[PROMPT] Gordon Ramsay and The Last Supper

(from reddit)

Jesus was defrosting the multiplied fish and leavened bread when he heard a commotion near the dinner table. He’d been losing up to 10 followers a day since the year before and staff morale was critically low. Rumors within the dinner hall stunk of betrayal and blood.

In a flash, he wiped the remaining water stain off the lip of a crystal chalice and filled it with thick, fruity gas station wine. The son of God was terrified of blood letting ever since a baptism turned into foreskin leeches. It wasn’t normal, but this wasn’t a normal day. He had no idea why spreading his ideology had failed.

Quicker, with a nervous jitter, Jesus pulled open the microwave and thrust a half-thawed pile of fish covered in layers of saran wrap inside. The plate chipped from the force. He started it on 15 minutes, high. Sure, he’d been cutting corners recently. Hanging out with a few prostitutes. Using his mouth for healing rather than hurting. Once and a while he cursed. He impulsively bought authentic leather wallaby whips from Australia and had poor credit as a result.

When times got real tough, he stopped going out to the sea every day to purchase fish. He had been in too much debt to show his face around the market since there was a lot of pressure for him to never fuck up anything in his life time.

The fish came with a cheap, mix it yourself corn batter. After pulling the steaming hot, soggy fish out of the microwave, Jesus sopped it into some cob slop and slapped it onto a screaming hot pan. The ice shot the shimmering, rancid oil straight into his face. He didn’t even blink. Apathy had fully encompassed Jesus, sucking him dry. He couldn’t even talk to his closest friend about it. Without his encouragement, the supper would surely fail. Every time.

When the followers’ count started to drop, the bread went from homemade, straight from the prophet’s body, to dry and crumbly slabs of ergot-infested wheat stuff. Most followers couldn’t tell the difference, as they were of the older crowd, but also hallucinating from the poisonous mold. Sometimes when Jesus and his followers broke the cheap bread, it crumbled too much and got in everyone’s lap, giving people the impression he was a very weak and impure man. The fleshy bread dust often induced group coughing fits that lasted far beyond the salvaged clean water. Soon after, even starved beggars and aching lepers turned away the bread, opting instead to eat mouthfuls of sand.What power could he have in changing the world if his bread crumbled for naught and there was neither blood jam or table cream to sate those ideologically starving souls?

“Ello! Ello!” A crowd of shirts juggling boom mics and shoulder cams squeezed into the kitchen. Startled, Jesus feverishly pried the burned fish off its side and onto a paper towel. He covered it with another paper towel in intense shame. He knew who was coming.

“Aye, what ‘ave we got here?” Gordon Ramsay pointed to a stack of microwaves tucked under the sink.

“Just a few microwaves, my son. Uh, I don’t use them. I just didn’t get around to throwing them out yet.”

Gordon’s eyes widened. “Uh, yeah, I would hope so, since this is a classic Jewish restaurant.”

“Well, I don’t necessarily cook Jewish food.”

“Then why does it say that on the sign outside?” Gordon cocked his head with a confronting stare.

“What sign?” Jesus blushed. He had imagined the restaurant would have taken a different direction. Yes, the sign did say he served classic Jewish cuisine, but after the whole Roman thing, it was not looking like a bright future for kishka and lekach.

“Are you telling me I hallucinated that sign? Come here. Come here.” The crew washed over the kitchen and flooded out the door. Jesus followed on mortified autopilot. Caught in a lie. No, caught sinning. Him, of all people.

“Come on, man.” Ramsay rubbed his ridged face in frustration. His face simmered.

Jesus walked back to the kitchen. Gordon followed behind, barking from behind the door that he would be tasting the meal. Jesus pricked his finger and let a single drop of blood fall into Gordon’s chalice. Maybe the wine would taste more authentic. As hopeless and predictable as his situation was, like many before him, Jesus hoped to impress him. He was such a hard ass, but so, like… cool. His hair is all up there and hard, his face is all filled and diced, he brews his own beer … man.

Jesus whipped out and assembled the table with adrenergic focus. He swore he could see the curled lips and twisted faces as he laid the burnt, cold, frozen fish in front of his brothers. The disciples peered down from their noses and blinked, refusing reaction out of deep respect. Gordon grabbed the fish by the tail and stood up from his chair.

“Ay, Judas, look.” Gordon swung the fish around by the tail and whapped it against the wall. Part of it broke off and shattered. “Look! Look! Loook!” Gordon shook the grease off and put two fingers to its fish-neck. “It’s stone cold! It’s stone! Fucking! Cold!” Judas smirked and averted his gaze towards his superior. Jesus peered through his fingers. The humiliation was too much.

Gordon waltzed over to the wine. “I hope at least the wine is good! That’s the whole reason people come here, right?” Jesus said nothing.

“Right!?” Jesus shrugged. “I guess, I mean, we have other things too that people seem to like.” Gordon scoffed a horrible sarcastic laugh.

“You couldn’t raise up this dish if you tried! It could not get any worse than this!” The tension in the room had built up as Gordon rubbed the back of his neck. The camera crew salivated with juicy berating ratings.

“This fish is clearly frozen, clearly weeks old! Pitiful. Unlike you, if it’s been dead for 3 days, don’t try and resurrect it!” Gordon was extremely amused by the fortunate nature of this kitchen nightmare, as there was so much juicy material to be used to break down Jesus’s self-confidence. Jesus felt tears welling up in his eyes. He had been unemotional up until the personal jabs and felt that at any second, one remark would be the final nail in the crucifix.

Gordon sipped the wine like old Robitussin. He winced and gasped. He exhaled the vinegary vapors into Jesus’s line of scent. His breath smelled awful. Kind of a bummer when you figure out your favorite celebrity doesn’t brush their teeth. You have all the money in the world, brush your fucking teeth. Hire someone else to do it for all I care. Get surgery so your breath doesn’t stink. There’s really no excuse.

“This is awful! Is this really the blood of Christ?” Jesus paused, then nodded slightly.

“Yes, this is authentic and aged Christ blood. This is the blood of my body and spirit.” The lies hurt his heart as they tore from his mouth.

“Unbelievable. You’re in the shit, you’re hanging on by a literal thread, your staff hates you, your friends can’t talk to you, and you’re a weak, blubbering, incompetent mess of a manager, let alone a prophet! You use frozen product and sell it as fresh! The bread! It’s like sand! And you push it as arguably the most valuable meal on the market! I don’t even think you have frozen fish! That isn’t a fish I’ve ever seen along these seas! I think you’re way in over your head, you’re ignoring your family, you’re losing money and now you’re going to lie to me! And I’m the only person who can really help you! And you won’t let me help you!” Gordon ranted and shook. The camera crew circled around him in a slow orbit.

“No… No… It’s real. It’s real.” Flustered, his holiness began to back towards the kitchen.

“Where are you going? Where are you going?” Ramsay had already begun a demo deboning in front of ten unique home chefs before dragging him back.

“I just, I don’t need this kind of abuse, okay? I have reviews, I’ve read many reviews, many good reviews, and I just don’t think that the food is the problem.”

“You’re right. The food isn’t the problem.” Gordon looked Jesus in the eyes.

“The problem is you.”

Eavesdropping, one member of the staff pumped his fists in elation and validation. Jesus hung his head. Gordon shook his.

“You got anything to say?” Gordon crossed his thick, toned arms in front of his puffed, solid chest.

“I.. I don’t know what to say.”

“Well say something! Do something! Be the manager! You’re the guy running the ship! And right now, you’re sinking it!” Gordon smirked internally yet again, his snarky quip-streak doubling by the second. Great metaphor, really expressive.

Jesus began shutting down the kitchen in feigned obliviousness. Gordon had it. He was tired of being stonewalled by this empathetic Semite. “You can serve whatever crap you want, but you will not get away with calling it authentic or cuisine! I will not have people suffering for your sins!” Gordon slapped a rag onto the stainless steel counter in anger and stormed off, making more interesting quips to the crew as they spilled out behind him. He slammed the door of his black Escalade and looked at the picture of his wife and mistress. This kitchen nightmare would be a tough one to shake.

—-

In three weeks, Jesus’s kitchen stock was replaced with entirely fresh, gourmet and organic ingredients from several local farmer’s markets. The interior of the building was painted a mint green and studded with yellow and white ceramic tiles. Random black and white photos of fish and bread hung framed and clustered. Someone donated him a gelato machine of some kind, so he does that now, and young people seem to like it. The kitchen got rid of the microwave stack and replaced it with a new oven. The menu was upgraded from fish, bread, and wine, to mushroom risotto, beef Wellington, and a tasteful selection of wines from local vineyards. The meat was cut and served table-side. His restaurant gained traction and he began to pay off the bills again, albeit slowly.

Within weeks, he was betrayed by his disciples and crucified. The restaurant was soon afterward converted into a Crown Fried Chicken.

Dr. Phil’s First Rodeo

Even from far away, you could hear the equestrian shrieking. A denim tarp of patrons trailed into the stadium. Meaty steam perfumed the hay-smelling air. This sensual experience, combined with the intense heat of Wichita Falls, Texas, made for what some would consider a damn good rodeo. The bar has been set pretty low for a while now.


The sun wilted Phil McGraw’s spotty mustache. He squinted through the arid clouds of dust kicked up by the livestock and made out a faint glimmering. The metal bleachers had heated him up a cozy spot near a hot dog stand. He sat down, stiffening his legs against the heat. He surveyed the area for a familiar face. His niece was competing with the other children as a part of the Little Britches rodeo event. Eyes spanning the stadium, he only briefly made eye contact with a nervous cow and a greasy clown. The clown lingered next to a barrel, staring out into the crowd. He was fingering something small in his pocket.


“Uncle Phil! Uncle Phil!” A girl donning rosey boots and a hat dashed up. “I’m gonna go next!”


“Good!” He grinned and flicked the brim of her hat. “You got it, girl.”


She jittered with anticipation and skipped off. Suddenly, a deep hunger for meat tore through his stomach. Another pang. It could only be quelled with a hot dog. His mustache bristled against his lip. It was time for a feeding.
As Phil got up to scope out the line leading to the hot meat, the clown spotted earlier bumped against his arm. The clown fumbled for a moment as the impact forced the loose change out of his oversized pockets. When he bent down to pick it up, a sheepskin condom fell onto the dirt and gravel. Phil noticed. The clown noticed that Phil noticed. The clown arched his eyebrows, silently daring Phil to inquire about his erotic conquests. Phil was not interested. The smell of mustard and ketchup burned his nose. He broke eye contact and re-secured his gaze on a rotating meat log, turning in its own juices leaned against the glass.

Wichita Falls, Texas, is a quaint but sweltering town, home to rattlesnakes and whooping cough. Men and women bustled through the dirt dome in varying shades of denim, cut off shorts, paisley tops, exposed shoulders and tight belts. Other men and women had their gunts fully out, brightly highlighted by a magenta or yellow sweat-stained tee, complete with wrap-around black sunglasses and a greasy haircut.  Some men donned flashy belt buckles and the occasional decorative turquoise embellishment. The only thing Phil McGraw could find in his wardrobe was a plain white button-up shirt, some clean denim jeans, modest black boots, and a worn black cowboy hat. This was his first rodeo, and he intended to make the best of it. If anything, he had to be there to support his niece.

A rodeo is the only place to watch people wrestle animals in timed events. Its cultural heritage has a deep history, transcending decades of tradition, on perfecting the art of tying ropes around animals’ throats and legs as fast as humanly possible in front of loud, jeering crowds. The low rate of animal injury makes it appear more humane. Because animals can’t communicate that they don’t like what you’re doing to them, it’s all kosher. If the neck has not been injured and bones are not broken, it is safe to say the baby cow delights in being chased by a huge horse, ridden by a man biting down on a rope with his teeth, and choke-wrangled into submission.

People love to get close to the action. Watching a man shatter his skull against the dirt as an angry animal bucks wildly towards him goes hand in hand with a 24 ounce soda and fried dough. Anyone who denies attending an event with such a high rate of injury specifically for the gore is lying to themselves and thinks you’re stupid enough to believe it.


This Little Britches event was known for their lively rough stock competitions. There, little kids valiantly struggled to control testosterone-pumped pigs and cows so mommy can get a manicure. Each kid got paid per round. Eight seconds on a horse is impressive when it’s trying to kill you. Phil’s niece was greener compared to the other kids, but she had wrestled a few sheep now and again. Some of her more seasoned friends were missing digits or displayed horrific, half-healed scars. A bull’s horn can tear through a child like a sheet of paper. Some kids got lucky through the raffle drawings and only had to wrangle a calf. Phil’s niece, however, drew a bull. They had already begun to poke it with a cattle prod to get the animal all good and agitated.

“We’re gettin’ ’em ready for ya, darling!” A sweaty man winked at the little girl as she peered over the steel box. The bull groaned with anger. Her palms began to sweat. No good. She could only use one hand to steady herself during the entire round, and last year, she almost had it amputated after being trampled by a horse.
 

Meanwhile, Phil had reached the front of the line. His mustache vibrated with excitement. Between bites of the first dog, he coughed out an order for a second. He sauntered back to the hot bench with ketchup dripping down his fingers. Suddenly, his bald spot began to tingle. The feeling was mild, like molly cut with baking powder. Although it felt good, something wasn’t right. Through the cheering crowd and screaming children, he heard a man and woman’s voice in argumentive tones.
 

