Friday, June 30, 2006
Biloxi, MS: 11:47 AM, July 1, 2006
Stepping out of an air-conditioned environment in Biloxi in July is like being thrown out a space ship's airlock: for a few seconds, you can't breathe at all. Then you die. Okay, so you don't actually die, but you want to. Besides, the Redneck Riviera is a halfway house for the afterlife -- so many decrepit geezers come down here to spend their Social Security checks at the casinos moored in the Gulf that where most restaurants would have coat racks, ours have walker storage. I'm pretty sure that the Grim Reaper gets a volume discount for all the work he does around here.

On that day, the air-conditioned environment I was leaving was my car. I'd navigated around all of the Mercury Marquis and Lincoln Town Cars (starter coffins, where all you can see sticking above the dash is blue hair and knuckles) doing 25 miles an hour on Highway 90 to get to the Olive Garden just outside Gulfport. Olive Gardens everywhere have a frightening sameness, as though they're all extruded from some creepy organic matrix, right down to the perky, blandly cute waitresses and the archly gay hosts.

I walked in the front door, and sure enough, Archly Gay Host #3C251/A was waiting at the podium, asking me how many were in my party. I told him I was meeting somebody and turned for the lounge area.

She was sitting so that she was half-facing the entrance, and I knew that Stacy was consciously showing the best side of her profile. When we were together, it was something that would have quietly irritated me, but now, two years later, it only made me smile wryly.

"You cut your hair," I told her as I sat down across from her. "Dyed it, too."

"I actually cut it almost completely off after we broke up," she said, and I think there was a hint of embarassment to her voice, "because I knew how much you liked my hair." It was true. Stacy had these wonderful blonde curls; I've never been a "gentlemen prefer blondes" type, but her hair was so gorgeous that even the honey-gold color had appealed to me.

It hurt, and it must have been written all over my face that it hurt, because she said, "I didn't ask you to meet me to be mean to you, Jay."

"Okay," I sighed, "why did you call me? It's been nearly two years, and I don't know if I want to open up old wounds." Before she could answer, the waitress came to our table and asked me if I wanted a drink. I ordered a Coke, because my days of drinking at noon were pretty much over after I graduated from Ole Miss. Stacy asked for a refill of her ginger ale, and I told the waitress that we'd need a little more time before deciding on any food orders. She departed, and Stacy fixed her emerald eyes on mine. She always had a captivating stare, and she was using it now to full effect.

"You know about my mother." I nodded; her mother had died during Katrina when her parents' house collapsed. Her father had survived, but spent several months in a back brace while his broken vertebrae healed. "When I saw your parents at Mom's funeral," -- her parents and mine had always been close -- "I thought about you for the first time in a long time, and I wondered if you still hate me."

"Stacy, I never hated you. I wanted to strangle you sometimes, but I never hated you."

"But you hated what I did to you."

"I hated what you did to yourself. That's why I left." Stacy was the quintessential party-girl, which was why we started dating. I was looking for fun and excitement, and I found it. Things had been a laugh a minute, right up to the moment where I found her in the sack with our friendly neighborhood coke dealer. Then things started to add up for me: her constant energy, the way she never seemed to have much disposable income even though she worked two jobs, the nosebleed she'd gotten when we were at Fort Walton Beach. I told her that I would help her get cleaned up, that I'd even pay for rehab if necessary, but she told me that she didn't need it because she was stronger than I was and that she had a handle on what she was doing.

I told her that she had to choose between having me in her life and having coke in her system, and she chose the drug. I walked away and didn't look back.

"You were right, Jay. About a lot of things, but mainly about the fact that I needed to get off the drugs." Tears were starting to well in her eyes, and she looked away as the waitress returned with our drinks. After the server bounced away, Stacy turned back to me and said, "It took an OD to convince me, and even then, the court had to send me into rehab. I've been clean for eight months now. I just wanted to tell you that you were right, and to try to make some amends. I don't know what else I can do except tell you how sorry I am for the way I treated you."

Tears were streaming quietly down her cheeks, and I took her hand across the table. If that wasn't enough, it was a good start.
Posted by rightshu at 6/30/2006 10:39:00 PM :: 0 comments
Making up.
I'm making up.

All my life I've been making up.

When I was little, I was making up imaginary friends in imaginary places doing imaginary things. When I was in school, I was making up stories about how cool my family or my life was. (Which was perhaps a bit of foreshadowing because my life was pretty okay at the time - though it got much, much worse.)

Then I failed out of college and spent the rest of my life, to date, making up for my shortcommings. Paying bills, mostly debt that was incurred when I couldn't make up for my own expenses. Sometimes making up reasons to justify the purchases that served to keep me sane. (Like a computer, so I could talk to people online.)

Then I was making up plans, making up for lost time, and making up lines on my resume to get a job.

Then I got to school, and was making up exams, more excuses, and somehow slapping together my AA.

Now I'm sailing up the windward side of this monster wave I'm on, trying to surf on the back of it, hoping to ride it out before I ride right off of it.

All for the sake of making up who I am, in the end.
Posted by William C. Walker at 6/30/2006 08:41:00 PM :: 0 comments
Making Up For My Previous Absence
Let's start out slow with some calisthenics:


Made-up make-up makeup made.

Pretended to take your exam late at clown college, and passed.



Set setting sitting set sitting set.

Place the hardening plaster models of Rodan's Thinker where they'll be ready to go.



Ready red Red read red read readily, red Redd read.

The well-prepared Communist Mr. Buttons had perused Mao's book enthusiastically, fellow Communist Mr. Foxx could tell by his manner.



Run run-down running runner run down rundown run.

Take old, melting batch of Carl Lewis action figures through the evaluation area.



The or and and and but, or the or or and but but, or the and or but but or, or the but or or but and, but the the.

Two or three conjunctions, but always the definite article.



Sincerely,

The Definite Article
Posted by Sean at 6/30/2006 01:01:00 AM :: 1 comments
Topical
Today's topic is Make-up.
Posted by Jess at 6/30/2006 12:01:00 AM :: 0 comments
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Transmutation
My sophomore year, when I was fifteen, my best (school) friend was Paola. Paola was an exchange student from Mexico, and we were something like the odd couple; she was socially graceful, where I was socially non-existant. She was just shy of five feet tall, and I was just long of six.

On Halloween of that year - 1997, for those keeping track - I took Paola trick-or-treating. I may have been awkward, but that had its advantages - namely, that I didn't care who saw me trick-or-treating at the ripe age of fifteen. (Frankly, I still don't.) She wanted to go so badly - it was something that simply wasn't done in her part of Mexico, down the Baja California peninsula.

So I painted her face and gave her a cat-tail I'd made for a few years before. I took her, and we talked as we were walking. About seven or eight blocks from my house, a relatively affluent couple was giving out snooty chocolate - dark, with a smooth chocolate and walnut mousse on the inside. Paola determined that this was one worth opening right away, and a moment later, it was in her mouth, and then she was making this face.

"Mmm, orgasmo," she said.

I lifted my brows. "...orgasm?" I asked. I was used to Paola slipping off into Spanish, and around me, it usually meant she wanted to know how to say something in English (which I could usually puzzle out well enough).

She shook her head, correcting my awkward assumption. "This chocolate," she said. "It's an orgasm."

I shuffled on my feet, unsure of what to say. I finally settled on, "I wouldn't know." See, I was uncomfortable. Along with all of those other things on which I considered adults primary (and infallible) sources, my understanding at the time was that sex at our age was simply categorically wrong. I knew of examples of girls who'd had sex at our age or younger, and they weren't good girls. Surely Paola - my friend Paola - was?

I asked, after that long pause to think all of that. "You've had sex?"

She hesitated, but did answer. "Yes," she said. "With my boyfriend." Another pause. "I love him." Her hesitation seemed to be more about her picking up on my discomfort than any sense of impropriety or shame.

We walked for another block before I spoke up. "What does it feel like?" I asked. "Orgasm?"

She stopped walking, looking at the ground like the answer was somewhere there. Then she looked at me, and she punched me in the arm - not hard enough for it to hurt, just demonstrating. Then she did it again. And again. Maybe seven or eight times. "I don't know how to explain," she said, "except that if I kept hitting you like that, sometime it would stop feeling bad, and feel very good all suddenly."

We kept walking, but that was the end of that conversation. I didn't understand until much later, on a day in April of 1998, chasing down a replacement for my lost passport the day of my flight home from my own foreign exchange. I was scared out of my mind - stumbling around one of the largest cities in the world, working in a language of which I was not a native speaker, trying to reconcile the fact that I was both technically no longer allowed to be in my exchange country and would also not be allowed to take my flight home if I did not fix things. I succeeded. In the photo that was taken for my new passport, I look elated, glowing.

orgasm |'ôr,gazəm|
noun
a climax of sexual excitement, characterized by feelings of pleasure centered in the genitals and (in men) experienced as an accompaniment to ejaculation.

That's the Oxford American Dictionary definition. Here's mine.

orgasm |'ôr,gazəm|
noun
the often sudden transmutation of sensations or experiences which are generally understood to be negative or unpleasant into something euphoric, epiphanic.
Posted by Erica at 6/29/2006 11:29:00 PM :: 2 comments
Backstage Pass
Ever wonder why the big moments in life always seem so much more memorable, so much more real than the others? I bet you can remember what the house smelled like on that Christmas when you got the bike you'd wanted all year. I bet you can remember the first morning you woke up beside your lover, husband, wife, or child down to the very last mote of sunlight dancing on the carpet.

You want to know why? Its my job. The world isn't built to take the kind of stresses those moments put on it. It wasn't meant for so many people having so many moments. So we have to stretch things a little. The reason you don't remember the unimportant stuff, the journey between two moments is because it never happened. There just isn't enough reality to sustain it for six billion souls.

Don't get me wrong, mind you. It isn't as though you would do much with the memory of those unreal times. Trust me, I know from experience...not that the word means quite what I suspect you've been brought up to understand it as. All you have left at the end of the day...at the end of life...is your experiences. Your Moments. Its all we know how to give you.

