16 February 2015

A Bit of Chapter 2

Dear and gentle readers, I offer to you a little portion of the second chapter of my next novel - this is number 6, for crying out loud.  It is not a "Michael Nitrous" novel, like novels number 2,3, and 4, although some of the same characters appear, and it is set largely on the extra-planetary orb of Bezelda.  Go figure. 


Allow me to reconnect a few things for you before I turn this over to the omnicscient-voiced narrator.  Yeah, the person who is writing this – you know how when you read something, there is often something called a “narrator” who tells the story in such a way that they seem almost god-like.  They know what's going on at all times, in all places, and inside the furry little melons of all the people in any given story.  It's crazy, but it sure is useful, because you don't have to worry about anything being entirely hidden – unless the narrator doesn't want you to know what's going on.  Kapiche?

Well, in just a little bit I'm going to turn this whole story over to some narrator's voice, and I'm going to slide into what a friend of mine would call another aspect of reality.  I won't really change, and I won't really be in a different place or time – just a different plane, as it were.  You'll see.  It's not all that weird, really. But in the mean time, let me reconnect a few things for you.

When you see lights in the sky, don't be so damned sure that they are normal.  Don't be so damned sure that they're abnormal, either.  They might be a bit of both.  This applies to about 80% of the people you meet on a daily basis, as well, so take everyone with a grain of freaking salt.  Especially if they're wearing roller skates.

ESPECIALLY if they're wearing roller skates.

When someone gives you something to eat that looks like eyelids and tastes like fish, be careful.  You are going to find yourself visiting the commode before too long – I would almost put money on that.  We don't gamble too much on Bezelda, but we do have this one game of chance called “pin-flutchey”.  In pin-flutchey, several people all take two very sharp steak knives in each hand.  That's four steak knives (which we call “klolbs” on Bezelda) per person.  We all blindfold ourselves, and then stand in a circle.  Beginning with the person who is situated to the northern-most part of the circle and continuing clockwise, each player praises the person to their left, using either standard heroic couplet poetry or Bezeldan pep-mulls.  The pep-mulls are a lot more interesting.

When everyone has had the chance to speak, they each throw a certain amount of money into the circle – this amount being determined before organizing the game.  After each has thrown in the money, there is a countdown from seven, everyone cries out “pin-flutchey!” throws their steak knives into the air and either runs like hell or stands as still as a statue.  You have to do one or the other.  If anyone is struck by a knife, he or she gets the money in the pot.  If there are two people struck, they split the money, and if there are three or more, all cry out the word “plossit!” and return to the circle for another round.

You can probably figure out the great amount of skill and cunning required to play a game of chance like this.  It's not a game for the faint of heart, to be sure.

How did we get on pin-flutchey?  Oh yeah, I told you not to eat anything that looked like an eyelid and tasted like fish. 

I've never been very good at spontaneous pep-mull creation.  Not like some guys I know.  You probably know pep-mulls as those Bezeldan poems that are kind of like what on earth is called a limerick, except the rhyming scheme is different.  Hell, I guess it's safe to say that there is no rhyme scheme at all to a pep-mull.  I think the only really similarity, when you come right down to it, is the fact that both limericks and pep-mulls each have five lines.  Aside from that, the comparison kind of falls apart.  Here is one of my favorite pep-mulls, written by Cran Hylen.  You may have heard about him before, as he was the poet-laureate of Bezelda for some time (at least in one particular aspect of reality).  Here it is:

Blank? Or not with cheese
opulent stink of ice-time
wobble wobble,
wobble crashing parties.

That last word, “stijt,” has no real translation into English, but it is a really common word in the Bezeldan day-to-day vocabulary.  It means something like “wanting to go and get some toasted bread-product and prepare a sandwich of sorts as long as I have the time to do it without interrupting the rest of my regularly-scheduled daily activities.”

That actually comes up in conversation quite frequently on Bezelda, believe it or not.

Cran Hylen was an incredibly good poet.  He had lost all of the hair on the top of his head, and it regrew on his left forearm.  Usually he kept it fairly short and parted it with the addition of a little hair tonic.  Every now and again, for a season, he would let it grow long and then push it back with the aid of a nicely-scented pomade. 

You just never knew about Cran Hylen.

