Wednesday, August 8, 2012

It Is Finished

Title and picture? Well, if Jesus came to earth to die then that's suicide so why is it a big fat sin for the rest of us? Same way if God knocked up Mary while she was married to Joseph why is adultery such a fucking no-no? This Abraham dude, after leading people across the desert for forty years, got kicked out of the promised land for hitting a rock with a stick. I've had bosses like that. I can't help but think of them as assholes. And don't get me started on shellfish as an abomination, unless of course you're talking Red Lobster in which case I totally agree. (Imagine a space and a new paragraph starting here, even though there's not.) Just wanted to leave on a suitably blasphemous note. Cause the hosting site for this blog has randomly decided to ignore how written speech is supposed to look and for me, that's blasphemy. You see what I'm talking about here? After "...I totally agree" there was supposed to be a new paragraph, a bit of timing, to let the joke (granted, not the world's best but not the world's worst) linger a bit. But jumpin' Jehovah, I can't work under these conditions. (Imagine a new paragraph starting here.) We're done here. Not for good, but it's time to move. Blogspot ain't what it used to be and doesn't seem to give a crap that no, I'd just as soon NOT have all of my words fused into one steaming shitbrick of text instead of using silly things like paragraph breaks and formatting to express my opinions. So I'm packing up the paper mache' skeletons, black lights and Kool-Aid-mixed-with-flour fake blood and moving. (Imgine a new paragraph starting again.) Please come join me for Der Spookhaus v. 2.0 at . New look. Sleek style. Same old dick and fart jokes. (Imagine a little bit of space between the wall of text and the video.)


Now, I had some wackadoo folks whose ideas of parenting were a bit, er, 'unconventional' to put it kindly. Forced enemas as punishment. Being made to strip down to my underwear and breathe heavily while lifting weights as my father looked on disapprovingly. This weird diagram where all of my friends had to be my exact age or I couldn't be friends with them, unless they went to my church. There was some same strange stuff. But god damn, at least I got to go outside, ride bikes in nothing but short pants, play wherever I wanted until the streetlights came on, listen to whatever music I liked (okay, this one was a little strange in that I couldn't READ anything I liked without parental approval, but with music I had carte blanche)plus I had enough alone time to play with matches, make my own explosives, have furtive sex, fall out of trees, say no to proffered drugs, play Mystery Date with the neighbor girls, prove I was shitty at football, convince my friends that we should turn their garage into a spook house, get beaten up by bullies, win at kick the can, watch Night Gallery at a neighbor's house, have a sleepover in tents in some kid's backyard, and on and on. So if you've read some of the stories I've told here you know that there were a lot of damned peculiar things going on inside the house. But, and here's the thing, I was allowed to have a life outside the house. And outside the house is where I learned that it's not a good idea to try and make a roller coaster out of an expandable wooden ladder stretching from the roof to the ground that you're going to ride down on a toy wagon. Outside the house is where I learned that a well-placed, funny, insult can keep the school bully from picking on you. Outside the house is where I learned, oh boy, not everything anyone tells you is absolutely true all the time. And it's that last one, I bet, that gives parents the heebie-jeebies. The current term for this is 'helicopter parents': people so involved in their little precious children's lives that the child can't have a moment alone and the child is constantly monitored to make sure not a single, independent influence is thrusted upon them and not a single thought enters their brain not pre-approved by those who know best: Mommy and Daddy. Now yeah, it would be easy to pinpoint the Evangelical Fundies who homeschool and you'd probably be right, because like any cult, independent thought is the devil's Team Fortress 2. (So no video games allowed, either.) But this culture of I'm-gonna-keep-my-kid-stuffed-up-my-cunt-like-a-goddamn-marsupial is so much more sickeningly widespread than the people bent out of shape over chicken sandwiches. A friend showed me a birthday party invitation his hippy-dippy girlfrend's kid had been sent. Attached to the bottom was this ominous warning: "Note: The party is Star Wars themed and foam weapons will be distributed. For those not wishing their children to be involved in this kind of violence, a 'No Play' area will be provided." Oh yeah. I wanna be the kid in the 'No Play' area. Cause that's a goddamn party. It's part of what it means to be a parent anymore, and it scares me shitless. Lady tried to sue the school board because her kid struck out at a baseball game--she felt he really ought to run around the bases and was pissed when he didn't. (Ain't making this one up; it actually happened.) Kids can't ride a bike without enough plastic and padding to look like Optimus Prime. Elmer Fudd's shotgun is being digitally erased. I think I'm going to go with koo-koo parents who say the end the world is coming next week and here's the proof instead of this. I got off lucky. And with this, I think I am going to close down Der Spookhaus at this address. Blogger is intent on ignoring formatting and fusing every paragraph into one giant blob of text. You can come back here to see the old stuff, if you want, but I think the time has come to move the site to somewhere else. Check back here for the link to the new place. Soon as I get it figured out I'll let you know.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Return of the Shoe Store Stalker