They are the only thing in all the universe that is real. Don't loose sight of it, okay? Now, I've got a job to do; that young woman sitting at the table over there is about to get a call from her father, who has been in a coma for the past three months.

I wouldn't miss it for the world.
Posted by Eric at 6/29/2006 01:16:00 PM :: 0 comments
Expenditure
Hands, grasping at the mattress. Teeth clenched hard, eyelids slack and half-open. Your hair spilling against the pillow, pattern changing with every thrust.

You dig your nails into my shoulder blades, long furrows of red left in their wake. I'm bleeding all over the satin sheets we just bought and I don't care. My sweat runs into the cuts and stings, breaking my focus and helping me hold on just that moment longer while I build you up.

Warm pink flush blooming on your chest. Nipples tight, engorged, bouncing in rhythm with our motion. Legs wrapped around my hips, setting the pace. Your voice, a mantra urging me to fuck you.

I see the flush rising up your neck, to your face, and I hear your breath become erratic. I know you're close, but not how close, and already the feeling of my own orgasm is climbing my spine like molten gold. I hear my own voice from a distance, warning you that I'm about to come.

You clench, pubic muscles like a vise, my vice. And then --

And then --

Fireworks for you and free-fall for me. We dance together in zero-g while the stars burn brighter. So much power released, a god would die basking in its glory. Eyes wide, locked on each other and giggling like two virgins discovering the joy for the first time.

You're never boring.

For the record: this is not about any specific person. It is about you, the reader, if you are a woman. It is about you, the reader as a woman, if you are a man. That is all.
Posted by rightshu at 6/29/2006 12:05:00 PM :: 1 comments
Todays Topic
Ok folks, I apologize for my apathy of late in regards to posting here. I've been a bit lazy. I intend to do better. In the meantime, the theme of the day is pinnacle, peak, orgasm, climax...
Posted by Nate at 6/29/2006 08:47:00 AM :: 0 comments
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Advertising
There's a minivan out in the parking lot, advertising the family that belongs to it with little white stick figure decals. Contained within: one mom, curly hair, propensity to wear skirts. One dad, hair unkempt, polo shirts. Two daughters - one in karate, one in the girl scouts. An infant son, old enough for a healthy head of (mom's?) curls, but not yet old enough to be cutting teeth. Dad's name is Jack, mom's is Lydia, karate daughter is Steph, girl scout is Chrissy, curls is Nathan.

Advertised.

Jack works in the bank building off of 17th, downtown; I don't think he actually works at the bank proper, because he rarely wears a tie. Lydia has a part-time thing, cutting hair in the mall. The girls go to school, and she drops Nathan with an old woman I can only guess is his grandmother.

There's something I want from them.

It's dark out, now - the leasing company hasn't bothered to fix the parking lot lights in some time, so the little light that filters my way does so through mini-blinds and sliding glass. There's a piece of steel in my pocket, folded carefully around a razor blade - a scraper. The decals are like braille under my fingers. I slide the blade along the lower edge of the names, stopping as I come to Chrissy. A smooth upward press, and she's mine - this little idol.

Maybe they won't even notice, I think.

I ask myself now and again why exactly I'm so fixated on this family, their sunshine perfection. And the answer is this: they advertised.

There's a mirror in my bathroom, advertising the girl who belongs to me with a little stick figue decal.

Someday.
Posted by Erica at 6/28/2006 11:42:00 PM :: 0 comments
Lackland and Medina
Basic military training does not afford much time for introspection. It's only now, in retrospect, that I can see just exactly how many layers of meaning were piled one atop the other during my six weeks at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas.

The first step -- depersonalization -- is overt, and doesn't take a genius to understand: young men from all sorts of disparate backgrounds are brought in, their clothes are taken away, and they're shaved bald. You are no longer an individual; hell, to the Training Instructor, you're not even a person. You're a thin streak of shit and you'll probably quit, run home to your mother, and amount to nothing in life. After that moment of relative clarity, things become much hazier.

The TIs reduce you to the same rhythms by which early humanity lived: rise before dawn, perform demanding labor all day, and fall asleep as the sun sets. It's good training for the ability to fall asleep anywhere at any time.

When you're making your bed to dustcover specifications, you're not making your bed. You're calibrating the guidance system on a Sidewinder missile, or adjusting the tension of a control cable in an F-16's wing. You're not making sure that the secondary blanket, the dustcover, folds under at exactly 12 inches from the head of the bed; you're directing incoming airstrikes on positions less than a kilometer from your own. The really smart thing that the designers of BMT did is to make sure that you can't do any of your tasks alone. In order to make a dustcover bed, you have to have a second person providing tension on the sheets, or holding the end of the mattress. Making a bed becomes an object lesson in attention to detail and teamwork.

Teamwork doesn't work out like it does in the movies, though. The streetwise black kid from Harlem who lives by the book doesn't have a revelation that he and the redneck from the sticks who does things his way are really alike after all, and they tell each other that they can be their respective wingmen. Well, it almost never works that way. One night, I was working dorm guard (doing firewatch activities and monitoring the doors to the barracks) with Vic Fontanez, who actually was a streetwise black kid from Puerto Rico. He and I had developed a fast friendship, which I think got started because he saw a picture of my younger sister and wanted to make sure he got an introduction when my family came down to Texas. At any rate, we were shining our boots because there's nothing else to do at 3:30 AM when you're standing guard duty, and we were talking about our lives, about what we thought getting out of Basic would feel like, when Vic said to me, "You know, we all boys, and that's cool. But you're my nigga, Bragg." I told him I didn't think I'd been anyone's nigga before, and he informed me that it conferred on me the right to call him my nigga, "but you say that word to any other brother without permission and they'll fuck your shit up, man." We laughed and when Basic ended, we parted ways: he went to Security Forces (the MPs) and I went into communications.

I looked Vic up through some old military contacts about 18 months ago, and found out he'd been in a convoy near Halabjah when an IED took out his Humvee. We never said goodbye, because you don't say goodbye in the military. When there's a very good chance that you'll probably end up being stationed together again, you say "see you later." Well, goodbye, Vic. You're still my nigga.
Posted by rightshu at 6/28/2006 03:51:00 PM :: 0 comments
The Concert Hall
It could basically be assumed that the aggregate genious that went into the design was lost on the observers. Even the best engineers had yet to be able to solve the problem of longitudnal navigation, and had not yet mustered up enough knowledge of natural philosophy to answer the question 'why does sound become more intense when you stand below the center of a dome?'

This dome would simply blow their little minds. It was probably just as well the architect, navigator, mathematician who designed it was dead - he was something of an arrogant little twit and would probably cause them to hemmorage out the ears with his prattle and self-important bragging.

The actors sat in the private balcony that was reserved, by design, for the architect himself. The captain sat in seat 9, his partner, the doctor, sat in seat 10. They had inkwells and reams of blank paper in anticipation of the symphony's second piece for the night. It had been an impossibly long two years gathering first the nine fragments of the first page, and then the other seventeen pages of Hauser's sixth, final, and supposedly unfinished symphony. Their shock when it had been discovered, completed, and nearly entirely stolen by an unscrupulous man who knew far more about it's actual contents than they was nothing compared to their amazement at how well the 'iso-dome' worked during the first piece.

The dome was, in fact, not a true dome, but rather a dome-shaped collection of dishes, each aligned to a particular seat in the balcony levels. Every listener in these seats enjoyed a different concert, all arranged around the same theme. Every one of Hauser's pieces had been designed to be played in the original hall, without the isolative property of the dishes above, the music sounded like a jumble of background noise, but with each designated instrument isolated, the real weight of Hauser's work was revealed.

At last, the lamps were dimmed, candles lit behind and below the musicians so they could see their stands as they played. Their instructions called for them to rise and fall as they played various pieces, but it wasn't until the bodyguard recognized her own birth sign, 'The Archer' that the Captain knew what was going on.

"Where did you see him?" He asked. As she pointed he muttered under his breath, deriding himself for not seeing it sooner. "There, fourth quadrant, eleventh hour. It's a bloody star chart. Master at arms, write EXACTLY as I tell you. We'll have to catch the first bit of it again at tomorrow night's encore. Damn."

"There's a code in the music too," The Doctor noted with his usual, detached tone. "It's pretty complex. What instruments am I hearing?"

"Third viola, first flute, and... I think all four of the kettles," The stowaway was straining to make out and time the notes to the sundry instruments below.

"Good enough, Captain, I'll need to see the score when we're done here."

"In due time, Doctor - I'm a bit busy at the moment. The Lady, I think. She's inverted? No wait... that's the fox. The Fox, second quadrant, straddling the third/fourth hours." There was an excitement growing in the Captain's voice now, one that none had heard in the year since The Priestess departed for her monastery.

-----------

"Okay, so it's a star chart. Big deal, there's plenty of those around." The Stowaway was pacing back and forth, obviously yearning to be picking pockets at the dockside or causing some other manner of mischeif.

"But Hauser's Method," the Doctor pointed out, perhaps trying to not come off as haughtily as he tended to when addressing the youth, "can turn this into a precise position, if we only knew when we'd need to be looking." He tapped the thick text on navigation principles, Hauser's final work before going into music.

"We have a time," the Fop stated with his usual smirk. He snuffed out the cigarette (how he could afford those things with no reliable source of income always flustered the captain a little) and pointed to the margin of the musical score's first page. "Right here, where monsieur Hauser suggested the best night of the year, and best time of that night to hear his music? Who better to listen to than the man who wrote the thing in the first place, non?"

"I'm finding myself compelled to agree with him," the captain muttered. "Damn it."

"If I'm right, mon capitan, I expect it will be well worth it. Whatever Le Duke is willing to kill to keep to himself, has got to be worth something to such a resourceful fellow as yourself!"

"How about it Doctor, think you can find this night sky at... five in the morning?"

"Five in the morning, eh?" The Doctor mused, flipping open the book and paging a little. "It's northwest... WELL northwest. And we've got three months to get there."

