Friday, October 31, 2014

The First Annual Halloween Story: Benny (Part Six)




Part Six: Gary drank three more beers and thought about Shelia. Gary knew better. He knew better than to socialize. He knew better than to even think about a woman. But they were all screwed anyway, right? Hell, he was doing all the dirty work and chances were he’d be the last one eaten, but he was still a dead man. “Keepers”? Is that how people saw him? Gary knew it was. He might die tomorrow, just one day later than some, six months later than most, but he was still a dead man. They were all going to die, horribly, and there wasn’t anything he really wanted more than just to talk to a woman, that woman, right now. But he knew better. He knew he was talking himself into more trouble than he needed, or she needed, or anyone else needed. But Gary kept walking towards the elevator. The doors opened and Gary blinked. There was no one, and nothing, inside. He pushed the button for the second floor and in a few seconds the doors opened again. There was no one there and nothing there. 209 was on the left, three doors down. It was odd to see people sitting on their beds watching movies as if the world was still the same. The doors were gone, but people were doing people things. They had adjusted to it enough to pretend that death couldn’t just walk in and take them at any moment.

209 has been stenciled on the wall next to the doorway and Gary wondered how people announced themselves. He had never been in anyone else’s room before, not unless there was a body, or parts of a body to remove. Gary had stepped into the doorway before he realized what he was doing. It was a shock to see two people in bed doing anything but the act of lovemaking, so close to a public hallway, stopped Gary in his tracks. Benny was on top of Shelia, she was thrusting away in time with his body, and Gary just eased back into the hall. Why wouldn’t they be making love? Gary discovered he was not only jealous but he was angry. Not twenty minutes after she had come to him for a new room she was breaking it in with another man. Gary tried to fight back against the irrational emotion flooding through his body but the more he fought it the deeper it got. He stormed through the lobby without looking around and walked out into the street. It was the beer talking, Gary told himself, and the stress. For all he knew Benny was a decent person and hell, Gary paused to consider this, he had hired the man. How could he be jealous over a woman he had seen twice, well three times if the last time counted, and a man he had only met once? Hell, Benny seemed like he could be an asset…

One of the monsters was standing right in front of him and Gary nearly bumped into it. In the harsh glare of the street light the iridescent scales looked obscenely colorful. Gary took a step back then forced himself to stand still. He tried to empty his mind.


“Bennnnnny” the creature said and it stood up and walked around Gary as if it were a dog sniffing another. Gary closed his eyes and tried to think about the collection for the week, the number of people he had, over or under for the feeding, he tried to think about anything but the creature nudged him with its snout. “Bennnnnnnny” it said and it nudged Gary hard enough to push him forward.

Gary knew what was going to happen next. They had done this before but this was the first time he had gotten someone killed over a woman. Gary tried not the think about as the creature’s pointed feet ticked away on the pavement as it danced around him like a dog happy to see its master, “Bennnnny! Bennnnnny!” Gary thought of numbers, of herding people into the stadium, or how they might get more and how he might get the rails running again. Gary had trained himself, had steeled himself hundreds of times against letting the monsters into his brain, to think about nothing and nothing and nothing and…

“Sheeeeeliaaaa” the monster reared up on its hind legs and pranced as the though came unbidden into Gary’s mind. There was no more hiding now. Gary’s greatest fears came rushing into his head and he knew he was going to have to watch them both die.

The creature nudged him up the stairway, and Gary had no idea why it wanted to use the stairs, but it killed a man who had started down. Gary was covered in blood and before he knew what he had done, he hoped that Benny and Shelia weren’t in bed together. The monster picked up on the thought as Gary tried to hide it. It nudged him harder and it began making the hooting noises they made as they began getting excited about feeding. It sounded like a two year old who was about to open a present.

Gary walked into the room with the monster behind him. Benny was sitting up in the bed and the creature spiked Benny through the chest with one of its feet and dragged him down to the floor. Benny shrieked in pain as the creature tossed him across the room. Shelia, still nude, stood in the doorway of the bathroom and screamed. Everyone had seen them feed before. Everyone had seen them feed slowly before. Gary closed his eyes and didn’t watch and tried to think of numbers. He could hear Shelia moaning, “No, no, no, please no.” but the monster didn’t stop. Eventually, Benny stopped screaming. Gary hoped he would be next. He opened his eyes and she was still in the doorway of the bathroom, still nude, and still beautiful. He hoped this would the last thing he saw. He hoped he didn’t have to watch her die like that. He didn’t want to listen. But when the monster was done it sat on its haunches, its head ducked to miss the ceiling, and it stared at Shelia. Gary could hear in his mind, he could see it, the images that the creature was sending to her. Despite the gore and the horror, Gary felt his body warming to the idea, he wanted her and he couldn’t deny it. Maybe she…
“I rather die,” Shelia hissed at Gary, “and so would any other woman on earth. You’re a goddam traitor and before I let you touch me I’ll die slow.”

And she did.


Gary thought about numbers and rail cars and anything else he had left in his mind as the screams rose and fell. The monster stopped feeding before Shelia was dead and simply left the room. Gary looked Shelia and knew there was no way to save her, no way to heal that sort of damage, but there was no way to end her suffering. Shelia moaned, tried to speak and used her one arm to try to move. “Benny,”she whispered. Gary went downstairs, picked up a bottle of Scotch from the bar and told Kim room 209 needed a cleaning, please, thank you. And then Gary went up to his room and drank until his mind shut off.


Gary woke up to the sound of his cell phone ringing. He answered it and to his horror there was someone screaming. He nearly threw the phone across the room but he realized it was Kim. He was yelling, screaming, but he was happy. There were other people cheering.
“They’re leaving! They’re leaving!” was all Gary could make out.
Gary went out on the rooftop and there were streaks of silver light all over the city, reaching out for the sky. They looked like falling stars but they were all heading up and up and up. Falling back to the ground were thin strands of iridescent threads. Gary tried to count them, tried to focus on the numbers but there were too many. He looked down at the street below and saw monsters lined up. One by one they shimmered brightly, seemed to dissolve, and then disappeared into the sky. Silvery threads rained down like confetti during a celebration. After the last one left the hotel emptied. People were coming out of buildings and Benny didn’t realize there were so few left. He could hear the sound of cheering in the streets far below. They were leaving. The monsters were, for reasons unknown, leaving.


Gary cleared his mind of all things, thought of numbers and railcars. Gary took a deep breath and a step forward off the roof. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

One and only

The First Annual Halloween Story: Benny (Part Five)



Part Five: The applicant’s name was Benny and his wife was Shelia. Gary tried very hard not to make friends. The monsters tended to kill people he liked or worse, cared about. He lived alone, ate alone, slept alone and didn’t get attached. Benny seemed to be okay, not terrified, and Shelia, damn, Shelia struck him as beautiful. There wasn’t a lot of beauty anymore. Most people were traumatized. Everyone was afraid all the time. No one was safe, no place was safe, and everyone knew it. There was an army tank and the crew had been killed by the smoke. A man had hid in it, coming out to steal food and then going back in as quietly as a ghost, but the monsters had seen him. One waited for him outside the tank. For an entire week it sat on its haunches and waited, day and night. The man had to come out, forced out by dehydration and filth. The monster chewed off both of the man’s feet and left him to die. No one dared help him.

Gary knew better. He knew better than to go downstairs and socialize. But Shelia had stuck in his mind. She had long black hair and deep dark blue eyes. Her skin was that creamy color that came with a mixed heritage and spoke of an incredible beauty. Gary knew better than to go downstairs at all, much less in hopes of seeing her again. But it had been weeks since he had spoken to another person socially. Since Deane, no one would get close to him again. It was obvious to everyone, even Gary that Deane was trying to survive, she would do anything at all, and her desperation was like a cologne she wore. Gary didn’t know what the monsters would think of him having a girlfriend but it didn’t take long to find out. Deane, gripped Gary’s arm one day as one of them passed, and she squeezed closer to him and whimpered. Gary shut his mind down, thought of numbers, of how to get more people into the city, and tried not to watch. The monster whipped around and lashed out at Deane with one leg, flinging her away from Gary’s side. He didn’t move at all. She ran, screaming his name, and then two more of them gave chase. They toyed with her, knocked her down, and finally, in a panic, she ran right into a building the monsters had demanded be burned. They liked fire for some reason. Deane screamed once then went silent. A monster went into the flames and dragged her out by one leg. Deane was still alive but she had been badly burned. They left her there for two days until she died and then one of them ate her. That was the last woman Gary had looked at, had touched, had put his hands on, and had felt her touch. But he didn’t want any of that right now. He just wanted to talk to a woman.

