodic repetition. This music made you feel good about yourself, about the world. It gave you hope for humanity without any direct reference to that vibe. His music spoke to me through its energy, through its sound. “Go” There were other interesting bands, but Moby was the most influential for me. I remember him standing on stage back-lit and surrounded by smoke. I remember him extending his skinny arms straight out from his side and the music reaching a crescendo, the lights spinning around him in a frenzy. His power was hypnotizing and his beats made me dance violently, uninhibited. The auditorium was filled with pure energy. I could feel it pulse through my veins.

The poetry rooms were usually very Beat style – free form and spontaneous. I have always had such a fascination for the Beat culture and was honored to be able to explore the same hallways. Allen Ginsberg attended Columbia for a few years before he was kicked out. The rumors were that he was kicked out for drugs and having a man in his room while performing questionable sex acts. It’s pretty obvious which was really the deciding factor. Jack Kerouac managed only a bit better. He dropped out of Columbia after having frustrations with his football coach and then joined the Merchant Marines. People connect the Beats with San Francisco, but it started in New York. It started within the walls of CU.

My senior year I was able to see Mr. Ginsberg speak at Reality Fest. He was amazing, still twisted, still articulate, still bizarre. He spoke in the large auditorium and we all sat on the ground and listened to his perverted rants. While he recited his poetry, I literally got tangled in my own clothes. I was wearing a vintage button up dress that I had deconstructed by cutting the hem and the sleeves. I was wearing this over a corduroy tank dress that my mother had sewn in the 60’s. I was enchanted by Ginsberg’s words and I got lost in them. While I listened to him spout, I hadn’t realized that I was undressing and redressing myself. He spoke and I unbuttoned my buttons one by one. He spoke and I slid down one sleeve. He screamed and I slid down my other sleeve. I would pull off my dress and awkwardly put it back on and start all over again. His poems transported me and I lost connection with my own body. It worked separate from my brain, until my friend, Sid, leaned over with a radiant smile and asked if I needed help as I struggled to put my head through one of the sleeves.

The art installations were interactive creations that occupied the rest of the rooms. I remember a room lined by sheetless, “dirty” mattresses and decorated with crude neon glowing people in various complicated sexual positions. I remember a room filled with white paper orbs and wallpapered with white butcher paper that guests were invited to paint on. I remember a room draped in red where people sat in a circle and massaged each other. I remember a room that was filled with percussion instruments, drums, pots, tambourines, spoons, sticks, anything that could be banged on or with and guests were invited to join in the creation of spontaneous rhythms. The rooms were strange, yet fun. They were creatively brilliant, yet brilliantly simple. They were inspiring and confusing. It was all a total trip. I loved it.

It was amazing that this went on as long as it did. It was as if the administration recognized the inspiring abilities of drug use, or they just chose to turn a blind eye. Reality Fest was my first opportunity to truly step outside of my box, to see how art & music could be enhanced with psychedelics, how imagination and awareness could be heightened by poison. It was a school sponsored event that Timothy Leary would have been proud of and his own words embodied the essence behind the festival.

“You have to lose your head, to use your mind.”

06-02-2007, 09:09 AM
Is that a story or an essay? Neither? Sounds like a fun time though, I 'spose. And I'll bite and throw up here what might be the only short thing I've ever written just because at least this thread might theoretically involve something creative at some point. This is a very brief prose excerpt of a ridiculously bizarre and involved movie, so make of it what you will.

Even at one mile straight into the sky, the smell of flesh was as potent as if I was cooking someone in my own kitchen. When the seal split it had clapped so loud that now, hours later, I didn’t even realize he was calling me.
“I’m afraid you’ll have to speak up, Richard. Sound doesn’t travel so well at this altitude.”
--Perhaps this would be better? he asked, the words simply entering my head without a voice.
--I said, “much.”

Where have all the screams gone, I wondered. I hadn’t meant for it to be that easy. I wanted the combustion to stretch for at least a day, a good slow burn to give them enough time to go through all the stages of coping with death. The fire was already dying down, and I could even see patches of scorched earth where there had once been swimming flames steadily building from within all that was life. Some of them had probably even died without realizing that there was more to life than the touch.

--I had to try, didn’t I?
--I’ve never discouraged you from following your heart. If it’s what you think you had to do, I certainly don’t hold anything against you. Don’t take it the wrong way if I say that I’m just glad you didn’t succeed.
--If there was even a chance.
--There wasn’t. That’s what I don’t understand. You knew perfectly well that time happens because it’s supposed to.
--Well it’s a little hard to be sure when there’s always someone like you around, fulfilling prophecies like it was your fucking idea or something. Like you have power.

I turned and smiled at him as best I could.

--Are you really trying to measure dicks with me over the Apocalypse? Ah, the hormones of youth… Perhaps I should’ve listened to your mother and had you castrated.
--It’s almost certainly a moot question now.
--Aren’t they all? That’s the beautiful thing. A whole new set of concerns. Are you done bleeding?
--No idea, I turned off my nervous receptors when you opened me.

Even though there was almost no air we were moving so quickly in this partial orbit that the faint amount there was caused the slits I’d put in him to kind of flap in the breeze. Twelve of them ran the length of his body, head to foot, and I felt a twinge of guilt about it because he’d been such a good-looking boy. Very fit from swimming, I’d always been proud and somewhat envious of how tightly his skin seemed molded to his musculature, but now it all hung loose and away from him. He looked like a set of Venetian blinds. I sucked him towards me and examined his feet. They were caked solid with dried blood, which was not news, but there didn’t appear to be any recent streams of it whatsoever. Perhaps that’s where I went wrong—maybe I bled him too fast.

--Rich, are you a hemophiliac by any chance?
--I don’t think so, but I bet I know how it feels to be one.
--Oh, stop your complaining, we all had to make sacrifices.
--No, we all had to make sacrifices. What did you sacrifice, exactly?
--Well, your mother, for one.

I was so surprised to see him flinch and shudder at that. In the face of all this, could he really still be sensitive to the memory of a woman who he never even met?

--Wasn’t that really more her sacrifice?
--I suppose you have a point, but technically I’m the one who performed The Sacrifice. It was the happiest day of our lives. I only wish she could’ve seen you. An honest-to-goodness Resurrected Birth. To extract yourself from within a corpse… that’s when I knew that it was really all true, when you popped your cute little head (except for the eyes, of course) out of her and didn’t even cry.
--Can’t cry when you don’t have eyes.
--Hey... that’d be a good song lyric.

06-02-2007, 09:25 AM
dude.....those must be some of the most disturbing images ever

06-02-2007, 10:45 AM

06-02-2007, 01:29 PM
LGM, great imagery - disturbing, yet beautiful. I always loved that kind of dichotomy.

Can't wait to read more from you all.

06-02-2007, 01:34 PM
AWESOME thread. I wish I had all the short stories I wrote on this computer still, sigh. But I look forward to reading everything thats posted! :)

06-02-2007, 02:37 PM
Wait til you see the actual movie. Expect it sometime around 2013-2015.

06-02-2007, 02:52 PM
I'm going to start serializing the longer shorts in here. This is something a little more real, which will also be incorporated into a movie immediately following the movie the previous excerpt is from.

My Old Man was drunk and I was fifteen, as was our custom for that year. Now it is I who am drunk and he is dead, an agreement we’ve managed to uphold for thirty-three years running without either neglecting his end of the deal. But that night I’d prayed for something to dispatch him, for him to simply vanish into non-existence by morning, and for once God actually responded to my pleas. It taught me a valuable lesson—He does not seem to choose which prayers to answer based on the merit or sensibility of the supplicant. Based on that single experience—never having dared to pray again since—I’m forced to conclude that he selects the winners to teach us a lesson about wanting things. “I’ll give you something to pray about” might even make for a good eleventh commandment.
I say again Pops was drunk, not dinnertime drunk, during which he was merely a miserable influence on the proceedings of our family and so sharp-tongued as to make you doubt whether alcohol could really be considered a mental inhibitor, no, this was bedtime drunk. Bedtime for everyone but him, which meant sleep was a dangerous proposition for everyone else. At this stage of intoxication he was prone to acts of completely purposeless mischief, such as the night where he decided to hurl every single cooking device in kitchen—pots, pans, cookie trays, pie dishes; the lot—out the backdoor into our snow covered lawn. To the best of my recollection, that episode, which took place only a few days prior to his end, was his way of responding to a spaghetti dinner my mother had cooked. It was spaghetti in the sense that the noodles used were spaghetti noodles, but we had no sauce, as we had no money for sauce, and thus the noodles were garnished with only salt, pepper, and butter if we were lucky. Dinner in my house was rarely anything elaborate out of necessity, particularly during those winter months, when the cellar was filled with jars of fruits and vegetables preserved from the fall harvest, as well as several stacks of fifty-pound bags of potatoes. Some nights, potatoes were the entrée. We did not complain, because after all, who the fuck we were to complain? That night Mom had the spaghetti ready at six-thirty, the time that dinner had to be ready per dictum of the Old Man. This is not to say that he was always home at six-thirty ready to eat. Sometimes he was still at the bar, and on those occasions we usually didn’t see him ‘til well after dinner had already been eaten and forgotten. It was coming home that late and thus finding only cold spaghetti to eat that, for reasons beyond my comprehension, inspired him to throw all the cookery we owned, which like everything we owned did not amount to much, out into the lawn. I suppose he just wanted to have whatever he wanted, and when he didn’t get it, he decided Mom was to blame—after all, she was the one trying to give him what he wanted, and if he didn’t get it, whose fault was it? I cannot for the life of me recall what we were eating the night he died, but we weren’t eating with him.

Pops was sitting at a bar ordering shots of the cheapest whiskey available. Having no work at the time, he was free to start drinking early. From what I was told, he started the night out reasonable enough, sipping his drinks, perhaps because he knew every shot he bought meant that much less milk for his children, perhaps because he’d planned on making dinner, but surely it became irrelevant why he was sipping earlier when dinnertime rolled around and he was completely bagged. Now the shots couldn’t come fast enough, weren’t coming fast enough for his tastes at all, the bartender intentionally trying to slow him down. Pops, never one to miss an instance in which he was being disobeyed no matter how drunk he was, called out to the bartender in a different voice this time—he wasn’t “requesting” shit. The young fellow who happened to be serving the public good that night realized he was in for another pissed-off unemployed tradesman who needed somebody to unload a life’s worth of dissatisfaction on. That came with the job. Sighing only the way someone in the service industry can, he made his way over to my father.

When Pops decided to menace somebody, odds were it was going to work. He was outfitted with a face that could evoke such a focused disgust, the deepest wrinkles in the places where it only folded when he was contorting it into its absolute most unpleasant form. The young bartender rested one elbow on the bar and casually leaned down to my father’s drooping head.
-- Sorry buddy, what can I do for you?
-- Well, you can cut that buddy shit, and when you’re done with that, you can bring me a fucking drink.
-- You sure you don’t want to hold back a little? Still a long night to go.
-- Lemme tell you something. If you don’t bring me a whiskey right now, I’m going to drag you across this bar, and we’re gonna go outside. And you ain’t gonna come back.

The truth of the intent issued by his statement was not lost on the bartender despite his being a relative novice. He quickly readied a shot of the house whiskey and brought it over nice as could be. My father never took his eyes off the man, didn’t even acknowledge receipt of the whiskey, nor did he offer money for it, and after a couple uncomfortable seconds in which the younger man tried to work up the nerve to ask for payment but could not, he simply turned and walked away, back to putting out clean glasses. Pops still hadn’t looked at the shot once, but started to spin the glass between thumb and forefinger, a grin clearly depicting bad intentions spreading across his face. Cautious, and with good reason, the bartender was peeking down to that end of the bar every third glass or so just to make sure something wasn’t flying his way. When he thought he saw the man smiling he didn’t believe it at first and was determined to continue finishing his task. Three glasses later he caught an even bigger smile out of the corner of his eye, and allowed himself to succumb to a glimmer of hope. With only a handful of customers in the place and no security staff, one violent hardworking man, as drunk as he may be, could easily seize control of the entire bar from this young soul who was putting himself through college and had neither the build for nor the experience required for a good fistfight. Mustering some nerve again, he put on what he thought was his friendliest smile, and he was right, it was an extremely charming smile, and looked over to my old man just hoping to get a subtle nod of the head as way of apology. Pops had already decided on a plan of action, but seeing that smile only confirmed in his mind that there was no recourse but to give this motherfucker as much hell as possible. He picked up the shot glass carefully, made a slight “cheers” motion with it towards the student, who was instantly relieved and now smiled completely genuinely, happy to be out of that thorny brush. Instead of drinking the shot, however, my father slowly poured it down the entire length of the bar that was within his reach, his own smile getting progressively bigger and bigger as the joy drained from his adversary. The gauntlet had been thrown, and the bartender knew the next move was his, but couldn’t decide what it should be. Calling the cops would be good, but he was afraid that might set this bomb off. There was a baseball bat underneath the register which injected his mind with dozens of scenarios of how it could all go wrong—if it came to it and he hit him and hit him well, he might kill him, or damage his brain, and if he missed, it might be turned around on him, or even if he landed a good blow and it didn’t happen to stop this wild-eyed bastard. He was frozen in possibilities, so my father made the next logical move.
-- Gimme a double.

Eventually the cops did come, in the interim Pops having gone at least partially bonkers, chucking that shot glass into a large mirror and at one point trying to climb over the bar using a stool as a boost only to have the stool tip backwards on him, causing him to fall with the increased gravity of someone seriously intoxicated jaw-first into the bar railing. It took the better part of a minute for him to get back up, including two failed attempts, the result of his determination convincing him to attempt maneuvering upright before his body was really prepared for such a feat. When he finally did stand, he was sure to do it right, gathering his balance down at the ground and rising slowly, sure to be facing his undeserving nemesis and to extend so as to let the boy know that although he may have just fallen down three times in less than fifteen seconds just before, he was still capable, and more importantly, willing. The boy, however, had been emboldened by seeing that the motor functions he was facing were seriously impaired, and by the baseball bat which had a righteous weight in his hands, shaking as they were, and besides, the cops will be here any second now, he thought. Right? He thought.

In fact, they pulled up that very next second, the combatants not having even gotten into full showdown stance.
-- Pussy.
-- You should thank me. I was going to bust your head open as soon as you got up, but I saw them coming.
-- Yup, well… everybody gets their day, pal.

Instincts kicking in, he beat a quick retreat to the back door, not doing too great a job of navigating the layout of dining tables, knocking over so many chairs en route that one might imagine he just wanted to make the kid clean that up, too. Pop knew himself well enough to always park in the back when hitting a bar, as he had a certain tendency to unite folks against him. The cops must’ve taken their time getting out of the squad car and getting inside, understandable considering the snowfall that had slowly swelled into a full-fledged storm in the time it had taken him to get banned from yet another drinking establishment. The officers moseyed through the door to find the lad hysterically urging them towards the rear exit. It took no more than a quick look around the room for these small town cops, as learned in the discipline of being a small town cop as any in any small town in America to know exactly what had gone on—someone got sauced and took it out on the bar. Clearly the only victims were the mirror and the obviously-college boy’s naiveté. From their point of view this collegiate pansy jumping around and yelping directions at them needed to learn sooner or later that consoling men he’d help fuel into unreasonable states was, frankly, his job. As for the mirror, having a glass pane covering almost an entire wall of a bar in a working man’s town was, frankly, asking for it to be broken. The likelihood of this piddling shit being the extent of the drama had , they were having a beer before heading back out into the snow. As Officer Ertle started planning exactly what to say to get this boy calmed down and his fat ass onto a stool, a pickup truck came tearing ass from behind the building at a speed wholly inappropriate given the weather conditions. Everyone inside was wondering how this maniac thought he was going to make the turns required to come around the side of the building and exit the parking lot in all that snow at 30 miles an hour and not completely lose control, but Pop had already figured that out—just don’t turn. His path was to take him directly over the 10-foot tall hill that obstructed view of the highway from the bar. It was a risky move, as making it to the top of the rise in these conditions was far from being a guarantee, but sure enough the momentum pulled him through, and he disappeared over the bluff honking in celebration. The bartender turned around and smiled at the police officers who’d doubted his urgency, and officers in turn considered arresting him for having served Pop too many drinks, but there was no time. With a mutual sigh, they put their hats and gloves back on and headed for the squad car. As he whipped the cruiser out of the parking lot and hit the sirens, Ertle explained the situation:
-- This cocksucker had better hope he ends up in a ditch because of him. Otherwise, it’ll be because of me.

Pop should’ve had a good head start on them, and it wasn’t terribly far to our house, but they caught up because he did in fact end up in a ditch. Unfortunately for him, the journey home could not be taken in one straight line even if you were willing to do whatever it took to make it one. In fact the path he took was among the curviest in the area, and the liquor had bolstered his confidence. Already tonight he’d won the war with that bartender, and he was in the process of winning the war with the cops, so he was not about to let some cunt (Mother Nature) dictate how he drive. With his tailgate hugging a tree trunk he had a brief moment in which he actually saw the error of his ways. Anyone who knew this man would have to agree that admitting fault was simply not something he did, and when they agreed it would be a brief, grim acknowledgment, and the subject would quickly be dropped. But with smoke billowing out of the hood of the truck, switching between reverse and first gear and flooring it every time, desperately looking around the bend for the lights of the cruiser, he screamed “dumb motherfucker” repeatedly and probably directed it at the truck, but really he was cursing himself for forgetting a lesson he’d had to learn over and over again: The Cunts usually win. It never seemed appropriate that that was the way of the world, but every time this rule reappeared in his life he cursed himself for having forgotten it. Finally managing to move a couple of inches forward, he slammed it into reverse and backed into the tree with enough force to rip some of its roots from the ground, tilting it backwards about fifteen degrees, and providing him with just enough throw forward to get back onto the road. As his quickly but slightly more carefully zipped up the road, punching the steering wheel triumphantly, he saw red light flashing against the tree he’d beaten. This bit of good luck convinced him—tonight God was on his side for once. And with God’s help, The Cunts were going to get fucked, the way they should be.

Pop succeeded in the chase almost entirely in thanks to fortunate terrain. Twists and turns kept the cruiser chasing only the reflections of his taillights, and him difficulty trying to divide his attention evenly to the road ahead and gauging how his lead was holding up by the occasional appearance of their high beams in his rear view. They finally got each other in full view on the very straight but rising and falling road that our house’s street branched off of. There was something to be worried about in that making the turn onto our street was a sharp one, and he’d certainly have to slow down a good deal to avoid another catastrophe, but he had a chance in that there was a deep valley that ran several hundred feet, leveling out only about fifty feet prior to the turn. If things worked out the way he was hoping, he’d be making the corner just as the cruiser came up the rise, and then it was only a few seconds around one conveniently placed bend to our driveway and sanctuary. If he had things pegged right, he’d be already pulled in just as they were coming into view of the house.

Dinner had been over for a while at this point, and we’d already moved on to dancing. Being poor folks, entertainment had to be self-supplied, and when my oldest brother Albert had gotten a job teaching at the Arthur Murray Dance School in town a few years back, it had provided us with a welcome diversion. Primarily it diverted us away from being family and towards enjoying each other’s company. Tonight was something of a special occasion, as Albert had brought over his new girlfriend—in part, I do believe, so that he could show off not just his dancing abilities but also ours as multiple mincing extensions of his own prowess.

Pop’s failure to appear for dinner seemed curious to our guest—named Anne if I recall correctly though I wouldn’t wager either of my good children on it—but only for a moment and she was polite and smart enough girl to just stay quiet about it. I do believe Albert was nothing other than relieved that he had failed to show, and with good reason, as having company over had no effect on the old man’s disposition other than giving it a new, uncalloused target. A few years later when I brought my first serious girlfriend and future wife over for dinner, I admit I felt some guilty relief that Pop was dead just so I wouldn’t have to see him eye her up for the first time the way I’d seen him do to Albert and Bill’s girlfriends. There was nothing pleasant about the smile he presented them, especially if you knew him. It looked more like the baring of teeth a mean bastard dog would produce if you were about to hand over a fresh kitten when he’d been chewing on the same skeletons for years.

There was some serious jitterbugging going on in the family room, the only room in the house large enough to accommodate eight dancing persons, and even then things had to be rearranged and the concept of personal space had to be abandoned, which was nothing at all new to those who lived there. Just so that we fully understand the scene: eight persons counting Ma, 41, Albert, 24, and Anne, whatever, my other older brother Bill, 22, Mary Lou, sister, 19, myself, 15, brother Jim, 14, and Judy, sister and Pop’s favorite (which more or less meant the only one he regularly treated fondly), 12.] The family room happened to be one of the two rooms that faced the front yard, which served as our driveway, and even with our radio cranked to the maximum, Pop’s pickup roaring in and screeching to a halt into a previously undiscovered parking spot behind a tree on the side of the house caused everyone to forget what step they were on. All heads turned towards the noise, where there was nothing for them to see due to limited window access, and then turned back in to the circle hoping someone else had an answer. Only Bill did, and he offered it while turning off the radio.
-- Sounds like somebody’s after Pop.

No sooner had he clued us all in to what should’ve been obvious, and may have been to the more seasoned in attendance, than the front door (located smack dab in the middle of the dance hall) flew open and the old man came barreling in, acknowledging none as they scrambled to make a path between him and his clearly decipherable destination. Again, maybe some, probably only Mom if any, knew to expect that he would be heading for the closet of all places with such urgency, but in hindsight I can think of no need that would propel him into the house with that kind of speed other than a gun. We owned only one, a long double-barrel shotgun used only when we were lucky enough to have a cow that required shooting in the head. Those occasions were the only times you would conceive of seeing steak on the table, which happened once or twice, but usually it meant several weeks of hamburgers, which might as well have been steak to us. To the best of my knowledge it had never even been held by someone considering shooting other people, but knowing Pop I may be overreaching myself. Now I’m imagining for the first time that perhaps Pop held that same gun late into the night, far into a bottle, and contemplated shooting us.

In fact as he wrapped his left hand around the barrel and right around the stock, spinning with remarkable precision and heading right back out the door he did have a brief flash of a possible future. There were two people in the room that he would’ve liked to shoot, for related but different reasons, and he happened to have two barrels with a shell in each. Theoretically, this seemed like it would work. But he never even got so far as actually picturing aiming and firing at the two—just the notion that he could, right at this moment, blow their heads clean off, if he wanted to. This wasn’t the first time that he’d had the thought; just the first time he’d thought it while it was immediately possible. Unfortunately, there was not even time to soak in the pleasure of the fantasy, which enraged him all over again on the grounds that life never gave him the opportunity to actually enjoy anything. There was always some other shit that demanded his attention as soon as he’d found shit that he could enjoy.

The example that preyed on his thoughts the most being my mother—as soon as he’d found a decent enough piece of ass that was willing to give him a turn she had to go and get pregnant, instantaneously not just preventing all further enjoyment of her snatch (his thinking being that once a baby came through it couldn’t hardly be much good anymore), but in fact going back in time and stripping whatever joy he’d gleaned from sticking her in the first place. The Cunts had those kind of capabilities. Reminded of The Cunts, he remembered that this was to be his night, and was instantly happy again. Being the only one near the door (which, incidentally, he threw open with sufficient force to not only put an impression of the doorknob in the wall, but to also bounce all the way back to a closed position), I was the only one who could actually see the transformation as he reached for the doorknob, starting the reach angry as hell, and as he turned the knob, smiling in a way I’d practically never seen. This was not the mean bastard dog smile, rather, it was a smile that indicated that things were going to be all right. He paused briefly, holding the knob turned but not pulling it open, having decided that since he was going to win he could take a second and actually enjoy it. It can’t have been much more than one actual second before he looked up at me without turning his head, just out of the corners of his eyes, smiling like I couldn’t believe. Any right-headed person would’ve been doubly scared by this new smile element added to the already heady (Pop + in a hurry + shotgun) equation, but I was young and very confused and my father was smiling at me, so naturally I smiled back.
-- Boy, be sure they know ‘at anybody who come through this door will get an assfull.

With no other sounds to interfere, except for the rising wail of sirens now starting to penetrate the collective consciousness of the room, no one had to be told what would happen if they went through that door. Nonetheless, as soon as Pop has bounded back out into the snow Bill started to follow him, fueled with an entire upbringing’s worth of angry resolve to do something about that man, and this seemed like the exact right instance to carry it out, whether or not he had a fucking gun. I could see him barely start to grin, revealing to me a resemblance to Pop I’d not noticed before, but the grin ended quickly, as did his decision to march right the fuck out that door. The fingers that only a moment ago couldn’t wait to get this goddamned door open so there’d finally be nothing standing between him and that drunk motherfucker trembled and let go entirely. Only the spirit remained, his hand still reaching out, reflected in the brass finish.

To be continued, assuming there's any demand...

06-02-2007, 02:56 PM
LGM, Why does it have to be a movie?

Don't want to turn this into an AL & LGM circle jerk. Come on y'all, I know there's more out there.

Anywho, this is another from my collection of many college misadventures (and it's short - nice).

I sat mindless on the subway. I read the signs around me – Dr. M.D. Tusch, No se apoye contra la puerta. I was always told to avoid eye contact with others on the train or the bus, but I often ignored that rule because most adhered to it. I glanced habitually at my fellow passengers, passing little judgment on them. I moved aimlessly from one face to another. Some caught my eye, like the bum asleep in a pitiful pile of himself, the young black child sitting peacefully in his mother’s obese arms, or the old woman huddled quietly over a book and gnawing on her toothless mouth. These people enchanted me, but my occasional glance was nothing more than any other passenger. I saw each passenger again. The bum remained motionless. The child moved restlessly on his exhausted mother’s knees. The old woman rose to get off at the next stop pulling her black over coat tighter around herself. I watched her as the subway began to slow. Her eyes caught mine and she smiled a beautiful toothless grin. You could see in her eyes that she wanted to speak to me, say something profound, life changing. The train slowed, the doors opened, and our eyes continued their silent dialogue. She paused for a moment, looked at me and said, “Darlin’ you’re beautiful.” I blushed, flattered, surprised and unsure of how to respond. She moved through the open door as others boarded the train trying to avoid her. She paused again just as her hand slipped from the door frame and the doors began to close. “And you can stick it up your ass!” The doors closed. The train moved forward and I took several mind-full steps back.

06-03-2007, 02:06 AM
Well, I took my first ever trip into the OC today--San Diego, specifically--to meet face to face with another board member in what should have been a fun break from my routine, but due to failures on somebody's part it ended up leaving me the most sadistically enraged I've been since last year when I got jumped in my own bedroom while asleep.

Thus, I've decided to post the two stories that--when I looked through my folder of shorts after Algunz made the thread--were both automatic NOs, as they were the one part of my series "What Does It Take To Incite A Riot At An Open Mic?" that this board would abhor. Each week I tried a different tactic of fucking with the teenage scenesters that were populating a local coffee shop, the intended goal being to get booed off stage on grounds of inhumanity.

These are two scenes of prose but really just a single tactic --gratuitous, unprovoked acts of extreme violence against innocent women. Not because of my misogyny, but because these kids were proving hard to disturb enough not to give me huge rounds of applause.

Yes, even this got a very positive reaction out of a large teenager or older-but-art-*** crowd. I was in high school when I wrote it so it's almost embarrassing, but right now I just want to spread the malevolence this night has induced in me around some.

I’m exhaling long plumes of smoke of a chemical that none of you have ever heard of, and every once in a while I could swear one of the clouds coming out of me is actually my father’s ghost and I start to become aware that somewhere along the line it had all changed. No longer was I doing drugs for fun or for enlightenment. Nowadays it was just a contest to see how much I could do to my brain and my body without suffering consequences. People no longer knew when I was high, and in fact the only times I got asked what I was on anymore were the rare occasions that I was sober. Even I was starting to feel more normal and more comfortable when the entire world had been warped and skewed and seared by the chemicals than I did with a clear head. How had I been allowed to kick this pitbull for so long without getting bit, I wondered. “Bite me, motherfucker, bite,” I started chanting through clenched teeth, and then stopping when I suddenly realized that I might be giving the wrong impression to the girl that was blowing me.

I didn’t remember how it had got started or even necessarily who she was, or even necessarily if she was female or human, but I didn’t want to give whatever it was the opportunity to injure me, so I waited until it had taken its mouth enough off my shaft to properly punch it.

The uppercut managed to lift it enough off my dick for me to get a proper jab on its nose, and while in motion I found that it was a girl, a rather pretty one, really... at least up until the point that I felt her cheekbone and eye socket both shatter under my knuckles.

As I made contact, some of the capsules I’d swallowed earlier must have kicked in because everything shifted to high-contrast black and white and it was now black that was bubbling out of her mouth, and I told her quite sincerely that most of the time morals in life are just shades of grey as I dove under the covers and things got dark. And I got dark with them.


Her pain was so obvious I was amazed she didn’t constantly bleed from every orifice out of heartache. She wore the gruesome natures of every single relationship with a male she’d ever had like a mortal wound--as self-evident as 40 weeks of pregnancy and just as much of a threat to her future.

It’s tempting to think that these things can be changed, that people like her can be helped, healed, saved, etc., but they don’t even make movies like that anymore. Canines have more instinct for choosing owners than women do for choosing men (not the only respect in which puppies have an advantage over pussies, by the way), and 99 out of 100 strays remain strays because they’ve gotten used to being kicked around.

Remarkably, the female human breed of dog, once prompted initially with an abusive mate, will seek out similarly masochistic relationships repeatedly with uncanny ability, despite their lack of an advanced smell sense. It is with this overdeveloped metaphor in mind that I decide I’m not going to waste my time and soul in what I know is a far-too optimistic attempt to protect her not just from everyone else, but from herself as well. It occurred to me during the drive that perhaps I shouldn’t forsake her completely, but rather just switch the method.

This wound can’t be healed with the gentle caress of loving fingers because it goes too deep, so instead let’s push those same fingers in as far as they’ll go and pry the fleshy recess open wide to expose it all to the air. The shock factor will be intregral to the success of my plan, so I resist her blatant sexual overtures at first, refusing groping, just holding her face in my hands as I kiss her, holding it for as long as possible. I can only assume that she was righteously confused when my right hand slid along her face and neck to the back of her head and grabbed a handful of locks as tight as possible and yanked her backwards hard enough to make her scream, which I wasn’t particularly interested in listening to, so I spun her around and took her feet out from under her, properly executed resulting in a faceplant onto hardwood floor.

I suspect that it broke her nose based on how quickly the blood spread across the pillow I took from the bed to put underneath her head so that I could muffle her yelps better. I tried to make the sex as rough and loveless as possible, purely mechanical, and I was surprised when after almost ten minutes she was still struggling and trying to make noise. You would think she’d be used to it. I leaned in close to her ear and tried to talk some sense into her--“You're gonna shut the fuck up. Just... shut... up... and... fucking... take... it.”

She must have realized the utter truth of my sentiment by the way that her whole body went limp. She even helped me out by opening her legs a little bit wider, which simplified the thrusting process a great deal. When it was all finished, which is to say that I had finished (inside of her no less), I figured that the next step had to be hers. So I simply pulled out and stood up.

It took almost a minute for her to move at all, and even then she barely lifted her head up from the pillow. She slowly tilted her face upwards, only getting far enough to get a peek at me from the corner of her eye. It sounded like she choked on something, maybe blood, before she hoarsely uttered my name. “Yes, my dear,” I responded, waiting tensely for the uncontestable truth that I was sure I had managed to fuck into her. She looked straight into me with one eye, her blood-basted lips curled into a coy smile and said, “That was the best it's ever been.”

06-03-2007, 10:41 AM
You had some nice details.

06-03-2007, 11:18 AM
dude honestly....wtf

06-03-2007, 12:41 PM
Eight years ago I had an experience that I doubt few people have ever had, and for a long time (actually up to about a year ago) I had never spoken of it to anyone else, thinking that they would consider me perverted. During that time I have lived with the realty that I will most likely never have another opportunity like I had at that time, and believe me it has been very hard.

I have since had sex with other animals, including dogs, ponies and most recently horses, but they will never rival my experience with the Dolphins. Here is what TRULY happened. I can offer no proof other then my own word. And for my own protection I will not divulge locations, names, etc.

Eight years ago I lived in a city that had an aquarium that kept performing Dolphins. By pure chance the aquarium was an assignment I had when I was a security guard for a national security company. Since I was new, and had little seniority with the company I would always get the cruddy shift that no one else wanted...and the aquarium was one of those shifts since it was always a midnight to eight shift.

It really was a pretty cushy place to work since I didn't have to punch clock. (Ever carry one of those security clocks around. They must weigh fifteen pounds!) I just had to kind of wander around and keep an eye on things.

It would get pretty boring at night, and after a while I took to playing with the Dolphins. I would come in during the weekends to watch the shows and eventually I picked up some of the hand signals that the trainers used. With a bit of practise I could get the Dolphins to perform just about any behavior that the trainers had them perform. Dolphins really are quite intelligent. After a while I found myself talking to them and I swear that if they had vocal cords they would have talked back to me! Their body movements and gestures where extremely animated and very communicative.

After several months I got to the point where the nights I spent with the Dolphins became my own private world. They all knew me and came to know my schedule and habits intimately. It was at the point that I decide it was time for a swim.

Now, you have to appreciate the circumstances. I was alone all night with these creatures, I was somewhat of a loner, and had no personal life to speak of, and I had developed a deep bound with at least two of the Dolphins. It was easy to keep the shift since no one else liked the hours.