07 February 2015

The Conclusion of "Radio" - #3 in my "Michael Nitrous" Trilogy of Novels

Here you go, friends.  I just put the finishing touches on my newest novel, and chapter 19 nails the coffin shut, as it were.  This is the third "Michael Nitrous" novel, and I think it ties the others together.  Enjoy!


Salo is 100% woody. Salo is 100% filmy. That's right – it is both entirely woody and entirely filmy. It is the only substance on the face of the earth that has joined, in a hypostatic union of sorts, a perfect amount of woodiness and a perfect amount of filminess. Scientists using the most advanced quulmeters cannot figure it out. It is as though the woodiness and the filminess exist within and beside and around one another.

You might recall that Dr. Kichener-Mellon, the Bezeldan Metaphysicist who was so critical to an earlier part of this tale put it this way in his award-winning dissertation “Up My Big Fat Creek With Your Lumbering Sliderule”:

x = [(y – z) + p] + s

x is the separation of the layers, measured in sweat, and
y is one layer,
z is another layer,
p is the woody/filmy proportion, and
s is the salo-coefficient.

It came to be realized that salo was itself the one substance that not only perfectly matched the salo-coefficient (for obvious reasons), but also wreaked havoc on the rest of the equation due to the woody/filmy proportion being expressed as either 1 or 1/1. Salo became the philosopher's stone – the rosetta stone – the alchemic wonder of the ages. Salo was not only a tasty ethnic treat for Ukrainians around the world, but also a component in every research laboratory on Bezelda.

Within months, scientists had narrowed down (on paper, anyway) the formula for cold fusion using salo and the salo-coefficient, and it slowly dawned on them that the path of cold fusion was one they did not want to walk. The path of cold fusion would leave the salo depleted. Expended. Spent.

As it would leave the moral fabric of Bezelda.

Dig this, my friends – when the American scientists detonated the first atomic bomb way back in the 1940s, they did not know it, but at the time the detonation resulted in a 18% drop in woodiness on the planet earth. Earthly scientists had no idea what filminess and woodiness were, let alone how a proportion between the two could affect life on earth, so they went ahead and detonated several atomic weapons – resulting in woody levels to drop to dangerously low levels.

How could earthly scientists have known? They had no quulmeters.

The Bezeldan scientists figured out what the repurcussions of cold fusion would be well before they ever attempted it. Mock trials were set up in large salo-generating laboratories, and industrial-strength quulmeters were calibrated to insanely high levels of accuracy. In the end, the Bezeldan High Council of Common Sense ruled that cold fusion must not be undertaken for the good of future Bezeldan generations. The scientists boarded up the cold fusion laboratory, coated the salo in dark chocolate, and threw a gala shindig. The poet-laureate of Bezelda, Cran Hylen, wrote a sacred pep-mull to commemorate the event:

In the darkest of night-time science
O! With a quul-knowing of filmish-ness.
For young,
for old.
Adipose pork tissue without reproach; without guile!

All of Bezelda agreed that it was one of the finest pep-mulls ever written, and it was eventually engraved on a plaque that stands at the very spot where the cold-fusion laboratory used to be.

At the same time that the pep-mull was released into the eternal ether of all layers of existence, David Hall realized what the turntable looked like. In one place in time, anyway.

In another place in time, a black-bladed dagger appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, and materialized in the unfortunate position of David's cranium. This was while he was standing between layers of existence very near NEK-CHEK enterprises. Soon the two entities (David hall and the dagger) were occupying the same space in the same aspect of existence, and one or the other had to give.

You can figure out how this fits together. Rab-klaat.

02 February 2015


The fourteen-pound whistler came lumbering through the almond section of the nut emporium – lumbering with a hoot and whirl. Whirling is no small order for a whistler of the fourteen-pound variety, mind you. The rest of the body was proportional to the whistling portion, and giving an honest “whirl” to that much flesh takes some energy.

We have all heard the stories of the folk with dense lips. In some parts of the world they comprise entire tribes or clans or ethnic groups. The lips are not large, mind you – only dense. Fourteen pounds of lip tissue compacted into the usual scant few inches of lip space makes for a very dense package. It is as though the lips were composed of lead, or at the very least pewter.

Soft, supple pewter, however.