 Gary hoped she would be there, alone at the bar, or in the cafeteria, and he could sit down and talk to a woman without the subject of feeding coming up, or one of the monsters coming in. How long had it been since a woman had looked at him without seeing him as the monsters’ pet human, a man who held life and death over everyone else? How would Shelia look at him? Those eyes, Gary was mesmerized by those blue eyes, and he knew this was trouble.

The lobby was very still and the few people there were all sitting in silence. One of them was near. People knew better than to run, they knew better than to hide or even leave the room when one of them came in. Gary went to the bar and the bartender said simply, “It went upstairs about a minute ago” and served Gary a beer. No one spoke or moved and Gary didn’t turn around when the elevator doors opened with a cheerful ding. They liked riding in the elevators. They liked grabbing people when the door opened or just lunging with their mouths open, just to feed on the fear, just to feed the fear.
“Gary?” It was Shelia.
“Yeah?” Gary tried not to stare. There she was, a foot and a half from him. He had never seen a more beautiful woman in his life. She was wearing a tee shirt and a pair of shorts. Eighteen inches away from him was the most beautiful eyes he had ever seen. “Yeah?” he repeated and he realized how weird he sounded.
“There’s, uh, blood on the floor in our room, Benny is trying to get it cleaned up, but, you know, you think you could get us another room, maybe?”
“Uh, sure, yeah, I mean, yes” Gary hated sounding like he was a teenager with a crush on a girl. But he was afraid he did. He knew he did. She had to know.  Shelia was grinning at him. Gary reddened. “Come on, let’s see what’s open.”
They went over to the front desk that doubled as sort of an operations center. Kim, the Asian man who acted more than a little afraid of Gary quickly found a new room, “Try 209, please, there has been no killed there that I know of,” Kim told Gary. “I’ll send someone, to check.” Before Gary could protest Kim ran from the counter.
“Uh, so where are you and, uh…” Gary’s mind refused to work as long as Shelia was standing in front of him.
“Benny”
“So where did you two come from before…”

“We were in Oakland, and when it started we got caught stranded after our house burned. People were setting fires to everything, and I still don’t know why. We got herded into the stadium, and there must have been fifty thousand people in there. The monsters blocked all the exits and they turned off all the water. After three or four days people were jumping. Then they talked to some guys, human guys, and they told us to line up on the goal line. They lined one hundred people at a time and told them to run. Young, old, cripple, crazy, it didn’t matter, if you were there you got lined up. Then they told us to run. One hundred people ran like hell for the other side and the ten people who were last to cross the ten yard line were eaten. Well, the first ninety were pretty freaked out but the next one hundred were inspired. They turned the water back on at the goal line where we finished. We were two of the second one hundred. We finished close to the front but after the first five hundred ran we all noticed that people were cheating. They would knock other runners down and the monsters seemed to love it. They kept this up, day and night, night and day, until there were only forty-five thousand of us. By then they were letting the keepers feed us and they brought us sleeping bags. But they still ran us, one hundred at a time, and pretty soon we were lined up again. We kept away from the pack, let those who were fastest go on ahead and tried to stay away from anyone who looked like they couldn’t make it. As a team, we did better than average and that was all we needed to do. We ran five times. After the fifth time they started taking the slowest twenty, and they started hunting those of us who helped each other. If you pushed someone or tripped another runner one of them would come after you. It didn’t matter if they knocked a dozen down to get to you they knew how did what out there in that hundred yard dash. We ran five more times and each time it was worse, much worse, than the last. The generators failed one night in the middle of a run and we made a dash for the exits. All we could hear was screaming. We think they shut down the lights so they could kill as many people as they could. I think they got bored with us.” Shelia finally stopped speaking and Gary discovered he had stopped breathing. “Those keepers, those people who fed us to them, I hope it was slow for them.” Shelia said bitterly. “I’m sorry, I’ve never, spoken about this before.” And she put her hand on Gary’s arm.

Kim returned and told them that 209 was ready. “There you go, 209,” Gary said and he fought against the urge to walk her to the room. He watched as Shelia walked towards the elevator. Her hips had a slow, natural roll, that Gary hadn’t seen, hadn’t looked for in a while.  Please, please, please, don’t let there be one in there, Gary prayed. The doors opened and Shelia turned and waved, and lived. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The stars above, the ground below, and the moon guides us with shadows.



I’ve never feared the dark, not even as a child. I grew to fear it less as I grew older because I trained myself to walk in the darkness. Our local school bordered a cemetery and to get to the school for a football game I would take a short cut through the graveyard in the darkness. I knew the paths, I knew certain tombs, I knew the stars and I knew the night.

The darkness you fear is not the darkness you know. The darkness you fear is the unknown darkness, that inky pool in which nothing can be seen. Ah, but the night! When in the darkness but not alone, do you grope in vain for the hand of your lover or do your fingers interlock as if guided by light? Do you not find with your senses that which you seek, when in darkness, you are not alone? When in passion, the deepest passion, is sight not limited, at best, and with your entire existence, do you not live in that moment, without regard to light, or darkness or sight?

You would not wear shoes or clothes into the night, when you are not alone, and you should always do that which protects you, certainly, but I have laid bare feet onto the path in the woods, naked but to be clothed in the silver light of the moon, and the shadows of the stars, and I have found my way.

Why the need for certainty? Would you ask for more light to find your way to your lover’s passion or would you allow your hands to explore that which is known but unseen? Do you not kiss with your eyes closed? Where is the need for sight when passion guides the entire body in a simple kiss, that first step into the darkness of one another, but both eagerly awaits?

Do you watch to see where your feet are, where your hands are, or will your senses guide you no matter how little light there might be, when someone hold you tightly in that first embrace? Is there some guidance you would ask of your lover in the first kiss or would you trust your senses blindly, as love always is. But love is never wrong. How can sight always be right, if we would only love the night?

The first time I walked alone, in the deepest night, without clothes or shoes I fears I might stumble, become weak sensed, and fumble my way out of the night totally inept and briar whipped. How very much this feeling is when we first look into someone’s eyes and wonder if they see the same light as we do inside?

I do not see darkness, not in love and not in the night. I see falling stars, wheeling galaxies, shadows created by moonlight, and the near light of stars, like the silhouette of a lover, slipping off the first bit of clothing, outlined by the moon’s faint stare. I see the long forgotten shapes that lovers named the collection of stars, holding hands, pointing to first one star and then another, out of the billions, the two are focused enough in each other to know what pattern the other sees, as if their minds were bonding as their bodies already have.


The path finds the feet and the feet finds the path. More sure now, I am also very slow and very particular as to where my flesh might touch. The dogs go out before me, my vanguard, my family, the pack which ensures my night. It is only I, and the darkness, but the darkness does not exist. My sight, the most limited of my senses, I do not miss at night, alone or no. For I do so love the darkness and I fear it not at all.

Take my hand, please, and I will guide you into the night, and you will never know a moment of darkness.

Take Care,

Mike

The First Annual Halloween Story: Benny (Part Four)





Part Four:  Gary wondered if he should think of this as a promotion. He was given a suite at one of the best hotels but he didn’t have a door. The monsters didn’t like doors. Everyone who served them could live inside but all the doors were removed. Gary told people that putting up a door or keeping a door or even so much as closing a door was in invitation to dinner. The monsters roamed through the hallways at will, filling the entire space with their bulk. As solid as they seemed they were nearly snake-like in their ability to get into tight spaces. He had seen them squeeze into manholes, with nothing but their hindquarters sticking in the air, to fish out escaping humans. They went everywhere they wanted but the monsters were living in the parking garage. They had flooded it with seawater and they seemed to like being partially submerged. It was his job to round people up so the monsters could feed. He had enough soldiers left over from what was once the army to help him but they were having to go out further and further to find people. They were putting out signs in the country that pointed in to the city, “Free Food! No Monsters!” and that was at least half true. People trickled in by the hundreds at first but now they were only coming in a dozen or so at a time. It was the same everywhere. The monsters were using people to help bring them more people and it was getting slim everywhere.
Six months had passed. Gary didn’t know how much longer he could find people and he knew what would happen if he ran out. There was an internal population in the city, maybe ten thousand, someone had to keep the place running, but if they started using the natives some would bolt and that would mean fewer still, or worse, some sort of revolt, and the monsters might kill them all. Gary wondered if they were going to simply feed on humans until extinction. He didn’t see anything stopping that from happening.