Finally, one night I brought my swim suit. Around 2:00 a.m. I changed, and after being sure that the place was locked up tight, I eased myself into the pool. At first they simply vied for my attention as they always did, but after a bit, things got pretty rough. I wasn't sure why some of them were getting so excited, when I noticed that one of the males had a hard on!

Now that really fascinated me. They never acted like this around me before, and I was not sure what to do. Except I did get out of the pool until they calmed down a bit. While sitting on the edge of the pool, one of the Dolphins swam in front of me on his side. I stroked his belly with my hand and instantly his dick was thrusting in the air. Boy did I find an erogenous zone!

Before I go on, I should give you a little more background. First, to my surprise, Dolphins do not feel slimy. Their skin feels more like a wet inner tube, and is very soft and sensitive to the touch. They are fiercely independent creatures and if they don't want to do something, then no amount of prodding will make them change their minds. If you ever go to an aquarium, watch them long enough and you will notice that they spend almost 80% of their time thinking and doing sex. You think humans are obsessed sexually? Believe me the Dolphins have it all over us. Although being in a tank 24 hours a day probably has a lot to do with that kind of behavior.

The night that I first went for a swim was an experience to say the least. The frenzy that I started kind of unnerved me to the point were I got out, got dressed, and avoided the pool for the rest of the night. Needless to say, the next day I didn't get much sleep. I could not stop thinking about the wild possibility of actually having sex with them. One part of me kept saying what a crazy idea that was, while another part of me created the most wonderful fantasies. My emotions were on a rollercoaster. I don't think anyone will ever appreciate the way that I felt. The bond that I had formed with a couple of the Dolphins was powerful. It was almost as if they had seduced me by pure empathy.

In any case, I decided that the next night I would take the plunge. I could hardly wait for my shift to begin. It seemed like everyone lingered around forever. And then waiting until it was late enough to safely go into the pool was almost unbearable.

Finally things quieted down and I got undressed...this time no swim suit. I sat on the edge of the pool, and like the night before the Dolphins gathered around to play a bit. This time I was careful not to get them too excited right away, waiting for most of them to swim off on their own so that just the two that I was closest to were with me.

I should explain how the pool was laid out. As a part of the show the trainers would have a couple of the Dolphins beach themselves in a very shallow part of the water. This part was just deep enough for the Dolphins to swim in...about a foot deep. It was my strategy to get the two Dolphins into the shallower water.

After the Dolphins left, I lowered myself into the water and very carefully started to stroke them. I eased my way toward the shallow water, and as I had hoped, they followed. Once I was able to sit on the bottom of the pool I coaxed them along side of me, and I carefully started to rub their bellies. I started with him first. Just as the night before I got an immediate response from him. He rolled on his side and as I had hoped he had a huge hard on. Now my heart was pounding so hard I was sure it could be heard from 30 feet away.

I carefully eased my hands down his belly toward his cock. I was very careful. A full grown Dolphin can weigh in from 350 to 600 pounds. And while they can be quite gentle, I was not sure how he would react when I started to rub his dick. Despite my confidence in his gentleness, I was relieved when he simply went limp when I started to stroke his cock. in fact he went so limp that at first I thought he may have died! But after a moment he opened his mouth about as wide as he could, his tongue doing a sort of aerobic dance.

I slipped my hand up and down his shaft, carefully squeezing it every so often. It felt much like the surface of his skin, that is very firm but still soft. It was sort of knife shaped, that is wider then thick, and you could feel it move in your hands. It was about eleven inches long, about two inches wide and one and one half inch thick. The tip thinned to nearly a point and crooked down a little. Overall it was shaped nearly like his own body...very sleek and streamlined. When not in use the cock is retracted completely into the Dolphin's body through a long slit just below his belly.

The slit in the male and female Dolphin are almost identical, making sex determination tricky. The best way to tell apart the sexes is by looking at the forehead. The male Dolphin's forehead, or melon, is actually a little bigger then the female's. Of course if the male has a hard on then it is pretty easy to tell males from females! When the cock is erected the slit parts in such a way that it is oval shaped.

It is said that the Dolphins cock can be used like a finger and has a great deal of dexterity. That may be true, but on this occasion he did not demonstrate that ability to me. Perhaps he was to wrapped up in the experience. I found that the Dolphin seemed to like having the base of his cock rubbed the best.

I slipped my hand up and down his shaft carefully squeezing it ever so often. This went on for about five minutes and then he started to shudder...as if he was very cold. His mouth remained open wide and every so often I would rub his tongue. (All dolphins love this...I have no idea why.) His eyes remained tightly closed. All the while he was totally silent.

Assuming that he was about to climax I started to rub his dick a little harder and faster. His tail started to sweep back and forth really hard when suddenly he raised his tail high out of the water and with the first sound that he had made all evening he shot his load. There was not as much as I thought there would be...perhaps about two tablespoons. It was quickly washed away in the water but it appeared to be kind of clear and about the same consistency as human cum. What really surprised me most was the pressure of his ejaculation. It come out incredibly hard and fast, his penis contracting suddenly with the ejaculation.

He then relaxed and went totally limp. I kept on stroking his penis but after a few minutes he withdrew it back inside of him. It was only at this point that I noticed that I had a real boner myself. Hard as steel and throbbing. Don't think I've had one like that before or since.

I must say that after eight years, the mere act of writing down what happened has rekindled some powerful emotions. While my encounters with other creatures have been strictly on a sexual level, my encounter with the Dolphins was a much deeper emotional experience. It has been said the Dolphins are highly intelligent creatures. That they are. More then anyone really knows.

After resting for a few moments the Dolphin left for the deeper water. I started looking for the female, hoping that she would allow me to satisfy my throbbing dick. Apparently she had got bored with the whole affair and was off playing with the others.

I slapped the top of the water to try and entice her back, and after a bit of coaxing I finally got her to come over. My legs were dangling over the edge of the shallow part into the deeper water. When she got close enough she unexpectedly grabbed my foot with her mouth and pulled hard.

I don't think she meant to hurt me, but over eighty short conical teeth can leave quite a bite mark and my foot ached for a few days after. When I re-surfaced, I found myself about six feet from the edge of the pool and started to swim for it. She had other plans though. She quickly swam between me and waters edge and started to push me toward the middle of the pool. Her actions alarmed me somewhat and I was getting just a little bit scared.

It was at this point that I began to respect the strength of these creatures ... something that I had badly underestimated. If she wanted me to stay in deep water, there was damn little I could do about it. I decided to cooperate and I swam a little ways out and started to tread water. In the meantime she started to circle around me, each time her circle getting a little smaller until her beak was almost touching her tail...with me in the middle.

I tried to stay calm, not knowing what to expect next, when she started to scan me with the most intense sound. As you are probably aware, Dolphins use sonar to 'see' with. Their eyesight, while not poor, is not their primary sense. Using sounds that range in frequency from as low as 300 Hz to as high as 150 kHz and higher, it is believed that Dolphins are actually able to 'see' what an individual is feeling. For example, if you are in a state of anxiety (as I was!) then your churning stomach would easily give away your state to a Dolphin's probing sonar. Their sonar has been compared to the sound scans used by doctors on pregnant women, except that the resolution is a thousand times better. Being scanned by a Dolphin is in itself a unique experience. The sound penetrates and resonates your body in the most peculiar way. While the Dolphin is scanning, you can actually hear the lower frequency sound waves increase and decrease in frequency.

When she started to scan me I noticed that the other Dolphins where swimming around the two of us, and if any of them got too close, she would chase them away. This went on for about twenty minutes. She would scan and probe my entire body. She seemed to especially enjoy nibbling at my ankles.

About this time I was starting to get pretty tired, and thought I better try to ease my way toward the shallow water. She made no effort to stop me, but she did continue to swim around and around until I finally felt the ledge of the shallow part of the pool.

I pulled myself into the shallow water and rested a bit. The Dolphin in the meantime had wriggled her way into the shallow water and laid very still on her stomach. I began to pet her and rub my hands up and down her sides. She just laid there and did nothing. I decided that now was the time, and I grabbed her pectoral fin and rolled her on her side. She cooperated completely.

From my earlier observations I had never noticed the folds of the female dolphins slit to be all that distinctive. But when I rolled her on her side her slit was definitely enlarged and had turned a deep pink color. I could only assume that she was waiting for me to mate with her. Now I was really in uncharted waters.

Whenever I watched the Dolphins have sex the actual act of penetration was always very brief, lasting no more then ten seconds. The pair would be very excited, the water boiling around the mating couple. For the Dolphins to mate it is necessary for the female to roll over on her back and expose herself to the male. The male would then jump over the female and attempt to hit the mark with his erected cock. Foreplay would consist of very fast swimming, both animals crashing into each other, and a lot of biting.

And yet, what was happening now was exactly the opposite. Here she was, totally relaxed, quite, and obviously very cooperative. I decided not to waste the invitation and started to initiate some foreplay.

I slid my hand along the edge of her slit and kind of eased my fingers into her vagina. The folds of the slit where very soft and squishy. The muscles of her vagina tightened on my fingers and would not let me probe any deeper than the palm of my hand. Not knowing too much about female Dolphin anatomy, I thought that maybe the male's penis kind of laid along the length of the slit. I rubbed her for a while and she continued to simply lay quietly, occasionally taking a breath.

While I was treading water my hard on had kind of withered away. Nervousness over the position I was in probably had a lot to do with that. But after some time with her in the shallow water, my penis started to firm up again.

I eased myself along side of her belly and slowly started to guide my dick into her. She felt my body draw close to hers and for the first time since we started foreplay, she moved around a bit. Rolling a little farther on her side and arching her back. She obviously wanted me to enter her.

Taking a deep breath, I slipped inside of her. To my surprise, my cock went all the way in! She relaxed her vagina and allowed me to move into a more comfortable position. My next concern was the fear that she would roll over on top of me. But fortunately she didn't. Instead she simply wriggled herself around so that we were both comfortable.

Within a few seconds my dick had become rock hard again, and she repeatedly tightened and relaxed her vagina. In twenty seconds I was ready to climax. I held back as long as I could, but the kneading action of her vaginal muscles was just too much. I came hard, and was so wrapped up in my own climax that I did not even notice if she was reaching orgasm, although I would like to believe that she did.

When I was finished I held on to her tightly, wrapping my legs around her tail. My cock was starting to fail me and despite my best efforts I could not sustain the erection. She just remained still, occasionally sweeping her tail back and forth. The kneading action of her vagina continued but a slower pace. I kept splashing water on her side to be sure that her skin did not dry out.

I don't remember how long we embraced, but it must of been for at least twenty minutes or so. Looking back, I am not sure what I enjoyed more, the actual sex act or the time I spent holding her.

It was getting close to 4:00 am and since the trainers would sometimes come in as early as 4:30 I decided I'd better get changed. It was hard to leave.

Over the next few days I felt about as good as I ever had in my life. My emotional state was exuberant. I was already making plans for more encounters with the Dolphins when I started back to work the next week. But it was not to be. The next week the aquarium staff started to come in at night to do maintenance and I was never alone long enough to go swimming again.

And then a few weeks later I was reassigned to another building. From the highest high in my life I went into a pretty deep depression. I still don't think I am over it...even after eight years.

Since that time I have spent a lot of time researching and studying about Dolphins. it has been an enlightening time. Now whenever I see a captive Dolphin, my heart breaks. While in the wild their life span is thirty to forty years, in captivity it is typically only five. Where in the wild their dorsal fin stands erect, in captivity it begins to flop over on its side. Where in the wild they can attain speeds in excess of thirty miles per hour, in captivity they are restricted to swimming around and around in circles.

Being three dimensional creatures, accustomed to boundless freedom, it must be a horrific experience for them to live in a tank that is typically no more then fifty feet across. I can no longer bear to even go to an aquarium anymore. I now see them differently then most people. If you observe them long enough you may understand what I mean. Hopefully in the future things will change so that the only Dolphins you see, are those that swim free in the ocean.

So there you have it. Perhaps my memory of the incident is clouded by too much emotion, but as far as I am concerned it is what really happened, and no one will ever take away the memory.

06-03-2007, 12:53 PM


06-03-2007, 12:56 PM
This thread is going to give me nightmares.

06-03-2007, 12:57 PM

06-03-2007, 01:45 PM

Actually, I wanted to ask what the fuck the point of this post was. Is this in reference to Algunz's first story? Is it really easier to find a pic of the cover of the book and insert it as an image with no context whatsoever than it is to, like, type some words and shit? You boggled me.

06-03-2007, 01:51 PM
Hang, I dug your jive although beastiality is an even easier button to push than rape, but I would've like to have seen it go just a little bit further towards the end. Perhaps he starts trying to kidnap particularly sexy dolphins? Then rape 'em--perfect, you got a winner. =)

Also, why are "Dolphins" always capitalized?

06-03-2007, 03:43 PM
Best Story Evar (http://www.tuckermax.com/archives/entries/date/tucker_tries_buttsex_hilarity_does_not_ensue.phtml #278)

06-03-2007, 04:36 PM
Tucker is tiresome, and anyone that's ever been the first dick in a girl's ass will agree that you don't get to go hog wild that night at all, no matter how much lube you use. But sticking with the misogyny theme, let's expunge the last of mine:

On September 11th, 2001, I was at the tail end of a three-week-long binge on psychoactive mushrooms. I'd picked up a pound of quality fungus near the close of August for an agreeable 1600 dollars and decided not to sell any of them, but rather to subsist on nothing but them for as long as I could. The world seemed to be more beautiful than it ever had before as my brain was constantly discovering poetic drug-induced profundity. I had been staring into a mirror for three hours or so, the only thing I knew to be 100 percent accurate about my face being the smile, when the phone rang.

"Ghostbusters," I answered, in signature style.

"I burn, baby, burn like disco inferno." It was Sprak, my closest friend, a fairly exclusive grouping in itself.

"You don't say?"

"What are your thoughts," he asks, and I’m tempted to tell him that twenty years from now I plan to be moving shit around with my brain.

"I dunno, dude, it's pretty fucked up. My eyes are almost completely black. I want my pupils to always be this size. Maybe I could get my iris tattooed with lasers or something."

For some reason, he’s confused by this. "Huh? Are you still tripping? Turn on channel four."

"Nah, I never get visuals off the TV." Eventually he explained what was going on and I excitedly flipped on the tube. What an incredible sight. Not that I was happy at the end of all those lives, but I wasn’t necessarily bothered by it either. I didn't know anyone connected in any way to the WTC, or really New York in general, so to me it was just spectacle. I sat there, awestruck, wide-eyed and grinning at the flames licking out from the gaping holes, slipping upwards and then vanishing, as thick, tumultuous smoke poured into the sky in great barrels. Finally, something had happened. My generation would no longer have to list Cobain's or Biggie's or Tupac's death as our definitive event.

Besides, any kind of rebellion is good in my eyes. If you have power, I'm sorry, but I'd kinda like to see you be terrorized. Even out the field a little. After a while I got bored of the replays and ventured out into public.
Everywhere I went I was irritated by the conversations I overheard. Patriotic bullshit, kill the ragheads bullshit, sentimental bullshit, I just didn't care anymore. It had happened five hours ago. Couldn't we move on? Were there any good movies out? But I knew that people wouldn't share my views, especially after being chased out of a diner for commenting that, "Hey, at least some cops went down, eh?" I had to find somewhere to go that would just be business as usual. The answer was obvious--stripclub.

Delilah's Den in South Amboy, New Jersey: the finest fully nude establishment within 45 minutes of my home. I was a semi-regular customer, known to most of the employees primarily by virtue of the dough I throw around and the fact that I occasionally deal to the girls/bouncers/manager. It seemed like the flesh business was my only chance of not having to hear some whining. I was almost right. All the experienced girls were going about business as usual, smiling, flirting, no talk whatsoever of world affairs, just offers of fake affection in exchange for real money. But my favorite girl at the time, Vanessa, a youngun' with a delightfully natural body who bore a slight resemblance to a girl I had carved myself up over back in high school, was staying fully clothed and watching the TVs (which were not playing ESPN as they usually did, but rather more fucking news all a-twitter with their new footage of the first plane), not even dancing. I inquired of one of the other girls, Vegas, what was wrong with her.

"Vanessa has some friends in NY. She hasn't been able to get in touch with them all day because of the phone lines being down, and Victor (the boss) wouldn't let her take off."

"Oh man, that's horrible." But that's not really what I was thinking. I saw an opportunity. See, what the girls do onstage is their business, but the revenue from lapdances is cut with both the club and the bouncers, so girls aren't allowed to refuse a dance without good reason. I circled over to the stage exit to make sure she couldn't run to the back without me catching her. She refused to make eye contact as she got off, but I stopped her.

"Hey kiddo, can I get a dance?" Stunned, she looked at me like I was a demon—how could I be so devoid of compassion as to be in a stripclub on this sad day, asking her to rub her sex all over me? Little did realize…

"I really don't think you want me. I'm not feeling up to it tonight."

"Oh, I'm sure you'll be just fine." The anger in her eyes just faded to exhausted compliance, a look that women in the objectification professions sometimes acquire permanently, and she led me to the private area. Under normal circumstances she was a wonderful dance, a real sweetheart who would try to break the rules for you if no one was around, grabbing your dick with her hand, kissing it, throwing a little tittyfuck in there (if you were wearing soft, non-zippered pants, as one always should when getting a lap dance--sweatpants recommended, the girls will appreciate it too), and letting you feel her up when it was easy to hide. This time we were the only two back there, and yet there was none of that. Usually she would start off easing into it, lightly brushing her body along mine while moaning in my ear before engaging in any serious grinding, to give me time to get a hard-on going. Instead, she just rolled her slipdress off and mounted my leg, sliding back and forth without any passion, her face a foot away from mine, staring up at the wall, silent. I wasn't even aroused, and I doubt I could have been with all the mushrooms in me, but I was fascinated with the image. The pure uncompromised misery of this girl's situation, combined with the repeating images of crumbling buildings and expert flying playing on a TV screen easily visible just over her shoulder was tantalizing a more powerful lust in me—a love for tragedy. After only two minutes or so, she got up and started to put her clothes back on, but I pulled out a second twenty and asked for another.

"What the fuck, why? I was horrible, I know I was, I did it on purpose."

"I don’t know what you mean, I thought it was some of your best work." She grimaced, then frowned, and took the dress back off. This time she was a little more into it, trying to appease me because she thought I was making her dance again as punishment for not doing enough the first time. She moved my left hand up onto her breast and I let it drop back to the bench. I didn’t want her to have any legitimate grounds for complaint to the bouncers. This time she went what felt like the whole four minutes, but when she got up I had another twenty out before she could even reach for her dress.

She flinched, the fear of an abused dog flickering in her eyes, and got down on her knees to pull out all the stops. Her hands ran up and down my torso as she rubbed her tits all over my groin and thighs, and she tried to pull my dick up between them but I was still limp, and she looked up at me curiously where my smile and black eyes obviously scared the shit out of her because she immediately turned around and started trying a doggystyle technique. She switched up as frequently as she normally would, moving into a cowgirl position, clutching my face tightly to her chest, moaning, acting for all she was worth. The song ended and she stayed on me but pulled back and looked to me in question. I had the bill in my hand, waiting, having already decided that this had to reach complete fruition.

In disbelief she let out a brief shriek of anguish and the anger and frustration took over. She forcibly pulled me forward until my ass was at the edge of the seat, reached into my pants and stretched my dick along my left thigh, then mounted her pussy directly on top of it and wrapped her legs around my leg, tight and efficient. Now she was just riding me for all she could muster, moving so fervently she had to grip the back of the bench to steady herself. Deep guttural grunts were coming out of her, but with no pretense of sexuality to it, just the natural exhale of air for someone tensing every muscle in their body. She could only keep it up for two minutes or so, when her body heaved, and she stopped, and collapsed on top of me, and softly began to weep. This was what I had been waiting for. I wrapped my arms around her and whispered into her ear, “It’s okay sweetie—I’m here.”

As I had hoped, this caused her to snap, the halting, sniffling tears of a moment ago instantly transforming into full-on bawling. Her arms came around me again and her hands held my face cheek-to-cheek with her and she resumed grinding, slowly, almost passionately, as she squeezed me and tried to press as much of her body against mine as she could just to feel someone there.

“Shh,” I whispered to her, rubbing her back, and as her crying started to slow I helped her off me and onto the seat next to me. Now I stood up, and got out a fifty and held it out to her. She looked up, reached for it, grabbed ahold of it, and I didn’t let go so that she would look me in the eyes.

“You’re so fucking beautiful,” I said.

“Thanks,” she replied, mascara streaming all the way down her face and onto her neck, and I walked away, wishing that there were an immense cloud of dust rushing at my back at a thousand miles an hour.

06-03-2007, 08:51 PM
"For sale: baby shoes, never worn."

06-03-2007, 08:53 PM
So I have this story due tomorrow (my first creative writing class ever and it's killing me!) could anyone give me some advice as to what I could add on?? I need about 3 more pages ):

Attack of the 22 Year Old Virgin
Settling down in front of the monitor, wearing nothing but his favorite Simpson’s pajama set, matching Homer slippers and headgear, Bobby settled in for another exciting Friday night…

“Another Friday night playing World of Warcraft. Yeah, that’s the life. I’m sure Bryan and Dan are playing tonight too. They’re my real friends. Not like those lame-o’s from last night. Bagging on me and stuff just cuz I’m still a virgin. So what. I’m 22 and the opportunity just hasn’t presented itself yet. It’ll happen, my mom said so. Ok, I gotta get out of this dungeon, left, left, wait! Balthazar, no!! No back up, back up! Crap.”

“Bobby watch your mouth! Shouldn’t you be getting to bed soon?”
“Mom, its Friday night, and I don‘t have work tomorrow till four.”
“Are you going to come home after? Should I save you some dinner?”
“No, I’m going to play MTG with the guys and probably get a few drinks. Gosh mom, get off my case.”
“Alright, alright, well make sure you get enough sleep, you know how cranky you get.”
“Mom, can’t you just let me play my game, and close the door behind you please.”

Hoping his night would pick up, Bobby closed out of his game, signed onto AIM and decided to check his myspace. As usual he had no new comments, messages or friend requests, not even an add from a pornbot. As he closed out of the internet explorer a new instant message flashed across the screen, it was Stacy from statistics:

Stacy123: Hi Bobby
Bobberino: Hi Stacy, what’s up
Stacy123: I was wondering if you could help me out sometime this weekend with my hw
Bobberino: sure. But I’m pretty booked tomorrow, I have a Magic the Gathering tourney to attend but I’m free sunday
Stacy123: that’s cool, wanna meet up at my place Sunday around 5?
Bobberino: sounds good
Stacy123: awesome, see you then, I‘ll email you directions!!

Letting out a deep breath, Bobby sent an instant message to his best friend Dan, the vice president of their warlocks fan club:
Bobberino: Dude, guess what?!
DanTheMan: what.
Bobberino: Guess who I have a date with on Sunday
DanTheMan: Not your cousin Teresa again? Common man, that was bad
Bobberino: no. and that was just for prom
DanTheMan: alright, with who then?
Bobberino: Stacy, that hot chick in stats!! She wants me to come over to her place Sunday night
DandTheMan: yeah sure.
Bobberino: She wants me
DanTheMan: does she even know who you are?
Bobberino: whatever r tard. You’re just jealous, I have a date. and you don’t
DanTheMan: Sure. see you tomorrow night at the tourney?
Bobberino: yup, ok I’m getting back to the WoW

Sunday Night:
“I don’t know why I’m so nervous” Bobby thought, “I’m just coming over to help with her homework. Wow, this sure is a nice neighborhood. I wonder if her parents are home. I hope she likes my new sweater vest. 2388... 2390... 2392... 2400, there it is.”
Bobby, smelling especially pungent after experimenting with two kinds of cologne and a new aftershave, parked his bike and walked up the three steps to Stacy’s front door. She answered, and he admired her tiny pink sundress and the way her hair was down; the perfect little curls cascading her shoulders. He even noticed a hint of lip gloss.

“Hi Bobby, thanks for coming over, I really need the help.”
“Oh, no problemo, I‘m always glad to be of assistance.” Bobby tripped over the doormat as Stacy let him into the house.
Giving Bobby a sly smile Stacy told him “We can study in my room if that‘s alright with you.”
“That should be quite alright”. Smirking to himself, Bobby thought “score! I’m going into a girl’s room; wait till the guys hear about this.”

Stacy’s bedroom was light pink with a subtle floral border and a matching bedspread on her full sized canopy. Bobby immediately noticed the lack of chairs in the room. He wiped his now moist palms on the sides of his slacks as Stacy motioned for him to sit next to her on the bed.

“So what are you having t-t-rouble with?” He had never been this close to a girl before and alone in her room!
“Oh, you know, like, everything.” She said giggling, with a slight blush in her cheeks, “Like those variance things, and that part about divination, I think it was the standard kind…”
“Oh, oh right the deviation, that‘s pretty simple, you see, uh, can I borrow your pencil? Well you just need to take these numbers, and then you calculate the variance, so you add them up; and the standard deviation is simply the square root of the variance.“
Stacy scooted over on the bed towards Bobby, she placed her hand over his, looked him in the eye and repeated, “so, I add up these numbers, and that‘s the variance, then I find the square root and that‘s the standard deviation? Wow, it‘s that simple?”
“Yeah, it really is. What else did you need to go over?”
Whispering Stacy answered, “Actually Bobby, I have a confession. I really didn‘t need help. I really just wanted to spend some time alone with you.”
“With me?”
“Yeah, I noticed the way you look at me in class.”
“I, uh, uh. I mean, I‘m sorry?”
“For what? I think you‘re really cute Bobby.”

Leaning in for a kiss, Bobby followed her cue. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath and prepared for his first kiss. He exhaled, opened his mouth and then found himself grasping for anything with his outstretched arms as he fell off the bed. Bobby’s hand made contact with something, and heard a loud rip. Bobby looked up mortified seeing as he had just torn off the top of her dress.

After Bobby managed to close his gaping mouth, he stammered “Oh my G- Oh my G- Oh no, I‘m so, I‘m so, Oh my. I gotta go. Sorry, so sorry.”

Making his way out of the front door and onto his blue Schwinn, Bobby’s jeans tore as they got stuck in the bicycle chain. Not caring, he pedaled until he was safely home again.

06-03-2007, 09:05 PM
3 pages!!?? That's a lot more to go - but, you still don't really have a story yet, so if you get it together it shouldn't be a problem.

I say he comes back to "apologize," but he is actually a cannibal - a drive he has hidden for too long. He proceeds to take on another personality, maybe almost a character from Warcraft. He seduces her, she likes it, and then he takes control. He kills her gently, drains her blood in the bathtub and then cuts her up, packs her, and freezes her.

06-03-2007, 10:22 PM
i think I'm too much of a girl to write about any kind of dismemberant, but I do like the idea of him going back, thanks!

06-03-2007, 11:17 PM
let me unerotica this thread.

J. D. Salinger
The New Yorker, January 31, 1953, pages 26-34, 36, 38, 40-41, 44-45

I'LL EXQUISITE DAY you, buddy, if you don't get down off that bag this minute. And I mean it," Mr. McArdle said. He was speaking from the inside twin bed--the bed farther away from the porthole. Viciously, with more of a whimper than a sigh, he foot-pushed his top sheet clear of his ankles, as though any kind of coverlet was suddenly too much for his sunburned, debilitated-looking body to bear. He was lying supine, in just the trousers of his pajamas, a lighted cigarette in his right hand. His head was propped up just enough to rest uncomfortably, almost masochistically, against the very base of the headboard. His pillow and ashtray were both on the floor, between his and Mrs. McArdle's bed. Without raising his body, he reached out a nude, inflamed-pink, right arm and flicked his ashes in the general direction of the night table. "October, for God's sake," he said. "If this is October weather, gimme August." He turned his head to the right again, toward Teddy, looking for trouble. "C'mon," he said. "What the hell do you think I'm talking for? My health? Get down off there, please." Teddy was standing on the broadside of a new looking cowhide Gladstone, the better to see out of his parents' open porthole. He was wearing extremely dirty, white ankle-sneakers, no socks, seersucker shorts that were both too long for him and at least a size too large in the seat, an overly laundered T shirt that had a hole the size of a dime in the right shoulder, and an incongruously handsome, black alligator belt. He needed a haircut--especially at the nape of the neck--the worst way, as only a small boy with an almost full-grown head and a reedlike neck can need one.

"Teddy, did you hear me?"

Teddy was not leaning out of the porthole quite so far or so precariously as small boys are apt to lean out of open portholes--both his feet, in fact, were flat on the surface of the Gladstone--but neither was he just conservatively well-tipped; his face was considerably more outside than inside the cabin. Nonetheless, he was well within hearing of his father's voice--his father's voice, that is, most singularly. Mr. McArdle played leading roles on no fewer than three daytime radio serials when he was in New York, and he had what might be called a third-class leading man's speaking voice: narcissistically deep and resonant, functionally prepared at a moment's notice to outmale anyone in the same room with it, if necessary even a small boy. When it was on vacation from its professional chores, it fell, as a rule, alternately in love with sheer volume and a theatrical brand of quietness-steadiness. Right now, volume was in order. "Teddy. God damn it--did you hear me?"

Teddy turned around at the waist, without changing the vigilant position of his feet on the Gladstone, and gave his father a look of inquiry, whole and pure. His eyes, which were pale brown in color, and not at all large, were slightly crossed--the left eye more than the right. They were not crossed enough to be disfiguring, or even to be necessarily noticeable at first glance. They were crossed just enough to be mentioned, and only in context with the fact that one might have thought long and seriously before wishing them straighter, or deeper, or browner, or wider set. His face, just as it was, carried the impact, however oblique and slow-travelling, of real beauty.

"I want you to get down off that bag, now. How many times do you want me to tell you?" Mr. McArdle said.

"Stay exactly where you are, darling," said Mrs. McArdle, who evidently had a little trouble with her sinuses early in the morning. Her eyes were open, but only just. "Don't move the tiniest part of an inch." She was lying on her right side, her face, on the pillow, turned left, toward Teddy and the porthole, her back to her husband. Her second sheet was drawn tight over her very probably nude body, enclosing her, arms and all, up to the chin. "Jump up and down," she said, and closed her eyes. "Crush Daddy's bag."

"That's a Jesus-brilliant thing to say," Mr. McArdle said quietly-steadily, addressing the back of his wife's head. "I pay twenty-two pounds for a bag, and I ask the boy civilly not to stand on it, and you tell him to jump up and down on it. What's that supposed to be? Funny?"

"If that bag can't support a ten-year-old boy, who's thirteen pounds underweight for his age, I don't want it in my cabin," Mrs. McArdle said, without opening her eyes.

"You know what I'd like to do?" Mr. McArdle said. "I'd like to kick your goddam head open."

"Why don't you?"

Mr. McArdle abruptly propped himself up on one elbow and squashed out his cigarette stub on the glass top of the night table. "One of these days--" he began grimly.

"One of these days, you're going to have a tragic, tragic heart attack," Mrs. McArdle said, with a minimum of energy. Without bringing her arms into the open, she drew her top sheet more tightly around and under her body. "There'll be a small, tasteful funeral, and everybody's going to ask who that attractive woman in the red dress is, sitting there in the first row, flirting with the organist and making a holy--"

"You're so goddam funny it isn't even funny," Mr. McArdle said, lying inertly on his back again.

During this little exchange, Teddy had faced around and resumed looking out of the porthole. "We passed the Queen Mary at three-thirty-two this morning, going the other way, if anybody's interested," he said slowly. "Which I doubt." His voice was oddly and beautifully rough cut, as some small boys' voices are. Each of his phrasings was rather like a little ancient island, inundated by a miniature sea of whiskey. "That deck steward Booper despises had it on his blackboard."

"I'll Queen Mary you, buddy, if you don't get off that bag this minute," his father said. He turned his head toward Teddy. "Get down from there, now. Go get yourself a haircut or something." He looked at the back of his wife's head again. "He looks precocious, for God's sake."

"I haven't any money," Teddy said. He placed his hands more securely on the sill of the porthole, and lowered his chin onto the backs of his fingers. "Mother. You know that man who sits right next to us in the dining room? Not the very thin one. The other one, at the same table. Right next to where our waiter puts his tray down."

"Mm-hmm," Mrs. McArdle said. "Teddy. Darling. Let Mother sleep just five minutes more, like a sweet boy."

"Wait just a second. This is quite interesting," Teddy said, without raising his chin from its resting place and without taking his eyes off the ocean. "He was in the gym a little while ago, while Sven was weighing me. He came up and started talking to me. He heard that last tape I made. Not the one in April. The one in May. He was at a party in Boston just before he went to Europe, and somebody at the party knew somebody in the Leidekker examining group--he didn't say who--and they borrowed that last tape I made and played it at the party. He seems very interested in it. He's a friend of Professor Babcock's. Apparently he's a teacher himself. He said he was at Trinity College in Dublin, all summer."

"Oh?" said Mrs. McArdle. "At a party they played it?" She lay gazing sleepily at the backs of Teddy's legs.

"I guess so," Teddy said. "He told Sven quite a bit about me, right while I was standing there. It was rather embarrassing."

"Why should it be embarrassing?"

Teddy hesitated. "I said `rather' embarrassing. I qualified it."