“I’m serious! You’re just making this whole thing up in your head!”


“I’m not doing this now.” “You are the one who brought it up!”


Phil put on an empathetic face and hiked up his belt. His confident stride towards them interrupted the back and forth. Mouths half-open, the couple eyeballed him with wrinkled brows. He was taking too long to approach them as he stumbled up the bleachers. His boots made an annoying, loud clacking against the hollow, tinny steps, and the incline left him exhausted. By the time he had gotten close enough to have a conversation, he had been hiking his leg up over the seats with both hands, complete with grunting and gasping for breath. Beads of sweat coupled under his reddened neck. Although the argument had been diffused, the situation left both parties slightly irritated.

“I..” He had just finished catching his breath.  “Now I know y’all weren’t fighting over horses and hogs.” He thought that would be a cute thing to say. Maybe he’d get a charmed laugh and they’d all hold hands for a second. 

“It’s not your concern, sir.” The man was weirdly polite.


“That’s true. My concern is with my niece. If she doesn’t win this rodeo money her mom’s gonna whoop her for sure.” Phil shrugged and took a bite of his lukewarm hot dog. The bun was wet with ketchup and reeked of old onions.

“That’s horrible!” The woman looked off into the dusty animal pit. A little pink human was nervously perched atop some kind of heaving beast. She frantically whipped her head around and gestured towards Phil.

“I think she’s going now!”

“Let’s not get sidetracked here.” Phil stretched out his hands and beckoned towards the searing bleachers. “Let’s talk.”

Oddly entranced by this request, the couple obeyed. They maintained an icy distance. Phil took that as an invitation to sit between them. He took off his hat and readjusted his turquoise bolo tie. His bald spot ached with satisfaction.

“So what seems to be the issue here?” His eyebrows relaxed against his maternal and shimmering eyes. The couple stayed silent, peeking at each other’s gaze for some kind of cue. To the irritation of the girlfriend, the man rolled his eyes and sighed.

“Okay, I don’t care. It’s, I, I don’t know what you’re doing right now, but I-“

“He thinks I’m sleeping around! He thinks I fuck clowns!” Phil cringed at the swear word. 

“Well, are you?” 

“No! I just have friends! I have good friends, they happen to be men, some of those men are, yes, clowns! I have clown friends! Just because I’m good friends with a clown does not mean I’m having sex with him!”

“She’s not telling you the whole story! She’s not tellin’ me where she is at night! I’m finding seemingly endless chains of colorful rags in almost every container, and the other day, she asked me to paint my face before we had sex! Not like a, an animal, like a frog or a kitty or some shit, but a clown. She wants me to paint my face like a clown so she can keep the fantasy going like the sick freak she is.”

“Not true! Not true!” The woman began a minutes-long mantra of not-trues until everybody stopped talking and it got really awkward. They had not noticed the small crowd forming around the bleachers as if people were eavesdropping collectively. Some people openly stared, anticipating a cue from one of the three involved.

“Okay…” Phil needed to collect himself. This woman was clearly on the goofy sauce.

A scream tore through the silence. Half of the stadium startled to and whipped their heads towards the source. Through the dust and fur, shreds of pink and fine little strands of hair were hucked into the audience. Another person’s scream echoed through the arena. The chaos ended abruptly as the bull charged back into its pen. What was left in the mess laid Phil’s niece, crumpled in a bloody heap, bravely choking back tears and holding a fistful of her own flesh. You could see right through the side of her face. Her tongue flailed behind the wound and other disgusting minutiae. Phil stared straight ahead. He sang a little song in his head to distract himself from the whimpering.

“Well, that’s horrible. Give her a hand, folks!” The announcer clapped into the microphone. A wave of concerned, faltering applause slowly washed over the crowd. The girl struggled to her feet and was assisted by a stout, silly looking man with rainbow suspenders. People clapped a little harder, unable to find an appropriate time to stop. Phil’s hands were getting sore and red.

As the announcer informed the crowd of the next contender, Phil attempted to return the conversation topic to the affair. The color hadn’t returned to the couple’s faces yet, but Phil was insistent.

“So, are you having an affair?”

“N-No!” The woman was horrified more by his nonchalant tone than the accusatory question. So much for the family. She began to speak but was cut off by a tinkling phone ringer. It was Phil’s, playing the Whispering Winds theme. His niece was calling.

“Uncle Phil. Did you see me?” The tiny voice strained through the speaker.

“Yep, you took it like a champ!” Phil eyed his thoroughly soaked dog, ice cold and attracting flies.

“I got my face ripped off.” She tried to stay composed.

“It wasn’t too bad. Now you’re a woman. Sometimes in life, your face gets ripped off by a pissed off cow. Deal with it, honey! Life ain’t a bed of roses. It’s what you make of it!” Exasperated by a child’s suffering, Phil flicked his phone shut. No more distractions. “Sorry about that.” 

The boyfriend grimaced with agitation. Phil caught the direction of his gaze and followed it straight towards a rodeo clown. Not any clown, but the one he had bumped into before his niece lost, or won, he wasn’t sure. Suddenly, he had an idea. Phil stood up and cupped his hands to his bristly mouth.

“I’d like to call the rodeo clown up to the stage!” The couple looked around wearily at the glassy-eyed crowd and the limping animals below them. The clown, confused, slowly walked up the bleachers, taking caution to not trip over his hilariously huge feet. He honked his nose unenthusiastically. His right hand remained pinched together in his pocket. The crowd parted for him and collectively gestured towards a seat. Unsettled by the hive mind, the clown slowly complied.

“Do you know this woman?” Phil gestured towards the bug-eyed lady. Her mouth quivered in suppression. The clown nervously grinned. The paint made his teeth look way worse than they actually are. Even rodeo clowns get dental benefits.

“Yes and no.” The boyfriend winced. He suspected it might be him. “I just know her, is all.”

A hushed murmur emerged from the audience.

“Well, what do you mean? Are you having an affair with her?”

“Yeah, that’s somethin’ I’d like to know.” The boyfriend leaned forward and looked the clown up and down. That’d be an easy beating.

“No. And for the record, it impossible to have sex in a barrel. Not even with yourself!” The clown shrugged. The boyfriend stood up for a moment and rubbed his face. 

“How does he know about that!?” The girlfriend recoiled at the question. She hissed that she told him. The boyfriend insulted that she confided in a rodeo clown about her relationship issues, laughed so hard his body shook.

“It’s a stupid question! It’s a stupid, stupid question!” The girlfriend began to wave her arms. The audience was loving it. One guy in the back looked like he was becoming physically aroused from the peak drama levels. His eyes were rolling into the back of his head and shit, really weird shit like that.

“I don’t think you can have sex in a barrel. It’s just, it’s not comfortable.” Phil shrugged his shoulders again.

“Oh, so you’re on her side!” The boyfriend raised his voice over Phil’s musings.

“No, no, I just, you gotta admit, that’s pretty ridiculous.”

“It’s not ridiculous! He’s a clown! A clown that my girlfriend is closer to than me! They go shopping together! He bought her a ring! You know the bullshit she told me?” Excited, he asked again about the bullshit. Phil’s eyebrows wavered with curiosity.

“It’s not bullshit! It’s totally normal for a friend to give another friend a ring!” The girlfriend attempted to dominate the conversation.

“It’s bullshit! Would you be okay if I bought one of my female friends a ring? And told her all our secrets and ran crying to her when we fought?”

“You don’t have female friends!”

“That’s not the fucking point!” Phil just, kind of, lost steam. He was pretty sick of the whole “he said, she said, clown said” thing. He started to get up while the two continued to bicker, but he was pulled back momentarily after they noticed.

“What are you doing? Where are you going?” Both seemed frantic and desperate for an answer.

“I just, ah, I don’t know. It’s not worth it.” Phil waved his hands as if to wave away the situation entirely.

“What? You got us into this mess! What do we do now that we’ve talked it out, huh?”

“Well, I mean, I don’t know, you’re both annoying loudmouths, so there you go. You’re perfect for each other. I don’t know. This was a mistake.” Phil started to get up again, cuffing the wet bread in his hairy knuckles. His stomach gurgled for something that wasn’t long and chewy. He also wanted to check on his niece. She’s probably still a little sore.

“What? That’s it? Just get over it!?” The boyfriend began to pace in the limited bench space he had.

“Yeah, or break up. It’s not like it’s a big deal anyway. Don’t take life so seriously. Move on.” Phil had a considerable distance between himself and the couple now. His escape was certain.

“Thanks, asshole!” The man shouted. “You should do this for a living!”

And so Phil McGraw did.

The Albatross: Masochist of the Sea

A Sordid, Romantic Tragedy

 

Even the breeziest towns can harbor stagnant secrets. Some secrets hush the gossiper’s lips before they can tumble out. Those omissions mutate into reluctant acceptance, washed across the faces of tired residents. Perhaps you’re a traveler touring other towns and you converse with the locals. At one point, a peculiar expression emerges from their widened eyes and furrowed brows as they suppress sensitive information. They don’t want you to tell the others and they may need to stop you if they fear you’ll talk. The residents of Cape Neddick understand that premise well.

The small cape is a hushed coastal town rippling in the icy Atlantic. Studded with black, glossy rocks and twig-riddled sands, it’s home to mostly-white golfers and the ghost of Phyllis Brooks, who occasionally steps outside of her haunted tumbledown to get her face pecked mercilessly by vengeful, unforgiving ghost Terns. Most iconic, however, is the Nubble Lighthouse. A neck-craning 40 feet tall, the tower hangs over the endless sea as its navy blue head is pelted with bird shit. Nonetheless, it stands tall. Its commanding presence guides both wayward apes and aviaries. Below it, the impressive boulder-clad foundation braces against the abrasive spray of salt water and misty winds. Most residents steer clear of the area. Nobody knows who turns on the generator. A small figure is often spotted hovering on the balcony before skittering back to the service room. There were always problems with past bird infestations, but the remnants of bird life no longer appeared anywhere near the Nubble. Most people shook their head and uttered a single word. Strange. Hmm. Weird. Anyway. The rationale for ignoring this mystery was the assumption that it was probably nothing, not that big of a deal, and not their business. That ignorance alone, however, was not enough to suppress the sin. Unfortunately, some people simply stumbled upon it.

“It’s a mouthful, but the specificity is important!” Dale Summers, rubbing the green-gray stubble on his upper lip, rolled his eyes to his crown, silently mouthing syllables. He gesticulated towards the tan chapel that grasped for the white sky. Saggy-armed tourists leaned against the cold railings. Dead grass flitted up from the uneven stones laid on the mealy earth. Spring was not as much a season as an intense mitigating period between the frigid gales of past Nor’easters and stagnant, breathless heat of barbecue season. It was cold, but it wasn’t supposed to be. Just like every year. The entire tour group periodically shivered against puffs of sea wind as their guide, Dale Summers, explained the title of the stone and wood chapel.

“If you are being absolutely accurate, you would refer to this small church as the St. Peter’s By-The-Sea Protestant Episcopal Church. The bishop would be here today to explain more, but he’s busy burning in hell for not being Catholic.”

Dale gesticulated towards his cross and kissed the desecrated body adhered to it. The mangled corpse of the Son of God flitted in the daylight, hazed over by passing storm clouds blotting the sky. As his chain tinkled in adjustment on his meaty neck, Dale continued his diatribe into the on-paper specifics. Disposable camera shutters clicked over his informative chatter while others admired the warm, red door nestled under the towering, uneven top of the cross-shaped tower. An inviting touch for such a pallid palette, the entrance cozied under the chocolate truss frame, heavy and hunkered below the open bell tower. The clapper, dangling from the lip of the bronze bell, looked like a curious shrew. It unevenly dinged against the ominous howl of the intermittent squall. A man grasped unsuccessfully for his tie-dye bucket hat as it blew away. The man took it as a sign that he looked like an idiot. It tumbled across the crispy, dead field towards a cluster of felled Hemlocks.

Dale was, at his core, a boy scout, and it gave him an unending pleasure to help those with weak knees and allergies to bees. He sauntered over to the dead wood pile with a heavy-footed gait. As he reached for the hat, he peered over a tattered branch. The salt marsh teemed in the horizon. The tall grass wavered in synch as the tepid waters rippled with tiny crabs. That hypnotic undulating brought Dale into his mind. The memories of being a child washed in arcade fever bubbled to the surface. After all, it was only a few minutes away if you followed the shoreline.

Short Sands is a quarter mile of dunes ruled by large birds and crabs. The very front of the double dune is embedded with a handful of cutesy cottages outwardly furnished with tarnished buoys and fake fish. A playground full of colorful metal pipes and some musty public bathrooms are valuable dune assets. Combined with the arcade, those locations create a trifecta of places to blow money. People with small, angry children usually never return to Cape Neddick for that specific reason. The sudden religion-induced bout of guilt tourists feel drives them to the Play-O-Rama, where you can take out aggression on flickering ghouls with a bright red gun attached to a cable. Dale remembered all of that and more. The purely hedonistic pleasure of treating an animal sanctuary like a whore enchanted the child in Dale. To this day, his regular fried dough consumption constantly threatens the function of his pancreas. He closed his eyes, immersed in the sensations of ocean life and rosy nostalgia, for a good long while. He timidly fondled the hem of the bucket hat while soaking it all in.

“Hey!”

He whirled around to a rotund, red-faced man, bracing his chest with a film camera that rewound with an aggressive whine. He held out his hand for the hat.