I was moving away from home, a relief to all concerned, and found my first apartment and job in Gallipolis, Ohio, a town as I’ve noted about as big as the period at the end of this sentence. (The jokes don’t write themselves, folks; sometimes you have to bring out the summer re-runs.) I found an ad in the paper for an apartment to rent and went there. The first thing I noticed was that the sidewalk, stairs and guardrail were all spray-painted fluorescent orange, like the entire building had been gang-tagged. Since it was Gallipolis, probably not the case as the only resident gang members were two guys in baggy pants who shoplifted from the hardware store. The reason for the ostentatious display of fire-orange paint was because the landlady was legally blind. In fact, she was all the way blind, so I doubt she knew her aid to seeing the place made her house look like crap. The first thing she told me, even before I looked at the apartment, was “You will not bring strange women to your room. I’ll not have my home turned into a whorehouse.” Can do, I thought. I also thought if that is how I come across, she’s gotta be REALLY blind. Also, it crossed my mind that anyone described as a strange woman would probably turn out to be a pretty good friend. I’ve met some strange women in the years since and it’s usually been the case. The apartment was pretty damn ugly, but at the time I did not have the discriminating, rarefied taste in living quarters I do now. My job was working as an X-ray tech in a local Medical Center, a job at which I was terribly not good. I got fired for, among other reasons, pinching a woman on the butt, my thinking being, hey, I’m gay so how the hell can that be sexual harassment or offensive, a concept I have difficulty understanding to this very day. I mean, not that I run around goosing women anymore but a lot of shit I think is funny other people…do not. So I had to get a job, anything, no doubt a few steps down on the economic ladder from what I’d been used to—again, a situation that seems to keep happening. I saw a sign on a shoe store reading ‘Help Wanted’ so I went in and talked to the manager. He was actually one of the funniest, smartest people in that teency town I’d ever talked to. I liked him on sight, but not in the way he instantly liked me. He was closeted but somehow sensed I was gay, too. It might have been the fuzzy pink sweater I was wearing. (My clothing options have changed considerably; now my decisions are based on, well, this doesn’t smell TOO rank so I guess I’ll put it on.) So I got hired and we became friends, and he wanted a lot more than I could give, because I just wasn’t attracted. Besides, I was madly in love with someone else. To him, this did not serve as a plausible excuse for why we shouldn’t be together. Things got creepy; there were many offers for unsolicited back-rubs. He told me, “You know, I parked my car in your parking lot last night, happy just to watch your building and know you were in there.” Yow-ok. Things were starting to get messy. Then there was the night he refused to leave. “Okay, good night, Shoe Store Manager, I’m going to bed.” ”I’m not going anywhere. I’m staying here with you tonight.” ”No, you’re not. The night’s over, I’m going to sleep.” ”And I am going to stay here tonight and watch you sleep.” Jesus Motherfucking Godzilla. “NO, you’re not staying here. It’s time to go home.” He did this thoroughly insane thing where he shut his eyes tightly and shook his head back and forth, like no, no, no I’m not hearing this and god damn, everything is going down the way my crazed fantasies want them to and that’s just the way it’s going to happen. You get face to face with that kind of nuts and you get scared. Things were starting to blur; I really did like him as a friend but this kind of crap was starting to be a deal-breaker. “Okay, since you’re refusing to leave, I’m calling the police.” “Go ahead,” he said. I picked up the phone and dialed 911. “You’re an asshole,” he said, as he bolted. It might have been true, but I doubt so much in this specific case. Shortly after I moved from teeny-tiny Gallipolis to my beloved Columbus, where I lived with my friend Michael. One day, Michael told me, “You know, I’ve really got to tell you something. Your shoe store manager has followed you here and has been living here. And he’s been keeping tabs on you.” Goddamn Michael. It would have been nice to have known this sooner. But, you might ask, what would a complete idiot do in this situation? What would someone who was totally incapable of learning through experience; someone who’s hope for the best might as well be an illness do? I’ll tell you what they would do—they would move in with the shoe store stalker, which is just what I did. I just assumed I’d made it crystal clear that no romance or sexy-time was ever, ever going to happen and figured that would be the end of it. First night in our shared space: “Do you want me to rub your back a little bit?” No, no I do not. And I got every bit as weird as him. The fact that I loved someone who didn’t love me back made me feel like I was dying. So, I told him I was dying. Yeah, there’s a good move when someone’s not only crazy about you but just plain crazy. Plus, I was wearing parachute pants so I can’t say my judgment was all that sound. “Oh yes, I’ll be dead soon,”I said, cause I really thought it. I made up this lie that I had pernicious anemia, cause saying I was dying of angst-ridden heartbreak would have sounded as stupid as it was. Unfortunately, I gave Shoe Store Manager the book to read I’d stolen the idea from and the jig was up. I’m not that bright. He went on a passive-aggressive tirade and just didn’t speak to me for months. Uh-oh, this ain’t good, cause the opposite of love isn’t hate; the opposite of love is indifference. I’d beg him; “Fuck it! Tell me what’s wrong and maybe we’ll fix it and maybe we won’t!” but nope. He just wouldn’t speak and it was a very awkward series of months. But finally, he spoke. It was my birthday. “I made you something,” he said. It was a cake pan full of chocolate pudding stuffed with little, plastic dinosaurs. “I call it La Brea Tar Pit.” I got the hell out of Columbus. I moved for love. Again, I’m not that bright. Ten years later, back in town. Fifteen years later after that, life had gone to hell in a handbasket. In the meantime, though, I’d talked to Shoe Store Manager on the Internet and on the phone, and it seemed as though, you know, we were back on the same page where we were friends and there wasn’t going to be any insinuations. And for a change, I was the one who had gone stark, raving crazy. I was out of my damn mind, couldn’t think straight and thought the best plan of action was to leave the best job I ever had and run, run away. So I asked him, can I come and live with you for a little while, cause I’m going out of my damn mind? Also, I want to bring my cat. Amazingly, he said yes. He lived in a trailer in the middle of nowhere, a place that make Gallipolis seem like goddamn Manhattan, but my mindset at the time was flee at all costs. So my friend Joe drove me halfway, Shoe Store Manager’s sister met us at the midway point and was going to drive me back the rest of the way. You understand, life as I knew it was unsettled to crap and back, I was shaking like a leaf at just the sheer uncertainty of the whole situation—which I did knowingly but still was kind of freaking over—and it didn’t help when Shoe Store Manager called his sister, asked to speak to me and said in a slow, measured and altogether creepy voice, “So are you a frightened bunny?” Well, ya know, I wouldn’t have personally put in those terms but after hearing this, yes, yes I think I am. It was his creepy voice. The same one offering back rubs I hadn’t heard for 25 years. He’d seemed so normal and fun lately and the guy I liked hanging with, but no, back now that I was on the way to live with him again his tone of voice had changed from someone desperately trying to sound alluring. It did not work and instead the flesh crawled off my bones. Now his sister, she was driving a van up the winding mountains of Virginia and a snowstorm had hit and snow and ice was all over the road. The vehicle was sliding all over the place, with her saying “We gonna get there in time! We gonna get there in time!” and then just let drop with this chestnut: “You know what? Sometimes I just pass out behind the wheel! I don’t know why, I just do and sometimes I end up in the ditch.” I was a scared little bunny. Somehow we made it there in one piece. And it was good to see Shoe Store Manager again, at least for the first night. Now he has some health issues (and apparently has a crackpot doctor that prescribes him an entire wall of prescriptions, which he unfortunately thinks he needs) and the next morning Shoe Store Manager was doing some projecting and wanted to make sure I didn’t have them as well. Now, I was in a bad place and thought, hell, if a guy is going to let me come live with him it’s perfectly normal for him to do a finger stick and test me for diabetes. It’s not, of course, but like I say I was sort of batshit at the time, so hey, why not, draw blood and let’s get this over with. You see, though, this was only the first step in his wanting to be some kind of nurturing, authority figure. Which is really the last goddamn approach you’d ever want to take with me if you were going to be met with any sort of success. So fuck, he took my blood pressure, he took my temperature, he would have done a bowel chart if I would have let him. I put up with it because, hey, this nice man is helping save me from myself…but things just got too far. All the time. If I was washing dishes or cooking dinner he would sidle up behind me and start telling me how I was doing it wrong and needed to do it the right way. If the dish is damn clean or the meal is tasty, fuck you, it’s not the method but the end result. But no, everything had to be done in a specific way and if it wasn’t the Shoe Store Manager way it was wrong. Oh, did this get on my nerves. And that, hellish enough to endure, I probably could have lived with were it not for the creepy factor. I was crashing on the couch. His bedroom was on the other side of the trailer but he would NOT shut his damn door, claiming it was for the benefit of his cat to roam free. Now nobody other than me knows how a lonely man can love his cat, but in this case it meant he was perched across his bed, staring out the open door and watching me sleep just like he wanted to do years ago. Shut the damn door and let the cat shit in the box in your room. With him doing that, though, I didn’t get much sleep. I mentioned this, and here was his suggestion: “Maybe you’d like to masturbate. I have some tissues and lotion.” Like I was ever going to fucking close my eyes after that. I’d been faked out, the phone calls and Facebook chats were lies and the real deal was that the Shoe Store Manager was once again thinking about me in a sexual scenario I just didn’t want. How did I cope with this? I drank. I was trying to get away from doing that, but when essentially some guy tells you he wants to pet his cat and watch you jerk off your options for dealing are limited. Shoe Store Manager was not wild about this and of course turned it into a thing all about him: “What would you do,” he asked, “If you were entrusted to take care of someone, to protect someone, and they kept drinking beer?” “You’re NOT entrusted to take care of me or protect me; I just needed a place to live for a while! I don’t even know how to answer your damn question because it’s some weird world you live in that I don’t.” My solution to the problem: Jump out of the frying pan and into the fire. And that might be a story for another time.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Hot, I Guess, But...

I met this guy and he was just as hot as could be; like everything I want that makes blood rush to a different part of my body, but there was one thing wrong: NO sense of humor, which you pretty much have to have if you’re going to hang with me or else I’ll just come across as an asshole. He was into me, though, a thing that keeps happening I don’t even understand: It’s infrequent I hook up, but when I do, it’s usually with someone physically way, way out of my league. I’m not all that special and as the years pass it’s getting worse, but somehow, I keep landing model-gorgeous guys until I eventually drive them away. This man, though, was lust made flesh, at least on my terms. Long hair: check. Borderline anorexic: yep, you could count the ribs and play them like a xylophone. Cheekbones in danger of splitting flesh. Eyes you could dive in and swim around in. And then there was his monster dick, which I suppose gay guys are supposed to find hot, but logistically created certain problems. There was no way that thing was going into me, especially with spit for lube. And I’ve always prided myself on my ability to dislocate my jaw like a python, but in this case it was like trying to go down on a fire hydrant. Awkward. There’s this completely hot, naked man in bed next to me but his penis is like one of the sand-worms from Dune and I really didn’t know what to do with it. That, that, could have been worked around. We could have figured something out. But lying there naked, with his bigass pecker flopping up against his nips, he said “You keep making jokes. I don’t like jokes. All humor is based on cruelty.” Well yeah. That’s what makes it funny. But oh damn. A gorgeous naked man was telling me I should be serious all the time. Now I’m not saying it works on every attempt and I know there are some pretty lousy fails, but trying to be funny is what I fucking do. Now I should have said get the hell out, slapped him in the face with a cream pie and doused him down with seltzer, but my dick was doing the talking (which compared to his could have been measured with a micrometer.) And so I tried. I tried not to be funny. We went on a date and a fat woman was shoving fried eggs down her throat using her fingers. I don’t think my resolve has ever been so tested. I didn’t point it out, I didn’t make a comment, but I did excuse myself to the restroom to laugh like an idiot. Days passed and I did my best to not make any damn jokes. Although a slew of giant pecker one-liners crossed my mind. He told me my brain was a wonderland. I just thought he looked good without any clothes. And so he had to go to Mexico for school and was gone six weeks. I missed him; I did. I also thought Mexico is one of the cheapest places to get penis-reduction surgery but I didn’t mention it. He finally came back and who knows what happened: either he turned into a complete ass or I did, or we both did, who knows? Its just things weren’t the same. I’d gone back to trying to be funny about everything, he called me on it and said I was a mean person because of it (he might have been right on this one) and we fought like rabid cats. I can, at times, be a spot-on gifted mimic, especially if I’m pissed off. I did a righteous imitation of his bitchy queen voice and I think that was the nail in the coffin. There wasn’t going to be any more big-dick sex after that. Here’s the thing: I’ve pretty much stayed on good terms with all my old boyfriends; hey, we shared something nice so when things change, okay, it’s not what it was but we had that and now it’s something different and life moves on and I still like you. Not this guy. He hated me. He fucking hated me. I’d go out and I’d see him and say, “Hey, how’s it going?” and you would have thought I’d thrown a bowel movement in his face and pissed on his chest. “Fine,” he’d say but with this frigid, fuck-you demeanor. I’d try to talk but he’d look away with no response and making it clear I was dead to him. “So, uh, you seeing anybody?” cause he was super-attractive and I figured that would be going on and maybe a conversation starter. A blank stare, a head turned away from me. You know what, I’m done with this. “So Terry Schaivo and a child molester walk into a bar…”