"I'll qualify you, buddy, if you don't get the hell off that bag," Mr. McArdle said. He had just lit a fresh cigarette. "I'm going to count three. One, God damn it ... Two.. ."

"What time is it?" Mrs. McArdle suddenly asked the backs of Teddy's legs. "Don't you and Booper have a swimming lesson at ten-thirty?"

"We have time," Teddy said. "--Vloom!" He suddenly thrust his whole head out of the porthole, kept it there a few seconds, then brought it in just long enough to report, "Someone just dumped a whole garbage can of orange peels out the window."

"Out the window. Out the window," Mr. McArdle said sarcastically, flicking his ashes. "Out the porthole, buddy, out the porthole." He glanced over at his wife. "Call Boston. Quick, get the Leidekker examining group on the phone."

"Oh, you're such a brilliant wit," Mrs. McArdle said. "Why do you try?"

Teddy took in most of his head. "They float very nicely," he said without turning around. "That's interesting."

"Teddy. For the last time. I'm going to count three, and then I'm-"

"I don't mean it's interesting that they float," Teddy said. "It's interesting that I know about them being there. If I hadn't seen them, then I wouldn't know they were there, and if I didn't know they were there, I wouldn't be able to say that they even exist. That's a very nice, perfect example of the way--"

"Teddy," Mrs. McArdle interrupted, without visibly stirring under her top sheet. "Go find Booper for me. Where is she? I don't want her lolling around in that sun again today, with that bum."

"She's adequately covered. I made her wear her dungarees," Teddy said. "Some of them are starting to sink now. In a few minutes, the only place they'll still be floating will be inside my mind. That's quite interesting, because if you look at it a certain way, that's where they started floating in the first place. If I'd never been standing here at all, or if somebody'd come along and sort of chopped my head off right while I was--"

"Where is she now?" Mrs. McArdle asked. "Look at Mother a minute, Teddy."

Teddy turned and looked at his mother. "What?" he said.

"Where's Booper now? I don't want her meandering all around the deck chairs again, bothering people. If that awful man--"

"She's all right. I gave her the camera."

Mr. McArdle lurched up on one arm. "You gave her the cameral" he said. "What the hell's the idea? My goddam Leica! I'm not going to have a six-year-old child gallivanting all over--"

"I showed her how to hold it so she won't drop it," Teddy said. "And I took the film out, naturally."

"I want that camera, Teddy. You hear me? I want you to get down off that bag this minute, and I want that camera back in this room in five minutes--or there's going to be one little genius among the missing. Is that clear?"

Teddy turned his feet around on the Gladstone, and stepped down. He bent over and tied the lace of his left sneaker while his father, still raised up on one elbow, watched him like a monitor.

"Tell Booper I want her," Mrs. McArdle said. "And give Mother a kiss."

Finished tying his sneaker lace, Teddy perfunctorily gave his mother a kiss on the cheek. She in turn brought her left arm out from under the sheet, as if bent on encircling Teddy's waist with it, but by the time she had got it out from under, Teddy had moved on. He had come around the other side and entered the space between the two beds. He stooped, and stood up with his father's pillow under his left arm and the glass ashtray that belonged on the night table in his right hand. Switching the ashtray over to his left hand, he went up to the night table and, with the edge of his right hand, swept his father's cigarette stubs and ashes into the ashtray. Then, before putting the ashtray back where it belonged, he used the under side of his forearm to wipe off the filmy wake of ashes from the glass top of the table. He wiped off his forearm on his seersucker shorts. Then he placed the ashtray on the glass top, with a world of care, as if he believed an ashtray should be dead-centered on the surface of a night table or not placed at all. At that point, his father, who had been watching him, abruptly gave up watching him. "Don't you want your pillow?" Teddy asked him.

"I want that camera, young man."

"You can't be very comfortable in that position. It isn't possible," Teddy said. "I'll leave it right here." He placed the pillow on the foot of the bed, clear of his father's feet. He started out of the cabin.

"Teddy," his mother said, without turning over. "Tell Booper I want to see her before her swimming lesson."

"Why don't you leave the kid alone?" Mr. McArdle asked. "You seem to resent her having a few lousy minutes' freedom. You know how you treat her? I'll tell you exactly how you treat her. You treat her like a bloomin' criminal."

"Bloomin'! Oh, that's cute! You're getting so English, lover."

Teddy lingered for a moment at the door, reflectively experimenting with the door handle, turning it slowly left and right. "After I go out this door, I may only exist in the minds of all my acquaintances," he said. "I may be an orange peel."

"What, darling?" Mrs. McArdle asked from across the cabin, still lying on her right side.

"Let's get on the ball, buddy. Let's get that Leica down here."

"Come give Mother a kiss. A nice, big one."

"Not right now," Teddy said absently. "I'm tired." He closed the door behind him.

The ship's daily newspaper lay just outside the doorsill. It was a single sheet of glossy paper, with printing on just one side. Teddy picked it up and began to read it as he started slowly aft down the long passageway. From the opposite end, a huge, blond woman in a starched white uniform was coming toward him, carrying a vase of long-stemmed, red roses. As she passed Teddy, she put out her left hand and grazed the top of his head with it, saying, "Somebody needs a haircut!" Teddy passively looked up from his newspaper, but the woman had passed, and he didn't look back. He went on reading. At the end of the passageway, before an enormous mural of Saint George and the Dragon over the staircase landing, he folded the ship's newspaper into quarters and put it into his left hip pocket. He then climbed the broad, shallow, carpeted steps up to Main Deck, one flight up. He took two steps at a time, but slowly, holding on to the banister, putting his whole body into it, as if the act of climbing a flight of stairs was for him, as it is for many children, a moderately pleasurable end in itself. At the Main Deck landing, he went directly over to the Purser's desk, where a good-looking girl in naval uniform was presiding at the moment. She was stapling some mimeographed sheets of paper together.

"Can you tell me what time that game starts today, please?" Teddy asked her.

"I beg your pardon?"

"Can you tell me what time that game starts today?" The girl gave him a lipsticky smile. "What game, honey?" she asked.

"You know. That word game they had yesterday and the day before, where you're supposed to supply the missing words. It's mostly that you have to put everything in context."

The girl held off fitting three sheets of paper between the planes of her stapler. "Oh," she said. "Not till late afternoon, I believe. I believe it's around four o'clock. Isn't that a little over your head, dear?"

"No, it isn't ... Thank you," Teddy said, and started to leave.

"Wait a minute, honey! What's your name?"

"Theodore McArdle," Teddy said. "What's yours?"

"My name?" said the girl, smiling. "My name's Ensign Mathewson."

Teddy watched her press down on her stapler. "I knew you were an ensign," he said. "I'm not sure, but I believe when somebody asks your name you're supposed to say your whole name. Jane Mathewson, or Phyllis Mathewson, or whatever the case may be."

"Oh, really?"

"As I say, I think so," Teddy said. "I'm not sure, though. It may be different if you're in uniform. Anyway, thank you for the information. Goodbye!" He turned and took the stairs up to the Promenade Deck, again two at a time, but this time as if in rather a hurry.

He found Booper, after some extensive looking, high up on the Sports Deck. She was in a sunny clearing--a glade, almost--between two deck-tennis courts that were not in use. In a squatting position, with the sun at her back and a light breeze riffling her silky, blond hair, she was busily piling twelve or fourteen shuffleboard discs into two tangent stacks, one for the black discs, one for the red. A very small boy, in a cotton sun suit, was standing close by, on her right, purely in an observer's capacity. "Look!" Booper said commandingly to her brother as he approached. She sprawled forward and surrounded the two stacks of shuffleboard discs with her arms to show off her accomplishment, to isolate it from whatever else was aboard ship. "Myron," she said hostilely, addressing her companion, "you're making it all shadowy, so my brother can't see. Move your carcass." She shut her eyes and waited, with a cross-bearing grimace, till Myron moved.

Teddy stood over the two stacks of discs and looked down appraisingly at them. "That's very nice," he said. "Very symmetrical."

"This guy," Booper said, indicating Myron, "never even heard of backgammon. They don't even have one."

Teddy glanced briefly, objectively, at Myron. "Listen," he said to Booper. "Where's the camera? Daddy wants it right away."

"He doesn't even live in New York," Booper informed Teddy. "And his father's dead. He was killed in Korea." She turned to Myron. "Wasn't he?" she demanded, but without waiting for a response. "Now if his mother dies, he'll be an orphan. He didn't even know that." She looked at Myron. "Did you?"

Myron, non-committal, folded his arms.

"You're the stupidest person I ever met," Booper said to him. "You're the stupidest person in this ocean. Did you know that?"

"He is not," Teddy said. "You are not, Myron." He addressed his sister: "Give me your attention a second. Where's the camera? I have to have it immediately. Where is it?"

"Over there," Booper said, indicating no direction at all. She drew her two stacks of shuffleboard discs in closer to her. "All I need now is two giants," she said. "They could play backgammon till they got all tired and then they could climb up on that smokestack and throw these at everybody and kill them." She looked at Myron. "They could kill your parents," she said to him knowledgeably. "And if that didn't kill them, you know what you could do? You could put some poison on some marshmellows and make them eat it."

The Leica was about ten feet away, next to the white railing that surrounded the Sports Deck. It lay in the drain gully, on its side. Teddy went over and picked it up by its strap and hung it around his neck. Then, immediately, he took it off. He took it over to Booper. "Booper, do me a favor. You take it down, please," he said. "It's ten o'clock. I have to write in my diary."

"I'm busy."

"Mother wants to see you right away, anyway," Teddy said.

"You're a liar."

"I'm not a liar. She does," Teddy said. "So please take this down with you when you go . . . C'mon, Booper."

"What's she want to see me for?" Booper demanded. "I don't want to see her." She suddenly struck Myron's hand, which was in the act of picking off the top shuffleboard disc from the red stack. "Hands off," she said.

Teddy hung the strap attached to the Leica around her neck. "I'm serious, now. Take this down to Daddy right away, and then I'll see you at the pool later on," he said. "I'll meet you right at the pool at ten-thirty. Or right outside that place where you change your clothes. Be on time, now. It's way down on E Deck, don't forget, so leave yourself plenty of time." He turned, and left.

"I hate you! I hate everybody in this ocean!" Booper called after him.

Below the Sports Deck, on the broad, after end of the Sun Deck, uncompromisingly alfresco, were some seventy-five or more deck chairs, set up and aligned seven or eight rows deep, with aisles just wide enough for the deck steward to use without unavoidably tripping over the sunning passengers' paraphernalia knitting bags, dust-jacketed novels, bottles of sun-tan lotion, cameras. The area was crowded when Teddy arrived. He started at the rearmost row and moved methodically, from row to row, stopping at each chair, whether or not it was occupied, to read the name placard on its arm. Only one or two of the reclining passengers spoke to him--that is, made any of the commonplace pleasantries adults are sometimes prone to make to a ten-year-old boy who is single-mindedly looking for the chair that belongs to him. His youngness and single-mindedness were obvious enough, but perhaps his general demeanor altogether lacked, or had too little of, that sort of cute solemnity that many adults readily speak up, or down, to. His clothes may have had something to do with it, too. The hole in the shoulder of his T shirt was not a cute hole. The excess material in the seat of his seersucker shorts, the excess length of the shorts themselves, were not cute excesses.

The McArdles' four deck chairs, cushioned and ready for occupancy, were situated in the middle of the second row from the front. Teddy sat down in one of them so that--whether or not it was his intention--no one was sitting directly on either side of him. He stretched out his bare, unsuntanned legs, feet together, on the leg rest, and, almost simultaneously, took a small, ten-cent notebook out of his right hip pocket. Then, with instantly one-pointed concentration, as if only he and the notebook existed--no sunshine, no fellow passengers, no ship--,he began to turn the pages.

With the exception of a very few pencil notations, the entries in the notebook had apparently all been made with a ball-point pen. The handwriting itself was manuscript style, such as is currently being taught in American schools, instead of the old, Palmer method. It was legible without being pretty-pretty. The flow was what was remarkable about the handwriting. In no sense--no mechanical sense, at any rate--did the words and sentences look as though they had been written by a child.

Teddy gave considerable reading time to what looked like his most recent entry. It covered a little more than three pages:

Diary for October 27, 1952
Property of Theodore McArdle
412 A Deck

Appropriate and pleasant reward if finder promptly returns to Theodore McArdle.

See if you can find daddy's army dog tags and wear them whenever possible. It won't kill you and he will like it.

Answer Professor Mandell's letter when you get a chance and the patience. Ask him not to send me any more poetry books. I already have enough for 1 year anyway. I am quite sick of it anyway. A man walks along the beach and unfortunately gets hit in the head by a cocoanut. His head unfortunately cracks open in two halves. Then his wife comes along the beach singing a song and sees the 2 halves and recognizes them and picks them up. She gets very sad of course and cries heart breakingly. That is exactly where I am tired of poetry. Supposing the lady just picks up the 2 halves and shouts into them very angrily "Stop that!" Do not mention this when you answer his letter, however. It is quite controversial and Mrs. Mandell is a poet besides.

Get Sven's address in Elizabeth, New Jersey. It would be interesting to meet his wife, also his dog Lindy. However, I would not like to own a dog myself.

Write condolence letter to Dr. Wokawara about his nephritis. Get his new address from mother.

Try the sports deck for meditation tomorrow morning before breakfast but do not lose consciousness. Also do not lose consciousness in the dining room if that waiter drops that big spoon again. Daddy was quite furious.

Words and expressions to look up in library tomorrow when you return the books--

gift horse

Be nicer to librarian. Discuss some general things with him when he gets kittenish.

Teddy abruptly took out a small, bullet-shaped, ballpoint pen from the side pocket of his shorts, uncapped it, and began to write. He used his right thigh as a desk, instead of the chair arm.

Diary for October 28, 1952

Same address and reward as written on October 26 and 27, 1952.

I wrote letters to the following persons after meditation this morning.

Dr. Wokawara
Professor Mandell
Professor Peet
Burgess Hake, Jr.
Roberta Hake
Sanford Hake
Grandma Hake
Mr. Graham
Professor Walton

I could have asked mother where daddy's dog tags are but she would probably say I don't have to wear them. I know he has them with him because I saw him pack them.

Life is a gift horse in my opinion.

I think it is very tasteless of Professor Walton to criticize my parents. He wants people to be a certain way.

It will either happen today or February 14, 1955 when I am sixteen. It is ridiculous to mention even.

After making this last entry, Teddy continued to keep his attention on the page and his ball-point pen poised, as though there were more to come.

He apparently was unaware that he had a lone interested observer. About fifteen feet forwardship from the first row of deck chairs, and eighteen or twenty rather sun-blinding feet overhead, a young man was steadily watching him from the Sports Deck railing. This had been going on for some ten minutes. It was evident that the young man was now reaching some sort of decision, for he abruptly took his foot down from the railing. He stood for a moment, still looking in Teddy's direction, then walked away, out of sight. Not a minute later, though, he turned up, obtrusively vertical, among the deck-chair ranks. He was about thirty, or younger. He directly started to make his way down-aisle toward Teddy's chair, casting distracting little shadows over the pages of people's novels and stepping rather uninhibitedly (considering that his was the only standing, moving figure in sight) over knitting bags and other personal effects.

Teddy seemed oblivious of the fact that someone was standing at the foot of his chair--or, for that matter, casting a shadow over his notebook. A few people in the row or two behind him, however, were more distractible. They looked up at the young man as, perhaps, only people in deck chairs can look up at someone. The young man had a kind of poise about him, though, that looked as though it might hold up indefinitely, with the very small proviso that he keep at least one hand in one pocket. "Hello, there!" he said to Teddy.

Teddy looked up. "Hello," he said. He partly closed his notebook, partly let it close by itself.

"Mind if I sit down a minute?" the young man asked, with what seemed to be unlimited cordiality. "This anybody's chair?"

"Well, these four chairs belong to my family," Teddy said. "But my parents aren't up yet."

"Not up? On a day like this," the young man said. He had already lowered himself into the chair at Teddy's right. The chairs were placed so close together that the arms touched. "That's sacrilege," he said. "Absolute sacrilege." He stretched out his legs, which were unusually heavy at the thighs, almost like human bodies in themselves. He was dressed, for the most part, in Eastern seaboard regimentals: a turf haircut on top, run-down brogues on the bottom, with a somewhat mixed uniform in between--buff-colored woolen socks, charcoal-gray trousers, a button-down-collar shirt, no necktie, and a herringbone jacket that looked as though it had been properly aged in some of the more popular postgraduate seminars at Yale, or Harvard, or Princeton. "Oh, God, what a divine day," he said appreciatively, squinting up at the sun. "I'm an absolute pawn when it comes to the weather." He crossed his heavy legs, at the ankles. "As a matter of fact, I've been known to take a perfectly normal rainy day as a personal insult. So this is absolute manna to me." Though his speaking voice was, in the usual connotation, well bred, it carried considerably more than adequately, as though he had some sort of understanding with himself that anything he had to say would sound pretty much all right--intelligent, literate, even amusing or stimulating--either from Teddy's vantage point or from that of the people in the row behind, if they were listening. He looked obliquely down at Teddy, and smiled. "How are you and the weather?" he asked. His smile was not unpersonable, but it was social, or conversational, and related back, however indirectly, to his own ego. "The weather ever bother you out of all sensible proportion?" he asked, smiling.

"I don't take it too personal, if that's what you mean," Teddy said.

The young man laughed, letting his head go back. "Wonderful," he said. "My name, incidentally, is Bob Nicholson. I don't know if we quite got around to that in the gym. I know your name, of course."

Teddy shifted his weight over to one hip and stashed his notebook in the side pocket of his shorts.

"I was watching you write--from way up there," Nicholson said, narratively, pointing. "Good Lord. You were working away like a little Trojan."

Teddy looked at him. "I was writing something in my notebook."

Nicholson nodded, smiling. "How was Europe?" he asked conversationally. "Did you enjoy it?"

"Yes, very much, thank you."

"Where all did you go?"

Teddy suddenly reached forward and scratched the calf of his leg. "Well, it would take me too much time to name all the places, because we took our car and drove fairly great distances." He sat back. "My mother and I were mostly in Edinburgh, Scotland, and Oxford, England, though. I think I told you in the gym I had to be interviewed at both those places. Mostly the University of Edinburgh."

"No, I don't believe you did," Nicholson said. "I was wondering if you'd done anything like that. How'd it go? They grill you?"

"I beg your pardon?" Teddy said.

"How'd it go? Was it interesting?"

"At times, yes. At times, no," Teddy said. "We stayed a little bit too long. My father wanted to get back to New York a little sooner than this ship. But some people were coming over from Stockholm, Sweden, and Innsbruck, Austria, to meet me, and we had to wait around."

"It's always that way."

Teddy looked at him directly for the first time. "Are you a poet?" he asked.

"A poet?" Nicholson said. "Lord, no. Alas, no. Why do you ask?"

"I don't know. Poets are always taking the weather so personally. They're always sticking their emotions in things that have no emotions."

Nicholson, smiling, reached into his jacket pocket and took out cigarettes and matches. "I rather thought that was their stock in trade," he said. "Aren't emotions what poets are primarily concerned with?"

Teddy apparently didn't hear him, or wasn't listening. He was looking abstractedly toward, or over, the twin smokestacks up on the Sports Deck.

Nicholson got his cigarette lit, with some difficulty, for there was a light breeze blowing from the north. He sat back, and said, "I understand you left a pretty disturbed bunch--"

" `Nothing in the voice of the cicada intimates how soon it will die,' " Teddy said suddenly. "'Along this road goes no one, this autumn eve."'

"What was that?" Nicholson asked, smiling. "Say that again."

"Those are two Japanese poems. They're not full of a lot of emotional stuff," Teddy said. He sat forward abruptly, tilted his head to the right, and gave his right ear a light clap with his hand. "I still have some water in my ear from my swimming lesson yesterday," he said. He gave his ear another couple of claps, then sat back, putting his arms up on both armrests. It was, of course, a normal, adult-size deck chair, and he looked distinctly small in it, but at the same time, he looked perfectly relaxed, even serene.

"I understand you left a pretty disturbed bunch of pedants up at Boston," Nicholson said, watching him. "After that last little set-to. The whole Leidekker examining group, more or less, the way I understand it. I believe I told you I had rather a long chat with Al Babcock last June. Same night, as, a matter of fact, I heard your tape played off."

"Yes, you did. You told me."

"I understand they were a pretty disturbed bunch," Nicholson pressed. "From What Al told me, you all had quite a little lethal bull session late one night--the same night you made that tape, I believe." He took a drag on his cigarette. "From what I gather, you made some little predictions that disturbed the boys no end. Is that right?"

"I wish I knew why people think it's so important to be emotional," Teddy said. "My mother and father don't think a person's human unless he thinks a lot of things are very sad or very annoying or very-very unjust, sort of. My father gets very emotional even when he reads the newspaper. He thinks I'm inhuman."

Nicholson flicked his cigarette ash off to one side. "I take it you have no emotions?" he said.

Teddy reflected before answering. "If I do, I don't remember when I ever used them," he said. "I don't see what they're good for."

"You love God, don't you?" Nicholson asked, with a little excess of quietness. "Isn't that your forte, so to speak? From what I heard on that tape and from what Al Babcock--"

"Yes, sure, I love Him. But I don't love Him sentimentally. He never said anybody had to love Him sentimentally," Teddy said. "If I were God, I certainly wouldn't want people to love me sentimentally. It's too unreliable."

"You love your parents, don't you?"

"Yes, I do--very much," Teddy said, "but you want to make me use that word to mean what you want it to mean--I can tell."

"All right. In what sense do you want to use it?"

Teddy thought it over. "You know what the word `affinity' means?" he asked, turning to Nicholson.

"I have a rough idea," Nicholson said dryly.

"I have a very strong affinity for them. They're my parents, I mean, and we're all part of each other's harmony and everything," Teddy said. "I want them to have a nice time while they're alive, because they like having a nice time . . . But they don't love me and Booper--that's my sister--that way. I mean they don't seem able to love us just the way we are. They don't seem able to love us unless they can keep changing us a little bit. They love their reasons for loving us almost as much as they love us, and most of the time more. It's not so good, that way." He turned toward Nicholson again, sitting slightly forward. "Do you have the time, please?" he asked. "I have a swimming lesson at ten-thirty."

"You have time," Nicholson said without first looking at his wrist watch. He pushed back his cuff. "It's just ten after ten," he said.

"Thank you," Teddy said, and sat back. "We can enjoy our conversation for about ten more minutes." Nicholson let one leg drop over the side of the deck chair, leaned forward, and stepped on his cigarette end. "As I understand it," he said, sitting back, "you hold pretty firmly to the Vedantic theory of reincarnation."

"It isn't a theory, it's as much a part--"

"All right," Nicholson said quickly. He smiled, and gently raised the flats of his hands, in a sort of ironic benediction. "We won't argue that point, for the moment. Let me finish." He crossed his heavy, outstretched legs again. "From what I gather, you've acquired certain information, through meditation, that's given you some conviction that in your last incarnation you were a holy man in India, but more or less fell from Grace-"

"I wasn't a holy man," Teddy said. "I was just a person making very nice spiritual advancement."

"All right--whatever it was," Nicholson said. "But the point is you feel that in your last incarnation you more or less fell from Grace before final Illumination. Is that right, or am I--"

"That's right," Teddy said. "I met a lady, and I sort of stopped meditating." He took his arms down from the armrests, and tucked his hands, as if to keep them warm, under his thighs. "I would have had to take another body and come back to earth again anyway-I mean I wasn't so spiritually advanced that I could have died, if I hadn't met that lady, and then gone straight to Brahma and never again have to come back to earth. But I wouldn't have had to get incarnated in an American body if I hadn't met that lady. I mean it's very hard to meditate and live a spiritual life in America. People think you're a freak if you try to. My father thinks I'm a freak, in a way. And my mother--well, she doesn't think it's good for me to think about God all the time. She thinks it's bad for my health."

Nicholson was looking at him, studying him. "I believe you said on that last tape that you were six when you first had a mystical experience. Is that right?"

"I was six when I saw that everything was God, and my hair stood up, and all that," Teddy said. "It was on a Sunday, I remember. My sister was only a very tiny child then, and she was drinking her milk, and all of a sudden I saw that she was God and the milk was God. I mean, all she was doing was pouring God into God, if you know what I mean."

Nicholson didn't say anything.

"But I could get out of the finite dimensions fairly often when I was four," Teddy said, as an afterthought. "Not continuously or anything, but fairly often."

Nicholson nodded. "You did?" he said. "You could?"

"Yes," Teddy said. "That was on the tape . . . Or maybe it was on the one I made last April. I'm not sure."

Nicholson took out his cigarettes again, but without taking his eyes off Teddy. "How does one get out of the finite dimensions?" he asked, and gave a short laugh. "I mean, to begin very basically, a block of wood is a block of wood, for example. It has length, width--"

"It hasn't. That's where you're wrong," Teddy said. "Everybody just thinks things keep stopping off somewhere. They don't. That's what I was trying to tell Professor Peet." He shifted in his seat and took out an eyesore of a handkerchief--a gray, wadded entity--and blew his nose. "The reason things seem to stop off somewhere is because that's the only way most people know how to look at things," he said. "But that doesn't mean they do." He put away his handkerchief, and looked at Nicholson. "Would you hold up your arm a second, please?" he asked.

"My arm? Why?"

"Just do it. Just do it a second."

Nicholson raised his forearm an inch or two above the level of the armrest. "This one?" he asked.

Teddy nodded. "What do you call that?" he asked.

"What do you mean? It's my arm. It's an arm."

"How do you know it is?" Teddy asked. "You know it's called an arm, but how do you know it is one? Do you have any proof that it's an arm?"

Nicholson took a cigarette out of his pack, and lit it. "I think that smacks of the worst kind of sophistry, frankly," he said, exhaling smoke. "It's an arm, for heaven's sake, because it's an arm. In the first place, it has to have a name to distinguish it from other objects. I mean you can't simply--"

"You're just being logical," Teddy said to him impassively.

"I'm just being what?" Nicholson asked, with a little excess of politeness.

"Logical. You're just giving me a regular, intelligent answer," Teddy said. "I was trying to help you. You asked me how I get out of the finite dimensions when I feel like it. I certainly don't use logic when I do it. Logic's the first thing you have to get rid of."

Nicholson removed a flake of tobacco from his tongue with his fingers.

"You know Adam?" Teddy asked him.

"Do I know who?"

"Adam. In the Bible."

Nicholson smiled. "Not personally," he said dryly.

Teddy hesitated. "Don't be angry with me," he said. "You asked me a question, and I'm--"

"I'm not angry with you, for heaven's sake."

"Okay," Teddy said. He was sitting back in his chair, but his head was turned toward Nicholson. "You know that apple Adam ate in the Garden of Eden, referred to in the Bible?" he asked. "You know what was in that apple? Logic. Logic and intellectual stuff. That was all that was in it. So--this is my point--what you have to do is vomit it up if you want to see things as they really are. I mean if you vomit it up, then you won't have any more trouble with blocks of wood and stuff. You won't see everything stopping off all the time. And you'll know what your arm really is, if you're interested. Do you know what I mean? Do you follow me?"

"I follow you," Nicholson said, rather shortly.

"The trouble is," Teddy said, "most people don't want to see things the way they are. They don't even want to stop getting born and dying all the time. They just want new bodies all the time, instead of stopping and staying with God, where it's really nice." He reflected. "I never saw such a bunch of apple-eaters," he said. He shook his head.

At that moment, a white-coated deck steward, who was making his rounds within the area, stopped in front of Teddy and Nicholson and asked them if they would care to have morning broth. Nicholson didn't respond to the question at all. Teddy said, "No, thank you," and the deck steward passed them by.

"If you'd rather not discuss this, you don't have to," Nicholson said abruptly, and rather brusquely. He flicked his cigarette ash. "But is it true, or isn't it, that you informed the whole Leidekker examining bunch--Walton, Peet, Larsen, Samuels, and that bunch--when and where and how they would eventually die? Is that true, or isn't it? You don't have to discuss it if you don't want to, but the way the rumor around Boston--"

"No, it is not true," Teddy said with emphasis. "I told them places, and times, when they should be very, very careful. And I told them certain things it might be a good idea for them to do . . . But I didn't say anything like that. I didn't say anything was inevitable, that way." He took out his handkerchief again and used it. Nicholson waited, watching him. "And I didn't tell Professor Peet anything like that at all. Firstly, he wasn't one of the ones who were kidding around and asking me a bunch of questions. I mean all I told Professor Peet was that he shouldn't be a teacher any more after January--that's all I told him." Teddy, sitting back, was silent a moment. "All those other professors, they practically forced me to tell them all that stuff. It was after we were all finished with the interview and making that tape, and it was quite late, and they all kept sitting around smoking cigarettes and getting very kittenish."

"But you didn't tell Walton, or Larsen, for example, when or where or how death would eventually come?" Nicholson pressed.

"No. I did not," Teddy said firmly. "I wouldn't have told them any of that stuff, but they kept talking about it. Professor Walton sort of started it. He said he really wished he knew when he was going to die, because then he'd know what work he should do and what work he shouldn't do, and how to use his time to his best advantage, and all like that. And then they all said that . . . So I told them a little bit."

Nicholson didn't say anything.

"I didn't tell them when they were actually going to die, though. That's a very false rumor," Teddy said. "I could have, but I knew that in their hearts they really didn't want to know. I mean I knew that even though they teach Religion and Philosophy and all, they're still pretty afraid to die." Teddy sat, or reclined, in silence for a minute. "It's so silly," he said. "All you do is get the heck out of your body when you die. My gosh, everybody's done it thousands and thousands of times. Just because they don't remember it doesn't mean they haven't done it. It's so silly."

"That may be. That may be," Nicholson said. "But the logical fact remains that no matter how intelligently--"

"It's so silly," Teddy said again. "For example, I have a swimming lesson in about five minutes. I could go downstairs to the pool, and there might not be any water in it. This might be the day they change the water or something. What might happen, though, I might walk up to the edge of it, just to have a look at the bottom, for instance, and my sister might come up and sort of push me in. I could fracture my skull and die instantaneously." Teddy looked at Nicholson. "That could happen," he said. "My sister's only six, and she hasn't been a human being for very many lives, and she doesn't like me very much. That could happen, all right. What would be so tragic about it, though? What's there to be afraid of, I mean? I'd just be doing what I was supposed to do, that's all, wouldn't I?"

Nicholson snorted mildly. "It might not be a tragedy from your point of view, but it would certainly be a sad event for your mother and dad," he said "Ever consider that?"

"Yes, of course, I have," Teddy said. "But that's only because they have names and emotions for everything that happens." He had been keeping his hands tucked under his legs again. He took them out now, put his arms up on the armrests, and looked at Nicholson. "You know Sven? The man that takes care of the gym?" he asked. He waited till he got a nod from Nicholson. "Well, if Sven dreamed tonight that his dog died, he'd have a very, very bad night's sleep, because he's very fond of that dog. But when he woke up in the morning, everything would be all right. He'd know it was only a dream."

Nicholson nodded. "What's the point, exactly?"

"The point is if his dog really died, it would be exactly the same thing. Only, he wouldn't know it. I mean he wouldn't wake up till he died himself." Nicholson, looking detached, was using his right hand to give himself a slow, sensuous massage at the back of the neck. His left hand, motionless on the armrest, with a fresh, unlighted cigarette between the fingers, looked oddly white and inorganic in the brilliant sunlight.

Teddy suddenly got up. "I really have to go now, I'm afraid," he said. He sat down, tentatively, on the extended leg attachment of his chair, facing Nicholson, and tucked in his T shirt. "I have about one and a half minutes, I guess, to get to my swimming lesson," he said. "It's all the way down on E Deck."

"May I ask why you told Professor Peet he should stop teaching after the first of the year?" Nicholson asked, rather bluntly. "I know Bob Peet. That's why I ask."

Teddy tightened his alligator belt. "Only because he's quite spiritual, and he's teaching a lot of stuff right now that isn't very good for him if he wants to make any real spiritual advancement. It stimulates him too much. It's time for him to take everything out of his head, instead of putting more stuff in. He could get rid of a lot of the apple in just this one life if he wanted to. He's very good at meditating." Teddy got up. "I better go now. I don't want to be too late."

Nicholson looked up at him, and sustained the look--detaining him. "What would you do if you could change the educational system?" he asked ambiguously. "Ever think about that at all?"

"I really have to go," Teddy said.

"Just answer that one question," Nicholson said. "Education's my baby, actually--that's what I teach. That's why I ask."

"Well . . . I'm not too sure what I'd do," Teddy said. "I know I'm pretty sure I wouldn't start with the things schools usually start with." He folded his arms, and reflected briefly. "I think I'd first just assemble all the children together and show them how to meditate. I'd try to show them how to find out who they are, not just what their names are and things like that . . . I guess, even before that, I'd get them to empty out everything their parents and everybody ever told them. I mean even if their parents just told them an elephant's big, I'd make them empty that out. An elephant's only big when it's next to something else--a dog or a lady, for example." Teddy thought another moment. "I wouldn't even tell them an elephant has a trunk. I might show them an elephant, if I had one handy, but I'd let them just walk up to the elephant not knowing anything more about it than the elephant knew about them. The same thing with grass, and other things. I wouldn't even tell them grass is green. Colors are only names. I mean if you tell them the grass is green, it makes them start expecting the grass to look a certain way--your way--instead of some other way that may be just as good, and may be much better . . . I don't know. I'd just make them vomit up every bit of the apple their parents and everybody made them take a bite out of."

