29 February 2012

Apocalypse Later

In the perfect silence that you often find early on a late winter morning in the Berkshires, the world prepared to come to an end. This was the second time that the world had prepared to come to an end in just under eight years, but this second time was a bit more convincing. Perhaps you all remember the first time that it ended – there was a general sense of peace and optimism, combined with an overwhelming regret that as a race we had not started acting less like complete assholes to one another a lot earlier. People quickly realized how much easier life might have been had we not made a habit of acting like the bodily orifice to which this euphemism referred, and for just a short time tried not to act like that anymore. This lasted about a day and a half. So much for applying ourselves to something.

On the day before the scheduled second ending of the world, a delegation of tree planters was sent to the very center of the earth – the center of all that is known in the world. Tradition had informed us that this was a place known for several thousand years as “Jerusalem,” but the actual center turned out to be a place known as “Minneapolis.” Minneapolis hosted a wonderful fair every summer, but this really played no part in the end times, despite what the organizers claimed. The tree planters were surprised to find Minneapolis as their destination, but dutifully packed their bags and headed out on I-90 through Chicago, a bit north and then straight to the Twin cities on I-94. They made a slight detour into Madison, Wisconsin for a corned beef sandwich at an east side deli, but otherwise they drove straight through on their sacred mission of staving off the end.

Arriving at the center of the earth, the delegation of tree planters went straight to work and began the back-breaking labor to which they had dedicated their lives. The trees were all artificial, however, live trees having been made illegal by the Federal Bureau of Apocalypse Vegetation. And so the tree planters worked diligently at putting 653 plastic piss-elms into the ground, encircling an entire pancake restaurant near the center of the city.

It always seems that there is a small child who is able to bring some sensibility and some honesty to any proceedings dealing with the end of the world. This time around was no different, and little Peter Pechnik of Hudson, Wisconsin was visiting the Twin Cities with his family at the time that the tree planters finished their task. As the Pechnik family left the pancake restaurant, little Peter went up to the head tree planter and tugged his sleeve.

Hey Mister,” said little Peter Pechnik, “whatcha' doin'?”

We are planting trees to stave off the end of the world,” replied the head tree planter, beaming.

Ha!” said little Peter, examining one of the trees. “You big gobshite, this is nothing more than a glorified pipe cleaner!”

The tree planters all looked at each other and then at the ground.

And I got another revelation for you, too,” said Peter. “There ain't gonna' be no end of the world. Not now, anyway. And it ain't gonna' be 'cause you numbnutses pushed a bunch of pipe cleaners in the ground.”

Whaa...?” asked the incredulous head tree planter.

Nope,” said Billy, “it ain't gonna' happen tomorrow like you think.”

How do you know?”

Simple,” said little Peter, handing the head tree planter a piece of paper. “See for yourself.”

The crushing of the prophecy was there for all to see. It was printed in bright, five-color graphics, and spoke of hope, expectation and a great bounty for all mankind. The head tree planter read aloud for all to hear.

Colossal Syrup-riffic All-You-Can-Eat Pancake Orgy. Next Friday from 9 to 5.”

Kids eat free,” reminded little Peter Pechnik.

26 February 2012


Grandon took a long swallow from the coke bottle and looked down at the gravel under his boots. Every roadside was the same; every bit of gravel, every shoulder that ran down into another culvert and over on into another patch of kudzu. The kudzu kept going until it didn't feel like going on anymore, and that was kind of how Grandon went about his days. He took another long swallow from the coke bottle and kicked at the gravel.

It had been some time. Quite some time, he decided. Had it been a year? Yes, certainly...at least a year – closer to three, in fact. Three years of managing to keep his head down low enough and just kind of blend in with his surroundings. His brother's girlfriend's uncle gave him enough work at his hydroponic tomato farm just over the Mississippi line, and paid him in cash. A small room with a gas stove met most of his needs just fine, and he always had enough cash left over to buy a little beer and meet most other needs as well. The only other real need seemed to now be covered in a field of kudzu.