Thursday, August 2, 2012


S. Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-Fil-A and I have been dating for some time and I’d like to clear up some misconceptions. He’s not homophobic, he just thinks gay sex is filthy or, as he puts it, “at least when it’s done right.” S., as I call him, is a good man and fine boyfriend as long as he has a supply of those little blue pills. He’s very business oriented. “My franchise is expanding”, he said. “Mine too,” I said, looking down. The wife thing. That’s a problem. But he needs someone to go to church with and it ain’t gonna be me. I’ve met her a few times and it hasn’t gone well. She once slapped me in the side of the head with a hand full of cole slaw and in return I boxed her ears with a couple of biscuits. “Keep it civil, ladies,” S. cried (he thinks of me as a woman in order to deal with some issues he has) and forcibly restrained her from going after me with a serrated knife. She bit him on the arm, drawing blood. It was not the best picnic I’ve been to. S. is fine with the cocksucking and all, he just doesn’t believe two guys should get married. (Although a guy in a gown and veil gets him pretty hot. He has a wedding dress in a box under his bed he makes me put on; a sexy little number with a mini-skirt and thigh-length hose and garters. Just the sight of me in that, prancing and blowing kisses, causes him to, ironically enough, choke the chicken, if you know what I mean. He usually puts on a confederate soldier outfit and spanks me with a riding crop. I have welts across the back of my legs as a testament to his love.) But he mis-spoke in the press about his feelings toward homosexuals and now there’s a shitstorm of bad things being said that doesn’t at all relate to the man I love and who loves me, thanks to the Pos-T-Vac. It’s true, he smacks me across my whore mouth while he’s giving me a rim job and beats off while listening to Focus on the Family, but S. is just a regular guy like you or me or Mel Gibson. (I can’t count the times we’ve seen the first twenty minutes of The Passion of the Christ.) Also, during sex he tends to call me Robby Benson. But he’s not this hater everyone is trying to make him out to be. Sure, I’ve lost a tooth or two and been called faggot a couple of times while he was trying to stuff his crank in my manhole, but that shit happens. If someone loves you, there’s bound to be a point where they blacken your eye while spurting on your chest. Afterwards, there’s cuddle time so it all works out ok. An elderly man snakes his hand into yours and says “I love you, dick-smoker”, details his plan for putting jalapenos on a chicken breast and all is right with the universe. I pat him affectionately on his colostomy bag and drift off to sleep. I showed S. how the whole damn Internet was talking about his comments and that he was the poster child for being a tool. He didn’t get it. “I’m doing right by the Lord,” he said, then went into a conversation about who was hotter, Ted Neely in Jesus Christ Superstar or Robert Powell in Jesus of Nazareth. “You’ve got to get this fixed,” I said, “The whole world hates you.” “I don’t give a crap,” he said, his speech mumbled as he was tonguing my nipple. He rolled over and my hand grazed across his elephant-grey buttocks, caressing the tattoo he had across his ass cheeks: CLOSED ON SUNDAYS.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


So I’d gone to AA because I couldn’t drink anymore without stopping. Their plan to fix it was to fill me up with catch-phrases and secret terminology like “these rooms” and “let go and let God” instead of booze, which I found to be a piss-poor substitute. I did what they said, though, and had stopped drinking. I was just a lazy sot and my living room was still a sea of empty beer cans I never bothered to clean up. Every day I would clank, clank, clank through them while getting ready for work. I was told I should get them out of the house. That would have involved actual, manual labor, so I didn’t. Now at AA you’re supposed to find a sponsor; someone with whom you find an immediate rapport and is pretty much an instant boyfriend who will keep you from drinking without all the good stuff that usually goes along. You talk to that person every damn day and spill out your deepest secrets. Thing is, you’re supposed to pick THEM. This did not happen for me. A man just showed up and announced he was going to be my sponsor and asked for my phone number. You would think I would say, “Get lost, nutjob” but you would be wrong. Instead I gave the man my phone number and he called me every day to talk about not drinking. That was fun. My mother was dying. She had Alzhimer’s and here’s the thing: It starts with the person acting confused and it’s kind of funny but it ends with them in a hospital bed looking like a living skeleton and it’s not funny at all. It had gotten to that point and I was going back home to watch my mother die. AA Sponsor Man told me, “Look, you have to call me every day.” ”No. I don’t,” I said. “It’s not about you and me and the goddamn bottle right now. My mom’s about to croak and I’m going to have to watch it.” ”You need to call me every day,” he said again. Fuck this dolt, and goodbye. I showed up at the nursing home and my mom looked like a skeleton covered with flesh-tone paint. My two brothers were there; we hadn’t all been in the same room together in decades. My middle brother works in a hospital and he fools the rest of the family by acting like he’s a doctor or some shit; they buy it and the rest of us just roll our eyes. His thing with Mom was this: the nurse would come in and move her and because of her condition it would cause agony, she would gasp and middle brother would grab her wrist, take her pulse and stare at the clock like he was keeping her alive through his own eerie powers. Every goddamn time. It was clear, fuck, that whenever my mother was moved it caused her physical pain, but middle brother jumped on the bed, grabbed her wrist and announced she was dying. Much like his religious predictions about the end of the world, it did not come true. But hell, he was living through it like the rest of us and coping however he could. He was playing doctor. I knew I would write about it on the Internet someday. Neither one of us are all that good at life, I guess, and do weird shit just to get by. My Uncle Bill showed up with his wife and some girl far less than half his age who he claimed was a relative and kept calling him, creepily, “Daddy.” He was my mother’s brother and for most of his life she hated his guts, and for good reason: he was a dick. In later years they mended their fences, somehow, but yeah he was still a dick. This woman he’d brought along: Whore City. Tits out to there in a low-cut shirt designed to show them off. His wife acted like she didn’t even notice, but I think everyone else did. And she kept calling him ‘Daddy’ in front of my dying Mom and yeah it was pretty horrible. Middle brother has a flair for the theatric surpassing even my own. He’d brought along his church pastor, a doctor of divinity (Kind of like a doctor of poetry) and said, all casual-like, “Say, Pastor, weren’t you humming a tune earlier today? I wonder if you might do that again?” It was some kind of damn song about flying up to heaven or whatever, some maudlin piece of tripe, again I say he deals by doing that and I deal by doing this. So the pastor started to sing and we all held hands and looked at my mother like as if at any moment a bright, white light would burst out of her chest and she would be ushered into the Kingdom of God. Didn’t happen. Uncle Bill’s companion started passing out business cards. Oh gawd, I knew exactly what it was. She was a franchised representative for dildos and sex toys. It was called Love, Inc. or something very near that. “Why thank you,” said the pastor as he took her information in case he wanted to buy a butt plug. My brother kept grabbing my mom’s wrist and announcing her demise, but she refused to die on his watch. I went back home and the first thing I did was buy a 12-pack of Milwaukee’s Best. AA Sponsor Guy was right, things got weird and I turned to the brew to cope. The next day my brother called me, once again going all drama instead of just telling me outright: ”Eleven P.M.” ”What?” ”Eleven P.M.” ”That’s not even a sentence.” ”Eleven P.M. Your mother died at eleven P.M.” ”And you didn’t call me last night?” He’d fucked it up. “Er, uh, Eleven A.M. I mean. She died an hour ago.” And then he went on to tell me how he’d watched her die and wouldn’t let anyone else in the room and was calling all the shots. People deal and grieve in their own way. I went back home for the funeral; I was a pall-bearer. I couldn’t help but notice how lightweight the coffin was; damned Alzheimer’s. It was closed-coffin, per her wishes. A month or so later I got a commemorative card from the funeral home honoring my mother, Maria Lopez. Who the fuck did we bury?

Identity Crisis

I was sixth-grade, going into seventh-grade and my parents called me into the living room. This was always bad news; it was always something kind of fucked up. Being called into the living room meant that they were going to re-live every god damned thing I’d ever done wrong or were going to accuse me of shit I hadn’t done but they were sure I was about to, or was going to explain to me how my very existence pained our savior. “Danny,” they said. ””Yeah,” I said. “You can’t be called that anymore. That’s a baby name.” My folks, you understand, were insane for child psychology. My oldest brother didn’t quite end up the way they’d like, instead ending up like every other kid his age at the time, so my parents went batshit crazy reading books to fix me and make sure it wouldn’t happen again. I wasn’t allowed to have friends outside a certain age ratio and there was a bowel chart with gold stars stuck up on my bedroom wall. Why I am not, today, an axe murderer with cannibalistic tendencies remains a mystery. But they’d called me into the living room to tell me I was no longer allowed to be called Danny, the name I’d used all my life, and instead had to pick another: Dan, Daniel or Shane (my middle name.) I should have gone with Shane, so much cooler than the other choices. But I didn’t, I went with Dan because that was one of the ones I was suddenly allowed to be. I told my friends: “You can’t call me Danny anymore. I’m not allowed. You have to call me Dan.” They thought I was crazy. I think they were right. “No, never mind how you’ve known me for years, my parents have decided that I have to change my name. So call me something else from now on.” My friends: “Uhhhhh…” My parents: “This name change is going to make you so much more mature.” Me: (holding up hand puppet) Meow meow cat witch! So I got shuttled off to a new school where nobody knew me as Danny and it was a given that my name was Dan; a macho moniker befitting my studly persona. And I’ve been that ever since. But you know what? Secretly, Danny suits me a lot better.