“Should we get back to the hotel? Or at least finish the tour? It looks like it’s going to rain.”

“Yeah, yeah.” The tour guide nervously tugged at his shirt. “Sorry about that.”

He silently walked towards the Nubble Lighthouse. His pulse quickened as he wiped sweat from his neck. He had been told by the other tour guides to ignore the area entirely, but he had not been wise and heeded their warning. Dale had been sneaking onto the property for many years, doing many interesting things, and maybe a few disturbing ones. The shores teemed with little crabs and tiny flecks of green grass. Huge, bulbous rocks rested against the land mass, precariously stacked, molded by the harsh waves and blowing sands. The wind began to pick up as flecks of water pattered against Dale’s forehead. He flinched several times, awakened by the irritants of nature and the anticipation of trouble ahead. Through his water-blurred visage, he thought he noticed a small figure stood on the watchtower of Nubble, but he couldn’t be sure. His excitable nature may have conjured it completely. He had been keeping a secret from the community for the time he had come to live there. Perhaps a person heard a rustling from afar, but never would they think of investigating. Knowing of that security, Dale had been quietly courting a wayward albatross that had made its way to the shore.

She had cultivated a small nest atop a muddy mound and searched the range of the cape for a suitable mate with no avail. Her kind seldom stayed at the cape for too long, as other, more fruitful populations existed elsewhere. Dale was enamored with adoration for this beautiful beast. He had never seen such long wings and intense regurgitations. She had a pouch in her upper bill that contained pure salt water. It confused and excited him. Immediately, he began to court her, and since then, they have desperately tried to produce a single child.

The thing with these poor birds is how hard they work for how little they produce. An albatross perfects a mating dance for 5 years of its pathetic, observant life, and uses it on a single mate. This mate will be their partner for life. Only occasionally does an albatross get a divorce, and when it does, it’s always about the ability to reproduce. This is because they only lay one fucking egg per breeding year. After that, they must constantly survey the egg to ensure it’s protected from other predators and the harsh elements of the environment. On top of that, they can’t exactly go out to eat while they’re watching the kid, so the parents take turns gobbling up crabs and throwing them up into each other’s mouths for nourishment. They lose a ton of weight and are miserable, anxiously guarding their precious child. Once it’s born, they have to do the same thing, only for two people. By the time the kid is fat and healthy, the parents are useless husks of birds. They look like dirty Muppets, only covered in diseases. However, they never leave each other. The parents breed this way for as long as they can until they die, and that’s really the end of it. That’s the life of an albatross: tragically romantic, masochistic, and disgusting. Dale understood that life well.

He had been standing near the lighthouse for 3, no, 4 minutes – the Bucket Hat Man had counted. He had been quietly nagging the guide with questions like “Are you alright?” and “What’s going on?” while absentmindedly taking pictures. At this point, it was a reflex. The tour group was exhausted. Some people complained of finger cramps and scrapes from the jagged plastic winders on their cameras. There wasn’t a baby in the group, but if there was, you’d expect, at this exact moment, that it would start to cry. That would probably be irritating. Wouldn’t help the situation one bit.

Another lady piped in, somehow piquing Dale’s attention: “Are we lost? I’m scared that we won’t be able to go back home!” She choked back tears in an attempt to quell her fear, but she started pacing and whimpering to herself, making some other nice ladies nervous. Their arms swung forward as they started texting their husbands, or wives. You don’t know.

“I’m sorry.” Dale’s face washed over in a weird, pink hue. “This is probably the only opportunity I’ll have before the storm blows over. You have to be consistent.” He began to squat for a moment, stretching his arms in front of his chest. Bucket Hat man inquired again about the state of affairs. Dale could only repeat: “You have to be consistent.”

The group dejectedly took a picture of something close by. There was nothing else to do but shoot in the hopes it would make for a good story to annoy a family member or coworker with. The tour guide walked over to the bushes and started to squat. It didn’t feel right, squatting there. He got up and walked around, kicking some kelp over a cigarette butt. Dale noticed, and felt ashamed litter was strewn around a sacred mating ground. He kissed his necklace with a wet lip. Almost automatically, more cameras flashed and clicked, as if in an attempt to control the situation. It did nothing.

The Bucket Hat man pointed to the edge of the embankment, off towards the right of the guide, and shouted, “What the hell is that?” The group followed his finger, slack-jawed, but didn’t react in the slightest. They simultaneously began to wind their film, apathetically peering down at the numbers on the dial ticking upwards towards the end. Bucket Hat Man aimed his own camera. His automatic flash went off, and for a moment, he felt a sinking sensation in his gut. Like he had caught a glimpse into the shadows of something unseen. Shouldn’t have been seen. Now, seen, and evil. Angry. Vengeful. Aware of its own horror and torturous. The physical appearance alone seared itself into Bucket Hat man’s eyelids, awaiting any moment he closes his eyes, tries sleeping or starts to dream. The creature, seemingly wounded by the bright light, screamed in pain. The scream hit the man’s core and filtered like glass through his veins. It ripped through the whistling rain, spraying the man’s face, hiding his tears. Before he could recover from the shock, the figure, entrenched once again in the stormy shadows, scampered off towards the back of the lighthouse. The man crumpled to the grass and silt and sobbed quietly into his fanny pack.

Dale had turned to the group and swayed, almost drunkenly. His pupils were huge and glossy. His mouth twitched into a grin.

“I don’t think you understand how incredible these birds are. This is like Princess Fucking Diana levels of honor you should be feeling right now. You know how rare these birds are? They one of the largest in the world. They don’t fly around here, they’re fucking vagrants around here, and yet they make due. Their wings are huge. They’re even bigger than you.” Dale pointed to the man with the bucket hat, chuckling with disdain. He was still wiping away tears, sniffling into a bandana.

“They tear fish from the sea while they’re still swimming. They have a huge hammer hook on their face that can kill you with a single peck. They know how to fly better than practically any other bird. Think about it, what else is referred to as an albatross? A fucking plane! Jimmy Buffett used to own an Albatross plane! Cheeseburger in Paradise!” Dale started humming to the chagrin of literally everyone. Even the freshly insulted Bucket Hat Man recoiled in secondhand embarrassment. It was clear the last marble had escaped his head.

“… but what is most beautiful,” He paused, a hot band of sweat formed around his lip and brow.

“Most beautiful.”

Dale made eye contact with everyone, their eyes washed over in muted fear.

“The mating process.” It escaped his lips so sensually he licked them for one last taste.

“I’ve been doing this for two years.”

Dale squatted as low as his cargo shorts could muster. You could see everything at the right angle. His heels pressed firmly in the sediment and debris as he thrust his chin out, threw his head back with a distinct snap, and spread his arms out crucifix-style. He began to gag. The gagging became a kind of throaty “uluk”, until it became an understandable bird-like call. His head began to bob. The bobbing and clucking intensified as he began to slowly lunge forward. Then backward. Forward again, all while maintaining the sensual gagging, he looked like some kind of perpetual energy machine. One man braced himself, expecting projectile vomit. Another lady muttered the word “possession” in a sentence, so a few people got into an argument about whether or not it’s possible to become possessed if you are already wearing a crucifix.

A female albatross appeared, as if on cue. As if he knew she was there. Dale gasped with arousal. He whipped his head around towards the horrified tourists. His mouth frothed. “Don’t you see? It’s beautiful. It takes over 5 years to perfect the mating dance. This goes on for years! I’ve been courting this same albatross for years! We’ve been trying to conceive for so long!” His eyes were wet and flashed with a forgotten animal intensity. Overwhelmed with fear, an old lady fainted and landed on a pile of dead crabs. Somebody took a picture of it.

Dale suddenly stopped all movement, head still craned towards the clouds, and screamed. This scream became a hoot, and the hoot became an opened-mouth shout. He sucked in the salty air with a whistle before expelling a short cry that echoed against the rumbling ocean. The female albatross eyed him, seriously turned on.

The flash of another camera startled her, however, and she began to shuffle anxiously around the poised Dale. The rapid clicking and whirring of reloaded film began to drown out the sexy bird performance, and before Dale could regain control of the situation, his mate had flown off. He dropped his hands as she flew out of sight, and returned his gaze to the tour group, still squatting. His legs trembled with stress. His body gave out completely a few seconds later. Every single person took a picture. He sat pitifully in the muddy sand, silent, as the ocean roared and bright lights bombarded him in a semi-circle. His face paled. After the photography ceased, he slowly rose and slapped the dirt off his pants. He walked back towards the guide trail without a word. The group slowly realized and power-walked to trail him.

They had left behind the old woman that fainted onto the dead crabs. A horde of seagulls was swarming her, collectively attempting to lift her body up off the meat, but they only managed to peck her up a bit, and they got a taste for human flesh. They circled into a downward spiral, angrily shrieking for backup through the gusts of wind and rain. The rain matted the horde of people bumbling back to their living quarters. Dale Summers stopped for nobody. He had no more advice to give about trail safety. He had no interest in informing them about the different hardwood trees present or how Terns break open clam shells. Great. Now he had to wait until after the storm passed, as the lightning and thunder was not as erotic to birds as to humans. Out of spite, he had given these people entrusting their life to him the cold shoulder. Who cares if they survive? A human can produce up to eight or nine kids in less than a year if they’re lucky. They can be replaced, easy. An albatross gets dick.

As soon as the hotel was in sight, Dale turned around, back towards the lighthouse. A few stragglers, confused, began to trail him. He swung back, suddenly red and hopping with rage, and choked out a goddammit here and fuck out there, effectively shooing them away. He was going to get this done. At least do a half session, a couple grunts more could have sealed the deal. He always believed that albatross females were graceful, unlike human females. They don’t put out for years and make you do the same thing over and over until it’s perfect. That’s a woman worth waiting for. She’ll even throw up in your mouth if you’re worth it. The group staggered into the hotel, half-shocked, and plodded into their smoke-and-linen scented rooms.

***
Joseph brushed off the last beads of rain from his digital camera and swiped his key card into the door. For the sake of brevity, it actually unlocked the first time he swiped it. He kicked off his shoes onto the paint-flecked floors and walked towards the sink. His reflection jaundiced in the light, frosted glass bulbs yellowed by past cigarettes. He was getting older. He had been the same size almost his whole life, but it was a large frame that certainly aged his appearance. Maybe the kids would think he’s 50, 60. He’s 38. He leaned onto the tightly tucked bed, coughed, and turned on the TV. Dish. Nice. No porno, though. The air conditioner sputtered to attention and exhaled a waft of luke-warm dust. There was some banging noise going on upstairs, but he was certain it wasn’t sex. His mind felt empty, vast, blank. The past trauma was lost on him, for whatever reason, and he stalled to gather any kind of thought at all. He turned on his camera and pressed a button to review. Half-interested, he flipped through with increasing speed. Typical. Stones, crabs, birds, food, tourist attractions, the public restroom, sunrises, sunsets, grassy mounds, wet mounds, dry mounds, dirt and tar mounds, his own mound. Whoops. Delete. It was a good trip, he concludes. Not as good as the travel forum said it would be, but it may have just been his bad luck with the tour guide. He continued to flip through, attempting to reminisce about experiences just hours ago.

One of the pictures was incredibly dark. He zoomed in closer. Squinting, even with the lit display screen, he could barely make out a figure in the distance. Alone, in an empty room, he suddenly jumped, yelping and grasping at the back of his neck. He whirled around. He thought he heard a scream. He turned back to the camera and stumbled over the dials and buttons to adjust the brightness. As it slowly illuminated, Joseph furrowed his brow. New stress lines crawled up his teeth, gritting intensely. Almost reactionarily, he began to cry. He angrily held them back, whining in a furious, indignant tone. “No, no.” He grimaced, his eyes shut tight against the revelation before him. He rocked the camera in his hands with comforting overtones. He looked up towards the crumbling ceiling and let fat tears cascade down his face, into his ears. “No.” A very real and not imagined banging froze his pulse. He turned around. Someone was banging on his door. Pounding on it. Very fast.

“Hey! Open the door!” The banging became heavy and rhythmic. “Hey!”

Joseph grabbed his hat off the bed and placed it on his head to defensively hide his small bald spot. Even then, he couldn’t risk a situation where hair loss turns them off. He put the chain on the door and pried it open. The door suddenly buckled against the offender, rattling the chain. “Give me your camera!” The intruder attempted to stick his face through the small crack in the corner. His face pinched and reddened while he scraped it against the plastic, painted door. Joseph trembled, paralyzed with fear. He must be after the photo. That photo.

“You know what I want.” The intruder grumbled, huffing hot, angry breath through the opening. “Just say it.”

Joseph leaned in towards the crack. He whispered with fear and excitement. “Just say it?”

“Do it.” It was the voice of Dale. The glint of a crucifix reflected from the hallway light onto the door frame. Joseph swallowed. His throat felt hot and tight.

“Lighthouse.” Joseph squinted, bracing for any reaction.

“Go on.” Dale huffed.

“Albatross.”

“Yep.”

“Monster.” Joseph started to cry. He began, “You.. you..” but couldn’t finish.

“You saw the baby. You saw our baby.” Dale paused. All he could hear was whimpering, suppressed behind a snotty sleeve.

“Yeah…” Joseph choked back a sob.

“Something went wrong. It wasn’t a bird. But… It wasn’t human.” Dale felt his face getting hot. He too began to tremble.

Joseph whispered, hushed by the heaves of guilt from dark secrets. “What was it?”

