33. Stiction

From the neck down, she was always moving for the sake of keeping her thoughts from running away from her, or worse, with her.

Between her work routine and her wife routine, there wasn’t any room for the kind of growth that only she and her pillow ever knew about, but being stuck in the same position for a couple of decades had its charms – lack of surprise, lack of expectation, lack of any fear linked to disappointment. Since the first time she cried herself awake in her marital bed, there had been no means of her budging until a car hit her.

From the neck down, she never moved unless another outside force brought cause to it, all of which finally gave her thoughts the push to fun free and never look back over their shoulders.

 

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42. Catercorner

::

 

`”Before your mother left me…”

~”Left us, dad…”

`”No, girls. Believe me: she only left me…”

*”Really, daddy? Reason I ask is cuz: wouldn’t that mean we’d have a mommy?”

 

 

`”No! No – I meant, the only reason she left is because of me — you were the reason she stayed around as long as she did. … I didn’t mean to imply that it only hurts me and neither of you angels.”

~”It’s okay, dad. She’s just confused.”

*”What’s confooshun mean?”

 

 

`”At this age? She’s still getting confused? Should I be concerned, Becka?”

~”What do you mean?”

`”Oh, lord: No! Not you too? I’d just die if you were suffering from confusion too. Everyone here seems to come down with confusion more and more. I’m afraid confusion might run in your mother’s side of the family.”

*”Mommy’s sick daddy?”

 

 

`”No, of course not, child. :;

:.: Oh, garsh. I hope that No, of course not, child. didn’t sound like I meant you should already know that information. I meant, like: don’t worry. She’s healthy. Know what I mean? Healthy instead of not healthy. Do you see the difference, babies? Lines of Communication are on the fritz everywhere you look. Sometimes we try to repair a given line by using something special; It’s called inflection; However, :.;

:..: this same thing can take some lines completely down altogether, rendering them utterly useless. Just as any tool made or used by man, it is also a weapon. //

/ If I had to pick a specific tool that represents the intangible one, I’d say it’s the boat for your words when you let them sail out of your mouths. How are you feeling? Hungry? Anybody? Pizza bagelers to the rescue?”

~”Dad, we’re fine. How are you holding up?”

*”Inflexum? The S.S. Inflexum!”

 

 

`”That’s right, honey. Good work. /

// Wait, :;

:.: I was telling a story. A moment ago: Wasn’t I? :.;

:..: Or was I? Was I? Hmm? :..;

:…: Wait..? Hmm. Hmm hmm-hmm.

~”You were telling us the story about seeing her for the first time, in the far corner, straight away and across the room, diagonal-sy from the corner you were in. Corner kitties, you’d say. No – kitty corner from each other.”

`”Hm.”

*”Diametrec oppozishun, daddy?”

::

 

 

 


 

 

 



41. Ludic

Once upon a time there was the King of Farts, who was so sad and lonely in his smelly castle. No one wanted to be his buddy, because he tooted all day long, practically. He tooted when he pooped, when he ate, when he read, when he looked at the clouds, when he opened things like jars and bananas, when he fell asleep, when he woke up, when he danced, when he burped, when he sneezed, when he fell down, when he had thoughts about birds, when he had thoughts about graham crackers, when he had thoughts about the circus — pretty much all the good thoughts there are — and he even tooted when he cried. And he cried a lot.

One day he was tooting and crying on his throne. He wanted to play with a coloring book, but his butt blew all the crayons away with his stinky butt wind. They flew right out the window and landed in a bird’s nest. If he knew they landed in a bird’s nest, he would have farted again, because then he’d be thinking about birds, and that makes him toot, like I said before.

More than cake or remote controlled cars, he wanted a friend to play with him, but do you know any friends who like the smell of farts? I didn’t think so. So he wanted a buddy, but that wasn’t gonna happen, so he figured he’d settle for coloring in the coloring book, but without crayons he couldn’t even do that. It made him sad, which made him fart all over again.

“Wait! I have an idea,” he said and then popped a stinker. “If I dress up like someone who doesn’t cut the cheese no one will no I cut the cheese! Then I can go into town and buy all the crayons I can carry!”

