Category Archives: Fiction


I awoke to a strange and trembling new terrain about me,
Popping with the white-hot glare of a sandblasting heat,
And an enormity that flashed in all directions in my ears,
But the most strange and trembling part of it all,
Was that I had awoken fully awake, and standing.

The last thing I remember was drinking coolly of the murk
Of a dark and deep cave, grimy with the silt of the ages.
A small black cavecat skittered right across my pass,
And hovered a moment, head backturned to study me,
Eyes all aglow and flaming as a falling sun set behind.

And the sharp and angled shadows that had followed me,
Fell into grey and blurred figures of dissimilarity, so that
I could tell no longer the fine details in the cracked rock,
Or the floating speckles in the water, and soon my hand
Was gone from the end of my arm, as was the nose from my face.

It could have only have been a couple of seconds,
And then again it seemed that I lived several lifetimes,
And perhaps I was awake for it all, or maybe I slept.
But what affronted my eyes when I snapped awake,
Was a terrible and nightmarish sight like I had never seen.

A procession of swimming, blubbering, insectoid larvae,
Each shiny in its beetle’s shell, its legs instead discs of cool flame,
Pushed along like smooth caterpillars with hard organs,
Following an invisible river, a path cut deep into the ground.
But they appeared to overtake each other like minnows.

Indeed, they swam as in a school, lined up in neat trembling rows,
Like the paired segments of the carnivorous desert bandiwurm,
Old myths, but I have seen them in my traversing the far off dunes.
And this travel had become a frightening one, everything disjointed,
An unforgiving apathy of all the interconnectedness around them.

The shimmering, glassy foreheads of each of these monsters
Housed demons, eyes piercing into me with a truth that I couldn’t know.
Almost hairless, and quivering with sadness and turmoil and paranoia.
They stepped into and out of their host creatures as they pleased,
And were garbed in the most fantastic and peculiar of ways.

Looking down to shield my eyes from the glare of the sun,
I noticed that I was wearing a coat of flat animal’s skin,
Green and brown and black and the soft color of wet stone.
Like a pressed reptilian leatherskin padded with foliage,
But it had not the weight nor the texture of such a makings.

As my eyes adjusted to the day I noticed two things;
Those singularly beautiful and indescribable clothes,
(With the nagging wonder as to the point of their origin),
And the cold. For despite that incandescent ball of day,
A biting chill explored my extremities and slowed my blood.

I lifted my hand from my eyes, cautious against my surroundings,
And took a hard, squinting look from beneath the stabbing shadow
At the forms and figures that passed this way and that.
Many wore dark cloth, and carried taut packages at their sides.
Most of them hurried as if to a hunt, but walked in a straight line.

They reminded me of the familial people of my home,
In the land of the craggy caves and crooked rocks.
For protruding from the ground were hills and mountains,
But I saw that they were sheer as if crafted by these demons.
And many had pointed juts that cut into a familiar sky.

Towering, shimmering immensity, they must have housed giants,
And I thought that they would awaken from their shapely
Cocoons and make with their attack at any moment.
And the one largest before me had a cavernous carved opening,
As if its inhabitant had recently emerged and bounded away.

As dusk fell, the earlier secret eyes of the swimming bugbeasts,
Awoke into yellow flame against the rainy snow and erupted with a crackle.
I fell to sit against flat stone and held myself warmly, awake with fear.
Images and colors I had scarcely seen, shot me like lightning bolt arrows,
Whenever I flickered my eyes, trying to sense an imminent attack.

As my breathing calmed, I stood once more, and my blood stirred from it.
It didn’t look like I was in any of harm’s way, and no longer panicked.
But I kept my wary guard and balanced evenly on the balls of my feet.
I looked to the sky directly above me, and saw the stars shyly emerge.
Hidden behind a murky veil, I struggled toward them to see.

The clouds had grown here, presuming this was at all like my home,
To encompass a sky once lively with wood and leaf and birdlife.
Never before but on the mountains and plains had such a sky been seen,
Presented and obscured at the same time by the contempt of the wind,
And the temperamental spirits that control its destiny over climes.

Far on the horizon, my sharp eyes cut through the sheer rock faces
To witness a pink and dying sunset, hidden by a veil of rainless rain clouds.
The wind sprites had long abandoned their posts here, or perhaps,
Had never graced this land with their benevolent dance of balance,
Instead leaving only these demons, and I thought at once that I was in hell.

Had I died in that cave, and gone to the dark place for my final trial?
Perhaps the legends had been wrong about our gods and demons,
And this ‘other-world’ was all that had been real, for it was too real.
Had I been alive, I wondered, in that cave I had known since my youth,
Which was the dream, and was this some god or wizard’s intervention?

As if in answer, the vertical hills and mountains filled with sorcerer’s light,
And the dead leafless trees themselves lit in defiance of the moonless night.
Luminescent as the day must be in hell where no sun can survive,
I rubbed my hands together to bring life to my crackling digits and joints,
And tried to ignore the jungle-roar of my neglected and long-famished belly.

Though I dare not move from my post, as any good hunter has learned,
I thought it best to acquaint myself with this alien terrain and peoples,
If anything to better prepare myself to survive this new life, or afterlife.
In no direction was a path home to be seen, and I tasted an acrid copper
Smell in the air, heralding a burning death that permeated this place.

I had passed a dozen eyes before I realized that these were no demons,
But passive, cold humans, each aimed directly towards their destiny,
That little beyond the ebb and flow of the invisible river could hinder.
They had in them the warm blood of life, though I had no way of knowing,
If perhaps this was some trickery, or still the suitable case of being in death.

And that’s when I saw a young human, timid and weak for survival,
Who averted his eyes from mine, his elder, and challenged no one.
He pulled himself back into his skins and cloths, and sneezed.
I reached out to him in a moment for information, for simple guidance.
He reeled when my fingers curled around his arm, and as they did…

…I had this dream last night that I was back in high school,
And that was also Strategic Air Command for some reason,
And that for some reason we were located in a box canyon,
And that a deadly sandstorm was barreling down to kill us all.
And so I went to find my old high school girlfriend (how lame),
And couldn’t see over the tumultuous panicking crowds,
And each of the escape pods in the plastic tubes jettisoned,
And so I made my way towards the center of the school,
And retrieved my jet pack from its locker in shop class.
And as the flesh-searing sands stormed closer, I was off.
And I searched and I searched for my lost sweetheart,
And just when I thought that I saw her amongst the throng,
And the deadly tearing particles of dust inched ever closer,
And her eyes finally met mine…

I lost control of the nonsensical vision, of the stalwart spirits between us.
A highly confusing affair, the information seeped into the crevices of my brain.
I lost grasp of the man, the parasite for whom these angels of night suckled.
He walked faster past and away from me, and I fell full onto my front,
And tasted the cold stony air of the hard canyon that grew above me.

I had read his dreams, like the old ones of my people were learned to do,
As I, my father’s son, would have been taught to do, had it not been for–

I firmed myself, convinced that these demon people were as real as I,
This place simply their fantastic village, as in stories told by my well-traveled uncle
And fully accepted that I was trapped in a world of evil gods, or the dead.
I approached a woman of this massive opal-smooth chasm of echoes,
Hoping her matronly ways and instincts would convince her to help me.

As I spoke and stumbled, she moved away, perhaps afraid of my kind?
With a start, she was gone, and my vision darted, suspiciously grasping.
Could it be that these demons were afraid of a man, a man such as I?
Is it possible that I was brought here against their will, not in accordance?
Had I power over their monstrosities? Would I battle their highest king?

Paul Harvey News and Comment brought to you by Natural Gas! It’s totally natural

“Hello, America. This is Paul Harvey. Stand by for news! You’ve heard the news, in a moment you’re going to hear… more news. But first… the news.

Today’s news of most lasting sssignificance may be this: Now, new strategy in the Middle East: Most world leaders say no to peace in the Middle East. Psychic Selma Hayek was very critical, not sunflower oil. So says Islamic Extremist Iman O’Doderincoot. Iman has never once forgotten an anniversary. The President of these United States of America and also Missouri addressed the Congress of these United States of America and also Missouri today in a tirade that the press are calling the “State of the Union!” address, to compel them to approve another sixteeeen billion dollars in military spending? He said: There is no way… no way… no way Hezbollah’s missiles will ev-er be de-stroyed… no way. We are fighting a war that cannot be won. Cannot be won? And Congress approved his bidget without any unanimity or carousal. Wal*Mart em-ploy-ees could still veto.