The sun was hot but not hot enough to make you break a sweat by just standing there, and Grandon was purely thankful for this tiny blessing. Summer heat had not yet descended, nor the humidity. Freedom is a funny thing, as we all do our time in the prison of flesh and the prison of heat and the prison of sweat, but only some men do time in a prison of steel and concrete – and a prison is a prison is a prison, if the freedom you're missing is the same freedom. Freedom, no matter where or when it gets taken away is still freedom and the lack of it is just any old kind of being in prison, no matter the day, no matter the place. Grandon took a last, long swallow and tossed the empty bottle into the culvert, where the gravel met the kudzu.

His mother's voice spoke to him soft and quiet over the years and over the miles. “Grandon, honey... don't litter.”

Grandon took a long look at the kudzu and the trees beyond. He felt the keys in his pocket, still held together by a thin chain like you find on dog tags, only not as long. He wondered if the Ford Motor Company always had made separate trunk keys for the Mustang, but decided in the long run it really didn't matter. It would be just another one of those bits of trivial knowledge.

Grandon realized he had a single drop of sweat slowly rolling down from his temple. He reached up and wiped it away, and then turned and headed back toward town. Monday would be here soon enough and he would have tomatoes to tend to.

Originally published on Southern Flashes.

23 February 2012

The Joy of Aging

There was a throbbing vein popped out on the Scoundrel's forehead. The kind of vein you expect to see on the back of someone's leg rather than on a forehead. Nonetheless, there it sat, kind of bluish and threatening, while the Scoundrel stared into space and made kissy-faces at his memories.

He would pucker up that big old set of lips of his, drawing the chapped lower lip up into a scrunched up little ball while the chapped upper lip would fan out like the wings of a scavenger bird looking for carrion. You half expected the Scoundrel to settle down on a coyote carcass and start lapping up the juices that the '81 Crown Victoria knocked out of it. But the Scoundrel just stayed in one place, making those kissy-faces at his memories.

As the memories began to fade, the vein throbbed harder and the Scoundrel's kissy-faces became more intense. It looked like half of his hive-sotted face was being sucked into the pucker – first his chin, then the lower part of his nostrils, then both cheeks, eventually the bridge of his nose. The pucker became something of a vortex or a vacuum, drawing in the Scroundrel's face along with each and every little hive upon it. As the top of his head began to disappear into the pucker, his shoulders and chest began to be drawn up, and his arms involuntarily lifted into the air. The Scoundrel flopped to the ground as one leg went fore and one leg went aft and both went toward his head. Two size-eleven wino shoes were the last things that went in, and with a massive kissy-sound the Scoundrel was gone.

There on the ground was left a massive forehead vein – no longer throbbing, no longer blue and threatening.

21 February 2012


The shy little boy held out his lung, and the photo-opportunity grabber named Hymen placed his face next to the frothy organ. Soon all of the town had turned out to see the lung and have their photo taken next to the healthy, pink surface.

Such a nice lung,” said dear Aunt Ida, beaming. “Let me see it.” Aunt Ida reached for the lung, and the shy little boy dropped it. It splashed to the floor, where Aunt Ida's cat picked it up and leaped for the counter and out the screen door. Bobby Pitchass from down the block grabbed it away as the cat shot by.

I got the frickin' lung!” shouted bobby Pitchass. He ran across the lawn, holding the lung high in the air. He had nearly reached the road when Chucko Phuckernut hit him in the head with a two-by-four, braining him and sending both the lung and the brain matter flying. Chucko picked up the lung and took a nice big bite, but after a chew or three decided it was not to his liking and spit it out. He threw the lung into a nearby ashpile, where its nice pink color was sullied and darkened with creosote and burnt rubbish.