So the fourteen-pound whistler, as it lumbered through the almond section of the nut emporium, attached as it was to the rest of the flesh (in varying densities) known as “Jerry Pizzle”, gained traction in the ether. The ether defies good purchase most times, and it is hard to build up speed. With a hoot and a whirl and the production of a merry tune, the whistler moved faster and faster. It whirled like a dervish. The owner of the whistler (Jerry Pizzle), thought himself to grow nauseated, but for only a moment. He stopped. He ceased all forward and whirling (in some regions known as cyclical or gyroscopic) motion.

From his pocket he pulled a test tube and forceps.

Jerry Pizzle thought to put down the whistler, but he could not. He bent over a bin of almonds, rather, and reached out carefully with the forceps. The shiny, stainless steel forceps were opened just the right amount to receive a beautiful roasted almond, and his hand quivered a bit with excitement and anticipation. His eye landed on a most delectable almond.

Only the finest almond would do, honey-child.

The forceps were poised but a hair from the surface of the fine and exquisite nut-meat, and the fourteen-pound whistler made its distinctive call. “Phweeeeeeeeeeeeee-ehwheeeeeee” went the fourteen-pound whistler. The forceps trembled. Jerry Pizzle drooled, but just a little.

Jerry Pizzle withdrew his hand, and with it, the forceps.

“Phweeeeeeeeeeeeee-ehwheeeeeee,” went the fourteen-pound whistler.

With a heel-turn executed flawlessly, Jerry Pizzle pulled the fourteen-pound whistler away from the almond bin, and with it, his hand. With his hand came the forceps. And with the forceps came any hope of plucking such a fine almond from the bin. And with that came any chance of the fourteen-pound whistler violating its dicipline.

No almond meats for the fourteen-pound whistler until the Feast of Lemonsuck.

If ever.


26 January 2015

Quirk (just for you)

So you had a friend who you thought was a friend, but turned out to be something substantially more than a friend. On the other hand, there was that person you thought was a friend and turned out to be quite less.

This is the way we used to think. Doo dah. Doo dah.

There were people living in a settlement very many miles away from the rest of us, and we were forced to view them with a great deal of mistrust. They had skin that was a slightly different shade than ours, and they pronounced the letter “a” differently. We had to think of them as “outsiders,” and we threw rotten vegetables into their backyards when they were not looking.

These were the things we used to do. Doo dah. Doo dah.

We knew better. We all knew better. You think you knew the most? You are wrong. We knew more. When the buzzer sounds and the game is over, the judges are going to look at us and say “you are the winners! Huzzah! Hale fellow, well met! Gatchooba!”

That was the way it was. Doo dah. Doo dah.

You used to buy paperback novels and read all about who killed who and who slept with who and who was stealing from who and how it is that authors never know how to use “who” and “whom” correctly, but you never paid any attention to that because you were focused on the killing and the sleeping and the stealing.

Not any more.

Now you kill and sleep and steal and you check your grammar and your spelling and your syntax and you mind your pease and queues. And no one ever mentions a thing about how you used to have this friend who you thought was a friend but turned out to be something substantially more than a friend.

Doo dah.

19 January 2015


Did you ever meet that kid that we called “Camphor”? He was a quiet kid. Short and quiet, as I recall. I have no idea how he got the name “Camphor,” but that's what we called him. I never asked, and now I kind of wish I had.

Camphor used to walk up and down the main street of town, stopping and looking into the shop windows. He would spend the longest time looking into windows that you just wouldn't think could hold the attention of a thirteen year-old boy, but there you have it. He would stop in front of the hardware store, and look at a window display of chicken wire and galvanized washtubs – all the while moving his thin little lips with no sound coming out. I've seen lots of folks do that, of course, but never in the places that little Camphor would do it.

This was Dubuque, mind you. Dubuque in the hey-day. Or do you call it “hayday”? I was never sure if it was one word, two words, or a hyphenated word. Anyhow, it was Dubuque when Dubuque was more than just a place on the river. Camphor would sometimes stop outside the big hotel (you know the one I'm talking about – if you know Dubuque, that is) and wait for someone to come out. It looked as though he was expecting a celebrity to come strolling out of the lobby, and I think one time I even saw him holding a pad of paper and a chewed-off pencil, looking for all the world like he was going to ask someone for an autograph. This might have been, as you know Dubuque was a hopping place for all sorts of big-city performers who might have driven up from Davenport or over from Chicago just to do a show or maybe to get away from the big city.

I don't think he ever got any autographs, as best as I can figure.

