31 December 2012

2012 Draws to a Close

Two human heads poked out of the sand in the distance. At least they looked like human heads – I was still over a hundred yards away, and I couldn't make out any fine details. As I drew closer, though, I realized that I was walking up to the heads of two humans about five feet apart – presumably men, owing to the short hairstyles and the deep voices that I heard coming from them. I was approaching them from the rear, and could not see their faces. They had no idea that I was there. I was about to call out to them and ask them if they needed some help in getting out of their predicament before the tide came back in, but held my tongue when I heard their conversation.

“Eating like a caveman is what you need – my dietary therapist has me on a paleo-diet,” said the one to the right. “I only eat things that are in accord with the diets of neanderthals and cro-magnons. Raw meat. Nuts. Fruits. Then I run after buses as though I were chasing woolly mammoths.”

“You're an idiot” contended the one to the left. “What you should be doing is concentrating on avoiding gluten. My crystal- and reiki-practitioner has me eating seventeen small gluten-free meals each day, followed by rubbing my each of my chakras with a rose quartz crystal. EACH of my chakras.”

“RAWWWWWWRRRR!!” cried the one to the right, craning his head back against the sand as far as he could. “That is a paleo-roar, and it releases my aggression so that it doesn't ball up in my small intestine and cause a blockage. I do that four times a day. Then I kill a small, furry mammal and eat it raw while squatting next to a fire while wearing a loin cloth. A Lycra loin cloth. One must make some concessions to modern conveniences, you know.”

“Gloo-pee-lee ommmm...” chanted the one to the left, swinging his head in a slight circle. “Gloo-pee-lee ommmm...”

“Idiot,” said the one to the right.

The tide was coming in, but the two didn't seem to care too much. I cleared my throat.

“Leave us the hell alone,” they said in unison. “We are discussing dietary habits.”

I pulled out my hip flask and took a long swallow of gin. I shoved the flask back into my hip pocket and started walking up the hill to the shore road. I could hear the tide coming in, and the sound of the two men arguing about complete proteins.

Happy fracking New Year. You'll never get it.

28 December 2012

Lost in Tulsa?

It is not fiction, is it?  Go...go look.  There, over the Arkansas River.  I think I dropped it...

Go learn what it means.

14 December 2012

True Love Outside of Pucker's Retro-Emporium

 “They was more'n a 'ting dat' you all would wanna' save, dey was.” Hoplite Harry (long of tooth and short of brain) held up the tinny-tinny lunchbox. Rattled its contents and smiled, he did.

“Puttit down, shineboy!” cried out Bessie-with-the-hairy-mole. “Puttit down, 'cause you break it you buy it. That what the sign say, shineboy.”

“Don't calls me no shineboy, Bessie. I don't calls you no shinegirl, you know.”

“Jess puttit down, OK?”

Hoplite Harry shuffles down row after row of Hogan's Heroes lunchboxes and Schlitz beer pitchers and art-deco marital aids. Places a long, moist finger on the layer of dust covering the black bakelite telephone and draws the tip across, leaving a darker black mark.

“Can black be blacker den black?”

“Shaddup, now,” says Bessie-with-the-hairy-mole. “You always talkin' nonsense and I can't takes it no more, shineboy.”

“I sez not to calls me shineboy, you damn ole' hairy-mole-lip-witch.” Hoplite Harry says this and then shrinks, pulling his head inside his torso like a turtle.

“You stick your damn head out here dis' minnit!” Bessie-with-the-hairy-mole is livid and turns red in the face. Her mole pulsates, the little hairs doing a dance like few have ever seen.

Hoplite Harry sticks his head up, and draws a forearms across his face, defending against any potential blows. Wise move, it proves to be, as Bessie-with-the-hairy-mole grabs a martini shaker that is in arm's reach, hauls back and lets it fly. The shaker misses Hoplite Harry and strikes a set of small, felt-covered reindeer in a Christmas display. They topple over and fall to the floor. The shaker ricochets and bounces off a Hamm's Beer sign that shows an endlessly looping lake scene complete with canoe and campfire...over and over and over and over. You know the sign. I told you about it before.

“Crap-O! Whatchoo doin'?” shouts the hairy-navelled Pucker. Pucker runs his antique store with an iron fist. “Getda' helloutta' my store!”