Willie Workerlimb came pushing his rubbish cart down the street just that very moment, spied the lung, and picked it up. He dusted it off, spit a little on his hanky, and wiped off some of the darker spots of ash. “Ain't too shitty of a lung, I think,” said Willie, retrieving his finger from his nose, “could make a nice knick-knack on some old bitty's coffee table.” he stuffed the lung deep into his pocket along with a handful of broken glass and tacks he spotted on the sidewalk. As Willie crossed the street he was struck by an out-of-control condom delivery van, and killed instantly.

As his corpse began to cool in the middle of the street, wild dogs ravaged his clothing, looking for spare tickets to the ABBA concert. Finding none, they left him to rot, but not before they had pulled the lung from his pocket.

Dirty, ash-covered, punctured with glass bits and upholstery tacks, the lung was but a shadow of its former self. As the now one-lunged and shy little boy roamed the streets of the city, he barely recognized his beloved lung as it sat there in the intersection. He walked up to it, and with remorse, bent down to stroke its once-frothy surface.

I coulda' been a contender,” the lung seemed to say. “I coulda' been a contender.”

The shy little boy left his lung in the street, and walked over to Happy Jack's Synthetic Lung Hut, conveniently located at an intersection near you.

And I could have been born with only one lung,” said the shy little boy, “and that's the moral of that story. Kapiche?”

20 February 2012

The Rites of Fasting

There were four narrow strips of what appeared to be some sort of meat hanging suspended from the ceiling of the dirty little room – that room, all squalid and foul-smelling and showing off its peeling wall-paper the way an insane man shows off his own sunburned and peeling flesh. There was no coincidence, really, that this most prominent feature, then, was itself an array of flesh.

Shutters on the window had long before given up the hinge, you might say. They just hung in there out of good manners, and helped to give a half-concealed air to the whole of the place. Dirt, and plenty of it, was in good form, and had blown in beneath door and window sill and collected in organically geometric patterns – triangles with gently sloping sides extending away from corners and edges. Here and there a complete rhombus of dirt that was abruptly halted only by another wall or edge of the same. One large trapezoid of fine prairie soil was interrupted by an arm that proceeded forth from a torso. The torso of a body lying very gracefully in a corner of the dirty little room. It was the body belonging to the Piston.

The Piston's body was apparently motionless. At least, it would have appeared to be so to anyone who might have been looking in on on the scene. As it was, the Piston was the only one in the room.

Probably for the best.

The Piston was a meth jockey. This is not unlike being a spam jockey in one sense, and I am sure that you might remember me telling you about that fellow named Knuckles Pittinger – the man with the diamond earring and a wife with no legs – who called himself (was rather fond, in fact, of calling himself) an 'old spam-jockey'. Knuckles had some issues, if you recall. Even if you never heard of the man before, just take it from me that old Knuckles had some issues, OK? Fine, fine. Well, if Knuckles was a spam jockey, then please take me on my word that the Piston was a meth jockey. And being known as the Piston, you can rest assured that he got the jockeying done. Double ripple, my maple-cake chilluns'.

Were that the strips of what appeared to be some sort of meat that were hanging suspended from the ceiling of the dirty little room were strips belonging to the person of the Piston, there would have been hell to pay. No one removes strips of flesh from the Piston's pristine body and hangs them from the ceiling of a room – dirty or otherwise. No one. Let me be the first to tell you...no one, but no one would ever do such a thing if they knew what was good for them. The Piston has friends, you see.

No, the strips were not from the Piston's body. Nor had the Piston removed them from someone else's body. They were just strips of what appeared to be some sort of meat, hanging suspended from the ceiling of the dirty little room.

There was a fifth strip of meat in the room, I should hasten to tell you. Clutched tightly in the Piston's elegant fist was another strip of meat, nearly identical to the other four. If you were to look closely at his fist, you would see tiny little rivulets of meat-grease, all fatty-licious and salty-sublime, and softly draining away from the strip of meat, running in the little creases and folds of skin of his elegant fist. The Piston is so elegant.