"Quartermaster!" The Captain called, waiting until the fellow was poking his head in the door, with an 'aye sir?' "Provision the ship for a year, extra powder and shot for the guns, and plenty of parts and supplies for repairs. We sail in two days time, with the tide."

"Good as done, skipper."

"Doctor I want this thing plotted on a real map by mid-day. Hauser went to a lot of trouble to keep this a puzzle. That bastard has had me running from one end of the world to the other to sort all this out, I don't care to have it remain a puzzle any longer. I just hope all this music and building and getting shot at was worth it."
Posted by William C. Walker at 6/28/2006 02:55:00 PM :: 0 comments
What's Your Sign?
There are some things in our lives that we can't confront in any sort of direct way. For these, it's useful to use a metaphor - some sort of symbolic relationship between the indirect and the real. It's not just for stories, either. Computer scientists use symbols - ones and zeros - which become code, objects which have methods that represent things and actions in the real world. Religiosos wear crosses and stars of David and khanda to show their faith. I wear a wedding ring. You write your name with funny sticks and circles, and somewhere in all of that, it means you. Let's talk about symbols, baby.
Posted by Erica at 6/28/2006 01:52:00 PM :: 0 comments
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
The Dangerous Lives of Caffeine Dreams
I'm not sure how to make these things official, so you'll just have to take it on faith that I'm doing my best with what I can remember from movies.

LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT of M. PETER BENJAMIN GRAY

It should be noted that I wish to be buried in my family's plot at my mother's house at 5117 Highway 37 North near Springfield, Massachusetts. The condo should go to my neice, Jenny Ann Fuller; my car, a 2000 Toyota Corolla, should go to her mother, Barbara Leigh Fuller. The remainder of my assets...

...except I don't have anyone, not anyone real, to give the rest of it to. And to tell you the truth, I don't really have anyone. I haven't spoken with Jen or Barb in years.

...assets, amounting to approximately $123,000 in various stocks, bonds and funds, should be donated to the Red Cross...

...seeing as I never paid enough attention, and now I'm writing my goddamn will and I can't think of a single charity other than the Red Cross. I can see my headstone now:

PETER GRAY
1971-2006
HE WAS AN UNTHOUGHTFUL MAN

I need more coffee; my eyes are starting to slip shut.

I'm back. Now to the testament part, though I think I started it.

I haven't slept in a week. I saw a something outside my window last Thursday, and I haven't wanted to, since. See, this building is in a good neighborhood. The street lamps all work, the police come around often enough. You never hear about ladies having to use those cans of mace they carry in their purses, or men having to give up their wallets to some punks.

But last Thursday, I looked down out of my window, and there were children dancing. And they didn't look like children much, at all - they were painted and caked with filth and - I can't describe, I don't want to imagine what it was, because it could have been anything, blood or -

They were dancing there in the dark around a barrel fire. I know I was awake, I'd had too much coffee, I was wired, not tired. And there they were, and there was a shout that shook my window, and one of them stopped. The one that stopped - he, she, it - held something up in one hand, something pale and red and it moved like thick cloth as he waved it around. They cheered, and then they started breaking windows, and I ran back from the window because I didn't have to be near it to hear the screaming.

I can still hear it, and I haven't fallen asleep because sometimes there's a lull just long enough that it makes me think it's over, but then I hear it again. I've heard the cheap thudding of feet up the stairs, like a herd of animals moving for me. I'll stay awake, because I know they're coming for me.

...save the timeshare off of St. Martin for when Jenny gets married; she can have it for her honeymoon.

One more night; another cup.
Posted by Erica at 6/27/2006 11:59:00 PM :: 0 comments
Migraine caffeine
a migraine headache
pound and throb: downright sucky
give me Excedrin
Posted by Joe White at 6/27/2006 11:42:00 PM :: 0 comments
The coffee dance
I wasn't a coffee drinker until I saw her.

I was more of a coffee dabbler. I loved coffee ice cream, and coffee soda, and I have a collection of those flavored international coffees for celebrating the moments of our lives (Jean-Luc!), and I would occasionally go to the Starbucks at Barnes and Noble and get a raspberry frappucino with lots of whipped cream.

The day that I walked into Caribou Coffee, I had intended to get something cloyingly sweet and creamy. I stood in line, studied the menu above the counter, chose the desserty concoction that most suited my mood, and dropped my eyes downward... and saw her. I was entranced.

She was not especially pretty in body or face. She was really very nondescript and plain looking. She wore the same uniform polo and apron over plain black slacks that the other baristas wore. The only thing about her that was different was her grace. Her hands would move from one task to the next in one smooth movement made of perfect arcs. She had this economy of movement, and yet every motion seemed to be suited to art instead of function. It was spiritual to watch her.

I was so caught up in her dance that I was taken by surprise when it was my turn to order. I was suddenly ashamed of my choice of the dessert coffee that I had originally chosen. I needed my first order to say something about my character, and I wanted to make a strong impression. I stammered an order for a double espresso with none of my usual embellishments, and was relieved when she resumed her performance so she couldn't see the color rising to my face. I was again dumbstruck, until suddenly she was at rest before me again, and I realized that I had again missed my cue. I was supposed to hand her money. I was mortified that I had caused her to pause her dance not once, but twice! I handed her some bill or another and mumbled at her to keep the change, and I retreated, my face boiling hot. I found the table farthest from the register, and resumed watching her. She went on as if I had not just ruined her performance, the consummate professional, like Shakespeare's actors reciting brilliant verse while the audience farts and belches.

I woke to find that I had been watching her for a full hour. My double espresso had become cold, bitter sludge. I knocked it back like a dose of NyQuil, and it was the most glorious tasting thing I had ever consumed. From her hands, this ambrosia... I almost cried as I drank it.

The months passed as I honed my daily visits to a ritual of worship. I learned what the peak times were, so that I could be there when it was busiest. Busy times allowed me to observe her controlled frenzy for longer, as I waited in line. I managed to never again flub my cues, though my execution of the dance would of course forever be overshadowed by her performance, as was only right.

But oh, I fell into the classic pitfall. I forgot that I am merely mortal, and began to covet the coffee goddess. If only I had been content to worship her in our silent dance!

"I was wondering if you might like to join me for a cup of coffee some time," I asked.

"Oh, no thanks..." she replied. "I never touch the stuff."
Posted by Jess at 6/27/2006 06:23:00 PM :: 0 comments
Blog Noir II: Crossing Washington
After Mrs. Schmidt left my office, I decided it might be a good idea to get my head clear. A steady diet of Wild Turkey and Lucky Strikes may keep me relaxed, but it does leave the thought processes a little bit muddled. I figured that if Wally Dinkman's coffee couldn't cut through the cobwebs, I was pretty much done for anyway, so I locked up my office, walked down the back stairs, and cut across the alley towards Washington Street.

Maybe it was dumb of me to go wandering through dark alleys in the middle of the night, or maybe I just have really terrible luck, because I watched two shadows detach themselves from a wall and start moving towards me. Hulking, menacing shadows. I was so busy watching those guys, I didn't even see the guy who kidney-punched me.

A good kidney punch will send even the toughest bruiser to his knees and have him pissing blood like a fountain. This was an excellent punch. I was kissing pavement before you could say "internal bleeding", and that's when the real fun started. These guys were good at what they did, and what they did was kick the shit out of me. Mostly they landed them on my back and legs, but one stomp caught my right hand and made me realize I wouldn't be signing any paperwork for a couple days. And just like that, it was over. One of the goons leaned down and whispered in my ear, "Tommy Fishbone sends his love. Pay up, gumshoe." On his breath I smelled the sweet tang of cloves, and I made a note of it. The sound of footsteps echoed away and I was all alone in a puddle of blood, spit, and whatever pleasant fluids had been making the alley their home before I crashed the party.

I hauled myself up out of the filth of the pavement and wiped my face on the inside of my suit jacket. As I crossed Washington, I nearly lost my balance and slid across the hood of a Hudson Commodore. Two guys in suits gave me a hard look for bleeding on their car, and I staggered into Wally's All-Nite Diner.

"Looks like you seen better days, Les," Wally greeted me as the bell jangled on the door.

"Yeah," I said, "but you've seen me worse." Wally was like that: always willing to help a guy down on his luck, and more than once when work had been scarce, I found myself sweeping up the place with Wally at 4:00 AM. He never called it a handout or charity; he always said things like, "You done such a great thing by helpin' me out, here. Lemme make ya a sandwich or somethin'." I did what I could to steer custom his way, and I always made sure to eat here when I had money, too.

"Ain't that the truth." Wally laughed his rumbling belly laugh, the wheeze of a chronic smoker gurgling underneath it. Good thing I'm not a chronic smoker, I thought as I fished out a Lucky and lit it. "I need a cup of your special stuff, Wally." I bellied up to the counter and let my legs drop from under me, coming to rest on a swivel stool.

Wally had apparently done his service in the Navy, and got out as a CPO. The deckswabbers always had the finest coffee out there, and Wally's special blend was just like he used to brew it aboard ship -- extra strong, a handful of kosher salt in the grounds. It kind of made me wish I hadn't gone Army, but only kind of.

The cup landed in my grateful hands and I sucked it down, letting it scald the hell out of my tongue and throat. "Another, please." He filled the cup and I decided to take my time with this one, to let the caffeine from the first cup get to work on fighting the rotgut in my veins.

Three more cups and a cheeseburger later ("Lookatcha, Les, yer wasting away here. You gotta eat somethin'."), I dropped two dollars on the counter. Wally looked down at the bills, back up at me, and said, "Bill's only 70 cents, Les, you know that."

"Yeah, Wally, but I also know that I'm not the only one who's swept these floors. Let's say it's my way of making sure you can keep letting folks do that." Wally shot me a gap-toothed grin and dropped the cash in the till. I was feeling almost human again, so I made my goodbyes, promised to stop in again when I wasn't bruised and tattered, and stepped out onto Washington to catch a streetcar home.

As I turned right to head south, I noticed that the guys in the Commodore were still sitting there. As I put some distance between us, they started the engine and I saw them hit the headlights. Damn, I thought, some days just can't get any better, can they?

