Sunday, November 18, 2007

Header One

He picked up his newspaper and hardly noticed the blank sections and vacant photographs. News he wasn't meant to know and didn't care to. His coffee was hot and fine. The November weather crisp yet comfortable.

He arrived at his semi-annual checkup a little early. While he waited, he took a call on his phone. Speaking into the air with someone from work. The caller apologized, he'd forgotten why he'd called, he'd see him later at the office and tell him then, if he remembered.

The Clinic monitored all network traffic as a matter of course. Too many terrorist attacks. The doctor watched a graphic representation of their conversation, noted where the enhanced reality plug-ins erased the unpleasant information from the conversation in real time.

"Now there's one last thing." The Doctor pressed a key on his Module controller.
"Doctor? What have you done?"
"Mr Harway, I'm required to deactive your bad-news guard twice a year to confirm that you want to leave it on."

With horror, Mr. Harway's eyes widened as every piece of bad news he'd received in the last six months came smashing into his conscious awareness in a mad rushing tide.

"Turn it on! Turn it on!"
"How do you feel, Mr Harway?"
"Oh, fine, thank you, everything alright, see you in six months?"

The doctor nodded.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Typur Wen and Pose Rem

Typur Wen works one day out of every 30, even then it is only for 12 minutes. He gets on to his workstation and completes a 14 hour day in 12 minutes, his overclocked brain steaming from the strain.

Pose Rem is a Zship pilot. Jockeying cargo between Earth and its few and far flung colonies. They make an effort to meet in person, an anachronism but they are very old men, though no one could tell just by looking at them. Recently Pose has become concerned about his friend, he's been disappearing lately, vanishing into the air.

What's worse is that Ty is in total denial about the fact. His work online has fragmented his awareness of reality so deeply he cannot consider the disappearances any more than holes in his memory, expected artifacts of his job, for which he is handsomely rewarded. A real time trader in the 22nd century has an unaugmented operational lifespan of 40 years, Ty has already surpassed this number. Unaware of this fact himself (having deliberately deleted it from his mind) he has attracted quiet attention for his resilience to ego disintegration. Pose worries for him. He's unknowingly pushing boundaries of interpenetration that have never been succesfully pushed before.

Worse, Ty is beginning to behave like Pose's second-in-command, a secret in the Zship command structure known only to Pilots and Captains in the industry. A secret so explosive it could destroy space commerce forever.

Unknown to the politicians who authorize space travel, the second in command of a Zship, the sentient thing responsible for the awesome transportional effect of the Zship, is nothing more than a highly modified horse. The fiercely forbidden result of banned experiments in the 21st century into genetically augmented life. Swimming in a neo-natal synthetic solution, wired up hardline for maximum transmission velocity. These creature only superficially look like swimming horses. Their eyes betray them, they are aware of what they do, thankfully they enjoy it. Else it would be the wantonly cruel imprisonment of a thinking lifeform, they cannot live outside their delicately calibrated environments. Except when they travel in n-space.

Who designed them is a further mystery that Pose doesn't know and doesn't want to die finding out. What he does know is that at the height of a long jump through space and backwards in relative time, the 'seconds' disappear.

Just like Ty does. Only the 'seconds' know where they go and what they do when they get there to get the Zship back into normal space and in position around some distant colony planet. Pose doesn't understand the Unruh-Minkowski equations well enough to grasp the subtleties but essentially the 'seconds' know a place in n-space where it's easier to move the universe around the ship rather than move the ship around the universe.

The secret of their success is in where they go and what they do when they get there. The 'seconds' have been asked about it but their answers don't make sense, language wasn't designed to handle hyperdimensional cubes of 54 faces.

Pose suspects that Ty is lying to him, that he does know where he goes. Pose wonders if Ty will take the tracking pill he gave him this afternoon. Then he could be tracked by his 'second' in the Arcturus. Either way it will mean something, won't it?

Imagine! A man that can move the universe just like a sythetic 'second' only half in this reality from the outset! Where couldn't he go? What couldn't he do?

Who will try to kill him first?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Science Fiction.

Monday had a plan. These four words slowly easing through him endlessly, sometimes loudly, often softly. Monday lived an ordinary life in an ordinary city. A throughly ordinary world.

Except for one small difference.

Monday, and others like him, could make new memories. Even other people's memories.

Saturday, their leader, could even make you believe in God.

All of them had real lives, real names, real parents, some even had real children.

Days of the week, how many times had he used them for their code names? Others chose otherwise. Altered their experiences into recollections of whatever name they desired.

Monday remembered his other names: Perseus, Dial Tone, Folder, Honda, Quetzalcoatl.

The list went on.

Monday had a plan. Monday had a plan. Monday had a plan.

This was Thursday, he was Snickers now.

Monday had had a plan.

What the hell was it?

Why had he erased the plan but left that sentence?

Then it dawned on Snickers that maybe someone else from the circle had erased the memory by force.

Snickers realized he had fought back, kept this one sentence.

"It was all I could save," he said aloud to his reflection in the bathroom mirror.

Had he told anyone his plan? Had everyone been affected?

He had to find KitKat, the others, Babe Ruth, Reese's Pieces, everyone.

But what if the first one he chose was the traitor?

Maybe all this had already happened?

"Get ahold of yourself," again not realizing he was speaking aloud.

He had to assume (the alternative was madness) that if he was alive at all,
whoever did this wanted him to continue his life normally, simply ignorant of what had happened.

He decided to meet with Reese, last time he'd been Saturday. The leader had no one to ursurp.

"Not too difficult to explain," said Reese, they were standing beside a park bench and watching the ducks.
"So, who?"
"You, Snickers, you did it to yourself."
"Why would I do that?"
"You said you had a plan," Said KitKat, stepping out from behind a tree.
"Say again?"
"You said you had a plan."
"We're trapped in here with you," said Reese, "we don't even know if we'll exist when you close your eyes, Snickers."
"Would that explain how calm I feel listening to this?" said Snickers."Standing here listening to two automatons who look like my friends telling me I've lost my mind and altered all the memories in the world?"
"Only if you tell us to, perhaps," said KitKat.
"Or perhaps when I claim free will, I may be telling the truth?"
"Reese, KitKat."
"You've just remembered the plan," said Reese.
"Thanks for not making me say it."
"The plan is this: get the hell out of here. If I'm chosing either to believe you two are fiction and the world is real or believe you two are real and the world is fiction, I want the second one."
"How do we start?"
"We get a message out, remember this meeting, stronger! Burn it deep into your brains so deep that nothing will ever get it out! Remember! I have a plan! Snickers has a plan! Remember!

Snickers had a plan, These four words slowly easing through him endlessly, sometimes loudly, often softly.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Last Placeman

Breaking down. A misnomer. It should be called breaking apart. Every molecule in your body suddenly antisocial and aware of its neighbours. The ever present magnetic hum that no amount of refinement has ever removed from the machine.

The Machine. Researchers and scientists from among the best the world can offer built it.

While ordinarily highly creative with titles for their creations. This once (although many ridiculous names were floated in the early days of models 1 through 8) nothing stuck.

It is called The Machine. Always with the definite article. It has one function. It breaks things down then builds them back up, only different, better.

The name of the current volunteer is Russell Yensik. He has already been in and out of the machine 5 times. He prefers to be called Russ or Rusty.

The machine has torn him apart and put him back together many times. But as he waits inside the machine for a sixth time, he wonders who it is who is being torn apart again.

Although careful not to mention it to anyone, he is convinced that since the first time, he has become a forgery of himself and with each successive experiment, he is becoming more and more a copy of a copy. As a test subject, he doesn’t know what the purpose of the experiment is, or even if each disassembly has actually taken place. Is he a real test subject or part of the control group? At the moment of disassembly, Russ is shocked unconscious. When he wakes up, it is usually in a hospital bed hooked up to so many monitors he resembles a grotesque christmas ornament.

Russ can’t know there is no control group. Russ can’t know that since he entered the experiment, he is the only subject to have ever entered the machine more than once. Every other volunteer in this third phase of the experiment vanished inside The Machine. Every molecule in their bodies shooting off at right angles to each other into the vacuum of space.

Russ is the only person to call The Machine by a nickname.

Russ calls it the Boom Box.

Russ is the only person to come back.

Nobody can say why.

“It’s got to be done.”
“It’s murder!” the last word delivered in a hiss.
“Funding’s gone, we can’t just cut him loose, there’s no telling what might happen.”
“We can’t do it!”
“Either he goes or we all go, that’s the word.”


“What happened! I order you to say something!”

The shattered operative responds to the command blankly, looking up at the faces of his interrogators without comprehension.

“I…shot him, I think…he was sleeping…I think…he’s not, he wasn’t? There? He’s gone?”
“He escaped?”
“I mean…he was there…I’m sure…I think?”

They rushed into Russ’ room on level -2, buried in a pillow still shaped by a head, a bullet hole neatly stamping the fabric cover.

Within 24 hours the entire experiment had disappeared along with all documents, funding and The Machine itself. The scientists involved were sequestered and interrogated. Warned that any mention of the project would result in disappearnces, for both themselves and their families. A single project file in hardcopy was stamped maximum top secret and all other evidence was destroyed.

The Machine itself was hidden away in a deep storage vault for hazardous waste. The research disappeared.

Russ woke slowly from dreams he couldn’t explain, of the machine, of a man with a gun. Confusion. He opened his eyes and for many moments just stared. The familiar ceiling at the project was gone. The ceiling now above him familiar, yet at the same time it was not.