It’s true. Just like your local True Value Hardware Store. When you let a True Value Hardware Store into your commercially zoned district then you’re making less room for drug-addled moms and pops peddling their ill wares. Ill! Why, with new advancements in technology, scientists are predicting that a local True Value Hardware Store could protect you from the oncoming super-hyper-mega-global-superstorm. And it’s gonna be big, too! Support your local True Value Hardware Store, the only Hardware Store that guarantees not… not to kidnap your daughter, and you’ll know you couldn’t have a better neighbor.

Numismatists will be displayed at the Denver World Fair, teeeeen nineteen-thirty-three gold double-eagle standards be-yond price, but by that date only Chicago will be above water.

This scientific development may be of the utmost crucial significance to our modern world since the first sssssslicing of bread back in 1492. Scientists, scientists have discovered the fossils of born-again robots on the moon, each resplendent with cap-sules for Ocular Nutrition and Health! Don’t believe me? Of course you do. I’m Paul fucking Harvey.

Anybody in Detroit who has been pointing laser beams at the airplanes, don’t do that. It’s not nice and several pilots have complained.

Donald Raaaaaay Bizbeeee sent bomb threats and anthrax to the FBI with his full name and return address. Donald Ray Bizbee was married yester-day to Alabama, page two. How many ninety-six-year-old college radio stations do you know with a blue-belt in karate? I know of one. Caroline Eggplant keeps her virgin bones pure with ssssssscitrical. Citrical hides its neuropeptides behind fudge, and caramel, and butter! Virgina Cootch says that the pain in her knees has only gotten worse. The horr-or. The unbearable horr-or.

She’s spunky! Yes, she’s spunky! When faced at knifepoint by grown men pretending to be cowboys, Deuteronomous Jones grabbed a carving knife four-teeeen inches long, and in her best Austral-i-an accent intoned the words, “You call that a knife? This is a knife.” That story… may or may not… be true?

Look, ma. On top of the world.

College Newspapers across America and also Missouri are printing editorial comment on noted actor Jeff Goldblum. But (chuckles) the youngsters say it’s not all their fault. (serious) It came to them in a dream..

A woman in Mesa, Arizona shot dead in the street seven times in the chest and her lifeless body ravaged by necrophiles who have already killed eleven. Was it or not… fould play? Go on to the website and tell us your story about a stand-strong woman you know.

Walgreens has more than seventeen-thousand drive-thrus! Now you can get your drugs even faster in this secure system. The makers expect to fill.. the… sky… with them. Two more reasons PauL Harvey won’t confess to murder.

And now. For what it’s worth: We’re standing around dying, to chant our feeble litanies, to think sweet thoughts, to do good deeds, the altar lights grow pale and dim, the bells hang silent in the tower- so passes with the dying hymn our little hour. We cannot remain indecisive and scorekeeping, our founding fathers denies us that ethical asylum by elbowing smallpox blankets and chiggers.. chiggers! Aglow with luminary up and down the discovery of the West across the shores and continents in nineteen-forty-eight for your Bose-wave radio. Small-town full-time policemen going by their first name and American self-righteousness: and nothing is right or wrong but thinking makes it so, and (chuckles) I don’t know, but I think we’re right. Praiseworthy weapons in silos of hope have made us what we are today, a trial by fire, not made of sugar-candy. And we grew prosperous. Yes, we greased our toenails with the sweat of slaves in 98% of all cases. They do not believe what I have just told you. But what I have just cited is true, and everybody knows it. Everybody but the United Nations, the Offices of Judicious International Immigration Revue, tomato-plants and even foreign fire crews at the National Academy of Sciences. And at the edge of this genocidal nation-state, a while butterfly flies overhead rows and rows of stallions, and snap-peas and Agalinis purpure, purple foxgloves… under scrutiny of the Federal Food and Drug Administration… for soon friends, maybe we can answer that age old question of what is right? Well, friends, right is just left going the… other… direction?…

Paul Harvey. Good day?

Chiquita Shares


Once upon a time there was a tiny island upon the land of which lived a tiny race of tiny people, whom where known as… “The Japanese.” Long ago there had been a tiny war with their embittered rival… “The America.” America, a great, expansive, faraway land, was a proud nation with great talk shows and chicken wings of great fire. They waged a great war with great bombs until a great peace treaty was signed. And it was all pretty great.
Over many years, the Japanese and the American economies fused into one amorphic symbiotic entity, an increasingly indistinguishable mixture in some sort of pot… with melting in it. I don’t know if you know where I’m going with that or not. The culture gap, thusly, was blurred as growing children of each nation were raised on the cartoons of the other. Leaders and speakers from each land slurred their languages together into one. And so it was, that Japan and America became… “Jamericorp.” A company dedicated to liberty, harmony, and low, low prices on all brand name items. Any vestige of former government was abandoned, forgotten for this new enterprise.
Soon after this abrupt and poorly crafted plot point was put into effect, the Japanese scientists renowned for developing square watermelons were contracted by Chiquita. Their project was top secret, the utmost in national security. In fact… I don’t think I should really be telling you this… hmmm… don’t know if I can trust you to… weeeell… hokay, you got an honest face. As it so happened, they were trying to create a single banana, independent of the rest of its bunch, large enough to feed a family of eighteen. (Ed: That’s how large the average Jamericorp family is. Yeah.) And they succeeded. And Chiquita shares went up forty points, giving them a total of… forty points.
But the Japanese scientists soon became very bored, as they are wont to do. They hypo-theorized: if this was all it took to feed a family of eighteen, then why not a family of twenty-seven, the age that Kurt Cobain died at? Or why not a small African village? Hell, why not even a moderately-sized African village? Why not Detroit? You know those scientists. They are all about the charity and stuff. So they developed a meta-banana, immense as a skyscraper and at least 20-60% tastier. (Ed: This does not include some of your well-known tastier towers such as the Coit Tower or that one in Pisa.) And they succeeded. Chiquita shares went up one hundred more points.
However, the scientists noticed that their meta-bananas, lacking meta-refrigeration, were becoming rotten shortly past their prototype phase, and that some of the larger and more meta of the bunch didn’t even make it past R&D. And so the scientists genetically altered the makeup of the banana’s DNA even further, endowing it with impenetrable peel and allowing the sweet and juicy innards to stay sweet… and juicy, rendering the banana invincible, as it were. (Ed: ‘As it were’? Shouldn’t it be ‘as they were’ or ‘as it was’? Whatever.) And they succeeded in doing so, and Chiquita shares went up one hundred and seventy points.
Again, they became very bored. They had exhausted all practical and ideal developments for the banana. So much so, in fact, that now these bananas could not even be opened to be eaten. Not only could they not be eaten, they couldn’t even be consumed. So they gave the bananas an artificial intelligence comparable to Nintendogs or Albert Gore. This banana would ripen on command and peel itself. And they succeeded, and as they did so, Chiquita shares went up ninety points.
But one fateful night, something went frightfully wrong. As the scientists slept in their tiny beds, Prototype Banana-43 awoke and, crashing through the minimally secured compound walls, (this is Japan, after all), headed the ludicrously crowded city of Tokyo. That’s right. Tokyo.
Kimi Fukishawa was the first to see the giant banana, and the first to meet her fruity fate. Standing atop her apartment building on the outskirts of town, smoking a cigarette, her eyes widened as they took in the monster, shaking off its debris. She let loose a horrendous scream, slightly out of sync with her lips. Her husband raced upstairs, but he was too late. All he found was trail of wreckage blocks wide, fiery carnage spewing from gas mains, and both his wife and half of his roof missing.
In the following days, madness ensued. The weak Japanese army and cheaply made American weapons were no match for the impregnable peel of the beast. Tanks toppled like Matchbox toys, and bodies smeared against the pavement resounding with terror! The death count reached into the millions, rose even higher, as the property damage counted in the million-billions! I’m not great at math, but I can assure you, that’s a fucking lot!
Screaming and running from what reporters and analysts had dubbed ‘Bananazilla,’ the masses were soon crushed under the enraged stem of deranged lunacy. Having utterly crushed Japan’s center of commerce, its economy inadvertently destroyed, and subsequently, America entering its worst Depression since the cancellation of TV’s Jeopardy!, Bananazilla retired to the Oceanic depths, waiting to strike again in a fervor of tyranny! Jamericorp ceased to be! The scientists, in their final moments, had decried their folly in playing God, and were now also dead. The remaining Japanese hid underground surviving on regimented diets of sewer-sushi and Li-Chi, millions of Americans with nothing to eat at all but mayonnaise, confused and wandering their emptied cities. Luxembourg became the world’s leading superpower. Didn’t see that one coming, didja?
There was no recovering, and there was no respite, for at any given place and at any given time, Bananazilla, scourge of humanity and developed civilization, could and would strike again. Wreaking havoc neatly and constantly striking fear into the already chilled souls of every man, woman, and tender child, each quaked, as they knew they were still at risk. The beast… hungered. It delighted only in darkness and the bringing of great nations to its knees, removing their proverbial jugular veins in a fit of willful and impassioned fury, when least suspected. It was, and still is out there somewhere, the embodiment of all that rings evil.
And Chiquita shares went down five hundred points…


“Graffiti is beautiful, like a brick in the face of a cop.”

-Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

Professor Ducard had discovered the secrets of time travel. They lie not in some convoluted device powered by highly radioactive and unstable elements, nor by reciprocating magnetic fields, nor by hypnotic regression or aliens or astral travel. The much sought after method of breaking the fourth dimensional wall, so to speak, was found in art.

A well-respected curator, restoration conservator, and avid collector, the good Professor was quick to discover that paintings, with little to no magical impetus, would transport the viewer to the millennia and decade they depicted. And in no metaphorical sense, either, as countless unwitting museum patrons were sadly killed in unexpected Inquisitions, dropped into pits of hellish fire, bitten in the genitals by snakes, mauled by dragons before saintly knights could even react, or found nude and fallen down fractured abstract staircases.

Ducard’s gallery was a tourist trap in more ways than one, and as such, had to be shut down. The French government, for the first time since before its last socially important revolution, found itself censoring an entire gallery of art. Many scholars agreed that it was a great loss to both the worlds of physics and art history, though few agreed what censorship, if ever, was justifiable, and fewer still claimed that France should have been censoring its pretentious art decades ago.

The Professor himself was hardly missed, however, when he went missing in some dark part of the museum one weekend, perhaps drowned in one of any number of Tempests. He was survived by a loving wife, three fully-grown children, and a cadre of art restoration fan-girls/girlfriends, of which there were two.

But this story truly takes place after the paintings were separated by retailers and oceans, and the gallery itself destroyed in a rather poetically justifiable widespread fire, of which I will not comment, other than to say that both physicists and artists would agree on its beauty.

One such painting, Cave, an obscure artist’s reference of an archaic time, was sent to modern day  Chicago, where it still resides. Though it was assumed by the buyer to have lost all ‘magical’ properties with its separation from its gallery collection, and the aforementioned loss of said gallery, it was chanced upon one night by Ex-Cop turned Security Guard Ermine Hester.

Officer Hester, no longer bound for glory-filled days on the street, busting junkies’ heads against sidewalks as his only artistic endeavor, (and Pollock-approved, at that), now had a beat of three wings and a foyer to walk. Though the occasional kicking-on of the air-conditioner would sometimes spring him into paranoid frenzies of attention, gun wavering with nerves and experience, most of his time was spent at his post in the foyer, reading cheap True Crime novels and Detective Fiction, depicting little difference between the two. At the bottom of each hour, he would interrupt such endeavors to stand creakily from his metal chair, stretch his body, yawn widely, and brandish a club for a nighttime prowl.

There was not much to do, as there weren’t many people with the common decency to try and burglarize a collection of priceless art. Probably because, if True Crime tells us anything, ‘priceless’ means ‘immobile’ on the black market. In fact, in his Security Firm job, just as in his former law-enforcement days, Officer Hester had but the occasional distraction of loitering vagrants and graffiti artists about the building to threaten.

Time took its effect on Hester, and employees and even patrons were heard to refer to him as ‘Festerin’ Hester.’ Senility, though not entirely taking hold, was able to grapple effectively with Ermine. The building wasn’t particularly big, so he was the only security guard necessary, and yet was still seen calling for backup on the walkie-talkie he’d insisted on carrying. The curators feared, in the back of their minds, the day when Ermine too his zeal a little too far, and broke open the skull of some hapless spray can hooligan.

Ermine Hester didn’t have much of a background in art, Jim Davis notwithstanding, and as such, defined art as ‘that which resides inside the building inside a frame’ and graffiti as ‘everything else.’ The definition constituted fine as far as the owners were concerned, and Ermine did his job.

Half-crazy as he was, though, it certainly didn’t bother Officer Hester much when he walked into the wing of the museum dedicated to realism in art, and discovered Cave. He may have squinted at it for a second, perhaps even rubbed his eyes a bit, as he walked back and forth to notice the vantage point within the painting changing with his movements. Not a painting at all in fact, he assumed, but an open window to some hitherto unknown outdoor portion of the museum. When it was constructed, Hester thought, he couldn’t remember.

It was daylight according to this portal, and Officer Hester couldn’t recall missing that amount of time that had transpired between seeing it was clearly night at his initial post, and daylight here. Perhaps this was some newly installed modern art piece, or a fancy door that led to another gallery room that was only well-lit enough to look to be outside. Perhaps again, he thought, this was just a shining example of what those longhairs could do with a horsehair brush and plenty of paints. They never cease to amaze.

Ermine took a solitary fingertip and, wary of the damage his oily hands may cause, carefully tried to brush the canvas, only to discover that there was none. With as much trepidation as somebody expecting a window when there wasn’t one, and as much surprise as somebody who quickly discovered a glass pane where they hadn’t expected one, he put his entire hand to the painting’s surface.

Clearly, it was no painting. He couldn’t remember if this had been here yesterday or not, but then again, Ermine couldn’t even recall what paintings were directly behind him in that very room. So, assured now of its integral structure to the building, and as such, his duty to patrol it, he stepped through the hole.

On the other side of that wall lie no other room such as he had ever seen, but a lush forest surrounding the entrance to a cave hallway. Surely, the strangest museum exhibit since Mapplethorpe. Well, perhaps not that bad.

So he continued along, so transfixed, that he didn’t look back behind him to mark his progress. If he had, he would have seen that there was no longer a wall holding a frame, but simply a floating portal that had presented to primitive people quite a spectacle over the years.

In fact, just an hour earlier, Took (a coincidental primitive ancestor of French Enlightenment thinker Alex De Tocqueville), had stopped by to see ‘what was on.’ But he was sadly disappointed to see it hadn’t appeared yet, and made a mental note to stop by later.


Years ago, ancient French tribal people had seen a single brushstroke appear in midair. It startled much of the womenfolk, and several of the men tried to kill it. The children were the only ones in awe of its beauty from the very start. Slowly, however, in a gauche-like haze, a man appeared set in a rectangular backdrop of Mahogany and various instruments. That bespectacled  and hairless biped on the other side smiled and waved at these cave-denizens. They screamed and hollered back, and he suddenly disappeared, much faster as he had appeared, and this upset the indigenous people much more. Especially Took, who was a child himself at the time. Over the years, the painting would appear, containing a happy little man who taught them various artistic endeavors, such as constructing their own brushes and paints, and how to depict what you see in your environment.

Where the concept originally came from remains a mystery of poor writing.

Took took to the art form from the beginning, and impressed even that anachronistic teacher with his ingenious ability to incorporate design flaws in the slate tablets as part of his overall composition. Soon after, cave walls were filled with men, with animals, with symbolic gesture drawings with perhaps even no meaning at all. The expressionists had their competition.

Tribal spirals and herds of animals, the first fast food menu, if you will, adorned much of their dwellings. It was something to do, when you weren’t worried about survival or reproduction, which sadly consumed much of the cave people’s time, or else they may have gotten into such abstract concepts as shading, backgrounds, and the philosophical importance of social archetypes. But for now, wild beasts roaming freely floating one on top of the other would have to suffice.

Whether he had fulfilled some fated cyclical need, or was simply speeding up a process that would have commenced without him, the beloved art teacher vanished, and the backdrop changed. The primevals watched as the rectangle showed them moving pictures, different faces, and views beyond their ability to comprehend.

Equally frustratingly unaware was Ermine Hester, as he infuriatingly shook with rage at the blatant disregard for public property, for modern established law, and just downright decency! He tried to rub off some of the icons from the stone walls, but only a few were fresh enough to vanish on his sleeve.

Suddenly, he heard a skittering behind him, and grabbed his club, another unnecessary device he warranted for his nightly use. Didn’t seem so stupid now, did it, as several greasy, nubby madmen appeared out of the darkness, hair matted down into their faces, eyes glowing animalistic through and darting about. They finally fixed upon Ermine, and he gathered enough courage to flail about erratically.

His club was designed to prevent the breakage of skulls.

Theirs, (though hardly designed much at all so much as simply found), weren’t.


New classes have begun and I am already banging my head against the keyboard, hoping against hope that my random head trauma will spell out something intelligible. Hey, look at that! It’s like that time I was chatting with somebody, I fell asleep, and coincidentally typed, ‘zzzzzzzzzz.’