Camphor, he came down with a disease when he was just what nowadays they call middle school age. It was some kind of odd disease where he started hearing loud explosions all the time. It started with him sitting bolt upright in the middle of class, and clapping his hands to his ears. At first the teachers thought he was being disruptive, but after the doctors in Iowa City told his mom and dad what was going on, folks got used to it. The loud noises started keeping him up at night, though, and by the time he was fifteen he was missing from school almost every day. Sometimes we'd see him around town, small and quiet, and looking a little flinchy and sad.

You would be too, I suppose.

Camphor's dad died out on the river the next year, and his mom went away. No one asked where. Camphor went to go live in what I suppose today you would call a “group home,” but then was just some kind of a place for unfortunate folks to live. It was run by the Church, I think. Who knows? I once saw what I thought was a nun there, so I'm just taking a guess. Anyhow, that's where Camphor went. We saw less and less of him, and eventually he just seemed to disappear. I only hope the same could be said for the explosions in his head.

I'd like to be able to say that I saw him years later, but I never did. No one ever did, as far as I can tell. He just became one of those people you only think about when you see something that you haven't seen for a long time – or when you hear an explosion in your head that no one else can hear.

And God forbid you end up hearing the explosions that no one else can hear.

12 January 2015

"19a" - 1980? You Like? A Chapter From "Yerba Mate"

Roller skates are another invention that was given to the inhabitants of the earth by ancient astronauts from an alien civilization. Space travelers from the planet Gecko-13 were zipping through the interstellar expanses over 4,000 years ago (in earth years), listening to eight-track tapes of whale music (produced by whales on another planet – a third planet, neither Gecko-13 nor our own “earth”) and looking for a good place to sell their load of sushi-stone. Sushi-stone, for the uninformed, is not what the name sounds as though it might imply – it is simply a carbon-based fuel source; an edible carbon- based fuel source mined from the depths of the Geckian oceans. Check it out the next time you are on Gecko-13.


The sushi-stone vendors from Gecko-13 were traveling through this neck of the interstellar woods when they happened upon our planet. They set down for a short visit, and aside from being mistaken for minor deities by a tribe in the Amazon basin, had little to no contact with any earthlings. They just made a quick pit-stop, as it were, to empty their sanitary holding tanks and get a little exercise. The most beloved exercise of the people of Gecko-13, of course, is what we on earth think of as “roller skating” but which they call “bletching” (it still is, in fact – bletch sales on Gecko-13 have gone through the roof in recent years, in fact). From high up in the earth's atmosphere the travelers from Gecko-13 saw the plazas standing outside of some awesome Mayan ziggurats, and decided that they would be the perfect place for a little midnight bletching. They settled their sushi-stone powered spacecraft into a soft landing in the middle of the jungles of modern-day Mexico and laced up their bletchers.
Speeding out of their spacecraft in a frantic round of “snap the whip,” a line of seven Geckian astronauts whizzed past a native named Earl who was wandering amidst the ziggurats while dealing with his insomnia. The poor fellow looked up to see seven wheeled god-like creatures, laughing and shouting as they bletched, and the sight scared him almost half to death. He ducked behind the stones of the temple, trembling and shaking his head in disbelief.

On an ironic note, this poor, frightened tribesman happened to be a distant but direct ancestor of the owner and proprietor of “El Taco Muchacho,” where Michael Nitrous and Jerry Grogan enjoyed their fine plates of tacos and nopalitos tiernos. That's just how these things work out some times.

The astronauts from Gecko-13 skated (or bletched, if you prefer) for a good fifteen minutes or so, and then headed back to the ship. Just as they were getting ready to leave, one of the Geckian travelers decided to dispose of a small stone that he had found in his roller skate (or bletch, if you prefer). He stood in a cargo door and turned his bletch upside down to shake the little pebble out. Just as he had done this the pilot hit the accelerator, throwing the astronaut violently to one side. His bletch was knocked out of his hand as he collided with a bulkhead (that is astronaut-speak for 'wall'). The Geckian roller skate dropped to the ground as the spaceship sped away and out of sight. When Earl had regained his composure he walked over to pick up the bletch. He kept the bletch with him all the rest of his days, but could never really bring himself to explain to his friends and family exactly how it was that he came to be in possession of such a strange, futuristic object. The Mayan priests put the bletch into the grave with poor Earl's body when he died, and there it rested for several thousand years, until an archaeologist came across it in the mid-nineteenth century while hunting for Mayan pottery and other exciting relics. The archaeologist had no idea what it was that he had found, but brought it back home to merry old England with him as a curiosity, where he gave it to his brother as a birthday present (he was a notorious cheapskate – no pun intended). His brother happened to be a sporting goods wholesaler (you didn't know that they had those in merry old England in the middle of the nineteenth century, did you?) who spent his free hours as a collector of South American sporting antiquities – an unusual combination, but not altogether unlikely, now is it?