I Was Twenty

I’d had girlfriends before and had fooled around in the sack with guys, but when I was twenty I fell heels over head in love. This is, perhaps, the perfect age for this to happen; you’re old enough to impersonate an adult if need be but still young enough to get away with idiot behavior. Here’s what makes my first homo crush hilarious: He worked at Chick-Fil-A. My best friend worked there as well, and I used to go in to see him. On a good day, they’d make him put on a chicken costume and stroll around the mall as Doodles, the Chick-Fil-A mascot. My friend hated this and you could feel the waves of embarrassment rolling off him as he strutted back and forth in a plastic beak and feathers. I relished in his agony, a thing I still tend to do even though I know it’s wrong. I was supposed to have empathy, I know, but my best friend was getting minimum wage for putting on a chicken suit. What kind of friend would I be if I didn’t show up to twist the knife? I saw this guy behind the counter. The angels sang, the heavens opened up and Cupid fired an arrow into the crack of my ass. “Who is THAT?” I asked, drooling. “Just some guy I work with,” my friend said, muffled through his giant chicken head. Looking back, objectively, he was all right. But twenty-year-old me swooned like a silent film star and thought he was the most beautiful creature to walk atop the planet. This was a new one for me, as previously I’d do pretty much anyone as long as they were a life-support system for a penis. But this guy somehow flipped a switch and was just beauty personified. For the first time, I was wowed and turned on by looking at a dude. There were the niggling details that he was breathtakingly gorgeous and I wasn’t, plus the fact we didn’t know one another, but I did not see these problems as insurmountable. “Give me his phone number,” I commanded my friend. ”I don’t KNOW his phone number.” ”Get it. I mean it. Nice chicken suit, by the way.” You see, when you’re twenty, a little thing like common sense won’t stand in the way of true love. My friend got the phone number. So I just called the guy up. I was interested in film-making at the time, so my big ruse was to tell him I thought he’d be great for a part I had in mind. Yeah. A kid in West Virginia tries the casting couch approach. What happened, though, was nothing short of amazing. We hit it off and ended up being great friends fairly quick. If you’re twenty and want to land someone in the sack, the first step is ingratiating yourself to their parents. When I met his Dad, Ding! Ding! Ding! Gaydar went off. Twenty years later, I’d be proven right. His mom was fun but capable of going nuts in a heartbeat. With that as the parental units, I figured he had to be enough of a mess that sexy time was bound to happen. It did not. Our friendship was storybook awesome. We connected in a way I hadn’t experienced; we loved the same things and could crack each other up just by thinking of funny things. This only fueled my ardor; I no longer wanted to get in his pants—I wanted to make love. This was a new experience for me. It was overwhelming, overpowering and my every waking moment was filled with thinking about him. Which I guess is love. I just didn’t have too good of a handle on it. We were watching fireworks when I told him how I felt. ”I know,” he said. And here I thought I was being subtle. “I’m not gay,” he said. “Yes you are.” (Denial springs eternal.) ”No, I’m not.” ”Are too.” And so on, for a long time. Born that way and all that shit; I don’t really believe it. Gay guys reading this are gonna be pissed. For some people, yeah, it’s a straight six on the Kinsey scale (ha ha) and for others, no, things flex and change a bit. Sometimes you’re in the mood for strawberries, other times you want pineapple. And so it goes, I think, with sexual desire. The guy liked women, but I caught him looking at gay porn. “AHA!” I cried. ”Um, well, ya know… crap.” So I thought, hot diggity, dude is finally in touch with his homoerotic tendencies, let the lovemaking commence. But again, no. “Yes, I figured out I like guys. I just don’t like you. In that way.” And then all my feelings turned to sheer agony. Nothing I wanted more than to end up at a gay bar with him, but when we did and cuter guys than me were asking him to dance it felt like an ice pick to the pancreas. I was twenty, it was my first real love and so I sat on the stairs and openly blubbered like a little girl with a skinned knee. ”What’s wrong?” said an old man, probably far less older than I am now, sliding his hand down my back. ”Fuck off,” I said through my tears, still I imagine the best possible response to the situation. It got worse and a whole lot gayer. There was a traveling dinner theatre company doing a production of “They’re Playing Our Song” (you see, I told you) and one of the actors met the boy I loved. They hooked up and did the nasty; his first time that should have been, I felt, me instead of some theatre queen. I knew it was happening when it was happening and I punched the shit out of my pillow. I was twenty. I’m sure I’d have a much better response today. You understand how this stabbed at me? In love for the first time with the boy who hung the moon and farted out the planets and who loved me, just not in a let’s-get-it-on kind of way? Oh, the agony. I gave him the big fuck you and said I never wanted to see him again because it hurt too badly. I guess I was the drama queen he wasn’t fucking. But that hurt, too, cause he was my best friend and I missed that, big time. We got each other, and goddamn desire went and screwed it all up. He knocked on my door in the middle of the night. “If I can sleep with people I don’t know, I can sleep with you.” Hawt damn! But once again, nope. I planted one on him. It was not the bombs-bursting-in-air experience I always imagined. He rolled over and said, “Ew. That’s kind of like kissing my brother.” God damn cock tease. But he was right, you know. That was then, back when I was twenty. A couple of Christmases ago we got back together, and for old time’s sake I hit on him. He declined the offer. But in a few decades I’ll be old enough to take my teeth out. We’ll see what happens then.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Cat Heads

Life has been pretty horrible, lately. I had good job, was making decent money then I fucked it up. Fucked it way the fuck up.

I lost my shit and just freaked. Wish I'd done things different, but I didn't. I just didn't.

Got on Craigslist and found a place to live. I'm beyond middle aged, but here I am living like a college student. Sharing a place with three roommates I don't even know. Small bedroom I cancall my own. Life could be better.

So I'm pretty much living on campus. This would be cool if I were eighteen, but I'm not. It's embarrassing and pathetic and not at all the way I wished things ended up, but they did anyway.

How do I deal with this? I drink. I go to the corner store and buy a 40 ounce King Cobra malt liquor. It's pretty ghetto for a skinny white man like myself, but it does the job.

I've found the quickest way to get to the corner store is to take the alleys. I go down the back fire escape and it puts me out into the alley behind the main street. I follow it across several blocks and it puts me right beside the dot-in-the-head as opposed to woo-woo Indian convenience store. I can get me some drinky-drinky there.

But the other day I was walking down the alley and saw this: Every few feet there's a big, round

trash container; some kind of extruded plastic grey polymer thing that looks the same all up and down the block. I saw this one, though, that had the corner of a Zip-lock bag hanging out from between the big plastic lid.

Understand, depspite my poverty, I am not a trash-picker. I do not usually rummage through garbage bins. But somehow, the corner of that plastic bag hanging out of the big waste dump called to me. Maybe I'm just nosy.

I pulled it out. Inside the Zip-Lock bag were six severed cat heads. They weren't even cats; they were kittens.

I vomited.

The thing was this: The trash bin was behind an apartment building---three units upstairs, three units below. Whoever did this, I had no way of knowing.

I didn't want to eat or drink or anything anymore.

On the other side of the alley there are some thick bushes. So I kind of hid behind there and waited. A woman came out and threw her stuff in the trash. I watched her go back in and pawed through the garbage: Ramen noodle wrappers, soup cans, mac and cheeese boxes.

I heard a horrible sound. Cats mewing but all of a sudden they shut the fuck up.

Fat red-haired guy came out and threw something away. I fished it out of the trash. Six severed kitten heads in a plastic bag.

Got a letter in the mail. No return address: "Stop watching me."

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tales From The Bus: My Milkshake Brings All The Boys To The Ground

I had to run some errands in the neighborhood where I used to work. It's as familiar as the back of my dick; yet now when I'm there I feel like an alien intruder. I walked past the place where I used to live and inside I had the absolute sensation I was sneaking by, on tiptoe, like a cartoon cat.

But I had things to do and so I did them. My travels took me further west, but still all landmarks I'd passed many, many times before. There is something about going back to my old stomping grounds, given all the shit that's gone down since last time I was there, that seriously fucks with my head and heart. Actually, it's probably just my continuing to smoke cigarettes that's fucking with my heart; the stir of emotions are only fucking with my limbic system. Let's call it artistic license and move on. Suffice to say, being there had me nostalgic--a kind way
of saying batshit bonkers seeped in regret.

It had been a long walk and after I got my stuff done I decided to take the bus back home. Even this simple act evoked a swirl of memories: When I worked in the neighborhood I would walk to work if it was nice out, but after eight hours on my feet I would take the bus back to where I lived. It was only a ten block ride or so, but I would splurge on the fare just to sit down for a bit. I saw the same bus driver at the exact same time, five days a week, and he started announcing me when I got on: "Mr. Pennsylvania!" He did this because I'd get off at the stop on Pennsylvania Avenue, and I kind of got a kick out of it. He confided to me that he had names for all his regulars who got off at the same stop every day and I thought it was kind of fun. I also thought it was the exact same thing I would do if I had his job to keep from losing my mind.

What I did not realize was that being called "Mr. Pennsylvania" five days a week was actually some kind of bus driver/speak-it-and-it-will-manifest curse which would create a whirl of hardships resulting in my actually living in Pennsylvania where the only people I knew was a fifty-one year old man with no legs and his mother who still had the umbilical cord wrapped several times around his neck. But that is a horror story for another time.

So my errands involved selling some crap and getting a check for it, then walking to the check-cashing store to get it turned into money so, among other things, I'd have bus fare home. That's just the kind of high-roller world I'm used to.

April's Flowers is right next door to the check-cashing store, and the marquee in front proclaimed "Gifts for Cat People." So of course I began singing: "See these eyes so green..."

Got my shit done; money in my pocket. A block up was the United Dairy Farmers convenience store; also a place packed with memories. There was this guy who used to work there, a portly gentleman, who was kind of a science fiction nerd and would consistently ask the customers if they'd seen the latest Deep Space Nine. He would use this line of store clerk banter even if said customer was eighty and packing a colostomy bag. But. He had this going for him: UDF, if you're not familiar, is part convienience store with beer and cigs and snack chips but also a full-service ice cream store. Gobs of flavors and you can get cones, sodas, sundaes, the works.
When it came to this latter part, Dude threw himself into his work like nobody's business. Especially with children. My friend Beth and I saw this over and over again...we'd laugh at the "Oh, a pack of Pall Malls? Who do you think, if they smoked, would be more likely to smoke them? Kirk or Picard?" stuff but had deep respect for the way he threw himself into the role of The Ice Cream Man. Because, with kids, that's who he was. He was the motherfucking Ice Cream Man. When you're a little kid that's kind of a big deal. The guy instinctively knew this and gave each
child not only special attention, but a show. He'd enthuse with them over their choice of flavors, make jokes and silly faces and just be the goddamn Ice Cream Man that every little kid needs to have. He understood going out for ice cream was a treat and he did all he could to make that moment as special and fun as possible. This was a guy probably making shit wages and given his knowledge of sci-fi lore probably highly intelligent...but instead of being a bitter, surly fuck just reveled in making little kids happy by being the ultimate Ice Cream Man. It was like
watching Jesus Christ with a paper hat and a throat beard.