"There's no risk you'd be raising a little generation of ignoramuses?"

"Why? They wouldn't any more be ignoramuses than an elephant is. Or a bird is. Or a tree is," Teddy said. "Just because something is a certain way, instead of just behaves a certain way, doesn't mean it's an ignoramus."


"No!" Teddy said. "Besides, if they wanted to learn all that other stuff--names and colors and things--they could do it, if they felt like it, later on when they were older. But I'd want them to begin with all the real ways of looking at things, not just the way all the other apple-eaters look at things--that's what I mean." He came closer to Nicholson, and extended his hand down to him. "I have to go now. Honestly. I've enjoyed--"

"Just one second-sit down a minute," Nicholson said. "Ever think you might like to do something in research when you grow up? Medical research, or something of that kind? It seems to me, with your mind, you might eventually--"

Teddy answered, but without sitting down. "I thought about that once, a couple of years ago," he said. "I've talked to quite a few doctors." He shook his head. "That wouldn't interest me very much. Doctors stay too right on the surface. They're always talking about cells and things."

"Oh? You don't attach any importance to cell structure?"

"Yes, sure, I do. But doctors talk about cells as if they had such unlimited importance all by themselves. As if they didn't really belong to the person that has them." Teddy brushed back his hair from his forehead with one hand. "I grew my own body," he said. "Nobody else did it for me. So if I grew it, I must have known how to grow it. Unconsciously, at least. I may have lost the conscious knowledge of how to grow it sometime in the last few hundred thousand years, but the knowledge is still there, because--obviously--I've used it. . . . It would take quite a lot of meditation and emptying out to get the whole thing back--I mean the conscious knowledge--but you could do it if you wanted to. If you opened up wide enough." He suddenly reached down and picked up Nicholson's right hand from the armrest. He shook it just once, cordially, and said, "Goodbye. I have to go." And this time, Nicholson wasn't able to detain him, he started so quickly to make his way through the aisle.

Nicholson sat motionless for some few minutes after he left, his hands on the armrests of the chair, his unlighted cigarette still between the fingers of his left hand. Finally, he raised his right hand and used it as if to check whether his collar was still open. Then he lit his cigarette, and sat quite still again.

He smoked the cigarette down to its end, then abruptly let one foot over the side of the chair, stepped on the cigarette, got to his feet, and made his way, rather quickly, out of the aisle.

Using the forwardship stairway, he descended fairly briskly to the Promenade Deck. Without stopping there, he continued on down, still quite rapidly, to Main Deck. Then to A Deck. Then to B Deck. Then to C Deck. Then to D Deck.

At D Deck the forwardship stairway ended, and Nicholson stood for a moment, apparently at some loss for direction. However, he spotted someone who looked able to guide him. Halfway down the passageway, a stewardess was sitting on a chair outside a galleyway, reading a magazine and smoking a cigarette. Nicholson went down to her, consulted her briefly, thanked her, then took a few additional steps forwardship and opened a heavy metal door that read: TO THE POOL. It opened onto a narrow, uncarpeted staircase.

He was little more than halfway down the staircase when he heard an all-piercing, sustained scream--clearly coming from a small, female child. It was highly acoustical, as though it were reverberating within four tiled walls.

Archie Bunker
06-04-2007, 03:04 AM
Too bad that Virginia Tech shooter offed himself.

His short stories would have been perfect for this thread.

Oh, and San Diego does not qualify as "The OC".

06-04-2007, 07:16 AM
I am an orange peel.

06-04-2007, 04:03 PM
San Diego isn't in Orange County? I don't really have any clue, but I always just assumed that Orange went all the way down there.

Algunz--sexy sex scenes (both in prose and film) are boring as all shit to me ('course that's just to me), and describing how drugs feel should be done in severe moderation. All that said, recapping a night out with your friends beat-by-beat doesn't always make for the more interesting read unless your friends are crazier. Otherwise though you seem quite capable, you just need to choose more dramatic material.

McAwesome--You're fucked, dude. That ain't a story and you got no idea what one is. Start plagarizing.

Found some more of the old open mic material. These were alright.

She looked healthier lying there in the casket than she had for the entire duration of our marriage. Everyone in attendance agreed that the mortician had done a wonderful job on her, astounded at the resemblance that she now had to the pictures of her from high school that were on display. All that color in her face, the red lips and rosy cheeks, it just made me want to vomit. This wasn’t the woman that I’d loved, this was some frightening revision to placate the casual acquaintances, the people who didn’t know her but who knew someone who was close to her, the middle-aged women who have nothing better to do but to come to the funeral of the daughter of the woman who works in their building, or whose son went to high school with her. I haven’t told anyone I know because I don’t want them there.

Funerals in our culture aren’t about honoring the dead, or even remembering—they’re to try to distract the family from their pain. That’s where everybody goes wrong. You should embrace the hurt. Your daughter is dead, don’t hide her under a thick sheet of makeup, and why the fuck are you willing to spend two hours greeting people and hearing their inane condolences anyway? There’s nothing to be said, there’s no one to comfort you, the only way for you come to grips with it is to look at the horror straight on, through the tears, through the pain in your chest and the sudden vacuum in your lungs, and as I start to cry I walk away from her body into the hallway.

She told me she had AIDS the first night I met her, when I asked her out. It took me two dates to decide that I absolutely didn’t care. She was terrified that something would go wrong—she wouldn’t kiss me open mouthed, she absolutely wouldn’t have sex, said that she couldn’t risk an accident no matter what the odds with someone as special as me.

I proposed to her at our one-month anniversary dinner. She didn’t cry, or smile, she just looked down at her plate and told me to take her home. The ride home was quiet as I was afraid to talk since I’d obviously offended her and she seemed too bothered to want to ever talk to me again. When we pulled up to her house and she just said, “Goodbye” and started to get out of the car I couldn’t bear to let it go on. “I love you more than I love my life,” I blurted out, and she stopped and sat back down and started softly crying. “Why would you want to marry me when we can never make love,” she begged through the tears. That’s when I told her that I had every intention of making love to her as much as she would let me, and absolutely no intention of wearing a condom. She didn’t believe me when I explained that I couldn’t bear to be apart from her, that I couldn’t dream of not being able to kiss her or make love to her with some mass-produced barrier between us, and that I was willing to die to be with her. I wanted to contract it, to be there with her, to share her pain, and to die with her. She didn’t believe any of it until after the wedding was actually over, and I got to kiss her proper for the first time. Neither of our families understood at all, and it didn’t matter to me in the least.

Now I’m in the bathroom of the funeral home, throwing up and crying. I gather up a big wad of paper towels and soak them under the faucet and bring them back out. Everyone steps to the side as I move to the front of the room, still sobbing, smelling faintly of stomach acids, with a soaking wet wad of paper dripping from my hand. I lean over into the coffin, lift her head up, and slide my arm under it, cradling her in the crux of my elbow as I begin to wipe her face with the makeshift washcloth, startng at her forehead. The layers of foundation and coloring begin to come off and I can see a hint of her beautiful sickly white skin. It takes a minute to get her completely clean and I’m somewhat surprised that she barely looks different dead than she did during this last year.

Now everyone will be able to see how her cheekbones stick out in fine points, how you can see every tendon in her neck even when she’s completely at rest… you can see how long she’s been dying for in the bright blue veins around her eyes. This is how I remember her, this is the face I love, this is the disease that made my life worth living. I can smile a little now. I gingerly take my arm from underneath her and stand up, satisfied. A hand comes to rest on my shoulder. I turn around to find her father standing there, and I find myself very comforted by it, despite all my posturing, and I move to hug him, to share our mutual loss, but instead he punches me very neatly on the end of my nose, and I fall back onto the coffin, riding it all the way to the ground.

She froze when she saw me there, bleeding. The jagged slashes that intersected and crisscrossed all down my arms, chest, stomach, and legs leaking tiny rivulets of blood that ran together and pooled and smeared and stained my shorts and the bed had halted her, and me as well, as I just held the steak knife there against my breast. She said, “you’re crazy,” and I stood up, and opened my eyes wide for her so that she could see in, so that she could see the thousand nights they were shut tight as I sweated a thousand drugs out of my weak, exhausted body and how they were all preferable to any party, any job, any love, and finally she was seeing me for what I really am.

“No,” I said, “you’ve got it all wrong. I’m not crazy. I am Satan’s aborted son.” And she turned and ran—the joke was lost on her—so I laughed for both of us.

06-04-2007, 04:11 PM
"Algunz--sexy sex scenes (both in prose and film) are boring as all shit to me ('course that's just to me), and describing how drugs feel should be done in severe moderation. All that said, recapping a night out with your friends beat-by-beat doesn't always make for the more interesting read unless your friends are crazier. Otherwise though you seem quite capable, you just need to choose more dramatic material. " LGM

TOTALLY gotcha. Not interesting for those that have lived such moments and crossed that line many a time. Most of my current stories have been dealing with motherhood. Just doesn't seem like the crowd that would enjoy such themes.

We'll see.

By the nature of your writings, I might gather that you think drama means violence or pain. My dad always told me it's not a real story until someone takes a shit. I've always had a hard time with that.

06-04-2007, 04:20 PM
Drama means conflict. Pretty much everything I've posted here so far, with the exception of the first third of the "Pop" story, are things I did for open mics that were just designed for brutality, as I'd mentioned. My professional stories are half beauty and half tragedy, as all should be.

06-04-2007, 04:32 PM
Yes, but does conflict have to mean violence or physical pain?

I think my stories do have conflict, internal conflict. Maybe I need to focus more on the inside than the detail of the outside.

I'm a screenwriter too by nature, so I'm always thinking about things in images. You seem to focus on the internal which is very difficult to portray on film.

06-04-2007, 04:56 PM
Have you actually studied screenwriting? Read Syd Fields, Robert McKee, anything? There are several different spheres of conflict a protagonist can have. I won't get into all of it here, just read Story by Robert McKee (despite it being flamed in Adaptation, Kaufman stays faithful to his principles) and then get back to me, especially if you have any intention of a future in screenwriting.

06-04-2007, 05:09 PM
Yes, all of the above. I was a Film Studies major at Columbia University.

I know the spheres of conflict and understand conflict = drama.

You say I need to find more drama, but if you break down your stories much of your "drama" is created by violent imagery and the internal pain that often is embodied on the outside. Why do you say mine don't have conflict? I give you the 1st one, it was more of an essay, but the other two I feel definitely have conflict. The characters just aren't externalizing it or at least not manifesting that conflict with violence. So, does that make them lack drama?

06-04-2007, 06:38 PM
Mine aren't really stories, they're very brief one scene excerpts. The 9/11 story has obvious extrapersonal and societal conflicts. The story about my grandfather is pretty clear in its conflicts as well, even just through the first third.

What in the world is the conflict of that last story you posted? All they do is get high, flirt, and fuck. What definition of conflict are you using? (a) What's the problem they're trying to resolve, (b) define the goals of the characters in relation to that problem, (c) define the obstacles they face in trying to reach that goal.

06-04-2007, 06:48 PM
LGM, explain your first story

06-04-2007, 07:01 PM
It would take forever, and I'm not giving away the plot to a movie that I'm planning to make. It's one of the most bizarre, involved stories you'll ever see on a screen, though.

06-04-2007, 08:19 PM
What in the world is the conflict of that last story you posted? All they do is get high, flirt, and fuck. What definition of conflict are you using? (a) What's the problem they're trying to resolve, (b) define the goals of the characters in relation to that problem, (c) define the obstacles they face in trying to reach that goal.

I guess it would be the internal conflict of losing control. Knowing that what you are doing is "unacceptable," but choosing to ignore those cues based on the physical sensations. But, you're right I get too caught up in the physical and don't explore the mental as deep as I could. But, like I said, when I write I'm constantly seeing how things would play out on screen. Thus, my characters may not be as well developed as they could be. I need to work on that.

06-04-2007, 08:29 PM
You miss my point, which is why I once again question whether you really studied this shit as this is Screenwriting 101. Also, aren't you a junior high teacher? What's with the Film Studies degree then?

Conflict involves a PROBLEM. There is no problem in your story. There is no disagreement. There is no struggle, internal or otherwise--your characters (which aren't developed, you're right about that) don't really seem to debate or hesitate at all. If the conflict is internal, fine, you can pull that off with prose (can't so much in film), but I still didn't see barely even a hint of any internal struggle in the you character, or any other.

There were no obstacles. They didn't overcome anything. They had no emotional drive, no real background, no juxtaposition. That story is this: so one night, me and some friends were at a club, doing drugs, then later we fucked. That's it. There is no arc there. I don't buy that you read those books.

Not to be a dick, I'm just sayin'.

06-04-2007, 08:42 PM
No need to apologize. I get it.

You're right, but sometimes things just happen. Often there is no debate, you just go with the flow and it takes you places you didn't expect to go. She didn't overcome anything, but isn't that part of the obvious void in the end. She was so intimate with these people, but less than moments later she felt it all slipping away - including her friendship with Sid. As if what had transpired meant little to everyone else, but she had been changed for eternity.

The "rave fuck" isn't a great story in itself, but part of a bigger picture?

06-04-2007, 09:02 PM
That "obvious void" is barely referenced at all, and not "shown" whatsoever. Show, don't tell. You should know that. It might be part of a bigger story, I don't know. It's still not a snippet with a visible progression.

06-04-2007, 09:19 PM
I was never particularly mean to him, the occasional wise crack, or whatever. Honestly, I just wanted to "be cool," and fit in with rest of the kids. I actually felt bad for the guy, I knew deep down I cared about him, but apparently not enough to swim against the raging current that was my peers.

Who was this kid? This undeserving receiver of the cruelty, and belittlement? Well, we all knew him at Sam Pinkston, and behind his creepy exterior, as far as I knew, he was a pretty cool guy. Sam was a normal height kid, and he was a little chubby, probably not enough to call him the "fat kid," although those were his first and last names to some. Sam's hair was curly and very messy, and smelled of my week old gym socks. He wore this black jacket that covered his whole body, he wore it everyday, and many questioned if he ever washed it. He never talked to anyone in any of his classes, he just sat in the back corner of the classroom, huddled over his desk.

I didn't know much about him, just that he really enjoyed drawing. Not many knew what he was doing during class, while he sat there, but I did. One day after class I found a picture on the ground. It was amazing, it looked like it took months to draw, I looked down, and sure enough, in the bottom corner of the paper, it was signed, Sam Pinkston. The next day, at the beginning of class, I returned Sam's amazing piece of art. He shot me a quick, almost dirty glance, and returned to his drawing. Ironically, I was a little thrown off that he has just dissed me like that, without so much as a thanks. I then realized that this might be my chance to talk to him a little, and try to get to know him. The following statement was the first of three things I would say to him, in my life. I nudged him, followed by a simple, "Your drawings are amazing." Expecting no such gesture in return, I went back to doing my work. A few seconds later, he returned the nudge, smiled, and said, "Thanks."

Months passed, and the cruelty of the other kids got worse, and worse. Of course, my never dieing need to fit in, broke off any friendship we may have begun, after that one moment. The one moment where I saw the boy, which was hidden behind the freakish exterior. It may not have seemed like a significant moment to most, but something about the way he looked at me, made me see the true human inside of him, that’s what we all are anyways, humans.

It was one day, during lunch, when I realized that I had to jump off of this conveyor belt of conformity, and stand up for what is right. I looked across our lame excuse for a cafeteria, and saw Sam being beaten up. A group of kids, had stolen his money, and ran off, before any authority figure could help him. All of the teachers, and yard narks, knew Sam was a weird kid, and it seemed they were never in a hurry to “help” him when all of the kids would pick on him. Maybe, they were like me, never wanting to be disliked by anyone, especially the “cool kids.” Maybe they thought he was already a lost cause. In any case, their half-ass attempts to protect any dignity he may have had left, was not fooling anyone, well, certainly not me. Anyways, I ran over to Sam, picked him up, and handed him 2 bucks for lunch. Then followed my second of three statements towards Sam, which may have saved my life. “Here you go, it’s not much, but, you deserve it. I’m really sorry about those other kids that pick on you.” He smiled, and walked over to the lunch line. As he was walking away, I added, “I think you’re cool.” And even though, he didn’t say anything, or even look back, I knew it meant a lot to him.

Sam was gone from school for the next few weeks. Everyone seemed really happy, and said maybe he finally killed himself. Even the teachers seemed happier, and never once did any of them question, or care, where Sam was. One day after watching a rousing game of “HangSam,” I had had enough. I ran out of the room half in tears, and the second I got out of the room, I burst in tears. I wanted Sam to come back to school, so I could talk to him, and say how sorry I was about everything that happened. And two days later, I got my wish. Sam showed up to school, in his same mood, no one said anything to him, and he returned the favor. At the end of the day, I finally worked up the courage to go talk to him, and ask him where he had been. “Hi Sam!” I said with false enthusiasm. He then turned towards me, gave me a slight nod, and said, “Thank you.” Before I could ask what he thanked me for, Sam was already walking to the front of the class. He turned around, faced the class, gave a big grin, and said, “Hi, I’m Sam Pinkston.” No one seemed to be listening, he cleared his throat, and said again, “Hi, I’m Sam Pinkston.” Slowly people started looking at him, until he had the class’s full attention. “Hi, I’m Sam Pinkston, I’m sorry the year had to end this way.” A small look of shock came upon everyone’s face, except mine, I couldn’t help but grin, ear to ear. Our teacher, Mrs. Sanders, although still in shock, mustered the courage to say two words, “But Sam….”

Sam then pulled out a machine gun, and proceeded to kill every single person in the room except me. Before I could even begin to talk, he turned gave me a small wink, held the gun up to his head, and pulled the trigger.

06-05-2007, 01:37 PM
cake - interesting albeit predictable story. The part that gets me is the obvious lack of empathy from the teachers. I work in a junior high and unfortunately there are many teachers guilty of just "giving up" on students such as Sam. It breaks my heart.

LGM - I think a Film Studies to junior high English teacher is a very logical progression.

06-05-2007, 01:44 PM
Cake, predictable is accurate, but you also have the problem of letting the ending fall completely and totally flat.

Algunz--Many teachers guilty of giving up, and sometimes of even worse. How is Film Studies to junior high English teacher any more logical than any other major to junior high English teacher?

06-05-2007, 01:56 PM
Algunz--Many teachers guilty of giving up, and sometimes of even worse. How is Film Studies to junior high English teacher any more logical than any other major to junior high English teacher?

It's not, so why would you doubt that I was a Film Studies major? You are basing your doubt solely on our discussion, which as you said is "Screenplay 101." Because I enjoy to engage others in discussions about writing and film, shouldn't imply that I don't have any background in it.

06-05-2007, 02:01 PM
Right, but you seem to lack comprehension of the basic tenets of script structure, and you claimed you'd read Fields and McKee, so I don't see how you can't have understood what I meant in my criticisms.

06-05-2007, 02:59 PM
Sorry to break the rules. I like writing short stories and essays, but thought I'd share a poem I just wrote instead. Think of it as a filler intermission inbetween the previous works and the next works.


06-05-2007, 03:09 PM

06-05-2007, 03:11 PM
You Shall Know Our Velocity is a novel, you're confusing it with his collection of short stories whose name I can't recall.

06-05-2007, 03:15 PM
oops, you're right. i meant how we are hungry.

but read you shall know our velocity too, because it's amazing.

06-05-2007, 03:21 PM
Cake, predictable is accurate, but you also have the problem of letting the ending fall completely and totally flat.

ya i know, i was tired, and couldn't think of anything...eh too bad

06-05-2007, 03:30 PM
oops, you're right. i meant how we are hungry.

but read you shall know our velocity too, because it's amazing.

Agreed, I have high hopes for Eggers. My roommate read his new book about some kind of African refugee that's apparently pretty nuts and supposedly all true. I'd still like to see him tackle subject matter with a broader scope as he's one of the few potential greats of this gen so far.

06-05-2007, 03:32 PM
whoa, we actually agree on an author?

06-05-2007, 03:44 PM
Alchemy--I don't know what that poem is about. 'Splain?

Corinna--We'll get you a gold star for proving to not be completely tasteless as soon as you get Catch-22 right.

06-05-2007, 03:46 PM
pish posh, i have oodles of taste. i have taste coming out my ears.

06-05-2007, 03:47 PM
also this thread made me want to re-read rudyard kipling's just so stories. he fucking schooled the children's story market. even though you'd have to be a pretty fucking smart kid to get the stories.

06-05-2007, 03:55 PM
yard narks


06-05-2007, 04:01 PM
pish posh, i have oodles of taste. i have taste coming out my ears.

Last time we talked about this we stopped talking.

06-05-2007, 04:05 PM

my taste simply isn't your taste. that's not a bad thing and it doesn't reflect really anything on either of us.

06-05-2007, 04:16 PM
You stare so intently at the little alien before you. Your lips pursed so seriously, as you concentrate on getting that hand to touch its fuzzy greenness. “Mutilated Lips” by Ween plays in your background, but you notice little beyond that Neo-Pet just out of your reach.

Things were so simple, just a whimper and a feed, a sigh and a comfy nap, a cry and a crapped diaper. I thought I had it covered. Isabela was only a one year old. It was too young for a parent to deal with the idea of losing a child. She wasn’t dieing but the possibility was looming.

I remembered the days that we did nothing, just sat and shared space and time together absorbing the world around us. I passed through the moments that we hadn’t shared yet. It was torturous. A swollen lymph node – does it mean cancer, does it mean bad genes, does it mean I just should have washed her little hands fucking better?

My active one year old was strapped to an IV. She didn’t act sick. She still wanted to explore and play. But we were here -together. At night and during naptime she was confined to an iron cage. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t smile. I couldn’t stretch. My body was so tense that I would have to reach my arms up and out like I had just woken up, so I could feel my muscles fire and the lactic acid slide down. It felt like a dream.

I had a flashback at one point while everyone was gone and Isabela was sleeping. All I could hear was the sound of the freeway and the incessant beeping of the random machines. The room breathed but I couldn’t. The floor moved below my feet but I sat still. My fingers tensed and folded in on themselves. The walls wept and ran with color. I thought I was losing it. Isabela stirred and brought me back to my sad reality.

I spent hours staring out 10 stories down at the destitute span of space that some like to fondly refer to as suburbia, and I thought about how my child could die.

Isabela was so far from death it was ridiculous, but the emotions were all there. I realized early that what I, as a mother, was dealing with was remedial. Five days into our 24/7 stay, we were released from our quarantine.

It killed me that we were dealing with something undiagnosed, thus apparently the mother was expendable too. If the kid didn’t make it, what good was the mother? The doctors and nurses came in with facemasks and paper cover alls. We weren’t allowed to leave; we were imprisoned together. Isabela and I glanced at each other with wonderment when they finally allowed us to exit the room and wander the rest of the area.

We strolled down the hallways, IV bag in my hand and a pitiful little gauze cast bound around my child’s barely 3-inch forearm, and we explored the tiles that lined the wall. The tiles were decorated with names and pictures of rainbows and dogs running. Were these children still alive? How could they find rainbows in their world if all they knew was hospital air and windows that didn’t open? I wanted to smash the tiles. I wanted to hit them with a crow bar one tile at a time.

The idea of scaring my baby girl scared me even more. Isabela seemed oblivious, as far as she understood; we were kickin’ it at the Four Seasons and lounging in the lobby. She had no other reference. Although she seemed almost to enjoy her stay in this new environment, I could see in her eyes and the way she studied the place that she knew. I know she was trying to protect me too.

Eventually, we managed to finally find a playroom. The playroom was vacant, eerily vacant. When we walked in to the room, Izzy went straight for the battery operated electric guitar. I had to rush forward to avoid pulling the IV out of her arm.

What was happening? What was I supposed to do? What had I done wrong?

I felt unsure in my new skin, my mother hide, but now I was forced to wear it. I had asked for a certain style, but it didn’t quite work out the way that I had anticipated. I couldn’t help but think that this alien skin was my fault. This growth on the side of my daughter’s face that protruded like a golf ball from her neck was somehow payment for all my many wrong doings.

Every couple of hours the nurses or doctors would come in unapologetically and poke her and prod her with machines, trying to find an answer. Who the fuck were these people? It was a different face every time. We were lab rats. They came, played with their little machines and left – leaving me falling deeper into my hole, struggling to keep my daughter unscathed. I could feel my nails pulling out as I clawed at the metaphorical walls of my bottomless pit. I was helpless, at the mercy of medicine and all I could do was hold my child feel her warmth and life. What would I do if I lost her? How would I cope?

Isabela muddled around the room, peeking in corners, playing with the curtains. Her face and sense of calmness kept me in touch, kept me from smashing the window and taking the plunge. I needed her. Although I had failed myself and my family and my friends, I knew I couldn’t fail her. I had at least the confidence of knowing that she would save me. Isabela was my angel and she had brought me here to gain perspective, forced me too reevaluate, and I loved her all the more for it.

Inside my skin, I wanted to smash the head in of the next person who entered our room, smash it against the tile floor and watch the blood pour out onto the blue expanse, but I wouldn’t. I knew that I had to keep things real for my daughter, comfortable, happy for her. I had to keep it clean and safe. I was a mother, my daughter was sick, and she was slowly saving my life.

06-05-2007, 04:43 PM
Alchemy--I don't know what that poem is about. 'Splain?

It's about a body undergoing a lupus attack, and one of the kidneys failing.

06-05-2007, 04:47 PM
Hmmm, I didn't get that at first, but after rereading it I see all the imagery.

Cool shape. I always loved concrete poems.

06-05-2007, 05:05 PM
Hmmm, I didn't get that at first, but after rereading it I see all the imagery.

Cool shape. I always loved concrete poems.

Thanks :)

06-05-2007, 08:18 PM
Don't lose my last entry. It's getting lost on the bottom of page 2. I seek feedback.

06-06-2007, 05:19 PM
This thread needs to be


It was a victim to the Kenado and needs to be revived because it serves a good purpose.

06-06-2007, 05:41 PM
"Sank you"

06-06-2007, 05:56 PM
Much better, Algunz. If I had to make a recommendation it would be to write more in the moment of things as they happened, there's a bit too much reflection on your feelings at just the one stage of what must have been quite a progressive series of emotions. It's just the middle of the story, give the rest.

06-17-2007, 05:39 PM

06-17-2007, 05:53 PM
In honor of Father's Day, here is the longest thing I've yet to post here on the board. For those of you that aren't interested, please save the commentary on how uninterested you are in me and all my words. But here is where my handle comes from. The following is all true.

The Last Great Man

by Randy Mills

The day we killed my father was the first good snow of that year. The view from the hospital room was not a proper one for the viewing of snowfall, but it was nice to have a window at least. And the beauty of the snow, as snow is always beautiful, shone through despite the overwhelming ugliness of the parking lot, of the brick walls and the poor, dejected people flooding in and out, and of the scene in the room itself. Beyond the fact that the intensive care suite contained my father dying, and my family crying, it was generally unpleasant to the senses. If you were sitting in the chair at the foot of His bed--as I frequently was, since I had gone through six milligrams of Xanax that morning to dull the pain of the events--you had to deal with the stench of the bag of thick, disturbingly dark, and disturbingly sparse urine that hung two feet in front of you. Right next to the piss bag was the bag of blood being drained from the IV inserted in an incision slightly above and to the right of His dick, which is called a central line, which He had explicitly refused to undergo when He was conscious, but that had ended four days ago, and so they just went ahead and did it. The same was true of the catheter. His blood was not a proper color either. It was black, almost. Not just dark brown, the color that you'll find blood actually is when you get enough of it pooled up, but closer to a mixture of ash and water. If you went to the side of the bed to hold His hand—His hand that would not hold back, the fingers curling over and over again no matter how many times we gently flattened them out—or to just touch Him, to make some kind of contact, you had to deal with the stench of Dad Himself. His liver and kidneys had both completely failed, and sulfurous toxins were drifting out through the pores of His dark yellow jaundiced skin. His skin was the color that His urine should have been. And after getting tired of both of those situations, as we waited impatiently to finally have his respirator tube yanked, I moved the chair over to the window, away from the blood colored piss, and the bile colored blood, and the piss colored skin, and the shit smelling toxins, and I watched the snow.
My father was a serious lover of snow, so much so that He left a job that would have made Him several hundreds of thousands of dollars a year at a big law firm in L.A. to come back to the Jersey Shore, partly because both His and my mother's parents were still here, but also partly because He missed having seasons, and in particular missed snow. He seemed to regard it with awe, as if it was some kind of miracle. I remember Him remarking on one occasion that if there were Martians (He wasn't an idiot, He was just using the term as a general alien name), and they came here, they would be utterly mystified by snow because it's just that strange of an occurrence. Little white flakes of partially frozen water that fall from the sky, sometimes slow and sparse, dotting the atmosphere, and sometimes so fast that it actually looks like they're rushing upwards instead of falling.
This week has been filled with memories of Dad. His effective absence from the family, as He's been unconscious, has left us filling the hole with stories, many of them having been told hundreds of times, and yet still proving to be hilarious. But I, who knew that He was dead from the beginning, have been struggling to remember as much as I can to file each and every occurrence of Him in my memory away for permanent storage, so that I'll be able to call them up while He's gone. Watching the snow reminds me of the last big storm we had, back in '96, where a great big weather system came floating over the tri-state area and then sat on us for two straight days, snowing its fucking brains out. We got something like 16 inches, which isn't quite such a big deal inland, but for The Shore it was incredible. On the second day, driving was pretty much impossible, and the cable was out, so Dad decided to take advantage of the fact that His law office was directly across the street from our house, and trudged on over to get some work done. He enlisted me to come along as I, although only thirteen, could serve as a semi-decent secretary when he needed me. On our way across the street, He revealed to me that the only reason we were doing this was to get away from my mother. I was happy to hear that, and told him that that's the only reason I'd agreed to come, and we laughed. At the office, there was a little bit of work done, but mostly we just listened to music (Dad was a big fan of particular little-known blues artists, and us kids ended up loving them too) and chatted. After a few hours, we decided to return to the house, but in our venture back across the road we found a downed bird. We discerned that it must have been rendered there recently, as there was only a little snow on it, and also must have suffered some kind of injury since there was a circle of blood around it, but we could not figure out what had happened. A car could have done it, but we hadn't seen a car driving since the day before, and even supposing there was someone out on the road, since when do birds get hit by cars? Eventually we grew too cold to continue hypothesizing what tragedy had befallen it, but decided to return briefly with a camera at my suggestion, because I thought, and Dad agreed that it would make a nice, if somewhat morbid, photograph. When we got back out there though, no more than a couple of minutes later, the bird had vanished. We looked all around the footprints we'd left, and there was nothing there, not even any red snow. Confused, and perhaps not wanting to be disappeared ourselves, we went back inside.
The rest of my immediate family are atheists, excluding my mother who'd been raised Baptist but no longer really practiced. I had been an adamant atheist for most of my years, only becoming spiritual after one night midway through my teens, when I killed myself. I'd suffered from depression ever since sixth grade, and one night when I was sixteen, I decided I was done struggling. The pills went down easy, comfortably, the knowledge that I would soon be released into… whatever was calming. The extensive collection of painkillers, relaxants, and sleeping pills that I had taken both recreationally and as a form of self-medication up to that point now all disappeared into my gullet, and I laid down for sleep, complete and total sleep—finally I would get my rest. I would later calculate scientifically that the dose I had swallowed was more than lethal, more than twice lethal; it was so large as to have been certain to kill a horse. But I woke up. I couldn't explain it, and at the time, I wasn't particularly happy about it. A variable must have come into play—if science was so thoroughly impugned then logically something else took a role. I decided that there was a god, and that the son of a bitch wasn't going to let me escape. He wanted to keep me around. I made for a good punching bag. Nowadays I like to hope that he saved me because he likes me, because he has some kind of purpose for me, but I can't be sure. Since then, I'd developed some very general and unconventional spiritual beliefs, and become less and less a believer of science, and more convinced that a lot of things happen because They're Supposed To, and there's nothing to be done about it, no matter what surgeries, pills, or treatments you undergo. That feeling was never quite so prevalent as when we put Dad into the ambulance.
It was 5:30 on the Tuesday morning six days before Dad died, and I was asleep in front of my computer when my mother started shaking me. I woke, confused and somewhat angry, until I understood what she was saying.
"Randy, you have to get up. You have to help me get your father down to the ambulance."
An unsettling wake-up call, to say the least. I still wasn't sure what the fuck was going on, but the urgency of the terms used motivated me to get aware quickly, to move my ass. I followed her upstairs, down the hall to my parents' room, and she told me to wait outside. Peering in from the hallway, I saw Dad naked, sitting on the bed but facing away from me, hunched over a bucket. He was throwing up, and not a clean, normal vomit, but rakish and gravely. I knew the sound; he was vomiting blood. Mom must have told Him that I was present, because I remember Him turning His head weakly and saying, "Hey, Ran." As far as I can recall, that's the last thing He said to me. There was some discussion that the ambulance would be here shortly, and so Dad would need to get dressed, and downstairs, so I moved out of view of the room. When He emerged in sweatpants and a sweater, I offered my assistance in helping Him walk, or anything, but He waved me away. He got down the stairs without any help too, and coming into the living room we found a policeman at the door. I let him in, some talking went on, mostly Mom relating the situation—He had been vomiting blood, once in the afternoon of the previous day, once in the evening, both times refusing to receive medical treatment, but when He woke up in the middle of the night to do it again, Mom insisted, and He complied. I sat next to Dad on the couch and watched Him put his shoes on as Mom gathered up his pill bottles. He had only two medications—one for gout, and one for high blood pressure—but Mom brought over four bottles, two of each, and asked Dad which she should bring, which He quickly told her—one of each, obviously. The ambulance backed into the driveway, and we went outside. I lit a cigarette the instant I got outdoors, as the situation called for it. They helped Dad up into the back of the ambulance, and it stayed in the driveway for several minutes before pulling out. I kept my eyes on the window, on Dad's face through the window, hoping that He would look out to me so that I could give him a slight grin and a wave—something reassuring, something confident. And I pictured Him doing the same, weakly, but still with a tint of aged smoothness. But He didn't look. Mom started her car as the ambulance left, and I asked her if I should come along. No, she said. Daddy doesn't like people fussing over him, she said. It's probably just a bleeding ulcer, don't worry yourself, try to get some sleep, she said. I don't know if she was just trying to be calm for my sake, or if she really believed it, but I knew the truth. I'd known Dad was going to be dead soon for a while now, for reasons I can't give, reasons I don't have. It was just in the air. He'd developed a hand tremor. He was cold more often than He should have been. He'd become prone to asking me deep, reflective questions about life. My answers frequently pleased Him. He liked having a son who was a writer, because I could give him poetic, meaningful answers to questions like that, which gave him the opportunity to say, "Randy, are you always this full of shit?"
I finished my cigarette, lit another, and sat down in the hammock underneath the dogwood tree in our front yard. It was the morning of December 31, and there was really no reason to have the hammock still up, but we were a lazy family and it didn't bother us. My father used to sit in this hammock during the summer, on the weekends, when he felt like reading. He hadn't done that in several years, though. Instead, he'd taken to sitting in chairs underneath our dogwood tree with a glass of Jack Daniel's. He never drank hard liquor when I was young, just beer, and pussy beer at that—Coor's Light. No, the Jack had only popped up in these last three or four years. When the second cigarette was finished, I went inside, and got one of his whiskey glasses. I filled it to the brim with ice, a half-inch of whiskey, and the rest water, as I'd seen Him do many times before. I went back to the living room and arranged the pillows in Dad's seat on the couch the way He did. The CD I remembered being played the most in my childhood, Dad's favorite CD—Paul Simon's Graceland—was put into the stereo, the volume was jacked way up and played, and I sat the way Dad had always sat, sipped whiskey, and sang my heart out for about half a minute until I started crying. I continued to cry all the way through the last good song on the CD, Homeless. With the help of a couple of Xanax, I didn't have much trouble getting to sleep, but I couldn't ignore the feeling, the almost certain feeling, that my father would be dead very soon.