Less elegant, one would have to confess, was the teeming horde of smallish insects that began their work on the fifth strip of meat and on the tiny rivulets of meat-grease, and desired to continue on to the crusty eyelids and lips of the Piston. My, yes...he was ever so elegant (to match his fist), but those smallish insects are so determined, aren't they? Yes, few things are as determined and as inevitable when one find oneself to be a meth jockey with an elegant fist and a taste for narrow strips of what appear to be some sort of meat.

Double ripple, my maple-cake chilluns'.

17 February 2012

Issue #42 of Red Fez...Have a Read!

The newest, freshest issue of Red Fez is available now, and I would purely love it if you all had a gander at a quirky little piece that I have it in.  It's a cheeky little piece that goes something like this:

When you get through with that (I am biased, you see), please go have a read of all the other good stuff in this month's issue.  Please make sure that you wipe that little bit of salsa and cheese sauce off your finger before you use your mouse.

There you go.  Now you won't get salsa and cheese all over everything.  Thank you.

15 February 2012

How Things Change

It was a majestic day in Weaverton, and little Mikey Nitrous (to be known to the world one day as Mr. Michael Nitrous of West 43rd Street) had just set the last mouse trap in his tree house, kissed his pet turtle good night and pulled his angora blanket tightly up around his ears. The stars outside of his treehouse window winked ever so softly and quietly at him. All except for the one large bluish one near the constellation known as “The Newt” that hollered like an angry trucker. Little Mikey raised his middle finger at the star, closed all three of his eyes, and drifted off to slumberland, aided by only two pints of raisin vodka.

Little Mikey had not been sleeping long when he arose with a start. Was that a prowler he heard beneath his treehouse? He quietly removed his crossbow from its wall-mounted scabbard and flicked off the safety. Getting up from his bed and tip-toeing to the open window, he could see a shadowy figure on the lawn below. He shouldered his crossbow, so as to gain a better view of the intruder using his bow-mounted infra-red scope. He had just trained the ocular on the figure when a 'SNAP!' and a dagger of pain in his right big toe caused his trigger finger to jerk suddenly and release the bolt. In but a split-second he heard a cry of pain and more wretched, vile, foul, blue-throated cursing than he had heard in one place since his mother had taken him to that longshoremen convention in rural Utah. He wrenched the offending mousetrap from his foot, slipped into his steel-toed stiletto sneakers and slid down the firepole to the ground.

Why, it was Pastor Weejus Preyzims, the pastor of the local Church of the Sanctified Nutcooker! Everybody in Weaverton absolutely loved pastor Preyzims, and he was well known for holding forth for hours on the topics of piety and colon health! No one could combine the ever-lovin' word of the Sanctified Nutcooker with a discourse on bowel cleansing in quite the way that Pastor Preyzims could! From the top of his halo-enwreathed, grey-flecked mane to the bottom of his squeaky-clean anus, Pastor Weejus Preyzims was a study in all that the Church of the Sanctified Nutcooker stood for, and then some. There were some who wondered if Pastor Preyzims wasn't scheduled for elevation to minor diety in the sect, in fact.

This evening had cast a new, dubious light on everything, however.

Whatcha' doin' snoopin' 'round my freakin' yard?” shouted little Mikey Nitrous, waving the cocked and loaded crossbow just inches from the pastor's genitalia.

Uhhm...nothing, my child...nothing!” cried back a frightened Pastor Weejus Preyzims, backhandedly clawing at the well-manicured lawn.

Were ya' lookin' fer one a' them commie meetins'? My old man sez you might be a commie!”

Heavens no, child...I'm not a communist!”

Don't 'child' me, you scalawag!” shouted Mikey, “Maybe you were you tryin' to go to one a' them right-winger meetins' then? My dad sez you don't like the president!”