The situation presented by this unlikely array of events, objects, and interests is just one more example of how it is that deep connectivity works. You might think that it is all just coincidence, but it is actually a lot less dramatic than that. It is just another load of bogus storytelling, used to make the author's point.

(Roller skates were actually first patented in the late eighteenth century and then made popular about a hundred years later. There were likely no aliens involved whatsoever. Take it for what it is worth.)

Rollerskating, however, can be a rather spiritual exercise, if you believe in that sort of thing. It provides ample opportunity for glope-steps, even though one does not always take “steps” in the traditional sense of the word. There is something about the spinning of the roller skate wheels that sets up a static field, thereby influencing the kinetic dingeddy-dangle...blah blah blah...you get the idea.

Suffice to say that roller skating gives the opportunity to experience deep connectivity in a way that most people do not realize. Just being around people who are roller skating can have a profound effect on a person. This may account for the harmonic convergence that was beginning in the United States of America in the 1980s and which came to a screeching halt with the close of that decade, just as roller skating rinks were closing in droves.

17 December 2014

Please Be Careful...

Do you remember me telling you all about the hidey-hole? Sure you do. We talked about it over cocktails last month sometime. Don't you remember? Come on. Put on your thinking cap and try to remember it. It was a nice conversation, as conversations go. We had cocktails, and you did that thing with the stem of a maraschino cherry.

You must remember it.

Here, let me get this IV going. Give me your arm. The other arm. Okay. Thank you. This medicine that I will introduce into your system will help you remember how I told you all about the hidey-hole. The medicine will feel a little cool as it enters your vein. Okay, maybe cold. Or rather, ice cold. All right, I'm sorry. It is actually painfully cold, isn't it? Well, you will warm up in a second.

There you go.

How are you feeling? You look pretty good. You look a lot better than Chaz over there. Chaz looks downright nauseous. He always gets that way when he has the IV going. Yes, it is the same medicine that you are getting. You look a lot better than Chaz does, though. What's that? You feel nauseous? That's okay. You look good, though.

Now then, tell me about the hidey-hole. Do you remember where I said it was? Do you remember how deep it is? Do you remember what I put in the hidey-hole? Let me show you this picture. Yes, that would be a picture of what we put down the hidey-hole. It looks bigger in person, though.

Oops. Let me get you a bucket.

There you go.

So you remember it, don't you? Of course you do. And you had your hand down the hidey-hole, didn't you? Sometimes people lose fingers when they put their hands into hidey-holes, so you should be very careful. Oh, it wasn't your hand? Yes, of course. You stepped into the hidey-hole. Well, that can be even more dangerous. Just imagine what you could step on. Make sure that you wear big, heavy boots with protective soles if you go stepping into hidey-holes in the future, okay?

But don't go stepping into hidey-holes, okay?

There, now. The IV is all done. You've done a fine job of remembering. Chaz? Oh, don't worry about Chaz. They always have to carry him away like that. The body bag? He just likes the secure feeling that it gives. Pay no attention to it. He's fine.

Here's a maraschino cherry. Can you do that thing with the stem again?

08 December 2014

"Limping Through the Charleston" -or- "If This is St. Petersburg, Then Where Are All the Liposuction Clinics?"

Little Danny DiBlasio (no relation to the Connecticut DiBlasios, the Kennebunk DiBlasios, or even the DiBlasios over on 83rd Street whose old man was a dope pusher in his spare time) looked at himself in the big mirror that hung outside the county building. He smoothed his little cowlick with a little bit of spit in his palm, and gave thanks that it was not a larger and angrier cow that had got to him when he was born. That was, of course, the story he was told. Heck, we were all told that story – about how old Doc Needleheim (the OB-GYN man who delivered us – every stinkin' one of us, in fact) was also into animal husbandry (still punishable by dismemberment under the laws of several states), and how when we were being whelped, one of his bovine companions strolled into the delivery room. Just as we popped our little noggin out of the birth canal, old Bessie reached over with that big old tongue of hers and took a lick of our salty little melon, still dripping with the juices of the womb.