“It is my son. It is our son.” Joseph flinched as a familiar female albatross squaw sounded behind the bending door. “We can’t let them know he exists. They would bully him. They would bully us. The names, Bucket Hat man, the names.”

Suddenly sauced on adrenaline, Joseph bowed up and squelched out, “That isn’t my name! You never asked for my name!”

“Fuck your filthy pig name.” Dale kicked at the door. I don’t know where the staff was at this particular hotel. Joseph attempted to close it, but the albatross stuck her beak inside and carefully unlatched the chain. Dale kicked again, lunging and forward and squatting, in a both aggressive and erotic manner. He kicked so hard the sole came off his shoe, and then the sock ripped off his foot. His bare feet peeled the paint off the door. Joseph was using his entire weight to barricade the entrance, but he had only prolonged the forced entry. Dale began to laugh, tears streaming down his face, half hanging into the room through the widened crack.

“I hate the kid, too! When I see him, I’m filled with a seething hatred! It’s a reflection of my failure, Bucket Hat Man. Not just to my town, but to my wife. My bird wife. I can’t kill him. She won’t let me. So we compromised. He stays in the Nubble, he runs the generator, I go to Long John Silver’s and gag down 50 fried shrimps with tartar sauce, chug some booze, undertip, and throw it all up into a vat once a month. He feeds on that for a few days, we starve him the rest. It’s the only way. He can’t get stronger. We’re afraid. You should be afraid too. So give me the picture.” Dale rolled his eyes around, regaining lucidity. “Give me the goddamn picture.”

Joseph had enough. He pulled a small nail file out of his fanny pack and clenched his butt to brace against the pain. The bird’s beak began to stab wildly through the opening, nipping at Joseph’s side and ear. One strike drew blood. He took his hand off the door and grabbed her beak like a chicken’s neck. He socked her between the eyes like a shark. Apparently, that only makes an albatross more adamant about punishing you with beak wounds. Joseph realized that as he yelped in pain. Getting gored by an albatross was not as romantic or sobering as the rest of its lore.

“Please! I’ll give you the camera! I’m sorry! It’s a very embarrassing story, I get it!” Joseph through his camera towards the entrance, smashing it against the wall. It fell to the floor and was swiftly snagged by a haggard, webbed foot. He attempted to stop the bleeding, pressing his hands against his arm and neck. His fanny pack was now stained with bodily fluid, and he could never take it to Six Flags again.

“Now will you leave me alone?”

Dale laughed and kicked the door a final time. The wounded man stumbled backward and held his thoroughly pecked arm over his eyes.

“No. Now I’m going to kill you.”

He swung a heavy low jab at Bucket Hat Man. It instantly produced a huge, splitting welt over his brow and cheekbone, cracking like an apple against a club. His eye pooled with blood. Head swaying with concussive observance, he held the nail file above his head, shimmering against the dome bathroom light. Maybe he could cut him a little. Before he could muster the energy to swing his arm forward, another blow slid his head into the carpet, giving his scalp a little rug burn. He could throw a good punch for a bird boner.

Dale was crying now. His face was thoroughly soaked with tears and sweat. His face faded from salmon to cherry red, straight to the tip of his nose, wrinkled and tensed against the rolling waves of conviction and denial. He took his kicking foot and pressed it against Bucket Man’s face. It looked like a bloated, rotten grape.

“You shouldn’t have gotten involved in our business. You shouldn’t have worn that stupid hat. You shouldn’t have come to this stupid place. I can’t trust you’ll keep quiet about this. I just can’t. Not after the last time.”

Joseph blinked. This was most likely due to an automatic, pre-vegetative impulse from his bruised brain, but Dale took his sign of life as a chance to unload another long-suppressed, heavily recited trauma dialog. Totally making him out to be the victim, unlike all the birds he bonked. The female albatross settled onto the disheveled bed and probably messed it up real bad. Like, fine charged to your credit card bad. She peered over the mattress onto Bucket Hat Man’s sprawled, tenderized body. Bird satisfaction only comes with bird sadism.

“I told you I’ve only been here a few years. Well, the last place I lived was with my parents. A few miles away, towards the city. I found a baby albatross, orphaned, laying on the sidewalk. At least ten college students took selfies next to it, assuming it was a new city experience that would be marveled by their simple peers back home. It disgusted me. I needed to find out how to take care of it. So I did. I raised it. She was beautiful. She loved me, and I loved her. Yes, I was like her dad, but she consented, and there was no blood relation! She needed to breed, I needed to be understood.” Dale took a deep breath. His blood pressure was skyrocketing, evident by his pulsing, quivering gait. He had never revisited the past, let alone to another person.

“My parents were suspicious that I was constantly squatting and loudly gagging. I’d wake them up at 3, 4 AM, screaming and throating. I told them I was having nightmares, but they didn’t bite. The next day, my dad had the bird in his hand, shaking his head. My mom, crying. God, she never cried. Not even when her mom died. Not even when her dad turned out to be a different dad.” He bitterly wiped a tear from his chin. “They told me to beat it.”

“Beat it I did. I beat the odds. I came to this town. I beat the rumors. Nobody knows that I do this, besides you. I beat my bird, to that bird, and other birds. And now, I’m going to beat you. And then, I’ve beaten them all. Besides the bird beating, that is more of a daily, scheduled occurrence.”

Dale lifted up his foot and wagged it over Joseph’s head. Joseph could only feel the blood rushing towards his various wounds and escaping out of others. All he did was take a picture. He had already written the Yelp review. Truly, he had prematurely judged the location and its experiences.

“Goodbye, Bucket Head Man.” Dale inched his foot higher and leaned backward. His bare foot was covered in little pebbles.

Joseph winced, and in a sudden moment of clarity, raised his head. He slowly peeled apart his lips and forced out: “My name.”

“My name is Joseph.”

He felt his head slap against the fake wooden floor. Everything faded to black.

Astrology is Bullshit

Perhaps some people have mentally staged Astrology in a romantically-tinged, historical light; strong, half-nude men steadying their chin on a solid, worn fist, begging their brains to reveal the mysteries of the stars; weaker, but wiser older men with long white beards pointing to the sky to a crowd of followers. Maybe one would imagine a worn map with beautiful illustrations of constellations with barely-legible, spotted cursive. Sadly, nowadays I can only picture a small paragraph written about my future money problems published next to a story about a woman who set her kid on fire. No shit, I have money problems, and now you’re telling me that if I stop being an asshole, I’ll have better relationships with people? When did the stars become my psychic therapist? I have to give astrologists credit, though, as every horoscope I’ve read has related to my life in some way. In some vague, overreaching and nonspecific way. I also ignore the stuff that doesn’t apply to me.

One windy morning, I half-hopped my cramping feet down the crooked brick sidewalk towards CVS. I needed smokes, snacks, and sips. CVS is a delightful store if you hate saving money on absolute crap. Five dollars for five granola bars the length of my middle finger? Anything for that cash back option so I can buy some weed! The first breaths of the store blew past me in a wave, created by the vacuum of the heavy, automatic doors. Wavering in its wind, I heard the faint echo of a pop music station. One of the overhead lights flickered as if to frantically catch up to the beat.

Some old woman had folded up her walker and held it far away from her body, leaning up against it like a cane. The arm secured against it wobbled wildly in a passioned effort to steady the maybe 70 pounds it was trying to support. She took up the whole aisle in an effort to stay standing. The lady would scan each row of each section, grumbling occasionally in response to her mobility ordeal. I left the aisle to avoid her, only to hear her croak “Excuse me!” indignantly at a fellow shopper. It became a chant that quickly faded out as she calmed down.

I grabbed some peanuts or something, I don’t know, I don’t pay attention to what I spend so I don’t fully feel the guilt of spending it. I looked down at my feet and listened to the cashier chit chat with a person who spent the last half hour begging the pharmacist to fill his prescription early. After she verbally fought him off, she put up a sign indicating the register was closed and silently pointed to the cashier next to her.

This woman was a bit different. I envied the length of her hair, but it was unkempt and looked like she got ready in the dark. Her makeup looked like it was picked out by a stripper and applied with a pressurized gun. Despite the store’s air conditioning, the eyeliner had sunk to her lower lid and pooled under her yellowing eyeballs. She looked exhausted. She had been eating store-brand popcorn and reading a magazine about George Clooney’s balls before being interrupted by my presence, and she started to while sheepishly grinning. “Sorry, I was just pigging out and reading. It’s easy to do that when your fat.” She turned away from me to adjust the plastic bags.

“No, no…” I started, trying to word my sentences carefully. You can’t simply lie to a person when they acknowledge they have fat on them and say that it doesn’t exist, but you obviously don’t validate their own low self-esteem with your own opinion. “I’ve… I’ve seen much worse. Much.. much worse.” I felt like a fucking idiot. Just get out your card and wait for the chip reader to angrily beep. I handed her my ID, face flush, and asked for cigarettes. She raised her eyebrow and scanned the card quickly. She held it to her face and squinted. “Oh, Scorpio, huh?”

I sighed. I had to make small talk. I forced out a laugh.
“Yeah, I don’t know what my future holds today. I’ll have to check when I get home.”

She rasped out a low chuckle. I had seen her puffing on some brand of long cigarette every time I passed the store, and I suppose I was getting a sneak peek into my future as she swirled some phlegm in the back of her throat.

She grabbed the cigarettes off the shelf and eyed me. “Us Scorpios sure are wild, right?” I laughed, entertaining the thought. “We’re pretty good at sex, too.” This is where I forced an emotion to hide my bewilderment. She apparently noticed this and hung her head, embarrassed, apologizing while handing me my receipt. I grabbed the other end and tried to force out the thought of her flumping around. As I touched the receipt, I noticed the cashier’s eyes had glazed over completely. She remembered a moment she had that morning, sitting in her recliner and sipping cold, store-bought coffee. She gazed across the funnies before reaching a particular predictive advice column:

“Scorpio! Your care-free attitude is to be cherished, but today it may get you in trouble. If you find yourself in an unpleasant situation, take extra care today to control your emotions. Resist the urge to succumb to negativity.” The warning had made her nervous, but she finished off her drink and stumbled towards the bus stop.

As she came back to the present, receipt still pinched between two chipped nails, she stared into my eyes. I saw her eyebrows furrow and relax. Suddenly, I felt a hot breeze cling to my face like wet corn starch. She looked startled. I then realized she had the audacity to fart right in front of me. Right in front of everyone. Not only that, but she let a smile creep onto her paint-stained face and coughed out an “oopsie”, as if “oopsie” is the proper, adult term for apologizing. Oopsie, she muttered, and that utterance became a sing-song echo reverberating through my hot, angry brain. I didn’t know what to do. I just broke eye contact with great speed and fast-walked out of the store. Who did I just meet? Why did she subject me to her arresting presence? Why was it so hard to walk away? All at once, I felt a tightness in my fist. I was angry, and I had no time to compose myself before my arms and legs returned me back to the building, balled-up fist and all. Before I could send down a crushing, vengeful blow, I was seized by a memory that sprung a leak in my brain.

I was sitting in my recliner, drinking expensive cold coffee, and skimming over the comics. I grimaced at the Mark Trail strip and hastily flipped the page. There I read, in tiny letters, grazing a classifieds ad for discreet massages, my celestial advice for the day.

“Keep your emotions in check today. A stressful situation will test you. Because of your careless attitude, you will most likely get into trouble.”

My hand was shaking like an old dog forcing a bowel movement. I almost laid a stinker on her before I convinced myself to resist the urge. My hand relaxed and reached for my pack. I offered to keep her company outside by a splintered old bench outside the store. As we sat outside, her hair whipped in the salty, egg wind. I noticed her dirty coat had a unique embroidered emblem on the sleeve. A scorpion. Bright red, cartoonishly smoking a butt, stinger poised to strike.

I tried to ask her something about her real life, but she just kept on with the horoscope babble. “Yep,” she sucked at her Virginia Slim, “us Scorpios are ruled by desires.” She nodded at the smoke as I exhaled. “Uh, yep. I gotta quit. Gotta stop with the junk food, too. It’s very addicting.” I felt my pancreas wrinkle.

“Well, we’re also good at keeping secrets.” She looked at me and winked. I looked at her with bewilderment. She looked down at herself. I followed. My eyes caught a penis in her hand.

I looked her square in the groin and responded “Well, us Scorpios don’t please others. We don’t care what the world thinks of us.” I put my hands on her shoulders. Her eyes softened as she stared at my parted lips. She whispered that she was good at hiding her feelings, and it could cause a problem in relationships. I said, “Me too.” A new beginning wafted into my future. I was certain we would spend the end of our days buying nicotine patches and eating expensive frozen food. We’d do each other’s makeup, and then I’d touch up mine when she wasn’t looking. We would watch catheter commercials all day and drink coronas at night.

I woke up the next morning and immediately regretted everything. I forgot I had also taken some kind of pill I found on the floor and became super suggestible. I stumbled off of her bare mattress, crept out the dark bedroom and tripped over random children’s toys in the hallway. Weird, I didn’t see any kids in the house. Before I stumbled out the front door, I noticed a rolled up paper on the cement stoop. I yanked the elastic band off the roll so fast it kept the shape, unfolded the paper, and ripped through to the horoscopes section with my clammy bare hands. Vibrating against my own gripping pulse, I strained to read. My body and brain screamed for a predictable future. Every day I silenced a screaming voice inside, begging for reassurance that the next moment won’t be a fight for survival. Now, at my most vulnerable moment, I desperately needed guidance. It read:

“You’ve made a terrible mistake. Your lucky number is 299.”