Gary went down into garage and waded into the water. He had a report of how many people had been rounded up and led into the stadium where the monsters liked to feed. He had their ages and their gender, their names and how they were. The monsters liked the details, but Gary didn’t know why. He knew better than to show fear. They liked fear. They loved playing with a human that was terrified. As long as he was relaxed they wouldn’t bother him at all. One of them stopped in front of him.
“Speak”

And Gary gave the report as calmly and as slowly as he dared.  It reminded him of going to speak to the Board of Directors and how there were men in that room who would pick apart any report for any sort of error at all. Was the spacing right? Did the font meet their standards? Gary wondered how much of what the monsters did to him was pulled out of his head. The monster defecated in the water and a wave of revulsion swept over Gary before he could stop it. The monster made him kneel and drink the water. Gary didn’t hesitate.


 There were an even one hundred people living in the hotel with Gary and the monsters in the garage. He had set the operation up like a sales team, the only way he knew how, and everyone obeyed him without hesitation. The monsters knew who dissented. The guy from the interstate and his wife had started some action about getting someone to try to talk to the monsters, to replace Gary, and the monsters had eaten them both, very slowly. Gary had posted a job opening on the internet, and it was totally weird that so much still functioned, and he was stunned to find that someone actually wanted it. The reasoning of trying to get closer to the monsters to keep from being eaten had shown itself, very recently, to be flawed. But Gary needed the help. The logistics of trying to get one hundred people week into the feeding bowl was getting to be a bitch. Gary knew if he got fired it was going to get real ugly real quick. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The First Annual Halloween Story: Benny (Part Three)






Part Three: Once back in his apartment Gary put it all out of his mind. Whatever Franks said couldn’t be trusted. He was nuts.  Gary heard the tic-tic-tic of one of the monsters and then a shot, and then another. Gary didn’t look out of the window for the rest of the day. The next day, Gary pushed the curtains out far enough to see the monsters were milling around, as if they were waiting for something. Then they all took off running. Gary waited but they didn’t return.  The internet told him that the monsters were being stopped cold but they were being stopped cold only in grainy videos that lasted a few seconds. Meanwhile, reports said, in downtown San Francisco the creatures were slowly herding everyone into the middle of town. Gary was already there so he was safer than most, he hoped.

On the morning of the first month of the invasion, Gary was looking at his kitchen in horror. There was no more food. The water was still running but he didn’t understand why. The power was still on but again, Gary couldn’t understand that. The news had stopped pretending that humans were winning and instead urged people to hide. But he had to go out. There was no denying the fact that if he was going to live he had to leave his apartment. No one answered the knocks on doors and Gary was afraid he’s be shot if he tried to force his way in. Gary took the elevator which was running smoothly. It seemed obscene that the lights were on and the music was playing while the world was ending. The doors slid open and the lobby was empty yet lighted and cheerful looking as always. The street was a mess. There were smashed cars and overturned trucks everywhere. Pieces of bodies littered the sidewalks. Gary heard the sound, the unmistakable, tic-tic-tic-tic noise and turned around. One of the creatures stood over him with its mouth half open, rows and rows of needle teeth glittered in the morning sun.

Gary ran. He ran down the street, thankfully it was downhill, and Gary ran faster than he had ever ran in his life. For a moment, for the briefest moment in time that existed, Gary felt good about how fast he was running, but the tic-tic-tickity-tic-tic sound was right behind him. Another thirty seconds of running at full speed and Gary realized, with very certain horror, he was being toyed with. Gary ran until he couldn’t run another step and after that he keep walking. He turned and it was still behind him.

“Run”

Gary looked around. There was no one there but the monster.

“Run”

Gary realized he hadn’t heard the sound of a voice but he felt it, sensed it. He ran. He ran for another thirty seconds but there was nothing at all left. When he stopped the monster picked Gary up by the cuff of his jeans on his left leg and carried him away. Gary screamed and kicked and yelled and hit the creature with his fists but it was like hitting something made out of metal. Gary finally looked around and there were dozens of the creatures and each of them carried a human in its mouth. They formed a circle in the park and each of the monsters dropped their human and waited. One of the people was a woman with an infant. Her monster knocked her down, and picked the baby up in its jaws. The woman screamed and tried to take the baby back but the monster backed away from her, making her chase it, and staying just out of reach. A man tried to grab the monster, reached for the baby, and as if on cue, two of them leapt out at him, and they tore him apart and ate him. No one else tried to help. The monster threw the baby down in front of the humans and impaled it as the woman desperately tried to free her screaming child. She finally sank down and begged the creature to release the baby. The monster ate them both. No one moved. The monsters all sat behind the people, as if guarding them, and no one moved and no one spoke. One man finally got up and approached one of the monsters, “Look, I need my meds, see, if I don’t got my meds…” The nearest monster picked him up and threw him high into the air and the man screamed. The monster let the man hit the ground then ate him. No one else stood up or spoke.
“Stand up” one of the monsters said and Gary was one of the first to stand. The monster head butted Gary and knocked him down. He peed in his pants and knew the last sensation he would have was a warm fluid invading his pants. The creature put its head very close to Gary’s face and Gary could almost see a mirror image of himself reflected in the scales. The creature’s eyes were the size of saucers. Gary could see inside of the eye, as if it were filled with a clear fluid, and there seemed to be three pupils floating in it, each rotating in the same direction. His face was clearly visible in the reflection of that eye, and Gary waited. The mouth opened and he saw pieces of flesh caught between the teeth, bits of cloth and hair. The mouth closed and when it opened again there was nothing but rows and rows of silver teeth, each the size of an ice pick.

“Speak”

One of the creatures had spoken to a man he had pinned down in the same fashion that Gary was pinned. The man tried to speak but he stuttered and fumbled words out of his mouth as if he were about to throw up. The monster picked the man up by the waist and the man screamed. Slowly but steadily, the monster shook the man back and forth, like a dog shaking a rat in slow motion. The man screamed in agony but the monster shook him. The man pleaded for help but the monster shook him. The man tried to grab the creature’s head, tried to kick it, and actually landed a few good kicks, but the monster shook him. Gary noticed the shaking was getting faster and faster and the man’s screams were louder. The people in the circle looked away but nearly all of them had to look back. All of them had the same question; is this how I am going to die? Finally the creature shook the man so violently the man was torn in half. It ate the remains slowly and a woman threw up.
“Speak”
Gary heard the word in his mind and knew that he better say something. He stood up, stepped forward and noticed that one of the monsters was drooling.
“I know you’re all wondering why I asked to you to attend this meeting on such short notice,” Gary began, and the monsters all kicked up their legs and rolled around on the ground in delight.

“But let’s all remember we have a common customer service goal in mind” and for the first time in his life, a canned speech that he had memorized years ago, actually worked in his favor. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

The First Annual Halloween Story: Benny (Part Two)




Part Two: Yet there was nowhere to run. They were everywhere. Gary made it back to his apartment and when he looked down out of the window he saw dozens more of the creatures, each of them chasing down terrified people and tearing them apart. They ran with an awkward gait but were incredibly fast. Gary remembered the noise, a clicking noise like the sound of a sticking hitting the pavement. When three or four of them were running together it sounded like Legos being dumped on a hard floor. Gary turned the television on. There were reports coming in from every state, every country, and none of the news was any different. There were creatures popping out of the air in every city. Bullets didn’t seem to hurt them at all. Gary watched as one of the creatures was rammed by a semi-truck and it rolled over and over but got back up and pulled the driver from the cab and happily ate him.

The next day there were reports the creatures were being killed, beaten back, and the humans were winning. Gary looked out of his window and doubted it. Worse, whenever one of them was killed, and it took a lot to kill one, it exploded into that awful thick black smoke that poisoned everyone it touched. After two weeks the fire in Florida finally went out but now there were hundreds more. The military announced that it had produced a special projectile that would easily penetrate the creatures’ tough skin but they remained mute about the smoke. All the news channels showed the monsters being shot and killed but Gary knew better. There were dead humans everywhere in the streets and not one dead monster.