Did I mention that you might not want to read this while eating breakfast?

Anyhow, Bessie took a lick, and now we all have these ridiculous patches of our hair that will not sit still when we try to style them. Cow licks. Licks from a cow. Uggh. That is what little Danny DiBlasio tried smoothing down with a little spit as he looked into the big mirror that hung outside the county building.

Little Danny looked at his watch and realized that he was late for his appointment. He gave up on his hair and ran up the flight of stairs into the flag-monger's shop, taking the last three steps in a leap. He opened the door and stepped inside, just as his nostrils were met with the heady, intoxicating aroma of brand-new flags, fresh from the oven. He breathed deeply and urinated. Just a little bit though. Urinated, that is. He breathed deeply but urinated sparsely. I think you know what I'm talking about here.

Or do you?

The elderly woman behind the counter addressed little Danny DiBlasio ever so abruptly. She croaked some kind of words at him. They might have been Croatian – Danny was not completely sure. He nodded politely and tried to reply in the only semblance of a foreign language he could muster.

“Me have-o appointiamente con el anager-may of-o los flagoleo shoppo,” tried Danny. “Danke schoen, y muchas dinero, babycakes.”

The woman behind the counter stood up and broke wind. An uncomfortable silence ensued, which Danny tried to break by feigning a coughing and choking spasm. The woman quickly left the room and Danny thought that perhaps he should have feigned a seizure instead – that one works every time, he thought to himself.

In but a moment, the man that Danny knew as “Clubb-o” appeared behind the counter, twirling his mustache, which he kept in a small box. He looked at Danny, stroked his mustache twice, put it back in the box, snapped the cover shut and slid it into one of his trouser pockets. One must always keep one's mustache close at hand, you know.

“Forty-eight of them?” asked Clubb-o at long last.

“Forty-eight,” replied little Danny DiBlasio.

“I'll have them ready for you next Tuesday,” said Clubb-o, turning on his heel and disappearing into his shop.

“Thank you,” said to Danny DiBlasio to the thin air.

“No y problemas, tovarish. Ich habe ein oompa-loompa im mein hosen,” said the elderly woman – in flawlessly fluent Croatian.

29 November 2014

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17 November 2014

Keats? Or Keats?

There were no figs left in the parlor. Not a single one.

Trentwiler walked through the entire rectory, trying to find but a single fig, but he came up empty-handed. “Just my luck,” he said aloud, “just my rotten luck.”

He made his way out of doors and found his sedan parked where he had left it the night before, although it had changed color from coal-black to a rather cornflower blue shade with white trim and running boards. Trentwiler paused a moment. “Damned vandals,” he muttered as he opened the door and slid in behind the wheel.

Out of the driveway of the rectory and then down the road he raced, speeding toward the village. His only thoughts were of figs, which he knew were available at the greengrocer in Oneonta. Surprises abounded this morning, however, for as he rounded a bend in the road near the edge of a trout stream, a young woman appeared, standing ankle-deep in the water. Her hair was raven, interlaced with a small garland of flowers, and her eyes wept great drops of crimson, which traced lines down the milk-white skin of her cheeks.

Trentwiler slowed the sedan and came to a stop at the edge of the stream. He got out and walked to the edge of the water. The young woman looked as though she might have some information regarding figs, but he was scared to ask. He looked closely at her and suddenly recognized the mark upon her upper arm.

“Were we, in fact, butterflies?" he asked,  "In a dream?”

The young woman looked at him deeply. The shadows of oak leaves played upon the both of them. “Rather,” she said, in a voice so soft, “ask yourself, my love, 'whether you are not very cruel to have so entrammelled me, so destroyed my freedom'.”

Trentwiler held up a hand mirror to her face. The both of them turned into gossamer-winged monarchs, and the hand mirror splashed into the stream.

14 November 2014

Another Casablanca

I looked down into the little hidey-hole and strained to see if the earlobe-shaped nugget of glass was still there. Every now and again you find nuggets such as this in a hidey-hole. I have every reason to believe you know exactly what I am talking about – don't try to tell me you don't.

Hidey-holes come in all shapes and sizes. Hidey-holes are often found on the side of small outcroppings of earth, specifically designed to harbor a hidey-hole. This one was no different.