The brevity startled me. I felt my stomach drop to what I felt was my anal floor. I threw the ripped paper to the ground and stomped on it. Windex was sprayed on it for good measure. Before I could get to the sidewalk, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned around and was pelted with a crab-like figure.

I then noticed that she was elbow deep inside of a scorpion farm. Ten or twenty small scorpions scattered in all directions around the thick of her forearm. She was hucking scorpions at me like throwing darts. I felt a pinch on the back of my neck. Another on my cheek. Before I could brush the crawlies off, my entire body became stiff and swollen. I felt a hot wave of pain crash into my chest. As foam billowed out of my nostrils and clouded my vision, I saw my regretted lover squint and strain the muscles of her face. The creatures obediently returned to their farm as my muse strained further. Another hot wave wafted over me. Again. She did it again. I was in hell. I could feel something laying eggs in my ear. I opened my mouth to scream but only expelled warm saliva and guttural choking. She carried me back to her barren living room and opened a window. I was propped up on a couch, bug-eyed and wet-faced, trembling with the animal urge to resist the restraint of scorpion poison. The pain was unrelenting. She dusted off a baseball cap and placed it on my head and took a broken pair of sunglasses to prop on my greasy nose. A lit cigarette was placed in between my stiff fingers as the cherry burned menacingly. She flipped on the rabbit ears and adjusted a tin foil wad until the static disappeared. The faint sound of applause and a deafening bell-ish ringing echoed through the den.

“I love the Price is Right.”

My captor put an ash tray under my numb, stiff hand. Through the roaring tinnitus and hallucinations of baby wails, I saw the prize they were bidding on: a six-setting toaster oven washed in seafoam green and chrome. I felt the muscles in my face soften. The cigarette smoke burned my eyes.

“Six thousand.” The cashier coughed, ashing onto the patch-riddled carpet. This is where I got kind of pissed off. She clearly didn’t know the value of a dollar. The production of saliva began as the paralysis wore off, albeit slowly. My sting-addled face was swollen and tight, but my mouth began to relax. I forced out an angry retort.

“Too … na na.”

The cashier side-eyed me through her own cloud of dust and smoke.

“T .. nan nan.” I felt a blood vessel burst in my cheek. Every contestant had given their responses, none of which matched my own. One man had answered 301. An old woman with tiny lips quivered behind number 290. The static glow of the old glass screen distorted the rest, but I was determined that they were mistaken.

“Two.” It came out of my lips like a wad of gum. My legs trembled awake. All at once, I grit my teeth and lifted myself up. All but my feet were functional. My face slacked as if I slept on it funny. The cigarette braced against my stern fingering. I took a drag of confidence and intensely focused.

“TWO NINETY-NINE!”

CVS Lady reclined backward in her chair with intense anticipation. She probably expected me to put out the butt in her eye, set her scorpions on fire, or bite her neck. They were all great ideas I mulled over. But I was watching the Price is Right.

“TWO NINETY-NINE!” I grabbed a glass full of stale whiskey and pelted it against the wall. It burst and shimmered around me in celebration. The announcer’s throaty repetition of my answer fueled my recovered body. I ran over to the lady and hugged her as hard as I could. She began to cry and jump up and down. I put my hands on her shoulders and followed. This continued until the commercials about faulty vaginal mesh surgeries came on, and she ran off into her room and cried.

It’s not as bad as you think. Sure, I did almost die from a coordinated stinging attack. However, I would argue that it made the relationship stronger. I don’t really get anything out of it, but I know that our horoscopes totally line up, and it can’t all be a coincidence. We’re doing pretty good right now, and I haven’t looked back since. I didn’t actually win the toaster or anything, but it was a pretty validating experience. Please do not judge me. Don’t tell anyone how I live.

I Got Bit in the Bag

a craigslist story

 

Every morning, the alarm clock stops the same nightmare. Sighing with relief, I slowly remove the protective cloth from between my stiff thighs and peel the sheets off my body with a slow pace. I enter my closed stall toilet and unzip my pants just enough to get the urine out. I also cover the zipper hole with my fingers for extra protection. It doesn’t matter if they get wet. Then, I put in my cup. In addition, I excessively groom the area to avoid hair-related discomfort. I spray a mixture of baby oil and mineral water at room temperature into the front of my pants every half hour to keep it slick and friction-free. You might say it’s a compulsion I need to work on, and I might agree. This isn’t about cleanliness or some perversion. I was just hanging out one day and some guy bit me in my freaking bag. How do you cope with the anxiety after such a traumatic experience? I pop a Xanax every day but it just makes spraying my crotch feel good.

Once the preparation is complete, from this point on, I walk with my eyes on my zipper and the people that get near it. I do not fuck around anymore. My stride is compromised by my stiff thighs and grundle taping, and I hunch forward with my hands wavering over the belt loops like I’m blocking a goal.  I’ve forced my feet into a pitiful pidgeon-toe, and as a result, I need special inserts. Because of the trauma, I have a hair-trigger reaction to any sudden or unpredicted movements from unknown people. I usually get faked out and collapse to the ground while covering my crotch maybe 4, 5 times a day. Sometimes before I even leave my home. One time, I bashed the brains out of a fellow that walked under the ladder I was standing on, just because he was mouth-level with my crotch while chewing gum and talking on his Bluetooth headset. He was being careless with his teeth and could have accidentally bit me, hard. He was really enunciating his words, but they were short terse sentences. With each word, I saw him strategically chomping towards my blue jeans under the guise of talking to his mother. Why do I think this man tried to bite me? Well, I think somebody employed him. I think somebody is paying complete strangers to try and bite my testicles like chewy little sea clams. Maybe not one person, but a whole group of people who want to systematically abuse me. I’m being gang stalked by dick biters. You may wonder how this came about.

Last time I left my junk unguarded, I got my boner bit. I’m not talking about a nip. I’m talking about the pressure it takes to eat an ice pop. Even worse, like I said, the guy then had the audacity to bite my bag. I had recently shaved, so there was little to push through before getting to the meat. My bag wasn’t special, but it didn’t have any nicks or bumps. No cuts or discoloration. Now it has a crusty bite mark in it, and the ointment I have to put on it for the infection makes it impossible to resist the urge to shoplift at Walmart. I’ve woken up six times now trying to get shaving blades out of the alarm-rigged package while the night workers drive around me with palettes of paper towels and sweet cream. My criminal record is hairy. However, the upside is that my bag is not.

I was just minding my own business on the corner of Bramhall and Congress after leaving the store with a couple natties and some baby powder. I was into powdering before I read all that stuff about Johnson & Johnson letting women get vagina cancer. I figured that it was specifically a woman’s cancer, so I kept on powdering my cakes.  I had actually freshly powdered in the parking lot, juggling a chicken chipotle taquito and my member while strategically puffing the talcum powder from above. When I looked up from looking down, I noticed a man eyeing me through the scented cloud. Specifically, he was eyeing my cheap tall boys. Nobody can resist a cheap beer, especially one that makes you throw up within the same time frame of ingesting it. This guy was no stranger, as the liquor smell wafted through the light baby scent and shook it dead. I figured I didn’t need two beers, so I nodded at him, pants still down and with taquito next to penis in hand, and signaled for him to come over.

He looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Where’s the party?” I laughed, thinking he must have mistaken me for someone else, and just offered him a can.  I replied, “The party’s wherever you want it to be, man.”

His eyes lit up as he cracked it open and clinked it against mine. Then, his lit up eyes led to my dusted down dong. “You need help with that problem, partner?” This guy was pretty helpful, at least I thought he was.

I said back to him, “Nah, the powder usually takes care of that.” I then realized I hadn’t even offered my new friend any snacks. All I had was that dried up taquito. Before I could even finish my sentence, he eagerly leaned down to grab it. However, because he was so nice, I didn’t want him to strain himself moving back to an upright position. I humbly offered to hold the taquito for him while he took a bite. This is where I believe the miscommunication began.

The man obviously thought the talcum powder was something more sugary. There was a lot of tongue before the biting, though. But once I felt one of his loose teeth fall out and brush against my bag while he nibbled at me, I knew we had both made some mistakes. I shouted as kindly as I could muster for him to cease all mouth related actions, but he bit my friggin’ bag, and I hate bag biters. I spent 40 minutes alternating between powdering and misting before going to the store, and it was apparent that effort spent was a complete waste. My bag had been munched and I was sick of being nice to my new drinking buddy. I was starting to think he did that on purpose.  When I began to confront him, he got pretty angry and rambled loudly about what my problem was. By this time, someone had come out of the store to see the source of the commotion. This is when the second miscommunication began.

I think the guy thought I was trading beer for blowjobs on the corner. He said it in more graphic terms I’m too ashamed to share. The entire time, between threatening to call the cops and recording my friend and I on his phone, he belittled my bitten bag and boner for its appearance and fresh wounds. Alternating between calling it disgusting and referring to myself as a detriment to society, he worked himself up into such a rage his face looked as red as the mouth of the man that chewed my balls. Then I was aggressively restrained and pushed into a cop car before I could eat my cold gas station snack. I was charged with nothing relevant, as it was all a huge misunderstanding. Despite the fact it isn’t relevant, I now have to let my neighbors know I’m a sex offender because I was in a school zone when it all went down. Every time a door is slammed in my face, it becomes a marker for the scowling expression of disgust on their faces. Even today, hearing a door slam triggers immense shame and guilt for the false public perception of my deviancy.

I now have nightmares every morning before work. Although I fall asleep easy, I instantly become arrested by the same haunting image. I’m in a daze, but I begin to realize I’m walking down the street. It’s sunny outside, but I feel a breeze. I look at a random building’s window and see in the reflection that I am wearing no pants or underpants. However, I am always wearing long socks and clean white shoes. I then notice there are people in the building, and at least one person inside the building looks very upset while the others laugh. The person changes every time, but they are always a stranger. Sometimes they introduce themselves as a parent trying to defend their child or some beacon of light in the torrent of degeneracy unleashed before them. Their faces are threatening to me. In the nightmare, I can tell that they are offended by more than the fact that I flashed them. For whatever reason, this nudity sparks some kind of vigilante patriotic fire within them, which causes them to, clear as day, stomp out of the building, get on their knees, and hangrily bite at my bag and boner like a bunch of grapes. They’re doing it out of spite to kill my future children. It’s like they hate me so much, they don’t want me to breed. I just stand there and take the pain, because their reaction creates almost unfathomable shame. Getting my bag nipped always surprises me. I never get to see the moment they are biting, though, because the alarm always wakes me up first. In one nightmare, an older man got upset with my nudity and removed his dentures before delivering punishing bites. I did see it. I didn’t wake up during that one.

These days I don’t sleep much. I try to avoid blinking to ensure I am always aware of another presence hungry for a sack. I missed my sister’s wedding. My mom had serious hip surgery and I can’t even bring myself to sit next to her in the hospital bed because I’m worried she’ll, like, bag tag me or something. You never know, and you know that mom’s know best. So you never know what they know best. She might just be overcome with the urge, or something, I really don’t want to take that chance and have it ruin an otherwise healthy relationship. I kind of hang out in my lazy chair, watch daytime television and tightly press a thick couch cushion over my lap. It might not be the best life, but it’s the safest life for me. At this point, I wouldn’t want it any other way. Now I just reserve a special resentment and paranoid fear of getting my bag bitten by strangers, but otherwise, I am living a peaceful life. The Xanax really helps, too.

Betsy DeVos Killed a Bear

Imagine a world where you no longer have to care about a wholly educated society. Instead, your education can be based on your parents’ ability to readily pay for it. No, I’m not talking about college. I’m talking about that Common Core. Sometimes you can’t beat intelligence into your child. They could excel, depending on the price, and soar high above kids whose parents couldn’t afford it anyway. Instead of trying to help fix a failing system, you can completely abandon it and the people involved within it. It’s the best choice. $chool choice.

On a crisp spring morning, Betsy DeVos visited her newly funded private school. It’s just like any other private school, only a little Christ-licious. As long as you make at least $60K a year, you should be able to afford the $70 application. Once you fill out the application and emphasize your yearly salary, you just need to pray your child can pass the entrance exam. Hopefully, your child isn’t public-school stupid, and they pass the test with flying colors. Don’t worry about discrimination based on race or gender. A quick flash of money will calm the messy waters of prejudice.


The school was wide and sturdy. No leaks or cracks were present, the boiler didn’t constantly require repair, and the food didn’t smell like burnt hair. The lunch ladies lacked moles, and especially moles with single, thick hairs. The eats were vibrantly colored and served in heaps to the students – it’s not like food was a precious commodity there. If Grade F meat was delivered to the school, they expelled that meat and told its parents to try a little harder to not raise such a disgrace to society. That meat got rejected until it scored high enough on the meat entrance exam. In fact, the food was a celebrated expendable resource, and lunch was a chance for a child to experience a different culture. So, if Shelly wants a scallion pancake, they would whip that bitch up a mole-free scallion pancake. Too bad for those stupid kids that are stuck in public funded schools. Good thing that, once a year, an anonymous donor paid for the entire school’s “lunch debt”. Look, if your kid can’t afford lunch, they’re a lost cause. They’re so malnourished they might as well eat the flies that are buzzing around their gaping mouths. They can’t focus on a teacher that sips coffee brandy and tries to teach algebra.