But he was long gone from the neighborhood and so was I. Across the intersection I saw a guy seated on the bench at the bus stop. I looked up the street (flat, as far as the eye can see) and saw no bus coming, so I figured I had time enough to duck into the store and buy a pack of smokes. A woman hit the door at the exact same time I did, so I held it open for her. Not that women are dainty, frail creatures lacking the strength to pull open a door and then continue on with their day; I probably would have done that for anyone. It's just the polite thing to do.
However, she didn't do it for me so I win.

So she bolts for the counter ahead of me and orders a chocolate milkshake. The elderly woman, working alone, behind the counter proceeds to the task at hand.
Let me make this clear: She was no Ice Cream Lady. No jokes, no smiles; she just busied herself with making a chocolate milkshake. But she was every bit as into the job as would have been the Ice Cream Man--it's just, where he threw himself into the role with personality, she applied the same sense of proffessionalism into procedure. She moved with an exacting, irritating slowness. It wasn't that she didn't know what she was doing; she clearly did. It was just that to her, making a milkshake was on par with Oppenheimer constructing the atom bomb and if any one of the steps involved were left to chance or not done with the precise formula in mind it could result in a huge explosion that would blow out the store windows.

I have it on good authority from my secret spies in the convenience store world that the proper way to make a UDF chocolate shake is this: You take the size cup they want and pour chocolate milk into the cup until it reaches the specially embossed line inside the cup. Then you take two scoops of malt base (a proprietary, UDF compound consisting of ice milk and some malt crap) and add it to the cup. You take the cup to the mixer and stick it underneath. The mixer will automatically turn on; something UDF put in place in the eventuality chimpanzees in aprons will
work for less than minimum wage. It stirs the shit, you slap a lid on it, end of story. But no. The woman making the milkshake had other ideas of how it should be done. She poured the chocolate milk, drop by drop like she was formulating plastic explosives, to make sure it exactly hit the line inside the cup. Apparently it didn't look right to her, so she tottered to the other side of the store to retreive a plastic spoon, ambled back, taking her own sweet time, then carefully poured out a spoonful of milk which she dribbled into the cup. She peered in, staring, evaluating her work for a full five minutes to make sure it looked okay.

I'd just come in for a pack of smokes. Turn around, take them off the shelf behind you, here's my money, goodbye. Instead I was watching Madame Curie tabulating the effects of radium isotopes.

The woman shifted her head from side to side as she closed one eye and then another to assess the level of milk in the paper cup. Her brow was furrowed; she had to get this just right. She dipped in with the plastic spoon and removed just a little bit. She slowly ambled to the other side of the store again to dispose of the utenisil and its offending contents. Another slow shuffle back to the cup to appraise her handiwork. She burst into a slow smile. All was right inside the cardboard container that summed up her life so far.

People were lining up behind me. A guy wearing Men In Black wraparound shades indoors. A Chinese kid who'd used the ATM. A fat woman with an armful of gummi bears and a food stamp card. A vampire looking guy with tats. We were all shuffling from foot to foot, waiting for our turn.

The woman behind the counter, satisfied with her milk-pouring strategies, turned her attention to adding the malt base. Two scoops. Like Raisin Bran. You could see the wheels turning in her head: What, precisely, constitutes a scoop? She used a mechanical thing intended for this purpose to glob it out, but clearly, this was not precise enough. Another agonizing trip across the store to fetch another plastic spoon and back, in order to scrape off the edges of the ice milk compound that fused out over the scoop proper, resulting in a sliver more than was called for and, clearly, that would just not do. She held the device over the trash can, shaving off the offending bits that leaked through the imperfections in the instrument. But you can't just rake it off in one full sweep, no, you have to slice at it bit by bit like you're making an ice sculpture for Prince Harry's wedding.

The line was getting longer. I so wanted to turn around and stare at the vampire looking guy but as I was at the front of the line I couldn't do that without turning around and making it obvious. I made do with looking at him through the convex security mirror above the counter, which not only made him look fat but possiby macrocephallic.

The Ice Cream Lady (she wishes) plopped her first scoop into the paper cup with a look that was either triumphant or orgasmic, I'm not sure which. But then there was the second scoop tocontend with; trust me, more of the same. Slowness of measurement, trek across the store to fetch yet another plastic spoon, scraping over the trash like she was orchestrating a snow globe, plopping it into the container and staring at it to make sure it doesn't create a new life form that reaches out of the cup and grabs her by the throat.

Hooray, I thought, I'm almost out of here. And as so often happens when I try to think, I was so very, very wrong.

The other part of the UDF formula, once the mixer has self-activated, is to make sure the malt base has no lumps and to also ensure the shake is a soft texture and not purely liquified. The exacting steps the woman behind the counter had used thus far, it became apparent, was merely prelude to the milkshake-making skill set she was determined to follow. She put the cup under the mixer: WHIRRRR! for a full second, after which she removed the cup, tottered across the store for yet another goddamn plastic spoon and slowly sauntered back, then poked at the mixture. She put
it back under the mixer again. WHIRRR! and then stop. She poked at it again with the spoon.

WHIRR! Observe, then poke. WHIRR! A full second had passed, better check on it again.

Jesus and the Cowsills. I'm going to miss my bus.

Poke, poke, poke. Whirr, whirr, whirr. On and on it went. I checked my phone; it had been a full fifteen minutes. Mentally, I wanted to dive behind the counter, grab the woman by the hair and slap her face deep, repeatedly, into a vat of banana nut cluster. I am a polite boy, so I did not do this. The people behind me, though, were vocally snarling and making their discomfort known. Mob mentality. Vampire guy had thrown down his Hot Pockets and left, which made me hate
her even more.

Finally, the chocolate shake that no amount of science could produce but was clearly birthed through God's own loins had been produced. At four bucks, I imagine that was a bargain. Money was exchanged, the girl left sucking on it. Pretty much what I thought of her.

I got my damn cigs; a 30 second exchange. I went outside, unwrapped the pack and threw the cellophane and foil thingy into the trash. I turned around. Uh oh. Across the intersection, there was the damn bus stopped at a red light. The guy on the bench was getting onto it.

I could have darted in between moving traffic like Frogger to get to it, but instead I thought, "Oh I know...I'll just race the bus." In other words, there was a bus stop three blocks down in the opposite direction in front of April's Flowers (Gifts for Cat People) and I figured I could
run three blocks before the light changed, you know, in the same way I think I might outplace Money For Nothing in the goddamn Preakness.

So I sprinted. Understand, I am a chain-smoking, middle-aged man who abhors excersise in all forms. My idea of doing curls is lifting a Miluakee's Best to my mouth. But yeah, I was going to beat this damn bus.

I ran. I ran hard, although to the untrained eye it might look like a T-rex flailing its tiny arms while skipping. I made it a block. I made it a block and a a half, always looking back to check my progress. The bus was gaining on me, but I was still in the lead. April's Flowers was half a block away. Yes!

And then the bus whooshed past me. I flailed my arms in the universal signal for Wait! Wait! Wait!/ I Am A Crazy Person and, mercifully, the bus slowed to a stop. I continued my breakneck speed and then tripped over my shoes, doing a perfect Laurel and Hardy pratfall aside from the fact that there was much bleeding and I'd ripped the fuck out of my last pair of decent jeans. I got up and started for the bus again and then WHAM! I fell down onto the sidewalk once more, ripping up some parts of flesh I'd thoughtlessly ignored the first time.

You have to understand I make it a point never, ever to run, so being out of practice like I was I was wheezing and out of breath when I finally climbed onto the bus. You also have to understand part of the reason I don't believe in God is because, if I did, I would have to conclude he is a heartless bastard hell-bent on dicking with me--not at all the sort of diety I care to worship. I say this because the bus driver, of all people, was the same guy who used to call me Mr. Pennsylvania.

"Well...(wheeze)," I said, "That (wheeze, wheeze) didn't go as planned."

If the bus driver recognized me, he did not let on. If he did and chose to not point it out, then I love him.

I, bleeding and out of breath, tried to make my way to the back of the bus. Midway there, it happened again. It fucking happened again. I tripped over my own feet and faceplanted in the aisle of the bus. No, I hadn't been drinking, I'm just clumsy that way but I might as well have been Hemingway on a bender given that I'd fallen down in as many minutes.

What seemed to be the entire bus broke out into spontaneous applause.

So I'm sitting there stinging from minor flesh wounds and mostly embarrassment when the woman behind me whips out her cell phone and proceeds to shout, not talk but shout, into it about how Lashawn's cousin's landlord can help Ree Ree get a car and it goes on and on and on. This is right in my ear. loud, painful and I want to turn around and punch her in her "I'm Sexy" throat tattoo but realize that probably this time the idiot on the bus story is probably not her but me.

(Oh, you wanna soundtrack to go with this story? It fits in so many ways...)

Friday, March 16, 2012

God Is A Sixth-Grader

I'm still alive, barely. I farted this out on Facebook and thought, ya know, this is kind of cool. I might be wrong. But here it is anyway.