Even with Dad's living will in hand, and the doctors’ assurances that short of a miracle He'll likely be dead within the day, certainly within the week, and that it was a surprise that He even made it through to the morning only to have us come in early to take Him off life support, it's remarkably difficult to get them around to killing the fucker. Everyone else had been hoping that the doctors could pull something out, that they could do an NG tube, flushing His system from the top down, which would theoretically push out the ammonia that was keeping Him unconscious, a feat which repeated enemas had failed to accomplish. It would be a big risk, because bleeding in His esophagus is what had caused him to come here, and putting a tube down there would likely stimulate a leak so severe as to kill Him before the procedure could even be completed. But things were getting desperate. He'd been unconscious for three days when we were discussing the options, the night before we killed Him. All that ammonia, all that coma, it was probably doing Him brain damage. We aren't interested in a Vegetable Daddy. Daddy wouldn't enjoy life as broccoli. Our father was a genius, the smartest, funniest (qualities which are one in the same, really) man that any of us knew. Even if He weren't a complete feeb, for him to come back as anything short of the personification of wit that we knew Him to be would be painful. But we were being realistic—that shit wasn't going to happen. Of course, in a situation such as this you're not supposed to just give up, so we scheduled an E.E.G. early in the morning, which we hoped would give us some indication of how fucked up His processes were. The doctors warned us ahead of time that it likely wouldn't reveal concrete data unless there was severe damage, we wouldn't be able to get fine distinctions such as coherent but not smart, or relatively smart but not what He had been. Only if He were good and wrecked would they be able to tell us for sure. But it became a moot point when my brother got home. Holly, Mom and I had left when visiting hours were over at 9:30 p.m. to come home and prepare a late and lazy dinner, but Dub (a name that arose from his being named Richard William, and being referred to as R.W. for much of his life until some young cousin failed to be capable of pronouncing the "w" and thus dubbed him R Dub, which caught on. The "r" was later dropped for efficiency's sake) stayed behind to see the gastro-intestinal specialist one more time. He got home some time around 11, looking more sullen than usual. He was prone to looking sullen—my father drew a number of similarities between him and Eeyore, the donkey from Pooh Corner, namely that they shared a low disposition and both possessed substantial noses. But this time, he was clearly holding something in. Dad's condition had changed. His kidneys had failed. His liver had failed days ago. Both His kidneys and His liver were now gone. The E.E.G. was moot. He was done for.
So we called up the rest of family—His mother Louise, His sisters Mary Lou and Judy, and His brothers Al, Jim, and Bill, all of which only really involved one call to Judy; we would let her pass the word around—and informed them of the development, and told them that in all likelihood we would be killing Him in the morning, so they should be there at 10, when the visitation hours start, to say goodbye and… you know. And they all were, and I was glad, really, because it made things more comfortable to have more people around. There was more talking, more joking, more stories, stories from his youth, stories that I hadn't heard. I kept things upbeat, I felt a need and a duty to, because I was closest to Dad, especially in these recent years, and sadness just wasn't His way. Everyone remarked—as I told stories, every one I could think of, and cracked jokes—how I was filling His shoes. How He would never really be gone, because I was just like Him. There is no bigger compliment that could be paid to me, and it made me feel good, even though I knew that it wasn't true. I was an imitation, a fairly pale one, a photocopy maybe. Funny in my own right, and operating within Dad's vein of comedy, but not as good. I would never be as good. No one would. And I also felt guilty because my brother and sister weren't receiving those compliments. Of course, maybe they didn't want them. Holly certainly didn't. She thought Dad was an asshole, albeit a funny one. You couldn't deny that He was funny. But it was Dad, or rather her reaction to Dad, that had caused her to flee from home so quickly, to maintain so little contact and make so few visits. Her withdrawal started before she actually got out of the house, though. She pretty much stopped talking to everyone except for Mom, and Dub a little I think, around her 15th year. Dub, on the other hand, loved and admired Dad the same way I did, and likely did feel somewhat snubbed that he wasn't perceived to be filling His shoes. Of course, he also may not have felt that it was the appropriate time to be Dad-like. Dub is a big believer in conventional routes—he's polite to people he doesn't like, he holds back his witty digs at folks who deserve digging until they are out of earshot, he acts the way you're supposed to in public. In short, while at heart he is the same kind of wiseass bastard as Dad and I, he doesn't really follow though on it. Dad and I used to make fun of him for being a pussy in that respect.
Everyone needs to go in separately to have a private goodbye with Dad's body before we can begin. Mary Lou's pastor has been called in because she would like to have a brief service in the room. Mom politely tells Mary Lou that Dad would not have appreciated it, that she should do it in the little room they have off to the side of the waiting room. Where, I wonder, does she get off? In a fair world, I would be permitted to tell her to stick her God up her ass, and then to punctuate it by saying that such a can looks like it just might be large enough to hold the omnipresent. Dad would say something like that, not to her, as it really isn't appropriate, but aside, to Dub and me. When everyone else has been in and out, we, the real family, who are getting special consideration from everyone else (particularly us children, as it is assumed, probably rightfully so, that we're suffering the worst) start going in. Holly goes first. We never discuss what went on in the room while she said goodbye. She cried, of course, and I think probably called him stupid over and over again. A declaration of love was thrown in, I should hope. But mostly there would be complaints. Dub goes in next, and then I. I pull the sheet across the glass doorway, because I want to really be alone. Because I feel—perhaps selfishly, but nonetheless—that this is different for me than for all the rest of them. That my relationship with Dad wasn't just a more important one than He had with anyone else in the family, but in fact was a more important, maybe more unique, maybe more meaningful one than anyone else had ever had. And certainly more all of those things than I would ever find in another person again.
(1) I am the youngest, Dub being 9 years older than me, and Holly being seven, and yes, I did get different treatment. I got away with a lot more shit. I had more freedoms. They say I got more presents on Christmases and birthdays. They say that I was Dad's favorite from the beginning. I can't really be sure, now can I? I don't remember much about my seriously youthful youth, and even if I could, my brain at the time cannot be counted upon to have produced memories clear and insightful enough to make such judgments.
(2) Dad and I had our rough times. There were periods in which I wasn’t fond of him. There were times that he hit me. He'd gotten physical with all the kids at some point: with Holly just shaking her, grabbing her hair, something like that, and with Dub just wrestling him to the floor. But Dad actually kicked my ass a couple of times. Not that He didn't have enough reason, and in fact, probably had good cause for messing up the others, too. They still hold grudges about it. I absolutely do not. Everyone should be punched upside the head at least once or twice in their lives.
(3) I had more of an opportunity to establish a one-on-one relationship with Him, as for the latter half of my years prior to His death I was the only child in the house.
That being said, I still think there was something distinctive between us, particularly in the last couple of years. That's when things really crystallized. When I started playing shuffleboard with Him, probably. Dad had always been a man of games. It gave Him an excuse not only to leave the office early, and to be out of the house for a certain period of time after work, but to meet other guys, to make friends, and most of all, to talk smack. His real motivation in getting good at any of his various activities over the years—basketball, racquetball, golf, a trivia game, and finally shuffleboard—was to allow Him the luxury of ragging his opponents. In shuffleboard He was lucky, because as it would turn out, I am an excellent player. Which meant that during that last summer, when I was jobless and intended to stay that way, we could go to The Bar every day ("The Bar" being The Parker House, during the summer, and Leggett's all other times) and whip the various chumps who found themselves helpless victims of regular walletectomies by me, with some assistance from Dad. This was really perfect for Him, because not only was he almost assured victory (yes, I actually was that good, despite having only played sparsely for a year or so in a crowd where many of the participants had been dedicated to the recreation for decades), but He attained the victory by having a partner who was his son—which allowed Him to claim responsibility for the win by reason of genetics—and who was very young—which allowed Him to claim that I was even younger, usually twelve—and who was so good as to not demand much in the way of play from Dad Himself, thereby leaving Him free to do the shit-talking for both of us, and to drink more than would normally allow Him to continue winning. Up until that summer, the vast majority of my semi-adult interaction with my father had been unsettling nights when I'd come home from hanging out with my friends at 2 or 3 a.m., and find Him awake, still drinking, having been drinking since 4 p.m. In short—drunk.
Now, Dad was always a drinker, and an alcoholic, but He was never what you would call A Drunk. His drinking never interfered with His work, except perhaps to hasten his exit from the office a little, and it never caused Him to be a danger to us, or to Himself. But more than that, He was exceptionally good at being drunk. For example, it was essentially impossible to discern from His behavior whether He was on his seventh drink or his first. Up until my last years of high school, I had never seen Him in a state which would be considered drunk in the pink-livered world of youthful intoxication. It was when He stopped drinking purely beer, and started adding wine with dinner into the mix, and then Jack Daniel's with TV on top of it (changing into Jack with loud music when Mom went to bed) that I really started to dislike His drinking, and by extension, found myself disliking Him on occasion. As the car of whatever friend had been driving that night rolled into our driveway, I'd find myself praying to both the holy and the unholy that He'd be asleep, and asleep in His bed this night, not asleep on the living room couch again. But frequently, that's where He'd be—nodded out (passed out?) on our couch, the soft blue glow of the TV bouncing off His image, an image I was beginning to find almost pathetic. He'd always been a person of remarkable presence. Only 5' 7", his wisps of white hair ‘most always mussed atop his head, significantly overweight, always poorly attired when lawyerly duties didn’t prohibit it, usually intoxicated, and yet somehow He was always commanding in any social gathering. He'd sit silent as people rattled on and on, waiting for the proper moment to release a verbal jab that would put a stop to whatever was going on. Now, here He was on the couch, deep in the bag. Reluctantly, I'd go into the house, waking Him up as I opened the door, and I'd sit down, hoping that He would just go upstairs and leave me to watch TV, listen to music, go on the computer, jerk off, whatever I felt like doing. He was cheating me out of my alone time, something I valued. Most of the time He didn't go to bed—He wanted to talk. He wasn't shitfaced by any means, but he'd lost some of his intelligence to booze by that point in the night. We'd end up debating, or arguing, and his points would be poorly structured, standing up more on the conviction of his speech, and on his ability to point out my grammatical errors even when He was plastered, than on logic itself. He'd flip through the channels just making fun of whatever He saw, bitching, complaining about anything and everything, and frequently just making fun of me relentlessly for the fuck of it. There were a couple of nights in which He got sentimental about His father with no real prompting, and ended up tearing, or even full-out crying over a memory about what a cocksucker His old man could be when he got all bottled up. Yes, I would get the urge to say something to Him along the lines of, "Well, then why don't you sober the fuck up?" But there were two problems—(a) His stories had a point to them, in that it showed me that I had it pretty good in the father department, even at its worst points, and (b) I was a drug addict myself, although I'd always prided myself on my ability to handle my shit. Bystanders could almost never tell if I was under the influence, whether it was hallucinogenic, disassociative, opiod… the list goes on. Of course, all addicts think that, but in my case most agreed that it was true. Those nights with Dad were as bad as it ever got, and it wasn't all that bad. I would later find out that a lot of the things Dad told me about Himself and His upbringing were unknown to the other children, even to my mother. Of course I'm not sure if I owe my extra information to a special trust, or to whisky.
Dad was conscious for the first two days of His hospital stay, and was expected to recover within a week and be back to work in a month. I decided against going to see Him, because I knew He wouldn't like it. He refused to see His mother, or anyone except for Mom and His sister Mary Lou, who was only allowed in for brief stints so that Mom could run home and shower. Mary Lou was a nurse, and was full of medical information for us, which Mom and I made it a point to ignore out of respect to Dad. Years ago, Mary Lou had been the nurse for their father, and Dad had blamed her, in part, for his death, although neither Mom nor I recall the particular aspect in which she had failed to nurse properly. Something about not taking him to the hospital in conditions in which she should have, and he ended up having a heart attack while everyone else was asleep, and died in a chair that is now in one of the unused bedrooms of our house, thoroughly buried under useless shit. I'm sure Dad would have let me visit Him if I came, but I don't think He wanted me to. It wasn't his style to be seen in a vulnerable state. I wanted to respect that, and frankly, I didn't want to see Him like that either. I allowed myself to believe the bullshit that this was only a minor problem, that He would be okay, ignoring the feeling in my stomach. The Tuesday He'd gone in was New Year's Eve. I had some friends over to the house that night, where we watched movies, listened to some of Dad's favorite music, and everyone had a glass of Jack and water with me. After we watched the ball drop, complaining about how it was getting more and more fucking boring every year, I went into a separate room and called Dad's room in the hospital. Mom answered, sounding slightly tired. Nothing had changed in his situation since that afternoon. I told her that I had some friends over, that no, we weren't drinking, just watching DVDs. In the middle of one of her sentences, I heard Dad's voice pop up in the background—"You know, this is why they have visiting hours. You're yapping while I'm trying to sleep." Quintessential Dad. Those were the last words I ever heard Him say.
Things started getting messy Wednesday evening. He had refused both a catheter and a central line, and the doctors insisted that they were necessary. They needed to examine His urine to see how much liver function He still had, and His blood was too thin to get a proper sample from the veins in His arms—they need to tap into that big bastard of a pipe just below His waist. He wanted no part of either procedure. According to Mom, they just knocked Him out with some medication and did them anyway, although that seems awfully strange to me. If that's what really happened, I think perhaps I should seek them out and punch each and every one of them in the nose. A man should have some rights, after all. It was while He was coming out of His anesthesia that things went shitty. In His haze, Dad tried to get up and go to the bathroom to piss. A nurse attempted to hold Him down and get Him to understand that He had a catheter in, that the bathroom was not necessary, to piss away. He wouldn't listen, kept trying to lower the sides of the bed so He could get down, so the nurse called for help, and for security. Supposedly things got quite physical, and it took four security guards and three nurses to restrain Him, but that's coming from my mother, and she is notoriously full of shit, so I can't be sure. They doped Him up some more and fastened Him to the bed, and things appeared to be okay, although obviously unnerving. The doctors woke Mom up around 1 a.m. His liver had gone into complete failure for no discernible reason, the ammonia levels skyrocketed, and He would not wake up. Testing was conducted through the night, and the results came in shortly before 8 a.m. with this synopsis—"Mrs. Mills, it's time for you to start calling your kids."
The visiting hours for the ICU of Jersey Shore Medical Center are as follows: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.; 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Mom and the siblings are there for every minute of those seven and a half hours, and also like to get there early, stay late, and stay through some of the breaks. I am not interested in doing that, or anything even close to that. I do bother to come for at least one shift, usually the last one, both because it's short and because I don't like going out until nighttime. The only real reason I go is so that they don't think that I'm being an asshole, as I'm sure they already do on the grounds that I won't get up early to watch my father coma it up. They spend all day waiting for doctors, then talking to doctors briefly, then waiting more. I'm not interested in what the doctors have to say, because I am sure that it's out of their hands. And I'm not interested in sitting around with the rest of them, reading books, and playing Gameboy, switching the CDs we'd brought (music is supposed to help people out of comas, but in retrospect I guess blues might not work), looking up at him every minute or so, or going over to touch him, feeling how strangely oily his skin is. It doesn't feel really feel human. I don't have to be in the same room as him in order to be coping with it, to be helping him. And then there's them. I don't feel like being in the same room with them. We're not going through the same thing, really. They're losing a father and a husband. To me, he's the only bond I have. They're conflicted. They will go through the five stages of coping. FUCK THAT. The ammonia causes his body to do certain involuntary things, like the fingers curling. Mom keeps stretching them out flat. I wonder why she gives a fuck. His eyes are open just a little, have been the whole time. The ammonia makes His eyes go from side to side, over and over again. Standing over Him, holding His hand that slowly closes around mine, looking into His eyes as they pass onto me for a brief second, it's easy to imagine that something's going on. That suddenly it's going to be like a movie, and He's going to wiggle His toes, or His eyes will stop on me and hold there as He slowly, groggily comes back to us. A witty comment he could utter when he capably yanks the respirator tube out?
(directed at my mother) “As long as we’re here, how about you schedule a nosejob?”
(directed at my brother) “And maybe you should get two.”
(directed at me) “Next time, don’t wake me up until you’ve accomplished something.”
And there would be no comment for my sister, because she is thin-skinned, which is why she wouldn't come home. He missed her. Her big grudge was basically that He’d made jokes about her having a big ass when she was thirteen. But that is just what Dad did, and besides, the bitch did have a big ass. So she decided to lock herself in the den all day, until she had to go to bed, at which point she tromped right upstairs and locked herself in her room. She did this until she left for college. I felt particularly snubbed, since I couldn't remember the years before she withdrew, and so I effectively had almost no memories of my sister, except those which I gleaned from our Christmas videos. So frequently when she came up in conversation, I'd say something rude about her, a lot of time about her looks, because that's just instinctual, and Dad would always reprimand me. "Whattaya talkin' about?" He'd say. "She’s beautiful."
There's no better guarantee of misery than intelligence. Look at statistics, look through history—geniuses, as a social set, have higher rates of depression, drug addiction, seclusion, pretty much any instance of craziness that you can come up with. There are a lot of theories I've come up with to explain it: that the world's inherent injustices are only evident to the highly intelligent, and it drives them crazy; that being smart produces more thoughts, more examination, constant attempts to rationalize life, which isn't rational, and which therefore drives them crazy. The only one that I'm sure of is that brilliance—real brilliance—is intrinsically lonely. I know this for a fact. Every member of my family is technically categorized as a genius; 99th percentile kind of people, maybe even with a couple of decimal places too. Being born into that automatically drastically reduces your chance of connecting with people. Not just because you have to deal with the fact that the vast majority of folks out there are stupid to the point where it's offensive, which sounds pretentious, I know. So shoot me—it's the truth. But also because your concerns just seem to be different from those of everyone else. You don't think about the same things, and when you do you don't think about them the same way. No one else seems to "get it." My brother used to get it. Then some years went by, some years he spent in California. And when he came back, he seemed to have lost it. I won't go to California because of the change I saw in him. But Dad had it. That's why my relationship with Him was special. Because that last year or so, particularly the last couple of months, we weren't a father and son. He didn't treat me like a subordinate; He treated me like an equal. When I told Him that I wanted to drop out of college to pursue writing as a career, He didn't fight me. He said that it sounded exciting, that He hoped I would succeed, and that He wished He could do it himself. The last week, the week of Christmas, when both Dub and Holly were home for the first time in five years, I found myself having to explain my brother and sister to Him on several occasions. Not explain what they had said, but explain who they were, why they did this or that, what the fuck was wrong with them that caused Dub to demand that things be done his way, why Holly would talk to annoying semi-strangers more than she would her own family. I could tell Him why, but I couldn't make it actually make sense, because it didn't. But when Dad and I looked at each other, we saw someone with the same problems, despite an age separation of 40 years. He remains to this day the only person who could make me feel that I wasn't alone.
Alone in the room with Dad, the curtain pulled, I tried to decide how to set the mood. What song would be most appropriate? I'd brought a tape special for the occasion which I hadn't shown to anyone else. It was from the party Mom and Dad had thrown four summers ago. Dad insisted that they had never, in the history of their marriage, hosted a party. As far back as my memory goes, He's right. It was hard to get permission to bring company over to the house because Mom would always say that the house was too messy. Dad came to the same conclusion himself, and thus would not invite His friends over out of shame, but He was convinced that my mother kept the house in a state of disrepair on purpose so that she wouldn't be saddled with the burden of hostessing. But after 56 years, He up and decided one day, while sitting in the bar, that He was going to have a party before He died. So He set about the preparations. It was a grand affair. There was a roast pig, there was a live rhythm and blues band of good quality and containing a saxophone player released that very morning from a 3 year stint in maximum security prison for a manslaughter conviction, there was dancing of the old-person variety, there were copious amounts of booze, and there were a lot of laughs. There were two elements of preparation in which my father was absolutely fastidious—the invitation, and the music tapes. The invitation would prove to be His masterwork, brilliantly constructed, skewering with razor-fine precision each and every invitee, and taking a lot of good shots at Mom as well. When the invitation was finally complete and sent out, complete with a computer print of a pig grinning from a roasting pit on the cover, he turned his attention to the composition of several tapes of appropriate dance music, meaning Negro music. He was a serious lover of music, if it was His kind of music, and that was music that made your feet tap—stuff that made you want to get down and boogie. He would have no guitar solos, no Fucking Allman Brothers, or Cocksucking Freebird. It took several months' nights' work. Come to think of it, I think that's when He started drinking whisky. That's certainly when He started staying up late, adjusting levels on the tapes, and plotting and replotting the order. The one song that He never had to move was the last—Goodnite, Sweetheart by The Spaniels. I don't recall taking special note of the song during the party, or during His months of work beforehand. In fact, I wasn't aware that I knew it until I saw Him being taken away in the ambulance, when it leapt into my head, in stereo surround sound, and I hadn't been able to shake it since. So I figured I might as well listen to it now. I put the tape, pre-stopped at the appropriate spot, into the boombox, turned the volume up a little, hit play and walked up to His bed. As the doo wop intro began, I took His forearm in my left hand, and began to stroke His forehead with my right.

Goodnight Sweetheart, well, it's time to go…
Dad, I want you to know that I'm not going to blame You like the rest of them. I'm not going to bitch about how You drank yourself to death. It was part of your life, and it killed you. So what?
Goodnight Sweetheart, well, it's time to go…
They may not understand it, but I do. You have to kill the pain some way. It hurts to live. I know. But you're going to be okay now. Don't feel indebted to us. Do what you want. Go.
I hate to leave you, but I really must say—
We'll be okay. I'll take care of Mom. The other two will deal. I'm the one most at risk for this really being a problem, but I can handle it. You probably know that. You'll understand everything soon, when you're released.
Oh, Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight…
I know that you weren't really satisfied by the life you ended up with. You should be famous, you should be a legend to everyone, not just to us and the handful of friends you had in this little shithole town. Why didn't you finish that book I convinced you to start writing? Oh, what's it matter now?
Well, it's time to go…
I'm gonna do it for you. I'll fulfill the goals you should've but didn't because all you really wanted was some kids to play with. Success through procreation.
Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight...

I was crying so much it was getting annoying. The song was over. Four more Xanax are in order, immediately. I wash it down with a cup of water from the sink, which happens to be right next to the window. The snow is really starting to pile up.

Let's fucking well kill him already.

The reason my brother and sister had been home for Christmas was not the holiday, it was another death--Mom's mom. Grandma had been expected to die for quite a while, but had put up a hell of a fight. She didn't eat, she didn't take the medication she was supposed to, in fact pretty much all she did was drink what would be considered enormous quantities of vodka for a good-sized person, and she was only 90 pounds. Her death brought an end to a year-long struggle between my mother and her parents, in which she tried her hardest to force them to be healthier, and every time she did they told her, "Leave us alone, it's our life." Really the battle was between my mother and herself--she had to grow up and accept that people do what they want to do. Brother, Sister, Father and I all fretted quietly to each other about what kind of an effect this was going to have on Mom, but remarkably, she took it fairly well. For the rest of us, it didn't really matter, because we did not like Grandma. Grandma was, in fact, kind of a bitch. Like most bitches, she enjoyed giving other people a hard time. Now, Dad was not the kind of guy who liked getting a hard time, and would do just about anything to avoid one, so somewhere around the age of 45 He started refusing to allow my mother's parents in His house on the grounds that He didn't think it fair for Him to have to leave His own home if He wanted to get away from them. And while Dub and Holly would take her shit with a smile, I, naturally, did not, and thus she did not like me very much either. Dad came up to my college the morning she died to bring me home. The trip had one memorable exchange:

Me: So, she's dead, eh?
Dad: Yup.
Me: This is going to mean funerals and shit, right?
Dad: Yup.
Me: And I'm guessing that Glan and Jen (Dad's mocking name for Mom's brother Glen and his wife Jan) are coming up.
Dad: I'd say that's a definite.
Me: Andrew and Stuart (their children) too. And an emotional Mom. And both Dub and Holly.
Dad: Yup.
Me: (slow drag of cigarette) You realize... we're going to need booze.

Now, Dad had never allowed me to drink in front of Him or in the house at all. He'd discovered a few discarded Corona bottles in our backyard from a little party I'd thrown once, but merely complained about them being on His lawn with no mention of the actual drinking itself. The subject of being allowed to drink at family occasions had never even really come up. But He merely gave me a little glance, a slight grin, and said, "Yeah, I think you're about right. In fact, let's do that before we get home." And so we went to the liquor store and purchased a goodly quantity of beer, as well as some whisky (both Jack Daniel's and Old Granddad, which he is shown to be drinking on the video account of Christmas we would film a few days later), vodka and wine for Grandpa, and some assorted other crap.
Things were relatively somber that week, as one could imagine. Everyone tried to be nice to Mom, even Dad, which was a tremendous surprise. There was much discussion of death, and every time it came up Dad just looked downward and stayed quiet. There was some fun to be had, though, even at the viewing (there was no "funeral" funeral, just a brief speech by a seemingly mildly autistic priest who is apparently somehow related to my mother) humor seemed to burst through, and it was probably my fault, as no one else wanted to be thought of as the kind of person who cracks jokes at a funeral. After the viewing, things moved to a local bar/restaurant for a... a wake is what it was, I guess, although I think we called it a reception. My Xanax was running low and I already had several in my system, so instead of taking more I just decided to get drinking, fast. I procured a Long Island Iced Tea and then asked Dad how we could avoid talking to any of Mom's family. Luckily, a couple of my parent's friends from their bar were present (the wife had cleaned my grandparents' house for the last year, and thus she knew them), so we settled on sitting with them and not moving on the grounds that we had to keep them entertained. The time passed quickly and pleasantly until the end, when I switched from conversation to photography, snapping some nice candids of the important faces. For about 10 minutes I could not find my father, until finally I noticed him slouching over in a corner, away from everyone, just spinning his beer in his hand and staring, looking lonely and old. After taking the picture, I walked over and sat down next to him.

Me: So what's going on, Pops?
Dad: Nothing much.
Me: (pause) So I noticed that you teared up a little during the service. Mind if I ask why?
It was true, he had, although I don't think anyone else noticed.
Dad: Not really sure. It certainly wasn't over seeing Audrey in the casket.
Me: Well I figured that much. You think it had to do with your father?
Dad: No, no. I think it's me.
Me: Oh really? Existential dilemma getting to you?
Dad: (pause) What's the point, Ran?
Me: Oh, come on. That's a first-year philosophy student question.
Dad: Yeah, and it's one that I still haven't found the answer to.
Me: Why does it have to have a point? What about just having been?
Dad: I'd like to leave something behind.
Me: Aren't we enough? You produced three of the better people I know. Fuck, man, don't you realize that you are responsible for just about every one of the qualities we kids possess that makes us such egotistical little bastards?
Dad: You know... you've grown up pretty fast.
Me: Well, I had to compete with you fuckers.

My father was somewhat renowned in our little section of the world for His newspaper advertisements. If you've ever taken a good look at what lawyers' ads usually consist of, you'd understand His frustrations with the standard. Every one has a headshot of the man in question trying to look serious and responsible, and features phrases like "NO FEE WITHOUT RECOVERY" and "FREE CONSULTATION." None of them really give you any idea of what kind of man you're going to be dealing with, no distinctive qualities, aside from the picture, of course. Dad decided he would go a different route. He ran print ads, no picture whatsoever, starting small with only a few short paragraphs, and progressively turning into rather long stories, all of which were cleverly amusing, and all of which related some funny anecdote He had to the general populace's occasional need for certain qualities in their legal representatives, which, of course, He possessed in spades. We'd been reading them quite a lot that week, as they were utterly encapsulating of his personality. His first ad was entitled "Brains For Sale." It recounted a quote from Abraham Lincoln in which The Great Emancipator stated that when you hire a lawyer, you're paying for his "time." Dad corrected old Abe, as a lawyer's time is useless to his client unless the lawyer has some brains to exercise. The tagline read, "Brains for sale. We got 'em in stock." It actually won an award for local advertising. Further offerings featured Dad describing how He got into lawyering because he likes to fight. “I like to fight the way Michael Jordan likes to jump.” He made a point of refusing to handle any divorce. “If I wanted to deal with marital strife I would work out of my home.”
He hadn't run an ad in several years, His interest in getting business seeming to have waned. His last offering to the community was not an ad, but the following:

My Old Man

My old man was a flawed and difficult person. When I was a kid I was constantly angry with him, even to the point of wishing that something would happen to prevent his coming home at night.
I awoke one day when I was 20 to find that the fury I had felt toward him most of my life had simply vanished, without, so far as I could tell, any real change having occurred in him. I worked on a dredge with him that summer, and we had fun together. That pleasant time was followed, for me, by military service, college, marriage, law school, and then a sojourn in California; but I continued to see him at intervals, and our relationship was a source of pleasure to me even though I did not understand what had transformed it.
He died without warning on October 3, 1975, when I was 32. The pain of his unannounced evaporation from my world eventually eased, but from time to time I continued to puzzle over the fact that my feelings about him had changed so dramatically a dozen years earlier: why?
The answer was revealed to me a decade after his death. I had wakened in the middle of the night and had tuned in a television documentary about a group of tribespeople in some ancient outback desert. The focus of the piece was upon a tribal elder who had enlisted his entire village—literally every man, woman, and child—to help him move a great boulder some two miles to the resting place of his long-dead father, there to serve as a monument to him. This vast undertaking, accomplished by brute force and the use of tree trunks as makeshift rollers, had consumed an entire week, and during that time the elder had provided daily food, drink, and entertainment for the villagers—at a cost, it was explained, of every last thing he possessed.
These primitive people spoke a language comprised of clicks and twitters. Through an interpreter, the documentary maker suggested to the elder that he must have had an exceptionally close and loving relationship with his father, to have expended at one stroke his entire life’s wealth in order to create this memorial to him.
“Not really,” came the clicked and twittered response. “My father was a pig-headed bully, and we never got along at all.”
Why then, asked the filmmaker, had the elder made such a huge sacrifice in tribute to a man he did not care for? The aging son smiled a toothless smile and answered unhesitatingly: “My father gave me my hands and feet.”
There it was. With a little help from my mother (still going strong today at 86, bless her soul) my old man had given me my hands and feet. He had given me more than that, in fact: had given me life, to be sure, but had also fed me, sheltered me, clothed me, protected me, and, yes, loved me. While I had prayed for his destruction he had given me Christmases, whether he could afford them or not. What had happened to me when I was 20, without my really being conscious of it, was that all of this had suddenly registered on my developing post-adolescent mind, and I had become… grateful.
He could, I suppose, have been a better father, but he was good enough. His name was William H. Mills. He has been gone for 25 years, and I miss him.