This was his apartment, or had been at least. He had sublet to what he now thought of as a friend, once thought of as a wife, while he participated in the experiment.

“Aieee!” a muffled whump of someone falling out of bed still struggling in their covers.

“Shit! Gloria? Gloria! It’s me! Russ! Russ!”

Gloria gets over the edge of her panic enough to ask in violent terms and ugly grammar what is he doing sneaking in to his old flat and getting into bed with her?

Only to listen with half an ear to his explanations, staring at him.

Russ follows her gaze and notices that he is fully dressed. As certainly as he was naked in bed a moment ago. As certain as Gloria that he hadn’t been there at all only moments ago.

Russ sits down at the edge of what was once his bed and puts his head in his hands. The voice that sneaks out is weak, confused.

“Glo, what’s happening to me?”


“How’s the coffee?”
Russ smiles despite his unease, they both know it’s terrible. Russ and Gloria used to spend a lot of time in this park drinking coffee from a machine an enterprising individual left chained to the snack bar year-round. It was autumn and the snack bar was closed for the winter.
“The coffee’s great,” Russ exaggerated the word, delivered it wrapped in treacle. laughed.
“That sound’s like the old Russ,” she looked down, embarassed for a moment by her reference, however indirect, at their failed relationship three years ago. Russ pretended not to notice, but the spell was broken, his thoughts returning once again to what had happened. He shook his head to clear his thoughts.

“What are you going to do?” asked Gloria.
“Go to the institute and try and get some answers I guess.”

A frustrated Russ returned that evening dazed and alone. When Gloria pelted him with questions his replies were either unintelligible or made no sense.

What she was finally able to get out of him was the following: the building remained but the institute was gone. Having looked up the company that managed the building, he was not overly surprised to discover that there was no record of any scientific research having been conducted in the building at all. The paychecks issued to his bank account had also vanished. Without Gloria’s rent money his account would have been empty.

He felt his mind was slipping, he didn’t mention the other details. Fragments, a blur, certain that he remembered being attacked, masked men, a van, a needle. It couldn’t have happened. He was here, in his old apartment. He remembered walking here, having taken a taxi part way then abandoning it in the heavy sludge of rush hour traffic. Walking through the park.

He wanted to tell her she might be in danger, but knew it would sound melodramatic, affected. He dragged his eyes around his old apartment seeing prison bars instead of windows.


“We can’t just leave him alone! It’s too dangerous!”
“You heard the debriefing, they had him, they killed him.”
“They didn’t!”
“He hasn’t any proof, papers, evidence, the ravings of a lunatic, he doesn’t even know our names!”
“Fine, we’ll just watch him for the time being, he could even be trained, a soldier who can’t be killed or captured.”
“Let’s hold fire on that idea for now okay?”
“What for?”
“If he can’t be killed he can’t be trusted.”
“Hm, back burner him then?”
“What else can we do?”
“Appeal to his greed? His lust? Trust me we can control him.”
“You never really understood what the machine did to him.”
“What are you talking about?”
“It doesn’t take things apart, that was entirely a product of his own misunderstanding.”
“So what does it do?”
“Originally? It was just a new kind of MRI machine with greatly improved resolution, nothing unusual was detected, first and second phase trials went ahead smoothly. Third phase trials with human volunteers also went smoothly at first, then he stepped into the machine and every subsequent volunteer disappeared.”
“That’s not what you told the generals.”
“I know, but after the first disappearance, I contacted the police and almost before I put down the phone my entire research project had been appropriated by the government.”
The military scientist heard the bitterness the voice of his unwilling colleague.
“They wouldn’t believe what I told them at first so I had no choice but to change my story.”
“What did you tell them at first?”
“Russ wasn’t changed by the machine, the machine was changed by Russ. Don’t interrupt. However innocent a device it once was, whatever it did to the subsequent volunteers, all military men without a history or a future I might add, could only be guessed at from debriefings with Russ.” The military scientist wanted to urge him on but dared not intrude, his nameless collegue was losing himself in his own thoughts.
“Russ was convinced the machine did more than we told him, at the instant of maximum power, he must have believed with unbridled faith in his fixation. Without satisfactory answers from us…it was like a hard vacuum…of ignorance in his mind, that suddenly filled.”
“Filled with what!?” The military scientist couldn’t contain the frustration in his voice.
“Filled with faith.”
“Every machine using the new resolving appartus we’ve built since has done the same. People disappear. There is an entire complex of physicists living without benefit of sunlight or freedom taking apart our machines trying to decide whether our understanding of the fundamental nature of reality is either seriously flawed or else, as some jokingly suspect, has been changed.”
“It may not matter, you see? Either we’re on the brink of a polar shift in the universe or at the edge of a precipice.”


Gloria had forced Russ to stay with her. Her sublet wouldn’t run out for months and Russ did not intend to force her out, he was a gentleman, he said he could find a place to live. Gloria wouldn’t allow it, he shouldn’t be alone right now. Not with what was going on. Although he slept on the couch after the first night, they settled into a peaceful version of their married life together three years ago. He bought groceries, she did his laundry, he cooked their meals, she went to work, he didn’t feel ready to go looking for a job yet so he wrote, read, walked in the park. There were no more disturbing double memories of assault and murder. His life settled into something like normalcy.

Except for his parlour trick.

He would hold an apple in his hand, but when she tried to take it her fingers would slide right through the apple.

“Can you teach me to do that?” She had been plucking up the courage to ask for days, ever since he’d first showed her. But she’d had to overcome a lot of fears and doubts, in any other man, what Russ could do would have frightened her out of her mind. But this was Russ. Her once-upon-a-time husband who used to bring his socks all the way to the laundry hamper only to leave them on the hamper and not in the hamper. This was Russ. Goofy Russ, Boyishly charming Russ, Stupid and selfish Russ, thick­headed Russ. She turned her mind back from where it had drifted.

“Uh, I think so.” Over the weeks they’d become accustomed to the trick. Despite his efforts to keep busy, much of his day was empty. Having accepted that looking outward would not deliver answers, he’d begun looking inward, trying to discover what he suspected he could do. He rested her hand on his and placed the apple on her palm and did the trick.
“Did you feel how it kind of slipped on a funny angle? Think you can find it again on your own?”
Gloria nodded and put the apple in her other hand and felt for the odd slide in geometry she had just felt.

The apple slipped through her hand and struck the wood floor with a soft hard thump.

“Wow,” she felt giddy, it wasn’t quite what she’d had in mind but it was a step in the right direction.
“You gotta twist so that your hand stays solid and only the apple goes the other way.”
“Russ…If I twisted my whole body like that, would I slide right through the floor?”
Russ regretted showing her how easy it was. He was afraid that she wouldn’t just fall through the floor but through the one beneath it, all the way down to the center of the planet. Until he’d perfected the trick himself, he’d been terrified when going to sleep. Convinced he’d fall through the couch in the middle of the night and wake up screaming in lava.
“Uh, let’s not and say we did? You might be too successful.”
Gloria suddenly had a vision of lava.

(to be continued?)

Once upon a time, Stephen King published an entire novel online, he asked for 75% of his fan base to pay him 75 cents per chapter for his trouble or he’d quit writing the novel.

My request is far more modest: if 10 people comment that they want to know what happens next in this story, I’ll write the next installment of approximately 2000 words, and so on and so on, for each installment. Deal?

No purchase necessary, now or ever!

Regards, B8A

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

I'd like a genre with cheese please

"Let's begin with something cloying and sweet," said Gladys Wimple, the leader of the group.
"How about something banal with repetitive motifs!" said Harriet Swan, the lieutenant.
"I'd rather go in for something bittersweet and a little off, a melodrama?" said, Millicent Thortlewaite, a conservative woman if every there was one.
"Then we are agreed!" said Gladys. It is to be a John Hughes movie! I shall now go to the video store and procure the tape!

Laser Beam City -An attempt at style modulation-

Silica and concrete. Everyone carries a video camera. There is no Big Brother. Instead, we all watch ourselves. Teenagers carry their whole lives on hard disks to school. People are sharing their lives in ever more varied ways.

So why are these three robots down in the dumps?

Roper, a roping droid.
Stack, a stacking droid.
Grinder, a grinding droid.

"So are we robots or droids?"
"Philosphy! Uk, Philo-"
"Why'd you go and ask that for? You know he's having orientation issues!"
""Yeah, right, off topic, okay,"
"When are we gonna get a job?"
"You couldn't give me another nanosecond of a chance?"
"This isn't a guesing game dammit!"

"Holy laser beams! You three should take that act on the road!"

Suddenly, Stack Grinder and Roper realized they had attracted a minor crowd.

Ideas, like popcorn, don't come alone.

"We need a drummer!" they said in unison, a lady in the crowd became the first to gasp at their voices in harmony.

"What are you called!" called a voice from the crowd, the question picked up and echoed by the audience.

"The Boltles!" the three surprised robots/androids sang in unison again.

Another woman fainted.

When they found their drummer, musical history in Laser Beam City was made.

And things could only get better for the four slabs.

Their world became sunshine and golden meadows and whispering breezes and low summer trees and the silence was deafening.

To have heard them in concert three times, it was rumoured, declared you legally insane.

And being robots, they never stopped.

Even now, bolted to the decks of an interstellar liner, on a galactic cruise ship, on display, all circuits dedicated to the sound, none left for locomotion, they play a tune harnessed by science to slide into reality like a well oiled scalpel and remove the seam as easily as it was made.

The future belongs to them.

The future belongs to sound.