God is a sixth-grader.
"Abraham, kill your only son."
"Kill your kid to prove how much you love me."
"I...I don't..."
" What it is it you don't get? Take out your knife, stab your child through the heart and that will prove that I am the one true God and creator of the universe."
"What about the fossil record?"
|"Shut up! Moths on trees and all of that! Just do this thing I'm commanding you and stab your fucking kid to death. I mean, I'm a loving God and all, but sometimes I get insecure and need, like, you know, proof that people love me. So kill your son."
"Can't I just say I love you?"
"Nope. Dead kid or it doesn't count."
"Fine." (Takes out knife, prepares to sacrifice only son.)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

First Job

As a teenager, I worked in a Bonanza Sirloin Pit. This was a franchised steak house where I had to wear a burnt orange, polyester shirt stenciled with horses and covered wagons and a chocolate-brown chef's hat. In comparison, this made the ravages of acne seem compassionate.

My friend Glen and I had this thing going on at the time where we would answer the phone (back in the days before caller I.D.) with a long, drawn-out "Hal-owwwwwwww?" in a stupid voice just to make each other laugh. Since, mostly, we were the only ones who called one another it was a pretty safe bet. But of course, the day Bonanza Sirloin Pit called, responding to my application for employment, I did the usual:


At this point you would think, recognizing a strange, female voice, I would have shifted strategies. But you would be wrong. At sixteen, I was an idiot. Not that much has changed.

"Hal-owwwwwwwww?" I repeated.
"Uh, this is Shannon Doherety from Bonanza Sirloin Pit. May I speak to ChaCha Puddlewinks?"
"Um, uh, yeah, hal-owwwwww, I mean hello, it's me."
"We'd like you to come in for an interview on blah blah blah" and so it was arranged. I did,I was hired and supposedly it was my first job. As it turned out, it was just another opportunity to spread my overreaching sense of Puddlewinksness to a wider audience. Not what they, nor any other employer since, had in mind.

The manager and I were poles apart. He was a surly, middle aged man of few words. I was a flamboyant sixteen-year-old who would not shut the fuck up. He liked wrestling. I liked hand puppets. We did not see eye to eye.

My best friend from junior high, Larry, had left our crazy Christian school and had moved on to a competing crazy Christian school and I hadn't seen him for a few years. Imagine my delight to find he was also working at the same Bonanza Sirloin Pit. We reconnected and it was fun all over again.

Thing is, Larry's parents fucking hated me. They had a daughter who had died, tragically, of cancer and the grieving father had printed up several thousand copies of a gospel tract called "Gerri's Wish For You" which was a folder with the daughter's school picture on the front and inside was the story of the girl getting bone cancer and on her deathbed wishing that everyone would know God's plan of
salvation...basically saying "my daughter died of cancer so if you don't adopt my religious opinions you are a heartless bastard." Personally, I think if there is a God he took her so that siblings wouldn't have to go through life being known as Larry and Gerri. But seventh grade me took an ink pen and blacked out the eyes on the cover photo so that they were hollow sockets and drew flaps of flesh
sagging off her face so that the picture looked like a rotting corpse. Larry thought it was funny but like a fool put it in his pocket and forgot to take it out. His mom was doing the laundry, found it and was not amused. Can't imagine why, but Larry's parents labeled me a bad influence and we were forbidden to be friends anymore.

So Larry didn't tell his folks I was working at Bonanza Sirloin Pit.

Another friend, Donavon, was in my class at school and also worked there. Donovan was funny and appreciated the concept of taking an obscure non-joke and running it the fuck into the ground. His father was somehow involved in distributing the Tastycake line of products, which were not available in our small, West Virginia town, so he would constantly sneak Tastycake promotional materials into my desk, book bag or whatever and wait for me to find them, which I found hilarious.

My first day at work: I am in the back room. Donavon is loading steak into the freezer. I see a couple of salad tongs, grab them and start clicking them like castanets while doing a mad dance. Suddenly Donovan freezes mid-laughter and I know someone is behind me. It's John Hunt, the surly manager. "Get out there and bus some tables when you're done doing the calypso..."

So then Larry and I come up with this great, customer-disorienting thing. When you arrive at Bonanza Sirloin Pit, the first thing you do is place your order with the nerd in the chocolate-brown chef's hat at the front of the line, who repeats your order into a microphone so that the cooks can throw your cheap piece of meat on the grill and cook it to your precious, exacting specifications.

I was the idiot at the microphone. But when I said, "May I help you?" it was actually Larry, crouched behind the counter, saying that while I mouthed the words. It came off as a live-action version of a badly dubbed foreign film. Customers knew something wasn't right, but could not put their finger on precisely what it was and the resulting expressions were priceless. The standard follow-up questions: "How
would you like that cooked?" "Do you want fries or a baked potato" "Salad or a vegetable?" were given the same treatment. The customers became more and more flustered, and in some cases visibly hostile (because dumb people always react with anger to things they don't understand.) If you can find a way to mess with the general public's sensory experience, I highly recommend it.

Other incidents were a little more overt. In order to make the strawberry shortcake, you had to slice fresh strawberries into a vat of red, industrial polymer that passed as 'glaze'. I had on rubber kitchen gloves, was mixing the stuff together, then raised my hands out of the bucket, dripping with red goo. My friend was at the microphone, and I burst out of the swinging kitchen
door, in full view of the customers, gooey gloved hands raised, shouting, "Congratulations, Larry! It's a boy!"

There were complaints.

We had our company Christmas party and I got two gifts: A blow up sex doll from Secret Santa and a Rocky Horror Picture Show poster of Frank-N-Furter in front of the RKO tower from Donovan. I took them home and Mom and Dad laughed at the sex doll and I threw the poster in the back of a drawer, forgetting about it. Some months later I came home from school and there was the poster taped to the front of my bedroom door. Crazy Christian mom had scrawled across it, in black
magic marker, "Avoid all appearances of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22)" Uh oh. I was staring at it and she came popping out from around the corner like something from a slasher movie, no doubt lying in wait for an hour or so until I got home to see it and started in on her carefully rehearsed tirade. A blow-up naked woman, hey, we'll laugh it off. A fully dressed man in fishnets: ABOMINATION!!!

Oh god, it was dreadful. Scripture references projectile vomiting from her mouth one after the other; threats of eternal damnation, and worse, getting grounded. While I've never harbored a desire to be a sweet transvestite, maybe in that poster she saw in terms of deviant sexuality, which way the wind was blowing. Too bad I didn't.

Donovan came home with me after work. We went down and hung out in our basement. I had not yet put words to my impulses, but knew I wanted to get his medium-rare T-bone out and do things with it, even if we were wearing burnt orange polyester shirts. My confused, clueless and clumsy strategy was this:

"The itsy-bitsy spiiiiiiider...."

Here I did the usual thing of putting your thumb and fingertips together, splaying your other fingers wide open and wriggling your hands back and forth in hopes it resembles an arachnid.

"Climbed up the water spout..."

My finger spider crawled up his pants leg.

"Down came the rain..."

It moved across his crotch. He definitely had a hard-on.

"And washed the spider out..."

He got up, left without speaking, and continued to not speak for the rest of our time at Bonanza Sirloin Pit, our remaining year at school, or forever. He did paste a Tastycake thing into my senior yearbook, but refused to speak. I'm told at university he immediately enrolled in ROTC.

Back at Bonanza Sirloin Pit, I had burned my finger on the grill and had a blister the size of a Good N' Plenty. I'd pricked it with a needle, and when customers would approach me with attitude for no reason I would squeeze it and cause the lymph fluid to squirt out and hose down the back of their neck and shirt. I would then meet them at the drink fountain and if they demanded extra ice I would say "I only have ice for you" then give them a second squirting from the blister of vengeance as they made their way down the line.

Larry got caught jerking off into the Ranch dressing vat used for the salad bar. People knew we were friends and came to me, expecting some sort of explanation.

"Hey," I said, "It's Larry's wish for you."

Saturday, January 7, 2012

With Friends Like You, Who Needs.....

It was my first year of Radiology school. Not something I would have chosen for myself, but Mom and Dad made it clear that in no way would they pay for a college education, since they did that once and it resulted in my oldest brother growing his hair and doing the whole hippie thing (never mind every other kid in the country was doing that; they needed a scapegoat and advanced education was clearly the culprit.) My middle brother, though, was wise enough to not let them know who he really was and kiss their collective conservative ass every step of the way. He’d become a Raidologic Technologist and was making good money. My parents saw this as the only career path for anyone and told me if I followed in my brother’s footsteps they would pay for it. College, no. Saint Mary’s School of X-Ray Technology, yes. Plus they gave a stipend of $38.26 every two weeks. My crazy Christian high school wanted us all to go to Bob Jones University and never, not once, explained the concept of student loans. I was eighteen and seriously thought my only choices in life were going to X-ray school or working at Bonanza Sirloin Pit for the rest of my life. Wait now, someone is going to pay me $38.26 every two weeks to go to school? Sign me up.

Actually, I had a brochure from a college in California that offered courses in animation. That’s what I wanted to do. Mom and Dad looked at it and rolled their eyes; clearly drawing frame-by-frame stuff would lead to drugs.

So I ended up in goddamn X-ray school. It was probably more flip-flopped than it should have been: You would spend the first half of your day out on the floor, helping people who knew what they were doing take X-rays, then spend the second half in a classroom learning about Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen. You understand, now it takes a four-year college degree to become a Radiologic Technologist, but back in the day anyone with the ability to ask “How would you like your steak cooked?” could go through a two-year program and be trusted with equipment that can sterilize someone instantly.