No, ch..I...no!” cried the frightened cleric, wetting himself.

Then I bet you were gonna' try to sneak inta' that house and steal all of old lady McGillicuddy's whiskey! My old man sez you men o' the cloth all drink too much, and yer' all a bunch of thieves, t' boot!”

Listen, please, young man, I...”

Shaddup already! cried little Mikey, pushing the crossbow hard up under the pastor's scrotum. “You tell what you were up to, or I'm gonna' give you the kinda' piercin' you ain't gonna' be able t' tell yer congregation about! Got it?”

I was just going to go watch Miss Flapjack the school nurse get undressed! I confess!” The pastor broke down in a fit of tears, and slumped to the cool, green lawn at Mikey's feet.

Oh,” said little Mikey, withdrawing and uncocking the crossbow. “Is that all?”

Uh huh,” sobbed Pastor Weejus Preyzims, visibly shaken and now gently rubbing a very, very private area.

Well, why dintcha' say so earlier?” asked Mikey. “C'mon, it's almost time!”

Mikey led the incredulous pastor by the hand...away across the suburban landscape toward Miss Flapjack's bungalow and the wide-open, exposed rear picture window.

“”Y'know, my old man sez yer OK for a sky-pilot,” said Mikey as they found a secluded spot in the bushes. “After this, I'll show you where old lady McGillicuddy hides her spare key.”

14 February 2012

Peshtigo Fire

Porcher Renfro stuck out his tongue and tried to get a read on how fared the universe. Oh, he was scabby, all right. Scab-covered, you might say, but scabbiest of all was his tongue, that he now held out into the blistering, bare reality of a life gone wrong. Never to worry. Life repeats. Life renews.

If you hold your tongue out long enough, you might just get an idea of how the meanderings of the cosmic vibrations are getting on. They meander, it seems, right to the heart of your day and right to the heart of all that you are. In the same way a little flaky bit of saltine cracker gets blown out of your mouth while you type and it nestles down into your keyboard. With each successive keystroke the little flaky bit falls deeper and deeper into the keyboard, eventually disappearing. So do the cosmic vibrations seem to get right down to the heart of it.

Porcher Renfro noticed a slight disturbance in the cosmic vibrations, as his scabby tongue bounced up and down like an erotic side-show act. “Bright white,” he said, drawing in his tongue at long last. “Bright white 390.”

In just a moment a shuffling corpse appeared at his side. “Hubba hubba, Porcher,” said the undead visitor.

You be likin' my scabby little tongue, Choppy?”

Oh, I more than like it, Porcher. It almost makes my heart beat. What you sayin' about the bright white 390, though?”

I take me the readins' that lotsa' folks only gets on their instruments, and I takes the readins' on my tongue.”

I knows that, Porcher.” The corpse shuffled nervously, kicking the pavement with the bone of a big toe. It made a scratching noise.

So I can see more than most can...but I sees it with my tongue. And I knows all about radiation and karma and love and chemicals. And you can't pull no wool over Porcher's eyes, see?”

The corpse turned to face Porcher square on. “You ain't so big, Porcher. You ain't so mighty.”

The scabby noodle sucker smile a broad, scabby grin and showed the gaps in his teeth. “Naw, I s'pose I ain't. On both counts. But then, my heart is still beating.”


With all the speed and skill of a cotton picker, Porcher pushed his hand into the corpse's chest, just beneath the ribs. He withdrew a lifeless heart, his hand and wrist dripping with necrotic fluid.

How's them apples?” Porcher smiled even broader and scabbier.

Bright white 390,” said the corpse.

Happy Valentine's Day,” said Porcher, handing him his heart.