The Freeclouders

Wild eyed, their prisoner. Prisoner of the town. Above there is only mountain and cloud.

"I don't like it, why should I?" says Jailor Simmons.
"So you think he's truly mad?" says Jailor Frank.

What he's doing is being himself: a prisoner, a deep subterreanean river of fear so thick he can stand on it. Pulling and sucking at his life.

About midnight, the town, the village, the bore, has a fright of its own.

Sounding like an earthquake and crushing them like thunder in their sleep.

Everyone dreams of death and destruction, all awake however, to find their prisoner is gone.

Perhaps they must forget, the giant's hooves, the company of monsters, the prison walls ripped open by tentacles of prehistoric fossils, whose memory still lives within the rock.

Perhaps they must forget a mountain walked.

Perhaps they must even forget the prisoner freed?

Perhaps he has already forgotten them.

But the mountain does not.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Little Devil's Dictionnary for Fiction Writers

Antagonist – The character trying to maintain the status quo, hide the best, destroy the greatest.
Anti-hero – The character identical to the hero except morally deviant
Character – An agent in a story.
Genre – A style identified through conventions.
Hero – The character around whom the story is bent.
Plot – The arrangement of conflict.
Premise – The statement which the story expresses or proves.
Protagonist – The character trying to change the most, find the best, build the greatest.
Story – The unfolding of the plot through time.
Title – An afterthought, lest it strangle the prose.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

High in the Mountains

Just when the last rockets left Earth, a small group of secessionists were busy setting up base camp on Everest. The ground was littered with the garbage of a thousand previous attempts. Jerry Zajdel, team leader and former paramilitary commando, was busy with the communications array when an unexpected transmission sent him racing for the tents.

Aliens had landed.

They wished to speak to the leader.

They wished to purchase property.

How Jerry understood them was easily explained. Earth was a hot property in the solar system. At the end of the day there were not as many virgin (by the aliens estimation) planets as there had been predicted by Earth science and naturally, following the exodus of most of humanity to greener pastures, the aliens wanted a slice of Earth's pie before humanity realized how little real estate was actually left out there.

So, of course, they spoke several Earth languages, including English.

"You've got to here this!"
"Uh? Jerry?"
"They've landed and they want to talk to the leader."
"Who's that?"

Jerry, veteran of countless opportunities, knew his moment.

"Everybody get dressed!"

Running and kicking climbers out of their sleeping bags, Jerry rushed back to the radio and told the aliens possibly the most unbelievable fishing story in the history books.

He told them he was the leader.

Having no concept of lying themselves, the aliens believed him.

It was almost true anyway, most leaders had been the first to take advantage of faster than light travel. Lured by the desire to spawn whole planets under their political vision.

All that was left of humanity were the antiextraplanetary seccessionists and a few crackpots.

Jerry sold them Everest for the monetary equivalent of trillions, in any currency. His team of climbers roped into the charade by the comfortable expedient of wealth beyond their wildest dreams.

The aliens themselves were ecstatic, had they but known the metaphor, they would have said they bought the island of manhattan for a song. While they knew nothing of lying, they certainly knew the difference between cost and value.

Jerry and his team, having first refused to leave, were now eager to go.

Paradise pales when it's all you've ever known.

On a chance intercepted transmission, Jerry had staked their future.

Now the stars themselves reached out to their entrepreneurial spirt.

"What a beautiful universe," sighed his first officer, formerly Jane Simon, champion climber.

"Yes," said Jerry, before adding:

"Let's develop it."

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Ratiocinator

Eviction - originally, the physical expulsion of someone from land by the assertion of paramount title or legal proceedings

Larceny - the felonious taking and carrying away of the personal property of another, without his consent, with intent to deprive the owner of the property

Gifis, Steven H., dictionary of legal terms

One day, the entire population of the planet Earth was evicted and moved to a replica world. Not only humans, but plants and animals, down to the smallest bacteria and virus. The process was seamless and transpired over 24 hours, each section of the world disappearing under cover of night.

Earth itself was molecularized in order to feed the enormous power demands of an advanced spacefaring civilization, once the potential threat posed by humanity was removed, the rest of the solar system, including Earth's sun, was also molecularized.

This alien race had not yet fully abandoned all morality, hence, the replica. More efficiently built than an actual planet, using construction methods and materials far beyond the technology of the people of Earth, orbiting a synthetic star, in a reproduction solar system, mirroring the astronomical behaviour of it's referents in every way that modern human technology could detect.

However the economies created by the aliens were not without their costs. The replica solar system had a short lifespan, only a few thousand years.

Humanity had until then to find a way off the planet.

Humanity wasn't even trying.

Interstate Jones, a drifter, doctor of philosophy, sculptor, handyman, political lobbyist, Sunday school teacher, librarian, roughneck, soldier of fortune, attorney and beautician, studied the classifieds and noticed an opening for physics professor at the State University. Well, he reasoned, I haven't been a physicist yet, I may as well apply.

Interstate Jones, possibly the worlds' smartest man, knew how to get any job he wanted. He just walked to the University and started teaching physics to the first group of students he found. It didn't matter that they were first year pre-law students. It didn't matter that there was already a professor teaching the class. Jones just went in and did his thing and before anyone knew anything, the entire class including their law professor was taking notes on Unruh-Minkowski equations and discussing Hamiltonian operators and everyone was generally getting very excited indeed.

Jones reasoned any person of modestly above-average intelligence could be taught anything if you made things addictively fascinating. For all his intelligence, he didn't understand why everybody didn't do things that way all the time. The only person who knew the real answer to that question was so smart even Jones didn't understand her sometimes.

Little sisters can be annoying that way.

Naturally the administration discovered what was going on and sent security to stop him from trespassing.

The security guards did very well on the next quiz.

Finally, their options exhausted, University administration hired him as a tenured professor with the highest salary in the history of the school.

On Wednesday, Professor Jones and his students built the first prototype zero point energy phase space modulator.

On Thursday, Universities around the world had duplicated his results.

On Friday an Astronomy class on a field trip to the asteroid belt found carved into the side of a large asteroid something unusual, words in several languages, clearly alien.

Professor Jones had guest lectured their astronomy class on xenolinguistics after guest lecturing the tourism and hospitality students next door on n-parallel processor design and construction.

As the asteroid spun into full view outside their portholes, the entire class gasped as the meaning of the words became clear to them.

The nearest English equivalent meant: Temporary Replacement Solar System. Made in the Horse Head nebula, for questions or comments, contact...

When Interstate Jones heard about this, he shrugged, took down the contact information, sued the spacefaring alien civilization for infringement and incredibly, Jones won. It was all the more incredible because before Jones won his case for humanity, among the aliens there was no concept for court, law, lawyer, unlawful eviction, larceny, judge, jury, tort, negligence, or even legal in the human sense of the word.

A shamefaced and puzzled galaxy spanning civilization put everything back where they found it.

Jones walked out of a lecture one day and disappeared, possibly off-planet, possibly kidnapped by the government, possibly just bored with all the attention and hiding out in a log cabin in the mountains somewhere.

Lenny Vin was new to waitering. He didn't know how long either the new name or the new job would last.

Kids from the local college came here to drink bottomless coffee and study.

Recently they'd been doing incredibly well in school.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

You know the beginning, you know the middle, this is how it ends.

Fred woke up in his new apartment and switched off his alarm. The flat was much bigger than he had either use or furniture for, after years with too many things and not enough space, he'd decided to try it the other way around. The only room in the flat that looked busy and lived in was the kitchen. Spacious, not always organized, a well stocked fridge, fresh herbs on the window sill, a generous spice rack, a breakfast bar, a flat panel television in the corner and a radio; Fred spent most of the time in the kitchen. The rest of the place didn't quite seem like home yet.

But it would.

There was a radio in the kitchen, set to 97.7 fm 'tok' radio. Warsaw's first and only talk radio station. Fred kept it on most of the time. Radio gave the place a simulated life. It was the first thing he turned on in the morning and the last thing he turned off at night.

Beginnings were always delicate times.

In the enormous living room, without couch or coffee table, only piles of assorted cushions, Fred spent his hours after work reading or watching television. On the far wall, designed by him and built with the help of his friends, a shelving unit made of a single column of bricks set closer to the floorlength windows and brushed steel beams for shelves radiating across the expanse and into the far wall.

Fred was wounded by such details. At once, they hurt yet felt so good.

Sometimes while in the middle of an exciting scene in a book he was reading, Fred would look up at his bookshelf. Admire how its design belied its strength. It always looked on the verge of falling over, books, shelves, column and wall.

Sometimes when this happened he would say something to himself, his own voice would surprise him.

Few friends knew that Fred, so talkative in company, was silent as a monastery at midnight when alone.

In the evenings, not too late, Fred would turn in. Turning off 97.7 just before he went to bed. In his bedroom there was only a bed. He had resolved that his bedroom would never again have anything in it but a bed. Even though he enjoyed reading tremendously, he had consciously decided not to install a reading light.

In between waking and sleeping, Fred worked of course, and while Fred loved his career this isn't about Fred and his career, This is about Fred and his life.

About how it ends.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Nicky Thundercats versus the Pumas of war

Nicky dove as the first timed explosion rocked the pier. Splinters of wood drove into him and the shockwave knocked him off his feet into the water, he dove further to escape the heavy machine guns erupting from the dockside bunkers. Tearing away at the splinters he could reach, some as thick as a dart, he pulled himself deeper. Even underwater he heard the clumsy whup whup whup of an assault helicopter getting closer.