My first day, thrown onto the hospital floor without a clue in the world: To this day I cannot explain what I saw. The completely wrong, politically incorrect term used at the time and place was “monster.” Now, I have worked with people with disabilities for years and have learned to hate people who dismiss others outside their own experience with a vengeance. Having gone through that, though, my memory of my first day and my first patient makes me shudder.

It was, oh, I don’t know but I guess, a four-year-old girl with flippers for arms and flippers for legs. Most of her baby teeth were somehow broken off. She was screaming and screaming and who could blame her? She was strapped to an X-ray table with no clue what was going on. Apparently there was a kidney problem, because she was scheduled for an IVP. This stands for intravenous pyelogram; a procedure to view a patient’s urinary tract system. In order to do this, a substance called a contrast medium is injected into the bloodstream to enable the body parts to show up on the X-ray. A syringe and a tourniquet were shoved into my hands. I thought, fuck, there’s gotta be someone more qualified to do this. I was on the learning curve, so a Tech talked me through it. I wrapped the rubber tube around the flipper. I found the vein and slipped the needle in. Crazed screaming and jerking, causing the needle to rip the flesh and the girl’s parents, present in the room, to shout loudly. Then I went to class an learned some shit about physics.

Day two: I remember both names to this day but I will only tell you this: Her name was Connie. ER brought her in on a stretcher. She was sitting where she shouldn’t have been; in the middle in the front seat without a belt and a collision occurred. Owing to God’s terrific sense of humor, the gearshift shoved up her vagina and shattered her pelvis at the same moment the windshield did the same to her face. ‘Cause that’s the secret of cosmic comedy: timing.

Oh ha, Puddlewinks is off his nut again. No, fucker, it actually happened. Word. Then I went back to class and learned about nuclear medicine.

I got put on barium enema duty. This is how you take an X-ray of someone’s colon; you fill their ass full of barium and it will show up on a radiographic image. Seven in the morning, I’m spreading some geriatric’s cheeks and looking at her winking brown-eye. What a great way to start the day. I lube up the plastic tip and shove it home. The old woman writhes. Another feel-good moment.

“I was an English teacher,” she starts, but at this point I’m inflating the Bardex and her sentence stops short. A Bardex is a brand name for a balloon-like device attached to the enema tip. You insert it into the patient’s rectum and use a squeeze bulb to fft, fft, fft, blow it up and it swells up internally and blocks off the colon, preventing the enema from being prematurely discharged. Or so goes the working theory.

The thing about X-ray Techs, and perhaps the only skill I’ve retained from all those years ago, is this: they can look you up and down and know for certain whether or not you can hold an enema. Trust me, right now, you can look me in the eye and I will know whether or not to just plug it in and go or administer the ol’ fft, fft, fft.

The thing about a barium enema is it’s no small ordeal. It’s not like a squeeze-bulby thing; there’s a big honking bag full of contrast media that flows in and completely fills your bowels. Imagine a bowling bag full of liquid chalk streaming into your ass. There ya go.

But this woman, the English teacher, was determined to put up the good fight. She was going to show no fear. Understand—because this is how it is always done—the lubing up, insertion and pumping of the Bardex happened way before the doctor, the radiologist, was present. The X-ray techs get the dirty work out of the way and then the doctor shows up and stares an the monitor, whistling, grunting and making hand signals to indicate which way he wants the patient to be positioned.

I prided myself on knowing this certain doctor’s particular gestures; it was like knowing American Sign Language for only one person. Whistle-whistle and a hand flip meant ‘barium on’—disengage the locked valve from the tubing and release the flow from the bag. Whistle, shake-shake meant I should ask the patient to reposition.

The enema was shooting into the old woman’s bowels and I said, “Okay, roll over and lay on your left side.”


The woman was clearly in discomfort. Who wouldn’t be? But no, I had to tell the truth and do what the radiologist wanted.

“I’m sorry, Ma’am. We just need you to roll over and lay on your left side.”

“Lie!” she gasped as her intestines were filling with fluid. “It’s lie!” The inflated Bardex shot out of her ass with an audible pop and the contents of her large intestine hosed down the other tech at the end of the table. She groaned and moaned but managed to bark out, “Roll over and LIE on your left side. Not lay; LIE!”

You would think, Sir, you have no more ghastly barium enema stories to tell. But you would be wrong:

The place at which I trained was a Catholic hospital. There was a convent on the premises. One of the nuns had some gastrointestinal distress and was scheduled for a barium enema. Of course, no one, male nor female was going to shove a plastic thing up a nun’s ass so it was agreed we would all wait outside while she did the actual insertion herself. The doctor, the other tech and I stayed in the hall and after a reasonable time one of us knocked, barely cracked the door and asked, “Are you ready?”

“I’m ready.”

We went in and there was the nun who had modestly covered herself with several hospital gowns and a blanket. Doctor did his hand flippy thing, meaning ‘barium on.’ NOTHING showed up on the fluoroscope but jets of barium were shooting all over the table.

She’d stuck it in her vagina.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Not My First Kiss, But Kinda Of An Important One

There was this girl.

Her name was Nell Phillips, and in sixth grade she was a pariah and for no real reason. You know grade-school kids: they will target one person out of nowhere to be the ostracized community joke and she was it. I can’t imagine what it would be like to walk in her shoes back then; all you did was exist and suddenly the rest of the world as you knew it hated you for that one simple fact. I was an eight-year-old bastard. I went along with it—probably for the same reason everyone else did—as long as they are talking about HER they might not notice what a freak I am.

It was my brother’s high school graduation. Somehow, I ended up sitting next to Nell. Her sister was on the roster as well. Partly because the whole thing was so desperately boring, but mostly because I did not want to be seen in her company, I turned to her and whispered, “Let’s get out of here.” We scampered off. Of course at that age I was too clueless to get that us being seen leaving together by the other grade school kids with siblings graduating in the gymnasium could be viewed as an alliance with the horrid Nell.

We ended up on a staircase. She was funny, made me laugh and unfortunately anyone, to this day who can do that, makes me want to kiss them. So I did. I wrapped my arms around her and planted one on her face. I was in sixth grade, so you can imagine how inelegant this display of affection might have been. I don’t think any tongues were involved. Didn’t matter; at that age I might as well been Ron Jeremy. Got some; but then oh shit: I just lip locked Nell Phillips, whom the whole world hates.

Grade school on Monday was not fun. People saw; they talked. “Hey now,” I lied, “ I just left with her so I could make fun of her. You know me—I’m the insult king!” (Sadly, a reputation that has not left me. It must be true, then. Apparently I’m a dick on all counts.) My protestations worked. The kids bought it. Nell tried to talk to me but because other sixth-graders were watching me, I ignored her. She looked crestfallen, probably because she thought there was one kid in her school that didn’t hate her but then I pulled the rug out from under her and she was back to being the fucking joke for everyone.

We all got out of grade school and went our separate ways.

Nell went to high school, things got a little but not much better and I landed in koo-koo Christian academy. Years passed and the neighbor boy I was having sex with was a friend with Nell so I ended up seeing her again. She rocked. Hysterically funny, still, not bad looking at all. We ended up, alone, in her bedroom. She was playing me Rick Springfield cuts that never made it to the radio—to this day I will concede they were cool as shit. I was eighteen and trying to prove to myself I wasn’t gay despite an overriding fondness for cocksucking, so it happened again, all these years later: I grabbed her, wrapped my arms around her waist and planted one on her. This time tongues were definitely involved.

She shoved away. “What the hell are you doing?” To me, the answer to the question was obvious (ignoring the subtext, of course.) “Hey,” I said, which was all I could really think of to say at that moment.

“No. NO!” she said.

I replayed this to friends I wasn’t fucking as “Oh my God, I was making out with Nell and she just went crazy right in the middle of it.” At eighteen, I was still a sixth-grader.

Things have changed a little. Just not as much as I wish.


Okay, I lied. One more fictional horror story and then it's back to the stuff out of life that embarrasses the hell out of me but is posted anyway for the amusement of others. One of my favorite comic strips is from Maakies, where Uncle Gabby says "Ha Ha Ha!" Drunky Crow says "What are you laughing at?" To which Gabby replies, "Oh, just the sheer horror of being alive." This might explain why my last few attempts at writing horror stories are all pretty much the SAME story, just with different characters. I really didn't notice this until after they were all done and posted; now I just think, Gawd, what a hack. But I'm putting this one up because I came up with both the idea and the title when I was in high school. I wrote an early draft--not that what you're getting here is all that much better--but kind of wanted to put it out there as a favor as a favor to my gawky teenage self. It's not really the venue I'm suited for, apparently. Trust me, I will go back to the Mostly True Stories soon enough--cause I've had a lot of them in the past year and just need to get to the point where they start being funny instead of hurting and dicking with my head. Time always makes this happen and I think I'm closer than I have been. But for now, my high school me is happy to give you this:


There is a tiny, white worm burrowing out of one of the pores of my arm. Somehow, I know its name is Franklin. I can’t see either situation being any good.

It started a few days ago. There was this weird bump on my arm that itched like crazy and I kept scratching at it and scratching at it and it took up all my thoughts where I couldn’t talk to people for very long because all I wanted to do was go somewhere and use my fingernail to dig at that place on my arm but no, they wanted to talk about work shit or politics or why I wasn’t dating anyone and really I wanted them all to go away so I could go somewhere and scratch this red, raised thingy on my arm. It was like having a popcorn husk wedged between the back of your teeth that your tongue can’t quite get at. Only instead of just bugging you it became something that actually hurts. As if the popcorn shell had shoved up under your gums and was starting to bleed and perhaps was pressing against a nerve. It was more than an annoyance; I knew something was medically wrong.