It was the perfect idea! He was so happy he thought of it. He got so happy he let one rip on purpose. He put on the clothes that he found somewhere and it made him look like he was a different guy and he looked in the mirror and didn’t know it was a mirror and he didn’t look like himself and he got scared and tooted and then he realized he was looking at himself and then he got excited and tooted because he knew the plan would work and he was ready and that was that.

The King of Farts walked out of his castle and jumped his butt right on the ground and tooted himself down the hill to the town below. He would toot himself up in the air and land on the ground again, and he’d toot it again, and it kept happening because that was more fun than walking. He stood up at the bottom of the hill and said, “Time for my crayons!”

He went to the street in the town. It was a bunch of people and they all looked pretty poor, but at least they smelled nice, and they were selling each other potatoes and DVDs.

The King of Farts said, “Who wants to sell me crayons for this gold stuff?”

Everybody wanted gold stuff so they ran up and said, “Me! Me! Me!”

Then the King farted and everybody said, “Pee-ew! You smell like the King of Farts!” And they ran away, holding their noses.

The King of Farts cried and tooted. It was sad. Then a lady came up with a handful of crayons and said, “I will share these crayons with you, because I like drawing too!” The King’s butt yelled a happy yell of farts.

“Take this gold stuff and give me the crayons!” He said to the lady.

“No, we are gonna share the crayons and draw together. I don’t like gold. It’s stupid. Drawing is not stupid. Do you have a coloring book?”

“Yes, let’s go!” He was so happy he farted 100 times and held her hand and ran to the castle and they lived happily ever after.

And she had no nose, and that’s why the toots didn’t hurt her.

 

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32. Heyday

At the bar, he waited (for recognition, for respect, and, ultimately, for requests), nursing a whiskey-and-soda like it was in the infirmary.

A single spotlight hits a suit as blue as his eyes, and a tide’s roar can be heard from an audience draped in darkness.

A young man half as old and twice as drunk as the old man at the bar began to sing – by definition only – a modern pop song that our sorry hero had never heard before, and the boozy crowd cheered, stammering along with the lyrics.

Soon, a voice of velvet begins in a cappella as the faceless hoards hush, affected by the gift of the present, and then a garnish of strings and brass slowly accompanied.

The synthetic rendition of whatever song it might have been finally ceased, and a car alarm’s howl of “Woo”s could be heard from a corner of the room, presumably filled by friends of the performer – again, a term that met only the base-most requirements to be considered such.

When the song (a favorite) reaches it’s emotional climax – a single syllable in a note previously untouched in the arrangement, bearing a lyric driving home the majesty of the second-person direct address, causing all women in attendance to envision a perfect world where the “you” he claims to need is privately spoken to each swooning individual – a deep silence is held, then broken by the cracking thunder of thousands of hands applauding at the same time.

He tapped the rim of his empty glass, signifying “another” to the bartender as the KJ said, “Looks like… Jeremy… Jeremy will be doing a stellar rendition of a class so classic you are all probably too young to recognize it. Take it away, J-Bird,” which prompted Jeremy to stumble up to the mic, opening in a cappella, soon to be followed by the synthetic interpretation of an orchestration known all too well by the seasoned elder who remained at the bar, unnoticed.

From the private back door of the auditorium, he exits the building only to enter a mass of screaming fans, who must be separated by force to create a path to the stretch limo so the biggest start of the moment can safely avoid all who hold up a record album and a felt tip pen, and once he is secure in the car, he pours himself a drink, lets his manager gush the same old positives, and finally he interrupts the routine to say, “I envy the everyman; I lust after his anonymity.”

When the song and subsequent scattered applause finally concluded, leaving a brief moment of silence, he leaned forward and said, “That was my song, you know…”, his eyes pressing hard on the bartender, who slid a slip of paper and a golf pencil across the bar and said, “Well, you can always pick another one.”

 

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31. Gambol

Death was the furthest thought from their minds as they held hands, frolicking through fields of wheat in perfect time with one another, the two of them never fully aware of the saddest fact of hearts, which only one of them would one day know: unlike the way they may beat, rarely do they stop in tandem.

 

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30. Elixir

The Knight knelt, head ‘gainst the gilded hilt of his upright sword. He begged of the shrouded witch, “What must I do to find the secret to eternal life, m’lady?”

A rictus revealed teeth the color of ash as she sprinkled ground nettle and human hair into her gurgling cauldron, and she finally spoke – a pitch of voice one could almost feel, a scent of breath one could almost see – “You wish to earn it, yes?”