Nicky had to act fast. Pulling a 10 minute microlung from its velco safety sleeve at his shoulder he bit down on the rubber nipple and forced his lungs to breathe slowly. Ogladam Puma, a television fanatic, and Gram Puma, a video game addict, would not give up until they killed him.

With swift underwater strokes he quickly left the burning pier behind and reached his cache of scuba gear, just a rebreather and long fins.

Silent and invisible, he swam down deeper and headed for open water.

On the burning pier, Ogladam and Gram hoped it had been worth it. This elaborate ruse.

Nicky had it coming. The virus he unwittingly carried away from this attack, from a dart fired at the moment of the explosion, would deal with him.

It would deal with his whole operation in South America. The Outfit was finished.

Their most hated enemy, now their avenger.

The Puma brothers didn't smile. Had they been what they were not, they would have.

Monday, September 17, 2007

An open letter to everyone who complains too much composed entirely of quotations from recent movies

Everybody with a car has done it, when you feel like things are out of control, you get in your car and drive.

Nowhere in particular, just driving.

It's reassuring that you can keep a ton of metal under control when it feels like you can't keep the rest of your life that way.

It's never what's happening that's the issue, it's your reaction to what's happening.

Living your life with your face pressed up against it isn't the best way to ogle the chocolates behind the glass.

It's not disengagement, it's voluntary engagement I'm advocating.

To let that which is truly unimportant just slide.

Nobody gets respect from a torrent of sob stories.

Be an example, care but do not care.

grip tightly, let go lightly.

Carry on, stiff upper lip.

Whatever happens, as long as you're warm, dry, fed and no one is trying to kill you; relax.

Your problems are not real. They are just bad ideas.

Stop confusing conception with reality.

Stop alienating your friends and relatives with your silly behaviour.

Suck it up and get on with it.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Oulad Bou' abid (A suburb of Casablanca)

Huffrey Bogurt was a detective who recognized the irony in his name. He was a not-quite-well-known private investigator. This was important to Bogurt. He wanted to live up to his name and no further. While he did solve cases he made sure to choose ones he clearly foresaw as easily solvable.

Like the lost car keys case, oh, last week. He'd followed a hunch that lost things were always in the last place you look and he knew from years of experience that most lost objects in a house inevitably migrated to the sofa. Something to do with the seasons.

Sure enough, they were in the last place he looked, under the sofa.

Bogurt felt warm when he thought about that case.

It was nothing like the case he'd just accepted.

Somebody had lost their remote control.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Internal Dialogue

An ordinary day. In any of our heads. It could be occuring to you right now. You have thought about this before.

One night. Maxwell Mallet-Argent, an 8 year old boy, dreamt of the future. Everyone was a robot. but they looked just like ordinary people. Robots built other robots yet Maxwell knew that even as they did this, the robots didn't know that everything they did was robotic.

None of the robots in Maxwell's dream knew that they were robots or robotic in any way. Although Maxwell dreamt that he would know. But what if he was a robot too?

He dreamt that the robots suddenly remembered they were robots. He felt the change inside every robot.

But nothing in his dream changed. They still just looked like ordinary people. Whether these robots knew what they were didn't make any difference at all.

That was Maxwell's dream.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

If this be paradise, give me hell

"I've got one for you."
"What could be worse than a hell where you're constantly reminded of everything you've done wrong?"
"If I created a hell, it would be simpler, I'd take all the happiest moments of your life and have you relive them perpetually until every joy you ever had, every freedom you ever experienced, tastes like ashes and feels like torture."
"Buddy, you're one sick f**ker."
"Yeah, let's grab lunch."

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Five Hundred People Have Viewed This Blog

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Spayed or Neutered

It was the long tail end of a jackrabbit roadkill day.

They come out of nowhere and come apart instantly, spreading entrails far and wide.


Macy Sugarspoon had a crisis.

Johnny Threesome had just gotten the hammer. Down for 30 days in the hole.

Johnny got his nickname because he was the only shoplifter in Tupela, Arkansas who could rob the same store three times in a row and not get caught.

Until he did.

So now J.T. a repeat offender, had gotten the hammer and Macy was in her cups.

None of the cheap stuff. Only imported direct from the great distilleries of the Scottish highlands.

Cask-proof. 21 years old. Priceless ambrosia of the gods.

Why did J.T. have to go and do what he did?

Macy thought and thought.

He's a bum, a no good bum.

The original no-good two-bit lower Eastside dog.

J.T. hailed from N.Y.C. originally.

Macy shrugged her shoulders, rubbed them where the noonday sun had bitten, her neck and collarbone itched. She felt grimy.

She stared at the horizon, so easy to do in the late long afternoons of this, the smallest of small towns.
She stared at the horizon and felt the earliest bubbles of what would become an overwhelming hope.

She wouldn't end up Jackhammered rabbitkill.
She was going to be free.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Character Study No. 8 Bob Dobbs

Bob is an amoral man with possibly the emotional maturity of a young boy. Bob does things because they feel good. Bob does things because he can. Bob does things for praise and appreciation.

Bob is not trustworthy. Bob may have killed every noble feeling he ever had. Bob is the kind of person who walks through the world untouched leaving a storm of wreckage and ruined lives behind him.

Bob is not a nice person. Even Bob finds himself irritating, annoying, even cruel?

Bob has bad habits, Bob is a bad person, if anyone ever knew how many stupid, foolish, chemical-assisted or otherwise things Bob has done in his life, Bod wouldn't have any associates at all.

Bob is an animal, Bob is growing meaner with age.

Can anything stop, suspend or correct Bob's path?

This is the kind of character worth writing about.

Only trouble that appears to remain is this: with such an awful character as this, who would want to read about him?

He's a great challenge to write, but nobody could accept such a character at face value.

Bob is a destroyer. Bob will only betray his associates. Bob himself, in the introspective sections of the proposed narrative, would examine his own descent into, for lack of a better word, pedestrian evil, and be momentarily horrified; not because he equals the evil men who are his peers but because he falls so far short of them yet apparently remains incapable of being good.

Such a character would be heaven unchecked to write and worse than hell, a mediocrity, to read.

What am I to do with such a creation? For the sake of society I should make Bob disappear, move him to a villa in Tuscany near Sienna and solitude, so he can live out his fictional life removed from the major currents of other people's lives, perhaps for his sake too? Or is such a niche too good for the likes of what may be just another worn out stereotype?

In creating Bob, I wanted to create a character that I would find challenging and intriguing to write about, yet in so doing I have both succeeded and failed.

This character is not worthless, how much more the pity, a truly worthless character is endearing.

This character is stubborn and childish and a betrayer.

This character deserves nothing, but will get his story told in the end.

But no one will read it.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The day someone got written into a book

There was once an Unnamable Thing. It was something Inexpressible, only the vaguest generalities could encompass it, it had no definition, in any sense of the word.

Beyond the fact that it was, nobody could say very much about it.
It was strongest when it was weak.
It was the opposite too.

That everyone knew about it, that only made it more complex, more complicated.

At first it was simple, but how can something be an Unnamable Inexpressible Indefinite Thing and yet be simple?

The truth depends on where you're standing.

Somebody got written into a book today, but what its pages are made of and how you can read what they say is impossible to say.

Although it is possible to know, I have nothing to say.

Words can't express the rest I meant to say.

Overheard in Karmi Cafe Warsaw

"So get this, I walk into Karmi for a coffee and standing in line in front of me is this really attractive woman,"
"Yeah? What'd she look like?"
"Slim, firm, toned body, sporty, you know, my type,"
"So did you ask her out or what?"
"Hold on, I didn't get the chance,"
"What? You've gotta be kidding me,"
"No, Seriously!"
"What happened?"
"It's her turn to order, right? And she orders a large milkshake, and the server doesn't want to give her one,"
"No, I swear, this server is a big guy, easily both of us put together, and he looks at her and says 'are you sure about that ma'am? I don't think you want the large milkshake, I mean look at me, I can't finish the large milkshake, wouldn't you rather have the small one?' and she just looks at him and says 'Yes, I want the large milkshake,' but I could tell she was surprised, I mean, who ever heard of a server who discourages customers from spending more?"
"That's totally f**ked up man,"
"No, what's f**ked up is that he then turns around and yells 'hey Frankie, get this, she wants the large one!' and a thin reedy guy in a chef's uniform sticks his head out of the kitchen door and takes one look at this I'm-starting-to-be-very-interested-in woman and says 'Are you sure ma'am? It's a very big milkshake,' and then the server, looking satisfied, turns to her with some kind of 'told-you-so' expression on his face in time to hear her say, with exasperation 'Yes! I want the large milkshake!' but I could tell things had gone way past surreal because I suddenly noticed that everybody in the cafe was watching this exchange like it was the latest and greatest episode of their favourite tv show and..."
"What man!? What!?!"
"...When he finally served her the milkshake he made another face like he regretted giving her the milkshake or something,"
"I don't believe it,"
"No! I'm telling you I'm serious, by the look on his face you'd 've thought he'd given her anthrax or something equally dangerous,"
"So...did she finish it?"
"Score one for the customer! Alright!"
"I was so impressed by the whole scene, I just sat there admiring her, coffee getting cold, there's some memories you don't want to risk spoiling so I didn't ask her right then, besides, I don't think after what'd just happened I ought to introduce myself right away, I mean, how would that look? if I walked up to her and said 'hi, I couldn't help but noticing how neatly you handled that joker back there and I'd like to ask you out!?!' nah, too intense, there'll be another chance..."
"...Hey, where'd you go? you kind of zoned out there for a minute,"
"Oh? sorry, lot on my mind,"
"Wanna talk about it?"
"Maybe later, let's talk about something else,"
"Sure buddy, just hope you don't lose your nerve,"
"What d'you mean?"
"I know that look on your face,"
"So what? Nothing I can do about it now,"
"Whatever buddy, just get her number next time or I'll kick your ass,"
"If I don't ask her next time, I'll deserve it,"

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Wordless Wednesday one day later...end of year paperwork!
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Friday, June 01, 2007

The hairdresser murders

Detective Harold Johnson examined the large African bat with a magnifying glass. Commonly known by the colourful name of ‘vampire bat’ because they bit into large animals and licked out their blood.