I’m taking Filmmaking again, in fact I am on a ten-minute break from that class, a much needed one at that, and I really hope this turns around because I do not want my most interesting class this quarter to be Economics. Which, ironically, seems like its going to be pretty fun.

I had an idea for a short story, as well as a sort of hypochondriac character who may or may not be the MAIN character. Here is a short character bio.

“I had asked her out again, in the typical way, and she asked back what was wrong with me, so I started a mental inventory. I have two left heels. Not two left feet, just two left heels. It doesn’t really make a big difference when I walk, it’s just something that’s wrong with me. My incisors are a little too sharp, and I’m missing one of my wisdom teeth. It never came in. I had the other three removed, as per doctor’s orders, but that fourth just never came, and the dentist is at a loss to explain it. Still missing in action, or as I prefer to see it, AWOL. My cuticles are backwards. I can’t extend or distend my right arm the same as the left. There is a small chip in the bone of my left scapula. I sniff my nose after every three-hundred and forty-second word. I blink unnecessarily. I may have cancer, not one of the major ones, and not anywhere important, so I can’t really complain, but someplace, some time. Cancer. I can’t have pets to save my life, or preferably, to save theirs. I’ve never won a fight, but I’ve never lost an argument. I’m ambidextrous, but a nun in Catholic school beat the left-handedness out of me, so it lies in wait like a sleeping Dragon. I can’t quit a job. I’ve only had one and the fact that I haven’t been able to quit or get fired from it no matter how I tried goes to show that while some people can’t keep a job, I am afflicted otherwise. It just isn’t fair. I’m terribly employable, and it’s going to waste. I’m pretty good with words, having learned most of them, I’m just not good at using them together to form coherent sentences when I verbalize. Also, I flake. But I think what she was really referring to was the fact that I’m not good with women.”

This is based on a dear friend of mine, whom happily, is far away from me right now.

the Ethics of Nature

Betrayed. That is what has happened to that last awesome marauding warrior. Betrayed by the dirt which he has used for centuries to bring forth yams, to pack the floors of his huts where his children play, to draw maps and designs of future building sites, and finally, to paint his face before a mightily anticipated battle. A battle that he will never see. As he slides slowly with each desperate but eerily patient struggle, deeper and deeper into the dirt, he realizes too late that had he stayed at home and sat this battle out, all of his men would have survived. Now they are all already below him in the quicksand, and the opposing army alive, well, and probably feeling pretty lousy right now at having been stood up.
Betrayed by the same dirt upon which rests the stones in a circle that represent the tribunal of authority in his tribe. At which the discourse of philosophy and law is made. Battles of words fought every day to expand not their musculature but their minds. Battles that, had they been content in their state of affairs, would be continuing today and tomorrow and the next day. Had the conversations not led to the eventual and current waging of war on surrounding territories for their land and power, had the conversation instead headed towards yams, then the warriors and their fearless suffocating leader would be enjoying a delicious yam feast right now.
Their children would play in the dirt, kicking it up, and later sit around a campfire and listen to a dirty old man covered in dirt regale them with stories and dirty jokes about their dirty pasts and dirt-enriched origins. They would later use the dirt to put out that same campfire. Down the dirt path would come a young man, dirt covering his skin to keep the flies from biting, returning from some philosophical voyage and not a warring one. They would play dirty tricks and say dirty words and eat dirty rice.
Surprised most of all by this strange turn of events however, is the Dirt itself.


The Dirt, taken upon wings by an old friend, the Wind, then planned to discuss the matter further with the other natural members.
ìWind,î he did outcry, ìtake me to the top of that mountain. So that I may speak with the Snow and Ice and Sleet, our estranged cousins.î
ìThey are no strangers to me,î replied the Wind, ìfor there is no element of nature that exists that does not accompany the Wind.î
ìBraggart!î the Dirt did tease his brother, ìstop this foolishness then, and if you think so well of yourself and wish to prove it unto others, then by actions and not words bring me quickly to the other members of our natural family, for I have many things to discuss and not all of eternity to get it done in.î
ìQuit your playfulness,î the Wind answered, ìfor I am several million years your senior and there is nothing that you could explain to me so patronizingly that I do not already know. Besides, there is nothing which needs to be discussed with anyone so quickly that there are not several epochs that it may take to get around to it.î He stopped to revise himself. ìFor it is said that a butterfly on one side of the planet may someday cause an earthquake or a tidal wave on the other. It is said that, with patience, a dove with his wing may wear down the tallest mountains. How else does a tiger eat an elephant, dear cousin, but bite by bite?î
The Dirt, impatient as hell, shot back, ìAh, but you do blow from the swelter of desert, my brother. Have you seen my dearest twin, the Sand? What news from the dunes and newly built pyramids?î
ìTalk to me not of those pyramids!î The Wind blustered angrily, ìFor they are not of a natural order! The abominations should be damned to the sea or else consumed by fire!î
ìBut brother, are they not made of stone and sand? Is it not the same if not near-same materials which comprise our friend the mountains?î
ìTeasing is something that I have learned to accept as a matter of course from you, ignorant child, but if you resort to blasphemy, then–î
ìNot at all, friend. In fact, the problem at hand with the flourishing human population is but of one of the many matters that I need to discuss with our brethren.î
Stilled suddenly, the Wind pondered this predicament. Would he be seen as implicated in the trouble that surely Dirt was going to stir? Surely, the Wind thought, it would be fleeting as the problem of man itself was sure to be. And surely, the Wind thought, it would provide some much needed howls of laughter, something that the Wind had been bereft of for quite some time.
ìI consent to your request,î the Wind said, picking up a little as he rose with Dirt in tow, ìand additionally, I will take you to see our other many friends and relatives so that you may discuss whatever blasphemies you have to discuss.î
ìBlasphemies are for people, as people believe in things and punish those with subversive proclamations. Retribution is a human thing.î
ìAh, sweet brother,î the Wind cooed, ìYou will soon see that retribution is universal to all things. However, you are correct that elements of nature do not punish one another for subversive thoughts. At the very least, though, you will make a fool of yourself and quite possibly myself as your accomplice. But I shanít argue, and weíll see which of our brethren dare to. Surely, only a fool takes up a foolís argument.î
The journey was not as long as Dirt would have expected. The Wind, though full of himself, was quite accurate on his claims to the ability to travel almost anyplace instantaneously. For Dirt, who travels at a wormís pace from shore to inland and through the air, this was a well-deserved treat.
At the top of the mountain, congregating randomly and so fast that they all became one, were those insidious sisters Snow and Ice and Sleet.
ìHow dare you come this way!î Shot the Ice, turning a cold shoulder to the Dirt and Wind. Dirt believed at first that she was addressing him, but it became apparent that Wind was the deviant she spoke to when he replied.
ìDear sisters, I have not come to harm you. I am not here to spread you senseless, nor is this a social visit. My friend here, whom you have not seen for a very long time, foolishly brings forth questions of a philosophical nature. Allow me to reintroduce the Dirt.î
ìMy, how handsome. And dry!î Shrieked the Sleet.
ìSomebody cold to cuddle up to on those warm nights.î Cooed the Snow, softly.
ìI think he needs a bath.î Dissented the Ice.
ìSpeaking of your mother,î interrupted the Dirt, for the first time, ìhow far are we from the ocean?î
ìNot far,î replied the Snow, ìyou can see it from these heights.î
Sure enough, off in the distance, a tidal wave was consuming an island nation off the coast. Though there was no love lost between these three sisters and their mother, who with the Wind had cast them up there, they still enjoyed the laughter wrought on by her carnage.
ìIt is good to see others feel the brunt of motherís insanity for a change.î The Ice said, bitingly.
ìI only wish we would get more humans up here.î The Sleet hissed, ìIt just isnít fair. Very rarely is it that we get a chance to freeze any foolish travelers.î
ìI donít know,î the Snow whispered, ìI sort of like the humans.î
ìShut up!î the other two shouted, blowing harshly.
ìIt is just that matter which we wish to discuss with you, however.î the Dirt piped in.
ìReally? Shall we discuss the best way in which to kill a human? Shall we discuss the proper length for keeping them alive? Perhaps the fun of watching them ever-so-slowly decomposing in such cold climates? Why, did you know, up above at the very peak of this mountain, we can keep a human body indefinitely? Isnít that fun?î
ìNo!î The Dirt churned inside. ìI am here to discuss with you the very ethics of such murder!î
The sisters settled down. The Wind, embarrassed, stopped moving. Even the Snow, who was mostly silent, fell a little.
ìWhat was that?î spoke a grating voice from below and above and around them all.
ìWho is that?î cried the Dirt.
ìIt is I, the mountain upon whom you pose such silly conferences. I am the Stone Elder.î
ìI apologize for disturbing you, sir,î stirred the Dirt, ìbut it is of most grave consequence to the benefit of this planet, and to my very own conscience. Hopefully, it shall be for us all.î
ìA conference, you request then, amongst all the elements?î
ìIt is, sir.î
The Stone was silent for a moment. His many stratum contemplating this.
ìWind, do you follow in this Dirtís way of thinking?î
ìHa, ha. My, no, Stony-baby. I thought it would be a lark if I tagged along and rode this one out. Besides, how else was the Dirt going to get a ride out here? Besides on the soles of a humanís shoes, which, aside from complicating the situation, would take quite a long time, as these sisters did say.î
ìYes. Very well. I, too, shall humor this idiot. But if there is to be a conference, (and if I am to be disturbed for it), may we not gather all the elements together? I want them all to share with me in this lunacy.î
ìHow delightfully stubborn of you, dear Stone.î The Wind said, howling with laughter.
ìDonít dare to bring Fire up here!î Shrieked the Sleet.
ìNor our mother!î the Snow gently spoke.
ìNonsense! We must find some neutral ground, where it is befitting for Fire, Water, Snow, and Dirt. Wind, make it so.î
And thus the wind began to shoot about in several directions. He began to spin around and around the mountain until he was a gigantic tornado, whipping the nearby sea about like confetti, dissipating the Waterís tidal waves and grabbing her attention. The Fire, who was meanwhile burning a small village in the jungle, put itself out long enough to get its ash over to the foot of the mountain.
The tornado, more violent now, lifted the mountain up and placed it closer to the beach and the jungle, making a sort of neutral ground, and a sort of courtroom for these elements to confer within. The Wind, though part of the conference within the boundaries of the tornado, kept it going as a sort of barrier, keeping humans and all other life out for this meeting.

