26 April 2012

Dreamdriver - Reprise

Skinny-legged hopper with the jut-mouth pout is leaping and frolicking with the new mown hay-smell rippling in his snotty nose – all moist and with just a bit of the yellowish crust that makes you think of homemade clotted cream. I think of that. You think of that. Skinny-legged hopper doesn't think of anything, only his hopping and leaping and frolicking.

It was before the war-time, and before the fear-time, and before the time when we chose to lie about the intersection of war and peace and love and fear and dreams that only comes once in a blue or some-other-colored moon; dreams that are empty, unfortunately, and tied up in a discarded candy-wrapper, tossed to the side and trampled underfoot. The skinny-legged hopper knew all about that kind of dream, as he was a dream-peddler.

Buy my dreams?” asked the skinny-legged hopper, arriving at the door of the next house on his dream-peddling route. He held up one of his brochures, opened to the picture of his very favorite dream – a technicolor beauty that featured dwarves and knives and undulating dancers. He shook the brochure a couple of times to arouse the curiosity of Mr. Pilate, the man standing before him in the doorway.

Dreams?” asked Mr. Pilate. “What are dreams?”

A dream is a wonderful thing,” said the skinny-legged hopper. “A dream is like a sleep-thought. It is like a pretty picture in your head; a moving picture-show that you get to enjoy when you close your eyes.”

Can you show me?” asked Mr. Pilate.

Well,” said the skinny-legged hopper, “not really. You would probably have to be asleep. And then I couldn't really sell you any dreams, could I? I mean, you would be asleep and unable to produce your credit card or checkbook or pocketbook. That would not do.”

Agreed,” said Mr. Pilate, frowning and looking toward Mount Moriah in the distance.

Well,” said the skinny-legged hopper, “I have some testimonials here from some pretty respectable people. Would you like to hear what some very important people have had to say regarding these dreams?”


Well,” continued the skinny-legged hopper, “Mr. Virgil Pusser, the chief bag scrubber at the cow-bottling facility said that our dreams make him all shaky. They make him get all googly-feeling and that he has only urinated forcefully over his bed-clothes twice in the time that he has been enjoying our dreams. Mostly he just wakes up hungry.”

Hmmm...” said Mr. Pilate, “that doesn't sound very positive.”

Oh, but it gets better,” said the skinny-legged hopper, “The Reverend Miranda Chuckleby, high-priestess of the Microwave Temple said that she gets the overwhelming desire to crawl into a tub of warm water and open a vein whenever she awakes from one of our dreams. She has actually done so only once, and luckily the medical personnel were able to plug the wound with spackle and refill her veinage-system with gin and red food coloring. All is well.”

That sounds awful,” protested Mr. Pilate. “I don't think I like the sound of this at all.”

Oh, wait,” said the skinny-legged hopper, “it gets much better. Mr. Clive Bors, the President of the United States of Iowa has said that our dreams take away all hope and have caused him to mutilate livestock upon several occasions. Once he went so far as to make love to a goat before mutilating it with a paper punch.”

Was it a three-hole punch?”

Yes, I believe it was.”

Hmm...” said Mr. Pilate, obviously warming to the idea, “so how much for these dreams? Particularly the goat-loving and -mutilating variety?”

I have here a dream consisting of a meter-maid in latex and two dolphins armed with firearms from the era of the Boer War. It usually produces nice effects.”

Are the goats guaranteed?” asked Mr. Pilate.

No,” said the skinny-legged hopper, “but all of our dreams can be returned, as long as you return the payment along with the dream.”

Return the payment? How much?”

We will pay you $49.99 in American dollars for each dream that you select. If the dream does not work out for you, just return the dream along with the payment, and there will be no questions asked.”

Mr. Pilate stood quietly and scratched his furry little lower lip with his furry little finger. He looked off at Mount Moriah in the distance and could make out three men carrying a body around its western slope. He looked away and pulled out his wallet.

Fill 'er up,” he said to the skinny-legged hopper, “and give me my dream.”

And the skinny-legged hopper was only too happy to oblige.

20 April 2012

500 Words from Zarathustra's Boil

(For Penny)

I lanced that boil with precision. “Lance” is a funny word, though, I guess. You might just as well say “slice,” and you might as well (if you are in something of an allegorical mood) say “slit.” I lanced that boil with precision.