After three days, Gary decided to risk going out. He hadn’t see a monster in over twenty-four hours on the street though the internet and the television showed heroic battles being fought and won, everywhere. Every time he looked out of his window he checked the other windows in other buildings and saw other people looking out too. Gary slipped out of his apartment and used the stairs. There was a coffee place on the same block and maybe he could get a bag of beans or two. He hadn’t seen any looting. The street smelled terrible. There were pieces of people everywhere. Gary walked quickly to the coffee place and slipped through the front door. There was blood everywhere. Clearly someone, or several people, had died here. Gary picked through the rubble carefully and found several undamaged bags of coffee.
“You live around here, sir?” It was a man’s voice and Gary jumped at the sound. A man in a brown camouflage military uniform hid in one corner of the room, under two tables he had slid together on their sides.
“Yeah, one building over, fifth floor.” Gary was excited. “Are we winning?”
“My name is Colonel Franks, I’m with the 24th Infantry, or I was,” the man began shaking, “they came in, hundreds of them, thousands of them maybe, they were coming in out of the air, they ambushed our convoy and didn’t leave anyone alive. There’s, there’s a section of the Interstate where there is nothing but fire and smoke and death. It’s like that everywhere. They went after us first. They even managed to pop into aircraft that were in flight. We have no idea of they got the subs, too, I hope not, but we’re finished. There isn’t an army or a navy or the Marines anymore. In two days they were everywhere, all over us, and we couldn’t fight back hard enough anywhere. They came into the barracks at night and killed us. They hit us everywhere we stopped, everywhere we tried to fight back, and they just kept coming. It’s like this everywhere, China, Russia, Europe, even Iceland and those places you’d never guess. If you really want to draw their attention pick up a rifle or ride in a vehicle with some sort of markings on it.” The man began to sob softly. “America doesn’t exist anymore. We’re dead.”
“What…what…what, “ Gary couldn’t think of what to say next, “what do they want?”
“Who knows?” Franks tried to stop crying, rubbed his eyes, then started laughing, “They can pretty much take what they want when they want it. I watched General Sheets try to surrender to them, to try to communicate with them somehow, and they killed him, and they carried his body around like a trophy. He was Joints Chief of Staff. I think the President is dead. They got into that secure cavern in Wyoming from what I heard. Once the doors were locked the monsters just popped in anyway. I think they know who is who. I think they’re hunting people based on rank.” Franks stopped laughing. “You might want to get away from me, really.”
“What…” Gary couldn’t think of anything to say. “What about the nukes?”
“Nukes?” Franks laughed loudly. “They took out everybody carrying a code, took them out clear and clean, those were the first to be targeted. Ours, theirs, every nuke on earth, maybe. Now it’s just us and them.”
“Want to, I mean, “ Gary looked around. “you could come with me.”
“I worked my ass off for twenty years to get where I am.” The man said. “I’m not going to huddle up and hide. I’ve got two bullets left and unless you want one please be advised that you are in a combat zone.” Franks stood up and straightened up his uniform. “I’m going hunting, sir, please stand aside.” He jacked a round into his pistol and walked out.


Gary took the coffee and slipped out of the door.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The First Annual Halloween Story: Benny (Part One)

Part One: Gary Pidcock remembered the day, the hour, the moment it had all began. He had stood up in the bar, walked over to the bathroom, found the door locked, and while he was waiting he watched one of the widescreens on the wall. The sports channels had reached a saturation point, Gary remembered that thought coming to him, because they were showing a woman who was six months pregnant doing tricks on water skis. She was the granddaughter of some woman who had done tricks on water skis in some park in Florida and her mother had done the same thing. Martha Minnow was her name, the same name her mother and grandmother had used, and Gary wondered what it was like to be born into something like that. Somewhere in the back of his mind the idea that his father’s name had been Gary wandered around, but Gary was high. He had just been promoted to General Sales Manager for the entire city of San Francisco. His salary had doubled overnight. He could pay off his car this year and Martha Minnow exploded. Gary didn’t flinch because he thought it was part of the show. There was a bright flash of light then there was a column of thick black smoke rising out of the water. The announcers clearly thought it was also part of the show and it wasn’t until the rescue boats started heading towards the smoke everyone realized that something had gone horribly wrong. Gary watched as the tow boat circled around, passed through the smoke, and one of the men in the boat fell overboard. The scene changed to some man in a suit talking about the upcoming baseball season and Gary went back to the party. In the back of his mind, Gary wondered what in the hell had happened to that woman.

The next day everyone in the office was talking about it. Gary was super hungover and happy no one wanted to talk about work but he wanted to make a good impression his first day. He shooed everyone out of the office and onto their routes. He spent the next thirty minutes looking at the news on his cellphone. Ten people had died after getting too close to the black smoke and the fire hadn’t gone out yet. It kept billowing and billowing out of the water with no visible source. Underwater, it seemed if the source of the fire was floating, just below the surface but there was nothing there, but fire and smoke. The sandy bottom of the lake around the explosion was littered with iridescent scales. Gary wondered what it meant. The woman from District was coming by later to help him hire a new assistant and Gary wondered how young and how cute he could get away with.

The next day there was a press conference and the president announced that there were three more of the explosions, one of them in the middle of the Pacific, one of them in Mexico City, and one of them had hit the moon. Hundreds of people in Mexico City were dead, hundreds of thousands more were panicking and fleeing. But no one knew what the explosions were or why they were where they were. A satellite had captured the smoke on the moon, where fire was supposed to be impossible. It rose in a solid column, straight up, and then curved away as gravity spun it. The smoke in Florida had not slowed down a bit.

 A week went by with more of the explosions happening each day. There were three each day, with no set time or reason, and none of the fires seemed to feel like slowing down or going out. One of them set off in the White House lawn and that caused the military to be called out. Gary was watching his world crumble. No one was buying anything but survival stuff. He had an odd feeling that whatever was happening, however, was a lot worse than losing his job.

On the eight day there were no new explosions, even if the fires still burned. The first one, the one in Florida, had been attacked with every substance and device known to mankind and still burned darkly in the water. The body count in Mexico was mounting. A revolution was starting in Brazil where one of the explosions had landed in the middle of a slum, and the poor blamed the government. The White House was abandoned, not that it made that big of a difference.

On the tenth day there were no new explosions. Everything seemed normal again. The eleventh day arrived and Gary was standing in the street when they began. There was no smoke, no fire, no poisonous gases to try to escape, oh no, nothing like that. Gary was watching as a car exploded, he dropped his latte, and a creature emerged from the wreckage of the car. It was the shape of a horse, four legged and the head looked like a horse head, sort of, but it was twice was big. The body was covered in iridescent scales, each of them beautiful and multicolored but silvery at the same time. Gary couldn’t move. The creature charged out of the explosion and ran on legs that bent the wrong way, the knees were backwards from a horse’s legs, and they ended in points, like silver spikes. Gary was standing twenty feet from the creature when it grabbed a man that was just standing there staring. The creature’s head was much larger than the head of any horse and its mouth was filled with teeth, long, needle-like, silver teeth. The creature tore the man’s head off with one bite, reared up on its hind legs and screamed, Gary thought, with delight.


Gary ran like hell.

end part one. 

The Wylly Avenue Wayne



Wayne was one of those people that should have been institutionalized but was born so poor no one ever thought that it might be something very seriously wrong with him. It’s a very telling thing really; there is no distinguishable difference between the effects of deep mental illness and the damage done to a child when raised in abject poverty.  Not that everyone who is born poor or was raised poor has these kinds of problems, but toss in some truly abusive parents, starvation, and an alcohol habit at a young age and hey, you’re looking at a large part of the population of rural South Georgia.

But Wayne was different. He told everyone who would listen about his car wreck, the one that happened when he was a kid, and how it messed his head up, but those people who had known him all his life, like his sister, Reba, would tell you there never was a car wreck and Wayne was born the way that he was. Poor impulse control and a frightening inability to discern danger made Wayne one of the most interesting people not to be around on a regular basis. Something was going to happen and Wayne was going to be there when it did.

The first time I met Wayne he had come looking for me, which was more than a little bit disconcerting. I knew of him but had never met him and didn’t want to meet him. Things happened around Wayne. Not good things, sometimes. But there he was on my doorstep holding a brown paper bag that might have contained a twenty-four ounce beer. But it didn’t. It held an empty beer can that had about a half ounce of homegrown reefer in a plastic bag at the bottom. That’s how Wayne hid his dope from the law. No one ever checked an empty can for pot. As far as I knew, Wayne was never busted for drugs. That was the one thing he and I had in common. But Wayne had heard that I caught a rattlesnake and he had come to tell me one thing and one thing only, “You put a snake on me and I’ll put a bullet in your head” and that’s was the first thing he said to me. No introduction, no greeting, nothing, just a death threat and then an invitation to smoke some pot, as long as I didn’t have a snake in the house. Wayne was more terrified of snakes than about 99% of the population of earth.