Bessie-with-the-hairy-mole turns away from Hoplite Harry and makes for the door with fast little orthopedic shoes. Hoplite Harry wets himself and follows quickly behind, mumbling and mumbling.

“Dats' de' lasstime! An' stayout!” Pucker fumes, sits, smokes. Pucker spits, coughs, sips.

30th Street is busy and Hoplite Harry looks down at a wet patch on his faded jeans. Bessie-with-the-hairy-mole looks at him and shakes her head.

“I'll go buy us a sody-pop next door,” she tells him. “We'll pour half down your front so no one knows, and den' we drink de' rest.”

13 December 2012

Fake it 'Til You Make it

Prinny (you remember him, I am sure) always had a dream. It was one of those typical dreams such as most people have – the dreams of being a jet fighter-pilot, or learning how to yodel, or managing to excel at barrel-jumping (more on that at a later date, I assure you). Prinny wanted to play the timpani. The kettle drums.

When you think about it long enough, you come to realize that almost all of us want to play the timpani at one time or another in our life, but very few of us ever turn that dream into reality. It would be a sad commentary on human drive and energy if it were not for the fact that so few of us are born with the physical capacity to play the timpani – only one in ten thousand are born with the malleo-wrist organ that is needed to play the kettle-drums. The malleo-wrist organ is a small organ located in the lower arm that enables an individual to play the timpani. The malleo-wrist organ looks like a small piece of putty and is shaped like a three-dimensional representation of the state of Idaho.

Prinny had a malleo-wrist organ, but he was not the sharpest scalpel on the coroner's tray, if you know what I mean (and I have every reason to believe that you do). He had wanted to play the timpani all his life, and he knew himself to be in possession of the necessary anatomy. All he lacked was the equipment. That is what set him on the path to ruin.

Living in Prinny's hometown was one Mr. Clayton Jugboy, a virtuoso timpanist (who had a particularly large and supple malleo-wrist organ, by the way). He lived in a double-wide trailer on the outskirts of Weaverton, and played first kettle with the Weaverton Symphony Orchestra. Prinny would sit outside of Jugboy's trailer in the evenings and listen to him practice the timpani into the wee hours. Prinny would imitate what he knew Jugboy's arms must be doing, wildly swinging his imaginary mallets and feeling his malleo-wrist organs pulse and swell with delight (and lots of lymph fluid, as well).

It was in the autumn of a most tragic year that Prinny took matters into his own hands and set his heart on a dark course of action. Late one night when Jugboy was fast asleep after a performance, Prinny crept up to the double-wide and jimmied the lock on the door. He quietly slipped inside and felt around in the darkness until his hands made contact with what he had come seeking. As quietly as he could he hauled it outside, being careful not to make a sound.

The next day the Weaverton papers and radio stations were abuzz with news of the theft, but the mystery of who had done such a thing was settled early in the afternoon when Prinny appeared on Main Street with the stolen property.

There he was, in broad daylight, imitating the swinging of timpani mallets, striking invisible kettle drums with invisible, imaginary mallets. He was clothed in Mr. Clayton Jugboy's tuxedo, however, and to all the world he looked like a virtuoso timpanist. As the police hauled him away, one of the officers was heard to mutter quietly under his breath, “not the sharpest scalpel on the coroner's tray.”

So I guess you could say that everyone has dreams. Some just go about achieving them in different ways. And some just jump right into living the dream before they know what's hitting them.

You all be careful now, OK?

10 December 2012

Sympathy for the Cruller

The devil looked a lot like the old man who owned the cigar shop back home, except I knew that it wasn't him, as old Mr. Sullivan had been dead for at least a decade or two. Old Scratch here, on the other hand, was most definitely alive, and was sitting right next to me and enjoying a nice cup of coffee and a cruller.

“So, how are you today?” he asked between bites of cruller.

I shared with him my dissatisfaction with things – a whole bunch of things. The economy, the Yankees getting knocked out of the playoffs by the Tigers two years in a row, and my growing sense of uselessness in life.

“Oh...don't worry,” he said, “everything is just fine.”

“But how about my job?” I asked, “I feel as though I'm wasting my time. I feel as though I'm wasting my talents and throwing away my dreams...”