The car slid up along side me and the passenger window rolled down. I knew where this game was going, and I decided to stop. I looked in the window and straight down the barrels of two six guns, like it was 1847 instead of 1947 and we were still in the Old West. "Get in."

I sighed. Two guys with the drop on me and a busted-up shooting hand told me trying to shoot my way out was out of the question, and the burning throb of bruises on the backs of my thighs told me that making this pair chase me down would only ensure that they brought another beating with them. "Looks like I'm out of options," I said, and got in the back seat. We drove off into the foggy night.
Posted by rightshu at 6/27/2006 05:54:00 PM :: 0 comments
Topic-y Goodness
Today's topic is:

Coffee or at least Caffeine
Posted by Samuel Tesla at 6/27/2006 07:47:00 AM :: 0 comments
Monday, June 26, 2006
Sunday Shoes
I never thought of trees as wood. Wood was this base stuff, lumber,
so many rotten planks with rusty nails stuck deep in knots,
smacking into baseballs in the heat.

Trees were alive, and not in that biological way -
with souls, or maybe gods.

That's why I climbed up, that heavy Sunday afternoon,
white church shoes still strapped to my feet -
soles slippery, like souls, and belonging there in the heat
so much more than within clean walls of colored glass.

Slipped,
fell,
took communion with handfuls of leaves in my hands.
Posted by Erica at 6/26/2006 11:56:00 PM :: 0 comments
Crowning
Maggie was munching on an apple and letting the air stream through her hair. She reached her arm out to trace the outlines of a cloud.

Then a new scent touched her nostrils. She frowned, sniffed. Then she rose to a crouch and peered through the leaves.

There was smoke in the distance. A huge, roiling cloud of it.

She tossed the half-eaten apple aside and began climbing back down as quickly as she could. Before she was on the ground, she caught another whiff of the smoke. It was spreading fast, too fast.

There was a stream a quarter-mile away, and she set off at a run. By the time she got there, the fire was audible, a distant freight train approaching fast. She glanced back over her shoulder, and stumbled to a halt, her face going pale.

It was visible now. The fire had crowned, climbing the trees so it, too, could feel the wind and reach the sky.
Posted by Joe White at 6/26/2006 10:36:00 PM :: 0 comments
Five to Fifteen Miles per Hour
I grew up on Oahu. Every day, our forecast was the same: The high tomorrow's going to be 83 degrees, the low 75. Tomorrow afternoon there's a 20% chance of mauka showers; winds will be out of the northwest at five to fifteen miles per hour. We lived on Hickam Air Force Base, at 7101B Laniuma Loop, and even I -- cynic though I may be -- look back on the years I spent there with a warm haze of nostalgia.

In the early 1980s, you let your kids go outside and play until the street lights came on. Hell, in the summertime it wasn't uncommon for me to call my parents at 10:30 or 11:00
PM to tell them that I'd be sleeping over at Palani Estaniqui's or Jonathan Segura's house. You didn't have to worry about kids being snatched and tossed in the back of some psycho's rape van. Maybe on a military base like Hickam, you still don't have to worry about it today. I hope that's true.

We had a banyan tree in our backyard. It was easily 45+ feet tall, and had vines traveling all over the place. It had to come down when the vines grew into the sewer pipes coming out of our house and made raw sewage spew crazily from our downstairs bathroom, but it was some sort of national landmark or something because apparently King Kamehameha had pissed on it. It took base Civil Engineering hours to get the okay to cut the damn thing down, and when they did some guy from the Environmental Protection Agency was there, and they brought in a Kahuna (it's not just a word surfers use; it actually means "priest") and had these rituals and for an eight-year-old, this was just the coolest experience ever (never mind the stench coming from the house).

I can't remember having the palm tree in our back yard before they cut the banyan down. I know intellectually that it must have been there, but its existence was so overshadowed by the giant, gloomy, hulking vastness of the banyan that it might as well have never existed until that day. After the death of the Banyan of Doom, my friend Palani and I discovered the palm tree, and we would climb up there every so often to steal a couple coconuts, and have Palani's dad hack them open with his machete, then he'd drill two holes so we could drink the sweet coconut milk and let it run down our chins and necks.

The world has never seemed so full of promise and wonder as it did when I was gripping the rough trunk of that palm tree with my bare feet. I was higher than Everest there, ten feet off the ground, and my best friend was hanging there with me.
Posted by rightshu at 6/26/2006 08:57:00 PM :: 0 comments
Scared of trees
Ok, so I am not really scared of trees... but I'm not a tree-climber. My psyche thinks that I am scared of falling from a height, and I am, but that's not the whole story.

The truth is that the one time that I climbed a tree, I was stuck there for 3 hours. I was about 7 or 8, and I got up into the tree about 8 feet off the ground. Then I noticed this disgusting bug. Now, I don't know if the bug looked like this, or if over the years my mind has made the image additionally gruesome, but this bug was fucking scary. It was huge and gelatinous looking, and you could see through parts of it. Oh god - just thinking about it makes me ill.

So I noticed this thing adhered to the tree. Dear lord, I had climbed right past it! My hands had been inches away from it. I looked for a way to get down without going near it and couldn't find a way. I looked for a way to jump out of the tree, but that scared me, too. I was stuck.

I called until I was hoarse, and finally my mom's friend Virginia came and got me. I cried and shook and had a revisitation of the recurring jelly bug nightmare that plagued my childhood.

So, that's just a glimpse into why trees and I aren't on the best of terms.
Posted by Jess at 6/26/2006 04:35:00 PM :: 0 comments
And today's topic...
I suck at witty banter, so without further ado, today's topic is tree-climbing.
Posted by Joe White at 6/26/2006 07:38:00 AM :: 0 comments
Sunday, June 25, 2006
Some More Exposition
The dreamscape is full of those who would control you and those who try to stop them. Sure, there are others who are just out for a good time, but they truly are in the minority. It's really surprising, when you get right down to it, just how many dream-masters (as these people call themselves) end up picking one of the two sides: The Guild or The Council.

The sides have existed since before anybody can remember. When men and women first started to have their first dreams, the first dream-masters emerged. It wasn't mere moments afterward that one of them discovered that he could control the sleepers, and another stepped in to try and stop him. The battle has continued to this day.

The Guild is not vying for world domination, that would be too cliche. To be honest, nobody knows what they want. The Guild does what The Guild does. The secret guild masters are always vying for power within, and the operatives are always sowing confusion without. The Guild is always one step ahead on figuring out new ways to abuse the powers given to them.

The Council has one purpose: prevent The Guild from causing any real trouble. It's a full-time job. In fact, the Council has arranged for many of its operatives to be employed to do just that. They sleep and dream for a living. It is, however, a very taxing job. The only thing that keep most Council members going is that they know that they are the last line of defense for the rest of us. They believe their power is a gift, and that it is their responsibility to protect those who cannot protect themselves.
Posted by Samuel Tesla at 6/25/2006 10:52:00 PM :: 0 comments
What keeps me going: a list
In no particular order:
  • Hugs
  • Cat kisses
  • Water
  • Carbohydrates
  • Gasoline
  • Radiator fluid (this one is important)
  • A challenge well met
  • Inertia
  • Chocolate and caramel
  • Autumn
  • Night sky
  • Humor
  • Music
  • Sense of accomplishment
  • Watching others grow
  • A good story
  • Intimacy
  • Carnation Instant Breakfast
  • A steady paycheck
  • Love
  • Whimsy
  • Cuteness
  • Long walks at night
  • Aesthetics
  • Inspired lunacy
  • Toys
  • Sheer bloodymindedness
Posted by Joe White at 6/25/2006 10:16:00 PM :: 0 comments
what keeps me going
diet cherry coke
from one, pushing to the next
three hours of sleep
Posted by Jess at 6/25/2006 06:08:00 PM :: 0 comments
Capture
Nietzche theorized that all living beings (but in particular those which are self-aware) proceed naturally towards the accumulation of power to the ends of forcing their desired outcome/environment upon all other living beings. He described this as the principle upon which moral theories are designed, and in particular used it to justify his own, subjective moral code. Boil it all down, however, and it's still just a contest to see who has the bigger gun.

Which would not be me. The thought barely penetrated through the pain lancing up from his arm. The shoulder was dislocated at best, the rotator cuff torn at worst. It had not been his best bailout ever, but under hurricane conditions, with zero cover, and nothing but barren, windswept rock to land on, he figured he should be pretty grateful to the engineers at General Motors. His Marauder was a hopeless wreck, the expensively upgraded electronics had sweetly informed him of exactly how fucked his ride was just prior to the explosive bolts becomming the last thing he heard before his whole world became wind, hail, rain, and rock.

The memories, up until thirty seconds before his graceless impact with the ground, had filtered back to him as he drifted upwards, back to consciousness. He hadn't landed in the water, which was probably a good thing what with the hurricane on. He also handn't landed in the secondary blast radius of his own 'mech, which was also a plus. All in all, he gave his emergency egress a B-. He'd make a note of that in his logs if he managed to survive.

The air was warm, at least. And the battlefield was surprisingly high-visibility to the naked eye. He could see the downed wreckage of his Maurader, well enough to guess that it was the Jade Falcon Gladiator that downed him that was inspecting what was left. With any luck they'd expect he failed to eject, presumeably having disabled his autoeject prior to a battle in such brutally dangerous meterological conditions. Autoejects had a habit of being far more cautious than most battlemech pilots - punching them out under 'serious' conditions where most pilots would prefer not to eject unless under 'holy-shit-we're-all-going-to-die' conditions. Most pilots turned them off if they thought they might make a situation worse - for example by ejecting you into a hurricane when it wasn't absolutely necessary. The downside, of course, was that ammunition explosions, unleashed reactor plasma, and incomming fire all moved faster than a pilot's hand could get to the manual eject lever. (Really the thing was purely a cosmetic feature on today's battlefields anyway.) He'd always made it a unit policy that pilots kept their autoejects active. That policy had just saved his life, and even if it cost a few extra thousand in repairs and inconviences, the preservation of those under his command and employ was far more important. The meat was always worth more than the metal.