The water, it was known well within the group, was quite guilty of crimes against humanity. Not a few centuries prior, it seemed, a great flood had overtaken the Earth, and destroyed most life. At varying intervals, the water had eradicated certain island nations, and an entire continent that the humans called ëAtlantis.í
Fire, a quiet fizzle in the background of the group, could be accused of having been in league with man in many situations. As man learned to cook, as he murdered the families of other men, as he kept himself alive each winter against the Snow and Ice and Sleet. Fire, for this and other reasons, kept his distance from those sisters, as well as all watery elements. And though a good distance from the Wind and Dirt that could easily put out a healthy Fire, it managed to stay within the inner circle of the groupís conversation, as wind has been known to help and not hinder the spread of wildfire.
It was also known, to Dirt and to the others, that Fire was one of the biggest accomplices to the genocide of man. Entire countries and forested areas burned by Fire and volcanic ash. Individuals roasted alive in social protest, and innocent domesticated fires gone insanely out of control. Fire, it could be said, was the fun-loving guy at every party that wants to be your friend, but if you mess with him in a bad way, youíre asking to be burnt.

ìWhat is the meaning of this?î Said the Water, splashing ashore creating a high tide against the mountain.
ìShut up, you.î The Stone Elder rumbled. ìThis is the Dirtís doing, I will let him begin. I shall preside over this meeting, and attempt to guide it, to gird you more untamable elements. Dirt?î
ìYes, ahem, thank you.î the Dirt rasped a little, checked himself, then began. ìAs you all know, the problem of man presents us with quite a little question. We may see it as a threat that has to be ended. As he nets the fish from the Waterís oceans. As he tames the Fire for his own ends. I, perhaps, have the most reason to complain, for I am trod upon every day.î
ìYeah, tell ëem!î Fire cackled.
ìHowever,î the Dirt continued, ìI have adopted the stand that man is of no real threat, as we are not fragile beings, certainly not as fragile as man, and should thus forth let him be. Or at the very least, go easy on him.î
ìMan is a virus!î Shot out the Sleet.
After a moment, the Dirt prodded her, ìDefend your position or else keep it silent.î
The Wind said, ìThough I do not agree with the Dirt, I must say that it is better to stay silent and appear the fool than to speak up and remove all doubt.î Though this had the appearance of having been directed at the Sleet, a little westward blow, of course, let the Dirt know that he was not free from a foolís guilt.
ìThis is nonsense!î waves of Water crashed as she spoke, ìThere will come a day when man will deplete the fish of my oceans so much, and pollute my inlets, to the point where nothing can be replenished. There will be a day when I rain upon the Earth as acid, and the Wind shall blow nothing but smoke.î
ìFurther nonsense!î the Ice cut in. ìThis entire conversation is a silly waste of time. Man will kill, we will kill. Who cares? We are immortals, are we not?î
ìHa!î Said the Fire from the back, ìWas there not a time when this planet was yours, Ice? Did not itís entire surface belong to you? Now it is your motherís, or else it is the Stone and Dirtís.î
ìAnd yet I remain. My point is not that we can diminish, but that we are natural forces that should have no part in this ëman problem.í Dirt, if you do not like being trod upon, or if you do like it for some other masochistic reason, that is your problem. Do not concern us with it.î
ìIf your argument is to leave man alone, then why not do it?î The Dirt pointed out. ìWas it not you who spoke earlier of the fun you had murdering such small creatures?î
ìHad they been elephants, Iíd be no more or less entertained.î The Ice said slyly.
ìNot my point.î Replied the Dirt.
ìNow, daughter,î the Water put in, ìyou know there are no elephants who would go to cold climates anymore.î
ìYes, and whose fault is that?î The Sleet defended her sister.
ìShut up! Elephants are not the point!î The Dirt composed himself, ìThe reason we are here is to determine if it is right to murder man, or if it is better to let him be! You all know my stance, now the floor is open for debate!î
There was no reply.
ìCome now, who will debate me?î
Still no reply.
ìAm I to take this as an agreement that man is to be no longer touched, or a protest against these debates as a ëwaste of time?íî
ìWhy does this trouble you so?î Asked the Stone Elder, after a moment. ìWhat claims have you to the patronage of man?î
ìAh,î put in the Wind, quite sarcastically, ìthe heart of the matter.î
There was a murmur amongst those present.
ìWell, in a way,î the Dirt began humbly, ìWith our transient and presently silent cousin the Lightning, I am responsible for the life on this planet. As a bog mind you. As Clay and Mud, not Dirt, was I molded into the forms of life. With Lightning and electricity and the randomness of the universe for spirit did part of me go into these creatures. The single-celled organisms which became both plants and animals.î He was really stirring now, ìShould I not be proud of my greatest offspring?! Should I not see to the protection of the most advanced carbon life-forms this planet has known?! Am I not the under-credited father of man?!î
The Water chimed in at this point, ìHow can you claim to be the father of man, when you yourself said that only as Mud, and not Dirt, was this deed accomplished? If you are the father of man, and I am not purporting that you are, but let us suppose that you are, then I am the mother of life, part of you and part of I and all of us part of each other. Are the creatures themselves not largely comprised of Water?î
ìSpeak not of motherly love, hypocrite! How many have you drowned? How many infants have died at your hands? How many crops have you destroyed? More, if not the same amount, as those successful rains for the fields? Tell them also, of the unholy unions in which you and I murdered men and women in the jungle. Tell them how you made me a murderous weapon at your disposal, to sadistically sink humans into the ground and suffocate.î
ìDust to dust, dear Dirt.î the Water did reply, ìOur unholy union has resulted in unholy offspring. Another unholy union could easily eradicate such vermin! Do they not empty my waters of fish? Do they not pollute me and stop me up as beavers do, but for not such a benevolent purpose? Is it not on my churning surface that men wage wars and kill each other, tinting me red with rage and ignorance?î
ìAnd besides,î the Fire cut in, ìman can be said to have evolved the way he did as a result of the harsh external stimuli he has faced. Heís better off for it!î
The Dirt, now himself clouded with rage, was cut off from fumes by his traveling partner, the Wind.
ìIgnore his seething stupidity, dear cousins,î the Wind put in, ìThe Dirt has no doubt been persuaded by the idiot legends of such humans with religions. While most of them, if not all of them, worship the sun and the rivers as partial deities, they all dedicate full-time worship to the myth that a God of some omnipotent power fashioned man from Clay and Dirt. That woman resulted from that first man, who resulted from the Dirt.î
ìAre you telling us,î cackled the Fire, ìthat our little son has come to believe in a human God?î
The Stone Elder, however, did not laugh. He sat wondering deeper questions than those immediately brought to his attention.
ìVery well,î he said, ìif no consent can be reached among us elemental forms, let it be argued no further. For I have devised a way to convict man that surely cannot be rebuked by Dirt or any other defendant. As there is no fair jury here, it seems, we shall have to question some of manís victims, so that we gain a broader range of his menace.î
It was then that the kangaroo courtroom, the tornado that housed all these elements, lifted and dropped in a teeming pool of life somewhere. The Wind settled his outer wall, so as not to destroy the animals they hoped to question, as well as to dissipate the barrier between them.
However, when questioned, the animals responded almost unanimously with apathy and nonchalance. The predators did not want to appear hypocritical, as they ate of other animals. The herbivores, of course, did not want to appear hypocritical, as they ate of living creatures as well, the plants, that cannot even run or employ a fight or flight response.
In short, the animals did not mind the competition. For when asked about manís unfair advantage of weapon-making abilities, many if not all carnivores replied by saying that manís mind was the equivalent to a lionís claws or the sharkís teeth. A man, they reasoned, is not particularly fast or strong or even thick of hide like an elephant. As such, what sort of fair play would it be if a man did not have a mind to make weapons? A man, alone in the wild without his mind, could simply stand with trimmed fingernails and huddle into a fetal position, waiting to die.
When told of future events, of extinction and domestications and pollution, animals still did not waver in their positions.
ìIt is the way of things,î they all would say, ìthat certain species die out and others remain. Like the dinosaurs, the elephants and whales and man himself will wane and die out.î
Rabbits, cows, chickens, and other future food supplies for man, when told of the horrors in slaughterhouses that their members faced, would not waver. ìWhy not get fatted and flourish in numbers, even if it is to die for another species? Is that not what we do now when the summers are good? The purpose of each species, if it does not go extinct, is to multiply in numbers and provide food for another so that it may do the same. That is the way of things. If it is done painfully in the wild or in a slaughterhouse should not matter. The pain of death is something that we all must have to endure, be it at the claws of a lion as we die slowly and bleed to death and are eaten alive, or if our beaks are cut off by hot knives and our writhing, living bodies are thrown into scalding waters and breaded. Dust to dust.î