But Wayne wasn’t the kick back and hang out for a while type dude. The man was in a state of constant motion. He was difficult to find, even harder to pin down at any given time, and Wayne knew a lot of people. As far as I could tell, no one really liked him, but he could grow decent pot. No one knew where he grew the pot because he lived in an abandoned house in town, but somehow, he always had some of that smelly homegrown that was just a shade better than nothing at all. Honestly, I never did figure how where he grew it, or if he was just being fronted it. But Wayne never was totally out of pot.

The story of how Wayne wound up getting killed was one I knew enough about to have been called in by the law on it, but there was no way in hell I was going to get involved. But Wayne, for all his weirdness and all his sudden swings towards, you know, I have no idea what to call it, wasn’t a mean person. But Wayne would do things. He once grabbed a waitress by one of her breasts in a truck stop. I was there. I saw it. One minute we’re eating cheeseburgers and fries because they’re running a special and we’re stoned, and then out of the cold blue, Wayne just slips his hand into this woman’s shirt from underneath. Well, what in the hell do you think happened? She went monkey crazy on him and he stood up and just stared at her like he had no idea what just happened. If you’ve never been cussed at before I highly recommend pissing off a truck stop waitress because you’re going to discover a whole new world in profanity. This chick threw down. She also screamed loud enough to attract the attention of everyone in the building which meant we had to get the hell out of there. I left a five on the table and scooped up my burger and walked. Kenny was with us and he was just a step behind me. This sort of thing flat pissed Kenny off, and that was never a good thing. We left Wayne there, rode off and left him, and Kenny wanted to kick his ass. So did I but I knew that it wasn’t going to happen. Being insane is a pretty good defense because nobody is going to mess with the crazies.

I went over to Wayne’s place later that day to see if the law picked him up. I was pretty sure somebody at the truck stop knew who he was, and I was damn sure they knew me. Wayne’s house had been abandoned but he ran an extension cord from his nearest neighbor’s house to his. All he had was a refrigerator and a two eyed hot plate. His neighbor let Wayne do it because Wayne would cut the man’s grass every week. Wayne loved mowing. He made a lot of money mowing but he did things. He bogged a mower down in a gravel driveway one day and rocks went flying everywhere like it was a damn machine gun. But other than that, the man would cut grass all day long if he could find someone to pay him.

Crazy means crazy. Crazy means insane, it means off balance mentally and sometimes it means dangerous as hell, but it doesn’t mean stupid. Wayne wasn’t stupid but he played the part better than anyone I ever met. Some of it was his inability to stay focused. His mind wandered and drifted off and it was hard as hell to carry on a conversation with him. He also had the language skills of a five year old and the five year old was happy to be shut of them. But one day, someone broke into Carrie Hatcher’s place and stole a pound of pot. Carrie’s boyfriend, Steven, dealt pot but Carrie didn’t touch the stuff and everyone knew it. The next day Wayne is walking around with a lot of pot. He’s selling stuff dirt cheap. Well, as you can imagine, Steven find out Wayne has some dope, a lot of dope, and Steven goes after Wayne. Steven is one of those guys that would take the bottom part of a pool cue and wear someone out with it. He had beaten a guy nearly to death for breaking into Carrie’s car and when he got to Wayne’s place, there was Wayne with the dope.

Right off the bat Wayne offers to sell Steven dope that Steven believes is his. So Steven asks Wayne, “That’s good stuff, Wayne, where’d ya get such good stuff and so much of it?” And Wayne tells him that the guy living across the street from Carrie just up and gave him three or four ounces of dope. Steven believes Wayne because Wayne is a pretty simple son of a bitch, right? Steven goes after Carrie’s neighbor and sure enough, he’s got pot, too. He tells Steven he found the stuff on his kitchen table, about an ounce of it, and Steven beats the guy up pretty bad, too. So the cops get ahold of Steven and the other guy and they both are holding so they both go to jail. In the meantime, someone breaks into Steven’s apartment and takes about five hundred bucks in cash. I know who did that because I helped him hide it.




 Wayne came to my place and asked me to help him hide the money and I knew, really knew, that if I went to Steven and told him what had happened someone would die. I was afraid Wayne would kill me if I refused to help him. But mostly, I would know where five hundred bucks was hidden and that, my friends, was a very good thing. Wayne and I went out back of his house, in near total darkness and dug holes, deep holes, with post hole diggers. We then rolled twenties and tens into very small and tight rolls, put them in glass jars, sealed the jars with super glue, put the jars in the holes, put a foot of dirt on them, and then put posts in the holes and set them in the dirt. It looked like someone was trying to make a fence but had quit. There were five holes with posts in them, and a hundred dollars in each hole. The whole operation too less than an hour.

We rolled some joints, drank beer, and then Wayne just got up and left, the way he did sometimes, and left me in the house alone. The sun had long since gone down and there wasn’t any real light in the place. The real reason I never strayed into stealing for a living is I have never felt comfortable in someone else’s house. I can’t stay the feeling, that weird feeling of being somewhere I don’t belong when I’m in someone else’s house. I was burning one, about to get up and walk home when Reba showed up.

Reba was an interesting person in own right. She didn’t smoke, drink, do drugs or cuss. Reba made a lot of people nervous and she made me nervous a lot. Reba was born into the same generation of trouble as Wayne had been, but she married at fifteen and got the hell away from home as quick as she could. Reba still looked a fright, mind you, because she had been working the fields like a migrant worker for most of her life. Exposure to direct sunlight and poverty had taken the pretty out of Reba very young and all that was left was who she really was. I can’t say I remember Reba ever smiling or laughing much. She had her first kid at fifteen, and that one died before the first year ran out. She was pregnant again at sixteen and this one lived, and so did the next two. But Reba had worked hard at having nothing at all and her kids were going to follow in her footsteps unless she could keep them away from people like Wayne, and people like me.
“Whare’s Wayne, you know or don’cha?” Reba wasn’t much on small talk either.
“Reckon, I don’t.” I told her. “He didn’t speak to it fore he left.”
“Reckon he wouldn’t” Reba replied as if she were satisfied I wasn’t lying to her.
“Wayne this way, the way he is, always?” I wanted to talk to her and I didn’t know why.
“You come look at this.” Reba said and she flipped on a flashlight she was carrying. I hadn’t seen it when she came in. It was one of those long metal flashlights the cops used when they beat people. It occurred to me, at that moment, Reba might have had reason to have a weapon on her.

I have done, and even at that early age, I had done, my share of drugs. I had seen some fairly freakish things in my life, things I can’t tell you about even now. Most of what I write about is long since done, and nobody is going to care if I tell you this story or that story, but there are just some things I won’t drag up out of the past because they’re done. I know, mostly, why people are the way they are or I wouldn’t say. But there are some people are who they are for reasons nobody knows why, and we haven’t the right to ask if we aren’t going to help.

In a part of the abandoned house Wayne had started drawing on the walls. There was a line, thin dark and made with a common pencil, about a quarter inch from the baseboard, that line went all the way around the room, all four walls, and it came back and went a quarter inch high and kept going until it wrapped around for two or three feet, each line perfect and exact and tiny. But there were people drawn on the wall, too, in pencil, people who didn’t have their faces drawn in, and some of them who did. Reba was there, much younger, almost pretty, and there was a woman, “That’s mama” Reba told me, and then she pointed out other people she and Wayne had grown up with. The drawings were life size and each of them looked perfect like a photograph. I was stunned.
“Why have them people get drawed without faces, Reba?” I asked.
“Those hurt him some, and some, more.” Reba said. “That’s daddy, there, I can tell by the hair, and that’s Uncle Jerome, I know that hat, and that there, I don’t know, Mike, I never did know who that was, but that’s one Wayne draws a bunch.”

There were lines, thin and straight, a quarter inch apart, all over the house. They went around electrical outlets and sometimes they made patterns that seemed to be moving. But there was only one room with the faces. It was an eerie creepy thing to look at a drawing of a person that didn’t have a face where you knew one would be.
“You know Wayne stole that dope.” Reba said suddenly.
“I don’t.” I lied.
“No good will come of it.” Reba told me. “You get shut of that stuff and you’ll be okay, Mike”
“Okay.” I had no idea what else to say. Reba left without saying anything else.