Richard H. Mills
Wall Township, NJ
October 5, 2000

Mom, Dub, Holly, Dad's Mom and I are all in the room, waiting for the resident to come and get Him underway to dying. It's an annoyingly long wait. Finally, he arrives. My mom delivers to him the same speech she had given to the orderly. She hits all the important points--living will, He wouldn't have wanted this, there's no realistic chance of reviving Him. The doctor nods at all of it, and stops only to remind all of us that "miracles do happen" sometimes, and that he doesn't want us thinking that it's 100 percent guaranteed Dad will die. Mom reaches into her pocketbook and pulls out a picture. It was a family portrait that my father's immediate family had had taken a few years ago, something of legend within our house as it depicted one of Dad's finer moments. All his life growing up, Dad's younger brother Jim made a point of being taller than Him. He would bring it up regularly, and my father would always deny it despite the fact that Jim actually is taller than him. Was, I mean. Jim’s certainly taller than him now, as Dad’s urn is only eight inches or so, if that. The picture, however, showed a different story--Dad all the way on the right, a good two inches over Jim on the left, and smiling like He was getting paid per tooth. The explanation, admitted only to us, was simple--He had stood on His tiptoes. Mom points Dad's face out to the doctor. "But will He come back like that?" No, no He won't. So He isn't coming back at all. The resident instructs the orderly to start the morphine drip. It will take twenty minutes for the morphine to take effect, making Him comfortable enough to pull the respirator tube and let Him suffocate to death.
After about fifteen minutes, the resident comes back with a Gastro-Intestinal specialist that we'd never seen before. He introduces himself, explains that this is the first day he's worked since Dad was checked in, and he just got to look at the chart now. I'm sitting down, not paying attention. I don't even want to be a part of this. Fuck the doctors, fuck the hospital, fuck the goodbyes and the acceptance. This shouldn't take so long. I’d rather walk over there and choke the life out of him myself than wait around. Now the G.I.’s voice is registering with me again.
"Now, I know how difficult this must be for you all, but I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't come and talk to you. I've looked over the treatment that Richard has been given, and I think there are some more aggressive steps we could take. I'm not saying it will work, it definitely most likely will not, but there is always that slim chance. I just want you to know that you have options."
And the shit hits the fan. My brother and sister both break into tears, almost violently. My sister slides down the wall to the floor, face in hands; brother is biting on his first knuckle, turning beet red, trying hard to choke it back, eventually he goes running out into the hallway, sputtering out through the sobs something like "We could have saved him." They actually believed that science could have worked. That was their mistake. It looks ugly. Everyone goes out to see if he's okay. What am I doing? Laughing. I've been laughing ever since the G.I. stopped talking. Suddenly I realize that I'm calling the guy an "asshole" over and over again. He starts to say something about how he didn't mean to upset us, but I just get louder and louder, until eventually he turns and walks away. At the last second, I remember an old episode of The Simpsons and go running to the door. I holler out after him, "Hey, what about your Hippopotamus Oath?" He looks at me like I'm crazy and I probably am, laughing maniacally as my father gets ready to die in one room and my brother has a nervous breakdown just outside of it. I walk over to Dad's bed. "Pretty good, eh, Pops?"

Finally things have gotten underway, as the four of us (Dad's mom having left us alone) are all standing alongside the bed, holding one part of Him or another, all crying. It takes almost a half-hour for Him to actually flatline, every inhalation He takes lasting about 10 seconds as His weakened body tries to pull the air through an unwilling windpipe. It sounds like He's choking every time, and I suppose He is. As it wears on there's more and more time in between each breath. Towards the end He's silent for as much as an entire minute at a time and we think He's finally gone, and then He twitches and loudly sputters and we all cringe. Eventually it stops, and He's done, and we're done too, because we've been crying so much for so long that there isn't much left, and we're all just kind of tired as we've gone as far into this issue as we can. Mom asks if anyone wants another moment alone. No one speaks up, we leave. Walking down the hallway I decide that I do, and head back. He's not moving anymore. His fingers don't curl back up when I straighten them out. His eyelids are closed, and there's no movement perceptible beneath them. I begin to wonder what the fuck I thought I should come back to do. Whatever's going to happen from here on out doesn't have shit to do with him.
That night I go out with my friends because I don’t feel like sitting around and not talking about what’s happened. I’m cavalier about it—when people ask me how I am, I tell them, “Fatherless.” I make plans for a T-shirt to print up and sell that would read, “My father died and all I got was this lousy abandonment complex.” People seem afraid to laugh, and while I guess I can understand why I don’t appreciate it. Why should it be hidden? I bring the issue to the forefront, discussing it openly, and involving my friends. I make everyone describe what their most traumatic experience was. After a while I decide to go home and do the same thing to my brother. When I get there he’s on the couch on his laptop, looking very Eeyore. I go to the kitchen and make two glasses of Jack and bring them back out. He waves his away. I push it back at him—“Drink it.” Reluctantly, he does. “A little hair of the dog that tore Dad’s jugular out.”
My brother and sister had left home earlier in the day that Dad would eventually get carted off in an ambulance. The three days that spanned the end of shit we had to do related to Grandma’s corpse and that day were consistently slightly unpleasant. My brother wanted to go to the bar and play shuffleboard, as he always does when he comes home. But this time that complicated things a little. For one, we would have to leave my sister, as Holly would not come to the bar. She had joined us once several years ago and been disappointed that the shuffleboard on display was not “the kind with the big poles.” But Dub enjoyed the game despite being fairly talentless, and since I usually took him as a partner to save him the unfortunate circumstances of suffering the unwinnable condition of partnering with Mom or being ridiculed by Dad. Unfortunately, my brother is a little nuts. He tries desperately to squeeze every drop out of life that he can, and Dad and I are just too lazy for that shit. So when he wants to be in the bar by noon we try to resist, but he bitches until we grudgingly agree. Dub had not inherited the ability to control himself in the face of intoxicants that Dad had given to me. There had been an occasion when he was in college in which he’d gotten shitfaced and somehow ended up in a scuffle with a 60-year-old security guard. Dad was called upon to go and pick him up from the hospital (put there for being drunk, not for being injured), where my brother came bounding out from behind the doors like an eager beagle. Dad just smirked at this and asked him exactly what it was he thought he was doing by getting shitfaced and starting fights with elderly security guards. “Just fighting The Man, Dad,” was the response, and it satisfied. So by the time six o’clock rolled around at Leggett’s, Dub was pretty well tanked, and keeping us winning was getting more and more difficult, as was putting up with his obnoxious behavior. Dad had abstained from play that first day, and would the following two, simply saying that He didn’t feel well. He didn’t look well either, wrapped up in three shirts and two sweaters, still complaining about it being too cold, not drinking nearly as much as he usually did, and not being too much fun. It wasn’t too surprising that by six thirty Dad wanted to go home, eat dinner, and go to bed, and remarked to Dub that he should too, as he was getting too drunk. Dub refused, told me that it was my duty as his brother to stay and play with him even if Dad went home, which He did. I stayed for a little while just to avoid having to deal with Dub’s attitude, but by nine o’clock the place was full of drunken asshole twenty-somethings, and I told him, “Fuck you, I’m going home with or without you.” So we left. Things followed much the same the two following nights, with Dad leaving earlier and Dub guilting me into staying later than I wanted to (and later than he really should have been). By the end of it all everyone was pissed off—Dub at both Dad and myself for not bending to his will, Dad at Dub for being nuts and demanding, me at Dub just for being the kind of person who wanted to hang out in a bar all night with mediocre looking sluts and the Red Stripe guzzling tools trying to fuck them, and actually feeling proud of himself when we beat them, non-players that they were. The three of us drove out to the airport shuttle depot to put Dub on a bus to Newark International. It was relatively quiet, and the goodbyes were less than wholly loving. On the way back with Dad we just listened to music except for a brief moment when Dad snapped the volume down and grunted, “What the fuck drives that boy to live in California?” I was slightly startled by this outburst, but gave it a moment of consideration. “Dub thinks that he can beat life. He moved out there to get into computers and make a lot of money, which he’s done. What he hasn’t figured out yet is that applying yourself won’t always guarantee you any kind of success that actually fulfills.” It was good enough, I guess, because the music went back up. We got home, and I took off with my friends, and later that night He was throwing up blood.
Back in the living room with Dub I kick it off—“So, boy am I ever pissed that I didn’t visit Him in the hospital when He was still conscious, eh? Alright, your turn.”
“Turn for what?”
“Regret. What do you regret?” He pauses.
“I wish that He had wanted to hang out with me some the last time I was here, instead of going home early, the asshole,” he says, starting to tear up. Upon hearing that, I do too, but not for the same reason.
“You know, you’re really a fucking cunt, Dub.”
He throws his laptop to the side. “What the fuck? I’m getting tired of you always giving me shit, what’s wrong with my answer?”
“What’s wrong with your answer? Why does it have to be Him staying with you? Why don’t you regret staying in the bar? Not to mention the fact that He was fucking dying, for Christ’s sake. Is that an excuse good enough to warrant doing something you don’t want to? Shit, man, regret not getting home for more Christmases, regret that your grandchildren will never get to meet Him, regret the fights that you had that were your fault, admit some fucking fault, at least. Regret moving to California, even, although that would be stupid too, ‘cause you got to leave sometime.” He’s full-out crying by this point. “So, your father dies of cirrhosis, contracted by virtue of alcoholism, and what’s preying on your mind is that in His final days He didn’t want to hang out with you in a bar? Dub, I love you, but you’re a fucking cunt. Get your head right. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.” Then I ate some more Xanax and finished my drink and went to bed. Nobody gets it.

Dad's viewing is held pretty much the same way Grandma's was because he had liked the way it was done, but in a larger venue--we have him stuffed, or whatever they do, for an open casket, but then he'll be cremated. Hundreds of people show up and we're all a little surprised and it's very comforting to me to see that assholes like us are as endearing as I’d always thought we were. Dad looks strange laying down wearing makeup, His large double chin pushed out, bearing something of a resemblance to a bullfrog. It must have been difficult for the artist to cover up the jaundice, and they did a pretty good job, I guess. I picked out the tie He's wearing, a present He'd received for Christmas that depicts dozens of miniature Santa Clauses facing forward and one in the middle mooning the observer. Mom agreed it was the absolutely correct choice. Holly thought it was tacky. Dad's friends from Leggett's each stick a chip (good for one drink, the official bet of the shuffleboard table) into His front pocket, where he'd always kept them. Holly thinks it's tacky. The prayer cards which feature no actual prayer simply read:
In Loving Memory of Little Dickie Mills
With Whom We Are Well Pleased
“Little Dickie” was His nom de plume for any non-business memoranda. Holly thinks it’s inappropriate again, and I've stopped caring. I'm in good spirits, pumped full of Xanax and whisky from a flask in my pocket, determined that there's no reason this shit should be so unhappy. That won't help anyone. I avoid talking to a lot of the people there, choosing carefully, laughing it up and trying to fulfill my legacy. I decide that I want my funeral to be one big joke/party. I should be buried in green spandex hot pants and a pink tank top, and the speeches should be a roast. There should be a cake with a topless girl inside, and then a real cake too. The other children are dutiful, helping my mother with greeting people who they don't know, boring people who all say the same things: so sudden; tragedy; sorry for your loss; our prayers are with; time heals. Time doesn't actually heal, it just blurs things. As you get older, each year occupies less and less of your total memory, and it seems like it doesn't hurt as much, but the reality is that you just don't remember as much of the pain.

Now months have passed and I see how true it really is. The pain has dulled but it feels like it lies deeper, like a blow that fades into a bruise. I'm reminded of when I was seven years old and I became ensnared by a near-constant fear of death, as most children are at one point or another. I went to everyone asking them how they deal with knowing that one day it will all be over, and the answer that would calm me came from Dad. He explained how He'd had the same problem when He was about my age, and eventually decided to believe in reincarnation, if for no other reason than that it's comforting. The last year he was alive we had a family of rabbits living in our front yard. My father would stand in front of our bay window in the morning, cup of coffee in hand, and watch them. Frequently He would bring them up in conversation, and I'd feed Him the lines he wanted.

Dad: You know, Ran, I should probably go to work.
Me: I guess so. Of course, some day you'll be dead.
Dad: Good point. You think those rabbits worry about whether they should get some extra foraging done today? I don't think so. They probably just eat when they're hungry, sleep when they're tired, fuck when they're horny. In fact, those little bastards have it pretty good. Maybe I should get a BB gun and pump a couple in them.
Me: Oh, you don’t want to do that.
Dad: You’re right.

In the weeks after his death, I found myself imitating many of Dad’s habits (although the whisky was stopped) as a way of getting closer to my memories of him. I got up early almost every morning to stand at that bay window and look for the rabbits. Every day something in the yard would remind me of another memory: chipping golf balls in the front lawn until it was too dark to see, then getting flashlights; the day we planted fruit trees by the road, which showed almost no progress whatsoever for several years until we stopped paying any attention, and yet now I suddenly noticed that they were nearly twenty feet tall; coming home from fishing every day for an entire summer and sitting out in the lawn chairs, not needing to talk or listen or do anything but be there and enjoy our home. But the nicest thing I saw was the new rabbit, a little baby, that for all I could remember had not been there before He died. It seemed lazy for a rabbit, particularly one so young, as in two months I had only seen it move a handful of times, and never very fast. I looked carefully for some kind of behavior that would be Dad’s signal to me, although for the life of me I had no idea what he could do in rabbit form to communicate such a dubious notion. On one of the mornings when I hadn’t seen him from the window, which were not all that common, I walked out to Dad’s car (now mine) and didn’t notice until I was unlocking it that the little bunny was sitting smack dab in the middle of my roof and looking at me. Once the initial shock of looking quickly to find something you didn’t expect wore off, I realized that something was wrong here—just how the fuck had this infant rabbit gotten on top of my car? I looked around for something that might’ve provided him with the leverage necessary but there was nothing, and he was not breaking his gaze at all. It looked like my only option was to go to the source: “Say, Bugs, how’d you get up there?” Naturally there was no response, although I fancifully imagined that if he were properly equipped in the vocal cord department he would speak right up in Dad’s commanding voice. Just as I was enjoying my imagination, the rabbit broke its stare and took off at breakneck speed across our garden and into the underbrush. Once he’d completely disappeared from view and I realized I was alone, I was instantly overwhelmed with a sharp sensation of desertion, and a suspicion that maybe things weren’t going to be okay. As I had done so many times in those recent weeks, I gritted my teeth and forced it all down, refused to tear up, and turned back to my car. That’s when I saw it: sitting where He had been just a few moments ago, there was now a small, neat pile of rabbit shit, and I smiled as some of the loneliness slipped away.

This entire story is true, and obviously deeply personal, with the exception of that last paragraph. There was no rabbit on the roof of the car—in fact I have not been able to get the slightest acknowledgment of Dad’s presence out of any of the bunnies in our yard. You might ask why I would decide to throw a wholly false ending onto what is otherwise the most honest work of my life. The short answer is that the only person who received an ending to any of this is Dad. His story is over, but my story of him will not be concluded until I join him, a day that I have to say I’m looking forward to, if only to be able to ask him what he really thinks of me now that he can see what I truly am. My mother, always a cheerful woman, bears the weight of her seemingly infinitely dense loneliness with a smile that defies all reasonable belief. As guilty as I feel writing it, I look forward to her eventual demise somewhere deep inside of me, not because I don’t love her, but just so that I’ll finally no longer have to be a son to anyone. The same intense pleasure that I once derived from filling that role to my father, in being his favorite, in being like him, is now so bittersweet that I gag every time she smiles because I’m reminding her of Dad. Regrets are pointless baggage once what’s done is done, and I make a point of urging the rest of the family to forget them since they are clearly moot. Nonetheless, they are a natural part of not being dead, and I have only these to list—that I will never get the chance to unleash his true persona on the world, and that my children will not know their father’s father and therefore will probably never appreciate the noble onus our bloodline carries with it. Explaining it to them will require years of stories and videotapes. But when regular people ask me what he was like I certainly don’t have time to try to reiterate this story, so I give them the short version instead—“He was the last great man.”

06-18-2007, 12:47 PM
It took me a while to get through this one, being that I haven't had a whole lot of free time recently as it is the end of the school year. It's a good story, a sad story, and a funny one as well. Once again it carries that dichotomy that seems to be so prevelant in much of your work - this one is the obvious sense of anger and admiration.
I don't know what makes me sadder- following the obviously painful loss of your father or the fact that you have simply given in to following in your father's debaucherous albeit witty footsteps and that you seem entirely too comfortable with that prospect. At times this comes across as being a bit self-indulgent.

EDIT: That's all meant in the nicest of ways, if possible.

06-18-2007, 03:38 PM
I fail to see the downside you see to following in his footsteps. Sometimes I think you folks would have told Hemingway he needed to sober up. And I take it in the nicest of ways.

06-18-2007, 04:03 PM
Isn't it the easy choice to follow in the path that has already been started?

I TOTALLY agree with you that those with such great talents, intelectually and otherwise, often live the most tortured lives. According to your logic though, the addiction comes as a result of not being able to process the stupidity of society, of being so much smarter than others. But, aren't you being rather weak by giving in like that? I guess I see addiction as a weakness, and I think you cop out by claiming it as a direct result of your and your father's strengths.

I also found it interesting that you would capitalize the pronoun Him for your dad, but not god. Idolotry is dangerous. Isn't it, you crazy aetheist?:2c

06-18-2007, 04:21 PM
Who said I'm an atheist? His pronouns are capitalized because for the purposes of the story, he is God. It was a technique I questioned but kinda dig.

We are all weak, my dear. But not all of us are great.

06-18-2007, 04:25 PM
Didn't you imply that you were atheist by saying your whole family was except your mom who was raised a Baptist?

I'm great. People like me, but I'm also really fuckin' weak, Unfortunately, I think that's part of what makes me great and why people like me. It's a real Catch 22.

06-18-2007, 04:26 PM
I was raised so, that doesn't mean I still am.

And now you see the point--greatness is sometimes better exemplified through its weaknesses than its strengths.

06-18-2007, 04:33 PM
Did Sophocles have an addiction problem?

06-18-2007, 04:36 PM
You mean aside from young boy turdhole?

06-18-2007, 04:41 PM
That's enough to indicate greatness.

06-18-2007, 05:04 PM

Also, I kick the dick out of Sophocles.

06-18-2007, 09:48 PM
The Necromancer's Work

The old hermit’s cabin was filled with shelves of dusty old tomes and tables topped with alchemical equipment. William observed the old hermit’s items with great interest and the desire to experiment with all of them. The old hermit, however, warned him to never use the powers of the occult unless there was dire need to do so. That night, William had come to him with just that sort of need. The old hermit eyed him with skepticism, not knowing the important task a teenager like William could possibly need to fulfill. Still, the old hermit had to keep his end of the bargain. William presented the old hermit with the large pearl he had asked for.
“Normally, young William, I would not offer what you asked for to a mere apprentice such as yourself. However, I imagine that the purchase of this pearl took quite a few of your paychecks. I need that pearl for a very special potion crafted by Hermes Trismegistus himself. I believe that this may be the key to the Elixir of Life.”
William grinned at the old hermit, “It is not life that I am interested in, old man.”
The old hermit felt uneasy doing so, but he retrieved a small urn of ashes from a chest and handed them to William. Before letting go of the urn, however, he gave William a warning.
“Listen to me, William, and you’ll do good to listen well. I know many who have fallen to the dark art of necromancy. To become a necromancer, you must come face to face with death itself, and you must never trust the dead. You are venturing into a dangerous incarnation of magic.”
William winked at the old hermit and held the urn in both hands. He opened it and looked inside with eager eyes, “You are positive that these ashes belonged to him?”
“Yes, William. They were collected from the waters in which they were scattered. Summoned forth by a druid whom I trust with my life.”
William walked to the door and opened it, turning back towards the old hermit he said, “You’ve done a good thing, old man. Tonight, we will mend what is most broken.”
“I hope that is the case, young William. I hope that is the case.”

William walked through the front door of his home. His parents and little sister were inside of the living room watching a movie, not noticing William come in from the dark night. He quietly walked up the stairs into his room, locking the door behind him. He pulled a small chest out from underneath his bed and placed it on top of scattered homework upon his desk. He opened the chest and placed the urn of ashes inside along with all the other contents. He put his ear against his door to verify that is family was busy watching their movie. He closed the blinds to his window and dimmed his light till they were almost off. Reaching into the chest on top of his desk, he pulled out a large black candle. He also pulled out a silver plate which he put on top of his wooden floor, and lit the candle on top of the plate. He then pulled out a piece of chalk from the chest and drew a pentagram around the candle. At the end of each point on the star, he added odd symbols from a tome of necromancy he received from the old hermit. He went to his closet and pulled out a black robe that was hanging inside and put it on. He also pulled out a large object covered in a blanket. It was the skull of a ram made to be worn like a mask, he put this on as well. Grabbing the urn in his hands, he danced around the burning candle and chanted in some arcane language. At the end of his chant, the silver plate was engulfed by a black flame. He quickly took the top of the urn and dumped the ashes into the black flame. The flame began to grow higher and higher, and it slowly began to take the form of a human shape. Then, William the Necromancer, was standing before a man. The man had fairly light skin and wavy brown hair. He also sported a brown mustache that matched his brown coat and faded blue jeans. The man came to life breathing quickly with a panicked look on his face. He looked in confusion to the flat screen television suspended on the wall, the closed laptop lying on the bed and the poster of U2 on the wall, finally resting his eyes on the satanic image of William.
“Where am I? Who are you?” the man asked in bewilderment.
“You are in Indio, California. I am the necromancer. Do you know what your name is?”
The man looked into the ram skull, “Are you a demon? Why are you dressed so evilly?”
William looked down at his robes, “Evil? No, I am not evil. This is the attire of the necromancer in the face of death.”
“Well, it looks evil.”
“Never mind what it looks like, do you know who you are?”
The man stood straight and proud, “I am John Steinbeck, born in this state of California.”
William took off his mask and smiled at John. “Excellent! This is great! I have succeeded in bringing you back from the dead.”
John was amazed. “I presume that you have summoned me so that I could tell you about the afterlife?”
William gave John a look as if he said something very stupid, “Why would I want to know that?”
“Well… Because it’s me. John Steinbeck. Who better to tell you the story than I, a story teller?”
William pulled the seat from the desk out and motioned for John to sit down. “Boy, John, this is really awkward.”
“What? What is it?”
“You see, John. That is why I have called you back. Your ability as a story teller.”
“Is there something wrong about my ability to tell stories?”
“Yes, John. Specifically The Grapes of Wrath.”
John gave out a quick laugh, “The Grapes of Wrath? Surely, you are joking! I was present on the day they filmed the motion picture of my book. It was received very well.”
“Well sure, John, maybe back in your day. However, in this modern world, well I just fear that The Grapes of Wrath will suffer a most horrific end.”
“What do you mean?”
William sat down on the edge of his bed, looked down on the floor and sighed. “Look John, let me get you in on the down low.”
“The low what?”
“John, this is no time for games. I am telling you that what is expected from works of literature in this day and age, are much different from what you are used to. You don’t want your book to die like all the other great works.”
“They die? What? Nobody reads them anymore?”
“No, John. It’s worse than that actually. The pope releases an official order from the Vatican to burn the books that have become obsolete, and I fear that The Grapes of Wrath may be next.”
“Oh dear. The pope does this?”
“Yes. Pope Benedict.”
“Well, what do we do? How am I going to save my book from being burned?”
“Well that is simple, John. We will simply rewrite it and adapt it to modern requirements.”
“Very well. What do you propose we do?”
William opened his closet and took out a thick blanket and threw it on the floor beside the candle John came out of. He took the candle, which had turned back to normal without the thick black flame, and blew it out.
“First, you are going to sleep right here on the floor. I have to go to school tomorrow.”

The next day, after school, William brought two cups of noodles up to his room and informed his mother that a friend of his would be staying over for a while. He walked into his room and locked the door behind him again. He set the cups of noodles on top of his desk and realized that he forgot the soda on the kitchen counter. John put down a book on top of his improvised bed and sat down at the chair and began blowing on his hot cup of noodles. Before William went downstairs to retrieve the soda, he looked over to the books scattered on the blanket.
“That’s a great collection you’ve been reading, John. Possibly the best literature in history.”
“Yes, I’ve already finished the second book. I was shocked when Tom Riddle revealed himself to be Lord Voldemort. And when Harry Potter found out that it was Malfoy’s father all along who slipped the diary in Ginny’s cauldron! Oh the suspense!”
“Great, John, that’s wonderful. Take down some notes next time, we need this kind of writing for our revised version of The Grapes of Wrath.”
After they ate, they sat down on the floor with two notebooks. William had his iPod playing on a stereo and was introducing John to Daft Punk. John didn’t like it much. Although William was concerned on his books legacy, or survival, he was much more interested in the laptop.
“Alright John, so let’s look at the start of the problem here. This is during the Great Depression, and dust storms force these Oklahoma people to leave their home on a journey to California.”
“That is correct.”
“Yeah. That’s no good.”
John gave him an offended look, “Why not?”
“Well, and I am just throwing this out there, how about we play with this idea of grapes?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well let’s say that the Joads live in a grape field…”
John interrupted him, “Oklahoma isn’t known for grapes.”
William gave an annoyed sigh, “John… You want my help right? I mean, there is no Tom Joad either, it’s fiction. Anyways… How about this? Are you ready for this, John?”
“The grapes are sprayed with a chemical being tested by the government. We’ll call it chemical X. Then when the people eat the grapes, they become zombies.”
“What? Zombies?”
“Yeah, you know what zombies are. They aren’t from after your time. In fact, you are a zombie. Anyways, so the story then becomes about the Joads escaping the zombies to California, the only place the zombies cannot step foot on.”
“Okay, but why can’t zombies go to California? I mean, I am a zombie who is in California.”
William began tapping his fingers on the notebook as if he had become inpatient, “John, must I remind you that we are writing a fiction here?”

For two months William and John worked on The Grapes of Wrath. In that time, John became quite fond of the internet, Star Wars and was anxiously waiting for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to be released. At the moment the two had been waiting for, they finally had their finished product.
John read out from the last written page in his notebook, “Then, with all the magic crystals collected, Rose of Sharon opened up the portal to Planet Zanabu, and trapped the zombies inside along with their vampire assassination team.”
A tear fell from William’s eye. “That is beautiful, John. When Jim Casey battled Dracula on top of that moving train. Wow. I could just relate to it, you know? It’s like you took something completely mundane, but brought life into it.”
Both of them looked at their finished piece with a warm and fuzzy feeling. John picked it up and held it in hands as if it were a child. “William, I am glad you brought me back here to save my book. The Grapes of Wrath is a thing of the past now. The Plutonium Grapes of Doom is here. The future begins now.”

06-18-2007, 10:57 PM
I'm actually a little familiar with necromancy, so I'm gonna read that in a few minutes.

06-19-2007, 12:35 AM
Travelogue: 0001

Each step I take causes a sickening crunch in the virginal snow. Each footprint left behind is a scar on the otherwise pure landscape. The sun reflects off the ground and bounces into my eyes making it difficult to see anything but what's on the periphery. The land is flat, and the horizon extends without change in all directions. In my arms is a ten month old child, his face bright red. Every inch of spare cloth that I have is covering him, saving him from the both the suns critical burn and the winds biting chill. I personally am sweating, each step causing pores to open, each pore freezing shut before the next step, then once again melting as my body pushes itself forward. I can't imagine this is very healthy, but I see no way to avoid it.

How I got to this point is embarrassing. I had been driving with my god-son and my dog across Canada into Alaska to meet up with the childs mother and father. They had decided that vacationing in Alaska in the dead of Winter while ice-fishing was at it's peak was just about the most romantic thing a couple could do. They laughed it off when I suggested that ditching a 10 month old child for ice-fishing maybe wasn't awesome parenting. Then the father had a stroke and they stopped laughing. The mother called to tell me and I asked what she was going to do. Instead of the woman flying home and getting the child, she insisted the child come to Alaska to see the father, just in case. In case what? I had asked her, but she didn't respond. Instead saying, Just come as quickly as you can.

And so I did. I did not fly because each moment in a plane makes me feel as though I have a plastic bag firmly wrapped around my head choking the life out of me while I rapidly breath the clear plastic in and out, little drops of moisture from my breath forming, little yellow dots piercing my vision before my whole body goes into seizure, is precisely what being in a plane is like for me. So instead of flying, as requested, I drove. I was doing them a favor after all. It would only take a couple of days, and if he died before I got there, that was their problem not mine. I didn't ask to be godfather, didn't ask to watch the kid while they fucked between catches in a refridgerated teepee.

Also, I brought my dog. For company. A ten month old isn't really company, if you've ever been in a car for three days with one. I had been in the middle of the second day of driving, speeding down a two lane blacktop that called itself a highway when the dog started peeing and the kid started crying. Pulling over, I let the dog out of the car immediately. He was trained and I hadn't considered the option of him running away but I had to attend to the car smelling like piss. I found some napkins from a fast food restaurant we (I) had stopped at about 200 miles back and started scooping up the wind-frozen piss, and by the time I looked up the dog was absolutely nowhere to be found.

I circled the car once and still didn't see him, but a barking in the distance suggested he was still around. I yelled his name. He barked in return. I walked toward the howl. About one hundred yards into the distance a tiny black speck that I assumed to be the dog appeared. The barking continued, but I wanted to turn around and get the kid before I pursued the dog further. I'd heard horror stories about leaving kids in cars, and even though the area seemed completely desolated, I decided that the mantra of "better safe than sorry" applied to infants in a big fucking way.

Once I had wrapped the child up in enough scarves and silly hats to feel comfortable bringing him out into this instant piss-freezing cold, I used an old arm sling I had to keep him close to my chest, hands-free. I figured I might need my hands to drag the dog back, as he'd apparently caught scent of something he really wanted. The barking continued in the distance, but I had begun to be alarmed at the recognition of blood in the snow. There was no longer any speck, but I continued to follow the barking.

Looking back, the car was only a little dot on the horizon. The blood had confused me and I hadn't realized how far I'd wandered. One more bark that seemed almost like a human scream sounded in the distance, and I broke into a run toward it, foolishly disregarding the safety of myself and the child. I paused briefly when I noticed the ground had shifted to ice and the realization hit me that I had been running across a lake. No longer was I pressing footprints into the snow, but foolishly skirting across a massively frozen body of water. Little drops of frozen blood still remained on the ground but they were now scattered in all directions and the barking had stopped. My frantic running had caused the cars status to go from a blip on the horizon to utterly nonexistent. I did not panic. Fuck the dog, I said. And I turned back the way that I came, hoping to retrace my footprints. My anger at the silly beast for getting me into this possibly life threatening situation far outweighed any sort of emotional loss that I felt.

But when I found the end of the lake, when the ice stopped and the snow started, the footprints were nowhere to be found. Still, there was no panic. I would trace the lakes perimeter until I came upon my footprints, then follow them back to the car. I couldn't be very far off, I'd decided. But when I had walked for what seemed like a mile, what I deemed too far, I turned and started walking in the other direction. The child was screaming now, and tears welled up in his eyes then froze on his cheeks. I brushed the frozen tears away then covered his face, leaving only his nose and his eyes in the air. I walked for what seemed to be forever. I turned. I walked. I couldn't remember which side of the road the sun was on. I couldn't remember if I had been walking toward or away from it. I cursed my shitty memory.

I had left my gloves in the car.

And at some point in my turning and cursing and wiping tears I had wandered from the lakes perimeter. The vastness of the expanse was intimidating. The whiteness of it all, blinding. And thats where I am now, my feet punching through frozen snow, walking in one straight line, hoping the highway, any highway, is ahead. And in the distance is a black speck. My heart jumps into my throat, and again I disregard safety and sprint, the baby waving back and forth on the sling across my chest. I bring my arms up to cradle him like a football so he doesn't fall out but that doesn't keep him from crying. I run, the dot becoming larger and larger, and larger and larger until it's apparent that it's not the car at all, but the dog. I collapse on my knees next to the lying down dog and turn it over. I feel guilty because the initial heat rising from its carved out stomach feels good upon my face before the horror sets in. The dogs stomach looks like a large bowl of tomato soup, completely eviscerated, his intestines completely dissapeared, his stomach merely a cup of blood. I am tempted to dunk my hands inside to warm them up, or stuff the baby inside like Luke on Hoth, while I go search for help myself. I realize that this is unsafe, and that anything that can disembowel a dog can also disembowel a child, but what's the difference at this point?

I look at the child and for the first time in two days make a statement directed at him.

"You know, a long time ago I did fuck your mother. But you're not my kid."

And his eyes widen then squint, the ways kids eyes do, with the dogs mouth frozen open in a taxidermied pose of rage.

06-19-2007, 08:46 AM
Alchemy - I appreciate your story. It takes me back to "Bill & Ted." It has a rather sad message about society. Are we really that simplified that we can no longer appreciate the subtleties of Steinbeck? Although, I must admit I never liked the book or the movie. I could always respect the "drama" of these people's plight, but honestly they were really rather boring. Still it makes me sad that The Plutonium Grapes of Doom is the only way to save a classic.

Protodisco - interesting imagery, but I had a really hard time connecting with the main character. He just seems like a fucking idiot. I was expecting a sad story of a broken down car and a struggle to save his and the child's life, not just a series of really bad choices. And then the last exchange between him and the child just makes me hate him even more. You got a reaction out of me, that says a lot.