“Oh, come on, now,” he said, “you're just fine. You are doing a great job. Just keep doing what you're doing. Here...have a cruller.”

I accepted the cruller that he handed to me, and I was about to bite into it. I paused, though, remembering a friend of mine who had been given a piece of fruit once and lived to regret it. I was starting to hand it back when he interrupted.

“If you don't want it, just give it to someone who does. It's nice and fresh.”

“OK,” I said, wrapping the cruller in a napkin and stuffing it into my jacket pocket. “Thank you, anyway, though.”

“Sure thing,” said the devil. And then in the smallest, tiniest, most quiet voice he whispered two words in his pasty, crumbly, cruller-scented breath.

“Crucify him.”

07 December 2012


He just stood there. The dirty milkman just stood in line, doing his little shaky-leg dance (don't you just love the shaky-leg dance?), and rolling his greasy-looking little eyeballs back into his skull. The line was a long one, but he seemed to be patient, aside from the shaky-leg dance, which made him appear antsy (you know how it makes people look antsy, don't you?).

“So you kick them too?” I asked.

“Doesn't everyone?” he said, staring up into his skull.

I thought about this. I couldn't really decide if everybody kicked pigeons when they had free time, or if it was just people like the dirty milkman and his pigeon-kicking compadres. Milkmen have so few joys in life, I reasoned. We might as well let them have this one simple pleasure.

So I strolled away to find the liverwurst I had come seeking. Might you remember the liverwurst sandwiches that your mother used to make for you when you were young? Do you remember the white bread – Wonder Bread, it might have been. No more of that. There was full-fat mayonnaise, of the variety that has been banned in California and New York State because of its fat content and whiteness. Finally there was the liverwurst – plump, pink and salty, smelling like liver sausage should. I had come over to the East Village (no, not THAT East Village – the one in Davenport) to the one place I could still find the illusive, illegal, and tasty liverwurst.

I walked into Gypsy Dan's little shop. The place smelled of incense and onions, and I could barely see Gypsy Dan through the haze. There was some kind of sitar music or some such crap playing lightly in the background. As I approached the counter I saw that it was coming from a hairy, dirty hippie who was seated on the floor, strumming away and smoking a zucchini.

“Any requests, man?” asked the hippie on the floor.

“Do you know 'Okie from Muskogee'?” I asked.

The hippie shook his head.

“How about 'In My Merry Oldsmobile'?”

The hippie ignored me and started playing something that sounded vaguely like the Beatles. Or was it the Rolling Stones? It didn't matter. It all sounds the same, especially when played on a sitar by a dirty, stoned hippie.

Gypsy Dan stood before me at long last, smiling and nodding his head.

“You got it?” I asked.

“Sure as hell,” said Gypsy Dan, handing over a brown paper sack.

I reached out to take it when all hell broke loose. A seven-man tactical squad in black ballistic nylon burst through the door. All we heard was the sound of rustling rip-stop, breaking glass and men shouting “Hut! Hut! Hut!” Gypsy Dan hit the floor with his hands behind his head. The dirty hippie dropped his sitar and threw his hands up in the air. I froze in place with the bag of liverwurst in my outstretched hand and was knocked to the ground by a man with a short-barreled shotgun and night vision equipment. The bag was swept from my hand and my wrists were zip-tied together. I laid there on the floor, face-down and afraid to move. The tactical squad left as quickly as they had burst in, and Gypsy Dan's shop fell perfectly silent.

After a long, long time I heard Gypsy Dan get up off the floor. He came over and cut me free from the zip tie.

“Damn,” he said, “I guess a guy's gotta' be more careful with 'wurst these days.”

I nodded my head and rubbed my wrist.

“I'm gonna' have to go back to hiding the stuff in bags full of meth.”

04 December 2012

There is an Old Saying...

"Never hide a snail in the cookie jar."  My great uncle Cosgrove used to say that before we had him put away.  I never quite understood what he was talking about, but recalling his words have shed some light on the world this week.  The midget cowpokes who follow me around the city streets do not seem quite as intimidating today, and the birds are whistling a merry polonaise.

I suggest, dear reader, that you read some exciting blacksmith-fiction today, and then go out for a walk...keeping your eyes open for midget cowpokes.

I will see you all tomorrow...