Which was precisely why the Falcons wanted his meat. Apparently the notion that a pilot remaining in that downed 'mech wouldn't leave behind enough to fill a coffee can, let alone a coffin, didn't faze them very much.

Which left out the 'wait for the storm to blow over and S&R to find me' plan. The sharp pop, flood of agony that made his vision swim, and the sudden need to vomit from the pain all told of good things - the shoulder was just dislocated and would now be okay... once he could figure out which way was up again. That was another few seconds of investigation. Turning off his pilot's recovery beacon took another few seconds. By the time he was crawling his way from the downed command seat, dragging the emergency field kit with him, the clanners had surmised he'd punched out okay.

On the other hand, they should've known better than to stand still on a battlefield. Even over the storm's constant winds, he could hear the ripple-stutter of rockets peppering the area. The Gladiator would be a huge target, and now had what would most likely be third fire lance to worry over. Which just left those little bastards in the power armor - where little included people thrice his own size, and four times his size in those suits.

Still, it was a little better than facing off against one of the largest 'mechs the clans ever put out.
He wasn't going to loiter like a polite little clanner, wating to be scooped up and 'bonded' or whatever verb they liked to use. His unit was beaten, routing by now in all likelyhood, and his command might never recover - but sometimes it wasn't about the guy with the bigger gun getting his way. Sometimes the little guy could get his way too.

Sometimes it wasn't about what you force upon others, but what you didn't let them force upon you.
Posted by William C. Walker at 6/25/2006 06:02:00 PM :: 1 comments
Casanova Complex
I've got it down to a science now, having done this so many times. Floorboards and stairs are more likely to creak in the middle, so you stick close to the edge and rock forward to test your next step before you give it all your weight. You only shop for cars with manual transmissions because you can't silent-start an automatic.

Streetlights are making small puddles of yellow rationality on the edges of the street as I cruise down Sepulveda, headed for the freeway. The movers have already packed up my apartment, and all my stuff is en route to Seattle. It's been a while since I've done the West Coast tour, so I'm looking forward to the drive up the Pacific Coast Highway.

At 3:00 A.M., the freeway is considerably easier to travel than it is during the day, so leaving Los Angeles is a fairly simple maneuver. Sure enough, just as I pass out of the city into Glendale on the 5, my conscience starts to beat the shit out of me, and I start crying. Strangely enough, I even enjoy this part of the experience.

While my conscience works me over, I think about Sarah and her daughter. Sarah's beautiful and I knew as soon as she spilled her coffee all over me at Starbucks that she would be my next love. I do love them, you know. Every single one. I still love Rachael, the first woman to whom I did this. Don't think that I'm a monster.

Sarah and I dated for three months, one week, and three days before she said "I love you". There were times that I thought it might never come. Being a single mother, she was extremely guarded both for her own heart and her daughter Grace's. When she told me she loved me, I smiled, allowed some tears to shine in my eyes, and told her, "I've been hoping for this; I love you too." After that night, I was with Sarah for another three months, one week, and three days until this night. I don't know why it has to balance around that point for me, but the words "I love you" are the fulcrum for these moments.

The secret to seduction is that you have to mix some truth in with some lies, so that the whole thing sounds plausible. For example, I told Sarah that I had grown up in a wealthy family, and that I had been estranged from my parents, but that, being their only child, I still received their money when they died in a car accident. That was true. I also told her that I felt guilt about being their beneficiary when I had not talked to them in five years. That was a lie. But it fit so perfectly with the rest that she believed. It's important for them to believe.

At 2:00 this morning, I woke up. I don't need an alarm clock to awaken exactly when I want, which definitely makes this easier. I left behind most of the clothes I had in Sarah's house, grabbed my watch, wallet, and keys (keys are difficult -- you have to wrap your hand around all the keys at once to keep them from jingling), and slipped down to my car. All I left in way of explanation is the same note I leave on every pillow when I do this. It says only, "I hope you don't hate me."

That's my last lie to them all, because part of me needs their hate from this betrayal. I don't take any money, I would never physically hurt them, but I only seem to be able to be happy with my life when I'm crushing some woman's hopes and dreams. Knowing that I have a plan, that I'm in control on this, is the only thing that gets me through my life.

I just drove past Santa Clarita. The next big stop is Bakersfield, so I'll need to think about filling up and eating there. After that, it's 900 miles to Seattle, and I hear the girls there are heartbreaking. We'll see whose heart gets broken.
Posted by rightshu at 6/25/2006 11:23:00 AM :: 1 comments
Ray of Light.
Stranglingly commonplace poverty.
War du jour.
99.9% of the population is stupid to the point of darwinism, and is dragging the rest of you down with it.

The list could go on.

What keeps you going?
Posted by William C. Walker at 6/25/2006 09:06:00 AM :: 1 comments
Saturday, June 24, 2006
Flying Under Which Flag
Sandra was the most lovely thing that ever existed. She'd just turned seventeen when we met, and my eighteenth was coming up. She was fresh in that way girls have at that age, where they look like they roll out of bed with their hair washed and combed for them by something magic in their satin pillowcase. She always had a satin pillowcase in my head, even after I saw her bedroom and it was just cotton, just some awful floral thing. Teenage girls don't buy their own sheets, and I knew that on some level, but even the tiny flowers on her sheets seemed to belong to her, and they weren't that awful because of that.

We went on our first date in the winter, and I found out that she was the indecisive sort that kisses on the first date but so very chastely that you wonder if you've been kissed at all. She liked watching her breath make clouds when she thought I wasn't looking, and when she found out I was looking, I had to get careful and just listen for the little extra puffs of air. We got to the point where she couldn't catch me smiling because I knew how long it took her to look, to check if I'd caught her.

You get the point. She was adorable, and I adored her. I spent all of my money (from mowing lawns in the summers, raking in the fall, scooping sidewalks and driveways on dark winter mornings) taking her out and showing her a good time and watching her having it, and if my record collection suffered for it, I never really missed it, or not that I noticed.

I was in love. I think your life starts the first time you're in love, and I've measured everything from her.

I was. Was.

The story of my life.

The problem with being in love is that there are always going to be other men. There's always someone cooler than you, and if I'm smiling it's because it's bitter medicine and it makes it slide down my throat a little easier. I'd been with Sandra for a year (plus or minus a few days - I used to count, but call forgetting the "spoonful of sugar") - and along comes another guy. Two inches taller, rougher around the edges, a smoker. He broke all of the rules, because my flag was flying on her clear from ten miles off, and any man with a sense of decency would respect that. Like that, she was gone.

Sandra, Beth, Rose, Kirsten, Hannah, Jamie, Delia, Gentry, Sara - my ships, sunk in very, very cold water, me still standing on the deck. I'm not a good man. I've tried it myself. I can't fly under a pirate flag, though. I can't buy her a drink when I know she belongs to someone else. Someone's got to be the good guy, after all.

Even if it is lonely.

(Erica sez: I totally cheated - but seriously, I've hardly been at the computer for two days. Here's this one... next one, coming right up.)
Posted by Erica at 6/24/2006 11:59:00 PM :: 0 comments
Some Exposition
[Author's Note: I thought it was time to expose my secret setting. So this post and the next will be comprised of exposition.]

Lucid dreaming is when a man realizes he is dreaming, and is thus able to control his dream. Imagine a world in which men and women cannot only control their own dreams, but reach out and affect the dreams of others. Imagine a realm created by the dreams of millions of sleeping people that a few men and women can step into and control.

This is that world. Hundreds of people can and do venture out beyond the safe waters of their own minds and into the high seas of the dreamscape. Each of these dream-masters has the power to enter the minds of the sleepers of the world. The power stretches beyond just their dreams. A dream-master can step out of a sleeper's dreams and into his mind. She can access his memories, and with sufficient skill, control his body.

Naturally, there are those who try to use this power for good, and those who don't. There are those who believe that the powers make others their responsibility, and there are those who believe that the powers make others theirs. They have warred for as long as men have dreamed for control of the minds of the masses. Most people never even know that they themselves are the battleground for some of the most gruesome crusades in history.
Posted by Samuel Tesla at 6/24/2006 10:36:00 PM :: 0 comments
Countersuit
New York, NY (Reuters) — In a press conference at St. Patrick's Cathedral, the Archangel Gabriel announced yesterday that the Lord God has filed suit against Hezekiah Wellington I for injunctive relief and unspecified damages.

"This move was primarily made in an effort to block Wellington I's lawsuit against Wellington III and DuLac," Gabriel said in a prepared statement.

Wellington I caused great public outcry two weeks ago when he sued his grandson, Hezekiah Wellington III, for genetic copyright infringement.

"It's a damn dishonor to our family name and to the Holy Catholic Church," Wellington I announced after filing his suit, in reference to his grandson and his girlfriend, Tiffany DuLac, giving birth out of wedlock. "I can't sue them for that, but I can sue them for copying my genetic code without my express permission."

Wellington I maintains that he owns sole copyright over his own genes. "My father, William Preston Wellington IV, last of my family line except for myself, passed away five years ago," he stated when originally filing his lawsuit. "At the time of his death, my family's genetic copyright has reverted in full to me."

In numerous statements before the media since his original filing, Wellington I has referred to his grandson's unwed childbirth as "genetic piracy".

In yesterday's announcement, Gabriel stated that Wellington I's legal theory is not only invalid, but damaging to God's reputation.

"In Genesis 1:28, God said unto Adam and Eve, 'Be fruitful and multiply,'" Gabriel said. "That decree has carried on through the ages. Under current copyright law, all procreation must therefore be considered a 'work for hire', meaning that God owns the copyright on all human genetic material. To claim otherwise is blasphemy against our Lord, hence the decision to seek punitive damages."