Thing is, I could see something moving under there. Beneath the surface of my skin, under this place on my arm where my flesh was stretched taught like a particularly infected pimple, I could see a rippling movement. Worse yet, I could feel it. There was something wriggling around close to the bone. Deep within my arm I felt something moving and I wanted to get it out. No wonder I could barely talk to anyone.

I was home, scratching and rubbing my forearm. I threw my coat off and sprinted for my desk, rummaging through the drawers until I found an Exacto knife. I should have boiled it for a half an hour or at least poured rubbing alcohol on it, but fuck that. I shoved the blade into the hurting spot on my arm and split it wide open. Lymph fluid squirted out and drained all over the place. There it was, a wriggling, tiny white worm, the size and diameter of a teency hunk of vermicelli. I knew its name was Franklin. Goddamnit, don’t ask me to explain this because I can’t. I just sort of knew in my head, the same way I know when someone behind my back is staring at me, that this maggoty thing crawling out of my arm was called Franklin. It talked to me somewhere in my mind. It said things.

Yes, of course, I used a pair of tweezers to try and pull it out. Franklin didn’t like that. I convulsed on the floor for a while; the worm did things to the inside of my head to teach me a lesson. My body responded in kind. I don’t know how long I was in that state, jerking around, twitching and hitting the back of my head on the bathroom tiles but when I came out of it there was foamy froth from my mouth soaking all down the front of my shirt. Good thing it was a weekend.

We eventually arrived at a truce. Franklin stayed, emerged halfway out of the pore in my arm and the other half NOT against the bone or a nerve (so that he itched like crazy but no longer caused any pain) and I would not try to use any implements to extract him further. But the itching, oh god, the itching. Unfair.

A very sleepless night, made worse that I’d run out of cigarettes. The corner store didn’t open til five in the morning, but that wasn’t going to be much of a problem since the overwhelming desire to scratch that certain place in my arm—an act made clear that was now forbidden—would prevent me from falling asleep. At 4:55 I put on my coat, went outside and started walking. I had my lighter in my pocket; as soon as I stepped out of the store I was going to burn one and feel the nicotine rush. On the way, though, a small, yapping poodle ran up and started barking at me like the small scrap of fur could actually defend its territory.

“You hate poodles, don’t you?” This was the Franklin voice and I wasn’t happy to be hearing from it again.
“Yes, I hate poodles,” I said.
“Why don’t you do something about it?”
Well now this was just stupid. I hate cocoanut, too, but I’m not moved to ‘do’ anything about it, other than not eat it.
“No, I think you ought to do something about it.”
“I don’t think a dog—“ I started, but then reached down and grabbed the yappy beast by the neck. I started to squeeze.
“No, we need a quicker fix,” said Franklin.
So I grasped both of the dog’s hind legs together and swung it over and over, making sure it’s head made swift, repeated contact with the sharp, curbed corners of the green dumpster until it stopped barking and no longer moved. I was just about to throw the lifeless body of the annoying dog into the trash receptacle, but then Franklin spoke up:
“I’m hungry.”
“I’m hungry.”
I knew, I absolutely knew this was not what I wanted to do, but nevertheless pressed the dogs bloodied, open head against my mouth and started sucking like Traci Lords. I felt the warm poodle blood go coursing down my throat, and just before I would have thrown up…I noticed the itching in my arm had not only subsided but stopped all together. The relief was so overwhelming that I just kept sucking down whatever came into my mouth, spitting out bone fragments as needed.
The globules of brain were a lot like swallowing semen.

I got my cigarettes. It was a secondary pleasure. It was though the worm, satiated, were sleeping. So, standing in the corner store parking lot, I slid the lever so my Bic lighter was at full flame. I pressed it against the section of my arm containing the half-out Franklin. I screamed as my flesh became cauterized but I heard a separate screaming in my brain as the exposed part of the worm curled into a blackened crisp. After that, in my head: radio silence.

I made it home, the rest of Sunday was lovely, although I drank a lot.

Now it is Monday morning and I’m taking a shower; getting ready to head into the office. I look down, and there’s a tiny, white worm burrowing out of my meatus, the slit in the head of my penis from which I pee and ejaculate. Her name is Bethany, coincidentally the same name of a girl I once loved who never loved me back. She itches and is painful and keeps telling me how much I hate my boss.

I’m about ready to flick my Bic. Or I might just go into work and see my boss.

Monday, January 2, 2012

And Now A Word From Your Sponsor

Yeah, I know, it's like I've ignored this thing for a year and suddenly there are two hopefully disturbing things in one day. I'm all right; Joe suggested I do something in a different vein and so I did. I will return to the usual comedy ha-ha soon enough. Just wanted to try my hand at writing horror stories; I think the evidence speaks that I should stick to what I know. But, lousy or not it did get me back on the blog. So I'll see you soon, ok?

Coffin Nails

I really wish I could quit smoking. It’s a habit I can’t afford, makes me smell funny and most people don’t like it at all. I’ve tried the patches, the gum, the lozenges; no going. Can’t shake it. Thing is, from everything I’ve read it’s probably going to kill me eventually. That might even be why I can’t stop: knowing it’s the coward’s way of offing himself. No blood-drenched body for friends and family to find; just a guy in a hospital bed who brought it on himself. It’s not that I really want to die. I’m just not all that wild about living.

But that seems so romantically glorious compared to the real thing. It’s four-thirty in the morning and I’m out of cigs. Watching the minutes tick by on the little clock in the corner of the computer screen, waiting for six A.M. when the corner store opens and I can go buy some more with money I don’t really have. I’ve already sifted through the trash and re-smoked the last of the butts I’ve thrown away and all of life is focused on buying that fresh, new pack. But it’s not even five and the store doesn’t open for more than an hour and there’s no space in my head for anything other than cigarettes, cigarettes, cigarettes. Damn.

Time crawls but eventually gets there. I take the short cut, walking through graffiti-slathered alleys to get to the damn store. I have ransacked couch cushions and dresser drawers to scrape up enough change. I don’t have enough to buy my usual—itself a low-rent, knockoff, bargain brand. I scan the counter and see a pack of Cassandras—some low, low priced import things I’ve never heard of. But the price is right and it’s full-flavor and promises to be packed with nicotine goodness so I don’t care. “A pack of Cassandras, please,” I say as though I’m purchasing a diamond bracelet at Tiffany’s.

I get outside and rip the cellophane off the top of the pack right then and there in the parking lot. With shaking hands, I fish one out, put it to my lips and light it up. The nicotine receptors in my brain fire off like bottle rockets and thank me profusely. But then, strange thought: something about a dead little girl.

I make my way back down the alleys and, momentarily, all seems right with the world. That first smoke of the day. I’m not a loser shuffling through a gravel-covered alley; I’m Cole Porter in a swanky, thirties nightclub and the toast of the town. I’m the top. This one thing dangling from my lips has made all the difference.

I get back to my street. Uh oh. Flashing lights all around and I arrive just in time to see a tiny, sheet-covered body being loaded into the coroner’s van. A neighbor, some guy I never met, is openly weeping. Seems his seven-year-old daughter was out in the street and hit by a Pepsi truck. I hear the crowd of onlookers telling the story. Something about a dead little girl.

I’m back in my room. I peep out the window blinds and see most of the crowd has gone away. The man, the neighbor, is still there just staring at an empty spot in the middle of the street. Shit, I think, I need a cigarette. Because this is how it works: I never WANT a cigarette; I always NEED them. I’m stressed—I need a cigarette. I’m bored—I need a cigarette. I’m wishing I was dead—I’ll bet a cigarette would help. I need this. I deserve this. And so on.

So I got out my pack of Cassandras and lit one up, studying the package like a grade school kid reading the back of a cereal box while he eats breakfast. Again, that first hit did everything it was supposed to do. But a weird, fleeting thought: an old woman vomiting blood.

I could not shake this thought. Now I’ve had trouble with thoughts like these in the past: they show up for no reason and don’t go away. This one, though, was different. I could see it happening, felt like it was real and knew I was powerless to do anything about it. Again and again, my mind’s eye replayed the picture of an elderly woman clutching the edge of a sink and puking blood into it. I noticed the connection: every time I lit a cigarette I would see her, larger and more vivid. Her grey bun of hair had become untangled, one strand, blood-soaked, was trailing into the sink as she coughed up crimson in loud, racking sobs. Her eyes were clenched tightly shut although smeared with her own tears, running down her face and smearing her rouge and face powder. She kept banging on the sink with her heavily veined fist, a fresh eruption of blood would shoot from her mouth, she’d scream and finally drop to the floor. I kept seeing this.

My boss did not show up for work the next day. His mother had killed herself by drinking Sani-Flush.

This was horrible, cruel news. A few co-workers and I went out on the porch for smoke break. Gary was saying, “Yeah, I just don’t know how you can live with something like that…” and as I took a drag I saw him, I fucking saw him, go into his daughter’s bedroom and unzip his pants.

This is the part where I am losing it and don’t know what to do. There exists the real possibility that I have lost my mind. But I saw that fucker Gary do his thing and want to call him on it. But what’s going to come from that? Is he going to confess everything here at work and go get help? Doubtful. Is he going to call me a nut and physically lay into me? It could happen. I do what I know I shouldn’t and just keep quiet.

I smoked another one. I saw Gary getting away with everything, my neighbor crying as his wife consoles him and my boss having to clean up a mess. I don’t want this, but I need a cigarette.