Having not gotten the answers that they wanted, the elements then implored upon the plants to see the horrors that man would soon wreak upon the land.
Surely the plants would be the greatest offended! As certain species of plants are moved about the globe, one new species strangling the other. As weeds from Europe take over trees in South America. As the glorious rain forests are razed to the ground to make room for cattle. As hypocritical vegetarians who refuse to eat living animal meat cruelly boil carrots and potatoes and cabbage alive, then smoke other forms or plants alive for pure recreation. As they kill them en masse for designer clothing and wooden buildings and toys and useless papers for useless news and useless short stories on useless subjects to be read by useless people.
Surely the plants would see that, after logging and pollution and urban development and the eradication of everything from redwoods to cacti to the sad, pathetic weeping willows, surely they would see the menace that man represents. They are, after all, the entire world. The soon-to-be-polluted algae of the oceans. The green oxygen-enriching plants of the world bound by their empathic life force. The elements explained things to them and begged for, at the very least, a poor recommendation on manís behavior.
The plants, however, said nothing.
Theyíre fucking plants!

ìThis does not appease me!î Cried the Stone Elder.
ìNor me,î fizzled the Fire just behind him, ìI fume for death in the streets!î
ìIdiots!î Boomed the thunder and Lightning. ìWas it not I who gave life to man and all life on this planet? Ask not the trees or the animals or even amongst yourselves whether or not this be a menace! I am who am and the origin of all that exists. Pure energy and magnetism that brought together this and all other planets! Enough of myselfÖ enough or too much of any of you, could destroy this planet alone. Should it not be consumed with Fire, or overtaken by Water as it already once was? Could not the earthquakes or volcanoes or even excessive wind eradicate all that lives or does not live on this surface? And yes, with a strong enough electrical plasma charge, I could do away with all of you.î
The thundering paused a moment for dramatic effect, during which all the other natural elements were silent, and when they were about to speak again, the thunderclap cut them off.
ìIs not man but another natural force? Simple carbon! Is he not another resource that may exhaust himself like the oil or the nitrogen? Think of this, foolhardy elements, that the greatest threat to manís future is man himself. All of your most awesome powers combined pale in comparison to the power which man wields against himself.î
ìBut that is exactly the point!î The Stone Elder rumbled, but to no avail over the deafening blows of thunderous speech.
ìHoweverÖ I should think that if natural elements such as ourselves could randomly create life once, it could be done again and again. If I decided, with Mud and primordial ooze, to fashion another set of creatures to evolve, I could do so. If man killed off himself and all life around him on this planet, the Stone and Water and Fire would remain. Polluted, tainted, perhaps, but remain you all shall. Thus we would begin anew and persevere as we have for all eternity. Look at man already, as he digs deep into the ground for iron, and accomplishes great feats of metallurgy. See as he harnesses the atom and a mastery of outer space travel. They are a self-eradicating problem. They are an autoimmune problem. They are nullifying. They are a transient nuisance at best. A minor rash that will pass, my friends, before our conversation is over.î
Sure enough, it seemed, the human problem had already begun to solve itself. In the several millennia or so that these elements had been busying themselves with the arguments and debates on ethical and philosophical questions, manís numbers had waned to inconsequential numbers. All this without the harshness of nature, as the natural elements were too busy with their quarrels to dedicate full animosity to the human beings. Mankind had had it easy, it seemed, for the past several thousand years, and had still managed to do away with themselves.
The sad irony of it, was that man attributed this kindness to a gentler, kinder God. The sad irony of it, was that if man had been too busy defending against natural elements, his technological progress would never have been the end of him.
Thus it was decided that natural elements should go about their business as they always had, not too cruel and not too kind, despite any changes in Earthís timeline.
It was not the success that the Dirt had hoped for, but it was compromise enough.
Never again, they decided, would nature argue ethics.

Yeah, check it!

Check out that new poem thing. I don’t like it but that probably just means that everyone else will. That’s right, I’m insulting my abilities and your tastes at the same time. Deal with it. You came on MY page, remember?

A Taste of Postehaste

I had been working downtown at the sandwich shoppe, when the owner asked if I would take a ride down to the store out in the boonies to lend a hand to Jeff. I had never been out to the ‘park store’ or ‘exile’ before, so I would have to transfer my sandwichsmithing skills to a new locale.

Jeff was a former Marine, and as I found out later, very cynical of his entire experience. He was cold, tight-lipped, and hard-lined. Shortly after arriving, he inexplicably made to leave, telling me to watch the food already sizzling on the grill, to finish the orders he started, it wouldn’t be long before Tyrell would arrive to help me. All in all, it was a pretty slow store.

If you’ve ever been walking across the street and then realized there is a city bus or truck coming at you, that is what it is like to meet Tyrell. A current Marine, part-time sandwichsmith and though his eyebrows made him look like a thug or supervillain, he practically bubbled with an enthusiasm and patriotism for serving his country that was, as we’ll see, quite infectious.

Now, I don’t remember exactly what it was he said to sell me. Perhaps it’s just my impetuous nature. The same that has led to so many problems with women, and to choosing the first college I visited. But before you know it, I was assigned a recruiter, a thin-moustached man with the build and demeanor more fitting a postal clerk than a Marine. Nonetheless, I was set to meet him the following day, and the story is abrupt because that’s just how quickly things developed. When Jeff finally returned, he shook his head and tried to talk me down from this exciting proposition. At this point, I figured I would check it out and see what sort of options were available, and make decisions later on.

I met the good Sergeant downtown at the federal building the following day, as instructed, shook his hand in the dingy public parking lot and made our way up the dozen or so floors to take the MEPs. Finding most of the questions exceptionally easy (except maybe some of the math and engineering, but those have never been my strong suit, and even still they were fairly a breeze), I sat and waited at the computer for the time when we were allowed to leave. There were a handful of other applicants, and when I was done the Sergeant drove me home. He would be one of two local recruiters who showcased alternately diligence and apathy towards my military options and career. I was eager to see what my score might have been, and the Sergeant took it upon himself to schedule a day of a full range of tests in said federal building, and he himself would pick me up.

On that big day, I was taken out to a recruiting office far from the urban centers, where I was made to fill out paperwork, and where I would meet my other recruiting specialist, Eli. Eli was a blue-piercing-eyed white boy with the standard muscles and awful haircut more in line with the USMC. He had me hurry up and wait to speak with him in a wood-paneled room featuring a mural of a ‘devil dog’ on one wall.