It was not so much precision, on second thought, as it was “zeal” or perhaps “gusto.” As my froth-flecked lips quivered in anticipation of the lancing, I waved the carving knife in a circle about my head and hollered “what spake I?” What the hell you sayin' I said?” I wanted to lance it in the worst way, but everyone kept talking about me, and talking about how I was going to lance that boil with precision – I certainly did not want to disappoint anyone, but when they started saying things that I had said, I started feeling like I had heard enough. I think everyone knows how it is – people start saying you said something and you didn't really say it, or if you did say it (but you really didn't mean it) it seems almost impossible to take the words back. My friend Conrad did that once – he managed to take some words back after he had said them, but I never figured out exactly how he did it.

So I lanced that boil with precision. Or I sliced it with zeal. Or I slit it with gusto. The action became my gusto slit. Gusto slit. Gusto slit. Conrad would have liked that phrase, on account of how he was always doing things with great gusto (or so he said) and he had a great love of the word “slit”.

I ferociously plunged that carving knife into the boil, and I do believe that in the ensuing effluvia that poured forth, there was a greater proportion of leg-blood (or more correctly buttock-blood, but I intend this for a familial audience). There was more leg-blood than that awful and retched-smelling matter that will often come out of a boil. In fact, the boil-filling was drowned out by the blood, but I still thought of the entire issuance as “boil-filling.” When I think of filling, I will often allow my thoughts to drift over to and, indeed, settle upon the wonderful concoctions that are used to lend body to the most delicate and delectable fried pastries known to the civilized world as “doughnuts.” Often these fried pastries are known as “donuts” in their alternate spelling, but perhaps I am getting pedantic.

Oh! The glory of the Bavarian crème! The raspberry jelly! The chocolate custard! Even that nefarious filling known as the “Boston creme” is of potential worth when prepared correctly. These are the fillings upon which my thoughts settle when I think of filling. I presume that your own thoughts might settle in the same place, rather than on the foul-smelling effluvia that issues forth from a boil.

Back to earth we have come, sweet-pea. My gusto slit. I lanced that boil with precision.

17 April 2012

Now Available at "Zygote in My Coffee"

Please have a gander at my short story, "Reeking of Sasquatch" at Zygote in My Coffee.  It is a rather quirky little piece in the "Little Mikey Nitrous" series.  Don't you just love that little shaver?  He kind of acts up and gets a little sassy in this story, but please don't hold it against him.

I am grateful that they gave me a nice little author entry that you can find if you click right here. You could go here and check out all of the other fine authors and poets in this issue, as well - I think you will rather enjoy yourself.

You will be able to find the link to this story and to many others on my "elsewhere" page, that you could perhaps also have a look at sometime soon.  One again,  please enjoy yourself.

Don't enjoy yourself too much, however...it is still illegal in some states.

16 April 2012

Deepest Desires

The Kudzu was wet and cool beneath her feet, but Cedered could not have known the name of the green roadside carpet on which she walked – it was as foreign as the plate of chicken gizzards she had walked away from last night, but not nearly as greasy. She only stopped to consider the slight film of oil on the ground cover as she neared a filling station that displayed a handsomely-handcrafted sign proclaiming “no gas”.

A thin, grey man was sitting on a wicker chair, and he glanced up as Cedered approached. “'Mornin', little lady. Where you headed?”

Home, I guess,” said Cedered, glancing past him and looking far down the highway. The morning was starting to heat up, and she was not looking forward to a long walk. “Have you the time?”

You talk kinda' funny. You ain't from 'round here. Where you from?”

Manchester,” she replied.

Well, hell...ain't no one from Manchester! I had a brother from up in Jasper. You know Jasper, I reckon.”

I'm sorry,” said Cedered, “I'm not familiar with Jasper.”

How on earth can you be from Manchester and not know Jasper? You gotta' get to Jasper now and again. Where do you go for buyin' your food and such?” asked the old man, incredulously.

Tesco's or Sainsbury's, usually.” Cedered glanced with interest at the rusted old Ford pickup sitting nearby.