06-19-2007, 08:53 AM
Protodisco - interesting imagery, but I had a really hard time connecting with the main character. He just seems like a fucking idiot. I was expecting a sad story of a broken down car and a struggle to save his and the child's life, not just a series of really bad choices. And then the last exchange between him and the child just makes me hate him even more. You got a reaction out of me, that says a lot.

Sometimes, Algunz, you make it painfully difficult to forget that you're a goddamn junior high school teacher.


06-19-2007, 08:56 AM
Sorry, it's in my blood.

06-19-2007, 09:02 AM
Alchemy--Dug the idea. Found it funny that the necromancer fucked up modern parlance by saying "let me get you in on the down low" when he means "low down," and then Steinbeck says "low what?" But yeah, funny concept, although I too found Steinbeck kinda unreadable.

06-19-2007, 09:02 AM
Sorry, it's in my blood.

That's why we'll never get rid of teachers--the dumbshittery is GENETIC! Eureka!

06-19-2007, 10:31 AM
Protodisco - interesting imagery, but I had a really hard time connecting with the main character. He just seems like a fucking idiot. I was expecting a sad story of a broken down car and a struggle to save his and the child's life, not just a series of really bad choices. And then the last exchange between him and the child just makes me hate him even more. You got a reaction out of me, that says a lot.

good. it's only tragic because the baby was led there by a series of bad choices. first his parents bad choice, then the bad choice to not fly, then the bad choice to get out of the car....the decisions get worse as they go along. the final statement is just the dude passing the buck again, this time to the kid.

wouldn't it be a lot less interesting if he were forced into the wilderness by way of broken down car? or if he had to drive to alaska for legit reasons?

06-19-2007, 11:06 AM
Absolutely, it would have made the story completely predictable. It's just so hard to watch, read. You know those moments where you don't want to watch, but you can't look away. I'm hoping he gets eaten by whatever ate the dog and then they raise the baby with them in the woods away from all these freakin' idiots. Or would that be predictable also?

06-19-2007, 11:08 AM
That's why we'll never get rid of teachers--the dumbshittery is GENETIC! Eureka!

So is the assholery.

06-19-2007, 11:42 AM
So is the assholery.

You should write a story called The Last Great Dumbshit, maybe it wouldn't suck for once.

Smooches. =)

06-19-2007, 11:48 AM
Absolutely, it would have made the story completely predictable. It's just so hard to watch, read. You know those moments where you don't want to watch, but you can't look away. I'm hoping he gets eaten by whatever ate the dog and then they raise the baby with them in the woods away from all these freakin' idiots. Or would that be predictable also?

Good tragedy is supposed to be hard to watch; all the best work is tragedy.

06-19-2007, 12:42 PM
You should write a story called The Last Great Dumbshit, maybe it wouldn't suck for once.

Smooches. =)

I'm currently doing the research.

06-19-2007, 12:45 PM
In honor of father's day as well, I would like to share a very short excerpt from Dad's first novel.

Barrio on the Edge by Alejandro Morales

It has been rolling along through the silent centuries of quiet suffering. People from here, there, and everywhere feel a common rage in their hearts. Only they can feel the sharpness of despair. Looking out over those lands in the morning, one can see a newborn with its cry of innocence; by the afternoon he becomes an adolescent covered by a storm cloud, accompanied by a rain of hate; right now in the middle of the night he tries with the yoke of resignation. And by now the mental wellhead has spouted to show them the fountain that will replenish the river with the clan’s droplets. With the vein about to burst, the ancient passion of every man will come forth to declare that words matter less than the clan’s ageless, escalating fear. It is a special lineage, a timeless song sung for the sake of gold and the cross. Flogged spirit praying for both, you too must cry. Many dream have covered the eyes with mystical desires and a brutally savage melancholy. The calendar, the truncated triangles, and the shattered hearts are all part of the past and within him now; the horses fornicated wildly; that is precisely the cutting fury that swirls in the blood, the mind, and the soul. And those from afar now try to tear him to shreds.

They have given much but they still are unacknowledged by the outsiders. One gave his legs and a buttock when, lying on his stomach, he felt the little lead rock pass through his shoulder and come out his left buttock. Right next to him was the blond man’s bashed-in head. This place was here before him or them; but he was shaped by the wild country. Faith makes him endure the globs of white spit, which he allows to overwhelm him; he has faith in this place. The history of men and women, the nomenclature of hatred and love, the language of a point of view are all their targets. This place is powerful and united; the president has said so. Disgusting and pretty, she bit her lower lip. A stained face, big bright eyes, hands that pulled and guided her; the hands massaged the brown back, touched her long hair. The tip of the tongue was wiping the sweat off the rose-colored breast; they slept to the sound of mortar shells and the shitting of bellicose fowl. The man has given some avocados to the neighbors; guavas are delicious but they can’t send him any. The cold is something else on the thirty-eighth parallel but you do not feel it when the trumpets sound; he spent a whole year there; it is also snowing up north. Daughter, what are you doing? Little shoes for the one not yet born. Mother’s now weep incessantly; in God’s natural greenery the honorable peace dies on a urinated hill.

The barrio buddies no longer study; they spend years in the army. They return and continue to run around in the same circle as those who went before them. That circle must be broken; found all over; it is worse in places of dense population. He could see the little shack coming more into focus; undoubtedly Compadrito must be home. He enjoyed talking to him; a man of noble lineage, who knew a lot and gave good advice. He was feeling sad, wanting to cry. The afternoon freed the wind and the sky was boundless, distant, decorated with red clouds sketched across a soft blue. It is a sentimental dream to try and reach them.

06-21-2007, 01:47 AM
the horses fornicated wildly;

i liked this part.

how many novels does your dad have? would i be able to find his stuff in a barnes & noble? that whole thing was pretty cool, but to be honest, i'm not entirely sure what was going on in it. i'd read more though, for sure.

Here is another travelogue.


When you go to the Ballard County Fair in western Kentucky you expect to see good looking cowgirls wearing chaps literally lassoing people into having a good time. Unfortunately when you're there you realize that the Ballard County Fair is more like a congregation of the overweight and sweaty, so what you attempt to do is plant yourself permanently in line over at the beer tent, where they give you little tiny clear Coors Light cups for a few tickets which you can also exchange for rides on the ferris wheel, though not at the same time. If you're willing to be observant, you'll notice that the majority of people in the beer tent stay in the beer tent since you're not allowed to take the small clear Coors Light cups anywhere but within the tiny confines of the tent. You'll also notice that everyone in the tent has had the exact same idea as you and seem perpetually on line, making friends with the person to the immediate north, south, east and west of them, only actually leaving line to get more tickets so they can get more beer.

Even though it is a tent and the sides are all open, you'll recognize that the humidity due to the volume of people has grown unbearably thick, like breathing underneath the blanket in the summertime, and maybe, at this point, the blazing hot from the Kentucky sun doesn't seem so bad. You'll notice that inside the tent people are even more overweight and even more sweaty. Also, they have more body hair. You'll notice a group of girls who couldn't possibly be older than 14, drinking beers, even though you're 23 and have a beard and you were carded. You'll realize that despite everyones drunkenness, the tent seems more like the DMV than a bar.

You'll notice a mother with a cigarette hanging from her lip and bruises on her arms with her child perched over her shoulder. The child will literally scream for so long that eventually you come to regard it's voice as some sort of emergency broadcast signal. When you step to the direct side of the mother and crane your neck so you can look into her eyes and say "Excuse me, but I want to put your child's face between my foot and the ground and, like, apply pressure until I feel like I might have to get a new pair of shoes" your goal will be deterred by the straight-up lack of life registered in her two admittedly pretty eyes.

You will, despite all prior thoughts to the contrary, lose interest in getting drunk. And when you leave the beer tent, back out into the open air, the sky will seem more blue, the grass will seem more green. The girls will seem prettier, with more cleavage and less love-handles. You will be impressed when an oiled up man in a hat actually gets the bell to ring on that strength test thing you had previously regarded as being stupid. You will find yourself humming songs you've forgotten the words to and you will smile at children making all manners of mess with their food.

And later on, after the sun has gone down when you are smiling and enjoying funnel cake, that familiar feeling of resentment and misery will wrap its gloved fist around your heart when you see the woman with lifeless eyes and her child; the child completely silent but grinning toothlessly, the mother laughing and holding a balloon. The woman's presence literally gleaming with well meaning motherhood. You won't be able to finish eating your funnel cake, and you won't be able to get the powdered sugar taste out of your by now completely dry mouth. Grinding your teeth, you'll curse them for stealing your revelation and making it cheap. That somehow their happiness is your depression, that their life is your death sentence.

The decision you'll come to is that The Fair is merely a distraction from the tent. The home to which you and this new well meaning beacon of motherhood shall return. And even in recognition of this inevitability, you'd still like to see what the carousel has to say about it.

06-21-2007, 10:37 AM
I like that one. I always hated the fair. It just has always seemed so sad underneath all it's glittery surface. Although our local Orange County fair is starting to attract some good bands now that they've reopened the amphitheater.

Just google my dad's name and you'll find tons of information on him, also below I included a quick bio I wrote for a local web page.

Alejandro Morales is one of the world’s leading Chicano authors. He was born in East Los Angeles on October 14, 1944 to Delfino and Juana. He is the youngest of five children. Alejandro was raised in Montebello, California where despite some early academic setbacks he eventually thrived and went on to become the first of his family to graduate from college. After earning a BA from Cal. State Los Angeles, he earned his Masters and PhD from Rutgers University in New Jersey. Alejandro was quickly hired on at the University of California, Irvine in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. He moved his then young family back to California where he has been teaching and advising in the Chicano/Latino Studies Program for the past 30 years.

As a professor, it is necessary to publish. This professional requirement is not a trying task for Morales, because it is his writing that keeps him engaged, inspired, and thriving. Since 1975, he has published 6 major novels most of which have been translated into several different languages and are a part of academic curriculum all over the world. His first novel Caras Viejas y vino Nuevo was published in 1975. It was a novel that he had been working on in some ways since his days in high school. The story chronicles the hardships of growing up in the barrios of Los Angeles. It was eventually translated under the title of Barrio on the Edge in 1997. His second novel was La verdad sin voz in 1979. This book was also translated to English under the title of Death of an Anglo in 1988. La verdad tells the story of a prominent anglo doctor who practiced in a predominantly immigrant town on the border and was eventually murdered under mysterious circumstances. Morales’ third novel Reto en el paraiso was published in 1983. It is a story that explores the fascinating development of the Irvine Company in Orange County, California. His fourth novel, the first written in English, was The Brick People in 1988. This novel is historical fiction as well based around his family’s experiences and history in the Simon’s Brickyard. The Rag Doll Plagues, his fifth novel, was published in 1992. This story written in three parts follows the trials of a doctor through three different historical periods and three different tragic plagues. Morales’ most recent novel published in 2001 is entitled Waiting to Happen. It is the first of three in his “Heterotopian Trilogy.” The second volume is currently in publication.

Alejandro Morales is a significant author not only in the genre of Chicano literature, but as a writer who continually pushes the limits of narrative and clouds the line between reality and history. He has created a legacy of writing and teaching that will endure for many years to come. His grandest hope is that his work will inspire the younger generations to continue the creative traditions that are so deep in Latin American culture.

07-30-2007, 04:50 PM
I'm just so tired of the heat. I had to write something to cool me down.

It was a white blanket that forced the city to slow down for once and relax. The snow started early in the morning and didn’t stop all day. By evening the city was shut down. Buses were stopped and there were only a few cars that managed to inch their way across the snow. The thousands of people who normally crowded the city streets began to slowly emerge from out of nowhere like cubs rising from hibernation. The usual flow of the city was transformed. People came out of their quiet hiding places not to rush to the next stop, but to enjoy the winter wonderland. Children played and built snowmen in the middle of the street. Adults dropped to their knees and with childhood abandon made snow angels on the sidewalk. It was eerie to see the city this way. It seemed so foreign, yet so natural as if this innocence was always lying just below the usual hard edge of New York. People came out of their warm homes to help strangers shovel out their cars or open up the walkways for their elderly neighbors. I walked along the sidewalk amazed at how the city could come together. People who would otherwise never talk to each other were throwing snowballs at each other and laughing with other people’s children.

09-28-2007, 09:04 PM
Bump - it's great, because I feel like I have a whole thread all to myself whenever I need a friend. Am I blogging? Cuz that's bullshit. Come on peeps produce, stream of consciousness, old stuff, something.

Sitting here on a Friday night watching Less Than Zero on TV with my daughter sleeping peacefully by my side and I feel the need to reflect. On what, I'm not sure yet. At the moment, I wonder why I have found so much solace on these boards. Is it an arm extended hoping to find a hint of genuine humanity in this world? Or just comfort in knowing that there are others who care about things other than real estate and designer labels. I float daily in a sea of falseness and frankly I'm tired. I remember watching this movie when it first came out thinking that I would never want to be like that, and now I found myself missing those days of abandonment and drugs. But my world has changed. It has flipped and flopped and poured out behind me -only to leave more space for what is to come.

10-03-2007, 09:40 PM
I have decided to resurrect this thread by posting not one of my own stories, but a story that was given to me for critical thoughts by a girl I know who does talent representation. Mostly she works with musicians, but she's starting up her own company and found a 21 year old writer who she's been bragging about for four or five months now. Well, after all this time she finally sent me a piece of his work... and it is quite possibly the single worst thing I have ever read. Clearly he's not illiterate, but you HAVE to read how pretentiously bad this is. It's absolutely amazing. If you can make it all the way through I'll blow you front and back. Please enjoy:

This is a story not to be shaken, stirred, strained, or poured over ice. It is served neat, at room temperature, to be sipped slowly and should not be gulped, chugged, shot, or any other measure of hastily swallowed, as it could possibly aggravate the senses, and has certainly been responsible for no less than one headache already. Several, really, if you should include (or presume for the two people you’re about to meet) further events than the last page of this account. Not that you should, just as you wouldn’t take aspirin for a hangover that you nearly had or might have. Patience might be more key than moderation where this liquor is concerned. Maybe not as much for the memory of whose feelings have been carefully fermented, distilled, and bottled in these words, but for the pleasure of your own palate that you might take an extra moment to savor both bitter and sweet aromas and even a hint of desperation near the back of the tongue; and especially love, which would normally tingle at the very tip like a thimble around your sugar receptors, though here it may be hard to place. As for guilty or even innocent pleasures, I should say read on at risk to your own sense of taste, and spare as much sympathy for the ingredients as seems fitting to you. And of course, as the saying should go, there will be flowers.

This is a story about an unusual anyman. Being unusual, he is some uncommon combination of strange, special, or particular; in any order, of course. At any age, he knows this and knows also that in anytown, where he lives now, he isn’t any more or less likely to find anything or anyone in favor of his unfortunate distinction. For try as our anyman might, he has all but just any love to give, and no one to give it to. It is but one thing that sets him apart, both from the rest and from happiness, in any case, that he cannot find within himself a desire for any girl. His desire, in fact, is only for Allison Flass.
Allison Flass, being anything but any girl, sits quietly and now in front of our anyman and not knowing nearly as well as he does, or at all, the very similarity between them. She, herself, is a unique sequence of rarities, though in a very particular order to any senses fortunate enough to behold her. Namely and foremost, her wordless beauty, rationalized first and finally by anyman in this bar at this very moment. He understands it, suddenly, as the olive between her fingers and between the color and the texture becomes every reason for her skin and for her mouth to exist. A perfect pairing. Desire among Goddesses is apparently salty, which anyman would not consider himself. Her hair is blonde, brilliant even, and brightness to a sheen as would be necessary to the first letter of her first name in guiding a disorderly alphabet through a thick fog. Perhaps most striking of all, and the first hit in proximity, her eyes: each a blue moon to the other and glistening as though it could really happen, as the coldest glacier of Iceland melting through lava rocks, filtered and re-frozen in space to be seen purely through the void of air and atmosphere. She eclipses them rarely and briefly each time and only in the danger of melting or, for more practical purposes, the presence of dirt and wind. Never does she do so at an illusory or manipulative pace, or as a prideful bow to the curtain call of some especially effective statement or reprose. No, Allison Flass is quite humble as she blinks and does so now as only necessity to a smoky room and as she opens her mouth to speak. “Are you alright? You seem a little out of sorts tonight.”
A moment is taken at once where anyman would normally reply to the effect of, “Oh, just tired,” and sitting quietly in the middle of a breakthrough, he takes it for the next and most important step in the sensual process of Allison Flass, the very sound of her voice.
A slight, constant cackle to the imperfection of her vocal chords and to the imperfection of description, a kind of raspy exfoliation of the eardrums. The thought occurs as she speaks again, “Are you sure?” that if luck is given to all then it is received most frequently and most deservedly by those who sustain a particular habit, to look perchance to find, and therein such powers of observation and particularly in Allison Flass’s voice lies appreciation. Appreciation for things light and for contrast in darkness and even for such a cocktail with anyman on an evening as boring as this one. Yes, she is decidedly half full or fully satisfied and for life as an overworked, underpaid employee of science and chance, she sings a G-note for gratitude and with an unfailing smile on her face.
She is full-bodied in spirit and a sight, they say, for spirits in full view of her body. Words consider beginning, frequently, to describe as letters abandon her curves for safer journeys and while anyman could consider merely one word at the very sight of her, voluptuous, and associate with two consonants stuck together helplessly in the middle, the very penetration implied by a small pocket of air evading tongue and tooth and then escaping narrowly through lips tightly sealed. Gorgeous, even, a word worth repeating and over again as a rubbery G bounces one into the warm bed of a soft S and slowly slips the sheets over head. Needless to say, she is a sight for more eyes than anyman has to spare, and needless moreover because of a single factor, the most uncommon thing of all, and of all the things in point of view or taste or touch, Allison Flass has no idea how perfect she is.
Of course, she takes a moment, herself, such as this one, to say something sincerely and selfless: “I just don’t want you to worry. I’ve been enjoying all this so much lately, getting to see you and spend time together just you and I. I don’t know why, but I think you always knew it, or had a feeling or something that we’d be close someday. Maybe I knew it too. You’re such an interesting person, and I just love it how well we connect.”
It is at this instant when it happens in our anyman’s head, uncontrollably: aaaah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaa. He knows not why, not yet anyway, and reveals nothing more than a slight grin and he hides it shyly behind a rocks glass and decides to finish his drink. She smiles the way she does and the shift it ripples out from the corners of her mouth and mountains are made of cheeks and the river crease flows to canyon crescent dimples and her eyebrows inherit the bend towards the north where the skin of her forehead is slightly tightened and glowing for a few seconds all over.
“It has been a long day, hasn’t it? Wait here, I’ll get you another drink,” she says.
She steps down from her chair at the round high-top table and gently swings her hair around behind her ear as she leaves our anyman alone for a moment. How special he feels right now and how a heart can grow in the absence of sunlight for the presence of rain and darkness. Nutritional distance for fondness, it seems, where the sake of fondness in this case is spoiled by our anyman, who has no absence of tolerance for angels or even a threshold for unstoppable wanting where this one is concerned. Rather, he feels content in this moment (and many others he could recall) in his unobjectioned resignation to such a life of desire in the sense he understands best, of least profitability. A small notion might even exist by a smaller thread that his wanting should be construed as a lack of gratitude for her general company, or that any excess in flattery could disrupt the fabric of her being, at least her being in this bar, and no less than the component of her modesty.
Silence will go for now in honesty’s stead and even as the painful suppression of feelings may fester in too much dampness and darkness, the sun will come up again and will come bearing at least a scotch on the rocks to give willingly, if not the pleasures of her body or the depths of her mind or the key to you-know-what.
He sees her standing patiently at the bar counter and it happens again suddenly, out loud as a chuckle through the nose and inside, again as the same aaaah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaa.
She turns to him, merciless to any soul that might have ever been good enough and lays it down, a glance, a blanket of shame to what happiness might have sufficed, or even survived, in her absence. She gives no warning and for a timeless second and for perhaps the first time at a second chance in this godforsaken anytown, where anyman could feel like slightly more than such if only Allison Flass would wink at him, at this moment she does exactly that, and leaves not a single survivor. The president’s niece would stand no better a chance than a panel of Arabian princesses at this point against Allison Flass, nor would a math teacher bikini contest at the national level be given precedent over a nosebleed seat in her affection. Not a chance, dear readers, not a chance. In truth and only partially known to our anyman, who can do nothing but laugh hysterically to himself about it all, the evening has passed a point of no return. Our dear Allison Flass, who arrived as a goddess of all things genuine and beautiful, will leave as no more than a mortal in any case. Which case, however, is a bit too much for our anyman to ponder on just one drink.
She arrives seconds later back at the table and extends her arm with scotch in hand until her elbow locks and the glass has arrived perfectly centered in view of thirsty eyes. He takes a sip as she takes a seat, wiggling back and forth a bit in her chair, starting a fire perhaps or just teasing a poor piece of wood. She glows and smiles and speaks.
“Really, so, are you dating someone right now? It’s probably completely obvious but I just miss things sometimes. You know me.”
He glowers back and sips and smiles and she continues, “I’d think it was that… oh, what’s her name again? She has red hair. I don’t remember, but she’s always looking at you in that way. I don’t know how you’d call it, it’s just that way. Like she always wants to say something very specific to you, you know, just something very intent. Very specific. Like, ‘I’ve never met anyone like you’ or ‘those are just the most fascinating socks I’ve ever seen on a person’ or something like that. You know what I mean? I think it’s really sweet and she’s pretty cute, isn’t she? She is cute, but I guess you’re very used to that, aren’t you? I always knew you were such a charmer.
Do you remember the first time we met? It was right over there probably, and you said ‘You know, I look a lot different in normal clothes,’ only you were wearing normal clothes right then and then you said ‘People say that, anyway, they say I look better in normal clothes’ and it was so cute because I had never seen you in anything else before and of course I had no idea what people you could be talking about, but whoever they were I believed them. I mean, you were looking pretty cute. I don’t know if it was your clothes, though. You’re a pretty cute guy, I think.”
Anyman responds the way he normally would and keeps the mysterious chuckle at bay by staring at her mouth and thinking of how much he enjoys hearing her speak. Then, as if to indulge, she takes a drink and speaks again.
“Are you sure you’re okay? I know you’ve been very busy lately. You just seem a little down about something. You don’t have to tell me what it is, but you know you can talk to me about anything, of course. I don’t have all the answers or anything but sometimes it just feels good to talk. Maybe that’s why I’m always in a good mood, I mean I pretty much never stop talking, do I? I just don’t know how you can stand to be around me sometimes. And, oh, that reminds me… I found that movie I wanted you to see, so if you want to come over and watch it tonight that would be cool. I don’t have to get up early or anything so we shouldn’t leave now. I think we should have a few more drinks and just have fun for a while. Then you can come over and we can watch the movie.”
He concedes to the plan and watches as she sighs thoughtfully and takes another drink. She clears her throat and ventures, “Do you think I drink too many martinis? I do. I should switch it up every now and then. I just love them so much. I think martinis are very sexy for some reason. The way it just opens up to you like a flower, the glass is so sexy too, and then you think about the gin with all those berries and spices and everything. Sometimes they use rose petals in gin, so I have to wonder if it was all on purpose, the glass being like a sexy flower and everything. It’s like sipping on some amazing nectar or something. The gin blossom had sex with some vermouth flower and made this great nectar. My lord, that is sexy, isn’t it? This is martini is getting sexier by the minute. I can’t wait for my next one all of a sudden.”
He smiles and contemplates a trip to the bar for her next round right away, but sees that she is poised to continue the thought.
“I think it’s sort of sexy the way you drink scotch, too. The way you just touch the side of it with a couple of fingers all the time, it’s very accentuative. I don’t even know if that’s a word. You seem like such a gentleman when you’re doing that. But then you take a sip and it’s just your eyes then and it’s very mysterious. Very intriguing. So slow how you enjoy it that way. It makes me think that you really enjoy sinking your teeth into things. I’d love to see you eat a steak sometime, you know I bet it drives the girls crazy.”
He smiles and nods and they laugh together for a moment.
“Yeah, we should cook something sometime. That would be a lot of fun.”
He wholeheartedly agrees with the idea and then states his mission to find her another martini and she touches his hand lightly and asks him to wait.
“… I’d really like you to tell me what’s on your mind before you go. Unless it’s really going to upset you, but I like to think I could try and make you feel better. Even a little better would be nice.”
Well, folks, you’d know it already if our anyman had remembered before now, that there is a wadded up napkin stuffed deep into his pocket and as much as anything could ever feel like a total exaggeration it might as well be literally aflame and burning the flesh right from his thigh. You see, awareness of this napkin has come suddenly enough that he finds himself squeezing his glass and with his other hand making quite a fist. The memory is clear, not even an hour previous and in the few minutes to spare while waiting for Allison Flass to arrive, he remembers, just barely, the approximate order of the words: ‘were I rich in any way, I might be distracted from being so poor in others. though I’m not, and I happen to like how much more you mean to me than money.’
Thoughts like multiball and bouncing back and forth and into each other. He thinks of the girl she had mentioned, with red hair and who looks at him so intently, and wonders if were the words on the napkin in view of her eyes would she be jealous that they had not been written for her. Would she feel a type, a comparable wanting to such romantic gestures as crumpled napkins as the way anyman desires angels and goddesses so futilely. Would she appreciate such a thing in a way, a different way, dangerous and desperate, than the polite oh-so-perfect way that Allison Flass appreciates everything? Perhaps any girl would have all along, and would understand a feeling or two, rumbling unspeakable hunger or the driest coarsest thirst as a being of perfect luscious health can not. Perhaps more than anything it makes sense, regrettably and suddenly, that drooling from the mouth is a terrible terrible insult to the famished peoples of the world. Perhaps our anyman will find the willpower to restrain himself from saying what he is indeed about to say to his lovely and dear friend Allison Flass.

10-03-2007, 09:41 PM
* * *

In the hours after the leaving the bar and in the first few minutes of lying in Allison Flass’s bed, our anyman will somehow have forgotten the laughing and the breakthrough and the deadly wink from the bar counter. He will have forgotten the words of his undoing, of her descent. He will reach, and reach again in actual control of his fingers and touch her face. Touch her face and something real under his hand. Her skin and the softest blondest sweetest little hairs and the stripes on the pillow and the cool air slipping through the window crack and the soft cotton sheets will live and breathe the warmth from her legs and her back and shoulders and make them one with their guest.
He will lie quietly, organically planted in her world and growing somehow into her, and wait at the end of each breath for the sound of new air passing unconsciously into her body as though it should be so lucky and as he imagines the muscles and the blood pumping, tightening, defining a figure as mother nature might have daydreamed. Poor thing, he thinks, and smiles for her efforts have not been in vain. Not tonight.
He will lie quietly against her and as closely as possible and very conscious of his heartbeat and breathing and what energy will be pulsating through his body and nerves like radio towers. He will hope not to wake her when he gently presses his mouth against the skin below the back of her neck. He will not be tired at the late hour as he remembers laughter and her wonderful smile and maybe even a moment or two of suspect silence between them and he will only close his eyes for the reenactment of especially savory bits and pieces or glances or the way she blinked when she saw the moon.
He will remember very little of what ways he had naively concluded that they might have shared enough in being so equivocally different as would make him worthy of her love. Oh, no. Silly silly. Very very silly. No, he will stare peacefully at the perfect shape of her shoulders and of her bones and respectfully shudder at the thought of a love as conditional as hers would surely have to be if she ever gave herself to him fully. How terrifying and terribly uncertain life would be if he could slip his hand slowly around her stomach and move his fingers delicately over and inside her belly button or if when compelled he could slide sheets back and with his mouth make short, low gravity leaps in kisses from her neck and all the way down to her toes and hitting every dune and crevice in between. An oh-so shameless existence he can see so clearly and selfishly, as if a person of any decency could keep such a glorious pattern of freckles all to themselves.
No, no, no. Our anyman will lie drunk and awake despite the exhaustion of his body and stare, for hours perhaps, and believe that four square inches of her back, to the top left and bounded by three moles, could belong only to him forever just for how intensely he will stare at it as no one has ever done before. Not possibly. The sun will rise and will illuminate (quite) tiny follicles of hair on the cusps of her shoulders as no one has ever appreciated such a thing. He will tremble and breathe and smell her hair and wonder how any person could be in love with so many pieces of a greater thing at once and feel in such a singular moment that anytown might’ve existed only for him if for a single evening.

* * *

In a buzz, a not so sober moment, our anyman thinks about the direction in which his next drink might take his feelings about certain things. To a complacent place, perhaps, a smile back, a big deal in small talk for a feeling of worth provided by a beautiful woman’s undivided attention and then what, he wonders. Back to her place for another night of good times to feel bad about? Sip sip sip, probably, and then a few more sips of courage for what renegade thoughts would con a foolish heart into buying such ideas as anyman will sell himself tonight about luck and about his own appreciation for Allison Flass. And then what, even? Enjoyment and a movie and then a sleepless obsession and perhaps a well-intentioned trip to the rooftop for a cigarette and some morning air. A view, a lean over the edge and then what kinds of thoughts? That a human body might cut through wind in freefall and fare a better chance than a cigarette butt would bounce helplessly against the side of a building several times before hitting bottom. That any man should be honored to have a marvelous, beautiful, perfect creature like Allison Flass in attendance at his funeral. That such a perk in death would be better than to live and die first in her faded memory someday. And then, the thought— the deadly thought, folks— too much for a desperate man standing on a rooftop in theory, and too fast for a scotch on the rocks at this table in this reality.
He says it out loud.
“What did you say?” she asks.
“I said this is no way to live…”
And there it is and there finally is a brand new look on the angel’s face. She blinks slowly. “… What are you talking about? I don’t know what you mean, I just said we should cook something sometime.”
It happens now as her eyes melt a thick coating down over the normal glow of her smile as it fades and our anyman finds his open hand banging against the tabletop and loud, hysterical, mechanical, wind-up laughter booming out of his mouth. His eyes are clenched shut and his head moves up and down in jolts of bursting air and he waits for a moment to breathe.
“What are you laughing about? What’s so funny?”
“It’s too much. It really is,” and his chuckles begin to fade into deep breaths.
“What is the matter with you? How much did you have to drink before I got here?”
“Really, Allison, I have to tell you, I almost forgot about this one time. It makes so much sense, I gotta tell ya. It was just a couple a months ago. I was sitting over there at the bar sorta by the corner one night. This guy was there, this guy you know. I’m sure you know him, I think his name is Harold or something. I’m not sure about that, but he was sitting there with somebody and he was telling this story about being with some girl. About having sex with some girl. He probably even used the word snatch or something, I mean I don’t know if he did, but he was just the kinda guy who would. Just silly and kind of greasy, even. Anyway he was talking about having sex with some girl and mainly just how bad it was. Like how she just laid there the whole time and didn’t make any noises and just on and on about how terrible the whole thing was. It was pretty annoying, really, and then he said something I’ll never forget and I swear he sort of looked at me a little when he said it, the son of a bitch. He started to laugh and he said, ‘You know, I thought about callin’ up old Allison just to get a good piece for a change.’ Would you believe that, Allison? Would you believe that some guy said that about you?”
Her mouth hangs open and her shoulders are now slumping below their usual point of elevation or confidence. “I don’t know anyone named Harold… and why would you tell me that anyway? Are you just trying to upset me?”
“No, it’s okay, I won’t tell anybody about you and Harold. It just killed me, it really did. It was really awful. And it shoulda tipped me off about you I guess. But I kind of blocked it out of my mind for a while is the thing. What I remember, though, about it before I blocked it out is that I was wondering what kinda things you say to people who get to have you—what you might’ve said to a guy like that before he had a good piece.”
“I don’t know why you’re talking like this but you have to stop. You have to stop right now or I’m going to leave. You’re really starting to upset me and whatever this is, it isn’t funny. You hear me? It’s not funny at all.”
“No, just listen, I have to tell you. You asked what’s so funny so I’m trying to tell you. I’m saying I had forgotten about all that, how bad it upset me and all of it, until tonight. Until you went and just ruined everything. You really ruined it all tonight. And not only that, but I have to tell you, there’s a napkin in my pocket right now that you really don’t deserve. I mean the nicest thing I could think about someone and you really don’t deserve it. It was just so funny when it happened. You said it. You sat there smiling and you said it. I have to ask you, Allison Flass, honestly who are you to say something like that? To say something like how we’ve been so close lately and I always knew we’d be close someday? I mean, really, who are you to give somebody hope like that? Like you can just stand there across the room and wink at somebody like they’ve got a chance. It’s awful, and then you talk about coming over and having drinks and having fun. Is that it? Is that what you say to guys who get to have a piece? It’s so terrible and so funny. Don’t you know that you were so wonderful because you would never do that, give a guy hope like that? Don’t you know that a guy like me could take it, just loving you and not really believing too much because it would hurt? I thought you were smart and nice and just perfect enough that I’d never start to feel good enough for you, but you really had a good time with that Harold guy, didn’t you? And I know he’s not any better than me… so what does that make you? Just fallen, I suppose. And you must think it’s okay or something that no one else can have what I want to give because you’re so amazing. It must be really nice to be some great piece of snatch one day and then go and be some black hole sucking up everybody’s love the next day. That must be something else. Well, I don’t think it’s right. I think that if I went home with you tonight you’d really have what you want most; I’d be sitting there or laying there and I’d just be wanting you more than anything I’ve ever wanted before. Isn’t that what you like? Don’t you like that I’d see all those little things and all of them would just make you that much more endearing to me? You could probably punch me in the face or show me some nasty blister on your foot and I’d just fall right in love with it, wouldn’t I? And that’s just what you like. I’m not doing it. I won’t do it. You can talk about martinis and flowers all you want, I’m not gonna fall for it. Not tonight. I’m a very unique and special person and so what if you don’t get it? Somebody will, I’ll tell you that.”
Well, folks, on such a sad day for willpower it would be difficult for any man to see the red swelling in her big blue eyes and not think of giving her a napkin in anticipation of the worst kind of flow from her tear ducts. Though whether or not she will be given any napkin of any sort, she is very much in this moment a portrait of shock and utter sadness. It can’t be said for certain, but supposing that anyone ever would like to crawl inside a martini glass, it might be right now and it might be preferred second only to smashing it over the table, though it would be a shame to waste and dispiriting to see, as something delicate shatters before the eyes. As for the eyes before her, however, being unusual as they are, to them she is a portrait of total success. It is the kind of success, of sweet satisfaction, that only a particularly unique and special person could appreciate or even see. For try as our dear Allison Flass might in this case, she knows that she will never forget and will prefer to remember, respectively, anyman and any man but ours.