“Of course, m’lady.”

“Very well.” She giggled as do those who possess both secret knowledge and great insanity. “You must venture deep into the Dark Wood, through the quizzical web of the Riddle Spider, onward you shall trudge through the Swamp of Bones, up you must climb the rocky face of Memory Mountain, from the top of which you will dive into the Pools of Grand Illusion, and finally, when you have dried off in the Forest of Forgotten Towels, you will see a bush unlike any other, one that almost seems to be alive in the way you and I are alive. And though it will howl in fierce agony, you must break its branches! And when the moisture begins to form, you’ll know what to do next…”

“What, m’lady? What shall I next do? I mustn’t leave a thing up to chance.”

The flames beneath the cauldron grew brighter, lighting up her previously hidden eyes – black eyes that could see all!

“You must suckle the honey-blood from the man-brambles!”

“Oh. Suckle?”

“Like a babe, and like one you shall remain… for eternity!”

“And how? How does this honey-blood serve as an elixir – as a panacea, m’lady?”

“Well… it’s very high in antioxidants, don’t’cha know?

“Bwah-huh?”

“You can’t expect to live forever without killing a few free radicals first. DUH!”

And then they made out, as per their arrangement.

 

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29. Cook’s tour

Yeah, so this is where I grew up, babe. Not much to show or tell, but I’ll hit the sweet spots – I mean, I always do, right?

Oh! Here we go: coming up is the stop sign my boys and I used to chuck bottles and rocks at. See that big dent in the center of the O? Yeah, that was me. Levi said I couldn’t hit that bull’s-eye, but I totally did. He owed me 3 bucks and his copy of Varsity Blues for that one. I mean, it was taped off TV, but whatever. I mean, Varsity Blues is Varsity Blues, ya know?

Coming up on your left is Old Man Charleston’s mail box. We used to smash bottles and shit on that too. One time we were cruising by on our way back from a pumpkin patch, and I was like, fuck it, I’m not carving this shit, so I just totally destroyed the mailbox with it. Pumpkin got pretty fucked up too. It was so dope, babe. God, I wish you coulda seen it. I mean, fuck…

Goddamn it! I really wish you were there to see it! Sucks, but whatevs. We’ll just have to make some new memories. You, me, and the baby you’re cookin’ up.

Oh, yes! Yes! This is like the stop. The old satellite! Fuck yeah! So bomb. Every weekend, we’d come out here with beers and liquor that’d we’d all ganked from our dads – just me and the boys – and we’d sit under that little tree over there and whip our empties at Old Satty – that’s what we used to call the satellite.

I mean, sure, we’d always end up just hitting the fence. Whatever. But we never stopped trying to get one over, hoping it’d totally shatter on Old Satty.

Damn, that’s got me all sad and shit, babe. Thinking about that shit. Diggin up the past. Big Steve used to love chucking cans and bottles at Old Satty more than any of us. It was his favorite thing in the world. May he rest in Peace.

Yep, one night he threw one too many cans at Old Satty. All drunk and pissed, he stuffed a beer in one of his cargo pockets, straight up determined to get a direct hit on Old Satty, and he starts climbing the fence, right?

And we’re all like, “Do it, pussy!” And he’s like, “Fuck it! This night’s never gonna end! I’m doing it!”

He made it over, but fell on the way down. Landed on his head, fucked his neck for good, and that was it. Gone.

Every couple years me and the boys come back here and tell our favorite stories about Big Steve – oh yeah, we called him Big Steve because he had a small dick – but we all get drunk and toss empties at the fence in his honor.

Shit, babe, I want you to know how fun that shit is. I mean, I can’t invite you out with the boys, because, like, you’re a chick and it’d be weird, but… But shit, my parents can wait an extra hour or two. We’re gonna go get a bottle of Night Train, we’re gonna kill it, and I’m gonna let you do the honors of tossing your first bottle at Old Satty. You’ll finally learn so much about who I am.

Oh, right – you’re right. Well, wait: didn’t your gynochiatrist say one glass of wine occasionally wouldn’t probably do shit to the baby? I’ll drink most of it, and you can just take a couple small chugs.

Alright! Christ! I get it! No wine until you shit the baby out your front-butt. Damn, girl. Slow your roll. Fuckin’ buzz kill.