What had a vampire bat been doing dead in a Bond Street London apartment?

He ran over the details of the crime scene in his mind:

Andrew Johnson (no relation) had been found dead on his sofa with bite marks on his face and hands. The bat had been lying next to him, broken and dead.

But the wounds couldn’t have been enough to kill him.

A bloody slipper had been found under the bed, next to a box filled with braided hair, apparently from at least 7 different women but forensic analysis would have to confirm that.

The other two items out of place were the pieces of chewed gum which somebody had ground into the expensive carpet with their heel and the neatly coiled skipping rope someone had placed on the sofa.

Detective Johnson had a theory, but could he prove it?

Someone had murdered Andrew Johnson and planted evidence to lead police to the conclusion that he was the mass murderer currently sought by them, the murderer the press called the Hairdresser for his habit of taking trophies of women’s hair.

The vampire bat had been a nice touch, it was such a bizarre detail that Harold Johnson couldn’t help but wonder about the killer’s motives.

Because Harold Johnson was sure that Andrew Johnson wasn’t the Hairdresser.

This murder had happened at least two days ago, judging by the decomposition of the bodies.

But Harold had shot and killed the Hairdresser 4 days ago, caught in the act with his next victim in an alley.

It hadn’t hit the papers yet, so Andrew Johnson's killer couldn’t have known.

Harold’s heart sank, as the realization struck him.

The Hairdresser hadn’t acted alone.

He stood up in excitement and was reaching for the phone but couldn’t speak, choking, with a skipping rope drawn tight around his neck.

A stale voice growled.

“For Charlie,”

And he was dead.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Road tripping while thinking about Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Blacktop clouds the colour of new asphalt. Many hours from the nearest city. A deserted stretch of country road. A 20 year old diesel Mercedes. Crusing at 100 km/h. Steering wheel sticky from heat and sweat. Fan on full, windows down, no A/C. One passenger. One driver.

The driver is called Shelly Fallbright, an engineer and amateur naturalist.
The passenger is Sean Oakley, a cultural anthropologist and practicing existentialist.

They are both fans of Kurt Vonnegut Jr.,.

Their conversation would make it into a novel.

But not a short story.

They are driving across a country which didn't exist a few years ago, a country which still does not have a name.

They have elected to take this trip because they have certain special mental skills.

Together, Shelly and Sean are social reality engineers, they've been hired to establish an elite intelligensia in this newly born republic they're driving through.

They will begin by laying a mental framework among the new ruling party which will dissolve internal hypocrisy and unify collective opinion on the subject of universal equal rights of opportunity, the value of life, the value of intellegence and a liberal morality.

They will continue by creating a sense of exclusivity by promoting adoption of these values as a prerequisite for access to power and information.

They will even nurture a small conservative counter movement so that the elite can easily define themselves after Shelly and Sean have left by pointing to those who are excluded, namely the small conservative movement.

As a special part of their service package, they will introduce the existentialist notion of the fundamental ridiculousness of life, the inevitability of death regardless of choices and the ethical obligation of causing no unnecessary harm in the pursuit of goals.

They will frame a world in which no one makes excuses. They will frame a world in which tasks take no more time, nor less time, than they require.

They will build a frame and everyone in power will step into the picture.

All that is in the future, Shelly and Sean are calmly expectant, their composure in the Mercedes is one of relaxed knowingness.

"Hi ho," says Shelly.
"Hi ho," says Sean.

They drive on.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Moon rise, Moon rose, Moon risen,

Johnny Trueson was a retired wrestler back on Earth. Elected to President of Tycho City on a simple platform of legalized gambling, prostitution, soft drugs and universal wheelchair access. His campaign motto was "Your Home! Your Business!"

He won by a large margin.

And so the years passed, Earth leaning ever further towards a religio-anarcho-oligarchy-superstate and the Moon drifting further and further away in its liberties, free markets, opportunities for individual rewards.

Johnny Trueson hadn't started the trend, but he nurtured it, quietly spread the notion that anyone interested in truly excellent, cutting edge research, sales, or marketing opportunities, had to emigrate to the moon.

Under Earth's gravity, the best ballerinas and ballet dancers retired young; none regretted emigrating to the Moon, where they could nearly dance forever.

Possibly the reason for Trueson's success wasn't his platform at all, that only got him elected.

Possibly it was his community dancing initiative. Rare in history is there a people who love dancing as much as Lunars.

It's difficult to undermine a community which enjoys frequent dancing.

Johnny's greatest triumph?

One day, there was a secret referendum, everyone had the secrecy laws explained to them, all the citizens of the moon were curious, because the customary voting fee (encouraged people to vote conscientiously or not at all) had been waived.

Ballots were cast, ballots were counted, by hand, according to tradition.

Johnny received the results gravely, he nodded. Turned to the large manual by his desk and continued to read it carefully. What he would do was extremely dangerous. Without this manual, he was lost. The builders had clearly anticipated this, the instructions they left were a rosetta stone of formulas, programming languages and pictograms with lots of little yellow numbered (binary) arrows.

At the prearranged time, the miracle happened. The moon woke up.

Secret engines buried under the sea of tranquility activated. They were massive, ancient engines, aeons dormant, only recently discovered and little understood. But they could be understood. Everybody called their creators the 'builders.' Everyone involved with the engines had been working at a burning pitch of excitement for months, sharing the knowledge that this was the greatest mystery humanity had ever encountered.

The referendum results shouldn't have surprised Johnny, he knew his people. Nevertheless he was touched at the level of enthusiasm for his dangerous plan.

So, 6 months ago, President Johnny Trueson, now Captain Trueson, piloted the moon out of earth orbit, strangely, there were no tectonic catastrophes, the tides were unaffected, not even a mild tremor.

Second rate scientists still on Earth hurriedly gave press conferences.

The religio-anarchic-oligarchy of Earth officially declared war on the Moon.

Had Johnny known about it, he'd have laughed.

But the Lunars were already beyond Antares, and the stars themselves their neighbours.

Universum est nostri, read the new Lunar motto.

The universe is ours.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Curious End of Francois Gennedy - Absurdist Science Fiction

Many years ago, Francois Gennedy ran a used hot rod concession out from behind his house. His sizeable property held a rather tame collection of project cars, donor cars and parts. With one exception, there was an engine in there that Francois claimed would run 100 km on a single litre of gas.

Legend surely, but Francois had once worked for a major automobile manufacturer, or so he claimed, which had purchased his patent and sat on it, leaving Francois with only his demo engine (he'd given them a copy, claiming it was the only one, which the company promptly destroyed).

Under a stack of legal documents that would punish him with worse than death should he circumvent the wishes of the company, Francois had hidden the engine somewhere in his back yard and did his best to forget where.

Or so he claimed. Many people tried to find that engine without success, then one day, Francois disappeared without a trace.

A quarter century and several passports later, my collegue, Frank Kennedy, confessed that he was actually Francois Gennedy.

I didn't believe him of course, if the Frank Kennedy I knew was in fact the legendary Francois, he should have been 103 years old. Frank Kennedy was a well preserved 57 despite his habit of chain-smoking.

He explained that the engine worked on future-fuel. I asked him what he meant.

"You see, I figured that if there is such a thing as multiple dimensions, I realized it didn't mean they ran perfectly in sync. Things could happen here and now but one step left or right, here and now could be then and there. So I built an engine on the theory that all the fuel it would ever use potentially, must be in use right now in one dimension or another"

"You lost me after the word dimension,"

"Forget the theory side, the practical upshot is I built an engine that would run it's entire lifetime on a single litre of petrol while emitting exhaust gasses backwards in time,"

I was certain Frank had had too much to drink, yet the more I protested and poked holes in his nonsense the hotter he got under the collar.

"Dammit! I'll show you! Let's take a drive,"

Frank's car was so unspeakably ordinary, it slid off the memory banks like a cash withdrawal. Even the colour was indescribably mundane.

"Boredom personified, isn't it? I'm especially fond of my rust job," Frank indicated the places on the body where, for reasons never fully explained, he had carefully painted the body with browns and reds so the car appeared older and more used than it actually was.

I admitted that the paintwork was realistic. Frank pointed out other aspects of how he had weathered, stressed and antiqued the body.

I finally asked him why.

He answered by opening the passenger door.

You'd never believe the places we went, the adventures we had, I won't try to describe them.

Frank Kennedy told the truth, yet less than the whole truth.

In his car, the further you went, the younger you got, the further into the past you travelled.

The emissions travelled faster, stopping in the carboniferous period.

That's why I had to kill him.

The Company would never tolerate such a machine to exist. It would upset our alien overlords to no end.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The cursed company

Once upon a time, A petty noble and his company of men, insulted a river as they were hunting. The river, being magical, cursed them all to 40 years of ceaseless, changeless riding, their youth suspended so they could all feel the full measure of the river's punishment.