Wellington I could not be reached for comment.
Posted by Joe White at 6/24/2006 07:26:00 PM :: 2 comments
Unsafe Water
We were three days outside of Hong Kong when the pirates hit. We'd been kind of expecting it, since we ship raw MP3s (they don't spoil as quickly as AACs, and they're normally pretty docile if you keep them well-fed), so we took precautions: we added an extra four days to our journey by staying outside the normal shipping lanes, we made sure that everyone knew that our MP3s were primarily species slowmusica folkrockus, which don't fetch much on the secret MP3 black market. Hell, we even hired a decoy ship full of hiphoppeli eminemi to precede us by a few days so that the pirates would have something to steal.

None of this worked, though. We saw sails on the horizon and tried to kedge-haul a few extra knots out of the wind, but our deep draft was no match for their shallow little clippers. Before we knew it, we had grapnels on the taffrails, and skinny, acne-ridden pirates leaping somewhat gawkily onto the deck. My crew had all dealt with these pirates before, so we held pistols and cutlasses at the ready, waiting to see if we'd get through this with nothing more than an empty hold or if they decided to slit throats.

A creaking sound and a sudden list to the ship told me their captain had come aboard. I turned to face him, and realized that he was new. Pushing 400 pounds like their previous captain, this one had a neckbeard that spoke of real authority.

"Be you the master of this vessel?" He looked me in the eye and waddled imposingly towards me.

"I am."

"Ha! I totally pwn3d j00, n00b!" I'm not sure how I heard the numbers in his voice, but I did. While he gloated and attempted to dance, my hand started to slip to the hilt of my blade, but the click of a flintlock next to my head made me stay my hand. I knew that more trouble was coming, but I had no idea how bad it would be.

The pirate captain, wheezing and red-faced from his failed try at capering, stepped closer to me and I could smell Doritos and sweat. "Tell me, lad, are you familiar with the term...'prison gay'?"

--------------------------------

Three hours later they sailed on, but I knew I would never view MP3 piracy the same way.

Remember, kids: stealing music hurts honest sailors trying to ship MP3s!
Don't steal music! Unless it's really good or you don't have the money or you just don't want to pay for it.

Posted by rightshu at 6/24/2006 02:55:00 PM :: 1 comments
The Captain marauds
A crimson wave rolls in.
The townfolk freeze in place,
instincts bred of generations of suffering.
Womenfolk steel themselves in resignation.
Menfolk slump their shoulders and shrink.
Young girls gaze longingly at the horizon,
waiting to sight the first sail;
they know not the horrors that await.
The anchors are dropped.
Captain Bloodsnatch has arrived.
Posted by Jess at 6/24/2006 02:36:00 PM :: 0 comments
A topic, lads! A topic!
Okay, lads and lasses. Here's your topic, ye scurvy dogs: Piracy.
Posted by rightshu at 6/24/2006 01:27:00 AM :: 0 comments
Friday, June 23, 2006
Dearthmaking
I take things.

I don't just mean that I compulsively steal things, like kleptomaniacs... or that I take things I need, like, um... Jean Valjean or whatever... I mean, I take things in order to make them be not there for you.

Ok, so it's slightly sociopathic. There are much worse things I could be doing. I could be selling drugs to kids, or killing homeless people, or driving drunk... but instead, I make your life inconvenient. Heh. I get a little thrill right now just thinking about it.

So, next time you're at the supermarket shopping for Totino's frozen party pizzas, if every variety exists except for the canadian bacon ones that you want, you know who to blame. Next time you go to the cabinet to get a bar of soap for your shower only to find nothing but the empty wrapper for the 8-pack of family-sized Ivory bars, curse my name as you lather your body up with shampoo instead. And the next time you're running late because you can't find your car keys, make sure to check your fuel gauge when you finally break down and use your spare set, because I may just have siphoned out all but enough gas to get you out to the highway.

Hmmm. I think tomorrow morning I'll go head to the library and check out all the copies of that expensive text book you were hoping to find. G'night!
Posted by Jess at 6/23/2006 11:59:00 PM :: 1 comments
Guilty Pleasures (A Fairly Comprehensive List)
I'm not feeling very hip and author-y right now, so I will simply regale you with a list of the pleasures I indulge in somewhat guiltily:

  • The Hardee's Monster Burger. Dear gods, did ~75,000 calories ever taste this good? There's something about biting into one of these things that hits that little spot in the hindbrain that never evolved from a stalking predator and tickles it until it sprays mayonnaise all over the back of your throat. I may have taken that a little too far, but it's true. Also, 4 out of 5 doctors recommend this burger to patients with atherosclerosis!
  • Pornography. I'll gleefully admit that I download pornosmut from the Intertron, but I sometimes feel ashamed to admit that at one time I had 37 GB of lovingly indexed non-professional pornography straight from alt.binaries.nospam.amateur.female and alt.binaries.fetish.mexican.amputees.on.motorcycles.eating.ice.cream.yum.yum.yum.
  • Farting. This is more than a little embarassing, but there is a solemn pride to be had in the ability to change the pressure in your office and make your co-workers flee for the door, faces twisted in agony and bile rising in their throats. Use your power wisely, Superman.
  • Q-Tipping. I'm only ashamed about this because I love it so. fucking. much. Some people will be reading this and nodding their heads, saying, "Damn right! That's a hell of a good feeling when you have clean ear canals!" The rest of you (okay, probably everybody on this planet but me) are saying, "You total retard."
  • (Very) Mild Voyeurism. My upstairs neighbor occasionally takes matters into her own hands during the day. If I happen to be working from home and she does so, I'll go sit in the bedroom and listen. I don't have to be "firing off some knuckle children" at the same time; it's enough to know that I'm doing something taboo.
  • Sleeping scandalously late. Lately my time has been consumed with new relationships, but I still have this drive inside me to take my Saturday and just blow it off the map with sleep. It's like I've taken some Hibernol, and I just want to wake up on Sunday. There have even been some days where I stayed in bed entirely, moving only to pay for the pizza I ordered and to eliminate such pizza as I have eaten. I am the laziest sumbitch you'll ever meet.
  • Unmentionable behavior. The people who know about the behavior I'm not mentioning will know what I mean here. One person, who knows about this behavior but has not behaved in this way yet, should certainly look forward to it.
These are my guilty pleasures. There are others, but I can't think of them right now. If this list doesn't scare my wife right the hell away from me, I'll be the first to be surprised. After she's surprised that she isn't running, anyway.
Posted by rightshu at 6/23/2006 11:57:00 PM :: 0 comments
Nihilism, Lust, and Other Party Games (a triolet)
Close your eyes and push away.
That which is dear is now discarded;
the best ain't bad enough today -
close your eyes and push away.
Rejected sums have come to stay
with cherished products left unguarded.
Close your eyes and push away.
That which is dear is now discarded.
Posted by Erica at 6/23/2006 11:50:00 PM :: 0 comments
Daddy
Lily giggled. She was in a room filled with stuffed animals. From wall to wall there was nothing but bears, giraffes, bunnies, dolphins, more bears, and a myriad of other creatures. All she could think about was playing with them. She couldn't help but bounce and play for hours.

Amidst the piles of stuffed critters she managed to find a dozen pairs. She lined them up neatly two by two and re-enacted Noah's story. Her step-dad was a minister, and he always read her stories from the Bible when he put her to bed. Noah and the Ark was one of her favorites because of all the animals. Lily loved animals. When she grew up, she wanted to be an animal doctor--a vet-er-rin-air-ean.

Lily always loved it when Jimmy came over to play.

* * *

Arlin was a good man. Nobody would deny that. He had been a reverend for fifteen years, and had touched the lives of thousands. Every Sunday morning he'd get up in front of his congregation at Our Savior Jesus Baptist Church, and he would deliver a sermon. They were always good. They were always filled with conviction. Every member of his flock brought their problems to him. He was a marriage counselor and he was a youth guidance counselor. He coached the church softball team and the church volleyball team. He spent so many hours at the church, not even God could doubt that he was a good man.

When he met Stacey, he thought she was nice. But it was really her daughter, Lilian that he fell in love with. Her adorable little face. Her rosy cheeks. Her silky hair. She was such a sweet little toddler. Who could resist? He wanted to help Stacey raise her. He wanted to be her father.

* * *

James didn't have to do this, but he took such great pleasure in seeing the will of good men crumble. The other Guilders wouldn't even flinch if they knew. They all did the same.

It was all to easy, really. He just had to tuck her away in her own little place while he got behind the wheel and drove. The look on his face had been priceless the first time. James didn't realize it would be so easy. It only fed his desire to do it more.

At first he did it only on Saturdays, but he quickly made it a nightly ritual. He was surprised he could keep it up this long. It had been nearly a year. Nobody seemed to be the wiser. He couldn't have picked a better pair.
Posted by Samuel Tesla at 6/23/2006 11:04:00 PM :: 0 comments
Misery, like booze, only without the removal of inhibition.
Seriously here. I'm talking strictly about the various and sundry forms of physiological misery and for now I'll just restrict myself to the viral and microbial kinds.

In fact, I'll pretty much just stick to our dear old friend, influenza.

Influenza comes in as many a varied flavours as gin, vodka, and beer - put together. Sometimes it's just a fever, cough, and sore throat. Hell, sometimes it's just a tickle in the back of your throat. (Like mine.) I guess this is like the sake of flu season - so smooth you barely even realize you're carrying it.

Until Tuesday when it's actually painful, then it's more like the whiskey parts...

And, of course, by Tuesday night you're looking at a cocktail of the sore throat, and the rattling, semi-productive cough, and by that point you're nice and warm from the fever.

Wednesday, just like with booze, you wake up feeling like shit on a stick, slightly toasted on one side, nice and soggy on the other. So you call in sick to work, which is fine because the laryngitis makes you sound like Barry White, and sure enough as with booze, people want you to sing.

"Oooh I, I can't get enough of this flu, baby."

So you spend Wednesday with a red nose, poor judgement, suck at poker, and thanks to the god-awful smell you're giving off from being ill and not having bathed in a day or so now, no one wants to be around you who isn't similarly impaired. Tylenol? Yeah, keep wishing.

Thursday, no better really, because as much as you tried to leave that influenza bottle on the table, it called and you answered. Now your nose is acting up, as you promised yourself you weren't going to drink any of that sore-throat stuff anymore, but hey - a little sinus pressure never hurt anyone right?