Oh, speaking of baby stuff, if you can do everything you can to make sure that spermazoid in your gut comes out with a dong and not roast beef curtains, I swear I’ll love you forever, because that’ll mean I can take him out with the boys one day and show him what friendship, brotherhood, and throwing shit at other shit really means in this life.

What? But, babe, we’re almost there…

Jesus! Fine! I’m pulling over, just stop screaming. Where do you think you’re going?

Get back in the car! Get back in the fucking car right fucking now!

Ah, fuck that, fuck off, and fuck you! You can walk!

Bitch.

 

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28. Bright-line

In addition to hating Mondays, he had never really worked a day in his life.

It was nepotistic.

He went through the days like a ghost who waits for a compliment.

The letters of his name were on the building that housed his enormous office, and his father’s name was on the building as well.

His record in court was %100 victorious.

His lunch hour appeared to vary from day to day based on when his father would call.

“Um, hello, Mr. Hobb, I’m afraid-”

“You’re afraid that the other Mr. Hobb is out to lunch? Is that what you were going to say? Out to lunch at four post meridian?”

“Actually, I have now been instructed by the young Mr. Hobb to say that The Bright-Line Kid is out to lunch.”

“Oh Moses, he realizes that isn’t a positive nick-name he’s acquired, right?”

“Of course not, Mr. Hobb.”

“Yes. Of course not. Call his cellular telephone and tell him there’s a new case for him.”

“But you said… um, well, you had mentioned to me that there would no longer be any-”

“And I wasn’t lying, Abby.”

“Oh. I see. I’ll try to contact him for you. And… are we still on for tonight?”

The Hobb & Hobb Law Firm’s growth over the last six months had led to the decision to no longer take on any low-profile cases wherein a bright-line rule was applicable, and any high profile cases of the same category could not be assigned to the Mr. Hobb, the younger.

Abigail, the receptionist, sighed for the fifth time in as many minutes and decided to let this final call go to Voice Mail:

The Bright-Line Kid is currently busy feeling way proud about his 9 consecutive wins. So leave a message and I’ll try to pencil you in between victories.

Abigail rolled her eyes for no one to see and impatiently waited to hear a beep.

The bright-line is a rule or guideline that is more or less set in stone, allowing little to no wiggle room for a context to change the ruling of a crime.

Mr. Hobb had successfully represented 9 plaintiffs who had undergone statutory rape, with a great variance in punishments ruled, though all defendants were technically guilty.

“I’m sorry to disturb you on a Monday, Mr., um, The Bright-Line Kid, but you should probably put a suit on and come in today as your father is eager to discuss the details of your next case, which he wants to go over in his office at 5:30, so if you expect to be late, I would recommend contacting him directly.”

“Fuck my life,” said The Bright-Line Kid, flipping his cell phone shut, his other hand still cradling his penis.

Inside his sink were six different, dirtied mugs that all stated: I Hate Mondays!

“Damnit, now I’m all limp – aaaarrrgghh!”

Behind the blinds was a sunny day.

He stomped the bleached hard wood floors of his large apartment with his feet as he slowly mad his way to the shower, where he would try to clear his head by way of ejaculation.

To Be Continued…

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27. Arbalest

No one knew where such a little youngster had gotten it, but all knew that he had it.

Travis could barely cock the weighty crossbow, let alone hold it up. All the same, he walked up and down the neighborhood, slowly dragging it behind him, grunting from the effort, and threatening all of his friends.

“Toby! Gimme your marbles or I’ll shoot your wiener off!”

“Levi! Gimme those puffy stickers or I’ll shoot your butt off!”

Travis began carrying an empty pillowcase as he made his rounds, slowly filling it up with the toys of others, like a reverse-Santa, or if you will, a “Santi-thesis”.

He had become a dirty sheriff, taxing his peers, who desperately wanted to keep their wieners and butts.

Then one day, little Susie Wentworth changed everything without ever meaning to. Her stomach and chest deemed Travis’ confidence and anti-heroism to be worthy of producing and housing one hundred and one butterflies, whose figurative wings tickled her to swooning at each thought or glance that was occupied by Travis. On the day that brought justice back to the neighborhood, Susie was flat on the lawn, belly-down, legs bent at the knee with carefree feet dangling upward in the air as she scribbled the words “Mr. & Mrs. Travis” over and over, dotting his i’s with chubby, little hearts.