I never saw Wayne again, not alive. I got there over late, on foot and drunk, when they were putting the fire out. A small crowd had come and I was hoping Wayne had left the plate on, and maybe he didn’t get burned, but it wasn’t the fire that got him; the smoke took him before the flames got out of control at all. They said later there was a cigarette that Wayne dropped when he fell asleep. The smoke finally got him but not the way I thought it would. I knew ever else might have been true, Wayne didn’t smoke cigarettes. That sent chills down my back, thinking somebody might have made it look like an accident, but I wasn’t talking. There was somebody else in the house with him, and the odd thing is nobody knew who it was. “Unidentified White Male” was they ever really said about the body, but I watched them take Wayne out of the house and whoever it was in there with him, and that was that.

I dug the money up, you know I had to, and it did take some doing. I unrolled it all, flattened it out some, and put it in an empty beer can. I took it to Reba’s place and laid the money out for her and she just looked at me, like I was asking for something. I wasn’t.
“Comes a time you just have to walk off from something evil tainted and keep walking, and hope that the good you’ve done balances out what came before.” That’s what I told Reba when I left. I hope I was right.


end

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Childless Man Bitches About Kids Again

I never go into one of those Big Chain Stores because I feel like I’m making a cash donation to everything that is wrong with this world. A customer ought to have some sort of identity and so should the people who work there. In those big stores the underpaid and badly treated workers act as if the customer is part of the problem and they would be right. I know this. But I went in anyway, because I need to buy in bulk.

It’s a weird little quirk I have and I have no idea where it came from or when I developed it, but somehow or another I get really stressed out when I run low on toilet paper. If I have less than a six pack on the shelf I feel like I’ll forget one day and there I will be, stranded. Six rolls will last me months, I know, I do know this. But today I checked and there was only three. Three? It’s time to panic. Oh, and I was down to one bar of soap. I like to buy soap in bulk because I go through a lot of it. OCD? Maybe. Why do you ask?

Starbucks is also a quirk. I like to go in and write while drinking coffee. Coffee! They have the very best coffee ever. Strong coffee with real espresso in it and odd people talking loud enough for me to listen in and write about them later. It also makes me pee a lot. Believe or not, this is why I asked you here today.

So there I am, in the bathroom of the Big Store and as far as cleanliness goes it’s somewhere between that gooey stuff between your toes when you haven’t taken your Army boots off after a week in a foxhole and a stain on a bed sheet in a hotel that rents rooms at ten minute increments. And there are two little boys playing in the bathroom. On the floor of the bathroom. My mother would have set fire to me to cleanse me if she had caught me in there and then she would have soaked my ashes in Clorox for a week. So one of the little boys sees that I am wearing my bush hat and he comes over to me and asks me if I am a cowboy. Uh, no, I am not, it’s a bush hat not a cowboy hat. And he’s standing right there beside me and there is no way in hell I’m going to pee in front of a kid, so I ask him to step away, please, so I can pee. He’s clearly very interested in my bodily functions.

Where. Is. His. Fucking. Parents?

So I get him shooed away from me and he and his brother play in the sink, pushing the water taps open and seeing how much water they can get the sink to hold my blocking the drain with their hands. This will end poorly. I must flee this place. Yippie ki-yay!


Okay. I have a coupon for a nearly free oil change and go to the oil change place. There in the waiting room, which is the size of a hall closet, is a man and a woman holding hands in two of the four chairs, and the other two chairs are six kids piled on top of each other. The woman at the counter tells me that it’s coupon day, clearly, and the wait time is an hour and a half, at least, because they’re really busy. One of the kids begins to wail. But their other store across town is also accepting coupons. I can see it in her eyes; Take me with you! Why would anyone take that many kids to get an oil change? Knowing how long the wait is, couldn’t you drop off one parent and the kids in bathroom in a Big Store?

Totally irrelevant and completely off subject, the other oil change place is not nearly as busy and there are no kids there. On the odd side of things, there is a condom floating in the toilet. I have no idea, don’t ask, I really do not want to know. The idea of oil change place sex may excite some people, or maybe, you know, nevermind.


When it gets right down to it, actually, the two people having sex in the oil change place bathroom where just about the most responsible two people I ran into, considering all things. If there were two people in there having sex they did so in a manner that might help prevent there being kids on that bathroom floor one day, or any bathroom floor for that matter.

Take Care,

Mike

Friday, October 24, 2014

Slut



Samantha was the first woman I had ever met, well, the second actually, who ever sat down with me and told me she was a slut. Sex was something she enjoyed doing more than sitting around talking to somebody you really wanted to have sex with, but were just talking around it. Just ask for it, Sam told me, and if I am in the mood we’ll do it. If I’m not you don’t have to stick around and try. Sam also lacked a filter when it came to telling people what she was thinking at the time, and that more than anything else she might have done drove people away from her.

Men, Samantha told me, are more apt to walk out of a woman’s apartment with their desires unfulfilled if the woman tells them upfront she’d like to have sex. Let’s do it before we go out and that’ll knock out some of that sexual tension, okay? But that freaked a lot of guys out and it ruined it for many more. Where’s the conquest? Where’s the reward for effort? Where’s the constant pressure and eventual breaking down of the barriers? Where’s the epic struggle with the bra clasp and the tight jeans pull? Samantha changed the script when it came to sex and most of the guys she met were more than a little intimidated by the idea of a woman who was not only willing but willing to talk about it.

I remember the first night I met her. I was at a bar in Valdosta and my friend Sara was telling me about her. Sara was thoroughly fascinated with Samantha because they were cut from the same cloth. Sara had an air if elegance about her, a little aristocratic snobbery that her looks allowed her to get away with it but Sam was all blue jeans and tee shirts, mostly. Sara sat down at a table where Samantha was drinking with a female friend and then motioned for me to join them.
“What do you think, Samantha?” Sara asked. “Would you sleep with this guy?”
Samantha laughed hard and then looked at me to see if I was in on it and clearly, by the look on my face, this was the first I had heard of it.
“Sure, why the hell not?” Samantha finally said. “Have you got any pot?”

So on the back to my apartment we smoked a joint, made introductions and took off clothes off and had sex. The pot was good, Samantha was too, and we enjoyed the evening a lot more had we just danced around the subject until we were drunk enough to leave the bar.

“I’m a bit of a slut, in case you haven’t realized it yet,” Samantha said to me. She said it as if she had just told me she was a Scorpio, which as far as I can tell, mostly the same thing.
“I wonder why men doesn’t get that sort of reputation for doing the same thing?’ I asked.
“The same reason people bad mouth cheap beer.” Sam told me. “Men are willing to pay more for some beer that no one else is drinking because it makes them look like they can get something no other man has. Men drink to get drunk, as drunk as they can, but it matters how they get drunk, to other men. You see some guy with a bottle of Boone’s Farm in front of him and you’re not that impressed, but when a guy is sitting there with a bottle of, oh shit, I don’t know any good wines,” Samantha laughed hard at that.
“I don’t either.” I admitted.
“But it’s same thing.” She said. “Men want to be seen with a woman no one else has but they still want her for the same reason. Chances are, someone’s had her, but at that moment she’s property. Now the man may be looking at every hot looking little ass that comes through the door and he may even take a shot at something he wants, but he’s not going to tell his property this, and he’s not about to let her do it. But men have a cash investment in relationships, they buy into it like they’re renting a piece of property to grow crops. Dating isn’t exactly prostitution but there isn’t a man out there who doesn’t understand that his chances of getting laid are almost zero if he asks a woman to pay for a date. Women buy into the idea it’s not selling if he’s nice about it, opens a door or two, says the right things at the right time, and finally about three dates deep, both of them are ready to get over it and get in bed.”

“Sleeping around is more honest,” Sam told me, “I don’t feel bought. Sex is different when you get what you want when you want it. You spend a lot less time and effort trying to get it. It doesn’t drive your reason for living like it does those people who can’t get any because they’re so damn uptight about it.”
“Wow” and that was all I could think to say.