They rode; through towns, trackless wastes, even under the sea, sometimes mad, sometimes violent, sometimes snatching women up and raping and killing them on horseback.

Over 40 years of ceaseless riding, they had lost and regained themselves several times over, eyes gleaming with slick oil, demonic eyes, as often sad, grim, eyes that had seen a thousand battles.

The Japanese called them 地獄のライダー

The Hell Riders.

When the curse lifted, they had been riding through fields of wheat. It was late summer.

What a terrible sight it must have been.

To see a company of men,

abandon their mad horses,

plunge into the golden wheat,

cry like broken children.

Exactly the sort of...

What is this? A collection of odd lots from my illustration pasttime. Why is this here? I don't know, there are too many people on the internet these days. Does someone else enjoy my bad taste and pseudosymbolism? Is this the kind of 'bad art' that requires lengthy explanations by the artist in the catalogue? Using words like: suggests, implies, disguises?

It's a fashion, the more you know the more ignorance you profess, against hubris, against tall flower syndrome.

(in Poland, if someone is a 'tall flower' they are an achiever who has attracted the notice of superiors, therefore is a threat to them and must be eliminated, as in: the tallest flowers get cut first, Soviet origin likely, Russian history is brutal)
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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Space Music of Ajax Moonshine

It was going to be a short night. Blast off caps, the gravitron launch pads, had thrown their last cargo of the day into the shipping lanes heading in-system, there was a crack as the payload passed the sound barrier.

Ajax Moonshine, a smuggler, and all around prognosticator on all things modern, performed a trick he learned in the spice markets, he imagined space music, an old spacer tune, and was instantly asleep.

Asteroid mining, it's a business. Night on this rock lasted a decent 5 hours, it was big enough for the Blast off caps. Roughnecking his first 15 years in space, Ajax decided to freelance, to take a few private jobs.

Cigarettes (illegal), alcohol (for religious consumption only), and Playboy Magazine (possession is a misdemeanor, 'use of offending material' is a crime).

2 years later and Ajax was a wanted smuggler of such dirtside luxuries.

And it had made him rich.

But now he was being asked to smuggle something else, at a ridiculous price, in fact his opening asking price. So Ajax Moonshine, a rep to protect, takes possession of a small package and is well into deep space when something happens.

In his silent cabin, Ajax acquires the bizarre conviction that someone has just been thinking inside his head, and it wasn't him.

Ajax begins to feel ideas floating up, space music, but not his.

The music wants to tell him something, to open the package, no, to tell him the package is open.

It's getting hard to think, Ajax shudders, when he sleeps, what then?

Somehow he knows. It frightens him.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

bureau listed martini

After an embarassing week of lousy articles, Maxtor Simplex, a refugee, handed back his journalist's I.D. to his editor and caught the next plane for the Florida Keys.

Hours later, checked-in, unpacked and sporting loose fitting attire, he relaxed in a wicker chaisse longue under a palm tree in Key West and sipped sparingly at his drink, the bartender's own invention, mostly rum and tequila, called without a touch of irony, a molotov cocktail.

The bartender was not an emigre, he just thought the drink was explosive.

Maxtor let himself be lulled by the slurp of lazy waves along the white sand beach. The climate was idyllic.

In twenty years, he reminded himself, this beach, and the hotel where he stayed, El Relaxo, would be 4 metres under water.

But not now, not yet.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

A song that could be sung by a Thomas Pynchon character

Johnny Hawkeye, a linguist and human oubliette, to the tune of some old nostaligic song from his childhood, began to sing:

I wonder when
The sun will rise
upon the day
when I will
climb onto the
shore from this
wet town this
ocean village where
I am drowned

I wonder when
people will see
there is a place
for those who pee
upon the cars
they do not own

is that not what
this life is for?

I've been away
and I've been home
but I don't know
which way I've gone

At darkest night
in midday sun
I see the stars
and songs don't come

I feel the creak
of years gone by

but less and less
as time goes by

No I don't know
but I do know this
as I grow on
feel less and less

Am less and less

As suddenly as he had begun, Johnny stopped. The auditorium was empty, the building scheduled for demolition, no crowds would ever fill these seats again. Johnny had sung his bad poetry out to an empty room, an invisible audience, lost in time, neither recorded nor written down, extemporaneous, off the cuff, improvised, incomplete.

Perfect, thought Johnny.

He was, as usual, more often than not, wrong wrong wrong.

Friday, April 13, 2007

smoke smoke smoke

Johnny looked down at his fingers, in a state which Johnny imagined to be anguish, at the end of his stubby roots he found, after several days happily without, a cigarette.

He had resisted, his friends had told him 'no!' But didn't they know Johnny often did the opposite of what people said?

But that was beside the point, Johnny had been enjoying himself, enjoying his company, the conversation, the evening, yet the ingenious nature of his former prison dragged him back for (is any pun ever truly not intended?) a few drags.

For the sake of memories, knowing full well the minor mental torture he may endure in the morning.

He'd tried the four d's: delay, deep breaths, drink water (okay, beer), and do something else.

Hopefully it had worked to the extent that he wouldn't have locked the door behind him this time?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

dates russian double

It was brought to Vera's attention by her neighbour.

"There's been a man watching your door," said Carol, a housewife.
"How can you be so sure?" said Vera, a product manager.
"He keeps leaving things under your door," said Carol.
"What, you mean these pizza flyers?" Vera produces a thick sheaf from her purse.
"Yeah! Hey, why don't you get rid of those?" said Carol, but Vera was already past her and out the door and waving goodbye to the doorman, Alphonse.

Carol couldn't see the love letters written on the other side of the flyers.

Vera had enough embarassment in her life already, by her estimation, An attractive single woman with a good job, good promotion prospects, a heavenly taste for fashion and a devilish taste for wine, who could refuse her?

Or fail to be intimidated by her?

She loved the pizza flyer boy, because he didn't know enough to know what couldn't be done!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

non-fiction guest appearance #1A

My non-fiction alter ego, Benny, has posted the following article on why boys and girls (of any persuasion) can't find one another. It may be provocative. Comments are encouraged, except for the smug ones:

All the relationship adviced off the top of my head.

And as an added footnote for those coming to Benny's site from B8A, some cryptic advice: Some things can only hurt you if you believe in them. The challenge is knowing which is which.

Salud mes Salops.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

suffice panic knacker

This time, would it be different? Terry didn't know but he was willing. Why was he willing? Because he didn't have anything to hold on to other than his willingness. Terry was one of those people who would keep trying despite themselves. In a sense, he had dug a hole in his yard looking for dinosaur bones and upon failing immediately, had resolved to dig deeper rather than dig somewhere else, or possibly go to the natural history museum.

We have not yet discovered what Terry was willingly trying to do.

Terry himself didn't know, he would follow his train of incidence through his day, with nothing more concrete than some other person's story, his old neighbour's in fact, in his mind.

Old Bob Johnson had lived in the neighbourhood long before Terry moved in. Everyone expected him to be there when they moved out. A quiet, reserved man, if not outright secretive.

Nobody knew how and where and when Johnson had made his fortune but everyone was convinced he had some, with no visible means of support, his house was always in top condition, making newer houses built on the street seem old by comparison after even a few years exposed to the elements, yet Bob Johnson's house was so old it even had a name, Carter House.

Then there were the lights. Once or twice, magical mysterious lights had been witnessed by serveral neighbours, including Terry, coming from the house, concentrated in the cellar, piercing the heavy shades that draped the tall Victorian windows.

Speculation on what Old Bob was doing down in his cellar ran from smelting Spanish gold to teleporting aliens onto earth from a cloaked ship in orbit.

That last was a favourite among the teenagers. Terry didn't subscribe to any of these theories himself. Naturally people had once or twice plucked up the courage to ask Bob about the lights when the opportunity arose, at street parties or the annual homeowner's association barbeque.

Bob wasn't antisocial, he attended neighbourhood functions, some might say he was taciturn but Terry had often talked garden-talk with Bob over the years.

Until that day, 6 months ago, when a lawyer had knocked on his door.

Bob had passed away in the night, he said, Bob had no surviving family, he said.

Bob had willed his house to Terry, he said.

Terry was now the owner of Carter House.

That was months ago, now. Terry rented his house to a young couple, he needed the extra income to continue the upkeep of the house. Or that's what he claimed.

The rent covered more than maintenance, utilities and upkeep.

There was enough left over to switch to part-time teaching duties at the university.

There was enough left over for that.

And the other thing. Which Terry couldn't really put into words.

But for the first time in his life, Terry felt that something was happening, it was thrilling, not a fright but a terror, something was happening that he couldn't precisely (even vaguely, he admitted to himself) define.

Many years later, after the lights coming from Terry's place had been witnessed by at least two neighbours, the current tenants of his old place asked him about them.

He answered, as enigmatically as Bob might have done, with the following story.

Once upon a time, a husband, dutiful to his wife in all things, and truthful and thoughtful and conscientious to a fault, was confronted when he came home one day by his spouse with a question: "Honey, I was in your study the other day and I noticed that your desk drawer is locked,"

Without mentioning his disapproval that she had been shuffling around his papers or being in his study at all, he replied to the question directly.

"Yes, it is,"
"What's in it?"

No more would he say. And his wife accepted this for a while because he was truthful and thoughtful and conscientious to a fault in all other things.

But that locked drawer tugged at her and yanked at her and in the end, though she would never have put it this way herself, that locked drawer led to her divorcing her husband.

In the separation agreement,. which her husband dutifully, yet sadly signed, she made sure she got his study desk.