Reviewing the papers, he then asked (either as standard patter or due to my long hair) when the last time I smoked weed was. Lying to this government employee, I replied that I never did such a thing. He smirked uncharacteristically and said, “when they ask you downtown, that’s what you tell them.” Essentially urging me to lie on government forms.

I knew the ethics of recruiters were sketchy at best already. I had a friend in high school who was constantly getting called and harassed with phone calls after one brief discussion at a school job fair. Finally, he told the caller(s) that he was gay, and put an end to it. As he related the story to me later, I asked why he didn’t just admit to having asthma, because, you know, he actually did have asthma. He looked stunned. Someone on a federal form his sexual orientation has been listed as “don’t ask.”

Anyway, Eli had myself and some much beefier Marines-to-be jog down the road from the mall and convention center to the suburbs, work out, run some more, play some basketball, and basically anything else to make me feel out-of-shape, ostracized, alienated and awkward. Before I knew it, we were being herded onto a bus with no explanation.

We were taken to an air force base some miles from the city, where for all I knew, we were to be fodder for some insidious lab experiment. Instead we were broken into groups, fed, and assigned for the night to various bunks. As overflow, I and two others were to have an entire barracks to ourselves. It was more of a hotel experience than anything else, and though I did my best not to socialize too much, the other two ‘flatmates’ decided to get a movie from the base rental window. We drank beers (we were never carded) and watched a Denzel Washington film about the horrors of war. Shifting uncomfortably, we began to inquire into one another. One of the boys was going to get a full college ride, and was most likely joining the air force. The other wanted to join the Marines, but had been denied twice already when cocaine turned up in his system. This was his third try. I still wasn’t quite sure what I was doing there.

Leaving the violent movie early, I turned in and set my alarm for thirty minutes before the time they said they would wake us. I know they were quite prompt, because as I was finishing my shower in the shared bathroom across the hall, I heard the doors to our rooms clamor with pounding and shouting, telling the other two to get up. When the herald arrived at my door, he continued to get more and more impatient that I wasn’t answering. Opening the bathroom door behind him, I asked what the commotion was. Perturbed, but also startled and embarrassed, he quietly told me to get ready, which I already was.

They had an amazing breakfast spread of pancakes, toast, jams, waffles, scrambled eggs, hard-boiled eggs, sausage, bacon, ham, coffee, juices, cereal, milk… I wouldn’t be surprised if they save the best mess you ever get in order to impress the recruits.

In those wee dark hours, we were herded back on the bus, more of us now it seemed, and shuttled back downtown to the federal building. I was still not very clear on what was happening, as they must have been afraid I would run.

The long line of us passed through security, clogged momentarily for the amount of metallic objects I carried, unprepared as I was. Back to the higher floors where we were given papers to fill out and stamp, a recreation area with sofa, big screen television and pool tables to look at before we were filed and processed.

We were told by an authoritative officer not to even think about gambling on the pool table, as this had happened before and he assured us that the IRS was one floor below.

We were also told to drink some water.

It wasn’t clear if there was any method to this, but we were bounced from area to area in a seemingly random way, with various doctors looking at charts and papers, which had to be filled out and copied.

I was sent first to a hearing test, in a booth in a dark audio room, just as it was really starting to get light outside. The heavy cans on my ears, I listened dutifully for the meeps that tested my sense, the clicker tightly clutched in my hand. Doubting myself, I began to wonder if perhaps I had missed a meep, and should click away a few times just to be sure. Maybe if I had switched hands with the clicker, I could have heard better in the other ear.

Just to make sure I was okay, the hearing test official told me to go drink some water.

At a certain strike of the clock, we were brought into a classroom and sat at small desks, where paperwork already awaited us. We had to listen to a spiel directly contradicting what my recruiter, Eli, had told me. They said that although they knew how recruiters told them not to lie, we should swear that we will not OR ELSE face fines, penalties, and jail. No matter what the recruiter said! It interested me how they all seemed to think this was a surefire system, or that they were allowing it to happen at all. I answered (mostly) truthfully, as it would happen I hadn’t smoked weed in some months, and had never broken any bones in my life.

They collected our paperwork and then sent us back into the halls for our tests, though it was still unclear how this was all coordinated. Either way, we were told to drink some water from the fountains.

Pushed into a less-than-sanitary looking medical room, I was seated across a bro who was already tied off to have his blood drained from one arm. A needle approached me as well, and I tried not to think about it, never having given blood before. When I realized that the large needle had penetrated with less pain than I’d anticipated, I looked down to see it, not so much drawn up into the syringe, as it was just allowed to blurble up on its own and fill the receptacle. Amazed at how this worked, I looked across to the beaming blond recruit, smiling at his awesome needle-taking toughness. We were patched up superficially and given some water to drink.

I was administered a vision test, and despite my glasses, was not quizzed in particular, in fact, their set-up was less than the Sears optometrist. I learned about the colored bubble letters on similarly toned backgrounds designed to root out the color blind. I had always vaguely wondered how the color blind would know if they were.

Discovering the purpose of so much hydration, I was sent to give a piss test into a long urinal, designed so that an over-tanned and gold-chain-wearing government employee can get paid to stand there and watch the stream leave the tip of your penis. If, like the person lined up at a urinal next to me, you could not release on command with an audience, he would help by taunting you, “what’s the matter, stopped up?” Once finished, we were to carefully carry our cup, labeled and accompanied with paperwork, to the table outside and set it down ourselves, certainly not try to hand it to the person there.

It was then that I noticed the kid from before, the blonde bro who had been so proud to give blood, walking down the hall towards me. Tall and well-built, he motioned to me in recognition, and then promptly collapsed to the filthy floor. Nurses and doctors rushed to his aid, as I myself felt a little drained all the sudden. I asked a nurse what had happened, as I had seen him give blood and he seemed just fine. She told me that some people are so mentally averse to needles and giving blood, that it can make them pass out. How they would know if this lingered in their subconscious, none of us knew. Discomfited, I sat and awaited my own possible reaction.

After responding to more questions and papers, I pressed my fingers to a cool futuristic laser scanning device, and was snaked through a maze of office cubicles, finally arriving back out in the main lobby/rec area, where a secretary handed me food tickets and instructions to the cafeteria some floors down.

I met up with my mates from the night before, only to discover that the coke enthusiast had once again been rejected, however, still given free food. Which was definitely less impressive than that morning.

Returning to our circus, we were told to hurry up and join room of weird, half-naked calisthenics. Most of us wore boxers, but one jock in particular wore briefs, and I have to tell you, he had nothing to be ashamed of. Scientists and doctors probed and examined us, as we were each in turn called back into a smaller closet room within that room. A kindly old Dr. Hibbert looking fellow with large grey sideburns and unsettling chuckle assured us it would be a “peek, not a poke.” He lied. And he had very cold hands when he told me to cough.

Later in his office he would sit me down and review the paperwork, tell me what was wrong with me and my body, and then stamp it all approved before hurrying me out of his door.

Across the building, we were made to wait for what seemed an hour to be assigned a good job. I was told that based on my MEPs score, I was good enough to be given ranked position (with my continuing degree) in military intelligence. However, I was not going to be offered that job, and as such my options were MP or KP. They pretended to explain a great deal of paperwork, and continue to promise me a load of college tuition and other theoretical benefits.

After having been hurried around and made to wait the day away, it was dark again outside. And though it seemed like it had taken forever at times, in retrospect it was all one big blur before the final moment, sitting on the couch, watching a screen that filled one wall give reports of explosions and rising death tolls in the Middle East. I had barely let my parents know what I had been up to, and here I had signed a bunch of papers without reading them. I began to worry, because stupid kids tend not to think about these things until it is too late.

Hurried once again into a wood-paneled office room, made up to look nice with plaques, medals, and flags for America and each branch of service, we stood in rows and the first speaker cursorily taught us ‘at attention’ and ‘at ease.’ As I looked around, I noticed how few people had remained from that morning, and wondered momentarily why I was one of them. This thought was brought to the fore again when the second speaker asked which recruits were representing each branch, only to discover I was the only possible Marine in the room, and barely the part. As these speakers yelled and speechified at us in ascending rank, they finally all snapped to attention for a man with enough bars on his chest that I knew he only arrived in the offices for this one moment, now well into the evening.

He looked at us proudly, his chin firmly jutting as he described a time, mere weeks ago, when war protestors had surrounded the federal building. They screamed and spat at the officers, recruits, privates, and anyone interested who entered the building that day. He spoke not as though he hated them, almost as though he somewhat admired their patriotic courage to employ their freedom of speech, even in vulgar, hateful ways. The men and women who signed up for duty that day, however, held a special place of inspiration. They walked through the vitriol, taking every drop, and ascended to their trials so that they could sign their lives away in the service of protecting the constitutional rights of those protestors down there. He told us that it was a God-given duty for some to fight for their ability to spit on us. Strangely, the most heartening and noble thing I had ever heard.