“Think about it Mark,”
“Mike”
“Oh, sorry, uh, Mike, “ Sam giggled, “you’ve gone out with women, fell in love with some of them, had your heart broken or broken her heart, and during all this time you’re paying a monthly bill of X amount of dollars. You’ll get a discount once she starts paying for a few things, but that’s when the relationship begins to even out and you, as the man, start to lose a little bit of control of her and the relationship. If you can sit down and have a dialog with her, about who pays for what and when and how, then you’ve finally reached the point where I start when someone wants to date me.”
I don’t say anything. Samantha was lying next to me, one arm tucked underneath, one of my arms over her body, and she looked really good naked. But all I could think about was what she was saying. Then it occurred to me, that even within Samantha’s System, she would have a very hard time finding someone who would quit the normal Prostitution Dating System and join the revolution.
“You’re thinking about how hard it’s going to be for me to find someone to get into a relationship if I tell them I’m a slut upfront.” Samantha grinned at me in the candlelight.
“Uh, yeah, that’s close” I admitted.

“So what if starting right now, you tell every woman you meet you’d like to get into her pants. Oh, but you’re willing to take her out to movies, talk about world peace, buy her meals in places you’re not going to take her again in the coming months, open the car door for her, and at some point in time, sex is going to happen anyway, so why not the first night? I think if you started out that way you’d wind up with a lot more sex and a lot less hassle. Maybe not, but how does that dating thing work when you go home alone anyway?” Samantha got up and went to the bathroom. Watching her walk nude was exciting.
“So now what?” I asked when she got back.
“What do you mean?”
“You want me to take you back to the bar now or do you want to hang around for more sex?” I asked. “I mean, as long as we’re going to talk openly about it.”
“I’ll spent the night if you’re up to it, but I’m not going out with you.” Samantha said.
“Why not?”
“You’re still hung up on the Prostitution Dating thing.” Samantha said. “You’ll have a good sex buzz after this and confuse it with actually liking me. You’ll buy me stuff and confuse that with some sort of pre-commitment and the next thing that will happen is you’ll find dancing with someone I like and you’ll feel hurt, through no fault of my own.”
“Wow, you’ve got it all figured out.” And it really sounded like she did.
“Your friend Sara, now she’s got it all figured out. She sells herself to the highest bidder every night but on her terms. She might not sleep with the guy buying the drinks and everyone knows it. She steals from the men she sleeps with, she treats them like shit, and they eat it up and empty their wallets in public for her.” Samantha sat up on the bed, crossed legged and faced me. “You were there, right? That night she told her boyfriend she was going to sleep with the next  guy who walked through the door? And she did it, right?”
“That’s what happened.” I told her. “I was sitting right there.”

“And he still chased after her.” Samantha raised both hands to the sky as if she was invoking some holy spirit, “How does a man get that invested in a woman whose nature is well known? He invests money into her and that invests his heart.” She lay back and unwound her legs, throwing them across me.
“Why does Sara sleep with you?” Samantha asked.
“I have good pot.” I replied.
“No, Sara sleeps with you because she actually likes you.” Samantha told me. “That’s another reason we can’t date. I don’t want that bitch in my life in any form”
“I don’t think Sara likes anyone.” I said. I knew Sara too well.
“She can get better pot from one of a dozen men, you never have cocaine and you know she loves the stuff, you’re way under what she wants out of a Sugar Daddy, and you drive a Toyota. So why is Sara setting you up with other women?”
“To see if I’ll do it.” I replied and that seemed to be a good answer. It felt good.
“No, she sets you up with other women because she likes you.” Samantha laughed hard and I grabbed her and tickled her for it.
“You don’t know anything about women, Mike. You never will.” Samantha laughed even harder. “Are we going to talk all night or do you want more sex?”  

Take Care,

Mike

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Great Coyote Raid of 2014: Defend The Trashcan!



The Coyotes are back but this time they are much further away. Warrior Girl doesn’t care. She’s at the window and growling at them, a low, fierce, ominous sound that carries unspeakable violence in its tone. Lucas slips off the bed soundlessly and into the blackness. I can hear Sam lurching to his feet, struggling to get airborne, and I hope he can at least stand up by the time it’s over. The coyote pack isn’t moving closer to us. They’ve heeded the warnings and death threats from Lilith and…

The sound of the trash can outside being upended is unmistakable. Lilith explodes in fury and Lucas’ bray is a second behind. I’m up and have the shotgun in my hands as soon as the room clears which happens in a millisecond. Even Sam is on the go. The long black and feeble veteran feels as if there might be one more fight, one more war, and he’s afoot. They’re in the yard. They’re in our damn yard!

I always keep the flashlight where I can put my hand on it without looking. I chide myself not to open fire until the coyotes are Southeast of the house, so I won’t have a stray pellet hit the road. I’m out of the front door with the shotgun raised but finger off the trigger, finger off the trigger, keep the flashlight off, the dogs are losing their minds, oh hell what if one of the dogs, or all of the dogs, goes over the fence, look behind you dammit, barrel up, barrel up, finger off the trigger, light on and…

A limb has fallen out of a tree and knocked the trash can over.

Damn. I’m breathing heavy. Oh. Hai. I’m naked. The two together usually means I’m having a pretty good night, but this isn’t it. I’m barefoot. I’m pretty sure this isn’t how the Marines respond to a full alert at night. I hope Lewie Puller isn’t reading this.

I go back inside and there are no dogs. They’re still snuffling and woofing outside but the tension level has dropped way down. The shotgun goes back into the corner and the flashlight gets turned off. There’s as much chance of me going to sleep right now as me having a virgin birth at the moment.

Lilith has returned to the back of the property to scold the coyotes, long distance, and Lucas tosses out a word or two on the subject. Sam’s hoarse whisper of the bark barely lands inside of the house. Everyone comes in at the same time, which means this war thing is bring at least the L Hounds closer together. Lucas takes this all in stride but Lilith is delighted with the results. She leaps up on the bed and wants to cuddle now, wiggly and with legs flailing the air, belly up for rubbing.
I want to get up and write but turn the light off and let the adrenaline drain from the dogs. Lucas alerts on an owl’s cry and Lilith goes to the window again. Sam doesn’t move. As much fun as it was, the night is growing chilly and it is still a couple of hours before we’re supposed to be up. I can’t sleep. Lucas curls into a ball and snores. Lilith steps over me to sleep beside Lucas and soon she’s asleep as well. The owl and I trade thoughts of rodents and just as I begin a dream that involves a long wooden ladder, the alarm clock sounds off.
So what have we learned here tonight? If the coyotes sound like they’re a mile and a half a way, that means they haven’t sent a commando team in to raid the trash can, not that there will ever be any food thrown away here.

It’s going to be a very long day.

Take Care,

Mike

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Unbeatable Bras of Boyhood and How A Stuffed Bear Helped Me Lose My Virginity.




The boy a knew was a teenager, and therefore he was a god,
For I was eight and to relate, with one of them was odd,
Just a kid was all I was and it seemed all I would ever be,
For there in cars and trucks and cigarettes were men
Who all lived free.
This one had his sideburns, like Elvis, don’t you know,
And he had a tattoo, drawn with a pen just so,
His daddy’s car was the fastest, and his hair the slickest in thing,
But to his ruin and untimely end, the device down did him bring!
He said that she was willing, and offered up her top,
but then there was a mighty struggle, and giggling, she made him stop.
The device, he said, was near impossible, and made from twisted steel,
She might be willing to allow a touch, or maybe a lonesome feel,
But deep inside she was protected, but that tiny clasp
And no man could ever conquer, no matter how he grasped.
Men with muscles made of oak and those who lifted weights,
Were dismayed and never laid, but the hooks that denied fate.

Young I learned, and fast I studied this terrible affliction,
That kept so many Elvis-ite, away from their addiction.
Two sisters I had and they were both, armored in this way,
So I stole away the device in question and I began to play.
A teddy bear that was so big the thing fit just right
Was a partner in this crime, and I practiced every night.

It seemed at first there was a curse and nothing could be done,
But then the slip, with fingertips, began to be too fun.
Of course the time when I could try, on something made of flesh
Was years away and I knew it, but one night there’d be a test.


The first time I slipped my hand into the well dressed Promised Land,
My heart beat wild, my breath was short, and I was too young a man.
I found the clasp, that defeaded Elvis, and with two fingers grasped.
A pull and push, and flick of fingers, and the girl in question gasped,
“You’ve done this before, you naughty boy!” and then there was no laugh.
In invitation was extended because she didn’t move,
Her hand to push my own away and I was in the groove.
My slipped under the bra, the curse was also lifted,
I touched a woman for the first time

Because a giant teddy bear was gifted. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Weasels and Smokers and When To Shut Up.