11 February 2012

The Perfect Gift

Early on Friday my brother Pat and I walked into Rosenblum's little trinkety-junky kind of jewelry store that is just around the corner from Limpy's Place. Pat had just enjoyed an early morning scotch or three too many and I had broken my rule about never drinking more martinis before breakfast than the number of pennants the Yankees have won in the decade (this rule could have made for a boring 1980's, but just think of what the 1950's could have been like! Zoiks!). Pat and I had to prop each other up as we walked toward the rickety little brownstone. You've never seen a brownstone look rickety? Well, you've never seen this place, then.

We shuffled inside and Mr. Rosenblum, the owner, took one look at us, and rolled his eyes. “Oy. The Andrews boys again,” he said, “and shtinking like a chaloshes garbage dump. What do you two need today?”

Good morning, Mr. Rosenblum,” Pat began, “we are, the both of us, that's two...me and Tom...Tom and me...the two of us, we're looking for some nice gifts for our wives. Big day comin' up on Monday, you know.”

That's Tuesday, you shmendrick. Tuesday is Valentine's Day.”

Ushish...umm...no,” I interrupted, “well, yes, Tuesday is St. Valentine's Day, but Pat's right...Monday is a big day, too.”

Monday? February 13th?” asked Mr. Rosenblum.

St. Kentigern's Day,” replied Patrick. “A seventh-century bishop and confessor...it's a big day in our family. We always spend it with our wives or girlfriends, depending which of the two we happen to have.”

There was Uncle Hawthorn, of course,” I interjected, “who tried spending it with both at the same time. We pray for the repose of his soul on Armistice Day, too.”

Vei is mir...” sighed Mr. Rosenblum under his breath, “so what do you need? And quickly.”

How about a nice locket? Or a letter opener or something?” asked Pat, swaying to and fro.

Letter opener?”

Or a snow-globe,” said Pat.

Or a phone dialer,” I suggested..

Phone dialer?”

Yes, like in that movie with Audrey Hepburn, “ I said

You mean Katherine Hepburn,” said Pat.

No, it was Audrey Hepburn,” I replied, “ohhhh...cat...I have the mean reds...or something like that,” doing my best Audrey Hepburn impersonation.

No, Tom, it was Katherine Hepburn,” said Pat, “Mooooooooooooooon Rivah...widah than a miiiiiiile...” singing at the top of his lungs in his best Katherine Hepburn transatlantic accent.

Your golf ball. Your car. Your goiter. Is there anything in the world that doesn't belong to you?” I quoted. “It's Audrey.”

I cahn't go to Sing Sing with a green face...reahhlly, dahling...”

Don't forget to put me over your shoulder and burp me after lunch,” I said, coyly.

Now that is DEFINITELY Katherine Hepburn, Tom,” said Pat, shaking his head. “Mistah Miyagi, you silly little mahn...I'm just hahving a little pahty...I cahn't heah you...stop ban-ging on the blessed dohr”

No, Pat, it's Audrey Hepburn...” I said, “Norman, Norman! The loons...the fricking loons...they're coming back!”

Fred...Fred...oh deah...it's cold, Fred. Bring me a scotch, Fred,” said Pat.

Enough!” cried Mr. Rosenblum, turning red in the face and reaching up to a box marked 'studio promotions' on a high shelf behind the counter. He pulled down two cellophane-wrapped rotary phone dialers and handed them to us. “This is just meshugenik...take these and get out of here. Come back when you can stand up without weaving!” He helped us to the door, and with a gentle shove helped us back out onto the street.

Pat and I looked at the phone dialers in our hands.

Yeah...I'm thinking the same thing,” he said, and turned to walk back into Mr. Rosenblum's store. He returned a minute later with two gift boxes.

Pat, I love shopping with you,” I said, “you always cover all the bases. Thank you.”

No problem, Tom,” he said. “But I'm starving. Let's go over to Tiffany's and see if we can get some breakfast, OK?”

09 February 2012

The Aftermath

A fresh grave has that distinctive look to it, and from where I stood, I could tell those were four fresh graves. A little muddy. Mostly rectangular. Nobody should ever go and put political campaign signs in a fresh grave, though. 'Least that's what I was thinking.