The course list had been whittled down to the essentials: Theory of Science, Revised Math, Contemporary Bible Study, History of America, and Gym, sponsored by Erik Prince. The Theory of Science class was taught by a very studious Exxon shareholder. Aside from the daily debates on the benefits of fossil fuels, the science curriculum touched upon evolution and genetic differences between races. Once children were taught that evolution is a ridiculous theory, they were presented with explanations like “We don’t see gorillas evolving into humans at the zoo, so that shit isn’t happening” or “The white race is superior through genetic evolution, but don’t think about it too much because I just said evolution is a lie”. I mean, if anything, God made us evolve as the chosen species to run his Holy White Kingdom, but don’t go telling your parents that or they’ll pull you out of my meal ticket. Also, coral reefs aren’t real. I don’t know what kind of pictures you’ve been looking at, but they’re probably photoshopped by environmentalist fanatics. If you can’t see it, it isn’t happening.


Revised Math was much like regular math, but it did away with any formulas or theories taught by men named Muhammad. Quadratic equations are barbaric and anti-capitalist. The numerical system was credited to Europeans, and there was no mention of its Hindu and Islamic roots. Children were still discouraged from using algebra and instead given expensive calculators. Binomial Theorem was a term that’d get you a one-way ticket to the principal’s office. Geometry was also forbidden because Timmy’s drawings looked like the inside of a frigging mosque and evoked feelings of ritualistic prayer. However, the kids were constantly updated on the rise and fall of the stock market. I think Billy made millions off selling his Tidal shares. He’s only 8!


Most schools would shy away from activism within the student body, but children enrolled in Contemporary Bible Study were readily involved in calling your loved ones fags and showing them pictures of mutilated babies. If pamphlet-making and crocodile tears weren’t their style, children were allowed to substitute group shaming with an afternoon of self-flagellation for impure, pre-pubescent thoughts. The majority of the curriculum was focused on the Old Testament, just to scare the Jesus into their bones, but Jesus himself wasn’t really focused on. The whole hanging out with prostitutes and sharing food thing seemed like the real explanation for Jesus getting his hands and feet nailed into pieces of wood. You can’t go around playing medicine man and make-nice to not expect a king and his servants to publicly kill you. He could have sold his healing properties to a pharmaceutical company, done years of clinical trials and animal testing, and really made some gold coin. Sadly, he was a sap who didn’t know how to play the game. Children were taught that Jesus was asking for it, and if you hang out with prostitutes and share what you earn, you’re probably going to get burned and deserve it. Unless you’re the teacher, or principal, or a rich dad, or the President of the United States – they can hang with prostitutes. There is some element of a ceremony, however. Each kid can place a piece of dried Trump Steak jerky on their tongue and kiss the painted portrait of their new president. They can also choose to donate ten cents to their local church to support the Christian baptism of every missile. Don’t worry, they’re not Catholic.


Let’s check out Barbara Jean’s American History paper from the other day:
“This week we learned about Native Americans. Some people consider them to be “true” Americans, but their population is so small we can’t give them that credit. A Native American didn’t invent the light bulb. Native Americans gave white people land because they just knew what they were doing, only a lot better.


My independent study topic was about black and female civil rights. Black people wanted to work with white people to make society better, and until we gave them all these crazy ideas about civil liberties, they were totally happy with their situation. I mean, Africans sold their own people to us, so they’re more to blame anyway. Stop hating on whitey! And stop using my mom’s taxes for welfare-paid junk food at the Big Apple. I learned that women were employed during WWII to manufacture weapons, but now that we have machines to do that, we should return to our natural role as birther and carer. When I grow up, I want to shoot kids out like ping pong balls and use my husband’s money to get my nails done.”


Next week’s topic in American History would consist of Preservation of Culture and Racial Pride. Although American culture adores baseball and football, it is mostly dominated by non-white people and is clearly corrupted with anti-white bias. Children were taught about the most daunting current threat to white society: white genocide. Although to the majority of society, genocide refers to the deliberate, calculated abuse or killing of a mass population, American History’s revised definition refers to other races having more children than white people. Little girls are further instructed to not accept contraceptives of any kind, lest they are labeled not only a baby killer but a perpetrator of the white genocide.


Gym class was truly excellent. Most of the outdoors classes were centered around the hand-built shooting range, and the indoor classes consisted of squats and ice bath conditioning. Former owner Erik Prince’s thighs were incredibly thick and he had several bruises on his shoulder. Every child was eventually equipped with a small pistol. No worries, they’re properly trained. Although, Timmy wasn’t screened for mental health issues and has Oppositional Defiant Disorder, so better keep posted on that. Kids were also thoroughly trained along the guidelines of Academi, formerly known as Blackwater. Charlie recently completed his customized firearms training course, and his school crush Tammy was on her way to becoming a certified canine trainer and handler. Most kids who excelled in gym were offered armed security positions around the school.


Around the property of the private school sat a student-guarded fence. There were a few mines as well, but nothing too serious. On the other side of the armored fence sat the little public school. The school board consisted of one angry mom and advertising agency representatives. With little support from parent-paid taxes, their town, or their state, the public school had resorted to funding lunches with corporate sponsors. Pepsi-Co and drug companies looking for FDA approval would test products and food scrapings on hungry, malnourished children in exchange for free slop. In the fine print, Pepsi contractually forced the school to end their morning announcements with a sound endorsement of crisp, refreshing Pepsi related drinks. In addition, there were free spraying soda fountains next to warm water fountains, and it only cost pennies a sip. A few parents without a diploma of their own, disgusted with the blatant advertisements, pulled their kids out of school and decided to teach ’em themselves. There’s a lot of holistic medication involved in that kind of parenting.


Public school children were required to forage for additional snacks. The science teacher was somehow responsible for identifying poisonous plants, but he’d been out sick for three weeks. The substitute just picked his nails with an old knife and never combed his hair. Teachers gave fewer shits than ever before, as their wages had been cut as punishment for their low testing scores. The kids met a new homeroom teacher every week. Even the principal had been swapped a handful of times. The first one got into some trouble with a loan shark. You could smell something rotting in the brush beyond the school parking lot, but you couldn’t find it. Nobody cared enough to wonder where he was. The newest principal had a gold tooth and sweat a lot. The SATs were replaced with fast food applications and had coupons in the back for discounted cleaning products. Public school kids routinely attempted to pass the fence and blend in with the private school children but were exposed when forced to recite a bible verse or attempt to properly shoot a gun. For whatever reason, however, the public school children were exceptional regarding knife play. They probably developed their skills similarly to how jailbirds do during unprovoked stabbings in prison yards. You can sharpen a pencil or ruler into a shiv, it’s possible.

Anyway, Betsy DeVos was excited to see how the curriculum affected the students. After an exhausting night of throwing money at targeted trustees, Betsy had secured, down to the detail, the establishment and full enrollment of her prized private school. She awoke every night before its completion, hearing the voice of God, demanding that she offer tax vouchers for the parents footing the tuition bill if they were to donate to a private school scholarship fund. God’s voice was not only clear but husky and a little sexy. After stepping onto the property, she felt the cool wind billow around her ankles and sighed in an attempt to center her thoughts. God was with her, but the winds of disruption foreshadowed an event she felt necessary to prepare for. She went back to her car and opened the trunk to reveal a rather large carrying case for some gun-shaped object. She would be prepared this time. She wouldn’t let anything happen to these kids. Not like last time.


Betsy sauntered onto the edge of the shooting range and waved to her brother. He waved back and pointed enthusiastically at a child being weighed down by his own assault rifle. Betsy flashed a shiny grin and waved her hand while miming an exaggerated laugh. Things seemed to be going great. She eyed the newly constructed parts of the fence. Two kids had a public school child cornered at gunpoint while speaking about the lord and his will. They were just doing their job. The public schooler seemed to get the picture, anyway. As she ran her finger along the newly reinforced metal shuttered fence, picking up bits of pollen and dirt, she felt that same ominous breeze. It seemed to be pushing her towards a more isolated area of the shooting range. As if she was being led, she followed. In the distance, she could see a few children doing entry-level back flips off of stumps and comparing gun sizes. Her teeth reflected enough light to make her lips sweat as she flashed another grin. They’re America’s future, she boldly thought. How nice of her to cultivate our future. The trees at the edge of the shooting range swayed rhythmically as critters darted in and out of the brush. Little Betsy started shooting them as a warm-up exercise but secretly relished ending a life.


Usually, when children play, there is a great deal of yelling and screaming. What Betsy DeVos heard, however, was not child’s play. “Help me!” A student’s desperate cry shattered the serenity of the shooting range. She saw her brother, Erik, dash over to the distressed shouting, only to witness him fall over onto the bloodied child he was saving. He scrambled for his pistol and shot in the direction he ran from. “It’s not enough!” Betsy heard him shout as he hurriedly limped towards the school, dragging the injured kid behind him. All at once, adrenaline shot through her body, rocking her limbs. Her brain subconsciously began operating her arms and eyes as she scrambled for the case she left at the entrance of the shooting range. She ran until her high heels became too cumbersome, but only paused briefly to remove them before accelerating tremendously. Saliva began thickening in her mouth and attempting to escape the cracks of her perfectly pursed lips. This was the saliva produced in preparation for digesting sheer rage. Who could be assaulting her beloved students and beloved brother? It didn’t matter because they would be meal worms once Betsy got behind the wheel. The metaphorical wheel of slaughter.


“Betsy!” She heard a voice above her as she reached her gun-shaped case. It was Erik. “It’s too strong! I only made it angrier!” Betsy’s pupils dilated. Nothing was too strong. Several clicks and flashy metallic noises later, and she was prepared. In the distance, her opponent loomed. She could hear its heaving breaths and smell its jowls. Once it came into focus, she knew she had recognized the wound pattern on her brother’s arm. It was a grizzly bear. Betsy had warned her constituents of the probability of that occurrence, and they would truly rue that day knowing the casualties that followed. However, so would that bear, because that bear didn’t bet on Betsy.


Betsy whipped out her recently imported and assembled Sturmgewehr 90 with extended stock and bayonet attachments. It was always set to 20 sputtering shots. She swung the trigger guard and pulled the rifle to her side. Her hips were prepared for every sweet kiss ejected from it. That was what being guided by God felt like. She popped that bear dead. The entire school body watched the spectacle through the generously large windows, mouths agape. The bear groaned its last hot breaths as its full weight rested against a hole-ridden target.
This incident was not uncommon, and Betsy had to kill an entire family of bears across the creek just to ensure it would not escalate further. She walked, barefoot, through the ice cold water, her dress covered in bear urine. They laid sleeping in their tiny hovel before being killed awake. Erik’s wounds were immediately tended to, as every child completely the mandatory medical safety course and brought their own safety kits to every class. The bloodied child that didn’t try hard enough to make it to his next class was expelled on the grounds of failure to motivate. Even the public school kids saw something positive come from such a brutal attack on our values, our neighborhood, and our society. Thanks to the generous donation of one bear corpse by Betsy herself, those public school kids ate for months. The meat, the bones, the bladder, you don’t waste anything when it’s a grizzly bear. “Thank you Betsy!” they flashed their toothless, fluoride program-less smiles. Later that night, Betsy dreamed of God giving her a thumbs up and winking. She was really on her way to fulfilling God’s educational plan.


And the public school science teacher never came back from his extended sick break. Ever. The end.

Dog Girl Goes Too Far

The story I’m about to tell you is both cautionary and derogatory. It may leave a smell in your house long after you’ve thrown it away. However, I present you this tale as a warning. There are people out there who use other living beings as pawns in their own delusional game. They will stop at nothing to get what they want, no questions asked. What did this person want? Whom did they take for granted? The complicated nature of this beast eludes the sensibilities of even the most keen researchers. The most damning evidence, to this day, only comes in the form of fuzzy anecdotes from the mouths of emotionally charged victims. This is the story of Dog Girl and her hapless pup.

The Jack Russell Terrier was originally bred as a playful, intelligent, high energy fox hunter. They spent their days barking foxes out of their little burrowing holes as a loyal partner. Dog Girl’s terrier, however, was more like a nuclear shake weight with bug eyes and an insatiable taste for human hands. Don’t get me wrong, the terrier isn’t that bad. Dog Girl, however …


When you see Dog Girl, watch the fuck out. She is one hundred and fifty pounds of meat in a sack, orienting a hidden GPS signal towards the nearest living person. Dog girl will break through every barrier you put up in order to talk at you about her nonsensical daytime events, usually under the guise of being led against her will towards you by her tiny dog.


“Whoopsie!” she playfully shouts while linebacker-sprinting towards your fear-paralyzed body, the bait dog cascading off the brick sidewalk behind her, “My dog just HAD to see you. She has a mind of her own. Too friendly.”


She turns her back to you and tightly wrings her hands before logging the next lie into her speech catalog. “She loves people. She’s so aggressive! She might be small but she pulls me around all over the city!” The terrier nervously licks your hand before jumping towards you, eyes expanding out of its head while the leash is pulled back with haste. This continues while you suck the flame through your cigarette like you’re trying to taste the tar. Maybe you were having a thought-provoking conversation with a friend about the job market, the potentiality of automation in the fast food industry, or the new corduroy trend. Dog Girl cares not.