The last real fistfight I was in was back in 1990, and I told the guy if he kept screaming at his girlfriend after midnight I was going to clock him. I did. I thought that was going to be the last fight I got into but then back in about 1994 the deed came really close to being done. I was working out of a trailer and it was one of those projects that had started poorly, gone downhill, and no one was happy with anyone at any aspect of the project. We had called a meeting with a bunch of contractors and subcontractors. Everyone was bitchy.

I had just started the job, I was the most recent hire, and everyone assumed, rightfully, that I didn’t know a damn thing about what was going on. So there was this one guy who loved to ask me questions about things he knew damn well I didn’t know, and he was a smoker. I told him to stay out of our office when he was smoking and he’d stand in the door on the steps. The whole office smelled like cigarettes the whole damn day after he did that. One day he parked his truck right behind mine so I couldn’t move. It was raining and he told me if I wanted to get out bad enough the keys were in his truck. I backed his truck up about a half a mile, rolled down both windows and left it there. That pretty much started some bad blood between us and it got worse the day he showed up for that meeting with a cigarette in his mouth. I reminded him there was no smoking in the office and he told me as soon as he was finished there would be no smoking and then he blew smoke in my face. I took the lid off my coffee cup, which held just short of an imperial gallon, and threw it in his face.

I knew it would take him a full five seconds to react and I knew by that time if I hit him hard enough I had a more then decent chance of coming out of surgery being able to walk, but that was about all I had any hopes for. About the time the whistles blew and his face turned red, his employer walked with his Weasel for a Nephew and with my supervisor’s supervisor. The coffee is all over this dude and all over the floor, which was also covered with grown men, rolling around laughing, did not bode well for the future of either of us.

So they separated us, sent us both home, and when I came to work the next day I was a legend. Everyone had heard what I had done, and it went all the way up to headquarters who decided that I had acted rashly, but in, more or less, self-defense. On the other side of the coin, the man who had been served with karma and coffee made the mistake of telling his employer if he didn’t do something about the situation he would.

The reason we all thought he nephew was a weasel was he went to work with his uncle a very long time ago and it was rumored he had plans to take over the company when his uncle retired. This put uncle’s son out of the equation, but the Weasel had very cleverly taken a franchise of the business, let it nearly go under, and the son had to go rescue it. Meanwhile, the Weasel was back at his uncle’s side, trying to blame all that went wrong on the guy who was the superintendent of that business. He was the guy I hit with the coffee. The Weasel came to me and told me if I wanted to press charges, they would hate it, really, and they didn’t want me to, but if I felt like I had to, here let me buy you lunch, then they might have to fire that cigarette smoking SOB who nearly ruined them at the other plant.

I hate weasels more than I do cigarette smoke. I told him that I would be told what to do by those who paid me but as far as I was concerned it was over. But I do so much love a good steak that is medium rare, thank you, really, ever so much.

So everything sorted itself out, there was no more smoking in the office and no more airborne coffee, but the Weasel tried to get the Smoker fired for another incident and the man had to quit. He got a job with another firm and it went under. It wasn’t his fault, but then the Weasel’s uncle retired and left everything, every damn thing, to his son, and they say the Weasel sat down on the floor and cried like a little girl. He went on to work at a much lower pay with a competitor, but I never heard from the Weasel again.

In business, there’s an old expression, “The butt you try to kick today may be the ass you have to kiss tomorrow” and that’s true.

Smoker is not exactly in a position to have to kiss my ass but he’s working for someone that I work very closely with. His employer has to know the back story on this and if I know the man like I think I know him, he’s going to tell the smoker, “If this is going to be a problem for you let me know right now and I’ll make sure it isn’t.” Because he has a zero tolerance for bullshit. I do too at work. That’s why I never talk openly about what I do or who I work for and I never will. This story is so generic I could be in the bread baking business for all most people know. I do know that everything you do comes back to you so keeping the peace is good for everyone. And good for business.

There’s more than a few people who know the story, I know they know, but no one has mentioned it. I sure as hell don’t talk about it anymore. So Smoker has to drop by this morning and do a few things for me. I hate it for him, really, because considering his talent, he ought to be drawing better assignments. But he got Weaseled out of a damn good job, another folded up on him, and he’s not related to anyone in any family owned business. Now, he’s just trying to work until he can’t and that’s hard to look at in anyone.

He stands in the doorway and his cigarette is long gone, tossed far away from the door, and I remember how he looked covered in coffee. There are two younger guys with him and I can tell by looking at their faces they’ve heard the story. They’re grinning. Smoker and I shake hands and I ask him if he remembers some brickwork he did, might have been ten years or so ago, and that was some of the best brickwork I had ever seen in my life, really, impressive as hell, and I wonder why no one does work quite like that anymore. The time when a man’s work was as good as his name, why those days are gone. Yep, it’s hard to fine craftsmen these days, it is.


Take Care,

Mike

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Coffee, Crows, and Baby Buzzards.

I love to eavesdrop in public because mostly people don’t realize they can be overheard. The most bizarre thing I ever overheard I had to get up and join the conversation it was so totally messed up and weird. A group of high school students were having a party in this huge old house that no one lived in and one of the games they were playing was called “Five Minutes” the guys would draw a guy’s name out of a hat, the girls would draw a girl’s name out of a hat, and the two were put into a closet with no lights in it. No one knew who they were making out with because the girl was led in first then the guy was put in there with her. Five minutes later they found out who they were with.

Because people are evil, some of the students plotted to put a guy and girl in the closet who were siblings. And it worked. The lights go on and the two are caught in an embrace.

I had to get up and ask, really, was anyone shot over this?

So this morning I’m drinking coffee and there’s this small group of people talking about what happened on the way there. Apparently they drove close to some roadkill and nearly hit a vulture. Now, in South Georgia there is this continuing and totally impossible myth that the vulture, or more commonly known as the buzzard, doesn’t have a digestive tract. All their food goes into the stomach through the mouth and the buzzard apparently pukes out the waste material.


I think this originated from the fact that vultures will puke when they’re frightened or angry, as a defense mechanism. Also, there’s a myth that they are bullet proof. I have no idea where this stuff comes from really, but I have heard it all my life. That’s one thing about living in South Georgia; sometimes the ignorance gets plenty loud.

So I’m listening to these people talk about how one of them nearly hit a buzzard and how armadillos are born flat and it’s standard fare for this part of the world. Then suddenly, this very young woman says, “Hey, why is it you never see any baby buzzards?” and the conversation pauses as if everyone wonders the same thing. The answer is that baby vultures, like all birds, are usually pretty big when they leave the nest, they’re actually larger than the adults, in some bird species. Flying will get that baby fat off of you. I’m thinking about saying this to them, I’m about to turn and say this and this young man says, “What about crows?”

Cue sound of record scratching.

Huh?


“Crows are just baby buzzards, right?”


I’m sitting there trying to digest just how ignorant this statement might be. My first guess is plenty. I’m kind of hoping he’s kidding. But then the young woman says, “Really? I didn’t know that.” And then I have to say something. I mean, really. Then the young man says, “Yeah, crows grow up to be buzzards” but he sounds like he realizes that what he’s saying sounds…stupid.

Thank you Google. Thank you for being there for me. Thank you for being who you are and there for us, instantly.

The group decides, miraculously, to invest in research and they all have a good laugh at the baby buzzard theory. One of them, a young man who seems to have a head for this sort of thing, points out the two species of bird have totally different scientific names. Knowledge begins to fight back, just a little, but the group is bored of buzzards. One of them sees a squirrel and they all bound away, conversationally speaking, in another direction.

The amount of disconnect from nature, even being saved from certain death by Google, is frightening in the young found here. Do these people not know crows? How can you not know crows? Crows were a very big part of my mythology when I was a child. How could crows not be? I was a generation away from an agrarian society. The scarecrow, anyone? Old Crow? Crow’s feet? How can these people not know their crows? It’s murder. But they only know what Google has told them.


Yet even discounting the crow ignorance, could there really be a class of human beings who believe there is a common gonophore in creatures as advanced as the vulture? This speaks to a staggering amount of ignorance of basic biology. This speaks to a staggering inability to understand basic bodily functions. Honestly, why don’t they just claim that pixie dust and storks cause babies? It makes as much sense.

It would be nice to think that I happened upon the deep end of ignorance this morning, an exceptional lack of education in South Georgia, and some people who are playing in the shallow end of the gene pool. But the sad truth is that there is a tsunami of outright cluelessness out there that is devouring our young. They may be able to Google the facts but they are totally without a basis of understanding when it comes to the truth.

Take Care,

Mike