He swore us by oath and then hurried off. We had to wait just a bit longer before we left, gone home to feebly explain to our friends and family what had just occurred. I’m still not quite sure to this day.


A drizzling, gray sky with a singular opening for a ray of light in the clouds. A bus stop, recently drenched, surrounded by one large puddling. The clouds reflect, moving slowly, rippled gently in the wind.
Across the street, rolling grass, settled by raindrops. The occasional car upsets the water, spattering the glass of the tiny shelter. Inside a girl sits waiting for her bus, smoking a cigarette. A man sits a little ways from her. He is very awkward at acting cool but it’s obvious by his furtive looks of lustful interest that he has succumbed to male libido. She doesn’t help, brushing her bare legs against one another, and the occasional glances seem to beckon him, though she mostly tries to ignore his existence. A older woman walks up, hanging up her cell phone in frustration. She huddles in, walking nervously around the man’s side, fidgeting with her phone. She is not as thin or attractive and obscures his view. He is disgusted by her, but she is his only source of money.
“Carl” she snaps, “Where’s our ride?” She snaps the phone open and closed. Snap, snap, snap.
“What do I know?”
“Dammit, you called Moreen, didn’t you?”
“I didn’t call nobody.”
“Shit, like hell you didn’t.”
“You’re the one with the phone!”
“Shut up.”
The girl puffs on her cigarette, she can’t be more than sixteen.
“Why didn’t you call mom?” The fat woman asks. He face is almost as red as her hair, scarred with pimpling.
“What do I know?”
“You know I hate her.”
“Fucking pissed me off.”
The rain starts to pick up.
“She better not be coming.” The sun is starting to set, and a cold wind reaches them, the all shiver nearly in tandem. The woman curses, the man shrugs it off, and the girl pulls her jacket up. It belongs to her so-called boyfriend. The guy she’s sleeping with, anyway. He used to buy her flowers and nice things. And when they kissed it was all magic. She doesn’t care any longer. Now it’s all sex. She continues smoking. And it drifts to the other two as the breeze settles.
“What did he say?” The man actually seems interested for a moment.
“Shit.” She doesn’t care to answer. His little sister, his ugly little sister. He would’ve moved away years ago and never had to see her again had he not needed money. He tried. He needed money. He hates that. Wants to move to some tropical island where they don’t need money. He wouldn’t need much. Just him and twenty beautiful women. That’s what they call a dream.
His sister just always wanted a pony. Now she’s lower management at an accounting firm. Go figure.
“Here she is.” A car pulls up, they get in and pull away, disrupting the puddle as they go.
The girl throws he spent cigarette in the water, lights another one, and closes her eyes.


A man and a woman enter a carpet store, it is obvious who is in charge. She is short, squat, and loud when she moves. The man is timid, and does as he is told. They have had some trouble with this store in the past. She intends to raise hell.
“Good day, how may I help you?” the man at the counter asks.
“Is Brian here?” She seems very pleasant… to the untrained eye.
“I just got off the phone with him, he should be here in a half an hour. He was on Rt. 4 when I talked to him. What was your name?” He directs his question to the man.
“Smythe.” The woman answers. This is shown by the box of wooden flooring in their home marked ‘Smythe.’ It is surprising to see your name on something sometimes that you yourself did not put it on.
“Very good, make yourself at home, is there anything I can help you with?” He was trained to be polite.
“Where is your bathroom?” Mr. Smythe asks.
“At the end of the building, on the right.”
The building is mostly open, cluttered by tiles, rolls of carpets, the whole lot. A sort of showroom-warehouse-laminate. I just like the world laminate.
It is not quite half an hour before Brian arrives. But to the Smythes, it is long enough. Mes. Smythe is muttering, Mr. Smythe nervously jerking until she commands him to ‘stop that!’ When Brian does arrive, he immediately goes to the back of the store to talk to his employee. He is of medium build, height, with hairy arms, styled hair, and a five-o-clock shadow. He has dark, quick eyes, and strongly defined features.
“Are you the Smythes?” “Yes, are you Brian?” She says, picking up.
“Yes, what seems to be the trouble?”
“Well, we were informed by Jason that we would be able to move back in today. We just had a look at his progress and we don’t think that it looks too good. The water is still off and he was wanting to redo the entire kitchen, but we can’t afford to eat out or stay in a hotel any longer.”
“It was my understanding that he would have it done today, he wanted to put the toe strips in and you say you didn’t want that?”
“That’s correct, he was also thinking about putting in the shoes. I have some pictures… and… this space here, this is behind the refrigerator.” He voice goes up, requiring some sort of reply.
“Mm-hmm.” Is all she gets.
“This is about a two-inch gap, looking straight down, and the base boards wouldn’t cover that.”
“That’s why he wanted to use the tow strips.”
“Right. But we decided we didn’t like the look of that, right, hon?”
“Yes.” Mr. Smythe’s first contribution to Brian. He senses a further opening. “Here are some pictures from yesterday morning. The water is off, and they had urinated in our toilet without being able to flush.”
“The entire apartment smells.” She interjects.
“R-right,” fumbling with his words, not used to persuasive speaking, or any other kind, “a-and this is our cabinet, about, oh, fifteen years old.” Brian can’t seem to see the image, turns is around in his hand, or at least pretending it is too fuzzy. “This is the base, and here is the top, see, and that’s the scratch. Also, on Friday, we came home to find our window open, the lights on, and the back door unlatched, and yesterday…” showing another picture, picking up confidence as he does speed “it was unlatched again, and one of our lights was on.”
“And that,” she interrupts “is my money being wasted. I provided them with a fan, which I found on a breezy day pointing out the back door, just blowin’ all over!” She waves her small arms frantically to exaggerate the action.
“Mhm. I apologize, Jason’s one of my best workers, I never get any complaints, but again I apologize for the mess and the inconvenience and all.” After several more minutes of this, Jason walks through the door. He is skinny, with a goatee, and a smirking feigned sincerity.
“What’s up?” He casually asks.
“Did you put the shoes on without asking them first?”
“I had ’em set up to, but they didn’t want ’em, that’s what I heard.”
“I said to talk it over with them first.”
“I didn’t hear you say that but okay, whatever.” He seems to be straining from rolling his eyes.
“Look, is the mess cleaned up?”
“Yeah, but does your toilet run?” he asks, turning to the Smythes.
“Well, uh, what do you mean?” Mr. Smythe stumbles, trying to think.
“Well, it’s not overflowing or anything, but I think it won’t stop running.” He explains.
“Probably just the ball.” Brian knowingly adds nearly under his breath. He is clearly annoyed at Jason’s shoddy attitude and juvenile work. “Okay, I’ll be willing to go halfway with you on new base boards. Thick, you know.”
“I know, it’s not your fault, you have a business to run and you’ve already shelled out money from your own pocket.” She appears to change her tune. “I hope I’m not being unreasonable.”
“No, no, it’s your home, I mean, I wouldn’t want my home messed up.” Stopping to think. “Jason–”
“How much would new baseboards run?”
“Uh, Idunno, per square foot? I’d have to go check.”
“Okay.” He considers. “Could you just put slivers in there and glue ’em?”
“Yeah, but if you’re worried about aesthetics, you might want to just do the new baseboards” he bullshits.
“How long would it take to redo the floor in the kitchen? How many planks?”
“Precision-cut everything?”
“Yes, precision-cut. How many?”
“Pfft, Idunno, six, maybe seven. A whole day’s work.”
“We need to move back in today.” Mrs. Smythe reiterates, attempting to wrest back control of the conversation.
The phone rings. A man in the back picks it up.
“Do you want me to come look at the damage?” Brian asks.
“Yeah, that would help.” Mrs. Smythe is happy to win any customer service battle, no matter how small.
“I need directions. Jason, you want to drive on down with me?”
“Nah, I gotta get back, but I’ll get you directions.
“We’ll go on ahead.” The Smythes move to leave.
“Okay, I’ll see you in a few.” Brian calls to them. Jason’s watch goes off but he doesn’t seem to notice.
The Smythes get to their car.
“I could have used your support in there. Instead of hiding.” She says with much disdain. Mr. Smythe does not answer, as anything he would say would be wrong.
Back inside, Jason finishes giving Brian the directions, then heads for the bathroom.
“Thanks for calling, have a nice day” the man in the back hangs up.
“See you later, Phil!” Brian yells as he attaches his watch and coat.
“Have a good one.”
“Lock up when you’re done, Phil.”