She can smell your low self esteem. She prays on those who are kind-hearted and open-eared. If you can handle such an arresting presence without immediately macing her, you may find yourself in a one-way conversation about how many chips the dog ate when she wasn’t looking, or how her other twenty pets are fairing in such trying times. Usually, this is where the intrusive thoughts begin to creep into your mind. You might imagine an alternate reality in which you kick sharp gravel onto her shins before running into your salty apartment. Perhaps you would grab the dog and immediately call a local animal rescue unit. You may fantasize about saving the dog long after the initial encounter, letting the guilt sear the back of your neck as you imagine the pet getting road rash every time it’s dragged out for a walk. But this is not about your perceived guilt or daytime fantasies. One day, Dog Girl went too far.

Dog Girl had gallivanted up and down the avenue all day. Carefully maneuvering icy puddles of urine and trash day debris, she had frequented the usual gabbering holes – a coffee chain, a burger joint, the park, and the bus station. Her dog, Dixie or whatever, intensely sniffed every snow bank and candy wrapper it passed. People sped past her on both the road and sidewalk, averting their eyes to focus on something less demanding, like the hot sun, or a pissed off sheriff in the opposite lane. She only stopped for two reasons: Chatter and crosswalks. If nothing qualified itself under either criteria, she continued with the tenacity and intensity of a person on fire, but with less urgency to put it out, like a person who was on fire because their crack lab exploded and really did not want the police to get involved. She looked down only briefly to confirm that her dog was chewing on a Dunkin’ Donuts drinking straw, rather than a syringe.


This day in particular, Dog Girl took a different gibber-route. As Dixie’s eyes exponentially grew under the pressure of a tightly pulled leash, her owner was scouting out the perfect victim. A young man, 25 to 31 years of age, slightly taller than her but with a darker complexion. He seemed unfamiliar to the area, she noted, as he whipped out a comically expansive map and studied it with a crinkled brow. Looking around, she attempted to identify a nearby car or friend associated with the stranger. Nothing. Before she could gather her thoughts, the unthinkable occurred.


“Hey, do you know where the cheap grocery store is around here?” The man’s gentle but inquisitive voice startled her. Rarely did Dog Girl have a person willingly engage her without hesitance, but this was fresh and unacquainted meat we’re talking about. Dixie shook with excitement while she licked at his shoes.

“Oh, who’s a sweet dog?” He knelt down to pet her vibrating skull. His forearm absorbed the energy as he felt carpal tunnel developing in his wrist.
“Umm, that’s Dixie…” Dog Girl began. The apprehensiveness she felt from this chance encounter was cutting off any discussion topic she had conjured up previously. She eyed the man up and down like a Slim Jim. Her mouth salivated with words while dribble merely slid down her lower lip. It was now or never for her to lock this in. What to say? How long would he stay? She stared into a brick building across the busy street. The silence grew thicker.


“Uh, yeah, but do you know where the grocery store is? It’s okay if you don’t.” The man prodded again in his gentle jibe. She wound her head around with slow certainty and spoke in complete monotone:


“Yes. I know exactly where to go.”
Dog Girl clenched her fists. A thick cloud slowly drew over the cheery sunshine, casting a dramatic shadow under her brow. “Follow me.” All at once, she charged ahead towards an unfamiliar street. Startled to attention, the man shook his head and jogged towards the puppy dragging behind her. As she charged forward, the noise around her began to fade until nothing was left but the rapid whooshing of her own blood. The edges of her vision began to blur. As if his body was trying to warn him, the man realized he had been fondling his old pocket knife with increasingly sweaty fingers. It had been given to him by his crass Uncle. They weren’t on particularly good terms. Dixie looked up at him with watery, swollen eyes. He felt a small twinge in his kidneys.


“Wait, are you sure it’s over here?” He pressed. Dog Girl coughed into her leash gripping hand and stared ahead. The gentle coastal breeze became intervals of bitter gusts, kicking up sand into pedestrians’ faces. Not even the dirt caking her eye could wrangle her off this dark path. She mumbled ‘I know where I’m going’ several times before the man gave up on asking to clarify what she said. Suddenly, she took a sharp left. The man stopped. He felt for his phone. Gone. It was actually on the dirty sidewalk a few feet back, but the feelings of loss and helplessness pulled him towards the strange alley. He just wanted to save a few cents on bad beef. Jesus Christ, this society is beyond redemption.


Before he could even focus on the fact that he had been led into a dirty, dead end alley, he was an inch away from Dog Girl’s face. Her mouth was moving, and noises were coming out. The noises were not loud, and the words seemed comprehensible. She wasn’t speaking necessarily fast, but it seemed as if several sentences were being said at once. A pure information dump. The dump came fast and hard, and it messily pummeled his face. He felt his whole body getting hot.


“Oh, I’m sorry, my dog is just so curious. She just loves people. The other day I went to the store and she jumped on probably six people. The people were so startled by how aggressive and curious she is! She smells something in your pocket. I have pockets, but they’re just sweatpants, so they’re not very safe pockets, they just let everything sag inside them. Yeah, I went to the store the other day, and Dixie was eating grapes! Dogs can’t eat grapes! I think they’re pretty bad for dogs. Yeah, but she only ate a couple, so you think that’s okay? She isn’t sick or anything, she was acting a little funny earlier, but I mean, she’s ALWAYS acting funny, she’s just a really aggressive dog! She’s so bossy, she just walks right up to you and does whatever she wants! She just barks and sniffs and barks and sniffs. She’s sniffing you some more right now!”


A death grip was firmly placed on the blade within the man’s back pocket. His fist shook with such intensity he was getting denim burn. He knew in his heart that using his crass uncle’s knife would produce a negative outcome. Nothing paints him as the victim when his attacker has a knife wound. But his forearm and elbow had other plans. Although his brain couldn’t quite fathom the danger he was in, his body was more than prepared.


“Oh wow, she’s shaking so hard! She must be so excited. Like, a few weeks ago, she jumped on some lady’s lap at the bus stop, and I was like, Dixie! Bad girl! But the lady didn’t seem to be bothered by her so she just kept licking at her and licking, it was probably the most she’s ever licked in her entire life.”


All at once, a thread within the man’s brain snapped, involuntarily guiding the hand out of the pocket, gripping the knife, and stabbing Dog Girl in the shoulder. He blinked. The knife stuck out, clear as day, from her gushing arm. She made a kind of face, like wincing or eating the last of a sour candy, and pulled out the knife with no resistance. She slowly handed it back towards the man, who was quivering and clearly pissing his pants. Clasping his bloodied weapon, he locked eyes with this grown woman cornering him in an alley. He reminisced about the stew he was gonna cook up for Uncle. Uncle loved his carrots cut into thick circles and beyond soft. There was a meat sale today.
Each knife wound healed within minutes, no scarring. The man spent a good 30 minutes full-on screaming and stabbing Dog Girl in her abdomen and face. Every time the tip of the blade broke her skin, she became increasingly, but mildly, agitated. Why was he interrupting her in the middle of their conversation? The man collapsed from exhaustion. He had used his entire aching body’s strength to stab her, and only got covered in a fine mist of blood. He cried a little bit. He slumped to the ground. Dixie licked his bloody hand. The man’s body heaved with sobs. Finally, they heaved with a twisted, pained laughter. Yes, this was a bad idea. Trying to save money on a meal you cooked with your bare hands. Picked by other people’s bare hands, to feed the mouth’s of your loved ones. This is what you get. You get led down an alley and are tortured into stabbing a person several times.


“What do you want with me?” The man sighed, tears streaming down his face.


“Oh. You don’t want to talk to me?” Dog Girl’s face turned grey.


“No!” The man felt a deep, firey courage boiling in his groin. “You dragged me to a weird alley to talk to me about your dog? Are you crazy?”


“Oh.” Dog Girl averted her eyes out towards the street. She nibbled on a Twix hidden in the sleeve of her shirt.

Evenly sprayed with Dog Girl’s blood, the man gallivanted into the street with his eyes and mouth agape. “Please! Someone help me!” Traffic came to a violent, screeching stop while he ran towards an irate taxi driver. “She’s in the alley! She’s a monster!” He slapped on the hood of a honking SUV. “Please! Someone!” The man pulled the knife out of his pocket and waved it around at the sky. “It does nothing!”


Dog Girl emerged from the alley with nary a ding or nick. Dixie had stopped shaking. The pup was only her owner with a newfound suspicion. On the other side of the street, near the cheap grocery store in plain view, a crowd had begun to form. People were whipping out their phones and whispering with anticipation. The approached the nearest person and cried out, “God, why? Why won’t you people help me!?” The person backed up silently and readjusted the focus on their camera. The man intensified the speed and volume of his warnings. Children began to cry, confused by a bloody screaming man asking for help, and probably the fact that their parents were selling their food stamps for Suboxone. Six or seven people are in that house, on average, at all times. The man ripped off his shirt from his neck and threw it to the ground, grunting with untethered passion. “Have you all gone insane? I need the police!”


On cue, the police rolled up. Without hesitation, ten officers from fifteen different squad cars littered the man’s bare chest with hot lead. He shuddered as each bullet pierced his skin. “Jesus!” he screamed, his throat gargling with fluids. “I just wanted Uncle to be happy!” He collapsed, face first, into the pavement. All at once, the entire crowd screamed “Worldstar!” They began to dress themselves into navy blue cloaks. Someone lit a fire and drew a pentagram into the gravel with meat sale salami. The chanting of Worldstar became more ominous and synchronized.


Dog Girl power walked back home. It had been a long day full of surprises. She let Dixie eat some burgers ditched on a muddy sidewalk before jerking her towards the next destination. She sensed something in the back of her head, like another gentle presence. Her feet and fingers tingled with the erotic ache of post-conversation walking. Yet, she ached for more. She could feel the dopamine depleting from her soggy, pulsating brain. Her feet pounded the pavement, leaving a slight dent. She could still hear the chants and see the fire glowing in the distance. Suddenly, someone bumped up against her in haste.


“Oh, excuse me.” The woman quietly spoke before continuing forward. An incredible heat surrounded the area the woman bumped into. Dog Girl flitted her eyes through the haze of an adrenaline rush – a new target. She waited a moment before following the woman. This time, it would be different. “Whoops! Sorry!” Dog Girl shouted from at least 30 feet away. “My dog.. Ma’am?” The woman began to quicken her pace. “Ma’am? Uhh.. my dog wants to talk to you.” The woman sprinted off into traffic, causing a minor collision in the process.


Dog Girl stood, alone, in the middle of the cold city. Another man quickly walked past her. She grabbed him by the shoulder and jerked him, backwards, towards her.


“What the hell is your problem?” The man questioned with wild eyes.


“My dog. Has a mind of her own. She’s really friendly.” Dog Girl’s mouth began to slack.

Alarmed, the man pushed her backwards before running towards his car, pressing the automatic unlock button on his key chain until it activated the alarm. He sped off with the door open and the alarm still blaring. Dog Girl looked at Dixie. “Let’s go home, girl. Nobody wants to talk to us.” They begrudgingly dragged their legs home.

Donald Trump Goes To Whole Foods

Donald Trump woke up next to his wife. Caressing her back, he then caressed the photo taped to her back of his daughter. As soon as he exited his bed, it was immediately made by a Hispanic woman. He bumbled into the bathroom, and whipped out his flaccid penis he nicknamed “Crooked Hillary”. With careful attention to detail, he tidied the comb over on his balls. Looking down at them, he spoke:

“Today’s gonna be a big day.. A great day. The greatest day you’ve ever seen. My wife wants me to make a taco bowl for Cinco de Mayo. She’s botched it for too long. She’s too old. We’re going to make it great again.”

He slowly got dressed in his blue-collar billionaire fit, consisting entirely of denim and white cotton. This was accentuated with a cowboy hat and gold watch. Before leaving the bathroom he made a note to rewind the sex tapes he’d been watching late into the night.
Donald peered outside of his Manhattan penthouse to see a sea of people wearing red caps, gesticulating wildly and rubbing against each other sexually. A few were punching and kicking each other. The security guard standing outside the doors of the huge mansion spoke into a walkie-talkie. A sheet of pink powder quickly fell from an unknown location onto the entirety of the property. The supporters begin to grind and punch harder, and some drooled and begin to pinch their own nipples towards the house. The combined movement appeared, from Trump’s eyes, like boiling water in a pot.

The mere thought made Trump hungry.

He hurriedly rushed to the fridge while flapping his left hand against his wrist, and threw butter onto an already hot pan. There was always a defrosted Trump Steak, exclusively bought from the Sharper Image, in one of the four marble kitchen sinks. He quickly fried it up while manically biting into some jerky he had freshly dehydrated the night before.
His chewing intensified as he heard banging on the door. Worried a protester had jumped the gate, he grabbed the dirty steak knife he was licking and opened the door slowly, with bated breath. It was just his pal Ted Cruz ready to pick him up in his Prius.

“Woah! Buddy!” Ted threw his hands back. “What’s with the bloody knife?” Trump, his face slightly damp with sweat, forced out a fake chuckle. After a moment of silence, they both burst out laughing. His cheeks red with delight, Ted slapped Trump on the back and laughed, “Leave that psycho killer stuff to me!” Trump loudly fake-laughed. “Ah, but yeah.. I killed a lot of people. Let’s go.”
Trump and Ted hopped into the Prius and quietly sped away.