So I took just a couple of steps forward to get a little nearer to the edge of the graves, and so that I could read the fine print on the sign that was sticking out of one of them. There it stood, propped up on two wire legs. “Caddick for 2nd Ward Alderman.” I wondered if it was Caddick who was buried in the grave or if Caddick had come by and put it there, or if perhaps Caddick's oppponent was buried there. I thought that the last option might have been the most ironic but also the most fitting. I could only hope.

A squirrel ran across the grass not far from where I stood. It was a black squirrel – a kind that you don't see all that often, but the kind of squirrel that really grabs your attention when you do see it. Rare. Not unlike a political campaign sign sticking out of a fresh grave, I guess.

I heard the gentle movement of cloth next to me, turned, and saw a fellow in some kind of shroud standing next to me. It was almost as much of a cope or what might have been known as a “cappa” as it was a shroud, for it had some sort of hood on it. He had just walked up next to me and stood there, quiet and seeming to enjoy his shroud or his cope or his cappa or whatever the hell it was.

The one was a faithful man...and true,” said my shrouded or coped or cappa-ed vistitor.

I kept looking at the grave and nodded.

He was kind of like a black squirrel.”

06 February 2012

A Pledge

Cretins, all of you!”

Turned off your internal dialogue editor again, you ear-wax taster?”

Elesandro and Mugga would have this discussion at least quarterly, and it always ended with one of them falling fast asleep. Mugga was prone to fits of narcolepsy, and Elesandro to fits of necrophilia. You might be able to decide for yourself which one fell asleep, I would suppose, and you might figure out which one made his way out to the city morgue for unspeakable actions. However, I want to get this straight – Elesandro would do nothing more untoward to a corpse than place his long, slender tongue within its ear canal. He maintained that the ear wax of the dead was the most heavenly lipid that one might ever enjoy, and so he made it his regular pattern to seek out this ghoulish treat.

You most likely think that I am making this up.

Anyhow, Elesandro would make his way silently to the city morgue and wait patiently for the lights to dim at the close of the business day. He would then watch as the last morgue employee carried his now-empty Laverne and Shirley lunch box home with him. Into the morgue would Elesandro creep, letting himself in with a key he had fashioned from a piece of aluminum siding.

The wax tasting would begin.

It was a dreadful display, to be sure – the narrow, pink, glistening tongue sliding in and out of the ear canals of the poor cast-off husks of so many unfortunate souls, and the accompanying groans of pleasure emanating from Elesandro's mouth and nose. Elesandro was careful to clean up after he was through, and to replace excessively large portions of ear wax he had removed with bits of mortuary spackle or some such substance. Never did the mortuary administrators suspect any foul play, and it was not until a fateful evening in early June-month that Elesandro's ghoulish tastes caught up with him.

Just as he was retracting his serpentine tongue from the ear canal of a forty-something-year-old bus driver who had tumbled headlong down an embankment, he felt two eyes upon him. He turned his head to see a young child, dressed in the uniform of a Prussian infantryman of the Great War, complete with pickelhaube. The bayonet on her rifle still had abdominal fluids dripping from its tip.

The two of them stared at each other for a long while, and neither of them spoke. Finally it was the young girl who broke the silence.

I think we both know why the other is here,” she said.

Yup,” agreed Elesandro, wiping his chin.

I think this could be a pretty unpleasant revelation for either of us.”


Mister, might you be favorably disposed toward an agreement of sorts?”

Elesandro nodded his head.

Well, then,” said the little girl, “I think we both had best keep this to ourselves, and not return. We should pledge to give up our horrific pastimes. Don't you agree?”

Elesandro nodded again in agreement, and the two of them turned separate ways to leave, knowing that such an agreement was probably best.

They had each taken but a couple of steps when they turned toward each other again. The little girl smiled.

Elesandro smiled back.