The old man just stared at her, and then smoothed out his newspaper, shook it with a bit of a snap of his wrists, and raised his eyebrows. “Well, what can I do you for, then? We ain't got no gas, and you ain't got no car, so I recon we're a right good match. You lookin' for a lift or a cup of coffee?”

I'll make a deal with you, sir,” she began, “I will change your life and buy you a cup of coffee in exchange for the temporary loan of that old truck...assuming it has enough petrol in the tank to get me to Birmingham.”

The old man laughed and shook his head. “Change my life, eh? Young lady, I am old enough to be your granddaddy.”

All the same,” said Cedered, “If I can whisper in your ear such a gift as to change your life, I will buy you a cup of coffee and thank you for the keys to that truck. It will be returned before nightfall. Deal?”

Fair enough, seein' as how I can't imagine anything that would change all this...” he looked around at the bleak surroundings and the kudzu.

Cedered leaned close to the old man, whispered in his ear, slipped a small piece of paper into his hand, and touched him on the crown of his head. She stood upright and watched as the old man's eyes grew large. He swallowed twice, stood up, cleared his throat and reached into his pants pocket. “Well...thank you...thank you...The cigarette lighter don't work,” he whispered as he handed her the keys, bowing low.

Cheers,” she said as she walked toward the truck. She pulled her shoes back on, opened the door and stepped up into the cab. The engine growled to life a turn of a key. With a friendly wave to the old man she pulled onto the highway. A glance at the gas gauge told her she would have more than enough to get to Birmingham.

This “Alabama” was a strange land, she thought. People here believe anything, as long as you claim to be royalty. She would fill the newly knighted man's tank with petrol before she sent it back from the airport, and there would be a gift card to Starbucks in the glove box.

12 April 2012

Southern Illinois Silence

Over in that corn field, you just might see a small, rusted tin can that my daddy used to use for spittin' the tobacco juice into. I tossed it there, and I suppose it's probably still there, lyin' right where I threw it. It wasn't litterin', I wouldn't say – it was just kind of a getting' rid of something that I didn't want lyin' around, that's all. Every now and again we have to get rid of things that we don't want lyin' around, and sometimes those things get thrown into a dumpster or into a garbage can, and sometimes they get tossed into a corn field.

The corn field has been there for a long time. 'Long as I can remember, leastaways, even though that ain't particularly long when you compare it to a lot of other things. It's longer than the can been lyin' there, of course, as the can got thrown into it. It's been around at least as long as my daddy had been around, and since his daddy before him, so I know it's at least that old. Sometimes old ain't as important as big, and sometimes big ain't as important as smart, so sometimes smart gets out ahead of old. But that corn field, I guess in a way it's both old and smart.

There was a time, I have to imagine, that there wasn't a corn field over there. My teachers had said that the white man (that would be us) had done took away the land from the red man (that would be the folk who were here before us), and that we went about the business of puttin' in corn fields and houses and out-buildings and such. So I guess that would make the corn field not nearly as old as the creek running out alongside the hog containment facility, 'cause I think that creek's been there a lot longer than everything. The corn fields only go so far as they go up to the edge of the creek, and that corn field hasn't got a straight edge where it runs up to the creek – it just follows the turns that old creek makes, good and patient and slow.

That's the way creeks go, and corn fields do some learnin' from them.

So if you look over there you might see that rusted tin can. It was a can of Butternut coffee, a long time ago. That was when the coffee still came in tin cans and you had to use a can opener to get to the coffee. Mr. Donahue at the store said it had something to do with a little kid in the big city cuttin' his finger off with an old-style can lid so that the coffee companies went and changed everything. Piley Watson heard that as we was standin' around listenin' to Mr. Donahue tell about it, and Piley said “hell, I wonder what they woulda' done had the kid cut off his willy?” Mr. Donahue walked over, grabbed Piley and shook him and told him not to use language like that in his store, but we could see Mr. Donahue smilin' and tryin' not to laugh as he shook Piley, so we knew it wasn't so bad. Hell, who ever heard of a kid cuttin' off his willy with a coffee can lid, anyway? Pure nonsense. Mr. Donahue went back to straightening shelves, and we all shuffled out of the store, tryin' to imagine some kid in the big city runnin' around with one less finger.