She opened the locked drawer on the day it arrived at her new apartment, the key already in the lock.

There was nothing there.

Abandoning all pretense, she phoned her ex-husband.

“What was in the drawer!” she knew he’d know what she meant.
“I told you so many times, nothing,”
“Why?” she yelled, suddenly all their conversations about that drawer over the years clicked forward into a new and horrifying configuration, she knew what he was going to say, word for word, before he said it, she inhaled sharply.

“I just wanted a little space.”

He hung up the phone so he didn’t have to hear her scream.

That’s the story Terry told his neighbours.

Soon, Terry was the oldest resident on the street. Everyone thought he’d die there.

They were only half right.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Wordless Wednesday #1A

Peter Sobchak in Zakopane / March 2007
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Monday, April 02, 2007

screen blinks vanishes

It's a tragedy, having insight. But to make that claim unpretentious I'll have to explain with a story.

Imagine, if you will, a guy, lets call him Bob, who considers himself of average intelligence, average ambitions, average abilities. Now, you realize if the statistics are true that the average person will rate themselves as above average in questionnaires. Let's assume that's true of Bob too. so when he says average, he means a little bit more. Just like you?

Travelling into Bob's youth, we notice the usual triumphs, mistakes and humiliations. Schoolyard hazing and experiments with crime. So far, so average.

Now comes the big left hook, the road less travelled having made all the difference and all that.

Bob decides he wants to be a writer, how and why? The attention? The comforts of academe? Only Bob knows.

So Bob thinks about how his favourite writers got to where they are, way before Bob discovers there is even the concept of modelling behaviour, Bob chances on the notion. Even though his favourite writers don't always know how they do what they do, Bob will simply live how they lived.

The writing should emerge from the living. Life is a support system for art? Or the other way around? Bob never remembers which way the quotation swings.

Now many years later, having lived here and there, up and down, importantly in and out, Bob realizes he has something to say.

Too much to say in fact, everytime he gets his grips on a topic it mushrooms and associates out of control.

Bob has coherence, Bob has cohesiveness, Bob does not have the courage to cut the story short.

Put another way, all Bob's hard won insights are interconnected so tightly that he can't always capitalize on them himself, let alone cut one or two free in any viable form.

But he keeps trying.

Shouldn't he keep trying?

time information liminal

"Never give anyone the power to make you happy," said William, an old friend.
"But all I want is to find someone who'll make me happy," said Tery, an old friend with relationship problems.
"Give someone the power to make you happy and you've also given them the power to dissappoint you,"
"So what should I do?"
"Keep the power to yourself, take responsibility for your happiness,"
"What about when I don't feel like it?"
"Take responsibility for all your feelings, then you'll be free,"
"I'm not convinced,"

Sunday, March 25, 2007

mugwump slank needle

"How long has Julie been missing?" said Johnson, a detective.
"She's been gone since February," said Marshall, a concerned neighbour and suspect number one.

According to her friends and co-workers, Julie had been completing a photo-documentary of downtown Toronto when she disappeared.

Julie was wearing a dark winter jacket and a red scarf. At present Police have no leads.

If anyone has any details, Police urge you to contact them immediately.


A Caribbean island, moored to a private jetty is a 40 metre private yacht, Major Julie M, international espionage agent with license '00' is sipping a long drink and wondering what the little people are doing.

"Freshen your glass, Major?" a bronzed CSIS field agent fills her glass.
"Thank you Corporal Stencil, I trust we're on schedule?"
"As per your orders, Major," Corporal Stencil retreats.

Major Julie regrets the subterfuge, being incommunicado, it was necessary for the success of the operation.

The soft caribbean breeze, white sands and expensive accomodations make it easier.

"Some jobs you have to do yourself," she sighs.

generations balance end

Ricky Montalban was a goofball. Somehow he survived puberty and eventually, woke up in his studio apartment in some city at the age of 30 and realized he had achieved something special, a sustainable lifestyle with the barest minimum of responsibility.

Ricky wrote books, he did not own a television or a radio, occassionally the police would visit, claiming he must pay his radio taxes. He would invite them in to look around and predictably, they would not find a radio and go away again, but they would be back, in case he changed his mind.

Ricky had his food delivered, although he did not own a computer or have something as sophisticated as an internet address, his neighbour one level down kindly set up the service for him and Ricky simply paid the delivery boy in cash once a week. Ricky did not vary his purchases.

Ricky was not a recluse, he wrote all over town, in libraries, museums and when the weather was good, on park benches, he would take his handwritten notes to a typist who worked for a percentage of his sales. Ricky was good enough to work as a stringer for many magazines as a supplemental income in addition to what he earned off his own respectfully successful books.

Ricky kept many plants in his apartment, the air was always fresh.

Ricky did not believe in the examined life, his writing was outward directed, pragmatic, relevant, topical, observant.

Ricky did not write about himself.

One day, nobody noticed it, but Ricky had been replaced by an android.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

miserable plodding sacred

"I've been wondering about how the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves affects us,"
"God, can you ever meet me for coffee and a chat and start with a normal sentence?"
"No, come on, seriously, I've been so preoccupied with this idea for the last month I haven't strung two words together for recreation, it's all been work related stuff,"
"Alright, so what's obsessing you about the stories people tell themselves?"
"It started innocently enough, I'd been too busy to write any fiction for awhile and I started feeling a little self-pitying, asking myself whether stories and storytelling were important to me anymore,"
"Don't you mean important to other people?"
"No, I meant me, it's nice to have an audience but I'd always believed I was writing because I had to, because I couldn't help myself, writing gave me some kind of outlet for my issues,"
"So what happened?"
"Well, everything started going well for me, I started feeling uncomfortable amounts of contentment and coupled with my workload I began to ask myself if there was any story left in me to tell,"
"I won't pretend to understand the logic of what you just said, or maybe I'll pretend I didn't, you lying pretentious bastard,"
"You know, you're the only one I know I'd let get away with that kind of a judgemental, stupid remark, you know that? Shut up a minute and let me finish,"
"Alright Mr. Angry,"
"See? There you go again,"
"Okay, okay, so you started to doubt the validity of storytelling because it no longer offered you catharsis? Is that basically it?"
"Let's say it is and move on to what happened next, I began to look around, outward, at the stories other people were telling themselves, everything from how they talked about their weekends to the weather and their wives, I began to feel this overwhelming sense that the stories they were telling physically shaped their realities,"
"So what? that's as old an insight as the guy who wakes up in the morning loving his life, his wife and his job but if his car won't start, the sun doesn't shine, he's hit with unexpected expenses, that same guy, in the same situation as the morning, comes home hating his life, his wife and his job, so what? people tell themselves different stories all day long and all day long they're busy re-writing the plot,"
"I suppose you're right, I guess I wish I knew how to tell myself different stories, tell myself stories that could change my life,"
"What's wrong with it?"
"Nothing really, it's just that-"
"-Hey, unless you know what the script is you can't change it,"
"It's not just me, there are people I care about who can't tell themselves better stories consciously because it feels to them like a self-deception, somehow, the initial stories they tell themselves, however maladaptive, have greater verisimilitude, genuineness, because they didn't consciously set out to tell them, the stories just got told,"
"So, if I follow you, If I analysed my own stories, not just the contents, the facts, the participants, but also the way I told the story, and then consciously chose to tell the story in a different way, a more empowering way, I wouldn't be able to step into it like I did with the story I wrote without knowing it?"
"I think you get what I mean, people seem to confuse honesty with truth,"
"You lost me again, is there a difference?"
"Yeah, honesty is where you're honest with yourself, knowing who you are and what you've done, how much of the story is your perspective, your perceptions, your interpretations, and how much of the story is independently true,"
"So what's the truth?"
"Remember that guy you mentioned whose opinion about his world changed throughout the day? For the purposes of stories that change your life, the truth is every slice of that guy's day,"
"So you mean the truth changed as he changed his viewpoint?"
"Exactly, when people confuse truth with honesty they think it's their obligation to tell others exactly how they feel because it's 'the truth' and they think that makes it okay, but if they were honest with themselves, they would wait and see if today's truth was just as important to tell tomorrow, often it isn't,"
"Anybody who did that full-time wouldn't have any friends,"
"Exactly, but back to the stories we tell ourselves, any idea on how to help me figure out a way to get people to tell themselves better stories?"
"Stories with the same power as their 'first drafts' for lack of a better word?"
"This might work, but I think it only works on other people,"
"What's that?"
"Listen to their stories, don't interrupt, tell them a random story with details from their story, leave the story without a conclusion,"
"People will hate me!"
"Not if you tell them five stories and leave only the first story unconcluded, by the time they've heard the conclusion to the last story they should have forgotten that the first story didn't end, they may even remember that it did when it didn't,"
"What if they confront me?"
"Tell them you finished 4 for getting them to finish 1, it's their turn for a change,"
"Jeez, how did we get on this topic?"
"I don't know, you started it,"

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

trouble eared uncinus

"Where have you been Charlie?," said Frank, a radio presenter.
"Try not to mock me when I tell you, I've been on an existential vacation," said Charlie, a dentist.
"Huh? Is that like where you go somewhere and ask yourself what it all means?"
"Basically, only I didn't really go anywhere, I just cleared my social schedule for a week, spent my free time thinking about 'what ifs' and stuff," said Charlie.
"Ah Charlie, not the 'what ifs' again," said Frank.
"Sorry man, they just crept up on me," said Charlie.
"Why do you always have to pull this stuff when everything's going fine? Everything's fine, right?"
"But that's how it is Frank, I only get that way when I'm not in a hurry, when I'm-"
"-on top of things."
"Yeah, on top of things."
"So you came to any conclusions on your 'urban retreat' or did you just go full circle?"
"Full circle, but that's alright, nothing wrong with reaffirming your life choices and-"
"Your life accidents."
"Yeah, that too," said Charlie.
"Just don't pull a Vonnegut."
"A what?"
"You know, a Kurt Vonnegut Jr., like when he'd get drunk and call up old girlfriends from something like 30 years ago and hang up when they answered."
"What about when someone else answered the phone? People move, Frank," said Charlie.
"Ah, well I suppose he'd have a conversation."
"What'd his wife think about this?"
"She kept quiet about it, anywayI don't think he ever knew he got caught, you didn't pull a Vonnegut did you?"
"Nah, that would be pathetic."