I looked in, but I could not spy the earlobe-shaped nugget of glass. It was a nugget given to me by my boyhood hero, Great Uncle Adolf. Great Uncle Adolf collected glass nuggets, and he only rarely shared them with friends, family, and loved ones. I was apparently quite special, and as a favored great-nephew, I merited (it seemed) to be given a particularly heinous nugget. That is what Great Uncle Adolf called it, anyway – a “heinous nugget.”

I never figured that part out.

Sometimes, when you are given a “heinous nugget,” you go about and tell all the world of your windfall. Other times you are content to keep it to yourself, take large doses of painkillers, and dance a merry jig in the privacy of your own home. This had been my habit in the reception of every other heinous nugget I had been bequeathed – until this one. When I received the particularly heinous nugget from Great Uncle Adolf, I immediately went out to the small outcropping of earth near the truss factory behind my house, located the little hidey-hole, and placed the nugget there. I pressed my ear to the soil and listened to the “thrum-thrum-thrum” of the machinery deep within the bowels of earth mother.


But that was many, many years ago. And now, lo, these many, many years have passed, and the machinery deep within her bowels no longer makes the thrumming sound. My eyes are dim, and my own bowels make powerful churning noises. The meadowlark has flown well beyond the field of grey and oily corn.

And I cannot locate the earlobe-shaped nugget of glass. Not a single one of us could, who had ever been given a “heinous nugget”, and who did not keep it pressed within our sweaty little palm. When the machinery ceases to thrum, the hidey-holes no longer give up their treasure.


Go and learn what this means.

03 November 2014

Change the Channel

Now, I would have liked to think that the old miser, when he died, would have stopped muttering, but it just wasn't in the cards. Do you know how it is? An old miser gives up the ghost and just keeps muttering on and on about whatever it was that he was talking about just before he died. Yes, that is exactly what happened. I was there. I heard it.

We were taking down the Kwanzaa bush and Clinton's Comet had just finished streaking across the sky. Clinton's Comet is not nearly as well known as Halley's Comet, but it is really well-loved. Clinton's Comet is said to have a southern accent and a penchant for cigars, blue dresses, and plump interns (whatever that means). We watched as the comet disappeared in the western sky, just behind an In-N-Out Burger. People put down their double-doubles and wept as Clinton went down on the horizon.


We got the Kwanzaa bush packed into Larry's Pinto and just then this old miser shuffled up to us, muttering something about textured vegetable protein (we knew he was a miser by the miser's union identification badge that he wore on his lanyard. Everyone wears a lanyard these days, don't they?). Larry offered to buy him a double-double (which contains absolutely NO textured vegetable protein, incidentally), but the old man shook his head and just kept muttering. Mutter, mutter, mutter. He muttered to the left. He muttered to the right. He muttered into the lapel of his second-hand Brooks Brothers suit. He removed his set of false teeth for a minute so that he would have an unobstructed path for swallowing his pride, and when he set the teeth down on the pavement they kept right on muttering by themselves. Larry expected them to chatter, he told me later, but they muttered – believe it or not.

Larry and I offered to give the man a ride somewhere in the Pinto, but he never answered. He went on to mutter something about the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Larry looked frustrated and a little perturbed. I was hungry, and got to thinking about the In-N-Out Burger. The old man was muttering about the advantages of pomade over hair oil. Then he muttered about Lyndon Baines Johnson. Then he muttered about Lady Bird Johnson. Then he muttered about Little Billy Johnson, Lithe Buttercup Johnson, Lisping Brony Johnson, and the 1963 New York Yankees. It was crazy.

I had said that the old miser gave up the ghost, and that is true. I made it sound as though it were a natural death, however. In reality, as the old miser continued to hold forth and began muttering about commemorative collectible porcelains, Larry blew a gasket and beat the old man senseless with a limb that had broken off of the Kwanzaa bush, had fallen into the gutter, and had gone unnoticed until now.

The bush-limb was made of light wire, interwoven with prickly plastic threads. It took Larry nearly a day and a half to beat the old miser to death with such a soft, light weapon.

Larry stood over the corpse, breathless. The old miser's teeth went right on muttering away about the low quality of Kwanzaa bushes these days.

“Come on, Larry,” I said, motioning to the Pinto. “Let's go get us a double-double.”

Larry just muttered something about the Battle of Leyte Gulf.