The key word there was 'a little.' The amount of sinus pressure (which I guess is like Tequilla) you drank would kill a horse, so now your head is pounding and the thought of even calling work - let alone answering the phone when they call you - is just not gonna happen.

So Friday morning, when you absolutely have to be at work (because one of your favorite co-workers is going away, forever) you still feel like crap, but do your best to clean up for everyone. You've got a new lavender tie, and nice, crisp white shirt, and you think you look fine. Except that you sound like Barry White's little brother, and sniffle like a coke fiend. Real hit with the ladies. Everyone who sees you knows you've been into the flu and they react like you'll get it on them.

The tab comes out to about the same too, a couple of days of missed work seems to be roughly equal to what a true boozer can blow at a bar in that same timeframe.

So the next time you want to get nice and trashed? Just go get coughed on. The lines are shorter, and there's no waking up anywhere but your own bed. Unless you're a champ, and wind up in the hospital.
Posted by William C. Walker at 6/23/2006 05:34:00 PM :: 2 comments
Guilty as Charged
Whenever I'm feeling a little blue, I tend to detach from the world. I tend to withdraw into myself. It is during this time that I really seem to get out the guilty pleasures list and start ticking items off.

To Do:
Drive to Wal-mart and buy lots of junk food
Read a pulp fiction paperback
flip on the TV and watch some reality drivel


After I've finished my gluttony I tend to need a big nap. Long naps during the day are also a guilty pleasure of mine. Ahh, it feels good to get this off my chest. :-D
Posted by Nate at 6/23/2006 02:07:00 PM :: 0 comments
Motivation
We are driven by our wants, and motivated to do things we would not necessarily otherwise do... and sometimes we are not exactly proud of our motivations, either... so give in to temptation - you know you want to - share your Guilty Pleasures wth the rest of us.
Posted by Jess at 6/23/2006 02:08:00 AM :: 0 comments
Thursday, June 22, 2006
The White
The house settled around Jon as he he sat, nearly motionless, in his over-stuffed chair. The lights were dimmed and ceiling fan was on medium. It was quiet like a normal home should be: creaking, clanking, the occasional clicking. Buildings were living organisms too, in a way, Jon thought. It's only natural for them to make some noise.

He stared carefully at a point on the wall opposite him. There was nothing particularly special about that point, but he had selected it for this evening. He looked at the spot without blinking and without once glancing away. His breaths became further apart and more evenly spaced. His muscles relaxed but his eyes did not waver. In his mind's eye he saw a door, he mentally reached out to it and swung it open. He let his mind step through the door and immerse itself.

The door closed behind him and melded seamlessly with the wall. The room was nondescript. The walls, ceiling, and floor were quintessentially white, a soft light radiating from them. There was no furniture. Jon looked to one wall, and he knew exactly which wall it was. Images began appear on it.

He saw the floor of the Senate. He saw a Member of Parliament being indiscreet with his secretary's daughter. He saw a beggar on the streets of Denver emptying his cup into a street-vendor's hand. He saw a million other images scroll by, but then he brought back the first.

He watched as a number of Senators each in turn came up to speak. They each began their speeches with the same drivel as always. But then each of them launched into a laundry list of wrongs that some bill would be perpetrating upon their constituents. Senator after senator went. It seemed that none of them wanted this bill to pass, and yet they all had this urgency in their voices. It sounded as if they all thought they were in the minority. They all sounded as if they thought that they were going to lose and the bill would pass.

Jon thought it was peculiar, but he had never quite understood politicians. He waved at the wall and the images disappeared. A door swung open and he stepped out into the world beyond his little white room. It was time he got to work.
Posted by Samuel Tesla at 6/22/2006 11:29:00 PM :: 0 comments
L'wa
There's a passage from the bible my mother used to read to me, ages ago in a place that seems to have nothing in common with here and now. It's Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven.

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

I always liked it best. It was so much like poetry, and it was stupidly comforting for most of my life. Life got you down? Don't worry - it's just a time to weep; there's a time to laugh coming, right around the corner. But beyond reassuring, there's also an element of admonition in there. There's a perfect time for everything, sure - but there's also the converse, those times which are singularly unsuited for a purpose.

There's a time to air your grievances, and there's a time to shut your fucking mouth. Let me give you a few illustrative examples: alone with your confrontee in a boat in the warm water off of the Italian coast? The wrong time. In marriage counseling? Much better. When you're trying to apologize? Nuh-uh. When you're trying to figure out what's wrong with the budget? Sure. When you want to break up with your girlfriend because she's not interesting enough, while she's vacationing in New Orleans?

Shut your fucking mouth, you stupid piece of shit.

The thing is, I didn't think anything of it. I'd been reflecting on our relationship (which is to say, I'd been munching foreign rug), and I felt like the spark was gone (which is to s - ooh, shiny!). And the fact that she was probably hip-deep in some sort of voodoo bullshit didn't even occur to me, even if she did have the whole emo-I'm-a-witch-look-at-me thing going on. It stopped mattering the moment I noticed my leg was broken, my nose was bleeding, there were stabbing pains in my chest -

There is a time for everything,
this is your moment to fucking scream, you asshole.

Her voice was mocking me, and everything slipped sideways, and there I am way down there. There's another voice, now, behind hers, and it's dusty and full of things that crawl.

"Not Loa," it whispers. "L'wa." And it laughs, and things are very very black.

I wish I'd learned.
Posted by Erica at 6/22/2006 08:47:00 PM :: 1 comments
Blog Noir
There are two things I have in my desk drawer: one's a .45, and I keep it loaded. The other's a bottle, and it keeps me loaded. When I heard the knock on my office door, I opened the desk and started to reach for one. Couldn't tell you which one, exactly, but either would do just fine. It was dark in the hallway outside my office, so all I could see through the frosted glass was the backside of the letters that spelled out "Lester Cage Investigative Services" on the window. I figured that this would be one of Tommy Fishbone's goons come to work me over for the vig I didn't have, so the gun might keep them busy for a bit. On the other hand, the bottle would give me a little anesthetic for the beating I'd be receiving tonight.

"'S open," I said as my hand landed on the checkered grip of my Colt. Ah, well. If nothing else, I could keep myself amused when the mook saw the heater, and that's almost as good as not getting my face rearranged.

The doorknob twisted, and I set my gun hand on the desk, barrel angled up to point at the heart of my nocturnal visitor. After the door opened wide enough for me to see, I realized that either Tommy Fishbone had a very different concept of the words "work me over," or my luck was even worse than I thought. The dame who stepped across my threshold looked like real trouble: not the kind where you get a broken finger, the kind where you get a broken heart. A broken heart ripped out of your chest and thrown on the floor, which is where it will be when she does the Mexican hat dance on it. She was wearing maroon, which isn't the color I usually associate with femmes fatale, but on her it worked like a charm.

She raised an eyebrow on a forehead the color of alabaster and looked at my iron. "Is that how you greet every potential client?"

"I only break out the heater for special occasions, sweetheart. Most folks just get harsh language." Great. Her voice was like church bells in winter: clear, crisp, and chilly. I put the .45 back in the drawer and decided to leave the bottle in there to keep it company. For the moment, anyway. "Have a seat."

"A gentleman would stand when a lady enters the room, you know."

I grunted. "Lady, I ain't a gentleman." She folded herself neatly into the chair and I turned down the Truetone, where Ed Murrow was telling the world about Truman's request for aid for Greece and Turkey. I'd met some Greek partisans during the war, and figured that about half of the money Truman was asking for would end up going for ouzo and cigarettes. "What seems to be your problem?"

She reached into her handbag and pulled out a silver cigarette case, extracted a cigarette from it, and waited, looking at me. When I made no move, she frowned a little and lit her smoke with a Dunhill lighter. Players cigarette, I judged from the smoke. Expensive imported cigarettes, expensive lighter. Maybe things were looking up after all. I grabbed a Lucky from the pack on the desk and lit a match.

"My name is Elizabeth Schmidt, and I've come about my husband," she said, and looked down at her lap. "We've been married less than a year, but there have been three times in the past month where Gunther hasn't come home all night."

"So you think he's got himself a little something on the side?"

"I don't think he's fucking someone else, if that's what you're insinuating." Her eyes flashed a warning that this line of questioning might be a bad idea. "That's what I thought at first, and when I confronted him, he told me to make a list of my grievances and he would look at it! In case you hadn't noticed, my husband's name is Gunther Schmidt. He's German, but he told me that he was a university professor and escaped to Switzerland in '38. I believed him, until last week. I was searching his dresser, trying to find proof that he's been unfaithful, when I found this." She reached into her bag and tossed something from it onto the desk. The skull-and-bones motif was unmistakable. Germans didn't get pins like this when the dentist didn't find any cavities. You had to be Waffen-SS to earn this kind of a reward. "And this." She set a photograph in front of me -- a group of smiling Teutonic men in feldgrau, standing in front of some kind of scientific equipment. The handwritten note on the back said "Haigerloch, 17. Mai 1942".

"Lady, this is a job for the police. Maybe the Army, or the FBI. Not a private eye, anyway. The authorities will want your husband under arrest, and that's pretty far beyond what I can do."

"That's just it! I went to the police the day I found this...this evidence, and the next day, two men who said they were from the FBI came to my house and told me to forget what I had seen, that it was a misunderstanding and that my husband was not and had never been a Nazi." The way she took a drag from her cigarette told me exactly what she thought of the agents. I decided to stall for time while I debated taking this kind of a hot potato.

"First, why me? Who told you that I could help with something this big? And second, what do you want me to do if I find out you're right, and he was a Nazi?"

"My maiden name is Anderson, Mr. Cage. My brother's name is Martin Anderson." Just like that, the pieces of the puzzle fell into place. Marty and I had been Jedburghs together in the OSS, and one night just outside of Biche, Marty had saved my life when I took a bullet in the leg and the communist partisans we were supposed to be leading in the fight against the Krauts decided to turn tail and run. Hell of a way to collect on a debt, though. I nodded at her to continue. "As for what I'd like you to do, well, let's just say that I don't want you to read him a list of grievances."