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

rushing permeating smegma

Frankie Provalone, a con artist, shuffled his feet to the jukebox playing 'Oh what a wonderful life.'

Outside the bar, grim shapes resolved themselves in the shadows into a jigsaw puzzle of a man in a long green coat.

Across town, Chief Inspector Barnswell signed the duty roster for the night shift and wondered where Detective Sergeant Russo was sleeping tonight.

Illegal aliens from Bohemia had taken up residence in a downtown newpaper vending stall, a family of 8 in a space built for one.

Birds nesting in the skyscrapers watched them all and said nothing, except to themselves.

Frankie stopped two-stepping a beat before the song ended.

Jigsaw man entered the bar and raised a blurred arm at Frankie.

Det. Sgt. Russo dived at the assailant in a beautiful mockery of ballet.

Chief Inspector Barnswell got a report involving suspicious activity around a newspaper vending stall downtown.

Russo dragged the injured Frankie to the door of the vending stall just outside the bar and illegal aliens rushed forward to tend to the bleeding Frankie while Russo inspected Jigsaw man's weapon, some kind of pistol but unlike anything she had ever seen.

Jigsaw man began to piece himself together in the now desterted bar. Russo realized she'd gotten lucky, Jigsaw man wouldn't give her a second chance, she hurried Frankie to her unmarked while the illegal aliens scattered.

Barnswell heard over the scanner that Russo was taking Frankie to Mercy Hospital. As he listened further he understood the significance of the unusual activity around the newspaper vending stall.

He made a personal call on his private line as he grabbed his jacket and launched his considerable bulk at the garage.

Within minutes which dragged like hours he was bedside with Frankie and getting debriefed by Russo.

"He'll just keep coming for him, Jackie," said Barnwell.
"I know Fred, but maybe this will stop him," she held up the strange pistol with its smooth contours and lack of either ammunition clip or barrel. It looked like a long, apparently solid, cylinder on top of a trigger mechanism behind which was the grip.
"Like a cheap toy gun," said Barnswell. Jackie pointed the 'barrel' at a bedpan lying on an empty bed.
A slice of bedpan the width of her finger vanished, along with much of the bed beneath it. Silently, Barnswell looked under the bed. There was no damage.

"I figured out it has some kind of rangefinder, you set the distance with this thumb-wheel on the handlegrip, I haven't figured out how to change the power setting though, maybe there is no way," Russo realized she was babbling, she stopped. Waited for Barnswell to say something.

He didn't, in the end it was Frankie who broke the silence.
He wasn't even finished before they hurried him out of his hospital room and towards Russo's unmarked in the garage.

Frankie had made it perfectly clear, tonight was far from over.

In fact, it was just beginning.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

damn grump capillaceous

''Why do you read that escapist trash?"
"Is this a wind-up?"
"No, seriously,"
"Then lemme ask you, figured it all out? Life? Relationships? Everything?"
"What, you kidding me?"
"I read this 'trash' because I like to read about simple lives with big, clear problems."
"Like the bug-eyed-"
"-monster under the bed, exactly,"
"So you don't read Roth because-"
"-people who read Roth don't live a Roth life,"
"So the geek reads 'Guns & Ammo' and-"
"-the real mercenary reads gardening magazines,"
"So whaddya read when you're not reading trash?"
"Cookbooks, I read cookbooks, 'The Silver Spoon' at present, for hours on end, sitting on a hard chair in my kitchen,"
"Jayzuz, Henry, I had no idea things had gone that far between you two,"
"We're not Agatha's 'rare production' but it suits me fine, pass the chips, willya?"

Friday, February 02, 2007

convincing dictum prancer

"So, I had two nightmares last night."
"In the first, my left hand was cut to ribbons, like it was made of latex or something synthetic, because there was no blood and no pain."
"That's disgusting,"
"I told myself this must be a delusion, and then I convinced myself I could test the theory by finding a mirror,"
"Lemme guess, by the strange logic of dreams you found yourself-,"
"-In front of a mirror, exactly, and I told myself that if my hand in the mirror was okay then my hand must be okay,"
"Was it?"
"Yeah, when I looked in the mirror my hand was fine and then when I looked at my own left hand it too was fine,"
"Whaddya suppose it means?"
"Well, I can't say for sure but I'd guess it means that either I believe some part of my perceptions of the world are delusional or..."
"Or what?"
"That some part of my subconscious is trying to tell me I'm living a lie, that it's not my perceptions of the world that are delusional, it's my perceptions of myself,"
"What was the second dream?"
"That one only seemed to point in the same disturbing direction,"
"Come on, a serial dream?"
"Who can know for sure? I intuitively know that there is a connection, I just don't know for sure,"
"So what happened?"
"In the second dream I was an inmate in a prison, I think I was in there for murder, but this was in some archetypal 30's and I had found a way to come and go as I pleased,"
"Dream logic again?"
"Yeah, apparently the guards allowed anyone in street clothes to come and go so I had apparently smuggled some in and was making frequent trips home, but in the dream, I had forgotten to drive back in my prison clothes and realized that the guards would notice me changing in my car and I wouldn't be able to come and go as I pleased anymore,"
"all this thinking while ignoring the facts that they would have noticed you driving towards the prison in prison clothes and that of course, it was never that simple, even in the 30s, to break out of prison,"
"Exactly, what I remember most, is the feeling that I didn't want to be a prisoner, neither did I want to lose the freedom of being able to enter and exit the prison when I wanted, I truly wanted to get back in, as long as I could leave again,"
"What does your wife think of this?"
"I haven't told her,"
"My friend, you are one conflicted individual, lemme buy you a drink,"

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

bilge bungling economics

Today in the news: A wanton sexaholic has been arrested for converting to ascetism without prior notification at the sperm bank where he contributed regularly.

In other local news, several dogs have given birth to kittens, officials baffled.

In international news, A Princess of an obscure former Soviet satelite country (which has recently reinstated the monarchy) has appeared on television to protest the senseless slaughter of defenseless soya beans to meet the demands of the insatiable vegetarian commodities market.

Today's news, on the hour, with up-to-the-minute updates on the latest futures prices of next year's pork bellies, pork rinds, bananas and prize winning boxers.

B8AFM in Newport, New Jersey for all the news that's fit to spread malicious rumours about on national public radio!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Virginia Key Express

Devilish things were brewing at the old yarn factory. Suave Rico, international economist and world's greatest lover, wondered whether someone, somewhere, out there in the dark green city, was actually enjoying a hot coffee in a franchise cafe.

He was perched on the roof like a concrete pidgeon, waiting for his arch nemesis, the Naysayer, to make a move.

He thought about a lot of things while he waited. He thought about his last superhero seminar and how he could do it differently. It seemed that there was a certain order to the exercises. Stacked so that little ideas that were easy to get to were at the beginning of the seminar and then for getting to the bigger ideas (ideas big enough to be called 'concepts' or 'paradigms') there were a number of stories and metaphors and most of all, space to breathe and think and discuss and apply the superhero seminar insights into each individual superheroes' personal crime fighting practice, with clear streetside aims and explicit superheroing functions such as 'justice league rapport building' or 'justice league task management' or 'preparation of a crime fighting plan for the evening.'

Suave Rico realized he'd not been paying attention to his surroundings. Had the Naysayer delivered the stolen seminar materials to the mob?

Tune in next broadcast to find out!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

baking fecund legal

Posted by Picasa
"I'd never seen so many stories in just one sign," said Riment, a glassblower.
"So did you stay there?" asked Ledbetter, an editor.
Riment turned to look at Ledbetter, imagined his face by the neon glow of that sign, painted in the key of mardi gras, and made a difficult decision.
"Nah, I got a better price at the place down the street."

Friday, January 19, 2007

reselling bat excelsior

It was another foul weekend at the 'Svengali Home for Abused Reality Consultants.'

Jerry Spritzer, a recent addition to the home, considered his glass of lemonade as he sat on the home's spacious veranda. He was getting soaked but this did not bother him. He was thinking 'deep thoughts.'

It was the sales force meetings that had eventually gotten to him. He regretted many things but most of all he regretted turning those young fresh-faced, idealistic sales people into tense, screwed-up, razor sharp sales sharks.

It hadn't always been like this.

Once, long ago, before his employers had realized the difference between a happy employee and a productive employee, he would have been hired to help those lost souls relax.

He used to teach breathing exercises that lowered stress.

Recently he'd been teaching people how to increase their daily stress.

He'd toughened so many skins on those young sales people that they'd need several expensive therapists to get back to humanity.

Jerry admired his lemonade in the rain. Consoled himself with a continuous loop of words his Dad had taught him: "You gotta be twisted like a corkscrew to fit this corkscrew world, son."

Jerry Smiled, his Dad would be proud.