So if you look in that field, like I said, you might see that old, rusty tin can lyin' there; that old, rusty tin can that used to be full of Butternut coffee and that my daddy used for spittin' tobacco juice into. You'd see it, I'm pretty sure. I don't know if you'd see the earlobe, though. Daddy cut off one of his own earlobes on a dare for twenty dollars when he was drunk as hell one night, and he put the earlobe in that can when he got home. He started beating momma with a poker, and when I saw him start reaching for her earlobe with a knife in his hand, I used the shotgun from behind the door that he used on coons.

The next day I had to get rid of that can. And if it could have been my earlobe in there instead of his, I would have felt a whole lot better about things. Every now and again we have to get rid of things that we don't want lyin' around, and sometimes those things get thrown into a dumpster or into a garbage can, and sometimes they get tossed into a corn field.

11 April 2012

Better Than a Black Belt

Trevor, you were always such an asset to the team. Your quarterly figures were always at the top of the pack, and I always knew that if I had only one man to go to, YOU would always be my “go to” man.” Hollister glared at Trevor as they sat in the board room, and yet his glare and his hard words seemed to make little impact. “I don't know how you could let me down like this.”

Hollister slowly walked in a circle around Trevor, staring at the carpeting in the board room as he circumnavigated the conference table. He thought of the many times that the two of them had sat together in this very room, plotting marketing strategy and sales goals. How could his top man have gone and done this? How could everything have changed so quickly?

Hollister loosened his tie just a bit and walked in front of Trevor again. “My friend, I really hate to do this,” he said. He wondered if Trevor knew what was coming, but it would make no difference – the corporate world is unforgiving, a true dog-eat-dog environment if ever there were one.

Hollister quickly drew his 9mm and snapped two fast rounds into Trevor's forehead.  The grey, partially decomposed head let out a short groan as it tumbled backwards from where it had been propped up, rolled off the edge of the table, and plopped into the leather chair that his body had formerly occupied over so many seasons. Hollister reholstered his sidearm.

That'll teach you to eat the regional vice-president, you bastard.” Trevor wiped his forehead with the back of his hand. “Infection or not, we have to meet our quarterly goals.” He was speaking to an empty room at this point, he realized. He tightened the knot of his tie, smoothed his hair, and walked out of the board room. He needed to go and speak with Josh up in accounting.

02 April 2012

Quetch, of a Sort

We see Doctor Mullen a lot,” said the bouncy-head. “We love Doctor Mullen. Doctor Mullen likes our in-nurds. He said so. He gave us a shot, but not with a needle.”

In-nurds?” asked the chop-queen, holding her head under water, “Do you really mean that he likes your in-nurds, or does he just like everybody's in-nurds, or is he referring to your in-nurds but perhaps just saying that he likes your in-nurds? You have to be careful, and you have to be accurate.”

When the bubbles stopped coming to the surface of the tank which held the water under which the chop-queen held her head, she stopped speaking and pulled her head out with a great splash. She looked around the room, frantically searching for a towel. The bouncy-head handed one to her, and she dried off.

Doctor Mullen really does like our in-nurds. He said he wanted to run his fingers through our in-nurds, and I think he really meant it. Just last week he told Suzy Potcher that he would like to pull out all of her in-nurds and drape them around his room. I figure a person really has to be fond of someone to want to do that.” The bouncy-head bobbled her head back and forth and from side to side, rolling a piece of chewing gum around in her mouth. Doctor Mullen has some pictures of in-nurds on his wall, and he said he would even take pictures of all of our in-nurds and maybe even frame some nice 8x10 glossies of them for us.”

The chop-queen opened her own abdomen by means of a long, silver spoon. This was,of course, no ordinary spoon – it was a spoon that had been sharpened to a razor-like edge, and that allowed the chop-queen to open her abdomen quietly, quickly, effciently, and with little commotion. Her in-nurds spilled out into the water tank.

Doctor Mullen once told me that he liked my in-nurds,too,” said the chop-queen, staring blankly into the water as her in-nurds floated about gaily, “but I learned that he said that about everybody's in-nurds.”

The bouncy head looked in horror and sadness at the tank of water and the bloody mess that bobbed about on its surface.

Well, have I told you about Doctor Sodder?” she asked the pale and wobbly chop-queen, “We see Doctor Sodder a lot. We love Doctor Sodder. Doctor Sodder really likes my ten-dins.”