All was quiet, save for the simple sound of the breeze brushing the blades of grass. Most other children weren’t playing outside anymore, and when they did, they left behind what precious few toys they still had to their names safely hid in chests, stashed under beds, an tucked away in attics. When Susie heard that distinct sound of that medieval metal grinding away its value on the sidewalk, her eyes darted and her heart doubled its pace.

There he stood, come to a full stop at the edge of his parents’ property. Hand held up to shield the sun, he seemed to be sizing up the day’s potential. Pickens were slim, and he had anticipated as much, which is why he put all of the confiscated toys back in the pillowcase before heading out to make his rounds, hoping that he could trick himself into believing he had made a decent haul when he carried it back home for the day. His eyes landed on Susie, whose gaze shot down to her diary again.

“What do we have here? A book?” He grumble-muttered the words to himself in a voice forced to sound so low that it would have had a cute and comical effect to any grown-up, had one heard it. “It’ll have to do,” he said and coughed, having tickled his throat with the gravel in his voice.

The minutes it took for Travis to lug the arbalest over to her side of the street was pure, anxious bliss for Susie.

“Susie, gimme that book or I’ll shoot your butt off!”

“Anything you say, Mr. Travis. But it’s a diary…FYI.”

“Just hand it over! Or I’ll shoot that pretty little face of yours right off too!”

Travis had heard a bank robber character in a movie refer to a teller’s face as pretty and little – in the movie it was a dark and sinister moment, ripe with the kind of intimidation Travis strove for, but when she heard it, Susie’s pretty and little face lit up from an inner glow whose light was reflected off two hundred and two shimmering butterfly wings.

“You… you really think I’m a pretty lady?”

Travis’ eyebrows leapt from their stern, low perch to reach a new height of horror, and he dropped both the pillowcase and the crossbow as Susie jumped to her feet in slow motion to envelope the object of her affection within her thin arms.

An odd, vulnerable, and high-pitched noise emerged from Travis’ throat before he found the time to panic properly: breaking free of her lock and running home in tears, occasionally shouting about the harmful effects of cootie exposure. Susie, too, cried. She went inside to be hushed and hugged by her parents, but she took with her the heavy, antiquated weaponry, which slowed the process down considerably.

When a calm finally put a period on the raucous scene that took place that day, children slowly emerged from their homes and rummaged through the pillow case, taking only what was rightfully theirs. The street was at peace again, and all of its younger residents offered nods, smiles, and – ultimately – respect to Susie. There was a new sheriff in town, and she cheered up when she figured out what her first order of business must be.

A doorbell rang out through the house, and Travis remained in the safety of his bedroom, playing with a frown and a toy crossbow that shot little sticks equipped with tiny orange suction cups as arrowheads.

“Travis, sweetie.” His mothers voice came with a softness through the closed door. “One of your friends is here to see you!”

Thrilled to still have a single friend after the mess he had created, he almost knocked his mother down as he raced out of his room toward the open front door, where stood little Susie Wentworth, a familiar crossbow at her side. Susie matched what Travis wagered in fear with her confidence, but instead of calling, she raised.

“Travis, gimme a smooch on the lips, or I’ll shoot your wiener and your butt off!”

17 years later, they were wed at an archery range.

 

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26. Loath

He was loath to loath (as his prior experiences with the precise emotion, as well as the surrounding ones, made him feel as though the moments that stemmed from the act had a subtractive affect on his perceived self – the opposite of the way a being’s identity is determined and re-determined by the accumulation of all moments experienced, which of course gives way to the flaw in his theory, but this fact is nitpicked and a distraction from the point: the math of self felt negative when loathing was a part of the equation, and he didn’t want to see himself disappear), but in this case he was willing to make an exception.

The brick came through the store-front window like it meant to.

It was difficult for the restaurant owner to do, but he took the leap of faith in himself and loathed whoever had thrown the brick – a task made all the easier since no one had seen the culprit. He was loathing a faceless stranger and it felt just as comfy as it did rotten.

Refunds were given to all – first to those who had glass sprinkled in their meals and drinks – and the staff were sent home early, so he could stew in his upsettedness and really savor the slow-cooked flavors as he took his time sweeping up the floors.

On the face of the brick, written in glitter on glue:

No Reason

 

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