"Whoa, Mrs. Schmidt. I'm a dick, not a leg-breaker. Everything I do is strictly above-board," I lied. What she doesn't know, I figured, can't hurt me.

"Which is why you pull a pistol on guests."

"Occupational hazard." I stubbed out the remains of my smoke and looked her straight in the eyes. "I'll take your case, Mrs. Schmidt, but on one condition: if I can prove your claim right, you'll get your brother to help me in taking care of the situation." I mentally congratulated myself on that turn of phrase; plenty of wiggle room in it.

"Thank you, Mr. Cage. You won't regret this." She stood abruptly and held out her hand. I eased myself out of my chair and took it. She smiled warmly at me. Maybe more than warm. More than friendly, at least. I knew that she was wrong, and that I probably would regret this, but the way her smile touched nerves I'd forgotten I had told me that I might enjoy regretting it, after all.
Posted by rightshu at 6/22/2006 05:03:00 PM :: 0 comments
The suggestion box is full
A random sampling of suggestions found in the employee feedback box at a company in California:

"The towels in the locker room should really be kept in a warmer."

"The carpeting hasn't been replaced in over three years."

"The supply cabinet needs more Pilot Precise pens. All that's left are BIC round stic pens, which are unacceptable."

"There are only 2 types of sushi available in the cafeteria. When are we going to get some variety?"

"Free soft drinks are a good start, but without slices of lime, what's the point?"

"I'd like a gluten-free option on bagel day."

"Pet day care!"
Posted by Jess at 6/22/2006 04:12:00 PM :: 0 comments
Misgivings
One should always choose a proper time to air their Grievances. That is all.
Posted by Nate at 6/22/2006 07:01:00 AM :: 0 comments
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Long pants
"I left my pants in the dryer," Madeleine thought to herself as she stole down the narrow passage. "I can't believe I spent thirty minutes before I gave up. Why didn't I look in the dryer?" She always did that. She always left her clothes in the dryer or her food in the crock pot. That's why she didn't have good things, at least nothing material.
Posted by Samuel Tesla at 6/21/2006 10:37:00 PM :: 0 comments
Crystal Lake
John had his best moments here at the lake. It was a beautifully hot summer day and he'd stripped out of his clothes and left them lying on the bank beside the Oak tree. He relaxed and closed his eyes as he swam slowly around the water on his back. Putting all thoughts of work far from his mind he concentrated on his languid kicks. The warm water was especially soothing on his overworked arms and legs. Throwing sacks of concrete around a dirt yard was tiring and sweaty work. He started for the tree where his clothes lay and thought he caught a glimpse of someone moving. He had, someone had stolen his damn pants!
Posted by Nate at 6/21/2006 10:08:00 PM :: 0 comments
Unfortunate Occurrences
The cold, unforgiving light of morning pushed insistently between my eyelids and forced me awake. Things had gone decidely non-linear, I realized. Once again, I found myself chained to a radiator on the wall of some nondescript room. My pants were gone, no doubt already being cut to shreds by the bastard who stole them, and none of this even came close to the real cause for my concern. Around me, dozens of teddy bears, each of them staring at me with its blank plastic eyes, each with a single square of Scotch tape affixed to its nose.

Damn you, Kevin Baba, I thought. You win this time.
Posted by rightshu at 6/21/2006 07:50:00 PM :: 0 comments
Paranoia
Dear Diary,

They're at it again. The little bastards are at it again. Dr. Belker keeps telling me that they don't exist, but they do... and this time I am going to get the proof!

I found their entry point. It's a hole in the baseboard behind the fridge. At first when I found it, I was going to spackle that mother up, but then I realized that this was my chance to show them all. If I can catch one of those little fuckers and put it in a jar, I can slam that jar down on Dr. Belker's desk and make him eat his words. Then I'll march on over to the legal aid office and file a suit against that quack. I'll sue him for malpractice. Then, when I win that one, I'll finally have something to point to in my own defense, and I can sue the plant for wrongful termination, and then I'll sue that jackass parole officer for defamation of character, and I'll sue the state for wrongful prosecution, and I'll sue my ex-husband for putting batteries up my ass while I was sleeping, too.

But, first things first. I am writing all of this down so I can start keeping track of events for later reference. These are the items that have been stolen:

one pair of reading glasses
one pair of pinking shears
seven unmatched socks
one pair of capri pants
one strawberry-banana yogurt
ten legal-size envelopes
a button from my yellow shirt

About the yogurt - it was returned. It was stolen, and left out of the refrigerator, and then returned about a day later. I didn't notice that it had been stolen until I tasted the first spoonful. Then I knew what had happened.

About the capris - the theft of my pants was thwarted by the fact that, even folded, they are too unwieldy for the little bastards to handle. How they thought they were going to get those pants through that little hole in the wall is anyone's guess, anyway. In any event, I must have startled them, or they must have given up when they realized they couldn't take them, because I found the pants lying on the floor near the kitchen. I know for a fact that I put them on top of the dresser that is at least three feet away from the place on the floor where I found them, and the pants didn't just grow feet and walk over there.

About the envelopes - When I bought the box, there were 30 envelopes. I have only written twelve letters to the New York Times this month, and now there are only eight envelopes left. Ten of the envelopes were stolen.

The one thing that I can't figure out is what they want with the items collected. I don't for a moment believe that there is not a plan. They're not doing it just to confuse me. To believe that would be crazy and paranoid, and I am neither of those things.

My plan is to go down into my fallout shelter and construct a trap to catch one of those wall-dwelling creatures while I listen to Art Bell. Then I'll set it up tonight. If all goes well, I'll begin my crusade to clear my good name by 9:00 AM tomorrow!

************************

Day three of the second phase. Commanding officer Grelp reporting.

Items collected: the lens, the jagged blade, and the disc. Remaining to be collected: the coil, the dowel, and the anvil. Tactics for diversion of suspicion have been employed.

At this time, I would like to bring up some misgivings that I have. The host subject has been exhibiting far more astuteness than the test data suggested she would. The host's tendency toward suspension of disbelief is far lower than that of the test subjects.The possibility exists that the force has been detected at some point, though the host subject has not indicated awareness. I realize that a gut feeling is not sufficient reason to postpone the mission, but I would be remiss if I did not bring my concerns to your attention.

Should you decide to postpone the mission, my proposed remedy for the probable detection is to eliminate the host. My suggested strategy for the removal of the host is quite simple. There is a poorly ventilated room in the sublevel of this structure in which the host frequently spends time. Small modifications can be made to make the room entirely airtight, and death by suffocation should ensue within a brief time. Studies have shown that death by suffocation is one of the more pleasant means of expiration for one of the host's species, as a moment of euphoria is experienced, and humans spend quite a large measure of time throughout their lives seeking euphoria.

I await your orders. My force is prepared to either proceed with the planned mission, or to employ my proposed strategy as soon as we hear from you.

Grelp out.
Posted by Jess at 6/21/2006 07:15:00 PM :: 0 comments
Stolen Pants
Every day is a lazy afternoon,
sun high in the sky, grass smell fresh on our skin,
belly up to the sun. Hit pause on the id-signals,
drives, biological needs, et cetera, and revel in
the sybaritic splendor of warmth, breeze,
fingers in our hair, the noise of birds in a tree,
three houses down.

If there were a way
I'd take every idle breath
of cocker spaniels.
Posted by Erica at 6/21/2006 06:40:00 PM :: 0 comments
Apropos of nothing... or is it?
I know, I know, I'm totally late. I was seriously going to post last night. Fortunately, I waited until inspiration struck.

The category for today will be pants. Bonus points may be awarded for work that also fits into the subcategory pants > stolen.
Posted by Erica at 6/21/2006 10:31:00 AM :: 2 comments
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Senate Bill Number 42314
Senator Thrush had spent thousands of dollars on the ceiling of his bedroom. All around the perimeter of the oval--he had aspirations--was a mural painted by a famous Frenchman. Inside the mural was gold-plated molding with intricate designs imported from Italy. Hanging from the center of the ceiling was a stunning crystal chandelier that sparkled with the light of a thousand stars, and cost more than the rest of the room put together. Just the ceiling of his bedroom alone typically served as a reminder of his obscene wealth, but this morning it filled him with terror.

He stared at the ceiling, unable to even move his eyes. He had awoken from a terrible nightmare that ended in complete and utter darkness. At first he was relieved to see his ceiling, but then the realization that he could not move began to spread across his body. He yelled, but there was only silence in his room. He panicked, but there was no physical response.

Amidst his mental pleas, his body started to move. It turned his covers aside and got out of bed. His feet slipped into the slippers on the floor and then he stood up. The Senator's body, now with a will of its own, went about the Senator's morning routine as if it had done it for so many years it didn't need him to tell it what to do.

* * *

Today was a big day on the Hill. Senate Bill Number 42314 was coming to a vote in committee after a month of hearings and research. The senators had heard testimony from expert witnesses and government officials. They had seen pie charts and trend graphs. They had been admonished and begged. If this bill made it to the floor, but it seemed that through all of the hearings the committee might actually can it.

Senator Thrush walked into the room and quietly took his seat. One by one the other senators filed in and took theirs in turn. Thrush picked up his gavel and struck the table.

"I hereby call this meeting of the Senate Judiciary committee to order," he said, smoothly. "We are here to briefly review Senate Bill Number 42314 and cast our votes. Senator Fletcher, would you please review the bill for us once more."

The discussion was brief, and the voting swift. The entire meeting was a specimen of government efficiency that was typically uncommon. Thrush waited until all of the others had left, and then stood himself and walked out the door. He smiled.

* * *

The room was completely dark. It was, in fact, completely devoid of light. It was also devoid of sound. This is where James came to gather his thoughts after a hard day's work. This is where he came to review what he had accomplished. In this dark, silent place, James smiled. Today was good.
Posted by Samuel Tesla at 6/20/2006 11:09:00 PM :: 0 comments