“So, how’s your family?”
Ted Cruz sighed, “My daughter didn’t kiss me goodbye today.” Trump shook his head. “I feel your pain. I truly feel your pain. I feel a great deal of pain, a lot of pain, probably the most pain anyone’s ever seen.” Ted scoffed out the side of his mouth “I’m not wearing my argument boots today.“ It got awkward in the car again. Trump whipped out his iPhone and quickly dashed out a tweet.

“Be careful Lyin’ Ted, or I’ll spill the beans on your wife!”

Ted pulled into Whole Foods as his phone vibrated. Trump whipped out of the car and whirled around. “Ted, I love you, you’re a great guy. You smell like sweet cream and hard boiled eggs. Your Prius is very quiet. You’re very conscientious of the environment. I need you to go in there and get me everything on this list. Trust me, I’m a bright person. Putin thinks I’m a bright person. We’re gonna have a great Cinco de Mayo.”

Trump filibustered Ted out of his Prius. Ted took a few steps and turned around, suddenly consumed with feelings of giving a Harvard style shout-lecture to his frienemy in light of being bullied and emasculated. Trump threw on a burned CD containing music he was legally forced to stop playing at his rallies and let the car purr. He gave Ted the “OK” hand sign through the tinted windows and pointed to his gold watch while making a sad face, sympathetically telling his friend to hurry up. Ted turned around, flustered, and rushed into the grocery store.
Inside, the lights were very bright, presumably for the baby corns. He had worked up a sweat to accentuate the stench that lingered on his suit from standing inside a Subway for 45 minutes that morning. As he walked up to the cart section with the list in his hand, he intercepted the gaze of an older woman standing by the boxes of coconut and cocoa powder dusted almonds. She appeared, even from far away, to be trembling out of fear. Ted felt his upper lip get damp for the fourth time today. He grabbed the nearest cart and pushed it harder from him than his allegiance to God. He hid in the canned nuts section and unfolded the grocery list from his pocket.

“LIST:
PEPPERS”

It wasn’t finished. Ted Cruz angrily whipped a green pepper at the backside of a man mopping the floor, frustrated with the lack of politically tainted guidance. He thought of how Portia de Rossi probably eats green peppers in a variety of ways. He stood in front of a busy checkout aisle for as long as it took to finally decide on an Almond Joy. Finally, he conceived the idea that he could pay someone to do it for him. He quickly found the man he assaulted and wrote him a check that couldn’t be cashed for at least two weeks.

Within 10 minutes, everything was properly packaged and in the trunk of Ted’s car, which contained two political powerhouses that once again created an uncomfortable atmosphere. Trump ate peanuts and threw the shells all over the newly vacuumed floor, and ran the car until it had a ¼th tank of gas. Cruz began to feel his Harvard past surface, but Trump started loudly eating out of 2 opened bags of the same kind of tortilla chip.

“Let’s scoot now. Bye bye. No more now. Thanks my great friend.”
Trump’s tongue started hurting from all the salt, but he didn’t stop. Cruz, thrown another curve ball, passive aggressively dropped Donald off 10 feet from his mansion entrance, and squealed his tires a tiny bit at the end of the driveway. As the car wouldn’t rev loudly for dramatic affect, he just screamed until he took the next left.

Trump took his groceries and swung the heavy bags with immense force onto the kitchen counter. The marble cracked as chips and salsa cascaded onto the floor. He stomped onto them out of pure spite towards nobody in particular. Salsa dashed across the wall. Blind with unprovoked anger, he bit down on two pounds of beef as hard as he could. It suppressed a frustrated grunt. He paced for five minutes before checking his phone to distract himself. He felt the pull so strong now, he was impossible to ignore. He had promised his wife “never again” countless times, but he promised to throw out leftover steaks out of concern for his own mental health. Every thick, juicy bite was a rich experience provided by the Sharper Image, but Donald knew he couldn’t make the house reek of hot blood any longer without hurting the people he paid to pretend to love him. Unless he opened a window, or propped open the front door.

No, he had to brown the beef and add the taco seasoning mix. His thoughts were interrupted by a sizzling noise. He’d cooked the steak subconsciously, and as he further observed, perfectly. Before he could turn off the burner, he began gagging hot steak down his pumpkin colored throat, feeling the blood burn his lower lip, neck and chest. As he cried out in excitement and genuine pain, he heard his wife call his name. “Donald? I smell those steaks!” Suppressing a smaller, quieter scream, Donald stumbled into the closest bathroom and started unbuttoning his shirt.

“Donald! I thought we were going to have taco bowls!” his wife said however she said it, whatever, she’s just his wife, she’s not that important. His daughter, though. Donald gritted his teeth as he thought of his daughter and also burning his entire mouth. He decided to sleep until everything went away. Nestled against the toilet with the now-cold steak resting under his head, Donald logged into his Twitter account.

He had a long day today. Instead of live tweeting another Miss Universe’s recorded sex acts and pinning a pillow to the bed frame with his crotch, Donald, for once, had absolutely nothing to say. It was a good day. He woke up, made the bed, bought groceries and made food for his wife. He cleaned Ted’s car and enjoyed spending time with him shopping at Whole Foods. He had a few steaks, no big deal, a lot of people in politics respect him for it. And all he had to be was himself. Realizing this, he sighed, content, and finally able to drown out the furious pounding on the bathroom door. He turned out the lights and rolled over, discreetly nibbling on part of the steak pillow as he turned his head.With the help of Ted Cruz and other loyal party candidates, Trump felt confident that he had a good day and was a good person. This was just one day in the life of Donald Trump.

Cough Syrup Abuse Investigation

 

Grippin’ Grape, Purp Slurp, Junk Juice… children as young as the age of 7 have fallen victim to the devil in disguise known as cough syrup. In my investigation, I explored ways to identify someone who abuses cough syrup through their actions, emotions, and physical appearance, so you can keep your children safe and junkies at bay.

I went to a local drug store to survey the choices. Believe me, there are some cough medicines you shouldn’t abuse. Children’s cough medicine seemed like light beer in comparison, and it seems wrong to abuse something meant to help your sick child. To me, that would be like taking a baby’s Vicodin, and I am not so morally corrupt. I finally settled on a bottle of gels. Strangely enough, the woman at the counter didn’t card me. She’s so naive to think that I was using medicine as intended. I later reported her to the police, and was commended by the chief for my timely snitching – I even got to beat the cashier with a billy club for a few seconds.

To fully understand what a purp slurper goes through, I set up my computer so I could watch videos and take notes at the same time. I kept my phone on hand in case of a medical emergency, and I cooked some food ahead of time. I had researched various dosages, and measured out my cough candies. The great thing about cough gels is that they come up mostly the same way that they go down. If you like red dye, you’ll love how it looks cascading out of your mouth, onto a nice white carpet. However, it’s easy to assume it’s a blood stain from your raging period or a paint spill you neglected to take care of, so it’s easy to cover up. Parents – if you find strange red staining around the lips of your child or on your new carpet, you may have a syrup sipper on your hands. They will deny it, so be sure to employ new age parenting techniques, like whipping the soles of their feet with cables or pulling at their hang nails until you get the answer you want. Another interesting observation I recall is how numb and plastic everything suddenly tasted. It was like eating a cold lean cuisine after getting a cavity filled. Suddenly, all but a few senses felt similarly numb and plastic.

My investigation then took on many different routes, none of which I can fully recall. However, Bob’s Burgers became an infinitely funny and eternally mesmerizing cartoon. After 10 hours of Bob’s Burgers and hallucinations of television static, I realized how simple and easy life could really be. I put my hands out in front of me and laughed at how heavy they felt. I thought that the marrow in my bones must weigh at least a pound each, and all that meat on my wrist could feed a family of cockroaches for a week, maybe more. If my skin didn’t feel like a viscous silly putty, and my eye balls weren’t slowly sinking like quick sand into my sockets, I might have grown up to be an astronaut or mailman. But I was born in this broken body, a vagina and two mounds of breast flesh, and that means I can only be a pretty girl when mom lets me wear makeup from the drug store. I took a bite of Ramen and realized that it was made entirely of plastic. I thought of all the children eating plastic doll hair and choking on every hairy mound as it made its way down their esophagus. I could feel their chewing, they could feel me feeling.

I never spoke, but I could hear myself rambling in my head. I assume that if your child is quiet and thinks a lot, they’re probably high on cough syrup right now. If their eyes are bugging out of their head, or they watch a lot of television, check your medicine cabinet. Does your child really have a cough? Have you ever heard them cough?

After a nap and some tea, I came to the conclusion that cough syrup is awesome, and I’m surprised that more children don’t abuse it. Although I burned a few holes in my brain and I walk with a limp now, I’m glad I could sacrifice what I could to educate us on the healing powers of drugging your brain until logic is but a faint idea. I can conclude, from this report, that children abuse cough syrup because life is a meaningless void that needs defining, and  cough syrup provides a context that we can all follow along and enjoy.

 

The Origin of Cane Lady

Shepley Street and I have only been acquainted for a few years. I know it to be the walking path of prostitutes, crack dealers, inebriated folks looking for smokes, fearful tourists, and street regulars. However, most of the time the street is my shuffling ground for tobacco related activities, and my interactions with anybody who would cross my path would be mitigated by the fact that I had something that people wanted to bum. Every so often, my train of thought would be interrupted by the cold clanging of a cane up against the dented guard rails. Enter Cane Lady, the silver haired, serpent tongued harpy.

“Aw! Come on!” she shouted before beating the rails with enthusiasm. Cane Lady often wears her patented Goofy windbreaker and black, sleek fanny pack. If her hair isn’t flying behind her like broken spider webs, it’s coiled into a loose bun that screams “I don’t give a fuck”. The only time she seems to give a fuck is when she shouts “Oh, come on!” to seemingly nobody. I try to have more faith in people’s intentions, and I assume that using her cane as both a weapon and gavel has more historical implications than one might think. I began to study her extensively; I let the sun burn my shoulders as I eyed her from afar, often behind a tree or from the safety of the green space. I took notes, I collected samples. Her fecal matter contained Skittles and some trace elements of artificial sweetener, probably from a diet soda. Her hair was brittle and broken, but I deduced that she used some Pantene product – at least the shampoo. Her saliva and urine samples came back inconclusive – while I didn’t find any evidence of drug use, I did extract some DNA in case I needed to pass a paternity test or desperately need Walmart to hire me.

The most startling discovery came from her cane. While it seemed to be made from regular materials, it radiated with the intensity and maturity of a pimp. I photographed the serial number and ran it through the system. What I learned rocked my world. Cane Lady had not always been a rambling rambler, a wondering wanderer. Flipping through public records and encyclopedias about prostitution, I deduced that Cane Lady was once a very successful but very abused bottom bitch. Her pimp, Candy Cane, was a sexual entrepreneur who was able to sate the most bizarre tastes of his shady Johns, but was brutal towards his girls. He had a small troupe: Angel was a new recruit, but her blue eyes and blonde hair enticed rich skinheads around the tri-county area. Teresa was ironically called “Mother Teresa” because of her penchant for latex nun suits, but was in her heart of hearts a good girl. Terry was the discounted goods, and although it seemed detrimental to her practice, her 2 for 1 specials and free small fries with any purchase brought home the bacon where Angel and Teresa couldn’t. Finally, Hard Candy. You know her as Cane Lady, but back then, she lived up to her name. Sweet as sugar, but just as addictive, she carried fat wads of cash in her fanny pack and pepper spray in her Goofy coat pocket to protect herself from handy Harries. She patented sex moves like “The Peppermint Patty”, “The Cavity Filler”, and “Dances Without Dental Dams”. Despite her immense contributions, Hard Candy and Candy Cane fought tooth and nail for power over the Johns and the Jills, and she found herself many a time under the cold steel shaft of an angry pimp.

That is, until she stabbed that motherfucker right in the chest. She had counted her money and distributed it to the girls before sneaking into Candy Cane’s office with blade in hand. I imagine she called him Daddy and sweet talked him into whipping his dick out and putting his guard down before jamming a sharpened tampon applicator into his bony, greasy body. Not soon afterwards, crime rates in Portland began to sharply drop as word of a team of sexy vigilantes were cleaning up the streets. Hard Candy had taken over, newly furnished pimp cane in hand, and was commandeering tricksters to let their only hand jobs be ones involving a concealed weapon. They jerked off crime, they flicked the bean of justice, and took it all for peace and prosperity. The loads of justice they effortlessly produced under Hard Candy’s watch was tough for Portland to swallow. Naturally, like any stingy bitch, the Portland Police always spit, and carried around baby wipes “just in case”. Cane Lady had risen to the top but was once again fighting with the higher ups of justice.

The police chief gave her an ultimatum: Disband and live freely on the streets among yourselves, or they would hunt her troupe like a gang of wild dogs. She cared more about her girls than her own life, so made the deal in the hopes that street life wouldn’t be as bad as it seemed. She had never been more wrong, and in the span of a year, the harsh winter had weathered her body and soul. Her troupe disbanded, despite her pleas for solidarity. One by one, squinting through the snow-blind, she saw her fellow femmes die or disintegrate. Terry stuck by Cane Lady, but the HIV she had contracted from stepping on a rusty dick left her weak and weary. She died in Cane Lady’s arms on the steps of the Civic Center. As Cane Lady beat her chest, willing Terry’s heart to thump, she cried out “OH, COME ON!” into the howling wind. As her voice dissipated into the ether, so did her soul and sanity.

Today she still bangs her cane, shouting at nobody in particular, hoping that she will be reunited with her troupe, either on Shepley Street by the guard rails, or in death.