Wheres the beef?
10-03-2007, 10:01 PM
.....words cannot describe the anger I am feeling right now after reading that.

10-05-2007, 12:23 PM
That was torturous. I had a hard time getting past the first sentence.

10-05-2007, 12:27 PM
Fucking chick seriously defended that story on the grounds that a lot of great writing is practically unreadable, like Ulysses. Seriously. She said that.

I hate writers, and readers, and talent reps.

10-05-2007, 12:33 PM
Who don't you hate? But I think that's why I like ya.

Anywho, there's nothing wrong with a little ambiguity or dichotomy or nuance or whatever, but that was just fucking ridiculous.

02-18-2008, 12:15 AM

I'd like to read some more.

01-27-2009, 10:54 PM
I was inspired to bump this thread . . . just cuz.

06-24-2009, 06:02 PM
Here is something I am working on:

Wait, I'm still working on it.

And hey, this thread is in the wrong forum.

03-09-2011, 05:48 PM

I was working on a treatment and remembered this thread. Let's hear from our writers out there. :pulse

03-09-2011, 06:01 PM
3 bumps within a 3 year span has resulted in one post from 2009

algunz, what would you like to hear about?

03-09-2011, 06:33 PM
I know you all have good stories.

03-09-2011, 07:39 PM
I just spent an hour reading this thread. Much respect Bunz for being so objective to 2 of the board's worse. Your pop must be proud of your gift of the written prose.

03-09-2011, 07:46 PM
someone post somethin good

03-09-2011, 07:48 PM
I'm finishing up a summary on Aztec art/aesthetics for my Anthropology of Art distance course.... and I have an essay due in two weeks which I have no yet started!! Hooray!

03-09-2011, 07:51 PM
turn in some Carlos Castaneda bullshit, call it your own.

03-10-2011, 11:22 AM
I have a short story making the rounds of some literary journals. I posted one of these in another thread, but I think I can share these things with you in here, too. The life of an aspiring writer:

Dear Timothy,

Thank you for submitting your story. We will unfortunately need to pass on this one, but we're sure that you will be able to submit it elsewhere. We hope you keep us in mind for future stories. If you'd like to resubmit, please do so in a *new email.* Otherwise, your submission will get misfiled.

The Editors

Dear Timothy Michel:

Thank you so much for submitting to our contest. We consider it an honor to read your work. Your entry was read and considered carefully.

Since the contest closed on January 3, the editorial staff have dedicated themselves to reading these contest entries closely. We've been discussing them in detail at lunch and at our weekend meetings. We were floored by the high number of powerful entries this year.

Unfortunately, your submission was not selected for final judging. We wish you the best of luck in placing "How to Be a Better Swimmer" elsewhere.

Thank you for trying us.


The Editors of American Short Fiction

Dear Timothy Michel,
Thank you for sending us “How to Be a Better Swimmer.” Unfortunately, we must pass at this time.
Best of luck placing your work elsewhere.
Tin House Editors

I'm still waiting to hear from four others. That being said, I'm working on a novel that's been enjoying much better luck than the short story.

03-10-2011, 11:26 AM
Congrats, Tim, despite your lack of success.

Why won't you post your story? I'd love to read it.

03-10-2011, 11:28 AM
Ideally, I'd like to come in here and say, "Hey everybody, here is a link to my story on Blah Blah Magazine! You can order issues of the magazine too!"

03-10-2011, 11:32 AM
Here's a short story I wrote a couple years ago when I was taking a fiction writing class.

“There was much wine, an ignored tension, and a feeling of things coming that you could not prevent happening. Under the wine I lost the disgusted feeling and was happy. It seemed they were all such nice people.” –Hemingway.

I had been laying contentedly on my back with my hands clasped behind my head for two hours, meditating upon the intricate images that lay hidden within the white washed stucco walls of my dorm room, when the phone rang. I was so absorbed in the nothingness of my day that it took three rings before I was able to sit up and crawl over to answer it.

“Jena , is four o clock in the afternoon too early to start drinking?” Ben never used hellos or how-are-you’s?, opting rather to get straight to the point. Which was understandable; his voice was perpetually strained from excess of Marlboro Reds and yelling vulgarities. I thought about his proposition, rubbing the bottoms of my bare feet along the stubbled carpet.

“It seems like a pretty logical way to get things going.” I answered, in the most deliberately monotonous voice I could muster. There was a moment of silence, and then the dial tone. Ben knocked on my door five minutes later. His eyes were bloodshot, face unshaven, broad shoulders sagging downward, pitted in a suspended sigh.

“You look like shit.” He thrust a half-empty box of Coors Light into my arms. “They’re warm.” I took out two and put the rest in my roomate’s black mini-fridge. It was covered with magnets of kittens and three-by-five pictures of glossy-lipped long-haired girls posing in front of starry nights and palm tree back-drops. We popped open the cans; the beer dripped hot and sticky down my throat, but I held back a gag. Ben’s head was titled backwards, his Adam’s apple throbbing up and down to a silent, satiable rhythm. When he finished, he crushed his can and finally took a seat in my desk chair. I remained standing, letting the can hang loosely in my grip, swiveling it around with my pinkie waving in the air, just to piss him off.

“Delectable quality. Fine hops!” I said, throwing my chin up in the air. He shook his head and pursed his lips.

“Don’t be a cunt. You’ve been waiting your whole life for something as good as this to come along.” He opened the fridge and grabbed another. “You love it.” I gulped down the rest of mine and sat on the floor, cross-legged. I could feel my pores start to melt, and the back of my neck began an anticipatory twitch. I rubbed my tongue along my teeth, hard, feeling along the crevices and pressing deep into the incisors.

I took another for myself; they were colder now. Undistinguishable chatter drifted in through the windows, prompting Ben to press the side of his face against the glass. We sat in our respective positions, silently sipping away the minutes. There was really nothing much to be said.

I had met Ben in the dining quarters on campus two weeks prior. I was meandering through the din of those bright eyed and eager to begin their journey of higher education when I saw him in a corner booth, slumped over two cups of coffee. I could feel his eyes burn into me when I eased in, and I kept my gaze downward, focusing on the milk sashaying through my Cheerio’s. The silence between us was palpable, and a smirk crept over my face when I finally brought my eyes level to his. I gave him a small shrug as I pulled a joint from my left pocket, twirling it around in my fingers like a baton.

Since our first breakfast encounter we had spent the mornings locked in the dormitory bathroom with coffee and orange juice, engaging in a very ritualized procession of running hot water, blowing smoke out the window, and spraying my roomate’s Cherry Rose Blossom Hairspray in circular motions. It was the best, really, the only way to prepare ourselves for what Ben liked to refer to solely as “the agony.” I was a little more forgiving for the scene, but as the days trickled by I began to find myself more and more dismayed by the quixotic expectations of my youth for “the time of my life” that so many had promised. That was when it all became a joke. Morning joints were soon accompanied by class-time cocktails and early afternoon romps throughout campus, intentional mockeries of everyone and everything that came our way. We became infatuated with the ecstasy of the mind, and the pursuit proved to be more exhilarating than the outcome.

Five in, and just past five-o clock, Ben reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone—shooting me the look: that subtle indication of the eye meaning nothing and everything. The night was going to be invigorating. I scrambled to my feet, and walked over to the mirror, grabbing a comb off the desk to run through my natty hair. The corner of my eyes were still covered in crust—as I wiped it away I could see my lips, upturned in anticipation, in the reflection of my dilated pupils.

“Grant’s picking us up in half-an-hour,” Ben said, also standing up to stretch.

“The Grant Baley?” I gushed.

“Yup. Meet me out at the loop in twenty, and take a shower for fuck’s sake.” With that, he crushed his can and threw it across the room. It bounced off of the door and teetered for a moment on the side of the recycle bin before clamoring in. He laughed as he left, and as he padded his way down the hall I heard the mucus come up to his throat, gargling his amusement with scratchy, violent undertones.

I stood in the shower with my mouth open, letting the water hit my teeth and spray back out. I turned up the heat, so that my chest began to blaze red, my pores twitching in agitation, until my eyes burned deep. I turned, so that my back could experience it as well. My mind went completely blank, and I stared at the highways of lines between the tile floor, following them to the wall, and then up, until my head was titled so far back that the hot water went up my noise and I began to choke.

I was late, of course, and Ben glared at me as I jogged toward the bench he sat upon. He took a dramatic swig out of a metal flask, turning his head in the other direction, and I kicked his foot three times until he looked back at me and offered a drink. The gin stung at my throat, and I shook my head vigorously, conjuring up enough saliva to help me ease it down.

Until that moment, I had known Grant Baley only in the mythical tales told in the early hours of the morning, down at the dock where we were often exiled to on account of the “excessive raucousness and disturbance of the peace”, as one official document accused. Before me, Ben had met Grant outside the hostel downtown, where he had spent a few days trying to get accustomed to the area before moving in to school. Grant had allegedly tracked a girl six blocks down the main strip to the location, intent upon sealing a kiss, when he reached the hostel and bummed a cigarette off Ben. Upon the introduction, Grant decided that the only way Ben could really “feel the spirit” of the town would be a bike tour. Since neither of the two owned a bike, Grant thought it perfectly acceptable to try and slice his way through the coil-lock of a pink-basketed beach cruiser that was, conveniently, parked right outside the front door of the hostel. Ben’s recollection was, I assume, deliberately blurry on this point, so I don’t know exactly what transpired, only that “the encounter with the bitch” (the very same that had led Grant there in the first place!) ended with no bike, and one bruised ego. From that day on, Grant was hell-bent on showing Ben a thoroughly arousing time, which basically involved a four-day long stint at the town’s finest resort under the name “Titoni.” Grant was, I had been told, a member of one of the most distinctive families in the area, an ex semi-pro tennis player and high school QB star, who, at age 11 was profiled in the local newspaper as a prodigal poet, but, due to this reason or that, had been spending the last two years living in a trailer outside of his parent’s mansion, studying to pass the bar.

A silver BMW sped around the corner, screeching to a halt in front of us. Ben nodded his head and we stood. I crawled into the backseat and Ben into the front. “Well Hello, Hello, Hello!” Grant turned and flashed me a smile, pulling his sunglasses down his nose so that I could see his vibrant green eyes. I laughed, and Ben punched Grant in the arm.

“Been a long time. What’s the pleasure?” Ben took another giant swig and threw the flask back to me.

“Don’t you know it? Tonight, you are cordially invited to my house-warming party. You won’t believe the set up I’ve got going. Bitches, appetizers, champagne, music! You’ve never seen anything like it before.” He threw his head back to the left, and opened his mouth, uttering a piercing laugh as he accelerated out of the parking lot. Ben chuckled and lit a cigarette. After exchanging introductions and how-do-you do’s about ten minutes down the road, close to the heart of town, Grant abruptly pulled into a gas-station. “Refreshments!” he yelled with glee. He punched Ben on the arm, winking at me. “Give me fourty so I can sustain you, you under-aged fuck,” Ben groaned and grumbled but eventually pulled out his wallet.

As we entered the store, I kept my eyes up and my chin level, trying to put a sophisticated pout on my lips as I perused the refrigerated section with the boys. Ben gave me a berating side glance, so I wandered over to the magazine booth and picked up a World News Weekly.

J. Howzit, of North Carolina, 33 years old, finally emerged from his mother’s womb last Tuesday morning. His first steps were a bit shakey, but he soon gained some confidence in his stride, eye-witnesses report. Martha Howzit, the mother, had passed in her sleep, and the restrictive strong-hold she had kept over her uterus for all these years finally subsided, allowing her ninth child to free himself and join the rest of the family. “Momma just didn’t like to see us grow up, she would always cry when we went off and got jobs or husbands” quotes Sue-Elle, Martha’s fourth. “She just decided to keep J with her no matter what, and there wasn’t no stopping it.” The family doctor, Earle Hinket, assured reporters that J had a healthy and nutritious diet his whole life, as Martha was a strict follower of the food-pyramid. “I will miss Mama, but I’m excited to see the world!” J told the crowd gathered outside the family’s trailer.

Ben tapped me on my shoulder, and I trailed him back to the car. “SILVER BULLET!” yelled Grant, as he opened his trunk. “Ain’t she a beaute, sweetheart?” He asked me, patting the side of his car as Ben loaded in the three thirty packs.

“Nice,” was all my tongue could push forth, which made everyone laugh for a moment as we entered the car. Grant turned on the stereo and Lou Reed’s voice sailed out, twitching my foot and bopping my head along playfully, as I watched the trees whiz by. Just a block away from the downtown strip, we pulled up in front of a white-flat, with glass doors and a wooden framed futon on the small porch-step.

Grant ran out of the car and up the steps. “Come in and welcome, my honored guests!” He shouted, waving his arms around his head. He looked small and forceful, like a young prince beckoning to his subjects. His cheeks glowed with a healthy hue of pink, and I could see the outline of his ribs through his white tee shirt. Ben popped open the trunk, and took one final gulp out of his flask. “Are you going to help us out here, princess?” he seethed.

“Don’t be a jerk,” I shoved him lightly and grabbed one of the boxes. The weight got me before I could counter-balance, and I stumbled a few steps. I could hear Ben shake his head woefully behind me. Excepting a built-in bar, a fire-place, one white leather couch, and one brown suede love seat, Grant’s palace was bare. There was a set of stairs leading up to a loft-area, and I could see red satin sheets and at least twelve pillows strewn about.

“They’re shipping the rest of the decor from India” he told me, taking the box from my hands. He threw his head back and laughed again, squinting his eyes and tossing me a beer. I settled into the love-seat and felt the refreshing tingle of carbonation dance across my tongue. Ben squatted next to the fire-place and lit up a cigarette, flicking the ash onto the hard-wood floor.

We spent an hour or two shooting the shit and playing Indian Poker, listening to Grant’s theories on the developing societal decline and lack of mores and trust that he saw plaguing the youth. My head began to spin as I studied Grant, his face blurring before my eyes. I never seen a face so youthful with a countenance so distorted. I got up to go get some water from the kitchen.

“Grant you sack of shit,” I heard Ben say after a distinctive noise of aluminum hitting skin. I stuck my head under the sink faucet and felt the icy water bite my tongue before it slithered down my throat. Grant jumped up from his seat and took two giant leaps towards me. “Jessica!” he screamed, “How dare you drink that poison! I thought we were good friends.” I spun my head toward him and stared, driblets of water trickling down my chin. Ben was bent over laughing in the corner. I sighed and opened the fridge to take another beer.

“Grant, what the fuck is this doing in here?” I pulled out a ziplock of white powder, the only item in the fridge besides the two remaining packs. Grant leaped in the air, clapping his hands together. “YES! I knew I hid it somewhere. Here we go!” he shouted, snatching it from my hand. “MEDICINE!” He did a little dance, shuffling his hips around. Ben hurried over to the bar, where Grant was cutting it up into three long lines. “Runner, Runner, Runner!” Grant exclaimed, creating a three sided square so that we could all hit at once. I moaned under my breath, and let out an uninterested sigh, cracking open my beer and retreating back toward the sink.

“Don’t be a little bitch. This is a house-warming party for our best friend!” Ben shot me a seductive smile. I put my beer down and walked over, punching him in the arm.

“To life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness!” Pat proclaimed. We did a little hurrah and snorted. I could feel the inside of my lip start to quiver and the muscles at the base of my neck tighten. We took our beers and went back to the couches. “Now we are alive and ready to face the day!” Grant said, rubbing his hands together. “Oh, yeah?” asked Ben, gulping his beer down. “Then lets do it, lets get the fuck out of here and go get some action going. I got the fire.”

I shrugged my shoulders and stood up, chugging the rest of my beer. I could feel the fire breathing down my spine, trying to burst out of my heart and dance off with the cool night breeze that floated in through the open door. “Where to?”

“To the Roadhouse! We’re gonna have a reeeeal a-good time!” Grant sang out. He did his hip-shuffle again and headed out the door. I stared at Ben, bewildered, but he bounded after Grant with determination. I trotted toward the two, who were already at the corner of the street, lighting up. “Hey guys, am I just going to walk in? There’s no way I can just walk in, just like that. They’ll know. I can try to bullshit but I just don’t think I look even close to legal.” I spit out the words faster than I could process them, and Grant put his arm around me, with a grin. “The world is your oyster, sweetheart!”

As we approached the Roadhouse, my nose started to sweat. I looked down at my fingernails; dirt was caked in them deep. Then I puked behind a tree. The wind cooled my burning throat, and my head began to float away. I could feel my teeth begin to disintegrate—little chalky pieces filled my mouth. I could see Grant and Ben, already inside, cheersing with two perky blondes. I couldn’t even fathom trying to talk my way into a place I already knew would suck me dry, so I walked back in the other direction. A few blocks down from Grant’s, I stumbled across the old railroad tracks. A man and his dog were sleeping beneath the dimly lit waiting area. The air was still and stoic, pregnant with a past that I knew only in the drifting moments before sleep, when I saw my grandmother’s eyes flicker gently between soft wrinkled skin. I lit my last joint and walked across the tracks, feeling the grooves where metal met sand. I sat on the platform and let my legs hang loose over the side, bumping the backs of my heels against the concrete. I could hear the ocean, the slow beat of waves crashing, diligently and silently consuming the land.

I walked back at a leisurely stroll, and from a distance I could see ember sparks floating up in the sky. Smoke started to drift my way, and through the haze I could see two shadowy images dancing and shouting slurred obscenities—it was as if they were conducting a tribal ritual to honor the Gods of Chaos. Grant was waving an arm-length piece of wood around like a torch, squealing, “Life, Lubery, and the Prude Fascists!” while Ben threw empty cans onto the flaming mattress. The wood burned fine, but the thickness of the fabric seemed only to sting the air with a pungent smoke. Ben looked over at me—his eyes, maniacal, reflecting the reddish glow of the flames. He began to howl, “Ooooowaooooooooo!!!! Oooooowaaaoooooo!!!!” until Grant harmonized with, “Aaiiiiiyeeeeeeyah! Aaiiiiyeeeeeyah!” They danced around, convulsing with laughter, their eyes crying from all the smoke. I rummaged through a neighbor’s yard and found a garden hose, spraying first the couch and then the lunatics. Ben threw a can at me, and called me a cunt, Grant shook his whole body off like an excited puppy. “Only in the morning!” He yelped, bounding up the steps and inside.

Ben promptly passed out when we went in, mumbling incoherencies as he lay his body on the white leather couch. I found Grant slumped on the ground with his head on his knees behind the bar. He looked at me, wistfully, and rose to his feet. I helped him up the stairs and into his giant satin bed. He rummaged around and pulled out a bottle of Merlot from under the mattress. “You’re beautiful,” He whispered to me. “I’ve been thinking about all you night, Jane.” I sat down on the edge of the bed, took the bottle and brought it to my lips; it tasted like blood, dripping down to warm the cavern of my belly. He lay back on the pillows and reached out, beckoning me to come in for a kiss, and falling asleep with his arm still in the air. I fingered a piece of the satin sheet between my fingers, rolling it through my thumb, and swishing the wine between the gaps in my teeth.


A cold, clammy hand fell across my face, and I woke with a start, muscles tensed and eyes widened. “Who are you?” I breathed, cautiously. The hand slid off of my face, and the body next to mine rolled over onto its side. “I am a piece of art,” he mumbled, “a dirty rotten piece of art.”

03-10-2011, 10:23 PM
that was a nice read.

03-19-2011, 08:16 AM
a strict follower of the food-pyramid

08-28-2011, 09:34 PM

08-28-2011, 10:14 PM
School starting soon means it will be time for more papers! Should I not post an unfinished paper just in case of the slightest chance of plagiarism? It would be handy if anyone with an interest in the subject would like to review any of my essays. I'm really hoping on getting a solid average this year so I'm going to try and finish it with enough time for multiple edits.

08-30-2011, 04:18 PM
This is a poem I wrote years ago for a girl who broke my heart.

She was a terrible terrible lady.

Anne and I in May
Lay at each others feet
Upside down in the grass
Beneath the shadow
Of the chapel
On the hill
Where we wed.
It was a cemetery
But now a holy lush field
We sink into
With wet flowers in our mouths
butterflies in our stomachs
And pollen in our eyes
A florescent ying yang on fire with spring
Together forever
At last
In our grave
At the foot of our hill.

Terrible lady.

08-30-2011, 04:30 PM
Chapter 1: The Morning After
Cynthia woke up in a hot pink polyester dress, on a cold marble floor with a throbbing headache. The sun was beaming in through the tall, arched windows creating a large patch of light on the floor just beneath her feet that was beginning to slowly rise up her toes. She sat up and immediately the pounding in her head began to intensify, then the sunlight reached its way to her pale face. She squinted with discomfort and used her hands to slide herself back towards the wall of the grand staircase to find comfort in the dissipating darkness, she looked to her right and spotted a pair of neon orange wayfarer style sunglasses and quickly grabbed them and put them on just as the sunlight reached her face again.
Cynthia Parsons was a current resident at 1 Garrison Ave., a 12 bedroom mansion situated on the outskirts of the very desolate town of Dyer, Nevada. She had been living there for approximately 7 months as one of the owner's assistants, the house archivist, and just recently attained the responsibility of sous chef. She was an attractive young woman in her early 20's, tall and thin with blonde hair that ended abruptly half-way down her neck. She loved her job very much and in her mind her daily tasks seemed more like enjoyable hobbies that allowed her to live a luxurious and exciting lifestyle rather than a tedious career.
She looked around at the extremely messy house and then down at her bright yellow digital watch, it was only 8:34am meaning she had plenty of time before she had to be to the kitchen to help make breakfast. She lifted herself off of the hard floor and walked over to the giant front door, she bent down and picked up her matching hot pink heels and neon green clutch bag, the night before had been the monthly 80's Flashback party and her boss had ordered her the perfect outfit. She turned right and walked through the formal dining room towards two large red curtains, opened them up and entered the kitchen. The kitchen looked even worse than the foyer, there were broken champagne glasses in the sink and beer cans strewn all over the floor. Cynthia walked over to one of the oversized cabinets her feet sticking to the marble surface with every step, she grabbed a glass from the cabinet and poured herself a generous amount of water from the refrigerator's water purifier. She exited the kitchen and walked up the grand staircase holding her purse under her arm, her glass of water in her right hand and her high heels in her left hand. She reached the top of the staircase, made a sharp right turn down the North hallway, sat her heels down on the ground and entered the second door on the left only to find that Marisolle and Edward, two of the guests from the previous night, were asleep in her bed. "Shit!" she whispered, she slowly re-entered the hallway, and sat on the ground. Cynthia opened her neon green purse and grabbed her cell phone, she dialed a number and was quickly met with a response "This is 1 Garrison Ave. security how can I assist you?" said a man with a gruff voice "Hey Harv, its Cynthia do you know what time they had the guests scheduled to be picked up?"
Harvey was a stocky man in his late 50's and head of security at the mansion, him and Cynthia had gotten along really well since they met and she thought of him as sort of an uncle figure. "Cynthia! you sound like shit haha I heard the party was great, they actually called in an extension last night to have them stay until after breakfast. Why? What's up?" Harvey asked enthusiastically.
"Fuuuuck, because two of them are sleeping in my bed and I passed out in the foyer last night and got 3 hours of sleep tops." Cynthia said "Oh well there's nothing you can do about it, I'll probably just go pass out in Tony's room for a little until I have to make breakfast. Are you coming to breakfast?" "Unfortunately no" said Harvey "They have me installing the new security cameras in the garden today and I have to get out of here by three to be able to get to my doctor's appointment in the city at four" "Is everything ok?" asked Cynthia with genuine concern "Yeah everything is fine its just a routine check up, I'm not going anywhere anytime soon" said Harvey jokingly "Haha alright well good. Hey, I'll stop by your office and bring you some breakfast after I'm done cleaning the kitchen" said Cynthia "That would be great, thanks" Harvey said "I've got to go I'll see you later" "Bye" said Cynthia. Cynthia went back into her bedroom and quietly gathered the things she needed to get ready without disturbing Marisolle and Edward then she abandoned her occupied room and walked back towards the grand staircase and took a right down the West Hallway. She walked to the end of the hallway took a right and went up a flight of dark wood stairs, she started to move faster down the hallway in anticipation of sleep and finally reached the end of the hallway and Tony's bedroom. She knocked on the door "Its Cynthia, can I come in?" she asked and then walked in without waiting for a response "What?" asked Tony half asleep from under the sheets "Can I sleep with you for a little bit? Marisolle and Edward commandeered my room" Cynthia asked. Tony sat up in bed, he was shirtless and his hair was messy, he looked at Cynthia with his squinting eyes "Of course just take a fucking shower first I can smell you from here" Tony was not a morning person at all and Cynthia knew this so instead of retaliating she just nodded her head and walked over to Tony's bathroom, shut the door and started the shower. She unzipped her hot pink dress and let it fall to the ground revealing her black bra and thong which contrasted her milky white skin in the mirror as it began to fog up. She sat on the toilet for a minute as the shower heated up, closed her eyes and massaged her head to relieve the remainder of her headache. After her shower she put a on a clean white bra and boy shorts, brushed her teeth and crawled into bed with Tony "Sorry for being a dick I'm just so fucking tired" Tony mumbled "Don't apologize, love ya bitch. goodnight" said Cynthia "Love ya, night" Tony mumbled back. Tony was one of the mansions main bartenders and on Thursdays was the dealer for the weekly poker tournament. He was a very handsome guy in his mid 20s with short brown hair and a constant 5 o'clock shadow. When Cynthia first moved into the house she had a strong attraction towards Tony that he persistently ignored for the first week of her residency until he revealed that he was, in fact, a homosexual. This surprised and dismayed Cynthia at first but she would never admit it to Tony. Platonic was all their relationship would ever be and Cynthia had come to accept and even appreciate that fact.
Chapter 2:
Marisolle was a beautiful young woman, not the stereotypical kind of beautiful but she was none the less a stunning piece of artwork. She was very tall and thin with big brown eyes that were framed by her high arched eye brows and protruding cheek bones, she was half hispanic and half caucasian which set her skin tone at a perfect tan that appeared lighter than it truly was because of the contrasting color of her jet black hair. She grew up in the small village of Virden, New Mexico in

to be continued...

08-30-2011, 04:35 PM
You had me until Nevada.

08-30-2011, 04:43 PM
: /

08-30-2011, 04:51 PM
Sorry. I don't know what the fuck I was saying. I read it all.

You had me hooked for real. Here's the thing, and you have to trust me, I'm not one of the punctuation nazis, but your punctuations are getting in the way of your story. There are also a couple of extra uneeded words in your sentences as well. There's also some parts that are either forced or made up badly.

Regardless of all the crap I just said, I enjoyed it. Also take into consideration that I repeated the 12th grade 3 times. Albunz is your true go to person for feedback. I do read alot though.

08-30-2011, 04:56 PM
Sorry. I don't know what the fuck I was saying. I read it all.

You had me hooked for real. Here's the thing, and you have to trust me, I'm not one of the punctuation nazis, but your punctuations are getting in the way of your story. There are also a couple of extra uneeded words in your sentences as well. There's also some parts that are either forced or made up badly.

Regardless of all the crap I just said, I enjoyed it. Also take into consideration that I repeated the 12th grade 3 times. Albunz is your true go to person for feedback. I do read alot though.

thanks for the feedback, seriously. It definitely needs some revisions, just kind of had an idea and ran with it. But it really helps to get some advice.

08-30-2011, 04:58 PM
I really did enjoy it.

08-30-2011, 05:00 PM
What parts did you or didn't like? Just curious.

08-30-2011, 05:03 PM
Re-write this with only the best and most necessary stuff and put it in half the sentences without so many ands, buts, and alsos. It's on the way however keep practicing. If you have any questions I'll try and answer them.

08-30-2011, 05:12 PM
Here is a short essay I wrote a few days ago:

TV Commercial

These three doctors stand over the operating table. One of them stitches up the wound, finishes, and then he turns to each doctor, saying, “Doctor,” and shaking their gloved, bloody hand. Each doctor reciprocates with a “Doctor,” and a handshake, so that each doctor has recognized each other doctor. The man on the operating table sits up, his stitched chest smeared with blood, and he shakes each doctor’s hand, saying, “Doctor,” nodding and smiling. And the doctors shakes his hand (the patient) and call him “Doctor,” as well!

08-30-2011, 05:28 PM
I like yours a bunch. I like what it's about.

Commercial TV

Three doctors stand over the operating table. Doctor One stitches up the wound and turns to each doctor saying “Doctor" and shakes their blood gloved hand. Each doctor reciprocates with “Doctor" and handshakes each doctor so doctors all recognized. The patient lays stitch blood chest shakes each doctor’s hand says “Doctor Doctor Doctor" smiling all four doctors shake hands.

08-30-2011, 05:43 PM
Good work, gentlemen.

I really like the poem.

The short story draws you in, but obviously there's no clear direction. You've opened up a lot of avenues though so I'm intrigued.

The "doctor" bit reminds me of that Chevy Chase movie. :pulse

08-30-2011, 06:03 PM
I was thinking of taking into the direction of these people that live in this mansion and throw these extravagant parties and stuff but are cut off from the real world but they become so comfortable they kind of forget about reality and how Cynthia (the main character) slowly gets dragged into this but then kind of realizes what she is being sucked into. A little bit sinister but I'm going to make it so you kind of don't know what is going on just subtle clues and stuff and then everything just blows up around 3/4 to the end and its like oh fuck I need to get the fuck out of here. haha idk

08-30-2011, 06:04 PM
Sounds like The Eagles song.

That's not a bad thing, at least not IMO.

08-30-2011, 06:07 PM
I didn't even think of that, thats so true though haha

08-30-2011, 06:07 PM
I'm going to make it so you kind of don't know what is going on just subtle clues and stuff and then everything just blows up around 3/4 to the end and its like oh fuck I need to get the fuck out of here. haha idk

I would not read more than 1/10 without everything blowing up.

08-30-2011, 06:09 PM
hmm well we will see I will try to keep it interesting.

08-30-2011, 06:10 PM
I would not read more than 1/10 without everything blowing up.

You should have written scripts for CHiPs.

08-30-2011, 06:10 PM
I'm not trying to come off as a dick. I'm just making a literary point.

08-30-2011, 06:12 PM
CHiPs? I know your not being facetious.

08-30-2011, 06:14 PM
Well, back up your criticism. Is it the grammar or the lack of character development?

Remember, it's the beginning of a long process.

08-30-2011, 06:14 PM
CHiPs? I know your not being facetious.

08-30-2011, 06:16 PM
Well, back up your criticism. Is it the grammar or the lack of character development?

Remember, it's the beginning of a long process.

Both. And a long process it is.

08-30-2011, 06:24 PM
How can you comment on the character development when it is barely started. I think I did a pretty good job of creating interesting characters in a short amount of time. I mean at least enough to make you interested in them, right?

08-30-2011, 06:27 PM
Yes, but they are a bit cliche. Maybe a few details that break them out of the "crowd?"

08-30-2011, 06:32 PM
I don't remember the characters after my second read. All I remember was you telling me about your characters and what they did and said and such.

08-30-2011, 06:34 PM
agreed, I will write some more the next couple days. Thanks for the input guys.

08-30-2011, 06:41 PM
She was an attractive young woman in her early 20's, tall and thin with blonde hair that ended abruptly half-way down her neck.

You see I like this topic here. I would read this.

Instead of telling me that she is blonde and young let him recognize her blonde ambition in the story.

Most everyone has the same few problems.

08-30-2011, 06:45 PM
I like being descriptive but there are parts where I feel like I'm overwriting

08-30-2011, 06:57 PM
Being descriptive is very good but you want to use that to paint a picture or rather a moving picture. Action moves a story. What the characters do and say should explain everything. if you want to describe a door the character must open it first. Everything has to be relevant.

08-30-2011, 07:31 PM
Be careful about getting too caught in creating a moving picture though. You're not writing a script, at least not yet.

08-30-2011, 07:52 PM
Just came back from dinner. The Bunz is on it.