Or perhaps,” she said, “we could realize that two sets of eyes make a better look out than one.”

The two smiled at each other and returned to what they were doing, the unspoken agreement bringing a new warmth to the chill of the morgue.

03 February 2012

Back By Popular Demand...

"When Love Doth Blossom" - Back by reader request! Thank you!  (As always, click to read!)

On a pleasant summer day in Weaverton, little Mikey Nitrous leaned back in his lawn chair and blew a contented smoke ring from between his piously-puckered lips. It had been a long, wearying morning, as little Mikey had made a habit of giving root canals to the neighborhood children every Tuesday in the summer months – a real cottage industry, as it were. This was little Mikey's attempt at charitable outreach to the less-enlightened peoples of Weaverton, and as an orthodox fish tickler he thought it his duty to spread the good news whenever he could.

Little Mikey Nitrous was not accustomed to smoking such a high quality juniper hybrid such as was in his pipe that very instant, and the piney flavor lifted his spirits even higher than they already were. The piney little wisps of smoke curled deep down into his lungs and left their tarry, pitch-y goodness in his alveoli, and Michael silently made a pledge to only smoke the finest juniper from now on. It was just as he was making this silent resolution that Amanda Polyvinyl walked up to his sidewalk root canal stand. Amanda's family had changed their name to Polyvinyl some years ago, well before Amanda was born. Their old family name had been “Hitler,” and Amanda's father said it reminded people too much of the cheapskate crack dealer who lived up on 53rd Street. Hence the change to “Polyvinyl.”

How's business, Mikey?” asked sweet Amanda Polyvinyl, her golden curls shining in the radioactive sunlight of Weaverton.

Brilliant,” said Mikey, “the busiest morning I've had all summer long.”

You must be tired,” continued Amanda, “probably too tired for another root canal, I bet.” She slowly lowered her chin to her chest and her golden curls fell around her face.

Aww, heck...I always have energy for another root canal,” replied Mikey, beaming.

Really?” asked Amanda, raising her head.

You bet! Have a seat!” Mikey started up his hamster-powered autoclave and started preparing the gin and laudanum mixture that was his anesthetic of choice. “You like your poison straight up or on the rocks?”

Straight up,” replied Amanda, taking a seat and removing a lizard from her back pocket. This she placed on Mikey's counter as advance payment.

After Amanda had downed the cocktail, Mikey got straight to work and completed the root canal in record time and with a special artistic flourish. He tenderly and lovingly wiped the excess saliva from her chin as he finished his work.

There you go, Amanda, all done.”

Thag goo so fuch,” said a swooney Amanda, the gin and laudanum still coursing through her system, “I dode dough how to thag goo enuv.”

Aww, heck...it was my pleasure. It always is. See you next Tuesday for another one?” said little Mikey Nitrous, handing her the lizard.

Ohgay...buh dode doo wann de lidduhd?”

Aww, heck no...you just keep your lizard. I was just happy to be able to wipe your saliva from your chin...it made me feel all kind of fluttery inside,” said Mikey.

Amanda blushed as he handed back the lizard. “Dudd diss mead we ah godeid stedduh?”

Mikey blanched. “Whoa! Wait a second! I just said I liked wiping your saliva! Don't get any big ideas...!”

Amanda blushed even more. “Soddey,” she said, “id mudd be de gidd.”

Or the laudanum,” said Mikey. “It's OK. Don't worry about it. But I'll see you next Tuesday, right?”

Yoo bedd!” said Amanda, her eyes sparkling again, “I wuddad bidd id foh awd de dee id Jyenah!”

Great!” said Mikey, turing back to his autoclave.

Grade!” said Amanda, as she turned to head home.

And then with an amorous wink, Mikey called after her, “Amanda, by the way...next week, leave your lizard at home, OK?”

Ohgay!” cried the happiest little girl on that pleasant summer day in Weaverton.